My Sex Tape

If you’ve followed the blog long enough, you know about my sex tape—that shameful, humiliating experience I was subjected to about seven years ago now, that left me raw, exposed, and kind of sticky.

It was a gangbang, if I’m being perfectly honest. One of those screenwriter gangbangs I’d heard about in the film industry, where a single hapless hack is subjected to the wishes of a plethora of producers, each determined to have their way with an innocent, virginal script in whatever sick, perverted way they want.

There is, ironically, no filmed evidence of my sex tape. To my knowledge, there’s not so much as a single photograph of my participation in the gangbang. And yet it happened. I remember every excruciating moment well. And there was no happy ending—not for anyone, me least of all. A long week of living in various Delta Hotel conference rooms, fuelled by bad hotel food and thin, dishwater coffee, with a lanyard around my neck that ended in a laminated card reading, “Shane Simmons: Sex Tape” ultimately came to nothing.

Sex Tape was the name of my feature-film pitch; a detective-fiction mystery about a hotshot Hollywood publicist pursuing a stolen celebrity sex tape to the porno-distribution underbelly of Montreal, determined to stop it from going public, and discovering some people were willing to kill for it.

Shortly after I cashed my cheque for a development deal and finished a first draft, I was informed that no one was likely to touch my funny-sleazy-mystery movie in the current political climate. The sitting government had recently lost their shit about tax dollars backing a feature film called Young People Fucking, even though the dirtiest thing about it was the title. Common wisdom suggested that no movie called Sex Tape, involving the porn-and-sex industry in Montreal, was ever ever EVER going to get produced under a Stephen Harper mandate. And that mandate lasted nearly a whole damn decade. Stuck in a film industry so beholden to government backing, the movie had hit a wall, and my Sex Tape had, indeed, left me thoroughly fucked.

Years passed.

But Sex Tape continued to weigh on my mind. I thought often of Alexandra Middleton, the plucky L.A. publicist given an impossible task to accomplish in a completely alien city during the madness of the Christmas holiday season. I retained much love and affection for Sid Volke, the burnt-out ex-paparazzo slob, bottom-feeding his way through life as a cheap private snoop. And I still wanted to tell their story of trying to stop a scandal that would do damage to the career of America’s bitch-queen sweetheart Helen St. Simone and, more importantly, put her used and abused staff on the unemployment line come the New Year. My tale, which specifically took place somewhere in the first decade of the new century, wasn’t getting any younger. And even with a new non-Harper government in place, my hopes of getting it made by the dysfunctional Canadian film industry (or any other dysfunctional film industry) seemed remote. There was only one solution—a novel solution.sextapeebookcover

Sex Tape is the new novel I’m coming out with later this month. Once again, I’m looking to recruit readers so I can get some reviews up early on Amazon.com. If you’d like me to send you an eBook version of the book for free in the next few days, visit the contact page and drop me a note. You’ll get it a couple of weeks before anyone else.

And remember, if you’d like to keep up to date on what I’m putting out next, or be the first to hear news and special offers from Eyestrain Productions, FOLLOW the blog by hitting that button on the right-hand side of this very page.

The Worm in the Apple

I don’t like Apple.

It’s not just their slave-labour policies that drive factories full of Chinese workers to suicide, their ongoing efforts to get every man, woman and child on the planet to carry their own personal snoopable tracking device, or their general dickishness about how hip and cool and plug-and-playable their products are. I am, for the record, a long-time PC guy. I hate Microsoft and its indentured servant, the humble PC, as well. But at least we’ve never developed the smugness of Apple users. We don’t expect plug-and-play. We expect broken and irritating. It’s made us strong, and it’s taught us much about computers – namely how to take them apart, put them back together again, and reprogram the motherfuckers so that they actually work. Ask an Apple user to do anything other than hook it up and they’ll weep onto their touch screens and pray to their Jobs-Messiah for guidance and blessings.

Yes. there are plenty of reasons to hate Apple as a corporate entity. But my top reason is the cult-like love affair that goes on between client and product. It gets a little sickening after a while – like watching some fashionista fawn over the accessory rat-dog that lives in her handbag. Sure, lady, it’s great that you’re an animal lover and all, but you two should get a room. Stop Frenching in front of everyone at the supermarket because you’re making us all sick and my eyes are starting to burn.

“Fuck Apple,” may be one of my popular refrains, but I never meant it literally.

And yet technology is always willing to fulfill needs few, if any of us, ever knew existed. There’s a new product from the fine folks at Fleshlight, ever the vanguard of artificial-vagina technology (at least until the Japanese perfect their semen-powered mecha-cyborg vagina-kaiju and it breaks out of the lab disguised as a tentacled schoolgirl in order the milk the entire male population of Earth and reach critical mass – and my inside sources tell me they’re working on EXACTLY THAT). It’s the lastest and greatest in sex-toy strap-on technology. Now, you too, can have sex with your iPad. At last, Apple fans can pursue the twisted fantasy they never dared consciously acknowledge.

They call it LaunchPAD and, ever the savvy marketers, Fleshlight has even prepared a YouTube-safe commercial which speaks for itself.

