Monday, June 30, 2008

extra, extra

During Saturday's chaos of packing and getting to the airport, I got a phone call about an opportunity to be in a commercial. It would take all day Sunday, and maybe some of Monday, and was going to be filmed on the beach. My name had come up, invariably, when people were trying to think of Caucasian male who had nothing to do. Just for the record, I'd like to say that I have met other white males on this island who are bumming like me. But I'm not complaining. Other than a level 2 Reiki attunement I did a week ago, I haven't had any income since we won the 3-on-3 soccer tournament and I got 100 bucks. Not to say that there haven't been any chances for some work here or there, but I have been enjoying my lack of responsibility. But this commercial job sounded like the perfect way to do nothing while making money. And hang out on the beach!

I made it to the site about twenty minutes after eight, wearing a t-shirt and board shorts. Two Japanese staff members looked me over, and the produced a bag from the costume table and handed it to me, pointing me toward a nearby tent. I changed into a pair of khaki clamdigger-style shorts and a light blue button-up short sleeve shirt. Styling. They rushed me out to the beach where a group of about forty people in various bright clothes already stood. And so began the day.

They arranged us in loose rows, facing the camera. Then they began the process of "you here, you there" as they switched and arranged us in some order that I can only assume will look amazing in the finished product. They changed people's outfits, sometimes switching their clothes, sometimes producing a pair of scissors and exposing stomachs. They came by me and un-buttoned a couple buttons on my shirt. "More sexy now," said the Japanese man. I looked at the pretty Filipina girl next to me repeated the phrase questioningly. She looked at me for a second and then turned away, apparently not in agreement. The sun was already beating down and although I was right at the edge of the shade from a line of palm trees, many people were already sweating. After about 30 minutes of this, they marked our places and sent us back to the tents, where they had breakfast (Japanese style-thank you to Carmen for exposing me to this!) and cold sodas and Oolong tea in a can.

We sat for over an hour just talking amongst ourselves before they called us back out to the sandy beach. By now, it was almost 11 am, the sun was nearing the center of the sky and the breeze died the moment we all stepped foot out from the shade. We got to see the star actor finally. He was accompanied by an umbrella bearer, and makeup artists, as well as a guy with a little hand-held air-compressor that blew cold air. Maybe his face is well-known in Japan. He showed us to throw our arms in the air as we shouted out Japanese words and phrases. Then they brought us the cans.

The commercial is for a Japanese alcoholic beverage that comes in approximately 16 ounce cans. So here we all are sweating in the sun, and all of a sudden these guys rush out with platters full of fresh-from-the-ice-chest cans. They felt glorious! But no drinking! So for the next hour we held the cans and performed. They re-organized our groups, and shifted us around. Then they must have realized that a lot of us weren't even Japanese-I don't know if we were screwing up the words or what-but they removed all of us gaijin and sent us back to the tents. We didn't wait for the others to start eating the lunch that was provided.

After lunch it was back to the beach. More cans to hold, only now we had to pop open the cans and just hold them aloft! Soon people were pouring the cold liquid on their bodies. Some people were pouring the cold liquid in their mouths. Every time clouds obscured the sun we had to stop and wait. Sometimes we waited for the editing of a particular scene. I used to think that I sweat more than normal, but after looking around at some of the other guys, I realized that I'm pretty average in the amount of sweat produced category. We finished the commercial that afternoon. A bunch of the (white) folks managed to keep their (and others') cans and so headed out to their house to perform a taste test. They said it wasn't bad. I'll take there word for it. All in all, it was an easy days work. The agent just called me a minute ago. I'm headed over to pick up the cash. Look for me soon in the next Japanese beer commercial you ever see.


Momtecki said...

Sounds like a Japanese game show.

sonya said...

Ha, sounds pretty groovy to me. And good job letting others perform the taste tests!
(That was meant sincerely, though when I re-read it I realized it could be taken patronizingly or sarcastically.)

ksawhill said...

It sounds fun reading it, and maybe it was--all day, tiring. Good for you! I knew you would be famous someday!

ryran said...

So HERE'S this story. Awesome.
An' don' worry bout that girl bro, you always more sexy now.