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Romancing the Black Lace Water Dragon ~ Chapter 7 by Jacqueline Nyahay

July 2012 ~

July ushered in the hot weather usually associated with summer, though we were nowhere near as hot as some other areas of the country.  The library wouldn't let me renew Beauty's Release since it was on hold for someone else, and I incurred some late fees for taking a couple more days with it to finish.  I did not enjoy the third book as much as the first two.  I felt Beauty almost took a back seat in this book to the male slaves being featured, then the ending was not what I had imagined either.  I do hope possibly Anne Rice does continue the series, because I think it would be interesting to see what happens to Beauty after she is married, ruling a kingdom of her own, with the three years of slavery sex games in her mind and spirit and how that plays out in her reality at that point.  Will her court grow into something similar to where she had just been?  July meant taking Zyla to daily swim lessons and lots of time at friend's houses every weekend, BBQ, and pool parties, which I love.  I had missed the past two episodes of True Blood, but did not want to miss going to Jodi's for our weekly tradition, so I read recaps on the internet of what I had missed and was back at her house for another night of Vampires, Shape Shifters and Fairies.  My family did the annual tradition of Starlight Bowl for the 4th of July.  Same great show they always put on, I love lying in the grass looking up at the stars before the first fireworks shoot up into the night sky to dazzle us.  I started reading Into the Forest by Jean Hegland.  I enjoyed this beautiful story of the two sisters making it on their own in the woods amidst the end of civilization as we know it.  How they survived and went back to the way things were not so long ago, without electricity, gas or money.  Living off the land, making it work and finding the blessings of the forest.  It all took place in Northern California and since I had just returned from playing up there, I could relate to the forest fun.


Jessica's called with a gig on the movie Jesus in Cowboy Boots.  It was shooting out at the Disney Ranch, which is right by the Placerita Canyon Nature Center, Ed and I hiked at last month when I saw the bobcat.  My call time was 6pm on a Friday night and knowing the traffic situation, I left early and decided I would just hang on set for a while instead of in traffic.  Production was excited I arrived early because they needed me immediately.  They had just put out a rush call for everyone to come early, so I was glad to be there.  I was put on the clock an hour and a half early, put through wardrobe and brought to set.  Originally I was told I would be playing a mom who gives a dirty look to someone.  I did not think I would be working all night because I was not booked to be in the bar scenes later in the evening.  That all changed when I found that this production being low budget, did not have enough stand ins and were using PA's to cover that, as well as having PA's do BG work because they wanted more bodies in the shot.  I had never been to the Disney Ranch and had no clue it had a whole town built up on the property, similar to something I might see on Paramounts lot or Fox backlot.  We shot the big town square type shots and everything seemed to be going smoothly.  I was told we should expect to be there until 4am since they wanted to keep us all for the bar scenes.  When it came time to do the shot I had been hired for, I was brought to set with another girl also playing a mom to rehearse with 1st Team.  Alicia Silverstone was the mom I was to give a dirty look to, for wearing a prom type dress to a parent/teacher back to school night.  I had not seen her in forever, and had always loved all her movies as a kid.  It was really cool to see her working again.  She still had her amazing smile and was really friendly to me.  The director came in to give her notes, then asked me and the other BG girl to say some lines and laugh at Alicia when we cross behind her.  I was really surprised he would ask us to do that considering that meant they would have to give us a contract for saying lines.  On three different takes the director kept coming in and giving me more direction on what he wanted me to say and do and saying I should be louder and more vocal and not to be afraid to speak up, because that is what he wanted.  I figured he just wanted us to do it for rehearsal so Alicia would know when to react to it, but when we were rolling, the director did not come back to tell us not to do it.  So we continued doing what the director told us to do for three takes.  Then the sound guy told us we were not allowed to speak and were stepping on one of the principals lines.  I said the director asked us to add in those lines.  We were then approached by someone else almost reprimanding us for saying lines, like we should know better.  I did not understand why the director did not just tell us to stop saying the lines if that was what he wanted.  I told the crew member that the director had asked us to say these lines and we were just following direction.  Then the 1st AD came to tell us that the director was new and had no clue what he was doing or saying to us and that we were not to say anything again.  No surprise the director then ignored and avoided us for the rest of the evening.  I did not appreciate being treated that way.  The director did not look that young to me, and I found it hard to believe he did not know what he was doing.  It all annoyed me and I felt like I was being messed with, after being a union actor for 17 years it was a bit much.  The vibe shifted on set for me, but I still had to stay since they would not let me leave when my scene was done.  During all this drama we had taken a lunch break at 9:30pm and I got to know the other girl, playing a mom with me, a bit better.  She was a stand in for Lady GaGa and was telling me funny stories.  Around 1am we finally were moving on to the bar scenes.  Thankfully I had brought extra clothes and changed into a dress.  There were no dressing rooms for us on this production at set.  They just wanted us to change in the porta-potty, which was nasty and disgusting and had no room.  Again I was reminded that this was a low budget movie.  I asked to be shuttled back to base camp to change my clothes in the dressing rooms there and was taken.  The bar scenes all took place outside the bar with BG doing crosses down the sidewalks of this little town.  It started getting cold even though it had been in the 80's or so during the day.  At least it was not windy like it had been at the beach on Californication.  The night dragged on and on, then we were told to change our clothes again.  I ran out of clothes so wardrobe brought me a tight black slinky dress to wear.  I was so tired I did decide to change in the porta potty that time, out of my dress and into theirs.  When the night finally came to an end as the sun was coming up, everyone was over it all and we were just changing our clothes in holding.  No one cared we just wanted to get out of there.  When we were shuttled to base camp to sign out, the AD said our rate would be lower than normal for SAG, but we were all so tired we did not question it.  I arrived home by 6am and crashed out for the rest of my Saturday.


