A couple nights ago I met with a documentary filmmaker I knew while working for the theatrical distribution company in 2008-09. Part of networking is meeting people for drinks after work, and I made arrangements to meet with him one night after watching his film.
His film was spectacular. In an effort to keep my cohort anonymous, I can't describe it to you. Let's call him Caleb.
When I first arrived at the bar a year and a half ago, I was thrilled with his film. I was excited to share ideas, questions, opinions. Though it was subtle, about halfway through our evening together I got the feeling that he mistook my excitement for his film to be excitement for him. Again, it was nothing direct, just a feeling. He sat a little closer and kept trying to decide which starlet looked the most like me (insert any actress on a billboard right now with brown hair)
He walked me to my car and tried putting his arm around me, always incredibly awkward with shorter men. The whole thing was a sour disappointment. He is a married, New York Jew so I automatically held him to higher standards. Its not just him, its other male filmmakers I have met. You think you have connected on a mutual subject, you think they regard you as an equal, a fellow filmmaker and maybe even a friend. The reality is they just want to fuck you.
The perseverance, ambition, intellect and talent it took for them to make a film you respect or even love is very real. Yet somehow, nothing is more disappointing than watching that person clumsily try to drag you into their bedroom. I never go. And they never call me again.
So when he called me recently, informing me he was in town . . . I was surprised and knew what to expect. I put it off for a few days before calling him back. The Pro are the guy is a mastermind at finding investors and getting access, the Con is sexually, things will naturally escalate.
Here you might ask, why would I go out with him again? As a filmmaker/actress and someone looking to stay partially included in the network of business out there, I have to find my way in any way I can without compromising my soul. So here is the tricky, tricky balance a girl must keep in this business; how to get your foot in the door, without surrendering your vagina.
He was staying at the Roosevelt. He asked me to bring a copy of my pilot, which I have only on my laptop. The Roosevelt is pretty posh, old Hollywood. There were security guards around the entrances. A celebrity was somewhere.
He asked I drop off my laptop in his room before we head off to a bar. I wasn't thrilled about dragging my laptop to a bar so it wasn't a bad idea, but I saw the strategy. After drinks, I had to go back to his room. I can handle myself though- so I dropped it off and we walked to the Power House, a dive around the corner.
He said I looked different. I told him I lost 10 lbs in the last year, in an effort to fit the actress requirements. I was a size 8, which is considered overweight in the modeling world. I am now a size 6. My auditions doubled when I changed my stats on casting websites.
He said, "I liked you better before."
Ok, can I vent here for a quick moment? WHAT THE FUCK!? All of a sudden, I am "too skinny"!?! I can't help but feel this is some warped manipulation to mind fuck me. After introducing a criticism to a woman, it is knocked around for days if not years in mind as she keeps wondering "Now, am I good enough?"
What an asshole. Do I say, "You aren't tall enough for me." Which he isn't. Or, "I don't like your receding hairline." Which I don't. No. Obviously, that would be rude!
Of course, his comment ends up resonating with me, anyway. Since I lost the weight, my face has become a little drawn. My head was minuscule before, but now it is almost non-existent. For the first time, I am not self conscious about my body, and while making love to my boyfriend a couple weeks ago, he mentioned how perfect the torso of my body looked. The trade off is my face and boobs are pretty much gone. Poof.
I want to maintain my weight, but I am not sure I have figured that part out yet. After dropping so much weight, my eating habits have permanently changed. I snack throughout the day and am rarely able to finish a meal. My love for food has also suffered. I reprogrammed my mind to see food as necessity only and don't feel the pleasure I once had.
Abe helps. He is in an on-going love affair with food and is always eager to feed me. So I guess you could say, I eat on weekends.
Anyway, back to Caleb.
The Power House is dirty, small and almost invisible, a real dive. I ordered a beer because, after the weekend of partying for Halloween it became painfully clear that alcohol is no longer my friend.
He ordered a beer and a shot of whiskey.
Now I don't know how we got started on the conversation, but this is the first part of I remember him saying, "Let me be honest with you. Most men cheat on their wives."
