Joyland

New York |

Come As You Are

by Bruce LaBruce

From a feature film in development with Existential Crisis Films written with Brock Konig Brock. www.brucelabruce.com

EXT. MEXICO - DAY

The naked body of a handsome young man with short blond hair suddenly lands hard on the ground in a cloud of dust.

This is Steve.

He looks around him. Several men with moustaches and/or sombreros look at him with disinterest from their spots in the shade.

Steve picks himself up and starts beating on the door out from which he was thrown.

STEVE

At least give me my jeans!

The door suddenly opens. Out. Knocking Steve back to the ground and bloodying his nose. A pair of jeans is thrown and lands on him.

As Steve struggles to pull them on under the unfriendly gaze of the moustachio'd men, the door opens again and he is thrown an oversized and somewhat comical cowboy hat.

INT./EXT. DESERT HIGHWAY

Steve drives with a determined look on his face. He pops some pills he takes from the glove box and washes them down with a bottle of tequila.

His jaw sets.

The smart little red sports car speeds across the desert kicking up a great cloud of dust.

EXT. LOS ANGELES STREET - DAY

The car squeals round a corner at a reckless high speed, scattering the traffic around it. The street is a typical, non-descript L.A. street -- Spanish style bungalows and condo blocks.

INT. RED SPORTS CAR

Steve's eyes are red, his face caked with dust from the road. He pops another handful of pills. Takes no notice of the mayhem he is causing in traffic.

EXT. LOS ANGELES STREET

The car careens up in front of a little L.A. bungalow and jumps the curb, smashing into a signpost and setting off the car's alarm.

CAR ALARM

Please step away from the car. Please step away from the car. An alarm will sound in thirty seconds.

Steve's hit his nose on the steering wheel of the car and is bleeding profusely again. After a groggy moment, Steve lifts up his head and in a state of total disarray -- shoeless, sockless, shirtless. He slams the door as the car alarm drones on...

CAR ALARM (CONT'D)

Ten seconds. An alarm will sound in ten seconds. Please step away from the car...

INT. BUNGALOW - MOMENTS LATER

The door swings open and Steve lurches in.

The bungalow is almost completely empty... white walls, beige carpet, hardly any furniture. Steve begins to stumble along the wall, leaving a trail of blood -- from his nose -- on the white paint.

He pushes off the wall and stumbles across the room towards a closed closet door.

Steve rummages at the bottom of a walk-in closet until he finds what he's looking for -- a small gift wrapped box. Inside of which is a beautiful little REVOLVER.

Steve's hands dreamily hold and caress the little gun before breaking it open and loading it shakily.

INT. BATHROOM - MOMENTS LATER

Steve stands before the bathroom mirror with the revolver at his temple. Calm now, resigned. His reflection stares back at him.

A hockey rink organ builds... bum-da-bum-dum, bum-da-bum-dum...

Feet stomping on wooden bleachers. Skates cutting on ice.

A crowd chanting, 'Harr-ing-ton... Harr-ing-ton...'

Steve shuts his eyes and pulls the trigger.

Nothing. The safety's on. The sound of the crowd and the organ cut out abruptly.

Steve takes the gun, switches off the safety and puts it back to his head. Not satisfied, he puts the pistol in his mouth.

The organ and crowd cut back in.

Steve gives his reflection one more good stare, then shuts his eyes and is about to pull the trigger when...

His beeper goes off, breaking the tension.

STEVE

(muffled with gun in mouth)

Shit.

His reflection stares at him with a slightly noticeable bemused expression.

Steve takes the pistol from his mouth, turns off the beeper without looking at the number, puts the revolver back in his mouth, takes a deep breath and is about to pull the trigger when...

His mobile phone goes off.

Frantic, Steve holds the gun in his mouth with one hand and whips out his phone and punches a button with the other, stopping it from ringing.

He shuts his eyes... deep breath... finger on the trigger...

The beeper goes off.

The mobile phone goes off.

Steve is beaten. The gun droops in his mouth as tears begin to well up in his eyes and the camera zooms in on his face.

The hockey rink organ builds... the crowd sounds cut in... 'Harr-ing-ton... Harr-ing-ton...'

INT. HOCKEY RINK

A high-school hockey game. Close in on the action. It's a rough game with lots of body checking. But we pick out one player cutting his way effortlessly through the opposing team.

