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I Just Made You Say “Underwear”
by Tess Lynch
Let’s talk about your underpants. A lot of the context of this story depends on whether or not you’re in a relationship: if you’re not, then congratulations – your underpants are, absolutely without question, cuter than mine. You’re probably spending some time thinking about the first time a person’s going to see your underpants, and that’s smart. Because, as I found out yesterday, sometimes it’s really impossible to predict that kind of situation; being in a relationship, I hadn’t really been thinking about it. I’d let my underpants go. It was a stupid, stupid mistake.
I love clothes, sure. I’d buy lots of underpants if I could afford them. Instead, I spend my money on things people see – I’ll refer to these items as “outerwear,” but really I just mean that they’re not underpants.On Friday, two days before my dad got into town, I got an audition notice. This is sort of a big deal if you’re in Los Angeles and trying to act (I’m currently a member of this retarded slice of pie chart), because they don’t come around all that often if you don’t have a theatrical agent or a manager. I have a commercial agent and I submit myself, so I usually average about two auditions a week. The only one I’ve skipped out on was a student film in Long Beach that didn’t pay. I’m an audition whore. I’ll go out on anything.
Obviously, it follows that a lot of the stuff I show up to audition for, I’m not really suited to do. I tried to play a piece of pepperoni reading off a TelePrompter, a dancer (ha ha ha), and a femme fatale.
Sometimes I leave these auditions feeling kind of dumb for going in the first place. When I read the audition notice, I was totally prepared to suck it up and try to put together some clothes that would make me fit the role, even if it was a stretch that I’d be believable as the character. “Okay,” I thought, clicking on the link, “great-looking. Fit. Not modelly. A Chloe Sevigny type.” The last part was mildly insulting, but I was game. I like Big Love. I even saw The Brown Bunny. I can get with Chloe.
I hadn’t submitted myself for this role; my commercial agent had. Oooh, there was travel. I wondered to where. Oooh, the pay was really great. All right, now we were cooking with fire. Wait a second. Hang on. There was a note in the “wardrobe” section. The note said “lingerie.”
So, let’s go back to your underpants. Got any you’d like to show some strangers who aren’t even interested in sleeping with you? Exactly. Neither did I. But I (probably – that is, unless you’re in a relationship too) have EVEN LESS CUTE UNDERPANTS THAN YOU. I’ve been dating someone for a year and a half. All the cute ones are gone. All the new ones are from Forever XXI. They cost $2 a pop.
You wash them, and they turn into pancake batter. They have cute buttons on the ass that are dangling by threads. I wash them with colorful towels, so most of them are tie-dye. I don’t wear bras. To bed, I usually go with a t-shirt too badly stained to be worn during the day and some MC Hammer pants. And I’m broke. So.
Of course, by the time all this really dawned on me, my dad had arrived in Los Angeles for the weekend. He was only here for two days, and he and I are great pals who never get to hang out. There was no time or money for undapants shopping. Every time my dad and I would get together for coffee or dinner, I’d want to talk about lingerie. Except also not, because I was with my dad, and I didn’t want to tell him about my Serious Panty Situation. “They’re not actually going to need you to wear underpants to the audition,” I told myself. “That would be crazy. That only happens in Van Nuys. They’re just going to size you up and cast you, and you’ll wear the getup when you get cast.” When I called my agent on Monday to confirm this, the secretary laughed at me.
“It says that the wardrobe is lingerie. That means you have to wear lingerie.”
“What KIND of lingerie?” I squeaked. “What kind of lingerie would YOU wear?”
“I have no idea,” she said, and got off the phone. Maybe her underpants drawer looked like mine.
I pulled it together. I talked to my mom. I called my friend Rosie to talk about the boy-short option.
“I have these cute shorts. They’re almost underpants.”
“That’s cheating.” I knew it was. “Just wear some nice, cute lacy black underpants.”
“I don’t have any. I have these sort of purple –”
A few dozen Camel Filters later, I had sewn some buttons back on the ass of my multicolored-heart-print undies and thrown a ginormous white bra into a bag. It seemed wrong to audition in underpants I’d been wearing all day. I drove there. I assumed it’d be sort of like this other audition I went on, where I dressed cute and stated my name, looking into the red eye of the camera, and then told the casting director what weapon I’d use in a bar fight.
