Thursday, January 10, 2013

Marty's House

Yesterday I got a call from my boss Bruce. I love Bruce but sometimes Bruce wears himself out. The other day he forgot to turn off the phone and a woman called him at an odd hour requesting a singing telegram. Well Bruce, being woken from his slumber, told her to call back during regular business hours. Being a proprietor and someone who wants the best for his business and his customers, he felt terribly. So he had me call her back.

Before I did it I was like, "Wow Bruce, this is a GREAT way to start off my promotion." On the other hand though, Bruce had probably worked himself to death in a Virgo frenzy and was getting a minute of sleep. Plus he might not have meditated, which sets my favorite high strung show tune singing boss off track. Needless to say when I called the woman she was quite nice though, and excited. I figured everyone was tired and we all just needed to try again. It happens with us all.

She explained the telegram was for her friend and they were on a film set. Yes, film set. I asked which film, and she said Wolf of Wall Street with Leonardo DiCaprio and directed by Martin Scorsese. I was like, "WOW!!!!" She explained they were on location, were set to wrap tomorrow, and the woman would have the next day off so they were celebrating the party that evening. I was like sweet.

I called Bruce back with the news. Bruce was excited it had been booked. No harm, no foul. I explained they were on a film set and had been working all night. I have worked on film sets and have done stand up in the clubs which translates to some late nights. And I always make the mistake of assuming everyone is up. My friend Kelly works as a makeup artist and routinely calls me late. It goes with the territory. When I dated Dimsdale he preferred to hang out later because of his years as a working comedian in the night clubs, he is a night man. We all make that mistake.

I ended up going to Westchester to the White Plains station. A van picked me up. The driver, a man by the name of Ray, was all business. When I went up to the van in a very official tone he asked, "Wolf of Wall Street?" I replied that this was correct and off we went. I thanked him for coming to get me and he just nodded. Usually, I get along well with my drivers. This one was a hard nut to crack however. He asked me why I chose White Plains. I was told there were more trains there. He said that there was another station closer. I knew the station he mentioned but the trains werent as plentiful and plus it ran on the local line, YUCK! Anyway, he asked what scene I was in and thats when I told him my deal. Immediately Ray lit up and informed me that there was food, lots of food, and a nice spread. While he didnt want to get my hopes up the Teamster informed me that perhaps I could sneak some.


When I got to the set I was greeted by my client-Alison- and was camping out in the production trailer. She told me that if we accidentally bumped into Lisa, the woman I was singing to, I was to say that I was her friend from Holy Cross where she went to school. I could live with that. Two assistants entered the trailer. I was ready with my story but then Alison explained I was the chicken. Cool.

We went down to the general dining area where I was hidden in the back. The entire time they were running back and fourth giving gifts to people. Apparently these were rap gifts. "Could you give me a bigger men's size for Jonah?" One of the assistants asked.

Jonah as in Jonah Hill? Yes, it was. Apparently he had left for the day and was coming in the next day. Running back and fourth because they were rapping the next day everyone was in a hurry. Bags were being organized and lots of work was being done. The crew, a nice little community, had all been on the project since the beginning. They had bonded and were glad tomorrow was the last day-they even told me so.

As I was camped out one lady asked, "Is this the singing chicken?" They told her I was and she said, "Oh, did someone tell Marty?"

"Yes, Marty knows about this." Another woman replied.

"Is Marty coming?" The first lady asked. She looked beat from the sixteen hour days they had been putting in.

"No, he has things to do before we rap." She explained. "But he got a kick out of the idea and said it sounded very cute and funny."

My mouth dropped open. "THE MARTY!" I exclaimed trying to hide my utter excitement. While the Marty could not attend, he knew I was coming.

"Yes." The second woman smiled. "The Marty."

I apologized and said I wasn't used to Martin Scorsese being referred to as Marty. He had directed the Godfather, Casino, and Goodfellas, three of my favorites of all time. Not to mention he also directed After Hours, not only one of my comedy films but the most unsung of this genius's work because yes, he could do comedy. Not to mention I had just seen Cape Fear with Robert DeNiro for the first time after seeing the original, and the remake was just as good which is rare. The man was Mr. Scorcese, the man was Martin, or Mr. Martin Scorsese. But Marty? Marty was the guy down the block. Marty was not the name of a genius who's work included Taxi Driver and who changed the face of cinema forever.

On the other hand, Marty gave him a humanity. I guess having been a fan of his work for so long I never equated him wit being a person. And he was a person. My friend Kelly said he was on faculty at NYU but wasn't there as much as they felt he should have been because he was working, and would have a TA teach while he appeared to lecture. They fired him and he went to Columbia where his schedule was better understood. Marty was a person, just a busy one.

