In honor of the 25th anniversary of the film Pretty Woman, I'm posting the chapter of my novel Screening Party that is dedicated to the 1990 rom-com. Hope it holds up half as well as the movie does.
BEVERLY HILLS CROCK
“They couldn’t have come up with three more diverse vaginas if they tried,” remarks Dr. Beaverman as she, Lauren and I stand in line to pick up our tickets for The Vagina Monologues at the Canon Theater in Beverly Hills. Though countless A, B and C level actresses have turned up in the show worldwide, I don’t think I’d trade the cast we’ll be seeing tonight—Katherine “Soap” Helmond, Daphne “Melrose Place” Zuniga and Naomi “I don’t get out of bed for less than $10,000 a day” Campbell--for all the tea in China.
“You know what I want to see?” I say as we take our seats. “Katherine interviewed on Extra going, ‘Well, I’ve always wanted to work with Daphne Zuniga and Naomi Campbell but the right project never came along’.”
“My fantasy is the veteran, Katherine, was reluctant to share the stage with the untrained Naomi,” theorizes Lauren, “but then the producers said, ‘What if we sweeten the pot a bit with Daphne Zuniga?’ and she said, ‘Where do I sign?’”
I’ve brought my lady friends to the theater tonight to celebrate their birthdays. Lauren turned thirty-one two days ago and Dr. B will be forty some-odd years old tomorrow, though she’s not too keen on reveling in it. In fact, the only reason I know it is her birthday is that a postcard from her dentist reading ‘Happy Birthday Tooth You’ landed in my mailbox instead of hers.
“When I was an undergrad at Berkeley, I started to write something similar to this but I was too busy chasing after rock stars to get very far,” says Dr. Beaverman. “It was like The Vagina Paragraph.”
“Wait a second,” Lauren says. “You were a groupie.”
“Oh yeah, but I never cared for that term,” says Dr. B “I prefer slut. Some day I’ll tell you about what I got up to backstage at Live Aid, but suffice it to say that Huey Lewis is not the happy-go-lucky guy he pretends to be in videos. There’s a dark side.”
“You and Huey?” I say, pantomiming a dirty act with my fingers.
“No,” she says. “But I had a couple of the News so I was around, you know.”
Lauren and I take a moment to consider this latest wrinkle in the tapestry of my neighbor’s life. I’m in the middle of asking for more details when the lights begin to dim. I pull my cell phone from my coat pocket and explain to the girls how I promised Marcus I’d call him during the show. “He wants to hear Naomi Campbell say vagina with an R at the end,” I whisper, dialing his number in my Nokia, “but he doesn’t want to pay for it.”
“Oh, he’s going to pay for it,” maintains Dr. B. “We all are.”
Just then, our ladies take the stage, the lights come up and the show begins…but there’s no Zuniga. What the fuck? Oh great. Looks like we’ve got ourselves a no-name understudy who I bet has never even auditioned for an Aaron Spelling show, let alone headlined one.
My disappointment is obliterated, however, when Naomi starts into a Vagina Monologue in which she repeatedly uses the term “coochie-snorcher.” Dr. Beaverman looks over to my lap and nods. I press the green ‘send’ button on my phone then aim the mouthpiece toward at Naomi who, I’m happy to report, still has a good five coochie-snorchers left in her. At the end of the monologue, Lauren leans over and says, “I’ll be right back,” then disappears up the aisle.
We don’t see her again until ten minutes after the show when she emerges from the ladies room, her brow furrowed in frustration.
“Are you okay?” I ask.
“Now I am,” she mutters. “Let’s get out of here.”
The second we’re outside, Lauren starts ranting, “Leave it to me to get my period during The Vagina Monologues,” she carps, “and not one of the women that came in after the show had a tampon, though one woman thought they might have some for sale at the souvenir stand.”
“I didn’t see any,” I say. “The just had key rings and T-shirts and bright red coin holders that you squeeze.”
“At least you’re not pregnant,” says Dr. Beaverman. Based on the casual way she says it and her just-revealed groupie past, I can’t help but wonder if “At least you’re not pregnant,” has a mantra to her over the years, a catch-all rationalization, good for anything that ails you. Getting audited by the IRS? Having your house burn to the ground? Dentist says they have to come out? Well, at least you’re not pregnant.
“I ended up getting something from Naomi’s publicist,” Lauren continues. “I ought to send him a thank you note.”
“Him?” I ask.
“He was holding Naomi’s purse,” she explains.
“Marcus is going to love this story,” says Dr. Beaverman.
“Oh my God,” I gasp. “I never hung up with him.” I pull the phone from my pocket and discover that I’ve just left Marcus a barely audible, forty-five minute message, all about pussy. He’ll be thrilled.