Saturday night meant another party, then Sunday I was back to Jodi's house for True Blood again.  I started reading a new book called My Sister from the Black Lagoon by Laurie Fox.  It was semi autobiographical but she had written it as fiction.  I loved hearing her voice and stories of growing up in Burbank and relating to what it was like to live here now. 


Another week of driving Zyla to swim, gym and art classes, getting out of the San Fernando Valley heat and heading to my sister's pool in Redondo Beach.  I finally got a text from Kids Management for Zyla, but it was to be a cancer patient on Shameless, meaning they wanted her to shave her head bald.  Not only thinking of the emotional trauma that would do to my daughter, having to start junior high with no hair, class pictures, not being able to work for at least a year maybe more to grow it all back, was just not worth it for a Background job.  As much as she wanted to go to set, it was not going to be under those conditions.  She turned down the role to wait for something right for her.  I was contacted by the German writer, Peter Osteried, to do an interview for the German Horror Genre related magazine X-Rated on my previous work in Horror films.  The week was over before I knew it, and I wondered if I was indeed going back to Lucky Stiff on Saturday as I had been 99% promised and was still on hold for.  I also decided to call up SAG regarding the rate that was put on our vouchers for Jesus in Cowboy Boots and confirmed that it was the wrong rate.  I was told if the paycheck came without being corrected to the higher rate, to call back and file a claim with SAG.  I emailed the 1st AD Joe of Whitney to see if there was a start date yet to tell Jessica's to put me on hold for.  He told me we would start up August 30th.  That was almost a month later than last year.  I went online and found out Whitney Season 2 would not premier until mid-October so that was about a month later than last year as well.  I liked its new time slot of Friday's at 8pm and was looking forward to getting back into my groove there.


