This is Part 1 of Chapter 52 in the "Queer Theories" series.
Go back to "A Natural Woman", the previous chapter.
Narrated by Tess Hardy, featuring Brian Kinney, Jimmy Hardy, Ron Rosenblum, Annie Hardy, Diane Rhys, Dolly Weinstein, Others.
Rated R and contains no warnings or spoilers.
Summary: Tess Hardy details her encounters with Brian, December 2001- June 2002.
Disclaimer: This is for fun, not profit. Watch Queer As Folk on Showtime, buy the DVDs, videos, and CDs. Read the stories and enjoy.
"Well," I said, coolly. "I think he's sweet."
"Oh, Tess! You are too much! You must be the only person in the universe who would describe THAT creature as 'sweet'! My God, I don't even think his completely addled boyfriend would say that he was 'sweet'!"
Dolly Weinstein poked maliciously at her salad as if it were a piece of poor Brian.
"You don't know him as well as I do. I think he's just insecure. A lot of good-looking people are secretly very insecure. And troubled. But they cover it with a tough, sarcastic exterior. Brian is actually very sensitive."
"Yes, like a bull-moose, he's sensitive."
I wondered if Dolly had tried to put the moves on Brian and been rejected. It would seem likely, since Dolly would make a pass at any accessible man, especially one as desirable as Brian. The fact that he was obviously gay wouldn't deter her at all. In fact, Dolly would see it as a positive challenge. And a very firm rebuff might well turn her into an enemy. Plus the fact that her husband Freddy was still steaming that Brian wasn't his client. Instead, he was being represented by my husband Jimmy's own agent, Lew Blackmore. And a better agent, too, than Freddy, in my humble opinion. So, Dolly may well have had a double beef against my poor Brian.
Yes, I say 'my poor Brian.' Perhaps it's just my maternal instinct kicking in. My Italian Mama complex that lurks beneath the persona of the Perfect Hollywood Wife (so said 'People Magazine,' June 1999 cover story, 'The True Dish About Hollywood Wives!'). I admit, as an actress I was strictly mediocre, but as Jimmy's wife, I am a star! But there's something about Brian -- every time I see him I want to mother him. Wrap him up in a bundle and carry him off to feed him, wipe his face, and tuck him into bed. I know it's not the usual reaction -- but it's mine.
Maybe it dates to the first time I met him. Freddy's agency (always trying to lure Jimmy away from Lew Blackmore) was letting us use their company cottage (actually a five bedroom, fully-staffed and stocked house) in Maui. Jimmy had just finished a fiendish shoot -- period movies with elaborate costumes are a bitch. Jimmy, coming from a television and comedy background, really felt the stress of 'dressing up' and then trying to act, coming home every day from the set yelling about 'leaving that shit to the limeys'! He was ready to unwind, but, as usual in a stone workaholic, also restless and thinking about the next project. So, Jimmy invited Ron to come along and work on the final draft of the 'Olympian' script while we hung out for the New Year in one of the most beautiful places on Earth. Jimmy is convinced that Ron is an important director-in-the-making -- and he wants HIS picture to be the one that launches him. And Jimmy is convinced that it will.
So, I couldn't have been more surprised when Ron showed up the day after we arrived with a friend. More than a friend. An obvious boyfriend! I've known Ron since Jimmy made 'Liberty' and Ron was an assistant director on that project, and I've known from day one that he was gay. That was one of the reasons he was hired for 'Liberty,' as part of the 'gay quota' Jimmy insisted on for crew and staff. But Ron and Jimmy -- who couldn't be more different in background, experience, and personality -- immediately 'bonded' and Ron became Jimmy's sounding board for all things queer. Jimmy had admired some documentary Ron had made very early on and trusted his judgment. Even then they were talking about 'The Olympian' -- the great unmade (and supposedly unfilmable) picture from the Seventies. It was Ron's dream project -- and he injected Jimmy with his enthusiasm for it.
But Ron was always unaccompanied. Always. Oh, sometimes he took Magda Dare, the old starlet from the Fifties, to parties or even premieres. Magda was now a campy old crone, but she was a character and a favorite of all the gay boys, her pictures a staple of midnight showings and 'bad movie' film festivals. But Ron always treated her with great respect, as if she were still the young and beautiful movie star he had once collected photos of and tacked to his wall. I liked that about Ron.
Other times he escorted Freddy Weinstein's widowed sister, Sheila. They're about the same age and I know that Sheila has always had a huge crush on Ron. But their relationship was strictly platonic from the get-go. Sheila tried to make it more, Lord knows, but I kept telling her that it was hopeless. Poor Sheila was certain she was desperately in love with Ron and that some day he would come around and whisk her off her feet. Not.
