Recently I was out cruising the shallow end, Los Angeles, when I spotted a trio of MAWs (Model, Actress, Whatever) strutting down the street. I slowed my vehicle to a crawl, hoping for perhaps just one smile. Wrong. Not even a glimpse at me, or the bumper sticker on my beat-up Mazda Protégé: "If you're shallow and hot, I'm a director."
These were the type of models who jump on trampolines on the Man Show, or aspire to jump on trampolines. There are so many of these MAWs under the smoggy skies that I figured I could "hook-up" at least once in my fifteen years in the city. Then I came to my senses and had an epiphany: Life in L.A. is like one big strip joint, you can look but do not touch the merchandise-unless you have trampoline connections. L.A. without connections is like Winona Ryder without a charge card: The only way you're sampling the merchandise is by stealing it. That was it! In order to score with the MAWs I'd have to steal someone else's identity. Right then I knew it was time to transform myself from a 4-Cylinder Mazda Protégé to a Mercedes G-500 diesel. Vin Diesel.
For those of you who have been cryogenically frozen, Mr. Diesel is the hottest ticket in Hollywood. One reviewer said his "range of expression pushes Stallone up closer to the evolutionary scale of John Gielgud." If I emulated the Great Diesel, could I push Schwartznegger up closer to the evolutionary scale of Sir Laurence Olivier?
The Great Diesel was born Mark Vincent in 1967 and raised in an artists' housing project in Greenwich Village by his mother and adoptive father. Mr. Diesel never knew his biological father. Cue violins.
At the age of 17 the buffed-out Dieselator began bouncing at NYC's hippest clubs-where, like all bouncers, he was re-christened Lord Vin Diesel. "Bouncing makes you the hot ticket with women," the Lord once said. Upon reading this, I recognized my first hurdle, one that would have to be conquered without the aide of performance enhancing drugs or the standard bouncer garble. (The Lord not only looks like he belongs on the cover of Cigar Aficionado, but sounds like he smoked the whole magazine.)
I applied for several bouncer positions around the Los Angeles area where interviews consisted of seeing how fast I could form the four words "get the f*ck out." After a good deal of rejection I was fortunate enough to find a volunteer security job at my local Starbucks, where I spent most of the time halting the homeless peeps from bathing themselves in the bathroom sink. No one ever said the road to fame and fortune was going to be paved with pinyattas of pleasure.
After a few short days, I felt like the Diesel-mystique was rubbing off on me: the soy- latte-chugging MAWs started to take notice of the mid-30's stud wearing a Starbucks shirt and hat manning the door like he was guarding the crown jewels-let's hope Lord Diesel has a bodyguard to look after his.
Soon it would be time to start going out on auditions, but first I realized a few minor adjustments were in order after reading another comment from the Book of Diesel: "Even when I would go on auditions, I had to be as amiable as possible. But I still had this edge, this threatening presence." And a makeover later I showed up at Starbucks and was promptly dismissed by the manager. He feared patrons would be threatened by my new haircut (consisting of no hair), henna tattoo ("powered by Diesel" on my shoulder) and marbles in my mouth to capture the perfect Dieselian dialect. Well, yeah.
The Lord began getting bit parts in Off-Off Broadway plays. I began getting bit parts in Off-Off North Hollywood productions-which basically put me smack dab at the Orange County Community Theater, where a 75-year-old granny told me I was brilliant as Simon Stimson the town drunkard and church choir organist in Our Town.
Lord Diesel then dropped out of Hunter College so he could move to Hollywood and pursue his dream full-time. Paraphrasing from the Book of Diesel: Even as a kid he was always certain he was going to be a movie star. When people ask him if he's changed since becoming a celebrity, the Lord's reply is that he always knew he was a celebrity; it was the rest of the world that needed to make the discovery.
It was a little late for me to drop out of college, and in my wildest dreams I never thought I could be a celebrity, but nothing was going to stop me from moving to Hollywood and the dinkiest apartment I could find. Like the Lord, I found it my obligation to starve myself into being far hungrier than the brilliant and pampered Keanu's of the world. The Lord even went as far as making a list of acting peers he was behind and exactly when he was going to surpass them. My peers were all still serving coffee at Starbucks, so I skipped that part.
I did manage to secure a space in a friend's five-bedroom house in the Hollywood Hills. The broom closet was just a bit smaller than I expected, but it would help to build character and unlike the musical Cats, it would not last forever.
Also not lasting forever was the Lord's tenure in Hollywood. When people didn't seem to be as impressed by his NYC theater experience as he himself was, he returned home. Once back in NYC, the Lord's mother gave him a book called "Feature Films at Used Car Prices" in order to show him he could take control of his career and make his own movie. Voila, the Lord was resurrected. His 20-minute film, Multi-Facial, shot in three days and costing $3000, involved Lord Diesel playing an actor who tried on a different ethnicity at every audition and still couldn't get a part-art imitating, well, art.
I read the same book and after trading in my used Mazda Protégé for a moped I was able to finance my first short film, Multi-Faced, a story in which yours truly tried on a different pick-up line at every MAW meeting and still couldn't get laid.
Lord Diesel's film was accepted to screen at Cannes in the short film competition. Mine was accepted to screen at intermission of Transvestite BINGO Night at the West Hollywood International House of Pancakes.
Upon the success of his short film, Lord Diesel moved back to Hollywood, which just thrilled me because it meant I got to move from my Bel-Air adjacent apartment back to my friends broom closet.
The Lord then used his telemarketing skills and sold power tools for "more than they were worth" and raised $50,000 so he could finance his first feature film Strays. The film's tagline: "Sometimes strays find what is missing in other strays," made me realize the only thing I was missing was the cahones to pick up the phone and raise a dime, so I opted for Plan B, I enrolled in a Sperm Donor program where I was politely informed I didn't have the "Dieselian quality."
Strays didn't do as well as the Lord expected and just as he was about to cry "mommy!", he had a Lana-Turner-Being-Discovered-at-Schwab's moment: He received a phone call from a man named Spielberg. "Steven" liked the Lord's work in Multi-Faceted and cast him in Saving Private Ryan, and the rest, as the cliché goes, is history. The Lord now stands as the More-Than-20-Million-Dollar-Man, while I kneel groveling at the high heels of MAWs.
Not only was I destined to be a lifetime groveler, but when I finally called it quits and moved from the broom closet back to my apartment, I found my cable disconnected-meaning the only trampoline action I'll ever have a chance of getting will be at the 2004 Summer Olympics with an Eastern European female gymnast named Igor.