One Actor’s Journey – the Motorcycle Years

Two things I always wanted to do – 1). be an actor and 2). drive a motorcycle across country. I wasn’t sure how one went about becoming an actor but I knew I couldn’t do it if I stayed where I was so I quit my job (see previous post). And I bought a motorcycle.

Everything I read about being an actor said you either had to go to New York or Los Angeles. However, both of those places seemed too intimidating so I thought I’ll go back to school and get some training. I had a year left on my GI Bill and I figured, “In a year I’ll know everything there is to know about acting (insert laugh track here). Then I’ll be ready to tackle New York or LA.” I applied and got accepted into the theatre program at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Later I discovered this wasn’t the smartest move because UNC’s real acting program was on the Chapel Hill campus, nearly seventy miles away.

But at least I had a plan, not a great one as it turned out, but a plan nonetheless. And because I had five months before classes started I reasoned this was the perfect time to fulfill my second dream.

It turned out I hadn’t thought that through very well either. For starters I took way too much stuff: a backpack, a sleeping bag and what turned out to be a not-so-water-proof water proof tent. I also packed too many clothes including a suit (see what I’m saying about not thinking it through), a tennis racket–not quite sure where I thought I was going to play tennis on my Easy Rider adventure across America–and a fishing pole. The bike was so top heavy everyday was a gravity defying experience just to keep it upright.

But undaunted I started on my journey. I was living in the most eastern part of North Carolina and I partied my way across the state–look at a map and you’ll see it’s a long state–crashing with various fraternity brothers and their wives along the way. The brothers were happy to see me—their wives, not so much. After a couple of days of fraternity style drinking at each stop (hey, I didn’t have to go to work the next morning) the wives let me know it was time for me to hit the road.

After wearing out my last welcome I drove over the Blue Ridge Mountains, into and across Tennessee–I didn’t stop at Graceland, I guess I was afraid someone might steal my tennis racket–and into Arkansas. I pulled into a campground one night at dusk, and was setting my tent up when a camper pulled in next to me. I remember thinking, “That is so not camping.” Of course the next morning when I woke up soaking wet because my tent leaked and the people invited me into their dry, warm, cozy camper for bacon and eggs I was singing a different tune.

I wandered for several weeks sometimes riding alone, other times cruising with other bikers; stopping at times just to see what there was to see, other times stopping because the weather was bad. Riding a motorcycle in the rain, unlike driving a car, can be a harrowing experience. One slip and my shit would be spread over two or three counties. Late one afternoon I pulled into a rest stop in Kansas just ahead of a big rainstorm. I met a couple guys there who changed the course of my life. I don’t remember their names and I doubt they remember me but that chance encounter sent me, and what I would do for the next forty years, in an entirely different direction. (to be continued)

 

Coming up: The acclaimed director and writer, Tony Glazer, Junction, Block Island, Big Dogs, Cake, etc., will be the guest teacher in our scene study class at the end of June. Tony is known as being an actor’s director and we’re looking forward to his time with us.

Classes: Starting at the end of June we’ll be on hiatus. The next commercial class starts the 17th of Sept. and the next two-camera scene study class starts the 18th of Sept. Click here for more information on those classes.

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