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Tanya Vital's Blog

Sunday, 30 September 2012

1st RULE: You do not talk about RADA CLUB. 2nd RULE: You DO NOT talk about RADA CLUB.


Morning campers (evening/afternoon - whatev's) its been a while since I blogged and I know I promised to keep you all informed about my new adventure. . .

Now here's the thing -

As this title above suggests, I am kind of prohibited from speaking about my new adventure at RADA. I can blog as I normally do about my trials and tribulations as an Actor and I can chat generally about myself, new discoveries and that kind of thing, but I cannot give any specifics about my course/classes or the school. Anything I do want to say about the school must be OK'd by the school's Enterprise team before published either on my blog here or the MA Theatre Lab RADA blog page.

At first glance this all seems very secret society and a bit draconian BUT as it goes, I actually think I agree with the school and here's why:

The school have imposed this rule for a number of reasons. Since the revolution of social media our every waking thought is now out there in the virtual world for all eternity. What you had for lunch, when you went to the loo, what happened in your failed relationship, who you hate, who you love and ERRRRYTHANG!


http://www.google.co.uk/


I have been guilty of putting stupid stuff out there into the big wide virtual world. Stuff I meant 1000% at the time - but after a glass of red or a good sleep I would be embarrassed to repeat. Or WORSE stuff I have put out there AFTER a glass or two of red! Words, pictures and comments that frankly do not become me. We all have, social networks have become our online diary that is accessible to the world.

RADA is one of - if not THE best drama school in the world. Look at the history: Sir Richard Attenborough, Kenneth BranaghJoan CollinsAnthony HopkinsVivien LeighAlan Rickman for crying out loud! That's a BIG responsibility for new RADA students to live up to. We are the future and we carry with us the amazing legacy of the past. Then there comes Tanya Vital tired, stressed out, dramatic and drunk on twitter "Oh I f*ck%ng hate such and such a person in such and such a class" - can you even imagine?! *face palm*

The prestigious name of this world renowned school brought to it's knees by little old Tanya Vital in 2.5 seconds on Twitter. That AINT a good look.

Along with that, there is also the safety of my fellow students. Drama school, as some of you will know is a place for experimentation. In the outside world we would call it 'messing about'. Because to the outside world its just a bunch of grown-ups playing around and acting like kids, but now even I understand it's much more than that.

As students we are exposed to so many different kinds of training, physical, mental, emotional and these classes have many different formats. What you or I may think is a load of old twaddle has actually been developed intensely over years/generations/centuries to help the artist give truth in their performance. (NOTE: When I talk of Artist/Actor I DO NOT mean celebrity)

Think of it like this - regardless what your opinion of drama is or regardless of your opinion about drama school. Think of your favourite film/book/poem/song/play. Think of the last film that touched your heart, made you cry or resonated with you. That magical stuff doesn't just happen overnight. Despite what you heard - overnight success does NOT exist. The reason that particular piece of art touched you was down to generations of hard work by artists passing down information and experience to others.

The way RADA sees it is that the school should be a safe place for us to train, to experiment and to try out weird and wonderful things. See what works and what doesn't WITHOUT the added ridicule of the outside world or fellow classmates making the strange experiences even harder. I for one am down with this! I do NOT want pictures/videos of me sweating my ass off in a downward dog Yoga pose, seething words of Shakespeare coming to haunt me when I collect my Oscar - I just do NOT want that, so I have to also respect others who feel the same.




Anyway with that, I hope you understand and don't get too frustrated with me if I can't give the full in's and outs. I will endeavour to blog as much as normal and thank you for your patience.




As a treat I leave you with this - the reason we go to Drama School













Wednesday, 29 August 2012

So I only got into RADA didn't I?!





http://www.guardian.co.uk


The most amazing, crazy, terrifying, fabulous thing is happening! As of mid September I am embarking on probably the most important, yet nerve wracking adventure of my career. I have been accepted to study a 1 year Masters degree course in Theatre Lab at The Royal Academy of Dramatic ArtAside from still being in complete shock I am of course ecstatic!

