Venice

I believe California Can Save Me

I’m standing in a line in a hot carpark on Dell Street, Venice, California, waiting to have my photograph taken by a wardrobe person, when a tall young man in the line in front of me turns to me and starts up a conversation.
‘I really like your look,’ he tells me, ‘you got some style,’
‘Thanks,’ I smile and say.
‘I’d like to shoot you,’ he says.
‘Oh,’ I say, ‘really? Are you a photographer?’
‘Among other things, yeh,’ he says.
Then he tells me his name and I tell him mine and we shake hands.
‘I have, like, 14 thousand followers on Instagram,’ he says, ‘You should follow me’.
Then he asks me if I am free tomorrow for the photoshoot and after I tell him I am not sure, he continues to talk.
‘I’ve only been here for like a month,’ he says, tapping his chest and doing a subdued jig, ‘but things are really happening for me,’
‘Oh,’ I say, looking up at him with my arms folded, ‘that sounds good,’
Then he tells me he has just made a promotional video for a tattoo artist who is about to be a celebrity.
‘He’s folk now,’ the young man tells me, ‘but he’s, like, about go big,’
Then he holds up his iPhone and shows me a video of the tattoo artist being interviewed on a red carpet by a long-haired pretty teenager.
Then the young man, who is dressed in black track pants, a red tee shirt and ochre Caterpillar boots, tells me he has a manager who has gotten him some acting work, and that beside being a photographer, he also does stand up.
‘Oh, yes?’ I say.
‘Yeh,’ he says, tapping his chest again, and frowning, ‘I’m, like, a pretty funny guy,’
Then he tells me that even though he is only 21 years old, he has his own production company, and that he is self taught in everything that he does.
Next he tells me that he was living in West Hollywood, but that his roommate had started to act in a strange way.
‘He’s bisexual,’ the young man says, ‘which is cool because my uncle is, like, bisexual, but this guy was acting, like, like I was his wife,’
Then he looks at his iPhone again, scrolling up and down, looking for things to show me.
Firstly he shows my some images of him posing with his shirt off while 3 girls in very little clothing hang on to his various limbs.
Then he shows me a video.
‘Here’s a video I made of an androgynous,’ he says, and for the next few moments, we look at the screen of his iPhone where a person wearing a head scarf, is walking along a street in high heels, singing.
Finally the video finishes and hoping that I can get away from the young man, I tell him that I am hungry and that I’m going to get some food.
But the young man says he needs to put on a few pounds and that he’ll come with me.
And so we then stand in front of the french fry tray and, while dipping the tip of his french fries one by one in ketchup, the young man tells me more about himself.
‘I’m like excellent at imitations. Like, after about half an hour with someone I can sound exactly, like, like them,’ is one of the things he tells me.
And that he has a friend whose uncle is a big Hollywood agent who has taken an interest in him.
‘Have you heard of him?’ he asks me.
Hoping that soon the young man will stop talking to me, I don’t respond, and instead I, while I eat my french fries from a paper plate, I stare out into the car park, to the spot where the portable toilet trailer is parked.
‘I’m a good salesman,’ says the young man, who has a wispy beard and acned cheeks, ‘I worked in car sales for like 4 years. And even though I’m, only 21, I was the manager,’
Suddenly, I realise I am clenching my jaw, so I tell the young man I am going to get coffee and I throw my paper plate in the bin and start to walk away while the young man continues his solo conversation.
‘Things are happening for me out here,’ the young man calls out to my back, ‘things are, like, really happening.’

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