Friday, July 27, 2007

Penthouse Party (A Choose Your Own Adventure Post)


The otherr night, my friend John and I went to a DVD release party, which is sort of like a movie premier only sad. Even more sad because this release party was for the Penthouse: My First Girlfriend DVD (tagline: “Thy wanted it to be special . . .”). How did we end up here? Let’s just say that in my line of work, these invitations are constantly forwarded to you by people who have better things to do. And when I saw they were giving away vodka, I figured alcohol + soft core all girl pornography – dignity = a great time.

I was not right.

But I did spend a couple of hours there, and since I didn’t have a blog in college, I really missed out on the opportunity to write posts about girls making out. Unfortunately, I also missed out on the opportunity to write posts about girls making out this time too, because none did. The closest I saw two girls get was when one used a vodka bottle as a prop penis and the other one bent over in front of her, but even then they didn’t seem sincere.

So, in the interest of you, the reader, I decided to spice up the content. Everyone remembers the “choose your own adventure” books from their youth, or, if you were developmentally challenged and didn’t read maybe you remember other kids talking about them. Well, the same premise applies here. At the end of the intro there will be two story lines to choose from, one marked tits (tits) and one marked ass (ass). One will be the story of what actually happened and one will be the story as it should have happened. Basically, follow either the tits, the ass, or follow both. Just make sure “it’s special.”


John and I meet outside the club in midtown where the party is being held. I am a little late after having a wardrobe crisis. I figure at a Penthouse party there is a fine line between overdressed (desperate) and underdressed (touching yourself through your pocket). For some reason I can hear a scantily clad playmate whispering to her friend, “I can’t believe he’s wearing slacks.” In my heart of hearts, I know this is unreasonable, yet it leaves me standing in front of my closet wishing I had more “dressy casual” clothes, which, in turn, leaves me feeling not so good about myself. Regardless, we meet out front, trying to appear like we’ve “been there before” when really if you’ve been to a Penthouse party before chances are you aren’t concerned with things like “appearances.”

We walk up to the bouncer, who happens to be very large, black and oddly well-dressed (I’m self-conscious already) and he says, “May I help you gentlemen?”

I respond:

tits “We’re here for the party?” in the form of a question.

ass “Depends, are there naked women in there?” in the form of a stupid joke.

tits “What party?” the bouncer cooly responds.

This throws me. There are people within earshot of us, people who are going places that have nothing to do with soft-core porn. As a general rule, I am usually one of those people. And I know what I would say about someone if I overheard them say, “The Penthouse party.” I would say something like, “Penthouse is a poor pimp’s Playboy,” and whoever I was with would politely make pretend to laugh.

So I lean in and whisper, “The Penthouse party.” I immediately feel like someone’s sketchy uncle. The bouncer waves us in. Apparently, whatever list our names were on was merely a list for knowing who to blackmail, not for admittance purposes.

We walk down dimly lit stairs, not saying a word to each other. We are unsure of what we are walking into. Will it be like a bachelor party, where men sit around drinking and ogling strippers? Or will it be like when you were a teenager and someone got their hands on a porn video and you sat there in your basement next to your buddy watching it not saying a word?

As we get closer to the entrance, we hear music. That is all we hear. We look at each other we a knowing look, a look that shares the sentiment, “We should turn ba-” But before we could complete the thought we were in the room: us, and about five other people, in a room large enough for a hundred. I wonder for a second if this is meant to be a surprise party, and any minute a hoard of scantily clad girls will jump out of hiding places holding DVDs. This does not happen.

Instead, John and I deal with this like we deal with most problems and drink. The party is hosted by V2* vodka, so that is the only thing that is free. Not like I care, of course. They could be offering whiskey-tinis and I would drink them as long as they were free. So John and I settle down at a table and take it all in.

I may have dozed off, but two hours later we are ready to leave. The place has slowly become filled with exactly the kind of people you would guess would be at a Penthouse party: old men with young girlfriends, frat boys, washed-up Penthouse models and teenage girls abused/naïve enough to respond to those ads on Craigslist to “make quick money” by “mingling” at a party and “bending over to pick things up in your miniskirt.”

