This is Part 1 of Chapter 80 in the "Queer Theories" series.
Go back to "White Heat -- Part 2", the previous section.
The narrator is Justin Taylor, featuring Brian Kinney, Dorian Folco, Sir Kenneth Fielding, Hughie Marsh, Charley Weston, Helene DeMarr, Nick, Davy, Kenroy Smith, Others.
Rated R and contains no warnings or spoilers.
Summary: Brian has to perform and Justin has to hold himself together. London, July 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.
Yes, it was a stupid thing to do.
But I'm not sorry that I did it. Not sorry at all.
Because I HAD to get Brian to SEE what he was doing to himself. And if that was the only way, then I'm not sorry about what I did.
In fact, I didn't know that I was really going to snort the dope until I actually did. I thought he would stop me before I got that far.
But Brian obviously was testing me, too. Seeing how far I would go. And that meant I had to go all the way. I had to.
And now I know what it feels like. The horrible stomach heaving cramps. The fear. And the amazing euphoria -- the bliss -- the sensation that you've never felt anything else like this before. And that you never wnat it to end.
So, I can see how fucking dangerous it is. How seductive. It's just like Brian himself. He IS the dope -- at least for me. And I don't need another addiction. But for that short moment, I understood how it happens to people. How it takes over and becomes more important than anything else.
And how hard it would be to get off of it.
And that's why I'm even more resolved to be a pest, a nuisance, a personal assistant. What does Brian say? The little pitbull. The first time he called me that I thought it was an insult. But it isn't. That's exactly what I have to be. Hanging on and never letting go. And savaging anyone else who tries to come near him. I think I'll get a tee shirt made that says just that -- Brian's Pitbull! He would laugh his ass off over that one!
I guess I'm feeling a lot better. I felt like shit when I woke up, but when Brian finally took me over to the Portobello Market I was in heaven. It was everything my lousy day over there with Rowan was not. Even when he sat me down and laid it on the line about what he'd do if I ever tried a stunt like that with the dope again. He threatened to take away my bracelet -- and give back the heart charm. That's when I knew he was absolutely serious. Because he wouldn't even take the necklace off when he filmed his scenes in Hammersmith. He told me that wardrobe mentioned something about it not fitting with the character of James Hammersmith, who is a pretty hard guy, to be wearing something like that. He explained something about the paradoxical nature of the character and the juxtaposition of the romantic emblem of the heart with the bondage and punk gear -- or something like that.
"And they bought it," said Brian. "Amazing what kind of bullshit they'll accept from an actor if he says it's part of his character! But the bottom line is, I didn't take it off!"
So when Brian threatened to give it back to me, I understood the significance of the whole thing to him. And he was deadly serious.
I had spent a lot of time the day before, going over all the Brianisms in my head. I was giving him the silent treatment, I know. Purposely avoiding talking to him. I was afraid that if I just went on as usual that I'd lose my resolve. That I'd collapse like some little faggot who couldn't handle being tough. Who could do what had to be done.
And I freaked him out.
But then I said all the things I've been afraid to say. Repeated all the bullshit lines he's spouted. Tried to show him that it was all a big fat lie! That he HAS broken those stupid rules, again and again. That he has cared about people. Loved, even. And done the 'romantic gesture' in so many different ways that have nothing to do with bouquets of stupid flowers or candlelight and moonbeams. But REAL things. Helping out every person he's close to whenever they really need help. Paying off Deb's mortgage. Setting up a trust fund for Gus. Signing over his parental rights to get Lindsay and Mel back together again. Making certain that Michael had the money he needed to buy his store. Saving my life. Among so many other things that I owe him.
Pushing everyone he's ever loved over a fucking cliff.
And so, I did a little pushing myself.
But nothing freaked him out as much as when I snorted the smack.
I don't know who it hit worse -- me or him.
And I felt so fucking sick -- and then so fucking great. One right after another. It was surreal.
But even if I hadn't promised Brian, I don't think I would do that drug again. It was too horrible -- and too wonderful. It reminded me of the painkillers they gave me in the hospital. How I would just float above the pain and not care and believe that I could stay like that forever.
Except, I didn't want to stay like that forever. I wanted to get the hell out of that druggy haze and out of the fucking hospital and look for Brian! So, it's a feeling I don't want to repeat. Ever.
