Category: fitness

An Interview With Stunt Woman and Fighter Bridgett “Babydoll” Riley

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Bridgett “Babydoll” Riley is a stunt woman, boxer and trainer who appeared in Million Dollar Baby as a fighter; here is a link to her website:

 

http://www.babydollriley.net/

 

Q: What made you want to be a stunt woman?

 

A: i didn’t intend to be one. all i wanted was a collection of world kickboxing titles….at that time.

i moved from missouri to los angeles with an intense passion to achieve my goals. while training one day, a talent scout approached me and had me audition for an acting role. i wound up acting on a tv show with a very small part but it did indeed open the door for me into stunts. it was the mighty “morphin power rangers” television series.
Q: What kind of training have you had?

 

A: i was a gymnast in my youth to teens. i then jumped into the martial arts earning my black belt. i loved karate tournaments and fell in love with sparring. i transferred into kickboxing which led me to boxing.

 

Q: What was your scariest job?

 

A: i get nervous all of the time, but that puts me on the edge and keeps me humbly alert which is where i prefer to be to sharpen me and show me…..that i am in fact still doing the right thing. performing on time for camera can be unnerving but – WHAT A RUSH.

having said that….

hmmm….

leaping off the roof of an SUV onto a moving car hood was tricky because of precise timing. depending on others in stunts is part of the deal, hence i’d have to say that THAT one had me on edge. it was dope.

i did a hairy stair fall down concrete stairs with sharp edges and it just looked like i had to have died…but we got it and i walked away without injury. i’ve gone through break away windows falling to another story underneath me while in a rumble with another stunt man …which is always tricky when involving multiply people in a scenario. descenders through break away roof tops while everything is on fire around me…. can get my heart pumping. so many tricky detailed fight scenes involving up to fourteen people keeps me RIGHT THERE due to the fact that i am an OCD perfectionist and want it perfect. i’m very hard on myself and demanding.

Q: What does a typical workout consist of for you?

 

A: my workouts vary. maintenance is key. so i prefer a typical boxer’s workout, if you want to talk typical and BOXING is home for me but i can do that in my sleep.

i am trying to stretch myself and get more evolved with what is current. trends come and go. but jujitsu ground fighting is hot now. i am sharpening up my muay thai training and i happen to be becoming addicted to it. i love to run. outdoors is the way to go. i am not a hamster on a treadmill…i’ve been brain washed into embracing that the ROAD is the ONLY way to go when it comes to “road work.” if a particular job comes up that requires a specific skill set…i’m on it. i’ve gone to a guy who gets you in CAR driving/trick shape and i loved that. that was for a precision driving car commercial. it is very different than STUNT driving. it’s a skill and i dig it. i went to go-cart tracks to work on my foot pedal control and it was a blast to boot. if i’m working weapons i may hire a weapon’s expert or just work hard in rehearsals….. if i -GOD willing- have great stunt guys to train with and run it on.

training varies and i like to mix it up. once in a while i will hit a hip hop dance class to work my brain out at remembering tricky choreography. i will go to a gymnastics gym and drill basics. you cannot EVER get enough basics. i had to get scuba certified for a movie in my past, the remake of the classic “poseidon adventure.” which steered me to catalina island, in california to get scuba certified. it was fun.

Q: What is your dream role?

 

A: a dream role. i do indeed want to act more and play a vulnerable female – the underdog….i always root for the underdog. something with an AMAZING story. story is what moves my heart. if my heart is not there, ALL the action in the world can take place and i don’t give a rats behind about it. so story is key. then if action happens to happen because of the story… then COOL. but doing action just for the safe of action is just silly to me.

Q: You are a professional fighter who appeared in Million Dollar Baby; how realistic was that film?

 

A: hmmm….well Hillary Swank is a pro and she was awesome to watch work. she works HARD. she is a strong female who knows what she wants. impressive to me. i also LOVE mr. Clint Eastwood. that was the most DOPE thing…to be directed by him.

now….realistic, well…you would NOT see a trainer UP on the boxing apron during a fight. i will just say…IT WAS A MOVIE.

Q: What is the most amazing stunt you have ever seen in a film?

 

A: too too many to list. soooo many. stunts IS one of the ACTORS. i think stunts and stunt people should get more due respect. without the action in MANY films…there would be NO film. i enjoy REALISTIC action. i am NOT into CG. it just takes me out of it. but i should have been alive in the 1920’s. i’m OLD school. i still in fact like to write things down. weird, huh. i’d even like my cell phone to JUST be a freaking phone, but that’s just me. i like raw done RIGHT. that to me takes more talent.

Q: What celebrity would you find intimidating to meet?

 

A: i already met and trained her…miss Angelina Jolie. i was soooo nervous. i think she is the cat’s meow. she is amazing and it was an honor and pleasure to work with her.

Q: What your weirdest Don King story?

 

A: i really do not have a weird one. he delivered on everything he promised. he paid well, in fact….BETTER than OTHER former fighter/promoters (whom should KNOW BETTER.) so my dealings with mr. King were positive. i mean he put me on HOLYFIELD/LEWIS 1 ….at MADiSON Sq. GARDEN….that was the COOLEST. 🙂
Q: What famous boxer’s style do you try to emulate?

