Spin the Globe with Justin Butner

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Luna Park Auditions

30 May

I walked across the Harbor Bridge singing “The Vegemite Song” out loud, tripping over the lines I couldn’t remember, figuring them out, and then rewinding to get them right. The whole song took me about ten minutes to get close enough, the same amount of time it took to walk across the bridge proper, meanwhile watching the art installation projected on the sails of the Opera House. I was trying to get myself pumped up after a few hours of driving and dealing with my busted car. It was only marginally working.

When I got to the river side, I put in headphones, looked across the water at the colorful lit-up buildings of Circular Quay and blasted “Electric City,” one of my go-to pump up songs. As it ended, I got to my feet and walked into face the audition.

A couple days prior an email excited me more than I would have expected it to. Cathy had informed me of a hiring push in Sydney: Luna Park was preparing for school holidays. I hadn’t thought about working at an amusement park much before, but now it seemed so logical. Public facing. Always new people to meet. Tons of potential stories. Perks. An experience I never would have come across back home. I was near giddy when I thought about it. In preparation, I had donned my best threads that seemed appropriate. Somewhat sideshow, and with enough room for comfortable movement (a request they had made in the posting). I asked my mom if she would hire me as a carnie. “You don’t look dirty enough.” I’ll call that a success.

The auditions were running somewhat slowly. That gave me ample time to fill out basic forms and plant down in front of a loop video explaining the various opportunities the park offered. Rides Operators. Spruikers (Games Attendants). Bartenders. Food Service. Etc. I learned over and over that a winning personality was required for a successful career here. The video was cheesy, but it was very consciously so, making it much less dry or annoying. I got to know the guy next to me. And as we waited, and waited, and waited, I slowly amped up my energy levels. Bouncing in my seat. Singing along to the soundtrack. Making goofy comments to the people around me. This is a park that was hiring people who could be out there, loud, fun, and not afraid to make fools of themselves. After all, you have to be able to shout at passers-by if you want to hawk three tosses for five dollars.

When we got into the interview, my assumptions were correct. We circled up and prepared to have fun.

Introductions came first. Step forward and expressively tell everyone who you are and where you are from. Some people stated. Some people had flare in the step. Some people inflected. I went Michael Buffer style. My name is JustiiiiIIIIIIINNN!!! We danced to a song. We broke into smaller circles and tried calling directions out to others. We got to know our neighbors. And lastly we played an improv game. The story wove around the circle as each character introduced the next, exchanged a couple lines, and exited gracefully. The angry boss didn’t get milk in her coffee, and the cow had sold the last of it to the transvestite down the way. To the tranny’s credit, he instantly dove into the role. Unfortunately for the angry boss, he had already sold the milk to me, the crazy homeless guy living under the bridge. I was glad; it was the last thing on my shopping list before heading into space with the aliens. So on and so forth.

When the time came to call numbers, I had made it. I was feeling pretty amped up from all the goofiness. I’ll also admit I would have felt pretty dejected if I had been rejected in the first round from working at an amusement park.

They pulled a few of us aside before we headed up to the one on one interviews. Did we few have any acting experience. “Of course” was the reply from the other two guys. “No?” was mine. Apparently I had done well enough to imply that I was trained. Either way, they wanted me to try out for the troupe in the park. I would be shooting for the role of a character. Walking around, dressed up, being ridiculous, meeting new people, and just getting to have fun and let go into a role. Beyond operating a ride, this was something I really had not ever considered, but I was starting to do flips over the possibility. (Metaphorical flips. In the audition I only did handstands.)

The waiting was another chance to have fun. A few of us gave commentary on the video playing now, a more comprehensive story of the park. The transvestite and the homeless guy were narrating, giving the back story, the characters motivation, introducing subtext. We joked around with the staff who were monitoring us. And we had a spat, a marital complication. We were clearly headed for divorce and I refused to bring an innocent puppy into the mix.

The interview itself went well. I remember being 18 and in job interviews, thinking I knew what I was doing but really just faking my way through it. In those times I was optimistic but not often sure how I had done or what the answers were. This time, nearing 30 and interviewing for a role as a ride attendant, I aced questions about how to deal with irate customers and why I would be good for the place. I wasn’t faking it. I knew it. I was ready to do it. Hire me already; let’s get this going.

I walked out into the perfect temperature to a view of multi-colored buildings across one of the most picturesque harbors in the world. This view would hopefully soon be my daily window from my “desk.”

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This entry was posted on June 7, 2012 by in Australia, NSW (Sydney).

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