Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Summer Re-Run; "A Star is Porn!"

Hello friends.
While Rusty’s on Summer Break,
We present a repost 
Of our most popular pieces.

Which believe me 
Weren’t too damn popular 
In the first place.

But here it is!
One of Rusty’s scripts
From a live reading.

If you call Rusty Pliers live.
Complete with stage directions
And down to the last word.

Proving perhaps he isn’t 
Such a lazy no-good one-eyed drunken bastard 
As he’s made out to be.

Please enjoy. 
And have a safe summer!

Hugs from Rusty Pliers. 

                                                 [Pulls Up Barstool, Adjusts mic]
[Reads from script]
Thank You.
I’m Rusty Pliers.
If you could please hold your, uh, applause,
until the end … 
I’d appreciate it.
Thank you.
(Laugh gently.
Clear throat.
Big breath.
Be Rusty …)
A Star is Porn!
How With the Aid of 
Kitchen Counter Serendipity
I Acquired the Non de Plume of … 
Rusty Pliers!


     It all started in the 1970s when I’d been bumming around Europe for a couple of years, trying to make my living as a film animator.
     I say trying to make my living as an animator because sadly, to be an animator in this world is to learn the true meaning of the term …
   …Art for Art’s Sake.
   So, when I was flat broke in Paris I answered a want ad in a Left Bank newspaper and, after a most memorable job interview (which unfortunately we haven’t got time to go into now)…
  … I was hired as an actor in pornographic films. 
  I signed a one-picture deal with a three-month option and they told me to be in Stockholm by the end of the week.
  That night, sitting alone on the train to Sweden, I stared out the window and listened to the wheels rolling rat-ta-tat-tat rat-a-tat-tat rat-a-tat-tat …  and I thought, not for the first time since becoming an animator…
   “What have I got to lose?”

[Act I]
[Eye Patch Gag Here?]
   So I found myself in Stockholm with my pants down… trying to make a buck, you’ll pardon the expression, the hard way.
   Ah, but the gods love a fool because while we were filming that week a wondrous thing occurred! 
   A thing called serendipity!
   It was during the kitchen counter fellatio scene.
   While my partner was down getting her close-up I happened to notice, just off-camera beside me on the counter, a pair of stainless-steel vice grips.
   They gleamed beautifully in the bright studio lights.
   Right then and there, serendipity struck me! 
   I introduced the vice grips into the scene.
   My partner, whose name was Heidi, found this quite stimulating so as the cameras rolled Heidi and I improvised with the vice grips while the crew looked on in amazement and, I like to think, in awe
[Slight Pause]
   The scene was very successful.
   Especially the happy ending.
[Pause to let it sink in]  
   We got it in one take
[Up Tempo]
   “VOILA!” cried the director, who was French.
   “Bueno!” added the asst director, who was Spanish.
   “My close-up, it was good?” asked Heidi, who was German
   “A star… she is born!” predicted the director.
   Only he didn’t mean Heidi.
   He didn’t mean me.
   He meant the vice grips.

[Act II]  
   That night I got to know the cast and crew a little better over a few drinks at Zum Franziskaner, an ancient pub just around the corner from the studio in downtown Stockholm. It was here, in the cozy beer cellar running up a ruinous tab, that I acquired the non de plume of Rusty Pliers.
   Everybody in the business had a non de plume, Heidi explained. Now that I was in the business, I needed one too.
   So we had a few beers and we thought about it.
   “How about Lonesome Orgasms?” I suggested.
   But nobody liked that one.
   “Bob Drillin?”  
   Nobody liked that one, either.
   After about the eighth beer the cameraman suggested Holden McGroin which made us laugh, but then guess what?
   Serendipity struck again and without thinking I said, “How about Rusty Pliers?”
   Everyone liked that, including Heidi.
   “Rusty Pliers,” she purred, trying it out in her luscious porno mouth.
   She said it suited me to a tee.

[Act III]
    At the wrap party later everybody predicted the movie would be a box-office smash. 
   “I smell a big hit!” said the producer, who was Hungarian. He liked it so much he picked up our options and gave the crew the green light to make a dozen more films. 
   That pleased everybody because, as I said at the beginning of my story… it’s a wonderful thing to find steady work in show business. 
   So, over the next three months we made seven toolbox movies in Stockholm, and four in Paris
   Oh. And one on the overnight train to Paris.
   That was a quickie, as we called it.
   They even hired a scriptwriter. You should’ve seen the crazy situations he invented to have a man with a toolbox arrive and fornicate repeatedly with a beautiful actress and / or her friends and the hand tools they so desperately craved!
   Oh boy! It makes me laugh to this day!
   (Sigh)… Show Business …
   … there really IS no business like it
    ….But no animal acts!
    I was very particular in that respect!

