This is a simple column by a complex
Dumb-asses need not apply.
If you flatter yourself to be a bright spot in the universe
and aren't offended by "psychotic breaks," welcome.
If you're a little frightened, well, all the better.
We kinda like you like that... with hot sauce.
“an audience of one”
My name was Linda, and
I had two major scenes, nothing scripted, an improv of an impromptu play
set to Christian values in a summer camp somewhere slightly east of the
Northshore of Oahu, circa 1980/81.
Groups of us competed in a variety of activities, volleyball, chorus, and
finally, on the last day, drama. All to instill fellowship and love for
God. Being a lonely loner who never felt at home even in a crowd, I went
along just for something to do besides watch reruns and weed the yard.
Each play would showcase an important aspect in a Christian’s life. Ours,
the importance of sharing Christ’s word. I took on the pivotal role of an
outcast – perfect typecasting – neglected at home, ostracized at school
and ignored everywhere else, with only one potential friend to unburden my
hopes, dreams and fears to, the token Christian, Lisa. Only Lisa reverted
to Judas when the cross came her way, choosing to flee backward instead of
open the Holy Bible, and leave me, as Linda, alone again, and truly
The gist of which culminated in the final scene, act 4, curtains drawn.
This is where I began to understand why Maurice Benard (Sonny, GH)
desperately needs to go deep, even if such depths leave him struggling for
breath, raging long after the director yells, “Cut!” And how the likes of
Billy Warlock (A.J., GH) and Timothy D. Stickney (R.J., OLTL) can
continually squeeze life out of empty pages.
Because as I stepped out into the glare of makeshift spotlights and fellow
high school students barely aware of my awkward, slightly overweight,
cipher persona non grata, I left my body and my circumstances, and became
... Linda, a girl I made up entirely—with the help of my teammates—in my
I remember very little of the experience, besides the euphoria and the
pain, engulfing my soul, as I felt tears pouring out of my face, my words
reinvented pulled out of me in gasps and furtive pleas, and faintly, an
echo of tears in the darkness.
I knew enough to walk off the stage dejectedly, in character, and come to
promptly with the slap of fresh, tradewind. The first person I
encountered, Cynthia, our team’s female guidance counselor, held her arms
open, trembling, mascara running, and gave me a hug. Mike, the Campus Life
leader and associate pastor who ran the summer camp stood back in awe and
repeated, “You were unbelievable.” And Lisa, who played Lisa (she had a
hard time remembering new characters’ new names, almost flubbing mine with
“Cr-Linda”), the cut-up who’d take turns with me at night catching and
removing cockroaches from our tent, came up to me, whispering, “Carol?
Carol? Are you okay?”
Someone else commented, “Oh my God, they’ll all crying. Even the guys.”
Then, a roar as every audience member stood up, stomped their feet, pumped
their fists in the air and cheered.
As a team (we won the entire competition that summer, btw, natch), we
walked back on the stage and took our bows. When our team leader announced
my name, the roar became deafening. I stood there blinking in the light,
confused and startled, but very pleased.
The experience, never repeated, never forgotten, never surpassed. It was,
in essence, my Emmy moment, my 15 minutes of fame, my bliss.
Briefly – in the time it took for me to scan the pretentious, pierced,
preening facades of the pretty boys and girls attending a series of drama
workshops at Punahou Schools several months later – I thought about
changing my career aspiration from reporter/writer to actress. But just as
I shot down the brief thought of becoming a librarian (I liked watching
them stamping the books in check-out at my 7th grade school), a nun (free
room and board, no fashion sense necessary), and a singer/drummer (if
Karen Carpenter can do it...too bad I make babies cry with my rendition of
“Mary Had a Little Lamb”)... I shot this one down too.
Two reasons: I couldn’t envision a slightly overweight, very near-sighted,
very Asian-looking dork like me in show business, not amongst those Fame!
wannabes quoting Shakespeare and pretending to be a rock in a snowstorm.
And, those wannabes.
I had about as much to do with a room full of actor hopefuls, their
gleaming white teeth, their plastic surgeries, and their salon coifs, as
they had to do with good, old-fashioned, genuine blue-collar hard work,
blood, sweat and tears—the kind of ethic I grew up with from both sides of
the family, my adoptive father’s Irish Depression heritage and my mother’s
Korean black-market whore ghetto.
For a blink of a tear-filled eye there, however, I came damned close.
It is this kind of unbridled passion for losing oneself completely and
suddenly, losing that all-encompassing drain of loneliness, in the similar
rag-tag gypsy company of ciphers and outcasts, that keeps me from giving
up entirely on my soaps, or condemning entire generations of performing
artists, movies, sitcoms, melodramas all.
Whether they subscribe to Method acting or Strasburg, graduate from ACT or
Broadway, they’ve been up there on the stage, forgetting and losing
themselves, to become something better, a concept, a being, a promise, a
dream fulfilled; and if they’re lucky, a capella. They’ve witnessed the
miraculous effect of one voice in the wilderness when truths are told.
They’ve seen the proof of their inspiration in stunned silence, broad
appeal, thunderous ovation and a room full of sobbing men (a few jocks
among them), women and children—who, to this day, still remember the
For all the bitching I’ve done in the past, and continue to do in the
future, about bad, mediocre and selfish actors in tense, impossible,
socio-politically charged backstage situations, at my core is unspoken
respect, and ... well, envy.
Whether they’ve hit or missed, and with soaps lately, it’s a toss-up
depending on Frons’ latest party line or a fan base’s financial
generosity, the actors you and I view on a regular to rare basis refused
to give in and give up against the odds and the pretense and the repugnant
eye-rolling bullshit out there on the audition circuit.
They just couldn’t forget.