"But, Tess, how can you be SURE? He's never WITH anyone? He must not be all THAT gay!"
"Sheila, darling, you are living in a dream world!" I was always telling her. Jimmy had shown me Ron's straight-to-video 'queer romance' flicks and I had no doubt where Ron's true leanings lay. But as time went by and he never seemed to act on them -- at least in public -- even I wondered. Just a little.
And now -- I wondered no more. A boyfriend! And such a boyfriend! He came trailing up to the terrace from the car, dressed in skin-tight white pants that left absolutely nothing to the imagination and a sea-green gauze shirt that showed off a delicious expanse of chest and made his hazel eyes look like golden-rimmed emeralds.... Man! I almost fell off my chair!
I was dying to talk to Ron. To observe his new friend. To find out everything I could. But Ron dragged his prize into their suite and that's the last we saw of either of them for about twelve hours.
"Are they coming to dinner?" I asked Jimmy as we got ready to sit down.
"You could push a tray under the door -- but I wouldn't bother."
"They MUST be hungry!"
"I think Ron is making up for about fourteen years of jerking off in there! What does he need with food?"
"Jimmy! Don't be disgusting!"
"I'm not disgusting -- I'm jealous!"
"What a joker you are, Jimmy."
Later that night I pestered my husband for further information. I still hadn't caught so much as a glimpse of our guests since they had arrived.
"So, tell me -- wherever did Ron FIND him?"
"Long, long story," he answered, cryptically.
"More specific, please."
"Back East." And that's all he would say. Jimmy can be a pig sometimes, even if he is America's Favorite Boy Next Door (according to 'Time Magazine,' 1993 cover story, 'America's Boy Next Door Gets Serious').
"You knew about this, didn't you? Before we came here. And you didn't tell me!"
"I may have known... something."
"What the hell good is a husband if you can't get him to spill any gossip? Especially about his best friend?"
"Us men have to stick together. If you knew that Ron was bringing somebody, you would have driven me nuts trying to get details."
"And so I'll drive you nuts NOW, because you aren't getting to sleep until I know more!"
"Tomorrow you can set yourself to discover all you need to know, Nancy Drew. That is -- if they EVER come out of that bedroom. Which I'm beginning to doubt will happen in our lifetime. So -- I am going to sleep and leave you to handle everything, as you always do in your own inimitable way." And Jimmy rolled over and was snoring within minutes. I hate that about him.
Of course, I immediately got out of bed and headed for the kitchen. A little milk -- perhaps with a shot of Irish Cream in it, would about hit the spot. But someone had already beaten me to it.
My mystery guest was sitting at the kitchen table. He'd already found the Irish Cream, but he wasn't bothering with the milk. He was wearing a long midnight blue silk robe that made his chestnut hair glow like mahogany. He looked good enough to eat -- and I'm married to a movie star, remember. He was staring into space, his mouth slightly open. I thought maybe he was high on something, but the second he saw me walk in the kitchen he snapped out of it. He looked like a little boy who'd been caught with his hand in the cookie jar. Man, I'm a sucker for that.
I've heard people talk about how rude and arrogant Brian can be. And, yes, he can be -- with rude and arrogant people. But around me he has never been so. And at first he seemed so shy and uncertain that I made it my project to draw him out and find out everything I could about my dreamy houseguest.
"So, you've already found just what I was looking for."
He looked a little sheepish. "It isn't exactly my usual -- but I thought it might do the trick."
"Since we just got in yesterday I haven't had time to restock the bar. Seems heavy on the Kahlua and fruit juices. What's your usual?"
"Absolut. Jim Beam. Swamp water with gasoline siphoned into it. In other words, I'm Irish."
"Duh. I'm no Einstein, but that wasn't too hard to guess." I went to the refrigerator and pulled open the freezer. "If we're going to do this, let's do it right. Do you like ice cream?"
"This isn't a trick question, is it?"
"No. I'm Italian -- we pretty much go for the straightforward questions. If you've seen 'The Godfather' you'll know what I mean."
"Then, yes -- I like ice cream."
I took out a gallon of French Vanilla and brought it to the table with two bowls and a couple of spoons.
"Now, we can drink this," I held up the bottle of Bailey's that Brian had already deftly opened. "Or...." I scooped the ice cream into the bowls and poured the Irish Cream over the top. "You won't get drunk and you might get fat -- but I think it's worth the ride."
He seemed to agree as we dug in.
"You aren't going to tell me anything, are you?"
"What kinds of things do you want to know?"
"Why EVERYTHING about you, of course!"
"Then -- no." He poured a little more Bailey's on top of his ice cream.
