The Wages Of Sin

There are certain perks to appearing in pornography. I mean besides the amyl nitrate, fluff girls and mortified parents.

The pilot episode of Strip Club Confessions has been cut together and exhibited to select audiences in hopes of making a sale to someone somewhere who might need a titillating titty show. The trailer is available to a slightly larger audience — that being the entire world. If I were visible for more than half a second, I’d be embarrassed to the point of getting quickie plastic surgery by a disreputable South American doctor to assure my future anonymity. Should you visit the SCC website and view the trailer, I encourage you to blink so you’ll miss my performance entirely.

In a business that relies so heavily on who you know, it’s nice to know the sort of people who will pass on free stuff to you. For awhile now, I’d been feeling a little bad about not grabbing tickets to see John Cleese at the Just for Laughs festival. After all, it’s been one of my lifetime goals to see each of the Pythons in person. It’s a task that’s become rather more challenging since the 80’s now that they don’t really hang out together anymore, and they all seem determined to grow old and die eventually. I managed to stay one step ahead of the Grim Reaper, slipping Graham Chapman in under the cancer wire in 1988. I did a Terry Jones/Eric Idle double header in 2001. Cleese’s turn came unexpectedly the other night when I received an eleventh-hour call from one of SCC‘s producers, telling me there were two tickets waiting at the venue. Neither had my name on them, but that didn’t stop me.

The exact chain of title of who passed on the tickets to who when a whole series of people decided they couldn’t make it remains obscure. The situation wasn’t illuminated any further at the box office when the snobby Place des Arts ticket-monkey told me I didn’t look like an Eileen. I tried the usual round of name dropping in an effort to look connected, but he was immune.

“I haven’t heard of any of those people,” he told me in his bitchiest “I just work here and every day I turn away fifty assholes who try to snag comps by claiming they’re someone they’re not, or tight with someone they don’t know” tone.

Luckily, he wasn’t the guy holding my tickets. They lay with someone elsewhere who never questioned who I was, who I knew, or who I was claiming tickets on behalf of. Nevertheless, even as they were handed over to me, I was busted by someone else in the comp line.

“He doesn’t look like an Eileen. Check his I.D.”

No one checked my I.D. because it quickly became obvious it was just someone fucking with me. The someone in question was Jean Guérin.

Jean Guérin is one of those ubiquitous presences in Montreal who has his finger on the pulse of whatever is cool and interesting in town – and then somehow manages to infiltrate it. His greatest claim to fame came in the early 90’s, when he worked as a driver for a short-lived film festival of the fantastic. No one had ever heard of Peter Jackson back then, but Jean was pressed into service as his chauffeur while Peter was in town for the three screenings of his new film, Braindead. I was there the night Peter, in the Q&A session, announced that his next project would be called Heavenly Creatures, and that he had unexpectedly found the perfect Orson Welles during his stay in Montreal. One trip to New Zealand later, a brief on-screen snog with Kate Winslet, and infamy was assured. Thanks to this more than passing resemblance, Jean now holds the distinction of portraying Orson Welles almost as many times as Orson Welles did. And there’s still time for Jean to catch up since he continues to act, whereas Orson seems committed to staying dead.

“The last time I saw you, you were dressed as an Oscar,” I told Jean. That was at last year’s World Stupidity Awards, a show that degenerated into stupidity almost as dumbfounding as what it was poking fun at. Jean had appeared, coated in a gold paint, for one of the skits with host, Lewis Black. Even seated well back at the Imperial, I could recognize him under all the makeup. Who else but Jean could look like Orson “golden boy” Welles, painted gold? He went on to tell the tale of backstage fiascos and fuckups in a show that sounded like it was going down in flames long before the curtain went up.

As we compared notes about celebrity run-ins on stage and off, we got onto the topic of how many Pythons we had left to encounter. We quickly determined that so far we had seen the same Pythons at the same venues and only had two left on the checklist.

“So you saw Graham Chapman at Club Soda way back when?” I asked.

No, Jean admitted. He wasn’t counting Chapman because it was too late for him now. He hadn’t been to Graham’s “Looks Like a Brown Trouser Job” lecture series when he was touring. I could hardly contain my pleasure.

I’ve never kissed Kate Winslet and I’ve never driven Peter Jackson anywhere. I’ve never even seen Lewis Black scowl at a catering table that had been reduced to nothing but bread crusts and crumbs by an army of comedians long before he ever got to take a bite.

But I did get to see someone throw a box of Kentucky Fried Chicken at Graham Chapman when he asked for thirty seconds of abuse before his lecture began. Yes, I saw him in person, and Jean never did. And that’s something I can always hold over him.

Unless Jean gets a shovel.

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