|Austin-Bergstrom International Airport|
From Nudity to the Military
by Sarah Jean Fry
My friend Steve emailed me and said,"I have a job for you, if you want it." I called him.
He said,"Well, I have this job and if you're willing to appear nude on TV we can make some money." And he told me it was a game show. We would be in leotards. I laughed and said,"I'm in a leotard every week-end!" I pondered it but agreed to the audition/interview which was the next night (Wednesday). Since John Ritter and a bunch of other well-known actors did game shows before they were famous, I decided I would do this, too. Steve said he'd fax me the info. I thought about it and wondered if it was some soft porn stuff. I didn't really want to be associated with that. So, I called him with my concern and he said,"Oh no. It's To Tell the Truth." LOL! Then I knew it was legit.
Well, the interview was at NBC studios and lasted 2 hours 5-7pm. Ordinarily, it wouldn't last that long, but we were in. Basically, they started priming us for Saturday, otherwise it would've been an hour or less. So there were six of us. There was a real-life non -industry couple who applied to be on the game show through the internet...well, actually she applied and he went along with it; Steve and I, the actors; and the couple who really did get married in the nude!
Saturday we arrived at NBC (tons of stuff shoots there) at 9am. We were prepped and were put in to costume or almost a costume in this case...LOL! The men had pillows in front of their private parts and the women had a huge bouquet of flowers. It went really fast when we were actually brought on stage. I won't tell you how it went because I'll let you know when it airs. We were all pleased and we all had a great time! It really was one of the most fun experiences on camera that I've ever had! :)
A week and a half later, a CD I know called me and offered me a job "on a Sony commercial." It would be a 2-day shoot with a 5am call Monday morning (we got the call Friday evening at 6pm) and we'd be bused to a location 3 hours from our cars. With this particular CD, I generally just say thank you and don't ask a lot of questions, just a few necessary ones like what's the weather. She said very cold, so I packed my ski suit. As it turns out, it was hot.
Well, we all arrived at the bus at 5am, not a soul was late! There were 25 real marines and 11 actors (6 female and 2 male extras and three male principals). We arrived in Death Valley, where many of the old-time movies were shot, at 8 am. The scenery the last hour of the ride (I slept the first two) was gorgeous, snow capped mountains everywhere!
When arrived, we drove up to the set which looked just like MASH. Remember that television series?
On of my first instructions was to take off my fresh manicure and cut off my fingernails. LOL! Usually they're telling to make sure to get a manicure before I get to the set. I didn't really know beforehand what I was in for. I wasn't told I'd be a private in the military. I was offered a job and I said,"Yes, thank you!"
Then we were put in full gear fatigues including helmets but no weapons. Our first stage direction was "drop and role" ...because "your gear is way too clean." Then there were lots of takes in the camp, people running and dropping in to trenches and dragging ammunition to trucks. It was quite the physical day. The temperature only rose to about 80 degrees, but with all that activity and the full gear it was pretty warm.
The make up artists spent two days applying dirt and grease to our exposed necks, faces and hands. I was picked on a little extra. So, when the makeup artists would come around they'd all say "Sarah needs extra, she's not dirty enough." LOL! Even the caterer wanted to know,"How much for your rings?" I looked at my hands,"I'm not wearing any rings." He said,"No the ones around your neck." I told him they were free if he really wanted them
The production company put us up in a new Best Western (the best out there). Each of the rooms was labeled by a star's name. My room was Gene Autry. Inside the door, there's a short composition, accompanied by pictures, which list and discuss some of the movies shot by the star. There's so much history in Death Valley! It's amazing. I imagined being there when they were filming back in the 30's, 40's, and 50's. They didn't have all the cushy conditions that we have today.
The second day was much like the first as far as shooting, with perhaps a few more breaks in between takes. During the last break, I was talking with the Young and Rubicam rep and the Sony producer. We were just chatting casually and they asked me how it was going. I told them it was fun, an adventure. "Although when a girl decides to become an actress and they say "make-up," dirt and grease around the neck is not the first thing that comes to mind." The half dozen who were listening all joined in on a hearty laugh! I wonder if Audrey Hepburn ever made comments like that.
When the sun went down on Tuesday, we were invited to get back in to civilian clothes. The bus ride home was noisy at first, but in about 45 minutes we were all sleeping. About 10:30, we got a little nervous. The bus had to stop due to high winds and sand literally completely blocking all view; but fortunately, we got through and actually got out ahead of the winds. I instantly had a new appreciation for our teamsters, bus and truck drivers. Bill, our bus driver, has been in the business about 50 years. He was confident and steady having weathered far worse storms than this one. And by 11:30am, we reached our cars.
Getting up for the office at 6am on Wednesday seemed like a piece of cake after the events of the prior two days. We won't know for sure until the check arrives exactly how much we made with all the different elements that add up, but it certainly was an adventure!
The one thing I did experience on the soulful side was a new appreciation for what soldiers and military people go through. I grew up in a military family and hadn't until this experience realized the impact that the military has had on my life. Perhaps, much of my discipline comes from the influence of the military in my life. Obviously, the set activity was little compared to wartime and not even as difficult as military life during peace time, but I'm now much better prepared to book a military character in a movie or a series like MASH or JAG.
So, all-in-all, the last couple of weeks have been interesting from nudity on a comfy game show to full military gear in the desert. I can't wait to find out what I'll find myself doing next.