You in Your Tiger-Crotch Leotard

by Nate "Chops" Johnson on August 14, 2015

in LOS ANGELES

tiger crotch
I saw the actors’ Bat-signal appearing on my phone. A simultaneous email/ text combo notification from my agent’s office in Beverly Hills. Subject: You’ve booked an audition!

It would take place the next day on Sunset Blvd in the heart of the newly gentrified area of Hollywood at 1:25pm. There wasn’t a script attached. Only a description of the scene: “It’s 3am in a Brazilian nightclub and you are dancing in a group of people.” Easy enough. I recognized the address given immediately. I’ve had several auditions in that building before. (Entertainment productions generally rent out “audition space” for the day for mass auditions, as opposed to having a large group of actors wait in the production office lobby. A lot of times, the production office is the producer’s private home office and no one wants actors at their private home. And sometimes a producer’s office is literally the passenger seat of a 2008 Toyota Corolla as I’m about to find out).

The next day, I set my game plan. Since this audition is during the week, I have to take a long lunch from work. That means I don’t have a lot of time to drive all the way there and circle the neighborhood hopping on the usual LA parking space hunt carousel for 20 minutes. So I whip out my phone and hit the Lyft app. My driver, Abdallah, shows up driving a 2008 Toyota Corolla, and in a thick accent, asks me to hand him the loose files that are in the back seat as I hop in (I prefer to sit in the back seat of Lyfts, Ubers and cabs because we are not familiar, they are providing a service, and I like to pretend like I’m a foreign dignitary on his way to a high dollar political dinner, or a trust fund kid on his way to the family’s private heliport. Onward Jeeves!). “Those are for work. I’m a producer for my real job. I have to work out of my car at times.” he says and immediately starts the typical, almost automated sounding, friendly-Lyft-driver questions: “How is your day so far?”, “Do you prefer Country, Classical, maybe Hip-Hop?”, “Would you care for some water or a mint?” No, thank you. (I always bring earphones to provide my own personal soundscape for chartered rides. I once had a driver that blasted pop diva music while singing along and committing to some heavy on-the-fly choreography. While he was entertaining for about 1 minute, enduring a 20 minute ride with Beyonce: The San Fernando Valley Tour 2015 was too much to handle. Also, I never take candy or mints from a stranger. I grew up in the 80s and have seen enough After-School-Specials to know that could end with duct tape and a nondescript van.)

He drives me from my office in Burbank, cutting through the mountain with the Hollywood sign on it, to the location his GPS is directing him to, which is actually about a block and a half deep in the neighborhood behind the building that I need. But I look out my window to see how far I am away from the audition location, and coincidentally I’m being dropped off directly in front of the original Nightmare on Elm Street house. I don’t complain because, well, that’s just cool. So I hop out, reassure Abdallah that it’s ok that he drop me off there even though it isn’t the exact location I needed, thank him for getting me there safely, and take a selfie in front of the house for a future Facebook post.

ElmStreetSelfie

I walk the block and a half to busy Sunset Blvd and find the address where the actual location of the audition is. The building looks very industrial from the outside. All grey concrete. The lobby looks like a jail cell from TV, just with a giant glass window and reception desk, but no receptionist. Interesting to note, in all the times I’ve been to that building, there has never once been a receptionist. So I pass the desk and walk through to the narrow staircase at the back of the room that leads upstairs to the 2nd floor where all the audition rooms are.

The 2nd floor is much like the lobby. Cold and concrete with bleach white walls, no décor, but with a row of audition rooms down a long narrow hallway. It’s almost like a doctors’ office except more sterile feeling. I see there is a line of about 25 people, many of which are the usual “audition people”: girls overly made-up and dressed like they are going to a cocktail party; girls dressed in barely anything: miniskirts/extremely short shorts, loose tank tops, no bra; confident girls in casual clothing reading their phones or lobby magazines (apparently “Highlights” isn’t just for the pediatrician’s waiting room); men dressed up as if for a dinner date, or not dressed up at all who look like they walked right in from a day at the beach; men posing with that brooding stare-off-into-the-distance-confused-but-vulnerable look that has permeated Instagram accounts across the globe over the past couple years. You will see these aspiring actor archetypes at every audition.