It took 30 seconds, and then I left to gorge myself on fries (which is what I usually do after an audition). That was what I prepared myself for as I drove to my underwear audition, went into the waiting room, and saw that it was even worse than I’d thought: the room was full of models.
I’m short. I’m a shorty.
“She’s Got You” — Patsy Cline (mp3)
In addition, I’m Irish. I’d be perfectly believable in the fields, pulling potatoes out of the ground, stockily trotting up a hill to catch, fry, and eat an entire pig. Everyone else was eleven feet tall and clearly on a raw-food diet. They had glowy skin, looked like they all had the same Eastern European parents that spawned all the Victoria’s Secret models, and legs that they had to fold twice to sit down.
The explanation of the scene we’d be doing was tacked on a bulletin board two feet above my head, so I tried to read it without staring up the skirts of the ladies next to me. It went something like: Girl is terrible attraktiv and see the boy, who love his Shoe, and it they wears him. Boy is attraktiv and girl he flirt, when she say to take the Shoe off he clad, and woman is very opengoing (attraktiv). When he laugh, then she laugh, but say To Take Off Shoe!
“Does this shoot in Germany or something?” A girl next to me asked the crabby woman who was taking our paperwork.
“Yeah,” she said, and then got up to talk to another moderator about how she hates “model-wrangling.” I felt her. She was a shorty too.
We all got herded into a room with another cranky guy and the actor we’d be doing the scene with, who had two handfuls of candied nuts.
“Do we do this naked?” A model next to me asked the cranky guy.
“Sweet Dreams (Of You)” — Patsy Cline (mp3)
“Not naked,” the guy said, and we all sighed with relief. “In your underpants.”
“Oh, thank God,” said the model.
“You strip down, look into the camera and say your name and whether or not you have a valid passport. Then we do full-body profiles. Then you’re going to walk towards the camera, until you’re an inch away. Then you go off camera, and then we do the scene. Basically, you’re in bed with Matt [or something, who was listening?], and you see he’s wearing shoes. The first take is playful, you’re like, ‘Oh, baby, can you take your shoes off?’ but you’re not mad yet. Then in the second take, you’re like, ‘Oh, BABY, can you PLEASE take your shoes off?’ and you’re, like, real mad.”
We all nodded sagely. This is way more instruction than you usually get at an audition.
After we’d been given the rundown, we were ushered back into the waiting room. One by one, the girls went in, and they all came out emotional. Some were laughing, like they’d just re-lived the best frat party of their lives. Some were shaken, and jetted out of the room pulling on their skirts just to make sure they were actually back in clothes. The girl ahead of me was upset. “Have fun!” she said, wiping beads of sweat from under her nose, and flew out the door.
I had to take a deep breath, because I had no liquid to chase a downer with. I went in. I took a candied pecan from the other actor before I took off my dress, and then I did the damn thing. I draped myself over the six-foot-five (fully clothed) actor dude, and told him that his shoes were disgusting, and that I’d be wearing bifocals to bed as long as he refused to take them off. I walked up to the camera and saw giant thighs and buttoned undies in the monitor. I saw fluorescently-lit thighs. I called the casting director “sir” whenever possible, and it is probably this that led him to congratulate me on the way out.
“Hey,” he said. “I’m totally impressed. I like your look. Hopefully I’ll see you again.”
“I Fall to Pieces” — Patsy Cline (mp3)
Hopefully, I thought, not in my underpants. I took another candied nut on my way out the door, and heard the casting director take one too. “These are all sugar,” he said. My dress was on inside-out, but I didn’t notice until a toddler’s mom tucked the tag in at the grocery store afterwards.
“Sorry,” she said. I felt her cold hands on my back. “I’m Hungarian; there’s just something indecent to me about tags showing.”
“Oh, sure,” I said, and thanked her. I took my pancetta and went home to cook dinner for my dad. I felt like a million bucks, so I ate a pound of pasta with cream sauce. And that’s my story about auditioning in my underwear.
Tess Lynch is a writer and lingerie model living in Los Angeles, California. You can find her previous work here.
“Crazy” — Patsy Cline (mp3)
“Crazy (live)” — Norah Jones (mp3)
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