At some point, I have been handed a raffle ticket. It says “Staples” on it and has a number. I have no idea what it is for. John and I decide it is worth staying to find out. Besides, it appears a “show” is about to start (there is indeed a spotlight and a makeshift stage). I save us a couple of prime seats on a couch and John goes to get the drinks. Just as he leaves, a woman sits down next to me. Because I know you guys are all shallow, she is not attractive. She isn’t ugly either, she is just stuck in the meaty portion of the curve reserved for women who shop at Ann Taylor. She introduces herself as though we are at a corporate mixer.

I don’t remember her name exactly, but I do remember that she is married, from Ottawa, and a “special needs” teacher. All in all, it is a unspectacular encounter made memorable by two things:

1. John comes back to tell us that the open bar is over. We gesture that, taking this into account, our reason to be there is over as well. She nearly jumps off the couch and says, “Well first round’s on me!” I’ve been alive for 27 years, drinking for 20 of them, and never has a random girl bought me a drink. It was so awkward that I immediately assumed she would spike my drink and excise my kidney for sale on the Canadian black market.

2. Just as John and I are weighing our options, a shortish, middle-aged hyper-active man walks up behind Canadian Teacher and puts his hand on her shoulder.

“I thought I lost you. You having fun?” he asks.

“Yes, a ton,” she responds.

“OK, I’m going over here now, but I’m coming back for you.” He winks.


She explains that this guy walked up to her outside and asked if she wanted to go to a party with him. And, of course, because it would be impolite to not go to a porno DVD release party when invited on the street, she says yes. This is when John and I decide that maybe another round of drinks is a bad idea, and as we leave Canadian Teacher gives us both a hearty handshake. Her wide eyes are communicating either, “HELP ME! I’M A KIDNAP VICTIM” or “I’M FUCKING CRAZY.” Either way, not my problem.

On the way out, John and I stop to look in the gift bags to see if there is anything worthwhile. They are empty. It seems a fitting end to our night.

ass “Hell yeah there’s naked women in there!” the bouncer responds.

John and I give the bouncer a fist pound as we brush past him into the club. Immediately we are wading through women in lingerie as though a whore levy just broke. One grabs me by the arm and whispers in my ear, “I love your outfit.”

John and I make our way to a reserved table where we sit and have vodka martinis served to us. A topless model mistakes me for Joseph Fiennes and asks me for my autograph. I give it to her. Everywhere there are women holding hands, playing footsy and motor boating one another.

We are informed that the “show” will be a dramatic interpretation of the DVD story with 10 Penthouse models on stage. They ask for a volunteer from the audience. John lifts up my arm for me, and they immediately call on me. I sheepishly make my way to the stage, pausing halfway there to spin around and throw John a “You dog!” finger point. Everyone is clapping.

Once on stage, the women inform me that they will each act out their “first time” with me. The task seems daunting, but I’m not about to let the audience down. The first model approaches me and sits on my lap. She begins to address the audience, “I was 16 and at sleep away camp.” But she doesn’t get any further; she is interrupted by a spontaneous orgasm. Like a string of dominoes, all the women on the stage break into orgasms of their own. It is a cacophony of screams. I throw the model from my lap, stand up and bow for the audience. The curtain comes down and I am whisked out the back entrance.

Outside, I meet a Canadian special needs teacher who sneaks up behind me and presses a chloroformed rag against my mouth (I knew she was a Canadian special needs teacher because she introduced herself while attacking me). The next morning I woke in a bathtub full of ice with a kidney missing. There was a note on the toilet that read, “Don’t worry, the police are on their way, aye.” I resolved right then and there that my Penthouse partying days were over.

* I found out the next day that V2 vodka contains caffeine and taurine, the essential amino acid found in Red Bull and other energy drinks. meaning that I was wide awake when I got home, left with plenty of time to recount the night’s events. Needless to say, I hate V2 vodka. But I have to thank the guy who works for V2 vodka who emailed me the banner picture after I approached him at the party and told him I wrote an entertainment blog and would love to cover the party. In hindsight, I can’t believe how much is wrong with that sentence.