Good luck getting tech support if it breaks. Better call a Biohazard team.

Despite my distaste and distrust for Apple, I have been known to borrow my wife’s iPad on occasion (as in every few hours) to play mobile games. And I have to say, despite the iProducts’ legendary intuitive interface, I could never, for the life of me, figure out where to insert my penis. At least this conundrum has been resolved in the most unambiguous way possible. Thanks, Fleshlight!

Bear in mind, this isn’t just for porn. Thanks to such cutting-edge technology, anything on your tablet screen is a viable target for your next erection. Now strange men can stick their dick in your Twitter feed, your Facebook friends list and, obviously, stuffonmycat.com. There’s a whole world wide web guys can stick their dicks in, and it doesn’t end there. I, for one, have longed for the day when I could stick my dick in Fruit Ninja. I just hope I don’t get any bombs. Unless, of course, it works like a forced-feedback joystick.

Nobody in their right mind asked for this, but now that it’s here, please enjoy your newfound ability to have sexual relations with your tablet to its fullest. Just wear a condom. We don’t need a world full of your iBastards.

This ain't your daddy's USB port.

This ain’t your daddy’s USB port.

A Little Pussy

The new kitten is working out well. Having brought the number of cats in my home up to the nice round figure of 846 (by my rough calculation at least), she is settling in well and integrating with all the others. The kitten has secured all the choice spots on the cat-tree-jungle-gym and established the order in which she is to be fed (first). Her development continues at a rapid pace and, as of today, she has safely suffered through a rite of passage that must befall every kitten – falling into a bathtub full of water for the first time. She did so with dignity, grace and surprisingly little panic or alarm.

The interloper in question.

The interloper in question.

Although her socialization with her brethren has gone smoothly, her arrival has thrown the established balance out of whack and thoroughly screwed up the feline sexual politics of the house. Our five-year-old male is particularly confused by the new girl in his life. He doesn’t quite know how to act around her, and this has extended to his sister. Everybody is fixed, so it shouldn’t be much of an issue. Or so I thought.

Last week, I came out of my office late at night to investigate strange noises. They were cat noises, but unlike anything I’d ever heard from my own brood – a vibrating staccato of nervous energy. I looked around for a moment before spotting the male, Finnegan, in what can only be described as a passionate embrace with his sister, Casey. They were in the cat bed that lies beneath an antique telephone table. She had her paws wrapped around him in a hug, he was on top, trying to hump her in the missionary position.

The missionary position. Two cats. Siblings. Fixed.

In the midst of this tryst, they both slowly turned their heads towards me, as though this crime against the natural order of things, this violation of God’s laws, was perfectly ordinary, utterly mundane.

“Yeah? What?” said their bland, indifferent expressions.

To better paint a picture of this precise moment in my life, I have prepared a short film presentation. In this eerily close re-enactment, the part of myself will be played by Shelley Duvall.

Although Mr. Kubrick has remained slavishly faithful to the event as it unfolded, he did take some small artistic licence by giving me a knife and a vagina. Had I a knife, I might have attempted to slay the abomination on sight. Had I a vagina, it’s unlikely I wouldn’t have emerged from my office at all. I’d still be in there obsessing about my brand new vagina. Other than that, it’s pretty much 100% accurate.

Having been discovered in their unnatural act, the cats disengaged. To further distract them from their animalistic urges, I fed them, though it took a while longer for the boy to lose his painfully stubborn erection that caused him to walk around like a hunchback for several minutes after his case of human-induced blue balls. Can a cat even get blue balls when he’s had his testicles surgically removed? Apparently this one can.

I’m still trying to recover from the post-traumatic stress of what I saw, but I feel like I’ve personally witnessed the universe askew – like this was some lesser seal of the apocalypse, a sign of the beast, or a harbinger of the Lord Cthulhu.

I remain shaken to my core and can write no more of the disturbing incident.

Strip Club Recessions

“Wanna go to a strip club?”

This is a question that will usually inspire a resounding “No!” from me. I’m not offended by strip clubs as a concept, nor morally outraged by the various branches of the sex industry. I remain academically interested in all things sleazy and perverse. But, as I’ve said here before, I don’t like my porn looking back at me. It’s creepy.

My past experiences with strip clubs have not been positive ones. Aside from the usual variety of ill-advised bachelor parties, and the one drunken crawl along the Montreal stripper strip that ended with a body count (the less said the better), there was the television shoot for Strip Club Confessions I was recruited for several years ago. I did that one as a favour for a friend (although the C-note helped grease my wheels) and thereafter swore off crossing the threshold of one of those dives ever again (bachelor party attendance out of sheer politeness aside, of course). They simply do nothing for me. Frankly, I’ve felt more blood flow to my cock swimming in a bone-chilling Canadian lake than I’ve ever felt in a strip club.

What was unusual about this particular “Wanna go to a strip club?” query was that I was the one asking the question. To my wife.