 

A: back in his day, Julio Caesar Chavez was so special, WOW!!! Finito LOPEZ – picture perfect text book style. Tyson was a FORCE back in the day to, i dug his intensity and focus.

i like GREAT body punchers. i love when fighters put punches in bunches together so nicely to appropriately label it THE SWEET SCIENCE. it really is a sport like NON other. it’s a privilege to be a part of an amazing thing. i am truly BLESSED.

 

Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)

 

 

 

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An Interview With Lucid Practice Owners Paz Romano and Brian Levine

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Paz Romano and Brian Levine own Lucid Practice, which is a website that offers useful information on yoga, travel and wellness; here is a link:

http://lucidpractice.com/

Q: What is Lucid Practice?

A: Lucid Practice is a community for our readers to live, learn, and give. Anything and everything from our daily practice is brought forward for conversation. By practice we mean daily thoughts, activities, captivating books and websites, to some of our opinions on love, faith, and life. We would like to help our readers “stay lucid” on their journey throughout life.

Lucid Practice is a little piece of positive energy. It’s a ripple. How far will it spread? We don’t know but we’re excited. We hope our readers will find http://www.lucidpractice.com to be a useful daily resource for living a more loving, conscious, healthy, lucid life. We focus on yoga, travel, wellness, and art.

Q: What inspired you to start it?

A: Lucid Practice began as a “blog journal.” We intended to keep record of our thoughts and of the lucid articles and videos we came across day to day. We thought Lucid Practice would serve as a central hub of positivity and sharing that we could always refer back to. Additionally, we thought that others might benefit as well.

However, we never imagined that http://www.lucidpractice.com would be having such a positive impact on so many readers in such a short period of time.

We’re grateful and have enjoyed sharing our thoughts and hearing from readers to create connections and foster conversations that matter.

Q: How can yoga make the world a better place?

A: In Sanskrit, the word “yoga” means “to yoke.” Yoga is a process of self enquiry. Yoga is a process of yoking our body, mind, and breath. With consistent practice, we feel more connected to ourselves, to those around us, and to God and/or the universe.
In this sense, yoga can yoke people together. We feel that if people are at peace with themselves and truly aware of their actions, they will be selfless and their actions will not be contingent upon their own ego.
Yoga is a method of purifying one’s self. Unskillful thoughts and actions that have become patterns in life can be brought to attention and reflected upon. The Tao Te Ching eloquently notes, “In the pursuit of learning, something is acquired every day. In the pursuit of the Tao, every day something is relinquished.” By becoming our best selves through yoga, we can all live at peace together and let the world take its natural course.
Q: You make videos of your travel destination; what makes your videos unique?

A: Many of our readers are backpackers and international travelers. We feature travel videos that we think will have a positive impact on our readers. One of our blog contributors, Danielle, has studied film. She’s so talented in an array of artistic mediums and we enjoy sharing her work with our readers.

Also, we’ve recently been uploading clips on YouTube that viewers can’t find anywhere else. We like to blend yoga with music and the early results of this have been decidedly positive.

Q: What kind of training have you had?

A: We participated in an Ashtanga yoga retreat in Koh Phangan, Thailand with our teacher (who we’re still very much connected to) Rory Trollen. During this retreat, our concept of life as we knew it was forever changed. We do not profess to be experts by any means. We are students first and foremost.

We’re not so sure about (well, we’re not so sure about anything) the Western approach of “200 Hour Teaching Training Courses” which can essentially be crash courses designed to make a quick buck for the yoga studio owner. We feel the real training comes from your own consistent, daily practice. We feel the best training is consistent, daily practice and we mean six days a week for several years consecutively.

Who is more qualified to teach: the 200 hour certified yoga teacher who just found yoga 4 months ago or the “uncertified” practitioner who has studied and practiced yoga daily for twenty years?

Q: You both have backgrounds in football, is the football culture accepting of the teachings of yoga?

A: Ten years ago the answer to the question would be drastically different to what it is now. Yoga has become widely accepted. In the Western culture and especially in American football culture, men tend to have a “tough guy” mentality (we know because that was us!) and yoga was seen as contrary to that. This cultural norm has been flipped upside down as more and more NFL players have expressed their gratitude for the practice.

The best athletes in the world practice yoga regularly: Lebron James, Calvin Johnson, Ray Lewis, etc.

Q: How did yoga help improve your game?

A: We both began practicing yoga to become more dynamic athletes. We became more balanced, more flexible, and less prone to injury. We didn’t realize it at the time but now know that mental aspect of yoga can be even more beneficial than the physical.

Overall, we both agree that yoga helped us bring our game to the next level. The proof is in the results: We both helped lead our respective teams to conference championships while being awarded individual accolades that otherwise may not have been possible.

Q: What are the different types of yoga?

A: Yoga is a form of meditation for cleansing the mind, gaining spiritual consciousness, and forming a connection with the One of life. The Bhagavad Gita is one of the core texts of yoga. The Gita is eighteen chapters long and it’s said that in each chapter a different type of yoga is discussed.

While reading the Gita I didn’t necessarily notice eighteen types. I recognized four main branches of the practice: Karma yoga, Bhakti yoga, Raja yoga, and Jnana yoga. In basic terms karma yoga is the yoga of action, bhakti yoga is the yoga of devotion, Raja yoga is the practice of meditation, and Jnana yoga is the yoga of knowledge into practice.