As I waited for them to wrap I wikied Marty on my iphone. He had gone to NYU grad school for film. I had gone to NYU Tisch as well. As a kid he had asthma and was terrible at sports so he fell in love with old movies. A fan of Hitchcock, as a homage to his hero all of his leading ladies wear white. I am an old movie and Hitchcock fan. I looked to see his astrological sign. His birthday is November 17th. At that moment I felt myself get goosebumps. The reason being that November 17th is the birthday of my late friend Joe Cannava, the friend who got me to write my book. The friend who reminded me that people listened when I spoke. The friend who reminded me that I was funny and how I needed to chase my star.

I have always been a DIY (Do It Yourself) artist. I have always had the need and drive to create my own work. I work best when I can star, write, and direct my own work. Whether it is performing standup/ventriloquism on stage, making my own videos, writing and performing my own music, publishing my own book, and doing the audio version I am that kind of spirit. So is Marty. I had felt intimidated, a fish out of water. But that soon disappeared when I realized that while this was an old, run down office building with barely any heat I was on great terrain. I was on Marty's film set-in Marty's house-and it was a great honor to set foot in a place that was closed off to the public, even the celebrity photogs.

When it came time for me to sing I went in. Lisa was very sweet. She did the chicken dance and was into it. This had been a long few months for everyone and they needed to unwind. The people had fun. That's what this was all about-fun. I wanted to make it good, especially since I had been waiting quite a while to sing. It wasn't because they were being nasty, oh no. It's because they were  wrapping, there was lots to do, and not to mention Allison explained that they never broke on time so this was a first.

Afterwards, I was invited to eat. The food was delicious, Ray had been correct. Allison, bless her, gave me a little extra something for waiting so patiently. I could see the tired beginning to take it's toll on everyone. Marty apparently does not like to take too many breaks. It's not that he's a slave driver. There are millions of dollars at steak. He has a studio to answer to.

Allison then went the extra mile to put me in a van back to the city-bless her heart double.

On my way back I rode with a van full of union extras. Professional extras are an odd bunch. They are background dressing with medical benefits. Many of them theatre trained actors who never translated to film or never made it, they do the extra work for the money to finance the stage career. Extra work is a slippery slope. While you get money you are always an extra. You never move up and are forever pigeon holed and damned to be the plant or the shrub, never to move up. As these people spoke they talked about the various adventures on the set. Apparently Scorsese, who likes the ladies, wanted to do a T and A shot of a lady. She didnt want her behind shown so they hired someone else and the girl thought they were still using her top shot but the extras concurred that this would not be the case. They also spoke of some scantily clad women doing various things on the set and how despite the fact they made their name as scantily clad women they were quite nice.

One of the extras in particular struck me as a diva. I complimented her necklace and she acted like I had insulted her. A few minutes later I heard her speak, in good clipped American speech, about how she had gone to NYU and still coached kids for showcases. My mouth dropped open. Her coaching? But there is an old saying, "Those who can't do, teach." She reminded me of my freshmen year scene study teacher. Maybe they were close friends. But the irony of show business is, someone like this had an ego the size of Texas. They talked about their "career" and their "coaching." They would probably go by their full name like Henrietta Feline Pussycat and demand to be called Ms. Pussycat. They would then believe the world owed them something because they went to NYU's Tisch School of the Arts and then bemoan their higher education because in her words, "It taught me to be an artist and not a working actor."

On the other hand, the true genius, Martin Scorsese, simply goes by Marty. As a poor kid from Queens he grew up in a devoutly Catholic family. He too went to NYU and unlike the diva extra made a fine career for himself. Growing up he was never the pretty kid or the tough guy, he was the slight sickly boy with asthma. But an original thinker who needed to create his own work and think out of the box, he did and has continued to make a name. Maybe he isn't so good at being married-married four times-but he has nonetheless married some beautiful women. I prefer to think I am more like Marty as I jounce around in my jogging clothes and treat everyone like I would like to be treated as I make my life my art. Or maybe I simply want to be like him, a genius. Don't we all?

Either way, Mr. Scorsese, it was a pleasure to come to your house last night. I want to thank your assistants for taking such wonderful care of me. As the singing chicken, I am such a fan of your work. I understand everyone calls your Marty, and it doesn't ruffle your feathers. And I think that is mad cool.

I Came, I Saw, I Sang: Memoirs of a Singing Telegram Delivery Girl
Available on as a paperback and ebook
Available on as a paperback as an ebook on Nook

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