Like a lot of people, I have a proverbial “bucket list”. Unlike a lot of people, I have always had a shovel list as well.
At least, I hope a lot of other people don’t have one, because upon doing research, I realized that “shovel lists” already exist. According to Urban Dictionary, a shovel list is:
Well, that’s cruel. If you are going to go that far, why don’t you just say it’s people you’re willing to bury with said shovel? Either way, I wrote this headline before I actually Googled if that existed, and most things one can come up with these days do already exist, so we are going to go with my version. And to think you masochists wanted to know whose face I wanted to rearrange with a garden tool.
My shovel list-a term I mistakenly decided to use today, though the actual thing existed to me prior-is all of the things I have ever wanted to do for work. Get it? Shovel, digging, hard work, opposite of bucket list, blah blah blah. While it’s common to change career paths several times in life, it’s less so to choose not to really have one at all-to opt for a career tree of sorts, to allow a trunk of passion to divert into hundreds of branches out of sheer curiosity. But that’s me. Though my main dreams as a kid were to be a doctor or an actress (I am a contradictory person), I also had aspirations to teach, to be an author, to be a zoologist and marine biologist, to host a travel show, to dance professionally, to make art-and on the way, to be a Hooters Girl (not joking, but that’s for another blog), a model, a Princess performer, and a host of other things that I am happy to say I’ve actually done. Growing up, I struggled with being well-rounded and less focused on a particular passion, desperately wishing I was truly fantastic at one thing-but that “one thing” never seemed to come. Eventually, I gave in, and Jacquie of All Trades was born. Not me, the business.
From its inception, a primary goal of Jacquie of All Trades has been, as the name would suggest, to share stories about the versatile and often unusual gigs I have been securing myself since I left the nest (well, the first time anyway). Chronic illness, art, and that “millennial” aversion to jobs that don’t align with my soul (but seriously…they actually are physically impossible for me to do) have lead to a now decade-long relationship with odd jobs. Amidst my battle with late stage lyme disease and its complications, I often find myself enumerating my accomplishments and listing my blessings, which includes having dabbled in a majority of my aspirations regarding work and play. I’m a freaking mermaid, for Christ’s sake…if I can’t say I have made some of my childhood dreams come true, who can?
Still, there are dream pools to dip my toes into yet. A few top contenders for “what I want to be when I grew up” revolved around working with animals, especially the variety that would be considered dangerous, weird, or otherwise totally dreamy. Earlier this year, I began throwing this intention “out there” (whatever that means, right?), keeping it at the forefront of my mind in recent weeks-and voila! Two major opportunities that I have wanted fell into my hokey, animal-crazed lap. Within a short time, I was given the opportunity to volunteer with elephants just days after FINALLY working with a real live mostly-wolf.
Working with a wolf sort of combined my aspirations in working with exciting animals, as well as utilizing my former athleticism for entertainment industry stuff. As a former martial artist, dancer, and gymnast, I’ve always found stunt work and the idea of doing them myself appealing-even though I have also always been prone to exercise induced asthma, environmental illness, injury, and the like, and I should probably never do stunts, ever (an alternate title for this blog was Stunts I Shouldn’t Be Doing-another series that would have a lot of entries).
Moreover, I have a an affinity for the supernatural that has finally merged with my acting career in the last few years. The result of more manifestation (of power-MUHAHAHA), I’ve found myself playing more dark, fantasy type roles-steps on a ladder to my loftiest and most sacred acting goals: fantasy and period piece dramas and top-tier sketch comedy (again, a total contradiction). Luckily, Portland has it’s own magical witch of a makeup artist: Amanda McGahey. This time, she made me a humanoid werewolf with incredible technique and color choice. Herself a member of a creative group called Vixens of Horror as a model and special fx artist, the spooky and occult are kind of a specialty.