I learned very little about Brian that night -- or ever, for that matter. I mean about where he came from and who his people were. Talking about himself seems to be the thing he least likes to do. In that he's unlike almost every other Irish guy I've ever known, including my own husband, because Lord knows that talking about himself is Jimmy's favorite sport. But just sitting, eating alcoholic ice cream with someone is a form of communication. And I found that I liked my guest. He seemed a little sad and a little remote, as if there was another place he should have been. But he was also excited and eager, like a little kid on an adventure. But he certainly didn't come across as the typical brash West Hollywood fashion queen.
I came away thinking that Ron could do a lot, lot worse.
The next morning Ron was at breakfast -- but just barely. Jimmy was bemused by his bleary condition. 'Rode hard and put away wet' was the phrase that came to my mind.
"Hey, Ron. Let's go out and run a few miles up the mountain? Whatja say?"
"Shut the fuck up, Jimmy."
"How about we go over and try some body-surfing? Looks like some good waves today."
"Fuck you, Jimmy."
"Ron, what say we sit down and do a complete rewrite of the script today? I'm up for it!"
"If you don't be quiet, Jimmy, I'll have to kill you."
"Just making sure you're enjoying your vacation."
"Jimmy, why don't you leave Ron alone and eat your pancakes?"
Food is always a good way to quiet Jimmy. Once his mind is on his stomach you don't have to worry about much else until he's full.
"So, Ron -- what are you planning to do today?"
He just stared at me. If he'd been smart, he would have gone back to sleep for about two days.
"I mean, do you and Brian have any plans while you're here?"
"I don't know. I never thought about it. I guess I didn't think much beyond just getting here."
"I have some guidebooks and stuff that Annie and I were looking at last night. You might want to glance over them and see if anything interests you."
"Sure." He took a few of the brochures and a guidebook and began to page through them.
Just then Brian appeared. He was washed, dressed, combed, and smoothed -- and looked like a million bucks. He also knew exactly where he was going and what he was going to do when he got there. He had a 'Gay Guide to Maui' in his hot little hand and looked like he planned to use it.
"So, Brian," said Jimmy. "What's on your agenda?"
"Shopping. In Wailea."
"I could get into that!" I said.
"Why don't you come along -- except...."
"Oh, no!" moaned Ron.
"We were going to the beach over by Makena afterwards."
"We don't have to!"
"Yes, we do."
"Well, are you going or not? I'd like to try the beach." I was confused now.
Jimmy leaned over to me. "It's a nude beach."
"Well, I'm always up for an adventure," I said. I saw Ron roll his eyes.
"Tess," said Jimmy. "It's guys only."
"Oh." But I still wanted to go. Even more so, now!
Ron dragged himself off to get dressed while Brian sat on the lanai with our daughter, Annie. They were laughing together.
"What's up, guys?" I said, curiously.
"Brian is going to take me shopping -- and then to the beach."
He must have seen the alarm on my face, because Brian added, "Not today. And not THAT beach."
For the next few days I watched Ron chase his new boyfriend from one beach to the next, from exclusive shopping mall to volcano expeditions to a search for a certain 'amazing' waterfall mentioned in Brian's guidebook, and -- every evening -- from club to club, trying desperately to keep up. And when they weren't racing from venue to venue, they were locked in their suite, with the music turned up loud. Brian was thriving on the activity, but poor Ron seemed to be getting winded quickly.
"Maybe you guys better take it easy for a while?" I said one morning. Ron was fortifying himself with coffee for another jam-packed day. "After all, you're supposed to be relaxing."
"This is the way Brian relaxes."
"Good Lord -- I'd hate to see how he is when he's all wound up!"
"He's got more fucking energy than he had when he was sixteen, that's for certain!"
I frowned. "How do you know? Have you known Brian that long, Ron?"
But I'd hit on some kind of nerve and Ron shut up like a trap.
That night, after they left for some big party Brian had been invited to -- and the invitations for Brian were coming in with increasing regularity -- I mentioned it to Jimmy.
"Now THAT is the REAL story here, Tess."
"What do you mean?"
"This," he said, and pulled out a DVD. "This is what my production company is going to be releasing sometime next year. It's Ron's first film, 'Red Shirt.'"
And he proceeded to tell me the story of the documentary and Ron's big search and trauma -- which seemed to explain a lot of his behavior over the years I'd known him -- as well as his rediscovery of Brian very recently.
'Why didn't you ever tell me any of this before?
Jimmy just shrugged. "Wanna watch the picture?"
"Of course I do! I'm dying to, now."
I watched with intense fascination. There's nothing like watching movies of people you know -- you keep looking for some secret insight into their behavior. And there was plenty of food for thought in that ninety minute documentary. Naturally, the part that got to me was the ending. When it came to the final moments of narration -- "Lost boys, balanced between hope and hopelessness, but never again to be found or saved" -- I was completely in tears.