Monday, July 23, 2007

I’m Starting to Think New York Is A Dick


You know that feeling you’re supposed to get when you come back from vacation? The one that is a mix of sadness and relief – sadness because you are back in a world where you have responsibilities that go beyond “moving away from the crowd when you pee in the ocean,” yet relief because you are back where surroundings are familiar and the TV channels aren’t all mixed up? Yeah, well I’m not getting that lately.

I flew back into New York this morning after spending the weekend with Brooke in Wilmington, NC.* A brief summary of Wilmington: It’s not even like a town they make movies about. They make movies about making movies about towns like this. (State and Main? Anyone? “Who designed these costumes? It looks like Edith Head puked, and that puke designed these costumes.” Great movie.) Long story short, if Wilmington had tits and a vagina I might get drunk on gin and make a huge mistake with it.

So it was hard to leave. Doubly hard because After a spate of storms across the Eastern seaboard screwed up our travel plans last week, we ended up shifting everything around, and after calling 20 different people for four different reservations, the dust settled and we were on a 6:30AM flight back to LaGuardia Airport. Do you have any idea how early you have to wake up to make a 6:30 flight? Or more correctly, how late you have to stay awake to make a 6:30 flight? I’m so tired right now I don’t remember eating lunch. It was like lunch was a dream – a really good one, with pizza and ghosts and naked girls. Hell, I’m so tired right now that I’m still writing this paragraph. I’m not even sure I have a blog. I also smell really bad because I came directly from the airport to work in clothes that aren’t exactly recently unworn. Plus I slept on the plane and you know how a person gets warm and smelly when they sleep. Literally, I’m typing anything that comes into my head. I hate Kelly Clarkson. I DIDN’T EVEN KNOW I HATED KELLY CLARKSON UNTIL I JUST WROTE THAT.

Anyway, like I was saying, usually when I get back from vacations, there is at least a hint of “it’s good to be home.” But sometimes in New York you come home and instead of “It’s good to be back,” it’s more like “What’s that smell?” or “Why are you stabbing me?” Whereas I used to find it charming (“I’m being stabbed! In New York! How cool!”), it’s just wearing on me now. I mean, in Wilmington you walk along the street and people say hello to you or sometimes even “Good evening,” which, in 2007, is the linguistic equivalent of a reach around. But then I get home today and I walk to the pizza place and no one says a word to me. Not a “Hey” or a “How’s it going?” or even a smile. One guy even spit on me. In all fairness to him, I think he was trying to spit on the person behind me, but the point is why are you spitting on people? It doesn’t have to be that way.

Also, I say Hairspray while I was gone. Here is my one-line review: John Travolta should always play a woman, and that woman should always kiss Christopher Walken.

* It’s only narrowly a red state, and I promise Wilmington is one of the bluer cities. I mean, there was a kid performing acoustic Radiohead at the diner where we had breakfast. It doesn’t get much bluer than that, in both senses of the word.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Million Dollar Idea #3

I was on the subway yesterday pretending to read a book while listening to the conversation between a man and a woman next to me when the woman slyly pointed at two young kids who were playing tag around a pole in the middle of the car. As they swung around giggling and occasionally knocking into people’s legs, the woman commented, “Look at these kids. It’s like they were raised by a pack of wolves.”

Now it just so happens that the other night, plagued by the dearth of quality TV shows in the summer, I was watching a nature show on wolves. And you know what? Wolves are getting a really raw deal with this commonly used expression. A wolf pack is actually a very organized, stable environment in which to be raised. I mean, these kids playing tag were unruly. They lacked structure and discipline. I don’t even know where their parents were. For all I know they were orphans celebrating that they just escaped from their foster home. The point is, they were obviously going to grow up to use drugs and steal other people’s property. Do you think that would fly in a wolf pack? Hell no! Do you know what happens if you steal something from a wolf? It kills you. That’s discipline.

That’s when it hit me: Million Dollar Idea #3 . . . “The Wolf Pack Adoption Agency” (Potential slogan: “Where you only need to cry wolf once.”)

