No. 13: ⛷️🏔️📽️
You know you shouldn’t take this job. You keep turning it down—another teen sex comedy on your resume?—but the offer keeps going up. When it reaches over $20K for just two weeks’ worth of work, you shrug. Okay, you tell your manager, it’ll help you keep your SAG insurance. Do it for the health.
Week one finds you in one of the bougiest resort cities of the Rockies. Underground private clubs drip money and boredom and you swear you could wake up tomorrow on someone’s private yacht in the Caribbean. You and your co-lead, Adam, rewrite the script with the director because the dialogue sucks and in between rehearsals are wardrobe fittings and wine and dines with production and cast.
One producer’s young, slick, and brags he was voted some city’s hottest bachelor. He waxes on about how stoked he is to have his dream cast and you feel like he looks a little too long at you when he says this. When he picks you up for a mandatory group ski lesson, you’re surprised you’re the only one in the hotel lobby.
“Where is everyone?” you ask, climbing into the transpo van.
“Oh, Vinny had an audition to tape, so the other guys are helping him.”
Three guys for a self-tape? Maybe it’s a large group scene and Vinny needs more eyeline?
Skis hang heavy high above the run, the snowy silence of the aerial ride broken by Producer’s attempts at downhill instruction.
“I actually know how to ski,” you say.
“Yeah, since I was eleven.”
Poles looped to wrists, you glide off the chairlift without a hitch. Still. He has the nerve to tell you about leaning into edges and making pie-shaped triangles for snowplow stops. Years later, they’ll call this mansplaining, but right now you’re just irritated and would like to whiz down the hill where his hottest bachelor voice is drowned out by wind and snowflakes and the song stuck in your head that is “Puh-puh-poker face” and is infinitely better than anything this man blabbers on about.
At last, you are free, carving through frosting peaks of whipped diamonds and marzipan mounds. Run after run, green to blue, your thighs remember the burn of winter pleasures as the rose in your cheeks is stung sweet by the icy dusting of evergreen snowfalls.
He’s about to crash into you. He does, from behind, his skis straddling yours, his pelvis pushing into your rear. He’s saying something instructional about turns and pivots, but all you can think is, He knows I can ski.
You’re a freeze-fawner. There are so many times you wish you were a flight-fighter, but you’re not. Your sympathetic nervous system is not sympathetic to you. You laugh off the incident and are relieved when he calls it a day.
End of rehearsal week. The nightclub is loud and Producer yells at you that he has a question. But instead of asking anything, you feel his wet tongue on your ear and recoil half-laughing, like did he mean to do that? Of course he did, you’re just stunned. More shoulder-strokes and rebuffed grind-attempts and you decide you’ve had enough sexual harassment for one night. You’re gonna leave this kick-off party.
You shout at him to please call the car. He claims there’s no reception, but he’ll hail the Escalade waiting out front. It’s not. The midnight street is empty.
You follow him through falling snow to where he says the driver actually is, only when you reach the passenger door of the not-an-Escalade, Producer pins you to the car. A blur of more tongue, coat-wrapped elbow, snow and fear and streetlight. You wretch him off, stomp-running back to the club as you try not to slip on ice.
You don’t sleep that night. You call your agent as soon as New York hits a reasonable hour and tell him everything—not just the harassment, but the reality show production’s been filming behind the actors’ backs. You tell him about cameras hidden in slatted closets and mic packs felt through polite hugs. You tell him they tried to play it off as “behind the scenes” until someone confessed a secret pilot. Your agent listens, listens, listens. You tell him the director’s car nicked the mountain on the blizzardy drive back to the hotel. You tell him you and Adam were clutching each other in the trunk when it happened, seatbeltless because the 4Runner was full. You tell him your costars told you they weren’t even invited to the ski rehearsal Producer said no one showed up for, which makes sense, because then Producer wouldn’t have been able to hump your rear as he “taught” you how to parallel turn.
Your agent believes you. He’s one of the good ones and the first thing he says is to call your mom to pick you up, even though she’s a day’s drive away. Then he says not to answer your phone for anyone but him. You’re leaving this shitshow and the legal ramifications could get ugly. You’re confused—shouldn’t they be the ones worried about legal ramifications? Yes, but you’re technically breaching contract by quitting this movie. You’ve never quit a job before.
Years later, when #MeToo floods feeds, you won’t tell this tale, or any of the others. You won’t tell them partly because they weren’t crimes and you don’t have proof, but mostly because you like picturing The Producers squirming with anxiety, flinching at every phone ring, scanning for their name in headlines awaiting their turn for blasting disgrace and blacklisted detriment. You savor knowing they live in cold dread, hopefully kissing their daughters goodnight more often and thanking their wives for not leaving them yet. You feel a tiny bit guilty—your secret could mean someone else’s story—but just like predators caught, every victim has the right to remain silent.
Besides, you know more guys than girls with a Hollywood #MeToo story. How has Bruce Weber not been Me-Tooed the fuck out of life, you’ll wonder, thinking of pretty boys with red-faced tales whose hands shook when they drunkenly told you what happened one time. When the trending hashtag is #BelieveWomen, no one wants to hear the #MeToo stories of straight white men. It’s not their time. Will it ever be?
But it’s 2009 and you aren’t thinking of these things yet.