Jeff and Lisa, looking out the rear window of Jeff’s apartment, watch Miss Torso – a beautiful leggy blonde, swat away multiple suitors ravenous for her attention at a cocktail party.

JEFF: She’s like a queen bee with her pick of the drones.

LISA: I’d say she’s doing the hardest job a woman has: juggling wolves.

— Rear Window, 1954

*

I am not a whore.

Yeah.

That seems like a good place to start.

*

I’m cute. Almost always. Sometimes I think I even manage pretty. I have a great rack and a small waist. Hourglassy. Much more Marilyn than Moss. My big blue eyes are my very best feature and I’ve been told that my smile can be blinding. I like dresses. Girly ones. And heels. Tall. I paint my nails. Occasionally blue or black or brown, but usually red. Vampy, glittering reds are my favorite.

Make no mistake about it: I’m a girl.

But I also know where to draw the line. My clothes fit, they are both age and event-appropriate and you will never see what I do not want you to see.

After all, I’m also a lady.

Consequently, I’ve never, ever, felt like a whore.

Not until this past weekend, that is.

*

It’s no secret I’m raising money for my next film. One tactic is to find wealthy individuals with disposable income who have a passion for film and somehow convince them to invest in yours. Folks like that tend to be businessmen[1]. Risk-takers. Gamblers.

How do you find those people? Film festivals. Especially ones in wealthy towns.

I was invited to be on a jury at one such festival and seized the opportunity to attend – with the aim of networking within circles I would be otherwise unable to access. I printed my paperwork, practiced my schpiel, packed my bag with the perfect party gear and dove in headfirst.

*

At the opening night party I met “Horace”. Horace was a charming older gentleman. He was well-dressed, well-spoken, witty and thought critically about the evening’s film. I enjoyed talking with him immensely. He had done extremely well for himself working on Manhattan’s trading floor and was a fellow cinephile. He had even had been in a few background scenes in the films Trading Places and Wall Street. He retired comfortably and when the conversation got around to what I did and what I was working on, he immediately started introducing me to the other attendees – especially ones who he felt would take a personal interest to the material. He collected business cards for me and made it a point to tell me that making connections was his forté. We parted with a polite cheek-kiss and you can only imagine how thrilled I was to have started off so well.

The next morning, I awoke to an email with an invitation to join him for a cocktail party on the rooftop terrace of a snazzy new waterfront building. It was THE place to been seen and an opportunity to shake the hands of, not merely rich, but wealthy individuals.

Horace closed the email with “What are your plans tonight? I am looking for some ‘uncomplicated’ fun.”

AYFKMWTS[2]???

I responded with a polite and friendly reply. I thanked him for the invitation, told him how very much I enjoyed his company and would be delighted to join him, but that I was quite devoted to my boyfriend[3] and was there to enjoy the town, the festival and new friends and colleagues. I mentioned my investor search and how I would relish the opportunity to expand my network. I invited him to call if he still wanted me to join him at the cocktail party for networking and the like.

But yeah.

I shot him down.

Hard.

Because no matter how grandfatherly and pleasant he seemed the night before, he propositioned me.

And while there are innumerable things I will do for my film, sucking a 72 year-old dick is not one of them.

*

Two nights later, I paid dearly for a ticket for the festival’s big gala. While I did receive an otherwise pricey VIP badge in exchange for my services as a judge, the pass granted me access to everything but that one party, and when you’re looking for investors, a $200-ticket party is where you’ll find them.

As a brief respite from schmoozing some of the people Horace (whom I never heard from again) had introduced me to, I stopped to chat with some of the festival staff.

A gentleman wandered toward the group and greeted the people he knew. Introductions were made. He was high up in the “Jaymond Rames” family and didn’t necessarily flaunt his wealth, but did frequently and somewhat annoyingly refer to it. Also, he was a handsy fellow. A close-talker. And kind of loud. But it was a party and the DJ was spinning at a pitch just two decibels above ‘pleasant conversation’ and so I forgave him, but neither did I pay him much mind. Braggadocio is a less-than-admirable trait in my book.

