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Why I’m Voting For Sarah Palin

THE KILLOUGH CHRONICLES

by James Killough

I’m kidding.  Sheesh.  Relax.  I don’t vote, for two reasons: 1) the American political process bores me because it’s usually much the same of the same old shit, although the Obama/Hillary run-off did get my attention; 2) as long as the Electoral College is in place and disasters like the 2000 election can happen as a result, I don’t believe we live in a true democracy.

She's not just the ringmaster, not just the clown show, not just the big cat act. She's the whole frickin' circus.

“But what about your civic duty, James?” you ask, wrapping your toga tightly around you in a snit.  To which I reply, “My civic duty is my non-vote of protest.”  And I feel I have more effect writing these words than ruining a perfectly crisp morning in November by standing in line for hours waiting to cast my drop in the bucket.  As long as I live, I will never let America rest on its self-satisfied, jingoistic laurels, never let it get away with unjustified warmongering, or large-scale financial corruption.  To do so would be un-American.

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I Think I Cannes

TUTTLE MODE

by James Tuttle

Gentle reader,

I’m going to tell you about an HGTV show that I would love to like.  It’s called Secrets From a Stylist.  I know that I complained about HGTV’s programming a couple of weeks ago, when constant airings of House Hunters were beginning to erode my mental state.  I’ve since stopped automatically tuning to HGTV when I sit down after a long day of dressing my girls or playing my ponies but this show is already in our DVR queue.  It pops up every Saturday night like clockwork and I just watched the most recent episode.

The premise of the show is really quite good.  Perky stylist Emily Henderson analyses the style of each member of the homeowner couple with an interesting multiple choice test, designs their room for one person’s style, then layers on the other person’s style to create a perfect blend in which the inhabitants can live happily ever after.  What could go wrong?

The well-adjusted Dan Vickery adjusts himself (right).

In the beginning, I felt very close to this show.  I’d watched Emily win the Design Star competition over that very cute gay guy, Dan Vickery, whom I couldn’t watch without thinking whether or not he had a corrected cleft palate.  We need more cute, well-adjusted gays on TV to show America that we’re not always wearing leather halters or snorting cocaine on dance floors lit from below while listening to Gloria Gaynor or Cher but, in spite of all that, I actually rooted for Emily.

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I, Monster

I check my look in the mirror
I wanna change my clothes, my hair, my face.
— Bruce Springsteen, Dancing in the Dark

The caption for this photo on the site I poached it from said, "Springsteen made it acceptable for men to wear bandanas around their heads." Bwahahahahahahahahahaha.

Ever since that song was first released, I have been puzzled.  I can understand Bruce changing his clothes and his hair; the Jersey Boy look can be sexy if you have an eye for what old school queens call “rough trade,” but it’s never stylish, and in the 80s the clothes and the hair from the Swamps Beyond The Bridge and Tunnels were almost as bad as they are now, as showcased on The Show That Cannot Be Mentioned on MTV.  But why would a man as handsome as Bruce Springsteen want to change his face?  After all, a man’s face is something that should not be changed by anything other than time.  For the fair sex, it’s as my former lover Daniel, the Giant Spanker of Celebrities, used to say: “Every vooman has a second face.  It’s called make-up.”

All I can think is that some irate ex-girlfriend of Spingsteen’s must have screamed the truth about his one facial imperfection during a heated smack-down Jersey-style breakup moment: “So you think you’re fuckin’ sexy, huh?  So does half the fuckin’ world!  But let me tell you something.  Do you have any fuckin’ idea how fuckin’ difficult it is to kiss a guy with an underbite?  Huh?  You practically have to hang upside down like a bat to do it properly.  And I’m sick of it!  I’m outta here!”  Which led Bruce to sit down and pen that song.  From then on, if he was going to dance, it would be in the dark so that no one could look at his underbite, which is a pity because it’s the key to his sexiness.

At the risk of being hauled up for cyber bullying with my relentless pursuit of Galliano, this post does pick up from the earlier pieces about him not just because of the work John has had done to his face, but because he’s got me thinking about my play Hatter and narcissism.  What makes anyone take a look in the mirror and not just want to change his clothes, his hair, his face, but take a scalpel to it and rearrange as much of it as he can afford?

A computer impression of what Michael Jackson would have looked like had he not had plastic surgery. I firmly believe that had he left well enough alone with his face, those traumatized boys wouldn't have sued.

Hatter is an extended riff on the Mad Tea Party, in which the Mad Hatter is now Matt Hatter, the Galliano/McQueen/Tom Ford rock-star fashion designer character, and Alice is a fashion journalist who has the goods on him.  One of the tropes I carry over from Alice in Wonderland is the looking glass, the mirror, how people perceive themselves.  The fashion designer, I state in the play, is the mirror that people hold up to themselves: he tells you how to dress, what you look better in, who you are going to be today.