Jessica's called with details for my job back on Lucky Stiff.  I was going to be standing in.  The dancer I had photo doubled for was there in the purple polyester suit I had worn.  I had a feeling that maybe I had been blurred out or something from the photo shoot I had done for them last month because when the train scenes were under way, that dancer was not the one behind Dom for the ending shot when he is caught by the cameras flash.  My call time was 8:30am on a Saturday.  We were shooting in downtown L.A. at the L.A. Times Olympic Plant.  I breezed in early with no traffic to speak of.  Had a breakfast burrito from the catering truck.  Was told I was standing in for Train Lady #1 played by Heather Ayers.  There were about 8 principals in the scene and only 5 stand ins so we rotated who we stood in for.  All the regular stand ins, Richard, Jennifer, Karen and Jack, were friendly and welcoming.  The train car was shipped in from Union Station because it would have cost too much to shoot on the Amtrack rails.  So this old time dining car was on random tracks that fell on the L.A. Time Olympic Plant lot.  Watching the rehearsals live was amazing.  The dancers and singers were all in top form, everything was perfect.  Blue pop up tents were arranged outside the train and all the stand ins hung out in the DP's tent behind the monitors.  The weather grew extremely warm as the day went by.  Lunch was served around 2:30pm, then back to work.  It was an easy, mellow day, I read a bit of my D.H. Lawrence Sons and Lovers that my friend Diana had given me.  I was enjoying the story, but sometimes got held up by the father's thick Cockney dialect, often having to reread it to try to make sense of what he is saying.  By 9:30pm I was wrapped and headed home to my family.  Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close had come from Netflix, so we all sat down to watch it.  What an emotionally charged film.  Thomas Horn gave an amazing powerful performance.  I was crying most of the time. 


Sunday was spent at Mass where Zyla Alter Served, then a relaxing day before I headed over to my friend Jodi's house for some True Blood and drink Vamper Juice.  Another week of summer underway yet again.


Monday I got a call from Jessica's to work on Parenthood the next day, playing Trish's Sister.  On Tuesday, I headed over to Universal Studios Gate 2 because my car was going to be used in the shot we were filming on Wisteria Lane.  Driving onto the lot was surreal.  I arrived early for my noon call time.  Following the theme park trams driving through the back lot, seeing everything I saw as a child from a tram, now from the privacy of my own car was really cool.  I followed the map I was given at the gate, but missed the sign for Colonial Street, aka Wisteria Lane and ended up in Whoville.  I finally got turned around before another park tram hit me and made it to Colonial Street.  Since I was early there was no one around, but a lot of equipment.  I saw a note on a door to one house saying bathrooms were inside.  I went in and found a crew guy who confirmed I was in the right place and to hang out until a PA came.  While hanging out, parked in front of one of the houses, many trams came barreling down the street with tourists snapping pictures of the houses and me parked in front.  More BG showed up with their cars and the PA came to give us our vouchers and get us on vans back to base camp where we needed to see wardrobe.  The scene we were shooting was an upscale family photo shoot.  Lauren Graham's character had a new job assisting a photographer played by Ray Romano.  They were shooting a family portrait in the front yard of ‘Trish's' House.  Wardrobe had tons of clothes pulled for us in our sizes when we arrived.  I was told I was the more risqué sister and would not be dressed as conservatively as the rest of the family.  I was put in a tight salmon colored mini dress with a dark blue cardigan.  A pair of beige Christian Louboutin heels with the red bottoms completed my look Ooh La La!  After we were done at wardrobe, all the BG playing family members including a husband for Trish, brother, his wife, grandma, the four kids and myself headed over to catering for lunch.  I remember this show having a nice spread of food and this day was no different.  After eating our fill we were whisked away back up to Colonial Street to shoot the scene.  The street was blocked off to tourist trams while we were shooting.  Our holding was in a pop up tent in the backyard of the house across the street from the one we were shooting in.  Our security officer kept telling us that one of the houses on the street was being remade for a new pilot darker version remake of The Munsters which was originally shot on this street as well.  So much history on this one little street of the back lot!  Once on set, it seemed that it was not scripted so much as Ray and Lauren wanted to improv it a bit.  Lauren wanted to call us by our names when she spoke to us in the scene telling us where to stand for the perfect family shot.  It was fun working with her again watching her play her silly comedic self.  We had to get the shot before the sun went down as that played in the scene.  Done by 7pm, we then had to be shuttled back to base camp to return our clothes to wardrobe, get our vouchers, then shuttle back up to Colonial Street where our cars were all parked.  I got home around 8pm, happy to share my stories with my family.  I looked forward to checking out the episode which was going to be the season premier of Parenthood's 4th Season! 


