This is Part 1 of Chapter 116 in the "Queer Theories" series.
Go back to "I Threw It All Away -- Part 3", the previous section.
The narrator is Justin Taylor, and features Brian Kinney, Jimmy Hardy, Tess Hardy, Annie Hardy, Penny, Others.
Rated R and contains no warnings or spoilers.
Summary: Brian and Justin get ready to go to London. December, 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.
"Hi, Justin! Remember me?"
"Sure," I say. "Penny. What's up?" I'm just finishing my last load of laundry. Tomorrow Brian and I are leaving for London and I want to make sure we have plenty of clean underwear!
"Doing the wash, as usual in the laundry room!" she laughs, dumping out a huge pile of her clothing on the utility table. "What's up with you?"
"Oh," I say, casually. "A couple of things. I got a new car for my birthday."
"Cool!" she replies, her eyes wide. "What kind of car?"
"A PT Cruiser. With the wood paneling." And I can't stop smiling thinking about it.
Penny grins back. "I like those! Should be fun driving around in that! And Happy Birthday, too!" Penny begins sorting through her laundry. There's a lot of girl underwear -- bras and panties and stuff.
"Thanks," I reply. "My birthday really isn't until tomorrow, but the car was kind of an early present." I start to say something about going to London -- but then I stop myself.
"Must be nice to get such good presents! Was it from your hunky actor?"
"Yeah, it was," I admit.
"He must be doing okay with his acting then. Not bad there, boyfriend!" she giggles. "Hey, speaking of actors, you know what?"
"Have you seen that new movie, 'The Olympian'? You must have seen it! You're gay, after all!"
I start to feel a bit uneasy. "What about it?"
"If you'd come and spend some time down at the pool you'd know ALL the dirt, Justin! I was down there this afternoon and my friend Donna -- she lives on the other side of the complex -- said that her friend Monica claims she saw Brian Kinney, the star of 'The Olympian,' at THIS apartment complex! And another girl, Lisa, said that she thought she saw him, too! Do you know who I mean? That tall, incredibly dishy guy who plays the runner?"
I swallow. "I guess."
"Don't tell me you really haven't seen 'The Olympian'?" she exclaims. "For heaven's sake, get that boyfriend to take you! That flick is hotter than hot! The sex scenes are -- well, I never thought I'd get so excited watching a couple of guys going at it, but, shit! You will just totally fall in love with this actor -- and I mean it! Then you can join our Kinney Patrol!"
"Your... what?" I say, feeling cold all over.
"Well," says Penny, confidentially. "Donna says that anyone who spots Brian Kinney will sound the alarm on their cellphone and then we can ALL come running to see if we can catch a glimpse of him! Lisa says that she thinks he lives somewhere in this complex, but I can't imagine why a movie star would live in THIS place. Donna agrees. She thinks maybe he's seeing someone who lives HERE! A lot of wannabe actresses and models live in this area because it's close to the beach AND not too far from the studios in Westwood and the like, so I think it makes sense that he's got a girlfriend around here."
"Yeah, maybe." I open up the dryer, praying that my final load is finished. But it still has a few more minutes to go. Damn.
"And it's not just in this complex, either. A couple of guys Lisa knows who go to school around here claim they saw Brian Kinney buying toilet paper at a convenience store over right by the marina! Isn't that funny? He buys his OWN toilet paper!"
"Yeah," I reply. "That's hilarious."
"I don't know a THING about computers or anything, but Donna DOES know and she found this website," Penny continues. "It's called 'The Kinney Konnection.' It's British because he's a big star over there and is in another hit movie about this rock star called 'Hammersmith.' You probably haven't heard of it because it hasn't come over here yet. Anyway, Donna e-mailed the girl who runs THAT site in England -- Brigit -- and she got really excited about the sightings and said for us to keep her updated on any information we found out AND any dirt on who he might be dating. And Brigit told Donna that she would post the info on her webpages! And also any pictures that we take of him. She especially wanted us to try and get his autograph and scan it because he hardly ever signs autographs, so that would be a real coup for us. Isn't that great?"
