This is Part 1 of Chapter 103 in the "Queer Theories" series.
Go back to "'La Diva' -- Part 3", the previous section.
The narrator is Brian Kinney, and features Jimmy Hardy, Peggy, Leslie, Oprah, Others.
Rated R and contains no warnings or spoilers.
Summary: Brian and Jimmy start their press tour in Chicago. 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.
"I've got my dark sunglasses,
And I'm carrying for good luck my black tooth.
Don't ask me nothing about nothing --
I just might tell you the truth."
'Outlaw Blues' -- Bob Dylan, from 'Bringing It All Back Home.'
The one good thing about nameless, faceless, one-time-only tricks is that you don't have to care about their lives. You don't have to ask any questions and you don't have to give any answers. You don't have to give a shit about their problems or their families or their fucking car payments. You don't even have to think. You just fuck and tell them to get out.
Except there's no such thing as nameless and faceless when everyone on the press junket knows who you are. When the reporters are all on the lookout for you. You may not be famous yet -- but it doesn't help. You are already public property.
And there's no such thing as a simple, amiable fuck when you can't stand to have strangers talk to you, let alone touch you or even get anywhere near you. You're no longer comfortable with them. You don't trust them. And the only person you really ARE interested in fucking is out of reach. So you're stuck with coming up with alternatives -- some of them not so easy to deal with and others positively more trouble than they're worth.
For instance, with tricks you don't have to listen to their fucking phone calls.
"It's great! You should SEE all the free stuff they sent up. Not just those complimentary fruit baskets, either, but a whole fridge STUFFED with food and booze. You'd never have to leave this suite to get anything -- and I mean ANYTHING! -- unless you wanted to!"
For some people, anything free is like Christmas. So, in the Film Industry, on a press tour, it's like Christmas every day. Nothing but free shit shoveled at you from every direction -- liquor, clothes, food, watches -- like I need another goddamn watch! -- and even these weird knick-knacks that I guess are supposed to be 'valuable collectibles' but look like dust-catching junk to me. Yes, everything -- except a little privacy and any free time. Except in the suite. Which is why I stay in here most of the time.
Am I brooding? Okay, maybe I AM brooding. A little. All right, a LOT! But TWO fucking days! That's all I asked the studio for! Just to take a short side-trip to the Pitts. It's been almost SIX WEEKS since I've seen Justin! SIX! I mean, fuck! But that is NOT on the Official 'Olympian' Press Tour agenda. Sure, Brian, you can have anything you want -- EXCEPT what you WANT. What you must have very soon -- or you'll really go off the rails. Very soon.
"And the watch -- I got THREE, actually! -- but you should see this one. It's got dials on the dials!"
Jesus! Give it a rest already! So, they gave you a fucking watch? THREE fucking watches! Big deal! You have twenty of the things at home. So SHUT UP!
"I like those little hors-d'oeurves they had at the reception last night. The things with the caviar stuck in the center? And those little red things? What are those red things called. Right! Pimentos!"
But even the pillow over my head doesn't block out the noise. Doesn't this guy SLEEP in the morning anymore? Who talks and talks and fucking TALKS like this at 8 a.m.? It's inhuman! HE is up -- so everyone else should be, right?
"And I met that crazy woman again. The one who was reporting on the thing at Malibu last year? Yes! She was HERE! Swear to God! She's writing an article for some British fan magazine. That's what she said. And she was wearing that outfit again. Nope -- it seemed like the same one to me. Now you tell me -- WHY would anyone WEAR anything like that? I mean, in PUBLIC? You'd have to be crazy!"
Yes, crazy. Fucking crazy! Because I'm beyond crazy by now. In fact, I'm about ready to scream in two seconds if I don't get some fucking sleep....
"Will you SHUT the fuck UP!" I finally say. "Because if you DON'T be quiet and let me get some sleep, I'm going to throw that phone and then YOU out the window! And we are on the 14th Floor, in case you need to be reminded!"
But he just cackles out that annoying laugh. "Oh, don't pay any attention to THAT! That's NO ONE It's just Brian. No, Honey-pie! Of course not! Don't be so silly! There are two bedrooms in this suite, but Brian's in and out of MY room at all hours. I think he's looking for an aspirin or something. And he's says I'm making too much noise. Yeah, you know how it is, Tess. He makes a religion out of complaining about everything. Oh, who knows? He didn't like the Terra Nova Studio Reception. He didn't like the Press Meet-and-Greet. He didn't even like the hors-d'oeurves with the caviar in the center and the little red things! Can you imagine that?"