I stumbled on the notion of the fashion designer-as-looking glass when I was writing the piece.  Actually, I stumbled on quite a few things when I was writing it, both intellectually and physically, but I’ll expound more about that when we get closer to production and I shed my inhibitions.  It wasn’t until I was living with a philosophy professor a couple of years later that I realized that this notion of the exterior world being a mirror of the self, in particular the libidinous self, is central to the teaching of modern French philosopher Jacques Lacan.  Basically, Lacan’s mirror stage, “typifies an essential libidinal relationship with the body image.”  I’ll leave it there and let you follow the Cliff Notes on Jacques Lacan via my Wikipedia links if you’re interested.  I need to keep this blog as light and fluffy as a Galliano tulle gown if I’m going to keep my readers, i.e., the fashion folk and the Amanda Seyfried breast-loving pervs, happy.

A fluffy Galliano-designed tulle gown. I just can't wrap my mind around how someone who can produce such beauty, and such vast quantities of such beauty, season after season, can reflect such ugliness.

Narcissism, as I discovered during an extended “spack out” I had in London over the fall/winter 2008-09 season, isn’t the same as having a dollop of normal vanity combined with healthy self-confidence.  The cause of said spack out, as the British call flipping out, was that I was taking the oncoming Recession personally.  It had to be my fault that everything was collapsing around me, only I was to blame that a trillion dollars of wealth had vanished, leaving the indie film business — never exactly a booming, flush industry to begin with — with nothing in the collective bank.  See, we rely on the discretionary capital of high-net-worth individuals to close most independent film deals, and suddenly there was nothing left, nothing was moving forward, and we were all tumbling towards nothingness.  In good ol’ Anglo-Australian-American fashion, I saw this as entirely my doing: my small overdraft at the bank had collapsed the world economy in a butterfly effect.  That had to be it because I was raised to believe that had to be it; all problems in our lives are our fault, aren’t they?  And the only possible explanation for this colossal, recession-causing fault of mine was that I had a major personality disorder.

So I hopped onto Our Lord Google, Omniscient God of Everything and Everything Else, and scoured directories on mental illness, the DSM IV, the WikiWonderWorks, you name it.  Then I found the cause of it all:  Narcissism Personality Disorder, a.k.a. NPD.  That was me.  It spoke to me, it rang true.  Years of running from the horrible truth were over.

But a blind test was in order.  I needed proof before I committed myself to an institution, and if not an institution then to intensive outpatient psychiatric care courtesy Her Majesty’s NHS.

I printed out a list of the symptoms without a heading or an explanation and handed them with great drama and flourish to the aforementioned philosophy professor, who shared my bed and knew me best.  “Read this, Jonathan.  And tell me who this reminds you of.”

Jonathan read.  “I dunno, who does it remind me of?”

“Me?”

“No.”

“Oh, come on.  You mean I don’t have even one of these characteristics?”

“Not really.  No.”

I was crushed.  I needed not one, but at least five to be considered an NPD.  But there was still hope: why should I believe the one person that I had purposely brought into my life to convince me I was sane and wonderful when I clearly wasn’t?  Just having Jonathan around was part of the pathology of my NPD.  Luckily, our friend Helen, a psychologist and social worker who spent her days “sectioning” people, which is the British equivalent of forcibly committing people to mental institutions, came over for a cup of tea and a “rollie.”  Helen is a great character: soothing alto voice, big Amy Winehouse black bouffant, fifties glasses, bright red lipstick.

“Go on, Jonathan, tell her,” I said.

“James thinks he’s a narcissist,” Jonathan said.

“And he doesn’t believe me,” I added.

“You’re not a narcissist, darling,” Helen said with calm authority while she finished rolling her cigarette.  “You’re just an American.”

In the end, Jonathan and Helen and Mayoclinic.com convinced me I didn’t have NPD nor any major personality disorder.  All I have is somewhat elevated levels of vanity by British standards, but relatively normal levels of it for an American.  And just because most hours of the day I tend to be preternaturally confident when many people around me aren’t, doesn’t make me a narcissist.

Damn.

True narcissists are delusional.  When I say that there are a lot of narcissists around here, it’s because Hollywood attracts people who really do have NPD.  It’s what makes this “Hollyweird.”  Like all completely or partially insane people, their inner Lacanian mirrors are cracked or warped, as I believe Galliano’s might be, even though it would be up to his shrink to diagnose him, not some blogist who caused him to be spanked one night seven years ago in Paris.

Having said all that, it’s time for me to admit I don’t really fancy myself the gay Hugh Hefner, as I’ve stated in earlier postings.  It just sounded sensational. I’m not even sure I like his baby oil regimen, which I was inspired to try after that NY Times article about him; I feel more leathery, not less.  Actually, I feel parchmenty.

George Clooney's neck wattle, which makes him the straight James Killough.

