Posted by: anniewilson | August 8, 2008

An Extra Special Experience

America has no royalty as such, so we must settle for Hollywood stars and Kennedy spawn when we look for someone to envy. We wonder what is must be like to live such a lavish lifestyle. So, when the opportunity came a round to experience some of the lifestyle myself, it’s no wonder that I jumped at the chance. I was only too happy to wake up at 3 A.M. to drive over 100 miles south of my house so that I could arrive in time for wardrobe and make-up. We stood in line for hours but I didn’t mind. Why should I mind? In addition to letting me participate, they gave me $75 a day! A shot at fame AND cash. Who could refuse that? Not to mention the opportunity to meet William Sanderson of “this is my other brother Darryl” fame.

On my first day of filming, I noticed that there were 1,958 men for every woman there. I was to play a male, a union soldier being held captive in Andersonville, the Confederate prison of war camp. At least I was on the winning side.

In make-up, they smeared this stuff that was called MUD all over me. I am convinced that it is actual mud that they mix out back themselves. It was on my face, my hair, my clothing, everywhere.

Next stop, wardrobe. The costumes were pretty good duplicates, down to the wool. We didn’t even need windbreakers then. The heat from the sun and the wool was dreadful. The hats only added to the heat conservation so by high noon I was ready to run through the set naked. Then I remembered, 1,958 men for every woman.

In my single days, I certainly enjoyed the company of men. When they were around, I made every effort to “accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative.” But never, in my entire life, did I have as many offers as I did during the two months I spent covered in MUD, whiskers and men’s clothing. I wouldn’t be rid of one guy for 5 minutes before another would come by and take a shot. They were as persistent as drunks at closing time. Even if I had WANTED to converse with these people I had no idea if they were nice people like me or derelicts.

As in any movie, you spend a lot of time just sitting around and that was when they would get me. I made friends with a huge guy named Christian. I asked him if I could just stand within 10 feet of him and he said, “Sure.” We hung out for the rest of the movie…(he spent the entire time protecting me and my virtue. Sometimes I would use his large frame to hide behind so I could get closer to the camera but they ALWAYS caught me. Not once did I pass as a man.

I taped down my entire chest during PMS and had a friendly make up man do his best to “man” me up but I always ended up relegated to deep background, one step ahead of the plywood cut outs. I did manage to get into one scene by burying my head in my arms so I AM in the movie, but I can’t prove it.

Being surrounded by strangers has possibilities. I had fun telling huge lies to amazed men who had some pretty wild stories of their own. Of course, it’s not easy to impress a lady who knows you earn $75 a day. It’s a must lie situation.

The biggest laugh came when some bonehead actually wore a walkman during an otherwise perfect shot. Director John Frankenheimer himself fired the embarrassed rocker from 100 yards away. Very few missed that scene.

They did have free food. The best thing you could say about it was that it was free. I would wager that Mr. Sanderson ate a little better than we did. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, they got the clean outhouses and the huge salaries. Why should they eat food that would frighten a marine in boot camp?

I spent a lot of time just intermingling within the different groups, drunks and all. Where thousands gather, cliques form. Mostly, I hung out with the 60’s people. They appeared a little rough around the edges and decades older, but still stuck in the 60’s. I always wondered where the hippies went. They’re still out there, it’s just that arthritis prevents them from attending any sit-ins. Of course there were the “Shouldn’t you guys be at an AA meeting? guys. The most persistent of all the creepy people, they wouldn’t leave even after I insulted them and their mothers. They just stood there, swaying in the breeze. I kept wondering, “Why don’t they fall over?”

There was an interesting artsy-fartsy group of people but artsy-fartsy people are excellent liars so you can’t believe a thing they say.

Then there were the professional extras who considered this project beneath them. I didn’t see them often, they were all up front by the camera.

Other highlights include long hours away from home and meeting a bunch of stars whose names you can’t remember but you see all the time. I sweated like a horse and had MUD smeared all over me and then the sun baked it onto my face and hair. But I did have fun and nobody spat at me so, in hindsight, it was pretty fun.

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