I’ve never been a waitress, hostess, bartender or any of the typical side jobs you’d expect an actor to have. This is partly because I’ve always been afraid of dropping plates on customer’s heads. But I’ve had an array of weird jobs to stay afloat when I was starting out. Here are a few:
- Party Clown. Just call me Blueberry Muffin. I was allergic to the pigment red, so I painted my face blue. I must have been the early inspiration for Avatar. Looking back — I frightened children. Once, in a scene straight out of a Fellini movie, a motorcycle ran into my car while I was on my way to work. The firemen and police officers couldn’t stop laughing hysterically while the motorcycle rider hobbled about on a broken leg. I did learn how to make animal balloons, juggle, do pocket magic and work with fire — all the skills necessary to make you a viable candidate in today’s workforce. Strangely, I was often asked out while in full clown makeup. The popcorn vendor, other clowns, magicians, a Power Ranger, Hassidic Jewish men at a religious celebration, the list goes on and on. It couldn’t have been yellow fever, because I was blue. I hope there aren’t pictures of me on some weird clown fetish website.
- Videogame character. I worked for Microsoft for a year to help them launch the new Xbox. My job? Dress up like Lei Fang, from the videogame “Dead or Alive.” Black bustier, leather miniskirt and fishnet stockings. I had a great time, but could barely breathe. They sent me to Canada, New York and all over California and I posed with a fake Bill Gates. I guess they couldn’t afford the real one.
- Fit model. I was the perfect size for Guess Indonesia; I imagined millions of women running around Bali wearing Guess jeans that were exactly my size. But when I went to another leading manufacturer, at 34C-24-33 and 95 lbs., I was told I was “too large.” Who in God’s name are they designing for? Keebler elves? No wonder American women always feel like they’re too big.
- Food demonstrator. During my vegetarian days, I spent two months handing out organic chicken samples in a health food store. A customer came up to me and asked, “Excuse me, is this dead animal?” I felt like such a traitor.
- Video store attendant. Back in the day, video rentals were the domain of mom-and-pop storefronts the size of a cracker box and required a staff of one. In high school, that staff was me, making this probably the most dangerous job I ever had. Every Christmas I’d work there for two weeks during the holidays… 16 years old, all by myself. Have you ever wondered what your teenager is doing at work? My friend would visit me and we’d sit in back and watch “Faces of Death.” You know, the video where you watch real people die in horrible ways. Not a good idea. I’d go to the front when a customer came in and she’d beg me not to leave her alone in back. A teenage boy helped on the weekends. He’d have me work in the front while he stayed in the back watching porn all day. Well, I hope he was just watching.
photo credit Mike Rollerson