Posted by Elliot Steingart
My dad is Marc Steingart, a Jewish guy from Pittsburgh, PA turned Asian male model.
Photographers take his picture with Asian women and children. They nor the casting agents know his secret past as member of Sigma Alpha Mu fraternity at Penn State or captain of the JCC Squash team. He does not reveal his true self. They think he is a wise Asian grandfather. He does not say otherwise and accepts pay.
It is a mystery when he began looking like an Asian man. I did not know him as one. He was just a good locking dude, and kind of a D.I.L.F.
As a boy raised in a modest non Asian residence, my father groomed me to be like him; someone who used hair gel and cared way too much about phyiscal appearance. I always wanted to look more like my father and my sister. They had fair skin and dark hair. I looked like Jerry Seinfeld.
My mom thinks there was Mongoloid blood in our family. If my mother is correct, long ago a Steingart sojourned to the South Pacific to search for a happy ending. Unable to deal with the guilt of not returning such favor and also because he had no money, this Steingart made love to a mysterious Mongoloid in the fields of Laos never to be heard from again.
Centuries passed and Steingarts looked like Jews until the late 1990’s in which Marc from years of squash and social work transformed into a man of few words, a man whose corny jokes would speak for themselves. His present and future would be dictacted by his salt and pepper hair and slanted eyes.
My father gets paid an hourly rate and then images are circulated internationally. I see the picture with his new wife and two little children, the main image on Huya Bioscience International‘s website and think “You two timing, no good, son of a ......” Then I collect my thoughts and reality sets in. As long as I get the house.
It’s not easy being the son of an Asian male model. We visited Sport Clips so my dad could pick up a framed picture of himself seen in the window.
My dad approached the girl at the reception desk. “I’m here to pick up my poster.”
“What poster?” She asked confused.
“Don’t you recognize me?”
“No,” she stated.
“I’ve called ahead. I’m the Silver Fox.”
“Sorry, I know we aren’t allowed to give away any of the posters.”
“Call the manager,” my dad said angrily. “Tell him it’s the Silver fox.”
My normally cool tempered father transformed into the male model I thought he would never become—belligerent. He was acting like he was good looking. I had to leave the salon out of embarrassment at watching my dad try get the number for Sport Clip’s national marketing director from the 16 year old girl who works 8 hours a week wondering if this maniac is going to make an appointment or continue telling her he is the Silver Fox.
I didn’t see this side of my dad because in 2009 the recession did not look past beauty. The casting agents stopped calling. The elder Asian male modeling community was among the hardest hit.
For three years, my dad would not get paid to be Asian forcing him to focus on other parts of his life like yoga and taking my mom on mystery dates during the week to different bars and restaurants. They ate tapas and made new friends and read books and acted like baby boomers. My dad was content simply blending in until last week when I got a call from my mom telling me they were driving up to LA.
“You aren’t going to believe this. Dad is auditioning for a Cialis commercial.”
“No way!” I exclaimed.
“We are excited, but aren’t getting our hopes up.”
“He better not get anything up,” I replied.
My mom and I agreed that my dad would need to act natural.
“Don’t overact,” my mom told him.
“I don’t overact” he countered.
I suggested he use the Stanislavski method to get in character. “Don’t sleep with mom for two nights.”
My dad arrived to my apartment with his portfolio, but needed to create a resume.
“Start with acting since this is a commercial” he demanded.
“When’s the last time you acted?” I wondered.
“Leather Stocking Tales on PBS. I was an Indian.”
“Did you have any lines?” I asked.
“No, I was killed off in the first scene.”
“Since you haven’t acted in over 30 years and didn’t make it past the opening credits I wouldn’t put that on the top of your resume.” I explained. “What was your character’s name?”
“I don’t remember,” he said.
“Let’s go with Calvin.”
I didn’t expect the casting agent to examine his resume. “Oh! You were Calvin in “Leather Stocking Tales?” How can we forget Calvin? He died a noble death.”
My mom sat in the waiting room with my dad. The room was filled with good looking men in their forties. My dad was the only elder Asian in the room. There were very few females until one walked in. And she was Asian. Before the shoot I asked my mom, “What do you think about dad kissing another woman?”
“If they pay him, he can smooch all he wants.”
When my dad’s name was called he and the Asian female had to pretend they were in a store shopping for clothes. My dad was instructed to give the woman his best sex look.
“Pretend you want to bone. Now action!”
