All photos by Janicza Bravo
I smell the glitz. I taste the glam. I play racquetball with the moon. I shtup the stars. Every morning I thank God for who I am and for what I have. Which is everything. I am everything. I’m a producer, bubaleh.
This town. You need to know how to make it work for you. Hollywood, baby! And a lot of schmucks use that phrase. Hollywood, baby! But I’m one of the only ones who can say those two beautiful words and mean it. Hollywood, baby! Why? I know what those two words mean.
Hollywood: The land of plenty. The fountain of youth. The dream maker and shatterer.
Baby: All of us in the beginning. Cute, smooth, little old men.
Baby: A hot shiksa broad who needs a job and has specific talents to obtain one.
And the secret to saying those two GORGEOUS words and them really meaning something is you have to make them meld. Hollywood must be your baby. You must nurture this town. You need to breastfeed it. Keep it strong, teach it new words, and once it’s nurtured enough, you lay it down on your California king-size mattress and make love to it. You tell it what to do, but you also listen to what it wants. You lie naked with this town and gaze on each other’s bodies in worship. This town is my Torah. My beautiful, naked, talented Torah with a taste for salami.
They call me Combover, based on how I wear my hair. To me, the combover is one of the best metaphors for making big bucks in this business. It covers up your imperfections, while at the same time calling attention to them. Thus making you question whether the imperfection is an imperfection at all. It’s all there but not there. “What’s there?” That’s the question you gotta make everyone ask. Make them wonder about your mystery, and they’ll do anything for you to learn what that mystery is about. Never let them know what that is, boychick. For that will be the day they kill you.
Today I’m angry. Very angry. Which I hate. What does anger get you except more anger? When I’m angry at some putz in this town, I get double-angry. First I get angry about what I’m angry about, and then I get angry about being angry.
I’m producing this movie. Robbie Pickering is writing it. You know him. He’s the town’s new resident Aryan genius. A wunderkind with golden hair. Hitler would have been very proud. Not that it would do anything for little Picks. He might have the glow of a Nazi, but he hates himself just like a good Jewish boy should.
I first met him after I saw his crowd-wower Natural Collection, which won everything under the sun and even the ocean at Cannes two years ago. I approached him and said I’d pay him roughly 200 grand to write an adaptation of The Magnificent Gregory by F. Scott Fitzgerald. He didn’t think he could do the novel justice, but he asked if I’d be willing to pay him $25,000 to write a little idea he had been tinkering with lately, about a private dick who takes on a seemingly simple case and is led into a netherworld of dirty politics and psychological turmoil. The movie’s name: Tokyo Town.
Took me a sec to rethink my plan, but in the end I gave the kid a big fat yes. I’m all about passion. I see the market value in that. So if an artist comes to me and tells me he really wants to do something, I bite. Others might be scared and run for the hills, but I see dollar signs.
However, it’s been three fucking months and I haven’t seen jack-shit squat from this schlemiel. Furthermore, he stopped returning my calls. And that, my friends, is unacceptable. You’re lucky that I’m calling you. That I care to call. When I call that’s not just me calling. That’s opportunity. That’s fame and fortune, asshole. So pick up the phone or call me the fuck back.
I get to his place in Los Feliz. I know the putz is home, because I see him pacing in the window. I choose the stairs. Get some exercise. It’s not easy, though. I shouldn’t have had that tongue sandwich. I bang on his door.
“Little Picks, Little Picks, let me come in, or I’ll huff and I’ll puff, and I’ll flush your goddamn career down the toilet!”
He opens the door, and the kid looks like a wreck. His face is so puffy from crying I almost can’t see those Goebbels blues. I don’t care, though. Enough is enough! I grab him by the coat.
“Where the hell is my script, you little kvetch?!”
He can’t stop crying.
“I can’t write. I can’t write a word.”
“What do you mean you can’t write? You’re a writer! A writer writes!”
“I know, but I can’t. She’s gone! Maria’s gone, Combover! And I don’t know where she is.”
Oy vey! I was afraid it was her. Sometimes I think God made women just to give money a little competition. I take him for a walk. I start to run through the likely scenarios. Everything that could have happened besides her hightailing it.
“She probably just needed a quick break from it all. Sometimes this business can be too much. Sometimes you just gotta get away for a minute.” The truth is, I happen to know she’s been shtupping at least five other fat cats in town. Myself being one of them.
This doesn’t help. He’s still flailing and screaming. I take him back to his place, and I throw him in the shower. He’s gotta cool down. Everything will be fine if he just calms down and realizes he’s fine without her. Remember your script, you little narcissist. Let the shower remind you that you are nothing without your script. Just a wet, ordinary asshole.
Still, I don’t blame him. Maria Thayer is beautiful and talented. I call her Christmas Lights. That’s what I feel when I look at her. Such an innocence. Such a purity. She’s everything a man would want in a woman. Especially a struggling, complete meshugana writer like Robbie.
The phone rings.
And Maria’s that. She’s warm, she’s considerate…
Robbie tells me to answer it.
She’s sensitive but strong.
She’s elegant. She’s warm.
“Thank you very much.”
She was all of those things.
“Maria’s dead, Robbie.”