Who is this bi---atch?
My past is coming back to kick me in the ribs or at least give me a good smack down.
When I clicked on this commercial on Youtube, the first thing I said to myself was "that bitch."
It originally aired in the mid 1990s when I was an ingenue living in Hollywood attending the University of Southern California. I had wanted to be an actor since I was a kid but my mother never would have supported my decision to pursue a path to show business. In her eyes, to do so would have been akin to wasting my expensive education.
My desire to be seen on screen was as innate to me as my gayness. I had been singing showtunes since the first time I had dressed in drag. I used to wear a scarf dangled from my head to represent "little girl hair" and prance around the house streaming beads that my dad brought back from Mardi Gras in New Orleans. Boys could wear beads in New Orleans and no one batted an eyelash. I was trying to start the trend in California before I was 8.
Having "extremely feminine facial features" used to bother me before I learned how to capitalize on it. When a fledgling talent agency for drag queens opened in Hollywood, I strapped on my slingback stilettos and staunchly sashayed my way into a chance at stardom.
When the Crying Game was released the year I graduated high school, the buzz paved the way for what was to become a largely accepted trend that led to films such as Priscilla and To Wong Foo. Drag was no longer just a pastime for doyennes of despair to dish out in dimly lit dives but an international craze.
It soon became very apparent to me that there might be a way for me to pursue an actor's life in Hollywood without officially doing so. If I could secure representation at a talent agency while dressed as a girl, I was virtually in disguise. Suddenly, I wasn't so bothered about my extremely feminine features. All I had to do to complete the transformation into a girl was put on heels, clip a fall into my hair and apply a little lipstick. Soon, I was going out for auditions all over Hollywood and living a page out of Victor/Victoria cast in the Julie Andrews role. Except, this was life imitating art and I was willing to struggle for my art.
I struggled in the sense that every time a juicy gig came up for casting, my picture was sent out for consideration with scads of other actors sharing my "hidden" talent.
I remember when word started spreading that a national commercial was going to be cast for Clothestime. I was sure to be a shoo in. The part required a man who could flawlessly pass for a female. As someone who had been asked to leave a public men's room more than once, I knew I stood a solid chance at being considered. My agent actually took her own personal time out to accompany me to buy a brand new wig just for the occasion. The wig had cost me over $100 and that was a lot of money when I had to factor in paying for my facials on a Starbucks salary. In retrospect, the long blond tresses I ended up with were a poor choice for me being born as a brunette.
Because my drag friend Tonya had also been called to audition, we decided to "show" up together. I bounded up the steps of her apartment complex giddy with anticipation. "All right, Blondie," called Tonya from inside her studio.
Driving in drag was no big deal and I prided myself on the grace with which I entered and exited my Chevy Blazer. While looking for where we were supposed to be, it suddenly became evident that Tonya and I were attracting a lot of attention. It never occurred to me that my starlet garb was hooker chic. As we meandered up and down Hollywood Blvd looking for the correct address, I sensed commotion behind me. "They think we're hookers, girl," said Tonya. With what I was wearing, I had to admit I did favor a fierce resemblance to Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. "No wonder," I said.
When I walked into the casting office for the Clothestime audition, I was met with a barrage of bitchiness so blatant I wanted to backpedal. Many of the "girls" in the room had been former friends before erupting into one conflict or another that ultimately cooled our relations into mere acquaintances. "Tabitha, (my drag name) couldn't be bothered." said my friend Tonya as she recounted the scene later. I tried not to be nervous as I took note of the row of fright wigs and pallets of plastered makeup before me. There was Claudia, the gal from Kuwait who I had introduced to my estethician after he confessed his asylum from the oil rich country. I saw the Chanel Twins who were ubiquitous fixtures on any gig. "Damn, what are they doing here?" I thought to myself. I feared I might not stand such a good chance with them on the call.
I didn't have to stand in the reception room for very long before I was called to disappear behind closed doors. I entered a white room where a handful of cute guys cavorted behind a camera. They showed me my mark on a makeshift place on the floor that was to be my stage. "Do you know how to dance?" they said. I shook and shimmied myself into a lather to the tune of Suicide Blond by INXS. It reminded me of when I went clubbing in downtown Seattle while in high school. If they could see me now, I thought. But that was a song from Sweet Charity and an entirely different show altogether.
A couple months after the audition, I was in an aerobics class at the Sports Connection in West Hollywood when my agent paged me. I called her back from a phone at the gym's front desk and was devastated to learn there wouldn't even be a call back. The part went to someone from back East or maybe Colorado. It was another month or so before the commercial aired but my bitterness hadn't waned with time. "Who is this bitch?" murmured the drag queens in the clubs. At that month's Dragstrip 66 venue, the hot topic du jour was "have you seen Ms. Thing in the Clothestime commercial?"
I would never have admitted it then but I was actually impressed with the performance of "the bitch" on the air. As queens criticized everything from her wig to her "clockable" factor, I readied myself for my next audition which scored me a second call back at a part on an HBO sitcom.
I wasn't so ready to capitulate when I came across the commercial through its inclusion on Youtube. I entered a comment. I felt like Baby Jane Hudson as I recounted my bitterness at having been passed over for the part. When Jane said to Blanche, "I made a picture that year too. Herbie Hancock said it was the best thing I ever did. But it wasn't even released int he United States because the studios were too busy giving a big buildup to that crap you were turning out," I parroted the concept in the comment I entered at Youtube. "I don't know who this bitch is," I stammered.
Lo and behold, a response was garnered. Thechinablue1 to LastChanceLife (me)
Since I am "this bitch" sweetie, you should know, I auditioned in Dallas, Texas and I was told by the casting directors that they chose me because I wasnt (sic) trying to hard to pass as a woman. The fact is, I am a complete male, with no plastic surgery, and a masculine voice. Apparently, I was just what they wanted. As far as being a bitch, I am genuine, a gentelman, (sic) and humble, but if you want "bitch", it seems as if the only bitch here is you.
And there you have it.