A WRITER'S WIT
My Book World
I must preface my remarks by professing that I am a HUGE Parker Posey fan. I luh, luh, love her work. I can’t say I’ve seen ALL of her films, because sometimes they’re not easy to find, but I have to declare that whether Posey is the kooky character in the Tales of the City series or featured in one of her other roles, she is a brilliant character actress who prefers those parts to leading ones; at least that is the impression she gives. Yet I believe that because of her power as an actor her best roles may yet lie ahead, if she can find the right properties. So say I.
Unlike many actors, who have suffered untold damage in their childhoods, Posey seems to have flourished because of the strong relationships with family members, particularly her parents, who encourage her in her creativity. Yet Posey does not make acting sound easy or even appealing. Rather, she shares in great detail what many of her film shoots are like, the actors and directors with whom she associates herself for weeks or months. The squabbles, insightful observations about the business of making film.
What a fun yet significant read! Part scrapbook, part photo album, part Dear Diary, part tell-all, part recipe book, this memoir reads as if it is a monologue right out of one of her films. At turns, kooky, serious, honest, even a bit mean (in a kind sort of way):
“I also started doing this thing when I drove around, that is completely obnoxious or funny, depending on who you are and how you feel: I’d roll down my window, get a person’s attention on the sidewalk or crossing the street, and call out, ‘Excuse me! Are you a vegan?!’ Or I got the attention of someone in a car at a stop sign and said causally (but a little too loud), ‘I AM A VEGAN.’ This was more fun in the passenger seat, when I’d get to hang out of the car. It was good clean fun—unlike veganism, which is hard work.
I get this from my parents—doing silly, unexpected stuff. One time we went on a trip and my mon wanted to stop at a mall for a shopping fix, so we went into a store called Spencer’s and bought some plastic masks. My dad wore a Nixon one, I remember, and my mom was a pig. They’d put them on as they drove, and we’d see who they could freak out, laughing until we made ourselves tired. It wasn’t cool anymore to drink in the car, so that’s how they replaced their fun. Not really, they still drank in the car, but in moderation” (189).
Yet, Posey reveals what may be her true view of acting:
“It’s an industry (an art, hopefully) full of orphans left to create their own worlds with one another. I don’t feel glamorous, I feel like a possum—the animal born clinging to its mother’s tail, that grows up by falling off it, and probably too soon. Acting is the possum’s defense. Have you ever seen this? When threatened, they play dead—and they’re very convincing at it. They scare themselves so deeply that their eyes roll back into their heads and their little tongues stick out. They’ll even take it so far as to froth at the mouth They’ll go on with the act as long as they’re terrified and its truly ghoulish, because they’ve been known to be buried alive—they’re famous for it” (227).
And Posey doesn’t sugarcoat what an actor’s life can be like:
“A dollar seventy-five in my bank account, isn’t that too much? It doesn’t make sense, right? But all those independent movies I did in the nineties were done on the cheap. I was counting coins, which I’d put in those paper roll-ups to take to the deli so I could buy pasta to make for dinner. I didn’t know anyone else who was famous and broke” (288).
NEXT TIME: My Journey of States-38 Maine