This is Page 2 of Part 1 of Chapter 111 in the "Queer Theories" series.
Go back to Page 1 of "The Junketeer -- Part 1", the previous page.
Getting met at the gate by the two studio liaisons and the public relations woman. Driving into town in the stretch limo. A large suite at an exclusive hotel. Yes, I could get used to this kind of life!
Brian takes it all as a matter of course. Or he seems to. But underneath his outward calm I can definitely detect that edge of anxiety that Justin warned me about. He begins to twitch ever so slightly. He acts like he's going to reach for a cigarette -- but since he's stopped smoking, he picks up a pencil or a paperclip or even a twist tie and moves it around his fingers, compulsively. I've always been able to read Brian's signals, but I find myself especially attuned to his body language, his glances, a tiny movement of his hand that lets me know what to hand him -- and when to get him out of whatever situation he's in and can't deal with. Yes, I find myself well able to do this job.
I realize that Justin wanted to do all this himself. He wanted to come and throw himself between Brian and the outside world. And I think that if Justin truly felt he had the choice, he'd leave school in a heartbeat and trail around the country, carrying Brian's bag and holding his tickets, just like I've been doing. But Brian would murder him if he did that. Brian has told me more than once that Justin's education is the number one priority. That it's the key to his future independence. Brian worked his ass off on a full scholarship to get through Penn State and he believes that getting his degree and accomplishing something on his own made all the difference in his life. That it gave him the confidence to be who he had to be, separate from his parents, from his past, from everyone else. To be his own person. And he wants Justin to be able to say the same thing and not feel he owes Brian anything that can't be repaid. And that Justin needs to get his degree to do that.
Besides, I personally believe that Justin is too emotionally involved to be the best assistant for Brian. He's too close to the situation. Being Brian's partner -- or boyfriend, or lover, or whatever term they finally decide on -- is certainly a full time job for anyone, even someone as capable as Justin.
And so here I am. Brian's assistant once again, but in such different circumstances. Brian told me to watch Jimmy Hardy's personal assistant, Peggy, and see what she does. Brian told me that Peggy gives him the creeps because she seems to be so wrapped up in Jimmy's life that she has no life of her own. Jimmy and his quirks, his wants and needs, that's all that matters to Peggy. "So, Cynthia. Watch her and figure out what she does -- but don't you become some kind of fucking zombie!"
"Don't worry, Brian."
The two studio liaisons are called Henry and Wayne, but Brian keeps referring to them as Bob and Brad after two incompetent junior execs at Ryder. The PR woman is named Leslie. Brian knows her from an earlier leg of the press junket in Chicago. "She's okay," Brian leans across the seat of the limo and whispers to me. "She's not full of crap like those other guys. So if Leslie tells you something, believe it."
Leslie has a brisk, professional manner, but also a sharp sense of humor, which the two studio reps definitely lack. "If you two bond in any way beyond the normal girl talk and make-up tips -- I don't want to know about it," says Brian when he sees Leslie and I giggling together. "My life is fucking lesbianic enough."
"Brian!" I reply, punching his arm playfully.
"Are you ready for tomorrow morning? 'The Today Show' is first up -- you have to be at the studio at Rockefeller Center, dressed, made-up, and ready to rumble at 7:00 a.m.," Leslie tells us before she and the reps leave us at the Wyndham.
"He'll be there," I reassure her. "And Brian is SO looking forward to being on the show."
Now, Leslie raises her eyebrows when I say this. She knows Brian better than I thought. She just smiles sweetly, but the studio representatives nod and grin. "Idiots," says Brian, under his breath.
"Be good," I tell him.
The Wyndham on West 58th Street is a hotel very popular with actors. Jimmy Hardy apparently prefers it to some of the busier or more renowned hotels, such as the Plaza or the Palace, because it's more comfortable and caters especially to celebrities. It's also near the studios where most of Brian and Jimmy's appearances will be. The suite is large and spacious. My room is perfect and Brian's larger room seems positively luxurious. But he barely even looks at it. He's used to first-rate accommodations. "A hotel room is a hotel room," he says -- as long as it's up to his exacting standards!
