As I said, it only took me a week to adjust to living in Hamburg. That first week, though, was pretty tough for me. I had always thought I would like to be on a desert island, alone. Ha! It felt like I was on a desert island that because I felt completely isolated. Although most Germans spoke English, they didn’t go around speaking it automatically, and since I was frequently mistakenly identified as being German (tall and blonde), I couldn’t understand what was being said to me. And, of course, all the signs and such were in German. Luckily, I did retain enough German vocabulary that I was able to work out what most signs, etc. said/meant. And all I had to say was, “I don’t speak German” for them to switch to English. Still, I felt really isolated.
Going on castings was a whole other challenge. I had to learn the city and the train and bus schedule, something I had never done much of in the USA. Well, that’s not quite true…living in Chicago, without a car, had taught me how to use public transportation. Of course, it was all in English and I wasn’t a foreign visitor to the city. I found, to my delight, that in Germany the trains and buses all run on time. I mean exactly on time. And they were exceptionally clean. There was one particular connection that I literally had to run to catch because it was never even one second late. I got used to it, though, and really came to love the freedom that public transportation gave me. I know it sounds kind of odd, but it was so easy to use. All you needed was a bus/train pass and you were all set.
Soon after I arrived, my booker asked for my passport. I thought, oh crap, hopefully she won’t notice the year I was born. I had, after all, lied to them about my age. Here I was 27 and they thought I was 21. Well, they did notice. I was called into meet with the owner of the agency, the man who had come to Chicago and who had picked me to go to Hamburg in the first place. Let’s just say he was not happy. He wanted to send me home. This pissed me off because, really, if you thought I was 21, then why should it matter that I am really 27. He said it wasn’t so much that I was 27, as it was that I was 27 and just starting modeling. He said that most 27 year olds, if they were even still in the business, had been modeling at least 10 years. As far as he was concerned, I was completely inexperienced. This wasn’t true as I had been working in Chicago for the last 9 months or so. Again, I found it so ridiculous that a number could be such a big deal. I somehow convinced him to allow me to stay, though now I can’t remember how I did it.
So, I continued to go to castings. One in particular was a commercial for chocolate. Those of you who actually know me know that I do NOT like chocolate. I did not want to tell the casting director this because I thought I could do it anyway. As it turned out, not only did I have to speak in German, I also had to eat the stupid chocolate at the end. After the first take, she said to me, “Your German is excellent, but you look like you don’t like chocolate.” I tried again, 2 more times, but I could never take a bite of the chocolate bar without making a face. Needless to say, I didn’t get the job.
I did have various small jobs here and there, mostly catalog or commercials (where I didn’t have to eat chocolate.) My booker called me one day to ask if I could do a split. I said I used to be able to, but it had been years since I’d done one, that if I had time to practice, I probably could do it. Turned out the casting was the next day. So much for time to practice. Luckily, when I did the casting, I had to do a split between 2 ottomans, so even though I really couldn’t do one, it looked like I could because of gravity. The job was for a photographer who was known for thinking up concepts that no one could possibly do, and then finding models to do it. I was one of those models. This concept was about writing music on a computer.
What you’ve got to remember here is, this was LONG before Photoshop even existed. I am actually doing this, I am suspended between the two computers. Getting me up there was quite tricky, though. First they had to teach me how to hold the violin properly. Luckily, I was allowed to keep my eyes closed for the picture. I’m not sure I could have done it otherwise without grimacing. Physically, I would say this was the hardest job I ever did. Anyway, I would put my front leg up on the computer, get the violin situated properly, then my back leg would be put on the other computer with two people holding me up until the photographer was ready. He would then say something to me like strength and I would tighten all my muscles, the holders would step out of the frame and the shot would be taken. I would then throw the violin to the person whose job it was to catch it, and the holders would rush in to get me off the computers. I would start to go ‘inside out’ because of gravity. There was no way I could hold that position because of where my legs were on the computers. Perhaps if they were a little closer together it would have been possible, but the distance was just too great to hold longer than about 2 seconds. In all we did about 24 shots. Afterwards, I had to take the train back to my apartment, with hair and makeup still on, but wearing regular clothes. I wished it was closer to Halloween so I wouldn’t stand out so much.
To be continued…