"That's about the saddest thing I've ever seen in my whole life!" I said, pulling another Kleenex out of the box.
But Jimmy was gleeful. "See what Ron can do when he has some great material? Look what he did with that kid. I mean, he's not an actor, probably barely coherent most of the time on drugs and God knows what else and he's like fucking DeNiro!" He bounced off of the bed, retrieving the DVD from the machine.
"I think it's tragic! Imagine how damaged he must be! He was practically a child!"
"Not at all -- Sixteen."
"Sixteen! My God!" I flashed on my daughter. "Annie is fourteen -- only two years younger!"
"That's Annie, a pampered Beverly Hills girl. That's not THAT kid. That kid could have taught John Dillinger AND Donald Trump a thing or two." He snapped the DVD back into its case and tossed it on a pile of DVDs and videos next to the television set.
"Jimmy, a child is a child."
"Not always, Tess. Not always." Jimmy got back into bed and sat up against the pillows. "The one I feel sorry for -- the one YOU should feel sorry for -- is Ron."
"Why should I feel sorry for him?"
"Because THAT one is really going to break his heart big time -- feel sorry for THAT. I mean, he already HAS, if you think about it. This is just the big encore. Only this time he's going to jump on it, and kick it around, and stomp it into mush."
"Jimmy, why assume that? Why not give them both the benefit of the doubt?" Everyone in Hollywood is so damn cynical. No one has any romantic feeling -- unless it has a price attached to it.
"Oh, it's inevitable. Look at the guy, Tess -- he's got heartbreak written all over him! He should come with a fucking warning label! The only good thing, though, is that the LAST time he fucked Ron over Ron got a great movie out of the experience. I'm hoping the same thing will apply for this picture. Yes, he should be getting kicked in the balls right about the time we are ready to roll camera. And all that angst will be fucking great for my picture!"
"That's horrible, Jimmy. That's like profiting from someone else's misery!"
"So? I'm just being realistic, Tess. I'm sure a year from now the name 'Brian' will be one we'll have to whisper behind Ron's back -- like when you don't want to mention someone's ex-wife or former agent in front of him because it's too painful a subject. But I'll have my movie done and it will be a killer, I'm sure."
Jimmy had planned to give a small New Year's Eve party for some of the agents and other people he knew on the island over the holidays. Just a small affair.
Until Brian got involved. I thought it wasn't possible to whip together a fully catered bash on two day's notice for the biggest party night of the year. But between Brian and myself, we managed it.
I had noticed that when we went out to dinner and also to the clubs a couple of times with Brian and Ron, that there was a bit of tension between them over Brian's interest in the very good-looking waiters that seemed to proliferate on Maui. When talking to the caterers -- who were quite willing to accommodate the famous Jimmy Hardy and his friends -- I attempted to avoid any possible confrontation by asking for an all female catering staff. In other words -- no dishy young waiters to tempt what was obviously one of Brian's weaknesses. The catering firm was only too happy to oblige.
Of course, my smart move was rendered pointless by the appearance at the party of a herd of sexy, young, well-dressed men, obviously reeled in by Brian on various sorties to the clubs, the bars, or just meandering down to town. Brian seemed to draw men like a tiki torch draws bugs -- they flew directly into the flames.
At the party they were all decorative and very well-behaved. I saw no overt drug usage or out of control boozing. No humping in my living room or on the terrace, which was transformed into a dance floor. And the boys each took a turn dancing with my daughter Annie. She was in heaven and completely in love with Brian, who introduced her to everyone as his date. I suddenly flashed on Annie a few years in the future, dressed in a glittering outfit and dancing her ass off, surrounded by beautiful boys -- the happiest fag hag in West Hollywood. I guess there are worse fates for shy, plain little girls growing up in the snakepit of Beverly Hills.
And Brian, dressed in form-fitting black leather pants and a black velvet jacket that made him look like a decadent Edwardian aristocrat on his colonial plantation, presided over the festivities like HE was the movie star. Jimmy and Ron, in their usual island casualwear -- khaki pants and Aloha shirts -- looked like also-rans, as did most of our movie business friends. There was no way that we could even begin to compete with Brian and his alluring pick-ups.
I watched Ron and Brian that night and felt that Jimmy was right -- someone was heading straight into heartbreak. But I couldn't be certain at all who it was really going to be. Who, indeed.
Continue on to "All the Good Ones Are -- Part 2", the conclusion of the chapter.
©Gaedhal, July 2002
Send Gaedhal any comments, critiques, suggestions.
Updated July 17, 2002