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Austin Actors
Phil O'Hearn

Propaganda and Dentists
by Phil O'Hearn

May 2003

It is said that clothes make the man. I say teeth make the bum. This shall be my thesis.

For those of you keeping score (which means me), I just played another bum role. This was my first bum role of 2003. But in 2002 I played five bum roles, each of them subtly different. This latest bum role is in a Tom Flynn film in which I play an old hippie bum pushing PCP-soaked sun-glasses.

Dentists used to tell me that there is nothing good about dentures. They were wrong. Dentures are good for acting. Most of my bum roles I play toothless, which is to say toothless makes the bum. In a rare break from personal tradition, however, this latest bum role I played with old bad dentures, bad being relative.

There are several methods to acquire dentures. The method I used was to have teeth pulled. Then wear a healing denture for several weeks. Then have permanent dentures made. That process left me with my old healing dentures which most people would consider useless. The old healing dentures look very funky because my gums have changed. But sometimes funky is good. So I padded my old healing dentures with dental bonding wafers and that gave me a buck-toothed bizarre looking crooked grin. Thus a new bum look was created.

Perhaps I should visit the local denture shop and see if they have any rejects for me to wear. Oh, the possibilities!

But back to dentists. Dentists are prompted by self-interest. Patients with dentures require very little dental work. And dentists may not think of the wonderful possibilities given to actors wearing dentures. Most dentists think about the average person. And the average denture wearer doesn't want people to know that they wear dentures. The average denture wearer doesn't want to look strange. Obviously, I am not average.

Most of my acting career was as a stage actor. When I moved to Austin a couple of years ago I decided to become a film actor. And so I studied film acting. This is when I encountered the misconception that film acting is smaller than stage acting. Film actors can merely think and it communicates. This may be true sometimes. But most of what I do as a film actor is as broad as what I did as a stage actor. Of course I am not a leading man anymore. I am a character actor. And character actors require character.

Real people have bad teeth and no teeth but seldom perfect teeth, especially the British.

But I love having dentures. When I wear my good dentures they look good. And when I wear my bad dentures they look bad. And when I wear no dentures I age up and my face becomes very rubbery and expressive. Dentures are fun.

And dentures are easy to clean too. Have you noticed how many teeth whiteners there are? If I want white teeth, I simply take mine out and scrub them with Comet or Clorox.

So if your dentist ever tells you that there is nothing good about dentures, tell him or her that he or she is wrong. Just look at my acting resume.

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