Today’s guest is David Grant, author of a number of books including Hollywood Ending and now his latest literary novel, Blood: The New Red, takes a look at the fashion industry in New York City. Reading this guest post and book excerpt, I felt, that even though I have never been to New York it sure feels eerily familiar to a place I know so well, that of Hollywood California. If you’re familiar with Hollywood see if you can pick up on the similarities and then let me know in the comments.
New York, A City of Inspirational Characters
By David Grant
New York City has always been an inspiration for literature. Jack Kerouac, Don DeLillo, and Norman Mailer are only a small sample of famous writers that have used New York to produce timeless prose.
When someone says “Baltimore” you have an image in your head, same for “Portland”, or any city. For me “New York” brings images of compact streets, cobblestones, and non-descript store fronts. For many, this “view” may bring words and motivation; however, if you’re really looking for inspiration, you need to look at what is going on inside. Here you will find the three D’s: determination, debauchery, and desperation; this is where you will find New York City. Diversity breeds stories you can’t ignore.
Walking through the city you come in contact with nuns, teachers, and felons, often all in the same block. Here’s a question, which of the following New Yorkers are more dangerous? A) Drama Queen Fashionista B) Nervous Homeless Man C)Coked out Marketing/Ad Man or D) Wall Street Broker? A true New Yorker knows (answer at the end.)
About Blood: The New Red
My new book, BLOOD: The New Red takes a look at the fashion industry running along Seventh Avenue and therapist offices across the city.
Blood: The new Red begins at an after party where Mickey, and ex-adult movie star turned supermodel, is aligning himself with one of top Designers of Seventh Avenue. While trying to land a job on the runway Mickey is thrown into the center of a scene where sex is often the motivation, the wine is served by year, and cocaine is back in full force. Juanita, Mickey’s girlfriend is having difficulties staying sober, fully clothed, and off of her famous boyfriend.
Mickey goes to work for Fashion icon Paul Johnson, one of the two top Designers in NYC. The other is Sandy Johnson, another Designer who will stop at nothing including murder to guarantee victory. A runway exhibition has been scheduled for the two to compete in and find out who truly is the best Johnson. Mickey will be Paul’s top model, and Sandy has found a homeless person nicknamed Kung Fu Master to show his line.
In addition to getting his new line in place, Paul Johnson is also buying chain saws, the louder the better, to put the special in this special event.
Did you know that you can’t be sentenced to prison if actively seeking help at a mental facility? Paul Johnson knows this.
Somewhere between the girls, counting Vicodin pills, and show preparation Mickey has grown a conscience and no longer likes what he sees. He believes (and his psychiatrist agrees) that he has the power to change what’s happening around him.
Days before the show Kung Fu Master turns up dead and there is an attempt on Mickey’s life. After a brief period of unconsciousness Mickey is back, is told that Juanita and brother Cheeks are now also dead and that he must continue with the show. After all, what would Steven Tyler do?
The night of the show is laced with celebrities and models on the runway as well as one particular popular day-time talk show host that may or may not be murdered on the runway.
In the end only one Johnson will walk away, although this is temporary as Mickey has the last word.
Right before he pops his last Vicodin.
New Yorkers feed off the creativity and energy that fuels the streets. There is a guy who has a “Love Truck” on Wall Street, blasting music from the sixties while serving coffee and smiles all day long. Just steps away a doorman for a luxury apartment building is chatting it up with a tenant about his new motorcycle and how much “ass he pulls in” from his new ride, and two doors down, a pizza deli where they only speak Italian and serve the incredible slices. All of this occurs within one block of New York City. My point is, you don’t have to look far to find characters, they are part of the moment.
Answer: D) The Wall Street Broker, they are always more stressed out and coked up than the average New Yorker.
About David S. Grant
David S. Grant is the author of ten books including “Corporate Porn”, “Bleach|Blackout”, “Hollywood Ending”, and “Rock Stars”. His latest novel, “Blood: The New Red”, is now available. David lives and writes his weekly rock, travel, and NBA columns from New York City. For more information go to http://www.davidsgrant.com Twitter: @david_s_grant
BLOOD: The New Red in Paperback: http://www.amazon.com/Blood-New-David-S-Grant/dp/0984173854/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1327246788&sr=8-2
BLOOD: The New Red via Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Blood-The-New-Red-ebook/dp/B006NZRWLG/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1327246788&sr=8-3
Always look like a rock star. This is the number one secret on how to be famous. I’m wearing chains, lots of chains. Eye shadow, lots of eye shadow. I wouldn’t say my pants are tight, but then again, my balls might disagree with you at the moment.
I’m standing on the second level of the Grand Hotel, overlooking the bar area. My manager tells me this is where I need to be standing. In five minutes I will move across the room and stand next to a long mirror where one of the Hiltons will walk by and notice my reflection. A photographer will be close by and be sure to get the picture. This mirror has been placed here for this sole purpose. My manager tells me not to stare at the mirror. If you asked me to list my weaknesses, this may be my number one fault.