 Well, that’s the story of how Rusty Pliers got his name.
   If there was any kind of deep wisdom or high moral to be learned from this story… then this would be the place you’d expect to hear it, isn’t it?
   I’d like to thank you for listening
   It felt good to tell it. 
   To let it out, so to speak.
   You know, I’ve been calling myself Rusty Pliers for so long I can hardly remember what my real name ever was…
[Big Smile]
   But that’s okay … I like being Rusty Pliers!

Thank You!
You made it fun!
If you enjoyed my story,
Please follow me on social media.
If you didn’t enjoy it … 
… Thanks for not throwing things!
I’m Rusty Pliers!

[Time; Around 5 Min?]

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

"Here You Have Time To Think of Your Soul"

“Here You Have Time 
To Think of Your Soul”

NYC. 1987.
Unable to find work as an animator, I was working as a messenger for Empire Messenger Service, in the Fourteenth Street office.
During a spare moment, sitting on the hard bench waiting for my turn to make a delivery, I would read. I was as much an avid reader as ever. More so perhaps, because apart from the many other benefits of reading, books were cheap and plentiful in New York. 
Almost as easy to get as drugs. 
I recall reading some of the great Russian novelists during this time, which, with their impoverished, hungry, or insane characters (sometimes all three at once), closely matched my own situation during this time. 
I know for certain I was reading Solzhenitsyn, because I used to read excerpts from his One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich out loud to the other guys waiting around on the hard benches with me. 
It had started as a joke.
“Hey, Flasher! What you reading today, man?”
Did I mention my nickname at the office was Flasher?
I hope so, because I’m sick of explaining it.
“I’m not a flasher,” I’d answer. “I’m a kiwi. From New Zealand, remember? Reading a Russian. It’s about a guy in prison in Siberia.”
“No shit? We seen you reading all the time and wondered what was wrong with you. New Zealand? Where’s that?”
I explained again as best I could. It was down by Australia at the bottom of the world. 
“Oh. Australia, huh? I’ve heard of that.”
“Good book?” asked another.
“Yeah,” I replied. “You really sympathize with the guy. Shukhov’s his name. He’s in prison in Siberia, freezing and starving. 
“Ugh!” I shuddered. “Makes me cold just reading it.” 
I laughed at myself and my vanity. I thought I was cold and hungry, which was true, being a struggling artist at times I was, but Ivan Denisovich was freezing and starving. 
There’s always someone worse off, isn’t there?
“What’s he in prison for?” they asked.
I told them, then I had an inspiration. “Want to hear some?” I said.
No one said no, so I began reading aloud. 
It was the part where Shukhov is waiting to be searched by the guards and is nervous about the piece of blade hidden in his mitten. It was a lucky choice to begin reading there, not just for the perfection of the writing and the tension drawing you in, but it was a good choice because most of my fellow workers had had run-ins with Authority in their lives and could empathize. Possibly they had even been searched themselves by unfriendly cops with big guns and nasty clubs. For a fact some had spent time in the jug, usually for non payment of child support or drug busts. At least, that’s what they confessed to. Certainly, like millions who’ve read One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, they sympathized with Ivan Denisovich Shukhov.

“You should rejoice that you are in prison. 
Here you have time to think of your soul.” 

Ah, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, you magnificent bastard!
After that, anytime someone wanted to hear some of it, they would simply ask quietly or come and sit close by expectantly. Then I would begin reading aloud from whatever point in the book I was at. I enjoyed it immensely, the words seemed to come alive when spoken aloud and I could see the story afresh in my mind’s eye. Sometimes my audience numbered eight or ten, sometimes half that, but usually somebody was waiting around and wanted to hear it. I eventually read through One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich aloud more than three times during those winter weeks, sitting on the hard benches with my audience of fellow waiting messengers. 
Waiting for a delivery and the chance of a tip. 
Waiting for a call from a film company and the chance of a job.