To understand why I would ever ask such a thing, you have to know the history of Picasso. Not the painter, the legendary 24-hour feed bag along Rue Saint-Jacques in the sleaziest stretch of the Montreal-West/N.D.G. area. For thirty years, if you wanted a good breakfast at 3:00 am, there was no better (or other) place to go than Picasso – a hybrid restaurant/diner/truck stop of a place within easy walking distance of any number of drug dealers, prostitutes and no-tell motels. St. Jacques was, once upon a time, the main artery into downtown Montreal from the west island. But then they built highway 20, and the artery turned into a varicose vein of dodgy economic blight. The legit businesses withered and died, the fast-food franchises got obscurer and greasier, and the motels started charging hourly rates as they shut their doors to family road-trip vacationers and opened them to solicitors of various rentable orifices.

Picasso had stood as a friendly oasis in this post-highway era from 1979 to 2009, but then abruptly closed overnight following a labour dispute with its staff. Attempts have been made to renovate and reopen, but they all fizzled out and the place has stood there rotting ever since.

At this point, Picasso looks like a post-apocalyptic prop. The elements, particularly Montreal’s harsh winters, have taken their toll, eating away at anything wooden. The windows and walls are covered in tags and graffiti, some of the windows are boarded up, the interior looks like it’s been frozen in time for centuries and covered in the expected amount of dust and debris, and the numerous plants and trees inside what was once a verdant greenhouse of a dining area have turned a pale brown and formed a petrified forest.

Picasso’s east-side entry.

Picasso’s east-side entry.

What used to be Picasso’s roadside sign, now communicating nothing.

What used to be Picasso’s roadside sign, now communicating nothing.

Graffiti, rotting wood, and stripped wiring.

Graffiti, rotting wood, and stripped wiring.

Some of the dead jungle inside.

Some of the dead jungle inside.

Abandoned interior with evidence of past non-starter attempts to renovate.

Abandoned interior with evidence of past non-starter attempts to renovate.

Lens flare as the sun sets on Picasso.

Lens flare as the sun sets on Picasso.

Graffiti on one boarded up window suggests one former employee’s take on the restaurant-ending labour dispute.

Graffiti on one boarded up window suggests a former employee’s take on the restaurant-ending labour dispute.

Graffiti on another board eulogises what someone once liked best about Picasso.

Graffiti on another board eulogizes what someone once liked best about Picasso.

Even a parting sentiment painted on the window fades under the constant assault of time and the elements.

Even a parting sentiment painted on the window fades under the constant assault of time and the elements.

Any other building in such a condition would have been a prime candidate for the wrecking ball. But Picasso persists. Not because there’s any hope for a revival, but because there’s a business in the basement. And you can’t destroy one without levelling the other.

Cabaret Les Amazones is the lone strip club on the street. Montreal has no shortage of strip clubs and has been a target destination for many a south-of-the-border youth looking for a titty-bar smorgasbord and a lower legal drinking age for decades. The fact that Amazones is the only business of its kind the area can support goes to show what an economic dead zone St. Jacques has become. Its weather-beaten and decayed sign towers at the side the road, beckoning commuters with promises of nudity and contact. The single uninviting entry point leads directly downstairs, into whatever debauched dungeon lies beneath the skeletal remains of Picasso.

East-bound traffic is solicited with this sad, sun-washed and weather-beaten sign.

East-bound traffic is solicited with this sad, sun-washed and weather-beaten sign.

West-bound traffic is apparently not even worth advertising to. The glass on this side of the sign has been shattered and missing for years.

West-bound traffic is apparently not even worth advertising to. The glass on this side of the sign has been shattered and missing for years.

Picasso’s boarded-up west-side entry and the door to the debauchery below.

Picasso’s boarded-up west-side entry and the door to the debauchery below.

I would wonder, sometimes to myself, often aloud, what sort of shithole must that place be to exist under the derelict remains of a decomposing restaurant in one of the ugliest corners of the city. I’ve long been curious to see, but reluctant to go. Not without a bodyguard.

“Wanna go to a strip club?” I asked my wife as we drove past one day. I don’t know how functional she’d be as a bodyguard, but she’d be certain to scare the shit out of any ne’er-do-wells if I made sure she was tired and hungry when we went. Tired plus hungry equals cranky, you see. You discover these sorts of things after years of marriage.

“No,” she answered, although she shared my curiosity. “But I have a writing assignment for you.”

The assignment was simple: Recruit two of my writer friends, arrange an expedition into the bowels of the Picasso/Amazones hybrid beast, and then, should we survive, each write something about the experience. This is me holding up my end of the bargain.

A posse was formed and, after the usual wrangling about an appropriate time and date, we piled into a car and headed out one evening, hoping for a truly vile, horrible night on the town that would fuel some future piece of writing.

We pulled into the nearly vacant parking lot after nightfall. It was still early as bar-hopping/clubbing goes, but the giant grid of empty paved spaces, shared with a neighbouring supermarket, seemed particularly barren after hours on a Saturday night. Stopping for a quick look through the dark windows of the Picasso ruins, we noted a light on in the kitchen that suggested it was still being used to serve up food to the club customers below.