When we went back to the room after our great walk around Portobello Market, we made love. I know that Brian probably thinks that we fucked, we screwed, we humped like rabbits. And we did. But it was more than that. I know the difference. I can feel the difference. See the difference on Brian's face. It was no less furious or hard or sweaty or satisfying than any other over-the-top session of Brian pounding my ass. But it was completely different, nevertheless. It was almost as if Brian had lost something and he was desperately trying to find it somewhere in me. Like he wanted to suck me into himself so that there were no longer two people, but only one. And we weren't joined together only by his dick or by our mouths, but by something more. I can't explain it. But there it was.
The whole time Brian is getting ready to go to the big theater for the concert he's humming. It sounds so mundane and normal -- humming. But I haven't heard him do it in a while. I think it means he's not worried or obsessing or freaking out about anything. It's the best sound I've heard in a long time.
The studio car picks us up and takes us to the theater. It's in a part of London I haven't been before -- Hammersmith. It's an area in the West End that isn't too fashionable, which was why the name was picked for the film. "Dorian's idea of social commentary," says Brian.
Brian has his own dressing room tonight and I'm relieved. Having to share with the guys in the band is not good. There's too much of that macho bullshit and, of course, the guys drinking and passing around joints, and -- when I'm not around, obviously -- other shit.
Still, when we are shown into the room, Helene, the bleached blonde, and her orange-dyed friend, whose name I never do catch, are sitting in there like they own the place.
"Out!" says Brian, setting down his bag. He also has his arm around me, which doesn't go over too well with his new 'fan.' "Please leave while I'm getting dressed. In fact -- just leave for good, okay?"
But Helene doesn't want to leave. "Aren't we going out to see the Ball Turret Gunners in Camden? Those guys from Charley's old band? We talked about it Thursday night."
"No, we aren't, Helene," says Brian. "Maybe YOU are, but I'm taking my boyfriend out to dinner after we finish here."
"You aren't serious about this little boy, are you, Bri? You're kidding, right?" Helene stands there, her hands on her hips. Maybe she thinks she looks sexy or something, but she just looks creepy and desperate.
"I AM serious about him, Helene," Brian says, his arm still around me. "And I have been for two years. And I'd appreciate it if you got your well-used ass out of here so we can have a little privacy."
Her friend tries to get her to go, but Helene doesn't take the hint. She's still standing there, like Brian is going to change his mind and tell ME to take a hike.
"You know, Helene," continues Brian. "The little boy could give you quite an advanced course in the art of sucking cock. Because, frankly, your technique lacks imagination. Just a friendly bit of advice to benefit the next queer you try to pull this shit on." And that sends the two women out the door, while Brian and I laugh like crazy.
"That was perfect payback for the way she treated me the other night, Brian. Thank you for putting her in her place."
"Let's hope that she stays away from now on."
I try to help Brian get ready, like a good personal assistant. I go to the door and ask someone to bring some more bottled water. One of the assistants tells me that the make up people are coming over in a short while to do Brian after they finish with Sir Kenneth, who is filming something backstage before the concert starts. Meanwhile, Brian gets his clothes off and puts on the robe he's brought in his bag. I line up his clothes for the stage, his leather pants and black sleeveless shirt, on the rack, and hang up his jeans.
"I think we may have time for you to demonstrate that technique I was telling Helene about. It's too bad she couldn't stick around to catch a few pointers," says Brian, giving me a filthy grin.
And I'm only too glad to work on my technique there in the dressing room. I feel like a groupie myself. It's exciting to think that someone might walk in any second without knocking. Brian is so revved up -- naturally -- that it takes no time at all for my technique to pay off.
"That means I owe YOU later," he says, kissing me. He sucks my tongue deeply into his mouth. And that's when the make up people knock at the door, interrupting the moment.
"Go out and find where you're sitting. I probably won't see you until after the show, so be good." And he kisses me again, this time in front of the make up man and his aide, who look a little surprised, but go out of their way to act nonchalant. "Later," he says.
"Later," I answer, and go out of the dressing room.
Immediately, I bump into Rowan. "What are YOU doing here?"
"Waitin' for you to come out. What were you doin' in there anyway?"
"None of your business, Rowan," I respond.
He smirks at me. "Come on! We've got something to film."
"No we don't. We finished the other day. At the Roundhouse."
"Seems not. They called me today to tell me to be here tonight. We're shootin' another bit."
"Shit!" I say. "Since when?"
But Rowan takes my arm and pulls me along. I see Nick, the assistant director, with some crew people. "There you are. Come along now."