When he mentioned that his brother was an opera singer, my ears perked up. “Who?” I asked. Small world of small words – I not only had heard of his brother, I had worked with him some ten years’ previous. I immediately saw the family resemblance. How had I missed it?! So I began to hone in on little clues as to his interest in, perhaps, another art form. Say… independent film?

My chattiness in sussing out whether he was an investor candidate was immediately assumed to be sexual and “Matt” got handsier. Grabby, actually. I got pawed like so much PlayDoh. I kept him at arm’s distance (as much as I could) and refused to “smell his neck” when repeatedly prodded, nor would I let him anywhere near mine.

It was at that point when he said, “Don’t worry. I’ve got the money for your film. Now just relax and let’s have some fun already.”

Upon parting ways, he told me to follow him in his car and he would steer me back to the interstate.

The valet brought my crappy little veedub (vs his slick beemer) first and I knew the way back. After all, I had driven myself there, hadn’t I? He called to tell me that I had turned incorrectly. The message was bitter.

“Kimberly. It’s Matt. You’re going the wrong way.”

I wasn’t.

Nor do I believe I’ll be joining him in the Bahamas next month.

*

Looking back at Rear Window, I don’t remember the specifics of Miss Torso’s party. We know all about the songwriter’s crescendo towards success and Miss Lonelyheart’s deep depression, the newly-wed bride’s insatiable appetite and of course, what happened to Mrs. Thorwald and the little dog too…

But why the party, Hitch?

The scene set up Miss Torso as a whore; a ditzy dancer who rehearsed in her granny panties during those hot summer afternoons and by the very nature of her affability and attractiveness, was asking for it.

Just like that poor little girl in Texas.

*

What the hell? Do I have to start wearing combat boots and black trench coats to be taken seriously by a man? Do I have to bind my breasts and shave my head? Assume a dour and aloof disposition and hope that someone just walks up to me and takes over where Ed McMahon left off??

*

I have another similar festival to attend in two weeks’ time and I don’t want to make the same mistake twice. I mean, seriously. Why would I prance around in my granny panties if I know everyone’s got binoculars?

After a thorough review of the weekend, I still contend that I dressed appropriately and professionally. I am certain that my pitch and business acumen was rock-solid. My friendly approach of “Hello! What did you think about the film?” came straight from the Dale Carnegie handbook, so I know that market’s cornered.

But ever the student, I knew there was something I could learn from this experience. Something I could do differently. Something I could change.

And it hit me.

Like a giant fucking rock.

[4]

– – – – – – – – – –

[1] I don’t know the percentage of male-to-female film investors, but my experience thus far leads me to believe that like the rest of the film industry, it’s pretty heavily male dominated.

[2] Are You Fucking Kidding Me With This Shit?

[3] It wasn’t a total lie. I mean, I would be if I had one.

[4] This is the wedding set I just bought (for a whopping $7.35) and will sport at the next film festival and subsequent parties. Otherwise, I’ll do and wear everything exactly the same as I did this past weekend. Even if I don’t raise a penny for the film, it should be a FASCINATING experiment.



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KIMBERLY M. WETHERELL Kimberly's many and varied lives have included actor, stage manager, opera and film director, producer, writer, and restaurateur. She only has three lives left and she's not going to waste a single one of them. The first Arts & Culture Editor for TNB and creator of the TNB Literary Experience, Kimberly has been published by Rizzoli in the book Brooklyn Bar Bites, CRAFT Magazine, The Mighty, and SMITH Magazine, among others. She co-founded the food and drink reading and storytelling series DISH at Housing Works Bookstore Cafe in New York City and she's working on multiple projects including her debut novel, several screenplays, and a documentary about female film editors. She thanks you for stopping by and sitting a spell.

62 responses to “Dancing in the Window”

  1. Gloria says:

    My offer to marry you still stands, Wetherell. I could make an honest woman of you. (Plus, I get healthcare benefits.)

