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LAUGH LINES : She Got All Worked Up to Get the Job Done


The senior sound editor said he wanted "elegant, understated love moans."

Thankfully, it's been years since I'd faked an orgasm, but I knew I could still do it and the offer just sounded, uh, interesting. So, after about one second of consideration, I said, "I'd love to."

Being new in L.A., I was eager for something I could tell my hip friends in San Francisco that would impress them, or at least convince them that there were some cool things to do here.

I was told that the film, "Don Juan DeMarco," starred Johnny Depp and Marlon Brando, and that the scenes I would be moaning for were for a temporary sound mix (until they got the actual actress to do it).

A sound editor showed me clips: Johnny Depp wore a black eye mask (whatever) and seduced beautiful women as easily and casually as popping breath mints.

The sex scenes were very soft core. Just a couple of thigh shots and maybe a breast or two. The women were clearly in ecstasy, but without sound, the scenes were about as exciting as making ice.

I felt sorry for the actors as I watched their silent couplings. I eyed their full lips futilely opening and closing and was overcome with a profound feeling of purpose: I had come to L.A. to give these mute women a voice.

I anxiously awaited my day of moaning. I practiced the elegant, understated breathing the sound editor wanted, but I also rehearsed other variations of the love moan, just in case.

I found the best time to practice was on my daily commute. Instead of listening to National Public Radio, I rolled up the window, put on red lipstick (for effect) and started from the bottom.

I took a few deep breaths and let them out slowly, sneaking quick glances in my rear-view mirror for any nosy cops. After a series of heavy sighs, which I thought were very elegant, I began to get bored. I wanted to be understated, but the breathing was going nowhere.

I thought of my obligation to the silent women and so, throwing caution to the wind, I proceeded to the next stage. Loud, overstated sounds.

I focused my eyes on the white lines of the freeway and tried to conjure up images of Marlon Brando in "A Streetcar Named Desire." I imagined his sweaty, sculpted arms bulging out of that thin white T-shirt, and I began to emit a low, husky sound from a place somewhere between my abdomen and liver.

The windows would start to fog about this time, so I rolled them down slowly and worked into a series of quick, breathy, I'm-almost-there-don't-stop moans.

By the time I arrived at work, I was in the middle of a full-fledged screaming mock orgasm. After a few days, I felt ready for the automated dialogue replacement.

The lights were brighter than I had expected and the humongous microphone an inch from my mouth made me uneasy. The sound editor picked up on my nervousness and offered me a Butterfinger.

The sweet, familiar taste of the candy bar took me back to my childhood. I closed my eyes, thought of all the baseball games I had ever won and launched into the most elegant, understated succession of love moans ever to have escaped my lips.

After a few minutes of these high-class moans, I opened my eyes to see the sound editor raising his hand up slowly, indicating I should do the same with my volume.

For a moment, I faltered. I was boring him.

I thought quickly of my baseball mitt, white T-shirts and an old lover named Ray, and radiated with passion as I belted out a glorious moan that sounded something close to 100 sedated females singing Patsy Cline's "Crazy."

When I was done, he turned off the recording equipment, picked up the candy wrapper and said I was either a great actress or must have had a lot of good lovers.

I smiled, and said I must be a great actress.

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