Monday, 21 November 2011

'Trouble at the ballet' ...and other places

Back in the day, as well as working all over the world as a escape artist
(must hunt out some pics / cuttings some day) I also joined the actors union 'Equity'. Being an Equity member was useful for one sole purpose.... extra work and bit parts. For every cool thing I got to be in, I was in 4 embaressing things such as the video below...(see if you can'spot the Wayne').

Embaressment factor: 9/10

Yep that was me in camera at the bar..and also if you look very carefully dancing as a teddy boy. not my finest hour I'll admit. But hey it got to number 1 in the charts (thus proving how sad music was back then) and meant it was shown on top of the pops over here lol.

I always tried to behave myself and be professional whenever I was doing extra or bit part work. Although that didn't stop odd things from happening. one day I got a call from my equity rep asking if I would want to be an extra in the royal festival ballets performance of swan lake. As it paid £500 a day I said yes rather fast. But it had a catch...

All we had to do was to wear a monks habit on stage and then after 40 mins standing stock still walk to the front and wave our arms about. What they did NOT tell us was the 'monks habits 'were made from an old horse hair blanket and under the lights you would lose about 1kg each time....I was already thin as a rake back then soI didn't need to lose weight. (But now I'd be begging to lose that much a day lol).

So we had the excellent idea of not wearing any clothes under our habits as it was simply too warm. plus if you were really careful and moved slowly enough you could have a bottle of water under the habit and move your arm out from the sleeve and bring it up to your mouth for a sly dry to rehydrate. It was all going swimmingly every night until the last night's performance....

I must back track at this point and explain that one of the other 'monks' was an actor we nicknamed 'ringpiece'. He was given this nickname due to having a massive ring piercing through the end of his knob. he wasn't exactly shy with showing it off either and was always getting into trouble slapping it out to show the ballet dancers. Sadly for him most were from lesbania.

So the last performance...we all go walking forward to do our 'waving arms about like a lunatic' bit and ringpeice slips flat onto his back, the monks habit up around his waist showing the entire theatre royal his pierced knob. He got sacked for that...although bit pointless as was the last night. It would not be my last encounter with 'ring piece'.

I next encountered 'Ringpiece' when filming as an extra on the above video for Robson and Jerome's single 'Saturday night at the movies'. While they both portrayed being big mates in interviews was obvious to anyone who saw them that they fucking hated being near each other. Imagine the oasis Gallagher brothers but with less violence lol. Robson Green was a great guy though and would come in each morning early to stand and act as teas maid for the extras and crew. He seemed a very nice guy from the times we were talking to him, obsessed with football and Newcastle united.

So on day one while we were filming the bar scene cowboy part it become time for us to break for dinner and that was setup to being a nice posh bar down on Newcastle's quayside. Right next door to the crown court and lots of barristers and lawyers went there for their Din-dins.

So as we're sitting eating a very nice buffet put on for us, one of the woman asks if its right that Ringpeice has a reverse prince Albert piercing on his knob. Now what he should have done was said 'yes', what he did was to drop his trousers in the middle of the bar full of posh business types and show the whole bar. It took a nice 'cash donation' from Robson and Jerome's production company for them not to call the police (as they were big names in England at the time it would have been eaten up by the papers). The rest of the shoot didn't go well as day two we all had food poisoning from day ones buffet! No wonder the two poor buggers never used extras in a video again lol.

There was another phone call the next year for yet more extra work with the ballet, again swan lake but a totally different production. This time there were 4 of us playing large medieval guards and me and another guy were each side of a thrown. Nothing untoward occurred on stage (apart from the last night when we felt the need to draw various moustaches on ourselves..didn't go down well that lol.)

no...the big problem was we were carrying 8 feet tall razor sharp pikes. They were heavy as fuck and when the stage lights went out it was as black as the black hole of Calcutta. The only way off stage on this particular set was through a small opening the size of a single house interior door. So we had to point our pikes forward and hope to fuck no one was in the way. all but one performance somehow we managed it, but on the 3rd performance I fucked up. There was a dwarf actor playing some part or other and I manage to stab him up the arse, which is no mean feat when your arse is less than 2 feet off the ground!

This is not good, big or clever.

I was very apologetic and made sure I bought the guy a drink afterwards as a small way of saying 'sorry I impaled you up the arse with a razor sharp pike'. Every time I went up or down in the lift to and from the stage the very same bit of music from swan lake was still sends a shudder down my spine whenever I hear it well over a decade and a half later.

Next time....'Hunting for Bungle and Zippy with Doctor Who & James Bond'

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