Copyright 2015 by Legs McNeil & Gillian McCain
Art by Ally Cat
This is a fun story I thought I’d pass on, since I’m staying in an old historic Hollywood haunt around the corner from where the Garden of Allah used to be, and down the street from the Chateau Marmont. Jimi Hendrix, Marlon Brando—and Chris Noth all used to live here. And Chris Noth is a guest star in the following piece that encapsulates my relationship with Gillian McCain, my writing partner and best friend for the last 25 years. Gillian has that magical quality of “mostly calm” in the middle of catastrophe. Besides keeping me sane, she is also one of the funniest people I’ve ever met.
So this is when I was living in Los Angeles and working on The Other Hollywood, my porn book with Peter Pavia and Jen Orborne. And I had to return a few times a year to New York and try and sell the damn thing. This story is about one of those times…
Even though I’m producing a three-hour television program on the porn industry for Court TV, I still can’t get a book deal. The publishing industries thinking is, “People who watch porn don’t want to read about it.” It’s the same thinking they used against us when we sold Please Kill Me, “People who listen to punk, don’t want to read about it!”
Talk about your morons.
The only publisher I could get interested in the porn book was some rich guy from the upper east side. Bryan Bugger had been some big shot editor, before he broke into the movies by writing the screenplay of Flashdance (What a feeling!).
Now Bugger’s running an old, established British publishing house that’s an published such classic authors as Virginia Woolf, D.H. Lawrence and Evelyn Waugh. What Bugger thought he could do with my porn book was beyond me, but since it was the only semi-legitimate offer on the table, I have to take it seriously.
The only problem is that Bugger’s a blowhard who loves to go to lunch and dinner and talk about his illustrious career over many drinks– and never gets down to business. Since I don’t have the patience for making small-talk with rich blowhards, I bring Gillian along with me on these time-wasters to take up the slack.
After a couple of “let’s get-acquainted lunches,” Bugger offers to take me to dinner at Elaine’s, but Gillian tells me, “There’s no way I’m going on this one!”
She’s bored with Bugger’s stories, and I can’t blame her. He’s a snooze-fest.
“Come on,” I plead, “It will be a lotta fun, lots of celebrities, lots of good conversation, and I may even close on this book deal…”
“It’s going to be stupid,” Gillian snaps, not wanting to leave the house, “You don’t need me there, you can speak for yourself…”
What I want to tell her is that she knows how to make small talk with rich assholes, while I always say something offensive, that usually queers the deal. I need her to watch my back, but she ain’t going for it. I have to pull out the big guns…
“I bet Chris Noth is going to be there,” I say.
“No he’s not!” Gillian grins, thinking it over, “You’re just saying that to get me to go!?”
Gillian and I are big fans of the original Law & Order television show, that stars Chris Noth as Detective Mike Logan and Jerry Orbach as Detective Lenny Briscoe, two of the coolest cops on TV. This is right before Law & Order becomes the biggest television franchise since Star Trek, turning out such subsidiaries as Law & Oder SVU and Law & Order Criminal Intent and Law & Order on Mars. It’s also a few years before Noth will appear as “Mr. Big” on Sex In The City, perhaps the worst show in the history of television.
Even so, Gillian and I are such fans of the original Law & Order that we often do modern dance interpretations to the theme song. And while Gillian’s dance moves are unusual to say the least– mine are much, much better.
Plus Gillian can never end her dance routines on the last beat of the music, and quickly tries to fudge her movements to finish in time.
I always end my dance routine on the last beat.
I’m just making up the story about Chris Noth being at Elaine’s to get Gillian come with me. I’m just lying my ass off. But it works; she agrees to go.
We take a cab up to Elaine’s; it’s cold and snowy, and meet Bryan Bugger, who’s fast developing a crush on Gillian. Bugger has taken to talking to Gillian for hours about his first crush that he had on some girl in New Foundland when he was a kid.
I have a horrible meal of Spaghetti Bolognese, since Elaine’s ain’t known for its food– and try to turn Bugger’s first-crush talk into my porn book deal without any luck. Instead Gillian and Bugger ramble on about the finer points of New Foundland summers.
I feel like I’m not really needed here, just some weird amusement for Bugger to play while he’s bored, and busy myself watching Geraldo Rivera work the back room at Elaine’s. That’s when I see Chris Noth at the bar, dressed in a stupid wool skull cap, accompanied by two tacky women who look like professionals.
“Hey Bunny,” I nudge her, “I told you he’d be here!”
Gillian turns around to see Chris Noth drinking at the bar, flanked by his two escorts, one black girl and one blond girl, dressed like they were from Queens—like hairdressers moonlighting as hookers. Not the most attractive women a big TV star really wants to be seen with, but it looks like Chris has had a bit to drink and is feeling no pain.
As soon Noth spots Gillian starring at him, he stares back at her. It’s more of a leer than a stare and it goes on a bit too long.
“God, look at those girls he’s with,” Gillian whispers to me when she turns back around, “Is he still starring?”
“Uh huh, he’s really got a TV Eye on you,” I laugh, referring to the famous Stooges song. Kathy Asheton, sister of Stooges guitarist and drummer, Ronnie and Scotty Asheton, told us “TV Eye” was a slang term she and her girlfriends used when guys got that lustful look. It literally translated to, “Twat-Vibe-Eye,” and Iggy had appropriated the term for his song, though no one really new what it meant.
Admittedly it was a bit vulgar, but an apt description on the way Chris Noth’s checking Gillian out.
“Creeeepy,” Gillian whispers.
“Well, now’s your chance, if you still want him…”
“Fuck no, I think my crush just vanished,” Gillian sulks, a bit disappointed that reality seldom lives up to fantasy. Bugger’s oblivious to the drama playing out around him and continues reminiscing about his big teenage crush, as we choke down some dessert.
As usual, Bugger says he wants to have another lunch to talk over the finer points of my book deal, the first time he’s mentioned it all night. We say our goodbyes standing in a snow bank and grab a cab back downtown.
“Jesus, could Chris have been any un-cooler?” Gillian says inside the cab speeding downtown. She’s still reeling from the shock of seeing her crush in the flesh, gawking at her.
“I told you he was gonna be there…”
“You’re so full of shit it’s coming out your ears,” She scolds, “But how did you know?”
“I just know things…”
“Come on, tell me…”
“I lied,” I confess, “What; you think I know what Chris Noth does with his nights?”
“I thought so,” Gillian sighs, “God, how could I ever have had crush on him, now I’m just fucking embarrassed! That was perhaps one of the biggest disappoints of my life….”
“One of the biggest disappoints of your life– so far,” I correct her, doing my best Homer Simpson imitation.
© 2015 Legs McNeil & Gillian McCain