Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Hollywood Days - The Original Reality Show

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If you are new to my blog, on Wednesdays I post about my experience in Hollywood as a former child/teen actress. If you want to start at the beginning of these posts go here.
This is a re-run, but you forget what you did yesterday so . . .

This is part 1 of my Circus of the Stars posts.

Circus of the Stars ran for 17 years. It ended in 1994. And I don't know why because I think it was a pretty sweet concept. Celebrities performed circus acts - for real. In a way, it was the original Dancing with the Stars. I'm not sure how I heard about the audition (probably through my agent), but being the adventuresome, daredevil that I am - I was stoked to audition for the show. The audition was in the backyard of circus guru, Bob Yerkes. I had to jump on a trampoline, walk a balance beam and try out the trapeze (with safety mechanisms, of course). I was a pretty coordinated and athletic kid (where it has gone, I don't know) and I guess they knew my life would eventually be a circus.

I received the call that I "got it." I was going to be a part of "The Russian Swing" act for the first time in Circus of the Stars history. What in the world was The Russian Swing? I found out when I showed up on the first day of practice... saaaweeeet!
On that phone call I also found who my partners were going to be. One was a 23 year-old girl named Jocelyn Peden. Had no idea who she was but learned that she had been a Laker girl and had appeared on a pilot. (Update: Recently reconnected with Mark-Paul and Jocelyn! Jocelyn lives in Canada, is still dancing and has two adorable kids. Mark-Paul also has two kids and has a new show Franklin and Bash which airs on TNT. You can follow him on Twitter if you'd like.)

My other partner was Mark-Paul Gosselaar. Of course I knew he was. Hello Zack Morris! I was glad to have yet another Teenbeat cover boy in my life. Mark-Paul and I became really good friends. He even made a trip to my hometown with me where I took him to his first high school football game and church youth group. I'll have to devote a post to him in the future. But for now - here is picture of us on that visit. I think we were going to San Francisco that day to hang out and do some shopping. He was trying to be a bit incognito so he wouldn't have crazed girls chasing him around the mall. But he really went the extra mile with that fanny pack, don't you think? I mean, if you were one of those obsessed fans would you approach or run the other way? They approached despite the fanny pack.

There was a camera man at every practice filming us falling on our faces and landing on... everything but our feet. I had so many bruises on my body from this training. It honestly looked like Lassie was giving me a beat down. Here is a picture of us on our big rehearsal day just before filming the actual show. This was the day that Mark-Paul was cracked his sternum and then was unable to perform in the show. Brutal.
I usually worked a full day on the set of Lassie (or close to it) and then went to Circus practice afterwards. Believe it or not, we practiced six days a week for about three moths. The practices lasted for about an hour. We would warm up on the trampoline with harnesses attached to us. They would help us get height and they kept us from falling off the side. This is where we learned and practiced our tricks for The Russian Swing.

Here is the first trick I performed on the show. More tricks, photos, stories and tidbits to come. And for bonus blog points see if you can spot my supportive friends, Christina Nigra andAlyson Hannigan, in the audience.

And for the contest... can you guess how much money I made for this gig? It was a flat fee for the whole thing. It was 1990. I was 15 years old. Whoever is the closest to the correct figure will win this prestigious contest. What's at stake? A huge prize. A giveaway like you've never seen in the blogosphere. The winner will receive official, verified, one of a kind... bragging rights. And that's not all - I will give you ALL of the money I have left over from that paycheck.
I will post the winner next week.

(You are not eligible to guess if you "know" the answer because you are my Dad or because you pretended to be my friend just to find out how much cash I pocketed.)
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Anonymous said...

$50 is my vote!

Kristin said...

Holy cow! Look how young Whoopi looks! I can't even venture a guess on your rate.

AMW said...

I remember meeting a brother and sister who lived down the street from my grandparents in Thousand Oaks, CA way back in 1989. Our encounter was somewhat brief, but there are two things that always stuck out in memory: 1) they were desperate to "break into the biz," and 2) they complained (more than I cared to listen) about "scale," which I think averaged somewhere in the low to mid-hundreds at that time. So considering that you were on a series that actually lasted for a while, I'm guessing CotS gave you $1,000 for your efforts.

Angie said...

$300. Final answer.

jennyonthespot said...

So. I guess you have never tried that on your back swing? :) Oh Wendy.... how adorable are you? VERY.

Jessica Johnson said...

100% remember watching this when i spent the summer at my grandmas in 8th grade. and i remember being disappointed. but i don't remember why. clearly i missed the red unitard.

Denise said...

my daughter's and i watched the video. they think you are AWWWEEESOME!

i'm guessing your payment was keeping that snazzy red leotard??