This is Part 2 of Chapter 12 in the "Queer Theories" series.
Go back to "Shoot the Moon -- Part 1" , the previous section.
Brian walked onto the set with attitude to burn. I hadn't seen or spoken to him since I left him by the pool the night before and I truly didn't know what to expect when -- if -- he showed up.
Jimmy had the set dressed for the motel scene. He also had a camera ready to roll -- part of the test of whether Ross could actually do on film the scene he hadn't been able to do in any of the rehearsals. And it was a vital scene: the one where Bobby and his coach, Guy, make love for the first time. Well, not 'make love,' let's face it -- it's a pure, fierce fuck scene, almost verging on force. And it's a key to both characters and their developing relationship: the angry, isolated, and persecuted athlete and his petrified, closeted, and inexperienced coach. Jimmy was avid to get this scene right -- I think he smelled 'Oscar Number Two' all over the part of Guy. And Ross was just as anxious to avoid the whole thing. it was almost like he thought that if he couldn't do it, we'd just change it. Or cut it altogether. Or else turn 'The Olympian' into a kind of gay 'Brian's Song.' And that wasn't going to happen.
It was after 7:30 and we were waiting around for our 'technical advisor' to show. I was beginning to think that he never would when the door slammed open and in he came.
He was dressed all in black like a bad dream -- skin-tight black jeans, black boots, black wife-beater, and black leather jacket. He had a cigarette hanging from his mouth and a look on his face that told me he was ready to terminate the first person who crossed his path. He was probably high on something, too, although I wasn't sure what. His eyes were pinned and he was sweating. The boots he was wearing were heeled and he looked impossibly tall, especially next to the already cowed Ross Preston.
One of the techs walked over to him and said, "Excuse me, but there's no smoking on the set."
He took an extra long drag and blew the smoke into the guy's face. The astonished man stepped back. "If you take away my cigarette, you'd better be prepared to replace it with your dick. Now get the fuck out of my way."
He stalked over to where Jimmy and Ross and I stood by the mock-up of the motel room. He looked at us as if he'd never seen any of us before in his life. Especially me.
"Can I get a drink around here?"
I gestured to my assistant, Ivy. She brought over a bottle of Evian.
"What's this shit? I said a drink. A DRINK?"
"Just a minute." Jimmy Hardy called over his own personal assistant, who disappeared and came back about two minutes later with a bottle of Absolut. He handed the bottle to Jimmy.
"With my compliments." He offered the bottle to Brian, who took a long swig. He handed it back to Jimmy, who also took a drink. Jimmy then offered the bottle to Ross Preston.
"No thanks, man."
"Drink it." Brian stepped up to him.
"What?" Ross looked at Brian like he was crazy.
"I said, drink it."
"I don't want any." Ross backed off, obviously unnerved.
"Pussy." Brian took another long pull and handed it to Jimmy, who also drank.
That was the way it was going to be. Psyching out Ross Preston and using Jimmy to help him. And Jimmy, falling into the game with the perfect instincts of an actor, immediately fell into his role. And Ross had fallen into his own part -- although he didn't know it yet.
Brian sauntered over to the motel set and looked it over. Then he took off his leather jacket and tossed it on the bed. "Okay, tell me what to do, where, and when." He raked Ross up and down with this eyes and snorted. "And with who."
We all stood there, uncertain of what to do next.
"I'm fucking waiting."
Finally, I moved. "Please clear the set. Anyone not rehearsing or operating the minimum equipment necessary to do these takes, please clear the set."
A number of stragglers left, while Jimmy's assistant and a hanger-on who had come in with Ross stood uncertainly. Jimmy went over and spoke to them and they moved towards the door.
"Everyone." I motioned to Ivy, my own assistant, to leave, as well.
"Are you sure about this, Ron?" she asked. "This is a little odd."
"It's Jimmy's idea. We need a little privacy in here to rehearse these scenes."
"But what is Brian doing here? I don't quite understand what's going on here."
"I'll be over at the office. Call me when you guys are done here." She was watching Brian prowling around, pulling at the bottle, and circling Ross like a lion circles an injured gazelle. She gave me a look that said are you really sure, Ron? Really? And I began to wish that I was walking back to the office with her.
