From his office on the Lower East Side, Mortimer J. Bloomenbergensteinenthal manages a wide-variety of talent all over the country. I first met Morty last summer when I was still just a nickel-and-dime blog hustler. Every day I would spew half-baked rants about politics and culture into Wordpress tucked between Google ads. I guess Morty saw something unrefined in me. He took me under his wing and began grooming me for a larger stage. There were times when we clashed about the direction of my career, but now I know that Morty has a gift. He knows his clients better than they know themselves. He knows what's right for them and can see the big picture, the long road ahead. He leaves them to their own devices with complete artistic license and places them in a milieu where they can thrive naturally.
With the New Year upon us, going to see Morty to ink some new deals was a necessity. I had never been to Morty's office before, so I was eager to see him in his natural setting. After landing at JFK I took the subway through Brooklyn and into Manhattan. I got off at Canal Street and found myself standing in the heart of Chinatown. Following his directions, I walked several blocks to the address. It was nothing more than a glass door beside some Asian restaurant with whole cooked chickens hanging in the window. Stenciled on the door were the words "AAA Miracle Talent Agency". I opened the door and climbed the stairs just inside.
I soon found myself in a small reception area. At a plain wooden desk sat a middle-aged woman talking on the phone. I instantly guessed her to be Sheila, Morty's secretary who I had spoken with on numerous occasions. Judging from the number of flashing lights on the phone, she had her hands full. Before I could tell her who I was, the door behind her desk opened and a young woman stepped into the room followed by Morty. She was tall, curvy, and blonde: built like a brick shit-house as my Grandaddy used to say. Following behind her was Morty, ever the gentleman, showing her to the door as their meeting concluded.
"Call me next week, sweetheart," Morty said to the young woman. "Let me know how the Hot Rod magazine photo shoot goes. If you make the cover, I might have some calendar work for you." Morty looked at me and a look of recognition swept his face into a mighty grin. "Srs! Babe! Come on in!"
The young woman walked by me and headed down the stairs, carefully planting each stilletoed step while holding the handrail. I shook Morty's hand and said, "She's nearly as devastating going as she is coming."
The door at the bottom of the stairs opened letting the noise in from the street then closed again. Morty nudged me in the side with his elbow. "If I was about 20 years younger I'd have definitely thrown a fuck into her by now," he said and laughed. "Get in here, kid. Sheila, hold my calls."
I took a seat in one of the chairs in front of his desk as Morty moved behind it and sat down. He opened a drawer in the desk and pulled a bottle of Glenlivet from it. "Drink?" he asked, pouring the Scotch into a coffee cup on the desk. I declined to which he shrugged and said, "Suit yourself." He capped the bottle and put it away then leaned back in his chair with the cup cradled in his hands. "How was Niagara?"
"All I did was work, Morty. What's the use of being a spokesman for hotanalcheerleaders.com if I can't enjoy the perks?"
He tapped his fingers on the cup, like a you would drum them on a table, one after the other in quick succession. "We're laying ground-work here. Grab the fame, get the money: you'll be knee-deep in world-class trim the rest of your life if you play your cards right, kid." Morty was right. He was always right. "Ok, let's get down to business. The folks at hotanalcheerleaders.com love ya. They wanna extend your contract into the New Year with a clause providing for... let me see here." Morty scanned the contract for the proper wording. " 'renegotiation by either party upto and including termination of the agreement' when you are no longer in the contest. Also, if you win the contest, you get free lifetime membership and quote 'VIP privileges' unquote at all of their company properties."
He tossed the contract across the desk for me to sign. Halfway through "Bidness" I realized I was using my autograph handwriting out of habit. It's kind of like kids who have been outside playing all day and have to be reminded to use their inside voice when they come in the house. My autograph is dope, though. I spent nearly a week formulating and practicing it, getting just the right swoop here and curl there. The size relationship between the capital letters and the lower-case ones. The way the letters tilt. I wrote my own little slogan, too, for those times when the seeker doesn't have anything in particular they want me to inscribe. I write, "Get a fucking life!"so sloppily that it's illegible - for my own amusement.
I handed the signed contract back to Morty. "What about Howie?" I asked.
Morty shook his head. "You burned the bridge on that one, hot shot. I tried but he wasn't interested. That's ok, though. The new business you brought in the door with that performance is worth ten Howies." Morty took a large shot of the Scotch from his coffee cup. "Alright, let's talk about the future. I don't wanna say too much, because right now it's just rumor, but I've heard that Calvin Klein is interested in using edgy, rising-star-with-street-cred, underground talent for a small series of magazine ads and billboards. Now you're a nice enough looking kid but..." Morty set the coffee cup on the desk and made motions with his hands like he was trying to straighten a crooked picture.
"...but it looks like the closest I get to a gym is Jim Beam?" I finished for him.
Morty motioned toward me, a combination of satisfaction and relief on his face. "Exactly! I was wondering if you have any interesting birthmarks, tattoos. Maybe scars? Something that could be interesting for the camera."
"I have a scar on my chest," I said. "It's about an inch long, maybe a quarter of an inch wide."
Morty leaned forward in his chair and picked up a pen from the desk. He began scribbling notes on a legal pad. "How did you get it?"
"I was in Mexico and had been doing tequila shots all night with my friend Curtis..." I began.
Morty was writing furiously with a devilish smile. "I bet this is is gonna be good."
"...and the motel had a bidet. I was pretending it was a fountain and that I was Mary Tyler Moore, thowing my hat in the hair and spinning around. I slipped and hit the corner of the sink. I had to get 8 stiches."
Morty sighed and ripped the sheet of paper from the pad.
"Have you ever been to a Mexican hospital, Morty?!!? I'm lucky I didn't have something amputated! I told you I was hardcore."
Morty wadded the paper into a ball and threw it at me. He began writing again, biting his bottom lip. "While serving as a soldier of fortune in Nicaragua, was shot by a deranged hooker after stiffing her."