Memories of a never was: Looking back on a long career of someone not even worthy of a ghostwriter
By Randall Batinkoff
I spent that Thursday afternoon trying to convince my agent that I wasn’t Balthazar Getty.“No, that wasn’t me. I didn’t get to have sex with Patricia Arquette in Lost Highway. You’re confusing us again. I was the one in that Molly Ringwald movie who gets her pregnant and then we spend the rest of the movie trying to be responsible adul–, no, that wasn’t Pretty in Pink. No, this one had Pauly Shore in–, no, not that one. Sometimes it’s on TV. Yeah, probably late night. Well it has to be. Yes, it has to be. Well I keep getting those residual checks for $1.73 every year, so I can’t think of any other reason.”
He looked at me incredulously. Then he asked me to go get him some coffee.
“How come you don’t remember any of this? I’ve been with you for more than 20 years. You even got me my first gig. No, not Lord of the Flies. Believe me, that was Balthazar. Yes, I’m sure. No, the first movie I was in was Streetwalkin‘– yes, the one with the funky disco theme song… Fine. Yes, I know people don’t really use the word funky much anymore, but how else do you describe it? Yes, I was in it.”
“See that picture above? That was me. I had all my real hair then. You didn’t know? Well I could tell you the secret but then– Ok, I’ll go to the corner and get you some coffee. Wait, don’t you have a secretary for that? You don’t? So there’s an opening? Do you offer full medical? Well I’d settle for partial, as long as there’s vision and a little bit of dental… I really can’t believe you don’t remember Streetwalkin’, especially with that cast in it. The one who played my sister, she was on Homicide: Life on the Street and a whole bunch of other stuff. Melissa Leo. Yeah, I had a bit of a crush on her. Those were the first breasts I ever saw. Until later in the movie anyway.”
“I remember how you convinced my mom it was a good idea to be in the movie, that it wouldn’t be exploitation because it was being directed by a woman. Yeah, like with Jackie Kong. You made sure not to let my mom borrow Blood Diner and Night Patrol until after we had finished shooting. Very smooth. Yeah, if I had known any better, a killer pimp movie where all the women are weak-willed backstabbing whores and all the black pimps are wimps might not have been the best message to send to an impressionable 17 year old… Yeah, a white killer pimp, like an indestructible Terminator type, played by that guy who was Elvis in that TV movie…”
“Yeah, really, Huggy Bear was in it too. Antonio Fargas. Well I guess that’s all he was offered. And that chick from Newsradio, CSI Miami, and ER. No, before all that surgery… I think. Kind of hard to tell really.
“Ooh also, from the Batman TV show, Julie Newmar… No, she didn’t play the Penguin. Catwoman… No… Yes… Sure, Halle Berry in leather, real classy. And the guy with one name who was always scowling. Oz, I think, and Cliffhanger. Tyrone? Jermaine? No, I’m pretty sure it was Leon”
“Sure, a lot of people in that movie probably look back on their first movie, like a lot of these actors did in Streetwalkin’, and are probably a bit embarrassed. Maybe it was the overacting or how sleazy and dated it all is, but I think it really captures the 1980’s in New York, especially the underground stuff that went on around Times Square. But I don’t see that as a reason to be ashamed. Yes, the movie was quite cheap and ugly looking, but it was so depressing and relentless, and seemingly authentic, especially to the period. I mean, it could be like a time capsule. Who could possibly be ashamed of that?”