Yes, I was an actor. And good, too. Really good. Award-winning, in fact. I was the best damn actor to ever walk on stage- in Arizona. Eastern, Southern, South-New Western, I played all the best stages, auditoriums and bars the desert had to offer. I was somebody.
It all started, oddly enough, in New Mexico. My father was a miner, working for Phelps Dodge, "PD" we called it. I was eight years old when PD transferred Dad to a mine in Tyrone, New Mexico. Tyrone was this shithole little town created by PD to house the workers. They built it on a hill and the most important employees lived at the top. We lived towards the bottom. It was all the same to me, I was much closer to the bus stop. I joined a new school, named after some astronaut, in a neighboring town and was excited to be starting over. Of course, I was humiliated almost immediately when I peed all over the floor of the band room. To redeem myself, I signed up to be in the school pageant. This was like a talent show, but highly choreographed by the art faculty... No one was allowed to shine solo. We were broken into groups, by age, and then rehearsed for weeks, our given "numbers".
I was in two of these spectacles- "Music Box Dancer", for which I had to make my own wig. I remember my Mothers face when I came home from school one day and asked for a pair of her pantyhose and some red yarn. I was playing one of many Raggedy Andys... (A recurring theme..) I liked my costume a lot and found that wearing a wig, even one made of red yarn, came quite naturally. My favorite part of this particular character was the fact that I got to wear MAKEUP! Red, rosy cheeks. I was a gorgeous Raggedy Doll. Dancing with my classmates to the gayest song ever! But wait, there is my Second Number.... "Macho Man" by the Village People. (It was the Seventies!) All the boys strutted around in jeans and tee-shirts ala "Grease"...I wanted a pack of cigarettes to roll into my sleeve but Mom said No. We settled on a bar of soap. It had the same effect, but still, you can't smoke soap. "Hey Kid, you look real tough, but you smell so clean!" That was the high point of my year.
I remember getting really good at climbing trees. For me, the recess bell signified war. Specifically, war on me. So, I made like a monkey and headed for higher ground. Sometimes I would have to climb really high to get out of "rock range" and then I would be late for class because I was too scared to climb down. Class was just as bad. The teacher separated my desk from the rest of the class. I sat literally under the chalkboard about two feet from the teacher. On the other side was a girl with that funky skin disorder that made her look like a pink and brown cow. Her name was Lea and she sat up front to be protected, like me. My problems had more to do with bodily functions, mucus membranes, stuff like that. I was a special kid.
I guess there were enough "special" kids to warrant what happened next. As an "alternative" to physical education class, which played like recess, only, the violence was teacher supervised, some of us were given to option to rollerskate on the high school tennis courts, next door. This was a dream come true for me. I already had skates but lacked the elbow and knee pads required for the "class"- pads were expensive, but Mom saved the day by making some out of old jeans and elastic. I had denim protection and I was in. Having seen "Xanadu" and proclaiming it to be the greatest film ever made, I became the darling of the roller-skating special kids. I was a miniature tornado on wheels. I was a star.
Then Dad got a couple fingertips chopped off in a pulley mishap at the mine and suddenly we had enough money to move back to Arizona. It was a few years before I made my real debut as an actor. But the seeds had been planted. Many seeds actually. And it was only a matter of time before those trees bore fruit.
TO BE CONTINUED...