I just walked out of a pitch meeting with a porn star. It wasn't hot. It was a businesslike, matter of fact discussion about the ins and outs and tops and bottoms of the industry. Maybe I expected too much. Maybe I thought it would be titillating or that someone would leave the room with a promise of a freebie. But it's the meetings that you expect nothing from that wind up blowing your mind.
A couple years ago, I was in LA and I got a message that Cybill Shepard wanted to meet to pitch a reality show that she was billing as a real-life "Absolutely Fabulous" starring her and her best friend. We met in her manager's office in Beverly Hills on a hot Los Angeles summer day. I wore flip-flops, khakis, and a t-shirt. I don't know what my vibe was that day, but for some reason I was not wearing underwear. I know this may disgust you but it was just the way I was feeling that day when I got dressed. I was in LA, not feeling professional, the pants were soft, it was warm, I didn't want to be constrained - I don't know! Just please give me credit for admitting it and know that it is actually relevant to this story.
Cybill was "on" - upbeat, cheerful, engaging and flirty. Very flirty. They asked my age, status, religion (they loooove Semitic men!). She and her friend were on me like white on rice trying to flirt me into submission. But it was hot. Man was it hot in that office! So hot that the internal Gaydars of two sophisticated, well-traveled ladies completely lost their intuitive power. Cybill was baking. She kept fanning herself and talking about how hot she was. She asked if I minded if she slipped off her shoes. No problem let your dogs breathe and mine will too, Maddie. Barefoot, we talked about the show some more and the madcap situations that Cybill and her pal would get into on the show, as they do in real life. Blind dates! Menopause! Motherhood! It was pretty much a pitch for a reality version of her successful CBS sitcom "Cybill" - not a horrible idea. And then, Ms. Shepard had a horrible idea: it was so F---in hot in there, that she thought we should all take our shirts off. She squealed! Her friend was game. They proposed a deal - they take their shirts off, and I follow suit and take off mine. "Ok, I will," I said. I was hot. Physically, not "hot." But I was also curious to see where this would go.
Cybill was wearing a black bra that I really, really, did not want to see. I wasn't curious anymore. "Mommy, I'm scared!" I thought. Her friend also had a black bra on. They continued to pitch me the show, the Mrs. Robinsons in bras and I shirtless. At this point I was amused because I knew I had a story to tell. "If this is the first meeting, what's going to happen if we get into business together?" I wondered. Were they acting out the "parts" they would be playing on this madcap reality show? Shepard was on a roll about the reality of women her age getting parts and what a great beat in the show that would be. It was still very hot but I was not really concerned with the heat or the show anymore. I was ready to be done.
Cybill wasn't finished. She had a brainstorm to continue our striptease, that they'd take their pants off, if I'd take off mine. They cackled, thrilled by the new idea. "NO! I can't," I immediately shot back. No undies on this day of all days? Maybe that impulse decision was God's way of protecting me from I don't know what. She asked what was stopping me... Was I SHY? "I just can't." I said. I sounded and felt kind of like an ashamed child. I wasn't ashamed that I didn't WANT to take my pants off; I just couldn't believe that I wasn't wearing underwear and that it was going to become a point of discussion in my pitch meeting with Cybill Shepard. She pushed and prodded. I was busted. "I'm not wearing underwear," I sighed, just softly enough for her to hear. With that trademarked, classic grin, she dropped the subject. I was still shirtless and the ladies still in their bras. We finished our discussion and awkwardly put our clothes on. I looked for a sink to wash up. We didn't wind up buying the show, Shepard has the whole thing on tape, and since then you can bet that if I'm in a pitch meeting, I'm wearing underwear.