Movie Article

Hanging on the Meat Rack

Writer A.J. Jacobs' experiences at the audition for Demi Moore's latest film

The guys look like walking Mount Kilimanjaros and appear to have ingested raw eggs and steroids for breakfast. The women sport Tammy Faye makeup and cleavage so deep you could hide a clock radio in there. No, it's not the standby audience for Richard Bey. It's the line at an open casting call for Striptease. Based on Carl Hiaasen's novel, the movie stars Demi Moore as a mom who disrobes to raise money to pay for a custody battle. On this camera crew-friendly morning at Manhattan's Palladium club, the film's producers are looking for extra strippers and a bouncer — and a little free publicity couldn't hurt either.

Not that they need it. Although she's not at today's audition, Moore has been dutifully feeding the hype machine, popping up at New York City topless clubs with hubby Bruce Willis for the purpose of ''research.'' Inspired by Moore's night crawls, ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY decided to do some research of its own. To experience a cattle call from the cow's point of view, I went to audition for the part of Shad the bouncer.

In line, I am subjected to an old audition tradition: the psych-out. Most of the other would-be Shads fit the casting-call description of ''at least 6'2'' and physically massive...any ethnicity.'' I fit the ''any ethnicity'' part. ''You're a wiry little terrier, ain't you?'' one bruiser tells me. They dub me Elvis Costello Jr. (at 5'11'' and 140 pounds, I have the body of a strung-out British rock star without the benefit of having taken drugs). I ignore them and take a swig of my Pellegrino. Thank God I'm not using a straw.

The bouncers and strippers are talking shop. A guy from New York's Paradise Club claims Moore came in a few months ago. ''She got to see a lesbian show for free — and that usually costs $300 an hour,'' he says. Two slinky strippers discuss the $12.5 million Moore is earning for the film. ''You couldn't fit that in my G-string,'' says one. Another stripper and her boyfriend seem to be trying to swallow each other's tonsils.

After two hours, I meet with casting director John Lyons. I shake his hand, remembering to use the ''viselike'' grip described in the novel. Lyons asks me why I'm here. I tell him I've read the book. I am Shad. There's an awkward silence. He asks me about my acting experience. I tell him I played Tigger in my high school production of Winnie-the-Pooh (Tigger was a bouncer). He nods. Gently, he tells me I'm not exactly Shad material. However, he humors me, I might be perfect for the part of Paul Guber — the guy who gets hit over the head with a champagne bottle.

Nine days later, I break the don't-call-us-we'll-call-you rule: I call. The publicist says Shad has yet to be cast, though there have been callbacks. And I am not among those called back. That's showbiz.

Originally posted May 19, 1995 Published in issue #275 May 19, 1995 Order article reprints