Chapter 6. Dave Crowe: the dick of death
Jason’s agent, Myra Mae Grant, gets him auditioned for a part in late-night TV soap Eldorado, which is set in Florida (but filmed in California) and stars Latino super-stud Rudi Vallarte, Broadway legend Wanda Winsome and Tawdra Thanatos, who plays Topaz Leon, Eldorado‘s answer to J.R. Ewing or Alexis Colby.
* * * * *
It was in its third year when Jason successfully auditioned for a small role as a highway patrolman who stops Topaz Leon for speeding on the road to Eldorado. She flirts with him; he tears up the ticket. This trivial incident has far-reaching consequences since, half-a-mile down the road, Topaz does a hit-and-run job on Wanda Winsome’s bicycling granddaughter (Jason’s acting-class fuck-buddy Sandy in her first non-speaking TV role).
By now Eldorado’s weekly audience was double that for the ‘Who Shot JR?’ episodes of Dallas. Latinos accounted for 43 percent of viewers, gay fans of Wanda (and Rudi Vallarte’s pecs) for an estimated 3 percent.
Calls and e-mails to the studio about the blue-eyed patrolman ran over six hundred. The producers called Myra Mae. The writers were already working on Jason’s return. As a bandaged Sandy breathes through a respirator, Topaz’s jilted lover (George Swann, her stepson and third jilted lover this series) gets a tip-off from a bodyshop worker and calls the DA’s office. Topaz claims the car was stolen on the night in question. Her current lover (Rudi Vallarte, another stepson – two consecutive Phaedra references) gives her an alibi. Can anyone prove she is lying…?
Cue Jason Howl.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Let’s not drag this out. We’ve all seen the show. The kid dies, so now it’s a murder charge. At the end of this episode Jason, in a pair of tantalisingly bulging shorts, is watching the news in his apartment. His return is a silent one: the camera closes in as recognition dawns (Jason’s performance lacks subtlety: ‘dawning recognition’ looks as if someone has jammed a revolver up his ass). His face fills the screen – ooh, those cornflower-blue eyes! Freeze and roll credits.
In the racing end credits for his previous appearance ‘Patrolman … Jason Howl’ was sandwiched between ‘Waitress’ and ‘Valet’. Now his character has a name, ‘Dave Crowe’ and – wow! – is preceded by an ‘And’. In the next episode Jason Howl’s name features in the opening credits. Two months from now his face and name will become part of the opening montage.
The phone calls and e-mails reached thousands. Half of them praised his eyes, the other half rhapsodised – some graphically – over his physique. Jason was assigned a publicist who had to send out signed photos (signed by her) to over four hundred fans who’d mailed a return envelope.
Teasingly, at the beginning of the next episode ‘Dave Crowe’ is back in uniform. It’s a big scene, reporting to an Orange County Assistant DA that he remembers pulling Topaz Leon over on the night of the hit-and-run.
‘She came on to me and –’ Jason scowls, indicating guilt, anguish, remorse – ‘I tore up the ticket.’
‘This could land you in a whole heap of trouble,’ says the ADA, a lardy actor who not so many years ago had his own series as a private investigator. ‘It might be better for your own career if you kept this under your shirt.’ (This line is telegraphing that a) the truth will out and, b) Jason’s shirt will come off. Shirts are frequently off in Eldorado, bad-boy Rudi Vallarte’s more than most.)
‘No, sir. I just gotta do what’s right,’ says Dave. Jason screws up his face to communicate the enormity of this triumph of virtue over venality.
Needless to say, we are not through with venality. After Dave/Jason leaves his office, the ADA gets on the line to Topaz who’s got some handy dirt on him that has so far caused charges of grand larceny, arson, murder one and a prior hit-and-run to be loudly dropped.
There are other plot lines on the go, of course, involving other members of the land-stealing Leon clan and the Fernandez and Lopez pretenders. All three families, in this global ‘otherworld’ that is soap, keep discovering new siblings/offspring/exes. Topaz Leon and Esmeralda Leon Fernandez (Wanda Winsome) regularly turn up at each other’s homes/offices/love-nests/garden- and dinner-parties to kvetch or bitch or even, at least once per series (in that glorious tradition established by the Carrington women), get down to some dirty hand-to-hand stunt-combat.
At the end of the episode Topaz turns up at Dave Crowe’s door wearing a low-cut lemon-yellow dress with a short skirt and narrow shoulder-straps. Jason, just out of the shower, opens the door in a towel, his face and hair wet, his bodyhair trimmed to designer stubble.
‘Aren’t you going to ask me in?’ Topaz purrs.
Jason does his gun-up-the-ass expression. ‘Ma’am, I don’t think –’
‘That’s right,’ she snaps. ‘You don’t think.’