    I’m sorry you had to deal with that shit. I think your plan is brilliant. The whole thing nauseates me. Your frustration is completely justified. Good luck at the next festival. 🙂

  2. Wow, men can really be a grotesque species when we want to be. Somewhere amidst all this groping actual art is getting made and distributed. So kudos to you for being charming while also keeping your sights set on task through this long slog toward recognition. Next time you could try slipping one of these guys a roofie and tying a sign around his neck that says “Irving Thalberg gave me herpes.”

    • Oh, I’m SO doing that. 🙂

      I feel it a responsibility to mention that I did meet other, lovely people at the festival; many of whom were men – some of whom even ‘bit’ at my pitch. It’s still a long road of follow-ups before I’ll know if anything sticks, but I can attest to the fact that not every dude in the town was a creep.

      Just those two.

      Sheeeeesh.

  3. Irene Zion says:

    Wow, Kimberly,
    What a bunch of creeps!
    I want to hear if it is different if you’re wearing a wedding band and engagement ring.
    It might not be, which would be creepier still.
    This is a lot of work for a shot in the dark.
    I’m really sorry that someone doesn’t see your film’s potential worth instead of your cute little body and face.
    I just don’t know how you get people to produce.
    It must be so frustrating!

    If the next one is in this neck of the woods, come down, eh?
    We’re here till the end of April.
    We’ll have some fun and I never hit on anyone but Victor.

    (I love your footnotes!)

    • Next trip is just a bit further south on the Gulf Coast. But I was so tickled you were free for lunch!!!

      It’s hard work – and I confess to have been naive enough to think that those days were over. But maybe not in certain circles, eh?

      I’ll just keep plugging away and in the meantime, I’ll have lots of fun flaunting my rock!! I’m so curious to see what the reaction is. And to be honest, I’m excited to start working on my husband’s backstory!! Where did we meet? What is our song? What does he do? How long have we been married? Do we have children? Do we want them? What happens if I get pregnant before we start shooting? What’s his name?????

      The possibilities are endless!!!

      😀

      • Maybe you can claim that your husband has the kung fu ability to disembowel someone or rip through the crotch of a tough demium jeans and yank out two golf balls and a banana with his bare hand!

        • Richard Cox says:

          Of course, one party with and one party without the wedding set isn’t a big enough sample size, but my bet is on the men ignoring the ring and still trying to leverage film financing as a way into your unmentionables.

          When you pull back humanity’s window dressing–language, self-awareness, a deep understanding of physics–you’re still left with a giant, genetic power play. Lots of us choose not to participate and consider ourselves above such behavior, but I still believe it’s the engine that drives most of the world.

        • True. But I’m so curious to see what the reaction is.

          My thinking is, with the rings, I will actually speak with more women than men. I didn’t mention it in this article, but due to nothing (I assume) but my hair color and naked finger, I get ignored by a lot of women (see Ducky’s comment below) too.

          I’m hoping that the rings quell any thoughts of husband-stealing that might occur and that it puts the women at ease, thus allowing me to more easily chat with them and thereby avoid the whole sword-swinging scenario entirely.

      • Irene Zion says:

        @Kimberly,

        No, no, no.
        You don’t want children.
        They can get in the way of the production!
        Your fabulous husband is enough for you.
        That’s the ticket!

  4. Eeeek. And how frustrating. I do hope this will not come down to the fact that you will need to hire a MAN to find a backer for you.

    • I know what I’m about to say will get me kicked out of the She-Woman Man Haters Club, but I would love a man to do this for me.

      I have watched men network for years now. It seems so effortless. Firm handshake, talk about some mutually adored sport, cigars, chicks, and then the pitch. There’s a pat on the back, an exchange of business cards and the deal begins.

      I would give my eye teeth to have someone like that working on my behalf.

  5. dwoz says:

    I can hardly blame them for making their interest in your female charms known, (after all, your feminine charms are legendary) but the quid pro quo aspect of the interaction is definitely next-level asshattery.

