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1:44 pm - Fri 8/29/03
Jackie Chan, Ron Jeremy, and Richard Chamberlain; Wondering Just Where I Fit On The Continuum

Jackie Chan, Ron Jeremy, and Richard Chamberlain; Wondering Just Where I Fit On The Continuum

Fri 8/28/03 (11:25 am)

Just finished watching Wheels on Meals, the second of two Jackie Chan movies Tim G. loaned me (The other one was Dragons Forever). A lot of fun. I recommend both movies if you're a Chan fan.

I like Jackie Chan, but haven't felt a big need to go see any of his latest movies. They just look really bad to me; I think it's a critical mistake to take this guy, who's the best special effect in any movie he's in, and "tart up" what he does with a lot of computer graphic tricks and wire work. I could be trained to do that stuff; The fun of watching Jackie Chan is knowing he's actually doing the amazing things you're seeing onscreen (Though I know he's getting long in the tooth to be an action hero, especially at the level of performance we're used to seeing. from him).

Speaking of things people do onscreen...

Rented Pornstar: The Legend of Ron Jeremy last night ("Pornstar" was the title in theaters, but they just call it The Legend of Ron Jeremy on the dvd. I'm not really sure why).

(To clarify: The movie is a documentary, not a porno film. For the record, if I were to rent a porno film–I haven't yet, at least not since I've moved to LA, but I certainly will at some point- it probably wouldn't be something with Ron Jeremy in it. But anyway...)

It was an interesting film. In a way, it reminded me a little bit of American Splendor, if only in the sense that it's about a bright, capable guy, who for whatever reason ended up on the fringes of society, and is now something of a cult hero (One difference between the two guys, however, is that Ron Jeremy is rich, and probably much better known. Which bothers me a little, since I feel, of the two men, that Pekar is doing the much more interesting, worthwhile thing).

The cliche would have been to make it a tragic, "cautionary tale"–"Don't go into porn, kids, or this could happen to you..."–and you certainly get a taste of that in the film, but I thought the picture the movie painted, as a whole, was much more complex than that. Jeremy doesn't drink or do drugs, has apparently kept just about every dime he's made from porn, seems to be well-liked by a lot of the people who know him, and has a devoted, almost rabid, fan following. It's not all sunshine and flowers–at one point he talks about being "lonely", and how difficult it is to have a regular relationshiop when you have sex for a living--but you could definitely do worse in life than to be Ron Jeremy. At least that was my take on what I saw.

And while Jeremy himself doesn't seem to get it–Like many people in porn, he sort of "fell into it" on his way, he thought, to bigger and better things, and 25 years later "...would give it all up for a small part in a Steven Spielberg movie"–I think the movie is basically the story of a man who's found his niche. He's not completely happy or satisfied with who he is or where life has taken him, but who is?

And this, oddly enough, makes me think about a book I finished reading not too long ago–Richard Chamberlain's autobiography, Shattered Love.

Obviously, two very different career paths, but the same obsessive drive for attention and acclaim seem to be there with both men, the same desire for everyone to approve, for everyone to love them (And in terms of parallels, you could even make an argument that both men "got their foot in the door" due to an exceptional body part; Chamberlain because of his handsome face, and Jeremy because of his...substantial "endowment").

And both men came from difficult childhoods; Jeremy lost his mother to Parkinson's as a child, while Chamberlain grew up with an alcoholic, controlling father.

The Chamberlain book–He's a terrible writer, by the way–alternately details his career path (From Dr Kildaire to The Thornbirds and beyond) and his spiritual awakening, as he slowly comes to realize that he doesn't have to maintain a perfect facade in order to win people's love, and that having a loving spirit is much more meaningful and rewarding to him than the trappings of fame.

One thing Chamberlain deals with in his book is "coming out" (Basically, he was "outed" as gay some years back and eventually just stopped denying it).

And I think that's where it's easy for me to be dismissive, and say "Big deal...you come out once it was already common knowledge, years after your career peaked". And that's true, but it doesn't mean that it wasn't a big leap for him to make as a person (Later, I realized part of my "ho-hum" response was–shit, I can't think of the word. What's the word that means " inappropriately applying current cultural standards to the past"?–part of my response was that I don't really get, on a visceral level, just how much of a stigma there was to being homosexual back when Chamberlain was young).

Anyway, getting past the bad writing, my class resentment (It's easy to "wax spiritual" when you've got the money to live in Hawaii, and go on retreats with teachers and gurus in beautiful, exotic locales), and the fact that whenever the talk gets too "New Age-y" I start to zone out, what he had to say is the kind of thing I've heard before, that I understand on some level, and will probably need to hear again over and over throughout the rest of my life.

I don't think there's anything inherentely wrong with what I want to do. As a matter of fact, I think it's a good thing (As I've said before, I enjoy performing, and people seem to enjoy watching me perform. Seems like a pretty good setup, if you ask me). But to expect being an actor to be fulfilling in and of itself, to fill that "hole in my soul" I've had since forever, is to court disappointment, if not disaster (Okay, "disaster" might be a little strong. But "disappointment" definitely).

But the fact is, as uphill as an acting career is going to be for me, however unlikely, I at least know how to get that, or at a minimum, I know how to work towards it. And I still think it's at least a "piece in the puzzle" of what will make me feel fulfilled in life)

I want to have "a loving spirit". I obviously have an ongoing drive to be more "authentic" in my life, whatever that might entail. But I don't think I really know what love means exactly, and I think I'm at the point where the idea of "spirit" is still more of an amorphous concept than something real.

Though in one sense, I think I'm beginning to move in the right direction; I crave sexual, romantic love, but somehow, I've come to realize that Jennifer doesn't have to love me "that way" for me to love her. Or Mandy, or any other woman I've had feelings for that doesn't feel romantically attracted to me. I felt an attraction because I enjoyed who they were as people, and who they are as people doesn't change just because they don't share my feelings.

But before I launch into a chorus of "Aquarius" here, I've got other stuff I need to do before heading off to work in a couple hours.

 

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