This is Chapter 54 of the "Queer Realities" series.
The narrator is Jimmy Hardy, and features Lew Blackmore.
Rated R and contains no warnings or spoilers.
Summary: Jimmy makes a decision. Los Angeles, April, 2003.
Disclaimer: This is for fun, not profit. Watch Queer As Folk on Showtime, buy the DVDs, videos, and CDs. Read the stories and enjoy.
When you're at the top of the Biz...
When you're the 'Most Powerful Actor in Hollywood'...
When you're 'America's Boy Next Door'...
What's left to accomplish? Where do you go from here?
I think about that a lot.
I'm only 44 and I've done it all. Accomplished everything I'd ever dreamed of when I first stepped out on a stage when I was 13 years old. And more. So fucking much more!
Some guys want to direct, but I never had that urge. Producing? I've done it. A fucking accountant could do it -- they have, in fact. They make the best producers, actually, since it's all about money. Writing? I don't have the patience. I can't sit in one spot long enough to turn out a treatment, let alone a full screenplay.
I'm an actor and that's all I know. And all I want to know.
I started the usual way. School plays. Drama camp. College theater major. Parts in the choruses of a half-dozen dinner theater musicals. The Midwest Shakespeare Festival's Bard in the Park. I was only a spear-carrier, but it was a start. Then repertory work in a regional theater in Northern California. Then summer stock in New England. Mainly comedy. Yeah, I did lots of comedy. I learned to take a prat-fall and a pie in the face. I learned to steal a scene by making faces. I learned all the tricks of the trade. And married my first wife. I thought I knew it all back then. Funny what you think you know when you're a clueless punk kid.
And then I went out to Hollywood for pilot season. Amazingly enough, I got a sitcom. I felt like I was on top of the fucking world! Jimmy Hardy, television star! The thing was a modest hit. A three year run. I was on the low-level talk shows and game shows. I even had a fan club. That was a rush! Then I got a film. A supporting part. The comic relief. And I got another film. More comic relief. And then more films. Bigger parts.
Jimmy Hardy never looked back. I still never look back.
It took eight years for me to work my way up to my first blockbuster. 'Castle in the Air.' A fucking smash! Out of the park! I married Tess off that high. That was the second best thing to come out of that time. 'Castle in the Air' and Tess.
Then I did a drama, 'The Talking Cure,' and it tanked. But I knew that I had to break out of fucking romantic comedies or I'd be screwed. I'd end up like Burt fucking Reynolds -- looking for enough cash to keep me in bad toupees.
It took me three more years to break through in a drama. 'Liberty.' That was the Golden Ticket! I knew that when I accepted the role of an openly gay man with AIDS that a long line of A List actors had already turned down. I knew the part was fucking Oscar bait. And I got the fucking Oscar! Slam dunk! I was a fucking star! I was golden! Anything before that was meaningless.
And I was finally a real actor. For the first time I felt it. I was playing something that challenged me, I stepped up to the plate, and hit it out of the fucking ballpark. And it only took me a fucking decade to do it.
But Brian -- he did it all with one film. Even if he didn't get the fucking Oscar. Even if the homophobic fuckers didn't nominate him. It doesn't matter. Everyone in this town knows the truth. Anyone who can look at a screen can see the truth. No bullshit.
I may be the one who has the Oscar in my hot little hands, but it's really Bri's. All his.
Without him I'm so fucked. The way Ron was fucked.
The bastard fucking amazes me! I mean it. It's the weirdest thing. I just... I mean... I....
I don't know what the hell I mean anymore.
Yes, I do.
My new beach house is great. I love Malibu. It reminds me of the vibe in Maui. Mellow. Laid back. The ocean and the sky and the breeze. The finest Maui Wowie. Yeah, I love Maui.
That's where I first saw Brian. In Maui.
I was there with Tess and Annie. And Ron. It was Christmas. New Year's. Ron and I were supposed to finalize the script for 'The Olympian' before we started shooting. But Ron couldn't concentrate on the screenplay. He was too distracted. That's a laugh! Distracted! He was fucking obsessed, besotted, crazed, head-over-heels, cuckoo, and totally blown away by his new boyfriend. Or old boyfriend. Only boyfriend -- ever. The only one who ever mattered.
