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Phantom Troublemaker Goes to Hollywood (sort of): The Director’s Cut

22 January 2010 by Phantom Troublemaker One Comment

The Pre-Preface

I originally posted this earlier last year, right around the time it happened. We were specifically told not to post anything online about the experience. I kept everything nice and vague and posted it here. Now, at last, the truth can be told in its entirety. I was an extra in Rob Zombie’s Halloween 2. I don’t even know if I’ll be in the final cut or not, but here’s what went down. New content will be in purple.

The Preface

Imagine, if you will, that a deity of some sort has reached into your head and created your ideal bar/nightclub. Now imagine that this deity has arranged for a musician you are quite fond of to play at this place. The deity populates your happy place with the sort of people that you generally get along with. Many of those people happen to be females of the topless variety, some of whom are wearing little more than thong underwear no larger than the sort of ocular accoutrements favored by pirates and Kurt Russell. This deity provides all the beer you can drink.

However…

The musician is only playing four or five different songs. You must groove and sing along despite the fact that you have never heard them before. Never fear – you will know them by heart before the night is through because each will be played no less than six times. In a row. After each song, you must remain silent and immobile unless instructed differently by crouching, ethereal beings who have no place at your happy party.

You may not converse with the other denizens of this dream locale unless instructed to do so by the Outsiders, so their appeal to you or lack thereof is inconsequential.

Also, you will be spending upwards of six hours playing out this little routine of song, wait, move, song, wait, wait some more, “Shhh!”, song, wait; and even naked titties and barely concealed vaginas can get old when combined with those circumstances.

Oh, yeah – the beer is non-alcoholic.

Welcome to Hollywood, baby! Welcome to how I spent my day off on Tuesday, March 24th, 2009.

I was an extra on a movie shoot.

The Prequel

There happens to be a movie production going on in the metro Atlanta area for a franchise I am a huge fan of Halloween. I am also a huge fan of the director of this particular entry into the franchise – Rob Zombie. I started campaigning to be a part of this shoot a couple of weeks ago because, honestly, this was sort of a dream for me.

I don’t have any wish to be a screen actor or anything (especially after going through this experience) and it honestly won’t bother me a whole lot if I don’t appear in the movie at all. I’ve just always wanted so badly to work on a movie set. I wanted to see how production works, what happens off-camera, just the whole filmmaking process aside from what we see as the finished product. That’s why I love DVD so much. We get such a great opportunity to see all of that happen at home, now. Here was a chance to not only experience that dream, but to do it on a movie and for a director that I was truly excited about.

I’m not going to rehash the whole process of getting hired; it was kind of a pain in the ass and an exercise in patience (much like the shoot itself). Suffice it to say that I was approved and made the appropriate changes to my work schedule.

The Beginning

My confirmation e-mail said that we should arrive at the Starlight Six Drive-In (home of the Monster Bash and Drive-Invasion) by 7:30 AM Tuesday for costume approval and that we would travel by bus to the location at 8:30. According to my liaison we were being bused due to a lack of parking near the location. I later had reason to question this.

I’m used to getting up at 3:30 when I work day shifts, so getting up at 5:00 for this was no big deal. I arrived at the Starlight around 6:30, after (wisely, it turned out) grabbing a couple of biscuits at Hardee’s. The guy letting cars through knew my costume and seemed genuinely excited I was there. He gave me a nametag with “Santo – Dave” on it and actually felt the need to explain that he knew I wasn’t actually El Santo, but that it would be a better indicator than “Phantom Troublemaker”. I couldn’t disagree. I don’t have quite the level of recognition of an El Santo. I drove back to where the parking was and ate my biscuits and waited. This would start a trend of waiting that would continue for the next eighteen hours or so.

Everybody seemed to be communing to one side of the parking lot, so I donned my jacket and headed on over. A short time later, none other than Shane Morton shows up to instruct us on what we need to do. Those of us with nametags were to proceed to the waiting buses and load up. After the first bus filled up Shane gave a short spiel about what was going on, and then handed it over to a tiny lady who explained how the pay worked. We were all given super-abbreviated new hire paperwork to fill out during the ride to the location. Once the bus got underway, Shane gave a more detailed account of what was happening on the shoot and what would be expected of us.

