12 Things You Don’t Know About Me

freaking-out-over-your-paint-colors

 

No, I wasn’t a topless dancer on 42nd St or anywhere else for that matter. ;]

But, I thought it would be fun to switch it out and tell y’all some things you don’t know about me. Well, some might, but most of you don’t.

I’m the daughter of a shoe salesman

shoes

This is my dad’s shoe store in Evansville, Indiana. I used to love to go there and hangout and even when I was very young would help with age-appropriate tasks. Some of those shoes look very current, but this was taken in the early 60’s probably.

In my childhood…

I was a competitive swimmer

between the ages of 8-11 and swam one mile every morning– in the summer.

At the age of 10, I did Royal Canadian Air Force exercises

in my bedroom because I wanted to be a model and in those days, that’s what models did. BTW, I have a famous model-cousin who was married to a very famous actor. [no names]

I played the flute for several years.

all-city-band

I did gymnastics and was a cheerleader.

I used to spend hours doing handsprings in the living room. Thud.

cheerleaders

but shortly after this photo was taken, I went to visit my big sis, Holly in Cali and there, was bitten by the ballet bug. Once bitten, one is smitten and it’s for life!

I wanted to be a ballerina soooooooo badly!

I worked really hard… Really, really hard, but I loved every minute of it!

CCI02212015_0006 - Version 2

Below was my first gig at age 16 with the Wisconsin Ballet Company. [now defunct], We were doing an excerpt from The Nutcracker. I was one of three clowns. Imagine that! haha!

Our audience? Those are some of the inmates at Waupun State prison. It was a good place to get my toe shoes wet. When we did the show back home, I was also a snowflake.

CCI02212015_0006

A few months later and now just 17 we moved up quite a bit in the world.

rudolph-nureyev-wisconsin-me-under-armpit

Yes, that’s the legendary Rudolph Nureyev  and we were taking our bows for the ballet Les Sylphides. It was one of the most extraordinary experiences of my life! really cool!

In case you can’t tell, that’s me under the great N’s armpit.

 Although I loved classical ballet and still do, bad knees, weak ankles and by the time I was nearly 21 realized it wasn’t going to work out as a career. No problem. I also tried my hand at singing and acting and most other types of dancing.

wss

Here I am in my first musical— West Side Story— at a theater in the round in Milwaukee. I was an understudy, but when one of the actresses flaked out, the director gave me her part! Yes… I was a verrrrry fair Puerto Rican. It was a lot of fun! But man, check out the nasty dude behind me.

CCI02212015_0010 copyAt age 20, I looked like a cross between Tori Spelling and Monica Lewinsky.

CCI02212015_0010

A year or two later…after losing some of that baby fat in my face, my pretty sister Holly and I on vacay. We bear little resemblance to each other— except in this one photo.

Early in 1979, I was driving on the freeway in Milwaukee when I somehow got sucked into a 16 wheeler.  Yes, that’s right sucked into a massive truck. My car spun around a few times and it was then that I knew that I was a goner, but miraculously didn’t move an inch. I was okay [well, physically] but my little Toyota wasn’t.

So… I took the insurance $ and packed my bags… and my step dad flew my mom and me to New York City! They stayed for four days and then literally dropped me off in the middle of Greenwich village.

cruise2

I quickly found my feet and just five weeks later, landed my first gig— on a cruise ship! Can I tell you how excited I was? This was our New York, New York number. hahahaha! I recall having a horrendous audition, however they hired me anyway, because I was a good physical match for the girl next to me. She seemed to live on pina coladas.

and yes… the costumes are tacky!

cruise1

verrrry tacky. It’s like a British Royal Guard in a Bearskin meets Carmen Miranda in a bra and thong. Bizarre!

Now, here’s where it starts to get pretty interesting.

A few months later, after a scary gig in South America that took a bad turn, [that’s another story!] I took another gig in Cairo. Yes, Cairo Egypt. It was at the brand new Holiday Inn in Giza… right by the pyramids! [the hotel did burn to the ground a few years later… hmmm…] However, the Holiday Inn in Egypt was more like a Hilton, but still… It’s a third world country and FILTHY!

giza-me

My mommie came to visit me! This look is my “don’t listen to that idiot trying to rip you off, Mom!”

