Wednesday, September 13, 2006
The woman pictured above was my first passenger last night.
Actually, she was my only passenger last night.
And, actually, it was all totally staged. Do you recognize her? In case you don't, she's an actress and her name is Tilda Swinton. I was recruited a few weeks back to play her cabbie as part of a project by artist Doug Aitken. He's working on a bunch of film scenes that will be projected on the facade of the Museum of Modern Art this January.
Last night was a little piece of the project and I was happy to participate, even though I don't think my presence will be too prominent in the end. Still, hopefully I'll be able to see myself on the MoMA walls it when it's all finished. There will also be a companion book that will feature, among other things, an interview with me.
Anyway, it was a totally new and fascinating experience, despite the initial waiting around that, I gathered, is the norm for any kind of film shoot. I showed up just before 3:00 pm and just sort of hung around for an hour or so while the crew got everything ready. Then Tilda pretended to hail me and I pretended to pick her up a few times. After that, the cab was rigged onto a trailer and we "drove" around the upper west side and Times Square.
I think that was my favorite part: Riding around a foot above the normal height pretending to drive a cab. It's far better than actually driving a cab. I was struck by how many people on the street gaped and gawked at us, took pictures, and yelled stupid comments. I'm so used to being sort of invisible in the cab, so this was utterly strange to me.
At one point, when we were passing FlashDancers, the Gentleman's Club, one of the doormen there called out, "A lady cab driver? Now I really don't believe it! There are no lady cab drivers in New York!"
Under normal circumstances I might have given him the finger, but I decided to hold off on that this time. The stupidest part of this guy's comment, though, was that I actually met him in my cab not too long ago. When a cab drops off its breast-hungry schmucks at FlashDancers, the doorman usually hands the driver an envelope containing a three dollar "tip," a letter written in every conceivable language encouraging cabbies to continue dropping off at this particular strip club, and a voucher or two for free entry to the club that we can give to our "favorite passengers." This very doorman, who couldn't believe a "lady cab driver" existed, had himself handed me this little package not too long ago. Clearly he has a short memory.
Overall, the night was a lot of fun. The lights were pretty, the not-actually-having-to-drive was wonderful, the people were all really great, and I think the project is going to look incredibly cool when it's finished.
At the end of the night, the director and his cast posed together for a picture.
Now I know what my next career move needs to be: Professional Fake Cab Driver.