The Actress

Current mood:  contemplative
Category: Romance and Relationships

I had an interesting…no, bizarre is the right word…experience yesterday. I have recently befriended a very attractive young woman who is an actress. I liked her and we hit it off. She is a golf fanatic and apparently, a very good player. She is also a tennis buff and avid reader. Though fully immersed in her career, I was impressed that she is not the starving actress type. She has museum memberships and drives a nice car. She reads great books, dresses well, she has invested previous earnings. She attends classes, she auditions constantly and recently landed a big TV commercial. I was thrilled to see it show up time and again on the air and I nursed her through a bad patch where she lost a major ad to a big name.
She threw it off, impressing me with her strength and strong self-worth.
My new friend was so awesome, so gorgeous, I began to wonder…why was she single and alone?
It was a question that intrigued me and I asked, as nicely as I could over coffee one morning and she laughed, saying she only seems to meet married men.
She confessed to a fling here and there but said she was looking for the right guy. I happened to know a guy, newly-divorced and thought they would be gorgeous together. My friend, let’s call him Tom, met her on Saturday for coffee. Their date went so well, he invited her to the theater that night and called me from his cell phone in the men’s restroom, gushing.
“A.J! She’s amazing. She’s bright, she’s beautiful and soooo sweet.”
They enjoyed the play, their observations on it remarkably similar.
Over a late dinner afterward, then dessert someplace else, she played with his shoes, tying the laces together. He said he felt like a kid again and never laughed so hard. He said it was wonderful.
He called her when he got home and they talked for two hours. He begged her to have dinner with him on Sunday and she agreed.
He took her to his favorite, very expensive Italian restaurant, where his best friends all waited like circling sharks. He saw the shock on their faces and thought they were jealous.
Things went very well, though Tom said the guys kept staring at her.
My actress friend excused herself for a moment and as soon as she left the table, his friends pounced on him.
He heard the immortal words, “Tom, what are you doing with a call girl?”
One of the guys claimed to have slept with her, the others had seen her picture online.
“She picked me up at a bar a few weeks ago. She acts like she doesn’t remember,” Tom’s friend said. “But she is a call girl. She’s with So-and-So agency.”
Tom called me early yesterday morning, deeply upset after enduring an appalling evening where The Actress clearly worked hard to be the perfect dinner date, charming, if you’ll pardon the pun, the pants off everybody.
He desperately wanted the meal to be over so he could go online and check whether she really was a rent girl.
Poor Tom was in torment.
Like a teenage girl, he raced home and googled The Actress by her ‘porn’ name. There’s nothing nasty out there. No naked pics. It’s all very discreet but she IS who they say she is.
He forwarded me the link and when I read her bio, I love sex being the first line, I felt dreadful.
Tom blamed me until he realized I too, had been naive to her truth.
He has dropped her like a hot brick, not letting on what he has learned. He has asked me to say nothing to her, just that he decided it wouldn’t work.
She called him once, but has not turned, you know, fatal.
I struggle with what to say to her because I, the dummy, set them up and she keeps asking why he stopped calling her.
I want to tell her, but I can’t. I feel my friendship with him has been harmed and my friendship with her is like a shell game.
She never mentioned what she does. I would never have set her up with Tom, but I sure would have felt a lot better about her had I known the truth.
So now, I know she really is an Actress, and I wish I didn’t know that particular truth.

Aloha oe,
A.J.

