The Money Gig

Actors do weird jobs. Temp work to pay the bills while they work on their art. I know a Tony-winning actress who still, when she is not working, does telephone soliciting. She created roles for Edward Albee. And she still does the money gig.

Most of these money gigs suck. Here is a sampling of various jobs I’ve had:

Cocktail waitress on Wall Street.

Did the 4 to 8 shift. Monday through Friday. Had to wear a truly horrible short red dress trimmed with black lace. Said I was cold all the time, and wore a green corduroy blazer over it. Towards the end, resorted to wearing fake horn rim glasses because I didn’t want to be hit on anymore. One night when I was wearing the Point Dexter glasses a drunk guy looked at me close and said, “I bet under those glasses you are real pretty.” I was thrilled.

Best part of the job was working with Cathy from the Bronx who looked like a cupie doll and whose husband was in prison for pleading the fifth. She had a thick Bronx accent. To make things bearable, we drank booze out of coffee cups on Friday nights. When Cathy started saying, “NOT FOR NOTHIN’” every five seconds, you knew she was drunk. One night we smoked pot in the ladies room and Cathy kept pointing at me saying, “YOU’RE LIT!” I loved her. She went through a big guilt thing when she met a friend of her incarcerated husband at a motel on day to fool around. But she got philosophical about it and decided, “Oh fuck it.” As a little escapee from Westchester, I loved this crap. Her daughter was named after her favorite perfume, Replique. I still have a bottle of it on my dressing table even though they don’t make it anymore.

I used to do crossword puzzles on my cocktail tray to keep from being bored. Had to leave when the management wanted us to wear giant strawberry pins on our uniforms to push the dessert and the men found them sexually symbolic in nature. I refused to wear it and was fired. Bye Bye Cathy. X

Bookkeeper for a Brazilian store.

Found out Brazil runs on nepotism. Every time there was a new president of Brazil, everyone lost their jobs and new “friends” were hired. My boss was someone important’s girlfriend and a total ditz. But fun. My OCD caused me to do all the work on a pittance salary while she shopped Fifth Avenue all day. Store went out of business because mass amounts of broken furniture was shipped from Brazil and no one noticed until it got to a customer’s house and they sat in a chair and they landed on their butts on the floor.

Bartender at a trendy Italian place in the village.

The place was loaded with celebrities every night. The owner a wild man from Northern Italy. Earring in one ear. Talked very fast. Often emerged from the bathroom with white powder on his nose. I was the only woman working there. Oh oh. When the owner in a crazed state came behind the bar and touched me, I walked out in the middle of the dinner rush. The mayor of New York City was there that night. Should I have complained to him? The owner phoned me to come back. “Pleasa, I was just trying to pass by you,” he said. Dai basta dude.

Assistant for a talent negotiator.

He used to sit at his desk and snort coke all day and then he started getting weird and saying I was making him paranoid and that I was looking at him with disgust. He had a poodle named Mitzi who used to hunt for the coke when he left her alone. You could always tell if she’d found it, she’d be like shivering and yipping around the office. Yip! Yip! When he wasn’t being paranoid he was trying to get me to go out with him. Which I’m sorry, was never going to happen because he wore white shoes and a big gold chain on his hairy chest with the gray hairs that you could see every day because he never buttoned his goddamned shirt. I used to just laugh when he asked me out, but one day I’d had it, and I told him I was never, never, ever going to go out with him. He fired me the next day.

Assistant in a real estate office.

I was copying listings out of the newspaper on to index cards. My boss kept complaining that my ones looked like sevens and sevens like ones. She wanted me to write the European seven with the little line through it, but I could never remember. Every time I forgot she would get up from her desk with the index card walk over to my desk and say; “ I can’t read this. What does it say?” And I’d go; “Um, ah…seven, no, one, no, no it’s definitely a seven. And then I’d have to write the stupid card all over again. The boss was absurdly cranky. But I felt sorry for her when she confided in me that she had low blood sugar problems.

Assistant for another real estate firm.

Part of the job consisted of droving around the city in a painted bus advertising the firm. The other peon, an actor, looked at me and said; “Isn’t this the best job?” And I thought, “I’m shoving fucking balloons through the window of an RV on Fifth Avenue which is blasting that Macarena music for blocks and blowing bubbles from the roof – NO! IT’S NOT! Couldn’t deal. Never returned.

Paralegal for a law firm.

I had to get dressed up everyday. So, between buying a wardrobe and dry cleaning, I don’t think I made very much. But was nice to be able to use my brain because I actually do have one. One of the partners found out I was an actress and that I was doing a Shakespeare play at night. He would occasionally ask me into his office and read me these Shakespearean style poems he had written. It was nice. He was like ancient. His office had sixties décor.   He had an orange shag rug. He had had his own television show that I never heard of. What a nice change after the coke men.   He sometimes sat with me at lunch in the cafeteria. Partners do not sit with paralegals. People kept asking me how I knew him, was he a friend of my family’s? My direct boss was an ex Guru Rashneesh devotee who learned paralegaling from working on all the cases against him. Once again the universe gave me a boss who did no work and let me carry the day. She played with her little sculpture projects (her favorite – the phallus) all day while I did all the work for an hourly wage. I was so exhausted my husband begged me to leave.

I’m getting tired just thinking about it. I have to go lie down now.

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January 2009

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