I'd seen Ron with guys on occasion, but they never seemed to have a name. And I never saw Ron with any one guy more than once or twice. They were mostly hustlers. Or actors on the make. Guys hanging around the set or around the West Hollywood scene. Looking for a handout. Looking for a free ride. Easy lays. Ron knew it and the guys knew it.
Until Brian. Or since Brian. Between Brian. That's who was always in Ron's head.
I never understood that until it was too late. Too late for Ron. And for me.
Tess was immediately taken with Brian. Even Annie was a smitten kitten. I mean, who wouldn't be? Handsome. Charming. Tall. Great body. Tended to wander around the Maui house wearing nothing but a bright red Speedo. Well-hung, too. Did I mention that? Pretty obvious in that Speedo! Hard not to notice. Hard not to wonder what it would be like to have a piece of meat like that between your legs. I mean, as a guy. To wonder what you could accomplish with something like that. Hard not to wonder other things, too. Like what a cock like that would feel like up your tight ass. Strictly as research, of course. And I was getting ready to play the part of another gay man, but one very different from Terry, the AIDS victim in 'Liberty.' Guy was a deeply closeted coach who becomes obsessed with Bobby, his gay athlete. Research, like I said. I'm a Method Actor. Sort of. Sometimes. Yes, there's a method to my madness!
Sure, I'd fooled around with guys before. A little. I'm an actor, after all. Sometimes I was the only straight guy in my acting class in college. Then after I graduated I roomed with two gay guys that season I was an apprentice at the Shakespeare festival. They were great guys. We jerked off together. A lot. And I let one of the guys suck me off once. Well, a few times. Why not?
Like I said -- research is good. It's part of acting. Getting in touch with all sides of your personality. And that research came in handy when I had to play Terry, the guy with AIDS in 'Liberty.' That movie was pretty intense. Pretty unromantic. Playing a dying gay man isn't exactly the usual set-up for a love story. The producers even cut the one scene where Terry kisses his boyfriend. My character is fucking dying and the homophobic bastards at the studio won't let me have one fucking intimate moment with my lover! I mean HIS lover. You know what the fuck I mean. And the guy was hot, too. Anyway, it was totally screwed up.
That's why I wanted to make 'The Olympian.' I was so pissed with the way 'Liberty' was handled I wanted to do it right. My own way. The real way.
I met Ron on the set of 'Liberty.' I had insisted that they hire at least a couple of openly gay men in order to ensure that there was always someone on set to let me know if what we were doing was true to life. One of those guys was Ron. He was brought on as an assistant director, but his real function was to be my truth-teller. My bullshit detector. Ron was supposed to educate me on all things gay, but he did a lot more than that. He brought me down to earth and humanized me at a time that I badly needed to be humanized. Ron never treated me like a 'star,' but like just another guy. A regular guy. That's something I hadn't experienced in a long time -- not since I started to make it big in the Biz. Ron wasn't a fucking yes-man, but a friend. A real friend.
It was during the shoot that Ron showed me an early draft of his screenplay for 'The Olympian.' I'd never even heard of the book it was based on, so he gave me a copy. I read the book and the script and loved them both. I knew that was the film I should be making instead of 'Liberty,' which was a good movie, but more than a bit heavy-handed with the AIDS message. But I had no power in Hollywood back then. I'd had one hit, 'Castle in the Air,' and that wasn't enough. Then I won the Oscar for 'Liberty' and everyone knew I was a serious actor. And then I had hit after hit through the 1990's.
I was golden, baby. Really. I had Hollywood by the fucking tail! I was 'America's Boy Next Door'! And 'The Most Powerful Actor in Hollywood.'
Now I could make 'The Olympian.' I could produce it. Star in it. And Ron could write it. I could do it MY way. Our way. Ron's and mine.
I never realized at the time how tight Ron and I would become. Real friends. The best friend I ever had. For over ten years.