Currently listening:
Endlessly
By Sonny Chillingworth
Release date: 1999-04-13

Steal Everything

It’s my turn to blog at The Many Shades of Life and Love and here is what I posted:

People say I should stop talking about Internet theft. But I’m betting those people aren’t finding each and every book they have out being stolen left and right. I read message boards that boggle my mind.
Internet thieves who steal music and books admit they are doing wrong. They admit a smidgin of sympathy for the artists and authors involved. Their logic seems to be that our publishers are ripping us off with royalties, so why shouldn’t they rip us off too?
It makes me wonder what would they do if they drove down the street and watched a robbery in progress? Would they:
a) drive by and do nothing
b) turn the corner and call the cops and report a crime or
c) zoom into the driveway and help themselves to stuff too…like hey, where’s the sofa at?
My friend and co-author Stephani Hecht sent me a Youtube vid last night that says it all much better than I could.
I present to you, a PSA from Kid Rock:

Currently listening:
Moe`uhane Kika: Tales From The Dream Guitar
By Keola Beamer
Release date: 1995-08-29

The Pink Palace

Current mood:  quiet
Category: Travel and Places

 

I have never understood my fascination…my…obsession with the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, otherwise known as The Pink Palace. It doesn’t appeal to me visually. It’s a little too Miami and just too…pink.
But in the past twelve months I have come here, seeking solace in the wonderful grounds, learning more about the hotel the Honolulu Advertiser once described as “colorful and semi-barbaric.”
I’ve found staffers who’ve told me wonderful nuggets of history, such as the lengths the builders went to in 1927 went to in order to prevent the new hotel from sinking into what was then the swamp of Waikiki. Outside, not much has changed since its opening days, with its two acres of exotic plants and flowers, including tree ferns brought from KilaueaVolcano on the Big Island.
Inside plenty has changed, but I swear I hear the ghosts of the original 40 room boys, 20 bell boys, 10 elevator operators and five telephone operators.
And I can just promise you I hear the rustle of grass skirts from the eight Chinese lobby boys dressed in native Hawaiian costumes.
I have been trying to understand my yen for this place, when quite frankly, the Moana Surfrider just a few blocks down Kalakaua Avenue is so much more appealing.
Two days ago, my father casually mentioned he brought my mother to The Pink Palace shortly before she died.
My cousin Chris and I went down to the hotel yesterday and sat in the garden. Some days I can talk about her, some days I can’t. Since she died after a grim battle with cancer when I was six, my gap in knowledge of her is enormous since my father can hardly talk about her at all.
He only recently told me about the battle to save her, the race to a cancer specialist in Los Angeles. On their way home to Australia to me and my brothers, she sought solace in the gardens of the Pink Palace.
So it’s here where I hear her voice too, her laughter my father says sounds just like mine.
When I need to feel her, to just…be with her gentle presence, I know I will always come and find her here.
In this colorful, semi-barbaric palace.

Aloha oe,

A.J.

Currently listening:
One Foot on Sand
By Justin Young
Release date: 2003-11-25

Saint Damien

Current mood:  cheerful
Category: News and Politics

 

It’s my turn to blog at Seven Wicked Writers today and here is what I posted:
Yesterday was a very big day for the people of Hawai’i but none more than 11 special men and women who have fought valiantly for Father Damien, the ‘leper priest of Molokai’ to be recognized by the Catholic Church. On the register for Sainthood, but somehow always passed over in spite of his courage and unfathomable love for a people ravaged by a dreadful disease, Hawaiians have never forgotten.

They have fought for Damien, who served the abandoned men and women on the island of Molokai for 16 years until he himself fell victim to Hansen’s Disease at the age of 49 in1889.

Despite my misgivings about the new Pope, I must apologize for judging him for his youthful Nazi activities. I feared the worst but he has surprised me over and over again, particularly in acknowledging Damien’s sacrifice and true holiness with the ultimate gift of canonization on October 11.

Last night, my family tried to get tickets for the dinner at the Waikiki Sheraton, designed to raise money for the 11 men and women still residing as patients at Kalaupapa, the hospital and home created by Damien for his flock. All 11 residents will fly to Rome for the services they thought would never happen.

I’m told the organizers of last night’s event expected 300. Over a thousand people turned up. We were among those sadly turned away but we still donated money toward airfare and I badly wanted my goddaughter Eleanna to meet some of the eleven patients who worked so hard for Father Damien’s Sainthood.

