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

November 21, 1994|CYNTHIA WALKER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

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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