He had been practicing his look the night before on my mom which was awkward for me to witness. He lowered his head and lifted his eyebrows. Thankfully, he didn’t say “hint, hint.” In the audition he gave the look, his own “Blue Steel” and as instructed did not form an erection. And that was the audition.
There is a chance that a lot more of you will know that my dad is impotent. Until that day happens, we’ll try not to get too excited.
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8.2.13 at 9:12 am | Guest blog written by my dad
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6.25.13 at 9:36 am | The longest day of the year
5.24.13 at 11:43 am | Taking the Socks off
March 21, 2012 | 1:25 pm
Posted by Elliot Steingart
We all do weird things we may not like to admit. I love going to the movies by myself. There, I said it.
Some people brag about finishing the LA Marathon, I brag about seeing discounted matinees.
I’m good at the movies. I know the show times. I sit in the back, put my feet up on the empty chairs and laugh and cry during the previews.
As a Steingart, we have a long history of seeing movies by ourselves. My dad arrives 20 minutes early to see movies like “Cowboys and Aliens” by himself in the theatre. My grandpa, Sid Steingart, cheered on Doc Holliday in “Gunfight at the Ok Corral” by himself. And I bet his dad, Old Man Steingart, sat front row at the premiere of “Birth of a Nation” complaining about the pain in his neck.
And yes I, the same person who drank Dickel’s and saw the NC-17 rated, “Shame” at the Los Feliz 3 by himself, returned to see “Jeff Who Lives at Home” on a rainy Saturday in Los Angeles.
Before the film, I popped into the local coffee shop for an iced lattee where I caught the skinny tie wearing barista drinking on the job. Because he didn’t greet me, I almost pointed and said, “Coffee is for customers, bro.”
High on coffee I became extra excited about the prospect of seeing not just one but two movies!
In order to sneak into “Friends with Kids” I would have to wait a full hour. Normally, I time my double features better. My move is stay until the credits are over and then slip into the bathroom, fake pee then sneak into the next picture. When you have an hour to kill, it’s hard to spend that much time hiding out in the men’s room.
Plus if I’m sneaking into a movie I feel entitled to see the picture in its entirety.
You never know what kind of crowd you are going to get with an opening weekend matinee. When I saw “Young Adult” at the Regency Pasadena I was one of two people at the screening. It was just me and one female. I didn’t want things to get awkward. I should have just sat next to her.
There were a lot of good folks sitting by themselves at the 1:30pm screening of “Jeff Who Lives at Home.” I kind of wanted to invite everyone over for dinner.
I smiled at the black female a few seats away who was blowing her nose. A flirty blonde couple sat to my left whispering in each other’s ears. I tried to scope out the scene for new friends and love interests. It was difficult to see in the dark, but I thought I saw a silhouette of Fred Armisen. Why would Armisen be at this screening? He’s on Saturday Night Live….which is on hiatus for three weeks. And he’s a hipster and this is Los Feliz and we are seeing an indie film. Armisen in the house!
The films starts as we meet Jeff (Jason Segal) who is obsessed with the movie “Signs.” He gets a call from someone asking for Kevin.
“There is no Kevin,” Jeff responds.
After Jeff hangs up the phone, he rides a bus where he sees a young male wearing a basketball jersey with the name “Kevin” printed on the back who he follows off the bus.
This was my sign. I would reenact what I just saw on the screen with Fred Armisen and follow him out the theatre.
Fred watch began.
“That him?” I wondered. “No, just a guy with glasses and curly hair.”
A few more trickled out with no Fred in sight. Perhaps Fred would stay for the credits. For all I know he was plotting to sneak into “Friends With Kids.”
I waited patiently until I saw Armisen rise from his seat with a female companion. I darted out of the theatre right behind him. His lady friend asked him what he thought of the film.
“I liked it,” he said softly.
Surely, I would tell Armisen that I love Portlandia.
Fred stood outside of the theatre making small talk with his lady.
“What next?” she asked.
“I don’t know. What do you want to do?” I overheard as I surely blew right past him without saying a word.
While the thought of creeping up on Armisen seemed fun, I have a reputation to uphold. I’m a part of the solo film going community. One guy saying the wrong thing and we as a minority will be further scrutinized.
We respect other people’s privacy. In exchange we are not bothered at the local cinemaplex. We leave the theatre in anonymity and return to our lives. And some of us walk north on Vermont and immediately call our moms to say, “I just saw Fred Armisen!”
Just another reason I love going to the movies by myself.