"Yeah, great," I say, feeling myself begin to fucking panic!
"And Brigit linked Donna into another British site, 'Beautiful Brian,' which is mainly photos and articles and stuff about Brian Kinney. Donna invited us to her apartment and we were all looking at it. That first site is more gossip and personal info, but this site is mainly gorgeous pictures of this guy -- some of them where he's practically naked! I mean it, Justin -- he's to DIE for!"
"I'm sure he is," I say. Now my throat is completely dry.
"Donna is thinking of putting up her own site and making a thing called a webring to link up to the British sites. She's sure that there will be a LOT more fan stuff coming soon. I mean, the movie just opened here and already there's plenty of stuff on the internet." Penny begins sorting through another load of blouses and fills a second machine. "Wouldn't it be a trip if we saw a real movie star here in this complex! I wonder who he's visiting?"
"I really don't know," I answer. Thank God Penny hasn't seen -- or doesn't remember -- the 'Vanity Fair' issue with Brian on the cover! Because there are pictures of ME with Brian all over that magazine. And if she -- or any of those others girls -- take a good look at THAT, then they'll know exactly who Brian Kinney is 'seeing' in this complex. And exactly WHO my actor boyfriend is! Finally my dryer goes off. The clothes are still a little damp, but I grab them anyway and shove them into my plastic basket. I need to get upstairs and tell Brian about this! "I have to get going."
"Hey, Justin!" Penny calls as I head out of the laundry room. "Do you want my cellphone number in case you see Brian Kinney? Then you can give me a call!"
"I'll get it later, Penny. I'm in kind of a hurry right now!" Which is the understatement of the fucking millennium! If this doesn't convince Brian that we need to move I don't know what will!
"Brian!" I yell as I burst through the door.
"Well, I wondered what was taking you so long," says Brian. He's standing in the living room wearing nothing but his black 501's. "I was packing for the trip, but I got bored. Come over here."
"Brian, I need to tell you something. Right now."
"Put down that stupid laundry basket, Sunshine. If we don't have enough clean clothes I'll just buy us new ones when we get to England. That's half the fun of traveling! Filling up your empty suitcase!" He takes the basket out of my hands and tosses it on the ground. Then he grabs me and starts to back me up against the sofa. He buries his face against my neck and starts nibbling.
"Brian, this is important!"
"So is THIS!" I can feel his hard dick straining against the front of his black jeans. "I know -- let's play 'pick up the virgin under the streetlight.' That's a favorite of mine and I hope it's a favorite of yours, too. We can revisit a number of our 'greatest hits'!" he says as he's easing off my pants.
"Brian, listen to me!" I plead. "There's a group of women in this apartment complex who think you are sexy and they are STALKING you!"
"Okay, that could be hot," he says, pulling my tee shirt over my head. "But instead could we make it a group of young blond guys with great asses?"
"Brian! These women have cellphones and they are on the lookout for you! They're posting sightings of you on the internet! There are sites already up with all kinds of information about you! And photographs, too! LOTS of photographs!"
Brian stops and frowns. "You aren't fooling around, are you?"
"NO!" I say. "I mean it. That girl Penny, who I talk to in the laundry room, told me about it. Some of these women have seen you coming and going from here and they're going to try and get pictures of you and post them on the internet! Penny asked me if I wanted to join their 'Kinney Patrol'!"
"What the fuck is THAT?"
"That's what they call themselves! The group watching for you, Brian! They think you're really hot! If one of them sees you they are supposed to activate the cell phone alert line and then they'll ALL come running!" I warn him. "They're already connected up with a bunch of women in England who are Brian Kinney fanatics, too!"
"Jesus Christ!" says Brian, incredulously. "Fans! Jimmy warned we about this, but I ignored him."
"Brian, I'm really scared! Penny is a nice girl and everything and I'm sure these women mean well and would never do anything to harm you, but you never know who else might be stalking you! It's too easy to find you here and get at you!"
"Get at me?" he scoffs. "What for?"