What I really delude myself as being is the gay George Clooney.  This is not just because both he and I are getting sexier as we get older; although, truth be told, anything is sexier than when I was a tall, lanky, out-of-shape youngster.  The main reason I am the gay Clooney is because we both have the same drooping wattle folds between our chins and necks.  I noticed his the other day while watching The American.  I am a bit younger than Clooney, so I just have one wattle, which is starting to come in like a wisdom tooth.  No doubt it will be joined by another soon, and I’ll be more like Clooney than ever.  They’ll be my wisdom wattles.

I don’t know if Clooney does anything to his face, if he botoxes or fills in wrinkles.  I don’t intend to, even though my sister thinks I should inject something in the accordion action happening around my neck.  Nah.  Just cover the mirrors, people, cos I’m going out like Eastwood, making movies and lookin’ like a Shar Pei puppy.

I shall leave you today not with a celebrity tit picture, we’ve moved on from those, but with a joke a young friend just shared with me via text.

Question: If Marilyn Monroe were alive right now, what would she be doing?

Answer: Clawing at her coffin.

Apparently that is from Chuck Palahniuk.

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Go Out There and Be Funny

Today we have the post-mortem of the Oscars, which is only interesting to the kind of people who still read the newspaper in paper form, and to people like me who are left baffled, and require some sort of grief counseling.  Truth be known, I’ve only ever been completely satisfied with an Oscar ceremony once, and that was the year The Last Emperor won.  I was just smitten with that film.  I was lucky to be a magazine editor at the time, so I booked myself and my friends into countless screenings of the film, and championed it ardently wherever I could.  Clearly I identified with the poor, misunderstood boy emperor who floated around a gilded cage swathed in silk to a score by Ryuichi Sakamoto, lit by Vittorio Storaro.

James Franco butching it up in an impression of Marilyn Monroe that really wasn't as funny as Anne Hathaway pretended. The fact he played it like a frat bro in drag was disappointing.

So let’s analyze the analysis of last night’s ceremony by the grown ups of news, the New York Times.  Alessandra Stanley says that the”The producers cast the young stars James Franco and Anne Hathaway as hosts, then kept the writing old and hoary,” which sounded like a personal comment directed at me and my love life.  Franco and Hathaway were almost show-stoppingly nervous and downright bad right at the beginning just after that brilliant Inception mash-up video they did with Alec Baldwin and Nelson Mandela.  That video was the highlight of the evening, along with the Bob Hope hologram with portions of an old broadcast, which as the NY Times pointed out, underscored just how lame the writing for last night’s show really was.  I do not agree that Kirk Douglas merely “did his best,” as the Times says; it’s the first time in my life I actually liked the guy.

This is the James Franco in drag we know and love, for the cover of trannie magazine Candy, photo by Terry Richardson.

The big upset was David Fincher’s loss.  I couldn’t help but hear the words of a director friend of mine, “Harvey Weinstein is truly evil.”  Indeed, after what happened last night, with a decent but insipid film like King’s Speech upsetting the far more accomplished Social Network, one can only think that Harvey has pulled off the ultimate impossible financing deal and re-mortgaged his soul to the devil.  And this is just when I’d thought the devil had had enough of Harvey and had moved on to my landlady Susan Blais.

Bringing this all back to to the subject of me, watching Franco and Hathaway clash like oil over water – he basically flipped the finger to the Academy with his attitude, treating them to what his generation really thinks about this crap, while she ran off in the opposite direction and sucked up to the establishment — reminded me of the one time I have ever experienced a large-scale televised awards thing like this, which was when I hosted the Miss India Pageant in 1993.  As I like to say, it is something every American should do once in his lifetime.

The reason I was cast as the host is ridiculous in the first place.  A friend of mine was co-producing it, and as this was the first time India was televising the event, they wanted it to look as professional as possible, which meant having an American white man do it.  This was at a time when India was still reinventing herself and feeling insecure about being Indian, so hiding behind an American — a native New Yorker, no less, who was spoon-fed bravado from when he could barely stand in his crib — seemed like a good idea.  In principle.  I had begun my film career in India, see, and had lingered for long enough to start to speak Hindi, which meant I could pronounce the names with some degree of accuracy (linguistically speaking, Hindi has some tricky consonant groupings, and if you aren’t spoon-fed them in your crib, they are very difficult to pronounce).

The producers’ biggest mistake was thinking that, because they thought I looked like David Letterman, I would be funny.  This was typical racial profiling as practiced by non-whites: they think we all look alike.  No white person would every mistake me for Letterman, especially a white comedian.  Just because I liked to lounge around Mumbai on a Rajasthani divan high on opium and ganja, shredding my world with acerbic alacrity didn’t mean I was ready for the level of impromptu comedy that would soon be required of me, in front of over a billion people across Asia, from the Middle East to Hong Kong.

Four days before rehearsals were meant to begin for the pageant, thirteen bombs exploded in different places Mumbai, a mini-9/11.