Wednesday was mellow, then I got a call from Jessica's saying I would be working again on Thursday.  Back to Criminal Minds!  I had not worked that show in forever.  This time I would be playing Darlene's friend.  I was told to dress nice for court.  I assumed the scene would take place in a courtroom.  When I arrived to Quiote Studios just down the freeway from my house at my noon call time, I was told to go eat at catering.  I had a burger and some fruit and waited inside the lunch box air-conditioned holding area.  It was about 95 degrees in Glendale that day.  I was brought to wardrobe, who decided they did not want me in pants and gave me a tight maroon business type dress.  It was really cute but had a slit up the front that was obnoxious when I sat down.  Thankfully I was not sitting in the scene.  Everyone was shuttled to set which was on location in downtown Glendale at the Police Station and Courthouse areas.  We had a pop up tent in the back parking lot to hang out under.  The weather was really hot and we were all dripping sweating.  I was brought to set and found out the scene took place outside.  Two other girls, a priest and me were to stand around the stand in on the steps of the courthouse.  Baking in the sun, I was told I would be stopping the principal actress from coming down the courthouse steps after her husband who had just been sentenced and she was upset.  The principal actress we were working with was Kim Wayans.  I remembered watching her on In Living Color growing up.  We were all brought inside the courthouse lobby area before the scene began.  On rehearsal action, the actor playing her husband is led out in handcuffs, then Kim goes racing after him.  None of us were prepared for how fast she bolted out of the courthouse and down the stairs after him.  I tried to keep up, but she was fast.  And of course we were all in heels.  This felt like I should be paid stunt pay.  I kept thinking of all the things that could go wrong, four women running down steps in heels to stop their emotionally charged friend from attacking her convicted lover.  Not only that, but I had to grab Kim, and whip myself in front of her to stop her from going any further down the steps.  Kim is 6 foot tall and a powerful woman.  So we rehearsed again.  This time I started running the moment she did and managed to grab her arm and throw myself around in front of her to stop her going down the stairs.  The other two girls grab her as well from behind.  Now we were ready for picture.  Because of the energy exerted and the heat, I had sweat dripping down my legs.  I was worried my feet would get wet and slip out of my heels that didn't fit all that great to begin with.  I was worried I would be pushed by the surge of energy being exerted and tumble down the stairs backwards towards camera.  All these worries I pushed to the side as soon as action was called and I ran with only one thing in mind, stop my friend Kim from killing that guy.  We did about 5 takes before someone decided Kim's hair was reflecting the sun too much with the red in it and she needed to have it powdered.  So with a little bit of downtime, I had half a bottle of chilled water while we waited.  In the takes when I would swing around and grab hold of Kim to stop her, being one step down from her and facing her, I would almost hug myself to her body.  Sometimes my hand would land on her boob, and I would quickly move it to her waist.  It was all happening so fast in the moment and I hoped she wasn't upset or uncomfortable.  She never said anything.  She was brilliant in the take, totally emotionally there, crying and screaming at the guy, very dramatic scene.  I honestly would forget about camera until we had her under control, then remember to make sure I was not blocking her face for her close up.  On the last take the priest's watch broke off his wrist falling to the stairs.  I knew this scene was so charged up with energy that anything could happen.  One of the other girls broke her toe nail in her shoe and had to have ice brought once we were back in holding.  I was thankful nothing bad had happened to me.  But by the next morning I was feeling it in my muscles, which were really sore, as if I had been through an intense work out.  We might have been working maybe a half hour on the scene, when we were sent back to holding.  Kim thanked us for making it look great and we thanked her for giving the performance so much power.  It was to be a flashback scene on this episode, though I never found out what episode.  I was happy for Kim to be working in more serious roles, she is very talented.  I sat in holding for a couple more hours before we were officially wrapped and shuttled back to the studios. 


