Saturday, April 10, 2010

Wm. Floggin Buckley - Part 6

[The script of the one-man show about my brief, very unpleasant tenure at Larry Flynt Publications, which I have performed in San Francisco, London, and Madison, Wisconsin.]

In the men's room the next morning, I noticed that someone had scrawled Josef Stalin is alive and the editor in chief at HPP on the inside of the middle stall's door. At a few minutes before 11:00, Rupert called all the senior editors together again. "At yesterday's meeting, I told you we needed a black, Hispanic, or woman editor. While the rest of you went home and played bloody ping-pong, or whatever it is you do with your spare time, Ascot Preston or whatever he's called walked over to the Century Plaza Hotel, and there found Consuelo M. Gonzalez cleaning. Though he speaks no Spanish, he was able to communicate our need to her, and at 9:05 this morning, I hired her.

"I'd be very interested to know what's so bleedin' funny. I didn't say we needed Wm Floggin’ Buckley, did I? What I said was that HPP needed a black, Hispanic, or woman editor, full stop. It's a pretty pathetic when somebody who's been with HPP three days like Ascot Preston knows better than the rest of you that when I ask for something, I don't want it when you're finished with your game of bloody ping-pong, but right bloody now!"

We finally got to critique one another's magazines. Well, actually Rupert critiqued the magazines, savagely vilifying prose and photos he, as editor in chief, must have approved personally. The very grave-expressioned Astor played the congregation of a Southern Baptist church, regularly mumbling his wholehearted assent. "Right on, Rupert. Tell it like it is."

When the conference was finished, I discovered that the huge Los Angeles Lakers pennant and four framed psychedelic dance posters I'd brought in to make my office feel a little less oppressively institutional had all been removed from the wall and stacked on my desk beneath a note comprising only one word. Inappropriate. They'd been replaced by photographs of young women with very pink labia.

Then, at 5:30, four big scowling bruisers with HPP blazers and Secret Service frowns prevented anyone's boarding the elevators to go home. The one with the most menacing scowl introduced himself. "Folks, I'm Bill Recker, Vice President, Security Operations, Hammond Palmer Publication, Inc. It seems that some unauthorized editorializing has been done on the inside door of the middle stall in the gentlemen's restroom, with one of these so-called Sharpie marking pens. I would like to advise all employees that we will confiscate all such Sharpies from your desks this evening. Should analysis show any of them to be that with which the offending commentary was scrawled, its owner will receive appropriate sanctions. As you were."

Looking back, I don't know how I could have, given the stress and insanity levels at HPP, but I went out and bought myself a car, a Coca-Cola red Renault. I do know that I hoped my first passenger might be Marlene, the new paste-up artist. If she and Bo Derek had entered a party from opposite ends of the room, no one would have noticed poor Bo. She was that gorgeous, Marlene. And guess whose office she came to hang out in her first morning at work. She didn't miss the great enthusiasm with which I didn't miss her miles and miles of shapely tanned leg.

"Do you like this skirt? I just got it this weekend. I was worried it might be a little too short, but hey, there's no way to know without trying, is there?"

Bad timing. Here came the one person I least wanted to see, Sylvie. Marlene beat a hasty retreat.

"She's very pretty, Marlene. A little cheap-looking, maybe, but I know a lot of men like that sort of thing."

[Continues tomorrow! Don't miss a single installment!]

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