it’s all greek to me!

wow!!! what an eventful few months!

ironically, just as i got my fingers back on the keyboard, life conspired to get me busy doing the other thing i do really well, actually, the thing i do best. acting.

i booked a role in a german movie which was shooting in cape town and from one week to the next, i had to organize a house/dog-sitter and haul ass down to the sea.

flashback 30 or so years:

i meet Wolfgang who becomes my first boyfriend, then i meet my terrible twin, sylvia – both germans. soon we are all hanging out ALL the time and they’re speaking ze cherman around me and almost by osmosis i’m beginning to understand a lot of it. so i decide to do german intensive during my third year at uct. i didn’t do spectacularly, but having been exposed to two native speakers, my german accent is really not bad and i lied, it’s not entirely greek to me.

over the years that smattering of german has stood me in really good stead. well, not that often, but it was there when i needed it. like in moscow circa 1991, seeing that i basically understood “spasiba”, “dobra utra”, “dasvadanya” and as most russians  spoke no english back then in the ice-age ;), for any kind of communication, we had to fall back on our common second-language: german! next came budapest in 1997 and once again my little knowledge of german helped to get me around the city and in the general direction of where i needed to be.

a few years later: i’m cast in another german movie and once the lead actress hears me speaking german, that’s it. she insists that i act in german and that they not dub me. (a little aside here: on these movies the german actors all do their dialogue in german and the local cast speaks either english or afrikaans and are then dubbed, at great expense, back in germany. apparently german voice-over artists are some of the highest-paid performers in the country! it’s a peculiar thing, this acting in different languages – invariably, language which to the other person is as incomprehensible as the gibberish spoken between baby twins in those viral you-tube videos. it really takes some doing.

flash forward to mid-november: i get cast in this latest movie and i (overconfidently) tell the director and producer that i will attempt the dialogue in german. this before i read the script. before i realize  just how big the part is and how many monologues i will have to master! suffice to say that it was one of the most challenging things i’ve had to do in a long time. normally, i do my prep for a day’s shoot, but i never really learn the words till i finally get to run the dialogue with the other actors. that way the performance stays fresh and much more believable. it feels that way for me, at least. well, this time around, unless i put in endless-nights-in-my-hotel-room-worth of prep-time, there was no way i would be able to get through the scenes. my brain did gymnastics. my tongue twisted. all while i was slathered in layers of fake-tan, make-up, a lace-front wig and stilettos to die for (and good as they looked, i sure felt like i was dying after each day’s shoot – of back-pain )!

it was scary and exhilirating and mind-expanding and it’s making me explore going to the goethe institute here in johannesburg this year and taking some more lessons so i can finally master this infernal language, instead of being it’s sub.


we were fooling around on set and in that outfit i just had to do a kim k impersonation! 🙂

so, that was some of my experience with the germans. lots more transpired these last few months, but i’ve been so verbose,  it’ll have to wait till next time.

oh, and happy new year!!! 🙂

eine tasche tee…

i’m just starting week 3 on the german movie and let me tell you , i’m no longer movie fit!

make no mistake, shooting a multi-cam tv show is a beast of its own that needs time and skill to tame, but i’ve been doing it daily for so long now that i’ve pretty much got it figured out. if there are emotional scenes, hold back during blocking and rehearsals, give a little during the technical rehearsals, but save your performance for the take and hopefully there’ll be no more than 3 of those.

get to a movie and it’s a totally different story. day 1, my first scene: sobbing next to a grave side. after the first wide shot the director comes up to me and quietly advises me that i can go much louder, more hysterical. 8 wide shots later of me wailing through the entire length of amazing grace sung in afrikaans to be dubbed into german, we move in for mid shots and by the time we get to the close ups the tears have long dried in the magaliesberg heat and i am now required to EMOTE on take 15. and NOW finally, the director would like those tears running down my face!!!

for my first dialogue, i decided to give the german script a try during rehearsal, after which i swiftly retreated and did it in english and afrikaans (germans dub everything! – the german actors speak german and the south africans speak whatever and then some voice actor later makes them sound like germans). on the final take of an emotional scene the director announces that she wants me to do in german. talk about patting your head and rubbing your stomach at the same time! it was rather edifying that when i drove back after jumping in the car and racing off dramatically at the end of the scene, i was met with a round of applause from cast and crew. and since then, i don’t even bother with the english dialogue. never mind that i offered someone a suitcase, rather than a cup of tea, and that i offered to shoot someone rather than water them (don’t ask), for the rest everyone seems to expect me to do it in german now. after 20 years it’s quite a task getting the brain and tongue to wrap itself around a barely mastered third language.

add the getting up at 03h30, the long hours and the hour schlep to and from set and the dust and the scorching sun and my iphone battery dying by 11a.m when i have the slutwalk to help organize inbetween takes and you get that life is far from boring and sleep is in short supply. i’ve taken to using sleeping aids to ensure that i’ll get some sleep.

