PPAD. Construction scaffolding, debris, etc.
Someone tears down the flimsy peach logo from the stage that always reminds me of the galloping fruit from the old Pac Man (or was it Ms. Pac Man?) video game, and lugs it over to where Steve, David and The Big Client are standing by the bar.
“So what should I do with this?”
Steve starts to shrug, but Devon quirks his lips. “Oooh, a big fruit! I like that! I want it for my office.”
“So anyway,” David says, “we figured we’d have three small stages with poles set up around the floor, and then a long runway for the regular dancers here.”
“And?” queries Devon Dean.
“And the hottest babes you’ve ever seen,” adds Steve with a Big Ol’ Horndog with Cheese grin.
“Uhh... and cocktail waitresses in the baby-doll outfits Donna designed?”
DD sighs. “And that’s it? Boys, boys, we’re going to need something more exciting if we're going to draw a crowd.”
David does his shifty eyes/shifty feet thing. “Uh, like what?”
“Like what about a fetish room? A spanking corner? What about Infantilism night?”
David shifts and laughs stupidly.
But Steve has perked up. “Like, a punishment chair? Doggy hour? Your vinyl underwear or mine?”
DD pats his arm. “I like the way you think.”
Steve give is way-too-big toothy grin and yodels “Shaaaa!” (Hang on... I just lost my lunch....)
Any further flirting is interrupted as Donna lurches in with her arms full of clothes. “I’ve got them! I’ve got the cocktail waitress uniforms!” She clodhops over in her camel-toe pants (TM xix), way-too-small and way-too-scooped shirt that, of course, matches her rusty-burgundy hair and lipstick perfectly and deposits the armload of clothes on the bar. “Okay, um, I think you’ll really like this one,” she says nervously pawing through the scraps of material, and coming up with a skimpy, bright blue slip-dress made out of shimmery material and marabou feathers.
DD shakes his head. “Ah, no, not quite.”
Donna bugs her eyes out. “Um, okay...” and paws some more. This time she displays a leather bodystocking, abounding with strategic cutouts and refulgent silver lame flounces affixed here and there for no apparent reason. It looks like an alien figure skating outfit.
Again, DD shakes his head.
Donna heaves a big breath and bugs her eyes out some more before unfurling a mini-dress made out of fishnet and metal plates.
“Hmmm...” DD examines it. “Yes, yes, that’s fabulous. You know, you’re very talented. Can you whip me up a few more of these?” he asks, with heavy innuendo on “whip.”
“Um sure! Okay! Yeah! When do you need them?”
“Tomorrow, dear heart. Now, Steven, let’s go sit down and talk some more about these ideas of yours. How about we go next door for, ah, mega-burgers?” And DD whisks Steve away.
We move on to the habitual Insecure Donna scene, as David shifts, laughs, and shifts again.
“So, um, what do you think?” asks Donna.
“I think they’re great?”
“Really? I’m just so worried!”
“Donna, what are you worried about? You’ve very talented.”
Donna bleats with a wet, sticky over-lipsticked smile (see, Donna smiles with her mouth closed because all that lipstick sticks it together, see? See?). “You are too, David,” she says, patting his arm.
David laughs, shifts, and moves his eyes around. “Yeah, well....”
“I’m glad we’ll be working here together again, both of us doing what we do best: you have your music and I have my designing.”
“Yeah, well....” David shifts, moves his eyes around, and laughs. Donna bleats again, making that annoying power-drill-revving noise through her nose, and smiles at David endlessly, because the Potsie-cam shot is being dragged out too long.
Back to Mexico. A waiter is setting down a fresh round of drinks.
“.... so you see, even though I was not Antonia’s biological father, I loved her as if she was my own flesh and blood. But I never forgot you, Dylan. When Iris left me for Jack McKay and took you with her, I thought my heart would break. Jack was a powerful man. He knew he could keep me from you. But all those years, I never forgot about you. And when you and Antonia fell in love, I thought I would never be able to tell you the truth. But fate works in strange ways....”
Dylan downs a shot-glass of something brown and murky, following it up with the Dylan Patented Hard-Liquor Grimace. He dangles the wet glass between his fingers in a long, contemplative minute before letting it drop. “So Tony...” he says, raspy and slow, “you got proof of this...?”
“Yes, son, I do. Come home with me, Dylan, and I will show you all the proof you need.... Come with me to my villa.”
“Why should I trust you?”
“Because Antonia did.”
Dylan shakes his head slowly, Mr. Introspective. “I’ll go with you to your villa. There’s nothing left for me here now.”
Okay, so it’s later that day at the Beverly Beat Me offices, and Brandon is pecking away on his laptop, Stevie is sitting at his desk playing with one of those wind-up toys that looks like two pigs humping (a Stevie word, not mine) while he sorts through pictures of nudie girls for the PPAD’s “gentlemen’s club,” and Janet is off somewhere picking up dry cleaning and lunch and God-only-knows what else.
“I’m tellin’ you, bro, this is the life! I have twelve more interviews for exotic dancers lined up this afternoon!” He holds up a picture and resume. “You should see what Vixen here can do with ping pong balls...” and he and Brandon make raised-eyebrow/rutting pig faces, singsonging “yeeeeaaaaaah,” and indulging in a carefully choreographed high-five/head-butt/handshake ritual.
