A friend of mine just taught me about Googling myself. Yes, I’ve done it and you probably have too! What I didn’t know that my similarly ego-driven friend taught me is that you can search for items from the last 24 hours, week or month. Wowza! It’s so much better than the regular Google search. How did I live this long and not know this?
So, I was searching with the hopes that I could see Say Wha?! covered in blogs world wide when I came across this little posting about my ‘career.’ I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
For anyone who’s ever wondered about the transcultural potential of teen angst, they would certainly need to talk to Sara Bynoe . Although it would be a stretch to say that she’s made a career out of it, she has made it part of a long career of very interesting pieces of projects.(1) All together, they create an image of what might be a great comic talent lurking in the world.(2) Based in Canada, she travels all over the world, (3) with some very exciting projects, and all of them are unusual.
Some are plays, some are projects, and all of them feel sort of like what the most incredibly talented people might do after the rave is over. It’s not pretentious enough to be termed post-post-melancholic, or even hyper-ironic, but it does have traces of the smartest art that is still able to maintain its comedic edges. (4)
One of the most eye and ear-catching of her projects is a poetry review called Teen Angst . It’s a pretty brilliant little idea, and one with lots of room for wild and radical collaborations from everyone who was ever young and wearing too many black clothes. When it came to London last year, it was a moment where cultures across oceans could come together and commiserate on how bad love can be. (5)
This city is, of course, no stranger to the sentiment. Even though it’s got hundreds of years on North America in terms of a history of people speaking English, the sounds are still very much the same. There are some differences, and it might come down to the same differences between their versions of English that keep some people confused, and some people charmed. For anyone who’s ever spent too much time in a hotel, London is a great place to be any time. And when it comes to teen angst, one could stay in and ruminate over lost love, or hit the streets and do the same, because misery loves company, and it’s even better when it starts to turn funny. (6)
Footnotes by Sara Bynoe
1- Really? I’ve had a long career? I have a career? This counts? Oh thank goodness! Oh, I also thought I was still young-ish.
2- I’ll ignore the ‘might be’ because I certainly am lurking -waiting for my moment to ambush the world. Or more appropriately I’m clawing at the door to get in! World, when will you see me as the great comedic genius that I think I am behind closed doors!?
3- Sure, if you think of all the world as Canada, Seattle, LA, NYC and London then yes. Also note: I’ve traveled more extensively than that, I just haven’t performed elsewhere …. yet. (For bookings please contact my agent).
4- That’s what I’ve been aspiring to do – the smartest art. Which is to day the ‘art’ that I create seems to have no genre except to say it’s awesomesauce and makes people smile.
5- I did eight Teen Angst readings during my year in London. I really wonder which one this woman was at. Book Club Boutique?Latitude?The dodgy little pub by London Bridge where that woman sang a song with the line ‘maggot filled corpse of death?’
6- Yes! This is exactly what I want people to take from Teen Angst. Feel sad, then laugh about it later.
Thank you Laura, whomever you are for your time and critique of my career. My ego really enjoys the validation. Especially because it means more coming from you, a dweller in that world across the pond, than it would coming from any lowly Canadian. Cheers!
A few months ago I went to a workshop. It was one of those build your career, find your edge, life and career workshops for entertainment industry people. The coach was from L.A. and has been doing this for far too many years, at least that’s what I got from her auto pilot ramblings over the two day workshop. I had decided to go because a good friend highly recommended it and I wanted to kick start my career and get help marketing myself as a creative package – which seemed to be the point of the workshop.
The first day the ‘career coach’ -whose shirt was inside out until our break when someone pointed it out to her- and I did not click. When I told her I was an actor who just got an MA in creative writing and was writing a novel she said, “actors don’t write novels.” (She also later told me that I needed to get a better haircut.)
Coming from a woman who said she’d be our personal champion and wanted to inspire us to have the personal and professional careers of our dreams, I felt this was very limiting statement- the one about actors not being writers. For the rest of the day I was guarded and cynical about her ‘advice’ which mostly consisted of stories about how she’s friends with John Travolta and was in the first Broadway production of a famous musical.
However this experience did get me thinking – am I totally off my rocker wanting to do both writing AND acting? The answer: Hells No! And to prove my point here’s a list of actors who also write and do other amazing things and do them well -not like Ethan Hawke whose novel got panned by critics.
