Monday, November 27, 2006

I'd Rather Sniff Armpits

There comes a moment every fall when I first see a mutilated pumpkin, a twinkling Jesus in a window or a nude blue Spruce waiting forlornly for an abusive owner who will forget to water it, and something inside of me dies. My soul. I'm pretty sure that the grand gesture that was expected of the human race each Christmas did not start at a Best Buy sale.

And for that reason, I'd rather sniff armpits for a living than go through the protracted agony of the holidays. For starters, I have a standing rule that I don’t accept gifts at this time of year. I have enough crap and you have bad taste. While we’re on the topic, doesn’t Totes make anything the rest of the year? If you know anyone over the age of twelve who has given someone a Chia Pet, drop them immediately. The Clapper has survived five U.S. Presidents and eight terms of office. It will be around after a global nuclear holocaust. Someone somewhere will clap their hands and a generator in Slovenia will turn on.

I hear you. But what about the children? Fuck the children. How many presents do you have to give them until they have high self-esteem? What about getting together with the family? Fuck the family. Families fight more at the holidays than at any other time of the year. What about the extra days you get off from work because of the holidays? Interestingly enough, I embrace that one.

The famous Secret Santa of Kansas City, Missouri has outed himself this year so I decided to out myself as well. For me it started in the early 90’s with the boyfriend who couldn’t get it up, otherwise known as The Impotentate. On Christmas day he had not invited me to his family’s celebration. Lonely and bored, I drove around my neighborhood in my 1990 gray Ford Festiva and decided to hand out money to the homeless. Even if they were getting high, I wanted them to be smoking The Christmas Crack. When I was down to a dollar I decided to pack it in. On the way home, I saw one last guy trudging up a hill and stopped my car.
“I’m really sorry; I only have a dollar to give you.” What was anyone going to do with a dollar in Los Angeles? (Don’t say the 99 cent store you miserable fucks)
“You know,” he said, “This morning I asked God to help me and now I got a dollar!” (I’m not God, right?)

I never looked back.

Some years I make mistakes, some years I hit a home run but generally I just wish I was as rich as the Secret Santa of Kansas City. One homeless man was camped out under the awning at Big Lots. I handed him a five-dollar bill but he wouldn’t take it. He wanted a meal from McDonalds, which was right next door. I asked him what I could get him and he said some combo-name I didn’t recognize and believe me, I’ve done hard time at McDonalds. I went into the restaurant and scanned the list. I finally found what he wanted; it was the most expensive breakfast McDonalds had. $3.85.

One time I gave money to a guy who looked at my car and said, “I think you need this more than me.” Fool. Another year I saw a real bad case, a man who looked like he wasn’t going to make it to the end of the day. I gave him ten dollars and asked him what had happened to him. He said he had been living on the streets after being thrown off the Planet Nebutron and sent to Earth in a time capsule to repopulate Wyoming. And I thought to myself, ‘Good Lord. How am I going to get my ten dollars back?’

Another year I gave money to two guys walking down the street with an empty supermarket cart. They took the money but looked at me strangely. Something was not right. So I drove around a few blocks and when I came back, they had collected another cart. They worked for a supermarket, which I would have realized had I looked at the backs of their jackets, which said Ralph’s.

Two years ago I saw a man and a woman living out of their car. They had parked in a deserted lot and taken a few of their possessions out to rearrange. I stopped and buzzed down the window of my car (the Festiva was long gone). The woman looked at me with the most stricken look on her face and yes I was wearing makeup. I waved two five-dollar bills and she came running over.
“Here, this is for you and your friend.”
“Oh my God! ThankYouThankYouThankYou, can I hug you?”

Before I had time to answer she had reached inside my car and gathered me up in a giant bear hug. And the entire time all I could think about was, ‘Dear God let her not steal my Nicole Miller purse.’

End of chat.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Thanks For Nothing

This is the dumbest holiday Americans celebrate. For starters, there are no gifts. And what are we supposed to be thankful for; stealing the United States from the American Indians? Thanksgiving is just an excuse to string an extremely tedious Thursday into a 4 day event because people hate their jobs so much that they would rather spend time with their families. And you know that is just wrong.

Spare me your desiccated turkey, your mother’s recipe for a vegetable you wouldn’t be caught dead eating in a four-star restaurant and the inevitable tedium of playing party games with your dumbass neighbors and your psychotic family, people I don’t ever want to spend quality time with unless I'm in a coma.

Last year I was invited to a Thanksgiving where I was asked to bring food. Am I supposed to be thankful for being invited to a dinner where I had to supply part of the meal? If you can’t afford to fund a party, for the love of God, please don’t have one. It just makes you look cheap. Do you think Jackie O ever asked anyone to bring a covered caviar dish to one of her dinners?