The BB office door opens, and Steve jumps up. “That should be Cami, Mistress of the Dog Pound,” he crows, turning around.
But instead, it’s a very haughty Rush Sanders. He cocks his head to one side as he walks forward, a sophisticated acting technique that means “I don’t believe I’m hearing this.” “No, Steve,” he says. “It’s not Cami, Mistress of the Dog Pound.”
“Rush!” exclaims Steve with his big dopey grin. “You’re back from New York!”
Brandon stands up, too, with stiff “I’m not sure what’s happening but I’m in control because I’m a macho guy” attitude. “Rush... Good to see you.”
Rush nods, walking slowly around the offices, picking up a ping-pong paddle on Steve’s desk, looking at the framed picture of Jane Fonda as Barbarella, examining the expensive espresso/cappuccino machine. He is holding a thick file-folder, which he taps on his open palm. “I just got a bill from my accountant, Steve,” says Rush. “How in the hell can running this paper be costing you three-quarters of a million dollars for the first six months?”
Brandon and Steve look at each other before Mr. Responsible speaks up. “It’s pretty expensive to get a paper off the ground, but we’ve got advert-“
“Pretty expensive? Yeah, yeah, I’ll say!” When Rush gets angry, he bears a frightening resemblance to Seinfeld’s Kramer. He slaps the folder down on Brandon’s desk. “I have here invoices billing my company – the Beverly Beat’s owner, I might add – for foot massages, car-upholstery cleaning, a weekend in Las Vegas, fifteen thousand dollars worth of computer equipment and software, imported cigars from Cuba-“
Brandon interrupts Rush’s tirade. “Those things were necessities, Rush. We needed the equipment for the paper’s layout, and we had to research our articles on the trend of cigar-smoking-”
“And having the office feng-shui’d was a necessity?” Rush yells.
“That was, uh, Kelly’s idea... she thought-”
“Shut up Steve! If this paper means so much to you, why are you spending all your time on opening a strip-club?”
“Well, I can make a lot of money and-”
But Rush ignores Steve and turns on Brando. “You know, I never expected Steve to be able to handle this, Brandon. That’s why I was so pleased when he told me you were going to be Editor-in-Chief. I knew you’d take it seriously. And when I heard you’d won an award for your editorial, I thought ‘Yeah, these boys know what they’re doing.’ But then I get a bill for a ten thousand dollar ‘donation’ to the American Association of Independent Journalists, which explains the merit of this little award,” and he picks up the plastic statue Brandon was awarded last month. “You’re financing this newspaper by selling adds to kiddie-porn producers and-”
“But the ends justifies the means!” protests Steve.
The ends?” roars Rush, whipping a rolled-up copy of the Beat from his back pocket (don’t ask what it was doing there) and holding it under Steve’s nose. “You mean ‘How I Spent My Summer Vacation,’ by Millionaire Noah Hunter? ‘The Rise and Rise of David Silver,’ a series of publicity-seeking articles for your one-hit-wonder friend? ‘Ask Donna about Fashion’ with the same questions and answers in the last four editions! And ‘Dr. Kelly talks about ____’? This is trash, Steve! Trash! And I’m not putting my money into this any more!”
“But Rush!” both Steve and Brandon bleat in terror, just as Janet comes back in, laden with bags...
“Okay, Steve, I’ve got your prescription of Viagra, Brandon, here’s your two new suits, and I stopped by to pick up your goat-cheese and salmon pizza, pesto-chili, and-”
“Viagra? New suits?” bellows Rush, turning purple.
“Yeah, Dad, the Viagra’s research for an article and Brandon needed a couple new suits for interviews-” Steve blusters, hoping the revert to “Dad” will soften ol’ Hard Nose Sanders.
“I’m not supporting your self-serving little enterprise any longer,” seethes Rush. “While I was in New York, I took the liberty of hiring a talented young writer to do freelance articles for us – much like Brandon’s friend Emma.” he sneers. “Perhaps you’ve heard of Daniel Drennan?”
“ Daniel Drennan, he’s that Inquisitor guy, right?” asks Brandon, looking ill. “You mean, he’s taking over my- OUR paper?”
“Oh my God, I’ve heard about this guy,” groans Steve. “We’re dead! That’s it! We’re dead!”
“Steve, man, calm down, calm down, I mean, we’re still in charge here-“
“No, actually you’re not,” says Rush with heavy satisfaction. “I’ve also hired a new editor. You can either work for her, or get out and go work at Steve’s strip club. You can come in now!” he calls.
In walks a leggy plastic LA babe in a skimpy black outfit carrying a cat-o’-nine-tails.
Steve and Brandon pop tiny boners (TM xix), and do that “Shaaaa!” thing.
But Rush looks baffled. “Who the hell are you?”
“I’m here to see Steve Sanders. I’m Cami, the Mistress of the Dog Pound.”
“Uhhh....” Steve says, with a weak smile. He and Brandon laugh stupidly.
“I can see I’ve made the right decision,” Rush snaps, going to the door. “There you are,” he says to whoever is standing outside. “Come on in. Brandon, Steve, meet your new editor and supervisor, Andrea Zuckerman.”
And in walks Ohndrea, looking sterner and more kick-ass than any dominatrix Steve ever interviewed.