This is Page 2 of Part 3 of Chapter 112 in the "Queer Theories" series.
Go back to Page 1 of "My Favorite Mistake -- Part 3", the previous page.
"There will only be two of us tonight," says Brian to the maitre d' at the restaurant. It's large and sort of dim -- very, very fancy and very, very French. He leads us to a prominent table. Brian says they like to put celebrities up front where people will see them when they come in. That way they know the place is 'in.'
And Brian definitely looks like a celebrity. He's broken out his blue Versace suit which he thinks is a little 'over the top' for 'everyday' wear -- meaning, I guess, appearing on television shows -- and he looks like TWO million bucks! I'm dressed up, too, but not in a suit, of course. I feel stupid wearing one and it isn't really my style. But I'm in a pair of black leather pants and boots that look good with my new blue Prada shirt and the black silk jacket. I was worried about not wearing a tie, but Brian says as we get out of the cab at the restaurant, "If you're with me -- you won't need one." And he's right.
"Brian." I look at the table and tug at his sleeve. "Maybe something a little less -- front and center?" I keep thinking about what Jimmy said this morning about Cynthia going along with us as a cover. Now I'm getting paranoid.
But Brian misunderstands me. "Do you have something a little more -- private?" he asks the man.
The maitre d' looks at me and then nods. "Certainly, Mr. Kinney. This way." And he leads us to a table in a quiet corner, surrounded by plants and candles.
"Is this better, Sunshine? More your idea of 'romantic'?" Brian smirks.
"Definitely. It's so dark back here I can hardly even read the menu." I open it and it's all in French, of course.
"That's okay because I'm doing all the ordering," he states.
"Brian! I want to know what I'm eating!"
"Trust me," he says. "I'll make sure you aren't poisoned."
While Brian tells the waiter exactly what he wants and how he wants it, I notice the set up of the place. I mean, I was a waiter myself, so I'm interested in how a really fancy restaurant does things. The first thing I notice is that there are a LOT of people serving -- waiters, assistant waiters, wine stewards, busboys all converge on the table with each course. They seem disappointed when Brian doesn't order any wine -- I wondered if he would -- and I'm proud when he requests a specific French mineral water. He really IS on the wagon.
We start off with a quail egg and caviar salad and the food goes nuts from there. I think of French food as mainly heavy creamy stuff, but this is all grilled fish with light sauces and herbs and it isn't heavy or creamy at all. Of course, Brian would never eat anything like that, anyway, but it's still a surprise. I never really liked French food -- Italian is my favorite -- but this is really good.
"What do you think of Leslie?" Brian asks midway through the main course.
"The PR woman? I think she's nice. Why do you ask?"
"Because I was thinking of asking her if she was interested in working for me full-time. Not as a personal assistant, exactly, but to set up an office out in Los Angeles. Handle all of my public relations shit and coordinate shooting schedules and interviews, that kind of thing. Ron's office was handling all that stuff at first, and then Lew Blackmore. But I want someone who works just for me. Someone I trust. I thought of Cynthia first thing, but she's really getting started at Ryder now and I can't ask her to leave Pittsburgh -- I know her family is there and she's close to them."
"Cynthia would probably do it -- if you asked her."
"I know she would, but I don't want her to quit what she's doing now. On the other hand, Leslie has said a few things that made me believe she'd like to change jobs. She's based in Chicago now and she mentioned that she'd like to try her hand out in L.A. And she'd be the boss in the office -- she could hire a small staff to run things and do things her way. I think she'd like that. Then she wouldn't have to push whatever crap films the studio told her to. She'd only have to push MY crap films!"
"All your films are good, Brian! BOTH of them."
"All THREE of them, you mean, Justin." He stares into the candle on the table. "Jimmy told me that the production company has put the DVD release of 'Red Shirt' on hold -- again."
"Is that good? Or a bad thing?" I know Brian has mixed feelings about 'Red Shirt' -- obviously. But for me -- it still creeps me out. I keep thinking back to that night at the Carnegie Mellon film festival. Seeing Brian up there on the screen in that dark auditorium just sucked all the air out of my body -- and out of my life for a long, long time. And he was so scared. And in such pain. And so very beautiful.
"I don't know. Ron put it on hold. I think that... Ron doesn't want stuff to come out about me just as 'The Olympian' is being released. Not that it would make one bit of difference to me... but to Ron and to the studio it's a different story. The thing may never come out now. And that would be a shame because, regardless of what it shows, it's a good film. A really good film. I watched it all the way through on Ron's video when I first went out to Los Angeles. I wanted to see... what it showed. And I watched it again a few times after that." He blinks and then looks at me. "It wouldn't bother ME at all if the whole story came out... I mean, I don't think it would bother me. Not now."
