Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Angry Birds.

How "fucking lazy" of you, Paul Schrader.
Where do I even begin with this?

I guess I should probably begin at the tweet that pissed me off. I retweeted it in order to set up my bitchy response in a separate subtweet, then un-retweeted it, wished the offender away into the cornfield, and leaped from my balcony in a spectacular swan dive, landing into a safety net held by the cast of RuPaul's Drag Race. Erica Kane would've been proud.

Dramatic? Well duh. But I was angry. And pregnant. And I still am. To both.

To paraphrase the pearl of wisdom that did trickle down my timeline like wee: making women prostitutes in a screenplay is "fucking lazy."


Um, yeah ... she actually, really, seriously did. And I was so fired up, I nearly fell back and blew my 23-week-old boy fetus out of my Special Purpose like a T-shirt cannon at a basketball game. My entire first script, Street Life, is about a prostitute. Why did I make her a prostitute, you (didn't) ask? Well, because it's always been my dream to fill 90 minutes with scantily-clad women doing nothing more than putting themselves in all sorts of situations in order to have sexy sexist sexual sex. Sex.

Or, I set out to write a script that felt like one of my all-time favorite films, The Warriors (1979), with one differential—I wanted to remove the safety nets. My heroine, "Dollar," is woman at her most vulnerable, adrift on the streets of Hollywood, hiding from an killer bent on finding her. There's no Warriors. There's no perceived sanctuary in Coney Island. My heroine makes her living by selling sex, which makes her situation even more volatile. And the police are mostly unresponsive.

But like the year in which The Warriors was released, Street Life is set in 1979—a pivotal year for women, reflected in the films of the time. Alien. Norma Rae. Hell, even The Fog. Women asserting themselves onscreen for better or for worse, with varying results. Off screen, women stood under glass ceilings, rocks in hand, poised for target practice.

Showtime, Synergy.
The prostitute in 1979 presented a unique, though disheartening writing challenge for yours truly: navigate a woman without options through a world where options are quickly becoming requisite. There is no upward career trajectory for a woman working the "world's oldest profession." Her success is defined by youth and beauty, two antiquated premiums that have no place in the new frontier of shoulder pads. Add to that a crippling lack of resources when the shit hits the fan. This is where we find Dollar. At 27, she is at a crossroads. She wants more, but does not know what that "more" is, or how to even obtain it. Obviously, she is stunted by the stigma of prostitution. She can't move in with one of her prostitute friends and schlemiel-schlimazel a job at Shotz Brewery. 

The last thing Dollar needs is a psycho killer, qu'est-ce que c'est? Anyway, I didn't feel "fucking lazy" writing Street Life, especially while doubled over with first-trimester nausea. I labored (pun intended) to make her very human. Relatable. Someone I'd like people to care about, cheer for. I've put her through a ridiculous set of trials and circumstances because I want to see how a 1979 prostitute without options can handle them. Because I think she can. Not because I just want a film full of delicious sexual situations.

No, I'm saving those for my next horror script, Spectacular VHS, set in a video store in 1985. Those hookers are going to be bonking all over the place.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Detachable Penis.

"Do you already know the sex?"
"Would you like to?"

Sure, doc. Tell me that you can't see the scrotum, like the technician at the previous ultrasound. Tell me that you are 90 percent sure that it's a girl. Tell me that you see the "three lines" that indicate girl, and I'll laugh and do a little woot and go skipping out of your office hand in hand with my husband to search the Internet for a baby Elvira dress and wig. Let's get it on like Tron and Donkey Kong 'til the break of Rae Dawn Chong.

I'm ready for Eddie.
"See? See there? There it is! That's a boy!"

Damn you, genes of British steel, the ones that survived the Blitz and public transport queues, and came up with bitchin' ideas like the World Wide Web and a sturdy pie filled with meat that you can eat with your hands like a Viking. Damn you, prominent British penis, wagging your majesty at me like a royal middle finger. Damn the Chance legacy, which bleeds testosterone.

In the words of Dame Florida Evans of Good Times, "damn, damn, damn."

I had actually seen this coming from the moment I knew I was prego. I mean, duh. My mother-in-law brought up two sturdy English boys. My brother-in-law is a wicked writer who worked as a bouncer, and could lay a dude down just by looking at him. My husband is basically MacGyver. And—little known fact—like Sir Christopher Lee, he shed the blood of four thousand Saxon men. To this day, he has a sexy scar just under his eye, which emerges when I get him hot (or bothered). The other guy, who dared make a disparaging remark about John's sainted mum, fared much worse.

But I had wanted a girl, and I had expected a girl. I already had the name picked out: Cassandra Linnea, after two women who have been my heroes since before I had boobs. John wouldn't go with Cassandra Linnea Adrienne Pam Wonder Woman Donuts Depeche Chance, which was what I originally wanted to call her. Her. My little baby girl. Now, my little baby boy.

So, what do I do?

