This is Part 3 of Chapter 6 in the "Queer Theories" series.
Go back to "Fuck Armani -- Part 2" , the previous section.
This shindig is being held at Ron's agent's house -- if 'house' is the correct word for a mausoleum that has all the cozy charm of Grand Central Station. You have to wonder what it must be like to reside in a place like this: homeless people who live in public buildings must feel more affinity for their surroundings. The driveway goes on and on, like that scene in 'Rebecca' when you think they are never going to get to the house and then, there it is: big, ugly, and created for Hitchcock. I'm expecting the housekeeper with the bun and bad attitude to meet us at the door.
Or at least a young and good-looking parking attendant.
Ron pulls the Jag up and a slack-jawed guy who looks at least fifty takes the keys. Fuck. Where are all the out-of-work actors these days? They can't ALL be in Bora-Bora pretending to be regular people on reality shows.
As early as we were, it's obvious that the place was already guested up. The only thing I can imagine is that they all can't stay awake past 9:00, so they have to kick things off early. This actually makes me a bit hopeful. If we can get the fuck out of here, then we can hit the clubs afterwards. Okay, I can go with this.
Freddy Weinstein, Ron's agent, isn't really a bad guy. He took Ron on years ago when none of the bigger agencies would touch a 'gay' filmmaker. Which is a laugh because the agencies are crawling with queers, both in and out. But Freddy liked Ron personally and got him hooked up with some 'legit' projects (i.e., not the gay porn and documentaries he was mainly doing) like music videos, commercials, as well as some 'very special episodes' of 'Dear John' and 'Matlock.'
And he introduced Ron to Jimmy Hardy, who was about to do his big 'playing-a-fag-with-AIDS' movie, 'Liberty.' Okay, he won all the big awards for it, but it's still a crock, let's face it. But I can't say that to Ron. Jimmy got him an assistant director gig on the thing and they've been working on 'The Olympian' ever since. I guess Freddy is wrapped up in the project, too, in some way, and not just as Ron's agent. I can't figure it out -- it's like the fucking Kremlin: you have to know how to read all the secret signs to know what's really happening in there.
Freddy's probably in his fifties -- it's always hard to tell out here, between the plastic surgery and the sun damage, one pushing them this way and one dragging them the other. Unlike some of the agents, who look like used car salesmen, Freddy has a little class. He doesn't wear a bad rug or gold chains in his chest hair. And he actually seems to have read some of the books that he mentions, and he definitely knows the actors he name-drops, so he's not a complete phony.
But he still makes me feel uncomfortable. The way he looks at me. I can usually tell what a guy is thinking before even HE knows what he's thinking. But Freddy is a blank. I wasn't even certain whether he was really straight -- and I'm never wrong about that. Maybe that's the secret of his success: the ultimate poker face personality. And his house -- the ultimate in 'designed and decorated for pure effect' -- doesn't say much more. I wonder if people who live in places like this have little rooms hidden away where they have their REAL stuff. Not a place put together by some paid lackey, but somewhere they really live when no one is looking.
It doesn't help that Ron is nervous as a fucking cat. He's juggling that stupid bottle of wine and I'm certain he's going to drop it or somehow spill it all over himself, like the hapless hero of a sitcom. And then the door opens and he's plunging ahead, babbling and bobbing. He's talking to a woman who has to be Freddy's wife. You have to give him credit, he seems to have kept the original model, which counts for something, I guess. Frosted blonde, of course. Tanned to the point of skin cancer, with the white pantsuit to display it. Big jewelry. I mean, big. And the razor-sharp red nails they all seem to have, like deadly weapons. I mean, fuck! How do they have sex with those things? What is it they do? What guy would let something like that anywhere near his balls? It's a fucking mystery.
"Our hostess, Dolly Weinstein. Dolly, this is Brian." Ron steps back and practically knocks me over.
She puts out that dangerous-looking paw to take mine.
"Well, well... WELL!"
