This is Part 2 of Chapter 105 in the "Queer Theories" series.
Go back to "Ground Fog -- Part 1", the previous section.
The narrator is Brian Kinney, featuring Dorian Folco, Ivan, Kenroy Smith, Sir Kenneth Fielding, Billy Phillips-Smythe, Harry Collins, Sybil Milton, Albert Symmonds, Nick Parr, Rowan Conley, Nigel, Charley Weston, Davy Davis, Others.
Rated R and contains no warnings or spoilers.
Summary: Brian attends the 'Hammersmith' Premiere, sees some old friends, and gets a few surprises. London, October 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.
It's the day of 'Hammersmith' premiere and I find out another thing, besides an obsession with his own films, that Dorian has in common with Ron -- and that's an obsession with the way I'm dressed when I'm out in public with him.
Now, I'm pretty fastidious about myself -- usually. I like order and I like to be clean and I like to look good. But I admit that I'm also a slob at times. But only on my own time. I could go for days at the loft without shaving or getting dressed or combing my hair -- as long as I wasn't going to work or out to Babylon or expecting any company. And I admit that my basic grubby 'guy' nature comes out with a vengeance when I'm at the boat and don't have anyone expecting me to have perfect hair or clean socks every minute -- or any socks, for that matter! Justin didn't mind it when we were up at the island. He doesn't usually seem to care what I wear or don't wear. Or whether my fucking hair is perfectly styled. It doesn't matter to him.
But Dorian is doing that thing where he's always picking pieces of lint off my clothes. That used to drive me up a wall when Ron did it. I've got a new Armani tuxedo that I'm wearing tonight and the fucking thing was made for me. The House of Armani sent a tailor over to Dorian's house especially to do the final fitting, so I know there's nothing wrong with the fit at all, but Dorian just can't stop pulling at it! Dorian is constantly 'adjusting' something on me, whether it's my cuff or my hair or the way the jacket is draping. He's got his houseman, Ivan, acting as his assistant dresser, and between the two of them I'm about to fucking start screaming!
"Dorian, can you give it a rest? If you pull another thread off these trousers they're going to fall down!"
"Oh, sorry, Brian! Sorry!" Dorian immediately backs off. He's a nervous wreck, so maybe he has a good excuse. But he's making ME even more nervous than I already am -- and I was plenty fucking nervous to begin with! I wish I had brought some Xanax with me. I don't know how I'm going to get through this whole production without it, but I promised Justin that I wouldn't use it. I promised him. And I'm trying to stick to that promise. Trying to.
I really like Dorian. He's funny and intelligent and has a scurrilous story about everyone who's anyone in the British film industry. And he actually enjoys sex, which was something that Ron never did. Yes, Ron needed it and he did it as often as he could, but he never seemed to enjoy it at all. It was like he fucked because that's what you're expected to do. But have fun doing it? Actually crack a smile or laugh? No fucking way!
I used to be pretty grim myself when I was tricking constantly. Because when you laugh in bed you're actually communicating something with another person. Like a private joke. Or an insight about how ridiculous the whole procedure really is, when you think about it. Being in weird positions and putting your face in strange places. It can be pretty funny. But not with a trick. Because you don't give a shit about a trick's comments or insights. It's only with someone who sees the absurdity of it all along with you. Who shares that silly joke. Someone who gets your sense of 'humor.' Someone who's always laughing. Smiling. Someone who can call you on your shit -- and make you laugh at yourself.
Someone who... isn't here.
But who is always here -- in my head. I've spoken to Justin every day since I arrive in London. About what's going on, how his classes are going, what restaurants I've eaten in, what's happening with Mikey's store and the website Justin is updating. Mundane stuff. Just talking. Talking that usually develops into something more -- like marathon phone sex sessions. But I can't help it -- I miss him and I know he misses me. Because I can't keep my hand off my dick when I talk to him, hear his voice, even when it's coming from far away, even from all the way across the ocean.