“Well, I’m glad someone got to enjoy the show,” says Lauren.
I don’t see the girls again until a week later at our screening party for Pretty Woman, a film Matt chose because with Erin Brockovich just out in England, Miss Julia Roberts is hotter than ever. Matt figured a look back at the movie where we first fell in love with her would be in order. And make no mistake, I am in love with her and her inimitable Julia-osity, no matter what transpires in my living room today.
“I wonder if Erin Brockovich saw this when it came out and thought, ‘I should dress like that whore’,” I say, looking down at the mini-skirted, rubber-booted Julia on the video box.
“It could be a whole vicious circle those two got going,” says Dr. Beaverman.
Marcus is the last guest to arrive and when I open the door I can see why. He’s gone to the considerable trouble not only to bake a chocolate cake--with white polka dots in honor of Julia’s dress from the polo scene--but also track down a publicity photo of Daphne Zuniga and tape it over his face with Daphne’s cut-out mouth replaced by Marcus’s own. He steps into the living room and presses ‘play’ on a mini boom box, then begins lip-syncing to one of the many Vagina Monologues left on his machine by Daphne’s understudy and her cohorts. “I felt bad for you guys that Daphne didn’t show and that Lauren missed most of the show,” he explains after shutting off the tape, “so I made a copy of my answering machine tape. If you listen closely you can hear someone pass gas just before the curtain call.”
“It was the chair,” says Dr. Beaverman.
While I pop the Pretty Woman tape into the VCR, Marcus takes his usual position on the floor.and says, “I owe my law career to this movie.”
“Here we go,” says Tony. “Another St. Olaf story.”
Because of their long-winded similarity to Betty White’s hometown reminiscences on The Golden Girls, Tony and I have taken to calling Marcus’s recollections of his movie-going history St. Olaf stories.
“I was studying for my Corporations final one afternoon,” he begins, “and my friend Janet calls and says, ‘We’re all going to see Pretty Woman. Wanna go?’ And I say, ‘I’m studying.’ She’s like, ‘Come on, it’ll relax you. Plus, there’s all this law-related stuff in it like corporate raiding and white knights’.
“There is?” I ask.
“Yes,” says Ross. “But no one in the audience cared. People just wanted to see Julia and Richard fall in love.”
“I cared,” insists Marcus. “So anyway, I’m like, ‘Okay Janet, you sold me,’ and I go to the movie. Next day, white knight is on the final and I ace it.”
I try grab the remote before Marcus can continue, but it’s nowhere to be found. “Fast forward to the bar exam,” Marcus says, diving back in. “The night before the test, you’re supposed to do something relaxing so I see Pretty Woman again. Next day, corporate raiding is one of the essay questions. I nail it and pass the bar. All because of Pretty Woman.”
After a smattering of applause from the peanut gallery, I finally find the remote—in my hand, of all places—and press ‘play.’ “I knew a theater manager in Dallas,” says Ross as we zoom through the previews of coming attractions, “and he said there was this one little old lady who saw the Wednesday matinee of Pretty Woman every week for a year.”
“That’s what I’ve never understood,” I say, “why women love this movie so much. I mean, Julia’s fabulous but she’s a whore. Ladies, any thoughts?”
“Every time you fuck a guy, you might as well be a whore,” says Lauren flatly. “So this is like our ultimate movie. And Julia gets to shop.” Lauren takes a breath and then dives into her own Pretty Woman memory. “The first time I saw this movie,” she starts, “I was with my brother who lived in the Bronx at the time. We came out of the theater behind these two Italian chicks with big hair, Guidettes, my brother called them. Then, as they were crossing the street to get in their white Camaro, one of them stopped dead in her tracks and said to the other, ‘Oh my God, that movie was my life.’ And I thought to myself, ‘No, it wasn’t’.”
“This original script was much darker,” Ross informs us. “It ended with Richard’s character saying, ‘I’m not in love with you. You’re a hooker!’ and then hitting her and dumping her back in the gutter. And then she dragged herself up to her apartment only to discover that her roommate has O.D.-ed. Then Garry Marshall was brought in to lighten it up.”
“Garry’s the king of we-need-a-joke-here,” says Tony, who held my hand through such past Marshall yuckfests as Exit to Eden and The Other Sister. “You could say to him, ‘But Garry, it’s the rape of the crippled child’s mother?’ and he’d be like, ‘What if before the gang banger rapes her he says, pull my finger? How’d that test?’”
My roommate’s straight-outta-Brooklyn dees-dem-doze Garry Marshall impression is so hilariously spot-on, I decide to ask Matt if it can have its own font, a nice New York italic perhaps.
