You know how every non-fiction book in the last three years has been about the author doing one odd, life-disrupting thing for one full year and then writing a book about it? I'm reading one of those books a week for one full year and then writing a book about it. It's My Year Of Everything, and you're soaking in it. CONTACT: Dave Holmesfirstname.lastname@example.org
So I got down to 1515 Broadway at about 4:45am, registered (#168) and got in line. Despite the hour, the 167 people in front of me and the ones who trickled and then poured in after were very ON; people who show up for open calls never really know who they’re auditioning for, so they tend to perform for everyone. Luckily I remembered my Walkman.
The line snaked around the area behind the MTV studios and in front of the Minskoff Theater, back and forth like we were waiting for Space Mountain on Starved For Attention Day at Disneyland. One row ahead of me in the line was a heroin-slender giant with a denim jacket, Hanoi Rocks hair and snakeskin pants that managed to be skin-tight and falling down. I remember thinking to myself: that young lady could use a cheeseburger.
At a little after 8am, the auditions began and the line started to move. Fast. They brought people into the studio in groups of 12, and at around 9:30, the doors opened and let my group in. And it was like the mothership came to get me. Camera crews! PA’s running this way and that with clipboards and headsets! Carson Daly! Oh, sweet Jesus, I am home.
There were 12 audition stations dotting the circumference of the “Uptown Studio,” which would later become the home of TRL. I took my spot at station #8, the cameraman turned on his camera, a guy named Joe asked my name and why I was there, I read a cue card and was told to wait where I was. He called out to a gorgeous young woman named Caryn who came over and repeated the process- I’d tell you what I said if I had any recollection- and then she said, “Come with me.”
I took a seat outside the “Midtown Studio,” a smaller room down the hall. There were just a few of us here, going in one by one and staying for a longer time. An instant callback! We were given questionnaires to fill out as we waited; all I remember is being asked to complete the statement “In high school, I was voted most likely to ____” and writing in “introduce the latest Savage Garden video.” They called my name, and I went in and talked to Caryn, her boss Rod, and his boss Tony.
And then it was 20 minutes later and I was outside and I had no idea what had just happened. I remembered that we talked music, I told them what I do for a living and why I wanted a change, I took a Polaroid, I got their business cards and they told me they’d choose the 10 finalists by midnight on Tuesday, and then the rest would be televised, live, for the rest of the week.
It was a little after 10am by this time, and my office was just up the street; I could easily have gone in and had a regular workday.
I got on the subway, went home and wrote about it.
My best friend from high school was starting a new job that very day, at a magazine whose offices were in 1515 Broadway. That night, I checked my AOL account and there was an email from him: “Listen, Dave: I know you and this sounds like the kind of thing you think you should do, but DO NOT go and audition to be a VJ at MTV today. I passed the line on my way into the building and it’s full of children and weirdos. It’ll just end up being embarrassing for you. Trust me on this one.”
Our relationship never really recovered.