Aloe Vera In Your Handbag
by James Killough
This blog has becoming something of a daily beast of its own, attracting glamorous star contributors like James Tuttle and Eric Baker, getting picked up and aggregated by powerful international websites with ties to the fashion mafia. We have started to view ourselves as the two-thirds homosexual lifestyle-and-entertainment Julian Assange. And it is understandably going to our heads. Always one to try to keep us grounded and humble, Tuttle is prone to tossing off quips like, “We must make sure our tens of readers don’t think we’re losing touch with reality.” He is just being a snarky homo, as is his right under Article 2(a) of the Provincetown Declaration of Equality of 2011, which allows a Ghey a measure of dark-roast sarcasm in direct proportion to how old he was at the time of the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.
With so much Perez Hilton-ish red-carpet flash and glimmer going on around here, it’s hard to remember this blog’s original intent, which was to promote Pure Film Creative, our web content company, with a side purpose of exposing the nefarious dealings of my erstwhile landlady, the Wicked Blais. With the Wicked Blais safely out of harm’s way, seething behind the walls of her own private Mordor of shithole Hollywood real estate, we should try to cast an eye on web content from time to time rather than just name-dropping for the sake of tags, and lamenting the lack of style on reality shows.
I should state that we get slightly more then tens of readers; it’s more like hundreds. We are about to hire an oompa loompa in India to crawl into the mash and coils of the internet to optimize this blog, at which point we shall have tens of hundreds of readers, or if not readers then tens of hundreds of hits looking for pictures of Amanda Seyfried’s breasts, or the second-most popular image in our archive gallery, Mama Gaddafi and her female bodyguards:
Yesterday, for the first time since I started this magnificent, Baron Munchausen-esque odyssey into my pre-memoirs, I directed a commercial. The story is a day in the life of Jackie Matthews, a florist in Venice, CA, played by Deborah Venegas. We shot at Fiore Designs on Abbot Kinney, owned by Jennifer Juhos, who not only looks like Deborah, they happened to be dressed identically yesterday.
Shooting in LA has its own peculiarities. For a start, no business owner is impressed with the fact you need to rent a location to film in. The client’s creative director sent me mood boards specifying a Notting Hill look, which in LA means Venice, which meant a florist on Abbot Kinney, the Portobello Road of Los Angeles, of which there are two, Fiore Designs and Floral Art, both of which are owned by women named Jennifer.
I got muddled when trying to book the location and initially called the Jennifer from Floral Art rather than the one from Fiore Designs, which is the one I wanted. Floral Art is a slick glass-and-mirrors shop with a couple of orchids placed artlessly amidst piles of attitude. Haggling over the location fee didn’t go well from the start. I had wanted the real florist to play the part, if possible, and having seen a photo in an article about Jennifer Juhos from Fiore Designs, a picture-perfect location I would have had to pay a set designer tens of thousands of dollars to dress, I was keen to cast her in the role as well as hire her location.
I am known to be exhaustingly persuasive. An ex of mine used to call me Lola, as in “Whatever Lola wants, Lola gets.” Few can resist; it’s just easier to give in before my overbearing smarminess breaks down into outright spoiled Upper East Side whining. If anyone does resist, I don’t forget and carry around a grudge for years. And these days, of course, I have this all-powerful blog in my arsenal with which to destroy any opposition. I am beginning to understand how Perez Hilton and Nikki Finke get laid: good, old-fashioned fear.
After having Galliano spanked for refusing to do the costumes for my film Hatter, I tried Jean Paul Gaultier. His PR gal, Jelka Music, read the script and was resistant.
“This is really outrageous,” she said. “I’m not sure it is something we should be associated with.” I’ve been around the fashion world a long time. This was haute couture for “no.”
“Let me come to Paris and talk to you,” I said, flossing my teeth and flexing my best gay George Clooney. It wasn’t lost on me that if Gaultier found the script outrageous, maybe I was pushing some limits too far.
“I’m sure you’re very persuasive and I’ll no doubt be charmed,” she replied, stifling a smirk, “but the answer will still probably be no, so save yourself a trip.”
“I’m hearing ‘probably.’ I’m sensing the door is still open.”
“It’s open an inch, but don’t push it too hard.” Give me an inch, I’ll make it my mile, baby. I shall sit opposite you negotiating this deal one day, Jelka Music.
When I was on the phone to the wrong Jennifer from Floral Arts, she wasn’t buying the glint from my schmooze, either.
“You’d have to pay me five hundred an hour to do this, and at least three thousand to shoot in the store.” Thinking I was losing Fiore Designs, my heart sank. Still, I tried for an inch of her door. Wrong Jennifer sighed. “Talk to my publicist,” she said.
Publicist? You’ve got to be kidding. It’s a frickin’ flower shop. Maybe there was a reality series she was negotiating I didn’t know about. Ten minutes later I was on the phone with a fast-talking LA publicist. Midway through, I realized I had mistaken Jennifer florists on Abbot Kinney and backed out of the deal faster than I could stop laughing and hang up.
The right Jennifer cleverly kept me at arm’s length via email, but she was gracious, didn’t haggle, and gave me a reasonable price. Still, she declined playing the role. For a start, she was going to the Coachella Festival yesterday, which in itself is deeply cool. When you say the word “Coachella” to me, I instantly get the taste of magic mushrooms in my mouth and a flash of the time I was tripping so hard I did a cartwheel in the middle of a Chemical Brothers set at that worthy outdoor music concert in Palm Springs.
The shoot went as smoothly as can be. Deborah was great as Jennifer, played her better than she could have played herself. This was the first time I’d worked with up-and-coming Director of Photography James Laxton, and he was just awesome speed, talent and good cheer. I’ll post a link to the finished film when it’s ready in a few weeks.
When we were finished shooting in the store, we went out and grabbed a few shots on the Venice canals. Walking back to the cars, Deborah dawdled behind on the phone to her husband, Jeremy. Suddenly I heard some guy bellow, “GOT ANY ALOE VERA IN YOUR HANDBAG?” I whipped around and spotted a fine specimen of a rare Crimson-Faced Neo-Hippy Warbler, a type of schizo only found wading in the marshes along the southern California coastline around Venice. He was trying to pick up Deborah by asking her if she had any aloe vera lotion in her handbag; Alsie, as his name turned out to be, had passed out on the beach in the sun and was now more crimson-faced than normal.
Deborah scampered to my side in no time, placing me in between her and Alsie the Warbler. To cool his enthusiasm, I quickly brought God into the conversation, a tactic I find works better on an excitable schizo than a stun gun, and is far more humane. With the exception of those cases who are so far gone they are sitting in the corner of a sanitarium drooling from the zombie anti-psychotics and talking to themselves, most schizos have a deeply personal relationship with God. I believe it is because the inner voice that all of us carries splinters away from the ego and takes on a divine persona. So the best way to soothe a schizo’s flapping and fluttering is to activate a conversation with his inner deity. It certainly worked with Alsie. Of course, it could be that he desisted with Deborah because I am big and in bouncer-ish shape, and because I was amused enough to ask for a picture and chat him up.
Behold Alsie, the new Schizo of the Week, in all his glory. Given that we also had Winged Jake a couple of days ago, I am now off the hook from producing another SOTW for another ten days at least: