A wannabe actor finds out he’s learning from a beast of a man. 3,130 words. Illustration by Mark Fearing.
"I cannot make you an actor," the man often spoken of as King Kahn (but never to his face) told the dozen hopefuls gathered on a Monday morning for his new theater workshop. "I’m a teacher, not God. I can, however, help you learn to think, prepare, and behave like the professional I assume you aspire to be. But that’s if and only if you’re willing to listen, accept criticism, and most importantly do the goddamn work. Understood?"
Feeling like he had somehow crashed the wrong party, Ed Saks watched as his classmates, who ranged in age from their early twenties to a woman in multiple scarves approaching fifty, nodded a bit too vigorously.
"But let me make clear," Kenneth Kahn continued, "that I am not, nor shall I ever be, your psychiatrist, your daddy, or your friend. If we were in New York, I would say if that’s what you’re searching for, go back to Poughkeepsie, Pawtucket, or Passaic. But we’re on the other coast. Where shall I say, Freddie?"
"Oxnard?" offered Kahn’s eager young assistant. "Or maybe Cucamonga?"
"Freddie’s a veritable font of knowledge. Oxnard and Cucamonga indeed."
Upon his arrival before class, Saks felt that he was entering an alternate universe. The other students spoke of Kahn as the successor to Stella, Bobby, Sandy, plus someone called Gadge, all the while referencing their own experiences at Tisch, RADA, and summer stock. It was as though another language was being spoken. That was also true when they cited stars reportedly mentored by King Kahn, plus celebrities male and female with whom he had been linked sexually.