I squeeze his arm. "For who you are, Brian! Someone who hates fags and sees 'The Olympian'! Someone who then might decide to come looking for YOU! And make the ending of the film into a reality!" Yes, THAT is my biggest fear right now. The thing I have nightmares about. The thing that made me have to leave the screening on the night of the premiere. That someone is going to decide to shoot at Brian, just like in the picture.
"Shit," Brian whispers, sitting down on the sofa and running his hand through his hair. "It seems like I just got unpacked here!"
"What does that matter? We have to go someplace that's more secure than this apartment," I insist. "I hate to be paranoid, but I keep thinking of... of...." And then my voice breaks. Because suddenly I have another horrible image in my head. Of someone coming with a baseball bat again. Except he's after Brian this time. I can see it so clearly in my mind.
Brian sees me cringe. He pulls me close to him, putting his arms around me. "Don't worry -- when we get back from England we'll go somewhere else. We can move in with Diane if we have to. She has two bedrooms in her condo and I'm sure she'll let us crash in her spare. We'll be back rooming with good old Armani. You'll like that, Justin. I knew when we dropped him off at Diane's that we'd somehow end up with that mutt in bed with us again!" Brian pokes me and tries to make me laugh, but I just can't. Then he looks serious. "You're right -- there isn't enough security here. But it isn't me I'm worried about, Justin -- it's you. I don't want anyone harassing you because you're living here with me. Otherwise I wouldn't give a damn."
"But Brian, you have to give a damn! You have to be careful! You never know what crazy people are out there! Think about John Lennon!" I think of standing with Brian at Strawberry Fields, that memorial in Central Park, across from where Lennon was shot and killed by an insane fan. "Jimmy likes his fans and is always out in public -- but notice all the security he has at his house! You can't just walk up to the door or follow him to his car! He knows security is important. Talk to him. Talk to someone at the studio! Please!"
"I'll look into it, Justin. As soon as we get back from London." Brian looks around. "And speaking of which -- we still have to finish packing."
"I thought you said we should buy all new clothes when we get there?"
"Well, maybe we'll just pack halfway. Okay?" He stands up and drags me to my feet. Then he picks up the laundry basket and pushes it into my arms. "And in the mean time -- here comes Little Red Riding Hood and her basket of laundry...."
"It was goodies, Brian, not laundry."
"Even better. And while she is on her way in to the bedroom with her goodies, she meets a Big Bad Wolf...."
"I think I know how this story ends."
"Then what are you waiting for?" he says, nudging me along into the bedroom. "The Big Bad Wolf wants those goodies. Now."
"Jimmy, why the fuck do you always have to be early for this kind of shit?" Brian bitches into the phone. He makes a face at me. "Yes! We're ready to go. We're packed and ready! But they told us to be at the soundstage at 1:00. Yes, I know, Jimmy. Okay. We'll be ready."
Brian snaps his cellphone shut and tosses it on the kitchen counter. "Jimmy and entourage are arriving to pick us up in exactly 5 minutes."
"But Brian, it isn't even 11:30!" I'm finished packing, but I have to admit that our extended Birthday Fuck, which began in the bed, moved to the shower, and finished off up against the bathroom sink, did hinder our progress in getting dressed just a little.
"You heard me on the phone with Jimmy. Mr. Anal Retentive Movie Star is on his own fucking schedule!" Brian begins buttoning up his shirt and I go into the bedroom and carry out my suitcase.
My hair is still damp from the shower, so I go into the bathroom and pick up a towel. "I think I need a haircut, Brian. Don't you think it's getting too long?"
He comes over and begins to rub my head with the towel. "No, I don't think it's too long. I love this length. It's sexy. Besides, it gives me something to hold onto while I'm fucking you."
"Brian, you really ARE a fuck pig!"
"I know. Did I ever say I wasn't? Except now I'm only fucking ONE little piglet and not the entire farm," he smirks.
I pull the towel out of his hands. "Do you mind that? I mean -- really?" I have to ask, because I do wonder sometimes.
"As long as I'm getting good service I see no reason to change my phone plan, thank you, sir."
