By Tananarive Due
October 5, 1993
Close-up: Actor Scott Bryce, also known as Craig Montgomery on CBS' AS THE WORLD TURNS. Grimacing. Quivering lips. Lots of emoting.
In this scene, he isn't acting.
For once, it isn't infidelity, intrigue or amnesia making Bryce sweat. Last week, he was among eight soap-opera celebs on vacation from daytime television's melodramas to spend a week at the Boot Camp at North Dade's Williams Island Spa.
Boot camp. Spa. Which is it?
"I thought, 'How tough is it going to be? Is it going to be a boot camp? What are we really talking about?' I thought of something for really overweight people who are really out of shape," said Bryce, who also played Corky's husband on MURPHY BROWN.
Then Bryce and his New York-based buddies were introduced to step aerobics, where they spent an hour jumping on and off a platform to pounding music. Next, slide aerobics, where they covered their shoes with booties and slid from one end of a mat to the other for an hour.
And this was only a small chunk of one 12-hour day, which began at 7 a.m.
"That was killer," a sweat-slick Bryce said after his christening aerobics bout. "Tomorrow, I'm sure I'm going to be one hurting puppy."
Williams Island Spa started its Boot Camp four months ago. Once a month, about 10 people pay $3,000 each for a week of intensive, individualized daily workouts, massages and a monitored diet. Throughout each day, they shift from kayaking to herbal massage, from aqua aerobics to aromatherapy treatments. The hefty price includes a luxury suite at Williams Island.
This group heard about the camp from AS THE WORLD TURNS' Tamara Tunie (attorney Jessica Griffin), who had befriended spa instructor Pat Jones. Tunie's other daytime TV friends who signed up:
* Scott DeFreitas (Andy Dixon on AS THE WORLD TURNS).
* Maureen Garrett (Holly Lindsay on CBS' GUIDING LIGHT).
* Elizabeth Keifer (C. Blake Thorpe, Holly's daughter on GUIDING LIGHT).
* William Christian (Derek Frye on ABC's ALL MY CHILDREN).
* Monti Sharp (David Grant on GUIDING LIGHT).
* Amelia Marshall (Gilly Grant Speakes, David's sister on GUIDING LIGHT).
Their group also included Christian's girlfriend, freelance magazine writer Suzanne O'Malley; and the former fitness editor for GQ magazine, Amy Tardio.
Although their shows are all shot in New York, only Tunie knew everyone in the group. But, apparently, there's nothing like shared challenges to break the ice.
Thursday morning's bonding experience would have made a National Enquirer photographer drool: After an hour of rollerblading at Haulover Beach, the group settled on the sand for breakfast. A few dove into the surf. On a lark, Christian stripped bare. Bryce, Marshall and DeFreitas followed. Garrett got dragged in, so she stripped.
Two nearby fishermen forgot their reels and simply gawked, grinning.
Soap fans might have a hard time reconciling Bryce's conservative demeanor as Craig, the sharp businessman on As the World Turns, with the actor who frolicked nude. And Christian, who plays a cop on All My Children, had reason to worry about getting busted by a real one.
There were other out-of-character surprises. The demure
Garrett turned into raging bull at the boxercise punching bag, stunning instructors. And Emmy-award winner Sharp, a nervy tough guy on Guiding Light, wasn't quite so tough when it came to water. He refused to go kayaking. "I've been canoeing before, and you get in the canoe and it sinks down. I don't like that."
No, it wasn't exactly the pampered week the guests expected.
"I think everybody just said yes when we heard the word massage," explains Keifer. Tunie "didn't tell us about this 7 a.m. stuff."
"I aimed to accomplish at least a couple of margaritas a day," griped Sharp. "If I'd been correctly informed, I would have gotten in shape before coming down here."
Even Tunie whimpered after four days: "In the condition I'm in, brushing my hair is an exercise."
Bryce had a good reason to endure the boot camp: He's returning to AS THE WORLD TURNS in mid-October after a long absence (his character moved away to a fictitious Central American country), and he wanted to trim the inches he'd added to his waistline.
And DeFreitas, while he started working on the same soap when he was only a teenager in 1985, says he has to shoot more scenes with his shirt off now that he's an adult.
"Every time I do one, I wish I had a huge chest," says DeFreitas, who lost four pounds in his first two days at the spa.
The world of soap operas was never far behind. During breaks, the actors talked shop.
Like, why can't the scripts have a little humor once in a while? Isn't it great about former AS THE WORLD TURNS co-star Brian Bloom's four-picture contract with Universal Pictures? Speaking of AS THE WORLD TURNS, why is Tunie the show's only black contract player? How come producers fired Tunie's black love interest to pursue an interracial storyline instead?
And by the way, how are writers explaining Craig's return from Central America? It seems his wife had an affair with a certain. . .Carlos. Stay tuned.