The Mumbai Stock Exchange after the March, 1993 blasts

One of the targets was the Centaur Hotel, a well-intentionally designed structure that looks like the prow of a beached ocean liner in Juhu, which fortuitously rhymes with Malibu because that’s sort of what it is in relation to the rest of Mumbai geographically; i.e., it’s up the coast from the main city and is a well-to-do enclave. The comparisons stop right there, though.  This is India, so Juhu is plenty funky, and at the time the Centaur Hotel was a complete shithole, albeit classified as a 5-star shithole by the Indian government because, of course, it was run by the Indian government.  I say was a complete shithole because I noticed in Slumdog Millionaire that it was closed for business and being renovated; it’s that abandoned hotel the heroes hide out in for a while.  I’m glad it has (hopefully) been brought up to it’s potential; I always thought that architecturally it was a great concept.

The Miss India pageant was supposed to take place in the bombed-out Centaur, so naturally I assumed that the show would be cancelled or at the very least postponed.  Not at all.  There are a handful of countries that take their pageants very seriously; in places like India, Venezuela and Puerto Rico, it is like the women’s World Series.  The show would go on, even though most of the entire ground floor of the hotel was blasted out.  Not to be outshone, I decided on going, what the hell, it’s a lark, so I packed my bravado, copped some Xanax for those post-large-scale-terrorism-attack willies combined with stage fright (we all know those), and hopped on a plane from Delhi to Mumbai for rehearsals.

When I got there, I noticed they were constructing this massive runway down the middle of the Olympic-sized pool in the center of the hotel right down to the beach.  I could see them building it from my room on the top floor of the hotel.  It was in the shape of a Byzantine double crucifix.  I came to think of that as symbolic over the upcoming days.

The inner courtyard of the Centaur Juhu Hotel, showing my pool of doom, over which the catwalk was built. My room was on the top floor, center, right hand side. The entire ground floor was blackened from the blast that had ripped through the hotel shortly before we started rehearsals.

Just after I checked in, I was sitting in my room catching up with a friend of mine, Milind Soman, a male model turned actor, with whom I had shared another adventure a few years earlier, during which he proved himself to be one of the few real stand-up guys I have ever met in my life.  New Yorkers would call him a mensch.  While we were catching up, the phone rang.

“Is this James Killough?”

“Yes.”

“There’s a bomb under your bed,” said the caller, clearly not the hospitality desk welcoming me to the hotel and making sure everything was all right.  Now, you would think given what had just happened across Mumbai that I would get up and bolt from the room.  But for some reason, maybe trying to impress mensch-of-mensches Milind sitting opposite me, I just looked under the bed and replied, “No, there isn’t.”

“Then you are a target the night of the performance,” said the caller, and hanged up.

Milind Soman, whom I sadly haven't seen in a donkey's age, but I'm pleased to see he's now the spokesman for Just For Men, which I use on my beard, but I would use on my hair if I had enough.

Much as I would have liked to ignore the call, the sensible thing to do was to tell the producers, given that this was a climate akin to post-9/11 New York.  The whole production was instantly put under lockdown, and we weren’t allowed to go outside hotel for any reason.  And we were three days or so away from the main performance.  I was assured there would now be elite force snipers covering me from the roof and a Black Cat commando embedded every fifth person in the sizable audience for good measure.  Great.  Suddenly I felt like was really the host of the Miss Israel Pageant taking place on the Gaza Strip.

Indians are nothing if not expert reassurers.  It’s that sway of the head, the “no problem, don’t worry,” their charm.  You buy it every time no matter how long you’ve lived there, no matter how well you speak the language.  Why?  Because they themselves buy it.

I was promised a rehearsal, but didn’t get one the entire three or four days leading up to the performance, during which I basically twiddled my thumbs in my room.  I was this afterthought who was somehow going to wing it with a script I had written.  I was invincible, I didn’t need what mere mortal performers needed,  because I was David Letterman. Everyone else scurried around, the girls going off to swimsuit contests and shopping sprees and congeniality competitions and other Miss Country things, while the crew frantically tried to prepare for an event they had never staged this on this level before.  Again, this was the first time the Miss India Pageant was to be televised.

In case you didn't get the point, I shall belabor it. Another scene from the Mumbai blasts shortly before the Miss India pageant.

As my crucifix runway was being built, the backdrop went up as well.  It turned out to be an enormous peacock, from which I was to emerge at the beginning of the show and make my way down this sweeping staircase.  Just like Liberace.

Ugh.  I was pre-embarrassed for myself.   The Xanax stopped working.  Rudderless, rehearsal-less, increasingly nervous, I snuck out of the hotel to the house of one of the pageant judges next door, an actress with whom I had worked on the first film I ever wrote, which had brought me to India in the first place.  The judge wasn’t there, but her willfully insouciant sister was.