Brian dumps his carry-on on the floor, kicks off his shoes, takes off his trousers, and flops on the bed. Then he's immediately on the phone to Justin. I go into the sitting room and set up my laptop on the desk and make a little 'office' space for myself, arranging my pens and my schedules.
I'm updating my schedules with some new information that Leslie gave me when there's a sharp knock on the door. I open it and Jimmy Hardy pushes right by me into the suite. He looks around. Then he looks at me for the first time. "Who the fuck are YOU?" he says, in his charming 'America's Boy Next Door' manner.
"I'm Cynthia, Mr. Kinney's personal assistant."
"Brian doesn't have a personal assistant," says Jimmy Hardy abruptly. "He doesn't believe in them."
"Well, excuse me, Mr. Hardy, but that's what I am." I try to remain very business-like, even though Jimmy Hardy is one of my all-time favorite movie stars. I've seen every one of his films.
"Which room is Brian's?"
"If you'll have a seat, Mr. Hardy, I'll tell Brian that you're here."
"You don't need to announce me," he says, stalking over to my room and looking inside. "In fact, you can get lost."
"Um, Mr. Hardy, I...."
But Jimmy just marches to the other door and bursts right in. I follow after him, trying to guide him out. Brian is lying on the bed, with the phone in his ear. He's also stroking himself through his underpants -- a sight that is not lost on Jimmy. Or me.
"I think I've just been invaded," he tells Justin into the receiver. "Yeah, me too. I'll call you later with the latest dish -- and we can take up where we left off. Later." Brian hangs up. "What is it that can't wait until dinner, Jim?"
"What the fuck are you doing in here, Brian?" Jimmy says. "I have a big suite down the hall! That's where you are supposed to stay!"
"I thought we'd BOTH get a little more privacy if I had my own suite, Jimmy," Brian explains. "Besides, I brought Cynthia with me and we need to get some work done this week. And I need my rest for the television appearances AND the Woody Allen shoot in the afternoons."
"You can have privacy in MY suite!" says Jimmy in a peevish tone. "What's the difference? It's not... convenient to have you ALL the way down the hall! What if I need to ask you a question, Bri?"
"You can call me," says Brian, resolutely. "Or walk fifty feet and knock on the door. It shouldn't be a problem, Jimmy. Now -- if you don't mind? I need to get rested up and then changed for dinner. Where are we going tonight?"
"I made reservations at Les Artistes. For 8:00." Jimmy is staring hungrily at Brian in nothing but his white button-down shirt and his black silk briefs. And I do mean brief.
"That sounds fine. It's 5:30 now, so I can take a little nap. Call Cynthia when the car gets here. Thanks, Jimmy." And he turns over on the bed, putting one of the big pillows over his head.
"Brian!" Jimmy is whining. It would be comical if it wasn't so sad. Now I understand what Justin meant when he told me that probably the biggest problem on this trip wouldn't be Brian, but Jimmy Hardy. "Bri, there's something else I need to tell you."
Brian sighs. "What NOW?" He sits up again.
"Ron is coming into town Wednesday morning to meet with some publicity people for the East Coast region and to tape the 'Charlie Rose Show' on PBS with us. You know it's his birthday, don't you?"
"I know," Brian replies. "His fortieth."
"Well, I... I told him that we'd take him out to dinner to celebrate."
"Jimmy, the LAST thing Ron wants to do is have dinner with ME! YOU go with him. I'll take Cynthia out somewhere else Wednesday night."
"No, Bri," says Jimmy, standing right next to the bed. "Ron WANTS you to be there. He told me so."
"No way, Jimmy."
"Really! Ron seemed... happy about it. He wants to see you, Brian," Jimmy cajoles. "He wants to make nice with you -- so why be a prick about it? It will make the premiere and everything else so much easier if the two of you aren't snarling at each other the whole time."