Not a lot of people really knew Ron. He wasn't an easy person to get close to. He could be caustic and difficult and angry. He seemed to walk around with a chip on his shoulder that was deeper than just the usual bullshit you have to endure in Hollywood, even as a gay man.
But it was deeper than that. Sadder than that. And it went back to the streets of New York and his first film, 'Red Shirt.' He was a guy who had been hurt and never gotten over it. He sometimes talked about those days, but he never mentioned the name 'Jack.' Then he gave me a copy of 'Red Shirt' and I knew. Knew why he'd been hurt, and who had done it. He didn't have to explain. The fucking film said it all.
That's when I knew Ron could be a great director.
Yeah, Ron could be a bastard sometimes, but he also could be funny as hell. Loyal. Empathetic. And he was hands down the smartest guy I've ever known. Witty and interesting. When you were around him you were never bored. You might be frustrated or furious, but never bored. Ron knew more about movies than anyone, and that's saying a lot in Hollywood where everyone is a fucking know-it-all. He'd seen every movie you could name and he'd learned something from every one of them. I'd won a fucking Oscar but still Ron could teach me things I didn't know. So many things. He might have been the best director in this town -- if he'd lived.
If. That's a big fucking if. So many ifs.
But he toiled away for so many years making documentaries for PBS, low budget indie features, and episodes of fucking 'Murder She Wrote' and 'Matlock' because he wouldn't compromise his principles when it came to making films. Film was his religion. It was what he lived for. He refused to direct Pauly Shore comedies or crash-and-burn flicks and pretend that he liked doing it. He wanted to make 'The Olympian.' All or nothing. And he did it. Ron fucking did it.
Ron also refused to pretend he wasn't a fag, which is also rare in this macho town. That was mainly because of his other great obsession, the one he kept under wraps for so many years. Brian. Movies and Brian. And in 'The Olympian' those two things came together like a fucking explosion.
But the studio almost screwed it up. Terra Nova had Ross Preston under contract. He's a good-looking lunkhead, but he's no actor. He's a frat boy. A smart-ass. That's what he is and that's what he plays. That's all he can play. There's no danger in Ross Preston. No edge. The guy couldn't make my dick sit up and take notice if you zapped it with 1000 volts.
But Brian -- he could make any guy take notice. Even the straightest guy in the room would turn around to check him out -- if only as competition. And every woman in the place. And definitely every fag.
Gay Kryptonite. That's what some of the wise asses in the Biz call Bri. He's the one thing that will kill every queer who comes into contact with him. Kill him in this town. In this business. And in real life, according to certain assholes in this town. The femme fatale. La Belle Dame Sans Merci.
Some people say Brian killed Ron. Freddy Weinstein says it. Jerry Baxter. Even Howie Sheldon believes it in a fucked up way. That's why Howie is so afraid of Brian. Afraid because Howie wants him, too. But he's afraid of Brian destroying him like he supposedly destroyed Ron. Howie Sheldon is a fucking pussy! They're all pussies!
Because it's all bullshit. Ron killed Ron. Ron's obsession killed Ron. In the end Ron couldn't control his own emotions. But I can.
I can. I'm the golden boy, after all.
After we all left Maui and returned to L.A. to prepare for 'The Olympian' I couldn't stop thinking about Brian. I was busy as hell, shooting retakes for my last film even while my mind was on the next project. And the more I thought about it the more I knew that I didn't want Ross Preston as my co-star.
So I made Ross 'un-happen.' I wanted someone else. Someone I knew the studio would never accept -- unless they were forced to. So I orchestrated that little practice session with Brian there to give Ross a 'Fucking Lesson.' I knew it would freak our frat boy out. I knew he'd go scurrying back to Fraternity Row and his lowbrow comedies with his tail between his legs. I didn't give a shit, but Ross' defection put 'The Olympian' in jeopardy and poor Ron was losing his mind, thinking the picture would be canceled. But I wasn't worried. I knew. I'm Jimmy Hardy, after all! I'm golden!