The statement turned the Amstel Light on my stomach. The first thing I thought of was my father. I don't know why, but I told him I wondered if my father ever cheated on my mother. My parents are the ultimate example of true love. They met in their early twenties, traveled, had kids, worked through my father's Vietnam issues and my mother's emotional baggage with life as a child in an orphanage and they still make love, still make each other laugh, still . . . genuinely work as a couple after 40 years.
Though I have grievances with my parents as ambassadors of support in my life, I they still inspire me to find true love.
Caleb said, "Don't think about that. Your father didn't cheat on your mother." He chased the statement with a little giggle, as if it was adorable I brought it up.
I told him I remembered women boldly flirting with my father in front of me, when I was 13-14 yrs. old. Caleb was shocked I understood flirtation at such a young age, and I watched him sip his whiskey with a father's pensiveness.
I also remember my father leaving during heated fights to go to a bar and not returning until much later. This didn't happen often, but . . . you know.
Caleb, "Don't worry about your father, he doesn't live in Los Angeles."
I asked, "How often do you have sex with your wife?"
Caleb, "Once or twice a week."
Me, "That's pretty standard."
Caleb, "Oh yeah, its normal. Its fine. Its not about how much. I had a friend ask me what my favorite food was. I said pizza. He said, imagine having pizza every night of the week for the rest of your life. It would get old. Look, I love pizza. Pizza is good, but not every night."
I said, "So no matter how amazing your wife is, she can do everything right . . . you are still going to seek out other women?"
Caleb, "Of course."
I said, "I am not a fan of casual sex. People don't know how to touch your body, how to bring you to orgasm, and it doesn't have much tension to build on. Its just not good."
Caleb, "Well, I have never had bad sex."
Me, "Ok, but what about sex with your wife? Isn't it magical?"
Caleb, "Magical . . . I don't know what magical sex is."
Me, "Making love."
Caleb slowly shook his head.
Me, "Were your children accidents or planned pregnancies?"
Me, "What about then? I hear making a baby can be the most intimate sex of your entire life."
Caleb laughed. That's right. He laughed.
Caleb, "Nah. We decided to have babies and I said, ok, let's knock em' out. Boom! She got pregnant."
Me, "So, you are saying sex with a stranger and sex with your wife are ultimately the same. Indiscernible."
Caleb, "Indiscernible!? I don't know if I would say that, its a bit harsh. But yeah, sex is sex. Its the same."
We had somehow brushed on my favorite subject, THE FEMALE BRAIN, of course. And I mentioned my fear of menopause and the downgrade in orgasm situation.
He said, "Well, you women already have way better orgasms than we do. Our's kinda suck."
Me, "Orgasms suck."
Caleb, "Yeah, they are just a few seconds and its over."
Me, "So, you would risk everything to penetrate a new woman for a mediocre to subpar orgasm?"
Caleb, "Oh yeah. (beat) Rabbis are men for a reason. Not because the woman is not worthy of being a spiritual leader. In fact, women are morally superior, in every way. Rabbis have to be men because it takes a man to understand how hard it is to overcome these types of urges. Women wouldn't be able to relate."
I always kind of resent men who excuse themselves as being morally inferior. They hold us to such high expectations, and when we waiver in the face of independence, lust, hunger, whatever, somehow we are a disappointment and they are still just men.
At this point we swapped stories about famous "successful" celebrity marriages that were in fact open arrangements. Some I have met and liked in person, and others I knew about from a distance. Successful men will surrender to any available body cavity? Am I really going to have to come to terms with this and accept it in my own relationships?
The next day, I worked in a Doggie Daycare facility for a day, a kind of trial as an attendant to see how I fared with a pack of dogs.
I watched the other attendants work with the dogs, and I myself worked to keep them from humping each other, stop any potentially aggressive situations, pull toys away if there was any demonstration of possessive behavior, basically anything considered primal. We were civilizing them. And the dogs were learning tolerance, patience, and how to inhabit an area with other dogs in harmony.