 Some of my coworkers wondered at the wisdom of all this reading and suggested I join them at their various downtime occupations instead. Occupations that included buying, selling, smoking, shooting or snorting dope, gambling with dice or cards, sleeping it off in the “John” or finally just pitching the whole thing in, taking the day off and heading for a bar or strip joint way uptown. 
I went with them once. I figured I owed it to myself, as an artist, to gather human experience from every strata of the socioeconomic order. An artist must experience life! Besides, I wanted to see the strippers. It was quite a day, what I remember of it, involving about a dozen drunken, drugged up, disgruntled Empire messengers, five overworked strip club bouncers, eight cops in four cop cars, three terrified pre-op transvestite strippers and one worldweary police desk sergeant.
He let us all go after we promised never to return to his precinct.
You should have heard the strippers curse us as we left!   
“C’mon!” said my coworkers at least every other day. “Screw work! We’re off to the strip club again!”
“That’s okay, mates,” I’d reply, remembering the first time and the hateful look in the desk sergeant’s eyes. “Not today, much as I’d like to. I’ve got to work. I need the dough.”
It was a low paying job, why did I take it so seriously, they wondered? After all, the boss could go and take himself a giant flying leap! Life was short! 
“Man, where’d you say you were from? Australia? Well brother, here in New York you got to take it easy. Take it easy or you’ll wear yourself out! Sheee-it! You’ll end up with your freaking ass in a sling!”
“My what in a what?” I asked. I was still having trouble with the American accent from time to time. 
I had no understanding of an ass sling.
“Crazy Limey!” they laughed.
“I’m not a Limey,’” I protested. “I’m a kiwi."
“From New Zealand, remember?” 

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Empire Messenger Service

Empire Messenger Service 

NYC. 1987.
My first days working at Empire Messenger Service were spent in the Thirty-fourth Street office, located in the basement of the Empire State Building. My duties were simply the delivery and pickup of packages within the famous building itself, riding the elevators up and down all day, collecting packages from the basement and delivering them to the lofty inhabitants almost a quarter-mile above Fifth Avenue. 
I wasn’t the only messenger, there were dozens of us, scuttling up and down and all over the massive building. 
You think the Empire State Building is big from the outside? You ought to deliver packages in it. 
Within a week, though, I found it mind-numbingly boring.
I mentioned it to the boss.
“All right, Flasher,” he said. He still called me Flasher, refusing to believe I didn’t have a felonious past as a wienie wagger. “You haven’t screwed up yet and I haven’t had any complaints about you. We’ll put you out on the streets. It’s a chance to earn a few more bucks.”
There were Empire Messenger offices up and down Manhattan. I was transferred to the Fourteenth Street Office, close by Union Square. 
The extra bucks came when you had a delivery more than three blocks away east to west, or more than six blocks north to south. In such cases, you were given two subway tokens, covering the journey there and back (good on a bus also), to further speed you along. It was accepted practice for a messenger to augment his income by pocketing these tokens and walking the entire distance. One could sell the tokens later for cash. 
This I began to do.
Within a couple of weeks of implementing this practice, however, my knee started acting up painfully from an old motorcycle injury I’d sustained years before. 
It’s a funny story involving a Suzuki 500cc two-stroke twin, a barbed wire fence lining a lonely curving road at night, and a Jersey cow.
I believe alcohol also played a part.
Too bad we haven’t got the time to go into it now.
It’s probably a better story than this one.
Anyway, I found the walking part of being a messenger the difficult part. After pounding the hard, unyielding pavement of NYC for a few weeks my feet would be aching and my knees exploding after only one delivery a mere block away. With each agonizing step along Fourteenth Street the bones of my legs and feet would pop and crack. 
I could hear this painful leg music even over the sound of automobile traffic and the insane honking that inevitably accompanied it. The fiendish honking of car horns in Manhattan never ceased, day or night, although what good it did anyone remained a mystery to me. 
I hobbled along, my ears ringing, my feet aching and my knees burning, thinking this could never last. 
I recalled my friend Buck from the Ministry of Works. I was sixteen-years-old when I began working in the ditches with the road gangs, and Buck had befriended me and shown me the ropes. He became a kooky, profane uncle to me. He had had a crippling accident years before and couldn’t work with the others, but remained behind at the depot, where he cleaned up and made the tea for our smoko breaks. 
“The tea boy,” he called himself with a bitter laugh.
Now here I was, destroying my body for minimum wage to deliver something to somebody I didn’t even know.
Hmmm, I thought. Buck had hobbled in pain from place to place, too. 
Forget this, I decided, so I started taking the bus or subway in every case. This reduced my income considerably, but saved a great deal of pain and wear on my lower body. 
So my plan to make millions in the personal delivery business by avoiding the use of mass transit and pocketing the proceeds was scrapped. 
It wasn’t all bad fiscal news, however, because sometimes in the messenger business one received a gratuity. A crinkled dollar or a few quarters dropped into your hand. Ha! Ha! The first time someone tried it, I refused. I’d never been offered a tip before and my first reaction was to be slightly insulted. 
No thanks, I said, that’s not the kiwi way.
However, it didn’t take me long to realize the stupidity of that philosophy. I soon learned to stand expectantly after making my delivery, my body language suggesting that a modest gratuity would not go amiss and now was your chance to help an out-of-work animator, down on his luck. Then I’d finish with a big, friendly smile. Thank you, kind sir or madam! 
No, better yet, bless you, kind sir or madam!
Other times, one was met with hostility or fear, or not met at all, just a hand reaching out to grasp the package and the door slammed in your face. 
Usually, one was merely met with indifference. You were simply the invisible messenger boy, a very small part of their day. After observing you through the spy-hole, they would open the door, sign the receipt and take the package from your hands without looking at your face, perhaps offering an anonymous dollar as the door was shutting. 
Thank you. 

