This is Chapter 17 in the "Queer Theories" series.
Go back to "Shopping Lists -- Part 2" , the previous section.
POV of Ron Rosenblum, Brian Kinney, featuring Jimmy and Tess Hardy, Sir Kenneth Fielding, Hughie Marsh.
Rated R and contains no warnings or spoilers.
Summary: March 2002. More outtakes from the Hollywood cutting room floor.
Disclaimer: This is for fun, not profit. Watch Queer As Folk on Showtime, buy the DVDs, videos, and CDs. Read the stories and enjoy.
Outtake 1: Morton's, on Melrose Avenue:
To celebrate the signing of Brian's contract, Jimmy takes us to dinner with Tess and their daughter, Annie. The fiction is that Brian is Annie's date. Brian doesn't mind this. In fact, it's the only thing he doesn't seem to mind.
For someone who just signed to co-star in a picture opposite an Oscar-winning actor, he's about as pleased as if a plague of locusts had just wiped out the family farm.
"Snap out of it, for chrisake, Brian. You look like you are going to a hanging."
"Actually, I've been to a hanging -- and it was preferable to this by far. In fact, it gave me quite a hard-on."
He says this so seriously that I almost believe he really has been to a hanging. But it's just his sardonic way of expressing himself. I think.
We've barely sat down when Jimmy starts showing off.
"This is where 'Vanity Fair' holds their Oscar Party every year. You guys have to come this year. I'll make sure you get on the guest list. It's the best party by far. Wouldn't you like that, Brian, huh?"
Jimmy seems to be going out of his way to impress Brian. I think it's his way of 'initiating' him into a world where Jimmy is a top dog. Jimmy is a big one for his 'position' in this town. His billing. The number of articles about him. How many are cover stories. Tess, too. She likes to rack up the points and brag about them. An 'A List' couple with a vengeance
Still, Brian is hard to awe. He's non-committal. And the more he seems unimpressed, the more Jimmy presses it. Pointing out famous people sitting in corners. Calling them over. Shaking hands. Intros all around. Some of the women are making goo-goo-eyes at Brian. Some of the men, too. That's the price of taking Brian anywhere.
But this is not Brian's thing at all. He told me once he was basically anti-social. He wasn't kidding.
"'Vanity Fair' called the other day and they want to do a cover story on me for this film. Of course, I've been on the cover twice before when they did profiles. But I told them, 'you know, I'm not certain you want an old prick with a receding hairline messing up the front of your magazine!' But they said, 'Oh, Mr. Hardy, you always make a wonderful cover!' They really like to stroke you, you know what I mean?"
"People are always interested in you, Jimmy," I say. "And you look great. You hairline is NOT receding." Hey, if I have to stroke my star's fucking ego, I'll do it.
"You can afford to say that, Ron. You have a head of hair like a yak!" He laughed. A yak? Try a better one, Jimmy.
"I told them that if they really want an eye-catching cover then they should do the story on my man, Brian, here. Now THAT would be something to look at!" He claps Brian on the back like a Shriner at a convention.
Jimmy is beaming, but Brian's face never changes. Knowing him, the thought of appearing on the covers of thousands of magazines is his idea of hell on earth. He just stonewalls it.
But the one that truly shocks me is Jimmy. I've never heard of his passing up ANY kind of publicity, especially from a major glossy rag, let alone passing it on to a younger, better-looking co-star. It boggles my mind. But I think he's serious.
Jimmy orders for everyone and basically plays his version of Lord Bountiful. Tess presides over the table with her usual charm and grace, oiling over Jimmy's in-your-face enthusiasm with a modicum of reality. They are quite the professional team -- as necessary to Jimmy's career -- and his success -- as his agent and his writers and directors. Tess is the basis of his image of himself as the All American Boy turned All American Man. The ultimate Success Story.
Tess allows Jimmy to go overboard -- because she always pulls him back in. Jimmy can make crazy statements and jokes that don't work and Tess will temper all the fall-out with her 'That Jimmy!' common sense. Without Tess, Jimmy would never have had the balls to make 'Liberty' and play a gay man dying of AIDS. No fucking way. He didn't have the courage then to do it on his own. And my project -- 'The Olympian' -- without Tess to anchor him, he never would have considered the role of Guy. Never. I'm sure of it.
Brian spends most of the evening talking to Annie. What he has to say to a fourteen year old girl is beyond me, but he sticks to her. Maybe her conversation is honest, at least, and not full of talk of the Industry or other bullshit.