Shane Morton is one of the most charismatic showmen I have ever seen. I have stated in the past that his bands’ (Super X-13 and Gargantua) performances rate at the top of my list of awesome live shows. Here is a good example of why: Shane managed to precisely and accurately communicate exactly how much this experience was going to suck and how awesome it was going to be at the same time. And he left us still totally excited about it by the time he finished. Afterwards, we were absolutely convinced that we were a crucial element in the filming of one of the craziest, most hardcore movies ever to be made; and that we were helping to craft a cinematic juggernaut that would crush and implode the brains of every citizen who was man enough to see it. There were definitely some Shane-favoring enhancements in the presentation that I’m not going to delve into here out of respect for the man, but no Morton monologue would be complete without those.

To sum up what Shane told us without getting too extravagant, we were going to be at some sort of huge, crazy party. According to Mr. Morton, they were going for something more hardcore than the bar in From Dusk Til’ Dawn. I had my doubts about this, but like I said, Shane likes to embellish.

After Shane wrapped it up, they set about determining who needed what done to them makeup and wardrobe-wise. You got red tape on your shoulder if you were willing to have heavy makeup. You got yellow tape if you had lots of tattoos and green tape if you had your own full costume. I can’t remember what the color was for the ladies willing to go topless, but one girl did ask if they’d accept fat chicks. They did. I was the only one on my bus to get green tape, and Shane was stoked about my mask. Apparently, his girlfriend Amy has a ton of lucha masks he wanted to use, but they’re all of existing characters – Mil Mascaras, Blue Demon, et cetera; so they couldn’t put them in the movie for legal reasons. He was quite happy the movie would get some lucha representation, after all.

The Waiting

We arrived on location in Covington around 8:30. The bus dropped us off outside of an abandoned fertilizer plant that looked suitably creepy for the subject matter of the movie. There was a large pavilion-style tent set up and several dilapidated looking outbuildings, as well as a couple of old silos. This was definitely a good setting.

I was on the first bus out, so we got to see the crew setting up the building that would serve as the makeup/wardrobe area. What a shithole. I’m honestly not complaining here because I had almost no expectations for what was going to happen; I was just excited to be there. The building was just filthy, small and poorly ventilated. That last part kind of gets to be an issue when you are hair-spraying and airbrushing around two hundred smelly punk rockers. But whatever – I’m living my dream.

After stowing my bags in a chair, I wanted to help set up, so me and a few other extras brought in some tables and some other minor things. I had to knock down hornet nests to tape a curtain over the window in the door to the room we were going to use to change clothes in. Awesome. Said room was full of nitrogen tanks and dirt. I had to do that balance on your shoes thing to change. You know – where you have to stand on top of your shoes while changing pants so the hem doesn’t get in whatever is on the floor; or in this case, what the floor is made of – dirt. I didn’t really care about my jeans, but Troublemaker rocks nice suits. I don’t need pants-filth going on.

Once I got OK’d by the wardrobe lady, I headed over to the big tent to practice the theme of the day – waiting. I found myself a chair and tried to relax, but I was really excited about all of this. I had a couple of books and my Zune, but I was too worked up to read and didn’t want to miss any directions. Every once in a while our assigned extras wrangler (whose name I can’t remember and really wish I could because he was a very nice guy with a shitty job who treated us all very well) would come in to do a head count of who needed makeup, who needed costumes and who was finished. This poor guy had to count us off probably every fifteen minutes or so.

The only real entertainment during our wait was checking out the different costumes. I’m not generally very chatty with strangers, so I just kind of made mental notes about what I saw:

  • The best costumes there were a Renfield-looking guy wearing some brown striped restraint/pajama looking deal and some kind of fucked-up clown with blood all over him. It was cooler than I’m making it sound.
  • Some copyright violations definitely snuck through. I saw Dawn, Curry Man and Snow White.
  • There were a lot of “Beer Girl” costumes like the one Mrs. Troublemaker wore for Halloween last year, including one girl who I’m positive was dressed like Martha Jones when she arrived. Not only did she look like her, she was sporting a maroon leather jacket, too. That probably wasn’t costume-y enough, so they slapped one of their store-bought backups on her.
  • One guy had on some kind of KISS-esque leotard. They painted his face up in a non-legally threatening KISS-esque way to match it. The problem here was that nobody thought to supply a cup or any kind of groinal support like a gonch for this obviously circumcised young man. It was disturbing.
  • I got a lot of entertainment value out of these two guys who showed up in what appeared to be some (well made) homemade LARP costumes. One of them looked like Link and the other kind of looked like Sgt. Pepper or something. It was really strange seeing a zombie Link and a band leader with his face apparently split into quarters.
  • There were three drag queens all dressed like witches that I’m fairly certain was a coincidence.
  • This one guy looked just like Vampiro, but shorter. Waaaay shorter. He had a kick-ass Clash of the Titans tattoo on his back.

