Chapter 37

I mentioned to somebody the other day that I was on a set with an actress who has been getting some plum roles in the last year or two.  Which she really deserves because she’s good at it and a great person.  We used to run around a bit, go skinny-dipping or shoot some hoops. She’s a southern blonde, too, also a teen-aged model, we even kind of look alike.  I should call her up, ask how the A-List feels.

But anyway, they asked me what I was doing on a set.  Actually, I was there to body double for the lead, but was never needed.  But I said, “A very special role that outranks everybody else: sleeping with the producer.”

I was kidding about it, but being a girlfriend was what accounted for me being around a lot of Hollyweird stuff I probably wouldn’t have gotten to on my hook.  Lucky me.  I took a lot of flack for a couple of years, and I don’t resent it.  They have a really good point.  I just sort of stumbled into a world that people worship, would die to get to.  He told me a couple of times that one thing he liked about me was being able to sleep with a hottie who wasn’t always bugging him to cast her in a picture.

One of the most egregious examples of me showing up where others deserved to be was him sending me to “script fests” and “pitch-o-ramas” to sit there and talk to starry-eyed yearners who’d paid a lot of money for twenty minutes of conversation about the Greatest Unmade Script Of All Time.  I’ve had writers just go OFF when they find that out.  Like, what the hell do I know about script-writing?  And they have a point.  Reason it happened is, nobody else wanted to do it.  And I thought it would be interesting.  (I was wrong.)  But it was real to an extent: he said I have a good ear for a story.  And I have to say, a lot of studio pros who have written scripts and worked in The Biz for years don’t.   You know what I’m saying.  How many lame scripts have you seen on screen in the last year alone?  I would never greenlight a lot of that crap.  Avatar?  I’d have shitcanned that right in front of the writer. And there’ve been worse.  The stuff I passed up to him was good, would have made decent pictures.  I don’t think a single one ever got even optioned.

Ironically now I’ve co-written a few scripts and a dynamite treatment we can’t get anybody to look at, but I can’t show it to the most powerful movie mogul I know.  He told me the only thing he’d read from me is a suicide note.  He’s got a point, too, I have to admit.

But there I was for awhile, sauntering around The Inside.  Sets, parties, stupid meetings around the pool where suddenly somebody is going to get a couple of million bucks for some idiocy, or somebody else might get shafted out a role they desperately needed.  And I was around for a lot of that stuff.  He wanted me there most of the time, but it really intrigued me.  Whatever else we had going—which was about as much as I have going with most men, the typical relationship—I was very much arm candy. You’d see a lot of that.  It’s like in “Goodfellas”, some parties for wives, some for girlfriends.  Being a “real” girlfriend of a single guy, I fit in with both.  The babes saw me as a fellow member of the Bimbo Guild, and the wives tended to like me because I wasn’t a trophy homewrecker  and they figured I might be the one to settle him down.  (Not so’s you’d notice.)

Since then I have gotten a lot more experience at being party décor for guys with a lot of money and power, and it’s tended to be the same all around.  The guys see some titsy blonde pouring drinks and it’s like she’s part of the paneling.  Not even somebody you have to watch your mouth around.  They talk as openly as if we were deaf-mutes.    Def, dumb and blonde.  So I’ve learned a LOT.

But there’s business and then there’s Show Business.  Like some mutant morphadite clone of real business, wearing a circus suit and used condom.  I know way more about finance and money management now than I did then, but even so, I’m surprised I wasn’t more astounded at the craziness I saw going on.  I’d be laying in bed listening to “his day” and nothing in it made a lick of sense in real world terms.  But was just the same old mojo anywhere within sight of the Hollywood sign.

They would lavish money on totally inconsequential nonsense.  Have all the cast wearing handmade shoes that look just like what you’d buy in a store. (And not a Rodeo store, either… maybe Volume Shoe Source.)  Spend $20,000 dollars to repaint a car when it would be seen for forty seconds from one side, then get blown up.

Yet, they pinch pennies that ended up costing them more in the long run.  Screwing people out of a few bucks, when those people might be powerful enemies some day.  Paying people off for permits, then welshing.  Hiring substandard people where it hurts, like in post production.  I’d just sit there and bat my eyes and shake my head.  Lordy, Lordy, who is looking after these fools?

But where I’m going here is that it’s not an ordinary business. For other reasons, but maybe it all has something to do with each other.  Because they aren’t building cars or houses or widgets or vaporware: they are building experiences.  Extra super mega paranormal experiences.  Stuff with sex, with love, with worship.  Not ordinary reality, but grabbing people in some sort of psychic crotch where we all really live.

I asked about some of this once and Mr. Mogul, who was very smart and educated, by the way.  And good looking and good in the sack, too.  Just some health problems.  And occasionally going a little wack.   He asked me if I’d ever heard the phrase, “I dream for them and they hate me for it.”

Which I hadn’t.  But it made immediate sense.  I’m not sure if “hate” is the word.  But there’s something like that in there.  These guys make love to the collective subconscious or some such. And on a huge, international, every-little-rumor-is-all-over-the-media kind of way.  So how should people feel about them?  You listen to a couple of hours of love songs, especially the Somebody Done Me Wrong songs and it starts to come clear that folks you love have a huge power over you. Got you by the balls literally and metaphorically at once.  So it makes you kind of paranoid.  And if they fuck you up, your feelings flip around 180 in a heartbeat.  Because you have to protect your guts from falling out.

Look at the way people flipped around on Mel Gibson.  On Lance Armstrong.  Katherine Zeta-Jones.  On heartthrobs that turn out to be gay.  Or homophobes.  Or what have you.  You need them, they do it for you, so it’s either you and them for eternity or it’s either you or them.  Divorce court rules.

But the important thing to me wasn’t just that. It was that this industry produces dreams.  And I don’t mean just a two-hour trance chuffing popcorn.  The stuff enters the ozone, becomes part of who we are.  We talk like the Terminator, we understand reality like The Matrix, we love people the way we dream about what love is, right in front of our eyes.  Just one little example, Christmas.  What we think of as Christmas spirit generally isn’t what the Church says.  It’s what James Steward does every year, what Shirley Temple says, what the Grinch comes to understand.

What he told me was like this.  Dreams don’t follow the rules of the real world.  They don’t have to make sense.  They are made out of little chunks of reality and little nougats of ourselves, all stirred in together so they pop out some visual sequence that’s more us than we are.  And we might not even remember them, but they have their way with us.

So maybe doing that requires doing some crazy shit, requires release from reality, needs to have everything upside down.

Well, that’s his story, anyway.  Don’t try to sell an accountant on it.  But they don’t have to sell accountants, do they?  They buy them.  They buy up the creamy crust of the world’s beauty and movement and power and glitzy.  And dump it in the hopper.

And one thing I wondered was, I got a better look at it than 99.99 percent of people.  But not as much as him.  Or his pals and rivals (hard to sort those out).  Or the asses he kissed.  But what about the top of the pyramid, the real movers and shakers?  Mike Ovitz, Spielberg, Lucas, the Silvers… do they really understand it all?  Have they learned the rules (or made or remodeled the rules) and grasp it all?  Or are they just as much a part of it, just as nutz and dreamscaped as all the rest, just components in that big churn of subconscious?

Hard to say.   But one thing I figured out.  The blondes come and go.   The stars come and go… burn out, age, die, fall into disgrace, become idols.  But these guys stay.  And the dream goes on.
So I’m aging, too.  Thirty in a few months.  I won’t be a hottie forever. And I’m working on being a writer. Maybe I’ll be able to cook up some dreams myself. I guess we’ll see.