If you're thinking of getting new headshots to further advance your acting career, you might be looking for examples of good, successful headshots after which to model your own. Well, you probably don't want to use Holy Headshot!, the new book from comedian Patrick Borelli and actor/photographer Douglas Gorenstein, as a reference. Instead, think of the book as a cautionary tale.
Holy Headshot! A Celebration of America's Undiscovered Talent is a collection of some of the funniest, strangest, and most captivating headshots and resumes ever put together in one volume, from aspiring amateurs and seasoned professionals alike. The book gives a sort of behind-the-scenes look at some of the many submissions flooding into casting directors' offices every day, and will more often make readers ask "What were they thinking?," rather than "How can I make my headshots look like that?"
Think cross-dressing will make your pic stand out? Well, it might. How about a prop? Weapons are always cool, right? Maybe a Santa costume? A shot of you sitting on the toilet on the beach? No, seriously, that's all in this book.
At the Holy Headshot! book release party and talent showcase at Comix in NYC last Thursday, about 40 of the 103 performers featured in the book showed up to walk the red carpet and mingle with fans and fellow actors. 23 of them took to the stage to perform throughout the evening, "so that means 17 are not performing, and are scattered throughout the audience," Borelli quipped. "See if you can figure out who they are."
With the help of emcee Ray Normandeau (he's on page 52), Borelli, Gorenstein, and page 210 subject Loudivikos Hertz presented performances ranging from Frank Garr's song about his constipated friend to comedian James "The Glow" Goff's standup routine, from Father Hannibal D. Bey's "poppin" dance lessons to juggling from middle-aged Shayna "the Entertaina," from a four-person Seinfeld scene reenactment to a bizarre skit from When Harry Met Sally (featuring audience favorite Sybil "The Tennesse Stressbuster" Presley, from page 14, who unfortunately resembled Dustin Hoffman in Tootsie more than Meg Ryan).
The most surreal segment of the night was probably the mini "monologue slam," in which five performers took turns reciting their practiced monologues. After staring at funny headshots and watching amateurish performances all night, it was easy at this point to picture myself as a casting director in the audition room, evaluating each individual headshot and monologue.
Throughout the evening, performers were introduced by their name and Holy Headshot! page number, and even though everyone was in on the good-natured joke, one thing was clear: this talent show was infused with the energy of performers who love what they do, regardless of whether or not they'll ever be seen as a true "success." Skippy Dee sang a song and complained that his band "wouldn't come for three minutes of stage time," but the rest of these performers did, and were proud of themselves for doing so.
This could be considered a success story of sorts, if only these performers had better headshots to attract the attention of agents and casting directors. Then again, actress Melisa Breiner-Sanders landed a meeting with a major talent agency because of her appearance on page 154 of Holy Headshot!, so her 15 minutes of fame may continue anyway.
According to the authors, the idea for Holy Headshot! began several years ago when Borelli placed a casting notice in Back Stage, seeking talent for a variety show. The show was a success, but the large volume of wacky headshots he received apparently left a bigger impression on Borelli, who would carry around his favorites and show them to friends and co-workers. When it came time to get new headshot photos taken for himself, Borelli went to friend and photographer Borenstein. The two teamed up, and after receiving more than 50,000 headshots from casting directors, agents, Back Stage, Craigslist, and elsewhere, Holy Headshot! was born.
So how many of the 103 performers in Holy Headshot! are Back Stage readers? There's really only one way to find out: Leave a comment below and let us know if you're in the book (with your page number, of course).
Holy Headshot! includes a foreword by comedian David Cross and is available beginning today, Oct. 28 from Simon & Schuster. The authors will host another book party/variety show Nov. 11, 8-9:30 p.m. at The Steve Allen Theater in Los Angeles, CA, featuring the west coast talent of Holy Headshot!.