This monument to the plastic surgeon's art is appraising me like I am the main item on 'The Antique Roadshow.'
"What a beautiful suit." She reaches over and strokes the lapel of my jacket. Which would be okay. Except she's addressing the compliment to Ron. "Armani?"
"Yeah." Fuck Armani. I should have gotten the Prada.
She trails her fingers down the front of the jacket. She... shit! She's touching my dick!
Now I jump back. "Ah, excuse me."
"You must watch this entryway. It's a bit slippery." She takes Ron's bottle of wine, turns, and gestures for us to follow.
"Fuck you, Ron," I whisper.
"Grow up, Brian. It's Hollywood."
We trail through a number of rooms, each gotten up in a different style or theme. She must have kept changing decorators, or else had one with multiple personalities. I swear one of the side rooms looks exactly like the Jungle Room at Graceland.
Most of the mingling seems to be happening, as is usual at these things, in the greatroom and around the pool. I'm looking for a drink, first off. Then, what about a waiter? A bartender? Anything to keep myself occupied until we can get out of here. No such luck. Not even a fucking open bar! What kind of cheap shit is this? Some seventy year old woman in a French maid's get-up is circulating with pre-poured drinks on a lousy tray!
"Excuse me? Excuse me! Do you think I could....?" She cruises right by me. If she thinks I'm drinking sherry she's nuts.
Thank Christ I brought the joints -- there looks like plenty of backyard to smoke them in. I glance around for a clue to the kitchen -- that must be where the booze is being poured -- but the whole place is a fucking maze. I've even completely lost sight of Ron.
The other amazing thing is the make up of the crowd. They are old. I mean, Ron and I are the young blood here and that's no exaggeration! A couple of the women look to be second or even third wives, which means they could be in their thirties. But, fuck, there must be SOME younger guys at this agency! Where are the young hot-shots? Not invited here, that's for certain. This must be the real old guard -- and I mean antique. Is that why Ron was so agitated?
And, of course, no queers. That's no surprise in this gang.
The men have peeled off into little knots and they are talking loudly and waving their drinks around. The females have appropriated the pool area and the couches. They mainly seem to be checking out each other. Looking over the competition? They must all know each other. Every change of hairdo and collagen injection must be a matter for deep discussion.
I'm sorry I didn't wear one of the fucking watches so I'll know when I can get out of here. But dinner is still to get through.
Now, this is not to say that there aren't some interesting people in L.A. -- there are. But not at things like this. No fucking wonder that movies these days are mainly nothing but crap. These are the kinds of people deciding what's going to be made! The people Ron has to ass-kiss.
And if I don't get a drink soon, I'm going to light up that joint right here in the middle of the room.
Something grabs my arm. Oh oh. It's our hostess.
"My dear boy, don't you have a drink yet?" She addresses me in the exact voice she'd use on a six year old.
"I'm looking for one."
"Let's see if we can fix you up." Still gripping my arm, she parades me through the room, around some bizarre planters and room dividers, and -- fuck me! -- there's the bar. Yes, it is presided over by a guy who must have served sidecars to Charlie Chaplin, but booze is booze.
I manage to snag myself a large Chivas. I'm going to need a couple of these. There's a seat near the bar and I plant myself in it. I might be able to manage to hide out here and get through most of the evening downing Freddy's liquor. Maybe not the best way to spend a couple of hours, but a free drunk is a free drunk.
Except, I can't shake Mrs. Freddy. She keeps circling me, coming over to squeeze my shoulder with her red-lacquered talons, asking me questions and then not waiting for the answers. Every time she darts over, I'm afraid she's going to fall into my lap.
Finally, she settles. Unfortunately, it's right next to me.
"We must have a nice little chat."
"We are so fond of Ron."
Meaning, we know who he is, now who the fuck are you?
"And so interested in what he's been up to lately."
Meaning, where the fuck did he pick you up?
"You seem like such an interesting person."
Meaning, are you available by the hour, or in a long-term package deal?