As some of you know I never went to Drama School because I was lucky enough to start professional work straight out of college. I've covered this in previous blog posts and I've explained that not having a 3 year Bachelors degree from an accredited Drama School has definitely affected the way my career has developed. I cannot say it has had a detrimental effect to my career because over the past decade I've had some really great jobs, but I will say that it has possibly affected the type of work I have been offered or am being offered at this point.



http://rowenleaf.blogspot.co.uk

I have attended various short courses over the years both in the UK and America. I have spent a lot of time, money and effort on trying to develop my skills as much as possible so that I could could 'catch up' as it were, to Drama Graduates. I have done - I feel - as much as I can on my own to develop my career. I have taken myself as far as I can go holding my own hand, but now I have definitely hit that pesky glass ceiling. For whatever reason the challenges just aren't coming in anymore. The type of work I feel I should be getting at this stage of my career, just isn't swinging my way. I'm stuck in step 3 when I really should be moving onto step 4,5 and 6. 

Now forgive me - but I didn't come this far to give up at step 3. I have made myself (and my poor mum) penniless by this career (so if you're feeling generous and want to help with my fees feel free to sponsor my blog by pressing the button top right of the page).  I've been eaten alive by bedbugs literally from head to toe from having to stay in vile, grotty places whilst working. I’ve been spat at with real spit (ask Jimmy Akingbola). I've performed with a smile on my face, suffering torn muscles and an injured spine. I've lost both friends and relationships to this career path. I've been discriminated against, bullied (they tried) and treat like scum. I have given this calling everything I have, blood, sweat and tears! I've been to hell and back a million times, knocked down and I STILL keep getting back up for more - because when you have the fire of the storyteller inside your belly you simply have no choice but to pursue it - and 'I'm bout that life', so damn straight! I intend to do whatever I can - to get me where I feel I need to be after this much effort.





http://www.cartoonstock.com


I've always said that you do NOT need to have attended Drama School to work and I've proven that so far. BUT! I am now resigned to that fact that I need an extra bit of oompf! behind me to take me further - you know a bit more ammo! I'm 2 foot tall so unfortunately I can't rely on my good looks and charm alone. There are much more aesthetically pleasing women out there who have taken all of the 'looks' train tickets. I can't rely on my talent alone because although I know I already have something and perhaps to a certain extent I am good enough without the MA - what does it matter how good you are if you cannot be seen or if nobody is willing to give you a chance? So this is why I have decided to do the MA, to see if training is the clincher.

I'm not gonna lie of course I chose RADA for its grandeur and association with being one of the best Drama Schools in the World. Having it on my CV won't look too shabby, but I also chose it because I have always wanted to train there. They have a great reputation and have turned out some really great Actors such as Anthony Hopkins Sean Bean, Ashley MadekweMarianne Jean-Baptiste, who have all done some truly great work - work that I want to do! I already know and have worked with some of the teachers from RADA on other projects and they are fabulous, their teaching skills are second to none (which you'd expect from such an establishment). I have always respected the school's work ethic and history and to sound cheesy and cliched - this was my destiny.

Now what to expect? (Besides COST! - £10,000)

We've all heard the horror stories of Drama Schools breaking you down to nothing and building you back up again - whatever that means?! How they change you and perhaps mold you into some kind of thespian zombie and release you back into the world ready to mash up some Chekov, but lacking the previous social skills and personality you once possessed. So yeah - I am worried as to what they are actually going to 'do' to me when I get there. I'm a tough northern soul and I'm not ashamed to say I'm stubborn and can be very set in my ways. It's taken a while, but I'm at the stage where I quite like me and I don't actually want to change... but they told me in no uncertain terms in their posh yet terrifying RADA voice "You must be willing to change" - gulp! How much "changing" can one do in a year?! Guess I'm going to find out.