We opened the door and descended to the basement. A sign on the wall dictated a dress code, more detailed and specific than your typical “No shirt, no shoes, no service” decree. Among the more interesting forbidden items of clothing were do-rags, because apparently the establishment was still having a lot of problems with time-travelling gangstas from the 1990s. This was borne out by our requirement to pass through a metal detector on our way inside after coughing up a cover charge. The metal detector was probably just for show and likely not even plugged in. We all noted we got inside without our pocket change and house keys provoking so much as a blip.

These reasonably ominous signs were promising, but then we sat down. It was with crushing disappointment that we realized we hadn’t entered a dive. The place was spacious and clean and glitzy and looked like the sort of higher end titty-bar you might see depicted on any random TV cop show. They even had a decent beer on tap for a reasonable price which, in my limited experience, is unheard of in the stripper-industrial-complex. This was all wrong.

Being early, we could have grabbed a stage-side table of our choice, but opted to sit back a distance. I may not like my porn looking back at me, but I really detest having my porn look back at me from only inches away. That takes a step beyond creepy and goes straight into spine-chilling territory.

The place was dead and the number of strippers taking to the stage sparse throughout our first pitcher of beer. But around 9:30, the place suddenly came alive and started filling up. The dancers and songs went into a steady cycle as the booth-bound announcer picked up the pace. An hour later, the club went from looking like another one of Montreal’s dead businesses that are used solely to launder mob drug money, to a thriving gold mine of vibrant economic viability.

Even the audience was animated, which is something I’ve never seen in a strip club before. Usually such places are full of guys quietly drinking, embarrassed to even be there, but compelled to stay until they’ve had an eye-full to their satisfaction. This place, however, had more of a party atmosphere, with the sorts of hoots and hollers you’d expect to hear in a strip club if your only experience with them is how they’re depicted in the aforementioned TV cop shows. The stage-side seats we had so cavalierly passed over were quickly topped up by “reserved” signs, and then promptly filled by groups (sometimes a mix of men AND women) who apparently needed to slip the doorman a fat tip in order to secure one.

Although there were large television screens placed strategically all over the club running sports, nobody was watching. It made for a very Canadian dilemma – naked girls and hockey competing for attention. Shockingly, the girls were winning out.

“The worse the economy, the hotter the girls.” So says the adage, if that is indeed an adage. I don’t know if there are all that many adages concerning stripping, but I’ve certainly heard this one before. It’s something to do with the fact that poverty allows this sort of skin market to be more choosy about who it serves up to the public. Certainly the ladies on offer landed firmly in the “attractive” category. Degree of hotness is something for the individual to decide.

Despite the sorry state of the economy, the ladies didn’t seem too motivated to solicit private dances, allowing the customers to come to them with money and requests. Tellingly, the one I considered least attractive of the crop was the only one actively working the room, going from table to table, trying to interest individual observers in her wares and a session of touchy-feely in a private booth. And she didn’t mind getting a tad grabby herself in order to scare up business.

“Get your fucking hand off my knee and go the fuck away,” were my only thoughts on the matter when it was our table’s turn to get the hard sell. I was too polite to articulate this in her presence. I knew she was just doing her job, grotesque as that job may be. But must we all make each other feel like a piece of meat in this transaction? I guess that’s the appeal for some. Me, I just wanted to return to my beer. My beer doesn’t objectify me. It just makes me fat. And we don’t judge each other.

“This is the best strip club I’ve ever been to in Montreal!” declared one of my accomplices.

I could see his point, though “best” is a relative term, and even the best of something I dislike still kinda sucks. It still wasn’t my thing, as confirmed when my focus briefly flittered back to the stage in time to see The Eye of Sauron yawning at me from between a pair of widely spread legs.

“Meanwhile, back at the gynecologist’s…” I commented, averting my gaze again.

By far the most interesting stage act, from my jaded point of view at least, was The Pole Sanitizer. This wasn’t a stripper, or even one of the girls. It was some poor schmuck whose job it was to mount the stage amidst sarcastic catcalls from the audience and spritz the stripper pool during a between-song interlude. He’d then wipe off the spray-bottle antiseptic with a rag, top to bottom, take his bows, and depart.

There was a brief intermission while we waited for the cleanser to evaporate from the stage before the next girl began her dance. It wasn’t long before she was grinding all over the pole, with only the flimsiest of thongs to protect the chrome plating from the assault of her nethers.

“That pole needs to be cleansed again,” I commented only minutes after it had been washed off, and hours away from when it would be wiped down again. Indeed, I spent much of the evening calculating how much fecal bacteria was being transferred to the pole by all these women wiping their ass crack all over it, one after the other and the other. The math was nauseating.

One custom of this particular strip club was something I’ll refer to as “the stage flop.” It’s sort of like stage diving, but in reverse. Apparently it was acceptable protocol for the clients to approach the stage during an act and, gripping a rolled-up twenty-dollar bill in their teeth, flop onto the stage. There they would lie, on their backs with the twenty standing erect, awaiting special attention from the stripper of the moment. Eventually, she would come over to retrieve her twenty-buck tip and reward the donor by battering his face with her boobs, or poising her groin over his nose at an olfactory distance I found unnerving even seated fifteen feet away.