I described this to Abe over the phone after my Caleb story and he said, "Huh. We teach animals to be more human while humans always fall back on our primal instincts." Why do we do that?
Caleb and I closed the bar. A huge, bald man swept by to pick up our glasses and Caleb said, "You guys really are on top of keeping the tables clean here. I appreciate that." The barkeep said, "Cleanliness is next to godliness," as spit flew out of his mouth and landed on my cheek.
As we got up to leave, the barkeep said, "Take care of that one, make him happy."
I said, "He's married. He has a wife to keep him happy."
The barkeep said, "Eh, I won't tell."
We walked back to his hotel room and I powered up my laptop to show him my pilot. We sat on the couch in his suite, and he was inching closer to me. He offered me a drink. I refused.
We watched the pilot and he laughed, knowing who the characters were based off of helped I am sure. There were a couple shots in the pilot where I just wake up or I am in the shower and look miserable. Its all very funny, I assure you.
Caleb said, "THAT'S YOU!? You look like a man!"
I said, "Its not flattering, but that's the point. Its comedy."
He said, "Take it out. You can't use that."
I said, "Why? Just because I am not pretty."
He said, "YES!"
What is it about men making you feel like you have to be pretty all the fucking time on camera? When I played the bag lady, The Comic advised I not take pictures of myself because I looked borderline revolting. I am a fucking ACTRESS! That's called TALENT, baby!
I said, "Comedy isn't about perfection. Its about imperfection. I look pretty everywhere else, I can afford to be ugly in those couple shots."
Again, why am I making excuses for my appearance?
Caleb said, "Well you look hot in the other shots."
I said, "Hot? Cute, maybe. I am kind of awkward."
He said, "Take your hair down, let me see."
I did. He said I looked hot. Brilliant. Is the tactic to make me feel insecure and then validate me? Feels weirdly militaristic.
Now my hair is down and I am alone with this guy in his hotel room at 2am. Am I making smart choices here? Ugh, I don't know.
I felt his foot climb on top of mine. My left cheek was burning from feeling him creep closer. Right around this point, my laptop battery died. Thank God. I snapped my laptop closed and said, "That's it. Thanks for the drinks."
I stood up. He got a little antsy, like he had to make a last ditch effort to get me on his post- modern, king size bed. He reached up to kiss me and I turned the cheek just in time to get it wet right about where the barkeep spit on me. I asked him to walk me to the elevator, just to make the whole thing less abrupt and awkward.
I made a couple witty remarks on the way down the hallway, nothing memorable. I told him 1 in 4 people had genital herpes. He barked, "IS THAT TRUE!?" I said, "Yeah . . . haven't you listened to those commercials? Don't take that shit home to your wife. That would be bad."
He coughed in agreement and his head turned heavily on its side.
Me, "This is what I recommend: investigate the genitals before engaging in sexual intercourse. Go down, take a look, make her think its foreplay. If you see anything, and I mean ANYTHING, an ingrown hair, a pimple, any opening where there could be an exchange of blood, say you aren't comfortable with things moving so fast and back away. That's what I do."
Ha! Am I brilliant at deflating a man's erection or what!?
We arrived at the elevator and I thanked him again and asked him to let me know if he knew any financiers interested in a comedy pilot. He promised he would. A tricky little balance we have here.
The door opened and his hand held my head in place this time, so when he reached in for the kiss, he got part of my lip. I said, "Caleb, be good." He said, "Alright." Then faded down the hallway.
I made it out alive.
Recently, in a candid conversation with The Comic, I confessed that sometimes I felt like erect penises are closing in all around me. The Comic asked, "Is that true?" I said, "Yeah, its true." From ex-boyfriends who never closed the deal to the Calebs of the world, I feel like I have a target on my vagina. I am not saying I specifically have a magic vagina. I am 1 in 500 girls they are working to sexually conquer. This town has more pretty girls than any other city I have been to and plenty of them are prettier and younger than me.
Do you know that bible verse, "Only the penitent will pass"? I joke with my friends, "In Hollywood, only the penetrated will pass."