I got my big break in a horror flick that turned into a franchise. By the time we finished the series I was a household name, but I didn’t get any respect as an actress. People just saw as a nice pair of tits who could scream. I got offer after offer to do another horror movie, or to play some stereotypical, blond bimbo that all the male leads wanted to fuck. I wasn’t interested in this. I needed something real. A part with substance, a real character, multifaceted and full of true emotions.
My agent began insisting that I capitalize on my popularity before it was gone. He was right. This business changed more often than I showered. I grabbed a few more horror movies and a couple of vixen parts. Critical acclaim was no where to be seen, but I became a huge box office draw. Suddenly I was getting offered abnormally large amounts of money to do my job, more than any woman in Hollywood to date. Imagine someone hands you your dream career on a silver platter and offers you obscene amounts of money to do it, but to receive all of this you must compromise your principles and your talent. What do you do?
You jump on the first real part in a drama that you get offered. I had my fame. I had my name in bright lights. Now it was my chance to do something I wanted. It was only a small part, but it was a really good script. Suddenly the critics stood up and took notice. Hollywood collectively stopped breathing in shock. She could act. Our Scream Princess could act. I was now a hot commodity. I could have any part I wanted and I took them. I never worked so hard in my life. Jumping from movie to movie without a break. My agent was waiting for me to fall over from exhaustion. Directors and fellow actors were waiting for me to burn out. But nothing doing, I had no intentions of stopping or slowing down. I was going to ride this wave all the way to the shore.
I began to earn the reputation of a career maker. Have a director who needs to build a reputation? Put her in one of his movies, he’ll be the next Spielberg. Have an actor who needs to build a following? Put him in a movie opposite her, he’ll be a household name by breakfast. I didn’t know where any of this was going to lead. I was just afraid that if I stopped, if I slowed down, I would lose momentum. I didn’t want to lose my fame and my fans. Being an A-list actress today, does not an Audrey Hepburn make. There was never any guarantee that I could sustain my box office draw, and that was all that mattered, after all, I was making money for the studios.
This is about the time I met him. I was at some party after the Oscars. I had won Best Supporting Actress and the buzz was I was on my way to Best Actress. He was a washed up rock star. You might remember him, John Rzeznik of the Goo Goo Dolls. The band had broken up years before due to his alcohol abuse and his pathetic attempt at a solo career failed miserably. To say I had been a fan would have been a huge understatement. I was a groupie to put it very literally. Groupies live for the mere sight of this person, they aren’t entirely sure why but they can’t seem to breathe without them. I knew how much trouble it could get me into, but I didn’t care. I should have. I should have cared a lot.
I was standing in a corner, sipping champagne, and talking to the only real friends I had made since coming to this godforsaken town. Rachel Leigh Cook, Dominique Swain, and Jessica Alba, we were all young Hollywood. We were all sexy, popular, all of those things required of an It-Girl. We only dated older men and it was a well-known fact. It was better for our image and most of the It-Boys were too stuck on themselves and irritating to hold our attentions for long anyway. I later became aware of the irony of that, we were stuck on ourselves too. We wanted someone who would worship our beauty and youth, the only real commodities we knew how to deal in.
I watched him watching me all night. I wanted him to make a move. Normally, I would just do it myself, that sexual freedom was part of my image, but this wasn’t just any man. I couldn’t just walk up to John Rzeznik and tell him that I was going home with him. I didn’t have that kind of courage. Dominique and Rach left with the guys they were currently seeing, but Jess and I decided to hang a little while longer. She was on the prowl big time. Michael Weatherly had recently broken off their engagement and she was looking for some rebound revenge. I was rather buzzed by this point in time and was ready to give up on him and move on to some other guy. I really just wanted go home, but there photographers outside and I couldn’t leave alone. I was quickly learning the downsides of my chosen career.
“Excuse me.” I must have jumped about ten feet, at least that’s what it felt like. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to frighten you. I just wanted to congratulate you. You deserved that.”
“I’m John Rzeznik.” He held his hand out to me, although in my current state of inebriation it looked like two.
“I’m Victoria Richards.” I shook his hand, both of them.
“May I sit down?”
“Be my guest.” He pulled a chair up next to me.
“Vix, I’m out, you be okay?” Jess called from the arm of some 30-something leading man.
