AUTHOR’S NOTE: Three years ago, I received an email from an old college classmate. He wanted me to write a memoir about the time he spent in Hollywood from 1988–1992 trying to become a screenwriter. He felt his experiences might help anyone who migrates to Los Angeles chasing dreams. I was skeptical at first, but as we talked, I became fascinated by his sordid adventures. What you’re reading is a serialization of his story.
Taking the bus back to campus, I considered Conrad Hunter’s dream project: a screenplay about a sexy babe in a wheelchair. Could I write that movie?
No. Not even if Hunter signed me as a client. I would never whore out my talents. It felt like being asked to hold a dog turd in my mouth.
By the time I returned to my dorm room, my temples were throbbing. The stress of the meeting coupled with the long bus ride home had given me a headache. I popped two aspirins and washed them down with one of my roommate’s Budweisers. Fuck him, too.
I lay back on my bed and started reading the new Charles Bukowski novel, Hollywood. My tired eyes moved over five or six pages. Soon, I dozed off.
I don’t know how long I was asleep before I started dreaming. But in my dream, Katerina walked into my dorm room wearing a bikini and smelling of coconut.
“I came straight from the set,” Katerina said. “I was filming a commercial for Coppertone.”
“Is that coconut I smell?” I asked.
“We love nuts,” she said.
Her roommate Daisy magically joined us wearing a leather nurse’s outfit.
“You poor baby,” Daisy said.
Then Daisy whispered to Katerina and giggled. My deformed cock stiffened into an erection and pulsed with desire. Their hands were on me, roving, touching, teasing. Their naked bodies rubbed together.
Was it magic?
What happened to their clothes? The bikini? The little nurse’s hat? There was nothing but steaming skin.
The girls ripped off my pants and gobbled my deformed penis like cock-starved porn stars. It grew hard in their mouths. Pre-ejaculate lathered into dreamy bubbles. Moaning lips covered me. Rough lips that bit down. Lips that didn’t belong to Katerina or Daisy.
I jolted awake.
Razor stubble grated against my groin. This wasn’t a dream. My pants were bunched at my ankles. Adam Rutter’s meaty forehead bobbed up and down at my crotch. My wrestler roomie was sucking me off.
“What the fuck are you doing?” I yelled, trying to push him away.
“You’ve been asking for it since day one, faggot.” Adam bit hard enough on the shaft of my penis to send a message. Then he squeezed my balls with an expert muscular grip while deep-throating my erect dong. My glans rubbed sensually against his soft tonsils, and I spurted in shame.
Adam Rutter’s blow job was the final insult at USC. I couldn’t run to university housing and get a new roommate because I was on academic probation. I had no interest in college beyond Herb Kane’s screenwriting class, and that was over, with Herb on his way to retirement in France. So I officially dropped out of school and found a new place to live.
I was willing to settle for anything but Nacho told me his friend Raúl had a great deal on a tiny garage apartment off Venice Boulevard.
Matt Steele helped me move into the minuscule one-room rental after I told him what Adam did to me.
“Helluva story,” Matt said.
“I dreamed it was Katerina at first. Or Daisy. Both of them.”
“You came, didn’t you?”
“I didn’t have much choice. My dick was in his mouth. What was I supposed to do?”
“Other men would resist. Alec Guinness in Bridge on the River Kwai, he resisted. Even after the Japs put him in the hotbox.”
“That’s a movie,” I said.
“So what?” Matt said.
“I’m not queer, if that’s what you’re thinking.” I grabbed a plastic bag stuffed with clothes from the backseat of Matt’s Honda Civic.
“I don’t care if you are. I’ll still be your friend. Just be honest with yourself.” Matt set the box he was carrying near the other boxes stacked by the garage door. “I know this cute girl who likes fucking dwarves. She’s got perfect tits, too. But she only gets wet for freaks. Everybody has to discover their kinks, even you.”
“I have no interest in being kinky,” I protested.
“How many people know your roommate blew you?”
“Just you,” I said. “And him.”
“You need to tell everyone,” Matt said, walking back to his car.
“Are you nuts?”
“It’s the bold career move.”
“Matt, I went through a lot of shit growing up. And I endured it. That’s my one super power. I can endure. Whatever life shoves at me, I will endure it, but I will suffer silently, in my own way.”
Matt grabbed another box. “Suffering is a true Jewish trait. We can endure things even a camel couldn’t withstand. Heat, thirst, wandering in the desert. All that shit. But think about this: the film industry is run by fags.”
“I thought it was run by Jews,” I said, sarcastically.
“Faggot Jews. It’s common knowledge that to be a successful agent, you must give a world-class blow job. They even have training programs for it.”
“That can’t be true,” I said. But then I thought of Sloan and wondered how many times her pink Harvard lips had circled Conrad’s agent-cock.
Matt ignored my doubts and kept spouting. “The Writer’s Guild survey indicates eighty percent of screenwriters are homos. All film critics are either gay or feminists who want to cut off your nuts. Directors and producers, they’ll fuck anybody.”
