On the intercom are numbers only. I need a code, or I have to ring an apartment number. But I don’t know either of them. On the sheet I got from the agency with my daily details are only the address, time of casting and the first name of the contact person. Nothing else. I am scrolling down the names on the intercom to find the name on the paper, but there are only last names. Here we are with a problem again.
I look around: maybe there is a sign for the casting; maybe someone is waiting, or maybe I can be seen through the window and someone will open the door for me. Maybe some magic for opening the door is supposed to happen since the agency missed a small detail like the apartment number. How did other models manage to get in? If they had the same problem, why didn’t anyone report it to the agency so they could fix the mistake? Millions of hows and whys but not even one answer! I am still standing in front of the door and waiting. I will wait until someone comes by.
I place my book on the ground to sit on and lean on the wall to wait. I am reading word by word on the list that I got from the agency for today, but there is nothing about this casting. Not even what it is for.
Finally, the door opens by a model who is done with this casting. I give her a smile and ask where the casting is; I have stepped through the open door into a huge yard with and entrances on every wall of a large building. I am ashamed. Ashamed because my agency didn’t do its job professionally, and I have to fight more fights. The nice girl nicely explains to me: first entrance on the right, fourth floor, first door on the left.
“Thank you, girl.”
I will meet her later in the future quite often, and we will even become friends.
I walk up the stairs. Now I have to lose all my jitters and face all similar situations as though they are normal, without shame, jitters or other unwanted feelings.
Knock, knock. I stand in the doorway of a smoky room. A cat is sitting on the table and shooting me painfully with her scary eyes. Silence. No one is answering. Dead silence.
The stagnant air and awful smell in the apartment are telling me that the person living here is not so vivacious and joyful. Paris will remain in my memory for its beauty and architecture, but also for its not so nice smells. Everywhere I turn- it stinks. It is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, but walking the streets you smell cigarette smoke, alcohol, ammonia or onions. It is disgusting. Disappointment.
But when I think about it while I am waiting for someone to show up, it is not surprising that their perfume industry is so developed to perfection. French perfumes are the best. And the strongest. You need a strong perfume to cover up smells like this.
I am still waiting on the door step. Should I go in or should I leave? I would enter but the cat is not in a friendly mood, and I don’t want to risk it. I will stay here; it is better for my safety. I will not look at the cat, but I will try to cause attention by drumming some happy melody with my fingers. Oh, I am having so much fun. knock knock. Anyone? No one!!
Let’s see what else I can use to arouse someone.
God, in Paris it is so hard to get attention. You really have to impose yourself. I will try by clearing my throat. No? Nothing.
Ok. Last attempt:
“Hello, anyone at home?”
Down the hallway, through the door, I can see a man’s shaggy head showing, a bit tipsy, with stains all over his sweatshirt. No smile, no welcoming word, just a hand gesture to come in. Well, in Paris people like to use their hands more than words. Interesting.
A little bit scared by that strong voice, quietly, with a tiny voice, I answer.
This is not how I imagined what a casting in Paris would look like. I am a little bit disappointed. For the last few days I have been wrong in my expectations. Maybe I left my sixth sense back home.
“How old are you?”
“Stand next to the wall”
That sounds like an order. After taking a photo, he places a polaroid under his arm. A cigarette is hanging out of his mouth, he is dragging a smoke while the ash is falling to the floor. He is staring through the window, and I don’t know what to do now. Interesting situation.
I think it is time to leave.
With the most quiet motions, I take my bag and my jacket, and I slowly reach for my portfolio that is lying on the table between me, him and Cat.
No look, not even a blink from him. I think he is somewhere else at this moment. Cat is following my movements, while I am tiptoeing out of this awkward situation called my first casting in Paris.
I think I should start writing a business diary. One day in Paris and already a few interesting stories to tell.
Let’s see what casting number two has prepared for me! I am prepared to conquer Paris!
The next two castings are more or less like the first one, but now it feels not so strange. I think that is the way things are happening here. Or the word CASTING has a hidden meaning-if you came here to be seen, we are not obligated to be nice and polite. Anything is possible.
The fourth casting is much more ordinary. Or maybe it is special one, and the previous ones were normal. I have no idea, but the fourth one is different.
It is much more like I expected a casting to be. But it looks like it is actually “the special one” and the previous ones are more “typical”. My “typical and normal casting” and real “typical” have significant differences. I don’t know anything anymore.
The casting is for a shooting for the magazine L’Officiel, and it is taking place in their office. I change into my high heels, which I carry around like donkey in my Sport Billy bag. I am entering an office like I am some important person. I am telling a secretary, nicely and politely, my name and the name of the person I have to see. She offers me a seat in the comfy sofas in the corner while I wait. Of course I will sit; my legs hurt, and I can already feel places where calluses will come out by the end of the day. I throw my self toward a sofa; the secretary pretends not to see that. For a second I am as red as a tomato, but that shy moment is gone when a relaxing sensation possesses my legs. On the way here I made two mistakes. First I went north instead of south, and then I went the wrong way on the street. I realized two blocks later that the house numbers were going up instead of down. A very long, unnecessary walk. Well, who does not have it in the head has it in the legs, as my grandma says. Next time I will read the house numbers right away and keep checking after every few steps, just to be sure.
I think I fell asleep for a moment, because when I hear my name, a man with a hat and strange pointy shoes is already sitting in front of me, and I didn’t notice him arrive.
So he introduces himself nicely, we chat for a minute or two, and he wishes me good luck when I tell him it is my first day. Very nice. He takes a Polaroid and I leave. I don’t feel like going. The sofa is so comfortable. The whole office is very pleasant, and outside is a jungle waiting for me. I don’t want to leave. But I have to. I get up somehow cheerfully, is it because of the little nap, or because he was very positive to me? I don’t know, but I feel much nicer when I get out, and I start running for my casting number five to the opposite side of the city.
The positive feeling after my casting for L’Officiel keeps me cheerful. The rest of the day is almost the same as the beginning was. The castings with strange people, but I think I am getting used to it. I just need to get use to walking this much. And I need my shoulder to get the strength to carry this bag without pain.