"I'm sure we are going to be seeing a lot of you."
Meaning, whenever we have to invite some faggots over, we'll be sure to give you a call.
"I can't imagine where Ron is? I'm certain he doesn't like to let you get out of his sight."
Meaning... hold it. Now, she's got her hand on my thigh. She's obviously checking personally to see just what Ron doesn't want to let out of his sight. This is not good. I shudder at those red nails coming in close to my....
And then I'm saved.
It's Ron. He's holding a sherry and smiling an ingratiating smile.
"Darling! Dear...." She has to think for a moment. "Brian and I were just getting acquainted!"
"I think Freddy was looking for you a few minutes ago."
"Oh, it's almost time for dinner to be served." She stands up, then leans down to brush my cheek. "We'll finish this later."
Like hell we will!
"Christ! That woman is a fucking predator!"
"It takes one to know one, Brian."
"Hey, I only go after those who want to be hunted. There's a difference."
Ron drags me around, upping my discomfort level by introducing me to various sharks and their mates and then expecting me to make small talk with the wives while the 'men' talk 'The Business.' I mean, what kind of things am I supposed to say to these women? Obviously, the questions I really want to ask are not on the table. Who's your plastic surgeon? How do you fuck with those nails? Which number wife are you? He looks pretty old -- do you think you'll stay the course? What kind of lube do you prefer? They are all smiling at me, with their identically fashioned teeth and identically constructed noses. It's uncanny.
Eventually, I'm able to lure Ron out into the backyard where I pull out one of the joints.
"I don't know how you can stand this shit. How many years have you had to do this?"
"Plenty. You learn to play the game. It's just part of doing business."
"Then why haul me along?" In this situation the closet begins to look like a reassuring alternative.
"Maybe ten years of coming to these things alone. Or bringing some washed up actress who was dying to make a connection. Or squiring someone's sister or mother. Or MY mother." He takes a hit on the joint.
"No, I'm sorry. I know it's shitty for you." He puts the joint in my mouth. "Maybe I just wanted to show you off. I don't have that many opportunities to be envied."
"It's kind of dark -- why don't you come over here?"
About fifteen minutes later dinner is served.
Of course, Ron is at one end of the table and I'm at the other. I think this strategy is supposed to encourage conversation with interesting new people. Assuming there are any interesting people at the table. There are none near me. The geezer on my left ignores me and the woman on my right is, if anything, more intimidated than I am. She's also younger, which is a surprise. She turns out to be the 'client' (read: mistress) of one of Freddy's partners. Don't know where the guy's actual wife is, but he seems to have plenty of balls to bring his bimbo here. And the wives have the knives out for her, you can feel it.
The girl, Diane, decides to bond with me. I don't mind. She's harmless. She has two topics of conversation: her auditions and Jerry (the boyfriend), in that order. She pretty much fills the void at our end of the table. All I have to do is nod. The geezer feeds his face and then dozes off. Everyone is happy. Periodically, Dolly hails me and asks me a question -- again, never waiting for an answer before plunging on to the next person.
The food is heavy on cream and other milky substances. I feel queasy just looking at it, so I back off and focus on the salad. And the wine.
Diane pokes me. "Are you up for anything?"
"Hm?" What the fuck?
Oh. "No. I'm not an actor."
"Really? I thought you were. What are you doing here, then?"
"I'm with him." I point to Ron.
"No shit? I should of figured you were a fag. All the good-looking ones are. The story of my life."
"Sorry to burst your bubble."
"No problem. It's just as well. Jerry is the jealous type."
"Who's a fag?" The geezer comes to life suddenly. Just what I need.
"Just about everyone, Grandpa."
Diane giggles, putting her napkin up to cover her mouth.
"I think I need to use the facilities. Do you know where they are?"
Diane points off down a dim hallway. "Don't get lost."
I meander around the halls for a while before I find the right door. The fucking bathroom is half the size of my loft. Black marble with gold fittings. It looks like a Vatican waiting room. Mirrors all around. You can watch yourself piss from every imaginable angle.