http://www.ideastap.com


I'm scared! But this is definitely going to be an investment and the challenge I was after. I will be in the arms of experts and I am looking forward to the breathing space of education once again. I will be getting top class education and it's going to be tough but I'm ready for it! I'm ready for my floppy Morrissey hair cut. I'm ready for them to dissect every deep dark secret of my life and have me cry in front of complete strangers. I'm ready to roll around on the floor and make animal sounds - my old bones might not be but I am! I'm ready to be told that actually - I'm not as 'ready' as I thought I was! I am ready to be part of the "RADA darling RADA" clique. 





http://www.guardian.co.uk


BRING IT ON!





Saturday, 25 August 2012

Y'up Mush! (Change your accent part 3)



"Y'up Mush!" colloquial Bradford slang for 'Hiya mate how's it going'?

'Mush' - An old Romany word, meaning "my good friend".

"He's a right Chava/Chavo" - colloquial Bradford slang for 'he's really common'.

'Chav'  - has its origins in the Romani word chavi meaning child/youngster or chavo meaning boy.

The above picture chosen for this blog was chosen for its ambiguity. I googled the term "Yorkshire Person" and out of the top few images that came up not one of them looked like me. This has been something that I have lived with most of my life. Not to say that there aren't people in Yorkshire that look like me - there are! Tons! There are many descendants from the Caribbean, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Romania, Africa and now more recently Eastern Europe. But if we were to go on what we are being or have been shown in the media, you would sill believe that the biggest county in the whole of the UK is full of Seth Armstrong (Emmerdale) types living on farms.


http://www.emmerdale.org

If you read my posts regularly you will know I speak of 'types' a lot. For the longest time in my career as an Actor I was trying to figure out my 'type'. Where was my place in stereotypical society, what was my niche? As a novice in the industry I clung to the most obvious ones with the most obvious and cringe worthy names such as 'urban' and 'street', to which I'm sure I still belong. But as I got older and more experienced in my career, I began to realise that actually - there ISN'T really a stereotypical media 'type' I fall under. It is in fact a mix of a few that I have fused together in my own head. The 'type' I thought I belonged to, as far as Acting goes, doesn't really even exist!

In my mind I would fall under such umbrellas as: Urban, street and gritty. You know all the crappy terms that describe poor black culture/art. But then I would also fall under: Northern, working class, brassy, 'salt of the Earth, common. You know, all of the usual stereotypical terms that describe poor white culture. So for looks  I'm one box and for personality I'm the other, which is a big problem for casting (by today's standards in the UK).

Now forget for a second that I am of dual heritage (get me about "duel heritage"! Took a while for me to get into saying that). Forget that I am both black and white for a minute (this is not the time to argue the toss) and focus on the 'of black descent' and 'northern'. 

So just to be clear we are focusing on 'black descent' and 'northern'. 

Now I'll give you 30 seconds to think of 10 people in the media  (Actors, Sports Personalities, Musicians, Presenters etc) that are of  'black descent' and 'northern'. Get ready - no cheating - GO! 




Now whether you used the timer or not I bet you had a difficult time naming 10. You probably got 5 tops and most of those were from Xfactor, Corrie or very recent Olympic winners? Am I right? And even they were mostly very light or mixed race females am I right?

I reckon I'm almost right! You see on the whole northern people "of colour" don't seem to exist in the minds eye of the media. We have the 'urban, street, gritty' black people of the south in one hand. You know your Top Boys, your Kidulthood's that kind of thing. Then we have the working class, socialist, 'salt of the Earth', white people from the north in the other. Like Kelly from 'Misfits', things like 'Trollied' etc. Two separate entities and as it seems never the twain shall meet.

http://blogs.whatsontv.co.uk


There is still prejudice against northern accents and even more so a 'north/south divide'. It's 2012 and the way people in this country speak about accents, (particularly northern ones) is shocking. It's almost a form of racism and definitely a prejudice that is overlooked, (I say racism because to my knowledge we do not have a word for prejudice against accents, but it is THAT serious). I get asked all the time - by southerners "do you ever have to change your accent?" or "are you keeping your own accent?" It always makes me laugh and sometimes I ask back "yes are you keeping yours?" The look on their faces is a picture! You see it would never enter someone with a southern accent to change theirs unless the part required it, yet with northerners its expected, required or not. There is an unspoken tradition/train of thought that a northern accent is bad, undesirable and low class. An expectation that I should somehow be ashamed of my accent and try and hide or alter it as a southern accent is more desirable and has connotations of high class.