March 14, 2012 | 12:15 pm
Posted by Elliot Steingart
I feel like half my life is spent waiting for avocados to ripen and the other half is waiting for first dates to find a parking space in Los Feliz. I do prefer both my produce and women local. I shop at the local Albertsons, and search for females on Plentyoffish within a 5 mile radius.
A few days ago I bought a half a dozen bananas and set up a date with a 27 year old black nurse. I was excited to date a nurse because nurses have maternal instincts and are good at changing sheets.
I was meeting a nurse and she was meeting someone who drank a Bud Light in the bathtub and was wearing two different color socks.
I scored comps to see a musical cabaret tribute to the films of Quentin Tarantino. When greeting the nurse she went in for a hand shake while I went in for the hug.
“Bring it in,” I said as she looked down at the ground.
I gave the girl at the door my name. “Oh you have comp tickets,” she declared.
“So you didn’t pay?”
Would she point my socks out to the nurse too?
I led the nurse to our seats where I opened the conversation.
“How do you like Los Feliz?”
“It’s good,” she shared and then looked away.
Maybe she would open up about nursing. “What’s it like being a nurse?” I asked.
“I like it.”
The more questions I asked, the shorter the responses. There were so many uncomfortable silences I was in physical pain. How many times could I comment about the drink menu?
I nodded and waited for her to ask me something. Finally she got the hint.
“Do you like to travel?” she asked.
“Yea, “ I replied. “I love to visit friends, and love camping. Do you ever camp?”
“I’ve never been camping.”
Surprised, I said “You should go, but don’t go too deep in the woods where they don’t take too kindly to black folk.”
She did not get where I was going, and neither did I.
“You don’t hear a lot about black people camping,” I continued. “There aren’t a lot of Jewish campers either. There’s certain places in the woods it’s good to have have a ranger there to protect you.”
I looked at the menu some more. Nothing changed. The drinks were still over priced. I mouthed the words of the entrees like I was reading a gripping detective novel. I even raised my eyebrows to show I was entralled by the thickening plot of Chicken Marsala.
I finished my Newcastle and posed the question of the night. “Are you sure you want to stay for the show?”
“Sure, why not?”
Why not? Because time, precious time! Another beer and two hours of “Son of a Preacher Man” will not make this date any better.
“Okay, cool.” I said instead.
The show started and I paid no attention to the nurse. Each musical number topped the one that preceded. Highlights included my favorite songs from Jackie Brown “Across 110th Street” and “Didn’t I Blow Your Mind this Time.” Then the strong black female playing Jackie took it to a whole other level pulling a gun out on the dude with dreads who played Ordell, Sam Jackson’s character.
Ordell: Is that what I think it is?
Jackie: What do you think it is?
Ordell: I think it’s a gun pressed up against my dick.
Jackie: Well, you thought right. Now take your hands off from around my throat, nigga.
I gave a thunderous applause and looked over to the nurse who was staring out the window.
When the show ended the nurse thanked me for the invite, but did not thank me for the drinks. I walked up the hill feeling slighted by the absence of her personality and a proper thank you.
To make up for my mistake date, I made plans to see a voluptuous 37 year old in Marina Del Ray. The plan was to grab drinks in the Southbay. I was willing to drive 30 minutes for her wonderful melons.
She texted me back two restaurants that both had three dollar signs on yelp. That’s one more dollar sign than I’m used to spending, but to impress a 37 year old I’ll do what I need to do even if my check engine light reappeared and my car started to rattle the previous night on the way back from West Hollywood.
I had a few hours until the date so I turned on the TV and began watching Speed on AMC. Once Sandy Bullock took control of the bus I got scared thinking about the check engine light.
“Pop Quiz Hot Shot. Is this Jewgar worth risking your life?”
With Keanu wrestling Hopper on top of a moving train I left my love interest a message explaining the check engine light situation. She refused to come to Los Feliz.
As this was unfolding, I walked to the laundry room where I saw my cute neighbor Jessica whose clothes were in the dryer. Jessica and I have shared a few brief exchanges, but nothing significant.
My buddy Richard suggested he write me a letter that is addressed to her so she would have to knock on my door to give me the letter. I had a better idea which was to sit on top of the dryer and wait for her. Too bad she already took her clothes out.
I’m starting to think Jessica may be my best prospect. She’s definitely the closest and therefore, the best. I’m going to get that letter in the mail while I wait for these bananas to ripen.