Then the movie begins, with a scene set at a hoity-toity Hollywood party in which a magician does slight of hand tricks with gold coins. “This is supposed to symbolize that Richard is a whore for money,” explains Dr. Beaverman as we’re introduced to Gere’s super-slick corporate raider, Edward Lewis. “He’s a whore for business with no feeling, whereas Julia’s a sticky, gooey, all-feeling person, who happens to be a whore. She’s got the heart of gold. He’s got the heart of the gold standard.”
Fed up with the stuffy bash, Richard borrows a Porsche Lotus from his skeevy lawyer, Jason Alexander, and speeds down the hill. Before long, he finds himself lost in Divine Brown territory so he pulls over to ask the nearest hooker, who happens to be Julia Roberts, dolled up in a blonde pageboy wig and sailor’s cap, how to get to Beverly Hills.
“She looks like the Captain and Tennille rolled into one unfortunate person,” says Lauren.
“What every john wants,” says Tony, “a theme skank.”
“Men don’t ask women for directions,” says Dr. Beaverman. “That’s how you know it’s a fantasy.”
“And I’m sorry,” says Ross, “but there are no whores on Hollywood Boulevard who look like Julia Roberts.”
“Sure there are,” argues Tony, “but they’re men.”
Julia hops in Richard’s borrowed car and tells him that her name is Vivian. “From the French root Viv meaning to live,” notes Dr. Beaverman. “So she’s lively. She’s got life in her whereas he’s dead Edward, as dead inside as…” Dr. Beaverman struggles to complete her comparison. I keep waiting for her to say “a doornail.”
“Marie Osmond,” offers Tony.
“Thank you,” says Dr. B. “Yes, that’s it.”
The deep-pocketed Gere gives Julia twenty bucks to get him where he’s going. Julia must figure he wants a little entertainment with his directions, because once she’s in the car, she jabbers non-stop about her hourly rate, the size of her feet and the boys back home in Georgia she grew up with.
“She’s the only hooker in history seems to have had an okay home life,” observes Lauren. “No major abuse or dysfunction going on. It’s like she just moved to L.A. and had a really bad month.”
“It seems like I saw an interview with Garry Marshall somewhere,” recalls Ross, “where he said Vivian had only been hooking for a couple of weeks so it’s still fun for her.”
“She’s so new,” says Tony as Garry, “no one’s even come on her back yet.”
“That, my friends, is why men like this movie,” says Dr. Beaverman. “Because they all want a whore, but they want her the first day on the job.”
As Julia and Richard roll through Tinseltown, Julia expresses her admiration for the borrowed Lotus, cooing, “This baby must corner like it’s on rails.”
“She sounds as convincing talking about cars as I would,” says Tony, before pausing the movie and regaling us with a story he swears is related, about the time he was playing Danny Zuko in a cruise ship version of Grease. “One night, the guy who played Kenickie was sick so I had to cover the song Greased Lightning,” he explains. “Well, you know I don’t know shit about car parts so all I did was sing gibberish and say ‘palomino dashboard’ about ten times. The audience thought I was having some kind of fit, most probably a Tizzy.”
We restart the movie in time to see Dick and Julia swap places so she can be behind the wheel. “It’s Driving Miss Daisy Chain,” I remark.
Soon, our toothy twosome arrive at their destination, the swanky Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills. According to Ross, it’s the only hotel in the zip code that would allow the filmmakers to shoot there. “The rest claimed that no one ever brought hookers to their hotels,” says Ross. “Then the movie turned out to be a huge hit, and the Regent Beverly Wilshire got all kinds of business from it. I think there’s even a Pretty Woman package you can get with strawberries and cream and the whole bit.”
“Does it come with a body double for all the stuff you don’t want to do?” wonders Lauren.
While, Julia waits on the curb to catch a cab back to Hookerville, Richard approaches and says, “If you don’t have any prior engagements,” Richard says, “I would be very pleased if you would accompany me into the hotel.”
“Well, I’m going to miss the free needle exchange, but what the hell,” I say, speaking for Julia.
Richard tries to make her look less like a hooker by draping his trench coat over her. Now she looks like a hooker in a trench coat.
“In addition to the sexual perversion level that this movie can be read on, there’s also a good deal of class warfare at work,” says Dr. Beaverman. “Here’s where we get our first glimpse of the uptight, repressed, conventional class of society who stare down their noses at our spunky American heroine, Vivian. But Vivian will fight against them and we’ll eat it up, because Americans like their scrappy little fighters that stick their nose up at the elite, horsy set. She might be a whore but she’s still an American, and that should be pronounced Ameri-CAN because she is, at heart, a good ol’ capitalist. She’s Norma Rae in a g-string, basically.”
“So, take away the thigh-high rubber boots and it’s basically The Beverly Hillbillies?” I suggest.