On the back of his jersey, we see the bold letters spelling out HARRINGTON. Harrington cuts loose from the pack with the puck and takes an impressive slapshot and scores.

The crowd goes wild. Harrington takes a graceful arc behind the net and takes his helmet off to the cheers of the crowd. The boy's handsome face is not unlike Steve's, but his hair is dark. Harrington looks towards his team's bench where we find...

A younger Steve, also kitted up but not good enough to make the starting line-up. He watches Harrington with absolute awe... In Steve's eye, he moves in slow motion.

The buzzer signals the end of the game and...

INT. BATHROOM - CONTINUOUS

The buzzer becomes Steve's pager, still going off, and we find Steve just as we left him -- gun in mouth, staring at his reflection. Steve turns the taps on and splashes cold water on his face. Though he's bent below the level of the mirror, his reflection is still there. The sound of the water grows louder.

Mix in with the sound of rowdy, male voices...

INT. SHOWERS

The victorious team in the showers. Much horse-play and good-natured vulgarity. Innocent physicality. Chester Harrington is in the middle of it all.

Steve stands on the edge of the group, an outsider, watching Chester horsing around with the other players.

Steve catches Chester's eye and for a moment it seems like a magic moment. But then it becomes clear that Chester's eyes are trying to tell Steve something... gesturing down to Steve's
crotch.

Steve looks down but it's too late. He's got a hard-on and the others have noticed. The other boys come at Steve in slow motion, whipping him with their rolled up, wet towels.

They chase Steve into the toilets and force his head into the toilet bowl... Chester looks impassively on.

As Steve comes up for air...

INT. BATHROOM - CONTINUOUS

Steve stands up from splashing water on his face and once again stares at his reflection.

STEVE & REFLECTION

(together)

Let's do it.

There's a slight echo effect on the line, as if Steve and his reflection are two different voices.

STEVE

I will.

Once more he takes the gun and slides it into his mouth, shutting his eyes...

EXT. HOCKEY RINK - DAY

Steve bursts out of a door, running. His hair is wet, there are tears in his eyes. A moment later,

Chester comes out the same door.

CHESTER

Steve, wait!

But Steve doesn't stop. He runs down the middle of the suburban street, his gym bag over his shoulder. Close in on his face. He runs and he runs, as if he might run forever.

INT. BOYHOOD HOME - AFTERNOON

Younger Steve races into his bedroom, dumps his hockey bag, slams the door behind him, and throws himself onto his bed, almost in tears.

After a moment he reaches under his mattress and pulls out an old suitcase. He throws some clothes in, and then, from under the mattress, a well-worn and much treasured gay porno mag. He flicks through it to a well-worn page. The page features a bare-chested and be-bowtied Chad Channing in front of a line of similar looking men. Some are in silhouette miming various sexual acts and positions. Chad Channing is pointing his finger out from the page -- 'WE WANT YOU.'

It's an ad -- CHAD CHANNING'S TOMKAT THEATRE.

Steve's reverie is broken by the sound of a motorbike engine. He gets up and peeks out his window at Chester Harrington in the suburban street below, astride his little 125 dirty-bike as a long, lank-haired GIRL dismounts and shyly flirts with him. They kiss.

EXT. BOYHOOD HOME - CONTINUOUS

Chester looks up over the girl's shoulder and sees Steve looking down at him. He holds eye contact.

INT. BOYHOOD HOME - CONTINUOUS

Steve quickly turns away and lets the curtains fall back over the window. He looks down at the gay porno mag, still clutched in his hands, as the camera closes in on 'Chad Channing's Tomkat Theatre -- We Want You.'

INT. GREYHOUND BUS - DAY

Match cut -- Steve's still staring at the ad, but now he's sitting on a Greyhound bus. He puts the mag down and gazes out the window at the frozen, Canadian winter passing by. He's wearing his hockey jersey.

Music, laid back and easy, à la Midnight Cowboy.

EXT./INT. GREYHOUND BUS - DAY

A car full of teen-aged couples making out pulls up alongside of the bus, directly by Steve's window. Steve stares a bit too long at them and they hoot their horn and laugh and jeer at him before driving off into the frozen Canadian countryside.

EXT. GREYHOUND BUS - DAY

The bus passes through the American heartland. No snow here. A huge sun is rising magnificently.