I'm drying my hands on one of the black towels when the door begins to open.
"Just a second."
But it cracks open and Dolly Weinstein saunters in. "How are you getting on?" She shuts the door behind her.
"Just fine. I'm on my way out."
But Dolly is blocking my way. "I said I wanted to see how you were getting on."
I back away, but the sink is up against my ass and there isn't anywhere else to go.
I've seen fast workers in my time -- I'm one of the fastest myself -- but Dolly has me unzipped and my dick out on seconds flat. I don't know whether to laugh or cry 'rape.'
"Well! Quite impressive! Definitely exceeds expectations -- just as I had hoped." All I can see are those red nails. Christ!
"Excuse me, but...." I try to think of a way to get her hands off me without getting skewered. "I don't do... females. At all. Ever." A lie, but only a slight one.
She gazes at me skeptically. "Don't be silly. You'll do anything. Any time. I can tell."
"But not right now." Somehow I slip past her and out into the hallway, tucking my dick back into my pants. I can hear her laughing in the bathroom.
I wonder if my face is as red as it feels when I sit back down at the table. A few minutes later Dolly slides into her seat. She is smiling at me like a cat. Then she leans over to one of the other women and whispers to her. Shit! Now they are both looking right at me. And leering.
Later, in the car, I tell Ron the whole humiliating story. And he laughs, too!
"I'm glad you find this so funny."
"What do you want me to do, Brian? Challenge Dolly to a duel?"
"Jesus, she put her hands right in my pants!"
"Where no hands have gone before, right?"
"Don't play the outraged virgin, Brian. You cannot get away with it." He puts his hand on my thigh and squeezes it. " 'Th' expense of spirit in a waste of shame Is lust in action.' "
"So now I'm 'Hamlet'? How so?"
"The Sonnets. Number 129. A much better fit. It means that when you waste all your energy in needless fucking you become compromised morally, physically, spiritually."
"Tell that to Dolly. I was just taking a piss."
"I mean in general. In principle. You, in particular."
"I suppose that means you don't want to go to the club with me."
Ron sighs. "Did you ever do an ad campaign that you knew from the start would be hopeless, pointless?"
"No. Why would I waste my time? And the client's time? All of my campaigns have a point and a purpose."
"Then why -- I mean, what about your life, Brian? What's the point and purpose of that? Of the way you live? Or have been living up to now?"
"I do what I do. No bullshit. No apologies."
He drives, shaking his head. "It must be damned frustrating, fucking yourself into oblivion year after year. And with so little enjoyment. And so much resentment. I guess I don't understand how someone who has so much going for him -- looks, intelligence, success -- can hate themselves with such intensity, such passion. If you were enjoying yourself, I guess I'd say, 'fine, do it' -- there are more disgusting and dangerous pursuits here in the Land of Excess, or even in Pittsburgh!" He smiles tightly. "But I don't see any sign of pleasure. Or joy. Maybe it was there once. But now it seems like nothing more than a futile compulsion. And real anger."
"Don't psychoanalyze me, Ron. Your license has expired."
"It makes me sad, Brian, because I see so much more there. Even back in New York, when you were... in trouble in so many ways -- I didn't see this kind of desperation in you."
"What does anyone care, really? I'm only hurting myself."
"Are you? Only hurting yourself?"
I don't say anything.
"What about me, Brian?"
"I think you'll survive anything, Ron -- even me."
"Perhaps. But what about him?"
My stomach drops like a broken elevator.
"You must have had a lot of contempt for someone you were able to dismiss from your life so decisively and so completely."
"Things change. When it's over, it's over. You move on."
"Maybe. Except my phone bills tell me a different story."
Continue on to "Fuck Armani -- Part 4" , the final section of Chapter Six of "Queer Theories."
©Gaedhal, May 2002
Picture of Gale Harold from Showtime.
Updated May 8, 2002