But this was my film. My responsibility.
"Now, you guys know the situation, you know the dialogue. Brian, this is about...."
"I know. I've read the script. I know the dialogue."
"Well, good. Okay. Jimmy, Ross, why don't you run through it a couple of times and we'll try a take."
Ross raised his hand like he was in class, "Um, Ron? Is it necessary to film these rehearsals? I mean...."
Jimmy stepped forward. "It was my idea." He looked right at Ross. "I want to see what you can... what we can do in this scene. And I want to see what it looks like on the screen." And whether you can deliver, Ross, was the unspoken. Ross understood that -- perhaps for the first time. He began to fidget a bit.
The set-up was fairly simple. It's the early Seventies and Guy has been hired to coach Bobby, an Olympic-class runner who has been kicked out of every college and then every sports club in the West because of his open homosexuality. He's shunned by the other athletes and harassed by practically everyone. But he also has a wealthy benefactor who is paying Guy to make certain he makes it to the Olympics. Of course, Guy himself a 'confirmed bachelor,' to use the phrase of the time, becomes obsessed with the in-your-face Bobby, who then introduces him to everything he's been suppressing for the last forty years. The culmination of the drama comes at a pre- Olympic track meet, when Bobby is killed by a homophobic sports official who wants to keep him from 'soiling' the sanctity and 'masculinity' of the sport. Famous book, famous story, very famous ending.
The motel scene is Guy's 'de-flowering' by Bobby and therefore vital to the plot and the characters. That is why Jimmy was concerned. If the scene wasn't strong enough, it would lose impact, but if it was done with the wrong tone, then all we'd get was a lot of uncomfortable laughs. Jimmy wanted the scene to make people gasp -- to literally grab the audience by the balls. Frankly, Ross didn't seem like the person who could grab any audience by the balls. Or Jimmy, personally.
Each run-through went worse than the one before. Ross cracked up. Ross forgot the lines. Ross was walking through it.
Finally, I called for a take. They got through the initial dialogue and Ross got Jimmy down on the bed. But then came the kiss and Ross turned his head away and made a face. Again.
"Fuck, Ross! What are you doing to me here!" Jimmy was furious. Four times he'd gotten himself up for this moment and every time Ross had screwed him. Or not screwed him. And they hadn't even gotten to the sex part yet. We were fucked.
"Jesus Christ." Brian stepped forward and pushed Ross to the side. "What is the big fucking deal?"
I leaned over to the cameraman and told him to roll film.
To my surprise, Brian had memorized the dialogue and he and Jimmy went through the scene at least as smoothly as Ross had. But when the moment came for the move to the bed, Brian took Jimmy by surprise. He caught him up by the front of his shirt, dragged him bodily, and tossed him down on the bed as easily as he's tossed his leather jacket -- which was still lying there, over at the side.
They paused for a moment and I moved the camera in closer. Ross watched, glowering.
Brian kissed Jimmy hard. Then he went off script. "Open your mouth, or do I have to pry it open?" My stomach lurched.
I looked over at Ross. He was squirming. But my camera crew were rock-steady. All of them had worked with me before on my gay video projects and they knew how to get the shots I needed and they had no problem with what they were filming. Only Ross was having a problem. Especially when Brian stripped off his black t-shirt and began to unbutton Jimmy's shirt. His body looked impossibly pale against the dark bedspread. Ross turned and walked to the back of the set.
I have to give him credit, Jimmy didn't miss a beat. Brian kissed him, undressed him, licked him, and practically went down on him for real and he didn't flinch, he didn't hesitate. He gave a performance that had me believing it. But so did Brian. He strong-armed Jimmy through every move and every turn and you had no doubt that he'd done this kind 'initiation' before. And well I knew it.
They went through a couple more takes and angles and then I thought it had been more than enough. We'd already filmed stuff that would put our rating into jeopardy -- I'd promised the studio an R and we were quickly heading into NC-17. Jimmy Hardy may have been willing to show his dick on camera, but I wasn't ready for Brian to show his -- even though he was ready to do it.