INT. GREYHOUND BUS - NIGHT

Steve wakes with his head leaning against the window of the bus. A man in a cowboy shirt is asleep next to him. Cowboy Shirt's head and leg have lolled against Steve.

EXT. GREYHOUND BUS - DAY

The bus passes through the deserts of the Southwest.

INT. GREYHOUND BUS - NIGHT

Steve sneaks another look at his mag which he has hidden behind a copy of 'Sports Illustrated' (a hockey player on the cover.)

He looks over his shoulder at Cowboy Shirt -- asleep again.

EXT. GREYHOUND BUS - DAYy

The bus hits L.A. Seedy streets. Gangbangers in muscle-cars, hustlers, down-and-outers....

INT. GREYHOUND BUS - CONTINUOUS

Steve looks out at all of the streetlife, wide-eyed and a little fearful.

Cowboy Shirt pokes him on the shoulder and points out the windows on the other side of the
bus.

COWBOY SHIRT

Check it out, man. Hollywood.

Steve looks where Cowboy Shirt indicates -- the famous 'HOLLYWOOD' sign, high in the hills.

To do so, Steve must lean right over Cowboy Shirt.

STEVE

Hollywood....

Cowboy Shirt smiles predatorily at Steve.

EXT. BUS STATION - LATER

The bus pulls in. Air brakes discharge.

Passengers step off the bus.

Go inside the bus where Cowboy Shirt is just stepping out of the little toilet in the rear, adjusting his belt buckle and hat, before getting off the bus himself.

Go inside the dirty, wet little toilet where we find Steve truly wedged in between the toilet, sink and wall, his trousers down around his ankles.

EXT. BUS STATION - LATER

Steve steps off the now empty bus, trailing a wet piece of toilet paper from his shoe. He rubs his sore bottom, squints in the L.A. sunshine, and once more takes out his porno mag as we close in once more on the ad for the Tomkat Theatre...

EXT. TOMKAT THEATRE - LATER

Match cut-- but now as Steve lowers the ad in the mag we see that he's in front of the marquee for the theatre itself.

TOMKAT THEATRE STAGE - MOMENTS LATER

On a seedy cabaret stage, Steve stands rather self-consciously in a line-up with a handful of other hopeful young (and not so young) men. Steve stands out a mile in his hockey jersey -- so clean-cut and fresh-faced. As the others limber up, Steve stands awkwardly to the side, shielding his eyes from the spotlight and looking out into the dark room.

CHAD (O.S.)

Any time, people!

CHAD (O.S.) (CONT'D)

Enough please... next!

The dancer walks past a nervous looking Steve as another takes centre stage.

INT. TOMKAT AUDIENCE - CONTINUOUS

Chad Channing sits at a table in the darkened house, watching with ill-concealed boredom at the men auditioning for him.

CHAD

NEXT!

Chad's got a large drink and bottle of vodka from which he refills his glass frequently.

CHAD (CONT'D)

NEXT! Oh, for chrissakes, everyone just do it at the same time.

INT. TOMKAT THEATRE STAGE - CONTINUOUS

Steve nervously watches as the other dancers all begin to gyrate and otherwise erotically move. Steve begins to move and promptly is knocked over by another dancer.

INT. TOMKAT THEATRE AUDIENCE- CONTINUOUS

Chad covers his eyes with his hand in frustration. When he ventures a look between his fingers he sits bolt upright -- struck.

From Chad's PoV: We see on stage, Steve is busy trying to pick himself up off the ground, and in so doing is bending over with his rear to Chad.

Zero in on Steve's rear.

Zero in on Chad's face... zeroing in on Steve's rear.

INT. TOMKAT THEATRE - LATER

Steve stands before a dressing room door with a tin foil star tacked onto it. He knocks. No reply. Knocks again. No reply.

STEVE

Mr Channing?

The tin foil star falls off. Steve bends over to pick it up.

CHAD (O.S.)

Enter!

INT. DRESSING ROOM - CONTINUOUS


Chad flings the door open to see -- once again, Steve's rear pointing directly at him. He smiles at the sight.

Steve stands, blushing.

CHAD

Chad. Please. Call me Chad

Chad holds out his hand but Steve's still, literally, star-struck.

Chad's bungalow - later

The bungalow, like Steve's later, is practically empty. White walls, beige carpet, little furniture. On a bed, Chad is fucking Steve. Steve's head hangs off the front of the bed.