Hatha yoga is the practice we see many people in the West practicing today. It is a form of Raja yoga. Many people associate Hatha yoga or Ashtanga yoga (a type of Hatha practice) with the well-known eight limbs of yoga. One limb of this practice is the physical asana or postures. This meditational practice is changing the world.

Q: How do you decide where to travel next?

A: We usually pick a starting place and have a defined but entirely open and flexible plan. At one point, we were about to book a flight from Beijing, China to Mumbai, India but at the last minute opted to fly to Bangkok, Thailand. One of our favorite aspects of travel is being spontaneous and disregarding cultural norms that most people are used to.

We prefer long duration trips and tend to stay in one location for at least a couple of weeks in order to get immersed in the local culture.

We’re passionate learners, meeting new people and learning about other cultures has taught us that there’s so much more to life than going to a great college, getting a great job, getting married, having kids and settling down. Many Westerners get distracted by “the rat race,” celebrity gossip, slavishly following sports teams, or other activities that to us seem trivial compared to seeing the world and having a positive impact on people.

Q: If a football player scored a touchdown and no one saw it would it score six points?

A: That’s a tough question! Yes he would, we think? Would he celebrate and showboat? That’s a discussion for another day.

Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)

An Interview With Cinematographer Aimee Galicia Torres

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Aimee Galicia Torres is a cinematographer whose upcoming documentary John deals with the sex trade industry; here is a link to her website:

http://www.aimeefilms.com/

 

 

Q: What made you interested in cinematography?

A:  I became interested in filmmaking ever since I was a kid.  In fact, when I was a child, my parents got me an agent, and I did commercial work and acting.  However, I knew from the very get go, that being in front of the camera was in fact not for me.  I fell in love with cinematography in film school, and being able to transfer a set into a whole different world, became fascinating to me.  In hopes of becoming a better director, I set myself, working myself up as a cinematographer, in order to be able to work alongside other directors while I developed my craft.  In turn, it has made me a better all around filmmaker.  Not only am I able to visually tell the story thru application of light, shadow, and framing, I can do in a matter that is cost effective and visually captivating.

Q: Who are some of your influences?

A:   Some of my major influence in film are John Carpenter, Alfred Hitchcock, Steven Spielberg, Christopher Nolan.

Q: What made you interested in making a film about the sex trade industry?

A:  I became interested in making a film about the sex trade industry, because I myself, am an abuse activist and survivor of sexual abuse.  I recently formed a nonprofit 501(c)3 called the Majestic Dreams Foundation, an organization that provides exposure and awareness of ALL forms of abuse through various mediums such as film.  There in particular,  I became an activist against human trafficking and sexual exploitation, where I have been feature on Al Jazeera English, as well as CNN’s Anderson 360 show.  Through my activism, I met real-life human trafficking survivor and activist Michelle Carmela, and became good friends with her.  Through our friendship, we developed a very close bond, and I decided to help Michelle, with her life-long dream of creating a documentary based on her life’s story.  The title of our upcoming feature documentary is called “John,” in which we are actively seeking donations and investments at this time to bring this film into completion.  In this film, we interview real-life human trafficking/abuse survivors, Michelle Carmela and Nick, as they share their stories of abuse, survival, and recovery. Despite growing up in two very different parts of the United States, Michelle and Nick later uncover the truth to their captors and their direct link to organized crime.  http://www.gofundme.com/47msdw

Q: What kind of research did you do for the film?

A:   We did a lot of various research for the film, such as digging thru our list of resources from various human trafficking organizations such as our own.  In fact, Michelle Carmela is an expert in her own right through the human trafficking community for both sexual exploitation and organized crime.  She has been speaking for over 30 years, and educating some of the top organizations in the business.

Q:   What sort of visual effect are you looking to achieve in the film?

A:  The kind of visual affect we are trying to achieve in the feature film, “John,” is to transcend a visually empowering film that will inspire audiences world-wide.  Using my skills as a cinematographer, I am going to shoot this film no different than I would for many of my clients.

Q:  Do you think things have gotten better or worse for female crew members in Hollywood in the last ten years?

A:  I think that things have changed drastically for female crew members in the industry within the past 10 years that I have been it.  One thing is for sure, there are a lot more females wanting to pursue positions in the camera, electrical, and grip departments.  When I started, I was usually the only female on set behind-the-camera, now there are a lot more.  However one thing that has definitely not changed in this business is the lack of respect for women behind the camera.  Unfortunately, women do not make as much as men in this industry despite having more if not the same experience in that given category.  Women are not respected behind the camera, and are expected to not know as much as the men.  Women are very much babied on set, and sometimes it can be very frustrating.  I worked on nearly every department, as a Gaffer, Key Grip, 1st Camera Assistant, and I never thought I was any different.  I worked my butt off, to prove my worth, that not only could I excel, but be better than most of the men on the sets I’ve worked on.

Q: Have you ever had a difference of opinion with a director; how did you deal with it?

A:   In my career, I have had a series of disagreements with many of the directors I’ve worked with.  But that is all in a day’s work.  My job is to bring the director’s vision to life, by transforming it into light, shadow, and composition.  So in the best interest of the film, I always manage to ease the director’s mind, that I am there to help see their vision through.  That usually ends the dispute.  Given the fact most of the directors I work with are first time directors, there will be a share of disputes and disagreements, but at the end of the day, I am there to do my job and do the best work possible.

