Found an ad in the paper. Looking for actors for a low budget film shooting in the caribbean. Went, read for the lead, got the part. The story was a murder mystery, kind of a tropical rip on ‘Blow Up’, involving an ‘erotic’ photographer(me) and several strippers hired to be models. I will not divulge the names of the other Toronto actors who filled out the rest of the cast. I respect them too much.
Our destination was St. Lucia, which I think The Pirates of the Caribbean might have modeled the lawless port town of Tortuga on. A real pirate destination for centuries, the mixed blood of the locals was dazzling to behold. Blue oriental shaped eyes, parchment yellow skins, African features, all competing for room on the same face. Sometimes beautiful, always jarring.
We were billeted in a resort-it was the off season- besides us, there was a puffed up British Colonel (ret.) and his caregiver, a lovely bosomy lass with a Dom streak. I bet the old bastard loved it.. I did, almost every night after the old bastard had been sedated with brandy. As well, a German contingent-possibly the worst tourists I have ever encountered, next to Americans..With them, another high riding fraulein, who would not have me back to her room nor would she come to mine, but was perfectly amenable to anywhere outdoors-her enthusiasm was loud and German, and I was read the riot act at a production meeting because other patrons had complained of the noise.
At this juncture, it should be obvious why I got into the biz called ‘show’. I wanted to leave Klaus Kinski in the dust when it came to sex, and I damn near succeeded on this trip alone.
Principal shooting begins and I am given a car, left hand drive, three on a tree gear shift, and I have never driven either. I manage, driving on mountain roads a litle wider than a footpath with three hundred foot drops and evidence of rusted cars who didn’t make it catching the sun’s glint on their shattered windows in the thick growth below my wheels.
On the beach, a beautiful sunset. I am being shot shooting naked girls writhing in the sand, Tough job, but I get through it..Walking back to the resort, one of the girls sees a sort of miniature house partially hidden by a hilly dune. On closer inspection, she extracts a small doll from inside it. The doll is unclothed, but has blue dots of wax on the body in strategic places, between the eyes, heart, crotch. She hands it to me, and almost instantly, it squirms in my grasp. I drop it, telling the others what I’ve experienced and am roundly ridiculed.. They will eat their laughter soon enough.
End of the day, and we are drinking and digging our lives as only people our age and in our biz can .. around a fire and limbo dancing with some of the locals who make us look like punks but encourage us between long hauls on rum to go lower and lower, so beautiful to watch a woman’s hips snaking under the bar, and the strippers don’t look nearly as sexy as they did earlier on the beach with their pouting and preening. A local man, Larry, is trying to teach us dudes to move our hips like his, and he is like an oiled centrifuge in slow motion. He had his pick of the girls later, and reportedly picked more than one during our stay. I am ready to limbo, well oiled myself. I am nearly completely under the bar when an actor in our crew jumps over the bar, dislodges it, and brings it crashing down on the bridge of my nose. Stars. Pea green stars. My nose is cleanly, precisely, broken, and by morning I have two burgundy/blueberry pits where my eyes should have been…and we’re scheduled to do a love scene.
Meanwhile in another part of the resort, a stripper has lost her mind and pulled all the seams of her wardrobe apart looking for hidden microphones. She is also convinced her room is under surveillance and tears a 600 lb air conditioning unit out of her wall and dismantles it.. Prudently, the production company decides to send her home. That same night, some crew members decide to go into Castris where one of them is stabbed, though not seriously.
The next days love scene makes me hate them for the rest of my life. My head throbbing, my eyes near closed and of course a thoroughly repulsed actress who tries gamely to make the grotesque sensual.
The stripper has been missing for 8 hours when she phones from St.Maarten.. No-one has any idea how she got there. Interpol is contacted and the girl and her meds are reunited in Canada in short order
The sun is going down and we should have already arrived at our location. We’ve been warned about -and I have already experienced- the treacherous roads. At night, it’s surreal. With 3 feet between the wheels and the last goodbye, there are children running along side the car selling tiny bananas and naturally, people stopped the cars, fearing the kids would plummet to their deaths.. Nonsense. They were as agile as mountain goats. And stopping in the dark is a huge mistake. The jungle seems to teem with eyes and dazzling smiles. We make it to a large stone plantation house and it is hideous. Oily black stone and small shuttered windows with weak yellow light oozing through broken slats. It is infused with oppression. Built on blood and pain. Lived in by the vicious and vain. And I got all that in the vestibule. I cannot remember the room I was given. I never went in it. Couldn’t. Sometime later. a muscle paralyzing scream ripped through the hills outside and in through every window.. The common room was soon crowded with all us brave souls as the screams went on and on and on. we were told by one of the dour house staff, who took his time materializing.. That it was a festival.. A festival that involved the torture of an elephant.. No-one slept, no-one worked. and away we went.
Back at the resort, between bouts of carnality, I actually do some work. and then one morning, looking forward to some driving shots, I walk down the sidewalk with the manicured gardens bracketing me and half my foot slips down a 4 inch difference between stone and soil, and I tear major tendons as I fall..screaming.
I am taken to the hospital, driven by a PA who is a nice enough fella but a bit overweight. For some unknown reason, or because I am already stoned on some herb Larry got me and I just can’t recall, we must make the last 100 meters by wheelchair to the entrance. The PA huffs and puffs his way up the hill, his efforts sorely tested by the wheelchair itself as it only has one rubber tire left and the rest scrapes and screes on the rutted asphalt. I thought he should have seen a doctor too, he looked like he was going to vapour lock. We arrive in the waiting room and rather then the usual out of date magazines to wile away the time with, there is a cockfight in full swing with even some desultory betting taking place. There is a gurney occupied by a man weighing perhaps 150 lbs, and he is wrapped in chain that weighs perhaps twice that much. Broke into the infirmary, took a LOT of drugs, according to one of the gamblers. I am wheeled down the hall, screeching metal on marble and no-one blinks, I look into a hospital room and a man in a bed has a glorious slash of sunlight warming the lizard laying next to him.
The x-ray trundles along a beam in the ceiling closing the distance where I stand behind a foggy glass partition. I am handed a serviette sized sheet of lead to cover my genitals with.. I ask for the rest of them and double up on the groin and put two on my head and one blocking my face.
I am told I have done serious, if not irreparable damage to the major tendons in my leg. I am given a cast, which never cures or gains any rigidity. I am also given some phenobarbitol which is probably out of date by the way it dissolves in my mouth like acrid cotton candy.. But it works, especially with Heineken. A few of us get together and try to salvage the film by attempting a ‘Rear Window’ reworking, but the production company packs it in. I am now ‘receiving’ in my hotel room while they finalize our departure, and I am a stoned, agonized mess. A maid assures me I have been cursed and begins listing things I will need to lift it…Camphor, Oil of Pine needles, Coal Tar, God. The door opens and in walks a stunning woman I know from Toronto, who is on a modelling shoot. She has heard about the troubles and has brought me a bottle of ‘Canadian Healing Oil’. Every single curse-curing ingredient is in it. Except God.
Due to my condition I fly first class. On the flight home, a great deal of the film footage disappears.
I am in the bathtub, at home. I am fearing for my mobility, and at times, my soul.. I empty the contents of the ‘Healing Oil’ into the tub and it floats in black rainbows on the surface. I stir it in, sobbing and pleading for a release..
The next day my friend Steve rips the cast off my leg.. I walk perfectly. I laugh maniacally. I am Free.