"I'm serious, Brian."
"And so am I," he says, and I know that I'm not going to get anything else out of him.
The cell rings again and Brian picks it up. "Give us 5 more minutes, Jimmy! Yeah, I know you're in the parking lot. Just let me get my shirt on!" Brian flips the phone closed. "Jesus! I didn't even want to be in this photo to begin with. It's turned out to be a gigantic pain in the ass!"
"It's a big honor, Brian. The cover of 'Vanity Fair,'" I remind him.
"In case you have forgotten," Brian sniffs. "I've already BEEN on the cover of 'Vanity Fair'! And my ass has been in the centerfold. So big fucking deal!"
Brian picks up the two biggest suitcases and carries them down to Jimmy's BMW, while I follow with two smaller bags. Jimmy sees us and gets out, popping the trunk. Tess and Annie and Tess' mother, Mrs. Roldoni, are also in the car. Annie waves at me while we load the trunk, which is already stuffed with Jimmy and Tess's luggage. Then we go back upstairs and get our carry-on bags and coats. We are getting on the plane to London as soon as Brian and Jimmy finish this big photo shoot. The studio chartered a plane to take us to England.
"How are we all going to fit in your car, Jim?" says Brian. "This is ridiculous! Let me call a cab."
"There's plenty of room, Bri! Cozy, cozy!" says Jimmy.
"Fuck THAT, Jim!"
"Besides, I had to bring Tess's mother," Jimmy reasons. "She's staying with Annie while we're in London and driving Annie back home in the BMW after we take off. So you'll just have to make due, Bri. If your ass wasn't so big," Jimmy jokes. "You'd be easier to accommodate!"
While Brian and Jimmy argue I keep looking around at the buildings. I am now TOTALLY paranoid. Two movie stars are standing in the parking lot of our nondescript apartment complex in broad daylight on a Sunday morning sniping at each other and I'm looking for the 'Kinney Patrol' and their cameras to show up and record the entire thing!
"Let's just get going, okay?" I urge. And finally we all pile into the car -- Jimmy and Tess and Annie in the front seat and Brian and me and Tess's mom squeezed in the back. The BMW is a big car, but it's still a tight fit. I get a lot friendlier with Mrs. Roldoni than I had anticipated.
The 'Vanity Fair' shoot is in Culver City at the Culver Studios, Soundstage 12. The stylists and people setting up almost fall over when we walk in more than a half-hour early. Let's face it -- no one in Hollywood comes to anything early! Except Jimmy Hardy! He's ready to go and none of the other actors are here yet. Some assistants immediately run to get water for everyone and bring up chairs for Tess and her mom. Annie and I stand to the side while the stylists and hair people whisk Brian and Jimmy into some trailers to get them dressed for the shoot.
"Did you have a good birthday, Justin?" Annie asks.
"So far," I say. "Thanks for the card, Annie. I appreciate it."
"I love your PT Cruiser. Thanks for coming over and taking me for a ride in it."
"We had fun. And I definitely want to go out horseback riding again. I'm not as good a rider as you, but I'm working on it!"
Annie laughs. "You're okay, Justin. But you need to work on your seat!" Annie gives me a playful swipe across my rear end. "I brought my autograph book," says Annie. "I want to get Brad Pitt's signature. And anyone else who'll sign it, too."
"I'm sure they all will," I say. Who is going to refuse to give an autograph to Jimmy Hardy's daughter?
"Justin, will YOU sign my book?"
"Me?" I say in surprise as she hands me her autograph book and a pen. "What do you want my autograph for, Annie?" Her book is already full of a lot of famous signatures.
"Just because I like you. And you never know, Justin. I had Brian sign my book in Hawaii last year and he wasn't anybody famous then -- but now HE is a movie star! All the girls at my school think he's WAY sexy! So next year maybe you'll be a movie star, too, Justin!"
"Well, I have about a one minute scene in 'Hammersmith,' that picture Brian made in England last summer," I admit. And then I think what the 'Kinney Patrol' would give to get their hands on Annie's autograph book!