I'm so adamant about keeping my accent and being a pioneer for northern performers standing by their accents, that I almost go Seth Armstrong myself when I'm working. I first noticed it on 'Kerching!' I was surrounded by southern Actors. Some cockney even, which is just as regional! Hearing these accents and my flat, broad Bradford accent at the side of theirs, I realised that I had unconsciously started making my accent even stronger. As if my unconsciousness was staking a mini protest that my accent was here and staying. Luckily the people at Kerching! embraced my northern-ness and even incorporated it into the show, but not everyone is as forthcoming.


http://www.cartoonstock.com

In Bradford we have a huge melting pot of so many cultures, especially for a small city. All of this has had direct influence on the language we use, our slang and the way in which we speak. And as everybody else does, we speak differently depending on who we are speaking to. We all have a 'phone voice' and a 'speaking to our nan voice' etc. Amongst others, a big influence on some of our language has come from the Gypsy/Travelling community, so words like mush, chava, cushti bari will mean nothing to most of you but most of my Bradfordians will know exactly what I'm talking about (even the posh ones who pretend they don't)

Slang, accents, colloquialisms all take time to be established. Unlike with the world of twitter and facebook, traditional slang took lifetimes to be passed down and rooted. There is history in those words, there has been struggle and there is meaning. Accents have history and a story behind them. For someone to assume that we have no history, no culture, no story or presence, or that none of those things are valid because we don't have a southern accent is frankly both arrogant and uneducated.



http://www.guardian.co.uk

So whats my beef?

Well my questions started when I saw this picture of Jessica Ennis and her family. I saw her dad and saw a black man. A black man who was probably born and lives in Sheffield South Yorkshire. A region of Yorkshire that has a strong accent. Then I realised that we STILL have hardly any black northern personalities on the TV. Yeah we can assume that Jessica's father is from a Caribbean background and has a way of speaking that is both bits of patois and standard English, but there is still going to be some Yorkshire pud in that talk. Where are the men like him on our screens? Where are the women?

The last part of advert below shows a guy called Desmond I think and he was featured on a show called 'Make Bradford British'. Didn't watch the show because I didn't believe in the agenda, but this is just one example of how 1 black Bradfordian speaks and guess what? He's a proper Yorkshire pud! Yeah sure he too probably goes in and out of broken patois but he is as broad as the day is long.

http://www.channel4.com

I want to see more variation on the northern stereotype on our screens! I want to see a Rastafarian Landlord in the Rovers Return. I want to see my Aunty Regina sat on the checkout on 'Trollied' (not literally she can't act). I want to see my mate Dermot teaching his kids on Waterloo Road instead of always drafting in a southern teacher (who would NEVER come up here to work on a northern wage anyway). I want to see Milky's dad on 'This is England'!


As long as I live I will keep my accent. Of course if a role requires me to adjust it I can and will but, beyond that nobody will ever make me feel ashamed or make me turn away from my history, my roots, my culture or my background.

If it's good enough for Sean Bean - its good enough for me! 









Saturday, 7 July 2012

SOKORATES


"They're Coming! Now is the time to decide what is real". 


Finally!! After a few years in the making Sokorates is here. This is the trailer for Sokorates - 'an original nine part Urban/Fantasy/Thriller' by Ricardo Barker . Starring myself (Tanya Vital), Wil JohnsonJeff Alexander and Warwick St John





THE FINALE OF SEASON 1!

