Once every year or so, I Google my beloved old roommate Justine A. Moore to see if she's famous yet. This year, she is! Very cool. Last time I checked, she had a bit part in "Charmed," which was all very well, but probably not paying the bills. Now it seems her spiral path has come to fruition. I'm so pleased. She has written herself a one-woman show which showcases her manifold talents to the hilt, instead of waiting for Hollywood to hire her for one. Which was about time and exactly what I would have expected.
(Justine, if you're reading this, Barney says hello. He's sixteen and a half, just as self-willed and charismatic as ever; does not look a day older.)
When I first met Justine, back in San Francisco in 1992, she filled up the tape on my answering machine with funny voices. I was being forced out of my flat in the Haight by my roommate from hell, and Justine's apartment was two blocks away from the artspace I'd founded with another artist. It was fate. The apartment was huge and bright and cheap, and Justine and I sat and yammered for hours about dance. I was still carrying the psychological scars of a ballet victim; Justine said, "I don't think I'll be good enough to get into a company, so I'll start my own."
This attitude revolutionized my way of looking at life. My God, I could start my own gallery, magazine, healing practice, move to Mexico. I put a few of these ideas into slow, dogged manifestation while Justine bounced around the planet, switching from dance to theatre in the process.
Sometime in 1995, my phone rang. "Serena, I'm in town for one day, I'm leaving for grad school in Paris tomorrow."
"Grad school in Paris? Do you speak French?"
"High-school French. It's commedia del arte; mime school. It's really famous."
"But I thought you wanted to be a dramatic actress in English? Okay, then."
Six months later I received a postcard from London. "The school in Paris was, like, mime school in French. Ugh. I'm waiting tables now."
Then it was, "I'm going to build a house in Taos by hand, by myself. I'm going to school in San Francisco. I'm going to school in New York. My teachers are really famous. I want to be on 'Xena, Queen of the Jungle;' that's my niche."
Perhaps I may be forgiven for wondering if my beloved friend had lost touch with her personal center of gravity. After an episode in Manhattan where it became obvious that we were totally out of synch, we lost touch. I moved to Mexico, then to New York, started my own gallery and healing practice, lost my own gallery, grew my healing practice, kept painting. I thought about Justine now and then; 'Xena, Queen of the Jungle' seemed like a bit of a waste.
Now, this quote from her director: "She's a dream performer. She can embody this diverse variety of characters. Men, women, older, younger--you get them instantly. It's technically very challenging."
No shit. It was always funny voices. I suspect she got dumped on by jerkwad 'famous' acting coaches at Columbia for being too original, versatile and over-the-top. Then, in LA, her style would not be nearly bland and featureless enough for assembly-line Hollywood or prime-time TV. I worried.
Now I see that all that random crap--the commedia del arte, the dance-major-too-late-to-dance-professionally, the work with youth at risk, the homecomings to Taos, the abrupt fleeings of Taos, the overpriced, abusive graduate school--all that was right and perfect and necessary. "If everyone does what is appropriate to them at the time, things work out fine," she used to say.