That 'audition' proved beyond a doubt that I could work with Brian. That Brian was the only one who could make that character work. Brian didn't need to be a fucking actor, he only had to be himself. Ron had written Bobby to be the mirror image of Brian -- or at least Ron's conception of what the grown-up 'Jack' might be -- so all Brian had to do was stand there and look hot. Say his lines. React to me. All instinct. Like in the old days. You think Clark Gable or John Wayne were 'actors'? You think they gave a fuck about motivation and inner dialogue and all that shit? No way! They were movie stars. They just WERE. That's what Brian is. Not an actor at all, but a movie star. He just IS.
So I didn't really give a shit that Brian wasn't a 'real' actor. He could make me -- Jimmy Hardy! -- hard. Really hard. Really, really hard.
Yeah, I fucked Ron over when I started sleeping with Brian. I admit it. That was wrong and it's still my deepest regret. Ron was my best friend. You don't fuck your best friend's wife. Except... except when you can't help yourself. I knew how hung-up Ron was on Brian, but at that point it didn't matter. First, it was about the picture. But then it was about me. Me and Brian.
I started out playing Guy as Ron -- a guy who was totally obsessed with another man. Infatuated with him. Consumed by him. Yeah, I was playing Ron. But by the time we finished shooting 'The Olympian' I was playing myself. On the set. In my trailer. In a suite I was keeping at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Even in a limo on the way to some meeting at Howie Sheldon's house. Brian's huge cock was in my mouth or up my ass as much as I could get it.
Then the shoot was over. And Brian was having problems. Big fucking problems. He was a wreck physically and emotionally. That landed him for a short but nasty stay in the Spencer Pavilion, a fashionable Beverly Hills nut house.
So I backed off. I had to. Besides, Tess knew about us. She knew even before she walked right in on me and Brian with his dick up my ass. I mean... shit! Let's just say that wasn't exactly my finest hour.
Then Bri left town. He was gone. Back to Pittsburgh. Then to England. Wherever the hell he was after that. And I went on to my next project. Filming with Spielberg. Out of sight, out of mind, you know what I mean?
Except... not really. He was never out of my mind. I still wanted him. I still needed him. I guess he had a hold of me. Because the minute we got together again to start hyping 'The Olympian' that old feeling was back. And it was as strong as ever. It didn't matter to me that Bri was living with Ron again, or that he was also fucking Baby Blue, plus a ton of other guys. I didn't give a shit about that. Still don't. There's enough of Brian to go around. So I took what I could get, when I could get it. I figured that things would fade away between us. Eventually. I figured.
And then Ron died. That knocked me on my ass more than anything since my father's death. I know I still haven't gotten over it and I doubt I ever will. I think about Ron every day -- no lie. I find myself with my hand on the phone dialing his number. And then I remember. There's no one I want to talk to more than Ron. No one -- except maybe Brian.
I sometimes wonder about me and Ron. About 'what if'? But I never really felt that way about Ron. It was different. Not sexual. Ron never got me hard -- ever. So I wonder what he felt about me? I guess I'll never know. But for years I had Ron and I had Tess. My best friend and my wife. I needed both of them to call me on my shit. To listen to me bitch and moan. To keep me on an even keel.
Now I've lost them both. Ron's dead and Tess is filing for divorce. For real this time. I don't blame her. Emotionally we're miles apart. Fucking continents apart! What the hell do they call it? Continental drift! That's me and Tess.
But Brian -- he's the one. The one I need. The one I'm meant to be with. I know he is. He's like a combination of Ron and Tess. He's about friendship AND sex. Partnership in bed, in the office, and even on the fucking Red Carpet. That's how I know it's right. Brian is what I need to keep me in one piece. I don't even mind about his little thing with Baby Blue. If Brian wants the kid around, then Justin is welcome to jump on board. I'm not the jealous type. Really.
Recently I've been learning a lot about the way queers think and how they do things differently from straights. You can learn more than you'd think in bars and clubs, you know? More research, except this time for myself and not for a role. I've found out that gay men aren't so hung up on monogamy. They're more practical. They know they're men and men like a lot of variety in fucking. That's okay with me. Fucking isn't about who you love. I get that. If Ron had been less obsessed with who Brian was screwing, then he would have been a lot happier. Maybe he even could have joined in the party once in a while and not let Brian's honest promiscuity bother him. If Ron had had Brian's philosophy about fucking, then maybe Ron would still be alive today.