"Maybe if it came out a little later? After 'The Olympian' was already a big hit? Then people could judge it by, you know, everything that came after it." By which I mean they could judge Brian by what he's accomplished in his life after 'Red Shirt' -- which is a hell of a lot!
"That's what Jimmy says. But I wonder...."
"Brian," I say, beginning to worry. "If Leslie really goes to work for you -- can you afford that? I mean, to run an office out in L.A. with a staff. And then you have the loft and your apartment in L.A. And my studio. And the boat and the dock charges, which is like another rent. And then Gus and the new baby. And my tuition and... and all the stuff you buy me. I... I just want to make sure that you can afford it all, Brian. Because I see what you buy and what things cost! That Paul Smith turtleneck still has the tag on it -- $190 for a plain black turtleneck, Brian! And my Prada shirt and the jacket -- I know I wasn't supposed to be paying attention, but I know it came to over a thousand dollars."
Brian looks at me -- and then he laughs. "$1546 -- before taxes, to be exact."
"Shit, Brian!" I say. "I... I can't keep doing this! I worry about what you are spending! I mean, I know that you have to keep up a certain image. And you want ME to look good, too, but...."
"Justin, stop!" he says, putting his hand over mine. "Don't worry about it. Really. That's the LAST thing you should think about. The VERY last thing. Because on my dresser in the hotel is the contract for 'Red River' that I have to sign and return to Lew Blackmore when I get back to the Coast. And my base salary, without the escalator clauses if I win any major awards between now and the release of 'Red River,' is four million dollars. Of course, Eastwood is getting five times that much, but that's the reality of the Movie Biz."
I know my mouth is hanging open. "Four MILLION? DOLLARS? Are you shitting me, Brian?"
"No, Justin," he says. And I can see that he isn't. "And that's nothing. Tom Cruise gets $25 million per picture and so does Harrison Ford. Hugh Grant gets $10 million, for fucksake! Jimmy is getting $20 million for the stupid comedy he starts filming in January. And the kicker is that they are filming it in Toronto in order to 'save' money! It's a joke -- but I'm not sure who that joke is on. Probably everybody."
My mouth is still open. I'm fucking stunned. "Brian! I've been sitting around the loft, worrying about you and your expenses! Do you realize that? And you're always making jokes about living in the car and me having to support you by drawing pictures on the street when you're unemployed?"
"Which just proves that comedy is NOT my forté." Brian smirks at me.
"Jesus, Brian! Talk to me about this stuff, will you? If we're going to be partners -- really and truly -- then you have to tell these things!"
"I'm telling you now. So, are you going to quit school and spend all your time doing your nails and watching the soaps?"
"Of course not!"
"Then the money doesn't make any difference. Not really. Because I know you really meant it when you told me that you'd be happy to live on the street as long as you were with me. But if I have anything to do with it, you'll never have to."
For dessert Brian orders fruit for himself, but he tells them to bring me the lemon gateau with buttercream frosting. When it comes to the table there are real flowers decorating the top. It's the most amazing piece of cake I've ever seen!
"Am I supposed to eat the flowers, Brian?"
He laughs. "Some people do -- but it isn't a requirement!"
I inhale the gateau -- without the flowers -- because we have to be at Studio 54 in time for the show.
We actually get to the theater a little early -- I mean, early for Brian, who always likes to make a last minute entrance! Two guys stop us just outside the door. "You're Brian Kinney!" squeals the first guy. "Can I have your autograph?" He and his friend are devouring Brian with their eyes.
"Sure," says Brian, taking out his Mont Blanc pen. He's getting to be an expert at this.
"Frankie and I are going to be the FIRST in line at 'The Olympian'! We went to THREE promo parties for it! One in Chelsea, one in the East Village, and one in Brooklyn! You are SO hot!"
"Um, thanks," says Brian, signing the envelopes that their 'Cabaret' tickets are in.
"Can I get YOUR autograph, too?" the first guy asks me while Brian is signing for his friend. "I saw you on 'Letterman' last night!"
"You did?" I say. "You mean you recognize me from that little bit?"
"Of course!" says the guy. "You two were making out! How could ANYONE miss THAT? And besides, you are hot, too! Are you in anything? Any movies?"
"Me?" I say, as Brian hands me his pen to sign the guy's envelope.