She took tons of photos of the performances.

cairo-1 copy

Yes, yes I know! Calm down! I realize that the photo is out of focus. ;]

I guess all of that ballet training came in handy anyhow! haha! Believe me, the Dr. Seuss monstrosity on my head was very hard to walk around in. Make no mistake. I didn’t just parade around wearing practically nothing but a Truffula tree on my head. There was a lot of real heart-pumpin’ dancin’ and costumes I could move in. I had ELEVEN costume changes in a 50 minute floor show!

cairo-3

Here’s the Footloose number. The theme of this show was Hollywood. The first three months, was a Broadway themed show. Seven nights a week. No days off. Well, okay… two. Two nights off.

One was when there was a black out and the second one was the day my whole body and head blew up in the worst case of hives in recorded history. The elephant man looked like Cary Grant compared to me.

gonewiththewind

Can you guess? It’s Gone With the Wind! Yes, I know. Gag awful costumes. Most of them really were. But you can see how proud my partner was showing me off to my mom. Poor guy was diagnosed with syphilis shortly thereafter. He had to go home early as did my bulimic room-mate who had hepatitis. Yellow wasn’t her color. Sorry if all that is TMI, but hey… that’s show biz!

cairo-1

Here’s the whole troupe entertaining ourselves after a show with an Egyptian-style party.

After six months in a country where taxis ignore traffic lights and drive “by sound,” I was sure I was going to die there. But, I didn’t. After returning stateside, I decompressed in Wisconsin for a few weeks before returning to New York. I decided to stay pretty close to home after that experience.

So, I waited on tables and took other odd jobs in Manhattan for seven years… and then, one blessed day, I got my SAG [Screen Actor’s Guild] card…

That opened up an entirely new world of possibility for me..

 I did get some very small parts in commercials and films. The first film was The Cotton Club.

Seriously, you MUST watch this! It’s the trailer for The Cotton Club dubbed in German. OMG! It’s an absolute pisher! And YES, I’m in it! You can see me for 3 seconds at 1:33 sitting in a chair “reading.” Francis Ford Coppola directed me to sit there and “read.”

On the first day of shooting, I walked in and Diane Lane who looked to be all of 12, was getting her nails done. One of the assistant directors came up to me all excited and said, “We want to cut your hair and we’ll give you a featured part.” Not more $, just more screen time. Like an idiot, I said, okay. Well, they didn’t cut it. They butchered it into some 20’s weirdtastic gangster’s moll bob. How dumb of me!

And even dumber, I went out and had new head shots taken the following month ’cause I was auditioning for commercials and I needed some new pics.

headshot

Oh dear. I look like a nerdy version of Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia. Not exactly the look for a young P&G [proctor & gamble] “pretty/slight character” Mom.; more like a stoned nutcase on a day pass from Bellvue. Still I stuck the hair behind my ears and managed to book a bunch of commercials because the casting directors liked my “Lysol” look. lol

me copy

Ahhh… that’s better. The following summer… hair grown-out and appropriately hi-lighted. [makeup done professionally] And all prepped out with my Peter-Pan collared camera-ready-plaid-blouse and cardigan sweater from Benetton.  [of course.] Sooooo eighties! Those acronyms for those who don’t know are the acting unions that I joined for film, TV and stage respectively. The number belonged to my answering service. Remember those?

So, what happened to my brilliant acting/dancing/singing career? After a brief stint selling art in SoHo, I gave it all up in 1988 and went back to college for three years to study interior design. And well, we all know how that ended up!

Do I ever do any performing these days?

Rarely. But on occasion if someone asks me to do something I’ve been in a few things over the years.

me

Here I am in 1999 in a production of the opera, The Elixir of Love. The dude selling the elixir needed a ditsy side-kick and a friend of mine suggested me for the part.

 

What else is there to know about me?

My favorite color is white and after that, it’s chartreuse, but only in small doses.

The favorite food that I would be really upset if I could never eat again is popcorn.

However, if I only had weeks or months to live, I would eat nothing but Italian puff pastry squares filled with vanilla custard.

I had one like this two summers ago in Gloucester, MA and it was the most heavenly thing I ever put in my mouth. I forgot to write down the name of the bakery and to my dismay discovered that there are about 4 bakeries in Gloucester. Whatever. It’s definitely the way to go. And BTW, muuuuuuuch better than the North End in Boston.

napoleon

Well, just a glimpse into my past and present. I hope you enjoyed that and now… back to our regularly scheduled program.