and yet, despite, or because, of it all, it’s rather fabulous to be on a film-set again. and i hope to do it again soon!

warte mal, ich komme, ich komme!!!

the chermans are coming…

i start shooting a movie today for the first time since i moved back here from the states. a german movie. and no, not porn, as some of my snarky friends, remarked. pffft!

in the midst of my life being overtaken by all things slutwalk and finishing a huge emotional story-line on the soap, i got an audition for this movie.

the way things usually work, i’m never available to go for auditions because i’m shooting. turns out i was available. the call-back was the next day, a saturday. which meant that i was free to go. the director spent about 45 minutes with me doing scenes forward and backward, in english, in afrikaans, crying, angry, etc.

then i heard not a word from them for 3 entire weeks during which i decided that if it was meant to be, it would. finally they got back to me with an offer and the dates they’d be shooting and unbelievably, it’s at a time when my character is out of the story on the soap which is my day-job!

obviously this is meant to be. so i’m off to the magaliesberg to go and sob next to a graveside. the movie is for now, called “lion girl”. and it’s bizarre – the german  cast speaks german, the south african cast speak english or afrikaans and then we get dubbed. i’m going to try the impossible, and do my dialogue in german. if my german 101 doesn’t forsake me.

so, look out for the lion girl, coming soon to a german tv screen – very far from you! 😉

uhm…what was i just saying?

ok. i admit it. i have a very short attention span. 

i never actually realized this till recently, but maybe it has something to do with being an actress. my career started off on stage and when you’re doing theater, you rehearse something for 4 to 6 weeks, you perform for maybe a month or two and then it’s done. you move on to the next play, the next character, the next costume. your focus shifts.

i’m beginning to realize that that mind-set at some stage (hmn) spilled over into my “real life”. and to veer off on a tangent here, at the last moment last night, a new friend called me up and offered me a ticket to “puppetry of the penis”. yeah, you heard right. the show’s been travelling the world for the last “dickade” and i’d thought about going to see it, but probably wouldn’t have got there otherwise. parts of it (snicker) are incredibly funny. my friend wound up not going, so i sat next to someone who’s a 5th year med student. she wanted to know what i do in “real life” (see, there was a point to the tangent) when i’m not watching men playing with their dicks. to which my response was, that in my “real life”, i get to play pretend – seeing that my day-job entails me pretending to be what she’s studying to become. funny. 

anyway to get back to the (original) point. i realize that i immerse myself in things and then i move on to the next thing (do i do the same with people? hmn?). i became a songwriter when i wasn’t getting any acting work. now that i’m acting full-time, i haven’t written a song in almost a year. last year i was intensely into spinning. this year i took up running. at one stage i made jewellery. for a while i sculpted. (though admittedly, i have been passionately into hula-hooping and fire-dancing for at least the last 7 years).

now, at the moment, i am entirely focussed on sewing and designing clothes. every spare moment is spent surrounded by fabric and thread and my serger hums along like a manic-depressive off her meds. in fact, right now, i’m sitting with the makings of a tutu lying at my feet, just waiting for me to finish at this keyboard.

which is why i haven’t been blogging. i thought that maybe i had nothing to say, but as we can see, once i get started…

though till i started this particular post, i was feeling like this poem again…


lately i feel…   4.28.00



lately i feel incredibly dumb

like my tongue’s been nailed to a board

like my brain’s been robbed

of some of the best knowledge

once stored there


words which use to roll

around my mouth at will

now will not come

lie lost as worlds beneath stilled waters

and will not come

even when sought


no matter how i prodding poke

my prying oar

still the glassy surface steely holds

and will not reveal nor


it’s hoard

500 episodes, 100th blog post

at the end of july 2005, i came to south africa for 2 weeks. i’d been living in l.a. for the past 12 years, but my brother was getting married (sort of a spur of the moment thing) and i was coming back for the wedding before buzzing off to burning man.

4 days after i got back, my agent tracked me down via my mom and talked me into meeting with the producers of a new soap which was about to start filming. apparently they’d been struggling to cast this particular character and they wanted to see me for it. the company faxed me the sides, i learnt the scene and then went to meet with one of the producers. that was friday afternoon. by monday morning they made me a very convincing offer to persuade me to stay.

i never thought i’d come back to south africa, especially johannesburg, after what happened to me here, but it was an offer too good to turn down. i was planning on staying for the first season. 8 long months. but i think i knew even then (though i could not yet admit it to myself), that it would probably mean the end of my american sojourn – at least for the immediate future. 3 years and a major continental shift later, here i still am. how amazing that they imported me all the way from l.a. to come and speak afrikaans (initially with very strange american inflections!).

the 500th episode aired last night and it looks like the show is set to run for many years to come (the company is even building a new studio!). most of my american possessions have been given away or else is sitting in storage and i’ve just this year bought a house here in south africa. the latter being a move not so much about putting down roots, but more a financial consideration.

