This is the Second Story in the "Folk Lore" series.
It is rated "R," mainly for langauge.
Disclaimer: Not Real. Just for Fun. This is MY imagining of what MAY have happened.
Go to the"Folk Lore" main page.
He was late for the tech call at the repertory company and the stage manager had reamed him out royally. He'd just been trying to eat some of the fast food he had in a paper bag. But it was completely tasteless. Gale sighed. And he'd been so famished when he left the audition.
But all the tension of the reading seemed to have knocked the hunger out of him somehow. Then talking to the casting director and the producers. And that kid -- the other actor. Randy. The one he'd be doing the scenes with. He'd been the most direct one of all. He'd really put it on the line. What this part would entail. What he'd have to do to get across just who this character was -- an extremely sexually active gay man.
And that was a difficult thing for a very straight actor, thought Gale. At least, that's how he thought of himself. Straight sexually, but certainly not in the context of the 'straight world.' He thought of himself as a non-conformist. A rebel -- not in the Georgia sense that his parents would understand, but in the James Dean sense. Yes, that was the kind of actor he wanted to be. The fearless kind. Take no prisoners.
So, could he do it? Be this queer sexual predator? A character never seen on television before? At least, Gale had never seen this character or anyone like him. Could he play this role? THAT was the real question. And the real problem.
He balled up the paper bag with the rest of the food in it and tossed the whole thing in the garbage bin. Just as well. If he took this part he'd have to watch what he ate. Really. He was going to have to be naked on this show. A lot. Everything would be visible, from every angle. Fast food and all the kinds of shitty things he usually crammed hastily into his mouth on the way to an audition or a job would have to be a thing of the past. He was fairly thin already, but he'd still have to watch it. He wasn't going to be lifting boards and pushing wheelbarrows all day if he was really acting. With all the donuts and other snack foods they had on these sets it might be easy to spend the down times shoveling fat into your face just out of boredom.
The more he thought about it, the more he realized that if he took this job it wouldn't just be an acting gig -- his whole life would change. That was obvious. He was a total unknown and this would be the part that he'd be identified with -- maybe for his whole career. How could he deal with that? Did he want to deal with it? Would he spend the rest of his career typecast in fag roles?
On the other hand, he'd been kicking around Los Angeles for a couple of years now and had hardly even made a dent in the Industry. He rarely got beyond the screening process, let alone to the audition, or getting cast in a major production. If he let this pass he might never get another role this large or that paid this kind of money. He'd waste the rest of his life doing construction jobs. Fixing motorcycles. Waiting tables. Or going back home. Giving in and admitting that acting wasn't his thing. Taking a job in his father's business -- exactly what he'd always said he wouldn't do. But he might have to.
He also thought about all those parking fines he owed. And his truck being towed away because he couldn't meet the payments. Shit.
"Well, are you working here -- or daydreaming?"
Gale jumped to his feet. "I was just finishing my dinner."
"That's swell," sneered the stage manager. "Now, if you are finished with your fine dining, how about getting your ass over there to move some scenery? This production may only have three more nights to run, but it DOES need some scenery for those performances. If YOU don't mind?"
That's what it came down to, really. If he was part of the tech crew, then he was virtually nothing. A body to lift and carry shit. But if he was really an actor -- that was an entirely different story. He'd get a little respect. He'd be able to put what he had studied in acting class into practice. It would be a chance to get some experience and be a real professional.
He saw Richard walk by, on his way to his dressing room. He was one of the lead actors at the company. He'd been an actor for a number of years -- stage, film, television. He'd done it all. He wasn't famous, exactly, but he was respected. And here, in this company, he was a star. Or the closest thing they had to a star.
Richard had taken an interest in Gale early on. Of course, he was under no illusion that it was purely his acting talent that interested Richard. Even Richard had made THAT pretty clear! But that wasn't a first -- he'd been hit on heavily by guys for years. Sometimes he wondered about it. He didn't think he gave off a gay vibe -- he was pretty hetero in just about everything -- his look, his clothes, his walk, his speech. At least he thought he was. Of course, all those other things were stereotypes, after all. Weren't they? The producers of this show thought he could play gay -- but playing it and being it weren't the same thing. Were they? Obviously not!
Gale went to Richard's dressing room. The door was partly open, so he stuck his head in. The actor was sitting at the table in front of the mirror, putting a few touches on his make-up.
"Um, Richard? Do you think I could talk to you? After the performance, I mean?"
The older man looked up at him through the mirror. "Certainly, my boy. Is there something I can help you with?"
Gale felt an inkling of discomfort. "Yes, actually. I need some advice. On a role."
The actor lifted an eyebrow. "A role? An acting role?"
Gale laughed. "Yes, a real acting role. But I need some advice about whether or not to accept the part."
Richard looked up with new interest. "You mean that you have already been cast in this role?"
