Usually I don’t like to go back into the past. The only thing I tend to get nostalgic for is music. Usually people think I’m much younger. Once someone talks to me about music, bands I’m into and concerts I’ve seen, thus my true age is revealed. Music is one of the few things that tends to date me. Outside of music and fashion, I don’t like to look back. Much rather live in the present.
Back in March 2004, I had a one day gig. The time I was an extra for a FOX network show.
Jonny Zero never really had a chance, as it was canceled just after eight episodes. Back in 2005, the show was put in the Friday night ‘death slot.’ As an action drama it really had no fighting chance against the popular reality shows.
As my recollections would have it, I remember having to get up around 6:58 am to be on time for the 11am shooting. The location was at a now defunct club located on West 14th street, known for having goth and fetish parties. As a non union extra, I was told during the audition to bring two outfits for the taping. On set, it was easily seen who were the ‘lifestyle’ Goths and the actors under the SAG banner. The SAG extras had the cliche’ touches such as black lipstick, badly applied eyeliner and layers of ultra white face makeup. The true Goths had the Frankenstein platform boots, for example, popular within that subculture during the first 2000 decade. Think New Rock boots. Used to own a few platforms myself.
Among the SAG extras, this pretty platinum blond lady with a long fake ponytail sat next to me. “What’s your name” she demanded. I replied “Michele. What’s your name?” With a swish of her fake ponytail extension, her response was “I’m bitter.” Another swish, she snorted “I’m too old for this shit.” Okay…thus set the tone. Continuing the one side convo, she began name dropping. “I’m friends with Voltaire.” The singer, not the philosopher. I was not impressed.
I found better company among my own crew, the non union real time Goths. A few club kids were roped in for Jonny Zero as well. In between camera takes, I mostly hung out with Grace. We had both worked at both the same punk clothing store on St. Mark’s Place and the Rave clothing shop on West 8th street. This was dating back in 2000, and later again in 2001. Same owner, same shady business practices. As Grace gave me the update about the owner and the wholesale manager (both who I suspect later got deported back to Israel), we overheard the script’s dialogue. It was dismal. No wonder the show got canceled after only eight episodes. We kept the snickering to a minimal before doing the dancing scenes. Which took take after take after take…after take…after take…after take. Is it any wonder the show got the ax after eight episodes.
Another sign things weren’t going well for Jonny Zero. My friend who helped me get the gig saw someone from the crew get hit by an SUV. Right outside the club where the episode was being filmed. Yikes.
Usually when you do a shoot for television or film, expect to stay at location for the entire day. As filming continued, the extras were sent to a building across the street to change into their second outfits. Afterwards we were to wait for word as to when the extras were needed. So we waited quite some time.
When you’re on set, they give you free food. If you’re there for the entire day, you get breakfast, lunch and dinner. In the case where SAG and non-Union are on the same set together, the SAG members always eat first. When SAG and the camera crew were done, the non Union was allowed to get their dinner. Of course when it came to our turn, there wasn’t much food left. If anything can be learned from this blog posting, go SAG.
After dinner, both extras and non extras continued to be holed up in the building across the street from filming. As the saying goes, the natives were getting restless. The natives being the real non – Union Goths while the SAG extras behaved themselves. Some of the Goths and Club Kids were becoming slightly rowdy. Boredom was kicking in, as the more mature SAG members sat quietly away from the non-Union crowd.
Can’t remember much afterwards. Think we pretty much hung around until dismissed. Some came back to finish the scenes a week later. The show was broadcast, in which it sunk without a trace. The funny thing was, don’t think I ever saw the completed episode. Me and a friend tried to watch it in his apartment, but we missed most of it. My friend was featured in some scenes. As for myself, I was told you couldn’t see me. Just as well.
Despite my kvetching, Jonny Zero was the most fun I had on a television set. Prior to that, I had done extra work for a NYC Lottery commercial in 1999, and other scattered stuff. It would be years before I got on television again, and that might have been for a Queens public access show during one of the New York Comic Cons, around 2008. By then I had put all my energy into my self-published comics, which eventually led me to get published by others. Things have a way of working out.
I’ll leave you with this video clip.