Here’s how it works: A crackwhore in middle America gets pregnant to avoid incarceration on impending prostitution charges. She can’t afford to terminate the pregnancy (follow my logic here) so she carries the baby to term. Miraculously, it is mostly unharmed by the rampant invetro drug abuse. Once she has the baby, she puts it up for adoption, but no one will take it, because she was too lazy to take him to the adoption agency and now he is seven and likes to play with fire. So here, normally, the baby would go into the foster care system.

But now, thanks to the lucrative deal inked between an overburdened Child Protective Services and “Wolf Pack Adoption Agency,” the child gets placed with a wolf pack. There it learns the discipline and responsibility it needs to survive, such as how to properly take on a submissive stance when threatened by the Alpha Wolf, or how not to get kicked by a Caribou when out on a hunt. Critics may point out that many children will be killed during the initial testing of the program, but I’ll remind you that until only recently, the grey wolf was actually nearing endangerment. So it’s a win for conservationists, a win for state government, and a win for corporate innovation.

See Also:
Million Dollar Idea #2
Million Dollar Idea #1

Monday, July 16, 2007

Italy > New York


I’ve had some time to recover from my Italy withdrawal, and when I woke up this morning unjetlagged and not craving an immediate carb fix for the first time in a week, I swung around in bed, planted my feet on the floor and thought, “Good, back to normal.”

(I was going to follow that up with, “Then I cried.” But I didn’t. Like I said, things are back to normal. And the norm for a situation like this – albeit rare – is to suck in all your emotions and bottle them up until it forms a lump in your chest, like a little, deadly kitten nestling into the bed of your heart, until finally you can’t take its incessant pawing anymore and someone reaches in front of you in line at the deli to slap 50 cents on the counter for a newspaper and you “accidentally” spill coffee on his arm because you can’t take it anymore. And then you cry.)

Unlike other addictions like gambling and heroin, you can’t cure an Italy addiction by feeding it. If I am someday going to be thrown in jail, I want it to be for something cool (like armed robbery), not because I violated the immigration laws of a peaceful European nation. Despite the Keanu Reeves film “A Walk in the Clouds,” you can’t just take a job on a vineyard, marry a woman pregnant with another man’s baby and call it a life. It’s not that easy.

But that doesn’t change the fact that Keanu Reeves gives a monster performance in that film as a functionally retarded American serviceman, nor does it change the fact that Italy is just a better country. Either they’re doing something right, or we’re doing something wrong, or those things are mutually inclusive, but (pardon my French) America sucks. Sure, the United States has freedom and reality television and fruit smoothies (which are wildly underrated), but if you look at the big picture, you’ll agree with me. Consider:

1. YOU CAN’T GET DRUNK. I blame most of it on altitude (it seems you are constantly walking up some hill or another), but the fact of the matter is we drank non-stop. I’m not saying like, “We drank a little with lunch and then with dinner, too.” I mean like drinking wine is what you do when you aren’t doing anything else, and it’s also what you do as a compliment to whatever you are currently doing. It got to the point where my friend Scott was so frustrated he gulped down an entire glass of wine, screamed, “Why can’t I get drunk!” then smashed the glass against his head and vomited in a bush. It’s frustrating.

2. RIPOSO. This is the Italian version of the Spanish siesta, or “midday rest,” or as my Dad refers to it, “Why the hell is the grocery store closed again?” Generally, stores are open from 9:30am to noon or 1pm and again from 3 or 3:30pm to 7:30pm. This is merely a suggestion, as most shops in the smaller towns are closed for about four hours in the afternoon. When you think about it, it is a genius plan. Businesses don’t suffer, because there are no customers anyway. And all shops lose the same amount of business because they are al closed at the same time. Really, the only victim here is Italy’s gross domestic product. And no one really cares about that because they’re napping every afternoon and drunk every night. It makes the framers of the Constitution look like idiots.

3. No Genocide. I know that America technically doesn’t have any genocide either, but it’s still an awesome characteristic for a country to boast. It gives Italy a cache that a country like, say, Darfur just can’t compete with.