I keep thinking that my pillow over his face might quiet him down. Maybe for good. I consider it -- then decide to lay it on the line. "For fucksake, Jimmy -- hang up! Now! Do you know what time it is in L.A.? Just after 6 a.m.! Give your wife a fucking break! And I need a little peace and quiet around here, too!"
"Someone is a bit cranky this morning," Jimmy says. "I'm a saint to put up with this shit. I know, Tess. Brian should get more sleep at night. He's up wandering around the suite at all hours. Frankly, I think he's hungry and won't admit it to himself. I think he's up all night, looking for food. Looking for SOMETHING to put in his mouth." Jimmy gives me a lewd look and I feel like rolling him off the fucking bed and onto the floor! "Oh, and this suite is FULL of food. But Brian won't eat any of it. All those fruit baskets AND the stocked fridge! I know, Tessie, it's nutty."
There's only one thing that will shut Jimmy up. And although I'm not really in the mood and it's the last fucking thing I feel like doing at this hour, I have no other alternative. So I press up against him and....
"Oh -- my. Ah, Tessie-pie. I gotta go. Now. The... press agent just came in. Yeah. To make sure we get to the 'Oprah' taping on time. Ah... right! BYE!"
Fuck. I should have thought of this a lot earlier. But it also means that I'm NEVER going to get back to sleep this morning.
When the press agent finally does arrive, just after 9 a.m., I'm already dressed and drinking my third cup of black coffee, with plenty of sugar to give me that extra jolt.
Jimmy's personal assistant, Peggy, is still trying to get him dressed, but Jimmy is like a fucking three-ring circus. First, he decides he wants a huge breakfast and room service sends up enough food for six people. I manage to eat half of a bagel and the coffee, but Jimmy takes a fucking bite of everything. Then, in the middle of eating, he remembers about six phone calls he has to make immediately. I mean, WHO has six phone calls he has to make RIGHT NOW -- especially while he's in Chicago? But Jimmy has one hand on the phone and is using the other to shovel food into his mouth. They should get THAT on film -- it's funnier than any of those stupid romantic comedies he did with that fish-faced bitch, Glenda Douglas.
Peggy is trying to get him to sign some papers, so she needs to free up a hand. This means she has to catch Jimmy between bites of breakfast and/or phone calls. Then she trots out a bunch of different outfits for Jimmy to decide what to wear on 'Oprah.' I don't know why this is such a difficult process. Every one of Jimmy's suits looks exactly the same. He wears nothing but Ralph Lauren or Perry Ellis -- he won't even look at any of the Italian designers because he thinks that isn't his 'image.' So he always looks like the small town boy who's been invited to the Country Club for the very first time. Which must have been cute when Jimmy was twenty-four, but now he's in his forties and I think it wouldn't kill him to look a little more sophisticated. But that's not my problem -- it's Peggy's.
Jimmy is always saying that I need my own personal assistant, but I couldn't stand someone following me around all day, handing me shit and monitoring everything I did. I joked around with Justin this summer that he was basically doing a PA's job. But Justin was doing it for fun -- and for love, I guess. So, I didn't mind. It was cute, in fact. And he did a good job covering my ass when I needed it.
And that's why Peggy fascinates me. She's been working for Jimmy for about six years now. Jimmy actually has a couple of 'personal assistants,' but Peggy is the oldest and most dedicated. I understand that some people sublimate their entire lives to someone else's, but it's usually over some big 'concept' like 'love' or 'duty.' They don't usually do it as a career choice. But in this case it's true -- Peggy really doesn't seem to have a life of her own at all. For Peggy, Jimmy IS her entire life. When Jimmy is filming or when he's on one of these press tours, she's with him twenty-four hours a day -- or so it seems. And thank God she's staying in the room next door and not the actual suite or else she'd be with ME twenty-four hours a day, too. Forget THAT!
But she creeps me out. Peg is like Harry Collins' butler at Firelands who knows everything and 'sees' nothing. That's just weird. I'm the last person to be the least bit 'shy' -- but I jump every time she just walks right into the room without even a single knock to give you a little warning. And it's always when I'm not wearing any fucking pants! I mean, how is THAT for timing? She's going to get much MORE than just a good glimpse of my ass if she isn't more careful, that's all I can say.
I'm always looking at her to figure out what she is thinking, but she never gives a clue. I want to know what the hell she is thinking of Jimmy and me. Not that Jimmy even considers it, because he doesn't. As far as he's concerned Peggy is invisible. But there's not even a twitch of the eye to give her feelings away. And she's very friendly with Tess -- or she seems to be. Who the fuck really knows? Like I say, it's just weird.