“Exactly,” replies Dr. Beaverman. “The Beverly Whorebillies, you could call it. This movie is Frank Capra on Hollywood Boulevard, as populist as Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. When it comes to class warfare, Americans will always side with the lowest rung, even if you’re a skanky whore, in fantasy anyway. Real life is another matter.”
Whore in tow, Gere approaches the front desk and says, “Can you send up some champagne and strawberries…”
“…and some extra-strength disinfectant and a two-pack of Brillo pads,” adds Ross. “Someone I know is getting a Silkwood shower.”
Richard and Julia arrive at their suite and bring with them the first penetration shot of the evening when Richard inserts his key card into the designated slot.
“Richard, can you jack the card in the lock?” says Tony as Garry. “Yeah! Fuck her with the key in the lock. Make that light just light right up. Ha ha ha ha ha ha.”
Once inside, Julia proceeds to make playful small talk with Richard, though if I were her, I’d be casing the joint for valuables and fretting about which ones this john’s going to want to stick in me. When Richard asks her if she’s known many lawyers, Julia replies, “I’ve known a lot of everybody.”
“Even though I’ve only been doing this for a week,” says Lauren.
“Garry Marshall’s like, ‘Can you say I’m an all-entry gal? Ha ha ha ha ha ha’,” says Tony.
“I want her to whip out a price list she’s had laminated at Kinko’s,” I say.
Instead, Julia whips out an assortment of multi-colored condoms. Then, within minutes of announcing, “I’m a safety gal,” she proceeds to floss her teeth, something any whore or circuit boy worth their salt would know is considered an unwise thing to do before blowing a stranger. But before servicing Richard, Julia once again demonstrates her carefree, goofy side by plopping down on the floor and guffawing through an episode of I Love Lucy. “She’s probably wondering why a swanky hotel like this doesn’t have color TV,” figures Ross.
Then she blows him.
The next morning, over breakfast, our lady of the evening peppers Richard with questions about his work life and says insightful things like, “You must be really smart, huh?”
“I want him to be like, ‘How ‘bout if you just fuck me and I give you money and you don’t give me career advise’?” says Tony indignantly. “’How ‘bout that’?”
“Blooper alert!” says Marcus. “Watch her hand, you guys. Julia’s going to miraculously switch from a croissant to a pancake.” Lo and behold, she does.
“She’s the Lance Burton of breakfast foods,” decides Tony.
Then comes the famous sequence in the bathtub where Julia belts her carefree heart out while listening to Prince’s “Kiss” on her Walkman. Though many Julia-philes cite this as the moment she captured their hearts, I feel like she could have brought the goofiness down a notch or ten and still been in a Garry Marshall film.
“Notice she’s singing, ‘All I want is your extra time and your kiss’,” Dr. Beaverman points out. “Yet both are those things are no-no’s in her profession. She never kisses on the mouth and let’s face it, extra time is not in your vocabulary if you’re a whore. Time and a half, maybe.”
After a little haggling, Richard convinces Julia to be his companion for the week for the tidy sum of $3,000. “The film’s original title was 3,000,” says Ross, “but they thought it sounded too sci-fi.”
“Notice this whore’s entrepreneurial spirit,” says Dr. Beaverman. “Like Rockefeller and Carnegie, she cuts her own deals. She’s a self-contained muff-mogul and she doesn’t deal with a middle-man. Unless she’s making a john sandwich with Laura San Giacomo.”
“Which is ten bucks extra,” figures Tony. “It’s like Super-sizing it.”
They seal the deal and as soon as Richard leaves, Julia lets out a girlish scream, runs into the bedroom and flops down on the bed. “I think the idea of lounging around all day is just as alluring as shopping and having sex with Richard Gere,” I remark. “I think people see Julia hanging out in that hotel robe and think, ‘Yes, that!’”
In his absence, Richard has instructed Julia to go buy a cocktail dress for a business dinner he plans to take her to later that night. So Julia heads to a Rodeo Drive boutique staffed by gaggle of women who haven’t had an orgasm since the first moon landing, let alone delivered any. “You’re obviously in the wrong place,” drones one of the women, whose CAA agent husband probably left her for a bim just like Julia. “Please leave.”
“I’ve never bought the way the movie acts as though you’d never see anyone who dresses like a whore in Beverly Hills,” says Ross.
“I’ve seen oil princesses on Rodeo Drive that make Julia seem positively demure,” agrees Lauren.
“And doesn’t Goldie Hawn hang out there?” I ask.
A demoralized Julia heads back to the hotel where she gets interrogated by the hotel’s manager, played by Garry Marshall’s M.V.P., Hector Elizondo, who coincidentally, questioned Richard Gere in his break-out turn as sex worker in American Gigolo. “Hector should have a musical number,” I say before bursting into the Dr. Dolittle theme. “If I could talk to the prostitutes…talk to the prostitutes…”
Hector takes Julia into his office, where she bitches to him about her shopping misadventure while fumbling with a big wad of cash.