“What a bright outlook,” I said.
“It is! Sam, if you are a gay kinky little pig, it could be fantastic for you. The oink that wins every meeting.”
“I’m neither gay nor kinky,” I insisted.
“Then at least be a fallen angel. Be tarnished. Tarnish sells. Look at Robert Mitchum. He was a former convict. John Belushi was addicted to heroin. Charlie Sheen is a whoremonger. If nice guys finished first, Ronnie Howard would be the biggest name in town.”
“He gets plenty of work,” I said.
“His films are shit.”
“Matt, do you know how crazy you sound?”
“Consider Oliver Stone. He pisses people off. But he speaks truth to power. It’s like Herb said in our writing class, make your characters stink and they get interesting.”
“Herb was talking about screenplays.”
“He was talking about you.” Matt jabbed a finger into my chest. “You gotta stink a little to get noticed. Right now you’re too squeaky clean. You need that rotting smell. That fatal flaw that screams for attention.”
“There must be another way.”
“Bah! People want scandal. Why should you be any different? You need to star in a sex film.”
“You want me to do porn?”
“Not just porn,” Matt said. “Gay porn.”
“No fucking way.”
“Just an idea.” Matt shrugged. “With your cock, you could be an instant legend.”
“I’d rather make my name by being a good writer.”
“Any moron can format a screenplay. But not everyone has genitals people would pay to see.”
I was getting pissed at Matt. “Herb Kane told me I’m a one-of-a-kind talent.”
Matt grinned. “Let me guess: he called you a burning phoenix?”
I was crestfallen. “You know?”
“Sooner or later, Herb tells everyone they’re a phoenix. Few idiots rise from the ashes.”
Without the safety net of USC, I was suddenly in survival mode. I had little cash, no car, and a shitty apartment that cost five hundred bucks a month. Conclusion: I needed a paying job. I was starting at the bottom. So be it.
A week after I mailed out two hundred resumes, I rode the bus to Culver City and walked into the bungalow offices of Rosebud International Pictures, home of Marty Silverman.
Silverman was one of the most powerful producers in the business. His movies always made money and the posters from all his big hits lovingly adorned every wall.
I found my way to the desk of a middle-aged woman named Phyllis. She was Marty’s top assistant and ran the office.
“Your résumé almost blinded me.” Phyllis held a sheet of fluorescent-yellow paper in her nicotine-stained hand. “First one I pulled from the stack.”
“That was the idea,” I said.
“It’s a gimmick, but it works because you went to USC. We like enthusiastic film students and need someone who can start tomorrow.”
“Doing what?” I asked.
“Answering phones, helping out in the office, making copies, doing deliveries. How well do you know your way around the city?”
“I don’t have a driver’s license,” I admitted.
Phyllis grimaced and set my résumé on her desk. “Running errands is half the job.”
I needed to turn the interview in my favor, so I pulled my trump card. “I’m a whiz at copy machines. That was my father’s business. He sold toner cartridges and repaired Toshiba, Xerox, and Canon copiers all over New York City.”
I saw a ray of interest spark Phyllis’s dull eyes.
“Maybe we could dedicate you to the internal office work,” she said. “Pay is two seventy-five a week. If you want the job, it starts tomorrow. It’s long hours and no guarantees. If it works out, there’s room for advancement. The president of Rosebud started as Marty’s production assistant.”
I looked at the movie poster hanging behind Phyllis’s desk. It advertised Marty Silverman’s highest-grossing film to date in letters nine inches high: OVER $480,000,000. A home run.
“What time do I show up?” I asked.
Matt Steele drove us to Bamboo that night. Seating ourselves at the bar, Nacho announced, “I came up with a great idea for a scene in my screenplay today. You want to hear it?”
“Write the damn thing,” Matt told him. “The whole entire script. It’s bad luck to discuss works in progress. Once you’ve told the story to us, you won’t have the testosterone left to wrestle the fucker onto the page.”
“I’ll tell you anyway.” Nacho filled our wine glasses. Then he narrated his new scene. His fresh idea was how another demon baby claws up his mother’s vagina to find his two twin brothers inside her uterus. Demon triplets.
“Nacho, that’s fucked-up shit,” Matt declared.
“I think it’s powerful,” I said.
“That’s because you’re a sick fuck like Nacho.”
“Let me tell you more,” Nacho gushed.
“Not now,” Matt said. “We’re here to celebrate.”
“Celebrate what?” Katerina asked, passing by.
“Sam’s new job. He’s working for Marty Silverman.”
“The movie producer,” I added, needlessly.
Katerina stopped and touched my arm. She let her soft fingers linger on my bare skin. “Everyone knows who Marty Silverman is. He made my favorite movie of all time.”
Suddenly, it hit me: this job has perks.
“Maybe we can do lunch at the studio,” I told Katerina. “You might meet Marty.”
“I’m available Friday,” she pressed.
“I’ll see if Marty is free.”
(to be continued…)