There was this little table with snacks and beverages, but all I wanted was water and apparently they had run out earlier. This didn’t make any sense to me given that I was one of the first people in the tent, but whatever. I just poured myself a cranberry juice and sat down. This was kind of good fortune because I discovered at this point that I like cranberry juice. Way to go, Hollywood!

The Shooting – Inside

They came to get us around 1:00 PM. Twenty people at a time were ushered onto the set – an old barn converted into the coolest nightclub ever for an event called “Phantom Jam” (in honor of a certain Troublemaker. Okay, maybe not.) hosted by local TV horror-host icon Uncle Seymour Coffins. Once inside, your eyes were immediately drawn to a large stage set in the corner of the room. Well, that’s actually kind of a lie. Your eyes were actually drawn to all of the exposed boobage scattered about the room, but being a happily married man who would like to stay that way, I didn’t notice any of that.

The stage was the (intended) focal point of the room. In the center was a bar surrounded by several platforms for the topless girls to dance on, with a much larger platform for the party’s host to cavort about on. There was ghoulish décor all over the place with some really well done murals that I hope the artists are able to keep after the shoot. I know Shane must have done at least half the shit in that room. Awesome stuff – I can’t wait to see what it looks like on film. There were a ton of lights and a fog machine and all of the other atmosphere creating devices you’d expect in a night club.

Our handlers ushered us into the appropriate areas and then retreated to the fringe of the crowd. It was then that I noticed what was pretty much the coolest surprise of the day – who the band was. Jesse fucking Dayton! Jesse Dayton did the Banjo & Sullivan album that was released for Zombie’s The Devil’s Rejects. It is a real album from a fake band, but it is a great fucking country album. I was very excited to see this guy perform live, regardless of what style he was playing for this movie. I really hope we get an album out of this one, too. Dayton and his crew were performing as Captain Clegg and the Night Creatures for the movie. They played kind of a rockabilly-type music, similar to The Cramps with more of a country twang. Very, very good stuff; even after so much repetition. And there is an album out. I know you can download it from Amazon right now, I’m not sure if there is a hard copy version or not.

Some crew person introduced themselves and explained what we were supposed to be doing, and then it was time to… wait!

Finally things were ready. The band started playing and the cool part was that they were actually playing and not lip-syncing. That made it a lot easier to get into things. Every once in a while a crouching crew person would squat-walk up behind you and touch your thigh or your butt and whisper directions at you. This was very startling the first couple of times it happened. Thankfully, guy crew people tended more towards the thigh. I came to think of these odd little crouching people as “Outsiders” because they were not in makeup or costumes and stood out in the crowd the same way a guy in a purple and green luchadore mask would stand out in JC Penny. Mostly their directions consisted of “Go over there,” or “More energy!”

I got a lot of “Go over there”. I’m not trying to sound like King Shit or anything, but I think they dug my vibe. I was told to stroll into a lot of shots and got repositioned in front of the camera what felt like a lot. That was pretty cool. Having said all that, I probably won’t even be in the movie.

Eventually the principle actors came in to do their thing. The three girls were dressed as Dr. Frankenfurter, Columbia and the maid from Rocky Horror; the dudes with them were in some generic but well done makeup (I think they were a werewolf and a zombie. I should have gone ahead and written this back then and edited it before posting. Now I can’t remember some of this stuff). Scout Taylor-Compton was the maid and the girl that almost died but didn’t in Zombie’s first Halloween and was in the original Halloween series – Danielle Harris – was Columbia. I’m not sure who the girl dressed as Frankenfurter was, but she was much cuter than Tim Curry.

I, purely by chance, ended up near them several times and got to overhear Zombie directing. It was really, really cool to get this look into the process. At one point they backed us all away so that the Zombie and Taylor-Compton could sit on the ground and discuss a particularly emotional scene. Laurie Strode appears to be having some kind of crazy breakdown in the club. I’m pretty sure it will turn out somebody slipped her something, because they filmed a lot of that drunken wandering around type stuff. Either that or she just gets really shitfaced. God, I wish I could have had a camera in there. Apparently, Zombie is doing a documentary for this film even more extensive than he did for the last one. If so, all of this stuff should be available anyway.

At the end of one scene the two main girls ended up just about in my lap and I’ve got to say, they are tiny. They couldn’t have been more than 5’2” or so. And Scout Taylor-Compton is just beautiful. I say this in more of a fatherly or brotherly way or something because I think she’s about fourteen years younger than me. (thirteen. I was close) “Hot” would have been inappropriate. She really wasn’t more than “cute” in the first movie, but up close she is quite striking.

Most of the rest of these six hours was spent shooting for the actors. My back was getting really sore, my feet hurt, my ears were killing me from having my mask on for eight hours (I had never experienced this odd sensation before. I usually only have one of those things on for a couple of hours.) and I wanted some water (or beer) bad.

We were very specifically cautioned against bringing any kind of recording devices to the shoot, so I was surprised when they allowed cell phones. I was glad that I would be able to call home when I needed to, and they even said we could take pictures outside of the actual set, we just couldn’t post them online and say what they were from (until after August 28th). Glad, that is, until I pulled out my phone and saw that I had no battery (so I have no pictures, regardless of today’s date). I was pissed. I had left the damn thing plugged in all night, so I don’t know how this happened. I still can’t figure out what the problem could have been (and it has not happened since). I was able to call home twice and I didn’t even try to take any pictures. Somehow, the thing was still on when I got home, so I wonder if the display was just wrong or something. There really wasn’t much to take pictures of outside the set, anyway. Just a bunch of costumes that I wouldn’t have bothered to photograph if they were at Dragon*Con (what a dickhead thing to say. It is true, though).

The reason for that last paragraph is that I eventually really wanted to know what time it was and didn’t dare even bring out my phone for fear I would be kicked off the shoot. My solution was to open my phone in my pocket and then pull my suit jacket open enough so that I could see the time. I was sure we had been in there for at least five hours. It had been barely three. I was starting to question the worthiness of this experience. I was also starting to figure out why they had really bused us in.

Another thing they shot was the host, Uncle Seymour, doing schtick on stage. For some reason Zombie cast the Geico caveman guy to play this role. We were told to react appropriately to what he was saying, but a good portion of the time the crowd didn’t agree on what was appropriate. I think we did all agree that he wasn’t funny, though. Sid Haig would have been much better. (I guess it would have been tough to explain how Seymour had gone from gravedigger to TV host in the space of a year…) At one point the guy was having a drunken fit about how nobody loved him, so I yelled out “We still love you, man!”, and a second later everybody else booed. I felt bad for the guy (in character), but apparently everybody else hated him. Then he pantomimed throwing up and fell off the stage. That was pretty awesome.

After six hours of this, they finally gave us a break.

The Break

I’ve heard somewhere before that Rob Zombie always does good catering. I heard right.

We had mashed potatoes, carrots with jalapenos (better than it sounds), brown rice, sliced barbecued beef, salad, blueberry cake of some sort, two other desserts that I didn’t partake of and probably a few items that I can’t remember. The only beverage was pink lemonade, but it was really good pink lemonade.

I had the opportunity to feel like a huge retard while waiting in the line to get food. A few ladies were standing behind me (the aforementioned Snow White among them) and asked if I would take their picture. Unfortunately, they handed me an iPhone to perform the deed. I haven’t even touched an Apple product since playing Oregon Trail in middle school, let alone used one to take a picture. This fact led to me pointing the screen at the ladies and looking for the viewfinder on the back. The one who handed me the accursed iPhone – she was dressed like a ghost flapper – laughed and said to turn it around, so I did. After centering them in the screen, I pressed the big button on the right side and a menu came up. Ghost Flapper got a little exasperated at this point and said to press the button on the screen with the picture of the camera on it, dumbass. She didn’t actually call me “dumbass” but it was rightfully implied. I finally managed to take a picture of the three girls and promptly shoved the iPhone back at Ghost Flapper and about-faced. This was one of those times where it was awesome to be married. I felt stupid, but not too embarrassed. If I had been single, I would be positive that I had just blown the only opportunity I would ever have in my life to nail three chicks at once and would have spent the rest of the day humiliated and considering seminary school.

