December Roses

Posted: September 5, 2011 in Stageplays
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Produced April 7-10 2010 as part of the Brave New Play Rites theatre festival, Vancouver, BC.

Read press for “December Roses” here.

CAST

Brendon Percival  —————— Gay porn actor, 28. Snarky, lithe and beautiful.

Joshua Freedman —————– Brendon’s co-star, 32. Handsome, a loveable doof.

SCENE

A porn studio lounge.

TIME

Around 5 pm on Christmas Eve Eve (i.e. the 23rd), 2007.

Lights up on a nicely-furnished lounge, with a couch, a couple of chairs, a water cooler, and a table with a coffee machine and some snacks on it. Characters will occasionally grab food off the table or make themselves a cup of coffee.

JOSH is alone onstage, wearing a white bathrobe and thongs. He is talking on his cell phone.

JOSH

Yes, I know they’re out of season. Yes, that’s fine. So the address is – well, yes, obviously I’d like them delivered. What do you mean, you can’t do that?

BRENDON enters, also wearing a robe and thongs.

Yeah, I know, I’ve looked outside, it’s a mess, but shouldn’t you have trucks with four-wheel drive or something? No sir, I’m not taking a tone with you, I’m just saying… No, I don’t own a business. Yes – yes, but – alright, fine, I’ll pick them up in about a half hour. So that’s three dozen red roses under Josh Freedman. Alright, see you then. Yes, thank you. Bye.

BRENDON

That’s a lot of roses.

JOSH

Hey, Brendon.

BRENDON

Out of season, too. That’s gonna be expensive. They’ll just wilt the second you take them outside.

No answer.

What’s the occasion?

JOSH

They’re for Maureen.

BRENDON

Birthday or Christmas present?

JOSH

Neither.

BRENDON

So you’re in hot water?

JOSH

Kyle called my phone and she answered. He told her I was late for the shoot.

BRENDON

This shoot?

JOSH

Yes.

BRENDON

And this upset her.

JOSH

Yes.

BRENDON

Because you had plans?

JOSH

No.

BRENDON

Because she…values punctuality.

JOSH

Dude.

BRENDON

Well you’re gonna have to help me out here.

JOSH

Brendon. We’re in adult films.

BRENDON

Wait, did she not know?

JOSH

There you go.

BRENDON

Really, she didn’t know? So she…ooh. Gosh.

JOSH

Yup. Hey, while you’re here, maybe you can help me pick which of these cards I should give her. I bought a bunch but I can’t decide between them.

BRENDON

Okay, let’s have a look.

They sit on one of the couches. Brendon flips through the stack of cards.

These are too frilly. And most of them have puppies on them.

JOSH

There weren’t a lot of options at the drugstore that lacked frill. Or puppies.

BRENDON

What’s this one – “Your heart is as big as your body.”

(Looking at Josh)

Are you kidding me? Do you want her to punch you?

JOSH

I thought maybe it was funny?

BRENDON

Honestly, I’m not sure any card will help. I think you might just be screwed.

JOSH

You think so?

BRENDON

I wouldn’t take you back. Finding out your boyfriend’s in gay porn is kind of a deal breaker.

JOSH

Then how come you thought she knew already?

BRENDON

I thought she was your beard.

JOSH

Oh, no, I’m not gay. This is just my job.

BRENDON

Mm-hm.

He sips his coffee and looks at Josh evenly.

JOSH

There some value judgement you’d like to pass?

BRENDON

I’m sorry, but the gay-for-pay racket is just such utter bullshit. It’s only for self-hating closet cases and macho freaks who won’t bottom.

JOSH

You know very well I’ve bottomed before.

BRENDON

Right, which leaves us with only one alternative.

JOSH

Hey, you don’t have to believe I’m straight. I’m comfortable with my sexuality. I just know that Maureen turns me on and guys don’t, not really.

BRENDON

Okay. Don’t you think that’s kind of strange, though? The fact that you have sex with men all the time, but you claim not to be interested it?

JOSH

I don’t know, I just think of it differently. I mean a dick is a dick, you know? You do things to it and it’ll perform, under normal circumstances. I don’t really think of that as sex. When I come with a woman, it’s a completely different experience. It’s…more of a conversation, maybe. Like our bodies are talking to each other. It’s just really sexy.