“What are you worried about?” the sister said breezily, as if being forced to perform for two hours in front of a billion people across Asia (in rerun) without a rehearsal, with snipers on the roof, commandos in the audience, K-9 bomb squad dogs behind stage and around it — a stage crowned by a peacock I would emerge from like some burlesque fan dancer, no less — when you have never done anything remotely like this in your life, and you only got the gig because of erroneous racial profiling, weren’t enough to justify a wee case of the jitters.  “The contest is rigged anyway,” she yawned. “Everyone knows that.  Just relax.”

Oh, great.  Thanks, friend’s sister.  Now I have to be the spokesperson for petty pageant corruption on top of everything else.

I am not a quiet, retiring type.  If something bothers me, I’m gonna let you know.  And I was getting pissed as hell.  Still, I was lulled into the usual reassurance with the swaying heads, and lots of “What rubbish!  Of course it’s not rigged!”  As proof, there was going to be a terminal in my podium that would be linked directly to the judges and their voting tabulation.  Furthermore, this terminal would act as a sort of teleprompter for my script.  My friend’s sister had to be wrong.

Indian Army Black Cat Commandos bouncing around. Yes, I willingly put my life in their hands, all in the name of beauty pageant.

I’ll never know what happened in the hour leading up to the performance to cause the mysterious malfunction of the judge’s voting tabulation system linked to the terminal in my podium, which likewise didn’t work.  Maybe the judges rebelled against the rigging and couldn’t be trusted to vote the right way.  Given what happened at the end of the performance, I would like to imagine that something like that happened, that my friends and colleagues had had a crisis of conscience, as I still have.  I’ve never spoken to them about it because I fled in such a hurry and returned to Bombay only years later.

Just before the performance began and my name was announced, before I emerged from the embarrassingly camp peacock, with snipers overhead, a throng of models and contestants backstage, and nausea in my stomach, I said to the stage manager, whom I shall call Deepak to protect the complicit, “How the fuck am I supposed to do this reading from a script I haven’t rehearsed?”

“Don’t worry,” he said.  “Just go out there and be funny.”

The 1993 Miss India Pageant wasn’t just rigged in a subtle way, it was a full-blown 18-sail-ship rigging in plain view of everyone in the audience, the contestants, judges, and me, its spokesperson.  The show wasn’t broadcast live, but it was still difficult to mask what happened in the final edit that was shown to over a billion people across Asia, in rerun.

The first hiccup occurred towards the last third.  There was something strange going on in the manual relay of information between the judges and me, which lead me to accidentally read out the real semi-finalists they had actually voted for, not what the producers wanted, which meant that one of the girls, who would of course go on to win second place, was accidentally eliminated.  We had to go back and redo that portion of the show, and eliminate the girl who was supposed to have won, whose name I had already read out, who had mistakenly celebrated a victory that was likely hers to begin with.

In the heat of the moment, I still had time to muster moral indignation — the unfairly eliminated girls, who like me had refused to believe the rumors of rigging, were sobbing backstage — and turned to Deepak when I was offstage for a moment in the wings, “It’s rigged!”

“So what,” he replied with a shrug.  “You’re doing a great job.  Keep going.”

Despite everything, I suppose I had managed to locate my inner David Letterman and was actually managing to be humorous.  No longer.  I wasn’t amused and was seriously contemplating walking off.

Just before the end, I was given a note in handwriting I recognized, James, Please read these names out, and it was signed, the Judges. And the names of three girls who should have won were there, not the names of the three who ended up with crowns on their heads.  Had I read the real winners out, they would simply have made me go back and redo it, and I was tired of this shit.  What had started out as a fun lark had turned into yet another Mumbai nightmare.

Namrata Shirodkar, the woman crowned as Miss India, but who probably wasn't the real winner.

Now, maybe this was an elaborate set-up, we will never know.  Maybe that wasn’t really a note from the judges, but like I said, I had worked with two of them for a long time, and knew a few of the others.  And I had been warned by almost everyone that the show was going to be rigged and that the girl who was crowned, Namrata Shirodkar, was going to win it, which I just refused to believe possible.

I left that note on the podium, along with the microphone I threw down in disgust once the lights cut and the cameras were off.  On my way out, I said to Deepak, “I’m not going to say anything about this, but I want cash, and you can pay the taxes,” and left on the 1 a.m. Air India flight back to Delhi.  They did pay me a month later over a Thai meal in Delhi, in cash, literally under the table.  I hope they paid the taxes.  After all, the organizers and producers of the event were none other than the venerable Times of India.

Well, after telling that story, I’m not sure it’s appropriate to insert my signature picture of Amanda Seyfried’s breast.  So I’ll leave you with a more chaste picture of her having an orgasm instead:

Amanda Seyfried having an orgasm while looking at her lesbian lover's shoes in "Chloe." (Oh come, all ye pervy keyword searchers! Join me!) This orgasm is distinct from the one enjoyed by Julianne Moore in an earlier scene, when Julianne was being fingered by Amanda. In this one, Amanda is having sex with Julianne's character's teenaged son. The film is kinda filthy if you think about it, not when you watch it, though.