During the meal, I talked to a few other extras and started to get a feeling of discontent.

I had pretty much decided by now that the real reason for busing us in had nothing to do with parking. As much of a die-hard fan as I am, I was ready to high-tail it the fuck out of there. I hate my regular job, but it is nowhere near as grueling as this shoot was turning out to be. My whole body hurt and I was bored out of my mind. Hell, I was sick of looking at bare titties for fuck’s sake! I still, however, had enough perspective to realize that as much as my job for the day sucked, it was still the best one on the set. Everybody that wasn’t the director had to worry about doing their job and making sure the people under them were doing their job. This resulted in a lot of people who looked like Jim Cramer being interviewed by Jon Stewart (it is sad that this reference is dated after only five months). Everybody who was the director had to worry about studio bullshit like being told that the budget for a scene had been cut or that another scene wasn’t going to happen at all.

So anyway, even though my job sucked I knew it could be worse. Other folks didn’t necessarily share my outlook, though. I had a feeling the attrition for the second day was going to be bad. I’d be surprised if more than two-thirds of the extras returned. I was fairly sure I wouldn’t. A break halfway through the six hours probably would have helped things immensely. Just five minutes to step outside and breathe, pee or smoke or whatever. Speaking as a former smoker, I can understand where some people were super-pissed. Of course, five minutes of break time probably adds twenty minutes to the schedule and time was tight already.

After half an hour for lunch, they came to get us again. I was significantly less excited this time.

The Shooting – Outside

It was about 7:30 PM when lunch (dinner?) ended, so it was starting to get a little dark out. This made everything seem more sinister. That kind of gave me a second wind and got me a little more excited.

The extras that needed it were getting touched up, so I decided to head back into the barn to get a spot close to the stage. Once I got in there, I realized there were only about ten other extras inside, so I turned around and went back out, figuring that it wasn’t time yet. That place looked a whole lot different practically empty. The people that were in there were convinced that it had been rearranged somehow.

Eventually, one of the Outsiders told a group of us to follow her. She headed right past the entrance to the barn and kept on walking right between two big trucks. Being lemmings for the day, this confused us all terribly. The guy beside me got kind of panicky and started asking our Outsider to wait and if we were still supposed to be following her. I’ll admit to being a bit nervous myself. She finally heard us, thank God, and said that we were, indeed, going somewhere other than the barn. We got around to the east side of the building (I don’t really know if it was the east side, but that sounded good, didn’t it? We’re talking about a guy who can’t even use a fucking iPhone to take a picture, here. Like I know where east is…) and came up on some train tracks and a whole bunch of set dressing. There was this cool entryway with all kinds of lights and trees and this big arch, and the whole side of the building had been fixed up to look like the outside of a club, with a giant projection of a bunch of images I probably can’t describe (now I can’t remember what they were. Clips from old movies, maybe the original The Thing?) on the side of one of the silos. It looked really fucking cool.

Me and the three guys I happened to be standing closest to got pulled away and taken out to the parking lot behind the barn with a bunch of other people. There was a great little cul-de-sac back there, with a church across the way that the production crew had lit up in red. I could really picture how cool all of this was going to look on film. I definitely got a little more psyched up for these last few hours.

The three guys that got grouped with me were pretty cool, and we stuck together for pretty much the rest of the night. There was a cop with a couple of massive wounds on his face that looked a good bit like John Cena (I actually need to mention Cena later, too), a guy with an apron made of people faces and another guy that I think just had kind of a messy green face. We’ll call them Officer Cena, Butch and Old Gregg.

One outsider told us to stay where we were and chat animatedly amongst ourselves. Soon after that, another one came up and told us to walk towards the entryway. After a couple of calls for action, another Outsider came up and asked us if we had been told to walk or to talk. I responded “Both.” She seemed irritated, but not with us.

After several more “Actions”, another Outsider came and fetched us to go up to the actual entryway. We got to hang out on some bales of hay and talk animatedly again. This time, though, we were right in the middle of what was being shot. We had no trouble talking animatedly, as a matter of fact; we had trouble stopping between takes because we were all fairly interesting and good talkers once we got going. I was definitely getting delirious at this point, and I babble when that happens, even if I’m not drunk.

Each time we were shooting, they would play a different song for everybody to sort of dance or groove to or whatever. It was a pretty good selection of mostly 70’s stuff and seemed to be picked by the director himself. I wonder which ones will actually end up on the soundtrack.

