Tuesday, I was killing time on Hollywood Blvd. while Sebastian was at speech therapy. And scattered amongst tranny wig supplies and bong accessory stores were numerous buildings all labeled with the same name. And in the middle of a Pinkberry-induced false sense of security, I had a disturbing thought. When will LA be renamed L. Ron? In Hollywoodland the words L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology are emblazoned everywhere.
My first brush with Scientology was in Brighton, England some twenty odd years ago. A guy on the street was offering free movie tickets. I didn't have the money to see Angel Heart at the real cineplex, so I thought what the heck. Little did I know it was a Dianetics promotional flick. I don't remember anything about it, except at the movie's end there was an explosion of some sort. Although an engaging special effect, I chose not to partake of the Scientology bundt cake.
In LA I've known many friends, including my husband, who have studied acting at the Beverly Hills Playhouse, which is connected to Scientology. Michael stuck with it for about six months. When he first started he was landing gigs on episodics, he won an Ovation Award, LA's version of the Tony. It was a fruitful time. And the Hubbites discretely kept their dogma to themselves. However when Michael's star wasn't shining as brightly as they would have liked, he had to be handled, which basically meant he needed a good talking to. They claimed he was blocked, and said, "You must not want it that much." It being success. It being mindfulness. It being a core foundation of Scientology. And that's all Michael needed. He was out of there faster than Tom Cruise could call Matt Lauer glib.
I just completed a six week run of the play, Mom's the Word, which was written by six women, and has been running successfully in Canada (as Mum's the Word) for twenty-five years. Our production had only five actors, and there was the noticeable alteration that one of the moms, yours truly, had a penis. And they didn't dress me as Lucy Ricardo. The producer wanted to include a gay dad's perspective into the mix.
Some tweeking was needed. It was wisely decided that I shouldn't do the monologue about giving birth, nor should I refer to lactation, raging hormones or chapped nipples. Also, my character on the page is Linda, which had to be changed. So I took the letters that are in Linda, threw them in a martini shaker, added an "e" for enigmatic, some vermouth, shook it like a Polaroid picture, poured it out and there was my character's new name... Daniel. Chilled with a twist.
I think I just had a 007/Daniel Craig fantasy.
In order to make the material seem more pertinent, we referenced current events, added familiar Los Angeles landmarks, and freshened up some of the jokes. (I hope I don't get anyone in trouble saying this.) For instance, I had a line that for the life of me I can't correctly remember. It went something like, "Raising children is about as natural as reciting Shakespeare in Japanese."
I'm not even sure if that was the original line or something developed for our show. Either way, it felt flat. And what occurred to me was that LA is the land of things not natural. At one point I changed the line to, "Raising children is about as natural as Joan Rivers' face." Then it was "...as natural as Joan Van Ark's bangs." Then, "...as RuPaul's eyelashes." "...Sandra Bullock's nose." "...Pam Anderson's boobies." You get the gist. It was a line I delighted in because I could pick on a different celebrity every performance.
I would usually get a chuckle which was comforting, but not the belly laugh I desired. I was unsatisfied. And then it hit me. "Raising children is about as natural as Tom Cruise marrying women." Belly laugh every time.
Let it be known that I don't have a deep motive for saying this other than landing the laugh. Really, I'm that much of a whore. It's not like I have first hand experience with Tom. He's never personally sucked my Top Gun. And as far as I'm concerned, his sexual preference is his business. That being said, what should it matter that I'm fouting him? (Fouting: fake outing for the sake of the laugh.) IT'S HUMOR, PEOPLE!!
But if you need me to be more socially relevant, if you need a reason other than humor, how bout this... Since this is a mommy show, imagine I said the Tom Cruise line in retribution for when he raked Brooke Shields over the coals for taking postpartum depression medication after giving birth. If it's none of my business who licks his Twinkie, then it's none of his business how Brooke Shields or anyone else deals with their depression.
One more thing... If Tom Cruise should ever announce he's gay I would hope our culture could accept him with open arms and not see him as an abomination. It would simply be a fact like Tom Cruise has brown hair or Tom Cruise jumps on furniture. He doesn't need to be defined by his gayness. It's just one part of the wacky whole.
For our second to last performance, I was asked by the producer not use the Tom Cruise line because her daughter's manager was in the audience, and he was a Scientologist. I acquiesced and picked on Meg Ryan's cheekbones instead. (Only a chuckle.) Then our last performance came around and once again the producer approached me. She said something like, "Just so you know, there are going to be about eight Scientologists in the audience tonight. And not that you shouldn't say the line, but I want you to be aware of it." And if not those exact words, something equally ambiguous. I decided she was warning me of possible crickets where belly laughs should be, but I decided to brave the Dianetics storm and fout Mr. Katie Holmes one last time.
The line was delivered. Beat. Beat. I thought it fizzled. Beat. Beat. Then there was a lone chuckle. Beat. And as I launched into the next moment, that's when I heard it, the loudest belly laugh of the entire run.
Fun performance, friends waiting for me in the lobby, I was flying high. Then I was ambushed. Three cast mates split me open and told me what for. "She told you not to say that line." "You offended some of the audience." "Those Scientology people are serious. They could go after the producer and make her one of them."
This begs the question, how much power do Scientologists really have? Will Mommy With a Penis be shut down because I've played my own cat and mouse with Mr. TomKat? It seems absurd, doesn't it? But Scientology is strong. It's arm wrestled with freedom of speech before and won. For instance, the following clip is from an episode of South Park that yanked from airing a second time. They deny it was their doing, but we all know something was behind it.
I'm being silly. Nothing is going to happen to me or my blog. It's not like someone dressed as a ninja is going to break into my home and indoctrinate me on the spot. What are they going to do? Sneak up behind me as I'm typing on my computer and...
Please disregard the above blog entry. I was having some sort of delusional break, but I've adjusted my tone scale and now I'm fine. Medication was not needed because I don't believe in psychotropics. Nor do I believe in psychiatry and Tom Cruise is really quite manly. Now, if you'll excuse me, John and Kelly are picking me up in five to take me to a Tupperware party at Kirstie Alley's.