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By Terry Southern
OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIACopyright © 1970 Terry Southern
All rights reserved.
"THEN SHE SAYS, now dig this, she says ..." and he broke up laughing, a strange, rasping laugh, for maybe the fourth time since he started what was shaping up as an interminable story, "... she says: 'Listen, who do I have to fuck to get off this picture?!?'" And he began his final laugh, his boss laugh, the kind that quickly, smoothly, turns into a monstro cough. The way some people always laugh till they cry, he would always laugh till he coughed. In many respects though, he was considered quite a grand guy, tops in his field, etcetera, etcetera—and about seven people listening to the story either laughed or coughed along with him. Actually, what he was was a curious kind of opportunistic film-producer—Sid Krassman his name, a hairy, chunklike man—at ease in every B-phase of the medium, from Girls of the Night to Tamerlaine, "just so long as it puts some flour in the barrel," as he was a bit too fond of saying. "Put this in the barrel, you crooked cocksucker!" was an occasional riposte on the part of certain outrageously deceived participants in his projects, as they delivered a terrific straight right to his mouth, followed by a whirlwind flurry of chopping blows to the head and shoulders.
"Hurt me?" Sid would reply with a sly grin when queried later about the quality of the attack. "Sure it hurt me—ha, ha, I cried all the way to the bank!"
Among those who took advantage of the terminal-type cough to steal away to a more active, and less demanding, corner of the party was Les Harrison—handsome, forty-three-year-old vice-prez of Metropolitan pix, whose father more or less owned the studio. Les, or as he was more often called, "the Rat-Prick" (tonal emphasis being on the word "Rat"—so that it was pronounced "Rat Prick"), had had quite enough of this "compulsive loser," and simply shook the loose ice cubes in his glass as he stood to indicate, noblesse oblige, that be needed a refill.
Sid stared after him, almost wistfully, as though he felt he'd really blown it, since in his heart of hearts he had hoped to show Les that a certain Sid Krassman possessed some kind of secret knowledge, something that could hold seven people spellbound, or at least speechless, for seven minutes. By analogy and extension, this could apply to a seven-million-dollar picture, which Les was capable of springing for. So Sid was somewhat brought down by the departure.
Among those who remained, however—less out of volition than lethargy and a supremely invulnerable detachment—was Boris. "Boris," "B.," "King B.," as he was variously known, was a film director, and he was the best in the biz. Of his last ten films, seven had won the Golden Lion at Cannes, the Golden Palm at Venice, and whatever other festive and critical acclaim one might think of. Besides this they were all smash at the box. The genius, beauty (and hard-ticket appeal) of his work was so striking and undeniable that it had finally penetrated even the bone bugbrow of Hollywood itself. So that his two most recent pictures had copped the coveted Oscar—and, in short, he was swinging. Except that by now he was very tired. He had seen too much, though he was only thirty-four, and yet he had not seen what he was looking for. He had made twenty pictures—all of them dealing with the three things no one understood. Each of the films was completely different, and yet, to him, they were somehow all the same—like chapters in a fantastic soap opera that can never be finished because the end has not been written. The films were concerned with (what in his interviews he occasionally referred to as) the "Big Three," or in lighter moments, the "Wig Tree": Death ... Infinity ... and the Origin of Time. These posed interesting questions all right—though his ceaseless inquiry had often earned him nothing more than the dubious sobriquet of "dirty creep," "Commie fag," and especially from the panicked Hollywood contingent, "crazy ass-hole," but, much worse still, the ineffectualness (in his own mind) of the films had exhausted him. He felt that his delving, his probes, had come to nothing—a glimpse here, a glimmer there, a startling 600-millimeter shot into a fathomless crevice of absurd wonder—but nothing to go ape about, although he was surrounded by people who did just that. And now, for the last two years, he had been profoundly idle—not even reading books, much less anything from the deluge of scripts that arrived daily at an office he never visited.
Although he was thought of as a "director," he was really a filmmaker—in the tradition of Chaplin, Bergman, Fellini—an artist whose responsibility for his work was total, and his control of it complete. In certain instances, however, despite his acclaim, his films had met interference. Movie houses had been closed in Des Moines, in Albuquerque, in Temple, Texas ... and in the staunch little Catholic town of Chabriolet, France, there was a warrant out for his arrest. "Obscene," "indecent," "immoral," "pornographic" were the charges. The studio chuckled, of course—what did they care about a handful of red-neck religious-nut hunkies ("They're whackin' off to it, fer Chrissake!") in the general world market—but it gave the B. curious pause. In the idleness of his past two years he had sat still for the showing of several so-called stag-films, and had found them so pathetically disgusting, so wholly lacking in either eroticism or conscious humor that now he occasionally wondered if this wasn't, in a deeper sense, true of his own work. He was thinking of this at the moment, not hearing Sid Krassman, whose stories he already knew too well, when their hostess, the incredible Teeny Marie, beckoned him with an elaborate wink and a lascivious smile, followed by rounding her glistening lips, inserting two fingers and pumping them vigorously in and out with great slurping sounds, while allowing her eyes to roll back wildly in a monstrous simulation of ecstasy. The sheer grotesquerie and unexpectedness of this vignette caused the cute starlet who was talking to Les Harrison nearby to drop her mouth agape and turn away. "What in God's name was that?" she whispered in urgent alarm. But Les only chuckled. "Why that's our delightful hostess," he said, taking the nifty by the arm. "Come on, we'll get her to drop on you."
