By Marshall Thornton
(Artwork by Stéphane Dupré)
...When he falls in love with a contestant on a reality TV show, Peter “Praline” Palmetier decides to leave his home in rural Georgia and, failing to realize this might be considered stalking, travels to Hollywood to find his soul mate, Dave G...by attending an audition for example, for which he has stolen someone else's photo and resume...
The receptionist, a muscular young black guy with thick biceps, rolling eyes and a flirtatious manner looked Praline up and down when he signed in. “Aren’t you the bold one...showing up all blue-haired and sexy.”
Praline shrugged. He could dye his hair brown if they really—wait, he wasn’t actually there to get the part so it didn’t matter what color his hair was. The receptionist handed him a few pieces of paper and said, “Here are the sides for Raphael. He’s an athletic brunet just becoming aware of his sexuality.” Praline didn’t know what sides were but he didn’t want to draw even more attention to himself by asking.
He sat down in the only empty chair and looked at the sides. It didn’t take long to figure out that these were the lines he’d have to read in the audition. Of course, they were only his lines with a few cue words so he’d know when to speak.
“...think about it?”
Raphael: (with enthusiasm) “It’s the biggest one I’ve ever seen.”
“...until you gag.”
Raphael: (with even more enthusiasm) “Yeah, now you’re talking.”
It sounded like a very interesting film and Praline wished he could read the entire script. He looked around the room and watched as the actors studied their sides, mouthing the words as they memorized them “...biggest one I’ve...”
Praline, though, couldn’t help but stare at the door, hoping that Dave G. would walk through it. He was very excited, and a little horny. Just think, he might be about to meet the man who’d been the subject of his dreams, his fantasies and his constant downloading pleasure all summer. He knew he should play it cool, the way Jason suggested, but he had no idea if he could—
Suddenly, the door opened and a young man walked in. Praline nearly screamed. It was Dave G. Wait. He looked closer. It wasn’t Dave G. It was someone who looked incredibly like him, but wasn’t him. He had the same soft brown hair, the same strong jaw line, but his eyes were not gray, they were more hazel. And his body was more developed than Dave G.’s, with the sharpened edge that comes with a few extra years. No, he was attractive, but he was not Dave. G.
Not-Dave G. picked up his sides from the receptionist, who insisted on squeezing Not-Dave G.’s bicep to see if he was athletic enough for the part. After receiving the receptionist’s seal of approval, Not-Dave G. came over and sat on the floor next to Praline. Even though he knew he should be polite and let Not-Dave G. study his lines, he couldn’t help but ask, “Do you know you look just like Dave G. from House-Bound, Season Six?”
“I get that a lot,” said Not-Dave G. “Thank God he’s not really, really famous. I’d never work.”
“Have you ever met him?” Praline asked hopefully.
“No. I’ve never even seen House-Bound. I wouldn’t know the guy if I fell over him, other than the fact that he’s supposed to look like me.”
Praline smiled and decided not to say anything else; though he wanted to keep talking about Dave G., he really should let Not-Dave G. study his lines. He didn’t go back to his lines though. Instead the actor said, “It’s kind of frustrating.”
“What is?” Praline asked.
“Well, I’m a reasonably attractive guy on my own. But I keep getting rejected because I’m not this Dave G. person.”
“People don’t reject you,” Praline said suspiciously. Looking almost like Dave G. made a person almost perfect. Almost perfect people didn’t get rejected.
“I get rejected sometimes. Everyone does.”
“Well, in my book anyone who rejects you is an idiot,” Praline said. Unless of course it was a choice between Real-Dave G. and Not-Dave G., he thought, but didn’t say.
Not-Dave G. gave Praline a long stare, the kind of stare that telegraphed not just lust, but three or four possible sex acts. The actor unfolded himself from the floor, walked back over to the receptionist and asked if there was a bathroom. After the receptionist gave Not-Dave G. the key and directions, he walked across the outer-office to the door and opened it. Before he went through he turned and gave Praline a significant follow-up to his original stare.
Praline realized what it meant. Part of him knew he shouldn’t follow the young man, the real Dave G. might walk in at any moment. But another part had begun to stir in his pants. Praline carefully draped his sides in front of his lap to hide his swelling erection as he walked out of the office and down a cobbled-together hallway toward the men’s bathroom. The door was unlocked, as he’d expected, and he quickly stepped inside.
Keeping his eyes on Praline, Not-Dave G. reached behind the boy and locked the door. Though still relatively inexperienced, Praline had had enough sex in his life (and not just in the past few days) to know there were often a few awkward moments at the beginning when the participants attempted to non-verbally communicate, or even worse actually articulate, their desires. In the case of Not-Dave G. though, it was very simple. The man knew exactly what he wanted. Once the door was locked, he pushed Praline up against it, sank to his knees and set about opening our hero’s pants. Praline’s penis popped out and smacked Not-Dave G. right in his beautiful face.
“Oh my,” the actor said. “Aren’t you eager.”