Exactly what sort of close-encounter exhibitionist thrill you got for your twenty dollars seemed to vary depending on the girl. One of the strippers seemed to have made a reputation for herself by going the extra distance. When it was her turn on stage, she had two clients do the stage flop at once. I have to say, forty bucks for a three-minute dance is good money, but what she did to earn it would haunt my nightmares for weeks to come. She was, you see, a spitter.

Spitting disgusts me. The deep-routed psychological reasons for this will be explored in a future blog post, but suffice to say, “Ew!” Keep your expectorate to yourself, please.

The first stage-flopper received what I can only interpret as a contemptuous wad of spit hocked onto his t-shirt, which was then rubbed in by the stripper before she went through additional boob-and-crotch related moves to retrieve her twenty dollars. The second stage-flopper, however, got the deluxe treatment. To the audience’s delight and my horror, she crawled over to him, removed his belt, rolled him over onto his stomach, and yanked his pants down. She then – pardon me, I have to step back a moment, I’m suffering a bout of PTSD dredging up this memory – spat on his meaty ass, rubbed it in with her bare hand, and then proceeded to flog the wet spot with his coiled belt until he couldn’t take any more and started blocking the blows with his open palm.

He, too, paid twenty dollars for this privilege.

“There’s no amount of soap in the world that would ever make me feel clean again,” I confided to my less enthusiastic friend. I’d have shared this thought with my more enthusiastic friend as well, but he missed this disturbing spectacle. He was off in a booth somewhere, getting a private dance. What exact services or visuals he had selected from the long and confusing menu of options posted at various points on the wall remained mysterious. I didn’t ask.

Suffice to say, our plans to go and check the place out for an hour, and then retreat back to my screening room to watch a movie once we’d been thoroughly horrified, did not pan out. Instead we spent a few hours experiencing a spectrum of reactions that ranged from delight to disgust, and then called it a night far too late to begin a movie.

I don’t know if anything was really learned from this experience, but at least one mystery was solved. We now know why the eyesore that used to be Picasso is still standing, safe and sound from the wrecking ball. The property is still raking in far too much money to quit now, even as the above-ground portion of the building slowly collapses under the weight of time and neglect.

Sex sells, even when the economy is shit.

The twin businesses, fused together forever.

The twin businesses, fused together forever.

Cinema History Bursts Onto The Scene (And All Over Your Face)

You’d think it would be easier to find a cumshot on the web.

I mean, really, all you need are opposable thumbs to work a mouse and keyboard, and any search engine. But I guess it gets tougher when you’re looking for one particular cumshot that dates back to 1929 and doesn’t involve Peter North. Sure, Mr. North has been in the business a long time, but not quite that long.

I’ve been having meetings about one of my feature-length scripts again. It’s one that’s peppered with film references. Normally I hate when movies do that, but this particular script is about a trio of film geeks, so it’s kind of hard to avoid the shop talk. I figure if I’m obliged to include self-referential movie-buff jargon, I’m going to make it as obscure as humanly possible. There’s nothing worse than when a movie has its characters talk about film and all they can reference is fucking Star Wars.

One bit of dialogue in my script dredges up the memory of Soviet propagandist Sergei Eistenstein and his communist-cheerleading feature, The General Line AKA The Old and the New from 1929. In one particularly inspiring moment, Russian peasants are introduced to the wonders of the modern world as an industrial creamer accomplishes, in short order, what used to take them hours of backbreaking labour. It’s a glorious moment, and they all beam in delight, confident that the revolution marches on and will deliver all sorts of efficiency miracles in the years to come. Surely if mother Russian can produce this much cream this quickly, communism will prevail in the international struggle of ideologies and all will be well in the world. Oh, and they’re also really happy because they’ve just invented the cumshot.

Or so my lead character postulates in his interpretation of the scene that just happens to mirror my own. Sergei Eistenstein films are somewhat unwatchable by today’s standards. Barring the battle in Alexander Nevsky, or the uber-famous Odessa Steps sequence from The Battleship Potemkin, Eistenstein’s work has become an historical footnote from a failed political system. It’s old, it’s dusty, and it’s every bit as heavy-handed as the communist ideals it so loudly (in a silent-film sort of way) endorses. Nevertheless, his contribution to cinema was enormous. Just like some of the other early film pioneers who made movies in support of some really reprehensible ideas (D.W. Griffith, Leni Riefenstahl), he somehow managed to help create the basic vocabulary of film despite being on the wrong side of the social-engineering fence. Much of what he and a select few of his contemporaries invented in their movies is part of what we now consider basic elements of how to tell a story with moving pictures. Someone had to come up with these shots, these compositions, these cuts we all take for granted now. Eisenstein was one of the first great director innovators and his contribution to film as an art form cannot be underestimated.

And he created the cumshot. No, really.

Porn is as old as cinema itself. In fact, one of the very first motion pictures, The Kiss, was considered pretty pornographic back in the Victorian era. It didn’t take long for people with cameras to start pointing them at naked people getting it on, but the idea of going all the way and showing ejaculation as part of projected erotica took a while longer to get around to. Leave it then, to Eistenstein, to invent what would become the porn industry’s “money shot” — not in a sex film, but in an industrial communist propaganda film. Genius!