Anyway, the more I observe Dorian, the more I'm not sure how I'm going to manage it here for another week and a half. I still have to talk to the press. Smile for their cameras. Keep flogging the film. And there will be Dorian, always standing right there, a foot away. Monitoring what I say and what I do. Because I sometimes feel like I'm watching a shorter, nicer version of Ron. Yes, the song may have a different title, but it's the same fucking tune! That perfectionist nature. That compulsion to control every detail. Maybe it's being a movie director. Maybe they are ALL like this and that's what makes them good directors. After all, making a film is all about detail and control. So that's probably it.
But I'm ready to get out of here now. Out of Dorian's house and out of his bed. More than ready.
I've been asked to a number of those 'House Party' shindigs for this weekend and I guess I should accept one of the invitations. I don't know any of the 'hosts' too well, but that doesn't matter. It's all about getting out of the city, and eating someone's food, and drinking their booze. You don't have to know the people at all. Just like when Justin and I went down to Harry Collin's house that first time. We didn't know him. We didn't know anyone there, except Gerry
One of the guys who invited me to his house in Hampshire is a big producer. Dorian says he's a good contact to have if I want to move here and make films in London. That's Dorian's bug right now -- me moving to London and working here. And the idea of living in this city tempts me, especially since I wouldn't have to run into Ron every time I have to go to some film event. But this producer is a total bore. I guess I could go to his place and snooze for three days, but it seems a big waste of time.
Another invitation is from a pretty well-known actor to his big house near Bath. He's done some Hollywood films, but he's mainly famous for the big budget Shakespeare adaptations he's made for his British studio. He's married to an actress he stars with a lot, but Dorian says he'll fuck anything that moves. And I can tell from the way he phrased his invitation that I'd spend the entire weekend being chased around the living room. That doesn't appeal to me either.
The invitation that seems the most intriguing is from a fellow I met at Dorian's 'schoolboy' club. He's fairly young and decent-looking and has a long title and a castle in Scotland to go with it. Scotland is supposed to be beautiful and I'd like to get a look at the scenery. The only problem is that it's a long, long train trip up to this castle and Dorian says that I'll freeze my ass off there at the end of October.
"There's NO central heating, Brian. It's will be FRIGID in that castle, and I mean that!" Dorian's been to this Lord Scotty's place. He's been everywhere, let's face it.
"Then how do they keep warm up there, Dorian?"
"How do you think, Brian? Drinking and shagging! How else?" Dorian laughs. "Should be quite your thing."
"Oh," I say. "Right." And as he says it I realize that I have no desire to take a train all the way to Scotland for a frozen weekend of drinking and shagging.
I take out my Filofax and look at my schedule. I've already given interviews to most of the British papers and entertainment magazines, like 'Time Out,' 'The Guardian,' 'The Independent,' 'The Daily Mail,' and even 'The Times.' But next week I have a bunch more with some foreign Press outfits. Some radio interviews. And a few 'chat show' appearances, too. The one I'm looking forward to is with this crazy Irishman, Graham Norton. Only in England would they have a flaming Irish poof doing a late night sex talk show! And the thing is hilarious! That's the only one I'm excited about being on.
So, my weekend plans are still up in the air. I can tell that Dorian is a bit put off that I'm not automatically staying in town with him. Not that he would ever say anything about it to me. He's too 'sophisticated' for jealousy. He told me so himself. But I can tell. And I don't want to start THAT shit again. Like I said, different title, but the same tune.
Dorian has arranged for Kenroy Smith to drive us to the premiere. Dorian has his own car, a Bentley, but the vintage Rolls is more impressive. And Ivan, Dorian's houseman, isn't the greatest of drivers at the best of times, while Kenroy is always steady as a rock. So if there are any hoards of screaming fans, Kenroy should handle the situation just fine!
Kenroy has been 'at my service' while I've been here, but I admit that I haven't made much use of him. The couple of times I've been out at night I've been with Dorian and Ivan drove us. I had been planning to hit some of the clubs while I was here. Maybe go back to a few of the places that Justin and I enjoyed last summer.
But when I think about it seriously, I realize that it wasn't those clubs I was enjoying. Not the clubs at all. It was Justin. Being with Justin. Dancing with Justin. Seeing London through his eyes. Experiencing everything through him. And the thought of going there without him is as depressing as the thought of going back and staying at The Chatterton by myself. It would only underline just how fucking miserable I actually am here without him.