I have no idea why I left this out the first time, but we got to see Tyler Mane briefly right around this time. That guy is FUCKING HUGE. He was in the torn up coveralls and had no mask on. He really looked like Mike Knox with lighter hair. He showed up for a brief discussion with Zombie and then we never saw him again.

Me, Butch and Old Gregg ended up on the same stack of hay bales for most of the rest of the night. Officer Cena got put on a different stack. We did several takes where we just sat there and watched people walk by, and then an Outsider told me and Butch to get down and walk through the entryway. The host guy was by the entry surrounded by four girls in some kind of cyber-bikini getups. Flanking the arch were two guys in giant skull-puppet costumes that must have been really heavy. Later on one of them took off his gear and just kind of collapsed on one of the hay bales. An Outsider came and checked on him, then just sort of walked off; so I guess he was OK. Or dead.

The first walk through the entry didn’t go too smoothly. Me and Butch weren’t too sure where we were supposed to go, so he ended up standing in a corner like the end of Blair Witch and I just kind of walked in a little circle until they yelled “Cut”. The next take was a little better, except Butch ended up behind a string of lights meant to separate partiers from dancers. I made it a little further, but ended up almost running into a giant rabbit. Eventually we got our routine down and headed for the correct entry every time.

After a few takes like those, we got put back on the hay stacks and were told that the next set of shots was supposed to be later in the night and that everybody was looser and more tipsy. I apply the word “tipsy” to middle-aged ladies who have had a few too many cocktails at TGI Friday’s, not costumed punkers who have just wrapped up a night at some freako club where girls are strutting around with their tits out and the emcee closes the night by puking and diving headlong off the stage. But I digress.

There were a few nights in my distant past where I have ended up clutching a tree for support out of drunken necessity. I’m sure I’m not the only one. I thought I’d recreate that circumstance here. I unbuttoned my jacket and loosened my tie and hung as best I could off of the nearest prop tree. Being a prop tree, it was not actually planted in the ground; so there was no way it was going to support my weight. If I had actually been drunk, this paragraph would probably be much more entertaining. Luckily for me and my dignity, I knew beforehand that I could not put any weight on the tree, so I just stood in an awkward manner that I hope suggested I was leaning on the tree for support. I got to observe a pretty cool scene involving Laurie Strode and her friend shot several times and several different ways from this vantage point.

After several takes from that spot, we were repositioned for shots of people leaving the night club. I sat back down on the hay bales with Butch, Old Gregg and some girl that was dressed like I-don’t –know-what. She looked like some kind of raver Strawberry Shortcake or something. I think the crew knew they were kind of losing us at this point, so they switched up the music dramatically. As soon as “Fuck the Police” kicked in, everybody started cracking up and I think we all sort of got a third (or fourth or maybe even fifth) wind from it. I pointed over at Officer Cena and laughed. I decided then and there that I would have to come back the next day. This had turned out to be really fucking tough, but it was fun as Hell, too.

From this point on, they were recording dialogue. That meant that they would play a bit of a song to get the extras started, then shut it off. We were expected to continue our “listening to music” action while the shooting continued. I am fairly certain that I am the only one who did this. This means one of two things: 1 – Everybody but me is going to appear to be deaf in the final cut of this scene; or; 2 – I am going to look like I am having some sort of seizure while everybody else is sitting around chatting quietly. I’m hoping for #1.

In the midst of these takes, Butch for some reason brought up what he believed to be an old Pagan practice of masturbating at the base of a tree. We all had a good laugh at that, and then I suggested that maybe that’s what Rush made that tree song about.

That comment requires some explanation. I have no problem with Rush, but I am certainly not a fan. This guy I used to work with at Wherehouse Music was a huge Rush fan. He played Rush A LOT. There is a Rush song about trees (I’m going to have to look it up and possibly download it now) that I think is one of the most hilarious things I have ever heard. I reference this song whenever I can, usually receiving the same blank stares I got Tuesday night.