EPISODE 8 & 9






EPISODE 6 & 7



EPISODE 5




EPISODE 4



EPISODE 2 & 3



EPISODE 1




TRAILER



Follow the Twitter hashtag #Sokorates and Like the Facebook page for all updates




Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Chicken Shop Shakespeare



A great friend of mine Lladel Bryant and some of his colleagues have set up a Theater Company called Chicken Shop Shakespeare. They capture "a series of performances from the works of Shakespeare, filmed in contemporary settings". 

They have taken the industry by storm having recently been featured on the RSC website and are receiving great acclaim from other well established fellow Actors. Below is a selection of their fabulous work and here is the link to their YouTube account: http://www.youtube.com/user/CSshakespeare

I personally think this is a breath of fresh air, its innovative and just what this tired industry needed. Shakespeare can seem so intimidating as the language is very different to modern English, but somehow when acted out against a modern setting, the language seems to translate itself and becomes much more interesting and accessible to those who would otherwise not have bothered with it. I cannot wait to lay one down myself, although I do keep bugging Lladel to do one in his proper Yorkshire accent - we all know Shakespeare sounds better with a regional twang!
If you like the clips drop them a line or get in touch with them if you have suggestions for scenes/ asides/ soliloquies and they will endeavour to film them - contact the team at:  chickenshopshakespeare@gmail.com or at:  @CSshakespeare
Well done guys

KING LEAR A2_S2 SHAKESPEARE




ROMEO AND JULIET A_3 S_3 - SHAKESPEARE





OTHELLO - A3 S4 - SHAKESPEARE 





SONNET 1 - SHAKESPEARE





AS YOU LIKE IT - A3 S5 - SHAKESPEARE



Monday, 28 May 2012

Hollyweird Part 2 (The REAL Hollywood)


Culture





homeless_shopping_cart.jpg 

One thing that didn’t sit well with me at all from the starts was the abundance of poverty and the colossal difference between the have’s and the have not’s. We would go from a Millionaire's gated community, like you see on The Real Housewives of Orange County and at the other side of the gate would be 5 people living out of shopping trolleys, like you see on all the old 80’s movies (they tend not to show that so much now).

The worst thing about the homelessness for me was that in the UK, there really are few reasons to be homeless unless you are mentally ill or an addict or chose to be homeless. Don’t get me wrong, as like most cities there were plenty of drug addicts but, I can hand on heart say that not everyone I saw was an addict or mentally ill (I'm from Bradford - I can sense these things). Some were just normal people, who you could tell had once lead good lives, but something just went wrong. I’m not being dramatic when I say you could literally see the despair in their eyes.

cityofangels30.blogspot.co.uk 

I am aware that there is a culture of free spirits and some people chose to be travellers and refuse to conform to living in concrete boxes. Travelling and being ‘free’ is much easier in warmer climates and so many travellers flock to those places – but I ain't dumb and I could tell the difference between a traveller and a lost soul and lost souls - there are plenty.

HomelessSign.jpg 

The Walk of Fame on Hollywood Boulevard is just grubby, it’s just like Oxford Street in London. There were people literally lined up on Hollywood boulevard – in fact everywhere with signs asking for money. If you’re like me - I give if I can regardless of where it’s going. A good friend from  Emmerdale once said to me about beggars “it’s just someone trying to get by” and it’s true, but you just cant give out there because by the time you got to the end of the road you’d be broke.

Some of the signs were funny and engaging ‘need weed’, ‘need beer and weed’ and some people strangely beg just for the ‘craic’ because they know tourists and people with money go to L.A, but you could see the hopelessness on those who weren’t doing it for fun. One guy was allowing people to kick him up the ass for $1. Showman or not, that’s pretty desperate. It cannot help but to cheapen the stars on the floor and make them seem utterly ridiculous. I’m also told that a Hollywood Walk of Fame star costs $30,000 a year to maintain on Hollywood Boulevard – Meanwhile homeless Joe has no idea of the cost of his ‘home’.

www.flickr.com
There is a strip on the Boulevard outside Man’s Chinese Theatre where the street is full of Willy Wonka, Marilyn Monroe, Spiderman, Catwoman, Batman and Michael Jackson lookalikes. Anybody you could name – there lookalike is there. It’s hard to tell who’s a prostitute and who’s an official lookalike – if there is such a thing. How they make their money nobody knows. We assumed that they charge tourists to take pictures with them, but damn! If you saw them you would shudder.

