I heard they were auditioning people for a beer commercial so I decided to crash it. I didn't know @ the time I was crashing it. But after being in the game for the next 30 years I realized that if you showed up for an audition when you didn’t have an audition , that's called crashing.
It was my first audition ever! I had just gotten an agent but as I learned the hard way, agents are great at taking your money, but not so great @ actually sending you out on stuff. But I don't mean anything by that.
The casting agent took my Polaroid ( They had Polaroids back then.) & I filled out my personal info.
I walked into a room and I witnessed a whole new subculture. Human's with huge eyes and mouths. They had heads that seemed disproportionately big for their bodies. Their teeth were incredibly white. And they had great bone structure. These were out of work ACTORS. Little did I know @ the time that these people would go on to be the bane of my existence for the next 30 years. Kidding. Kind of.
They were stepping all over themselves trying to impress each other about the work they'd done, where they'd done it and who they'd done it with. Also whether they'd done it for over scale or not. I got the impression they'd spent a lot of time in extras holding. But maybe that was a part of the actors process.
Their hair was impeccably groomed. As were their nails. They were dressed to the nines with maybe a little too much makeup. And those were the men!
Whenever a new person entered the room all eyes would turn to them and they would turn away covering their mouths like they were backstabbing them. Then if one of them went to the washroom, they would all go. And those were the men!
They all seemed to be freakishly attractive. If you noticed one of them @ a bar, they'd be surrounded by losers trying to buy them drinks. But when they were all together in the same room it was sensory over kill & they seemed to cancel each other out. And those were the.....
I had done some extra work on Love Boat. The young actors on that show were Mark Harmon and Lisa Hartman. I could not believe how blue their eyes were! They were freakishly, Paul Newmanly blue! And again with the white teeth!
I was starting to think that having a dental plan was some kind of prerequisite for the acting game. And while I wasn't exactly from Britain or didn't exactly have dog teeth. I wasn't Jim Cary from mask either. And while my one eye was blue, my other one had a kind of a David Bowie pupil thing happenin and maybe wasn't always lookin in the exact same direction as the other one. ( Hockey injury. High stick.) I figured maybe I wasn't cut out for the ol' thespian thing. But before I could bail they called us into the room.
In the room was the Director, Producer, the Client and the casting agent. The beer was Labatt's Blue, my favourite beverage of the time. Turns out it was everyone else's also. At least that's what each & everyone of the actors said when they were introduced.
The Director and Producer looked to be straight outta central casting. The Director had, surprise, a salt and pepper beard and the producer looked like he was a graduate of the George Hamilton school of suntanning. The Client was nervous and the casting agent was gay. Shocked.
I went first. On my made up resume it indicated that I had done some standup comedy. Which was actually true. They asked me if I was very funny. I answered by telling them that a very low budget slasher movie had needed a comic to be on the TV in the background while the children were being murdered in the foreground. The comic couldn't be that funny because it would distract from the killing. When the produces saw my routine they said I was perfect! That's how funny I was. They liked that.
I had the advantage of having died in front of 800 fans opening for Jose Feliciano. So sucking up to a couple of people in a room was a piece of cake. I launched into a kind of sarcastic rant. Imagine that. Something about me being an A list, Shakespearian,
Method actor who only does commercials in Japan. I sometimes can't remember my rants because I go into a kind of blabber mouth trance. But when I awoke from my trance, the Director was laughing and the actors were strangely silent and shifting uncomfortably in their seats. It was their serve. It was almost like when I had to go onstage after Jerry Seinfeld. But I say that in a humble way. It was like after Vince Carter did his famous dunk in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest. It was OVER!
I think these guys do better with scripts anyways.
Next we had to take off our shirts. Cause I guess we were gonna have our shirts off in the commercial. Makes sense. Now I worked in a gym at the time. We pounded weights all day and all night, 7 days a week. These thespians had pretty faces but soft underbellies. And those were the men. Put simply, I was in really, really good shape. But they really, really weren't.
So on my first audition, one that I had crashed, I GOT THE PART! Not only was I gonna be in a Beer commercial, it was gonna be shot in....HAWAII!!
Three days later I left that leftover pot of Kraft dinner on the stove and hopped on a plane to HAWAII!!! I'd never been to HAWAII!!! But that was all gonna change when this big bird touches down in HAWAII!!