"Yes -- it's mine -- if I want it."
"Then why are you hesitating? I don't understand," said the older actor, frowning. "Work is work. Any acting work is good. Do you think the part it too small or something?" Now the man smiled, mockingly.
"It's a little complicated, Richard," said Gale, suddenly feeling foolish. "If I could talk to you after the show and explain?"
"Of course, my dear. I'll be waiting with baited breath."
The performance went as scheduled. Whether it was a good or bad, Gale couldn't tell. All he could think of was the performance HE was going to give in this new series. That is, if he actually took the role.
He watched Richard working on stage. He was a good actor. Very good. But, as good as he was, he had never made it big. Gale wondered why. It wasn't just about talent. It was a number of factors. Looks. Luck. Gale wondered about homophobia. Had Richard been held back by his sexuality? Maybe. But then a lot of actors were gay, especially in the theater. But how many were open about it, really open? Not that fucking many.
Gale did what he had to do, avoiding the stage manager as much as possible. The guy had it in for him tonight because he'd been late. Wait until he told him that he probably wouldn't be able to stay late on Sunday night to strike the set. He had to be at a very early Monday morning meeting with the other cast members to meet the Showtime executives. That is, if he took the part.
The play ended and Richard passed him on his way off stage, after the cast had taken their final bows.
"Meet me in fifteen minutes, after I get cleaned up. Then we can talk," the actor said.
Why did that make Gale a little nervous? He'd talked to Richard in his dressing room dozens of times and never thought twice about it. He was just being paranoid. Maybe taking this role would make him paranoid? That wouldn't be a good thing, he thought. I'm suspicious enough as it is, with the way the politics of this country is going and all the fucked up things in the world. Maybe he worried about that stuff too much already. Taking a role that would put him on the spot like this, something that was tailor-made to be controversial -- and his character was the flash-point for everything that happened on the show! -- maybe he didn't need that added aggravation in his life and in his head?
After he'd finished his scenery shifting and signed out -- giving the stage manager a warning look not to mess with him anymore tonight -- Gale went over and knocked on Richard's dressing room door. He had his portfolio with the script that one of the producers had given him in it. And the slip of paper with their home phone number. "Call us anytime over the weekend," the man had said. "Anytime." Us. Right. They were a couple. And they really wanted HIM for this part. They did. Him.
"So, what's going on that is such a big secret?" Richard smiled. He was still in his dressing gown, but he'd wiped off all his stage make-up. The small room was permeated with the smell of Nivea cream. "Has the Royal Shakespeare Company offered you Hamlet, but you don't think it's enough of a challenge?"
"No, nothing like that." Gale smiled quietly and sat down on a folding chair next to the make-up table. "It's a part that is a bit out of my usual range -- whatever that is."
"Oh?" said Richard. "Expanding your scope can be a good thing -- if you can handle it."
"Plus, it would entail leaving town. It's being filmed in Canada. Toronto. I'd have to move up there."
"Well, a lot of productions are using Canadian facilities to save money. I don't think that would be a problem -- if the role were something worthwhile." Richard leaned back in his chair and gazed at Gale seriously. "So what's the REAL problem here?"
"Well, I'd have to play a gay character," Gale said. Richard raised his brows. "I don't have a problem with that. Except... it isn't the usual kind of gay role...."
"Which is?" Richard said, his voice level.
"You know -- the old stereotype. 'Will and Grace.' The flamer. The queen. The friendly fag upstairs. But they'd never even look at ME for that kind of part, anyway. I'm not the 'type.' But this part is different. It's very... sexual."
"Really?" said Richard, with growing interest. "Do you have a script?"
Gale reached into his bag and pulled out the manuscript. He'd dog-eared the pages with his scenes. Richard took the script and began leafing through. Then he stopped and began reading intently. By the look on his face, Gale didn't need to wonder which scene it was! Or scenes. With the kid. Randy. That long, extended deflowering of Justin, the teenage boy, by the voracious Brian. Him!
Richard read for a while and frowned. Then he closed the script, sighing. He looked at the younger man with concern. "Gale -- if you really need money so badly, I could lend you some. You could pay me back later. Truly. No strings attached."
Gale tilted his head. "I don't understand...."
"Because no matter how much money they are offering, Gale," continued Richard. "I don't think you should stoop to doing porn. You are certainly not desperate for work. At least not yet. You have other options. And especially gay porn! I mean, really, these scenes...."
"No, wait -- Richard! This isn't a porno film!" Gale insisted. "It's a television series! On Showtime."
"Television? I don't think so, Gale. Not in THIS universe!" Richard opened the script again and pointed to a page. "If this is meant for television, I just don't believe it! THIS will never get on the air! For God's sake! This character is squirting lube up a seventeen-year-old boy's ass! On camera! What are you thinking of?"