"What's this about, Nick?" I say to Dorian's assistant director. He's the same guy who was in charge of our short scene at the Roundhouse.
"Dorian's idea. A bridge from the Roundhouse gig to the big concert. Using the two of you."
"Here," says Nick, pulling off my suede jacket and unbuttoning my blue shirt. "That looks too modern. Put on this." He slips a grungy-looking, over-sized rugby pullover over my head. Then he leads us outside to the front of the theater. There's a camera set up there, pointing at the line of people waiting to enter. Nick moves some of them around, positioning the line this way and that.
Then he places Rowan and I in a small niche by the side of theater. There's a small streetlight just above it. He keeps turning us, moving us an inch or two, looking through the camera, then moving us again.
"Nick, what is it we are supposed to be doing? I don't get it."
"Just, er, make out a bit. That's what Dorian wants. I'll pan the camera along, following the line waiting to get into the venue, and that's when we'll catch you. I'll cue you."
"And make it look good."
Rowan glances at me and cocks his head.
"Shit," I say. Thank God Brian is inside the theater. And so we do it. Nick does a couple of takes and Rowan is 'method acting' like mad. I finally pull back when he sticks his tongue in my mouth. I can still feel Brian's tongue there -- and I don't want Rowan's slobbery tongue in there competing with the memory. "Quit it, Rowan. The camera can't see that."
"He said snog it up -- and that's what I'm doin'!"
We do one more take and then Nick calls it quits. He gives me back my shirt and jacket. It's starting to drizzle a little and I shiver as I put off the rugby shirt on the sidewalk under the theater marquee and put on my own clothes. Then Rowan and I follow Nick back inside and I find my seat near the front and over to one side. Hughie is already seated there.
"Where's Sir Ken?" I ask him.
"Upstairs somewhere. Loud music hurts his ears."
Hughie shrugs. "He couldn't come tonight." Hughie looks over at Rowan. I've seen the two of them exchanging looks. Maybe they'll hook up. They'd make a good match. And they deserve each other!
Dorian comes out before the show and explains about the filming. The crowd is partly punky and partly older people who were Cure fans in the 1980's. There are some catcalls and a few shouted comments at Dorian's speech, but it all stops when Charley Weston's band takes the stage.
It's pretty much the same set they played at the Roundhouse, but Brian comes out with extra kick. And he's not drunk or stoned or anything. He's just pumped and flying. And it's great. Different from the other night, when he was more manic, riding on some hysterical high. This is controlled. Seductive. He knows exactly what he's doing and, after the first couple of songs, the audience is into it. They love him and are yelling. Getting out of their seats and trying to press up to the stage. The security people are pushing them back, trying to get them to sit down. And Dorian keeps filming. This is just the kind of thing he wants.
The set isn't that long -- they are only the opening act, after all -- but it's intense. They end with that eerie "White Light/White Heat" song that ends with all the feedback and noise. Very punky, I guess, but it makes my skin crawl. Brian has torn off his sleeveless shirt and his bare chest is shining with sweat -- and just a glimmer of red where the heart necklace catches the light. We are farther away tonight and not right in front, so I know Brian can't see me tonight. But that's all right because he knows I'm out there.
Watching the main band, The Cure, is interesting, but an anti-climax for me. I'm familiar with some of the songs because Brian was a big fan, but all I can think of is getting back to see him when it's all over.
Afterwards, I have to fight my way back to Brian's dressing room. I have a backstage pass, but so do a lot of other people, and the security is pretty heavy because of the filming and all the equipment around. Rowan wants to go backstage with me, but I tell him it's restricted. The last thing Brian needs to see is me coming in the door with Rowan at my heels.
I catch sight of Sir Ken and Hughie standing with Dorian. Dorian looks very happy. He ought to be -- Brian blew everyone completely away and I know that they got some great footage.
"Justin!" Sir Kenneth calls me over. "Did you finish your little scene outside?"
"Yes. He got it in a couple of takes. Nick grabbed me and set us up. I didn't even know we were going to do it until I saw Rowan standing outside the dressing room!"
"That's my fault, actually," says Dorian. "I told my assistant to call you yesterday at the same time he got in touch with the other boy -- we had his number on the callsheet. But he forgot, the ass. But I knew you would be here with Brian anyway, so there was no harm done." Dorian takes a long drag on a thin European cigarette. "It's a throwaway bit, but I think it will be quite effective."