On landing I saw Diamond Head! And the palm trees and the beautiful beach of Waikiki!When we deplaned we got on wiki wiki buses. The smells and sounds of Hawaiin music filled the air.
But we weren't done yet. I had to get on an Hawaiin Airlines inter island flight to KAUAI! Which was called the Garden Island because it rained every night and was sunny everyday. Who would have thought that such a place could exist. It was so green and the plants were glistening. It was literally a panoramic outdoor supermarket produce section!
Then I saw a movie star babe. Standing right beside me. Of course movie star babes would be hangin out in Hawaii. Where else would they be? Shooting the Sports Illustrated Bathing suit issue no doubt. I had literally seen her in a hit movie on the plane flying over here. I asked her if she had been in that movie but she mustn't have heard me because she brushed by me to get on the next plane.
We wound up sitting right next to each other on the next plane. Me and the movie star babe. I punched in her movie again and kept double taking back and forth from the "movie" her to the "real" her sitting right beside me. I asked her if that was her or her evil twin. Again she couldn't seem to hear me. Maybe because she had just put her head phones on. Although she seemed to hear the flight attendant just fine, who was much further away.
We sat inches away from each other. You could barely get a rolling paper between us. But she never said one word to me the whole flight. She didn't even seem to notice me when she reached right over me to get her drink from the flight attendant. She must have that myopic tunnel vision syndrome with little or no peripheral vision. Poor thing.
We sat right next to each other on the shuttle. Again, she never said a word. She seemed to look right through me to look @ the scenery which I must admit was stunning.
We got off @ the exact same stop. We were staying @ the exact same resort!
I jokingly said, " Hey, maybe we're in the same room."
Again she didn't seem to hear me. She didn't have her headphones on. I checked for the hearing aid. Sometimes they make em really small. Especially for movie stars because they would be very self conscious. Didn't see one.
She then lit up a butt, handed me a tip, left her bags and walked into the hotel lobby.
Now I don't know if she was doing an old SCTV bit where the actors stand as close to the extras as humanly possible, pretending not to notice them. Or if she was wearing a GO PRO and I was being PUNKED. ( Which would have been impossible because they didn't have GO PROS or PUNKED back then. Just Alan Funt and Candid Camera)
Either way, from that point on, she was referred to only as, MOVIE STAR BITCH.
The hotel was incredible! It was right on the ocean. It had tennis courts. Pools. And a 27 hole golf course with an ocean 9. And I had my very own room! It was a 1 bedroom but, it seemed like a Penthouse suite to me!
The first day we had to rehearse on Wet Bikes. They were the dark ages forefathers to Jet Skiis + Seados. But you just couldn't just sit on them. To start them you had to pop a wheelie and hold on tight and wait for it to sit down. Then you had it tamed. The cool thing was your "guns" popped nice when you popped the wheelie. We spent all day blasting around the bay, cutting in + out and bouncing off each other's wake! Those things could really fly! It was a gas!
Richard was the guy on the other Wet Bike. He was a restaurant manager. We took turns slagging the actors from the audition. He was a good guy.
There had been a shark attack in the same bay that very morning but the Producer didn't tell us. He said it was perfectly safe. I wonder if these things could outrun a school of sharks? Was it school of sharks? Or herd? Or gaggle?
We started early the next morning. "Set" was, THE BEACH. They actually had breakfast waiting for us. PA's handed out time sheets. I wonder how much you make on a commercial? Richard said he heard it was a lot.
The commercial was we ride these Wet Bikes around for the next couple of days with a couple of girls on the back and look like we're having fun. Sounds like a stretch. Cue the girls.
Just then 2 incredibly attractive females entered. One was of course, the MOVIE STAR BITCH. Her jaw dropped when she saw me. But not in a good way.
Someone then yelled " Talent!" Turns out that was us. I did my best dive into the water and came up with my hair slicked back ala Johnny Weissmuller. ( Sorry for the ancient reference. Michael Phelps). Guess who was to be on my Wet Bike? Wait for it. You guessed it, MOVIE STAR BITCH.
I popped a wheelie on the Wet Bike careful to annunciate the popping of the pipes. I tamed that bad boy then circled around to get MOVIE STAR BITCH. But instead of stopping I slowed down just enough to grab her by the arm and throw her onto the back. Her roast splattered down onto the back of the Wet Bike and we were off! I think I'd seen Gene Autry or Roy Rogers or Duke Wayne do something like that on a horse with Maureen O'Sullivan once when I was a kid.
