FACT: The new 90210 is cooler than the old 90210. It’s the lithe, streamlined Skipper to the elder series’ venerable Barbie. Gone are the traditional parents — they’ve been replaced by a hipster Mom ‘n’ Pop who get busted necking in the car. The bad Beverly Hills, 90210 wardrobes we remember from the ’90s (snap-crotch bodysuits, unironic fedoras, matte lipstick) have been replaced by the latest in California skinny-bitch chic. However, it must be said that 90210‘s guest stars are still wretchedly cheesy. Back in the day, the gang endured ”visits” from Color Me Badd and the Goo Goo Dolls. Now they have…me.
Yes, that’s right. Due to my repeated columns about The CW’s 90210 in this very publication, I was recently invited to drop by and shoot a few scenes. (For those keeping score, I’ve written about the new series at least twice already. I don’t think Lou Reed got that kind of coverage from Creem.) Anyway, allow me to describe how I reacted to the invite: You know that guy who fronted the Judas Priest cover band? And he was, like, the biggest Judas Priest fan EVER? And then, miraculously, Judas Priest asked the guy — this regular hardworking dude — to be their new lead singer? Well, when 90210 called, I felt like that guy. It couldn’t actually be happening. The world became a haze. I imagined my name appearing in the credits beneath the words ”Special Guest Star.” I pictured myself in a lavishly appointed trailer, feeding strawberries to Tristan Wilds.
Fast-forward a few weeks. My adventure began in Venice, Calif., a suitably 90210-esque seaside locale. I parked my car and headed toward the ”circus,” which is what industry folks call the caravan of trailers that make up a set’s base camp. I spotted Tori Spelling immediately. Having seen her reality series on Oxygen, Tori & Dean: Inn Love, I recognized her husband, Dean, as well. He was straddling a sweet Ducati motorcycle. Tori sported black skinny jeans and a headful of perfect platinum waves. They looked like Michelle Pfeiffer and Maxwell Caulfield in Grease 2. I was so down with that.
Next, I went into hair and makeup, where a team of brave souls used an arsenal of industrial-strength power tools to get me camera-ready. Although I was playing myself, the scene that day called for a ”red carpet” look. Let it be said that the makeup artist at 90210 made me look better for the fake red carpet than I’ve ever looked on an actual red carpet. I happily posed for a series of Polaroids for continuity and went off to change.
NEXT PAGE: ”I began to perspire in places I wasn’t aware I had sweat glands.”
After I slipped into a sexy gown and a pair of nerve-numbing gold pumps, I was driven to the set, in this case the fictional home of one Kelly Taylor. Yes, I was actually going to Kelly Taylor’s house. I could hardly process this emotionally. It didn’t help that Jennie Garth was filming on the porch when the van pulled up. I absolutely idolized her in my youth — I even tried to tease my bangs into that weird parenthesis shape in the seventh grade. At this point, I began to perspire in places I wasn’t aware I had sweat glands.
Once I discovered a selection of retro candy on the catering truck, I felt a little better. I smuggled a few boxes of Lemonheads and Red Hots into the house and hung out for a while with Jennie, Tori, and the supercool Jessica Stroup (who plays Kelly’s half sister Silver). I’ve done very little acting (just enough to know that I have zero aptitude for it), so I was apprehensive. What should I do with my hands? What do I do with my face? How am I supposed to act like myself? I don’t know what I act like! The only person I’ve ever seen act like me is Andy Samberg on Saturday Night Live, and I’m no Andy Samberg. Why didn’t they just hire him? I felt overwhelmed by self-doubt.
Suddenly, it was showtime. And honestly, it wasn’t that bad. I mean, I’m pretty certain I was bad, but the experience itself was a blast. And I can now say that I got to act in a scene opposite Donna Martin and Kelly Taylor, which is fairly mind-blowing. And this week, I get to go back and do it again. I could get used to life in this zip code.