I grew up in Detroit, my diet of music a combination of hip hop and R&B. The rise and fall of Tupac and Biggie was the era of music I belonged to. While the two rappers were great story tellers of their time, like most rappers tend to do, some of their songs took on a negative slant concerning women. Tupac was good at that: uplifting women with one song and degrading us with another. I’d hear the misogynistic lyrics and just give it a pass, using the excuse that I’m not one of the hoochie mamas they’re talking about in the songs. I’d focus more on the beat and the music, as opposed to what was being said. For years I listened to rap music, without really listening, until recently. When you know better you do better I guess.
This new rap music doesn’t hold the same sway for me. Whether it was that way all along and I just ignored it, I don’t know, but some of the new stuff is atrocious. The other night I heard a song with some troll who probably looks like something found on the bottom of my shoe calling a woman ugly. Or the song where a rapper boasts about some woman who doesn’t like women “but a stack will make her kiss her”. Even Usher went that route with a song about some weak minded woman in the club seeking another woman so the three of them can have ‘fun’. Most of what I hear from rappers is how they plan to use and abuse women for their enjoyment. They think that having money and fame gives them the right to treat women like objects to be discarded the next morning. Even Blurred Lines sounded a bit on the rapey side.
Maybe it’s because I know and work with women who are fools for men and get heartbroken and played all the time, but the music isn’t working for me. For the past few years, my taste in music has been evolving. If it sounds good, I’m there. Occasionally I’ve even strayed to the country channel. I absolutely love Billy Currington by the way. I may not give up rap entirely, I’m not perfect and there are some good artists out there, but I’m more picky about what I actually take in.
Enjoy this short story!
The leggy blond sauntered down the long staircase one carefully measured step at a time. Angelique Leone the iconic bombshell with the curvaceous silhouette and come hither pout that adorned many soldiers walls, was in her third day of shooting. She was headlining in her second motion picture for Sandstone pictures of a four movie deal contract. The studio had pumped a ton of money into the flick and even more money into her glamorization makeover. Angelique Leone’s name on her birth certificate which was stashed discreetly away in her father’s safe in Texas, was Jane Lenny; not exactly a top billing box office name.
She arrived in Hollywood at twenty years of age with ten dollars in her pocket and a prayer to land any kind of studio contract until a friend in the business revealed to her the real game. It was a hard lesson and one Jane wasn’t happy to learn. Crying alone in her small rundown apartment after losing her virginity to a fat balding casting director on the proverbial casting couch, she contemplated suicide. Returning home would only garner her shame for her actions.
The call came that evening just moments before she was ready to swallow a handful of pills with the joyous news of a studio contract. Apparently the casting director liked her ‘audition’ and recommended her for a small role in a new movie. If the camera agreed with her she would be considered for a larger role in the next one. The meeting she had with the movie’s director the next morning would change her life forever, 1940 was going to be her year. The first thing he did was give her a new name, a name that would soon be synonymous with sultry sensuality and unbridled sex, a name that went before a team of studio execs to be decided upon and a name she was not allowed to have a choice in deciding.
“Cut!” the grumpy red faced director Ronald Sizemore yelled. “Damn it! Who’s to dumb fuck that put this stupid plant at the bottom of the stairs? Get it out of here.” He kicked the fake potted plants over. “Everybody take five!”
Angelique threw her hands up in the air and marched down the stairs. “How many times are we going to do this? My feet are tired!” She flipped her long platinum blond hair from her shoulders.
The 6’2” stoutly director glared at her. “You’ll do it as many times as I want you to. Don’t forget your place!”
Her place was becoming one of more influence thanks to her overnight meteoric rise in celebrity and he knew it. He hated the idea that this shy little Texan girl was learning how to wrestle control in a male dominated industry.
“I’m going to lie down. I’ll be in my dressing room alone.” She emphasized loudly.
“Lay off the pills today.” He barked back. His brown eyes angrily dared her to disobey.
She turned on her heel sashaying off the set and into the early afternoon sun. Donning her sunglasses she made her way across the studio lot and hopped on a golf cart heading to her private oasis, the dressing room she demanded without hesitation as her star power started to shine. It was a dangerous game of wills and she knew it. The studio machine had the power to make or break her if she didn’t play her cards right, a heady position for a twenty two year old who gained a lifetime of wisdom in the eighteen months since that fateful audition.
Her dressing room was decorated in all pinks, every shade available was represented. From the deep pink special ordered carpeting to the bubblegum lampshades. She hated pink. Angelique was simply sticking it to the studio for what she considered rape by the fat, nasty smelling casting director. The temporary dressing room cost about as much as a new car to redecorate. Ironically the more she misbehaved the more her star power grew.
The public loved her. Young ladies longed to be her. Men self fulfilled their sexual fantasies against the backdrop of her half naked pinups. The attention her small role in that first movie garnered her was a Hollywood dream. A well placed one liner catch phrase with fantastic lighting of her pouty full lips and she became America’s new sweetheart. It had even taken the studio execs by surprise. No one was more surprised than the demanding narcissistic director Ronald Sizemore who had hoped she would be another young girl in his stable of bevy beauties he could call upon for licentious scenery and behind the scenes sex. He assumed she was an innocent kitten he could use and abuse till she was washed up.
Angelique proved to be tougher than she looked given in part to her hard scrabble upbringing in the vast expanse of her father’s Texas ranch. Not to mention his liberal use of a belt for discipline. Her brothers fared worse under his tutelage of hard farm work and beatings, both boys leaving his tyranny as soon as they came of age. She was the only one left at home when his second wife also made an escape. Frightened to stay knowing she would be an easy target for his drunken anger, she boarded a bus and headed to L.A. with a promise of fame and easy fortune.