We stopped the Wet Bikes in the middle of this river which ran deep into the island of Kauai and waited for the Director. He was on a speed boat. He explained we were couples riding around on the waves having the time of our lives.
MOVIE STAR BITCH was gonna have to pretend to like me for this whole shoot. That was gonna be a stretch.
They had 2 speedboats, a helicopter, a helium balloon and multiple divers in the water. All with multiple cameras. This was some big time production value! It was gonna be like a James Bond movie!
On rolling, the 2 speedboats + the helicopter fired up their engines! The sound was deafening! The helicopters propeller ripped through the water blowing water in our faces! The 2 speedboats took off!
I popped a wheelie on my Wet Bike and we were off! I'm pretty sure the pipes looked good. Plus they were wet so that should have brought out the cuts! MOVIE STAR BITCH was holding on tight!
The Director circled past us and yelled through his megaphone.
"Act like you're having fun!!"
Now it was the middle of winter. I was in HAWAII! I was on a Wet Bike with MOVIE STAR BITCH! And I was making the big bucks shooting a commercial for TV! And I was being shot in an action sequence by multiple cameras like a poor man's Steve McQueen! Acting like I was having fun wasn't gonna be a problem! I gunned it!
I swear I could hear the music from Apocalypse Now as our Armada blasted upstream! No, it was Satisfaction by the Rolling Stones, from Apocalypse Now.
The 2 Speedboats were crisscrossing in front of us as we got some huge air bouncing off the double wake!
"Don't look at the camera!!"
We carved right in front of the scuba divers in the water splashing waves into their lenses!
We crisscrossed in front of the other Wet Bike like it was the giant slalom. I even played a high speed game or chicken with the 2 speedboats! Both the Director and MOVIE STAR BITCH were not impressed. But I betcha it looked cool.
We did this for hours.
Sometimes MOVIE STAR BITCH would loosen her grip on me. So I would gun it forcing her to hold onto me tighter. Pressing her MOVIE STAR BITCH body closer to mine. Sometimes she would dig her nails into me. But not in a good way. I did that because I figured it worked for the piece. We were supposed to be a couple after all. So it seemed natural that we'd be snuggled together. Also it was a safety concern. I would hate for her to fall off. This no doubt endeared her further to me. I hope this just wasn't my adolescent way of showing affection.
We pulled into this beautiful lagoon. Something right out of the Bountiful. I shut the engine off and glided slowly into the sandbar. The sound of the Wet Bike sliding into the sand was very cool. I still had the ringing of the engine in my ears but it was totally silent. The sand was totally white and soft as baby powder.
We walked through the ankle deep warm water to where they had set up lunch. What a spread! How do you get all this food to the middle of nowhere?
MOVIE STAR BITCH sat with the Producer. It was a networking lunch for her.
I sat with Richard and the girl from his Wet Bike. She was nice and cute. It was like we were on Gilligan's Island. She was Mary Ann + MOVIE STAR BITCH was Ginger.
The food tasted great. Something about being hungry on an island in the South Pacific. MOVIE STAR BITCH complained that the fish was too well done. I'd never had fish that wasn't out of a can before. So to me it tasted fantastic. It had a flaky melt in your mouth texture to it that I had never experienced before.
After lunch it was back to the grind. More tearing it up on the Wet Bike! It got to be a little bit fresh being out on the water for 12 hours. But a couple more tugs on the gas got us closer and a little warmer. I did it for her. It's not easy being an action hero.
That night Richard and I played tennis on one of the luxury resorts courts. He looked nervous because I had my Bjorn Borg Fila tennis shirt and old Donnay racket. But it was all for show. He kicked my ass. He was a rich kid who belonged to a club. I was just a broken down old Jr B hockey player. But what a nice sweat you get playing in that heat. It brings out the cuts.
I was always wondering what I was gonna do with my life and how I'd replace hockey. Well, this show biz thing seemed like not bad work if you can get it. I was so hooked.
That night Richard and I had what's called a Surf + Turf @ the Resorts restaurant. The menu was on a coconut. Can you imagine? The Surf + Turf tasted like nuthin I could ever have imagined! A steak that didn't taste like shoe leather. And more fish that wasn't out of a can. Richard introduced me to bearnaise sauce, which you put on your steak. It did the impossible. It made the best steak I'd ever had in my life taste better. Also we had freezin cold Long Board Lagers which were almost as good as the beer we were doin the commercial for. For breakfast he introduced me to Egg's Benedict with real hollandaise sauce. He knew everything about food. Again, rich kid. That Kraft dinner I had sitting @ home on the stove was looking less appealing.