The camera briefly tracks down Jason from his scowling face to the towel-line (is something twitching down there?) before freezing on Tawdra Thanatos in one of those leering/triumphant looks that older viewers can trace back to Larry Hagman.
* * * * *
Something was twitching down there, which sharp-eyed viewers and those who slo-mo’ed their VCRs would catch.
For ease of continuity the rest of this scene was already in the can: 45 seconds of screen-time plus a minute and a half of unintended footage that would lift Jason’s career once and for all from the rut of kick-boxing stunts and six-line walk-ons.
* * * * *
‘A nude scene?’ Vaz had echoed. ‘How nude?’
‘Just my ass, they say. Do I have to?’
‘Let me look at your contract and talk to Myra Mae.’
* * * * *
‘It’ll be the making of him,’ said Myra Mae. ‘Tell him to do the scene. Tell him to do one every fucking week.’
* * * *
They wanted plenty. Not every week. Teasing was the name of the game. Sometimes – not often – he might keep his clothes on for a whole month.
And, inevitably, Some People (and their agents) weren’t too happy about the shift of focus to this 23-year-old nobody from Huntington Beach with the killer ass and, shortly to be immortalised on film, the Dick of Death.
* * * *
We’ve all speculated – haven’t we? – about nude scenes in mainstream TV and movies. How come you see tit and ass and, if you’re lucky, pussy but never dick? How do they hide it? What happens if the actor gets a hard-on? For Jason these questions would now be answered. On the day of the nude shoot he snorted a couple of lines to psych himself up.
Nude, he discovered, wasn’t actually nude. Or wasn’t meant to be.
‘What’s this?’ he asked Tracy, the makeup girl, when he went back to his dressing-room after the towel-scene. She was holding a triangular scrap of flesh-coloured cotton.
‘It’s to cover up your – you know – down there.’
‘Oh.’ Jason’s dumbstruck expression would have been useful on set. ‘I thought I’m supposed to be naked.’
‘Well, you’ll look naked. But you won’t actually be naked. Tawdra doesn’t want to see your – you know.’
Jason took the piece of material from Tracy. ‘How does it stay on?’
She held out her other hand. ‘Surgical tape.’
He grinned. ‘Are you wearing crotchless pantyhose?’
Ridiculously, considering the task ahead of her, Tracy blushed. ‘Yes, I am. Why d’you ask?’
‘Well – this looks to me like the hoseless crotch!’ He laughed loudly at his own joke. The girl joined in. Then:
‘OK,’ she said. ‘Drop the towel.’ Jason’s grin evaporated.
She retook possession of the cotton triangle. ‘I have to fix this on.’
It was his turn to redden under the makeup. ‘Can’t I do it?’
‘It’s easier for me. I’ve done it before.’
‘We’re not supposed to talk about it, but …‘ She named three A-list stars, looking round nervously and lowering her voice as if they might be within earshot.
‘No kidding.’ He thought about asking her who had the biggest dick but decided this would breach studio etiquette and ethics. ‘We’d better get on with it, then.’ He dropped the towel. Tracy knelt in front of him and, as if on cue, that which had recently twitched on set now urgently surged and throbbed inches from her face.
‘Jeesus,’ she said reverently.
Jason went an even more lurid shade of scarlet under his makeup. The coke didn’t seem to be working – or perhaps it was. ‘Sorry about this,’ he mumbled. It felt odd to be apologising for what, since high school, had been his most prized asset.
Tracy stood up. ‘I’d better get Kevin in.’
Kevin, short and plump, was Head of Makeup. By the time he entered the dressing-room the problem had solved itself. Jason was still nude in front of the mirror which reflected a droll image, face and body made up except for his midsection which was also divided into the area that was tanned and the area that was not. The tidal surge had fully subsided.
‘They need you in porno, Jason,’ Kevin said. ‘A guy who can turn wood on and off.’ As Kevin took the flesh-coloured triangle and knelt where Tracy had knelt, Jason’s ‘wood’ had never seemed such a sapless sapling.
And so it remained as Kevin applied surgical tape and then body makeup. Jason had to hold the towel clear of his ass so that it wouldn’t smudge the makeup before he dropped it on-camera. Under the towel his gonads shrank to a pre-pubescent state as he walked barefoot through the studio and the clusters of cameramen, sound, lighting and continuity people, set dressers, the director and his assistant, two of the producers and even someone from the orange-juice company that sponsored the show. Since the scene was not going to be explicit, they weren’t operating a ‘closed set’. Jason was grateful for the scrap of cotton that would shield his inadequacy from the gossip columns when he dropped the towel.
