You know those stories that are so crazy they could only happen to you (or whoever they cast as you in the movie version of this story, BTW – Selma Hayek, if you’re listening, they say we’re practically sisters…have we got a deal or what?) Now, if I was into the whole “having some tact” thing, I’d probably think twice before pulling this story out of my bag. But rule #1 in the Kahnweiler house: traumatic moments are a lot like Chia Pets, the more you ignore them and leave them in dark corners the stronger they grow. So being such an unpractical free spirit fly by the seed of my jeggings kind of gal–Oh wait let me just sporadically run around in this sunflower field. Ok, that was refreshing…here goes…
Despite my Grandma Lucille’s rule that “once they go to California, they’ve never come back”, my mother sucked it up and agreed to send to “find myself” University in Redlands, CA where I majored in Marxism, moon dances, and mushrooms. Like so many of us post graduates born with stars in our eyes, I decided to take out that unfortunate body piercing, roll up my yoga mat, and bid farewell to my loser ex boyfriend, only to descend upon Hollywood like a vulture, well like a really witty vulture who never has morning breathe or farts.
After a few months of busting my ass as a PA and getting paid in Kit Kat’s and hugs, I was ecstatic to learn that I’d gotten a gig on the “the untitled Gary Busey” project. A real grown up movie with a real movie star! If you listened close enough you could actually hear my proud mother in Dunwoody, GA making her hair appointment to the Oscar’s.
I showed up to my first day on set with my fanny pack full of granola bars, hand sanitizer, and unlimited potential.
Like your first bikini wax, it’s hard to fully realize how much those first few days on set stung. Like some sort of schizophrenic infant our leading man stormed through the set either crying, laughing, or begging to be spanked. We had to be prepared for anything: some days we were instructed not to directly look in his eye line; the next moment the entire crew was forced to eat lunch with Mr. Busey chewing our overcooked salmon while pretending to be fascinated at how “awesome Jesus was.” It was then and there I learned there is no such thing as a free meal.
After one scene on the way to his dressing room, Mr. Busey and I wound up in a room, totally alone together. The scene, as I recall, went a little something like:
Gary Busey: “Darling, did ya like that take?” Jessie: “Uhhhh, yeah it was great” Gary Busey: “Yeah?” Jessie: “Yeah, Gary Busey, it was great.” Gary Busey: “Well bless your little heart” Gary Busey moves in for the awkward side hug.
Okay, okay Gary Busey’s plastic cheekbone is now all up in my grill. Ok so now he’s trying to give me a kiss on the check, just breathe…I can wash that off or buy a new cheek. Ok cool this is pretty harmless like how my uncle would kiss me or Santa Claus if I was meeting him for a late lunch. So now he’s grabbing my face in a totally un-Santa-like way and uh what’s he doing putting his lips on top of mine? Where’s Ashton? Isn’t it a little too soon in my career to be getting punked?
Though I managed to break out of his grasp before any tongues got involved the emotional damage had already been done. What on earth would make Mr. Busey think it was appropriate to “bless my little heart” with his tongue? If this was Hollywood maybe I should’ve stuck to skimming latté’s?
“Yo, what’s up…uh I’m sorry what’s your name sweetie?” The director mumbled in between bong hits as I stood in the doorway of his trailer. I began to calmly explain what Mr. Busey had just tried to pull as he moved towards me stumbling over his own Ed Hardy cherry red tracksuit, which he will probably be wearing when he impregnates Snooki. And my director, my protector, my fearless leader leaned in and offered these trusted words of guidance:
“ Shit sweetie, that’s messed up…you want to hit this bong?” I told the producer I came down with a terrible case of self-respect and quit for the movie with no regrets…except I probably should’ve hit that bong.
There are alot of things that suck about Gary Busey trying to stick his tongue in your mouth, but I think the most suckiest thing was how I instantly reverted back to that insecure 13 year-old-girl self that I never really was. I wish I could say that was the first and last time that something like that has happened to me but truth is, over the years these boundary crossing exchanges seems to be piling up like polyester mu mu’s in the closet of my life. After a while I began to ask myself not so much “what’s wrong with them?” but rather “what’s wrong with me?” I mean can you really blame someone for hugging you if you’re standing there with your arms wide open? Like all anxious Jewish girls I decided to take a long look in the mirror and then turn around and blame my mother.
I needed proof, did I have like some kind of weird Pervert Gene I could trace back to my mother? Or in the case of nurture, did our liberal and often boundary-less household provide a breeding ground for the entire world to check out my cleavage? I was going to confront my mom and tell her all about Busey and his bullshit! Though my momma was never the “rest your head on my bosom while I bake you fresh cookies” kind of gal, I figured I’d at least get a shoulder nudge or a Starbucks card out of it. Yet during our weekly Skype call, after mom finished weighing in on my latest haircut, she demanded the dreaded “ update” and for the first time since forever I found myself totally speechless. I had my “I’m a woman and I’ve been wronged” speech ready to unleash and yet I found myself starring into my dirty laptop screen promising everything was “totally Kosher.” I guess I was embarrassed about the whole Busey incident mostly because it was a problem that felt so….pre-feminist. After all, my Momma didn’t raise no pussy.
5 therapist’s (and 50 cases of Gin) have helped me come to terms with the fact that I’m allowed to be equal parts salty and sweet, shitty things happens to not so shitty people, and most of all my mother is not to blame for any of it! Though she would probably be horrified to know that her daughter’s career includes playing tonsil hockey with Mr. Point Break himself, I know she’d be proud of how I got up the next day, strapped on my fanny back to continue living the dream….which does not include filling my uterus any time soon. Sorry Momma!
I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’ll never be the type of girl with hair you can run your fingers through, or be able to slow dance and take myself seriously and I’ll probably find myself in a few more rooms with dudes who have found Jesus and lost their minds. Being a girl who lets the world in is like eating fresh fries, you’re bound to eat a few greasy, stale, perverted ones. But I’m not going to stop ordering them because the stale ones just make you realize how good the crispy ones taste. And at the end of the day, Gary Busey still has to be Gary Busey and I get to be me.