Q: What’s your strangest LA story?

A:  I wish I could pinpoint the one strangest LA story, but there are simply too many to just write down.  I can however name a very recent memory.  When a couple of us were out in April, we were obtain b-roll footage for my documentary, “John,” it was around 4am in the morning in Western Ave in Koreatown.  We were driving by, and on camera, we saw two men having sex literally in broad daylight at the curb.  As we drove by, they made eye contact with my driver, and still continued to have sex.  That was one of the most disturbing things I’ve seen.

Q: What film do you think had the best cinematography in the history of film (why)?

A:  One of the best films up to date that I personally feel had the best cinematography up to date would be, “The Prestige.”  The colors and framing was so beautifully captivating.  Also, another favorite of mine was “Memoirs of a Geisha.”  Another great example of great color.

Q:  What is the most common mistake young filmmakers make?

A:  The common mistake that young filmmakers make is the lack of production value and planning they make on their beginning projects.  A lot of new filmmakers overlook these details that might seem minor, and it ends up costing them at the end.  For example, a lot of new filmmakers try to skimp out by hiring a Cinematographer or Gaffer only based on the fact they have the equipment, when in fact they should be going by the person’s reel.  You don’t have to spend a lot of money to make something look great, but you really should invest your time and research to make your film the best that it can possibly be.  Most people who come in this business want to come in and think they can make their way into the director’s seat right away, but people need to know, that sometimes you got to start from the ground up, and work your way from various departments to become the best director you can be.  Learning more, and getting experience in as many departments, will make you a better director, a better filmmaker.  There is so much to making a great film than simply turning on a camera and shooting.  What makes a great film is the attention to details, and sure application of it.

Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)

An Interview With In My Corner Star Joe Orrach

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Joe Orrach is a boxer and a dancer who stars in the play In My Corner, which premieres at the Odyssey Theatre in West LA on Sept.6; here is a link to the theater’s site:

www.OdysseyTheatre.com

 

Q: How did you get into boxing?

A:     My dad got me into boxing, in fact he didn’t give me (or my brothers) much of a choice. He watched the Gillette Friday Night Fights religiously. My two older brothers and I had to watch the fights with him. Then, when I was in high school and was thrown off my varsity football team, basketball team and lacrosse team (mostly for talking back to coaches), I decided I didn’t need teams and was going to do something I knew about by myself. I borrowed my mom’s car and made the 25 minute drive over to the PAL (Police Athletic League) in Brentwood, Long Island, a mostly Black and Puerto Rican town, and started to learn the “sweet science”. I think I learned a lot from watching those fights with dad week after week, year after year, because boxing came to me fairly easily. My older brother became the heavy weight-boxing champ of New York; I became the welterweight champ of the US Air Force.

 

Q:  What was your most challenging fight and how did you train for it?

 

A:      That’s hard to answer because all my fights were challenging. Not so much because of the fighter I was paired with, but because the fact of the fight actually gave me so much fear.  I was fine in the gym. I would spar with anyone, train hard for hours and do pretty much anything Tony Fortunado, my trainer, would tell me to do (which wasn’t always the best thing to do.) I remember one day when I was at the gym with my brother Mike, who later became the New York Heavyweight Golden Gloves Champion. I had only been going to this gym about 6 months when Tony told us to spar with a professional light heavyweight who was preparing for a 10 round fight. It was crazy; I think Tony was crazy. We laughed the entire ride home thinking how this guy punched us from one end of the ring to the other. I got knocked down a couple times but then only got up and went after this monster with more determination. He couldn’t knock Mike down but punched him all over the ring. The hardest part for me was always the lead up to the fight; the fear that set in, that one had to face and overcome.  It’s similar for me when I perform. Part of the joy and thrill of it is dealing with and conquering the fear. I think that’s it with fighting too; one is conquering fear more than an opponent.

Q:  What famous fighters would you compare yourself to in terms of style and technique?

 

A:  In many ways, I think my style and approach was like a Sugar Ray Robinson, who for me was one of the greatest, if not the greatest, fighter to ever live. Please don’t think I’m saying I was a good as he was because I certainly wasn’t, but my style was similar. Tony Fortunado, my trainer, trained with Sugar Ray Robinson and emulated Robinson. Plus Tony trained me in Robinson’s style. I also loved Roberto Duran, Esteban De Jesus. Duran could brawl with anyone and in the ring and I wanted to be like Duran. But DeJesus was one of the few fighters that beat Duran as a lightweight and he was a classic boxer puncher the way I saw myself. Plus he was Puerto Rican.

Q: What made you transition to dancing?

 

A:  I left the United States Air Force before my original departure date and found myself living back with my parents. Once you leave you really can’t go back. I started training again with Tony Fortunato (a top 10 middle weight contender) but something had changed; I could feel that I had lost the love for boxing. I was driving a truck for my brother Mike and decided to take a dance class in NYC during my lunch break. I had studied ballet years before with Tony’s insistence for my footwork in the ring. It had definitely helped my boxing, but what nobody knew at the time was that I fell in love with dance. I got to be around all these beautiful girls (very different from the boxing gym). I was 16 at the time, and thought this was the best thing since ice cream. Then, the owner of the dance school asked me if I would perform in the recital. I was the only older male in the school so without telling anyone, especially my Puerto Rican dad, I performed in the recital. I loved it. I was a good mover, and had rhythm—that had worked for boxing. Now it worked for dance.

