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Thursday 3 April 2008

A Fab Photo Shoot

My Alarm went off at 6:30 am. I probably should have gone to bed earlier. Three hours sleep, then photos? Alas. I drug myself to the train station and started poking at the ticket machine. Brits and Americans actually use language in completely different ways. So the words were English, but the machine was not communicating with me. The ticket guy called me over and asked where I was going. I said London. He looked at the clock, furrowed his brow and asked if I had a discount card. I do not. "Ok, mate, it's rush hour, so that's going to be £123." (For you 'Merikans, that's $250) For a two hour train ride. I asked for a receipt.

I was instructed, upon arrival in Lodon to get a black cab, which took me to the photo location. They offered me coffee, so I drank a cup. It was in Hackney, which is apparently a hip London neighborhood. The studio was carefully designed to look as if it was an extremely hip loft that somebody actually lived in. There was shampoo in the shower. More or less the normal furniture. I thought maybe someone did until I opened the refrigerator. If somebody lives there, they never eat there.

All the people working at the shoot were women. There was a makeup person, who described what she did as "grooming." There was the producer from the magazine. There was the photographer and her assistant. And there were three of us to be photographed. The guy who arrived ahead of me was hung over, or possibly not. The groomer started plucking his eyebrows and he got mysteriously ill. So it was my turn to be groomed

She brushed foundation on and then some sort of powder making me look very orange. She dabbed stuff overly my freshly formed acne (when i saw a crop of zits break out two days ago, I knew the shoot would definitely go forward). And she carefully removed the dark rings under my eyes. I applied my own lip balm. The orangey stuff went on my neck too and even my ears. It was bearable. My eyebrows, which have been kind of filling in between them lately, were untouched. I closed my eyes and thought of Lee Adama. He does all these pouty pin up shots. If makeup is his ticket to being fetishized by millions of het and bi women, well, I can do it too. "When I open my eyes, I will look like Lee Adama"

I opened my eyes and I still looked like me, which is just as good. I had a cup of coffee. There was a bag of clothes for us to wear, but the bag was missing. The producer was madly on the phone, trying to find them. I drank another cup of coffee and chatted with the groomer about Yosemite. Finally, they had me put on some jeans and a bright purple flannel shirt. They blocked out where we would sit and took some test shots, emailed them back to the magazine and then wait for a go-ahead. I had a cup of coffee and chatted with the other two guys, who were also low brass players and uni students. The eyebrow bloke is a conservatory pianist.

They deiced I should wear my own shirt, so I changed. Then there was some other delay, so I had a cup of coffee. Finally, they had us groomed, dressed and blocked and had official approval, so they started taking the pictures. The producer came around periodically and tugged at our shirts, to keep them from getting bunched from us being in the awkward "relaxed" poses they put us in. The groomer dabbed more orange crap on us. The photographer alternately ordered us to smile or be serious. The assistant sat at her mac and made sure the photos looked ok on the screen. This sort of click click fuss fuss, "your serious look is a little too much like an axe murderer" went on for quite a while. Then they had us do individual shots. I was on second, so I waited and drank a cup of coffee. Afterwards, I changed into my own clothes, wiped off the makeup and got some of the lunch they had catered. It was the weirdest thing, but my hands were kind of shaking when I was trying to spoon up some rice.

Today, somebody called to read back my quotes to me to make sure they were factually ok. The questions the writer asked were really broad and I had just read the New York Times Magazine article on ftms, so obviously something on such an important topic would be many pages in this glossy mag. Also, it's easier to blah blah blah about yourself than to write music and it's cheaper than therapy, all of which meant that I sent her ten pages. Yeah, I'm so fascinating. She said she wanted really specific examples, so I cut and paste a bunch of stuff from my blog, where I recounted conversations I had and stuff. When the assistant read back my part, it was down to a single paragraph. That poor writer must have felt like she was drowning in my blahblahblah. Which would explain why, out of maybe 3 or 4 factual claims, one was substantially wrong and one was minorly wrong. So their fact checking necessary and good. The story will be out next Tuesday.

When in London . . .

After the photo thing, I walked to the Tate Modern. It's big and free. They have a lot of stuff. I think it's one of the best. But it's still, you know, a modern art museum. Signed urinals. Bike wheel on stool. check. check. check. I heard some posh guy explaining to his female companion that judging modern art is entirely subjective. I wish I wrote down what he said. He thought that works had no "craft" component and that you wouldn't talk about execution or even context, since they weren't representational. Right. Well, call me when art has no craft or context and I'll get back to you. He sounded so very sure of himself, though, that I thought I was overhearing art students are first. Ironically, part of what I love about the Tate is the excellent program notes and strong efforts towards arts education within the museum. It's possibly the best modern art museum in Europe. But, alas, it's still a modern art museum and I've been to way too many of them. After about an hour, I walked to my friend Paula's flat.

London is so gigantic. Every time I go, I want to move there. There's just all kinds of stuff. Going on. Everywhere. It's way bigger than Paris, it's more like NYC. And I don't think I can afford to live in central London any more than I can afford to live in Manhattan below 176478921649 street. Not to mention the weekly train fare to school.

I got to Paula's and her best friend was there. He stays over one night a week. Like her, he's a crit theororist. And he loves sci-fi. He started talking about the BBC Radiophonic Workshop and specifically the Doctor Who episode Genesis of the Daleks. ZOMG! The music on that episode is so so so so so good. There's this prepared piano leitmotif. When I talk about incidental music on the original Doctor Who and how good it was, I'm usually thinking about that episode. I think I've even blogged about it. Anyway, we got on all right. (I want to conspire a way to surround myself constantly with queer, crit theory sci fi geeks.)

Paula popped open a bottle of sparkling wine and we decided to order food delivered because that would be faster. The food arrived about two hours later after we'd been drinking sparkling wine with no food. It was around this time that I decided maybe I should look at a train schedule. And then I called up my dog sitter, Um, gosh, I'm really sorry. No, it's ok if she goes without food for one night. Gosh. Sorry.

Paula's kittens slept curled next to my feet. So cute!

And the nice thing about a a £123 ticket is that the return doesn't need to be the same day. Huzzah.

I'll post a scan of the magazine a week from Tuesday, when it's no longer the current issue.

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