Watch this Youtube clip if you doubt me. Eisenstein was so forward-thinking, he not only invented the cumshot, he anticipated the bukkake film.

Marfa Lapkina takes it like a trooper in her one and only screen role.

I wanted to show this clip to our gathering of actors and producers so they could understand what I was on about, but it took a bit more digging back home for me to find the scene in question. The General Line is not terribly well-known or regarded these days, and my usual movie-geek bit-torrent sources came up empty. It figures Youtube would have the right clip. They have pretty much anything that copyright lawyers can’t squeeze a buck out of. Now, at last, the cast and crew can see it for themselves. And they’ll know I’m not crazy in the head. I just have a dirty mind.

Good Career Move

So Rachelle Lefevre got kicked off the Twilight series. And a stunned world mourns.

I actually don’t know too much about it. I’ll never read the books, and as far as watching the movie goes, all I hear is “Oh good Lord, DON’T!” which is never a glowing recommendation. What I understand about this pop culture phenomenon is that it’s vampire porn for 13-year-old Mormon girls who are still too young to handle a Buffy season set. I saw an interview with the author, Stephenie Meyer, and all I could think was “Wow, she’s such a geek, she makes Anne Rice look like Harper Lee.” Since then, I’ve kind of avoided it all and haven’t regretted ignoring the whole multi-media experience for one second.

I did take notice of the scheduling conflict dispute that got Rachelle the boot, though. Rachelle’s a local kid. I’ve worked with many Montreal actors of that generation on various shows, and it’s always fun seeing what they get up to as their careers progress. Ah, there’s Jamie Elman doing a scene with Gary Sinise on CSI: Some Damn City Somewhere. And there’s Ross Hull anchoring the Weather Channel, poor bastard. And there’s wee little Ricky Mabe, all grown up and being strap-on-dildo ass-fucked by Traci Lords in the new Kevin Smith film.

I never worked with Rachelle. I almost worked with Rachelle, back when she was in Big Wolf on Campus. But then all my material got tossed away because I had no produced credits yet and wasn’t in the union. Sweet memories. Oh, how I don’t miss those days at all.

But now, after making it big playing some redheaded vampire chick in a movie I can’t bear the thought of sitting through, she’s throwing it all away to come back to Montreal and shoot ten days on Barney’s Version. Good career move. Not only will she get to work with people like Dustin Hoffman and Paul Giamatti, but she gets to bail on the third angst-ridden brooding high-school vampire douchbag flick. Everyone thought the first movie blew, so by the third in the series the box office should be collecting tumbleweeds.

What does Rachel Lefevre need with silly schoolgirl vampire crushes anyway? She’s already a huge star. I know this because she was featured on TMZ a couple of months ago in a does-the-carpet-match-the-drapes moment outside her home in L.A. Apparently her doggie needed a whiz early one morning, so she took him out in her bathrobe. Prowling paparazzi plus untimely breeze plus flimsy garment equals photo op. You get the picture. And if you don’t, it’s probably somewhere in TMZ’s archives.

Surprise celebrity nudity is also, incidentally, a good career move. These days you haven’t really made it in showbiz until someone has immortalized your inadvertently exposed Brazilian wax job in the tabloids, or absconded with the secret sex tape you thought was safely hidden away from the migrant workers renovating your Malibu beach house.

Speaking of which…another good career move is handing in your feature screenplay in time to make your contractual deadline. Which is exactly what I just did today with Sex Tape. Now to consider other projects. There’s this epic biopic I’ve been considering… Stay tuned.

Infinitely scarier than any of those school-kid fang-faces from Twilight.
Plus he’s better at math.

Circumcision Is For Muggles

Once upon a time, before it was considered trendy for young starlets like Lindsay Lohan, Britney Spears and Paris Hilton to show off their Brazilian bikini waxes to limo-stalking paparazzi, celebrity nudity was scandalous. Whenever early-career rent-paying tits-n-ass photos of somebody famous surfaced, there was always an appropriate amount of shame and embarrassment involved. Now, it seems, there’s a collective “whatever” shrug from everyone, including the over-exposed celebs themselves who just don’t care how many billions of internet geeks are file sharing their crotch shots. The same even goes for their tawdry sex acts. Everybody who’s anybody has their very own sex tape now. And increasingly, they’re professionally produced and released on purpose. Chloe Sevigny, who infamously sucked off creepy director/actor Vincent Gallo in the name of pretentious art-house cinema, never seemed particularly concerned about how many millions watched her big scene out of context, compared to the three people who actually bothered to sit through the entirety of The Brown Bunny. Ms. Hilton, it turns out, didn’t object to everybody spending One Night in Paris once she got a big fat cheque for it. And, well, let’s spare Tom Sizemore the final indignity of being mocked here.

Now we have Daniel Radcliffe, Harry Potter himself, waving his wand at a horse in the stage play, Equus. Like the Christian fundamentalist wackos really needed something else about Harry Potter to bitch about. I’d show you a picture to better illustrate what I’m talking about -– particularly in the title of this blog –- but wee Danny Radcliffe is still only seventeen years old. A child. A baby. And I really don’t need the RCMP crawling up my ass for trafficking kiddie porn.