"See? That's a start! In my dad's first movie he played a corpse lying in a street. Everybody has to start somewhere, Justin," says Annie, knowingly. She's such a child of Hollywood. But I guess she's right -- everyone has to start somewhere. And who would have imagined a year ago that Brian would be the star of a hit movie. Not Brian, certainly!
Just then Jack Nicholson walks in, followed a few minutes later by Tom Cruise, who has his two kids with him. Cruise and Nicholson joke around with each other for a few minutes and then they go over and greet Tess. Annie and I stand back in the shadows and watch all the biggest male stars in Hollywood come onto the soundstage and get ready to take a classic photo for the 'Vanity Fair' special 'Hollywood' edition. Tom Cruise starts a handstand competition with his son and a couple of crew members. Brad Pitt and Matt Damon come in and head for their trailers, then Samuel L. Jackson, Hugh Grant, and Dennis Quaid shortly after. Harrison Ford wanders in and I think of Brian and Michael talking about going to all the Indiana Jones movies when they were kids and getting all hot and bothered over him. I also see Jude Law and Ed Norton, and, finally, Ewan McGregor. Then I wish I'd brought MY autograph book, because he is HOT!
The photographer, Annie Leibovitz, begins to confer with her assistants about the positions of all of the actors, which were figured out with stand-ins the day before. Brian told me that it was like an international summit meeting just to get everyone coordinated for this shoot. All the schedules had to be juggled and stars didn't want to commit until they heard who else was going to be there -- that sort of thing. And Brian told me pretty candidly that Jimmy refused to be in the photo unless Brian was in it, too. Brian isn't exactly a household name even if he DID get named as 'Breakthrough Performance of 2002' by the National Board of Review. 'The Olympian' was named as their #3 Best Film of the Year, which Jimmy says is a good predictor of more nominations and awards to come, as the top two films on the list were very big budget, high profile blockbusters. But 'Vanity Fair' HAD to have Jimmy Hardy in their group shot and so Brian is in the picture with all these big names. It will be interesting to see where they place him. Maybe he'll get wedged up between Jude Law and Ewan McGregor -- I'm sure Brian wouldn't mind THAT!
Jimmy comes out of his trailer wearing black pants and vest and a white shirt, while Tom Cruise is in jeans and a tee shirt and Nicholson is wearing a suit and his ubiquitous sunglasses and he's puffing away on a big cigar. The photographer's assistants begin placing the actors, with some sitting and some standing, and in a specific order. They sit Jimmy down on the ground in front on the far left. That's obviously the Number One position for the 'Most Powerful Actor in Hollywood,' with Tom Cruise behind him on a chair, Jack Nicholson sitting next to him, Brad Pitt leaning against Nicholson's chair, and Harrison Ford standing just behind all of them. They are going to make up the first panel of the front cover layout. The other actors are positioned to the right of this first group, making up the inner panels of the foldout, photographer Annie Leibovitz explains to Tess and her mother.
But one person is still missing.
"Brian!" yells Jimmy. "Will you get your perfect ass out here on the double!" And a couple of the other actors snicker. Nicholson shakes his head.
And here comes Brian, storming out of the trailer and arguing with someone -- as usual. Most of the actors are wearing clothes provided by the magazine, but I know Brian was hoping he could just wear his own jeans and shirt, but the stylist has other ideas. The stylist, a gay man with a shaved head and a cowed expression, is trotting at his side, whispering. And Brian keeps saying, "No fucking WAY!" Brian is barefoot and wearing a red silk shirt that is unbuttoned to completely expose his chest -- and his heart charm, too, which he always wears. And he has on -- sort of -- a pair of leather pants that are so low on his hips that they practically show his dick. Which would actually be redundant because the pants are so fucking tight that you can already see every detail of his dick. They often say that Ewan McGregor is one of the 'biggest' men in Hollywood, but he takes a long look at Brian in those pants and then turns away, obviously conceding the throne.
"I can't wear this!" says Brian to Jimmy. Brian gestures at the poor stylist. "Tell this guy to forget it!"
