March 28, 2012 | 11:43 am
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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