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It seems almost inevitable, and the really weird part is, well, when Leslie Carter comes back from her break, she seems refreshed, renewed, but still a little spooked, though not by Gregory Dark. They keep having Leslie try on outfits, and all Leslie keeps saying is, 'When can we go? " And so the weird part is, when Leslie comes back downstairs and steps in front of the camera, and Gregory starts shooting her in shards and pieces as she valiantly lip-synchs "Like, Wow! The mother had very blond hair and very white teeth. a gentleman, and, indeed, every time Leslie Carter's sister came anywhere near him, he went the other way or emitted, through clenched teeth, a sort of pitiful high-pitched moan, the cry of a creature in the act of resisting temptation. " he said to me, and then, as if to prove it, took out his cell phone to leave a message for a woman he'd just started dating. Goodnight." He spoke to her in a voice of amazing plaintive tenderness, considering they had just started dating, and when he hung up the phone, he made a face--he flinched, for he had sensed in her voice a resistance, a fear, a demurral. He looked suddenly old and bereft, even ancient, and wondered if he was going to be judged as a pornographer forever. No--and as the afternoon wears on and she keeps going back to the dressing room with her mother and Frances and Goldie, in the hope of finding that one magic outfit that will obscure her issues, she disappears for longer and longer periods of time, until at last she doesn't come back at all, and Gregory has to dispatch John Thorpe to see what's going on. I want to go home.' And Goldie's up there saying, 'Think urban.' Urban! "--a shot of one of her eyes, a shot of her nose, a shot of her mouth, a shot of her cheek, her fingers, her lip, her toes, everything in what Gregory calls "asymmetrical quadrants," so that Leslie Carter can literally be taken apart and disassembled in postproduction--he speaks to her softly, and she looks at him as if he's the only person on the set she can trust to put her all back together again. Then I went and saw him make a porno movie--saw him do things just because he could and saw him turn a woman's compliance into humiliation--and I wasn't sure I liked him so much anymore. He was telling me he was a gentleman, and as proof he offered his behavior toward a young woman on the set at the Leslie Carter shoot. Not just because she was young and pretty--she was vulnerable. She wore a kind of tailored sweat suit of powder blue, and a diamond necklace hung around her neck. She was, he said, "the first straight girl I've ever gone out with," and when I asked him to define his terms, he said, "the first girl who is not a porn star, a stripper, a call girl, or a dominatrix. She asked me in the other night, and I said, Not on the first date."You see, it isn't as if he stopped liking what he liked before--the weird shit. but now the entire culture is besotted with the erotic promise of teenage girls, and so by the time they come to Gregory Dark, the girls have already been, well, pornographied. That's a porn name if there ever was one, no matter if it's her real name or not. Am I proud of driving the final nail in some girl's coffin, of making her more of a whore than she started out being? That Rolling Stone cover of Christina Aguilera with her shorts unzipped and her athletic tongue licking her lascivious lips?
Instead, she showed up with "issues," which is to say she showed up overweight. No sentimentality here, and certainly no story--just dwarfs and clowns and people sniffing each other like dogs and snorting like pigs and screwing in cages or on top of mounds of dead fish. There was a band, Sublime, and they were familiar with his work, and they asked him to make their video, and the video made it onto MTV, and Craig Fanning saw it and signed Gregory to a contract with F. Rocks, and now here he is, four years later, directing young Leslie Carter as tenderly as he once directed young Traci Lords. Then the woman hits a button, clicks a mouse, and--blip!
It was the mid-eighties, and he was doing some work on a documentary about the pornography business called Fallen Angels. " video--trying to come up with images and colors--when Frances called. It's Gregory Dark, after all, and the guy still looks ... He might not want Leslie Carter wearing black in her video, but he's wearing black, from head to toe, because he never wears anything but. Now I work with really smart people, brilliant people, but people I work for--they're still not that smart. But now I've made a hundred music videos, and they can never say that Gregory Dark's not commercial, that Gregory Dark doesn't sell--you know, 'Let's not hire Gregory Dark, because all he wants to do is weird shit.' That used to be the case, but not anymore. And people who get to know me, they like me, because I'm fair and I'm honest. I have a real agent now, with Paradigm." He takes out his black cell phone, calls his agent, and immediately gets into a conversation about the movie he's trying to make for New Line, Stray Dawgz. And it's supposed to have a budget of about million, but now New Line keeps putting it off, and so Gregory's on the phone with his agent, saying, "Fuck New Line. They don't care about me, or else they wouldn't keep fucking around. I have a half-million dollars' worth of music-video work scheduled. " CD, because she's got a nice profile, because in profile her issues aren't so apparent. He's been there all morning, exuding ashen calm, and now he stands up and approaches Leslie Carter. The scenario was heavy on special effects, heavy on postproduction, heavy on the manipulation of Leslie's image. They were, like, in high school or something, and they had seen my movies. I wrote this article, and when the time came for the research department to check its factual accuracy, a woman named Annie called him up.
He met a guy named Walter Gernert, a businessman, a guy who was making money off of porn. She wanted to know if he could stretch Leslie in the video to make her look taller and thinner. I'm not like a lot of other people in the business--I don't try to fuck them. Why should I keep on putting that off for people who don't give a shit about me? Gregory was literally going to turn Leslie Carter into a puzzle; he was going to break her face and her body into little pieces and put them back together again, and then he was going to pixelate her face so that it looked like an image you see in comic books. She had issues, and Dream Works needed a director who would make Leslie's video ... But that's the thing with all the video work he's been getting. He was a pornographer, sure, maybe even the worst pornographer ... She is twenty-six years old and has a bright young voice on the phone.
Then I saw a video by Mandy Moore, another teenage glamour-puss, who is marketed to little girls who are still too innocent for the coy come-ons of Britney Spears and the frank sexual howling of Christina Aguilera. I called him up, and he said, "Oh, yes, I remember you--we were sort of friends." He said that he didn't make pornography anymore but had, in the years since, made about a hundred music videos.
He said that he was in great demand, and that in fact he was trying to work out a deal to direct a feature film for New Line. All morning, she has been here, in a studio somewhere in the Valley, trying on clothes and submitting to the attentions of stylists.