I wonder what kind of anchor Brian is going to need in this business? To survive? To be a success? Because being an actor, being in the spotlight, isn't the same as being a director or a writer, a creature in the shadows. Unless you are Spielberg or Coppola, no one in the real world gives a shit who the director is. You can cruise through life and be as anonymous as possible -- I've banked on that.
And then I realize -- I'm supposed to be Brian's 'anchor' -- his 'Tess.' Goddamn. Because I'm not. I can't be that. I can never be that.
Which means he's in it all by himself.
And I fucking put him there.
Outtake 2: The Academy Awards (Sunday, March 24, 2002)
At least they aren't making me do the fake date thing tonight. In fact, everyone is so hyped up about the Awards that they've pretty much forgotten all about me. There are bigger fish to fry. Tess and I hang together until it's time to sit down and then later at the big parties. So nice how the 'wives' keep out of the way while the boys do their thing. The only compensation for the whole blow-out is seeing all the big stars nervous, drunk, or in a bad mood. Some are all three at once. Oh, and the waiters. The 'Vanity Fair' Party at Morton's after the Academy Awards telecast definitely has the best selection, in my humble opinion.
Ron and Jimmy spend the whole evening schmoozing Sir Kenneth Fielding. He was up for Best Supporting Actor and he's the talk of the town, as they say, and not just for his acting. Sir Ken is tall, thin, gray, distinguished, and a very open 'poofter,' as the limeys call it. Ron and Jimmy want him to do a small, but important part in the film while he's in town for the awards. They are giving him the whole snake-oil sale. It might be fun to be in the scene with the guy. He supposedly has a backlog of scurrilous stories on everyone from Gielgud to Richard Burton to Anthony Hopkins -- he's worked with them all and seems to know in which closet everyone's skeletons are hanging. No wonder he got a fucking knighthood!
Sir Ken looks older than he is -- Ron's says he's in his mid-50's -- and the boyfriend he's infamously dragging along to the hop, Hughie Marsh, looks younger -- he's supposed to be 22, looks more like 16. Jesus, and some people made jokes about Justin and me! This is positively in territory beyond good taste.
The kid is cute in a flouncy, foppy way, decked out in lacy sleeves and velvet bell-bottoms. Way too queeny for my liking. Hard to imagine flamboyant and bitchy Sir Ken as this brutal top, but with this kid I can't see it any other way. Hughie positively defines 'girly boy.' I'm thinking how Justin would laugh at him.
Sir Ken didn't win the big award, but he doesn't seem too crushed. Every time the camera was on them in the auditorium, he and Hughie were practically making out. It was truly a trip! I thought some of the older producers and their wives would have to be carried out. Even some of the supposedly 'hip' young stars didn't seem to cool with it. Fuck them. No wonder they had such a hard time casting the part of Bobby, if those are the kinds of non-existent balls most of the actors in this town retain. Again, fuck them.
Outtake 3: The Lawrence Mansion, Bel Air, 'The Olympian' Shoot:
"Another blowjob scene. What a surprise. This movie is turning out to have as many as 'Palm Springs Suckfest 2000.' Did you catch that video, Sir Kenneth?"
"I must have missed that one, dear boy. Was it up for any awards that year?"
"I don't think so, unless they have a category of Most Unnecessary Cum Shots in one twenty minute reel."
Sir Kenneth seems at ease with all this fuss and aggravation. I guess when you've been an actor since you were a kid and you have the title and all the nominations and shit, nothing much phases you. Of course, I think he's all wrong for this part. He's too elegant and polished. Where would a two-bit hustler like Bobby hook up with this guy? And since high school? What's this rich Englishman doing hanging around some local high school track team? Don't answer that. Maybe it's possible after all.
Plus, he's too nice. The character of Henry should be sleazier, not so sympathetic and sophisticated. But both Ron and Jimmy jumped at the chance when Sir Kenneth expressed an interest in doing this part. And it's a coup for them -- one of the few openly gay actors doing major roles taking a part in this shindig. Even if it is only for two scenes. I guess they worked it all out at the 'Vanity Fair' Party after the Oscars. Stupid me -- I still think a party is all about having a good time. But really, it's about business. It's always about fucking business.
Strange to be on location in this big house instead of at the track. They have the dressing rooms set up in various bedrooms upstairs and make-up in the dining room. The big scene is in this room with a huge fireplace. Big stuffed furniture. Dark and gloomy like a fucking gothic novel. Hollywood's idea of how a wealthy man lives.