    Whether or not they actually intended it as a quid pro quo, their tone deafness to how YOU would perceive it STILL qualifies it as next-level asshattery.

    I’m going to bet that the ring makes not a damn bit of difference.

  6. Jessica Blau says:

    The sad thing is you DESERVE The money–if they KNEW what a great filmmaker you are would they be playing this game? It’s a good investment, they SHOULD give you the money!

    Holy moly, what a story. Yes. Get the fake ring.

    “Smell my neck,” is only a few inches away from, “Smell my balls.” Yikes!

    • “Smell my neck,” is only a few inches away from, “Smell my balls.”

      Jessica. You make me laugh harder than any single person on the planet. I miss you so much!!!

      I’m so excited about my shopping trip today! I invited a friend (a costume designer) to help me pick out the perfect set and then we’re going to get manicures!!

      I love being a girl!!!

    • Gloria says:

      Smell my balls…

      *barfs in mouth*

  7. Jessica Blau says:

    Hooray! I love manicures! And pedicures! HAVE A FAB GIRL-DAY!
    xx!

  8. Unfortunately I think wearing a ring won’t work. The wealthy live by different rules and fidelity is usually only given lip service in the gilded classes. It might make you even more of a conquest. But… keep me posted. It’s fascinating.

  9. Funnily enough, I was reading this while The Today Show played in the background — a segment on how far women have come in morning television in terms of equal treatment, etc., etc. — and I’m thinking, yeah, but we always have a foot in 1954.

  10. jmblaine says:

    Easy now
    if Lucas had such standards
    C-3PO
    might still be a figment…

    (horacewolves
    rarely respect
    the ring
    get a crew cut
    & black coveralls)

  11. Matt says:

    Wow, what a bunch of scuzzballs. You want to believe that, as a society, we’ve grown beyond this sort of thing, and then a couple of bastards like “Horace” and “Matt” (way to sully the name, you dickhead) come along. Makes me wonder just how many filmmakers like yourself have fallen for this routine, and what (if any) reciprocity they’ve actually seen come out of it.

    This is why I am a terrible networker: I’m way to prone towards calling behavior like this out, in public. I would have humiliated “Horace” right there on the spot.

    Though if you need it, I’m more than willing to hire myself out as your Professional Bastard/Male Arm Candy. Took enough film theory classes that I can more or less sound like I know what I’m on about.

  12. Joe Daly says:

    Kimberly-

    Funny stuff- “Jaymond Rames,” and the idea of a 72 year old dick were hilarious (and odious in reference to the latter), and I feel for you, having to deal with such ungentlemanly behavior.

    A “Don’t Hit on Me” ring is entirely appropriate for this kind of dealio. It’s an instant asshole filter. It won’t be 100% effective, but you’ll definitely avoid more unnecessary conversations with one than without one.

    Good luck and rock on.

    • Odious. Perfect word.

      And I agree. I can’t imagine it’ll work as perfectly as I hope, but as a filter, I have faith that it will help immensely.

      “I can’t believe you don’t have a boyfriend” has become too tired of a refrain, too oft repeated. If for no other reason, this ring-vestment couldn’t be money better spent!

  13. Ducky Wilson says:

    This is why I hate festivals. Don’t even go anymore unless it’s to see an actual movie. It’s either amateurs or wolves. And combat boots don’t work either. Just a different set of guys, usually with less money. Rings? Pshaw, you think marriage actually matters in this industry?
    This biz sucks for women. The men can’t see past your tits and the women are cranky about it and will smack you down like a fly at a crime scene. Lose lose.
    So many assholes to filter through to get one gem. My suggestion, approach only gay men. They can actually do something for you and there’s no threat.

  14. Lance says:

    my golden rule…

    never, ever screw within your own industry.

    only musicians and politicians.

