ASSHOLES – #ELSEWERE {EXCLUSIVE/NSFW}

Kris Kidd makes friends in high places in the first installment of his “clinically depressed sex column,” #ELSEWHERE.

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“ASSHOLES”

by Kris Kidd

“How much do you think ______ would pay for his ass?” The producer asks half-jokingly, ashing his cigarette. “Like, just a ballpark figure…”

I’m lounging poolside on the rooftop of a horrendous hotel in Hollywood, chugging cheap champagne and counting calories while a gaggle of gay men discuss the net worth of my asshole. It’s thirty past Happy Hour. The sky above us is blushing like a virgin, blushing like I would be if I had the wherewithal or the shame. These men waste no time getting to the bottom of things. They factor in important numbers like my age, height, and weight.

My résumé at present: 16, 5’11, 112 pounds.

Someone asks producer if I’m “smooth,” and I attempt to take another swig from the champagne bottle, missing my mouth/mark entirely. Bubbles cascade down my concave chest like I’m in a rap video, or something. Oops! I wish I knew how to worry. I’m glistening now, sticky as a flytrap. Another stranger asks if I’ve ever been fucked, and producer shakes his head solemnly.

“Trust me, I’ve tried. He’s still thinks he’s straight.”

Producer’s playing to the crowd. Sitting in the sex-traffic semicircle surrounding us: a retired gay pornstar, a makeup artist, a fashion photographer, and a club promoter. They all smell like sex and stale smoke. They stub their cigarette butts out in empty champagne flutes in between calculations of my approximate butt bounty.

“Does he at least suck di—” Club promoter starts to ask.

“Irrelevant.” Producer interjects. “He’s bulimic, so… gag reflex.”

I withdraw a cigarette from club promoter’s pack and light it backwards, coughing up the waste of it. Producer reaches into the Birkin bag at his feet and passes me a Parliament. He lights it without making eye contact, then places an Adderall in my lap— to sober me up, probably.

“______ paid about two, maybe three, grand for me.” Ex-pornstar snorts a bawdy bump of blow off his thumbnail. “But I definitely wasn’t a virgin.”

The semicircle unites in an uproar of laughter.

“That’s a lot of money.” Makeup artist gasps. “Doesn’t he know there’s enough free ass to go around? I thought he lived in West Hollywood!”

More laughter.

“Well…” I mumble. “I’m not… um… interested.”

My thought process trails off into some unspoken, albeit unanimously understood, nothingness. The sun’s setting in shades of extended release orange. The moon is plotting its revenge. They’re playing tug of war with the cloudless sky. I watch on longingly as ex-pornstar preps another bump. Photographer asks producer where my parents are.

“Not here right now.” He jeers. “That’s for damn sure.”

“Y’know…” Ex-pornstar sniffs in my direction. “For someone of your disposition, you sure have a lot of fucking reservations.”

“Excuse me?” I scoff, surprising myself and everyone else.

Chill out, my brain sputters as I shift in my seat. I miss my mark again and land on the concrete. Oops! on a motherfucking loop. I retrieve a Xanax bar from a svelte orange bottle in the Birkin (since I’m in the neighborhood) and hide it beneath my tongue. The rest of the gang giggles nervously.

“Yeah. You’re sitting here— or there, now— smoking our cigarettes, doing our drugs, drinking our booze like you own the goddamn place; and you don’t give anyone anything.”

There’s an accent of anger in his voice, a dialect of total distress and disdain. For the next few years, it will ignite like a flame within him at the mere mention of my name. Tonight, it’s just beginning to burn. I saddle myself back up onto the chaise lounge and pop another bottle of champagne.

“I guess I didn’t know my ass was up for negotiation.”

Hollywood’s coming to life now, resuscitating itself. Somewhere, surely, another model/actress/waitress/DJ is getting ready to spin another halfhearted Rihanna remix. Boys are rude. The rooftop’s lost its light and reduced all of us to the cherries of our cigarettes— three pairs of cartoonish red eyes. Ex-pornstar’s flickers or blinks when he sighs.

“You know exactly what you’re doing.”

x     x    x

A few hours later and a few floors down, jacked up in the producer’s residency apartment, I’ve hijacked some speakers and I’m dancing around the living room to Power, Corruption & Lies. He’s lying in bed, browsing Grindr for boys to bang. His Birkin bulges beside him like a calf leather pharmacy. The rest of the asshole possy’s huddled around ex-pornstar in the bathroom, watching intently as he cuts conservative lines with a credit card. I hop over to the kitchen to mix myself a drink, replying to texts on my Blackberry at breakneck speed.

“You’re all so BORING!” I shout over ‘Ecstasy’ when fake friends finally stop texting me.

“Is that your way of saying you want another line?”

“No!” I drop my phone and teleport to the bathroom. “Well, yes. Yeah. No, I want two! I’ll rack them myself.”

“It’ll cost you your asshole.” Ex-pornstar winks.

I shove my way inside, snag the gram bag, and begin carefully curating my lines. Photographer says (to no one in particular) that he’s invited so-and-so from such-and-such over. I blow through the coke quickly, gum what’s left, then announce (to no one at all) that I have no idea who photographer is talking about.

No one is listening to me, so I do another line.