I got along well with the other messengers at Fourteenth Street. 
It was sort of like working for the Ministry of Works again; totally masculine, rough and tumble and lots of cursing. They were mostly good guys who showed me how things worked and welcomed me into their world. 
Perhaps it’s difficult to believe, but America is a strange place when you’re from somewhere else. 
My new workmates found my cursing particularly impressive, although I often had to repeat myself because of my accent, and this helped to break the ice. Particularly after they heard me call the boss a few names, after he’d called me some. (It was hardly a fair contest. A kiwi can out-curse anyone alive and I had an advantage having learned my swearing in the ditches with the work gangs.) It helped too, that I went out back and smoked a little reefer with them now and then. For they were a little suspicious of me in the beginning, me with my “English” accent, my suntan in the middle of winter and also being, except the boss, the only white person working there.
A great many of us were from another country, though. 
Most of us working without proper papers.
“What are you doing here, man?” they asked me. “You said you were an American. You got a social security number, don’t you? Sheee-it!”
What some of them would have given for a Social Security Number!
I told them about my dreams of hitting the big time in America. 
That I was an animation artist trying to crack it in New York. 
Boy, you should have heard them laugh when I said that!

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Flasher Lands a Job

Flasher Lands a Job
New York. 1987.
Suzie and I had arrived from New Zealand six weeks before, to start our new life in America. We had no money. We had no job. We were sleeping on a mattress on the floor of Andrew’s apartment on Seventh Ave.
It had been a rather inauspicious start.
I had been borrowing money from Andrew for weeks and I knew it couldn’t go on forever. He didn’t mind, though, Andrew had plenty of confidence and figured he could always get more money. Easy come, easy go, that was Andrew, but I could tell it was starting to get on Terri’s nerves. Fair enough, I thought, she didn’t know me from the old days like Andrew did, maybe I was just a bum, and besides, it reduced her own standard of living to have her boyfriend giving away his money like that.
Of course I promised to pay it back. 
A promise that to this day I have every intention of keeping.
With no animation work in sight, and desperate for some money, I decided to apply to Empire Messenger Service for a job as a messenger. 
No experience needed, read the flyer taped to a lamppost.
That was good because that’s just what I had. 

The headquarters of Empire Messenger Service was in the Empire State Building, so it was easy to find. They had a special hiring office in the basement. It was very crowded and noisy down there. After filling out a poorly xeroxed, nearly illegible form, I sat on a wooden bench with many others and waited my turn for an interview.
As usual I had a book with me, so the time spent waiting was not time spent wasted. 
Not that I feel every second of one’s life must be put to good use.
Who could possibly do that? 
Just that I like to read whenever a spare moment presents itself.
That day I was reading The Master of Go by Yasunari Kawabata.*

“After he became the Master, 
the world believed that he could not lose, 
and he had to believe it himself. 
Therein was the tragedy.” 

