Entertainment

[Confessions of a Showgirl]

The five words a showgirl never wants to hear

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Photo: Patrick Rivera
Maren Wade

“Thank you for your time.” Have you ever noticed that nothing good happens after someone says that to you? Showgirls are no exception. Those are five words you never want to hear from a casting director after you finish auditioning.

Performing in a show is wonderful, but when you are a showgirl between jobs, the most grueling part of auditioning is the inner monologue that goes on before, during and after.

It goes something like this:

“Doe ray me fa so la te doe!” That sounds rough. I’m a little out of practice.

Let me stretch. Wow, I’m a little out of shape.

What should I sing? This song is too boring; that one is too sexy. On second thought, it's Vegas. Perfect!

What should I wear? This dress is too long; that one is too short. On second thought, it's Vegas. Perfect!

Shoes? If they’re looking at my feet I’m obviously not doing my job.

(Fast forward to the part where I'm waiting to audition.)

I hate waiting. Wow, that girl before me sounds really good. I hear clapping. Maybe I should just leave. It sounds like they found who they’re looking for. I wonder what she looks like. Maybe I’ll just stick around to find out. Okay, she’s done. She’s coming out. Wow, she looks good! I'm leaving.

Oh, they just called my name! I can’t leave now. I can do this!

I’m walking in. The casting director is smiling at me. He’s actually kind of cute. I think he likes me. I got this.

Cue music. Good, he’s still smiling. Okay, time to focus on my performance, not his expressions. Wait, what was that he just did? Is that a head tilt?!

Something is very wrong. He's looking down! Is he looking at my feet? I knew I should have spent more time on my shoes. Does he have a foot fetish? That’s kinky.

I need to kick it up a notch. No, not literally kick! I can’t believe I just did that. I’m so embarrassed!

Focus! Time to finish strong. One power note with my eyes closed coming up and …

I think that went well.

Why is it so quiet? I’m afraid to open my eyes. Here comes the moment of truth. Phew, he’s smiling again … I think. Or is that a smirk? His mother should have warned him his face would freeze in that expression.

The silence is deafening. I wish he would say something. Anything! It’s like being in a police lineup, waiting to be picked. Actually, now that I think about it, no one ever wants to be the one picked in a police lineup. Well, except for a showgirl, we just want to be picked, no matter what.

"Great job!" he says.

That sounds promising. Wait, there’s more.

"Really, really great job!"

I’m in! But why is the pitch in his voice shifting way down? I can’t make out the words.

"Thaaaaank yoooouuu fooor your time."

He didn’t just say what I think he just said, did he?

There it is. That earth-shattering phrase that wipes away the promise of my entire future here in just three seconds. What could it have been?

That’s the question that usually remains unanswered. Very seldom does a showgirl find out the reason she doesn’t get the job. She’s left to wonder over the minutiae of her performance, her song choice, her outfit, her shoes.

But I guess you could say I’m lucky. Years later I ran into that casting director, and I worked up the courage to ask him why I didn’t get chosen for that particular audition.

The answer: “You did a great job. A really, really great job!”

Yeah, you mentioned that last time.

“You’re shoe size is a 6 right?”

I do recall writing that measurement on my audition form.

“We needed someone who was a size 8.”

And just like that I understood: We had gotten off on the wrong foot.

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