And stop with the party games. Hi, I’m an adult; join me in reading a book and talking about something important. Like George Clooney.

End of chat.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

OJ Can't Get On TV, Michael Richards Can't Get Off

I met Michael Richards twice. Once at a birthday party for the late Phil Hartman and once when I did Seinfeld, the show, not the man. Focus, people.

I was introduced to him at Phil’s party and Michael was gruff, uncommunicative and withdrawn. I thought what I always thought when I met someone in Hollywood who acted like him: He’s high and if he talks, everyone will know.

I did Seinfeld less than a year later. The first person to introduce themselves was Jason Alexander. He walked right up to me and stuck his hand out, welcomed me to the show and gave his name. I’d known Jerry for over ten years since we did standup together in NYC. Julia introduced herself during the actual filming of our scene. But I had no scenes with Richards so I didn’t see him until there was a break on set. I walked over to him and reminded him of my name and that we had met at Phil Hartman’s party. He glanced at me, made some grunting noise and walked away. That would normally not be out of the ordinary given my track record with celebrities. I do make people run screaming into the night.

I didn’t go near Michael Richards for the rest of the shoot. Comedians are notoriously strange individuals with idiosyncratic behavior that can border on the insane, see Andy Dick, Andy Kaufman, Roseanne Barr, Robin Williams and of course, the beloved Donald Rumsfeld. So I passed it off as such.

Sidebar: During the shoot, I stepped on one of Julia’s lines. For those of you who have normal lives and jobs and may not know what that means, it meant I started talking before she finished her speech. The director yelled ‘cut’ and as we waited for notes from Larry David, I apologized to Julia. “What for?” she asked me. I told her I had stepped on her line and would be more careful next time. She said she hadn’t even noticed. Jerry looked at me, took a beat and said, “Your first time doing comedy, Suzy?”

The word on the street in L.A. is that Richards had taken to the comedy club stages some time ago in an effort to remain in the public eye. The word was also that he sucked and sucked big time. He was not a comic. He was a funny actor. I’ve never met a comedian who hasn’t been heckled. It’s part of our job. It’s like a dressing-down from the boss, which in our case is two hundred and fifteen drunken bosses. After years in front of a mike, you get better with the hecklers. You either have previously-used comebacks to shut them up or you ignore them. I make the heckler come on stage with me. I tell him that he is probably funnier than I am so I want to hear a joke. I hand him the mike and walk to the back of the stage. The heckler breaks into a cold sweat, can’t say anything because of the primal fear that doing standup brings out of you like measles on a seven year old, and then hears from the audience the very thing he has been telling the comic, “You suck.”

It’s a beautiful thing.

I’m upset that they cancelled the O.J. interview. The only other person who is as upset as I am is my friend Louise McLoserstene. Even though we both know he’s guilty, we wanted to Hear Him Confess. If I Did It was a confession. After years of hearing people complain and grouse about how he got off scott-free, I would have thought the public would want their pound of flesh.

Yes, we know O.J. just wanted back in the limelight (see Michael Richards' success with that); we know O.J. is a murderer. But if we had seen it, seen him cry like a little girl, the public abuse would have been worse. He would be even more vilified than he is now. Ron and Nicole aren’t coming back any time soon. All we have left is the man who murdered them and was going to tell us how he might have (really did) do it. Yes, I know it’s in the book. But folks, TV interviews are FREE. End of chat.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Step Away From The Celebrities 2

Two weeks ago I was pulling into a spot at Mayfair Market here in the Hollywood Hills when I saw a sleek, silver car park about twenty feet away from me. The driver of the car and I met up at the same time at the entrance of Gelson's.

"Excuse me, what kind of car is that?"
"It's a..."
"Oh my GOD, you're Patrick... Stewart? No, this guy was not bald. Ewing? No, this guy was not black. Swayze? No, this guy was not dancing.

It was McDreamy, who I know has a last name but seriously, what's the point? For the first time in my life a man rendered me speechless. I mean, besides George W. Bush.

McDreamy was wearing a tight, navy blue ribbed sweater and had one of those scalp-hugging knit hats on in the same color. And jeans. Really nice, butt-hugging jeans. Like you didn't want to know.

"I love your show," I said as he started walking (running) away from me.
"Thank you, very kind," he said turning left (breaking into a full gallop) into produce. He eats produce. How cool is that?
"Truly great show."
"Much appreciated," he shouted over his shoulder as he approached a security guard. Is he hotter in person than he is on the show? Oh fuck yes. It was like looking at someone through a pink gel, the ones they put over the lenses in movie making (and that I'm trying to have installed here Chez Soro) that make you look soft and line-free. The Sex Factor was dripping off him like a Popsicle melting in the sun. I might have to take a teensy, me-time break here...