BRENDON

You can have orgasms up the wazoo, but that’s not gonna convince me you’re straight.

JOSH

Sorry to nitpick, but isn’t having orgasms up the wazoo kind of the exact opposite of being straight?

BRENDON

Don’t get cute with me, breeder. How’d you even get into this gig, if you’re not into guys?

JOSH

The money’s better than in straight porn.

BRENDON

Okay Josh, seriously, it’s porn. We’ve got rookies here making $800 a scene. You’re not gonna be panhandling anytime soon.

JOSH

Fair point.

BRENDON

Anyway, why porn in the first place? Why aren’t you a banker or something?

JOSH

You think I’d be a banker? Ouch.

BRENDON

You know what I mean. No little boy says, “When I grow up I’m gonna fuck strangers on camera for a living.”

JOSH

I don’t know.

BRENDON

Come on, we never talk about this stuff. What did you study in school?

JOSH

I didn’t go to university. I dropped out of high school in grade 12.

BRENDON

Oh.

JOSH

I wasn’t really interested in anything in high school either. I mean I liked English okay, but I didn’t try very hard at anything. I liked getting high with my friends and having sex, and that’s about it.

BRENDON

Well that’s pretty much what you do now, so I guess it was a good career plan.

JOSH

Guess so.

(Beat)

What makes you so sure I’m gay?

BRENDON

I’m not saying you’re not into to girls. I think there’s a good chance you’re bi.

JOSH

What gives you that impression?

BRENDON

Besides the fact that you fuck men for a living? We’ve worked together for a little while now, I can just tell.

JOSH

You can “just tell.” And what “tells” you this, exactly?

BRENDON

You’re not a believer in gaydar, I take it.

JOSH

Is this a bad time to tell you Santa doesn’t exist?

BRENDON

This isn’t witchcraft, babycakes, it’s science. Like salmon migrating, or dogs smelling each other’s pee or whatever.

JOSH

You’re so full of shit.

BRENDON

This seems to be bothering you. Do you really want to know how I know?

JOSH

It’s not bothering me, but sure.

BRENDON

And you won’t get freaked out?

JOSH

I won’t get freaked out.

BRENDON

We have sexual chemistry.

JOSH

What, you and me?

BRENDON

Why do you think we’re so good onscreen? It’s hard to really enjoy porn sex, but it’s not too bad with you.

JOSH

Was that a compliment?

BRENDON

I guess it was.

JOSH

Aw. Thanks.

BRENDON

My pleasure.

JOSH

But listen, I can manufacture chemistry. That’s what we do here. It’s called good acting and natural sexual magnetism.

BRENDON

Oh please. I saw some of your scenes with Larry in “Rudolf the Red-Donged Gaydeer,” and it was just the most depressing thing I’ve ever seen. It was like watching plywood boards have sex.

JOSH

Well have you ever worked with Larry? He squeaks and squawks! It’s like having sex with R2D2.

BRENDON

I bet you anything that porno already exists somewhere.

JOSH

I really don’t want you to take this the wrong way, but are you sure you’re not just, you know, projecting?

BRENDON

You think I have a crush on you?

JOSH

No shame in it. You wouldn’t be the only one around here. I’ll refer you again to the natural sexual magnetism.

Brendon turns to look Josh in the eye.

BRENDON

Okay, fine, I’ll stroke your ego if you want. You’re a sweet, passionate guy off-screen. You’ve got a great body, you’re well-hung, and I’m sure you’re a very capable hetero lover. None of that’s in question. But something happens to you when we fuck that I don’t think you’re aware of. Something goes on in your face, your muscles…they get softer, or more open. I’m not sure how to explain it. But the first guy I ever seriously dated was fathoms-deep in the closet when he made exactly the same face at me.

Josh says nothing.

I’m not coming onto you; I’m just asking you to entertain the possibility that our connection might go beyond the realm of the professional.

JOSH

Do you think you can maybe not be so smug and self-righteous for like two minutes?

BRENDON

You’ve met me, right? I think it’s physically impossible.

JOSH

No, seriously. I appreciate you trying to save me from my bourgeois hetero lifestyle and all, but what I do mind is you twisting your feelings for me into some kind of cause –

BRENDON

Whoa, Josh, that’s bullshit. You think I care about whether or not you’re –

JOSH

Yeah, I think maybe you do!