And the video below isn’t funny at all.  I take back what I said about John Galliano having been provoked in my blog a couple of days ago. I apologize for it, and it certainly doesn’t look like anyone from my crew is going to be offering him work soon, even if he were inclined to do it.  I take Galliano’s passing on doing the costumes for Hatter a few years ago at its word and cease and desist from further endeavor to convince him otherwise.

“Bonjour, Jean-Paul?  It’s me, James …”

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A Man Snogging A Girl’s Breast

The title of this post comes from a search term that showed up on my WordPress Dashboard, which as I mentioned in yesterday’s post I am addicted to for the time being.  Some British titty-phile wanted to see a man macking on a girl’s boob, and found my blog. All I can say is, bless the very horny, for they perpetuate the race.

I should just rename this entire blogsite Filthy and Filthier and drop the Pure Film Creative pretense.  I am clearly no longer concerned with attracting clients who are going to pay me vast sums to jazz up their content, which is typically cavalier and short-sighted of me.  It seems I would rather sit here cackling like Liberace on E while I tinkle out mildly offensive caustic badinage that is entirely inappropriate as a writing sample.  Oh, well.

Can you believe this man ever existed? Not only that, but led a double life as Elton John? These are the kinds of aliens who brand gays as "flaming." I am glad that Soderbergh is doing the bio-pic. Not so glad Michael Douglas is playing the lead because he's a bit of a dick who chews with his mouth open, although he seems to have changed his spots since the cancer scare.

Every decade or so, a sentence leaps out at me in some random article I am reading that changes my life.  I like to think of this as a manifestation of my personal karmic wheels grinding and showing me The Way, albeit an M.C. Escher-esque way; my life is nothing but karmic wheel cogs twisting impossibly on each other, with medieval men in tights and hoodies marching up and down stairs that seem interconnected but are really just illusions.

A case in point was an article in People magazine way back in 1986 that described the tragic death of Olivia Channon, a Guinness cousin.  She ODed on heroin and too many cocktails called “Heaven Can Wait” in Gottfried von Bismarck’s dorm room at Oxford.  People described the cocktail as a mixture in equal portions of vodka, champagne and orange juice.  I immediately went out and tried this elixir, and it worked: it was the pre-Red Bull buzzy-fun cocktail that got you raucously drunk as opposed to woozy drunk.  I think it  must have been the massive sugar rush of orange juice and champagne combined with the alcohol.  I drank Heaven Can Waits until the budget ran out, and then drank them again when the budget came back.  I’ve always thought it was the best use for champagne, no matter how expensive the brand.

Count von Bismarck, in whose bed my cocktail muse Olivia Channon died, fully clothed because apparently she just passed out there; Gottfried was a homo. More precisely, he was described in his own recent obit as "a pleasure-seeking heroin addict, hell-raising alcoholic, flamboyant waster and a reckless and extravagant host of homosexual orgies." Man after my own heart. It appears that 24 years after Olivia kicked the bucket in his bed, he ODed on heroin, too. See the things you find out when you Google Image?

More or less the same epiphany thing happened the other day when I read the New York Times article about Hugh Hefner.  So inspiring.  Apparently, he has kept his skin so soft and youthful by slathering it with baby oil.  It is said by his concubines that he glows in the dark as a result.  My life changed at that moment.  Heaven could wait no longer.  I needed to become a baby oil man just like Hef.

Even though I fancy myself the gay Hugh Hefner, I don't want that chair. The chick can stay if she's really funny.

Los Angeles is basically an artificially irrigated  desert.  Much as I admire Clint Eastwood and, like many middle-aged still-hopefuls, aspire to his late-life career, I don’t want my skin to look like a dusty vintage stuffed armadillo sitting in the back of an antiques store in Midland, Texas.  Nor do I have the finances that Madonna has to embalm myself every night in super-refined petroleum byproducts like an Ancient Egyptian Queen rehearsing for the hereafter.  So baby oil it has become, once in the morning, once before bed.  Tiny amounts of it, of course; I don’t want to seem too greasy.  But I have already started glowing.  By the time I am ready for my nieces to change my Depends, a prospect I love to tease them with, I intend to have become the infant Pitt in the first scenes of “Benjamin Button.”

Speaking of aging eccentrics, the world of fashion is aflame and agog for the first time since McQueen’s suicide with the news of John Galliano’s suspension from the House of Dior.  He got into some smack-down spat in a café in the Marais, Paris.  They called him ugly, he called them Jews or Asians, or maybe he was so drunk he mistook Asians for Jews, nobody is sure which.  I’ve only met the man briefly, but we were both very drunk, so it seems incredible to me that he wasn’t massively provoked.  At the risk of sounding like a complete nancy, no matter what John looks like on the outside, there is nothing ugly about a man who produces such breathtaking beauty.

The feral rake-hell John Galliano holding a lethal weapon.