"I bet you're glad that all the music scenes are finished," I say to Dorian. I know I'M glad they are over. That means Brian is finished with working with the band. His remaining scenes are all with Sir Ken.
Dorian looks at me and smiles. "You have NO idea! This rock scene is NOT my milieu, that is for certain. But it has been quite an experience. Frankly, if I never have to deal with that bloody Charley Weston again I'll be a happy man. He's been nothing but trouble."
"I agree," I add. And Dorian smiles at me again. It isn't a phony smile, either, like the ones I get from Gerry Milton. At first I didn't like Dorian at all. He's a little odd -- his manner is very formal, but he's also always making these snide comments and asides. Plus, I don't like the fact that he has his eye on Brian -- but what else is new? But he's not pushy about it and he's nice to me. I think he's a good director, too. I can hardly wait to see the finished film.
"Where is your co-star?" Sir Kenneth jokes. He has his arm around Hughie, who is giving him another phony smile. Hughie and Gerry Milton should get together, actually. If they haven't already.
"You mean Rowan?"
"Yes, the other boy -- the one who stepped in for Hugh."
"Hopefully on his way home," I answer. "He's really just an acquaintance. He works at the Chatterton."
"I see. Well, I'm sure you were both very good. It's only too bad that Hughie didn't feel comfortable doing it." Sir Ken smiles down at Hughie. It makes me feel a bit uneasy.
"I must flee," says Dorian, gesturing to someone just coming backstage. "I have a number of things to do before I can leave this venue behind. Until Monday, Ken. Hughie. Justin." And Dorian hustles off to yell at some underling.
"I've got to find Brian," I say, impatient to get to the dressing room.
"I believe he's invited us to dine with you two tonight," Sir Ken says before I move away. "Kenroy Smith is waiting outside with the car to take us to Vong. Quite fine Thai and French fusion cuisine. I take it Brian is fond of Thai food?"
"Oh." That surprises me. Brian didn't say anything about this before. I had thought it was just going to be the two of us. "Yeah, he loves Thai food. Okay. Let me see if he's ready."
I continue on, pushing my way through the crowd. There are a lot of people there to see members of The Cure, who have bigger dressing rooms farther down. Plus, roadies, groupies, the film crew, and all sorts of other people -- all trying to get into one dressing room or another. And security keeps stopping me, checking my pass. I must look like an obsessed fan or something.
Finally, I reach the room and push at the door. It won't budge. I knock on it, then pound on it. It's opened -- by Helene DeMarr's skanky friend.
"Not YOU!" she says.
"Yes, ME!" I reply -- and push my way in before she can close the door on me. Brian's dressing room is now packed with people -- most of them members of the band's entourage.
Brian is standing in the middle of the room, wearing only his boots and tight leather pants -- he ripped his black vest off during the set -- going toe-to-toe with Charley Weston. They are having some kind of argument. Brian, who is about five inches taller, fifteen years younger, and has biceps that are bigger around than Charley's neck, is trying NOT to take a poke at the guy. I can just tell. But Charley, who is drunk or stoned or both, apparently thinks he can take Brian. Charley is truly delusional.
"YOU fuckin' SAID that you were IN on this, Brian! YOU fuckin' PROMISED!"
"I did NOT, Charley!"
"And NOW you wanna leave us inna lurch? That it, Bri? You're a fuckin' WANKER, you are!"
"I never made any promises to you, Charley. You heard what you wanted to hear! What you told yourself!"
"You agreed, Bri!"
"YOU are nuts, Charley! Because if you think I'm getting on a bus and dragging my ass all over England and the Continent to satisfy YOUR rock star fantasies, that's fucked up! I NEVER said I would do anything like that!"
"You fuckin' DID, you bastard!"
"I did NOT, Charley! I'm an ACTOR! I was hired to play a part. I'm NOT really your goddamn front man. I was playing a PART!"
"YOU PROMISED! I've got the gigs all lined up, Brian!"
A couple of the other members of the band, Davy and Tom, attempt to grab Charley and take him over to the corner, but he pushes them away.
And, of course, Helene DeMarr and her friend are right there. But Helene's eyes aren't on the little drama going on in the middle of the room. She's staring at me. Staring like if her eyes were laser beams then I would be a burnt pile on the floor.
"We're meetin' the Gunners, my mates from the old days, out at Camden tonight! You said you'd go out with us and talk about this! And now you're givin' me the heave-ho? That it, Bri? This is MY big chance to get back on TOP!"
