Monday, May 11, 2009
I was an EXTRA in the new Patrick Wolf video!
Tight black unitards. Skintight white tube dresses. White disks adorned with long white cords to mimic a jellyfish that strapped to our heads. Gnome like double cones wrapped around heads imitating horns that were draped with white string to resemble beards. Satellite dish neck pieces with tapered strings. Oversized crowns and white Elizabethan inspired paper corsetry. Drummers drumming. Human half-puppets do bizarre dances. Dancers dancing.Eccentric and beautiful minstrels singing. There is a bearded man dressed in a white robe splashing violently in day glow orange paint. There are blacked out faces and bodies, only the eyes and hands painted neon green, yellow, orange, or blue are illuminated in the black lights...
It was an average Thursday morning. I was working, sitting trapped within my 6X6 cubicle. I was looking forward to the evening of a nice little dinner and Wolverine with my man and his crew. As the hours slowly ticked by I would sporadically check my email hoping for correspondence other than advertisements all was to no avail. That is, until I received an email through the Patrick Wolf's fan club newsletter (TWIN) of a most curious nature:
Subject: Patrick needs YOU to star in 'Hard Times' video!
Patrick Wolf is shooting a video for his new single "Hard Times" THIS Friday (8th May) in Manhattan, and he
desperately needs some extras! Please email firstname.lastname@example.org ASAP and be sure to include a recent picture of
yourself and your contact info. It promises to be a mega fun shoot with black lights, make-up, costumes, and
glow-in-the-dark paint! Please note that you must be
available all day/evening for this venture.
Team Wolf x
I was amazed to see an email like this. It was so open, so inviting. I thought, "Ahh, that's so cool, if only I had the day off", and I went on my "merry" way about my day. The thought of such a rare opportunity nagged at me all day long. Thoughts plagued me, broke my concentration, "I DO have one sick day left... no no there's NO WAY they'd want me anyway! They're probably looking for supermodels that they don't have to pay forS I guess it couldn't hurt to send a picture and info in, it would be like buying a lottery ticket and hey, you never know..." and on that note I snapped a quick (yet pretty) picture on my cell phone and sent an email out to the people at NYLON, knowing nothing would come of it, but at least I tried. I went about my day. Then I got an email instructing me to be at this studio at 9 a.m. I didn't really believe it, until I was in a diner and I received a phone call from an unknown number- I picked up and discovered it was all true- I had been selected to be an extra in Patrick Wolf's upcoming video!! OH MY GOD! All the caller said was I needed opaque black leggings, and a long sleeve black shirt, mysterious, eh?
I woke up instantly the next morning, so excited and shaky I thought there was NO WAY I would be able to feign illness, well I was wrong again. In my best "swine flu" voice I reported that I had a sore throat, and the chills. Yeah yeah- I know what you're thinking, "K- you're actually WRITING this down? What if they see this??" Well, you know what? Let 'em see. If I got fired over this it would be worth it. You'll understand by the end of this epic tale of Friday, May 8th, 2009. I hopped on the train- coffee and bagel in hand and headed over to the studio. I entered, nervous, scared, and confused. I saw no one. Had this all been some sick prank? I turned and saw a young woman, similarly dressedS I smiled at her once and turned to ask a man where "Studio 1" was. She lit up instantly- we went up together.
We entered into a high ceiling room of tall black fabric stretched over steel beams. There was camera equipment, and an area full of people of various ages, all in the same all-black attire, and a groggy expression. I was disappointed. Was I the only super excited person here? Just then a handsome effeminate man peeks in on the sea of groggy extras and says something like "hey everyone, we're actually going to start you on hair and makeup soon. The costumes are made of paper so be careful with them. We're talking oak tag and 2000 feet of string. Oh and some of you will be wearing paper corsets and crowns." At the word "corset" I let out an excited gasp only to hear it echo out from another¹s lips. I craned my head and found a lady with the same excited grin. We smiled knowingly at each other. That pretty much broke the ice. We were brought into Studio 3 where we would spend most of the day. I met wonderful people, Hillary, Anna, Michael, Jen, Paul, and countless others. We sat and talked endlessly, getting to know one another.
As we sat there I let the fact that I could've been sitting in my cubicle at that moment sink in. It was only 10 in the morning and already the day seemed unreal. I panned my view around the room; taking in all the creativity at hand, when suddenly my head and eyes froze. "Oh my god! He's here!" there, standing by the door of the studio was Patrick Wolf.