March 7, 2012 | 3:21 pm
Posted by Elliot Steingart
Part of being an uncle is not laughing at synagogue. I don’t go to temple often so it’s usually not a problem.
I was commanded by my sister, the almighty Ariel, to attend Dylan’s Hebrew baby naming at a reform congregation in Deerfield, Illinois. Since I already knew Dylan’s Hebrew name was Shoshanna Chava, it took the element of surprise out of the service. Plus I’ve heard the prayers before so it’s not like I was going to experience anything revelatory.
“It’s important. It’s Dylan’s biggest day of her life,” said my sister.
I guess when you have only been alive for two months getting a Hebrew name that no one will ever call you is the biggest day of your life.
My brother-in-law Brian’s family, the Silvers, were out in full force. All the stars came out: Brian’s parents, Howard and Barbara, Uncle Mitchel, and Aunt Valerie, cousin Barry and his hot wife, Scott and Amy, and a bunch of other people I’m not related to. As the lone Steingart, I had to represent. Literally, I had no choice.
I found my main man, Cousin Robby, Brian’s brother who, like me, is also Dylan’s uncle. While Rob was busy greeting relatives I was scoping out the Jewish literature in the hallway finding time honored classics such as “Pray Ball” the spiritual insights of a Jewish sports fan and “My Life in Swim Trunks: the Life and Times of Mark Spitz.”
Rob and I entered the sanctuary without yarmulkes or prayer books. As if to say, “Step aside for the Uncles who aren’t very Jewish.”
The sanctuary was beautiful and modern and the stage was filled with two rabbis, two cantors, two guitarists, a bassist, and a bald bongo player. Once the music started I was drawn into the beauty of the one cantor with a voice like an angel sent from high up in the heavens of Skokie.
“That cantor is pretty hot,” I whispired to Rob.
“I think she looks like Ariel.”
“No,” I lied. “I was talking about the other cantor. He’s a very handsome cantor.”
“Tonight is a very special night,” announced the Rabbi. “We have a baby naming.”
As the rabbi introduced Ariel, Brian and Dylan to the podium, another baby started crying.
“This is not your night, you big baby!”
The entire congregation kept that same glowing smile at the sight of baby Dylan on the bimah. Even though Ariel said she was nervous earlier in the night, she did not seem so for all she had to was stand there and not look anything like the hot cantor.
“We’d like to welcome Shoshannah Chana, daughter of Avriel and Ben Moshe Silver.”
It was interesting hearing Ariel’s hebrew name because I always thought Ariel’s hebrew name was Ariel.
“Shoshannah means Rose and Chava means life. We look forward to seeing Shoshannah grow to become the beautiful Rose that she is.”
The Rabbi lifted Shoshannah and the band kicked into a wild rendition of “Siman Tov, a Mazel Tov.”
Rob and I along with the rest of the congregation clapped our hands in welcoming Shoshannah to this suburban Illinois folk concert/religious ceremony. Shoshannah began crying and was promptly escorted out by Brian and Ariel, leaving the rest of us to sit through the next hour of the service.
I zoned in and out of conciousness until the Rabbi mentioned the story of Isaiah in which God spoke to Jesse. Upon hearing the name Jesse, I turned to Rob.
“I don’t remember God ever talking to a Jesse. Does God chill with hipsters?”
I was too busy making wise cracks to hear what God said to Jesse. I bet God said to Jesse something about KCRW.
Jesse was a passing symbol en route to the Rabbi’s allegory about the holiday of Purim in which Esther stands up against the evil Hamen who determined to annialiate the Jews. “Each day you have the opportunity to fight against injustice,” told the Rabbi.
I’m probably more like Jesse in that I’d rather stand up against the man by watching “Real Time with Bill Maher” than thwarting an evil dictator.
The service began with the naming of a baby and ended with the names of those who died, a somewhat curious, but fitting juxtaposition. The rabbi slowly and carefully pronounced each member of the community who passed away. Each name was better than the next.
“Solomon Rosenzweig… Albert Kantrowitz… Harvey H. Maldovan,” the Rabbi began.
The names continued, and continued, and continued until the Rabbi arrived at one particular name.
“Elmer,” she stated, before taking a long, drawn out breath. “Freud.”
All I heard was “Elmer Fudd.”
Sweat dripped from my arm pits and my pants began sticking to my ankles. I looked at Robby for a quick second, and cleared my throat and immediately looked away. If I couldn’t get it together my name would be the next to be called.
I was defenseless thinking that Elmer Fudd had just died, along with half of the congregation this week. And the names had just started. There were so many more!