    😉

  15. Zara Potts says:

    Dearest Zister,
    Who can blame them? You are as sparkling as any diamond.
    But yeah, men are strange creatures sometimes. I’ve always been amazed at their innate self confidence – that even the most repulsive specimen still thinks he’s got it going on. Anyway, I loved this story. I love the way you put it together, the charming footnotes, the lovely , punchy paragraphs. What a treat.
    Next time you have some schmoozing to do – take me. I’ll hang off your arm and no one will dare to mess with us!! xxxx

  16. Colleen says:

    Dude, it’s just going to be a different crowd, I promise! You’re too hot for your own good.

  17. Richard Cox says:

    Aside from the snarky comment above, this post made me laugh on several occasions. Muy excellente, K-Dub.

  18. Greg Olear says:

    I got AYFKMWTS right away, BTW.

    It’s a good idea. And one the marketing expert does on Mad Men. Be interesting to see if it makes it better…or worse.

    • Ha! You’re right! I had forgotten!!

      Now that I think about it, Elizabeth Banks’ character on Scrubs, “Kim”, did too.

      And yet, both men (Don & JD) in both shows eventually screwed them with equally disastrous consequence.

      🙁

  19. Zoe Brock says:

    I don’t think Hitch set her up as a whore, my darling. He just set the men up as idiots.

    xox

    I wish I had a million bucks for you!

    • Ha ha hahahahahahahaha! You caught me!

      Of course he did (hence Lisa’s line).

      If you recall, the happy ending is, Miss Torso is overjoyed when her nerdy glasses-wearing boyfriend returns after a long trip and smothers him with kisses.

      I used the party scene to drive my point home, but I purposely neglected the proper ending, which is that women marry for love, not lust – even the hotties who dance around in grannie panties.

      Darn you, Brock! 🙂

      (and not for nothing, I love having you back, even if it’s for less-than-ideal circumstances)

  20. Men don’t notice rings, I’m afraid. And if we do – after you jam it in our face and say “I’m married, pervert!” – we don’t care.

    Well, some of us. The stupid, weird ones. But that’s true as much for women as for men – the overly self-confident (or just very, very horny) ones will see and hear what they want. They have their own paths mapped out and are perplexed when someone else turns out to be a conscious being with a different agenda.

  21. Simon Smithson says:

    I don’t know, K-Dub… remember the Seinfeld ep where George wears a ring as a sociological experiment?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=st_j2J4diE4

    Five bucks says Jeffrey Dean Morgan walks up to you (yes, I’m on a Jeffrey Dean Morgan trip right now) and says ‘My, I couldn’t help but noticing – oh, I’m sorry. I see I’ve wasted your valuable time. And now, to fetch a canape, and throw myself off the nearest rooftop.’

    You monster.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-5h4UC4C5HE&feature=related

    • If JDM doesn’t also notice that my finger’s turned green from the cheap-ass $7.35 ring I bought, then he’s not smart enough to be the man for me.

      (And if that actually happens, I’ll race him to the rooftop.)

      NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  22. Judy Prince says:

    Kimberly, you made me hoot and made me sad. You’re out there fighting for yourself as well as fighting sexist baggage in an industry and place that are legendarily sexist. I love that you refuse to ignore the sexist bits and that you lay it out for us to see. A docu of your experiences and responses would be perfect.

    Here’s an excerpt from a Guardian article on French female filmmakers, with several reasons for their stronger presence there than in H’Wood:

    “If they embrace a great variety of subjects, there seems to be one genre the new generation of women film-makers particularly dislike: romantic comedy. Perhaps because, in France, cinema is still considered more of an art than a business. The youngest French women directors are often graduates in philosophy or literature . . .”

    Excellent names-to-know and ideas to ponder in the article:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2011/mar/24/france-women-directors

    Keep kicking!

    • What a wonderful article!!

      I thought about the docu idea – too late, of course – but that doesn’t mean I can’t utilize my experiences elsewhere…

      😀

      • Judy Prince says:

        Indeed, Kimberly, you can use your experiences to great effect in many ways other than docu. That bit with the “uncomplicated-fun” man is totally perfect for filming. HA!

