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Secret Agent Man

A Safe Place for the Unrepresented

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A Safe Place for the Unrepresented
Photo Source: Jonathan Bartlett

There are hundreds of actors on the island, more than I expected. They wear tattered clothes and live in makeshift huts. There was a time when these outcasts were part of society, going out on auditions, taking classes, dreaming of a better life. Now they’re here, on a forgotten piece of rock, 10 miles from the middle of nowhere.

This is my second day on the island. So far, none of the actors have spotted me. I’ve got enough supplies to last a week. That should be long enough to learn their story. No one in Hollywood knows about these people, and the book I’m planning to write will net me a fortune.

As I watch them forage for food like prehistoric thespians, my thoughts drift back to that fateful day when I first heard about the Island of Misfit Actors.

It was the end of pilot season, and I was on a drunken tirade, hopping from bar to bar, searching for solace at the bottom of a glass. My final stop was Tiki Ti, the last authentic Tiki bar in Southern California. I was finishing off my second Rum Runner when a tiny man in a beret tugged on my jacket. He explained that he needed some fast cash. I told him to join the circus.

“Don’t get cute, big shot. I’ve got something that will change your life.”

He reached into his bag and took out a faded piece of parchment. Curious, I asked him about it. And that’s when he told me this amazing tale of a secret island inhabited by actors who had been dropped by their agents. Not able to find new representation, these wretched souls had escaped from civilization and were now living on this mysterious island.

The story sounded like a bad pitch, but I’ve got a soft spot for a good mystery, so I decided to buy his map. The little guy wanted a grand but I got him down to $700. That’s why I’m a good agent.

My first move was to contact some of the actors I’ve dropped over the years. But guess what? None of them was around. They had all vanished into thin air. I started to think the map could be real.

I spent the next few weeks planning an expedition that culminated with a HALO jump over the South Pacific. It was an expensive process, but, long story short, that’s how I ended up here, on the Island of Misfit Actors.

It’s almost midnight. The actors have just gathered around a tribal structure that resembles a stage made of stones. (It’s actually nicer than most waiver theaters I’ve seen.) Off to the side, several bonfires are burning brightly. 

I watch from my hiding spot as the first actor steps up.

“Hi. My name’s Chad, and I was dropped by my agent.”

The others greet him warmly. It’s like a damn A.A. meeting.

“He let me go because I forgot to book out for a few days. Sure enough, that’s when he got me in for this amazing part in Wes Anderson’s new film. I totally missed the audition and the casting director was furious at my agent for wasting her time. And that’s why he dropped me.”

I watch as the other actors take their turn. One of them got dropped for always being late to auditions. Another surprised his agent by signing with the wrong manager. The stories go on and on.

When I first heard about this island I was hoping to solve a mystery, but there was nothing mysterious about this pity party. These actors are just like the ones back home. Instead of learning from their mistakes, they made the biggest mistake of all. They gave up.

I think I’ll go home in the morning.

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