500 episodes, so many slices of soap! enough to get one slip-sliding off, or possibly on, course.
and an appropriate, and timely, topic for my 100th blog post, i thought.

now let’s see where, and who, i am in another 500 episodes….

puppet on a string

wow, i can’t believe i haven’t blogged all week. not like i don’t have anything to say (hey, i’m an actress – saying stuff is how i earn my living!)- i just haven’t gotten round to it. late to bed, early to rise. this week has worn me out – and here i am, again, still up after midnight, even though this is supposed to be my sleeping in weekend. tomorrow morning there is this wonderful plan to be up at 7 in order to head out to mountain sanctuary park and actually spend the day outside of the city. what a concept. however, the red bull i drank earlier in the evening in order to stay awake, is still doing it’s job.


so one day this past week, we were busy plotting a scene (i.e. the director says, “on this line, you move here, then you say that, then you sit down, then you get up on that word…etc”), and i suddenly had this flash about how bizarre my job is. there we are in make-up, costume, being directed – marionettes on strings. lift your arm, nod your head. laugh. cry. cut! 

Expressive painting project

image copyright patricia jessup

and then the moment passed.

i lifted my arm, i nodded. 

on the surface of things – things to consider before a laser peel

in the not always amusing soap-opera-tragicomedy that is my life, i get home last night, decide to be my own jewish mama and make myself some chicken soup to help get over this respiratory infection. i throw in whatever ingredients i can find, including a chili from which i’m careful to remove the seeds. 

then i decide to remove my contact lenses.


it was obviously not just my skin which got damaged this past week – my brain must have sustained some damage as well! this morning i eventually have to throw the lenses out after several attempts to clean them fail (which i of course only discover each time i try to put them in my eyes!)

i try to have an early night, but the moon is full and my dog, chai will not stop barking. in the early hours of the morning i finally get up and muzzle him so i can get some sleep.

anyway, it feels like i’m finally surfacing from 10 different layers of hell. 

it’s obvious to me that there’s a reason why shows like dr 90210 are edited the way they are. they show you a little before, during, immediately after and then 6 weeks or so later when the patient has had ample time to recover and forget about the painful aftermath of whatever procedure they’ve undergone.

one week later, it’s still way too soon for me to say whether this process was worth it. right now i definitely look worse than before. besides the very raw looking reddish-pink around my eyes, my normally fairly smooth skin-tone is blotchy, hyper-pigmented and criss-crossed with hash marks. my eye-lids are still swollen and my fore-head under the lights looks serrated and my profile looks curiously wide and flat. even though i normally don’t wear foundation unless for work, there is no way that i can walk around like this. most people at work have only seen me once my make-up’s been done and one of them said, “what’s the big deal?” this morning he sees me on my way into the make-up room and all he can do is say, “shit!”, shake his head and say it again, “SHIT!”.

for now, based on my experience, here’s what i can advise anyone else thinking of getting a micro-laser peel or periorbital laser resurfacing:

  • 1. be absolutely certain you know what you’re letting yourself in for.
  • 2. ask as many questions as you can think of.
  • 3. be prepared for anything.
  • 4. a laser peel is different from a tca peel. it’s deeper, and takes more recovery time.
  • 5. it’s going to hurt more than you think it will.
  • 6. you’ll get over it…
  • 7. … if you give yourself enough time to recover. i’d suggest at least a full week.
  • 8. if your job, as does mine, entails being under studio lights, know that every little irregularity will be magnified. give yourself twice as much recovery time.
  • 9. have someone who can drive you to and from the procedure, to post-op visits, pick up prescriptions and just generally take care of you.
  • 10. do not do this procedure unless you’re 100% healthy. the recovery places huge stress on your immune system, so make sure it’s entirely up to par.
  • 11. don’t pick! do not touch your face unless it’s absolutely necessary and then only as little as possible.
  • 12. did i mention it before? DO NOT PICK  AT YOUR FACE! if you do, you will regret it.
  • 2 MONTHS POST-PEEL, EDITED TO INCLUDE: 13.  if you’re bi-racial, or have an olive skin-tone, think seriously before doing this procedure and ask your doctor if it’s advisable. i’m beginning to think it’s not.
in make up 1 week after periorbital resurfacing

in make up 1 week after periorbital resurfacing


by next week when the swelling has gone down totally, when i’m over my respiratory infection and hopefully when my skin-tone evens out,  i might have a better idea about how i feel about this. 

for now i’ll hold off judgement on whether i think it was worth it.

what was that saying about beauty being skin-deep?