October 14, 2010 - 25 years of Santa Barbara in France

Ismael "East" Carlo : «Acting has been a major source of my personal education.»

 By Nicolas, exclusively for Santa Barbara : le site Francais, October 2010

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From last September 29 to October 13, Ismael "East" Carlo agreed to take on his time to answer exclusively the questions of Santa Barbara : le site Francais. The actor talks about his vocation and his debuts as an actor, his time in Santa Barbara as Ruben Andrade, and at last about his career since his departure of the show.

The beginnings before Santa Barbara

At first, can you tell us a little about you : how old are you today ? Where do you live ? Do you live in couple or have children ?

My age : 68 years. I live in Big Bear City, California. I am single with girlfriend.

How did you began as an actor ? I mean, how did it one day become your main project of life ? When I read you, it seems it wasn't something you were "supposed" to become as a child...

You're so right !!! No, and well, as a child my mother was a avid movie and live theater goer... She was enthralled with the whole of show escapism. One must remember that this was in the 50's and we were new comers to the United States. We're from Puerto Rico. Well, on Wednesdays, Saturdays, was movie night and come Sunday it was : Teatro Puerto Rico. We'd see all kind of live acts from Mexico, Puerto Rico and other Latin American countries. The movies for me were not something I wanted to go to because some of these made me sad with the hurting of others. But when Cantinflas and Tin Tan were on the menu that's when I would be the first at the door. Of course I never considered becoming an actor until the age of 33. That happened by happenstance... I was going through a depressive moment in time and life. A friend of mine came by the apartment I was living in at the time and knocked on my door. I didn't answer. He said that I better open the door, he knew I was inside. I hadn't bathed or shaved in days. I opened the door he said he had a couple of tickets to a Broadway show. The title of the show was No Place To Be Somebody. How appropriate, don't you think ? Get cleaned up and dressed we're going to the show, he said. He is much bigger than I am (smile). So I did as I was told. As we left the theater I said to Mangual (that's his name) : I'm going to become an actor... That didn't happen to years later, that to by hap-in-stance. I moved to Miami, Florida. I was teaching bartending at American Bartending School in New York City at the time and got the owner to give me a job at the school in Miami. While in Miami I met an actor and he gave me an address to an acting coach... I thought : We'll what the hell, it's something to occupy my time with. Never thinking of what I had said when I left the theater back in New York City.

Again I auditioned for the play Guys and Dolls, and got the part of Big Julie (!). It was a lot of fun and it paid $15.00 a performance. That play made me see the power a performer has. As I was performing and singing (which we as kids did in the hallways in Spanish Harlem during the days of the Doo Wops) there were a couple of kids in the audience right up near the apron of the stage and I heard one say : "Look at his face". I guess those words were a major turning point of the continuance of the rest of my career. From there came many more parts in theater : Leroy Jones' plays, etc... I stayed in Miami for about three years then decided to move to Hollywood and play with the big guys... Of course I'm giving you a rough of all the trials and tribulations an actor must go through. Still as far as I'm concerned it has been a beautiful ride and one I wouldn't change other than to have had an education in the fine arts.

In Hollywood I came upon The Los Angeles Actors Theater (LAAT). I stayed there for a number of years doing plays, this was 1976 and working as a bartender in the Latino clubs. By the way that's another aspect of what I do as well. I consider myself one of the best salsa dancers, New York style. I've also promoted events in music and dance. I perform with Bobby Matos and His Latin Jazz Ensemble. I do the narration and spoken word to Latin-Jazz. We have five CDs on the market and are now working on our sixth. You can look us up on YouTube. But back to show business. My first TV show was Baretta with Robert Blake. I think I did two or three Baretta's ? I don't quite remember ! I've performed live at the South Coast Repertory Theater, Off Broadway at the Playwrights Horizon theater in New York City. The one big show I did for television was Michael Mann's Crime Story, that was a lot of fun, and as well for Michael Mann's Drug Wars the Cocaine Cartel...

 

The time of Santa Barbara

How did you start in Santa Barbara ?

My recollection is that I auditioned for the role. After a couple of weeks of contract negotiations I was told that all was in order and that I would start work in a couple of weeks or so. But that's when the sh*t hit the fan. In her high petulant way she (Bridget Dobson) commenced to tell me how all her South American workers were beholding to her. How she treated them, "like children". I said to her, "I'm not a child". She got upset and started to cry. I told her that if she did not want me on the show, all she had to do was break the contract and pay me. It never happened. The Dobsons, who were the producers, where a pair of what you would call in your country aristocrats in their minds. I almost quit just before I started. But like any actor at the time I stuck it out all because of the work. I don't think I will ever sell my soul again. I was also able to perform with the lead actor and director in a production of his: Romeo & Juliet. I played Papa Capulet.

Are you talking about Lane Davies when you mention this Romeo & Juliet production ?

Yes, Lane Davies ! A wonderful human being, a great Shakespearian actor and director of the classics.

Are you still on contact with Lane Davies after these years ?

No, Lane Davies, from what I've heard is still doing theater, but I haven't seen or heard from him.

 

These 25 last years after Santa Barbara and now

Can you tell me more about the rest of your career after Santa Barbara  ? What were your favorite parts among all those you played ?

After Santa Barbara I became involved performing plays. My start came about performing on stage at the Los Angeles Actors Theater. I performed at the Burt Reynolds theater in Jupiter, Florida. That play was also a disaster. On opening night, I dropped every line; but it gave me the opportunity to see that I needed more experience as an actor before taking on the stage professionally... I continued and from that moment on my commitment as an actor grew. Through out and before all of this I performed on many TV shows, I'm sure you've seen my resume. Nostromo, by Joseph Conrad, opened another world to me. It made me dig into the world of corruption by powers that exploit nations for their resources. Although I've not been to college or to a university, acting has been a major source of my personal education.

What are your next projects as an actor ? Any new auditions soon ?

Very little work for us old guys anymore. This is a youth oriented medium, the faces don't match the words in experience, but that's just the way it is. Truth isn't part of this medium. But I don't worry about those things, I have a life outside of this thing called : Show Business. This passed month we (Cafe con Bagels) learned that one of our songs was used in the show Dexter. Which means we make royalties from its showing. We're hoping for more of the same. Another company that licences product for movies, television, and video games is also interested in promoting our CDs. So in terms of making a living I do okay, but now it's about producing our business in music, and performing on stage. I guess I've come full cycle. We've been asked to perform in Colombia, SA sometime this coming year. We're having fun with our new recording, will let you know when it hits the market.

You told me you already came to France. Where did you go ? I hope you enjoyed our country !

Yes, for me your country, contrary to popular beliefs, is a country of free thinkers, and one which hegemony is not tolerated. I'd wish this great country of which I reside understood the difference. Until then. Peace.

 

Ismael "East" Carlo on stage with Bobby Matos and His Latin Jazz Ensamble (photos by Robyn Hale)

Once again all my thanks to Ismael "East" Carlo for his kindness and his availability.