If and when Hatter gets going again as a play next season in London, I will go back to John to ask him to design the costumes.  When it was a film with me directing, he turned me down on the grounds he wanted creative control.  We still met in Paris at the couture shows in 2003 (yes, we’ve been in development with Hatter that long) and had the aforementioned very funny, very inebriated evening together.  Or I thought it was funny; I’ve been dining out on the story ever since.  It involves a six-foot-five, 21-year-old German kid and some spanking.  If he and I don’t work together, which is likely, I’ll blog the story at a later date, again in conjunction with the production of Hatter. So be warned, John: either do the costumes or I’m spilling the beans. [Fuck that shit.  I take all of that back.  I hope I’ve made up for it in this post.]

Now that I’ve peppered this blog with ramblings about eccentric old queens, let me stop calling the kettle African-American and jump into the fray with my own pic, which will get added to Google Image searches of me:

This picture was taken of me, James Killough (need to put the name in for Google bots) three years ago by fashion blogger Pippa Brooks from Madame Says. Note that even blurry you can see my skin is heading for stuffed armadillo in Midland, Texas. And this was three years ago. The benefit of slathering myself with baby oil is not just that I'll look and smell like Hugh Hefner when I'm 85, but when you take a picture of me in a crowded, smoky pub like this again, the flash will reflect so intensely off my shiny head that my face will appear blasted out.

And a big shout-out (Christ, I hate that expression) to my new buddy Old Ancestor, who has left a couple of lust-riddled comments to the right of this column.  Because this particular blog ended up kind of homo sordidus, I thought I’d straighten things up a bit by taking a screen shot of Amanda Seyfried’s “side boob,” as Peter from Family Guy calls it.  Here you go, Old Ancestor buddy.  My regards to your wife:

Amanda Seyfried's breasts have become my entire raison d'être on WordPress. I need to collect every pixel I can that showcases those lovely billies, until this blog rivals Huffington Post. "Killough sells blog based on Seyfried breast for $350 million." Yes!

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Shameless SEO

First, an image for this post that isn’t at all relevant to the subject, my mood or anything in particular:

Duane Michael's Spirit

I’ve always liked this image.  I pop it into treatments and presentations whenever I can.  Sort of sums me up in a way.  Sums me up sometimes.  If you turned it upside down, it would sum me up the rest of the time.  I would like to say it represents how I feel after three days on a cleansing retreat in silent meditation, but it’s more like how I feel after three days on something else.

It’s all about search engine optimization (SEO) for me these days, facing the beast, trying to figure it out. It’s one of the reasons I’m writing this blog on behalf of my little company, Pure Film Creative (note I insert a link in there so crawling robots can comb through the matrix and find it, and somehow I magically rise in Googlelandia; the company is currently on some triple digit page way beyond the reach of the <Next> button on the right of Google search results, so far away from the top that if you don’t know exactlywho I am and what I do, forget it, you’ll never find me).

Wait, here, let me do another link-plug for MY PORTFOLIO.  Okay, that’s better.

So it’s all about being shameless about increasing your SEO, or you’re nobody.  Gone are the days of hiding behind my Persols and being subtle while I turn pink sitting at a restaurant table, belching through Hangover Number 8, at the Cannes Film Festival; and not turning pink because of the sun, but because of all the fucking rosé I’ve consumed since I’ve been at this useless, loud, depressing intra-vaganza.  I’m too fucking broke for for subtlety now.  I need to be on TOP of Google, baby!

I know, I’m really late to this game.  How will this blog ever be found in a stack of close to 700,000 other blogs?  I have no clue, but never give up, never surrender.

Speaking of which, my favorite new accessory for Winter 2011 — now my third winter of this dreadful Recession, yes, I started early — is the charm bracelet of clichés and platitudes (if that isn’t redundant) that you get as a reward when you’re whining about your miserable life with your favorite Agony Aunt: “Hang on in there … it’s all for a reason … there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.”  I’m writing the full charm bracelet on the memo portion of my rent check from now on.

I was Skyping with a writer/filmmaker friend in Canadia (yes, I’ve misspelled it on purpose), who has tons of work because the Canadian government subsidizes their industry; as long as you can write a bit of decent dialogue and can splice two images together, you’ve got work.  I wrote, “Hope is like heroin: it changes reality; makes the future look rosy when it isn’t; it is extremely addictive and the sooner you give it up, the better.”  I do feel much better and stronger since I gave up hope for Summer 2010 and stopped imagining a brighter future.  Finally, things seem to be happening.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not all doom and gloom, not in the least.  This is all typed with a hearty, demented, end-of-your-tether Liberace smile.  The fact is, like so many people I’ve had some shitty luck, especially recently (Christ, you should get a load of my psycho landlady, Susan Blais … more about her later), but I’ve also been intensely blessed in this life.  Will it continue? Who knows.  But I can definitely die tomorrow, meet my Maker and say, “Thanks, bro.  That was awesome.”