Brian just shakes his head. "You really ARE dreaming, Charley! This FILM is your chance! Your work in this film is what is going to help your career, not touring around playing bars and clubs. Look at the big picture, Charley."
Charley is bleary, but he's not letting go of this. And I think I understand his desperation. Brian says he's been scrambling around for years, trying to recapture the success he had in music twenty years ago without any luck. And Brian -- gorgeous, sexy, and in those yummy leather pants -- would definitely be the key to getting an audience's attention. Except, it would be over MY dead body that Brian would ever have anything to do with these guys again!
"I thought I could count on you, Bri!" Charley is yelling, out of control. "But you can never count on a fuckin' POUFTER, that's for certain!" he announces to his horde. "He'd rather go off and sit on a velvet pillow with his fuckin' bumboy than do a man's job!" And Charley turns and takes a jab at ME! Luckily, I'm just out of his drunken reach.
But Brian is between us in a second. And he has Charley's arm in his grip. "That's ENOUGH. And I mean it." He shakes Charley off like a big dog shakes off a flea. "Everyone out of here! NOW!" And most of the entourage heads for the door.
Brian sinks into his chair and I sit down next to him. "Shit," is all he says.
One band member, Davy, the bass player, stays behind. He's the quietest member of the band and the steadiest. He's the sober-acting one. When everyone else -- including Helene and her friend -- leave, he remains and gestures Brian over to speak with him.
"Hang on a minute, Justin. Let me talk to Davy." They have an intense conversation by the door and Brian shakes his head a few times. Finally, Davy goes out and Brian comes back and sits down.
"You aren't going to like this, Justin, but I have to go out and talk to those guys. I never really explained to them until tonight that I wasn't going along with their plans and now they think I've screwed them over. I have to bring this to an end tonight."
"You mean -- go out and party with the band," I say, tonelessly.
"No -- TALK to the band. I'll meet you and Sir Ken and Hughie at the restaurant." Brian slips off his leather pants and puts on his jeans. I take the leathers and hang them up on the rack.
"But, Brian -- please let me go with you. Then we can meet Sir Ken and Hughie at the restaurant together."
He pulls on his tee shirt and buttons his silky red shirt on over it. "I'll be fine, Justin. I'm in control and plan to remain that way." He takes a swig of Evian water from a bottle. "That's the hardest thing I've had in two days. And I mean that."
"I know Brian, but...."
"Don't you trust me, Justin?" he says, blinking. "You go with Sir Ken and Hugh. I'll meet you there and we'll have a good meal. Hey, did you know Robert Smith stopped in to say hello before we went on? Wait until I tell Mikey!" he continues, mentioning the guy in The Cure. And my heart is sinking because I'm losing sight of him. Again.
He shoves his robe and a few odds and ends into his bag. "Here. Take this for me." He pats my shoulder absently. Then Brian pushes me out of the dressing room and along to meet Sir Ken and Hughie. He's already somewhere else in his head. And I'm nowhere.
We walk out to the Rolls.
"Where is Mr. Kinney?" asks Kenroy, opening the door for us.
"He'll be along directly," Sir Ken says, getting in with Hughie. Kenroy catches my eye. He's looking at me with pity, I think. I have to turn my face away from him.
Kenroy Smith drives the three of us to the restaurant, which is located in a fancy hotel near Hyde Park. Sir Kenneth is treated like royalty and he orders wine and appetizers while we wait. Finally, he orders dinner for the three of us. He and Hughie are starving. Brian still doesn't come. I eat almost nothing, of course. Sir Ken keeps up a barrage of conversation, with Hughie chiming in occasionally, to cover up the fact that we are all waiting for someone who, obviously, is never going to show up. But we wait -- and every time someone appears in the doorway, I almost stand up to see who it is.
We wait until the restaurant closes.
"I think you should come back to the house with us, dear heart," Sir Ken says, kindly. "You can stay there until Brian comes to get you. Better than sitting in a hotel room alone."
But I don't give a shit where I am at this point. It's raining pretty hard now and I press my face against the cold window of the Rolls, wondering and worrying, as we drive towards Sir Kenneth's house in Chelsea.
Continue on to "White Knights -- Part 2", the next section.
Picture of Gale Harold from 'Flaunt.'
©Gaedhal, September 2002
Updated September 3, 2002