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  1. Promethazine Dreams By Rhonda Hansome

    Friday, February 26, 2016

    When not living life in the exciting stand-up comedy lane, or directing theater productions, on occasion, I do background work. And don’t you dare call me an “EXTRA”!! I hate the demeaning, dismissive implication of, “Just put that extra… over there.” 

    Daily, I check my email for casting calls, 5 or 10 times… an hour.  I don’t click on just any role like, ND (nondescript) BG Available For Exteriors, Must Have All Day Availability!

    Because I’m an experienced and highly respected actress, I click on roles seeking, Union ND BG With Car, for the car $$ bump and the possibility that I could spend most of my work day sitting in my car.

    Unless you know somebody in casting, getting background work is a numbers game. Imagine thousands of actors looking for 1 union job every 10 minutes all day long.

    Last week I hit the lottery. I got a call to report with my car to location by 7:18 AM. In professional BG artist terms, yes I said ARTIST, don't judge me! In professional lingo that means I factor in, possible rush hour slowdowns, spontaneous detours and police actions. If I leave the Bronx by 5:30, I'm sure to arrive in Brooklyn before a production assistant’s annoyed shout, "#6, Rhonda Hansome?!  Is #6, Rhonda Hansome here!!???", echoes throughout "holding" - a local church basement.

    My Mom preached endlessly against CP time. I am not only my mother’s daughter but a former Girl Scout; so the night before I bathed, set the alarm for 5 AM and put out my clothes. This is where I opted for a left turn.

    As a BG professional I know that a job with my car could possibly include an endless loop of walking back and forth, up and down a cold street where the principal actors (living my dream) are saying their lines. That is exactly why working the week before, I’d dressed in 3 under layers, street clothes and a big faux fur. You never know how long you'll be standing in 10 degrees while cameras and lights are reset.

    Oddly enough the previous week on Limitless, there was NO time standing on the street. With this winter’s random “suddenly spring”- 50 / 60 degree days - I spent 4 hours straight, layered for life, sweating in my car. To avoid repeating that sauna experience, the night before going to bed, I preset 1 under layer, street clothes and a light coat suitable for sitting to get my eyebrows threaded.

    6:45 AM I arrived at the holding location for the day’s shoot on the TV show, Power.  15 minutes before check in time I ate a warm delicious high calorie meal laden with breakfast meats I never eat at home. Hey, don't judge me! I’m on the clock & the corned beef hash, sausage and literal bacon, is on the company.

    7:30 AM I was summoned to report to my car, and... wait. If you’ve never heard the term “hurry up and wait” it is a truism on any shoot. BG artist must be on set immediately when called, ready to walk or stand still without speaking - in every kind of weather; fully aware there could be an hour or two WAIT until technical issues are resolved. Sound simple? Not easy while giving the stank eye to the juvenile on set who has logged more on screen dialogue than I have my entire career. 

    Santos the production assistant in charge of BG, interrupted my jealous musings with a knock on my corolla window. He motioned for me to stand with the group of ND BG shivering on the corner. Santos walked with me, the exact length of street I was to cover, confirming I was clear on my action, instead of directing me with a grunt and vague gesture; then back to "1st position", from where I’d move at his prompting.

    We rehearsed 3 times and then shot about 8 "takes". During an extended pause in action, adjustments were made to the tricked out police car parked by the basketball court in Brooklyn, I stood thinking, with 3 featured players inside that vehicle, viewers will never notice the BG pedestrian traffic simulating a busy Queens neighborhood. Then I noticed The Cold.

    Certainly there was a chill in the early morning air, but my preoccupation with who I followed and returning to my "first position" in time for the next take, eclipsed my body’s constant shiver; until this moment when I felt The Cold.

    You know The Cold I’m talking about. The Cold beyond sucking your teeth, “Ooo wee it’s chilly out chear!”  I’m talking about The Cold that sneaks up, then boldly takes your breath away. While Canadia Goose swaddled staff and technicians surrounding the picture cop car adjusted mics, lights and murmured into walkie talkies, in a flash The Cold arrogantly grip my core. The truth may be the light, but ain't heat nor long johns and OMG, it is only 9 AM!

    Long story short, we worked straight to 3 PM in The Cold. That’s right, walking back and forth, up and down, WE NEVER EVEN BROKE FOR LUNCH! Don’t get me wrong. Three union lunch penalties are a nice $$ bump in my paycheck, but as I gave Santos my voucher in the warmth of the church basement I heard The Cold, now inside me whisper, "I'm here to stay." 

    Airborne and Tylenol 3 times a day usually gets me back on track, but by the weekend, a dry cough had moved bag and baggage into my chest. It didn’t feel like pneumonia. I was familiar with that death threatening mambo. But this cough's choreography was tone deaf to even Nyquil’s soothing refrain. 

    Early Monday, I visit the doctor, who comes to the rescue with a prescription for


    promethazine


    which did not evict the dry cough, but promised a short term sublease.

    Time passed in hazy increments of Judge Judy and TMZ. Glancing at the clock Wednesday morning, 8:57 struck a chord of panic. In my promethazine haze I had confirmed an 8:45 AM call to WHCR FM!!!

    I am a PR hoe via my Face Book, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Tumblr and Periscope accounts and NEVER miss an opportunity to talk about me! me! Me! Now a good friend had gone out of his way to arrange an on-air interview promoting my March 3rd big comedy show and I'd slept on it? Literally??? Really??

    All my clocks are set 2-5 minutes ahead (see above Mom's warnings against CP time) so I quickly dialed the studio number and was elated when a warm voice intoned, "You're on the air."
    "Hi Jeanne, it's Rhonda Hansome!" 
    "Jeanne's not here!"
    Dialtone...

    I quickly sent a text and email to my PR Pal. In the midst of an apologetic voice mail message, I remembered my morning dental appointment downtown. Oh crap! I quickly dressed as I cursed Promethazine and headed out my door.

    Half way to the train station, my PR Pal rang my cell. I blurted a litany of sorry this, that and something about NYU Dental.
    Him: The interview is Wednesday.
    Me: What's today?
    Him: Tuesday. 
    Me: So I don't have the dentist today.
    Him: Are you okay?
    Me: I haven't felt well all week...
    Him: Can you call Jeanne Parnell tomorrow?
    Me: Promethazine is really something.
    Him: Call tomorrow?
    Me: Sure

    Back at home I set 3 clocks to alert me to my Wednesday morning agenda. After a teaspoon of Promethazine and a cup of Lemon Ginger tea, I curled up on the couch with Judge Judy.

    Of course the chat on the radio with Jeanne was fun and to the point of March 3rd.



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  2.  

     
     
     
    Which came first, the prayer or the bomb?   One of my favorite poems.  It was written by Pete Dolack.


     

    I Didn’t Come From Your Rib (You Came From My Vagina).  One of my favorite songs.  Lyrics and music by Lauren Mayer.


     
    My favorite friend.



     

     
    A couple of my most fun times performing (not all were taped, so of the ones that were, these are a couple that felt most joyful to me).

     

     

     

    My favorite boy (who is grown now).





     
    “When the dog bites, when the bee stings
    When I'm feeling sad 
    I simply remember my favorite things 
    And then I don't feel so bad.” *  

     

    *Songwriters 
                                    Rodgers and Hammerstein                                                                          




     
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