Actually, this last time, doo-wop started it.
Last Tuesday, I joined a group of volunteer extras in a movie called Air. The film, which is being locally produced by Through a Glass Productions and directed by Jeremy Osbern, contains three interweaving stories of characters trying to reconnect to the rhythm of ordinary life. At least, that's what I could ascertain from the Web site, http://air.throughaglass.com. At the time of the shoot, I had no idea what was going on, except that we were at a concert by Kansas City's the Architects that kept getting interrupted by an epiphanic moment for the main character, one involving strange doo-wop music.
Upon arriving at the Beaumont Club, which the filmmakers had hired for six hours that night, I was ushered into a crowd of about 30 people in front of the bandless stage. We were told to dance to an Architects song ("Reciprocity," I believe), which would transition suddenly into the doo-wop number (recorded specially for the film by a nonlocal composer), to which we were supposed to dance and sing. The producer, Chris Blunk, got on a megaphone and taught us the words, which went something like: doo doo wah doo doo-o-be boppity boppity.
The lights were bright. The Architects were looking on from the sidelines with grins on their faces, egging us on with fists and devil horns.
I needed a drink fast. But the bar was closed.
Unable to duck through the backstage passageway into Westport Beach Club, I enlisted the aid of the Archs' bassist Zach, giving him a $20 and asking for something big and strong. "You mean like a big vodka rocks?" he asked. "Sure," I said, "maybe with a splash of 7-Up." He came back with a tall vodka and 7 not the inhibition-destroying jet fuel I felt that I needed, but sufficient. I gave him $5 to get himself a drink (after all, he was going to be on camera later) and started sucking it down and doo-wopping it up.
I got to talking to the woman next to me, my nearest partner in embarrassment, and she turned out to be Keri Phillips, the immensely charming wife of Adam, the drummer, whom we employed for more drink retrieval.
The protagonist of the scene, a guy with a major fauxhawk, was supposed to turn around and look wide-eyed while mouthing the actual lyrics to the doo-wop song, which his character, Donnie, had supposedly written. Sometimes the song sounded sped-up and choppy, and sometimes it sounded normal. Either way, Donnie, played by the blue-eyed Dylan Hilpman, had to keep it together in front of the unprofessional extras and Keri and I weren't the only ones imbibing heavily.
The filmmakers rewarded us from time to time with door prizes hats and CDs and the like and after a good hour and a half, they kindly loaded in about two dozen Little Caesars pizzas and a cooler of generic soda for us to feast upon during a break. Keri and I diluted our whiskies with a little cola and pigged out.
The next phase of the evening finally brought the Architects to the stage. By this time, we extras had been programmed to dance whenever music was playing, whether instructed to or not. 'Tects frontman Brandon mentioned that they would normally be in rehearsal that night, so they were in the mood to play. This led to a lot of spontaneous jams, plus the debut of a brand-new song, a slow-grooving, vaguely rootsy number different from the band's usual brand of flame-throwing rock.
By the end of one blues jam, Mr. Drunk had arrived. He leaped to the stage, goin' all Howlin' Wolf for all of about 10 seconds before realizing how stupid he must have looked and jumping back down. Others in the crowd weren't much better off than Mr. Drunk. I stood briefly next to a small, boisterous woman who was fending off the repeated advances of a puffy-haired man of about 40. "You're not Rick Springfield quit harassing me!" she yelled.
The Architects continued to start, stop and jam, and they frequently pantomimed playing over their recorded music to speed things along during filming. In character, Zach began stepping onto the kick drum, rocking, and then jumping off dramatically. It was during one of these moments that Mr. Drunk decided that the young bassist would make a fine target for an empty water bottle. Mr. Drunk cocked back his evil, contorted hand and let fly. Whether the action was truly malicious or merely in the spirit of the show mattered not; the bottle connected with the back of poor Zach's head.
The next thing we knew, a Beaumont employee or crew member had a death grip on Mr. Drunk's wrist and was rapidly leading him backstage, either to beat him to a jelly or throw him out. Blunk was in tow, asking what had happened and then kindly sticking up for Mr. Drunk. Mercy was shown, but Mr. Drunk was asked not to throw anything else.
So Mr. Drunk walked back in, had his hand slapped jokingly by a few people, made amends with his victim (who was neither offended nor injured), behaved himself for the last few shots, then retired to the sidelines and drank some beer before stumbling the few blocks home.
Someday, I hope, this movie will spawn a bevy of trivia questions, like "Which Architect's wife was an extra in the film?" and "Which now-institutionalized music writer threw a water bottle at the bass player's head in the concert scene?"
Here's to you, alter ego o' mine. Deconstruction In which the Wayward Son lends a hand to local filmmakers, only to have his alter ego take over and attempt sabotage.