I was down in Santa Monica months ago and as I pulled up to a light, I looked in my rear view mirror and saw ten black SUVs queued up like gamers waiting for the new PlayStation 3. That can only mean one thing in this town, paparazzi or bodyguards for someone really important. I glanced to my left and in the Benz next to me were Maria Shriver and the Governor of our mentally unbalanced Democratic state, the Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger. I had just seen Maria on Oprah, where she discussed her upbringing and how the Kennedys and their spouses always encouraged their kids to be of public service and to always be doing something with their lives. Her mother Eunice Kennedy Shriver started the Special Olympics and her father Sargent Shriver started The Peace Corps. Maria had just published another book when she went home to her parents' house. Her father asked her what she was doing. She replied that her book had just come out and he said, "You wrote that book two years ago, what's next?" Apparently no one got to rest on their laurels, or a chair.

So there sat Maria in the passenger seat of the California State Benz, staring at me. I mouthed the words I LOVE YOU to her. She smiled and mouthed back THANK YOU. Then I nodded towards her husband and mouthed, NOT HIM, JUST YOU. She must have laughed out loud because Arnold looked over at her and thank God the light turned green and I took off. I do not need a state tax audit thank you very much.

The reason I talk to all these people and make a fool of myself is because the one time I wanted to talk to someone who had changed my life, my ex-boyfriend Gary, one of three guys I was engaged to in my life, told me not to.

We were at a New York Friar's Club roast for Milton Berle. Gary was a very distant cousin of Milton's and had just completed a documentary of him for the Museum of Broadcasting. The roast was to coincide with the documentary of this legendary comedian. Every major Hollywood and New York comedian was on the dais. When the roast was over, Gary and I mingled, said our goodbyes to Milton and then headed for the exit. We got to the elevators and as the door opened, the two people ahead of us stepped inside. It was Lucille Ball and Gary Morton. I looked at my Gary with wide eyes. He shook his head No. I gave him the Are You Fucking Kidding Me look and again he nodded No. As I stood there fuming I looked over at Lucy. She had backed into a corner and had her face down, staring at the fascinating linoleum floor of the elevator. Her Gary was standing a few feet away and staring into space.

She did not want to be recognized. She did not want to hear for the 80 trillionth time that I was her biggest fan. That because of her I went into comedy when I was 14 and never looked back. That I once did the Lucy Cry at an audition in New York and got the callback and it was for a Shakespeare production. That I have watched I Love Lucy my entire life and tried to figure out what it was that made her a genius. The most famous comedian in the world wanted her privacy. So I kept my mouth shut. And have been regretting it every day of my life since. Thank God I didn't marry Gary. Seriously.

End of chat.

Monday, November 13, 2006

How Can I Break Up With Gym?

Before I bought a scale I used to walk to the gym, weigh myself and then hike the three blocks home. In my defense, the walk back was uphill. So a few years ago I decided to get serious and hire one of the trainers at Bally's. I chose Nasto. He had been Mr. Bulgaria twice, Mr. Northern California in the early 90’s and he had written three fitness books, which was three more than I had written. I liked him. His business card was an unevenly scissored piece of Xerox paper. He was earnest and committed and I just knew he had a family waiting in a cramped one-bedroom apartment somewhere in Korea Town expecting him to put borsch on the table. He had that sad, vacant look that people who do not ever expect to catch up with life have. If I didn’t break up with The Impotentate, a man who couldn't get it up for five of the seven years we went out, there was no way I was going to break up with Mr. Bulgaria.

Sidebar: No, this is not a picture of Nasto, but of my best friend ever, Clark Henley, the first person I knew to die of AIDS.

I hate working out but I hate eating even more. I don’t like food. Hand me a pill called LUNCH and leave me alone. I refuse to cook. I’ll eat out, I’ll take out, shit, I’ll put out, but I’m not cooking. When I get my dream house I’m going to have them put a McDonalds in on the ground floor. If you don’t want to impress me, invite me out for dinner and then ask me where we should go, what we should eat and what we should order. Then as we’re eating, ask me how my Sea Bass is, or if I want to try your carpaccio or split a dessert. Just so we’re clear, I don’t like to discuss food, shop for food or try out the food at the new restaurant in Who Cares, New Jersey. I can hardly wait until I’m rich enough to have Emeril move in. It’s the only reason I’m still breathing in and out.

When I think back on it, I only kept going to the gym because there were cute guys there. But sometime in the last year my gym became a meeting place for old Chinese women. Mr. Bulgaria deftly escorts me through them as if he's afraid I will suddenly stop and spontaneously break into a mah-jongg game.