The costumes are so worn out, they look as if they have been lived in for 10 years straight. It’s just budget! If there is more than one M.J on the strip, they have cat fights as to who stays on which star (part of pavement) and some of them have clearly had lots of surgery to look like their respective likenesses. One of the M.J’s looked like they had dug up poor Michael’s body and propped him up on the Boulevard with his creepy child catcher grin – he was scary! 


One of our group asked Catwoman how long she’s been doing this job – she replied “20 years”. . .  20 years! The look of sheer disbelief on her OWN face was said to be devastating. Almost as if they’d been in some magic induced time warp, like the casino scene on ‘Percy Jackson & the Lightning Thief’ and the spell was only broken when asked how long shed been here. You see everybody goes to Hollywood to ‘make-it’ and I doubt Catwoman had moved to Hollywood specifically to be dressed as an Aldi Catwoman for 20 years but, the reality is more often than not other things just take over. So disturbingly sad.

Transport

The transport system in L.A leaves a lot to be desired. It’s very much like it is in the north of England. You can get places but not quick or easily. There is somewhat of a subway system but to nowhere near the extent of the London Tube system and the buses are not as frequent - but it is cheap! $1.50 on a bus to anywhere. You cannot grasp the enormity of the place until you get there. It is just HUGE. One end of a road to the other could be 4 miles or more long. Venice Beach is over 40 minutes drive away from Hollywood, (over an hour by bus). I don’t know about you but I associates ‘holiday’ with beach at doorstep – NO!  It’s far.  Before you go to America everyone tells you it is spaced out and vast but until you get there – you have no idea. That is why NOBODY walks and everybody drives – apart from the crazies who take the bus, which leads me to my next point.

'Don't Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood' 

We (the group I was with) were desperate to get away from the mental Hollywood and the nutty Boulevard so we all decided that we would have a night out and go for food in Chinatown. We only had a very rough idea of how to get to the Chinatown area, no idea of where we would go when we got there but how difficult could it be? We have a few Chinatown’s in the UK so we got this! Right? WRONG!! Never get a bunch of Actors to do ANYTHING, what’s that saying ‘how many Actors does it take to change a light bulb?’ Ridiculous!

We managed to get the Metro (Tube) to Chinatown – at around 9/10pm. This would be OK in the UK but in L.A Chinatown apparently shuts down at around 6pm. So we are wandering round this deserted town and I mean ‘28 Days Later’ deserted! No buses are going by, no cabs, no cars, no people, nothing. Its dark and looking like hell. After walking around aimlessly for about an hour looking for a restaurant to eat, we finally ended up going back to the very first restaurant we passed as we got off the Metro.


Apart from the restaurant having a security guard on the door (what are they securing its ‘28 Days Later’ for crying out loud), the food almost inducing an anaphylactic shock on my friend, dining next to some Triad looking She-Boss (you know the one from ‘Kung-Fu Hustle) playing poker with her henchmen and being exposed to ladies room that would have been well placed in ‘Saw’ - the restaurant experience was kinda cool. We revelled in the novelty of being in a ‘real’ Chinatown - that was in reality just like being in the Flying Dragon down Little Horton Lane in Bradford. We revelled so much we forgot that we turned up late, so by the time we left it was really GOD DAMN LATE!