Just hanging out. Talking, laughing. I know he's not an absurdly HUGE celebrity to everyone but he's MY David Bowie OK? I stared and grinned like a fool- I couldn¹t help myself! I was totally unprepared for what happened next. He looked up and over at me, saw me grinning like a chimp and actually SMILED and waved back. This caused me to smile even more ridiculously, while waving like a maniac, then I got embarrassed and I spun back so fast I got dizzy.
Let me tell you something about Patrick Wolf. He is a gentleman through and through, and he is a very gracious and accommodating host. He made sure to make everyone's acquaintance, shook our hands, got our names, asked and sounded genuinely interested to know who we were and what we did for a living. I have to be honest, I was not expecting that, I assumed I would be standing NEAR him, but not get to talk to him. I assumed he would be an untouchable celebrity who would spend most of his day in makeup away from the extras in a private room. I was pleased to discover that this was quite
I was sitting in makeup when I had my first little interaction with Mr. Wolf. He was eating a bagel and had been chatting to everyone around him, all the while with a little schmear of cream cheese was on his face. I know everyone noticed, but no one said anything! The Long Island momma in me took over, and as soon as I was in his line of vision, I smiled and said- "you have a schmear of cream cheese on your face, I have to tell ya- the momma in me was so close to licking my finger and wiping the schmutz off for ya- if I wasn't in this chair!" he smiled, began wiping the smear away, laughed, and said, "Thanks!" and I responded with "Unless you were looking to save that for later". His laughter rang like a bell and it made me smile mistily. That first little bit of conversation was the opening of Pandora's box for me. The friends I made, Patrick, and I talked sporadically throughout the day, about anything and everything. I learned about his costumes, and the miraculous "green" designer behind them, his work with Angelo Badalementi, to his lucky yellow "knickers", that he's got movies like "White Chicks" and "Teeth" on his Netflix, he prefers gin, and he even mentioned his split from Universal. My favorite most random moment would have to be all 6'4" of him, decked out in his narrow white pants, shined black vinyl shoes, knee high black and white argyle socks, black suspenders, white t-shirt, and a FABULOUS black and white pin-stripe capelet adorned with beautiful black garbage bag rosettes (only 5£ to make such a stunning effect) sitting in a fold out black metal chair while eating a Niçoise salad. I'm sorry, you just don't see that every day! I know what you're wondering, did you actually DO anything besides chat and hang out with one of your musical heroes?
Well, yes, as a matter of fact, I did. I was "fitted" for my costume first thing that morning. By costume, I mean I was handed a black unitard, a long sleeved black shirt, and black socks. I was then fitted for a black latex skull-cap (getting my hair back was NO easy feat- something Patrick pointed out several times that day). I got to be not one but TWO characters that day, a choirgirl jellyfish lady and a crown wearing paper corseted "sign holder"!
The sign holder costume literally took 30 minutes to be laced into, but I didn't mind one bit. Everyone looked great, and never have I had so much fun! I felt like the Queen of a demented underworld!
Filming literally took all day, and most of the night. No one minded, because it was too creative and interesting, especially for those of us who don't do this for a day job! When it would start to lag, you could count on Mr.Wolf to come into the space just in time to make his rounds and chat with all, it was an instant pick-me-up. The final shots of the evening when all characters converged with the showman were by far the most memorable, and no doubt will be the most beautiful and amazing, I look forward to seeing it in its completion. The shoot ended climatically with everyone cheering, clapping, and applauding.
The night ended bitter sweet for me. I didn't want to leave. The excitement of being in the presence of someone you admire has that effect on you. I took the sign I had been twirling in the video as a memento, which Patrick was kind enough to autograph for me. We took a few snapshots together,
& he even let me come in for a HUG! Things got a little better from there (see below entry), then, I hopped in a cab with some of my new comrades, and headed home.
There are a few days that will stand out for a person in their lifetime. I think it is safe to say this experience is something I will
carry with me for the rest of my days. I feel lucky, gracious, and blessed to have had the opportunity to spend the day with someone as creative and interesting as Patrick Wolf, and though I thanked him countless times that day, I will say it again, here, in writing. Patrick, thank you so much!