She met several of them, including the amazing Gloria Marks who at 71, has more energy than I ever will. To see the way Eleanna engaged with her, telling her that she visited Kalaupapa with me and how clearly and strongly she felt Father Damien’s presence, made me proud that 129 years after Father Damien left us all behind, his legacy lives on. 

Mrs. Marks was onverwhelmed, beyond words, that there were many who wish her and the other 11 so well.

Her husband, one of the staunchest lobbyists for Father Damien, recently passed away so last night was difficult for her. I think seeing so many there to support her and the others helped just a little and I hope when she returns, she writes a book about this entire incredible journey.

Father Damien will be officially known as the Saint for Hansen’s Disease, HIV and AIDs.

He leaves behind more than the 8,000 people he helped tend during and after his time. He is a reminder of what it means to really be a Christian and how at heart, many of us feel lost and abandoned.

I will be there in spirit that day in October when 11 brave people march to the Vatican in honor of a man. A good and wonderful man and genuine hero.

Saint Damien.

Aloha oe,

A.J.

Currently listening:
RCHNK
Release date: 2000-06-13

Reviews by Title

 

Letters to a Goddess


Current mood:  blissful
Category: Life

It’s my turn to blog at Sensual N Secret and here is what I posted:

I am back in Honolulu and this morning, my favorite partner in crime, my niece and goddaughter Eleanna and I had a sacred visit to make.
Armed with letters from friends scattered across the country, we headed to Makapu’u Point and to Pele’s Chair, the point from which the great Hawaiian Goddess still presides, when she sees fit.
It was an interesting experience how we came to bring her mail.
Eleanna and I always visit Madame Pele but a few days ago a friend of mine, who shall remain nameless, asked me if I would take Pele a letter from her and her daughter.
Her daughter had ‘souvenired’ some lava stones last year and at my suggestion she mailed them back to Volcano Parks on the Big Island. The girl still feels bad and felt she still needed to apologize.
“We’ve both had a rough time lately,” my friend said.
I promised to buy her a couple of flowers, too.
She returned a few hours later with the most beautiful little water color her daughter did and a letter written on rice paper and folded origami-style into a crane.
It snowballed. A new online friend (who shall also remain nameless since I believe prayers and offerings remain between the person and God/Goddess, also asked me to take her a letter.
My sister in law who is in Greece, faxed me a note which is unusual for her.
“I just need some hope that things will be okay,” she said.
On the plane yesterday, the stewardess who brought me lunch noticed my letters which had tumbled out of my laptop bag.
“You’re going to visit Pele?” she asked. She was so excited, she asked me if I would take a note for her. I was rather jazzed a total stranger trusted me with her private message.
I am not a special messenger, but somehow I think, people knew Eleanna and I would truly deliver their messages and we would do it with love.
The stewardess handed me a folded United Airlines credit card application with her note inside.
When and I arrived on island yesterday afternoon, Eleanna and I put together our letters. 32 in all.
32 women, men and children all had messages of peace and love for a goddess who challenges us yet gives us hope.
Eleanna’s parents wrote her a note this morning and then my girl and I headed out.
We stopped at the ABC near our house and the guy behind the counter asked me where I’ve been since I haven’t been in the store since February.
“You been in rehab?” he asked me.
“Rehab!” I was outraged. “I don’t have a drug or alcohol problem.”
“I’m talking about your Yoo Hoo addiction,” he said. Wiseguy.
Some men are known for their boozing and carousing…I, A.J. Llewellyn am known for…Yoo Hoo.
And for carrying love letters to a goddess.
Mrs. ABC donated an orange and asked if I would take Pele a note as well. She wrote it on the back of a receipt.
Eleanna and I bought leis from the fridge, a small bottle of gin (Pele’s favorite) and some island crack seed. We chose li hing mango because it’s our favorite and we hope Pele won’t mind that after our long walk, she was left with only two pieces.
Eleanna and I took photos for all our friends. We will pass them on privately. Eleanna snapped the pic above and we felt in that moment, Pele was with us. We felt her pleasure and her intense curiosity.
I wrote her a note for me and my boyfriend Herve and tucked it in last, hoping she reads that one first.
We buried all Pele’s treasures under a pile of lava stones. Eleanna and I marveled at all the letters we had brought and how so many people in these fragile times need to believe in a higher power.
We need to believe in the future.
We felt Pele’s power, her profound passion in that special place. I hated to leave her, but I know the dreams and wishes of all our friends are in her fiery arms, willing us to move forward, to trust, and yes, to hope.

