I remember being 10 years old, standing in front of my dads carpet store on Queens boulevard on a cold winter night in New York city, watching it burn to ashes. It was tough for me to comprehend what was going on. My dad and uncle were watching hopelessly as firefighters put out the fire that had burned their whole life’s work to black. Just like that, the business that put bread on our table was vanished up in smoke, into the cold dark night. We’ve had our fair share of hardships to say the least. Each member with their endearing pain. But I sit here writing this story because we have battled back and risen up time after time. Nothing broke my family down. Not war, not fire, not anybody. I come from a family of good-hearted people who are prone to getting fucked over because of their pure intentions and good will. But i’d rather be good and get fucked over than be bad and fuck someone over.
The truth is, we are good people. I pride myself on being a good person. Though I question if I actually am sometimes, i know im not the worst.
But with my reborn passion for acting, I was about to enter a world of savage wolves. Wolves that see a good heart as an opportunity to grab what they can. Little do they know; i’m a Jaguar.
The year was 2014 when a piece of shit called so and so wanted me to represent the United States in his “modeling competition”. Some of the biggest names, kids in Turkey have been through the path this man has offered them. Big names. He offered me the same path. He called me into his office one day after the competition and told me he was going to introduce me to someone. Knowing this guys reputation I had a feeling about where this was going. “I’m gonna introduce you to Tom Ford’s ex-boyfriend, you’re a smart kid, use him if you want to get to the places you wanna go.” This Mother Fucker. There he was trying to pass me off to his friends. I said “Listen man first of all im not gay. Second of all, if i’m gonna become what I wanna be im gonna make it happen with talent, and hard work, not by fucking other people.” In which he responded “Talent doesn’t get you shit anymore. Look at the guys who listened to me, now they’re at the top.” And he was right, they are some of the most famous names in the industry there.
Now I would have punched this guy in the face before I left his office, but he was 80 years old. I didn’t exactly want to finish my career before starting it by killing an 80-year-old scum bag with a punch. He wasn’t worth my spit. Needless to say I said thank you but no thank you and I walked out.
It took me a couple of weeks to recover from that mental brain fuck. I thought about giving up because I was never gonna do the things they asked me to do. But giving up is for losers. In the words of Sean Connery “Winners go home and fuck the prom queen.” There had to be another way besides sticking my dick in other people. The good, long way.
A year after being offered stardom at a price, I returned and started again from the bottom of the pit. I had a lot of trouble finding good people in this industry. Always did and still do. A world where your most valuable asset isn’t your talent, but your body. Even though I had a nice body, I wasn’t planning on using it as currency. Ever since I was young, it’s all been about the art of acting. From theater in school to acting in front of camera, I wanted to be the best I can be. Little did I know the business was run by dirty old gay men with money.
One August day in 2015 my agency called me to offer me a part on a new show that was casting. Nobody knew it then, but that show would go on to become the next big thing in Turkey. They told me I was a perfect fit and that I should consider the offer. I was skeptical because it was a reality show. But it required good improv and acting. So i said no thank you. Because frankly, I knew being famous wasn’t for me. I told them I wanted small roles and pay my bills off acting. In which they replied “For you to get a good part in acting, you have to be famous.”
I gave it a thought for a couple of days and said what the heck. Let this be my “biggest problem”. A few days later I met the producers of the show. They were a known production company that were very impressed with my personality and offered me the part instantly. Accepting that role was the biggest mistake I have ever made in my professional career. But i’ll tell you why I regret it later.
I got cast, and within one month we started shooting. The show became an instant hit, breaking all rating records in Turkish television. Little did I know that I would become the character the show was built around.
