@

 

Please explain what just happened.

The psycho-killer crack-head downstairs just finished screaming and slamming his apartment door repeatedly.

 

What is your earliest memory?

Me and my cousin Brian not being able to finish a puzzle in kindergarten before it was time to go home. So we just piled all the pieces on the board and returned it to where the puzzles were supposed to go. But we got caught and had to stay and finish it.

 

If you weren’t a writer, director, producer, and composer, what other profession would you choose?

Husbandry— 1) the management and conservation of resources; 2) the care and cultivation of crops (including trees). I think I’m ready. I like a well tended forest.

Please explain what just happened.

I searched through my email to see which interviews I needed to do for my upcoming tour that features Crispin Hellion Glover’s Big Slide Show, Parts 1 & 2 and the films What is It? and It is Fine! EVERYTHING IS FINE.  And I decided that The Nervous Breakdown was next.

paramount theater marquee

My love affair with movies may have begun with, though not necessarily at, the Paramount Theater in my hometown in Virginia. It’s no accident that the Paramount shared its name with a Hollywood studio; in the early days of the movies, studios owned theaters throughout the country, a practice eventually stopped because of antitrust laws. The Paramount in my hometown was built in 1931, when theaters were palaces, or anyway designed to resemble palaces, so as to treat the little people, then in the grips of the Great Depression, to a fleeting sense of grandeur. The grandeur of the Paramount had dimmed by the time I first saw a movie there forty years later, though the marquee alone, with its hundreds of blinking bulbs, thrilled me as a child whenever I glimpsed it from the backseat of my parents’ car. It made me think of the nightclub marquees I’d seen in Elvis Presley movies on T.V., quick establishing shots that cut to Elvis performing onstage for girls who, driven wild by the music, spontaneously danced on tabletops and spent the night in jail after the inevitable brawl. There were no such clubs where I grew up, as far as I knew; the Paramount was as close as I could get. From the ticket booth, just below the marquee, a long, wide corridor with a slight incline led to the concession stand and, just beyond that, the theater, and to walk the length of the corridor, ascending step by step, was to have a growing sense of anticipation. The carpeting was dark red, almost burgundy. The only light came from tiered chandeliers with dangling glass beads, and, on either wall, there were gilded-framed murals of powdered-wigged, eighteenth-century aristocrats, shades of Gainsborough. In later years, before the Paramount went out of business (it’s since been restored and reopened), tickets were sold inside at the concession stand, where, when I was child, posters of movie stars were sold: Brigitte Bardot in black leather on a chopper, Raquel Welch in the fur bikini she wore as a cavewoman in One Million Years BC. Victoria Vetri, a Playboy Playmate of the Year, likewise appeared in a fur bikini as a cavewoman in When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth, the first movie I remember seeing at the Paramount; and Vetri, as well as Welch, stirred things in me that, as a Christian child, I wasn’t sure were right with God.

In Miranda July’s latest film we are asked to identify with a cat in a cage that could potentially be euthanized.While many film critics cite using a cat as a narrator as another one of July’s drives toward sentimentality, I actually view this move as incredibly, unequivocally ballsy.A recent New York Times write up of July cites her as a somewhat polarizing figure, and, indeed, many reviews of July’s latest film, The Future, characterize the film as being contemplative while also imperfect and uncomfortably sentimental.

Jeff and Lisa, looking out the rear window of Jeff’s apartment, watch Miss Torso – a beautiful leggy blonde, swat away multiple suitors ravenous for her attention at a cocktail party.

JEFF: She’s like a queen bee with her pick of the drones.

LISA: I’d say she’s doing the hardest job a woman has: juggling wolves.

– Rear Window, 1954

*

I am not a whore.

Yeah.

That seems like a good place to start.

*

I’m cute. Almost always. Sometimes I think I even manage pretty. I have a great rack and a small waist. Hourglassy. Much more Marilyn than Moss. My big blue eyes are my very best feature and I’ve been told that my smile can be blinding. I like dresses. Girly ones. And heels. Tall. I paint my nails. Occasionally blue or black or brown, but usually red. Vampy, glittering reds are my favorite.

Make no mistake about it: I’m a girl.

But I also know where to draw the line. My clothes fit, they are both age and event-appropriate and you will never see what I do not want you to see.

After all, I’m also a lady.

Consequently, I’ve never, ever, felt like a whore.

Not until this past weekend, that is.

*

It’s no secret I’m raising money for my next film. One tactic is to find wealthy individuals with disposable income who have a passion for film and somehow convince them to invest in yours. Folks like that tend to be businessmen[1]. Risk-takers. Gamblers.

How do you find those people? Film festivals. Especially ones in wealthy towns.

I was invited to be on a jury at one such festival and seized the opportunity to attend – with the aim of networking within circles I would be otherwise unable to access. I printed my paperwork, practiced my schpiel, packed my bag with the perfect party gear and dove in headfirst.

*

At the opening night party I met “Horace”. Horace was a charming older gentleman. He was well-dressed, well-spoken, witty and thought critically about the evening’s film. I enjoyed talking with him immensely. He had done extremely well for himself working on Manhattan’s trading floor and was a fellow cinephile. He had even had been in a few background scenes in the films Trading Places and Wall Street. He retired comfortably and when the conversation got around to what I did and what I was working on, he immediately started introducing me to the other attendees – especially ones who he felt would take a personal interest to the material. He collected business cards for me and made it a point to tell me that making connections was his forté. We parted with a polite cheek-kiss and you can only imagine how thrilled I was to have started off so well.