Tawdra Thanatos, still showing plenty of cleavage in her lemon dress, gave him a cheesy grin that did not put him at his ease. They’d rehearsed the scene dressed; now they retook their positions on either side of the doorway.
‘Let’s try for a take,’ said the director. Three cameras began to roll. The director called ‘Action’. Jason remembered to hold the towel clear of his ass with his left hand out of camera sight.
Topaz enters Dave Crowe’s living-room. ‘I hear you’re planning to testify for the DA,’ she says.
Jason, dreading the moment to come, managed to remember his lines.
‘Ma’am, you killed that girl,’ says Dave. Topaz opens her purse.
‘How much to forget you ever saw me?’
Jason (he practised this in front of a mirror at home) furrows his brow. ‘What kind of cop do you think I am?’
Thanatos raises her eyebrows. ‘You tell me.’
Dave narrows his lips. ‘Not the kind you can buy off.’
Topaz closes her purse. ‘Don’t screw with me, Patrolman. I can stop your career dead in its tracks.’
Jason does his cocky beach-guy look. ‘Not from behind bars, you can’t.’
‘With my connections? You wanna take a chance on that?’ She takes a step towards him. ‘Come on now – Dave, isn’t it?’ Jason nods dumbly and with visible apprehension.
‘It doesn’t have to be like this,’ Topaz purrs. ‘I was hoping we could be friends.’ She pauses and licks her lips provocatively, a lip-smacking sight with which we are all happily familiar. ‘Good friends.’
Jason backs off, looking (it was how he felt) like a cornered animal. Thanatos slips her left shoulder-strap off, then the right. The dress falls down and –
Despite his apprehension Jason felt another twitch starting beneath his towel and the scrap of cotton.
‘Cut,’ called the director as the dress, taped in place like Jason’s miniature loincloth, stopped falling and actually covered more of Thanatos’s chest than it had when the straps were up. Jason did his frown in genuine puzzlement. The twitching stopped.
‘That was fine, Tawdra,’ the director said. ‘Jason, you don’t need to look so scared. She isn’t going to eat you. Not on-camera, anyway!’ Laughter from the crew and another big grin from Ms Thanatos. ‘Nancy!’ the director yelled.
‘Here, Frank,’ said an unfamiliar voice with a Texan twang. Another Tawdra Thanatos in an identical yellow dress walked into Dave Crowe’s living-room.
Prior to being offered his first appearance Jason had only seen isolated episodes of Eldorado at his mother’s house. He’d seen Ms Thanatos in two nude scenes – back view only, of course, once with just a hint of breast on a partial profile shot. It had not occurred to him that it wasn’t Thanatos he was seeing.
Her nude stand-in, Nancy, looked less like her than did Linda, her stunt-double whom Jason had seen in the canteen. Both were in their early twenties and the same size as Ms Thanatos, but Nancy with a different wig and the right clothes could as easily have doubled for Rudi Vallarte. Beneath the ‘Topaz’ makeup she had broad cheekbones and a wide mouth with big teeth. She beamed Jason a four-inch smile.
‘Here we are about to get down and dirty,’ she said in a Lucy Ewing drawl, ‘and we haven’t been introduced! Hi there, Jason Howl. I’m Nancy Schlitz.’
‘Hi, Nancy,’ he managed to get out. He wondered why they hadn’t rehearsed together and then realised that this scene was similar to the others she’d done – back view, bare ass. Were her tits covered below the cleavage? (Was that another twitch?) Would she be wearing something similar to him ‘down there’, as Tracy would say? (Oh God, it was a twitch.)
‘OK, people, let’s rock and roll,’ said Frank. ‘Jason, you’ve moved. That’s it. Nancy, left a bit. Right a bit. Look towards him – yes. Head higher – there. Remember: left strap, right strap. Jason, got your moves ready?’
Jason nodded. He tried to focus on what he had to do, tried not to think about what he might be about to see, tried – desperately – to control the twitching. Tawdra Thanatos, her straps restored, was sitting next to one of the producers. She flashed Jason another smile. He smiled limply back, hoping, praying, that everything else stayed limp.
‘Jason, focus on Nancy’s chin,’ Frank called. ‘One take would be good for everybody, but don’t worry if you fuck up. Cameras rolling? Lighting? Sound? OK, people … And action!’
Nancy’s face was out of shot so she didn’t need to duplicate any of Thanatos’s lip-licking. Her expression was deadpan as she repeated Topaz’s moves with the shoulder-straps. The dress shimmered to the floor around her yellow spike heels, again identical to Tawdra’s. Uncovered and unsupported, her breasts were, Jason guessed, bigger than Thanatos’s, with small budlike nipples. Forgetting that he was on-camera he lowered his eyes to where she too had a scrap of cotton taped to her thighs and abdomen. A stray curl of blonde pubic hair was visible on one side.