“She’s like, ‘I’m such a whore that I don’t know from ones, fives and tens’,” says Tony. “I’ve just got a big ball. I don’t own a purse or a fanny pack!"
“Though my fanny has been packed,” I say. “Earlier today, in fact.”
“As a matter of fact, that’s where I keep this giant wad of cash,” says Tony.
“There’s some very obvious Freudian symbolism at work here,” says Dr. Beaverman as Hector pours water onto a plant that is clearly not long for this earth. “Nothing grows in that stifling atmosphere of status and money. There’s no life there. It’s all desiccated and dried-up, whereas Vivian the whore, with that hair sprouting all over, is nothing but life and passion and orgasms waiting to happen.”
With Hector’s help, Julia solves her cocktail dress dilemma, settling on a black number with western fringe that looks like something out of Disneyland’s Diamond Whoreshoe Revue. “That’s a cocktail dress only in the sense that it’s what Miss Kitty would serve them in,” says Lauren.
“What you can’t see is that she actually has on spurs,” adds Tony. “That jingle jangle jingle.”
“Another ten bucks extra,” says Ross.
Richard returns from work and walks in that super-sexy way that only Richard can through the lobby. “I want him to be like, ‘I’m looking for my whore’,” says Ross. “’Has anybody seen my whore’?”
Richard spots Julia, looking resplendent at the bar, then escorts her to the hotel restaurant where they dine with Ralph Bellamy, whose company Richard plans to steal.
“I had my first snails recently,” announces Lauren as Julia tries to figure out how to use the special escargot fork. “Delicious.”
“Anything soaked in garlic butter is awesome,” agrees Tony. “You can take a cat turd and soak it in garlic butter and I’d probably eat it.”
“I’ll remember that for next time,” says Marcus.
“Here’s a whore that can untangle any kind of sex toy and implement ever invented,” says Dr. Beaverman, “and she can’t at least mimic Ralph Bellamy as he’s negotiating with the little snail tool. Not highly likely.”
After Bellamy leaves in a huff, Julia tells Richard that she thought the old man was nice, not that Richard asked.
“I want her to be like, ‘That geezer seems like he’d come quick’,” says Tony, “just rating everyone based on what kind of john they’d be. ‘And that bellhop? I bet he pre-cums like nobody’s business. Scratch that, it’s my business’.”
Back in their suite, Julia and Richard’s relationship continues to deepen when Richard opens up to her about his fear of heights and hints that he may have a few issues with his father.
“Do you want to talk about it?” Julia asks him.
“No,” says Richard.
“Do you want to fuck my tits then?” says Tony.
“As this scene shows, their edges are softening,” says Dr. Beaverman, “which means she’s no longer going to sit on his important faxes without wearing a panty-liner and he’s no longer going to ask her to jam a ferret up his back door. They’re moving toward the center.”
Later that night, Julia wakes up to find Richard missing in action, so she grabs the phone and calls the front desk.
“Do you have Prince Albert in a can?” says Marcus.
“Is your elevator running?” wonders Lauren.
Wearing just a robe, Julia ventures downstairs to find Richard tickling the ivories in the hotel’s deserted banquet room. Before you can say, “Play that funky music, white boy,” he’s hoisting her onto the keyboard and slipping her the metronome.
“Her ass has perfect pitch, FYI,” says Tony, who’s done enough musicals to know.
“I do think this is a sexy scene,” I admit. “I bet Garry Marshall was losing his mind when he shot it.”
“He’s like, ‘Hey Richard, once you’re inside her, can you play Chopsticks with your balls!” says Tony. “Ha ha ha ha ha ha.”
The next morning, Richard takes some time off to do a little shopping with his whore. While they stride down Rodeo, Julia spits out her gum and Richard says, “I can’t believe you did that’.”
“Excuse me?” says Tony incredulously. “I mean, she swallows strangers’ come for money and he’s shocked that she’s a litterbug?”
They arrive at a swanky boutique where Richard is greeted by Larry Miller, the veteran character actor who was anally-penetrated by giant gerbil in Nutty Professor 2. Coincidence? You decide. Then, while Roy Orbison’s title song plays in the background, we experience what I feel is the cinematic equivalent of a sugar rush. Yes, folks, it’s time for the Julia Tries On Clothes montage,
“I think for certain women, this sequence is like mainlining,” says Ross.
“If Mary Reilly had had a Julia Tries On Clothes montage it would have been a hit,” figures Lauren. “Of course, she would have tried on twenty of the same frumpy black frock.”