Frantic knocking on her dressing room door woke her from her slumber. Wrapping her silk dressing gown around her she opened the door to reveal two LAPD officers.
“Sorry to disturb you ma’am. We need you to come with us.” The tall uniformed officer said.
“What is the meaning of this?” She demanded.
Officer Brady responded. “Ronald Sizemore is dead. Please get dressed and come with us or we will be forced to take you like this.” The officer looked her up and down lecherously grinning.
She stumbled back and fell into her lounge chair. “Dead? But how?”
“That’s what we want you to tell us.”
The squad car pulled up in front of the station with its siren blaring, someone had already tipped off the newspapers and fan rags as light bulbs flashed incessantly blinding her even with her sunglasses on. Officer Brady roughly grabbed her arm from the back of the black and white dragging her away from the throng of cameras and reporters calling out her name.
She was seated in a hard wooden chair in a lonely room, her silk scarf still wrapped around her head and neck. She pulled a cigarette and holder from her purse. “Can I please get a light?” She yelled, aware that they were watching her from behind the two way mirror. Detective Jarden entered with his lighter in hand. Sitting himself across from her he lit her cigarette as she crossed her legs allowing her skirt to rise up enough to tantalize him. It didn’t go unnoticed.
“Am I under arrest?” she asked.
“No.” he replied.
“Do I need a lawyer?”
“Depends, did you shoot him?” He licked his lips as she adjusted the hem on her knee.
She raised a perfectly plucked eyebrow at him. “Up until now I didn’t even know how he died, how could have I shot him?”
Detective Jarden snickered pushing an ashtray her way. “You were seen having words with Mr. Sizemore before he died and it’s been rumored you had a beef with him. Do you own a gun Ms. Leone?”
“Of course, a single girl has to protect herself in this big bad city, but that doesn’t make me a killer.”
“You’re right, but what about the argument? You had words with him and then disappeared.” He lit his own cigarette and placed his fedora on the table next to his notebook.
“Ronald was a hard man to work for detective. He made many questionable demands and berated the staff constantly, doesn’t mean I wanted him dead. He had enough enemies for that.”
“But he is dead. Can you account for your whereabouts after one o’clock?”
Angelique sighed. She knew where this was headed. She had verbally threatened to shoot Ronald if he ever touched her again several weeks before. He didn’t like to be told no so he had punched her in the face daring her to complain, promising to ruin her if she didn’t comply with his demands. The bruises took days to disappear putting the movie shoot seriously behind schedule. The studio attributed it to the press as Ms. Leone’s ongoing bought with the flu.
“I was in my dressing room napping.” She advised curtly.
Sitting back in his chair unbuttoning his suit coat, Detective Jarden gave her a sly smile. “Napping? Was there anyone with you?”
She glowered in contempt. “No, I was alone the whole time.”
“Too bad, no one to corroborate your story.” He said tapping his ash in the tray.
“You also have no proof it was me. I know my rights detective, I demand you let me leave.”
Detective Jarden snapped his fingers and the two officers who brought her in appeared. “Take Ms. Leone home please.” He told them. “I’ll be in touch.” He said as she walked away.
Angelique took her constantly ringing phone off the hook, dressed herself in a silk floral nightgown and poured herself a drink. It had gone as planned. That jackass would never force himself on her again. The back alley abortion he had forced her to have that nearly killed her was listed as another bout of illness by the studio. Her son had laid in pieces on a crude table next to the coat hanger used to destroy him and she vowed then to kill the man who did this to her. She held the evening’s paper in her hands reading the headline. ANGELIQUE LEONE QUESTIONED IN DIRECTORS DEATH! Even bad publicity was good publicity.
She closed her eyes reliving her day. He had appeared in her dressing room ready for another romp. The whole scene on the set of overturned flowers and anger at the staff to call a break was planned by him so he could get her alone. They had done this dance before and she knew her steps well, he had seen to that with his repeated threats and punishments. He showed up to her dressing room fifteen minutes after her departure as to not arouse suspicion. Three knocks on the door was his signal it was him. She opened the door holding a handkerchief as a sign to the unseen men hovering around the corner hallway. George and John Lenny, her older brothers, gagged and bound Ronald dragging him to a waiting car behind her dressing room taking him back to the empty set. The always punctual catering truck took care of any set crew that lingered behind. The studio paid free food was always a sure fire guarantee to draw a crowd.
Her brothers had slipped him in the back entrance unnoticed amid the props and various scenery’s. Unbinding their victim and removing his gag, she gave him only one command.“Run.” She said as she raised her hand pulling the trigger. No one would have paid attention to the shot thanks to the noisy western they were filming in the next sound stage. Her aim was as good as any man’s her father had made sure of that. It was after all a necessary skill if you lived on a Texas ranch.
The bullet landed squarely in the back of Ronald’s head and exited out the front taking half his skull with it. Her brothers stealthily slipped her back to her dressing room and in mere minutes were driving out of town with the fired pistol.
“Ms. Leone, Ms. Leone, how does it feel to be cleared of all murder charges?” the hapless reporter pestered her on her way to the red carpet premiere of her new movie ‘Femme Fatale’.
She stopped and turned in her red dress designed just for her movie premiere placing her hand on her ample hip with a big toothy smile. “Darlings, was there ever any doubt!”