“Is she even Jewish?”
And more names….“Burt Hamburger,” Pause. “Lazer Weinbaum,” breathe. “Murray Lipsitz,” wait for it.. “Ziggy Tanzer.”
I looked at Robby once more who was now biting his upper lip. He let out a tiny squeal and I looked down at my shoes hoping that I could conjure the slightest bit of sadness. I thought of Jesse and it didn’t help.
Fortunately, only half a dozen or so congregants died thereafter. And we had survived!
Dylan was still crying in the hallway. It was a lot of Judaism for one night, but it was a celebratory occasion. For she will be the next in a long line of family members to laugh at synogagogue.
March 2, 2012 | 11:54 am
Posted by Elliot Steingart
I flew to Chicago both for business and to meet my baby niece, Dylan. As I cradled baby Dylan in my arms for the first time, she let out a harmless little fart. I knew she took after her uncle.
Dylan is a beautiful little angel. It’s hard to say who she looks like. I think she looks a bit like my sister, Ariel and more like my brother in law, Brian, and a little bit like the milk man.
Initially I didn’t see much of Dylan because she was sleeping and I had to wake up early for work. I had to suppress Uncle Elliot and become Elliot, the businessman. I dressed the part and asked my sister how I presented myself.
“Change your socks! They don’t match.”
I became Elliot the businessman who wears his brother in law’s socks. Dressing like a businessman is one thing, acting like a businessman is another.
A great way of doing business is bribing your partners with Dunkin Donuts. Riding around Chicago in a rented Chevy Impala with my boss I felt like we were a donut delivery service. We’d show up with donuts, smile, talk about our partnership, let them know all the great things we could do for them, and then shake hands and drive to the next meeting.
Because I work in the business of live entertainment, we received tours of numerous theatres in Chicago. I made up a game called, “Guess the capacity of the theatre,” not to be confused with my favorite made up game, “Guess Your Co-Worker’s Parents’ Names” and “Guess the name of the Driver in the next lane.” I was only off by 400 seats at the Goodman.
Standing on stage at the legendary Chicago Theatre I was awestruck and a bit nervous standing in front of 3,500 empty seats as I’m used to standing in front of only 50 empties. The Chicago Theatre is like a suped-up version of Rodef Shalom in Pittsburgh, but less Jewish. We walked backstage where we saw hundreds of signatures that covered the walls, everyone from Frank Sinatra to Jerry Seinfeld. There wasn’t quite space for “Elliot was here in 2012.”
Driving through downtown Chicago is like playing a video game. Cabs cut you off, buses stop in the middle of the street, and you have to swerve to avoid all the J walkers stepping right in front of your car. Midwesterners are at least nice about J walking. “I’m just going to walk right in front of your moving vehicle, if ya don’t mind.”
“Oh, sure. Please do.”
After all the driving all I wanted to do was grab a cold one at nearby J Patrick’s, but instead I’d walk through the door, throw off my winter jacket, and announce, “Uncle Elliot’s in the house!”
Elliot and Dylan time took full effect, until she’d poo in which Elliot and Dylan time turned into Ariel and Dylan time. Freshly diapered Dylan was back in my arms with me serenading her with “I Believe that Children are our Future,” and the made up tune, “You are my niece…You are my niece…You are my niece.”
I walked in as Ariel was giving Dylan a bath. Like her uncle, Dylan enjoys a good bath. Her bath only lasted four minutes because she doesn’t have much body to clean. As my short work week almost finished I looked forward to more Elliot and Dylan time, but I still had one more day of meetings.
On our last day of meetings we transitioned from donuts to cupcakes. Partners were even more excited to receive mini cupcakes than you would expect, and they also seemed to really like working with us. For our last meeting we showed up an hour early. The secretary came back and said, “You can wait here or come back because Judy isn’t here.”
“Who the hell is Judy?” I wondered.
Because we had an hour to kill, my boss headed back to her hotel and gave me the cupcakes to carry.
“I have to go to the bathroom,” I shared.
“It’s okay. Just take them with you.”
An hour later, we gave Judy bathroom cupcakes ending an eventful few days worth of business.
Uncle Elliot is now enjoying the final few days chillin’ with Dylan. As an Uncle, it’s kind of a great vantage point in that I get to show my face, play a little, and then come back in a few months. It’s a lot more rewarding than giving a partner donuts and cupcakes, even though Dylan literally has no idea who I am. She will soon enough.