DJ Shingles, the newest (which means hottest) DJ, is playing on a middle level between the first and second floors. There is barely enough room for him let alone the overflowing ashtray and oversized stocking cap. Rumor has it this is his last show, despite this being his first. There is talk that he is moving into production and will be working with a major player in the hip hop industry, depending on who is hot at the time. DJ Shingles is wearing an Armani black button-down shirt with the sleeves ripped off. Very last year, but this is more a statement than a miscalculation on his part. Last season is the new season.
My manager signals for me to make my way across toward the mirror. A reporter from GQ is following me and asking me questions about who I’m going to sign with and whether or not my past will affect my future. I get her number, tell her I’ll call her later, and then blow her off as I approach the mirror. Always leak your press, never tell. This is secret number three on how to be famous.
Four widescreen televisions are fastened to the wall behind the bar. All are showing TMZ. An orange haired girl wearing a Betsey Johnson dress sees me staring at the television sets. She walks over and whispers in my ear, “It’s the new CNN.”
A waiter carrying a tray of wine from 1980 is walking by. Every 15 minutes another waiter, another tray, another year will walk by. Welcome to the world of fashion parties. Ten percent content, ninety percent presentation.
A man who goes by the name Dontay hands me a coffee cup that is full of scotch. My manager tells me to sip it and not cheers anyone. Any buzz that insinuates I’ve been in rehab and have put my porn career in the past is good press and can only help my modeling career. As scheduled, I’m approached by someone with the last name Hilton.
The Hilton is wearing a blouse that is considered the color Ocean, the new blue, but since Aquamarine blue was in fact the new blue for last season and last season is in this season, no one should be caught dead in Ocean. Unless of course she is being ironic. If so, she will have to mention this to at least three people during the course of the evening.
“Mickey, you’re back! I mean, uh…” Hilton looks at the coffee cup. “Welcome back!” She tips her coffee cup to me.
I glance around at the guest list, wondering who has the most juice at the party, but am distracted by the waiter walking through with wines from 1990.
“Good year for cabernets,” Hilton says, then grabs her blouse. “Last season is the new season, huh? Fuck that.” She laughs and looks fidgety as lights pop around us. At one point Hilton puts her arm around me and kisses me on the cheek. FLASH. Mission accomplished.
“I miss you, Mickey. We should get together sometime, you know, have a cup of coffee, fuck, or something.”
Sure, I tell her and then she leaves because she has a rule about spending over forty hours a week on the Lower East Side and this season many Fashion Week parties have been in LES, the new SoHo.
According to my manager, I need to make my way to a reserved table next to the bar where Paul Johnson is sitting. My manager also says to ignore the temptation of champagne. I have a job to do tonight.
When I approach, Paul gets up from his table and gives me a hug. “Welcome back, Mick. We’ve missed you.” I tell Paul great show and congratulations on the new line, then look at the table and see they are all drinking 1986 chardonnay and there’s a small mountain of cocaine in the center of the table. Paul looks at my cup and asks me if I need another coffee and I tell him I’m okay and then he proceeds to introduce me to the guests at his table, which include Lindsay Lohan, Jay Z, John Stamos, and four models I’ve never met but have bumped into during my previous job. One is a brunette with piercing blue eyes that I may have even shot a scene with but am not positive since I never saw much of her face. I pull out a pack of Camel non-filtered cigarettes and light one up. Paul asks me to join them. My manager agrees, so I grab a seat. The brunette tells me I look familiar, John Stamos says the same, and I grab a random razor from the ashtray and cut a line for myself.
Paul follows my lead, does a line and then lifts his head. There are still remnants of powder on his nose, but judging from his smile, he doesn’t care. “Mickey, I want you to be my feature model, and I want to use you for my next project. What do you say?”
No one has ever turned down an offer from Paul Johnson, one of the top two designers in New York City. I consider saying no, just to make history, but my manager doesn’t agree with this decision, so I put some cocaine on the razor blade and turn toward the brunette. On cue she lowers her dress, revealing her left nipple. I dump the coke onto the top of her left breast, move in, and snort it. She giggles and then says, “Now I remember you.”
I excuse myself from the table because my manager has me scheduled to bump into Sandy Johnson near the men’s restroom in three minutes. On my way to my spot, Dontay walks past and hands me a full coffee cup and slips me the number of John Stamos, “Just in case,” he says.
Sandy exits the bathroom with his fly unzipped, hand in hand with Stan, his boy toy for the night, laughing and then flagging down a waiter holding a sign: 2002. My manager has strategically placed me between Sandy and the waiter so Sandy notices me and walks over. “Mickey! My God, you look fabulous!” Sandy gives me half-hug and cups my buttocks, then mentions that he has heard a lot of rumors involving me and the porn industry. I just laugh and tell him there’s nothing wrong with franchising my body.