Stephen Fry – This man does everything! He’s played Oscar Wilde. Hosted the quiz show QI. He’s done theatre – he’s even hosted the BAFTAs. He’s written four novels, an autobiography, non-fiction books AND he writes a weekly tech column for TheGuardian. He is the epitome of a Renaissance man. Don’t try to tell this man that actors don’t write novels, host radio shows or travel America in a black cab.
Hugh Laurie – The comedy partner of Stephen Fry has recently come to great acclaim in the US playing the lead on House. Before his television success Laurie appeared on the Blackadder, in mulitple films, and wrote a BEST SELLING novel. Apparently he’s written a second one but the publication date has been held back. He has a band and oh, he’s won a SAG and Golden Globe award.
Amy Sedaris – Sister of the humorist David Sedaris (who is a fine writer/performer himself), Amy has created a TV Series, co-written several plays, worked as a sketch comedian, done voice over and she has her own baking company out of her apartment. Don’t try to put Amy in a corner by saying actors can’t write, voice or bake!
James Franco – This future boyfriend of mine just got an MFA from Columbia University’s Writing Program (see- we’d have lots to talk about on our first date being fellow Masters). James dropped out of UCLA (English Major) to study acting and got his break shortly after in a role on Freaks and Geeks. Since then he’s appeared in several high profile flicks like Spiderman playing Spidy’s BFF. He’s done hilarious work with Funny or Die and apparently he’s going to Yale this fall to get a PhD in English. A Ph-fricking-D! Booya!
Miranda July- Although she puts most of her work under the umbrella of Performance Art, Miranda July is an accomplished performer and writer. Her short stories have been published in the Paris Review, The New Yorker, and Timothy McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern. She wrote, directed and acted in her first film You Me and Everyone We Know which won the Caméra d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. She’s a musician whose music was released on Kill Rock Stars. Basically there is nothing this woman can’t do. She hasn’t even had a day job since she was 23!
The list goes on. Essentially all comedians are actor/writer since they write their own material. Look at Tina Fey! A few members of the Office ensemble cast are also writers for the show! And then there’s the biggest actor/ writer of them all Shakespeare! I learned a lot from this workshop and the limiting statement Mrs Wannabe-Tony-Robins made. Mostly I’ve learned that I should spend my money more wisely.
NOTE: If you want to know who the woman was that taught this terrible workshop please e-mail me. I’m not about to stoop to internet slander.
I have done a lot of brave things in my life: I’ve publicly embarrassed myself reading my bad teenage poetry to thousands of people, I’ve traveled to countries where I did not speak the language, I’ve even spun fire (aka poi) but what I did last Saturday night is the bravest thing I’ve done yet.
It started of innocently. I’d been volunteering for the High Performance Rodeo, an International Festival of the Arts in Calgary, mostly to see shows for free. Then Friday afternoon I received an e-mail from my friend, Mark, who worked for the festival looking for volunteers to dress up as sexy Space Girls to sell raffle tickets for their Wine Stage fundraiser the next night.
‘Sure, why not?’ I thought as I had no plans, other than obsessively checking Facebook to see if my sweetie in Vancouver would come online.
Then Friday night I was at the festival bar and I ran into Mark. He asked if I’d be willing to do something else for the fundraiser.
“Would you be willing to be body painted?”
“What does that mean?” I asked, thinking about Demi Moore’s infamous Vanity Fair cover.
“We’ve got someone who’s a great body painter.” Then sensing my apprehension added, “You’ll be wearing a bra and panties.
I exhaled and remembered when I played a burlesque dancer in Pal Joey. I danced and shimmied in a bra and panties, even begged for pasties. That wasn’t such a horrible experience. And prior to seeing Mark at the bar I’d seen a show full of women dancing around in their underwear, if they could do it, so could I (again).
So the next afternoon I bought a set of flesh-toned and paintable undergarments.
I should point out that I’m not the type of woman who’s always felt comfortable in her skin. I was one of the first girls in my class to go through puberty, causing my chest to swell to a C-cup by Jr high. It’s only been recently starting to come to accept my curvy size 6 body. For many years I was the neurotic actress at casting calls comparing the size of her thighs to every woman in the room, especially those that sat next to me as my Bynoe thighs spread out over my chair. ‘Oh, why couldn’t I be a size 2,’ I’d angst. After a few close calls with eating and exercise disorders I stepped back and tried to love my body as it naturally wants to be. But, as with most women, it’s a struggle.
I arrived at the hotel where Wine Stage was being held, at 6 pm and met Whitney, my body painter. She was very friendly and said it was my choice if I wanted to be painted with or without a bra. But, she added, it’s always better without.