We swiftly walked back to the Metro stop hoping to catch the last train back – no chance! And for the record, DO NOT think you will get any help from the lovely people on the Metro intercom, she practically told us to F’ off. If you imagine the most stereotypical, rude woman from Compton you could ever see on any of the Friday movies – that's how she spoke to us. So there we are stranded in '28 Days Later', a bunch of English tourists looking like dinner. We set off down the main road to find anything that could save us from certain death and finally it started to dawn on us that we had been really bloody stupid not to plan this properly and yes – we were probably gonna die. I was already choosing who from the group I would offer up as first bait.


Eventually a bus came and we didn’t care where it was going, we got on it and just hoped for the best. The bus driver told us we could get off Downtown and get another bus to Hollywood from there. Great! NO - not so flipping great. We get to Downtown and then we realise we were actually safer up at ‘28 Days Later’ where there were no living people. It was about 1am and we were knee deep in treacherous shish looking for a bleeding bus stop – still looking like prime rib. Hustlers on every corner asking if we wanted this and that, I’m not going to lie I was scared.

Long story – stay with me it gets worse.




We eventually got on the correct bus that would take us back to Hollywood and we all sat in relief. Finally the ordeal was over – we were safe and our bus in shining armour was taking us home. Then everything changed in the blink of an eye. The bus stops and on gets, what I can only describe as some crackhead looking ‘Loc Dog’ from ‘Don’t be a Menace’. It was like slow motion. He gets on, turns his head, locks his eyes onto me like a pray mantis and he makes his decent down the bus. SH*T! He starts to sit down next to me (I sat on my own seat coz I’m ‘ard – not so ‘ard now though). As he tries to sit I’m trying to literally climb over him to get out of what’s about to come. He’s like (in American Friday accent) “Awww don’t be like dat – don’t be like that”. I reply (in my broadest Northern) “well I don’t know ya and ya making me feel uncomfortable!” so he lets me out to sit with my friends and follows suit. 

He then proceeds to try his luck “Awww you baad though, can I get yow number”, I’m like “I ‘ant got a phone”. The boys in our group cleverly come to our aid and begin to tell Crazy that all us girls are all taken and there is no chance of getting our numbers, thinking this would see him off, but it only intrigues Crazy more. Now we can smell the alcohol (and whatever else) on him and he is playing ‘nice’ so far but every so often he would stop smiling and give us all a look so you could just tell he was one of those off key characters. You piss him off and he will stab you up - here on this bus in a breath with the blades he probably carries in his cheeks (which cheeks – u decide!)



He proceeds to try his luck with the other girls, telling us how he could have us – ‘if that was his intention’. He’s offering to sell us alcohol, he’s undressing us with his eyes, leering, he’s sizing up the lads. I’m thinking ‘why Lord, why wasn’t Chinatown enough for you?’ Crazy then shouts aggressively to someone who is getting off of the bus. We look over and it’s a guy. Crazy then orders the guy to come and sit with us immediately - the guy meekly does so. Crazy then explains that this is his ‘friend’ and how his friend is gay but he’s not. Fine, OK - we don’t care. He’s telling us all the details of said friends sexual life and said friend is all apologetic because Crazy is under the influence. Crazy is so far gone, he’s asking us one thing and when we reply he’s hearing another. Somehow this dude heard that I was from Ohio (where he was from obviously *rolls eyes*) and how I look so much like his daughter “but you bad though.” CRINGE! Crazy begins to tell us about all these young girls he has – we now realise yep! This dude is a crazy, psycho, grooming pimp and his ‘friend’ is probably part of the ‘business’.

At this point we are just dying to see anything familiar so we can just get off of the bus and away from this scary weirdo. Finally we see the sign for the ‘W’, a building on Hollywood Boulevard and I swear to God it was like seeing the golden arches of McDonald's for the first time as a child - Saviour! We begin to get off and Crazy knows his time is up so he stands and demands the phone number – I flee, it’s a done deal - so Crazy then does what any other confused, crazy groomer would do and he turns and begins to ask the fellas in our group for THEIR number! I kid you not. We got off keep walking and NEVER look back.