Or else it's all about Jimmy and what he wants and what he needs and nothing else matters to her. Nothing else registers on Peggy's radar screen. So if Jimmy wants to fuck his co-star -- and he's fucked his female co-stars in the past, he's told me that he has -- that's okay with Peg because it's what Jimmy wants to do. I almost expect her to come in and 'facilitate' the proceedings. Maybe she could make herself useful and hand over the lube? Jesus! She's do it, too! She really IS devoted to him. Jimmy is, literally, her whole life -- even more so than Jimmy is for Tess, because Tess has her own friends and clubs and causes and her 'job,' too. Tess's 'job,' of course, is that of 'The Perfect Hollywood Wife,' just like Jimmy's job is 'The Most Powerful Actor in Hollywood.' So, I guess that makes Peggy the 'Perfect Personal Assistant.' Fuck only knows what that makes ME -- probably what I've always been -- 'The Perfect Asshole.'
"Peg! I need that schedule!" Jimmy will yell.
"Which schedule, Jimmy?" She yells back. They always yell.
"You know! All the interviews!" He's searching through piles of papers and other junk. Jimmy has his shit scattered all over the suite.
"Which interviews, Jimmy? The ones in Chicago? Or all the ones scheduled here and in New York and L.A.?"
"Um -- I guess all of them. No, just the television ones. Yeah -- the TV interviews! Can I get that list?"
"Right here, Jimmy." And she calmly hands it to him.
And it's like that all day long. Jimmy, trying to figure out what he wants, and Peggy, handing it to him. Jesus!
"Did you give the 'Oprah' people that list?" Jimmy starts up this morning.
"The Comp List?"
"Yeah, that's the one," Jimmy says, walking around the room while Peggy follows him with a pair of pants for him to try on.
"It was kind of long, Jimmy. The 'Oprah' people mentioned that it was a big list."
"I know, but Tess has eight million relatives in this city. Her aunts and her sisters and a pack of cousins -- and they ALL want free tickets to 'Oprah'!"
"Don't worry. I already took care of it, Jimmy," says Peggy, handing him the pants when he stops roaming around the room for two seconds. Jimmy puts them on.
The press agent, Leslie, is setting up her laptop on the desk. She's supposed to be the best in the Midwest, so she interests me. Being a press agent is pretty much like working in advertising, except you have to usher the product around and sell it personally. Cater to it. Pamper it. Kind of like the product and client have merged into one big fucking headache! And since Jimmy is the biggest 'product' in movies today, he takes a lot of extra care. And me -- I'm like excess baggage. They will basically carry me from place to place and toss me in there after Jimmy has done all the real work. Which is probably just as well.
"Just be charming, Brian," Ron told me before I left. "At least try. It's easy for you -- IF you want to do it. So, WANT to. And don't be a bitch to everyone." Such sweet words of farewell! That Ron!
But I AM trying. Really. No, I AM! And I haven't asked for people on any fucking Comp List or demanded any weird foods or sex toys or to have the suite redecorated in some 'special' color like some stars do. Not that I'm a star, because I'm not. But when I DO ask for two days -- okay, I'd settle for even ONE day -- to stop in Pittsburgh, the Studio Brass won't let me. It doesn't fit their schedule. They wouldn't let me leave Los Angeles BEFORE the press tour because they needed me to be 'on call.' So now that we are finally on the road, they won't let me go, even when the time is empty.
"They want you 'on toast,' Brian," Jimmy warned me last night. "Get used to it. Terra Nova Studio OWNS your ass right now. And even when there's nothing scheduled -- or at least nothing that YOU can see -- your time still belongs to them. So forget Pittsburgh for now."
"Are we ready, people? Mr. Hardy?" says Leslie, cellphone in hand. "The car is here to take you to the taping."
"But I haven't decided what to wear! Do these pants even GO with this shirt? And where is the jacket?"
I stand up and take the jacket off the hanger -- which is about five inches from Jimmy's head. I hand it to him. "Put this on, Jim. And zip yourself up," I say.
"Maybe I need some help with that?" Jimmy smirks. He thinks he is SO cute!
"Isn't that part of Peggy's job description?" I say, looking over at the assistant, but she's ignoring the two of us. She's busy packing up her briefcase. Leslie, the press agent, on the other hand, is all fucking eyes and ears. I can see her leaning over, catching every nuance.
I roll my eyes -- and then zip Jimmy up, giving his dick a hard smack. Really hard, so he'll remember not to be a jerk next time.
"Ow! That hurts, Bri!" whines Jimmy, rubbing his crotch.
