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“Which Wiz? Oh that Wiz.”

I’m a Stand-In & Photo Hand Double for a pretty famous comedian playing an Evil Wizard locked in yonder Dungeon (again?). This is the same sound stage that, over 70 years ago, housed the Castle Set where Dorothy escaped the Wicked Witch’s clutches. Wow, I know! Judy Garland’s Dressing Room is still on this studio lot & so is the Recording Stage where she sang “Over the Rainbow”. The first time I worked here was on the series “CHiPS” in the late 70s with adorable teen idol Leif Garrett (note to Justin Bieber …. save your money). However, today, please excuse me being in gay-icon-heaven as I pay homage to Judy Judy Judy. No you wipe the grin off your face.


“Judy Garland’s Dressing Room…bow down mere mortals!”

My hand sewn rust swede Hobbit Boots are beyond comfy & may be the most amazing shoes I have ever worn. There are big red leather side laces tied in bows & hidden plastic soles. This robe has a weird cowl collar that has unseen zippers. The entire get-up is made of woven black silk (but looks, on camera, like unconstructed aged burlap). The super sweet Wardrobe ladies help me in and out of everything (under this costume is a Tee Shirt with a lumpy fake fat belly & a woven pouch behind the shoulders to look like I have a hunchback (what hump?). Look at me Professional Hand Model with a cape to boot. There are no Flying Monkeys or Scarecrow but I am working against a 200 foot long 40 foot high Green Screen, trying to capture & crush 10 inch tall, talking CGI Goblins. I get to escape a prison cell with an electric uncontrollable hand held mini-cannon that I make appear with a crooked long magic wand twig (comes in handy, what not?). After many successful shots, the thoughtful Director kindly gives me the last scene take to do whatever I want. On “ACTION” the canon explodes and I fall into a slapstick back roll onto my ass. “I took one for the team” I happily say as I bow to Crew Applause. The Director yells “You took the words out of my mouth!” If it makes it into the final cut they will edit the Comedian’s face onto my body. Take my pratfall, please. You’re welcome.

All of the Goblins are just small plastic dolls that I have to fake inter-acting with. There is a mock-up of all the scenes on a Lap Top that I repeatedly study. We shoot a “reference” sequence 1st so I know where to look and what to do. Then the little dolls are removed and I have only my sight lines to recreate each highly choreographed hand gesture. In one scene I try unsuccessfully to feed a laughing Goblin into a wood chipper (I am a very bad Wizard who is klutzy & never seems to be able to kill those pesky meddling Goblins…oh how I hate them). In the final film you will just see my hands (at 6:30am the Make-Up Team spends 30 minutes brushing filthy fake thick dark purple & brown stuff into my cuticles to match the star’s original grimy hands). I still have some of it under my nails. Yuck. I am not kidding. The Director liked my flourishes (he kept asking for “more musicality in movement”) & he complimented me “That’s the look John, good relish!” My hands have good relish and my nails are disgusting. You should have seen the looks I got from catering when they handed me my lunch plate.


“Dungeon cuticles”

When I have to hold my arms all the way out for extended periods, the crew put metal stands painted green-screen color under each wrist or elbow that have 6 inch square padded rests so I can continue to hold the pose sans effort. Who knew? “Show emotion with your left hand John.” “You’re talking to that Tiny Dragon with your hand…that’s it.” Later the special effects guys will superimpose all the stuff into these shots but thankfully I have reference monitors set up within my eyesight to playback the rough-cut early cartoony versions. I can see my hands in the monitors with the computer-created sets & little unfinished moving creatures and quickly get the hang of moving in and out of each shot to match the rough special effects. At the end of the day, the 2nd AD calls the Casting Director while I am standing there and says I did a great job. I’d like to thank Vaseline Intensive Care Lotion and my college Mime Class Coach…

This is the second Hand Double job I’ve gotten in the last month (the other was a fluke….the original guy flaked & missed his call time & I was a last minute sub). Suddenly it’s everybody loves John’s hands & I was booked a week in advance for this Wizard gig.  All week long I worried about my hands (or my “money makers” as the boyfriend calls them). Heaven forbid I get a bruise. Of course 24 hours before the shoot I got a paper cut. Oy Vey! Thank goodness the make-up guy was cool & covered it up (& kept his mouth shut, thank you kind Sir). Some night in a couple of years you’ll be flipping through cable channels and stumble upon this film. Feel free to give me a hand.

19 Responses to “Hand Job”

  1. Adrienne says:

    I always said u have a magic touch!

  2. Richie says:

    Looks like you have the hands of a 20yr old. Cool. Think of the possibilities.

  3. Manny says:

    Hand doubling = xtra sheckels?

  4. Mandy says:

    Let’s have a big hand for John! (I know corny but couldn’t resist!)

  5. I’m sure these skills will come in handy for future work. Fun blog, as usual!

  6. Ben Estrella says:

    Really good one.

  7. John Starr says:

    In answer to Manny….yes I get a money ‘bump’ for hand doubling (& another ‘bump’ for Standing-In). Yay!

  8. brody says:

    a wiz is a wiz of oz yet …most impressive.

  9. Peter says:

    I’m glad you got a hand job…..it can be so comforting.

  10. Nate says:

    My friend the hand model…
    Congrats John.

  11. Jinka says:

    Hey John! Thanks for the cute blog:)

  12. Heather says:

    fun history here!

  13. Heather says:

    fun movie trivia here!

  14. Terri says:

    The pratfall very funny.

  15. Laurie Morgan says:

    So nu? Vy you nevah give your agent picture of your hands? Shame, shame! She could be getting you more gelt!

  16. Timmy says:

    Mr. Magic hands…nicely done! Here’t to more hand modeling gigs…:)

  17. Daisy A. Boulizon says:

    Just a little note to say hi and ask if you having been rubbing elbows w/ Justin Bieber’s gal lately…I could’ve sworn I caught you on an episode as a Pageant Judge. Oh wait I did…

  18. Shelby says:

    Very good! You look dashing.

  19. Julie says:

    Dear John,
    No it is not one of those letters…..but I have been enjoying your great blogs….what a hoot and we definitely need more things to laugh about….you are so glib and I can just hear your voice while I am reading them….I feel lucky just to have had a “dance with you” once upon a time….I am glad that your career is flourishing….the old Phoenix routine I guess….the one that keeps us all in the game and trying to re-create some joy and laughter in your case, and harmony in my case! You know like a suitcase full of giggles un leashed by none other than John Starr….well, more likely belly laughter….un restrained type…tears running down and nose precariously near to flooding also!
    Cheers, Julie

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