Another lazy summertime weekend rolled around.  Alex, the stand in for Whitney, was playing a gig at the Hard Rock Hollywood.  After trying to make one of her shows for about a year, I was excited for the opportunity to see her in a venue where my whole family could come.  Ed, Zyla and I made our way out to Hollywood around 9:30pm on Saturday night to see The 40 Wink Slumber perform on the Hard Rock Stage.  I had wanted a table down in front of the band, but the wait list was way too long.  Instead we found a great table in the upper bar overlooking the stage.  Ed brought his camera to film the event.  Zyla found the drunken bar atmosphere funny, with one bachelorette sportin a blow up penis, other girls falling waisted to the floor.  Alex made her way through the bar and I introduced her to Zyla and met her bass guitarist Lily.  Ed filmed most of the set from the floor where he had a better shot and could hear the music better since the antics in the bar area were getting pretty loud.  The chemistry of the band fused together to create a beautiful set.  Zyla enjoyed the Hollywood nightlife, while eating her fresh apple cobbler dessert. 


Sunday, I finished reading Sons and Lovers.  I enjoyed Lawrence story of a semi-autobiographical nature, and while I felt 400 pages was a bit long, I understood his need to really explore and explain the relationships in their entirety.  I think his writing was stronger in the shorter stories I had previously read of his, where people set their minds and took action, consequences come what may.  In Sons and Lovers the slow way of life just dragged along without ever going very far which sometimes irritated me.  Maybe I am jaded by how different things are today with all our technology and immediate communication.  I wanted to finish up the book because I was heading to Jodi's house for True Blood and knew she was going to be giving me the latest sensation, the 40 Shades of Grey trilogy to read.  True Blood was not living up to its name for me this season, there was barely any nudity or sex scenes, nothing like previous seasons at all.  Ed and I finished Breaking Bad season 4, which was another powerful season, but the super lab was getting boring and the threat of death over Walt's head.  I was happy it was all resolved when Gustavo was blown up and staggered out with half a face.


My 13th Wedding Anniversary arrived!  Ed and I celebrated with Zyla by going to see the stars at the Griffith Observatory.  The Light of the Valkyries live show was beautiful.  I never realized what the northern lights exactly were, or how they looked from outer space, but was in awe at the majestic bands of energy that surround our planet in a protective loving way, connecting our north and south poles in a magical way.  After the show, we all went to dinner at Yamashiro.  The sushi was the tastiest thing I had ever placed in my mouth.  The Asian garden atmosphere with breathtaking views of the city below felt like we were on top of the world and brought me deep contentment to share this with my family.


Wednesday I got a call from Jessica's to work the following day on The Secret Life of the American Teenager.  I was to play a restaurant patron.  The scene was a restaurant in L.A. taking place in the winter, so they wanted us to bring jackets, scarves and upscale casual attire.  We were shooting at Redemption Studios, a little studio tucked away in the residential/industrial area of Burbank near the airport.  Always fun to find a new studio I had not visited yet.  I bid my family good bye at 8:15am and headed over to the studio, blocks from my house.  Parking was down the street in an empty lot below the 5 Freeway.  A shuttle took me back up the street to the stages.  I sat in holding, listening to the other actors talking about random things.  At 9am we were checked in and went through wardrobe.  They did not want me to wear the jeans and sweater I came in, changing me to my brown business pants and sexy maroon blouse.  The scene went very quickly, only two principal actors, in the two-page scene.  One or two takes per shot.  I did not feel the décor of the restaurant looked like anything we had in L.A., more of a Fisherman's wharf feel to it.  I think I may have been on set a total of a half hour when we were told to go back to holding, while they set up the turn around shot.  Hot snacks came, but it was still early and I had just eaten before coming so I didn't have any.  After being there two hours we were wrapped!  I hadn't had a fast, easy day like this in forever, maybe not since NY!  I made it home before Ed and Zyla, who were at her swim class.  Ed was happy I made it home so early so he could go help our friend Jodi and Jim with their big move to their new home.  Zyla had to work on her school summer reading project and I spent some time reading Shades of Grey