Q: What inspired you to create In My Corner?

 

A: During a troubled period of my life when everything was going bad I decided to write a journal. I wanted to make sense out of my life and try to figure out how I got where I was. I just wrote and wrote, not knowing what was going to come out. It was really an exercise. I didn’t even read it but something started to percolate within. It was after writing the journal that I slowly started to change. I didn’t know it at the time. Fast forward years later in a new life with a new woman I decided to revisit the journal. I decided I wanted to make the journal a play, to externalize it, to communicate. Liz Hasse, my partner in life and my muse, took the journal and put it into a dramatic narrative. Then we both worked together; I was providing rhythm and movement; the two of us were working with the words. We did re-writes, tried it out, and here we are.

Q: How did you go about getting it produced?

A: After putting together a precursor called 147 (the pound weight of a welterweight boxer) as my senior thesis in 2008 at St Mary’s College of California in the LEAP program, and trying it out at the renaissance celebration of a freed slave township in Virginia, Liz and I decided to develop the play more fully. We then workshoped it at local theatre in San Francisco. It’s not easy to produce a play; one has to be very resourceful. We finally found Intersection for the Arts in San Francisco and rented it out for a few weeks, Liz produced it at Intersection, at the new Black Box Theatre in Oakland, at San Francisco School for the Arts, at a Berkeley venue were we invited high school students and introduced them to the craft of creating and producing a play. It was fun, intense; we worked with a wonderful jazz pianist Matt Clark from the very beginning because we always wanted the play, as full of rhythm and movement as it is to have a live and original score.

We put IMC away for three years while I earned my MFA at USC. Then the fun really began.  We wanted to premier it in Los Angeles. There was a theatre in LA that told us yes, we love it, no problem we will produce it, but we wasted a year listening to promises that didn’t pan out. Then came our angel Beth Hogan at the Odyssey Theatre, and everything seemed to flow. Beth, Liz and I have had a great time doing this. It’s a co- production between Beth Hogan at the Odyssey and Liz Hasse. And it wouldn’t be the play it is without Jeremiah Chechik a wonderfully inventive director who has been working in films and TV and, at the same time, truly loves the theatre, and always knows the answers, many multiples of intriguing and exciting answers to everything. He is like another producer, as well as an incredibly creative, insightful and sensitive director, who has more respect for an actor than anyone I’ve meet or heard about. He is great.

Q: Why a play and not a movie?

 

A:     I am a theatre person. That’s my world. I love film but wouldn’t know how to start there in terms of coming up with an original project, presenting a story that is mine. The theatre is more immediate to me as a place to start and develop things and watch them come into being. I think I may let the universe take care of the film side of IMC. Let the people who can do films come to see this play and then maybe you and I can have another discussion about plays and films after this run.

Q: What makes your show unique?

A:  The uniqueness is in the way it’s told. It’s a universal story, told in a unique way. Of course, every play is unique, and everyone who writes is different, therefore the story in every play is different. What makes IMC unique are the ingredients of its telling. IMC is a universal story told in a very unique way. It’s a father son story told through narrative, song, Latin jazz, tap dance, movement and boxing. We just don’t tell the story, the performer lives the story, combining different rhythmic and movement skills simultaneously while telling a story, a story that is told through 5 characters. For example, one scene starts with “As far back as I can remember, my father always told us to be proud of what we are…and what we are is Puerto Rican…”  I start to snap my left fingers in a 2/3 clave rhythm. I continue with “United we stand tall…” adding my right hand with a cascara rhythm. I finish the scene adding my feet with a third rhythm while speaking the 4th rhythm. Another scene involves the father who has become drunk in the course of watching the Gillette Friday Night Fights. He grabs the belt (here a jump rope) to beat the kids. The rope hits the floor with a steady beat while the dad yells at each child.  Tap dance rhythms punctuate his rant. There is also boxer’s speed bag on wheels that is used as a dancing partner and at another time, it becomes a musical instrument as the boxer joins the musical ensemble. This is a dramatic piece written to music with a live musical ensemble on stage. The music is another voice onstage, always supporting the dialogue becoming a strong voice yet never over-powering and never becoming a musical. The music is scored more like a movie where you later you realize, oh yeah, there was music in it. All of these elements combine with the dialogue to make a world in itself, a play and a very unique theatrical experience.

Q: What sort of challenges have you encountered in getting the show up?

 

A: Challenges? The usual: LIFE. Getting anything off the ground. The inner fears and stresses. The externalities—finding a theatre, trying to make something good, great, in the unfunded world of live theatre. Making your inner thoughts and processes something that others can relate to, absorb, feel.  From the inner to the outer, there is so much to overcome. But as so many others before us, one can only persevere.

Q: Who are some of your dancing influences?

 

A:  Dancing influences. So many people; dancing is my influence, my life: Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, Gregory Hines (who really saved me and helped make it real for me), Donald O’Connor, John Bubbles, Sammy Davis Jr, Baby Lawrence, Jose Greco.  There are my 2 favorites: Savion Glover and Jimmy Slyde.  In jazz, Jack Cole, Bob Fosse, Graciela Danielle, Twyla Tharp.  In ballet Nureyev, Edward Villella and modern dancers, Indian dancers; the list goes on.

Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)

An Interview With Massage Therapist/Model and Aspiring Actress Samantha Barnes

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Samantha Barnes is a massage therapist, actress and model who writes books in her head; here is a link to her website:

http://samanthab130.wix.com/barnes#

Q:  What do you think makes the job of acting so appealing to so many people?

A: People want to be seen but they put a lot of energy into hiding. For a lot of people I would say that acting holds the appeal of becoming famous (aka. the most seen) and also getting to be somebody else. People are rewarded for hiding and acting appears at first to be the ultimate cave; a series of masks and different identities. Maybe that’s what first drew me too. But in a figure modeling session a while back I was asked to smile for an artist that was sketching my face, and he drew it out for an intense hour. A facial expression is so much more challenging to hold than a body position because it is exquisitely interconnected with the feelings behind the expression. Without feeling like smiling, one can’t genuinely smile for long or it quickly slips and reveals the fake. I would say that most people walking about are trying to act, trying to wear a mask to avoid being seen. However, the true actors out there are continually exposing their actual feelings-whether they have to convince themselves to feel a certain way or not, it’s real in that moment and it takes vulnerability to display. In any scene we can pick up quickly who we believe and who we don’t believe. Do they really feel that way or are they faking? The best is, of course, when the actor feels their role so deeply that it’s real for them and they share that vulnerability with viewers to the point that viewers can forget someone is “acting.”

Q:  Why do you think people get so excited when they see famous people in person?

A: This was a more challenging question for me. Why do we get so thrilled to be near someone who is a celebrity? Do we love them? Is it that we feel like we know them, having followed their lives? Or is it boosting our own self worth to be near someone esteemed ‘highly valued’ by ‘everyone?’ Man, if I got to hang out with Meryl Streep for 5 minutes, wouldn’t that be something? Or if Jim Carry looked in my eyes? I’d be so blissed out, I wouldn’t know what to do with myself. Why is that? Of course, those are both actors I respect, but it would probably stir me up to see anyone well known. Then perhaps I’d feel more connected. Having seen someone that’s known globally, I might feel like more of a member of that community.

Q:  What is the strangest thing you have ever done for money?

A: Oh boy. Well, there was this guy and guess what he wanted me to massage? Just kidding.

I’ve done some strange things for money. Some of which I should probably not say on this platform, though you can be sure I’m putting that stuff in a book. But some of the various strange jobs I’ve held, under the table, over and sideways, span from my first job of sorting Slime Eels in a seafoods processing plant, leading tours from 2-50 people in SE Alaska, being a living exhibit in a cannery museum, Sea Urchin processor, a go-kart tour guide, working in a 19th century B&B tea house, dead-heading flowers in an exceptional garden, working the slime line in a cannery, being my pop’s deckhand for 3 years, corn-row braiding in booths at festivals, selling loads of crocheted things I’ve made, selling soaps I’d handmade and jams from berries I’d handpicked, selling handpicked Chanterelles, I was apprenticed to a Scrimshander, worked in a freezer stocking ice cream in Alaska, was a special ed preschool attendant, and pulled many an all-nighter on the event staff of a convention center. Not to mention all the nude figure modeling and random photo shoots that have been part of developing a portfolio and starting a career in performance art.

Q:  Who was the worst boss you’ve ever had and why?

A: This is such a challenging question because I’ve had to work for such difficult people in really tense, awkward, and even dangerous situations. I took the verbal abuse of a captain to his deckhand from my father on his boat 3 years in a row, I took the swindling gypsy ways of an artistic NYSicilian pizza maker who insisted I was volunteering, or hanging out as a friend whenever I worked. He withheld payment time and again, not to mention how he refused to have a working schedule. But most recently I found myself answering yet another craigslist ad, (oh craigslist how you tease me!) this time an ad for a personal assistant to help with organization in a home business. 2 others worked for him and I quickly found that he had made a habit of verbally abusing his employees, meanwhile being a kiss-ass smuck with everyone else. He’s the world’s biggest sucker, getting sent endless brochures about the new monthly miracle drug and other garbage. I took it upon myself to weed through stuff he wouldn’t see as a scam- the man is already a hoarder and compulsive spender who tries to write off every expense. He doesn’t sleep more than an hour or two at a time and he subsists on pills, shakes, and air. His taxes are a void of darkness that have repelled multiple accountant groups even while he bullied them about their services. But when he started messing with my hours, telling me late at night to not come in the next day, etc, I’d had about enough of being patient. Needless to say, I don’t work for the mess anymore.

Q:  You are pursuing acting; why Portland and not LA?

A: Cause I’m not a total sellout? Eh, just kidding. Maybe I like having clean lungs and less traffic. Or because I like it when people give individuality a chance. Maybe it’s all the trees in Portland, or the intersecting rivers, or all the bike-commuting that I get to do, or that it’s so easy to recycle and reuse items here, or the fact that it can be in to look different. That’s cool.