Nobody knew what I was talking about. Except for one guy. The mistake inherent in mentioning Rush is that any Rush fan will invariably leap forward to discuss Rush in-depth. While there is nothing wrong with Rush, their fans tend to be fucking weird. Rush fans also assume that if you have invoked the name you must wish to discuss the band for at least three hours. As this one guy mistakenly assumed of me. It’s bad enough if you mention the band in passing or Tom Sawyer or something, but mentioning something obscure like the tree song had me fucked. I couldn’t get away from this guy for the rest of the night, and I’m sure Butch, Gregg and Shortcake were laughing their asses off behind us. At one point this guy assured me he was buddies with Eddie Van Halen and started talking about his drug problems. What?! I don’t even know where he came from. He just kind of leapt out when I mentioned stupid Rush. He wasn’t even in a costume.

Eventually, our original wrangler – the nice guy – pulled me, Butch and Rush down past the entryway to a different part of the set. They needed people to walk in front of the camera. There were about ten of us in a group, and Nice Guy would tap us on the shoulder and point which way to go at the right time. There were enough people that guys and girls got paired off, and then my trio was left. Thankfully, Nice Guy sent Rush off in one direction and me and Butch off in the other. I told Butch I supposed this must mean we were a couple.

After a few takes that way, they kind of set us off to the side. It seemed like the crew was taking everything down. Soon after, an Outsider led all of the people from the other side of the entryway past us toward the front of the barn. Toward freedom. I tried to listen in to see what was going on, and, sure enough, they were headed for a bus to leave. Earlier on, Shane had announced that there were a goodly number of people who were working for free who would get to leave first. I was OK with not being in that group. Shane also stated that the last bus out would probably end up back at the Starlight around 4:00. I was Ok with not being in that group, too.

I made an executive decision at that point to bail. I casually made my way around the corner and bolted for the front area. The funny part was that once I got back to the costuming building, I discovered I had seven or eight other people in tow. I guess all they needed was a leader. We stood around for a few minutes and then the coolest surprise of the night happened. Rob Zombie walked over and started thanking everybody and just sort of hung out and answered questions and shot the shit for about fifteen minutes. I never would have expected this, and probably wouldn’t have gotten it from many other directors. It’s that kind of stuff that turns fans into loyal followers. My respect for this guy is the main reason I was such a secretive dork about writing all of this the first time.

Anyway, Zombie stuck around long enough to satisfy everybody, thanked us again and melted away into the night. OK, he really just strolled off towards the barn.

We all made our way over to the bus, had our time sheets checked, and settled in for the seemingly eternal trip back to the Starlight. The Vampiro-looking guy was sitting in front of me and tormenting some drag queen about being in traffic on the way home. I still can’t decide if it was funny or not (it was).

After the bus got underway Shane got on the mic and gave us another spiel; this one designed to pump us up for tomorrow and motivate us to return for another day of brutality. Mr. Morton also got everybody excited with the fact that the arrival time was much later for the next day. We didn’t have to be at the Starlight until 9:30 AM, and shooting would start at 3:30 PM. The problem was that this meant the shoot wouldn’t end until 4 AM (it actually ended up going until 7. Thank God I stayed out of day two.). That meant I wouldn’t get home until around 6 (9) or so. There was no way I could go through another day like this one and then be back at my regular job Thursday night. I knew day two was out.

I spent the rest of the bus ride marinating in a weird combination of relief and disappointment. It was almost heartbreaking to realize that I would have to miss out after I had decide I was going to do it; but it felt so good to know that I was going to get a day off to spend with my family and not endure soul-crushing boredom.

Once back at the drive-in I got in the car and took my contacts out. I am absolutely amazed they never gave me any trouble. I usually can’t stand wearing them for more than a few hours, but I had no problems all day long. They went in around 9 AM and stayed in until probably 2 AM. I never even used any drops or anything. Wow.

After that I drove home and went to bed.

I would love to have a whole lot more to say about the experience, but that really kind of covers it. I won’t know until later today if I am in the movie or not. I am fairly concerned about how fat I am going to be, though. I’ve lost fifty-four pounds since then and still tend towards being a little beefy. They might have needed the IMAX lens if they wanted to film me before.

The Plaza is doing a special screening for all of the extras, but I am stuck here at work since I am not the kind of douchebag who calls in sick when he isn’t. You can’t win ‘em all, I guess.

Fin

Until next time, stay creepy

-Phantom

One Comment »

  • Baldy said:

    That was perhaps the best narrative that I’ve encountered in decades. Having spent much of my summer doing the same thing, I do believe you’ve nailed the entire experience right on the head.

    This is BRILLIANT.

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