"Yes," interrupts Brian. "He has a small but vital role in a new British film called 'Hammersmith.' Probably opening after Christmas."
"We'll be looking for it! Thanks!" The two guys really seem excited to be standing there with us. They go on and on about how they've seen 'Cabaret' seven times, with every different cast. "Of course, Alan Cumming was the best -- but Raul Esparza is wonderful, too!"
"Who are those people waiting over there?" I point to a line forming to one side of the door to Studio 54.
"Oh, mostly students -- waiting for standby or standing room only tickets," says the first guy. I see. That's the line I would be in -- if I weren't with Brian.
"We have an extra ticket," Brian says to me, looking over there. Because Cynthia is out again tonight with her actor, so she begged off dinner and the show. "Should I give it to someone?"
"What if you turned it back in at the box office, Brian?"
"They'd resell it to some rich tourist," he says. "You pick someone, Justin."
I scan the crowd, but I can't decide. Most of the people seem to be couples or in groups. They laugh and stamp their feet as they stand in line, trying to keep warm, because it's starting to really feel like November. "You do it, Brian."
He takes out the extra ticket and goes over to the line. He walks up and down, appraising the group. He's looking at them the way he used to assess possible tricks at Babylon. Funny, but when I first started to hang out with Brian I had his 'type' pretty well figured out. He liked tall, dark haired guys. Thin and intense guys. Those were even the types that he selected as models for his advertising campaigns. Emmett and Ted used to snark that Brian liked guys that were like Brian's mirror image because that was the closest he could come to fucking himself!
But after going to Los Angeles I realized something very different -- it wasn't himself that he was always looking for. No, it was guys who reminded him of Ron. Or the younger, hunkier version of Ron. But even by then his tastes had started to change. His campaigns began featuring very young, smooth blond guys. And the porn flicks that he would bring home for us to watch -- he always picked out reels that featured hairless, pale twinks. So, his tastes had definitely changed.
And as I watch Brian stalk the standby line I know immediately who he's going to select. There's one blond kid standing there alone, a backpack slung over his shoulder. Brian stops and gives him the ticket. Some people in the line recognize Brian and he shakes hands with them, but there's no time for more autographs. The kid, smiling broadly, takes his ticket and goes into the theater. He'll be sitting next to us and I'll be curious to talk to him when we get inside. A year ago I would have worried that Brian was just picking out a trick or an extra guy for 'The Game,' but not anymore. Brian doesn't even glance after the kid, but he turns back and leads me inside.
"I knew you'd give it to that kid, Brian," I say as the usher escorts us to our seats. I'm getting excited to see the show and even Brian acts like he's at least mildly interested, even if it is a detested musical!
"You have me all figured out now," Brian says, squeezing my hand. "See? I've already lost that enigmatic quality and I've only been domesticated for -- what? -- five minutes?" he jokes, rolling his eyes melodramatically.
"You'll never be domesticated, Brian," I say as we settle into our seats. The blond student is sitting next to me and he grins at us as the lights go down.
"I'm sure wolves thought so, too," Brian whispers. "Before they were turned into fucking French Poodles!"
"Just shut up and watch the show!" I say. "I want to enjoy it without you telling me every five minutes that I'm turning into Emmett just for liking musicals, Brian."
"All right. But remember -- no fucking Barbra Streisand CDs! Ever!" He gives me a little pinch to remind me. "Or I want an immediate divorce!"
"I promise, Brian!" I breathe. "Cross my heart."
Back at the hotel I'm still psyched about 'Cabaret.' Yes, it's kind of a depressing story, but the way it's done is so cool. And the actors in it are hot. And the music is great. And did I mention that it's hot? And I can tell that even Brian had a good time.
After the show was over, a man came out and asked us if we want to go backstage and meet the cast. Of course I wanted to go, but Brian was reluctant.
"Come on, Brian!" I said.
And he rolled his eyes. "I can see the writing on the wall. I'm going to get dragged every-fucking-where that YOU want to go from now on!"
"And?" I said, giving him one of those 'please-please-please?' faces. It always works.
It was fun backstage. And Raul Esparza, the guy who plays the MC -- did I mention that he's hot? -- I couldn't stop staring at his body. And you see a lot of it, too. I think Brian was a little jealous that I was talking to Raul for so long. For once Brian just ignored the hot guys and paid more attention to the other members of the cast, Hal Linden and Molly Ringwald.
"I used to think she was really cute in those old Brat Pack movies like 'The Breakfast Club' and 'Pretty in Pink,'" Brian says back at the Wyndham. He's getting undressed, which is always fun to watch.
