Authors: Ginger Voight
LITTER ON THE
©2016, Ginger Voight
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This book is dedicated to the memory of Prince Rogers Nelson, who inspired me so much as a creative artist, more than he will ever know. On April 21, 2016, you did something many of us who grew up with you never thought you could do—you shuffled from your mortal coil and left us all with this startling discovery… that you were human after all.
I’ve loved you since I first saw the video for Little Red Corvette in 1982. I was twelve and you were unlike anything I had ever seen. You made weirdness and contradiction cool, and it was a message I desperately needed to hear when I was growing up. Your music sounded fun but meant something, right when I wanted—needed—something to mean anything. You were my purple-hued pied piper, a sexy lil’ creature made of light and magic, one that taught me about hard work, artistry, and passion. Mostly you taught me about making a way where there is no way, because making it wasn’t “too” hard if you knew you were born a star.
You made an entire generation feel like we were all stars.
So I will not say goodbye. I can’t. You’re Prince. You’re music. You’re sex. You’re holy. You’re eternal. You are here for me the way you have always been here for me: in the music. And I will hold on, and I will let go, and I will remember… thankful every single day I was alive to enjoy your indisputable and unforgettable reign.
Nothing and no one will ever compare 2 U. <3
If you had told me a year ago that I’d wind up in a relationship with one of the most idolized men in music, I never would have believed you. In fact, I likely would have laughed in your face. Me? Plain ol’ Carly Reynolds? The girl voted most likely to be forgotten within ten minutes of graduation?
Nobody but nobody expected such a thing, least of all me. Up until a year ago, I wasn’t the kind of girl who flew around in private jets, whisked away to tropical islands on a whim; nor was I one who could regularly frequent Vegas, Los Angeles and New York, or walk enough red carpet to pave a path from Burbank straight to the Santa Monica Pier.
And I certainly wasn’t the kind of girl who could hold a superstar’s entire career in my hands.
No. Up until a year ago, I was the kind of girl who brought coffee for the people that did all that stuff. I filed paperwork and answered phones, and if I was really lucky I could write a press release. I collected a paycheck, one that barely paid for a 900-square foot apartment above a Chinese restaurant in Hollywood.
So what changed?
In short, a parakeet died.
Her name was Rosie Blue, though, from the pictures at least, I can attest she was neither rosy nor blue. She was mostly white with yellow spots, with what looked like one black eye. You know, like she’d gone a few rounds in the ring but had lived to tell the tale.
That was until a run-in with Beau Jangles, a sixteen-pound Maine coon cat. To his credit, he did hold off killing Rosie for an entire week after they became unlikely roommates. But Rosie had a taste of wanderlust in her blood, and regularly broke out of her own cage to go prowling around her new digs, just to see what was going on.
Suffice it to say… she bit off way more than she could chew, though, technically speaking, she wasn’t the one doing the chewing.
Thanks to her unexpected demise, the same could be said about me.
(And no comment.)
some ordinary girl from the Lone Star state end up in the position I’m in, practically betrothed to one of the sexiest, most infuriating men on planet Earth? A man who, up until a year ago, I pretty much hated with a white hot passion?
How much time have you got?
I fought the impulse to roll my eyes when I heard my boss bellow from his back office. Lord only knew what he was in a tither about, and I was much too busy with his last emergency assignment to tear myself away to find out.
Yet tear myself away I did. In the seven months I had worked for the man, I learned one irrefutable fact: One does not keep Frank Abruzzo waiting.
Frank was an agent, and by saying that I’m not simply defining his job. If I say agent, and you immediately get a mental picture of what that might be, you’re probably thinking of Frank Abruzzo. He was that synonymous with the caricature that typically comes to mind when you hear the word, as much of a cliché as modern movies and TV had made it out to be. It was as if God himself invented the idea of an agent the second he created Frank.
He was balding with a paunch, the kind of man who abandoned his tie by ten o’clock in the morning as he barked into the phone, wheeling and dealing with all his Jersey panache. He reeked of cigars, and had an ever present tumbler of aged scotch in his hand. He wore a gold ring on his pinky, and ended almost every request with the word, “Doll.”
And I couldn’t even make that big of a deal out of it. It wasn’t sexist. It wasn’t meant to offend. It was just who he was, and who he had always been, going on seven decades.
I could picture him in elementary school, negotiating lunch trades with exactly the same gravelly finesse. He was a born pitch man, which made him damned good at his job. He could talk anyone into anything. Forget selling an air conditioner to an Eskimo. Frank could talk someone who had no feet into monthly subscription of shoes.
He was brisk and direct and didn’t sugar coat anything. Even when his bullshit smacked of bullshit we all bought it because at least he was somehow honest in his lying. This was why I still worked for the man after seven long months of running myself ragged trying to keep up with him. It was also why, despite being knee-deep in his last “request,” I headed to his office when he called.
I quickly regretted the decision.