And before our hero had a chance to answer, Not-Dave G. took Praline’s dick deep into his mouth. Quickly, it was apparent that while this young man might be a talented actor he was certainly a talented cocksucker. His tongue swirled deftly around the head of Praline’s prick, while he moved his lips further and further down the shaft. Praline struggled to understand how it was even possible for him to do that, but the thought drifted away as he concentrated on the warm waves of pleasure passing through him.
When he was done with the swirling, Not-Dave G. teased Praline’s urethra with his tongue, tickling the slit, darting his tongue in and out as though he could make it small enough to slip down into Praline’s dick. Praline grabbed the door behind him so as not to fall down. He concentrated on breathing in and out and trying not to come too quickly.
Praline reached his hands down and tried to run them through Not-Dave G.’s hair, but the actor jumped back. “Not the hair.”
“Oh, sorry,” Praline said. Then Not-Dave G. went back to what he’d been doing. He cupped Praline’s balls in his hand and squeezed, gently at first, then tighter; keeping his hand where it was, he extended his middle finger and rubbed the spot right behind Praline’s balls. And that was it. He couldn’t hold it any longer. Praline tried to pull out—since it’s impolite to come in someone’s mouth unless they’ve specifically requested it—but Not-Dave G. held Praline by the hips. When he was finished, Not-Dave G. pulled his head back and studied Praline’s dick to make sure he’d gotten every last drop.
After his heart returned to a regular beat, Praline realized it must be his turn to get onto his knees but Not-Dave G. stopped him. “That’s okay.”
“Don’t you want me to return the favor?”
“Don’t worry about it,” the actor said. “It was for luck really. Every time I give someone a blowjob, I get the job.”
“Wow, you’re really good at blowjobs. You must work a lot.”
“I get by,” Not-Dave G. said, in an actor’s imitation of humility. Then he opened the bathroom door, looked both ways and left.
Praline washed up and then, floating on a cloud of hormones, made his way back to the waiting room. He’d barely sat down when he noticed the receptionist repeating an actor’s name. “Deron Pickler. Deron Pickler.” He cleared his throat and glared directly at Praline, “I said, ‘Deron Pickler.’”
“Oh! Sorry!” Praline squeaked when he remembered that he was Deron Pickler. He jumped up and hurried through the door the receptionist pointed to. Finding himself in another small, windowless room, he smiled at the obviously bored techie-type standing behind a video camera pointed at a wall-sized sheet of white paper. On the far side of the room was a door, leading presumably to another windowless room, and next to it a table stacked with men’s clothing.
“Take your clothes off and put them on the table,” the techie said. “Hold on to your valuables though. I may have to go to the bathroom and I don’t want to be responsible.”
“What are we doing?” Praline asked.
“The part requires nudity. They need to see everyone naked before they cast.”
“So you’re gonna tape me naked?”
The techie yawned. “They have bad memories.”
Just then, a loud chorus of moaning and groaning drifted out of the room Praline would be soon entering. Though still a bit sore, his dick twitched and he hoped he wouldn’t get an erection while being filmed. “What’s going on in there?” he asked.
“Auditions. The film has a lot of ‘simulated’ sex. Half the lines are ‘Fuck me. Fuck me harder.’ Your agent told you that, right?”
“Oh sure,” replied Praline. Now he really wanted Dave G. to come to the audition. He’d love to see him in a movie where he had simulated sex. Especially if the fact that there were no women at the audition suggested the kind of movie it might be. “You’ve read the script? Is it good?”
“Gladiators Gone Wild? Sure it’s great.”
“The casting notice said the movie was about an Iraq vet coming home…”
“They changed their minds. Now it’s an historical epic. Does it really matter?”
Praline shrugged. He supposed it didn’t.
“Are you going to take your clothes off or not?”
Slowly, Praline took off his clothes and placed them on the table. It’s not that he was shy about taking his clothes off—his adventures in Hollywood, so far, suggested that he’s quite willing to drop trousers when asked—he was, however, worried the techie might be able to tell he’d just been the recipient of a blowjob. He wasn’t sure if there was a way to simply look at a penis and know.
He wasn't sure if there was a way to simply look at a penis and know.
Of course, they’d be able to tell on Forensic Victims Unit. He could just imagine studly Vic Carbine saying “We found traces of soap, saliva and fresh semen on the victim. Clearly, he just received fellatio. And, judging by the motility of the sperm present in the semen sample, the fellator was quite skilled.”
When Praline nervously stepped in front of the camera, the techie busied himself with the equipment and seemed not to see him at all. That is, until he asked Praline to turn around and show his backside to the camera. “Oh, hold on, I need to widen the lens,” he said.
“Is it that big?” Praline asked.
“Don’t worry, Jocks is into bubble butts.” He continued to twist the lens.
This got the techie’s attention, “Jocks Hammer. Gay porn director. Do you know where you are?”
“I thought you said simulated sex?” Praline pointed out.
“We’re supposed to say that. Once Jocks gets a bunch of guys naked in a room, half of them get hard anyway—even the so-called straight ones—and then, boom, softcore goes hardcore.” The techie gave Praline a concerned look. “Maybe you should just put your clothes on and go.”