Aloha oe,
A.J.

Currently listening:
Imagine
By Eva Cassidy
Release date: 2002-08-20

Willard Wigan

Sunday, July 12, 2009 

Current mood:  blissful
Category: Art and Photography

 

It’s my turn to blog at Seven Wicked Writers and here is what I posted:
By A.J. Llewellyn

Last night, in the waning heat of a baking Los Angeles day, my 13-year-old goddaughter Eleanna begged me to take her to see the needle art.

“I have to go. I want to see these things,” she said.

“Needle art?” I asked warily. “What is that?” I was afraid it would be some collection of used junkies’ syringes called Art…you never know with kids.

Turns out miraculous things can come out of the mouths of babes. The above photo is an actual enlargement of the astonishing Willard Wigan’s miniature art – all of it created inside the eye of a needle, at the tip of a ballpoint pen, the tip of a match or on the end of an eyelash. I am in awe, still circling the sun in my admiration for this wonderful exhibit we went to last night at the Help studio in Hollywood.

Willard Wigan created his art because he had to. I can relate to that. I write because I have to. From the time he started school, he suffered from dyslexia and other learning difficulties, finding his truth by creating a world so small that it can’t be seen with the naked eye.

In fact, the entire exhibit is a series of light boxes that have high-power telescopes you peer into, so you can see the fruits of his pains-taking labors. My God! I have never seen anything like it. 

There was the Statue of Liberty, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, (see the pic above) the Six Wives of Henry Viii (my favorite) and being Hollywood, of course we had Oscar.

“It began when I was five years old,” Willard says in the brochure. “I started making houses for ants because I thought they needed somewhere to live. Then I made them shoes and hats. It was a fantasy world I escaped to where my dyslexia didn’t hold me back and my teachers couldn’t criticise me. That’s how my career as a micro-sculptor began.”  

The creator of the world’s smallest sculptures taked months to complete a single piece, working between heartbeats to avoid hand tremors. Using a tiny surgical blade, he carves figures out of grains of rice, sand and sugar. He paints them with the hair from the back of a fly.

Eleanna and I have been to art galleries and museums all over the world. We thought the show where everything was made from lint (where else but New York) was the height of style. We thought the dead body exhibit, also in New York, was gross. We were simply enthralled with the Wigan exhibit.

Over dinner at Snow White’s Coffee shop, an apt choice since this was one of our favorite pieces, we talked about the things we’ve shared. They say it is a small world and it is. To see the fire in my favorite girl’s eyes as she realizes nothing is impossible, no matter what grownups may say, to me says more than words. And that is a lot, coming from me – the guy who loves words.

Currently touring the world, you can check out if it is coming to a gallery near you at www.willard-wigan.com  

Aloha oe,

A.J.

