Trouble (sadisticseraph) wrote,

All I Got Was Laid

Getting anywhere in theatre is all about who you know so I envisioned success as something like being Cinderella. I would go to a fancy party in my greatest finery (a vintage gown and jewelry from Claire’s) and meet just the right person to make my dreams come true.
I had no idea how to network. I still don't know, really. It has always seemed kind of nebulous. You take on this persona that's somewhere between High School Queen Bee and Sideshow Carnival Barker, then you introduce yourself to someone, make conversation that somehow establishes you as a valuable resource, then graciously leave and do it again with as many people as you can. To this day, step three eludes me. Step one and two are hard enough, and often impossible for me. When I was 23, I knew even less. My plan was something like this:
1: Wear fabulous outfit.
2: Show up.
3: ?????????????
4: Success!
Even the specifics of Success! eluded me. I wasn't sure what I wanted to do, other than make a living doing creative stuff. I wasn't totally sure what creative stuff I hoped to do. I was good at a lot of things. I knew this because I'd earned a very expensive degree in doing those things. Performance art, acting, directing, writing, design, a whole rainbow of things that very few people ever made any money at. And most of the ones who did had trust funds or rich spouses. So the path to success was unclear at best. But networking had something to do with it and I wasn't good at anything else, so network I would. I was going to a fancy party, a fundraiser for the arts that I could sneak into because I worked for the company that was selling the tickets. Everyone there would either be a great artist or a wealthy patron of the arts... or they would be me. I was going to this fancy party and I would meet people. I would meet the *right* people! And I would get.... I don't know. A job, or a patron, maybe a mentor or an artistic collaborator and friend for life.
All I got was laid.

I put on my ball gown and I strapped on my shoes. I got my best (one might say, only) friend to drive me. It was a big old cathedral on varick street, lit up in purples and gold.
When I'd asked my boss if there was a way I could be comped into the party he said
"The people at the door will know you."
When I got to the door they asked what I was doing there.
"Um, Mike said I could help you out tonight," I improvised.
"Doing what?" They asked.
"Um?" I bit my lip.
"Just go in." They rolled their eyes. We were all artists and actors at that company. They probably thought I was just there for the free wine. But not this time. I was here to *work.* Somehow.
I looked out at the crowd, a glittering army of New York's elite (I assumed.) The formal wear was out in full force with fancy people laughing, talking, clinking glasses. I stood on the sidelines and drank.
"Hey, that's some dress," said a tall man in a banker's suit. It was working! I would talk to this guy, something would happen, and success would be mine!
We talked only briefly.
I was still very awkward. And he didn't seem to even know what this fundraiser was for. Anyway he had three other fundraisers to go to that night. So I gave him my number and off he went, leaving me alone again. Success was not a hair nearer, but I was slightly drunk and *someone* had talked to me. So that was something. More fancy people talked. John Patrick Shanley (writer of nearly every play my acting teacher assigned in second year) gave a speech. I looked at the art on the walls.
"I have a game I like to play," said a voice like the smooth pour of champagne. "How many penises can you spot in this painting?"
I laughed and turned to face him. He was very cute; square jaw, dark hair, eyes like clear cut aquamarine. I played along with him as we flirted over our wine glasses. We were really clicking. He was so softly self-assured, so effortlessly charming. Maybe success tonight would mean a rich boyfriend? My parents had always told me to marry rich. Or at least get a sugar daddy. They'd been joking but they knew from experience that my talents were unlikely to make money. My only other asset seemed to be my looks. I'd always been able to turn heads. Maybe success was just a matter of turning the right one?
"So what do you do?" The question came up organically, I don't remember who asked it first.
"I'm an actor," he said and I silently cursed myself. A room full of deep pockets and I was drawn straight to the empty ones. It opened up an insecurity that haunts me still; was I trapped here? Was I flowing, like water, back to my own level? Would I always want the poor guy, or were they the only ones that wanted me?
I had more faith in my looks than myself back then. Most of the money I'd made in my life was from low-end modeling or bosses that wanted to sleep with me. But that never paid much. Not that my grand plan was to just fuck rich guys. But at the age of twenty-three, I really didn’t know what I had going for me, aside from being hot. Being good at art seemed utterly useless at the time. And I knew that even if I managed to get some level of success, I would always be at the mercy of people with more money than me. It wasn’t really rich guys I worried about. It was casting directors, gallery owners, patrons.
Would anyone with money only see my old dress, my crooked teeth, my cheap jewelry and pass me by? I worried that no one would ever spend money on me because it was clear that no one ever had. I worried that would perpetuate the cycle of my own poverty simply by being myself.

Still.... the sex was good.

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