Gale laughed nervously. "I'm thinking that I have a LOT of parking tickets to pay off. And that I'm sick of moving scenery around. I want to act. They've offered me this gig -- and I want to know if you think I should take it. But your answer seems pretty fucking obvious!"
Richard looked down at the script and then up at Gale. "I guess I'm just a little... surprised. Do you really think you could DO this? Because I've been an actor for many years -- and I'm gay, as you well know. But I could NEVER do THIS in front of a camera! Even IF I had your youth and your beautiful body! I... I don't think I could."
"But if you thought that I could do it?" Gale prodded. "Do you think I should take the role? Seriously? It's guaranteed for an entire season. Twenty-two episodes."
"And you have to do THIS in every one of them?"
"Well, maybe not quite this graphic, but... yes, I would. With a lot of different guys, apparently. Because this guy is highly sexual. Actually, that's an understatement. I'll be doing it with a lot of men. On camera, I mean. But especially these scenes with the actor who plays the boy. Mainly with him."
"Hm," mused Richard. "Have you met this other actor? It could make a huge difference. Doing these things with someone you dislike -- or find... unappealing could be torturous."
"I've met him. We read together. I think he's okay. And he was very encouraging to me about the role," said Gale, thinking back to the audition. "He said that he trusts me. He also...." Gale stopped. He wasn't quite certain what more to say -- if anything. He thought of Randy, standing with him at the audition, his blue eyes incredibly direct. Honest. Uncompromising. "He challenged me to take the part. I almost feel that turning it down would be like wimping out on that challenge. Or like blowing him off personally."
Richard frowned again. "Maybe he likes you. Is he gay or straight? Could you tell?"
"He's gay. He told me," said Gale, wondering how much it actually mattered when they were all going to be expected to do a lot of explicit scenes. Would it really be any easier for the gay actors than for the straight ones? Gale wondered. "Some of the other members of the cast are gay, some are straight. But all the characters in it are queer. That's the whole point of the show. It's based on some British series."
"Yes, but what they can get away with in England and what they can do HERE are two very different things, Gale! Surely you know that?"
"I realize that, Richard," Gale said, thinking about it seriously. "I understand the political climate in this country. Maybe that's why it would be important for me to take the part. Just being this character, Brian, who is so politically incorrect -- so 'out there' -- that in itself is like a political statement of sorts."
"So, Gale -- are you an actor -- or a politician?" said Richard, archly.
"An actor," answered Gale, smiling.
"Then act! I say -- if you feel you can do this part, and it's truly a legitimate production, then take the role. You want to be an actor. So -- act!" Richard closed the script again and handed it back.
Gale shoved the script back into his bag and stood up. He had the number of the producers in his hand. He'd consider the whole thing a little more tonight and then call them tomorrow at their home.
But he'd already made the decision. Shit, he'd decided before he'd even talked to Richard. He couldn't turn down the challenge in those blue eyes. He wished he had asked for the kid's -- Randy's -- phone number. Just so he could call him and tell him, yes -- he WAS Brian Kinney. Or he would be. All the way. That would show him!
He turned and started to walk out of the room, completely forgetting about Richard. "Er -- Gale?"
He paused. "Oh, I'm sorry, Richard. I was just thinking about something else. Thanks for your help. I hope I can do a good job. I mean, I hope I don't fuck it up too badly. I want to be a convincing queer, after all." He smiled shyly at the older actor.
"Well -- if you need any tutoring," Richard said. "I would be more than happy to try some 'scenes' with you. See what you're made of, so to speak. But, of course, I've made this sort of offer to you before. But now you have a 'professional' reason to accept. If you ever really needed a reason."
"Thanks, Richard. But I think I'll need to do my all rehearsing with my new 'leading lady' from now on! That's what the kid said. That he was my leading lady. Pretty funny, huh?"
But Richard only gazed at the tall form in the doorway. He didn't smile at all. His look said something completely different. Gale wasn't certain if Richard believed that he was crazy for even considering taking this part -- or if he thought he was brave. Or, if he was serious about tutoring Gale in that scene he'd just been reading. Just to give it that 'authenticity' required to be convincing, of course!
Gale waved goodbye, tentatively, and walked out.
He stopped outside the theater to light a cigarette. It was already after midnight. Maybe he'd go home and get a good buzz on and read the script through again. Get a handle on his character. Try to imagine what 'Brian' was like. What he did -- if anything -- when he wasn't fucking teenage boys. What motivated his sexual obsessiveness. All that backstory and inner work he needed to do to get 'Brian' straight in his head. Or un-straight.
Whatever this job would require, figured Gale, it was fucking better than moving scenery!
© Gaedhal, December 2002.
Go on to "No Limits", the third "Folk Lore" story.
Send Gaedhal any comments, critiques, suggestions. I welcome all of your feedback!
Posted January 2, 2003.