I met this guy, Steven, on the 'Crash Course' shoot up in Toronto. Steven showed me around a little. He showed me a lot, actually. We hit some of the bars and clubs up there. And a few more private parties, too. It was fun. Steven was no Brian. I mean, who is? But he was a good fuck. And so were his pals. And when it was over, it was over. Steven was under no illusions that I gave a shit about him, because I didn't. Frankly, I feel more of a connection with Baby Blue than with those other guys -- and I haven't even fucked Baby Blue! At least not yet.
But with Bri it's more than sex. We're connected. We could be a team. Like Tess and I were a team. Like Ron and I were a team. I have a pile of scripts sitting here that would be perfect for us -- for me and Brian. Films that I could produce and that I could star in with Bri. Great films. Some of them were projects Ron and I discussed. Like that queer remake of 'Sunset Boulevard.' Ron wanted to make it with Brian and Sir Kenneth Fielding. But why not with Brian and me? It could be a classic! Oscar bait.
With Brian on my team I could take my career another step. Do what no actor on my level has ever done. What no actor at the top of the Biz has ever had the balls to do. But I could do it. I could fucking make cinema history. Hollywood history.
The First Out Superstar. Jimmy Hardy. And his lover, partner, and co-star -- Brian Kinney.
Who else could manage it? Who else but 'America's Boy Next Door'!
Nobody but me.
And I'm going to do it.
Hollywood's new golden couple.
I have to laugh just thinking about it! And I get hard, too.
"I want you to arrange for me to give a major interview, Lew," I tell my agent, Lew Blackmore. We're sitting in his pretentious office in Beverly Hills. Lew's a good agent. He's selective. He only takes clients he really believes in. He's been my agent for a long time because he believed in me from the start. And he's Brian's agent, too. "I'm ready to make a big statement. A lot of big statements!"
Lew makes a sympathetic face. At least I think it's sympathetic. Lew is such a damn stone-face it's hard to know for sure. "Is Tess really filing for divorce? And going through with it this time?"
"Yeah," I say. "She's really doing it."
"That's tough, Jimmy." Lew shakes his head. "I'm truly sorry. You've been separated before, so maybe you guys can still work things out."
"I don't think so, Lew," I reply. "We've tried that. Besides... I'm in a new relationship. I'm ready to move on."
Lew is surprised. "A new relationship? Since when, Jimmy? This is the first I've fucking heard of it."
I grin. Lew is a sharp guy, but he's blind when it comes to certain things. Like relationships. Or like sex. Or even love. Maybe something like love. "I've been keeping things quiet. Sorting out my feelings. This is important to me, Lew, and I want to do it right this time."
Lew frowns suspiciously and squirms around in his chair. "Is this girl in the Business, Jimmy? How come I haven't even heard a rumor of her until now?"
"Maybe you just haven't been paying enough attention, Lew." And I grin again. No one can resist the Jimmy Hardy Grin. Not even my own agent.
Lew coughs nervously. Yeah, I think he's heard rumors. Plenty of rumors. About me and one of my co-stars. And I don't mean Chuckie Ranger -- ha ha! The rumors have been all over. That is if you're really paying attention to what people are whispering. I know that. I'm not stupid. But I also don't give a shit.
"Okay, Jimmy, I can get you the cover of 'People' -- no problema," Lew says, jotting something down on a pad of paper. "How about this title: 'Jimmy Hardy Faces the Single Life -- New Challenges for America's Boy Next Door'? That will give you a chance to give your side of the divorce in case there are any bad feelings, you know? Tess is pretty popular in this town."
"I know she's popular," I say. "And this won't get nasty, Lew, I guarantee. Tess and I have already agreed on almost everything. We don't want to make this any harder on Annie than it has to be."