I remember the first time I went out in public after the show had aired. Thinking I was still virtually unknown i got off the cab in a central area of Istanbul. I took 7 steps before an army of people surrounded me wanting to take pictures and selfies. People were going insane, girls screaming, people trying to grab me, hug me, kiss me, all the while i’m thinking “Holy shit, what the fuck is going on?” One time a girl fainted. Literally, fainted when she saw me. But it wasn’t just girls. It was kids, it was grandmothers, grandfathers, mothers, fathers, from 7 to 70 people were watching us. I didn’t know it then, but more people knew me than I thought. And they liked me very much, which was nice. I knew the show was doing well but not for one second did I imagine the magnitude of it all. We were being watched not only in Turkey but half the Middle East and Europe was watching too.
That day I stepped off the cab I realized something I already knew about myself. That I really don’t like that much attention. So I started walking really fast. Being as nice as possible to people. Then I started running, so people wouldn’t stop me. Trying to get a cab fast as I can. And people i run by are going “Oh my God is that Eser West?” Imagine the busiest street of a crowded city with a population of 20 million and 85% of them watching television. All the while your show airs for 3 hours a day 6 days a week. It got to the point where I would have crazy fans of the show waiting outside my gated community home. I hated my privacy being invaded. The show went on for 9 months.
Now if I tried to write what I lived and went through in those 9 months, i’d have to write another book. I can tell you I learned a lot. About people. About myself. About evil. How nasty a human being can get. How low they can be. How fame changed people and how my fame changed people around me. I don’t even wanna get into it. Because everyone I met in that show, and I mean everyone is not even worth mentioning. I met the lowest quality of people I could ever meet there. After the hardest, most painful, dreadful, awful, disastrous 9 months the show had finally ended.
Amongst people watching the show was one of the biggest pop stars in Turkey called Hande Yener. I was leaving set one night and the coordinator came to me and said “Hande Yener wants you in her music video, she is gonna call you on Sunday.” It didn’t take too long before it hit me that I used to listen to Hande Yener when I was a teenager. I turned to him and said “okay”, then walked away.
She called me and invited me to her house. The next day I went over. I knocked the door and there she was, Hande Yener. We didn’t know it then, but Hande and I would become very good friends. She started telling me about the music video. She played two tracks for me “Mor” and “Vah Vah” and she told me that she couldn’t decide which one to do with me. After listening to it back and forth back and fourth I honestly couldn’t decide myself because they were both so good. But eventually it would be “Mor” which means “purple” in Turkish. “Mor” went on to win the “Music Video of the Year” award and broke click records on YouTube with over 99 million views. That same year the show I was on also won “Program of the year” award.
Do you remember when I mentioned I drank ayahuasca and had a vision I was on “Beyaz Show”? Well, here is what happened. One day I came into set and the producer told me that he was sending me to “Beyaz Show”. Now that was a crazy moment. I was mind-blown. My vision in ayahuasca was about to become my reality. Now out of the entire cast, he chose me. And that didn’t settle so well with the others. Once announced I would go on the talk show, I saw the true colors of everyone. The guy I called “my bro” didn’t even congratulate me and the ones that did, weren’t sincere. Well, fuck them! On March 13, 2016 I was a guest on Beyaz Show and the vision became a reality. I wore black shoes, blue jeans, black shirt, and told everyone that I saw this vision in the amazon and that i knew this was going to happen.
I just didn’t know how and when. But I knew someday that it WILL. Because I didn’t just believe it. I lived it visually if not physically. But that’s ayahuasca stuff and that is deep stuff. You wouldn’t understand if I told you. Its something one must experience themselves in order to comprehend the complex realities simultaneously in different dimensions. Truth is I can talk about it all book it still wouldn’t make you seek the ayahuasca. Ayahuasca is a calling. It’s something that finds you. Because it’s not for everybody. It’s some seriously deep shit. One of the most powerful plants available to mankind. To me, it’s a gift.
So there I was within 1 year of returning to Turkey, I had achieved something. Now my next step was very important. I had to make the right choice to progress. Because the fame didn’t mean shit to me. I wanted to be involved in good productions. And one day, I got an offer from the biggest producer in Turkey to go on the biggest show in Turkish television. Survivor.
I said “Thank you, but no thank you”
(to be continued)