Jewish Journal


by Tiferet Peterseil

October 22, 2009 | 3:47 am

For the lead role in a feature movie we are looking for a young woman,
age 20-25, with brown hair, brown eyes, thin figure.
Preferably bi-lingual.
Must be light skinned, innocent looking, with strong, captivating eyes.
Excellent pay.

Perfect. The ad described me to a T.  Finally, after searching the Internet and newspapers for days, I had stumbled across a general audition for the lead role in a movie. I might even have a chance to work in a few words in my native language, Hebrew. AND they were paying! What more could a new face in LA want? I read the last lines.

Must be familiar with Bondage.
Send full body picture to the following address:

Bondage? I didn’t recognize that genre. Could be a typo. Maybe they meant Bandage? But I’d never heard of Bandage movies (spliced movies?) either. I quickly reviewed the types of movies advertised at my local video store, in Israel: Suspense, Action, Drama, Comedy… Nope. I couldn’t remember anything called Bondage. But then again, that WAS in Israel. What do we know back there? Obviously, in the REAL movie industry, here in LA, the genres are much more wide ranging or specific.

This was just one of the problems I faced as an actress raised in Israel by English speaking parents. Maybe I spoke perfect English but that didn’t mean I knew the American culture or lifestyle. Like the first time I parked a car in LA and the meter said Insert Dimes Only. How could I know what a dime was? We had only used Shekels in Israel. So I approached a young woman walking two children, spread my palms out full of coins and asked her, in a flawless English, “Could you tell me which of these is a dime?”  She looked at me as though I had just landed from outer space, picked up both her kids and started running. She shouted something that reminded me of one of my mother’s favorite desserts – “Fruitcake!”

But it wasn’t only the different country cultures. I grew up in a Jewish, Orthodox home, where lots of common American expressions were just never mentioned.  Like the term “Want to come up for some coffee?” which my date asked me as we left a movie.  I had actually been craving a caffeine kick for some hours, but apparently, in LA, “some coffee” was a code phrase for something else. Entirely. As I rushed out of his apartment I realized that his craving and mine were world’s apart.

So I was sure that back home we probably watched Bondage movies all the time, we just didn’t know that’s what they were called in the States.

As the professional actress I considered myself, I sent in my picture, requesting an audition as soon as possible, and assuring the producer/director that of course I was familiar with Bondage. “Why it’s my favorite genre, by far,” I assured him.

After all, wouldn’t it be a shame to blow my big shot at stardom simply because I hadn’t done a little research?

So I sent an email to one of my guy friends in LA, who happened to be a film teacher, asking him for a speed course on Bondage.

He wrote back that he would be more than happy to give me private lessons on the subject, and that he was looking forward to moving our relationship up a notch. He even assured me he had all the props we would need, and that we should meet later.

But later was no good. I needed to learn NOW.

I thought of calling my father in Israel for some information, but realized that the ten hour time difference meant he was sound asleep. As a last resort, I called my cousin, an entertainment lawyer, and told him I needed help preparing for a bondage audition. I practically begged him to help me.

“Come over, now!” he commanded, clearly upset.

When I arrived at his office, he ushered me into his room, saying, “Trust me, Tiferet, you DON’T want THIS audition.”

“But I do!” I insisted, almost in tears. “I was MADE for this role. They’ll appreciate me for myself. Can’t you just give me some pointers so I don’t come off like an idiot?”

“The only thing that will come off in this audition IS your clothes, you idiot!” My cousin buried his head in his hands. “Tiferet, Bondage is…. It’s….” He looked at my eager smile and bit his lower lip. “Do you know what S&M is?”

“A production company?”

“In a manner of speaking,” he quipped. “It’s more like a pre-production company in that…”

You’ll be relieved to know (although not as much as my parents were), that after his detailed explanation of the unorthodox use of high heals and leather belts, I passed on the audition.

This was my first lesson in the pitfalls of the acting industry. It served me in good stead when I packed up and flew back to Israel, ready to make a name for myself in the city that doesn’t let anyone sleep, Tel Aviv.  After all, I’m still a small town girl (from Jerusalem) in a big, unfamiliar city (Tel Aviv, or as we Jerusalemites call lit – Sin City). And sure enough, most men here have the same definition of “some coffee” as their brothers in L.A.

So, older and wiser, I was ready for almost anything as I awaited instructions from the Casting Director who was auditioning me and three other girls for a part in a car commercial.
My agent told me to come in sportswear. This was to be an informal audition.


“So girls,” began the director, “although you are auditioning for the part of handyman – woman, in your case—we are actually placing less emphasis on your fix-it abilities and more on your flirting abilities. We want you to look pretty, and inviting.”

Ah hah. There it was. Inviting for WHAT? “Some coffee”, perhaps?

“Also, there is something we forgot to mention to your agents.”

Just as I thought….

“Should you be accepted for the commercial, we will also require you to be available for a photo shoot for our product catalog. Please sign these consent forms.”

I looked around at the other girls. So sweet and innocent, clearly not as seasoned as I was—they wouldn’t know what hit them. It was up to me to uncover this wolf in sheep’s clothing.

“Let me ask you,” I said diplomatically, “would these happen to be NAKED pictures we’re talking about?”

Silence. The director’s jaw dropped, and the girls looked at one another.

I had caught him off guard. At least the girls would know –

Suddenly the director and his crew burst out laughing.

“Only if you really, REALLY want to be naked!” the director roared with laughter. “Miss, we’re selling car parts not body parts!” 

“Do you think we should tell the company to change its name from Deals on Wheels to Bonkers for Honkers?” his assistant joked.

“Gee, I didn’t know this was that kind of audition,” one of the girls said. “I would have worn a lot less.”

Okay, so I didn’t get the part (neither did she). But I did get an ecstatic call from my agent saying he didn’t know I was an actress who would audition naked, and that opened a whole new set of doors for us…

You know, it takes time to get your bearings in a new place, whether in tinsel town or Sin City. But I was – am – determined to make a name for myself, a name I can be proud of. It’ll take time, of course. But I’m learning.

So, welcome to my life. A wise man once said, You are where you’re at.  And I’m East of Hollywood North of Jerusalem, South of Haifa, and West of the Mediterranean Sea.

I’m in Tel Aviv, an actress ready for a career filled with Drama, Action, Suspense, Comedy….

And Bondage? Let’s just say I’m still searching for the guy who can make me a good cup of coffee.

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