On Friday, I was almost done with Fifty Shades of Grey.  The 500-page book was a quick read.  I was constantly comparing it in my mind to Anne Rice's Sleeping Beauty erotica and how different it was.  I found it ridiculous that libraries were banning this book, which was tame compared to Anne Rice.  I believe Grey fell in the genre of romance, not erotica.  When I think of erotica, there is usually sex on every page, while Grey was a lot more about the relationship outside the sex.  Honestly it seemed like what I imagine a  Jackie Collins or typical romance novel would be, so just because the author added in some bondage and mentally messed up issues from it's lead character it is getting banned from libraries.  Shows how in denial those librarians are, this book was just being honest and it was refreshing to read as I usually never read romance books, but this relationship intrigued me.  I found Anastasia annoying at times and childish, but that is who she was after all.  I felt like I related to Christian and if ever the movie were theatrically released I wanted to play him. 


The last weekend in July was a lazy one.  I finished up Fifty Shades and Ed told me I could order the Ben Wa balls talked about in the book.  I had always wanted some and gleefully went online to order.  I also found Chinese Health balls that you can spin in your hand that make a soft chiming sound, I purchased those too.  Amber, the original stand in for Zoe on Whitney, called me up and wanted me to meet her at Urth Café in downtown L.A.  I had a iced green tea boba, and found the squishy candy like balls in the drink odd.  She was sad to have missed Alex show the past weekend and really wanted to be back at Whitney with us when the season started up again.  I was not sure what was going on with the stand in Tiffany that had replaced her, but hoped we could work together on set again soon.  Zyla Alter served at the Sunday Mass looking as beautiful as ever.  I fell into the karaoke spirit and ended up having a 3 hours session in my living room with Ed and Zyla singing all our favorite songs.  I missed going to Jodi's for True Blood, but with her recent move, the cable had not been hooked up and I was going to have to wait one more week to get back to our favorite show.  By Monday, I was deep into the second book of the trilogy Fifty Shades Darker.  While the sex was more frequent in the second book, and almost became redundant, I really enjoyed the back story of how Christian became who he was developing his multiple personalities, that I find myself falling into so frequently.  Mercurial definitely describes me.  Ana constantly saying ‘Oh my' was really getting on my nerves, I mean how often does someone continually get surprised and keep saying that?  I wanted to smack her.  On the last day of July Ed, Zyla and I all went to Hollywood to visit my friend Joleen.  She had made Sangria and we enjoyed our cocktails on her rooftop lounge area while Zyla swam in the pools.  Then we walked over to Mashti Malone for the Lavender ice cream I had been dreaming of since I first heard about it a year ago from the Barrel Girl of Dexter season 5, when we had worked True Blood together.  It was so yum yum.  I love Lavender.  Afterwards we all walked to Bossa Nova for dinner.  I love their food.  We shared a Goat cheese pizza with pesto, delicious.  Joleen gave us some movies to borrow so that when Ed, Zyla and I returned home, we all watched Uptown Girls.  I had not seen it in forever.  It was nice to see Brittany, sad to think of her death, such a talented lovely girl.  The movie was about coping with the death of a father, so obviously I was emotional watching it. 


Continue Reading Romancing the Black Lace Water Dragon ~ Chapter 8 CLICK HERE!!

A family night out to see Alex band 40 Wink Slumber perform at Hard Rock Cafe Hollywood!!