Register Friday | March 23 | 2018

Behind the Curtain

"We writers are no better."

It’s been a week of all work events. Monday I had to go see this girl after work. She’s a singer, country to the bone, spins yarns and tales about the bitter taste of love, the decrepit state of her life, the yearning that comes from the middle states. She’s got blonde hair, an acoustic guitar, and her steel man (the lead guitarist) was a monster, ripping chords from his handle like he was pulling hair, just nasty, contorted, gruesome and captivating. She was talented, but I'm still trying to get my head around it.

Last night was the fun event. I got two of my friends (the hetero lifemate and the Magnificent Geebs) into a premiere I was going to, attended by the director and star and the starlet. It was red carpet to the maximum. This time they had a little side line cordoned off for the regular folks—and by regular folks I mean those cool enough to get an invite, but not famous or catchy in any way to deserve the popping bulbs and “turn this way!” or “give us a smile!” We crept in the side way, so to speak.

The last time I attended a premiere they didn’t have this servants walk separated out, so I had to walk down the red carpet. I remember being behind some hot little starlet, the flash bulbs busting and shutters hammering, every time I blinked little spotty afterglows were left. The second that I rounded the corner, not even the second, the mili-second I came into the cameras view the clicking stopped. There wasn’t even an accidental “click” or anyone asking for my name, they just knew I wouldn’t be making the cut. I don’t know how they knew, I’m a good looking kid, and when I want can pull off a look, or something like a look, I guess. It was instantaneous, like a computer scanned me as I stepped on the carpet and sent instant updates to the line of paparazzi.

Premieres are funny things. No one knows each other. There are the groupie stalkers who somehow make it onto every list in the city, even though they only thing they do is try to get on the list. There are the actors, actresses, producers, directors and sponsors. There’s the magazine types, the hipsters, the sceensters, and then there are the people who are invited to every even because they look like they belong. I’m not kidding about this. You could call them professional party-goers.

I love watching the celebrities. Not because I give a shit about them, but because I realized something not too long ago that makes all of their interactions rather hilarious. They don’t know each other. Anymore than we do. There’s this myth of Hollywood as a closed gate community, an exclusive country club, and it is, of sorts, but at times even the members aren’t even sure they are members. They scan around, looking at people. But they are much more accepting of each other because, well, they recognize each other. When I go up to talk to them, there’s an instant hitch back. Am I a stalker? Am I a reporter chronicling the event? What am I going to take from them? “I interviewed you,” I will tell them, reminding them of the details, what we talked about. “Oh, yeah, how are you, man?” It could be an act. They might still be thinking, “What?” but it’s damn good acting either way. Every now and then someone I wrote about or talked to will recognize me, place my face amongst the heave of beautiful skin and porcelain teeth, and that can be gratifying.

I imagine the actors going up to each other thinking, I hope he recognizes me. Let’s say its Edward Norton and Kate Bosworth.

“Edward? My name is Kate Bosworth. I just wanted to say that I’ve always admired your work.”

“Hey, Kate! You were in Blue Crush, weren’t you?”

“I was!”

“I loved that flick. You were so good!”

“Thank you! 25th Hour was brilliant. It was so overlooked.”

“Have you worked with Takashi?”

“Isn’t he the greatest…”

I can’t imagine they converse any different than you and I do when we meet at a bar and realize we have something in common, but they know each other. They are also probably fans, or critics, or each others work, which is an idea that I like quite a bit. I think about Sean Penn running into Nicolas Cage somewhere.

“You sold out. Damn, you had it. You could have been great, brilliant even. But Bruckheimer? Fuck, man, what the fuck?”

“Look, Mr. “Greatest Actor of His Generation,” I got my Oscar.”

“Yeah, but what did you do with it? Did you tell stories people want to hear? Did you make a statement? Did you carve your name in the rock with it so we’ll always know who you are? No, you moved to Blockbuster Avenue.”

“You were on Friends.”

“Whatever, I did it for my kids.”

Sometimes at a premiere you will see an exchange between a young artist and an older, much more accomplished person. You can see the nervousness, the awe and uncomfortablility in the green actor’s demeanor. And I remember at those times why I love this job. Because there are people out there who do things that I very much admire, who I consider artists in the truest sense of the word, and every now and then I get to crawl inside their head and find out how they work. Hopefully even translate it. The rest I can do without. The premieres are weird, and I don’t ever need to see another one, but the exchange between potential and accomplishment gives me a charge. I love that.

We writers are no better. At the after parties, after the film, we’ll usually cordon off into our own area, start drinking musty brown liquids with ice in small glasses that just spells out aware of our own images we really are, even though we claim not to be. We’ll usually sit around, talk about the movie, talk about articles, bounce ideas off each other, and then it will really start. There are people who chronicle this world, and that is what they do, and they are very good at it. There are people who do this because it allows them to write, but secretly, deep down, they resent it, consider themselves above it. I fit into that second category, and not proudly. Because at the end of the night we all end up in a circle, talking about what we’d like to do if we only had the time, money, inclination. It’s cheap, this talk, a nickels worth at most, which is why I’ve started doing things. There are books in my head, and a play, and a screenplay. I’ve started writing them, putting them down, in my computer actually. Because I’m not going to have that conversation many more times.

Let’s keep that between us, shall we?