“But this scene also appeals to men,” adds Dr. Beaverman, gesturing to Marcus who is literally clapping like a seal. “And not just gay men prepping for the bar exam. Straight men like it because he is controlling the purchasing. And notice there’s a lot of shots her from just the neck to the pelvic bone, a disembodied object. Pretty woman, walkin’ down the street.” Dr. B croons. “Pretty woman . . . just a piece of meat…”
“I want her to get in the mirror and pantomime sex acts as she shops,” says Tony, “like getting down on all fours. She’s like, ‘These pants really give at the knee. I’ll take ‘em’.”
Then, in a moment that was cheered in theaters, Julia stops back by the Bitch Boutique to get her revenge on the hags who wouldn’t serve her yesterday. “You work on commission, right?” she taunts, her arms full of bags from other stores. “Big mistake. Huge.”
“People went crazy for this moment but I think the revenge is kind of weak,” I say.
“The real revenge would have been to try on a bunch of outfits and then go, ‘I don’t want any of that, bye’,” says Lauren.
“And leave skid marks in the clothes,” says Tony.
After a romantic bathtub scene, which I spend the entirety of fixated on Richard Gere’s amazing Buddhist nipples, we’re off to the polo match, where Julia wears the brown polka dot outfit that, according to Lauren, looks good on no one on the planet but Julia Roberts.
After the match proper, our lovers take part in the traditional stomping-of-the-divots ritual. “One word of advice,” bellows the polo announcer, “avoid the steaming divot!”
“Garry Marshall,” Ross and I say in unison.
“Can you say something about divots with corn in it?” says Tony as Garry.
Then Jason Alexander, AKA Senor Smarm, starts grilling Richard about the mystery babe in the polka dots, going so far as to suggest that Julia might be a corporate spy. “She’s not a spy,” Richard shoots back. “She is a hooker.”
“She’s a hooker, standing in front of a boy, leaning against a horse, asking him to love her,” I clarify.
Armed with this new bit of information, Jason crosses the field to Julia and says, “Quite a nice change from Hollywood Boulevard. Maybe you and I could get together?”
This pisses Julia off to no end, though none of us can figure out why. “All the sudden she’s sensitive about her hookerness?” says Ross.
“She should be giving out business cards,” says Lauren. “This crowd is the networking opportunity of a lifetime.”
Later, back at the Reg Bev Wil, Julia rips into Richard for telling Jason that she’s a hooker. “I hate to point out the obvious,” Richard spits back, “but you are, in fact, a hooker.”
My living room, save Marcus whose cutting the cake, erupts in applause. “I’m so glad that he calls her on her shit here,” I say.
“Totally,” says Tony. “I’d be like, ‘Did my check bounce, Vivian? Okay then, shut the fuck up’.”
“I’ve never had anyone make me feels as cheap as you did today,” Julia whines.
“Except for the guy that peed on me but that was by accident,” says Ross.
“Ten bucks extra,” says half the room.
In spite of their spat, Richard soon admits that he’s starting to have feelings for Julia and that seeing her talk to another man at the polo match made him jealous.
“You’re more than a whore,” says Marcus. “You’re my whore.”
Somehow the two of them make up. I’m not really sure how because Tony and I were too busy fantasizing about what Julia’s conferences with her high school guidance counselor must have been like.
“You’re aptitude test shows that you’d be good at rimming,” says Tony, taking on the tone of my fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Grandstaff.
“But stay away from triple penetrations because you scored low on multitasking,” I add.
Before long, the couple end up back in the sack, which I have no problem with because I find Gere’s bedroom body language a total turn-on. There’s something soft and almost feminine about it makes me long to be in Julia’s shoes. I can’t imagine some macho action star like Kevin Costner or Bruce Willis being one-tenth as cuddly.
All of which brings us, happily, to Julia’s Opera Dream Date. The evening begins with the untamed redhead sauntering out of the hotel room in a red velvet dress looking super gorgeous but also a tad like Barbara Mandrell at the Country Music Association Awards in 1983 with white gloves that don’t match her dress.
Our mega-dapper Richard presents Julia with a $250,000 necklace he borrowed for the night, then just as she reaches to take it, he snaps the red velvet box lid down on her fingers. “Tell me that doesn’t signify the vagina with teeth,” says Dr. Beaverman as Julia laughs with abandon, “which is exactly what he fears so very much.”
“That box trick was actually an ad-lib on Gere’s part,” says Marcus. “Julia was sleepy and he did it to keep her awake.”
“She can’t just do crystal like everyone else in Hollywood?” I ask.
Then it’s off to San Francisco on a private jet for a performance of La Traviata. Julia appears to be riveted to the on stage goings-on but I don’t really buy it. I can’t help but think she wished she’d thought to bring the Jumble from today’s paper or a piece of string so she could regale her fellow box-sitters with her renditions of “Jacob’s Ladder” and “Grandma’s Bra.”
