The other day I went to see Woody Allen and John Turturro in “Fading Gigolo”. I have worked for both of these actor/directors, so in spite of the fact that Rotten Tomatoes gave it a 55% Green Tomatoes, I gave it a chance. And you know what? I liked it. I very rarely have allowed myself or my tastes to be dictated by the critics. If I like the actors, I always have been curious to see for myself. Fading Gigolo.
Well I have a story to tell about that if you are willing to read on. Proof that, sometimes, unfortunately, the critics are right.
Fall of 1996…………..
I did a small scene while sitting in a fake loge in The Paramount Theater, a grand old abandoned movie theater in Newark, New Jersey that was built in 1895. Illuminata was a period piece so I was dressed in a long black corseted ball gown appropriate for theater going in the era. The problem was, since the loge was only for decoration there were no steps leading to it. I had to climb a high ladder to get to the space with the crew holding it steady and my underwear in full view. In any other circumstance I would have been mortified, but work is work, and the reality is, well, reality. And,of course, since it was a fake loge, there were no seats for my fellow actor and I. It was just a dark, dirty area that had never been used- ever- for anything except for architectural appeal. Naturally, on a movie set there is an answer for everything. The problem was solved quickly by wooden orange crates being hauled up and placed just far enough apart to look like seats and to keep the scene realistic.
Take one. Take two. Take three. In the space of an hour we were carefully descending the ladder to the safely of the theater floor. It was at that point after the adrenaline of working subsided that I felt a severe itching and burning on my back. Naturally would it be anything else but in a spot beyond my reach. I gave up trying to feel it with my hand and decided as uncomfortable as it was, it probably was a stave in the corset pinching my back. So with a ‘show must go on’ attitude, I took my place in the regular balcony seats as instructed by John, so that he could get a close up of my clapping hands to be used for a stage scene audience reaction with Susan Sarandon who was playing an actress.
Finishing and still in pain, I headed into the wardrobe area to be undressed by the wardrobe assistants. Underneath everything I removed, they discovered an inflamed area that looked like a spider bite. It was. The nurse on set gave me some antihistamine and ointment.
It took about three weeks for the bite to heal, but much longer for the movie to be released. Usually, movies come out a year after they have rapped. Not Illuminata. It was at least about two years before I saw a tiny ad in the movie section of the newspaper with Susan Sarandon’s name so small it was almost invisible. That alone should have hit me over the head as an omen of what was to come.
I excitedly, finally, was going to see the movie, see me, and enjoy the fruits of my hard work and spider bite. Well, the movie was so bad, for the first time in my life, I didn’t stay to see if my scenes were in the movie or not. It was such a disappointment. It was awful. To this day, I still haven’t revisited the film.
So, I guess the moral of or lesson in this experience, is that in life, none of us is immune to hits and misses. Even creative geniuses like John Tuturro.
(Actual review: Turturro tricks you into thinking there’s magic realism streaming through this ode to art and commited love – despite there being little magic and not a trace of reality to speak of.)