INT. CHAD'S BUNGALOW - LATER

Chad still fucking Steve. But we pull back to see that this is now taking place on Chad's wide-screen television -- videotaped.

A small cocktail party is in full swing and various porn stars and industry types mill about with drinks in their hands. Others crowd round the telly, watching Chad and Steve fucking.

Steve threads his way through the party and is buttonholed by a rather effeminate dandy in a smart suit with a flower in his lapel. This is Lance Mankiewitz, the famous porn director.

Across the room, Chad, behind the ad hoc bar and looking somewhat drunk, spies Steve and Lance talking and narrows his eyes suspiciously.

Lance shouts into Steve's ear above the party.

LANCE

Steve -- do you mind if I call you Steve?

STEVE

Yes. I mean, no.

Lance puts his arm around Steve.

LANCE

Good. Now you have a choice between Dallas and St Yves. Preference?

STEVE

Come again?

LANCE

You're from Montreal, right?

STEVE

Toronto.

LANCE

Great. So we can definitely play up the French angle. Anyway, nothing beats a good Saint name. Yves Saint Laurent, Antoine de Saint Exupery, Susan Saint James, Jill St. John, Lily St. Cyr, Eva Marie Saint. See what I mean?

STEVE

Um, no.

LANCE

Trust me, it's good. Yves, as in Montand... St-eve St Yves... It's too perfect. A porn star is born.

Lance directs Steve over towards the wide screen television.

LANCE (CONT'D)

Your audition tape is a huge success.

The people watching seem to part around him as Steve threads his way over to the telly to see himself -- for the first time -- on the screen. As if in a trance, Steve walks straight up to the screen.

STEVE

Wow.

On screen, Steve reaches out a hand towards the (unseen) camera as Chad fucks him. Real-life Steve reaches out his own hand to touch that of his image. Steve and his IMAGE make eye contact.

IMAGE ON TELLY

Ungh... ungh... ungh...

STEVE

(imitating himself)

Ungh... ungh... ungh...

INT. CHAD'S BUNGALOW - LATER

Lance and Chad stand watching Steve. They don't look at each other as they talk, but keep their eyes on the screen, on Steve.

CHAD

Lance.

LANCE

Chad.

CHAD

I see you've met Stephen.

LANCE

Steve. He's a natural.

CHAD

Let's just remember who found him, Mankiewitz.

LANCE

Come on, Channing. This boy doesn't belong on your little stage. Look at him take it. He was born to be fucked. On film.

CHAD

Perhaps we should talk business some other time.

LANCE

You want to talk? Talk.

CHAD

I found him, Lance.

LANCE

I thought he found you, Channing.

CHAD

He's mine.

LANCE

We'll see.

Chad gives Lance a vicious kick in the shins.

INT. CHAD'S BUNGALOW - CONTINUOUS

Steve's trance is broken by the sound of fighting. He turns round to see Chad and Lance
grappling with each other.

LANCE

You'll never work in this burg again, Channing. I'll have your little flea-pit of a theatre closed down! No one kicks Lance Mankiewitz in the shins and gets away with it!

CHAD

Get out of my condo, Mankiewitz!

Chad drunkenly tries to go for Lance again. Steve physically restrains him.

STEVE

Chad... Mr Mankiewitz --

LANCE

Lance.

STEVE

Can't we all just be friends?

Steve's line falls like a lead weight.

CHAD

Friends? Friends? In Hollywood? Friends? I'll tell you something, Mr Just Off the Bus From Montreal--

STEVE

Toronto.

CHAD

-- these aren't your friends. They may look like your friends. They may talk like your friends. But as they're patting you on the back with one hand, they'll be ripping your guts out with the other. They're not your friends. They're my friends.

Chad makes a violent sweeping gesture with his arm -- indicating everyone in the room -- and accidentally catches Steve across the face with the back of his hand. Steve falls... and crashes through a glass top coffee table. The crowd gasps.

Steve lies woozily amidst the shards of glass. Out of focus directly above him is a dark and handsome face leaning over him. This is Adam STORM, the hot new porn star. Steve shakes his head to clear it as Adam extends a hand to help him up.

ADAM

Hi. You're bleeding.

Steve, still seeing stars, tries to focus on the three or four Adams kaleidoscoping in front of his
eyes.

ADAM (CONT'D)

Steve St Yves.

STEVE (V.O.)

I think I'm in love.