Of all these celebrities hell-bent on flashing their business, I’m most disappointed by Radcliffe. He’s British. And as a Brit, he should know the value of shame and embarrassment and personal mortification when it comes to anything sexual. Especially body parts best kept safely contained in one’s trousers. Well I, for one, plan to uphold that finest of old-world traditions even as today’s hot rich and famous youth lose their way. I am, and always shall be, deeply deeply ashamed of my body and will never show my wand, magic or otherwise, to anyone. Not even a horse. And of this shame, I am fiercely proud.

Jostled By A Gimp

I never pass up an opportunity to dive into the weird end of the gene pool and tour the anthropological fringes of human behaviour. Especially when I’m pretty sure it won’t get me killed. As long as someone assigns me a flak jacket clearly stenciled with the word “observer” so no one tries to turn show-and-tell into fondle-and-inject, I’ll watch damn near anything.

A few weeks ago I was invited to tag along to a fetish event in east-end Montreal, hidden away in the dark recesses of a former municipal bath house. This was a regular get together for members of the scene — couples, loners and lurkers alike. Fetish gear was preferred, but the dress code had been relaxed as of this particular occasion. All-black garb was now acceptable, allowed myself and like-minded gawkers to get in, the reasoning being that a few dull normals coughing up the twenty-buck cover charge might help offset the event deficit.

The party was spread over several levels, the main focus being the dance floor that used to be the bottom of a large public swimming pool. Once inside, we were bombarded by lasers effects, techno music, and the sight of several paid performers playing in plastic kiddie “lube pools,” glistening with many more gallons of KY Jelly than you could hope to find in any three pharmacies. The painted six-foot-deep markers on the tiles of swimming pool confirmed what I already knew: I was in over my head.

The spectrum of garb was at once different and utterly the same. It reminded me of Hallowe’en night, when most of the trick-or-treaters come out dressed in near identical costumes reflecting what’s currently hot on the pop culture front. You always notice the rare individual who stands out amongst the Spidermen and Batmen and Harry Potters and came dressed in something truly original. The same holds true for fetish night. Most everyone there is dressed in a black latex/leather/rubber somethingorother that looks exactly like your most clichéd idea of what a dominatrix, slave, or Marilyn Manson concert refugee should look like. Then there are a small handful with enough of a personalized fetish that they stick out in a subculture that’s aesthetically designed to stick out. My favourites included the white-rubber nurse, the orange jumpsuit-clad “convict” and the two gay guys in United States Marine Corps dress uniforms. Semper Fi, sweetcheeks.

I don't want to know, you don't want to know, nobody wants to know.I was just having a sip of my drink when my arm was knocked to the side, making me spill mineral water all over the floor. No harm done, I was in a swimming pool. But I was irritated enough to turn around to see who did it. That’s when I saw the gimp.

He didn’t acknowledge my glare and he didn’t apologize. He probably couldn’t have said two words in that mask, but I would have accepted a “mmfft mrph.” Clearly he was a very rude gimp. Or maybe he was just looking to get punished.

Those who wanted to be punished or do the punishing could descend another level to the dank rooms and corridors beneath the pool. There you could find a variety of posts and benches of frames to bind your significant other to for a thrashing of mutually agreed upon intensity. All in front of an audience of like-minded tops and bottoms who were more into the voyeurism than the exhibitionism.

You could also go down there if you needed to pee. That’s where the bathrooms were located. No, I didn’t go in to check if anyone was inside getting peed on.

I only caught my favourite sight of the evening when we were back outside, leaving. There, in the chilly October night, were a collection of fetishists freezing their nipple clamps off. They were huddled around in their skimpy gear, shivering in the brisk air, smoking. Montreal, as cool with all sexual bents and kinks as it is, has now become flatly intolerant of smoking inside a public place. I can’t wait until January rolls around. Going outside to grab a smoke then will teach these gimps, slaves and bottoms what masochism is really about.

Porn Star

I’m not an actor. At all. In any capacity whatsoever.

So it’s only natural, when there was a casting call for the opening sequence of a new television pilot, that I should be offered a key role immediately. Sure, this town, like any other, is brimming with struggling actors looking for a gig. But why hire any of them when you can get a writer instead?

To be fair, I was asked as a personal favour. My producer pals, working as the technicians on someone else’s baby, were having trouble finding people much beyond their own early twenties demographic to appear in this pilot project. The reason was simple enough. The pilot was for a show called Strip Club Confessions.

Are you familiar with Taxicab Confessions? Same deal, only contrived, scripted, and with strippers. How could it not sell? Buyers were already lining up to screen it, and principal photography wasn’t even complete, much less a viewable cut. The problem was that there had already been a fair share of twentysomethings in the footage shot so far. Now “older gentlemen” were needed for variety. To that end, I was asked to appear, along with my buddy Alistair, who I’ve known longer than most of the crew have been alive.

Being called an older gentleman made me feel like I was being recruited from the same acting pool that includes Ernest Borgnine and Christopher Lee. But I agreed anyway because I’m a really nice guy. And because they said they would pay me. I got a call back as soon as the location was locked.