“Why is crying at the opera always a sign that someone has crossed the line and is now sophisticated?” wonders Lauren as Julia dabs at her eyes.
“As a season ticket holder to the L.A. Opera,” says Ross. “I can tell you that people actually cry.”
“You like opera?” says Tony.
“What do you think,” says Ross, “that I leave here and go to Hooters before returning to my cave?”
“I’m just surprised, that’s all,” says Tony. So am I, frankly, but I’m glad I wasn’t the one to say it out loud.
“Let me remind you of the famous quote, ‘Sex is the poor man’s opera’,” says Dr. Beaverman. “But Vivian doesn’t have to revert to sex anymore. She’s not a poor man anymore. She’s a lady. She’s a bleedin’ loverly lady.”
The lovers continue their Dream Date back in Los Angeles by playing chess.
“I saw one opera and wore flats, I can play chess now,” mutters Lauren.
“I want her to grab the king and the queen and go, ‘Look, they’re 69-ing’,” I say.
“Or get him to look away, and then pull a bishop out of her snatch,” says Tony.
The next day, Julia talks Richard into blowing off work so they can take part in a woo-pitching montage replete with horseback-riding, adoring glances and barefoot picnics in the park.
“This sequence is troubling,” says Dr. Beaverman, “and not just because Julia used the expression, ‘Cop a squat.’ It was the belief of Dr. Freud that women, like children, drain men’s energy and impede their progress in the world which is exactly what Julia’s doing to Richard by encouraging him to play hookey.”
Dr. Beaverman’s point is born out in the next scene which finds Richard passed out cold, worn out from all the canoodling. Julia looks at him lovingly while he sleeps. “It would be so funny if she put his hand in a bucket of warm water,” says Marcus.
“And then let him pee on her,” adds Tony.
“Ten bucks extra,” we all say.
“She’s been nickel and dime-ing him all week anyway,” says Lauren. “You know she’s emptying the mini-bar everyday, sending Tobelrones to Laura San Giacomo.”
“And her website is going to bill him $19.95 a month for the rest of his life,” I say.
When Richard wakes, they kiss on the lips for the first time and then get it on again. This time, it’s so mind-blowing, that the next morning, Richard tells Julia he wants to get her off the street. He’s basically offering to make her the Fresh Princess of Belair, but Julia gets all uppity and stomps out onto the fake balcony. It’s here that she lets fly with the fantasy she had as a young girl where a white knight would come and rescue her from a tower.
“What do you want?” Richard finally asks her.
“I want the fairy tale,” says Julia.
“The very words that men hate to hear,” says Dr. Beaverman with a sigh. “Men don’t want Rapunzel. They want a whore and here she is turning out to be just like every other damn woman he’s ever met.”
“Does anyone else think she’s not holding up her end of the fairy tale by being a whore?” I ask.
“Precisely, Dennis,” says Dr. Beaverman. “Julia has no initiative. She doesn’t want to go to school or open her own Color Me Mine franchise or become a business person. She just wants to be rescued.”
Unable to strike a deal, Richard, whose business attire has been getting lighter the more love struck he becomes, tries to get some work done but ends up walking barefoot in the park instead. It’s a wonder Garry Marshall didn’t have him literally stop and smell the roses. Meanwhile, Julia, dressed in a Fergie-style jacket and shorts set from Talbot’s, lunches with Laura San Giacomo who calls her on her fairy tale delusions, saying that the only person it’s ever worked out for is “Cinder-fuckin’-rella.”
“I heard that reference was a huge deal with Disney,” says Tony. “They were like, ‘You will not put a dirty word in the middle of Cinderella’.”
“How ‘bout Poca-fucking-hontas then?” poses Marcus.
We spend the next few minutes inserting ‘fucking’ into the names of well-loved Disney characters. Our top laugh-getters: Tinker-fucking-bell, Cruella De-Fucking-Ville. Mu-fucking-lan and my personal favorite, Annette Funi-fucking-cello.
Back on screen, Julia returns to her suite just in time to receive a surprise smarm delivery from Jason Alexander. “What is she working on?” asks Lauren, in reference to the notebook Julia’s scribbling in.
“Garry Marshall asked her to write down any place in the script where she thought she could put in a fart joke,” figures Tony.
“It’s actually her gratitude journal,” I say. “She’s been reading Chicken Soup for the Hooker’s Soul."
When Richard returns, he has to literally throw Jason off of Julia.
“Get your own whore!” shouts Ross.
“If they do end up getting married, can you imagine her at the PTA meetings?” I say. “She’d be like, ‘Bake sales can but fun, kids, but if you really want those new band uniforms, I suggest you start thinking outside the box’.”