No, actually I moved to Portland to study massage therapy a little over a year ago. Previously I’d been living in Ketchikan, Alaska, a very small island community in the Tongass National Rainforest. I was already an actress at this point, though I wasn’t pursuing it on a professional level yet, and my only thought was to find a convenient, portable career that could pay my way through the rest of whatever else I decided to do. What’s more portable than your own loving hands? I can do massage anywhere, anytime, which I frequently do; it’s wonderful. But in the process of learning how to understand my therapeutic boundaries and be an excellent giver, I began to melt. The armor I’d been wearing fell away and my heart was as ready as ever to follow a dream that had been there all along. Not, ‘I want to be an actress.’ I am an actress.

Q:  What was the most interesting thing you’ve ever modeled?

A: Years ago, when I was traveling around Peru, I took on this task of crocheting a Salsa dress. It was something I’d dreamed up. It was supposed to be a super sexy, red, salsa dress. At this time I was beginning to unfold like a flower into womanhood. There were so many questions about sexuality- where does that confidence come from? Is it boldness? How bold is too bold? It’s a fine line in the search for sexual balance. I settled with the contradictions: a bold black flower over the genitals, and a flower-painted mask to hide behind, over the sexiest red dress I could think up with cascading flower petals as the skirt. I finished it and came back to Ketchikan, a sexual dynamo at 19, just in time for the annual Wearable Arts Show, where I wooed my town on the catwalk, salsa dancing to WEEN’s Voodoo Lady.

Q:  Why do you think so many people hate their jobs?

A: It’s an interesting thing how people make such big compromises in their lives around different jobs they hold. “Well I hate it, but it pays well.” What does that mean? Is the money worth it then or is it an excuse not to change? “Well I hate it, but I get great benefits.” What benefits? Who are you trying to convince that you’re not wasting your life? It’s your life. Live it. Reach, choose ‘yes.’ I think a lot of people are scared to admit what they really want to have, because the moment it’s exposed it can be taken away or judged. People hate the jobs that keep them prisoners to an unsatisfying existence and they see the job as the prison, but really, the keys are on their belts the whole time. Who’s really the jailer?

Q:  You say you are writing several books in your head, what are they about?

A: One is going to be a collaboration with other women, and I’m feeling strongly about the title-to-be, Becoming Beautiful. It’s a look at what it takes to be a beautiful person amidst our western society of judgment and conformity and sameness. I’d like to follow the trail of what we find beautiful and how to get there. Is ‘Beautiful’ truly a person that hits everything on the media’s checklist, or is it someone that just makes you feel good to be near? We can all be that unique beauty that inspires others, it just takes the vulnerability to accept self and let it be seen. I came from a place of feeling immeasurably ugly for a long time. Only recently as I’ve begun to heal and love myself, have I been able to let the private out. And I’m finding that as I reveal more of the sacred, I actually become more beautiful. Truly, photos of me as a teen show someone who was holding on to a lot of anger. Bitterness is ugly. Our postures say a lot about what we’re holding onto, and insecurity speaks as plainly as words. Confidence=self-love and it’s beautiful. Ego is another thing entirely, and it’s not so pretty.

The other book is one that I started after a totally psychedelic epiphany when I realized that we’re not separate at all. I looked at my hand and could see that although my thumb and forefinger seemed separate at the distal ends, they clearly are of the same hand. In the same way, a mushroom may appear to be singular in one place, but the same fungus could be producing similar mushrooms states away, you know mycelia mats can be enormous. Yet they’re all expressions of the same life force, as we are, though we’ve forgotten because we don’t have physical roots and we no longer have the same reverence for the Earth so the connections are harder to see. Epithelial cells die continuously, but do I die? Someday it might seem like I die, but those are just my cells completing their cycle. Life force is cyclical oneness. The title is simply, God Is Love: A Collection of Expressions.

Q: What makes you watchable?

A: People want to watch me because it stuns them that I’m real. How many people expose their hearts to the world? Brave artists one and all, that’s who, though my art is in my pores, in my tall spine, in my Qi flow as I move through a room. Every movement is a dance and a meditation. My art is in the smiling eyes that make contact with strangers on the street that are ready to connect. It’s a message of love and it’s for everybody. Of course they want to watch me. I remember too when I was hiding and wished to be seen. By letting myself be seen now, I’m hoping to incite a great rebellion against concealment.

Q: If the world is a stage, what is the greatest performance you have ever seen by a proletarian?

A: Oh the world is a stage. Sometimes I think everyone around me is here for my viewing pleasure. In Portland, this town of weirdness and exploration, I seem to pass performers every day, but they’re regular people. People practicing their hula-hooping, or Capoeira, or fire-spinning in the streets and parks as clowns on double-decker bikes zoom past. But once, my first week living here, I walked into an Ecstatic-Blues Dance Party in a home off of Hawthorne. People were swirling and flinging each other, holding each other close and intimately jirating to the beats. Everything was a prop for this incredible dance! Couples would dip their partners over railings, lift each other through doorways, twirl around posts on the porch, and this was only what I could see from outside! I wandered in, so curious, and fell in love with 2 couples on the dance floor simultaneously. A man danced with another man, and a woman danced with a woman. They traded following, respectfully submitting to each other’s lead. They felt the music and moved tumultuously around the house until the last beat when they graciously thanked each other and switched back to man-woman couples, in which case even the women would take a turn in leading. It was magnificent.

Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)

An Interview With Aspiring Actor and Spa Membership Salesman Jeremiah Hein

spa

Jeremiah Hein is a spa membership salesman and an aspiring actor who stars in the film The Twisted Mind of Ray Hinkley; here is a link to his IMDB page:

 

 

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm4950395/?ref_=fn_al_nm_1

 

 

Q:  What made you interested in acting?

A: I got interested in acting after I landed a Jack in the Box national radio commercial in high school.  After that I signed on with a scam entertainment company that got me pictures and an agent and sent me on auditions but it cost a pretty penny.  The whole acting process is fun, from the rehearsal, to talking to other people on set, and to finally see yourself on screen.

Q:  You are the only actor in Los Angeles who answered my ad for actors with day jobs. You are a brave man. Why are actors in LA so ashamed to admit that they have day jobs?

A: Oh wow…i find that so surprising.  There is no shame in my game.  I know that most actors have day jobs as servers, customer service represents, and the whole gamut of the workforce.  I think that some actors are ashamed because they think that they’re “better than that”.   They believe that they are not destined to work there but hey…neither is someone who is going to college to get a degree to become a Marriage and Family Therapist but it’s what we gotta do.  It’s a means to an end.  Most actors in LA are not “working actors”.

Q:  What is the worst “fake it til you make it story you have ever heard?

A: I dont know if this qualifies but a guy I knew was dating the director and their relationship was so contrived and it was obvious to everyone that saw them interact but the “actor” thought he was putting on an Oscar winning performance.  We all knew that they were just using each other in a parasitic-host sort of relationship which seems very common in Hollywood.

Q:  What is your strangest spa story?

A: I have not had any strange things happen while working…at least not yet but I did hear that a massage therapist would come to work drunk and have sex with her clients on the job.

Q:  What is The Twisted Mind of Ray Hinkley about?

A: The Twisted Mind of Ray Hinkley is about a guy who is crazy and kills homosexual men and after killing them he stages scenarios where he’s interacting with them in real time.

Q:  What role do you play?

A: I play the role of Charlie who is a guy that Ray hooks up with via the internet and ends up killing.  I’m supposed to be the guy that he loves but he definitely has a weird way of showing it.

Q:  What sort of training have you had in acting?

A: I trained with XXI Entertainment and also took acting in college at California State University Long Beach.

Q: . How do you use your acting skills in your day job?

A: I use my acting skills in my day job to persuade people to buy Spa memberships.  Building rapport, liking, similarity, is all part of my job and as much as you’d think I use my acting to do this I actually learned this from my psychology degree.  I also smile a lot…you tend to do this a lot in acting.

Q:  What is the most realistic film or TV show you have ever seen about Hollywood?

A: I know there are probably more realistic films about Hollywood but the one that sticks out for me right now is Going Down in La La Land.  It tells the story of Adam a young, handsome, guy who moves to Hollywood with dreams of making it big but at what price.  It shows the life story of probably many of us trying to make it big in Hollywood.  I know I can relate with him and his experience because I have done similar things as he did. (winks)

 

Q:  What makes someone a good director?

A: Someone who relates to his actors and brings himself/herself down to their levels.  What no one likes is a director who is on a pedestal.  A director who gives good direction is golden because sometimes you’re put in a scene and just told to act the scene and then the director will get upset if you didn’t give him/her what he/she wanted…but without direction how is one to know what to do.  A director with a sense of humor is by far the best…they make the whole experience fun and it doesn’t even seem like work.

 

Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)

An Interview With Singer Cassie Lynne

Cassie Griffith is a singer, music teacher and Zumba instructor who lives in Los Angeles and comes from Massachusetts. Here is a link to her website:

http://www.cassielynne.com/Cassie_Lynne/Home.html

Q:  What do you hope to express though your music?

A: I want to bring out emotions in people. I want to make them feel something when they listen to my music.

Q:  What do you like about the music industry?

A: I like that it’s constantly evolving. It’s creating new and exciting ways to be heard.

Q:  What don’t you like about it?

A: That business gets in the way of creativity sometimes.

Q: Why should I hire you to give me music lessons?

A:  Because I make lessons fun! I love to push my students in ways that will show them they can do anything!

Q:  What is your funniest work story?

A: I was working at the Coffee Bean for a short stint and taking coffee orders at the register. I took one guys order and looked at him and asked him his name since we shout them out when their drink is ready. He gave me a funny look like ‘kids today don’t watch the news’ and replied “Larry.” I guess even guys like Larry King have to get their own hot chocolates.

Q:  Who are some of your musical influences?

A: I grew up listening to Mariah, Jewel, and Shania Twain so I love all kinds of music. I will always love Jill Scott for her tenacity and anything Motown because it just makes you feel good.

Q:  What is the biggest difference between Massachusetts and California?

A: It’s always sunny here and it never gets old! I need the sunshine.

Q:  What is Zumba and how did you become an instructor?

A: Zumba is a latin dance based cardio group exercise class. I decided to become an instructor after going to Zumba classes for a year. I was in class and realized the joy that my instructor brought to these ladies around me as they freely shook their booty without judgement. Zumba really gave me a confidence and body awareness that I never had before and I wanted to do that for others too.

Q:  What is more important in the music industry today, talent or looks?

A: I think looks can get you in the door but only talent will keep you there.

Q: What is your theme song?

A: Can’t Take That Away – Mariah Carey

Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)