“I’m waiting for someone,” Praline replied.
Just then, the door opened and an unhappy looking guy came out, eyes to the floor, hands covering his genitals. Praline assumed he was in the fifty percent who didn’t react well to this audition technique. An assistant peaked out the door and said, “Next.”
The techie shrugged at Praline, who picked up his phone and his wallet and followed the assistant into the next room. Two naked actors with semi-erections kidded with each other as though it was a locker room, rather than an audition for a porno movie. On the other side of the room, behind a long folding table, several people sat watching the actors on a monitor. Two of them were nearly identical twinks who could probably star in the movie themselves. Another was a young woman with fluffy hair wearing a parka as though it were freezing cold in the room. It was not.
At the center of the group, with the best view of the monitor, was a gentleman who seemed to be Jocks Hammer. He was a thickly muscled man of about forty-five whose hair plugs and too-hip clothing suggested he was attempting to look— Oh shit!
Jocks Hammer was Stewart’s crazy Malvanian husband.
Quickly assessing the situation, Praline considered running back into the other room and grabbing his clothes—but if he stopped to put them on he’d be caught for sure. He could jump over the table and bolt naked through the door behind the casting people, ending up who knew where. He could grab a pen off the table and stab himself in the neck, saving Jocks the trouble. Or, he could wait for Jocks to look up, recognize him and then murder him in front of at least five witnesses.
The last possibility was the most distressing, not just because he’d be dead, but because the ensuing trial would expose everything Praline had done since arriving in Hollywood and the headlines would read PORN KING KILLS HOOKER TO THE STARS! Enterprising investigative reporters would uncover sex and perversion—most of it true. He could imagine the interview Stewart would sell to a tabloid. “He begged to use the double headed dildo—I didn’t even know how it worked. Seriously, they’re more complicated then they look.”
Suddenly, Praline’s fear-fueled fantasy was interrupted by one of the twink assistants saying, “Could the new Rafael step into frame and read his lines.” Praline had lost his sides somewhere along the way, so he snatched a set from the smaller of the semi-erect actors and held it in front of his face with one hand, while the other covered his privates. The actor attempted to grab the script back, but Praline scooted a couple feet away.
Without looking up, Jock prepped the actors, “Movie is blockbuster big…is old Rome, where you have Gladiator…you in Gladiator School, is spring break, you go to Sicily Beach, go crazy, drink lot of wine…and show pee-pee, jerk pee-pee, suck pee-pee and fuck like bunny. Okay?”
The other actors made assenting noises. Then, the smaller of the actors grabbed the truncated script back from Praline. Our suddenly shy hero spun around so that his back was now facing the camera. The casting crew murmured for a moment, then the girl in the parka said, “Well, at least he knows his best angle.”
One of the other actors turned to Praline and, after miming unzipping his pants and pulling out his dick, said, “Is this your first time at the Coliseum? What do you think about it?”
Praline responded, with enthusiasm, “It’s the biggest one I’ve every seen!”
“You want to watch the Italian sausage they sell during the games. They’re so good you’ll eat them until you gag.”
Praline, with even more enthusiasm, “Yeah, now you’re talking!”
“Okay, that was great,” said one of the assistants. “Rafael, could you turn around and face the camera now?”
“No,” said Praline, weakly.
“Okay, look...so far you’re great, but you’re going to have to get comfortable being naked...it is porn, after all. Everybody’s naked.”
“I know problem,” Jocks said. “He have puny penis fear. You, next to him, fluff him, then he turn around just fine.”
The actor next to Praline leaned over and was about to comply when he stopped, turning to Jocks and the casting crew. “Um... he’s not puny. Not puny at all.”
“Oh,” said Jocks, “Then turn around and show us not puny penis.”
Praline was frozen in place; he had no idea what to do. He was certain he was about to die. His life flashed before his eyes: being bullied through grade school; gaining a tiny bit of acceptance when his mother began selling pot to his high school classmates; one unreciprocated crush after another, until he got to Laccacoochee Technical College with it’s tiny, fledgling Gay Student Union, the entire membership of which wanted to have sex with Praline—and both of them did. It wasn’t much of a life, come to think of it.
And then Jocks was behind him, spinning him around, gasping when he recognized Praline, screaming, “YOU! I KILL YOU!”
Praline sprang into action; Jocks now stood between our au natural hero and his clothes, so he ran across the room, scooted around the casting table and tried to open the door that lead to...who knows where. Unfortunately, while Praline was scooting around the casting table, Jocks was jumping over it, grabbing the video camera and swinging it on its tripod with remarkable accuracy toward Praline’s head.
Excerpted from The Perils of Praline, or the Amorous Adventures of a Southern Gentleman in Hollywood.
Marshall Thornton is a novelist living in Long Beach, California. He is best known for the Boystown detective series, which has been short-listed in the Rainbow Awards three times and has twice been a finalist for the Lambda Book Award — Gay Mystery. Other novels include the erotic comedy The Perils of Praline, or the Amorous Adventures of a Southern Gentleman in Hollywood, Full Release, The Ghost Slept Over and My Favorite Uncle.