“You’ve got a callback – in your underwear,” the casting director tells me when I pick up my phone.
“Ok, just my underwear right? No nudity?” I ask.
“No nudity. Well, maybe the underwear will be fleshed colored, but definitely no nudity,” the CD assures me.
“Yeah, I’ll be there.”
“Great, it’s you and two other guys – they love your look, they just want to see what you look like in your underwear. You’re confirmed for 1:30!”
“Great.” I hang up.
There’s a spreadsheet on the computer screen in front of me with names, numbers, and price ranges. We offer different packages for the internet start-up company I work for. My day job. The lowest package is $49. I’m about to show off my package for free. The commercial pays $450, non-union and it’s for Comedy Central. It’s good exposure on both counts. Besides, it’s between me and two other guys – I have a 33.3% chance of booking it. I go.
Weaving in and out of traffic on the 101 could now be added as a special skill on my resume. Traffic is surprisingly light during the day. I get off the Vermont exit and drive down Wilshire in Korea Town. Red Hot Chilli Pepper’s “Under the Bridge” comes on the radio. The city she loves me / Lonely as I am / Together we cry. Nope. I change the channel. I’m emotional enough. Jason Derulo will do just fine. Take me to the other side.
Throw some quarters in the metered park off MacArthur Park and run up to the casting office. I’m always running – it gives me a sense of urgency and helps burn off my jitters. Then it dawns on me. What type of underwear am I wearing? I hope it’s the black Calvin Klein boxer briefs. I lift up the bottom of my shirt and peek. Whew Calvin Klein writing. Marty McFly would be proud.
The audition room is cold. I just watched the video that I’m supposed to be parodying for the commercial. It’s for a major film that hasn’t been released yet. The casting director shows me a scene from the movie and gives me her take on it. Time to disrobe. I drop trou and fling my pants off. You’re not auditioning for The Full Monty! my internal monologue starts. Shut up! Off comes my shirt and there I am, in my underwear. It’s a mix of liberation and embarrassment. I was raised Catholic after all.
Music starts and I march around the room in my underwear with a baton. I smile to the camera and give a hearty salute. I attempt a baton twirl but I fumble to catch it and the baton drops. The show goes on, so I pick the baton up and do a cartwheel. That wasn’t what they wanted. What are you doing? I attempt a spin for a finale and smile brightly to the camera. I’m giving them something to work with. I’m living the half naked dream.
“Great,” the casting director says shutting off the music.
“So, yeah… you guys will let me know right?” I say putting on my pants.
“Yeah, you’re available for the shooting date, right?”
“Yeah, wide open.” I smile. Then look shy. That wasn’t supposed to be a double entendre. “Well, thank you! I had a lot of fun.”
“We’ll see more of you I’m sure.”
An hour later, I’m back at the computer screen typing away, and answering calls like nothing happened. “The technology is really what separates us from the competition, can I start you off at the $199/month package?” I hear a co-worker say on the phone. I wonder if this is what Superman felt like after having rescued kids in a burning building. After receiving a call, Clark Kent steps out from the Daily Planet, changes into his underwear, and flies to the rescue. When the situation has been maintained he puts on his clothes and gets back to his normal job. Does Superman ever get to be Superman all the time? I don’t know, but playing in your underwear and auditioning is definitely a thrill.