"Huh?" she said, going all wide-eyed and suspicious. A pretty girl had to be very careful at one of these Malibu bashes.
Teeny Marie. Actually her name was Tina Marie, but this had gradually altered into the endearing diminutive, mainly because of her childish, indeed almost birdlike, delicacy. A scant seventy-eight pounds she weighed, and a reedy four feet nine she stood—when standing, which was not too often, since she mostly seemed to crouch, to spring, to slither ... to move with a weird crippled-animal grace, which may seem all the more remarkable, or perhaps more understandable, when considered against her infirmities. For truth to tell, she was a rather artificial person; inventory-wise, from tip to toe, and in rough chronology, it was like this: severe malaria as a child had made her totally hairless; carcinoma had taken her breasts; and finally she had lost a leg, her left, in an auto crash outside Villefranche-sur-Mer, and an eye, her right, during an incredible "dart-fight" in a Soho pub. What was one hundred percent true, pure, and all her, however, was her mouth. And her mouth was boss beauty; her lips were like young Rita Hayworth's—a composite of Hayley Mills and Muhammad Ali; and her teeth were the ones used in the "Plus White" commercials—perfect. Small wonder then that Teeny Marie, in over-comp for real and imagined inadequacies, should develop an oral orientation and a vivaciousness, which was, in combination with her one fantastic eye ablaze, quite astonishing to behold.
B. managed a smile of genuine, if somewhat wan, bemusement. On an occasion several years ago, in a moment of morbid curiosity he had actually gone to bed with Teeny Marie, to observe her in disassembly. Now the image returned: she hobbling wildly around the room, scrambling about like an eccentrically wounded creature, tiny bald head glistening, child's scrawny chest, a flat surface of scar tissue, her detached limb held outthrust in front of her to simulate an outlandish phallus, teeth blazing in a surrealistic grimace of hilarity, and shrieking at the top of her voice: "Put the wood to me, B!"
Now, as she jostled her way through the guests, administering a goose here and a pinch there, Les Harrison attempted to intercept her and introduce her to the cutie-pie starlet. "Teeny!" he shouted, twisting his face into the same mocking nightmare mask of ecstasy as her own, "for Christ's fucking sake you've simply got to meet my Miss Pilgrim! She's very keen to give you some head!"
Miss Pilgrim blushed terrifically and turned her wide eyes up in exasperation and annoyance. "Oh really, Lester!"
"All right, Teeny," he continued impatiently, ignoring the nifty, "come on now, show us your thing!"
But there was no delaying Teeny Marie; she darted past them toward B., only pausing to throw one frozen smile of exaggerated insanity at the couple, demanding gaily: "My thing? Which one?!?"
She reached the cluster around B. and Sid Krassman just as the latter was concluding another studio story of questionable taste—this time detailing the persistent theft of panties, dance belts, leotards, body stockings, etcetera, from the dressing room of a certain celebrated beauty—the precious garments then being returned with the reinforced and highly absorbent crotch crudely torn out. After all manner of security measures had been thwarted ("obviously an inside job" quipped Sid with a coughing guffaw), the girl was persuaded to let the all-important section of the articles be tinctured with strychnine—the end result being that a complicated Crowd-and-Crane sequence was suddenly disrupted when an obscure electrician, known simply as "Al, the Pal," plummeted headlong from a sixty-foot catwalk above the set, crashing in the midst of it, his face purple with poison-seizure, his coarse member stout and spurting—a bit of beige and scalloped Danskin panel still protruding from foaming blue-black lips.
"Well, anyway," the actress had remarked (according to Sid), while dabbing at her great tear-filled eyes, "at least he wasn't no lousy fruit! Which is more than I can say for some of the creeps around here!" adding this last with a cross and narrow look at her own leading man—he whom the public regarded as a Don Juan of exceptional prowess.
As Sid completed his anecdote, Teeny Marie cavorted on the periphery of the small group, repeating her frantic suck-simulation and grimacing madly—to the distraction of one or two persons who didn't quite know where she was at, simply thinking of her as their gracious hostess—a bit eccentric perhaps, but a very important member of the Malibu film colony.
"Soirée cinématique!" she screeched at B. "Soirée du film blue!" And she gestured with elaborate urgency toward the part of the house where the projection room was.