Kenroy is in a jolly mood. He's never been to a premiere before -- even if he's only going to sit outside in the car. But even he is infected with the excitement. The theater is up on Leicester Square. It's a huge mother of a venue, almost two thousand seats, Dorian says, and the place will be packed tonight. The streets around it are certainly jammed. And there are huge banners and billboards of the 'Hammersmith' poster. It makes me more than a little ill to see portions of my face about eight feet tall and ten feet across.
Kenroy speaks to one of the cops and shows him some papers from the studio and they direct us into the line the leads up to the 'Red Carpet.'
"Are we supposed to 'make an entrance,' Dorian?" I say, wondering if my legs are going to hold me up.
"Of course, Brian. Just remember to smile. That's ALL you have to do," he replies, squeezing my arm. Which means that I should shut up and not say anything stupid that they can print tomorrow.
The doorman opens the door and Dorian gets out first. He immediately walks over and begins talking to a man holding a microphone. And I keep sitting here in the Rolls, like an idiot. Finally Kenroy says, "You had better get your arse out there, Brian. We're holding up the parade." And I turn and look out the back window to see a line of limos behind us, waiting.
"Shit." And so I climb out of the Rolls. I'm certain that I'm going to fall right on my 'arse' first thing. But I don't. The man with the microphone announces me to the surging crowd. "And here is the hot young star of our film, 'Hammersmith' -- Mr. Brian Kinney!"
A wall of noise comes up to greet me and I wince. High-pitched screaming. My teenage girl contingent. Some of them have huge signs that read 'We *heart* Brian' -- with the big red heart drawn in. Since they started using that photo that shows Justin's little heart charm for all the promotion material, it's apparently a big fad. Proof that you are a 'Hammersmither'! I'm trying to imagine all of these girls wanting to wear the same piece of jewelry just because I'm wearing it in the film. Hard to believe, but fucking true.
Diane always used to tell me to look away from the flashing lights from the cameras, but it's impossible not to get blinded by the glare. I suddenly wish that she were here, holding me up. Diane is a veteran of a hundred premieres and she guided me through the couple we attended like the pro that she is. I need someone walking this gauntlet with me. Someone I can trust.
Dorian beckons me over to the man with the microphone. I can't even remember what I'm saying as I'm saying it. "Excited to be here." Right. That's about it.
"And your hit song from the film, 'Baby Blue'?" says the microphone man. "Will you be doing it on 'Top of the Pops' next week?"
"I...." That one stops me cold. "I don't think so. Why would they want ME on that show?"
Dorian interrupts. "We haven't finalized that appearance yet, Nigel. We'll let all of our 'Hammersmithers' know when it's set. In the meanwhile, everyone should buy a copy of the 'Hammersmith Soundtrack'! And come and see the picture this weekend!" There's another round of cheering and screams of 'We heart Brian!' -- and then Dorian marches me along into the theater.
"Jesus, Dorian," I say. "I can't go on 'Top of the Pops'! I can't fucking SING on some television show! It's nuts!"
"You won't have to sing, Brian. It's all lip-synching," Dorian replies, serenely.
"Shit! I can't do THAT, either!"
"Just go with the flow, Brian," Dorian says. The 'Flow.' Where have I heard that one before?
I see Sir Kenneth standing in the lobby, just inside the door. Harry Collins is on one side of him. And on his other side -- Billy Phillips-Smythe holding onto Sir Ken's hand. Billy! That little slut from the house party down in Sussex! The brother of Adele, Gerry Milton's fake 'girlfriend.' The one who tried to blow me in the horse barn! The one who was making out with Hughie all the time. And he's here with Sir Ken! Jesus. Wait until Justin hears about this.
"My dear boy!" says Sir Ken. "Delighted! So delighted!" Ken kisses me on both cheeks and squeezes my arm at the same time. "I KNEW you would be perfect in this part! Didn't I say as much? Didn't I?"
"Leave it to Kenny to take ALL the credit, Dorian!" says Harry Collins.
"Well, he deserves it, Harry," answers Dorian. "After all, he DID discover Brian." Right, I think. Ron will be happy to hear THAT!