The gym rat in our family is my sister, who once graced the cover of Muscle & Fitness magazine. She goes around spewing communist propaganda like, “I’m really craving an apple.” Please, Johnny Appleseed didn’t crave an apple. If you’re at her house and want something fattening to eat, you have to lick the grease off her stove. She’s the kind of person who you will ask, “How do I look in this bathing suit?” and she’ll say, “You look fabulous.” Then ten days later she sees you in shorts and says, “Gee, you really look great; not like you did in that bathing suit.” She got so addicted to exercise that she had to join a 12-step program. I don’t think it worked because now she’s up to 27 steps. As for the rest of our family, we would rather die with a stent in our hearts than a deltoid on our wherever-the-fuck the deltoid goes.

I went to World Gym in Venice with her one day many years ago. Arnold Schwarzenegger owned it then and Stallone hung out there a lot. I was having a rough time in the business and my sister, who was friendly with both Arnold and Sly, had told them about my struggle. Sly was there that day and when she introduced me to him, he had that crooked half-smile going on and came towards me with his arms outstretched. “Aaaayyy, somebody needs a hug.” His bodyguards surrounded us and Sly hugged me like I owed him money. I knew he had had a rough ride in Hollywood before Rocky hit and I knew he understood where I was in my slide into artistic hell, or as I to refer to it now, a big agent who thought he could do something with me and was wrong. “Aaaayyy, don’t give up, it can happen to you,” he continued.

Sly and his body guards left and my sister and I began to work out in earnest. (She did, I was staring into space and wondering if Sly noticed that I hadn’t plucked my eyebrows) My reverie was finally broken as I watched my sister admire her calves. She inspected them as if they had USDA stamped on them and were going to market in a refrigerated truck. A line formed. Now other people were inspecting her calves. Suddenly one of these voyeurs took time out from his busy schedule of ogling her and eyed me suspiciously.
“What’s that on the back of your arm?” he asked.
“A triceps?”
“Well,” he continued, “have a doctor look at it; it might be cancer.”

End of chat.

Monday, November 06, 2006

The Other Psycho

There are ten events that psychologists identify as the most stressful things that can happen to a person. Number one is public speaking and losing someone to death is number two. There’s also divorce, moving, buying a house and changing jobs. Getting into a bikini should be on there but I’m guessing the list was compiled by men.

I’ve never been divorced nor bought a house but I have sold two of my Dad’s condos, moved seven times, lost loved ones to death and did standup in numerous clubs with various people two or three times a month spanning twenty years, nine countries and twenty-four states. And I’ve worn bikinis, tankinis and did it without the help of martinis.

During the Bosnian War I had to sleep in a red-tagged bunker in Macedonia with the U.N. Peacekeepers guarding the compound with machine guns. I was in a Blackhawk helicopter over Serbia in a blinding snowstorm with zero visibility when the co-pilot said he didn’t advise landing as we were landing. I starred in a musical review in Paris for seven months, becoming only the second American in French history to lead a Can Can. The first was Josephine Baker, the third was LaToya Jackson.

I traveled alone to India for three weeks to have experimental surgery. I did shows on Johnston Atoll in the Pacific Ocean where I was issued a gas mask and then shown how to plunge a hypodermic filled with antidote into my thigh in case the Agent Orange and Mustard Gas escaped from their containment drums on the island. (I would have died long before I got the needle in but they don’t tell you that. I heard it from a soldier on the island) I am not a coward, a baby, a whiner or someone who doesn’t take chances. Nothing fazes me. Except going to someone’s home as a house guest.

For starters, you can’t eat a bowl of cereal while sitting at the computer naked. What’s up with that? People also prefer it when you help them cook. And clean up. Well, if I did that at my house, sure, I would do it at yours. But I don’t so I’m not so don’t ask. And look up the word ‘guest’ while you’re at it. And if you don’t have an extra room for me, I’m not coming. I didn’t go camping when I was a kid and I’m not going to start now.

But the thing that really spins my rinse cycle is in the bathroom. Hiding like Olivia Newton John’s boyfriend in Costa Rica is the shower control panel. While there are many variations on the theme, the most vicious of them all is the little Ferris wheel that has red and blue markings lifting off in a faux rainbow, presumably to tell you how hot and how cold you can make the water. These deleterious disks reveal the biggest lies you will encounter outside of a romantic relationship. No matter how low I go on the red dial, I still end up with second degree burns. And no matter how medium I go on the blue dial, I have to don a parka before I step in. How is it possible that you can go into anyone’s house anywhere in the world and work their computer but need Faucets for Dummies to turn on their water? By the time I’ve figured out the dials and managed to take a shower, the people I’m staying with have either reported me missing or moved.

There really is no place like home. End of chat.