In my first year of theatre school I was indoctrinated into two mantras 1) ‘Yes, Lets!’ -where you have to accept every offer given to you and 2) ‘Go big or go home.’ So, without much arm twisting, I let Whitney paint all my skin (well, I wore knickers) besides, when was I ever going to get this opportunity again?
The theme for my look was Pop Art Sushi. The design Whitney showed me was a pink body with maki strategically placed on boobs, hips and thighs. My only concern was having men make fish related jokes at my expense. She didn’t know what to do for my hair, luckily I brought my old raver orange bob wig which Whitney loved.
Being painted was a fairly relaxing ordeal. Except when a guy I barely knew walked into the room. Thank goodness he was an actor, so I knew this wasn’t the first time he’d been in this type of situation. Nevertheless, nerves started to kick in when Whitney tickled me while painting my butt.
The whole process took about an hour and a half. But it didn’t all happen behind closed doors. Around 8 pm I was taken to the stage to have my legs and right arm completed.
As I walked into the room, heads began to turn. I slipped into a persona, a model or someone brave enough to walk amongst $100 ticket holders bare chested. I strut to the stage, then wobbled up the stairs as I came into full view of the room.
There were about 400 people milling around, tasting wine and sampling hors d’oeuvres of sable fish on flax crackers or Alberta beef on cucumber with dill. The room was dimly lit and had a bustle of nicely dressed men and women milling about. Well, everyone except for one guy I saw wearing jeans and a baseball hat, I mean, really?
My hands turned to ice as couples gawked at me. I started playing a game with people who made eye contact. ‘I fucking dare you to look away,’ I thought. I’d smirk. I’d smile. I did not flirt. ‘Do not make this sexy, Sara, this is art.’ My feet went numb while I stood still so Whitney could finish her painting.
Then I noticed that all the boys at one of the catering tables were staring at me. I raised my eyebrows to say, ‘yeah, so what?’ and they snapped their heads away.
I kept reminding myself that every time I’d seen someone naked in a play that they had all the power. I tried to give myself all the power I could muster. At least to create some feeling in my hands and feet.
When I was finished I was told to walk around the crowd. ‘F- that, I wasn’t going without an escort,’ I worried. So I stood on stage while a DJ played funky techno, an artist drew Pegasus and a flying pig on a suspended plastic circle, and a video projection of speeding cars and a city at night. I was a statue in a bizarre tableau.
Mark returned and I told him to get me some alcohol. I can’t believe he let me walk out into a room of people half-naked without any booze in my system. For shame. And why hadn’t I thought of that sooner?
Once half a glass of wine relaxed me I was milling around the crowd careful not to bump into any one with my areola.
“Is that a body suit?” one middle aged woman in pearls asked me.
I politely shook my head no with a small smile on my face.
“Oh!” She gasped and turned back to her friend to whisper like school girls.
I later hooked up with the Space Girls and we ambushed people for raffle tickets. I told a few leering men that they had to buy a ticket for looking at me. Most of them cheaped out – the bastards.
One guy leaned in to us and told the Space Girls that their asses look really good in their pants; “no, I mean it, they look really, really good.” I walked away before he had time to comment on me.
Someone asked to take a photo with me. When they asked what my name was I gave a fake name, fully knowing that it was going to end up on the internet.
A woman came up to me and told me I was beautiful. Over the evening several other women shared her sentiments and I began to stand much straighter.
Sure, I there were moments when I thought about my little stomach pooch, my curves, and I did catch myself comparing my body to fully clothed women, but I’m glad I did it. By the end of the night, just before the big raffle was about to be drawn, I was strutting in my heels like an angel down the Victoria Secret runway.
After the draw I was allowed to go into a hotel room to wash off. I ruined a facecloth scrubbing for 20 min, turning the bleach white cotton a dull grey. I slipped back into my jeans, t-shirt and sweater and looked at myself in the mirror. After an evening of sparkle, colourful paint and a manic panic wig I felt naked.
As I walked back into the function room to say my goodbyes, I feared men approaching me making a comment about how much better I looked before, but no one noticed me. My posture changed from shoulders back and head held high to a slight slump as I was back to normal Sara again.
It was only 11 pm but I was exhausted; the evening had zapped me of all my energy. Driving home I passed SUVs pumping house music, and skids smoking out their windows, on their way to parties and clubs. And I couldn’t help but smile, I was braver than I thought.