Currently listening:
Greatest Hawaiian Hits
By The Peter Moon Band;THE
Release date: 2005-01-14

Woman Marries Dog

Current mood:  breezy
Category: News and Politics

It’s my turn to blog at The Many Shades of Life and Love today and here is what I wrote:

By A.J. Llewellyn

Some years ago, I was languishing in a three-story Victorian terrace house in London. I was home alone in sub-zero temperatures, my three flatmates all out on dates. I was so poor I didn’t even have 10p for the gas meter, so I sat huddled in blankets listening to Michael Franks.
There was a line in one of his songs I have never forgotten. You could say it’s become my motto, the theme of all my books:
Loneliness makes you strong. Love makes you free.
I never will forget how I felt during that year in London, the lessons I learned, the strength I developed, the friendships that continue.
So when I read the story yesterday about Emily Mabu, the 29 year old woman who married her dog, I felt, unlike many who mocked her, deep anguish that her loneliness is so acute, she has no trust in humans.
Emily, who lives in Aburi, Ghana, married her 18 month old pug in a ceremony boycotted by her family. Her brother David described it as “a stupid step to combat her loneliness.”
Maybe, maybe not.
I have no idea what the wedding night was like and I really, truly don’t want to know. I am betting however that this new husband won’t be getting on the Internet anytime soon to download porn or chat up hookers.
On the downside, he won’t take out the garbage, or cook much of a meal…but I know very few human men who do this either.
He won’t do much but give her unconditional love.
If she were a member of my family, I would have attended the service, then quietly worked out ways to keep her busy and social. I would also find her a good therapist.
I am an animal lover and I’ve seem how much pressure other friends of mine put on their pets. Their loneliness is so strong, it created undue pressure on them.
Emily is an extreme case. How sad it is that she is so dependent on a small dog.
We have become a species of increasingly isolated, fearful people who seek solace in those who won’t hurt us. I feel for Emily because she is fumbling in the darkness toward freedom…yes, she’s taken a wrong turn but in the dark, most of us can’t see.
The beauty of being married to her dog is that if a divorce ensues, she can keep him and they can still be friends…more than friends.
He probably won’t go after her money or her best friend…unless a meaty bone is involved.
I hope he teaches her that it’s okay to love, that her loneliness has made her strong and his love can set her free.
Aloha oe,

A.J.

Currently listening:
The Michael Franks Anthology: The Art of Love
By Michael Franks
Release date: 2003-05-13

Michael Mania

Current mood:  contemplative
Category: Movies, TV, Celebrities

It’s my turn to blog at Nice N Naughty today and here is what I wrote:

The chips have fallen and the fabled 875,000 tickets to Michael Jackson’s funeral services this morning have been distributed. The lucky recipients of the pairs of tickets have their mottled-gold arm bracelets on – or they don’t.
My friend Lizzie called me last night, all excited that she’d won, except that she had planned to sell the tickets on Ebay (there are plenty on there already) and couldn’t because when she went down to Dodger Stadium to pick up her tickets and credentials, they forced her to don the bracelet right there and then.
Once it became obvious that ‘fans’ were selling these free tickets online and, apparently, right outside the stadium, the organizers of today’s memorial service in downtown Los Angeles, started insisting that the ticket recipients put the bracelets on immediately.
Lizzie and countless others were warned they would not be admitted to the memorial service without it.
She’s skipping work therefore to attend the service and was ecstatic and giddy. I listened to her for a moment and said,
“Lizzie, you make it sound like you’re going to a concert. It’s a funeral.”
“Oh, my God,” she said. “You’re right.”
I am a Hollywood resident and writer and many people know that I read screenplays for studios for a living but all of a sudden, after a long dry spell, I’m getting emailed requests from companies for coverage of screenplays.
Hey, I can use the money, don’t get me wrong. But like a growth attaching itself to the heart with long, grasping tentacles, I have been dismayed to see the flurry of screenplays shooting for the Green Light — all about Michael Jackson.
A few are unauthorized bios, a few are made with the participation of family members, most are screenplays that have been sitting on studio shelves for years…coming of age type stories, where the young singer is inspired by MJ.
It is sick.
He was an amazing talent, one we’ll never see again. But I have a hard time separating the legend, the talent, from all the other weird stuff. Sorry, but I do.
I wish him a nice rest in heaven. I wish his tormented soul some peace. I will always love his music. I will live with the knowledge that nobody else will ever make a video like Thriller.
And I wish that the people who ‘won’ the right to go and say goodbye to him this morning really, really wanted to be there. I know many of them do, but just as many of them just want to say, “I was there!”
Wherever he is in heaven, Michael is probably telling God, “See, I told you what it was like for me down there. I’m dead, and they want even bigger pieces of me.”
I hope the madness dies down, that people don’t keep trying to cash in on the cow whose milk has not only dried up but who cries in mortal agony.
Judging by the way people continue to cash in on say, Tupac Shakur’s untimely passing, I would say I’m dreaming.
The legend of Michael is turning into the fastest way in town to make a buck.
And this is just the beginning.

