Carrie, Charlotte, Samantha, Miranda and ME. That’s what I envisioned when the call went out for extras to be in the new movie, Sex and the City 2.
I high-tailed it down to The Metropolitan Pavilion on West 18th Street wearing my flirty, red Ralph Lauren dress and black, peep-toe Christian Louboutins. Actually, I wore flip-flops and carried my heels. As lovely as they are, I can’t stand in my CLs for more than a half-hour or my toes become mutinous and threaten to abandon my feet.
The call for non-union talent was at 1:30 p.m. I got there a little late, hence the reason the line was wrapped all the way down the block, up Sixth Avenue then around the block, ending at 19th and Seventh.
The casting description asked for fashionistas, socialites, models—but who turned out? Everyone, in every shape, size, color, age, male and female. There were no casting requests for children, yet some were there. I guess people couldn’t find last minute childcare, but were so intent on getting seen that they brought the kids along for the ride.
Some applicants showed up in very un-SATC attire, like cut-offs and Ts. On the other hand, some appeared in sidewalk-dragging gowns. Many came in dresses so formfitting and short they’d make a stripper blush. Others arrived in costume. Remember that pink tutu SJP wore in the television show’s opening credits? It was alive and well—in yellow—and twirling on 19th Street.
Then there were the women in this city who are truly as beautiful and statuesque as the ones who play us NYC gals on TV. (I tried not to stand too close to any of them.) They were the ones who, from the neck down, could have been the identical twin of Carrie Bradshaw, right down to the shoes. Unlike me, these SATC extra wannabes stood on line the whole two-plus hours in their stilettos. More power to them and the many mani/pedis that keep them from hobbling.
Just like the actresses of SATC fame, we drew a crowd. Pedestrians walked by and asked what we were doing there, then wished us luck. We had our detractors, though. People who knew why we were out enforce and snickered as they passed, as if to say, “This bunch thinks they’re in the same league as Carrie & Co.?” But we had more than our share of admirers. All along 19th Street, across the street from where we were standing, men lined up—a few brought folding chairs—for some prime “girl watching.” But the ultimate compliment was paid by a guy in a hardware van, who slowed down to proclaim, “Yous all look hot.” High praise indeed.
The paparazzi—OK, photographers from various news organizations—walked up and down the line snapping shots of those who struck a pose, as well as close ups of all the four-inch, platformed and wildly patterned footwear.
Speaking of shoes, I put my heels on just as I was about to make the transition from outside to in, only to find not my turn with the casting director, but more lines; ones that snaked around the cavernous hall of the pavilion. Flip-flops went back on.
Now indoors, we were spared the blazing sun, but deprived of air conditioning, as well as windows. Even though it was crowded and rather warm, and people were getting antsy, the atmosphere was generally lighthearted and convivial. With so many headshot sightings, it was fair to say that a lot of actors saw this casting call as an opportunity to get a Manolo in the door with a major star-studded project. Needless to say, there was lots of talk about agents and sharing information about auditions and classes. In front of me, two models, one new to Manhattan, were swapping phone numbers and the 411 on agencies. People were lending each other pens so we could all fill out the paperwork they gave us. But the joking and chit-chat started to come to an end as we inched closer to the entrance of the back room where the Wizard of Oz, I mean, casting agents were seated.
The four lines began to converge into one. People were getting pushed and stepped on, and essentially losing their places. Voices started to rise. For a brief moment, I thought there was going to be a repeat of the now infamous Tyra Banks/America’s Next Top Model casting stampede, but the pavilion’s big and burly security detail rolled in. Immediately, everybody calmed down and behaved.
At last, it was my turn!
My group was let in to our final casting destination. And there were more lines. Three to be exact. But they were short and moved quickly. It was sort of like being on line at the bank. I stood at a safe distance and waited for the agent to yell, “Next.”
I walked up, thinking I’d be assessed and told where I’d best fit in: club-goer, cocktail party guest, etc. But, no. The casting agent took my contact information card, put it on top of the pile and thanked me, then instructed me to “Step over and get your picture taken.”
And? I just had to ask, “Then what?”
“If we want you,” she said, “we’ll call you.”
So, I got my photo snapped. (One picture. Were they kidding? It usually takes several to get a halfway decent-looking one.) After that, I went out to the vestibule, kicked off my heels, slid on my flip-flops and walked to Sixth Avenue to hail a cab uptown.
Apparently, trying to be an extra in the sequel to Sex and the City is just like trying to get a date in New York City. We get all dressed up to both stand out and fit in, hang around trying to meet someone, finally make contact, then somebody says, “I’ll call you,” and we wait by the phone, hoping it happens.
Lorraine Duffy Merkl’s debut novel, Fat Chick, will be published in September by The Vineyard Press.
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