Lew sighs. "Divorce is hard on a kid no matter what, Jimmy. Especially when your father is a big fucking movie star. And especially if it comes out that you're fooling around with someone else who's also famous." Lew pauses. "Is it that young blonde up on the Toronto shoot? Cammie Logan? The teenager with the big tits? I thought she was fucking Chuckie Ranger on the set?"
"No, Lew," I laugh. Cammie Logan? That little slut? Lew is a riot! "It's one of my co-stars, but not Cammie Logan. It's not any young blonde with big tits. It's a tall dish with chestnut hair. Green eyes. Long, beautiful legs. An amazing ass."
Lew is scowling now. "Jimmy, stop screwing around with me. I don't think this is funny!"
"And a fantastic 9-inch cock!" I add brightly. "And I do mean fantastic." I wait -- that famous Jimmy Hardy timing. But Lew doesn't answer. "Come on, Lew! I'm not screwing with you. This is ME -- Jimmy! This is what I want to talk about to the media. Except I don't want 'People.' I want 'Time' or 'Newsweek.' I want a 'Barbara Walters Special' in prime time! This isn't some celebrity puff piece. This is the real thing. An important moment in the history of popular culture. 'Jimmy Hardy Comes Out!'"
Lew rubs his eyes slowly before he speaks again. "Jimmy, I'm going to pretend this conversation never took place. I want you to go home, take your medication, and have a long, restful sleep. And when you wake up I want you to call your therapist and have a session with him. Then you're going to call Tess and tell her that you want to give your marriage another shot. Okay? Do you hear me, Jimmy?"
I shake my head at Lew. He has no fucking clue. "I hear you, Lew. But I'm not listening."
"And I don't want you to contact Kinney!" he bellows. "I don't want you to call him or e-mail him or send him a fucking greeting card! This is about your career and about NOT committing professional suicide! I have a pile of screenplays here for you to consider for future projects -- and not one of them was sent to 'Jimmy Hardy, Fag'! They were sent to 'Jimmy Hardy, Two-Time Oscar Winner,' and 'Jimmy Hardy, America's Boy Next Door'! And that's the way it's going to stay!"
I stand up. I knew what Lew was going to say and it doesn't bother me. He'll come around. They'll all come around. I'm still the same old lovable Jimmy. This is simply a new phase of my career. Like when I did 'Liberty' and moved from light comedy to serious drama. Like when I divorced Jeannie, my first wife, and married Tess. I know some people have a problem with Brian, but they'll accept him eventually. I'll show them all that the whole 'Gay Kryptonite' bullshit is exactly that -- bullshit!
But Lew mentioning the greeting card reminds me that Brian's birthday is coming up. I think it's April 9th or 10th. Something like that. I'll have Peggy, my personal assistant, look up the exact date. But I think I can do much better than send him a stupid card. I have my resources. It shouldn't take too much effort to track down the whereabouts of that place where he's in rehab. Hey -- I'm Jimmy Hardy! I'm golden! If I want something, then it's as good as done.
"Let me know about the interview, Lew," I say before I leave his office. "I might want Brian to be with me when I do it. He should be getting out of rehab very shortly and I'd like him to move in with me at the Malibu house before he starts shooting the Dorian Folco picture with Eastwood. That way we can get settled before he has to go on location. That would probably be the best time to schedule the interview. But I need to approve the writer first. I want to make certain it's someone sympathetic."
"Jimmy, pay attention," says Lew, following me to the door. "There's not going to be any interview with 'Time' or 'Newsweek' or anyone! Period! At least not while I'm your fucking agent!"
"We'll see about that," I smile at him. "By the way, I'll tell Brian that you send your regards."
Lew stares at me. "What the fuck is it about this guy?" he asks. "First Ron, and now you. I don't get it!"
I gaze back at Lew knowingly. "He's Brian," I say simply. "If you were a fag, Lew, I wouldn't have to explain it. It would be fucking obvious!"
As I say it I also know that if I wasn't really a fag, I wouldn't know, either. And that's how I'm certain that I am one.
I can hardly wait to see Brian and tell him.
It'll all be golden from now on.
Continue on to "Plenty".
©Gaedhal, July 2005.
Posted July 29, 2005.