Read The Tsar's Dwarf (Hawthorne Books)

Read The Tsar's Dwarf (Hawthorne Books)
"A curious and wonderful work of great human value by a Danish master." Sebastian Barry, Man Booker finalist (Click on the picture to go to the book's Amazon page)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Looking for Dangerous Wildlife in Carefree, Arizona (Where Everybody Goes to Die)

I just came back from Carefree, Arizona.

Yes, it sounds like a joke: Carefree, Arizona. Is that a real place, you may ask - like Good Head, Idaho or Cunnilingus, New Mexico? The answer is yes. Carefree is a town in the desert north of Phoenix - one of those retirement communities where senior citizens long for birdies and huge villas are stuffed with life support equipment.

What was I doing there? Am I retiring, too? No, I'm too young for that, thank you very much, but once in a while, I need a vacation in a place where it doesn't rain - and Carefree brags about having 330 sunny days a year.

We arrived in the middle of a thunder storm, of course.

And I do mean thunderstorm. We're not talking the kind of sissy rain you experience in Portland, Oregon or Copenhagen, Denmark. It rained so hard that the cacti in the desert screamed for mercy.

The raindrops were like bullets, but at least we got a casita facing the desert and the glorious mountains.

Here we spent six days doing absolutely nothing - something I've become an expert at since I'm a writer. At one point, I called the front desk because I dropped Vanity Floor on the floor and wanted someone to pick it up for me.

I had bell boys chewing my food, too, of course. Why else would you go on vacation?

Since we're huge fans of wild life, we did find the strength to venture into the desert looking for bobcats, mountain lions, and wild pigs. But the only thing we saw was golfers racing around in their gay little carts. Wild life gets the hell out when Mr. and Mrs. Frostbite from Wisconsin start practicing their golf swings. So does everybody else who is sane.

We did run into an abundance of cute wild bunnies though - more than you'll ever see at the Playboy Mansion. But four days after we arrived we jumped with joy: ten wild pigs were feasting on the green at the ninth hole. Much to our dismay, they didn't look dangerous at all. Actually, they looked like they'd been groomed at the resort's Golden Door Spa, a place so new age that they added taxes on anything non-tofu.

So all the dangerous animals of the desert left us totally unharmed. Not even a skinny coyote dropped by for an eggnog. Sometimes I went out into the wilderness and stuck a few fingers down the snake holes but the local rattlers were too busy sleeping to take the bait.

So we were stuck for Christmas in the luxury of the Boulders Resort with its landscaped cacti, its scarily cheery staff (goood moooorning, how aaare you tooodayyyy, Siiiir?), and something as obscene as a Chelsea fan playing the piano in the bar.

Christmas day I finally got my wish. I woke up with a tiger staring down at me. In a daze, I reached for my gun, just to be on the safe side .... but slowly it dawned on me that the tiger didn't move. It was a white tiger, too, with a big red bow. I immediately named it Generic and carried it around the resort like a happy toddler.

Finally I'd had a taste of real Arizonian wild life.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

In Hollywood Even the Ghosts Have Boners

I met Camilla Overbye Roos back in the eighties. She served at a birthday party of mine and did a memorable job, spilling red wine on my mother and charming the pants off a middle aged fashion designer.

About a year ago, I met up with her for the first time in over twenty years. During that time Camilla has been very successful. Around 1990, she became an actress in Hollywood working with people like David Lynch. She made the cover of Life Magazine in 1993 as a young starlet. And hey, she had a small part in an unknown film called Titanic where she played Kate Winslet's Norwegian friend.

She has also directed several prize winning documentaries, among others Queenas about Latino transvestites in LA.

Now Camilla and I are enjoying a Vietnamese dinner together, but we're not talking about her past in Tinseltown; we're not discussing how she used to play backgammon with Leonardo di Caprio on the set of Titanic; we're discussing something of much more importance: whether ghosts can have a hard on.

"Yes, they can," Camilla says taking a bite of a huge Vietnamese spring roll. "I used to live in the El Royale in Hollywood and we had a ghost that haunted the apartment building - he used to walk around in his bathrobe with a great erection. I kept on telling the others, send him up to me, why don't you send him up to me?"

I watch the spring roll disappear into Camilla's mouth.

Never trust an actress when she goes weird on you, I tell myself. Especially not if she has worked with David Lynch.

According to Camilla, the name of the ghost was Mr. Felcher. Everybody knew him because he had lived in the building in the flesh (so to speak), but now he had taken his boner with him to the Afterlife.

Mr. Felcher started haunting his own apartment - then he was seen in three other apartments as well. The four places had one thing in common; they used the doorknobs from the old place. Why a ghost would be emotionally attached to a doorknob is beyond weird, but the well mannered lady who was the first to spot Mr. Felcher's boner blushed when she told the management about her sighting.

"His bathrobe was open," she gasped, "wide open."

Mind you, even in Hollywood horny ghosts are a rarity. And it doesn't make it better that felcher is a description of a sexual act that doesn't go down well in the Bible belt. Unless you happen to have an anus, of course.

Some facts:

Ghosts are souls that refuse to leave the earth. They feel they have unfinished business, so they stay around trying to contact the living. Mr. Felcher was probably scared that he couldn't flash any archangels in the Afterlife, so he hung around El Royale looking for a blow job.

Actually, El Royale was a good place for any one who wanted to fulfill his sexual fantasies. Cameron Diaz, Uma Thurman, Michelle Williams, and Diane Lane lived there. So did Ben Stiller, Matt Dillon, and Billy Zane who probably could have gotten a quickie with most female ghosts.

"I loved living in El Royale," Camilla tells me, "but as I said, I never saw Mr. Felcher. I lived in the wrong apartment."

Apart from this tragedy, it's hard to feel sorry for my friend. Even though most of Camilla's Titanic scenes ended up on the cutting room floor, she still lived on the Mexican set for months, hanging out with Leonardo, Kate Winslet, and other beautiful icebergs.

James Cameron, the director of Titanic, was fond of her, too. Actually so fond that di Caprio begged Camilla to come on the set on her days off because she had such a soothing influence on the volatile director.

But now Camilla is back in her native Copenhagen after twenty years of la dolce vita in New York, Hollywood, and London. She has three small kids who are living it up in their Danish apartment. And she's studying psychology. So would you if you had lived in Southern California.

And Camilla doesn't seem to miss the old days at all. Not even Mr. Felcher with that great metaphysical boner of his.

****An earlier version of this entry was published here in July 2009.