Well, that was a ramble off on a tangent.  I went from SEO, to Google, to the glut of blogs to the hopelessness of hope.  I am proud.

Back to SEO and web content. I signed up with a really cool company today, or at least they seem to be cool.  Basically, it’s sort of an online temp agency for content writers called InteractMedia.  I was asked to write a sample of text for a web page, which they went off and reviewed and then came back with a test score, and I seem to have scored the highest for a newbie.  (Beating my drum! Can you hear me, Google?)  InteractMedia is still in its beta phase, but it is super well-managed and organized.  As we know, it’s all about web content for writers now, especially ones with an entertainment background, like yours truly.  As the film world shrinks, the internet expands.  So, yes, hang on in there, it’s all for a reason, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.

I’m really liking this blogging thing.  It’s almost as addictive as hope.

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Monkey Monday

I’m not sure why I’ve named this post that way.  I was staring at the screen when gratuitous alliteration just flew right in my face and out through my fingers.  I’ll try for gratuitous assonance tomorrow.

Here’s my image for the day, because no post should go naked:

James and Rain on set

That’s me and my creative partner Rain Li our first night shooting together, on location at the Tate Britain.  Awwwww.  During the first take, she held my sweaty hand.  Awwwwwwwww.  I found the pic floating around some dusty folder in a forgotten corner of my hard drive, so I got it out and posted it.  Looks as good as new.  Note how she has cheekbones and I have more hair on my cheeks than my head.

Met with a potential new client today, a criminal defense attorney who is looking for someone to do his advertising copy, layouts, web content, the works for very little, of course.  He’s one of these handsome, improbably glib guys who is a guest legal expert on TV, commenting on high-profile cases.  His office was in Beverly Hills … well, right on the border of Not-Beverly-Hills-Any-More.  It seems nobody over the age of 23 works there, even though he’s in his early 50s, maybe, I’m guessing; nobody in or around that zip code/fault line looks his age.  He says he gets 2,000 calls a month from people who have been arrested.  That’s staggering.  I told him to stop nickle-and-diming me over my fee and show me some of that green if he expected me to bring in even more arrestees with my superlative copy and sparkling layouts.  To be honest, this is the sort of thing I love, the kind of advertising work I would frame if given the opportunity.  These are like the ads that Dr. Zizmor, Dermatologist, has been hammering us with on subway cars in New York for 25 years: badly, randomly chosen, garish colors; indifferent copy; troglodyte typeface and layout.  Screamin’-at-ya cheap.  And as if by a miracle of self-inflicted preservation, Dr. Zizmor himself never ages, mainly because it’s exactly the same ad as the one from 25 years ago.  This is the sort of bizarre gig that I’d take on now just for the anecdote later.  And genuinely love doing it.

After Mr. Criminal Defense told me how much he was willing to pay for all this advertising — you just know this dude has some swank, hyper-modernist spread in the Hills with a glittering diamond view of LA and a vanishing-edge pool that will trigger an existential crisis just looking at it — and I had chuckled away a lump of random rib cartilage rising in my esophagus (why had I come all the way out to Not-Beverly-Hills-Any-More on the bus for this?), he asked me if I ghostwrite books.

“Hell, yeah,” I replied.  I finished ghostwriting the first 10,000 words of a Young Adults novel two weeks ago and had such a great time that I had bad separation anxiety after I handed it in and they said, “Right, good job, you can piss off now.”  I tried in vain to get the full gig writing the whole book.  I had a blast.  I was sitting there typing and laughing like Liberace banging out the Turkish March on the piano while high on E and methamphetamine.  I was sorry it was over. So anything this guy wanted to propose, I was in, just to get my ghostwriting fix back.

“I need a book on the Top 10 Celebrity Crimes of all time,” Criminal Defense said.

Christ.  I’ve seen that program a hundred times on a hundred different channels — VH1, E!, Extra, etcetera.  OK, maybe not a hundred, but enough.  “It’s a prop,” he added.  “Something for me to hold up when I’m on TV like I’m the expert.  You just Google the information about the cases and rewrite it.”

Just like that.

We then started haggling about the price for that, too.  He wanted to pay a fifth of what I could bare-minimum do it for, if I weren’t so hungry for work, that is.  “It’s a prop,” he repeated.  I told him that in that case we could just print up a bunch of pages with “Lorem Ipsum” dummy text, slap a picture of OJ Simpson snogging Lindsay Lohan on the cover and, presto! Dummy book to hold up on NBC Nightly News.  “No, it has to be real,” he admitted.  My inner plaintiff rested.

Weather in LA today: paradise continues.  There was a bit of cloud cover this morning.  I thought it might get interesting, but no.  Sunny, high around 70.  Luckily a cool wind picked up because I only had a heavy sport jacket to wear to the interview, the lighter one being at the cleaners, the other lighter one being a wrinkled mess, and not being wrinkled in a cool, meaningful, linen-ish way.  Wrinkled as in the lapels look cranky and geriatric.

 


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