Aloha oe,
A.J.

Currently listening:
Michael Jackson 25th Anniversary of Thriller
By Michael Jackson
Release date: 2008-02-12

The Storyteller’s Creed

Current mood:  energetic
Category: Writing and Poetry

It’s my turn to blog at Seven Wicked Writers and here is what I posted:

By A.J. Llewellyn

I was on an author chat the other day and a woman who’s never read gay erotic romance…anything gay for that matter, asked me if my books have happy endings. I wrote back, “Yes!”

She seemed stunned. I was surprised by her reaction. “But Gay men are so promiscuous. They can’t be faithful,” she said.

I wondered how many gay men she actually knew and decided she probably reads the trashy supermarket magazines where gay and straight celebutantes hop on and off each other like fleas. Sure, I know a few gay guys who play around, but I know plenty of straight guys who do too.

Most of my gay friends are in longterm, monogamous relationships and work hard at them. They are my inspiration. When I was a young adult, I worked for a company here in L.A. that sold products online, most successfully late at night when lonely, insomniac people feel their money burning a hole in their pockets.  I worked the phones, armed with a computer. We were shown a demo of the ad running that night. We’d all groan when we’d see it was an ab cruncher – people who buy those want to talk to you for hours about their problems. People buying the onion chopper were more business like…whatever. We were armed with the ad schedule across the country and banged out those orders like crazy when people called in to liberate themselves from their money.

The pressure was intense. My paycheck was deducted if I took more than a minute to respond to a call and if I took more than three minutes with each customer. My eyes would fly between the electronic clock on my phone bank and the computer, where I typed in the customer info. So many times people’s credit cards were maxed out…or they couldn’t find them…man, people are dumb!

But I digress…

I worked a horrendous schedule, 10pm to 4am. During my two breaks, the women I worked with – there were twelve women and two men – sat glued to their romance novels in the break room. They passed a few well-thumbed paperbacks onto me. I remember reading one by Betty Neals set in Holland. I have to say Betty influnced my own work all these years later because her detail on Amsterdam was rich and had such texture to it, I felt I was there.

For the fifteen minutes I raced through a couple of chapters, I was there with the heroine, walking those cobblestone streets, sipping coffee in ancient cafes. It was a blessing to be carried away on such a carpet ride and those books got me through one of the most stressful jobs I’ve ever had.

Gay or straight, I believe in happy endings. I used to pine for my breaks so I could back to those books we all passed around. Let me tell you, those women I worked with would have been pissed – PISSED – if the hero said at the end, “You know what bitch, you’re cute but I’m just not that into you.”

Readers want happy endings…there is a formula and I believe a happy ending is essential. If I want an unhappy ending, I’ll call up my last ex boyfriend to remind myself how happy for now feels. Or I’ll just read a different book.

Because I believe in The Storyteller’s Creed. I follow it. It is my law:

I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge,

That myth is more potent than history, that dreams are more powerful than facts,

That hope always triumphs over experience,

That Laughter is the only cure for grief.

And I believe that love is stronger than death.

Aloha oe,

A.J.

Currently listening:
Gently Weeps
By Jake Shimabukuro
Release date: 2006-09-19

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