“’Better yet, think inside of the box’,” adds Tony. “Start thinking with your box, that’s what I say.”
Julia and Richard rid themselves of Jason but still, sadly, decide to go their separate ways. Julia heads downstairs to say goodbye to Hector the Fairy Godfather, Then, later, Richard pops by Hector’s desk to return the $250,000 necklace.
“I heard that one of the reasons that Garry Marshall uses Hector Elizondo in all of his movies is that he’s not a pain in the ass,” says Marcus. “Like’s he’s on time and knows his lines and Garry hopes everyone else will try to emulate him.”
“That explains why I’ve never worked for the same employer more than once,” admits Tony.
“Well, Hector’s subtexting me to death in this scene,” I say as the well-heeled actor says tells Richard re: the necklace, “It must be hard to let go of something so beautiful.”
“You’re right, Dennis, “ agrees Ross. “His inner monologue is deafening.”
“He’s got a secret that he’s not telling the audience,” says Lauren, who’s no stranger to such acting class tricks. “Like maybe he’s wearing panties under his suit.”
Having passed on her chance for a life of luxury, Julia rides back to Hookerland in a white limo while the Roxette song, “It Must have Been Love” plays in the background.
“That limo was actually auctioned off for charity,” Marcus inform us. “and a plastic surgeon bought it and now it’s the limo that picks you up if you’re going to have work done.”
“Like I needed more incentive,” says Dr. Beaverman.
“And Roxette actually sings that song to you live,” says Ross. “They keep them in the trunk.”
“I was wondering what happened to them,” says Lauren.
Returning to her dumpy apartment, Julia tells Laura San Giacomo that she’s throwing in the g-string and giving up hooking. She’s not terribly specific about what she’ll do instead, but then she doesn’t have to be because Richard, who’s now a changed man, is going to come and rescue her. First, he saved Ralph Bellamy’s company instead of destroying it and now, he’s going to give Julia the fairy tale ending she’s always dreamed of. So he hops into his own limo, one Marcus has no idea what happened to, and sets off to Hollywood Boulevard. As opera music blares from the sunroof, he shimmies up Julia’s fire escape, conquering his fear of heights as he climbs, and rescues her.
“So what happened after he climbed up the tower and rescued her?” Richard asks Julia as they embrace.
“She gave him a disease,” says Tony.
“She rescues him right back,” coos Julia.
“This is the epitome of a 90s dysfunctional relationship,” says Dr. Beaverman. “They fit together because they’re both dysfunctional. Their dysfunctions match even if the pancake shots don’t.”
As the credits roll, I have to admit that I still don’t get why chicks love this movie so much.
“It’s because we want all to be rescued,” says Lauren matter-of-factly. “And the fact that it’s Richard Gere helps too because most of us think we can get rich or sexy but we can’t land both in one package."
“I think the movie inspires people,” adds Marcus, “because it says no matter how bad my current circumstances are and no matter what bad Toni Tennille wig I’m wearing, someone will see past all that and take me away to a life of luxury.”
“And defend us against their jerk friends like Jason Alexander when they hit on us,” adds Lauren while stashing the Vagina tape and Daphne mask into her bag, “instead of telling us it’s our fault that Jason’s hand was on our ass because Jason would never do that to them.”
The next night, I go see La Traviata with Ross at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. His normal opera date, Perry from Video Master, is out of town so Ross offered me the ticket. I cried like a baby clear through it and now I’m better than you because of it. Next week: chess.
When I get home, there’s an e-mail from Dr. Beaverman:
Thank you again for the Vagina outing. I had a lovely time in spite of the Daphne Zuniga no-show and the rest of it.
Couldn’t sleep last night so I expanded on my Beverly Whorebillies parallel and wrote a new Pretty Woman theme song which is actually twice as long as The Vagina Paragraph. It’s meant to be sung to the tune of The Beverly Hillbillies but I’m not going to sing it. Dr. Beaverman does not sing.
Come and listen to a story about a whore named Viv,
a poor street walker who had screw to live.
Then one day she was scoutin’ for a trick,
and up to the curb pulls a Lotus and a dick.
Richard that is, Dick Gere, cash cow.
Well the first thing you know old Viv’s a millionaire,
street folk said Viv move away from here.
Said the Regent Wilshire is the place you oughta be,
so she loaded her lube and moved to Beverly.
Hills that is, twisted men, movie stars.
Well now it’s time to press rewind and say so-long to Viv, and don’t forget this fairy tale is leaky as a sieve.
You know in truth poor Viv is in her old locality,
still sellin’ heapin’ helpin’s of her hospitality.
Sex that is, what the hell, take your pants off,
y’all come now,