“You know where Super Contact is?”

How could I not? I hadn’t been to a strip joint in well over a decade, but Super Contact is hardly subtle about its presence on St. Catherine Street. It was, as far as my limited knowledge of the Montreal skin scene extends, the first “contact” club in town. To advertise this fact, the façade of the building was outfitted with a gigantic four-panel animated neon sign showing a variety of grabby men having a hands-on experience with various bits of stripper anatomy. The effect is, I’m sure I don’t have to tell you, a class act and not at all a blight on the city.

Alistair and I met in makeup where we were made less shiny, but not particularly more attractive. After a couple of hours of watching the crew heft equipment upstairs, we were asked to take our positions in a couple of private booths that would be featured in a long, overhead dolly shot. In the booths, we were assigned our own personal strippers who were to perform for us as the camera passed above.

And therein lies the crux of the casting difficulties. It gets increasingly hard to find guys, as they become “older gentlemen,” who don’t have a significant other who’s going to freak about their man appearing on a stripper show. All the other possible subjects the producers had access to had bowed out for exactly that reason. That left only me, with a cool wife who’s secure in our relationship, and Alistair, with a cool girlfriend who digs porn more than any five perverted men combined, to fill the void.

With the lights set and the camera rig ready to roll, my stripper prepared herself by peeling off half her uniform. When I say uniform, I mean that quite literally. It looked like a costume out of somebody’s cyborg Gestapo fantasy. Flesh was tactically revealed, mostly limited to nipples that could put your eye out if you weren’t careful. Special attention was paid by the designated stripper wrangler to make sure the thong was clearly visible to the lens. With everyone suitably posed, and my own embarrassment peaking, I was reminded why I hadn’t been in one of these clubs for so many years. The fact is, I really don’t like my pornography looking back at me. Time and distance is a separation I value when it comes to this most personal of personal entertainments. Nevertheless, I had agreed to help out, and it was too late to change my mind now.

“You’re really horny,” was the one and only piece of stage direction given me.

I soon discovered my stripper’s English was limited, as was her ability to understand stage direction. The word “cut” in particular seemed beyond her vocabulary, so she kept going through the bump and grind routine well past any chance of the dolly shot capturing her performance. As such I was treated to two or three times as much topless dancing  as I was rightfully entitled to. I considered telling her to stop a few times, but wasn’t sure how she would take it if I asked her lay off her bread-and-butter choreography that was supposed to be, but wasn’t quite, sexy. Instead, I just let her continue until she figured out the show was over all on her own. I don’t really know why I even considered her feelings in this matter. I doubt she had any. I get the impression that strippers aren’t all that concerned about how enticing their dancing is, or how turned on their clients get. If anything at all is going through their minds at work, it’s sums. They’re little adding machines, these girls. My stripper, for example, kept me up to date, take by take, as to what “song” she had calculated we must be on. Normally pulling fifteen bucks per song when doing a private dance, the number of songs that could have fit into our shooting schedule was of paramount importance to her. There was no actual music playing, but I never doubted the accuracy of her accounting.

Any worries I had that I would forever find infamy as “Private Booth Client #1” were alleviated over dinner when I had to be reintroduced to the camera operator. He wanted to know how I was involved in the production.

“I was the guy in the first booth getting nipples poked in my eyes,” I explained. But my face still didn’t ring any bells.

“All I saw was an ass,” he said. And it wasn’t even mine.

My anonymity in the strip club shot assured, I was retained to play another more visible character later in the evening. For the second half of the shoot, I was to turn my thespian might to the task of portraying “The Executive Producer.”

Strip Club Confessions will intercut all the lap dancing action with a bunch of production people watching and listening via supposedly hidden cameras from behind-the-scenes. A running commentary is provided by the show’s Punk’d-style host, who alternately exclaims how hot the strippers are and how lame the guys watching them are. It seems reality TV has so lost its way, we’re now making fake reality shows that aren’t even trying very hard to seem like the real thing anymore. In this case, the guys watching the strippers are actors, and the people watching the guys watching the strippers are actors too. Even when it’s real production people playing, in essence, themselves, they’re still performing. All the strippers are genuinely strippers, but they’re being paid not to strip, but to act like strippers. By stripping. Which, of course, they do all the time in their day jobs.

My sense of reality has become all bent out of shape and I’m not sure when or how it happened. I’m still pretty sure I’m me, but I could be wrong.

Playing The Executive Producer called for me to stand behind the video commentators, stare at a screen, and make faces of approval or disapproval as to what was happening on camera and what was being said about it. I chose to use The Method for my performance, mentally becoming an executive producer. The end result was a face riddled with concern over how much money the production was hemorrhaging by the minute. It was, I felt, terribly authentic in theory. In practice, I was probably as wooden as a plank.

But does it matter? Of course not. I was hired to stuff a shirt, no more. Who would ever tune in to a show called Strip Club Confessions to look at the “older gentleman” dude standing in the background making faces? If they have any complaints about the show, they won’t be about my performance. They’ll be about the glaring lack of beaver shots.

And with that, I’ll have to concur.