He had cued up a digital music file so that I could hear the latest song from his most promising and profitable client, Eli Blake.
Listening to music from Eli Blake wasn’t exactly on my list of favorite things to do, even though that music essentially paid my check every week. There were even a couple of bonuses thrown in over the last six months for the things I did personally to make his music known to a wider audience, even if I did have to hold my own nose to do it.
Eli Blake was one of the hottest new artists in music. As Frank’s social media expert, I was part of the reason why. Honestly I felt like I needed to apologize for that on a weekly basis. The Ideal Me, the one who stuck to her principles and had uncompromising ideals, the one that didn’t tolerate bullshit and would rather see the world burn than be a part of its nonstop asshole machine, was squashed weekly under the weight of Practical Me, who still needed to generally survive in the concrete jungle known as Los Angeles.
It was no wonder why so many in Hollywood seemed devoid of integrity. You simply couldn’t afford to have it. The higher my rent got, the lower my standards went.
Eli Blake was rock bottom.
“Best song of his career, right here,” Frank announced as the sounds of a new peppy anthem filled his office overlooking the Sunset Strip.
“Good,” I mumbled. “Can it be over now?”
He ignored me, as usual, in order to let the song finish.
Hey girl, where’d you get that boo-tay? I got two big hands here, for all that boo-tay. I like me a tease, but give me a taste. Don’t let one drop of that plus-size lovin’ go to waste.
I rolled my eyes. Frank’s favorite one-trick pony was about as subtle as a Gay Pride parade. “Still wooing the fat girls, I see.”
Frank killed the music. “What’s wrong with that?”
I contained my contempt to a rueful side-eye glare before I took the bundle of paperwork he handed off to me. “Because he doesn’t mean a word of it.”
Frank laughed. “Who cares as long as the public believes him enough to keep buying the product? He’s got two platinum records under his belt, not to mention two sold-out worldwide tours, with endorsements out the yin-yang. That includes that plus-sized dress shop, Tempestuous, by the way. They are clamoring to use his songs for their next marketing campaign.” He ignored my snarl. “I’ve already got him booked solid for this year, all the way up to his third album release, which he’ll debut after a New Year’s Eve concert in New York City. None of this is an accident, honey. He found a niche and he’s making it work for him. That’s the mark of a marketing genius right there.”
“That’s the sign of an opportunistic douche bag,” I shot back.
“Potato, potahto,” he shrugged, and with that was on to the next thing on his agenda. I juggled my armload back to my desk, where I would be tasked with setting up a release of the new demo. There were press releases, status updates and tweets to write, which was an aspect of my crappy, stressful job that I normally loved.
But this was Eli Blake, and my stomach turned with every rat-a-tat-tat of my keyboard.
First ELI BLAKE took your breath away with BIG GIRL/BIG HEART. Now he’s all about to turn out the dance floor with an ode to booty called PLUS-SIZED LOVIN’! Once again Eli demonstrates his passion for his beloved big girls in a song sure to set the standard of owning one’s beauty no matter what size you come in!
(Eli Blake wasn’t the only liar here.)
Okay. So. Some context. In 2011, Eli Blake was like most struggling artists, trying to land on something viral so he could be seen. He had all the right things going for him. He was young and ridiculously good looking, of course, which made him an ideal visual artist. He was slightly smarter than he was talented, which gave him all sorts of advantages in our high-tech world. He wrote, produced and performed his first album without any backup singers or musicians, right from his home computer, which he had managed to turn into a small music studio.
Despite his knack for writing hooks destined to be viral hits and/or dreaded earworms, nothing about him made him stand out among all the other young, good looking, savvy and talented folks already populating the Internet. He wasn’t unique. He didn’t have a hook, but the universe was setting up to provide him one.
That particular year, an unusual girl named Jordi Hemphill got her chance to sing on a brand new TV talent show called
, one that cared way more about how she sounded than how she looked. This was pretty big news back then, given that she wore a size twenty or better, and broke the typical pop mold without apology. She was young and tremendously talented, and flouted that requirement to be traditionally attractive with robust defiance. That was the twist, if you will. And it was definitely her “hook.”
From the advent of music videos, attractive singers churning out repetitive and inoffensive pop anthems had become the norm. So no one expected someone like Jordi to do well, least of all an asshole like Eli Blake, who had been even more surprised when the equally ridiculously good looking vet, Jace Riga, fell madly in love with her.
The audience ate it up. With relish. And hot sauce. That fledgling show skyrocketed into the stratosphere and made superstars of both of them despite the odds. The press just couldn’t get enough of this atypical love story. It was a message that resonated strongly. The average American woman typically wore a size 12/14, so this was a huge untapped market.
, Jordi and Jace all tapped into it, with astounding results.
What Eli lacked in talent and, you know, actual human decency, he more than made up for in shrewd, calculating opportunism. He realized that the viewing audience was full of bright-eyed big girls hoping to find their happily ever after just like Jordi did.