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THE AUDITION

NO WRITER ATTRIBUTED

"I'm sorry," a doorman intervenes, "you guys have to take the stairs." We start climbing. We immediately discover that our time outside has left our knee-joints frozen solid. We simply can't bend our legs. It takes 30 minutes to drag ourselves up to the mezzanine.

Our first stop is makeup. A short funky British woman lunges at my face with a powder brush. I instinctively recoil in horror. I don't like to share cosmetic products. I try to protest that my natural complexion is so smooth and vibrant that I don't need makeup. Spice Girl will have none of it and proceeds to plaster my countenance with blush and bacteria.

Next, the hall of horrors--a corridor lined with mounted TV monitors, all of which feature the same programming gem. It's everyone's favorite vagabond nut-job, Jesse Camp, offering some words of encouragement to those aspiring to take his place. I am not amused.

At the end of the yellow brick road is the studio--the site of our audition. The same set where Ananda hosts her popular music video program has been divided into 15 separate booths. My companions and I take a moment to huddle and take stock. We say a brief prayer to the spirit of Sammy Davis Jr., and head off to our separate booths in search of fame and fortune.

"Hi, I'm Tammy, welcome to MTV. Have a seat in front of the camera and pick up the mike." I make myself comfortable and get ready to spin my charm.

"So, why don't you tell us a little bit about yourself...." I lean forward toward the camera and prime myself to unleash a storm of charisma. Then, I reconsider. I reflect on the seven hours I have spent waiting on the street, I consider my numb extremities , and I peer deep within my exhausted soul.

"I'm a student. Ask your next question." Tammy is taken aback. Her instruction sheet does not provide any guidance for dealing with disgruntled auditioners. She has no choice but to proceed.

"What's your favorite video?"

"I don't watch MTV," I declare defiantly.

"Okay. Well, what music groups do you like?"

"I like Neil Diamond." Tammy has no idea what to do with this one.

"Hmmm. Well, why don't you pretend that you're introducing a video from Neil Diamond," She offers.

"Neil Diamond doesn't make videos," I politely inform her. Now Tammy is starting to get nervous. I'm clearly a loose cannon. She decides to move things along to the final, cue card portion of my interview.

"Just read this card," Tammy instructs me gruffly. I recite some nonsense about Marilyn Manson and Tammy directs me to the exit. I pick up my free T-shirt and return to the lobby. My audition lasted a total of two minutes. Aaron and Josh, who I discover were slightly more cooperative with their interviewers, join me a few moments later.

"So, how'd it go?" I ask. Josh just shakes his head and sighs.

"I think it went really well," Aaron reports. He is about to launch into a full-scale retelling, but by the look in our eyes, it's clear that we're not interested. We head back out onto the street. The sun is high in the sky and the cloud cover has dispersed. We squint and stumble around the corner.

Soon, we find ourselves back in front of the Celebrity Deli, the site of our original location on line. Again confronted with those warm, inviting booths, we head inside and order some breakfast. Before our whitefish salad arrives, we've all passed out. I dream of sugar plum fairies and Downtown Julie Brown. Noah D. Oppenheim calls it as he sees it and tells it like it is. Joshua H. Simon and Aaron R. Cohen just go along for the ride.

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