Sunday, January 22, 2006

Best job ever

Part I

Scene: In the late 1980s, a tv mini-series with Richard Chamberlain. I was the shopper for the special effects unit. It was only $100/day, but by far, this was the best job I think I ever had in my life. My job was to shop every day for Richard "boom-boom" Johnson, notorious special effects wizard. Each morning in his custom crew cab on the way to the set (pre-dawn) he would dictate a list. We would get to the set, eat breakfast, set up for the day, and then I would set out with my teamster driver/bodyguard/pal, Dino Barber. He and I went to salvage yards, antique shops, hardware stores, auto supply, chemical warehouses, gun & ammo shops, you name it. Me, 25, shorts and ponytail, pile of cash, shopping list, and the teamster.

We laughed all day long. Walking in, demanding twenty of everything, laying down green dollars, Dino standing behind me like a fortress, "please load these into the back of our truck ...thanks so much guys, see you tomorrow." We had a romp of it, buying all kinds of large things, laughing, and going back to the set in the afternoon with the score.

Me: "Boom-boom, I got everything except they didn't have blah blah blah, so instead I got blah blah, hope that will work instead, and so-and-so said we could pick up the forty feet of chain link fence, 20 hot water heaters, and seven ritter fans on Thursday. Are we blowing up the church tonight?"

Best job ever, period.

Part II

Lenny D. came on board our special effects truck one afternoon and asked for a job. Dean said, "you have to ask georgina, she's in charge." Lenny told me he was a licensed explosives guy just out of the Navy, and had heard of Boom-boom and wanted to work for him on movies. I said, "$50 a day and you can start by sweeping out this truck immediately."

Lenny started sweeping. Long story short: Lenny was amazing in every possible way. Boom-boom took him to California after that and got him into the union. A few short years later, Len won an Academy Award (technical) for a "cool-suit" he designed for actors to wear under their clothes when it's hot--air-conditioning for underneath Darth-Vader-type costumes and under hot lights. Stuntman Kane Hodder wore it under the "Freddy" costume. Lenny also supervised the effects for all the Nightmare on Elm Streets and i watched him make the cherry pits for witches of eastwick. Years later, Lenny I still joke about how that job way back when was still our best job ever.

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