"You mean before you knew you were a queer, Brian?"
"No, I definitely knew I was a queer," Brain says, hanging up his suitcoat and then his pants in the closet. "But watch those movies -- she was a fag hag even back then!"
"So, when are you going to make your Broadway debut, Brian?"
He laughs. "NEVER! It looks like hard work. Saying the same lines over and over every night. Like I said before, Justin, you have to be a real actor to do that."
"You ARE a 'real' actor, Brian! I'm going to have to kick you if you keep saying that!"
"You have to catch me first," he says. But he doesn't run away too fast. Almost like he WANTS me to catch him! I push him down on the bed and we roll around a little, but I'm still dressed.
"I think the leather pants should be a permanent feature of your wardrobe," says Brian. "They definitely emphasize... er... certain portions of the anatomy." He runs his hands over my ass.
"You don't think they're too tight?"
"Well, if they feel too tight, then we'll have to loosen them... somehow." Brian rolls me over on my back and undoes the front of the pants. "Sometimes you need a little air... to breathe." He pulls on my pants -- and then starts laughing. "What's this?"
"I guess I forgot to wear my underpants," I say, as he eases my leather pants down my hips and off. "I'm getting to be as bad as you, Brian."
"Let's hope so. I need someone to keep up with me."
"No problem. I think I can handle it."
"We'll see about that," Brian says. "I'll be right back." But instead of going into the bathroom or into his 'stash' in the drawer of the nightstand, he goes out into the suite and comes back with a small bottle.
"What have you got there, Brian?" I say, taking off my new Prada shirt and hanging it up. It's already a bit wrinkled, but I don't want it to get mangled. Brian tears the wrapping off the bottle.
"Babycham!" I say. "Like in England!" Brian thinks it's tacky fake champagne, but I like it. "Where did you get that?"
"I asked the concierge to find me some and have it put in the fridge," he says. He tilts the bottle into his mouth. "It's cold and it's fizzy -- that's about all you can say for it."
He passes the bottle to me and I take a little swig. "It IS nice and fizzy. And it reminds me of our picnic at Firelands."
"Since I'm not supposed to have real champagne," he says. "I thought this would be the next best thing. Come over here."
I sit down next to him on the bed. "We don't have any glasses, Brian."
Brian takes the bottle from me and takes another swig. "Do you really need fancy glasses? Isn't it 'romantic' enough for you?"
"Sure it is. Plenty 'romantic'!" I laugh.
"Because I don't need a glass, since I'm planning to drink the rest of this out of your ass," he adds. And my dick sits right up when he says that. "I see you approve."
"I can't hide anything from you, Brian. I never could."
"You better not." He takes a drink and then hands me the bottle. He stares at me intently. He's saying something here -- we both know it. Sealing the 'Deal' -- except this is one deal that doesn't have a time limit on it. At least, not if I have anything to say about it.
I take the bottle and drink out of it, too. Then I reach for his mouth, setting the bottle on the nightstand. We kiss for a long, long time, just that. Just our mouths, together. I know Brian prefers using his mouth for other things besides talking and, for once, I don't mind. I don't want words to spoil it. Not right now.
Eventually, he turns me over and goes to work on my ass. And, yes, he opens it up with his fingers and his tongue and then dribbles the fizzy fake champagne over my crack. The cool liquid feels like fucking rocket fuel and I feel like I'm ready to take off! He sucks up the Babycham and then splashes more all over my ass and starts all over again until I'm about ready to scream!
"Brian! For fucksake! Do it NOW! What are you waiting for? An engraved invitation?" I turn and look back at him. He's got the condom in his hand, so he's ready. He's just teasing me.
"That's exactly what I'm waiting for, Justin," he says, smiling enigmatically. And I realize that I've seen that look before. In the parking garage, by the Jeep. Waiting for permission. Waiting for me to say 'yes.' As if I haven't already said 'yes' in everything I've done with him, everything I've said to him ever since I first saw him on Liberty Avenue, in the light of that streetlamp.
I turn over to face him. "You don't need to do that, Brian. You don't need to ask. And neither do I. Believe me."
And when he moves into me it burns and fizzes like nothing I've never felt before. It really is like rocket fuel, sending us both over the edge. Sending us somewhere else. Somewhere neither of has ever been before. And it feels fucking incredible!
And now there really IS no turning back.
Continue on to "My Favorite Mistake -- Part 4", the next section.
©Gaedhal, March 2003.
Updated April 5, 2003.