Ah, Kawabata-san, you magnificent bastard!
“You! Next!”
That meant me, so I rose and walked through the door into the manager’s office, not forgetting to knock first as I’d seen others do. I stepped inside the tiny office and seeing no chair, stood where I was, facing an overweight, balding man sitting behind a messy desk.
“Where’d you get the suntan, buddy?” he said. He was suspicious from the start. 
“Suntan?” I answered. “What suntan, mate? I’ve been freezing my bloody ass off since I landed in this godforsaken city!”
That answer threw him. I didn’t mean to answer that way, it just popped out of my mouth! I really wanted a job. I needed a job. I should have simply explained how I got my suntan… that I was from a land on the other side of the world, a land down under where summer was winter and winter was summer.
I had been in New York for weeks now, hunting for animation work and getting nothing but rejection for my trouble. Oh sure, they liked my work, those that deemed to glance at it, but they couldn’t use me at present. Maybe in the future. Just leave your name with the girl at the front desk and don’t let the door hit your ass on the way out! 
Hear me, struggling Artist! You had better love your art and be strong in your love of it, because sometimes it will seem that it is all you have.
“You’re not from around here, huh?” he said. “You speak English? That was English, wasn’t it?” 
“Yeah,” I answered, attempting to gather myself up mentally. “That was English.”
“It says here you’re an artist?”
“Yep. I’m an animator.” 
“Well,” he said magnanimously, “I think we can overlook that.”
“Healthy?” he asked. He looked me up and down, squinting to focus his good eye, presumably assessing my physical ability to do the work. 
“Yes,” I answered. Sure, I was healthy as an ox, unless you counted occasional weakness from hunger and these recurrent dizzy spells, also from hunger. I was feeling a little dizzy as I stood there.
“Criminal record?” he enquired.
“Not in this country, mate,” I joked. “I just got here last month! Haven’t had the time. Hahaha, er, ha?”
He didn’t appear to be getting the joke.
“What?” he said. He looked suspicious again.
My kiwi accent must be throwing him, I said to myself, refusing to accept the possibility that my jest had fallen flat.
Yes, although it shames men of my generation to confess it... I’m rather flat jested.
“So, you do have a record?” he persisted. “I thought so.” He leaned back in his chair, almost bumping his head against the wall behind him, the office was so small. “Felony or misdemeanor?” he enquired. “You don’t look too dangerous, and that’s what counts. The customers don’t like it when you look too scary. Let me see if I can guess.” 
Before I could protest, he held up his hand. “Don’t tell me!” he demanded. “Let me guess!” He looked at me and cocked his head, while his good eye gave me another critical look. 
“Arsonist?” he ventured. “Naw, you’re not an arsonist and you couldn’t be a murderer, either. You’re too goggle-eyed for that.”
“I’m what?” I said. “Goggle-eyed?”
He ignored me, continuing his critical appraisal, “Yeah, and you’re kinda skinny, too. Hustler? Dealer? Second story man? Wait a minute! Don’t tell me!” 
He closed his eyes and thought a moment, trying to match my image with a felonious past from the files in his head. 
I stood there, somewhat fascinated, and said nothing. He had probably encountered, in his daily working life hiring and firing messengers for Empire Messenger Service, an extremely broad range of humanity, mostly from the lower socioeconomic order. And not a few of these would have been fellows with a felonious past. His office was so small I could almost hear the wheels turning inside his head. After a minute, his eyes opened and he leaned forward across his cluttered desk. 
“I’ve got it!” he said in triumph. “Flasher! Yeah, that’s it! I’m never wrong! Flasher, right?”
Again I tried to protest, but he mistook this as a natural desire on my part to keep it quiet. “I never…” I began.
“You never flashed kids, did ya Flasher?”
And another nickname was born.
“Of course not!” I insisted hotly. “Please don’t call me Flasher.”
“Sure! I can see why you’d be sensitive about it. But don’t worry, we’ve got all kinds of perverts working here.”
“But I’ve been trying to tell you I’m not a …”
“Okay, Flasher. Okay. I don’t care what you do on your own time. Just keep it zipped while you’re working for the company, right?”
“Wait a minute!” I protested. 
“It shouldn’t be a problem if you can keep from dropping your pants and waving your ...”
“Hold on!” I said again to get his attention. “Sorry. No criminal record.”
“Oh?” He seemed disappointed. “You’re sure?” He gave me a minute to reconsider, maybe I could come up with something if I thought hard enough.
“Yes,” I said. “I’m sure. Sorry.”
He looked at me and considered.
For about twelve seconds.
“Okay,” he said. “See the girl out front. Ya start tomorrow.”
He handed me a slip of paper and I turned to go, pausing at the door.
“Thank you,” I said. “You won’t regret …”
“Sure pal,” he interrupted. “Good luck. And for god’s sake Flasher keep your dick in your pants! Okay?”
“Okay,” I laughed. “I’ll try.”
I stepped through the door.
“Next!” he yelled past me into the waiting-room.
Then it dawned on me… I had a job!

* Go is a board game for two players. It is said that it takes a few moments to learn, a lifetime to master... but isn't that true of many things?