in General

Oh, life, it’s bigger, it’s bigger than you

Valerie,

I wanted to respond with due care to your advice about tongue kissing on stage.

As you recall I played Dracula against Tiffany Cherevko playing Mina Harker. You remember Tiffany; a natural blonde with deep brown eyes and a fine figure. Tiffany was only my second stage kiss. I distinctly remember the first time Tiffany and I kissed in rehearsal. It was about four weeks into the rehearsal process, and we hadn’t staged or rehearsed the kiss even yet. In my mind, the kiss had become the Kiss… and now, at this particular rehearsal, now that it was time to actually Get It Together, it had become the ten-foot-tall flashing green neon THE KISS.

We’re sitting side by side, waiting for the director to ask us to run the scene. So I lean over to her and whisper, “Y’know… um… this time, I’d kinda like to try th’ kiss… y’know?”

She thinks and says, “M’kay.”

So we run the scene. I drag her to the bed, pull her down on top of it, and we! KISS!

And she gives this little airy soprano sigh.

I could write a couple book reports about that sigh.

So rehearsal’s on.  I have this cute blonde chick, who I apparently do not annoy with my kisses, we have this superhot bedroom scene, and we have eight weeks of shows ahead of us.

Back to your original comment.  So why didn’t I absolutely tongue this chick mercilessly on stage?

Answer’s simple.

The thought never once entered my mind.

Or, more precisely (and we’ll write this one in red ink)…

The thought never once entered Dracula’s mind.

When I kissed Marin playing the Wife, I was the Lover.  I was vengeful, I was into the husband’s shit, I was Bad. I was there to get it on in the Husband’s bed and drink his wine afterwards.  Bwah hah hah!  All your wife are belong to us!  Let’s get it ON, bitch!

When I kissed Tiffany playing Mina Harker, as much as I could be, I was Dracula.  Stick my tongue down her throat?  Defile this confection, this subtle willowy angel of spun sugar?  Perish the vile thought!  I will consume this delicacy, body and soul, WHOLE!

When I kissed Alex playing Lizzie Curry, I was the Rainmaker, the open-plain ranger with a dusty wagon and a harmonica tune for a home, and I was (for the first time in my cursed life) feeling the touch of an honest woman, opening like an Easter lily before me, as I contemplated the twisted reds and golds burning the edge of the earth.

And when I kissed Emilie playing Mary Follet, I was Jay, the husband with a white house in Tennessee, happy to be home and sober with my sweet embarrassed wife, this gentle godly thing that rises before dawn to make eggs and toast for ridiculous old drunken me.

Nope, no tongues there neither.1

I finally figured out why I act.  I do it to get into someone else’s skin and live there for a while.  I discovered, somewhere around January 26, 2002 at 8:13 p.m., that it was more important for me to believe that I’m someone else, to truly feel alive in the life of another, than to get applause or money or fame or any of those other things that actors ostensibly want.  It’s the rush of pure, uncut creation, of feeling a new man’s heart beat, of crossing your eyes and seeing the three-dimensional image, of becoming and becoming and finally being that other person, as sure as you are you and I am me.

So for me… it ain’t about a quick-and-dirty makeout session or whatever the hell else us romantic leads are supposed to do!

Getting your ya-ya’s out is one thing.  Constructing a new person is another.

And that

(said John)

Is

That.

1I have one distinct memory from a Sunday matinee of Rainmaker.  As Alex and I ran off into the wings after the notorious tack-room scene, one male audience member wondered aloud: “Did’ee slip ‘er the TONGUE?!”

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  1. And here in lies the delema of acting….we can only be that other person for a short period of time. At the end of the run we go back to being the people we are and with the people we are with and search for the next person we get to be for another few moments on stage.

    The reality of what is swiftly balooning into "THE GREAT KISS CONTRAVERSY" is that we get to kiss alot of people in this buisness….but that also means we HAVE to kiss alot of people in this buisness. Many of those people have habits that lead to things I personally don’t want in my mouth, others are simply people that I the actor wouldn’t want to kiss but I the character must proceed with passion.

    Kisses are intimate things. The more intimate and personal the kiss, the more I must trust the other participant in the kiss. It’s not just anyone I will throw down on the dance floor and lay a wet one on in front of confused patrons. So the Rule of Thumb with kisses is indeed "keep the red love lizard in it’s cave". After concideration and trust, I myself am willing to break my thumbs for a clearer vision of the moment. Maybe its just my middle ground aproach to life.

    In the end though, I like the protection of no tongue to be there for those meet greet film fly sessions, if for no other reason then for pure health and saftey. More importantly, I like having the Rule becuase, like my thumbs….Breaking a rule leaves a sweet aftertaste.

    (what the fuck do my thumbs have to do with….nevermind)