4. WOMEN. Not that I am in the market for one, but if you are you could do a lot worse than date-raping your way through the Italian countryside. The women are beautiful and seemingly slow-witted (they don’t even speak English). Moreover, flirting in Italy is much different than it is here. Maybe it’s the language barrier, but you will get nowhere with a girl in Italy unless you look her up and down with one-eyebrow cocked and then scream in her face, “Desidero sentire l'odore dei vostri capelli,” which roughly translates to “I wish to feel the odor of your hats,” or “I want to smell your hair.” You should also learn the lines, “How Catholic are you?” and “You are my ticket to citizenship!” Also, they all look the same, so be sure to somehow tag the one you are talking to so you don’t lose her in the crowd.

5. GEOGRAPHY. If there’s one thing America doesn’t do enough of it’s build cities on mountains. It got to the point where you would stand there a thousand feet up staring out over vineyards and rolling hills and be like, “Oh, another scenic overlook.” You don’t realize how much you take it for granted until you come home to your “balcony” that overlooks “the back of other buildings” and at night when you sit out there drinking scotch and looking up at “the star” you think, “I wonder if ‘Wife Swap’ is on tonight.”

6. POLITICS. I have no idea what Italy’s politics are. I don’t even know if they have a leader. I think if there are ever any matters of international importance, Italy rounds up one fat, bald guy from every city and sends him with a case of wine and some gnocchi the consulate in question and that’s that. There are almost no policemen and seemingly no crime. But it makes sense, because who is going to car-jack someone when they just finished a bottle of Chianti and a huge plate of rigatoni? No, you do what everyone else is doing and you sleep the afternoon away. Which is exactly what I am going to do right now – sleep and dream of a better life, just like Keanu Reeves.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

I Was Wrestling With My Emotions, But Then It Changed. It Felt Icky.

I was in Italy for the past two weeks. It is a country in Europe (the one shaped like the boot) where carbohydrates are a condiment and wine is drunk as though alcoholism were an old wives tale. I thought about posting something to the effect of “I’m going to be in Italy” before I left, but it seemed like bragging. Whereas saying, “I just got back from Italy” at least conveys a modicum of despair, like I might be sobbing while I write it, or at the very least drinking.

But to come back and see all these comments . . . it’s touching. Like the kind of touching that you don’t tell your parents about because you think it’s your own fault. But after years of drawing on yourself in pen you finally confide in a therapist and he calls it “progress” when deep down inside you’re like, “Progress? I shower with my underwear on, and you want to talk about progress?” Really, heartwarming. (Recommended Usage: Apply sarcasm only where necessary.)

Last night I was watching Double Impact, arguably Van Damme’s most ambitious film (twin brothers separated at birth – both played by Van Damme – must avenge their father’s death against wealthy businessmen AND the Chinese mafia, all while reconciling their newfound brotherhood with their markedly different stations in life). Unfortunately, it is also Van Damme’s worst film. Point being, I like to think of [redacted] as my Double Impact.* Sure, it doesn’t have the same level to dedication to craft or not-so-vaguely pornographic title, but all the hallmarks of a great metaphor are there, namely that that makes my previous blog Bloodsport, which is as close as I will ever get to fulfilling my childhood dream of fighting in the Kumite.

I may just be writing all this because I drink with lunch now, but if a blog is supposed to be a place where you unload all your deepest, darkest fears on to the public so that when you are found wandering the Jersey Turnpike barefoot and covered in an unidentifiable musky odor, people can go back and say, “There were warning signs all over his blog,” (and I think it is) then what’s the point of holding back? Think of it as a really scary journey that you take with a complete stranger, because the alternative is to actually get to know your co-workers.

Seriously though, Italy is like the opposite of my soul right now. It’s beautiful. Ask me about it (Italy, not my soul) and maybe I’ll elaborate. Perhaps in a Q&A Friday!

Oh, and what the fuck did the Cream of Wheat guy ever do to you? Besides cook up a delicious warm cereal? Do you have any idea how hard it is to make a good warm cereal? There’s only like five in existence. There are more flavors of hummus than there are warm cereals. Think about that.

* Note that this statement is not an admission of guilt, nor a promise of better writing in the future. Although more frequent bad writing is certainly a possibility.