Brian was pulling his pants on and Jimmy was giggling on the bed like a real de-flowered virgin, he was so pleased.
Ross came barrelling up to me and poked me in the chest with his finger. "You expect me to do that? THAT? You are fucked if you think I'm doing that, Ron!"
"Ross, you'll be doing a lot more than that if you play Bobby."
"What's the matter, Rossie? Can't get it up on camera?" Brian smirked at him.
He whipped around to look at Brian. "Not like that! I'm not doing that! Maybe you can, but not me."
Brian strolled over, his pants still undone at the top. He shoved his hand down the front and took hold of his cock. "Maybe I do what I say I'm going to do. And when YOU sign a contract for big money to fuck someone on camera -- you better be prepared to do it or don't take the fucking job! You're fucking up this picture here -- you and your attitude!"
"There's nothing wrong with my attitude! I'm an actor and I'm playing a part! That doesn't mean I have to really blow someone like some real faggot!"
Brian stared down at him. Ross had never looked less like a hard-nosed Olympic athlete than he did with Brian standing over him, backing him into a mental corner.
"You're supposed to be a fucking top? Do you even know what that is? Do you?" Now Brian grabbed Ross by the front of his shirt and spun him around. "It's someone who takes control of the situation. Someone who fucks and doesn't GET fucked. It's someone who doesn't back down like a pussy-boy. Does that sound like you? Huh?"
He backed Ross over to the bed. Jimmy, seeing them coming, rolled off and crouched at the side, watching intensely. I signaled for the camera to roll.
"If you need lessons on the subject, I'll have to give you a few right here. Lesson One: when you see what you want, take it." He pushed Ross down on the bed and leaned over him, pinning his hands over his head. "Lesson Two: don't take no for an answer." He kissed Ross hard, probing at his mouth with his tongue until Ross began to move with him.
Then he paused. Reached down and undid Ross's jeans and reached for his dick. Ross gasped and tried to sit up.
"What's the matter? Afraid to take your dick out, Rossie?" Brian pushed him back down on the bed. "That's funny, it's hard enough now. That was Lesson Three."
"You get your fucking hands off me, you fucking queer!"
"Now, that's Lesson Four: don't try to fuck homophobic straight guys. It never pays off. You see, those are supposed to be the lines of the guys that you are fighting AGAINST in this flick. You know, the bad guys. That's not what YOU are supposed to say. Unless, of course, you're a homophobic asshole, too? Is that IT?" Brian turned and looked at me with a frown. "I'm afraid Rossie failed in his attempt to be a top. But he could still get his ass fucked if he doesn't mind keeping his big mouth shut."
"Let me up and let me out of here. NOW!"
Brian was holding him down on the bed with one hand. Ross struggled like trapped animal. Finally, Brian glanced over at Jimmy, who nodded to him. Brian released him and stepped back.
Ross stood up and shook himself. He checked the front of his jeans, making certain they were zipped up and fastened tightly. "You're gonna pay for that, mister. I mean it!" He looked around, sputtering with frustration. "Ron, I should have known better than to accept a part from a pathetic fag like you."
I turned away from his tirade. Because I'd set him up and then let Jimmy and Brian play their little game with him. I felt pathetic for letting it all get out of hand.
But Brian glared coldly. "Pathetic? You can call anyone pathetic? You little prick! You homophobic creep!"
"Shut up, fudgepacker, I don't have to listen to you!"
"Come over here and say that! You want to get your ass kicked by a fag? I'm the one to do it. Please! I beg you! Come over here! I'll kick it for you and I'll fuck it for you. Free of charge!"
Ross backed away from Brian, eyes wide. "Stay away from me! Jimmy! Don't let him come near me!" But Jimmy didn't move to help.
"What a fucking little coward you are. And you call yourself an actor? An artist? You aren't even a man, you little jerk." Brian picked up his cigarette pack and lighter from a chair and lit one.
"I'm out of here, Jimmy! Fuck this shit! Fuck this movie, Ron! And fuck you! I don't have to put up with this!"
Jimmy shrugged. "I guess you don't."