Moral of the story:

We live on media hype and speculation. A lot of people were astonished that we used public transport in L.A because it’s ‘dangerous’.

Let me explain it like this: The amount of people who told my Actor friend (from Bow East London) NOT to go to Chapeltown in Leeds when he came to do a play up there (because it’s known as a ‘bad’ area), was just ridiculous. Chapeltown is no worse than Wembley High Street, but its reputation from the press precedes it. We decided to try the local transport because we all had the intention of POSSIBLY moving out there and we wanted to experience it all. Not only that, we didn't yet have a hire car and we were going mental in Hollywood.


Public transport in L.A is not terrible and there is nothing wrong with venturing out, but common sense must prevail, just be careful and keep your wits about you. In the daytime its absolutely fine, at night yes it can be suspect and probably dangerous (as we found out), but so can any night bus in Central London. If you’re venturing out in L.A you really should try to get a car/cab or at least a cab number, plan the journey there and back before you set out and make sure you do it all at a reasonable hour of the day. Going in a group is always a safer option too.

Food/bars/clubs 

Personally I loved the food out in America. Everything I chose and ate was of a high standard and contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t all come on gigantic plates. (Not in L.A anyway because they’re quite health conscious). There is every kind of food you could imagine because the state is so rich of culture and ethnicities which definitely influences the food. The only thing that grated on me was there is a tipping system out there that is more-or-less compulsory. Whatever you see on the price – you must add 10% TAX onto that for the final bill. THEN as waiters/waitresses work all work on minimum wage and make their living from tips – you HAVE to add an 18% tip onto the final bill. So its basically like a 30% addition at the end to the price you first saw – sheer annoyance!



The outskirts of Hollywood from West Hollywood all the way up to Santa Monica, Malibu and Santa Barbara are just lovely. As is the case anywhere, the suburbs or more affluent areas are beautiful and  the vibe is just so nice and chilled out there. Fewer weirdos, more normal folk. If you decide to live out there, west of Hollywood is probably the safest bet, but ask the locals because some of our boys were even  warned off from walking in certain ‘safer’ areas at night (it's not the gang bangers you need to worry about - its the creepy serial killers). Ladies – just don't walk anywhere in Hollywood alone at night and be careful in the day.



There are some really fantastic bars and a number of clubs - some really posh and some cheap, there is literally something for everyone. The only problem for party animal’s is that everything closes at 2am so you need to get your party on fairly early. I’m not sure if this is true for the rest of L.A but in Hollywood – 2am – party done. In a way it seems sensible as I saw no drunken louts (unlike those we have in SOME places *cough *cough), but it is very indicative of America and how many rules there are about literally everything.

On the whole everybody in America was lovely. Even Crazy Pimp was fairly well mannered. There’s none of that “have a nice day y’all” rubbish that we all mock. Most people are just genuinely nice and you really notice the difference when you come back to miserable England. It took me all of 2 weeks to get back to grumpy, moaning Twitter mode.


If you are thinking about going out to Hollywood, the best advice I can give is have a thick skin. Some of my group were less affected than I was about the bad things we saw, so if you’re a soft touch like me – you have to become slightly numb or cold to it. Its not necessarily losing your humanity – as I first thought it was – its more about accepting it for what it is and knowing that you don't have the power to change it all. Find the areas where you feel most comfortable and donate/help local charities to heal the heart.

www.pbase.com

Tips

  • ·  There’s lots to do out there if you have a vehicle and money

    ·  The weather is NOT always warm – depending on the seasons, they get rain and it can be very cold, particularly at night time so wrap up.

    ·   Do not park facing the wrong way, against the traffic.

    ·  Do not jay walk.

    ·  Do not drink in the street.

    ·   If you hire a car make sure you ask the hire company if you need to display anything for vehicle registration.

    ·   Do not forget these people can buy guns at ASDA (Walmart) so just be on your toes at all times!



 If you are interested in going to Hollywood please visit: http://www.industryhollywood.com/




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