“Amen to that.” Sandy turns to Stan and tells him to fetch him a glass of 2002 because he needs to talk business. Sandy surveys the scene and leans in to me. “Fabulous, isn’t it?” I nod and then Sandy says, “Just murderous!”
Sandy moves next to me and puts his arm around my shoulder. “Did you see my show today?” It was great and congratulations I tell him but am cut off as he tries to say something, pauses, then finally says, “So I see you were talking with Paul.”
I take a drink of Johnnie Walker and then say, “Yeah, actually he just offered me a job.”
Sandy grabs his heart. “Oh, the betrayal! I think I’m going to faint.” Stan appears out of nowhere with a chair for Sandy to sit down in and hands him a glass of wine. Sandy takes a drink and agrees that it is indeed 2002 and this seems to settle him. “Mickey, baby, we go way back. Your first runway, I believe. Honey, you need to come work for me, not that…” Sandy flickers over toward Paul, “beast!”
My manager tells me that I need to step outside because Juanita, my girl, can’t get inside because she refuses to wear shoes and has just put out a joint on the bouncer’s arm.
I tell Sandy thank you, and he says he’ll be in touch. I lean into his ear and let him know his pants are unzipped and he says, “I know, it’s the new sign.”
I finish my cup of scotch and walk outside where Juanita is not only not wearing shoes but is also not wearing any pants, only a light purple Versace thong. The bouncer notices me and tells me that he doesn’t have a problem with the thong, but there’s a policy regarding the shoes. I let him know I understand and then buy a gram of cocaine off of him. I put Juanita in my limo and give her the gram to keep her busy. “I need to go inside and finish some business. I’ll be right back,” I tell her but she doesn’t hear a word, already ripping open the gram and cutting three lines. “Thanks baby!” I hear her yell as I shut the door.
Back inside, my manager wants me to be on the right side of the bar because the glow from the light accentuates my features best. I look over and see Paul Johnson telling a story that I’m guessing involves a Hollywood movie star, too much champagne, and no panties while he decides which two models he is going to take home tonight. On the other side, Sandy Johnson is whispering into the ear of Stan and undoubtedly outing many of the stars here tonight. Presently, in between sips of three-hundred-dollar glasses of wine, they are pointing at Andy Garcia and nodding.
Paul Johnson versus Sandy Johnson, the two top designers in the city, fighting for the top spot. Fashion Designer of the Year. Earlier today Paul introduced a new line of furs despite the protest of PETA outside their tents at Bryant Park. At the end of the show Paul had all of his models come out onto the stage wearing nothing but fur and had a man with a wiry mustache throw goat blood all over all of them as Paul screamed, “It’s the new red!”
Meanwhile, across the park, Sandy Johnson displayed his new men’s line on the runway by having his male models hold the garments as they strutted naked and hard. Rumor has it there was no “fluffer” required. Sandy Johnson can be hands-on when required.
Both shows received standing ovations. The debate over which show was better continues. Paul versus Sandy, good versus evil, although in this case it is not clear who is playing which role. There was talk at one point that for Paul’s next line, Eternal, a model would be executed on the runway.
As I light a Camel, my manager notifies me that Paul is approaching. “Mickey, be in my office first thing tomorrow.” When Paul says tomorrow, he means 8AM tomorrow.
Too quick for even my manager to notice, Sandy comes up and asks me if I’m seeing anyone and I mention Juanita, which leads to a disappointed face and he tells me to stop by in the morning to discuss working for him. When Sandy says tomorrow morning, he means never.
My manager is noncommittal but pleased. We have accomplished our goal for the night. I glance over at Paul Johnson, then over at Sandy Johnson, the two kings, bitter rivals and not related. Simply known around the city as The Johnsons.
Walking out of the Grand, I look over at my limo. The window is rolled down and Juanita appears to have passed out. I walk over to my driver and tell him to take her home. As I turn back toward the club there is a TMZ camera in my face. “Mickey! Mickey! Who are you going with?” I light a Camel, remove my aviators, and look into the camera. “I’m going with Johnson! You can use that!” FLASH.
I reach into my pocket and grab the number of the GQ reporter and call her. We agree to meet at Lucky Sevens at Rivington and Stanton.
After we talk, she sends me a text message that reads: CAN’T WAIT TO GET MY LIPS AROUND YOU.
I go back to the doorway of the Grand (where I can hear “Mama Said Knock You Out” over the speakers), score another gram, stop off in the bathroom for a line, and then catch a cab to Lucky Sevens. In the cab the song “Suspicious Minds” by Elvis is playing. I cut a line and offer it up to the cab driver, who can’t snort it fast enough. I do a line and sit back, smiling.
Act like you’ve lived this moment a hundred times over. This is the forty-third secret on how to be famous.