My Fifteen Minutes of Fame

bya Gabrielle at 2:09 AM

When Phil and I lived in Linyi, Shandong, China, my boss knew a guy who needed some white faces for a commercial.  We didn’t have anything else better to do, so we said we’d help him out.  Plus, they said they would give us a free night stay if we would do it.  I never pass up free night stays in five star hotels.  Money would have been nice, too, but whatever, it was an experience and experiences last longer than money.

The Huasheng Jiang Quan Hotel and Town is located on the outskirts of Linyi.  It doesn’t look like it belongs there.  It is this massive building standing tall amongst all the other buildings out there – mostly homes of poorer Chinese and the Double Moon campus of Linyi University.

Before we went to the hotel, the friend of my boss, who I lovingly refer to as The General because he smokes General cigarettes like they are going out of style,  took Phil to get a new tie and a white shirt.  It would have been awesome if he had gotten a whole new suit out of the deal.  Oh, and The General didn’t speak a lick of English, so trying to communicate with him all day was interesting, to say the least.

Here is Phil in his new tie and shirt before he got covered in makeup.

Phil in a big fancy chair.

Doesn’t he look regal?  Phil was very lucky that the staff was super awesome at the hotel.  When we went to follow The General up to our room, Phil accidentally left his laptop in the lobby.  When we came back down, a woman rushed over and handed it to him.  In any other country, in any other hotel, that laptop would have been history.  Something similar to that happened when I left my $600 phone in a coffee bar in Linyi.  The attendants held on to it until I realized my mistake.  Maybe the people of Linyi are just awesome.

Before we were made pretty, we got to watch a few scenes filmed in one of the biggest hotel rooms I have ever seen.  Too bad it wasn’t the room they offered us.  It was a two story room with really fancy furniture.  Here are a few pictures.


They had that poor girl walk up and down those stairs until they got the perfect shot.  She got so frustrated.  The guy in blue is the director, and he is from Shanghai.  I should totally drop him a line to see if he needs a foreigner for anything.  I’ve got his business card with me somewhere in this apartment.  He didn’t speak much English either, but we got by.  Since our parts didn’t require speaking, he just mimed what he wanted us to do.

Pretty Woman in the Window

Before they were able to film this shot, they had to get several people to pull back the curtains.  They were really hard to move.  I don’t think it was because they were very heavy.  The curtains were just really, really long and it took more than a good tug open them.  They went almost to the ceiling.   Just like on the stairs, they filmed her in the window over and over again until they thought the shot was perfect.

Phil going under the knife.

Phil really, really, really did not want to put on make-up, but he did it anyway.  The lady put way too much on both of us.  We didn’t turn out too bad in the commercial, so maybe she knew what she was doing.

Pretty Phil

Phil partially learned what it is like to a woman . . . and he didn’t like it.  I now have a picture to blackmail him if we ever have kids.  Haha!

Pretty Gabe

And, well, I already knew what it was like to be a woman . . . and half of the time I hate it!  It isn’t the most flattering picture of me in the world, but I thought it was fair if I posted both of our pictures.  I am such a kind and thoughtful wife.

The General

The General is a very happy, go lucky kind of guy and he loves to smoke.  When he dies of cancer, they will probably bury him with an afterlife supply of cartons and light a cigarette in his mouth before they close the casket.  And no, I don’t want the poor man to die of cancer, but if you saw how much this man smoked, you would think the same thing.

The Limo

I can’t count the number of times they had to shoot us getting out of the limo.  It wasn’t because we didn’t know how to get out properly.  It was because the limo had automatic locks, and the driver kept forgetting to unlock the door when the guy came to open it.  Also, the driver had issues stopping just right.  In the video, you can see what I mean.  The limo stops and the rolls back a little.  I don’t think the director liked that, but eventually he gave up.

The Lobby

Another area where they filmed us.   The lobby of the hotel is absolutely gorgeous.  When I first walked in, I didn’t feel like I was in China anymore.

Wine Room

If I remember correctly, the woman in white was a student at Linyi University and she was majoring in English.  I ran into her months later and I barely recognized her because she was wearing street clothes.  The guy on the far right did a complete 180 after filming was done.  When I saw him at dinner, I could of sworn he was a completely different guy.  He went from prim and proper to punk rocker.  This is the room where they filmed us drinking wine.  I don’t like wine, so I am glad it only took them a few shots to get it right.  The director is standing in the middle.


After a long day of filming, The General took me, Phil, the director and the punk rocker dude(he isn’t in the picture) out to a restaurant that was even more in the middle of nowhere than the hotel was.  He took us to what I would call a fish farm.  So, you can imagine that most of what was served was fish.  At this point, I was experiencing a rather significant headache.  I think it was caused by some fumes that we accidentally inhaled when walking around the hotel.  They were fumigating or something and didn’t bother to warn us as we changed locations.  I’ll never forget the slew of cooks running down the hallway, one of them screaming in English, “Dangerous! Poison! Get out!”   Luckily, there was a doctor near the hotel that was able to give me some honest to god ibuprofen.  If it hadn’t been for that, I think I may have died.  They wanted to know if I needed to go the hospital.  My head hurt so bad that I couldn’t eat anything and I felt like I was going to throw up.  I was so happy to get back to our room later that night and crash. The only thing that sucked was that we had to get up early and go to work.  We weren’t really given the opportunity to enjoy our stay.

Okay, now that you’ve read about our day, you can watch the final product.  Phil and I are in the commercial about 5 or 6 times.  And you will notice it isn’t a 30 second spot.  It is more of a promotional video than anything.  You probably won’t notice, but parts of the commercial were filmed months a part.  It was a good thing I still had the same clothes.  My hair probably wasn’t as red the second time around, though.  I will talk more about the second day of filming next time because it leads into the second commercial we did for The General and Phil’s proposal.  Hope you like it!

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