Pause.

BRENDON

(Icily)

I’m sorry I said anything. Obviously you know best.

JOSH

Yeah, I do.

They are silent for an uncomfortable minute.

Wow, okay, I didn’t mean to bitch out on you like that.

BRENDON

Yeah, what was that about? You’re usually so nice when I flirt with you.

JOSH

I dunno, I’m PMSing a little bit I guess. The Christmas season makes me moody.

BRENDON

I didn’t mean to tell you your feelings. I was just going on instinct.

JOSH

I know. It’s okay.

Pause.

BRENDON

I have a really good idea for how you can prove me wrong, right now. Just kiss me, tell me honestly that you’re not into it, and I’ll never say another word.

JOSH

(Turning to Brendon)

What are you talking about? We’ve kissed before.

Brendon shakes his head.

JOSH

We’ve never kissed? Seriously? In all the films we’ve done together?

BRENDON

I would remember.

Pause.

JOSH

You want me to do it right now?

BRENDON

Yes.

Long pause. They are facing each other on the couch, about two hands’ widths apart.

JOSH

But we just had sex.

BRENDON

I know. I’m told that people often kiss after they have sex.

JOSH

(Breaking gaze)

Sorry, man. I don’t think I’m up for that right now.

BRENDON

That’s okay. It was just a suggestion.

Pause. Josh flips through the cards.

JOSH

Anyway it makes more sense that a guy like me would get into porn than a guy like you.

BRENDON

What? Why?

JOSH

You’re really smart.

BRENDON

You’re really smart.

JOSH

Yeah I know, but you’re degree-smart. You went to film school and grad school and all that shit. I’ve got my body going for me, you know? I have a dick that people want to see dudes suck on.

BRENDON

Josh, that’s not –

JOSH

I’m not being down on myself. I like what I do. But, I mean – I probably couldn’t have done something else I liked, if I wanted to. How’d you end up here?

BRENDON

Oh…well, yeah, I wanted to be a director, like everybody else. I did make a couple of films, won a few awards.

JOSH

Really? Could I find any of your films?

BRENDON

(Snorting)

Not at Blockbusters. Anyway you don’t want to see those. It’s just that there’s only so much money you can make producing low-budget gay art flicks, and it’s too much time and energy for too small a payoff.

(Beat)

It’s like no matter how hard I work on a film, how much of my blood sweat and tears I put into making something I could be proud to watch ten years later, it’ll invariably be reduced to a shitty fan video on Youtube set to a My Chemical Romance song. So when a guy approached me about posing for this wank mag, which was like an hour of work for double what I could’ve made in two months, I said okay. And that’s the name of that tune.

JOSH

I’m sorry.

BRENDON

Oh – don’t be. I’m not. I’ll get back to making my own films someday, and in the meantime I get to bang some cute straight guys.

Pause.

I’m sorry about your girlfriend.

JOSH

Yeah, me too. She would’ve found out eventually, though, right? Maybe when we were married, and my tax write offs were for thousands of dollars’ worth of lube.

Brendon snorts into his coffee.

Man, I haven’t been single at Christmas since I lived in Edmonton. I wonder if I should just get shitfaced this year.

BRENDON

That reminds me, I got you something.

JOSH

Really? You didn’t have to do that.

BRENDON

I know.

JOSH

I didn’t get you anything.

BRENDON

That’s okay, you can buy me a drink later. Here –

He hands Josh a card, which he opens.

JOSH

(Reading)

“I wheelie like you.”

BRENDON

And you’ll notice there’s a picture of a motorcycle on the front.

JOSH

Nice. Thanks.

BRENDON

Merry Christmas.

JOSH

Merry Christmas.

Josh impulsively leans in toward Brendon. They kiss. Josh pulls away quickly.

I should go –

BRENDON

Right, your roses.

JOSH

Yeah.

They both continue to sit. Josh eventually stands and gathers his things in some confusion.

Anyway. Good work today. I’ll see you Monday?

BRENDON

Yeah.

Josh walks offstage, but returns a second later.

JOSH

The cards…?

BRENDON

Lose the cards. Apology greeting cards are kind of gay.

Josh nods thoughtfully, the joke zooming over his head, and exits. Brendon continues to sit as the lights fade.

FADE OUT.

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