"I think it's YOU, Brian," says Jimmy, raising his eyebrows.
"Well, it sure as hell isn't ME," says Nicholson, with that weird smirk.
"I think he looks sexy!" Annie whispers to me.
"He does. But Brian wants to look like a 'serious actor' and not a sex symbol."
Annie shrugs. "My dad IS a 'serious actor' -- and he'd give his left ball to be a sex symbol."
"It's true, Justin. All those guys wish they were as hot as Brian, I bet!" she says loyally.
Then Jimmy adds to the problem by insisting that Brian stand right behind him, effectively putting Brian in the Number One spot at the far left of the shot -- the part of the photo that will be the actual cover of 'Vanity Fair.' You can tell that a few of the men aren't too happy about this, but no one is going to disagree with Jimmy Hardy. And that's where Brian gets placed -- mostly-bare chest and practically-falling-off leather pants and all. And Annie is right -- they all can only wish they were as hot as Brian.
Once everyone is in place the actual photograph only takes a few minutes. A couple of hands are moved and heads are tilted and Leibovitz asks everyone to look brooding or chipper or smoldering or whatever their image calls for. Brian looks mainly pissed off, but I guess that's HIS image, so it works. And then she snaps. She takes a couple more shots to make certain. And then it's over and everyone heads back to the trailers to change back into their own clothes.
But Brian stalks straight over to me. "That was fucking embarrassing! I looked like a jackass in front of all of those guys! Jesus, I wanted to murder that fucking stylist!" Then he looks up and sees Annie. "Sorry," he says.
Annie rolls her eyes. "I've heard worse language -- believe me! Besides, you look really hot, Brian!" And she heads over to get Brad Pitt's autograph before he leaves the set.
"Annie's right. You DO look hot, Brian," I tell him. I have a strong urge to stick my hand down the front of those leather pants. "That stylist certainly knows how to put clothes on a sexy queer! Or how NOT to put clothes on one."
"Yeah, well," he grumbles.
"You better get changed. We have to get out to the airport soon."
"It's a private charter, Sunshine. They aren't going to leave without me and Jimmy. You think the studio went to all that expense so Ron could ride to London all by himself?"
I take hold of Brian's hand. "It's going to be so bizarre flying with Ron. He still hasn't talked to you about... that guy. Or about what happened to Carmel and her mother. And he hasn't asked about Armani. That's nutty, Brian."
"I told Ivy everything that happened that night. Even about that goddamn hustler. I assume that she relayed the information to Ron. If he doesn't want to acknowledge it, that is HIS fucking problem, not ours, Justin. But I'm NOT letting it ruin this trip to London! THIS trip is going to go without ANY fucking hitches! And I mean that!" Brian declares.
"Just one thing would make it perfect," I say.
"If they let you wear that outfit on the plane."
Brian laughs loudly. Two of the assistants turn around to look at us. "I don't think I'd be wearing it all that long in that case."
"So? It's a long, boring flight from Los Angeles to London. If you know what I mean," I say. "And you didn't finish giving me my birthday present this morning. We were interrupted by the phone. Remember?"
Brian sighs. "I remember! But I think that your special 20th birthday membership in the Mile High Club is going to be a sure thing -- finally."
"That's what I was hoping. And I hope old Ron hears every moan and groan!"
"And what about Jimmy and Tess?"
"Maybe they will get inspired and rekindle their relationship. So we would be performing a service. Kind of like a marital aid."
"Yes, and we'll be performing a lot more than THAT." Brian grabs my ass and squeezes it. "Let's get going. Like you said, we still have a long trip ahead of us. We'll make it a performance to remember in honor of YOU no longer being a bratty teenager," says Brian. "THAT is definitely an accomplishment to celebrate!"
"I may not be a teenager anymore, Brian, but I'll always be YOUR brat."
"I know," he answers. "I know." And then he smiles.
Continue on to "Inside Out -- Part 2", the next section.
©Gaedhal, June 2003.
Updated June 28, 2003.