I bypass the line to reach the sign-in sheet, which is where the audition coordinator commands his/her post. The audition coordinator is usually a mid-20s to early-30s person who is extremely stressed out from being the liaison between the director and the line of actors waiting for their big break in the hallway. I sign my name on the roster, and head for the end of the line.

As I’m standing there, I notice a bearded gentleman enter the hallway and walk to the check-in area to sign in. On his way to the back of the line, he nods and smiles at people, but completely ignores me, a fellow beard, as he passes by. He doesn’t even give me “the nod”. This means he hasn’t had the beard very long because he simply does not understand or has not learned the social responsibility that comes with it. Dude, ignoring another bearded man is NOT proper beard etiquette. I ignore the follicular snub and wait to be called into the audition room while posting my Elm St selfie for my horror nerd friends.

At this point, the coordinator steps to the middle of the line and announces to everyone the process for the day: we will be sent in by groups of 10. One person for each role they are looking to fill. So as one group is auditioning for the director, the coordinator is busy wrangling the next group to go in.

A few more hopeful actors are walking into the hallway now. One of “career auditioners” speaks up and starts directing people where to go and what to do. The career auditioner is the man or woman at an audition who has made a career of being a background actor. They typically carry themselves like they work for the production company, though they do not, and tell actors what to expect from the day’s process. They will also almost always find a way to inform you, through forced casual conversation, of all of the important, big title movies/tv shows they’ve been on over the last 3 decades, while using only the first names of the lead actors and directors, like they’ve known them personally all their lives. Inevitably someone will bite and ask excitedly “So, you know Stephen Spielberg?!”, and the career auditioner has to back pedal slightly and say “No, I don’t know Stephen, but I worked for 6 hours as background on AI. Stephen was really nice”.

That’s when she walks in. Looking a little lost at first like everyone else does. She stands about 5′ 3″ naturally, but her knee-high studded black leather stiletto boots make her every bit of 5′ 10″. She has on black leggings that go into the boots. Over the leggings, she wears a cleavage revealing, tiger leotard which makes it look like her crotch is roaring.

The thought-bubbles of judgment from the line of actors as Tiger-Crotch makes her way to the coordinator station to sign-in are clear and obvious. The men stare, some with their mouth’s hanging slightly open. The women are cutting mean side-eyes her way. And I am, of course, hoping that she is going to be in my audition group. And the Universe does not let me dow. The coordinator starts creating the next group, calling out a roll call: “Ok, club DJ you stand here. Club Girl 01, where are you? Stand here. Where is my Professional Voguer? Club Girl 02 (aka Tiger-Crotch), stand here. Hip Bearded Guy? Oh that has to be you” and points to me to join Tiger-Crotch’s group. YES! RAWWWR!

You should see Tiger-Crotch’s face as we are waiting to be called in to see the director, when a younger taller woman walks in with the same exact tiger leotard on, slightly classier with the leotard tucked into jeans, and joins our group. The cold and immediate feeling of tension between the two women is unmistakable. They look like they want to claw each other’s eyes out.

tiger fight

We get called into the room with the director and do the usual audition mug shots. Then the director instructs us to act like we were dancing in a South American nightclub at 3am and that we want to keep the party going. I stand next to Tiger-Crotch 1 because she is indeed the most interesting participant of our newly formed super group of end-of-the-night club clichés, way more interesting than the “Professional Voguer”.

The music starts and Tiger-Crotch does not disappoint. As soon as the music drops she unloads an arsenal of dance moves, ass up in the air furiously gyrating, boldly seductive. The song clip plays for about 20 seconds, and then the audition is over. The director thanks everyone and we file out of the room back into the jungle.

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Nate Johnson (Sr. Contributing Editor, Los Angeles)

Nate “Chops" Johnson currently holds more than a dozen competitive bearding titles, including 6, 1st place victories, and 2 for Best In Show. He lives in Los Angeles, and enjoys Pabst Blue Ribbon beer.

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