"I thought that's the way you liked it, Jimbo? Hard. So -- do it yourself from now on, okay? Now get your ass in gear," I say, pushing him out the door, the two women trailing along behind. And we proceed down to the car.
Of course, Jimmy has to stop and sign about twenty autographs between the elevator and the car. He claims to hate doing it, but he really loves it. He fucking eats that stuff up. The day he walks through a room and no one asks for his autograph will be the day that Jimmy Hardy throws himself off a cliff -- for real.
Another press agent and two Terra Nova zonks are waiting at the 'Oprah' studio. The press agent is back-up for Leslie and the zonks are to make sure that Jimmy and I behave ourselves. Jimmy got smashed last night at the reception that opened the junket and he was 'mouthing off' a little too much for the studio's comfort. Funny, but that's usually my role. But I was stone sober all night. I just sat back and watched the farce unfold.
But as usual, Jimmy can get away with doing and saying anything. People take his most outrageous remarks for pure comic relief. But what he was saying about Tess and the studio and Ron -- and me -- wasn't all that funny. Calling Tess 'the old ball-and-chain' wasn't too bad -- except he wasn't smiling when he said it. Or saying that Ron was the 'finest faggot director in Hollywood' wasn't the kind of tribute Ron would really appreciate. And telling that guy from the 'Tribune' that he had the best sex of his life on the 'Olympian' set, BETWEEN takes, was over the top even as a joke. Only Jimmy wasn't joking.
Which is one reason why I stayed sober. The last thing I need to do right now is join the Jimmy Hardy Express Train to Career Suicide. Because I'm convinced that is exactly what Jimmy is courting. He's walking that line -- and he's using me and 'The Olympian' to do it. And why? Because he CAN. Or, he thinks he can. But Jimmy has no idea what he's playing with. No fucking idea at all. Jimmy has no clue what real homophobia is all about. Because Jimmy Hardy doesn't realize that it's going to be difficult enough for Middle America to accept 'America's Boy Next Door' taking it up the ass in a FILM, let alone expecting them to accept it for REAL. Because then Jimmy will find out what Hate is really all about. He can ask Justin to show him some of the scars from that lesson.
But Jimmy is in rare form in the make up room. He's trying out his best lines on the make up woman and the queen doing the hair. He's camping it up with the queen -- who is loving it, naturally. They're ignoring me for now. They'll do me after Jimmy's out of here and on the set. It's Jimmy's show, after all. They just bring me on at the end to hype the picture. So I just sit and observe.
Oprah has her own squad of personal assistants. I see Peggy and Leslie conferring with them, and they take a bunch of notes. Updating their information and the question list they'll give to Oprah. This stuff is always programmed right down to the 'ad libs' -- they don't take any fucking chances with these shows. You know exactly what you are supposed to say and they know exactly what they are supposed to ask. It rarely varies. Except that Jimmy is in loose cannon mode these days -- hence the extra studio geeks and all the nervous hovering.
After all, 'The Olympian' is Terra Nova Studio's big holiday release. It's the film they are hanging their Oscar hopes on. The film starring their 'Most Powerful Actor in Hollywood,' AKA, 'America's Boy Next Door' -- cocksucking or no cocksucking! So, it wouldn't do to have any of the reporters on the junket -- or even Oprah herself -- walk in on Jimmy Hardy trying to put his hand down his male co-star's pants. Which is what he was trying to do last night at the press reception. All in good fun, of course. That Jimmy! Always clowning around!
So, why do I go along with it? That's what Ron asked me. Why am I playing Jimmy's 'game'? Well, Ron ought to know. He fucking put me into this situation. He threw me into 'The Olympian' with Jimmy, to sink or swim -- and I almost sank. Almost. But I survived. I did. By doing what I always do -- going with the flow. Reacting to whatever happens and then letting it happen. It's not my fucking place to try and control things or to tell someone else to change. That's for people like Ron, like Jimmy -- even like Justin. They make things happen. They think they can change the world. Change people. I know that I can't. I can't change a fucking thing. So I won't even try.
I mean, I can't even change myself. Although I have tried. That's why I go along with what other people want. At least, I think that's why. Whatever the fuck.
The make up woman and the hair queen get me into the chair after Jimmy goes out onto the set. You can hear how the show is going through the monitors they have set up in the Green Room and the make up stations. Lots of laughter and clapping. Oprah asking the usual questions. Leaning in on Jimmy so it seems like they are such close, personal friends, sharing an intimate moment. Jimmy's been interviewed by her a bunch of times before. He knows what to give her -- if he's in the right temper. And he's in fine form once he gets in front of the people.