Well, to be honest, the exact same shit I was going to do. I was pretty much already taking my child to horror conventions, to concerts, to the Halloween haunts, to Comic Book Day, etc. I was going to bring my child up on Transformers and The Goonies, and dance with them to Chic and Wire and Gang of Four. We were already going to discuss the genius of Mike Patton, and watch old slashers ad infinitum, and build a Lego Death Star with daddy. And you know what the stupid-hilarious thing about this is? All of these things are (traditionally, if we have to label here) boy things. Yes, I won't be able to dress my child up as "Baby Elvira: Mistress of the Park," but if this child turns out to be gay later on? Elvira impersonator! Yes, I'm doing jazz hands.

I think the biggest reason why I was so bummed at our OB's office was because my relationship with my brother (who was born when I was 16) is so crap now. Out of all the values I ever tried to instill in him since he was a baby, the only thing that stuck was music. The Police. Dead Kennedys. Tool. Seventies soul. His taste in music is flawless. You're welcome. But he'll steal your shit and sell it to buy weed in a hot minute. Yep, I'll give that "you're welcome" back now.

My little brother—who I diapered and held, and introduced to music, and sat with through countless hours of homework—now hates me. What did it? Well, my parents had the nerve to want to go to a wedding in Portland a few weeks ago without their house being trashed, and they asked me to keep an eye on it. My brother, on the other hand, had other plans, which apparently were to turn the house into Coachella. But like, the new shitty Coachella that closes with Beyonce and Tupac holograms (look out, Kurt Cobain: you're next).

Long story short, I've "got a bowling ball in my stomach" and a "desert in my mouth" (love Tori Amos), and I wasn't about to put up with a 23-year-old manchild who I can only describe as Ted Bundy before the van. This kid thought he had it all over me. Everything I said was stupid. For example, when I said, "mom and dad don't want anyone in this house while they're gone"? Totally stupid, I know! But he? Oh, he was like the second coming of Koresh. Talking over me, under me, through me, as if I was the lamest person on earth. Inviting all his equally-brilliant friends to Occupy Backyard night after mother-effing night. He actually creeped me out. I prayed for telekinetic prom powers that, unlike with Carrie White, never kicked in. Finally, the boy ran his mouth a bit too much, the power of Christ compelled me, and I unleashed like a level-5 tornado of unawesome in front of everyone before John and I packed our things and split. My parents returned a day later. No cookie for you, Cam.

So, this episode rocked my world a bit. I questioned my ability to raise a boy. The delicious bowl of batter I helped raise turned out to be the shitey first pancake somewhere between 2008 and now. But you know what? I've thought about it, and I didn't ruin this kid. I was a kid myself when he was born, a sophomore in high school, and from his first day on earth, I had given him nothing but love, and guidance, and boundless amounts of patience. Certain things have happened to my brother through the years, very terrible things (when my brother was in high school, his two best friends, who he was supposed to meet, were trapped when the van they were smoking in caught alight; they were both burned alive). None of them had anything to do with me.

Plus, parenting-wise, my little brother had it far easier than I did growing up. It wasn't all cherries on the slot machine (by the Nineties, my dad had become a staunch conspiracist), but at least my brother had a father who was engaged. I will just say that the father I had for three decades was carrying some hard demons that played out in a series of self-finding missions in which I had suffered greatly. I love my father very much, and we get on now. But you reap what you sow. I took root into a strong, inspiring, lovingly interconnected foundation of Horror. My brother simply grasped aimlessly at false anchors until he grew out of the hard patriarchal ground like a ragweed. The former might dictate how our son will turn out. The latter will certainly not.

I have been a horror fan for my entire cognizant life. It was a refuge for me when real life was far scarier. Horror never hurt me for leaving my toys at the park. It never rejected me for being mixed race, or wanted to beat me up after school. It never insulted me at the dinner table, or took away Halloween because the cult said so. Horror was pure in its intentions, transparent in its actions, and consistent. Freddy does not exist in real life (I know, I know), because if he did, the Fresh Prince or the Fat Boys would never have recorded rap albums with him. They would have been running for their goddamned lives, as we all would. Dokken knew better. They recorded far away from Freddy, in an underground bunker on Tatooine. But the idea of Freddy is delicious, isn't it? And Jason. And Pinhead. And the Tall Man. And even Chucky, which (let's be honest) is just Talky Tina with mad potential (although I was never really a fan).

I'm digressing. Anyway, I graduated from a great school (go UCI Anteaters), work gainfully as a writer and editor, married the most perfect man on the planet, and never robbed graves, or slashed a lovable chubby loser's throat for his hockey mask, or killed anyone with finger knives for being beautiful and bad. This little boy growing and kicking around inside me will be just fine. He may disappoint us all and become a doctor or a lawyer instead of the next Mike Patton or David Cronenberg. But I don't need a heart scan to know that I am 100 percent sure that I already love him more than life itself.