When hair and makeup was complete, we rolled up to the park-and consequently, the wedding that was taking place there-as some kind of rag tag girl gang with one part wolf, one actual wolf, and two other just clearly-bad-ass women. We paused in the parking lot for Bekka (the photographer) to style me, for Amanda to do “last looks” (touch ups right before shooting a scene or set), and for me to introduce myself to the wolf handler Tracy (after months of being facebook buds) and most importantly, my furry modeling partner Faust.
The wedding was close enough to hear, but far enough that I am not sure they were as distracted by us as a strange man in the parking lot who wanted a photo with me (that’s right, me-not the actual wolf…talk about prioritization issues) but didn’t actually have a phone or camera. Anyway, my presence would be known later when I would loudly howl-multiple times-from just down the path. Luckily, we never came face to face with any attendees, who I can only presume stayed far away due to my very, very accurate imitation of hungry wild wolf sounds.
This photo shoot was unlike most of them in that we went for a creative story boarding process. As a model, I found myself doing a little more acting than posing, though I always try to bring a bit of that training into still frames. With photographer Bekka Bjorke’s totally chill vibes in session coupled with post work that I can only guess isn’t at all chill (based on how phenomenal her edits are and the fact that she does this surrounded by kittens and children), the results exceeded my expectations.
She brought the scene (a random and somewhat minimal park in the middle of Portland) to life with dreamy blue-hued edits, extra moonlight, and an eye for choosing stand out images out of probably hundreds of photos of a goofy dog and a laughing woman rolling around in dirt. I had a good time mustering up enough fear in small spurts to have chills and cry, enough physical prowess to run several times, and enough “bite” in Faust to actually sustain a bit of a bruise on my hand-karma for bribing Faust to fight me with smushed chicken nuggets.
Yeah, that’s what I said. McDonald’s chicken nuggets. I can’t generalize about the entire species based on my experience, but in addition to being carnivorous, Faust was a total sweetheart. In fact, we had trouble getting his goofy butt to look ferocious. Just around a year old, Faust is still learning the ins and outs of modeling and acting alongside his handler, Tracy-oh yeah, and he’s a freaking wolf. Still, after several such photo shoots, he has his pro points. He kept energy when needed, was calm when needed, and he is great with people-until they smell like chicken enough, anyway. I was told it took him a particularly long time to be mean to me and that he must like me, so I fought extra hard for that hand bruise, and I am basically a giant peach (with chicken nuggets). I can assure you that despite the rough housing, Faust never broke my skin and I never felt unsafe. 10/10 would recommend.
While I am not perfect at it and have my moderations in terms of clothing and food, I do try to avoid being a part of animal mistreatment. So, when I am presented with an opportunity that has anything to do with them, I carefully weigh the options. Though partially a traditionally wild animal, Faust is a domesticated breed of MOSTLY wolf. While the photos don’t show it, he was also on a leash the whole time. I KNOW. So disappointing. Not really, though. This speaks to the safety-mindedness of the team, as well as Bekka’s superb skills in Photoshop. Tracy, Faust’s mother/handler is a loving pet parent. Essentially, being on set is like playing and being disciplined at the same time-two things dogs love. He wasn’t put in any danger- despite my own scary canine teeth.
Who needs plastic teeth?
If I was offered another chance to work with a wolf-Faust in particular-I’d be totally down. In the mean time, I have this photo-movie as proof I ever did it in the first place. As a writer who loves fantasy (but often shies away from writing it herself due to the genre being a huge undertaking), I am fighting the urge to craft an entire novel based on these photos. If you’re a creative, I’d love to hear what you think is happening, who the subjects are, and what exactly the woman was and has become.
To peruse the full gallery in great quality, you can check it out on Google Photos: Awooooo with Bekka Bjorke.
As always, if you use or re-post, please don’t forget to give proper credit.
And don’t forget to follow the team on instagram.
Photographer: Bekka Bjorke on Instagram
Special FX Makeup: Amanda Mcgahey on Instagram
Faust and Tracy: Light of Dawn Wolfdogs