Jimmy plays directly to the audience. He would have made a great stage actor because he can gauge the reactions of the crowd and then adapt himself into their moods. Or he can lead them through a bunch of different emotions as he sees fit. It really is a Master Class in Stardom to watch the guy. Jimmy can be a pain in the ass, but when he's doing what he does best -- playing to the balcony -- he really IS the most powerful guy in Hollywood. If I had even half of a brain, I'd be learning what he does and how he does it, and I'd be copying it. But I'll never be what Jimmy is. Dorian is right about that -- I'll never be a true creature of Hollywood. I can't be. I'd go insane.
Once the make up woman has finished and left the room the hair queen is fucking all over me. He can't resist feeling me up in a way he'd never dare with Jimmy. But who the fuck am I? Nobody, after all. At least, nobody YET.
"So," says the queen. "Are you really the 'boyfriend'? Or is it all part of the hype?"
"I don't know what you mean," I say, coolly. I stare this guy down a little. He's too fucking nosy.
"I mean, from what I've heard from some boys 'in the know,' these love scenes weren't just 'special effects,' if you know what I'm saying, honey!"
"I know what you're saying. It's just that I'm NOT saying."
"Well, tell me this, then," babbles the hairdresser, fluffing my hair on top. I hate that! "Do you really show ALL in this film? That's the buzz!"
I narrow my eyes into the mirror. I'll have to re-do my hair myself now. "Sure," I reply. "You see it ALL. From every angle." I tilt back in the swivel chair so he can get a good look. "Why do you think they pay me the big bucks? Huh? And I mean BIG."
"Really?" The queen's eyes are huge -- which is more than I can say for the pitiful bulge in his pants. If it were even a little larger, I'd fuck him right here at the make up table. That would relieve some of the tension I'm feeling -- tension which is making me ready to pop any minute. But he isn't worth my time or the trouble it would take to get my belt unbuckled. I'm actually glad when Leslie comes in to walk me over to the set.
We stand in the semi-dark just off-stage, watching the monitor. I'm supposed to go out after they show a certain clip. They've given 'Oprah' and all these shows a certain selection of 'sanitized' scenes to show -- guaranteed not to 'scare' the housewives. I think it's bullshit. I think the woman would love to see some of the hotter scenes. They aren't children, after all. It's like I tried to tell those idiots in Promotion -- straight men have no fucking clue what turns women on. It frightens them to think about what really turns them on, so they ignore it or deny it. And that's the biggest mistake people will make about this picture -- thinking that a huge audience of females will be turned off by stressing the sex. But they won't be. I KNOW they won't be. In fact, it's just the opposite. The hotter the sex scenes between Jimmy and me, the more the women will be flocking to the theater!
"Are you ready?" asks Leslie.
"I think so," I say, suddenly petrified.
"The movie is fantastic, by the way," she says, without looking at me. She never takes her eyes off the monitor as they show the clip that is supposed to introduce me to the world. A scene at the track. Jimmy/Guy comes over to ream me/Bobby out about something. Jesus, those running shorts are skimpy. I guess I was too freaked out at the time to realize just how 'revealing' they were. You can't see my dick, but that hardly matters when my entire thigh and half my ass is showing. Yes, my BEST acting is always done with my ass. Those immortal words will undoubtedly be featured in my obituary.
"I mean it. I have to promote a lot of shit, day after day. Telling people that horrible things, mainly horrible films, are really good. I hear you were in advertising, so you understand what I mean." She finally looks up at me. "So it's a pleasure to plug something worthwhile. Something that makes an important statement, but is also a good picture, too."
I swallow. "I appreciate it. Hearing you say that, I mean." And I do mean it. Fuck. Now my hands are shaking.
"That Ron Rosenblum was a genius with that raw material. Taking a great book and turning it into a great movie. And he wrote the script all by himself, too, and directed? And Jimmy is amazing, as always." Leslie pauses and I start to take some deep breaths so I won't pass out when they introduce me. "But you, Brian," she says. "YOU are the whole picture. So, don't let Jimmy or Ron Rosenblum or the studio steamroll you. Don't forget that simple fact -- it's ALL you. So go out there and let everyone KNOW that. And do it every time."
And with that, Leslie pushes me out onto the set and I hear the applause and the shouting and the Fame Frenzy really and truly begins.
Continue on to "Outlaw Blues -- Part 1, Page 2", the second page.
©Gaedhal, December 2002
Send Gaedhal any comments, critiques, suggestions. I welcome all of your feedback on this chapter.
Updated December 4, 2002