Take your Shirt Off and Cry
A Memoir of Near-fame ExperiencesPaperback - 2009
One woman's laugh-out-loud account of the oddities, indignities, and outright absurdities of a life in show business.
In this strikingly candid memoir, Nancy Balbirer distills two decades of drama school, auditions, bit parts, cameos, and off-Broadway plays into an account by turns hilarious and horrifying . From studying theater in college under the searing purism of David Mamet ("Being a woman in [show] business, you'll be asked to do only two things in every fucking role you ever play: take your shirt off and cry. That's it. Take your shirt off and cry.") to weathering advice from her brazenly insensitive L.A. agent ("I didn't think it was possible. But you managed to bore Luke Perry") to scoring a Saturday Night Live audition based on a drunken Debra Winger impersonation, Balbirer's adventures are sometimes bizarre, sometimes painful, and always unforgettable.
Between run-ins with an eccentric cast of all-too-real characters, including an infatuated acting teacher who introduces Nancy to the joys of firearms, a former sex symbol desperately seeking a toilet, and a jazz musician who fancies himself a reincarnated Jack Kerouac, Balbirer wrestles with her own ambitions and disappointments, struggling to determine what she really wants and who she really is. She may not be destined for Hollywood stardom, but as Take Your Shirt Off and Cry makes clear, she is definitely a one-of-a-kind talent.