“Fine, Jess, I’ll call you tomorrow.”
“Night, love.” I was beginning to sober up due to the fact that I hadn’t had a drink in a while.
“So, how does it feel?”
“How does what feel?”
“How does it feel to be one of them?”
“I’m not one of them. I love them, but they all sold out.”
“So did you.”
“Yeah, but I got back in and they haven’t yet.”
“Are you sure of that?”
“At this point, I’m not sure of anything, except that I want to go home.” I stood up, knowing he would follow. We walked out past the hundreds of photographers and climbed into my limo. I sobered up rather suddenly when I realized what I was about to do and that I wasn’t prepared for it in the least. He was an alcoholic and I knew it. What was I about to throw myself headfirst into? Not an empty swimming pool, I hoped.
He seemed completely comfortable sitting next to me, but, due to the unfortunate exit of my buzz, I was not. We drove to my house listening to nothing, but the buzz of sexual tension in the air. I tipped the driver a considerably large amount of money and we went inside.
He uttered something along the lines of “Whoa,” when we walked in. I had bought myself a very nice mansion with the aforementioned obscene amounts of money. It had all the trappings of a posh Hollywood house: massive, soft, black couch; thick, luxurious carpets; glass and steal furniture. But I had added all those little personal touches that made it feel like home: movie posters, photos, my chocolate Lab, Riley.
“This is nice.”
“Thanks,” I dropped my purse and keys on the glass table by the door, kicked off my shoes, and walked into the living room.
“Did you decorate it yourself?”
“Yep. Come here, Riley, honey.” Riley came bouncing to me, wagging his tail happily. I crouched down to pat his head and scratch his ears. “This is Riley, he doesn’t bite.” I stood and walked over to the stereo.
“I wasn’t worried about the dog,” he let the sentence dangle in the air between us. I knew what I was supposed to assume. I had left Billy Idol’s Greatest Hits in the CD player. I pushed play figuring that John wouldn’t mind, he was an ex-punk rocker after all. I walked, well walked isn’t quite the right word more like sashayed, I sashayed over to the wet bar in the corner as the pumping beat of “Dancing with Myself” filled the room.
“Do you want a drink?”
“What are you having?”
“Vodka and cranberry.”
“What kind of vodka?”
“Absolut, or I might have some Skyy hidden somewhere.”
“Just give me a double of the Absolut.” I poured our drinks, walked over and handed him his. “What are we listening to?”
“You like Billy Idol?”
“Of course, don’t you?”
“A punk rocker who doesn’t like Billy Idol.”
“Billy Idol isn’t a punk rocker.”
“Really? That’s a rather interesting opinion, but it’s not right. Generation X was one of the original British punk bands spawned by the Sex Pistols and Billy Idol was the lead singer before he came to America and started a solo career.”
“You sure know a lot about early ‘80s punk rock, considering your age.”
“Yeah, well stranger things have happened.” It was obvious that he wanted to end the conversation before it became an argument and I agreed. I sipped my drink slowly, suddenly becoming much more comfortable. I sat down on the couch, sinking into the deep cushions. “Have a seat.”
“I can’t believe you own this place,” he said, sitting next to me. “I hardly had time to find an apartment when my career first took off, let alone buy a house.”
“I couldn’t stand not to having a place to go to after work and a lot of my movies were filmed here in LA. I felt so much more at home out here once I bought my house.”
“A big place like this must get awful lonely.”
“It can that’s why I got Riley.”
“A dog can’t possibly be all the company you need.”
“No, sometimes it would be nice to talk to someone who talks back.”
“I’ve noticed all of your friends seem to be involved in serious relationships, except for you.”
“I guess I just haven’t found the right guy yet.”
“Hmmm,” he set his drink down and leaned in much closer to me. “When exactly do you think you will find the right guy?”
“Anytime now, I suppose.”
“Anytime now,” he leaned in and kissed me softly. I pulled him on top of me and began to kiss him more aggressively. We had sex on my living room floor listening to “To Be a Lover.” The irony of that would dawn on me much later. He left the next morning but promised to call. I already called it for a one night stand and went to find some breakfast and call Jess. I dug a peach and some fat free yogurt out of the fridge. I poured myself a glass of cranberry juice and dialed Jess’s number.
“Hello,” she answered groggily.
“Did I wake you?”