        Your honest, following-through persistent aims are emblematic of your material as well as your faith in your art. There’ll always be what seem to be big setbacks with resultant frustration and doubt, but the setbacks usually end up providing fantastic subjects, scenes, chacterisations and pragmatic wisdom to roll into your repertoire.

        I continue to love that you stay true to your self and your visions, no matter how much the Established Film Folk try to squeeze you and your projects into their projected images. USAmerican film needs infusions of fresh views and techniques, and it can’t get them exclusively from imitating other films in the USA and other countries. We have new vistas to offer the creaky film industry; and we shall prevail.

  23. You are my Joan Holloway. Joanie knows what she has and knows how to work it. Give ’em hell. xxo~ r

  24. Ronlyn Domingue says:

    Oh my God. I almost got the dry heaves. I mean, we “know” these things happen, but to read an eyewitness account…

    Please do a follow-up on your experiment. Like some of the other commenters, I think the fellows will pay no heed.

    You keep going. Even if this is the game, you don’t have to play it. There are many ways to skin a cat–and fund a film!!!

    • If nothing else, having posted this and having so many people now so desperately curious about the next stage is going to give me the courage I usually lack in approaching people! I’m actually excited to get out there and schmooze!!

      (Also… I’m a little speechless about you-know-what. Your link is like a Dance Fever audience… a-live! 🙂 Thank you!! xoxo)

  25. Tawni Freeland says:

    Oh, Kimberly. I am utterly appalled on your behalf. The old guy asking for “some ‘uncomplicated’ fun” gave me the creeping willies. The fellow trying to mislead you with his car just horrifies me. It is infuriating what you’ve had to deal with in the name of promoting your film. People can be so disappointing.

    I can’t wait to hear whether or not the wedding set has any effect on the vultures. I hope it helps you weed out the lecherous creeps. xoxo.

    • Resisting the urge to reply: “Dude. I am nothing but complicated.” was nearly impossible.

      Uncomplicated fun.
      Follow me.

      Sheeesh. How vapid women of that ilk must be…

      I’m so excited for next weekend’s festival when I can do like Beyonce and ‘put a ring on it’. 😀

  26. D.R. Haney says:

    It’s apropos that you cite Rear Window at the beginning of this piece, since it could almost have been written in the 1950s, considering the behavior of your wolves. (I prefer that bit of anachronistic slang to “dog,” the more recent “wolf.”) But if Miss Torso was a slut, I think part of the point was that Jeff lived in a bohemian building in the Village, which was full of sluts in the mid-century provincial mind. And so, alas, is the movie business, even now. One way or another, we’re all forced to suck 72-year-old dick.

    Jesus Christ. After writing that, I think I need to take a shower in boiling water. Or lye.

    • As Zoe pointed out in her comment (and what I purposefully avoided mentioning) is that we learn at the end of the film that Miss Torso really isn’t a slut. She was just perceived as such by said wolves because of her job+looks+gender.

      But of course, you’re right. Especially in that era. Look at Rosemary DeWitt’s character in Mad Men. She’s a starving artist [painter], living in the Village, who sends her boyfriend outside for a pack of smokes while she tries to seduce Don Draper in exchange for rent money.

      Artist = slaves to patronage.

      But I still won’t get anywhere NEAR Grandpa deMedici’s schlong. Literally or figuratively. I’d rather quit and go back to working on recipes for my bakery.

  27. Oh, girl, I’m not sure whether to laugh or gag or cry. How fucking insanely ridiculous! Yuck! I’m with Duke and the shower of lye.

    Sure, we may all figuratively suck 72 year old dick at some point, but the only reason to LITERALLY suck 72 year old dick is if we are the 72 year old wife of said dick’s owner, and he is diving for our 70something goods too.

    Flash that wedding set, darlin. Yikes, I wonder if it will do you one bit of good. We await a follow-up piece!

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