Note: this excerpt contains mature language and mature content.
The next day, I received Platinum at work.
Platinum was a slick local monthly that salivated over the trendy, the glamorous, the expensive, and the really expensive. A year earlier, I’d directed a commercial for that magazine starring Jasmine Gregg, a dark-haired, nineteen-year-old fashion model they’d insisted I use due to her next-big-thing buzz.
More like the buzz of a venomous insect—she treated everyone like crap during the shoot, including me. “I swear I’ll walk off this set if I don’t get a fucking Perrier right now!” she yelled at me at one point. I personally got her a fucking Perrier. “About fucking time,” she said in way of thanks.
Hey, I needed the money, as unbelievable as that may sound.
I shot the entire commercial at Frequent Zoom in black-and-white against a black backdrop. In the finished product, Ms. Gregg wore a tiny, shiny, grayish-white dress I’d made even shinier due to the magic of digital enhancement. As some drippy piano track played, a track the magazine had also insisted I use, she walked slowly and haughtily through a featureless black void while multiple exposures of her various anatomical parts—especially her lips, legs, and breasts—swirled around and formed actual swirls. “Nothing shines like Platinum,” she said in close-up at the end. That was her only line. She’d needed nine takes to get it right.
After the shoot, I asked her to have dinner with me, because she had a stupendous body: one positive that can erase a trillion negatives. “Sorry, I only date humans,” she replied with mock sympathy. Then she walked out of the studio while simultaneously flipping me off and staring at something on her cell-phone screen. Weeks later, she got drunk at a party, went home with Clete, and slept with him, or so he would tell me in explicit detail. I believed him, due to his utterly sincere face.
At least Platinum liked my work well enough to give me a free subscription. I would have preferred they hire me again, but I took what I could get. I deserved something extra for putting up with her.
Anyway, the new issue had arrived, and guess who appeared on the front cover. For this, her first Platinum cover, Ms. Gregg looked especially haughty in a leopard-print tube top and black leather pants. Inside, an eight-page photo spread called “JASMINE GREGG: Point State Punk” showed her looking just as haughty wearing other punk ensembles in Point State Park, located at the Point: that area downtown where the Allegheny and the Monongahela join to form the Ohio, or where the Ohio splits apart or divorces or whatever to form those other two rivers. All of her outfits, torn stockings included, must have cost far more than I earned during a good month, though the epic blockbuster inside my shorts distracted me from indulging in any class-warlike jealousy as I sat at my desk.
After fast-forwarding the blockbuster to its conclusion and washing my hands, I leafed through the rest of the magazine, which contained articles such as “Diamonds for Dummies,” “Lawrenceville’s Hip Vegan Elite,” and “The Girls of XS: Extreme Shorecop Get Their South Side On!”
Copyright © 2015 by David V. Matthews
She hadn’t wanted to admit she’d been careless enough to marry the local concert promoter Nick Morrison.
He would purchase the ownership rights—usually pretty cheaply—to some semi-famous musical group from the Fifties or Sixties that couldn’t perform anymore due to age and/or mutual animosity. Then he would create a younger knockoff of that group and send his impersonators out on tour with a slight name change: the New Wombats, Johnny Sparkle Jr. and the Sparkletones, Clawspace 2.0. Several of his new groups had even appeared on those oldies concert shows that the local public-television station, WQED channel 13, churned out for constant broadcast, five or six minutes at a time between pledge breaks.
Lots of people considered him a ripoff artist who peddled fake nostalgia to gullible Baby Boomers. First, fake nostalgia can offer as much satisfaction as the real thing. Second, from what I’d heard, he genuinely liked Fifties and Sixties music and wanted it to continue reaching an audience. And third, he occasionally paid the original group members residuals—not much, but better than nothing.
In short, I didn’t hate his business ethics. I hated his appearance: short, bloated, hairy, and waxy, plus he flaunted his chub by wearing tight golf shirts and tight jeans.
Copyright © 2014 by David V. Matthews