Brian looks over at me. I shrug. Where Ron Rosenblum is concerned, I'm at sea. I'm the last person who can advise Brian about that aspect of his life.
Finally, he sighs. "All right, Jim. I'll go. But Cynthia is coming, too. And she's going out with us tonight."
Jimmy frowns. "Brian! Boys Night Out! Just the two of us. She can go to dinner with Peg and that PR woman. If you want to take her out to dinner, do it tomorrow."
"If Cynthia doesn't go tonight -- then I don't go. Take it or leave it, Jim."
You can tell that no one -- or almost no one -- ever contradicts Jimmy Hardy. Or gives him an ultimatum. His mouth moves around and his eyes scrunch up, just like they did in 'Castles in the Air' -- I LOVE that movie! But this isn't so cute when you think about it. Justin warned me that Brian and Jimmy have -- had? -- some kind of weird relationship, but I only half believed it. I mean, they are co-stars in 'The Olympian' and they did a lot of pretty graphic scenes together... but now I SEE that weirdness right in front of me. Jimmy Hardy mooning over Brian. Lusting after him! And it's very, very disconcerting. Because Jimmy seems so straight. I mean, on screen. And his wife! Tess Hardy is lovely and they are always together at awards shows and on 'Entertainment Tonight' and 'Access Hollywood' and they seem so happy!
But I can't deny what I'm witnessing. Jimmy is very upset because Brian isn't going to be staying with him in his suite. Isn't going to be sleeping with him! Justin was right about that. And I'm supposed to be standing between the two of them! And in two days Ron Rosenblum will be in the mix, too. And Justin is arriving on Friday. This job is getting more complicated by the minute!
Now Jimmy turns to me and begins oozing charm. "Cindy -- you don't want to waste a fine evening in New York hanging out with the guys, do you? How about you call the limo and go out shopping for a couple of hours? My treat. Then you and Peg and... and...."
"Yes, Leslie. The three of you can have a nice Ladies Night for yourself. Brian and I have some... business to discuss right now. And we have plans for later. So you can make yourself scarce, honey."
"No, thank you, Mr. Hardy," I answer, primly. "Mr. Kinney might need something. And if he wants me to accompany him to dinner tonight or tomorrow night or any night this week, then I will do that, as well." I glance over to Brian and he's nodding furtively behind Jimmy's back. "That's my job."
"Fuck your job!" shouts Jimmy. And he storms out of the room and out of the suite.
"Good girl," says Brian, standing up when he hears the outer door slam. "Jimmy can be a fucking pain in the ass -- if you let him. And, unfortunately, I usually take the easy road and let him."
"Are you really going to take a nap now, Brian?"
"Yeah. I need one. I need to steel myself for what's coming up the rest of this week!" Brian pats my arm encouragingly. "And it will be more of the same all week. Much more. Especially when Ron gets here." Brian pauses and takes a deep breath. "Thank God Ron is only coming in for one day. Friday can't get here fast enough. I need Justin here with me. You are doing a great job, Cynthia, but only Justin can relieve all this tension I'm feeling."
"I'm sorry, Brian, but I can't help you with THAT!" I say, smirking at him.
"Just as well," he says, returning the smirk in that very Brianesque way. "That's Justin's job -- and no one else's."
"I'm glad to hear you say that, Brian."
He shrugs. "At least Jimmy will back off while Justin is in town. I hope he will." And Brian sits back down on the large bed and leans back, closing his eyes. "Jimmy better back off. Because I want our weekend together to be perfect. I NEED something to be perfect. For a change."
"I'm sure it will be, Brian," I tell him. And I leave Brian to finish his nap -- while I try to make some sense of everything that is going on in his ever so confusing life!
Continue on to "The Junketeer -- Part 2", the next section.
©Gaedhal, March 2003.
Updated March 18, 2003.