The waitress serving us was Hawaiin. Made sense. But they were descendants of Polynesians. They were so beautiful. I'd never seen people like that. Sure I'd seen Elvis in Blue Hawaii. But it wasn't the same. You see I don't get out much.
There was a bit of a buzz around the resort about the commercial. The cast and crew had pretty much taken over the resort. I kinda felt like a bit of a borderline, bottom of the food chain celeb. A kid could kinda get used to this.
We saw Mary Ann + Ginger leaving the restaurant with the Director + the Producer. We asked them if they wanted to get a drink cause basically we were the only people they knew on the island. Mary Ann was game but MOVIE STAR BITCH was too tired. I think she had too much salt water in her hair.
Back in the room we wondered aloud if we had been the Producer with the George Hamilton sun tan, and had asked her out, whether she still would have been tired. Well I wondered that aloud. We, I, decided to phone her room and impersonate the Producer's voice. Now I had done a little standup but I didn't do impressions. I became a prop comic later on in my career but that was neither here nor there. But I could sorta do a kind of rendition of him. An homage if you will.
I phoned their room and MOVIE STAR BITCH answered. I pretended to be the Producer. I asked if she was available to come to my room for a "private" audition. She said "Yes!" And immediately hung up! I got Richard to phone back as himself a second later to see if she was kidding or to explain that we had been kidding. But Mary Ann said that she had already left.
Oops. Looks like we were gonna have a lotta splainin to do. We giggled like a couple of idiots and peeked out the window as she flew across the threshold wearing her black sprayed on FM dress.
She knocked on the Producers door. We were so fired! Hopefully he'd probably figure out it was a joke + have a chuckle. But she'd be pissed and glare up @ us and say,"Why I outta!"
He answered. They talked for a second. We ducked down so they couldn't see us. Then she went in. AND SHE NEVER CAME OUT TILL THE NEXT MORNING. MOVIE STAR BITCH and a Producer. Go figure.
You may be surprised to hear that our little caper did very little to enhance our relationship the next day. Which I believe we were ready to take to the next level. MOVIE STAR BITCH glared @ me. Nuthin but daggers. The whole crew, including camera, grips, electrics, crafty and greens could see the humour in it. But her, not so much.
The next shooting day was more of the same. Breakfast on the beach. Dive in the water. Fire up the Wet Bikes and blast around for hours having fun. MOVIE STAR BITCH still had to ride on the back of my hog because of continuity. But she didn't have to like it. Which was really no different than from before. I'd still give the old throttle a little tug every now + then just for old time sake. Lunch on the sandbar was again fantastic. MOVIE STAR BITCH and the Producer kanoodled off by themselves.
But seemingly no sooner than it had began, the AD yelled.
"That's a wrap!"
I was leaving Paradise. The sun. The surf. The smells. The sharks. The palm trees. The hero worship. The bearnaise + real hollandaise sauce. All remnants of the past.
It was raining when I got back to Vancouver. Imagine that.
I heard that MOVIE STAR BITCH and the Producer were back in Acapulco shooting another commercial the very next month.
Me? I did nuthin but background work for the next decade. I had gone from the Penthouse to the Outhouse in a hurry. From Hawaii to background holding in a heartbeat.
But wait Batman! This story has a happy ending. Can you say, RESIDUAL CHEQUES?!!!Of course you can! RESIDUAL CHEQUES were an astonishing residual benefit of our adventure. Seemingly out of the blue this SWEET CANDY would just drop from the skies like manna from heaven! I was considering naming my first born, RESIDUAL CHEQUE because those are the things I have come to luv most in life. RESIDUAL CHEQUES were the one thing they could never take away from me. At least not for a couple of years while it played it's monthly cycles in all the major cities in North America, receiving it's huge market share.
And please note that a 5 day old pot of Kraft dinner can be brought back to life by vigorously stirring in a little hot water with a pinch of bearnaise or real hollandaise sauce. It's to die for.
I will NEVER forget my Beer Commercial in Hawaii.
(Next week- I did a Stargate Convention in Wells England with Richard Dean Anderson on my own dime with absolutely NO GUARANTEE!)