“Not really, I just made lover boy leave, but I’m not quite awake yet.”
“How did it go with him, anyway?” I asked carrying my food to the living room.
“I’ve had better, lots better.”
“Yeah, but was it mission accomplished.” I threw myself on the couch and turned on M2.
“I don’t know for sure yet, but we did see Michael on the way out. You should have seen the look on his face, it was classic.”
“He’ll call today, begging for you to come back. You should tell him you need time to think about it.”
“Yeah, you’re probably right. Are you watching M2 again?”
“Don’t you think you’re too old for that?” she teased.
“No, I’m 22, that puts me right in their target demographic.”
“Oh, okay, whatever you want to believe. So, how did it go with Mr. Rockstar last night?”
“I’m not really sure, it was kind of disappointing.”
“That’s because of two things; one, you put him on a pedestal until now and he just fell off, and two, you’re still holding out for Billy Idol.”
“He’s old enough to my father.”
“Oh, like a little scandal ever hurt us.”
“Not that it matters anyway, because John will never call me and Billy would never be interested.”
“He’s breathing, isn’t he? He’s male, right? So far those the only criteria I can find for falling head over heels for you.”
“Are you talking about John or Billy?”
“A little of both, but mostly Billy.”
I sighed deeply, “A girl can always dream, can’t she?”
“Hey, what were we dreaming about before we got where we are now? Dreams come true all the time dear. Oh shit, that’s my other line, hold on.” M2 was boring so I switched to VH1, just in time to catch the Behind the Music on Billy Idol. I turned the TV up and laid back. Maybe she was right, maybe I was holding out for Billy Idol. “You still there?”
“Oh no, you sound all dreamy and far away. What just happened?”
“Billy is on Behind the Music. Who was on the other line?”
“You were right, it was Michael. He said we needed to talk. I said I was busy, but I would meet him for lunch in an hour.”
“Well, what are you talking to me for? Get off the damn phone and get ready. You must look absolutely radiant, like you had the best sex of your life last night.”
“All right, all right, I’m going.”
“Don’t forget to make him beg.”
“I won’t. Love ya, Vix.”
“Love you too, Jess.” I hung up the phone and watched the rest of Behind the Music. Even at 45, Billy Idol was one of the sexiest men I had ever seen. He just had that type of personality that made him sexy all the time. The bleach blond hair, sexy lips, obligatory sneer, and beautiful accent didn’t hurt either. I turned off the TV and went upstairs for my daily workout. I turned on Billy Idol and blasted it. The loud pumping music helped me work myself nearly to death. I had to keep this figure, if I had intention of continuing in this industry.
I had just got out of the shower, when John called. I almost missed the bed and fell on the floor when I heard his voice.
“Are you okay?”
“I’m fine,” I said, regaining my composure.
“You didn’t expect me to call.”
“No, not exactly.”
“Well, I was wondering if you would like to go out to dinner with me tonight.”
“I’ll pick you up at eight then.”
He took me to one of those terrible restaurants you only go to, to see and be seen. Our courtship proceeded rather quickly from there. We went to all the best places to be seen. Photographers jumped us from every direction and John always seemed to have a ready smile. We were in all the good magazines and the hottest topic on all the Entertainment News Shows. Suddenly old Goo Goo Dolls CDs were flying off the racks, as was his solo CD. I didn’t really have time to think about what was going on. Between my current movie and John, I was hardly sleeping. I was so exhausted you could have told me the pope converted to atheism and I wouldn’t have flinched. One day John sprung one of those kind of surprises on me.
“My agent called today. Warner Brothers wants me to record another solo album. They’d also like to do a Goo Goo Dolls reunion, but they can’t seem to get Robby to commit so that may not happen.”
“What?” I groaned, half awake. I was in my trailer trying to get some sleep between takes, when John came in.
“I said they want me to make another record.”
“That’s great, honey.” I rolled over and closed my eyes again.
“Don’t you care?” he said, sounding rather hurt.
“Of course I care, but I haven’t slept in a week. Couldn’t we talk about this later?”
“Fine. Whatever.” He slammed the door really hard on his way out.
Later back on the set, I was told another piece of shocking news. The surprise actor that even we weren’t told about was none other than Billy Idol. I about had a heart attack, apparently we found a piece of news that even in my half-alive state shocked me. He was in make up when the director told us and he would be on the set soon. I was supposed to film a love scene with him that very day. (He played the older man I cheat on my true love with.)