The next morning, I awoke to an email with an invitation to join him for a cocktail party on the rooftop terrace of a snazzy new waterfront building. It was THE place to been seen and an opportunity to shake the hands of, not merely rich, but wealthy individuals.

Horace closed the email with “What are your plans tonight? I am looking for some ‘uncomplicated’ fun.”

AYFKMWTS[2]???

I responded with a polite and friendly reply. I thanked him for the invitation, told him how very much I enjoyed his company and would be delighted to join him, but that I was quite devoted to my boyfriend[3] and was there to enjoy the town, the festival and new friends and colleagues. I mentioned my investor search and how I would relish the opportunity to expand my network. I invited him to call if he still wanted me to join him at the cocktail party for networking and the like.

But yeah.

I shot him down.

Hard.

Because no matter how grandfatherly and pleasant he seemed the night before, he propositioned me.

And while there are innumerable things I will do for my film, sucking a 72 year-old dick is not one of them.

*

Two nights later, I paid dearly for a ticket for the festival’s big gala. While I did receive an otherwise pricey VIP badge in exchange for my services as a judge, the pass granted me access to everything but that one party, and when you’re looking for investors, a $200-ticket party is where you’ll find them.

As a brief respite from schmoozing some of the people Horace (whom I never heard from again) had introduced me to, I stopped to chat with some of the festival staff.

A gentleman wandered toward the group and greeted the people he knew. Introductions were made. He was high up in the “Jaymond Rames” family and didn’t necessarily flaunt his wealth, but did frequently and somewhat annoyingly refer to it. Also, he was a handsy fellow. A close-talker. And kind of loud. But it was a party and the DJ was spinning at a pitch just two decibels above ‘pleasant conversation’ and so I forgave him, but neither did I pay him much mind. Braggadocio is a less-than-admirable trait in my book.

When he mentioned that his brother was an opera singer, my ears perked up. “Who?” I asked. Small world of small words – I not only had heard of his brother, I had worked with him some ten years’ previous. I immediately saw the family resemblance. How had I missed it?! So I began to hone in on little clues as to his interest in, perhaps, another art form. Say… independent film?

My chattiness in sussing out whether he was an investor candidate was immediately assumed to be sexual and “Matt” got handsier. Grabby, actually. I got pawed like so much PlayDoh. I kept him at arm’s distance (as much as I could) and refused to “smell his neck” when repeatedly prodded, nor would I let him anywhere near mine.

It was at that point when he said, “Don’t worry. I’ve got the money for your film. Now just relax and let’s have some fun already.”

Upon parting ways, he told me to follow him in his car and he would steer me back to the interstate.

The valet brought my crappy little veedub (vs his slick beemer) first and I knew the way back. After all, I had driven myself there, hadn’t I? He called to tell me that I had turned incorrectly. The message was bitter.

“Kimberly. It’s Matt. You’re going the wrong way.”

I wasn’t.

Nor do I believe I’ll be joining him in the Bahamas next month.

*

Looking back at Rear Window, I don’t remember the specifics of Miss Torso’s party. We know all about the songwriter’s crescendo towards success and Miss Lonelyheart’s deep depression, the newly-wed bride’s insatiable appetite and of course, what happened to Mrs. Thorwald and the little dog too…

But why the party, Hitch?

The scene set up Miss Torso as a whore; a ditzy dancer who rehearsed in her granny panties during those hot summer afternoons and by the very nature of her affability and attractiveness, was asking for it.

Just like that poor little girl in Texas.

*

What the hell? Do I have to start wearing combat boots and black trench coats to be taken seriously by a man? Do I have to bind my breasts and shave my head? Assume a dour and aloof disposition and hope that someone just walks up to me and takes over where Ed McMahon left off??

*

I have another similar festival to attend in two weeks’ time and I don’t want to make the same mistake twice. I mean, seriously. Why would I prance around in my granny panties if I know everyone’s got binoculars?

After a thorough review of the weekend, I still contend that I dressed appropriately and professionally. I am certain that my pitch and business acumen was rock-solid. My friendly approach of “Hello! What did you think about the film?” came straight from the Dale Carnegie handbook, so I know that market’s cornered.

But ever the student, I knew there was something I could learn from this experience. Something I could do differently. Something I could change.

And it hit me.

Like a giant fucking rock.

[4]

- – - – - – - – - -

[1] I don’t know the percentage of male-to-female film investors, but my experience thus far leads me to believe that like the rest of the film industry, it’s pretty heavily male dominated.

[2] Are You Fucking Kidding Me With This Shit?

[3] It wasn’t a total lie. I mean, I would be if I had one.

[4] This is the wedding set I just bought (for a whopping $7.35) and will sport at the next film festival and subsequent parties. Otherwise, I’ll do and wear everything exactly the same as I did this past weekend. Even if I don’t raise a penny for the film, it should be a FASCINATING experiment.



A lot has been written about Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan, both in the mainstream media and even here on TNB. It was an important feature of Matt Baldwin’s “When Stupid People Go To Smart Movies,” and was also mentioned in “Legacy, Lightcycles, and Lady Gaga,” a discussion between Cynthia Hawkins and Gloria Harrison. As it happens, I’ve also tapped Ms. Hawkins, who has become TNB’s resident film expert, for a post about Black Swan. Below you’ll find a conversation she and I recently had about how audiences perceive independent films compared to those built using the more traditional Hollywood model, as well as some questions for you, the TNB reader. Thanks in advance for sharing your time and thoughts with us.