"I'm leaving now! I'm calling my agent!" He turned to Brian. "And if you come near me or follow me -- I'm calling the cops! I mean it."
"Go ahead. Call them." Brian took a long drag on his cigarette and blew some smoke out of his nose. "We've got the film to prove it right here. Should be a nice little extra on the DVD package."
Ross looked at him with true horror, while Jimmy laughed like a jackass, gasping for breath.
"I'm glad you all find this so funny. So funny!" Ross's face was bright red. He rushed to the set door and began pulling it, forgetting that it was bolted.
Brian strolled over, pulled the bolt, and shoved it open. "Have a nice day, Rossie."
Ross beat it into the darkness.
Jimmy was still giggling like a girl. He sat down on the bed and kept nodding his head as if he were pleased with the disaster we'd all just perpetrated. "I wish there was some more of that booze left. I could use another slug. Let's go out for a drink right now!"
I wasn't smiling. "I think you've both had more than enough."
Brian retrieved his leather jacket from the bed. Jimmy reached up to take his hand and shake it. "Brian, my man. It was quite an experience working with you. I'll catch you later, all right?"
Brian didn't say anything. He turned and came over to me, but he didn't look me in the eye. Then he said, his voice completely changed, "Can I go? Now. Can I just get out of here?"
I picked up the phone. "Yes, Ivy. Can you send the car around to take Mr. Kinney home? Yes. Immediately." I hung up. "It'll be in the front in five minutes."
Without a word, he walked out the door. I wondered if he would even be there when I got home.
Jimmy sat there the whole time, not saying a word. Finally, he stood up and stretched. He shook himself like a dog. And he grinned again. I couldn't imagine what the hell he had to smile about.
"Well, Ron, we've lost our co-star."
Right. And I've lost more than that. Everything fucked in one fell swoop.
"But, luckily, it is no big loss. In fact, it's probably the best thing that could have happened."
"And how do you figure that, Jimmy? After I've put the better part of a decade getting this thing to the point of rolling -- and now it's all gone to hell! And you say, it's for the best? No offense, but fuck you, Jimmy."
"Ron, the guy couldn't do the part! He would have ruined the picture! I can't act with... that! How can my character even pretend to be in love with -- him?"
"You're an actor, Jimmy, it's your job to pretend."
"No one's THAT good, even me." He snorted at his own wit.
"Then what, Jimmy? We are at square one and you said yourself that if we can't start shooting now, then we are screwed. There's no time to recast! Jesus, I couldn't even get my own agent to sent his clients out to read for the part of Bobby because of the sex scenes -- and Freddy has money invested in this picture!" I sat down in one of the canvas chairs. "So that's that, then."
"I think you are panicking needlessly."
"I am? No, I'm panicking with perfectly good reason."
"Ron, we have a perfect solution, if you would only agree to it. In fact, it's the only solution. I've been thinking about it for a while, actually, but I knew we had to get rid of Ross first."
"You know someone else who wants this part?" I stood up.
"Well -- someone who is perfect for the part. Who can do what the part requires. The rest is up to you, Ron."
"Up to me? What do you mean?"
"Brian, of course. He's the only choice." Jimmy walked to the door. "It's basically an 'ingenue' role -- I act, he reacts. He stands. I look at him. He runs. I look at him. He takes off his clothes. He runs some more. He stands again. I look at him. He fucks me. Film over. No problem."
He leaned over and gave me a little slap on the cheek. "Now -- you get him over to the office tomorrow and sign him up. I don't want Freddy to represent him. Conflict of interest. I'll call my own agent, Lew Blackmore. And he'll need to pass the physical for the insurance. He's clean, right, Ron? I mean, for everything?"
"Yes -- he's clean."
"Good. We start shooting Monday. Call the trainers and get him started on the running practice. Those scenes can go last when he's ready. But he's already in fabulous shape, if I'm any judge." Jimmy smiled that million dollar smile. "Tess better watch out, I think I'm looking forward to this film. See you tomorrow, Ron."
Continue on to "Drama Queen -- Part 1", the next chapter.
©Gaedhal, May 2002
Pictures of Gale Harold from Showtime and Flaunt.
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Updated May 16, 2002