He walked in looking just as sexy as he had on Behind the Music. It took all the self-restraint I possessed not to jump him or faint. The director introduced him to all of the actors, but I noticed that he lingered a lot longer when shaking my hand. We filmed the scenes where our characters met and then we had to be sent back to costume. They tossed us both through costume as fast as possible, but not fast enough for me to miss his long look at me in my half-dressed state. Let’s just say, the look was mutual and someone still spends plenty of time in the gym.
We went back to the set to film the love scene. I was so nervous my hands were shaking. I hadn’t even been the nervous the first time I was on a film set. He came up behind me and ran his hands up my arms to my shoulders.
“Calm down, you’re going to be fine,” he whispered gently in my ear, sending shivers down my spine. I savored the sensation until the director called places and Billy backed away. We kissed for the first time on the set that day and I swear my whole body was on fire. I had never felt anything like that. He was such an amazing kisser too, gentle yet slightly forceful. We pulled apart so Billy could say his line, but he fucked up. I swear to this day that he did it on purpose. We ended up having to repeat the kiss ten times before we got it right, one or the other of us kept fucking up. We finally finished the scene and we were both done shooting for the day. I went back to my trailer and changed. I sent my assistant to take the costume back and then go home. I sat down to drink a soda, when someone knocked on my door. I got up and grabbed the handle.
“I thought I told you to go home,” I pulled the door open but it wasn’t my assistant.
“I think I would remember you telling me that.”
“Oh, I thought you were my assistant.” I just stood there staring at Billy, who was giving me his most charming smile.
“Can I come in?”
I snapped out of my trance, “Oh yes, of course.” I stood aside and let him in. I shut the door behind him and turned around. “Do you want a soda or something?” He took my face in his hands and kissed me again.
“You’re shaking again.”
“I know.” He kissed me again, pulling me tightly against his body. He guided me to my bed and laid me down gently. He began kissing me softly everywhere as he removed my clothes. If someone had come in shouting John Rzeznik at that point, I’m pretty sure I would have said “John who?”
We made love in my trailer, I say made love not had sex because that’s really what it felt like. It was completely different from what had happened with John so many times before. Afterward we lay together on my bed, talking. We must have talked for two hours. We could talk about anything we just clicked so well. Suddenly there was another knock on my door.
“Who in the world could that be?” I said, jumping out of his arms and pulling on some clothes.
“Vix, are you in there?”
“Oh shit! It’s John! Oh shit!”
“Who’s John?” I turned to look at Billy, there must have been complete panic in my eyes because he looked at me for one second then got out of bed. He grabbed all of his clothes off of the floor.
“Hold on one second, John.” Billy kissed me quickly and jumped into my bathroom. “I’ll get him to leave and then I promise I’ll explain.” I shut the door, fixed my hair, and opened the other door.
“What took you so long?” He pushed his way into my room.
“I was asleep.”
“I called your house, but no one answered. Weren’t you supposed to be finished shooting for the day hours ago?”
“We ran a little over and I was really tired. I must have fallen asleep in here before I could go home.”
“We need to talk.”
“I know, honey. I’m really sorry about earlier, I was just tired. Could we talk about this later though? I have to meet Jess in like thirty minutes.”
“Okay. I call you later.” He turned to go, but then stopped and turned back. I was sure I was caught. “Victoria, honey, are you okay?”
“Yeah, I’m just really tired.”
“Maybe you should cut your night with Jessica short and get some sleep tonight.”
“I think I will.”
“I love you, Victoria.” That was the first time he had ever said that, but he didn’t wait for a response he just left.
“Shit!” Billy opened the bathroom door and stepped out fully clothed.
“Maybe I should go.”
“No, god no, please don’t leave. I can explain or at least try to.” He didn’t even look at me.
“It’s not like I asked if you had a boyfriend, you have nothing to explain to me.” He turned to leave. I grabbed his arm.