‘Jason, we’re not making porno here,’ Frank called (these scenes always play to an orgasmic swell of music, so the director’s voice would be wiped). ‘Don’t look at her twat. Look at her tits.’
Jason raised his head a fraction and focused his eyes on Nancy’s large firm breasts with their small hard nipples.
‘That’s a great expression, Jason,’ said Frank. Jason was no longer acting. ‘Now drop the towel. Watch your makeup.’
Jason dropped the towel. And the career-defining moment arrived.
Notwithstanding the crowd of onlookers, the twitch beneath the cotton triangle taped to Jason’s abdomen and thighs became a stirring. Nancy lowered her eyes without moving her head. Her solemn expression changed to a smile that was possibly five inches wide. ‘Well, Ah can see you’re pleased to see me!’ she said in a Mae West voice. A gale of laughter greeted her observation.
‘Ow.’ Jason yelped as the surgical tape began to tug at the hairs on his perineum, but despite the sudden pain the process that had restarted continued inexorably until that which it had briefly constrained cast off the surly bond of cotton and surged into the full view of 27 awestruck onlookers. Tawdra Thanatos’s mouth opened but she did not speak.
There would be – courtesy of the Internet – millions more viewers. As well as the cameras behind Jason and Nancy, a third cameraman was standing by to film head-and-shoulder profiles when Ms Thanatos resumed her position. Not needed at present, he held his steadicam at hip level. But it was pointing towards Jason and Nancy and had been running since Frank called ‘Action’. A shot of hunky Jason Howl in just a codpiece would provide a tasty treat for Camera Three’s boyfriend and their gay pals. He was getting more than he could have dreamt of. This 90-second footage would be the most watched X-rated tape since Rudi Vallarte’s beach-babe balcony blowjob and, arguably, the most watched performance of Jason’s career.
Everyone on set stood as if frozen by a pause button. Belatedly, Frank called ‘Cut! Cut, for Christ’s sake.’ Two of the three cameramen obeyed.
Ms Thanatos’s mouth closed. ‘Call me when you’ve sorted this out,’ she said curtly and walked off the set. As Jason realised that his career might now be hanging by a cotton thread, the ‘wood’ rediscovered some elasticity and slipped beneath its modesty panel, which was still adhering to his six-pack abdomen. He was trying to formulate an apology when the director got in first:
‘Take him back to his dressing-room, Kevin.’
‘Sure, Frank.’ Kevin, grinning broadly, picked up Jason’s towel. Jason wrapped it round himself with fumbling haste.
‘I’m sorry about this, Mr –’
‘Call me Frank, Jason. And don’t worry. You know what they say: shit happens. And sometimes wood. Wood is easier to handle than shit!’
There was more laughter and an easing of tension. Camera Three quietly switched off his steadicam as Jason disappeared off set behind Kevin. A buzz of conversation broke out behind them.
‘OK, big boy,’ said Kevin inside the dressing-room. ‘We have three ways round this problema. One, I tape you up inside a baseball-player’s cup, which you might send flying across the set and give someone a nasty concussion! Or I leave you to jerk off and then we go back with the cotton on.’
‘Jesus,’ said Jason, realising that everyone on set would know that this was what he had been sent here to do.
‘The third alternative,’ Kevin said, ‘is me giving you a quick blowjob. Only kidding,’ he added as Jason backed away. ‘But I can get Nancy in if you want.’
‘Are blowjobs in her contract?’
‘Let’s say you wouldn’t be the first person to get one in the line of duty.’
‘Other actors have had this – problem – with nude scenes?’
Kevin shook his head. ‘It’s usually done in the name of stress relief, like a session with the studio masseur. Don’t ask who: my lips are sealed – unlike Nancy’s! She gets an extra five hundred from the Hospitality Account, though I think she’d be just as happy to do them pro bono.’
‘Pro boner, in my case!’ said Jason, and they shared a dirty laugh.
‘I’d better let you get on with it,’ Kevin said. ‘Time is money, as Mr S. keeps reminding us.’ Jason thought rapidly. His reputation was already shot. Did he also want to be known as a jerk-off?
‘Get Nancy in here,’ he said hoarsely.
* * * * *
Reader (dear reader!), I’m not sure if this is a book worth continuing or trying to publish. There are plenty of Hollywood books out there. Does JASON HOWL stand any chance of being noticed? Do YOU want to read more about him – and about his future co-star Katharine Kane, teenage porn-queen?
Let me know . And – please – direct your friends to this Extract. I need more Followers/Readers!