I am going to the Design Blogger’s Conference on Tuesday. So, I’ll be reporting from there and will continue my post about gray paint, but that might be after I get back.

xo,

laurel

 

 

  • Joanna - March 22, 2017 - 12:22 PM

    Laurel, thank you for your wonderful blog! I love your articles, and relied heavily on your posts when choosing paint colors. BTW, I went to a pastry shop in Gloucester this summer during their St. Peter and Paul festival and asked about their cannolis. The woman behind the counter shook her head, “Canollis! My husband has gone to buy the RICOTTA!” in such a forceful voice. I laugh at the picture of her husband on his solo mission to get RICOTTA for the CANNOLIS! I had another pastry, and it was delicious, so maybe this was your shop. Cafe Dolce!ReplyCancel

  • Gail Caryn - January 5, 2017 - 1:36 AM

    OMG this is hilarious! I was cruise ship lounge singer for 8 years. I had a gig singing in Tokyo at a hostess club too – that was weird! Before going on the ships I was in a Chinese convention band in Vancouver. Great gigs – good food! When I got tired of “the life” I went to uni and did an MA in Leadership.I work in affordable housing now, but I MISS those days singing and sailing. I especially miss the Caribbean in the winter!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 5, 2017 - 10:08 AM

      Hi again Gail,

      Too funny! Eight years is a long time to be at sea! I only did it for 8 weeks! ReplyCancel

  • Autumn Leopold - March 6, 2015 - 6:42 PM

    Such a cute post! Totally entertaining by the way! Maybe I should do one about my time in the US Air Force… hmmm that might be dangerous! You are beautiful and I’ll bet you were a fantastic dancer!ReplyCancel

  • Rebecca - March 3, 2015 - 9:23 PM

    You are HYSTERICAL!

    I noticed you posted on gray paints in north facing rooms – THANK YOU!!! Looking forward to your color suggestions! =) Please can you also share your thoughts/ideas on how north facing rooms can done up with coastal colors or would it just be too muddy?

    Looking forward to reading you as always,
    RebeccaReplyCancel

  • Tone on Tone Loi Thai - February 25, 2015 - 2:36 PM

    Who is your cousin? Don’t be a tease!ReplyCancel

  • Tone on Tone Loi Thai - February 25, 2015 - 2:35 PM

    LOL!!!! Love your sense of humor, friend. Ok, now seriously, you are toooooo talented! But what I really admire most is that you’ve done things. You’ve followed your passions – whether ballet, acting, etc. Not many people are as gutsy. Life is too short to not try. And by the way, awesome photos. Great post, Laurel – one of my favorites!!ReplyCancel

  • Diane Stewart - February 23, 2015 - 2:32 PM

    Oh, thank you, that was so much fun! What an exciting life you’ve had. I’ve lived in the Midwest all my life, and have always wanted to leave and have “adventures” (but felt impelled to stay due to family concerns). Hoping that I can move when we retire in a few years.ReplyCancel

  • Val Evans - February 23, 2015 - 1:22 AM

    You are so entertaining and I love the life you’ve lived. And though we have little in common, I’d insist we become friends if I lived on the East Coast. I said insist because I too love white with shots of chartreuse and puff pastry. See enough to build a friendship on.ReplyCancel

  • Cathy - February 22, 2015 - 9:25 PM

    This was a very entertaining post! I just signed up so I’m getting to “meet” you from the start. : )
    I find it amusing that after such a colorful post you conclude by saying that you will continue your post about “gray paint.”
    Your many life experiences are actually very inspiring, you were game to try anything and your mom seemed very supportive! And then you found your way to interior design. I totally agree that we are the sum of all our experiences and part of what makes each person unique.ReplyCancel

  • Jo Galbraith - February 22, 2015 - 3:59 PM

    Wow! What an interesting life you have had so far! Thanks so much for sharing. You have so many talents!ReplyCancel

  • Alycia Wicker - February 22, 2015 - 11:25 AM

    Laurel! How cool and thanks for sharing your “past life” lol Love this: more like a stoned nutcase on a day pass from Bellvue – I’m sure I’ve got a photo like that somewhere, too! xoReplyCancel

  • Crystal - February 22, 2015 - 9:50 AM

    Wow! Love this Laurel! My life feels boring in comparison. Loved the first part- I was born in Evansville and still go back to visit family, but we settled in Virginia when I was 12 and I love it here.ReplyCancel

  • Shelley @ Calypso in the Country - February 22, 2015 - 7:30 AM

    This is the most entertaining post I have read all week! What a fascinating life you have lead so far! Thanks for sharing your adventures with us!
    ShelleyReplyCancel