"Hey, that's great, huh, B.?" said Sid, nudging Boris and grinning absurdly. "I ain't had a hard-on in two weeks!"
Boris nodded. "Terrific," he said, almost inaudibly.
The soirée cinématique was a series of typically nowhere, dumbbell stag-films—each about ten minutes long, with no plot, no sound, no credits, nothing. Ugly people in harsh, flat lighting, dominated by the same rear master-shot, or "monster-shot" as Sid kept shouting ("Hey, here comes the monster-shot! Pass the tissues!"), of some cretin's buttocks thrusting halfheartedly into a dopey girl's black-stockinged honey-pot—except somehow it looked more like a cesspool. The last one, however, was a cut above the others; it featured a well-known Texas stripper and was in full, if somewhat washed-out, color. The setting was a Beverly Hills swimming pool and there was even a vague attempt at plot—the sub-titles beginning: She (cheerfully): "Say, how about a dip?" He (suggestively): "I wouldn't mind dipping into you, baby!" Then cut to the water where they are swimming nude. Quick cut to him sitting on the edge of the pool, and her, still in the water, head half emerged, closed-eyed, avidly sucking him.
"Hey, the water sure looks cold!" shouted Sid with a raucous belch.
He (smiling): "We're going to have some fun, sister—now that I know how you like it!" Cut to the bedroom where he's throwing it to her in the same old dumbbell master-shot.
B. was annoyed at the waste. "How is it possible to make an attractive girl look that bad?" Sid pretended not to understand. "Attractive? You want that broad, you got her. Hey, Eddie!" Shouting for his real or imaginary assistant, who presumably would arrange for immediate transport, head, etcetera. Teeny, sensing malaise, rushed over, beckoning Boris and Sid to follow.
Of the twelve accessible bedrooms in the house (two more were locked) six had mirrors on the ceiling above the bed, and on the walls alongside it, and four others contained video-tape cameras, concealed in the walls at strategic positions. The two rooms which did not have hidden cameras had a compensating feature: the mirrors alongside the bed were Duolite glass, which can be seen through from the outside—the outside in this case being the two rooms that were locked. And it was to one of these rooms that the perfect hostess led them—herself in front, absurdly wide-eyed, a finger to her lips in exaggerated caution and stealth, tiptoeing, exactly like a little girl stealing down a corridor toward the pre-dawn Christmas tree.
She carefully unlocked the door and ushered them in, gesturing silence all the while, and bade them sit in Eames chairs facing a wall-size panel of glass, which proved to be the reverse side of a two-way mirror, against the bed in the adjacent room. Next, she unlocked a control-box, and flicked a switch inside it. There, at first like a mural, then as on a Panavision screen, with deep romantic back-lighting, were Les Harrison and two identical teeny-boppers, blond, sixteen, and cute as two buttons—in a posture of love-making perhaps better diagrammed than described. Les himself was lying flat on his back while the two girls sat facing each other astride him—one, with vage covering his member, the other with vage covering his mouth—while the girls themselves, sitting upright, were locked in what appeared to be a very passionate embrace, bodies and mouths fastened together like suction-cups. A curious tableau, almost a still-life, for at the moment they scarcely moved, just sitting there, as in some kind of extraordinary exotic tea ceremony. But then, still entwined in a deep, deep, closed-eyed kiss, two blond heads as one, they slowly began to writhe ... languorously, caressing each other, hands delicately tracing the contour of the face, neck, shoulders, breast, waist, stomach, thighs, of each, simultaneously. Because of their incredible resemblance, it was as though a girl were fondling her own image in a three-dimensional mirror. Narcissism at its nadir—and Les Harrison followed it closely in the glass ... the same glass through which he was being observed by the fun trio on the opposite side. This gave rise to a weird countenance on his part, because in order to observe, and yet not falter in his tongue-in-vage work, he was obliged to cast his eyes sideways in a manner which seemed both eccentric and grotesque.
In addition to the real, live visual image before them, there was also sound amplification of what was taking place in the room ... an amplification with such gain that the slightest move, sigh, or breath could not only be heard, but came across as a veritable scream of anguish or delight. One of the microphones was placed, in a unidirectional manner, at the foot and exact center of the bed, so that the actual viscosity of the thrust, the wet membrane friction of penis going in and out of mucous vage, could be heard in a way never heard before—at first even unrecognizable, but then of course, being in perfect sync and all, becoming quite unmistakable.
"Hey, that's some pickup," said Sid, never adverse to dropping a bit of expertise, "what is it, a Nagra Special?"
"Probably an A-R seventy," said Boris, "with a booster."
Sid nodded. "Jesus, listen to it! The sound of teeny-bopper pussy! There's no other sound like it!"
Excerpted from Blue Movie by Terry Southern. Copyright © 1970 Terry Southern. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
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