Vicarious Ventures: For non-actor, acting is no walk in the bathroom

“I think we need to powder his butt.”

At the time, I stood naked in front of four people and a camera in a small bathroom. That’s because this week, for my Vicarious Ventures column, I decided to star in a porno. OK, I’m just kidding, but I did act in a nude scene and a sex scene for a fellow Temple student’s film.

I am not an actor, and I told my friend that when he offered me the part of the conceited ex-boyfriend. He told me not to worry about it and that I wouldn’t even need to act.

I’m not sure what that says about his opinion of me, but for the sake of adventure, I agreed to try it and thus, was left standing in my boxers in a tiny bathroom with four other people, who were waiting for my boxers to drop.

“Well,” I decided, “go big, or go home.”

I took a deep breath and threw my boxers to the floor. In that swift moment, there was no turning back. I was naked on film. Everyone was staring at me, and I was feeling surprisingly nonchalant about it.

The director, Noah Temple, a sophomore film and media arts major, wanted to make a film about our generation’s relationship with drugs.

“Everyone knows what these drugs do to you, you know?” he said. “Our parents were the experimental generation. We know the drawbacks. We just don’t give a f—. We’re already so disconnected.”

The star of the film was Israeli beauty Arielle Tayar, a sophomore communications major. Olin Brown, a junior BTMM major, was ironically the silent sound guy.

Director of photography Ron Dabach, a junior film and media arts major, had one eye in his camera during shooting, as he talked shop with the director about the lighting on my butt.

My main occupation was not interrupting their creative flow with stupid questions.

Which is why I just stood there, clenching my butt and silently wondering what was going on when Tayar went to work at Dabach’s suggestion, powdering my butt as if she was just dusting some furniture.

I was confused because I couldn’t understand how anyone could think I wasn’t white enough. I’m as Irish as it gets, and we’re talking about the whitest part of my body here.

Later, I learned skin reflects light at the camera, but no one bothered to tell me this at the time.

I didn’t realize until my first scene with Tayar – when she was suddenly in character, and I was still just Greg – that the acting was the truly scary part. The nudity was nothing by comparison.

I had been so aloof about my part in the short film, but now we were on set, and I realized if I messed up, I’d be failing a whole team of people who were working really hard.

“You have to be Randy,” Tayar said, staring at me as though she were trying to actually turn me into Randy with her mind.

“You have to really believe everything that happened between us.”

I began to think I made a huge mistake when I said I would do this.

In the end, I made my entrance dozens of times, and instead of feeling awkward like I did when we started, I ended up being angry at myself for not being a better actor.

You might think sounding sarcastic would be easy if you do it all the time. But then, you try it on set, and all that comes out is this monotone, toad voice.

Luckily, everyone was patient with me as I warmed up to the character.

Afterward, I told the director to let me know the next time he needed an actor because I might not know how to act, but with a newfound respect for the craft, I really want to be able to now.

Besides, how often do you get to hang out naked, playing make-believe with people?

Greg Trainor can be reached at greg.trainor@temple.edu.

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