It's supposed to be one of those 'oh-oh' kind of scenes. Bobby comes to have the heart-to-heart with his patron. This guy has been subsidizing his training for years and now the pay-off -- the Olympics -- is within reach. It's the fatherly advice thing. Ward Cleaver talks to the Beaver. I guess this is where Sir Kenneth's avuncular manner works best. Until Guy comes along, he's Bobby's only ally. The audience is supposed to get the warm and fuzzies from their rapport. And then comes the end -- when Bobby is expected to 'pay-off' as well with a suck-off. And has been for years and years. It's supposed to shock the audience. It seems all too predictable to me. But it would, wouldn't it?
So, Sir Ken seems pretty comfortable with the whole deal. He's cracking jokes between takes. For me, it's another scene with my fucking back to the camera. My ass has more close-ups in this picture than my face. When I mentioned that fact to Ron he said it was because my ass had more expression than my face. That Ron! What a card he is.
After the takes are finished -- and Sir Ken is good, I admit -- Ivy, Ron's assistant, says Sir Kenneth wants to see me in his dressing room. It's the biggest and nicest bedroom in this appropriated house. Well, he's the biggest star on the set today. It doesn't bother me. I can get dressed in the public toilet -- and have more than once on this shoot.
He talks to me about coming to England and doing a part this summer. I just laugh.
"Let me get through this picture first."
"Oh, you will, you will. And this role is perfect for you." He's sitting at a portable dressing table, while I stand, still in my Bobby outfit. Actually, my usual outfit -- jeans, tee-shirt, leather jacket. Other than the track clothes, wardrobe on this film is a cinch.
"I take it that means that no real acting is actually involved?"
Sir Ken smiles. "I don't know why you are so hard on yourself, Brian. You are doing a wonderful job in a completely impossible role. You know that, don't you?" He waves his dresser or assistant or whatever out of the room.
"I know about the 'impossible' part, yes. It's the 'wonderful' part that's hard for me to comprehend."
"You'll see it -- when all is finished. I have a good instinct about these things. That's why I've lasted for over forty years in this business, even though I'm a known troublemaker AND an infamous poof."
"You're a role model to us all, Sir Ken."
"Don't bother to flatter me, my dear boy! I already like you." He turns and looks at himself in the mirror for a couple of minutes, then he turns to me. "In fact, your close proximity during that scene has had a profound effect on me, don't you know?"
"Oh, has it?" I should have been expecting this, I guess.
"Oh, yes. So I'm sure you will indulge an old man." And he has my dick out in nothing flat. Nothing wrong with his reflexes.
"Okay, then." What am I supposed to say? That if it were my choice I don't care if you're the King of England -- I'd rather have the lighting man blow me? But it's too late now. And it makes me wonder if this is just a spur of the moment/seize the opportunity kind of thing -- or part of the deal all along? Part of the 'arrangement' that Ron and Jimmy put together at the 'Vanity Fair' party to get Sir Ken to do this one-day job? I mean, it's only fucking, right? That should mean nothing to me. Nothing at all. Right?
And what is the 'deal' on this other picture in England? Another come-on just to get me in the dressing room? A 'promise' of 'more of the same'-- only in a British setting?
So, add an Academy Award Best Supporting Actor nominee to my resume. Maybe I should have this printed up? Those credits are certainly more impressive than my acting ones. So far.
And if I have to put out for His Knightliness, then I guess that's the price of doing business. Maybe it's also the price of a trip to England? And there are all those Englishmen, who -- if you can overlook the teeth -- can be quite a perk. Quite a perk indeed.
So why do I feel like shit?
Why do I feel like I was being more honest back in good old New York? At least there the parameters of the deal were clear from the start. All you had to do was remember to keep your dick wrapped and get the money up front.
Now, it's a bigger stake. A nastier piece of work. Especially when I get the uneasy feeling that both Ron AND Jimmy are pimping me for their own reasons, for their own agendas. But they would never call it that. They would never put the word to the deed. Because they are fucked. And they see themselves as something better than that. Certainly something better than me. I'm just the goods. Available for transport. Just available for whatever.
Get out your camera and point.
Continue on to "Like Pittsburgh" , Chapter Eighteen of "Queer Theories."
©Gaedhal, May 2002
Pictures of Gale Harold from Showtime and Flaunt.
Revised and Updated January 16, 2003.