"I knew that this film would be a fine little piece of work -- but I hardly expected a hit!" Sir Ken is beaming. Not only does he give a great performance in the film as Jonathan Ash, but he's going to make a lot of money, too. Of course, I just got a flat fee to do my part. Not that I'm complaining. "I ought to do a rock and roll movie more often, my dears. Perhaps I can play the rock star next time!"
"Why not, Sir Ken? You're the same age as Mick Jagger." I comment.
"That's absolutely true, Brian! I COULD do it!" Sir Kenneth cries. He's on a roll. Billy Phillips-Smythe nods at him and smiles. The new boytoy. He's a few years older than Hughie, but he's still young. And he looks so different from the first time I saw him at Harry's house, in that tailored suit, kneeling at my feet in the dirty straw in the barn. I still can't get over it. Billy looks like he's wearing one of Hughie's old outfits -- dark maroon velvet pants and a frilly lace shirt. Ken must send all his boys to the same Used Pirate Gear store to do their shopping.
"Look what you've done now, Brian," says Dorian. "He'll NEVER want to go back and play butlers -- or Shakespeare!"
A bunch of people stop by to shake hands. The old schmooze. I even see Charley Weston and his wife, as well as the rest of the guys from the band. Charley is smiling in a very spacey way. These guys are definitely making some money if the Soundtrack is selling. The only one who comes up and speaks with me is Davy Davis, the bass player. He was also the only half-way sober guy in the whole group. I stay away from the rest of them. Getting involved with the band is the last thing I need right now.
"Brian!" I hear a piercing voice. I turn and see Sybil Milton, Gerry's sister, and her husband, Albert, the guy who looks like a walrus.
"Hello, Sybil." All I can do is wonder what the fuck she's doing here. She has nothing to do with this film. Except that the whole scene is like one big happy family and everyone has been invited to celebrate and support Dorian and Sir Ken.
"Isn't this exciting!" Sybil oozes.
"Exciting, Sybil," I answer. I've been repeating the same thing all night. "Very exciting."
"And where is Justin? Where IS that sweet boy?" she proclaims loudly.
"In school, Sybil."
"Oh," she says, clearly disappointed. "Too bad he couldn't come. My son William is in school, as well." William -- the kid no one has ever seen because he's always in school.
"That's the way it goes," I say. I'm wishing that someone will come and rescue me before Sybil starts talking about her friend Fiona. That creepy Fiona -- warning me about something in the lobby of The Dorchester. Something about Ron. And the Future. All bullshit. That's the last thing I need. I glance around to make sure that Fiona isn't lurking in the corner. Luckily, Dorian comes and pulls me over for photographs with Sir Ken.
While Ken and I are posing, Nick Parr, Dorian's assistant director on 'Hammersmith,' comes to speak to him about something. I feel uneasy and keeping glancing around, making sure that no ghosts are lurking to haunt me. And, in one of those dark corners where I was expecting to see Fiona, I see someone else who makes me blink. I look again, just to make sure.
"Dorian," I say, as I watch Nick walk over and stand next to Rowan Conley. "Who is that with Nick Parr?"
"Who, Brian?" Dorian looks over. "Oh, that's Nick's new boyfriend. He has a small part in the film. I believe Nick met him during the shoot. Nick is helping him break into acting."
Fucking Rowan Conley! That little asshole kept telling Justin that he wasn't gay! Sure! He was saying it right up until the moment he went for my cock in the hotel room! And now he's fucking Dorian's assistant director. Nick is going to 'help' Rowan break into acting! It figures. Wait until Justin hears about THIS!
A man comes over and whispers to Dorian, who then turns to me. "It's time to take our places, Brian. Are you ready?"
"Seeing that I haven't seen any of the film yet -- I guess I am." Dorian refused to show me anything more than a few promotional clips. He wants me to be surprised. I just hope I don't spend the entire showing hiding under the seat. I can barely stand to look at fucking home movies!
I sit next to Dorian, and Sir Ken and Billy sit on the other side of me, with Harry Collins next to them. Nick Parr and Rowan are just behind us. I keep thinking that Rowan is fucking staring at the back of my head, his eyes boring into my brain. I get this weird feeling that he's got a cellphone in his pocket and is relaying this entire event, play by play, back to a house in a canyon in Beverly Hills. I know I'm just being paranoid, but it's hard to shake the feeling that Ron is always following me. Watching me. Even here.