“Yes, yes I do and even if I don’t I want to. Please just stay.” He turned and looked at me. He must have seen something in my eyes because he took off his jacket and sat down on my bed. He looked up at me with his crystal blue eyes and I just melted. “I met John about two months ago after the Oscars. We’ve been dating since then, but it never really felt right. I can’t honestly tell you why I stayed with him, but I did. We’ve been fighting over everything recently and lately I’ve come to realize I think he’s just using me to further his career. Then today when I met you, something just clicked. I felt all of these things that I had never felt with John. And then when you showed up here, well, I forgot John even existed. I don’t want John, I want you. Maybe I’m jumping into this too quickly considering we just met, but with you it was just different.” I fell to my knees in front of him and hung my head down.
“He said he loved you, do you love him?” I looked up at him.
“No, I don’t love him, I never loved him.”
“So what are we going to do about this?”
“I’ll talk to him. I’ll end it.”
“Are you sure that’s what you want?”
“You are the only thing I have ever been sure of.” He pulled me up to him and kissed me.
The next day I called John, but he wasn’t at home and no one seemed to know where he was. I called his agent but he said he didn’t know either, but I got the definite impression that he did. John disappeared for about a month and the whole time he was gone Billy and I continued our affair. We kept it hidden, so I could tell John and so we could have some time together before the scandal hit. I fell for Billy hard, but I felt like I was betraying him because of John.
Finally John came back, it turned out he had gone away to write for his new album.
“Why didn’t you tell me where you went?”
“Well, it was kind of a last minute decision.”
“So you couldn’t pick up a phone and leave me a message for fucks sake?”
“Why are you yelling at me? I don’t have to answer to you.”
“You always expected me to tell you everything John, but you disappear for a month and it’s okay.”
“How is it different?”
“It just is.”
“No it’s not, but you want to know what is different, John?”
“I’ve been cheating on you since you left.”
“You have not.”
“You want to bet.”
“Ha, like I’m going to tell you. In fact, I think it’s time you leave, John. And just in case you didn’t get it, this is it for us. We are over.”
“I was just using you for my career anyway.”
“Oh, I’m so surprised.”
“And whoever you happen to be fucking probably is too.”
“No John, he’s not a pathetic failure trying to get back something he never really had to begin with. One successful album doesn’t make you a winner John, it just makes you lucky.”
“Fuck off.” He slammed my door. I wanted Billy to be there so bad, but he was in London visiting his son, Willem. I went to my room and called Billy.
“Tori, hi baby.” Only Billy called me Tori.
“I just needed to hear you voice.”
“What’s wrong, angel?”
“John was just here.”
“So where was he?”
“Writing for his next album. I broke it off and he admitted that he was just using me for his career.”
“If there is any justice in this world, his next album will flop.”
“God, I miss you.”
“I’ll be home tomorrow.”
We talked for about an hour, before Billy said he needed to finish packing.
“I love you.” That was the first time I had said that to him, I had told Jess a hundred times that I loved him but I couldn’t tell him.
“I love you too, baby.” We hung up and I laid down to try to get some sleep. I tossed and turned for about an hour, but I just couldn’t sleep. Between the fight with John and Billy not being there I just could not get comfortable. I went to the bathroom and took a couple of sleeping pills. I didn’t have problems going to sleep, but I didn’t wake up the next morning. I hadn’t intended to take that many.
To this day everyone but Billy and Jess think I committed suicide over John, even John. I didn’t even mean to kill myself, it was completely by accident. Billy found me the next day when he got back from London. He called the police and sat on my bed holding me and crying.
The funeral was about a week later. Rachel and Dominique pretended to cry, I guess they weren’t the real friends I thought they were. Jess gave a wonderful eulogy and honestly cried the whole time. Billy sang “Don’t You Forget About Me” and almost choked up in the middle. John didn’t even show up.
There is some justice in the world, just not much. John’s second solo album failed worse than the first and his label dropped him. He died from his own alcohol abuse a few years later. Dominique won the Best Actress Oscar they had called me for and had a continued success until her husband left her and she became a recluse. Rachel died of a drug overdose ten years later in front of a nightclub, after her career took nose-dive. Jess’s career was a huge success and she eventually married Michael. They named their first child Victoria. Billy took Riley and left LA. He became huge record producer back in England, but never had another serious relationship. He died at the ripe old age of 87 of natural causes.
Sometimes I regret never getting to have that life long love with Billy, but not usually. I will never be forgotten. I will always be young and beautiful and, after all, those were the only commodities I ever knew how to deal in.
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