So-and-so from such-and-such brings who’s-her-face and what’s-his-name, and those two nobodies bring four more nobodies like a pair of fauxcialite Matryoshka dolls. Nobody dances. Nobody talks. Everybody gets high and whines about wanting to go to a party in the hills. A man with bad Botox and a lilted lisp asks if I act. He mutters something about a short film he’s writing called Jailbait. He tells me I have “star potential.”

“What are the stars for?” I ask ex-pornstar while I dive into a new gram bag.

We’re in the bathroom (again) and he’s shirtless, changing into a vintage Comme Des Garçons Hommes button-down he found in producer’s closet. He glances down at the faded constellations tattooed on his chest and something inside of him shifts. He smiles uncomfortably, attempting to like me.

“I got them with my first boyfriend when I was about your age. It’s actually kind of a funny story—”

“That’s cool. Credit card?”

He finishes buttoning the shirt and hands me an Amex.

“When you’re done with those, do you wanna go upstairs and have another cigarette?”

“YES!” I sniffle ecstatically. “Absolutely.”

Back in the bedroom, everyone is gone. Producer’s lying dormant on his bed, talking shit in his sleep. “Age of Consent” is blaring again in the depths of his lonely living room. New Order’s been playing on a loop. And I’m not the kind that likes to waste drugs, so I reach into the Birkin and grab the Adderall for safekeeping.

x     x     x

“Do you wanna know about the stars or not?”

Ex-pornstar lights my cigarette and I nod, taking a drag. Out by the pool again, everything beams Chlorine blue. He’s simpering a mouthful of tawdry, teal teeth. I’m fingering the pilfered pill bottle in my pocket. The night sky above us is somber and starless.

“I got them with my first boyfriend—”

“What happened to him?”

There are never any real stars in LA, but we’ve got a bunch of fake ones made out of brass and terrazzo. We embed them in the sidewalks outside of strip clubs and gift shops— Walk of Fame, walk of shame… walk of names we’re all destined to forget sooner or later. Nothing’s ever concrete, even when the world’s at your feet.

“Uh… he left me when I was 23, but we got them when I was 16. He paid for them. It was super sweet, he—”

“Why’d he leave you?”

Ex-pornstar exhales, exasperated.

“Jesus. There was a lot to it… but I got HIV.” “WHAT?!” I ask-shout.

I look over my shoulder like he’s just told me he’s packing heat. I scan our surroundings to ensure that there are no other fuckups frolicking on the rooftop with us. The coast is clear. We’re alone.

“Like… HIV, HIV?” I whisper anyway, just in case.

“Well, yeah? But I’m undetectable, and—”

“Can I have another cigarette?”

I drop an unfinished Parliament from the edge of the rooftop and bliss out on its descent. Its cherry shimmers spectacularly. Ex-pornstar hands over the pack and turns his back to me. He props his elbows up against the railing and stares out into the darkness, defeated. The top button of his new shirt comes undone, exposing sketchy ink galaxies.

“So what’s it like? HIV? Like, having it…”

From up here, streams of red and white lights on the boulevard look like bustling blood cells. Sex sells. In the distance, downtown boasts a self-sabotaging skyline. It stabs at its own smog with buildings sharp as my spine. Ex-pornstar slams me with a side-eye, then scowls.

“No! I just… don’t you worry?”

“Worry?”

Somewhere beyond all the smog, just past the vague veil that separates LA from the real world, stars are dying all the time. Some explode. Some collapse and cave in on themselves. Those ones become black holes. Others get sucked up inside of them just for getting too close. Guilty by association. Prosecuted for proximity. It takes light-years for Earth to even realize that they’re gone— for these great big star deaths to ever be noticed.

“Isn’t that shit terminal?”

“For fuck’s sake,” Ex-pornstar breaks. “No more than you are.”

“Unclear.”

An ambulance beings screaming as it shoots across Sunset, and for about half a second, I actually wonder who’s hurting. There’s no explanation from ex- pornstar, so I demand one.

“You’re not special, or different, or anything…”

These words would normally sting, but I’m too trashed to feel a goddamn thing. Woo! I’m listening a little bit, but mostly trying to remember a Radiohead lyric. The cry of the ambulance is now a whisper or white noise. Ex-pornstar’s still talking. I’m wondering who his dealer is.

“You’re a hot mess, kid.” He concludes. “All you do is screw up and wait around on the universe like it owes you something. You drink too much, you smoke too much, and EVERYBODY knows that you don’t eat that much. You hold onto that virgin ass of yours ’cause it’s the only thing you’ve got.”

And then I’m gone, stumbling back into the hotel’s sterile hallways. I leave ex-pornstar alone to plague the poolside like a turquoise virus. The walls around me all shiver and shake, stark white and shameless as a mountain of blow. When the elevator doors finally close, it’s just me and my asshole.

We’re going down.

5… 4… 3… 2… I lurch into the lobby and out onto the street. I inhale and exhale a breath of grief or relief. A bag of teenage bones, all starry-eyed and full of coke and false hope, I’ve taught myself some of the saddest magic tricks there are to know. It’s all sleight of hand. I’ve set the bar pretty low. I know how to disappear without anyone even realizing that I’m gone.

Without anyone ever noticing.

{to read more of #ELSEWHERE, click HERE}

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