When I first read that the Spin Cycle topic this week was "UFOs", I must admit, I was stumped. Disappointingly, I have never encountered a UFO, no matter how much I wished it.
But then I realized that while I have never met an alien, I have BEEN an alien. Yes, during my long and incredibly mediocre acting career, I have encountered aliens twice. And in rummaging through my old photo albums, I have actually unearthed photographic evidence.
In 1989, just a couple of months after I moved to Los Angeles, I booked a guest-starring role on "Alien Nation", a tv show based on the previous movie.
In the show, a ship of aliens slaves, who had escaped from their evil masters, had sought asylum on Earth. The now freed slaves, known as "Newcomers" had been assimilated (sort of) into the population of Los Angeles. The show revolved around an LA cop and a Newcomer cop who were partners with the LAPD. In my episode, the two cops were investigating a case in which Newcomers were being murdered, and their bodies found with some kind of weird alien gland cut out of them. I played a rich human named Lisa Bancroft, who was mysteriously involved with some evil doctor dudes. The mysterious Lisa was kind of slutty, and I spent a lot of time flouncing around in a tight, strapless, taffetta number, with my hair all teased up. Very 1989. I got the human cop drunk and kissed him. He was pretty cute, as I remember.
Then at the end, it was revealed that although I looked like I was in my twenties, I was in fact a 70 year old woman, who had been ingesting alien glands, which brought about a reversal of the aging process. I got to go through this long, involved prosthetic makeup process, wherein they added age makeup to me very gradually, filming me after each makeup addition. Then they ran the film backwards, so it looked like I was actually getting younger. Here I am old...
Notice that I still have my big 1989 hair, they've just added a little gray.
At the end of the show, I was confronted by the cops, confessed, and was led away in handcuffs. It was the first of a string of murders I played, and they all ended the same way, led off in handcuffs to meet my punishment.
Then, in 1997, I got to fulfill my life-long dork dream, and appeared on an episode of "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine".
I had auditioned for various Star Treks several times, but never booked one. I think they had me in over and over because I was tall and at the time looked good in tight black pants and boots. Twice, I auditioned to play Klingon women, which would have been really cool. When you audition to play a Klingon, they actually hand out a little pamphlet which teaches you how to speak Klingon, a rather unattractive language, which consists of a lot of grunts and clicks. And is, of course, completely made up. The Star Trek casting people kept telling us actors that we needed to think of it as "Shakespeare in space", which I guess pretty much sums up the acting style.
Finally, I got cast as Rebecca Eddington, wife of Captain Sisko's nemesis, Michael Eddington, and one of the last of the Maquis Freedom Fighters. It's hard to explain to a non-Trekkie, how unbelievably exciting it was to be part of a Star Trek. And even though it was a completely forgetable role, which I played in a completely forgetable way, I will always remember every minute of the week I spent working on it.
I'd already worked on the Paramount many times, and in fact, I was there so often that I joined the gym on the lot, and went there every day. So I was already used to seeing groups of Klingons hanging out smoking, or a Cardassian working out between scenes. But actually getting to go on the set and soak in all the sci-fi dork-a-thon glory of it all was almost more than I could take.
I remember the first day of wardrobe fittings, the costumer got mad at me because I kept wandering off and getting lost in all the racks of costumes. My first day there, they introduced me to two pieces of undergarments, which were standard issue to all women on the show. First, they handed me a pair of nude thong panties, because nobody has panty lines in outer space. Next was something they called a Deep Space D-Cup. Because all women on Star Trek had big boobs. Actually, the explaination was that when women are in Star Fleet uniforms, they look more, well...uniform, if everyone's boobs are the same size. And it's easier to stuff smaller cup sizes than to strap in bigger cup sizes. Therefore, everyone in outer space was a D Cup. Hysterical.
Every morning that I worked, when I got to the makeup trailer, I'd find a Jem'Hadar guy in the makeup chair getting worked on...
It took something like 4 hours to get these guys in makeup. Cool. I, unfortunately, was just a human. Though I did get a cool leather jumpsuit and boots...
The makeup artist also spent an outrageous amount of time applying "dirt" to my face. Every day she'd have to match the smears for continuity.
I was all filthy from living in caves for months, on the run from the Jem'Hadar, but for some reason my hair and lipstick was always perfect.
Also, strangely, I have the exact same expression in all of these continuity Polaroids I've saved. Which is extremely embarrassing...
I spent most of my time on the show, running around in fake caves with Avery Brooks, who played Captain Sisko. He was rather attractive and a bit of a flirt. Mmmm, okay, a terrible flirt.
When I look back upon my acting in this show, I am truly horrified. I was really pretty dreadful. I was deeply into a very heavily "method" period of my acting training, and I think I just took it all too damned seriously. I should have had more fun. I remember once asking Avery how to correctly hold and shoot the prop gun I was given, a weapon we were supposed to have stolen off a dead Jem'Hadar. He looked at me as if I was as dumb as a stump and said "It's a Jem'Hadar weapon. Hold it however you think it looks coolest." Duh. Watching the video, I notice that I seem to be Speaking. Very. Clearly. I don't know why, unless I was taking the whole "Shakespeare in space" thing a little too seriously. I just want to shake myself to make me stop with the melodramatic looks.
But despite the fact that I don't seem to have been having much fun on screen, I was having a TON of fun off screen. Every chance I got, I wandered off and explored the other Star Trek sets, including the bridge of the Voyager. It's amazing how much intricate detail goes into them. I spent as much time as I could hanging out with the weirdo crew guys. The prop guys were especially interesting. I mean, what an excellent way to make a living, spending all your time creating alien weaponry and outer space gadgets.
So here, without further ado, is the last third of my episode, Blaze of Glory. I can't believe they have this stuff on YouTube. I don't show up until about 5:30 minutes into this, so feel free to skip ahead.
HA! I love that my husband dies murmuring my name. And that hokey look I have at the end, where I'm gazing stoically out into space! At least my hair looks good.
Okay, that's it for my alien experiences. You may point and jeer as much as you want. Please visit Sprite's Keeper for spins on more otherworldly experiences.