The lights go down and 'Hammersmith' begins with that damned song! My voice singing 'Baby Blue'! I've done my best to avoid hearing it by not listening to the radio since I got here, but it's right up front in the film. Of course! It's the fucking theme song of the whole picture. It sounds so different, much bigger and fuller, in this cavernous theater than it did when Justin played it in the loft. But I still can't deal with hearing myself. I can feel the sweat trickle down the back of my neck.
'Hammersmith' begins with a long tracking shot with a point-of-view camera. Very artistic looking. Dark, wet streets of London. Following someone walking, seeing what he's seeing, while the song plays and the front credits roll. Tracking up, eventually, to a theater where a poster advertises the appearance of James Hammersmith. A long -- too long! -- shot of this photo of me as Hammersmith, looking like a punky vampire.
I sink down in my seat. It's too embarrassing. "Dorian. I think I'm going to be sick."
"No you aren't, Brian," he whispers. "Now be quiet and watch the next bit. You'll be quite pleased." Sure! He can say that! I wish I had brought that fucking Xanax!
The tracking camera pans up the poster. Then, suddenly, it reverses shot to show the point-of-view figure it's been following. And I sit up, startled. Because it's Justin. His intense face fills up the screen as he stares at the poster for the Hammersmith concert. His blue eyes devour the poster. The camera lingers on him as the song plays out and the credits finish rolling. His eyes look so fucking blue, like they are unreal. Like he is a special effect.
Then the shot pulls back and shows his full figure, wearing his faded jeans and an unfamiliar old rugby shirt. His hair looks long and rumpled and slightly wet from the rain, like melting platinum.
"Jesus, Dorian. Why didn't you warn me? I didn't even know he filmed something like that."
"Nick did the shots the night of the Cure concert," says Dorian. "Nick filmed it on the other side of the venue from where the other extras were. I liked Justin's look and wanted to feature him a little. And when I saw those outtakes I knew exactly how I was going to use them. I couldn't NOT use that look on his face as he stares at the poster of James Hammersmith! All that young lust! It sets the tone for the entire picture."
"Jesus," I repeat.
"I knew you'd be pleased! Wait until Justin sees himself!"
"Dorian, I...." But I can't say anything more. I can't think of anything else but that look on Justin's face as I watch the fucking picture. My own scenes pass by without me even noticing that I'm on screen. Because I'm already anticipating those concert scenes. And when they finally come I see that Dorian has made good use of the footage of Justin and Rowan making out at the Roundhouse. I see Rowan's big, clumsy hands down the front of Justin's tight jeans, his tongue flicking against Justin's ear, while Justin stares up at James Hammersmith, riveted. Dorian has intercut the make out footage with my actions on the Roundhouse stage, making it look like everything they are doing parallels what I'm doing or singing on stage. It's uncanny.
"Nick got his new boyfriend a commercial based on showing them some clips and outtakes from these scenes. And Justin is so much better looking than that other boy. If you are interested in getting him work over here, Brian...." Dorian hesitates. "I know Justin is pursuing his art at school, but if the two of you relocate over here I'm certain that he could pick up work. He has a very usable look. Innocent and sexual at the same time."
"No fucking way," I breathe. "No fucking way!"
"If you say so, Brian," Dorian whispers back. "But you might want to let the boy make that decision -- before you make every decision for him."
But my eyes are fixed on the screen now. Watching Justin and Rowan, the camera tracking them down another dark street, as they stop and kiss. Under a streetlight. Under a fucking STREETLIGHT! I can feel my heart pounding the blood all the way up to the top of my head until its ready to explode.
"I have to go, Dorian," I say, getting up. I can't sit here another second or I'm going to be sick.
"Brian, where are you going?" says Dorian. "Are you all right? Brian!"
But I stumble past Sir Ken and Billy and Harry Collins and up the aisle. I don't know where the fuck I'm going, but I just know that I have to get out of this theater. Right now.
Continue on to "I Can't Stand Up for Falling Down", the next chapter.
©Gaedhal, January 2003.
Send Gaedhal any comments, critiques, suggestions. I welcome all of your feedback on this chapter.
Updated January 22, 2003.