Imperator for a Day

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Imperator for a Day

The first thing I remember is a guy leaning over me in a surgical mask whispering, “Don’t worry Madame, it’s all just a dream.” Of course this statement instantly sent me into a nightmare panic because I am not female, in fact I never have been since birth—and on top of that had no idea where I was. Not one clue. The shock of it all caused me to sit up bolt-upright, on the hospital gurney where I was lying in what looked like an operating room and smack my face directly into the doctor. The pain was real enough. The bed felt real enough. The doctor’s face was fleshy and moist and real enough. He yelped in pain, feeling the magic, too.

Yeah. This was not a dream.

It looked a lot like they were about to operate on me in this place, wherever it was. I was peeved and was not polite about hiding it, “What the fuck, guy?” I said looking around. Yeah, this was an operating room; shiny green tile walls, institutional white ceiling and floor, metallic table with sharp instruments, adjustable medi-steel bed with all the plastic-tube trimmings, and of course myself—clad as I was in a surgical gown, my bare naked ass nestled with care on disposable foam-plastic linens. I was comfortable, in fact too damn comfortable for comfort because obviously that warm fuzziness, that quintessence of calm inside me, was not serenity, not fulfilment due to a happy sex life, and definitely not yuletide joy—no, it was a sedative, a powerful one designed to keep me fast asleep as they gutted me like a fish.

Whatever goofballs these jokers had dosed me with were wearing off. The doctor had not reacted at all to my question and just stood there stupefied—looking at me like he needed a firmware upgrade. Still clumsy, I reached a hand over, grabbed the front of his scrubs like an apex predator, and dragged his surgical mask face right up to mine, and screamed: “What the actual FUCK, guy? Who are you, where are we, and what are you doing? Answer now.” I got right down to the nitty-gritty, just like that.

I heard him mumble and sputter but it wasn’t mumbling at all, but some weird language: “Nygh ghrm phra anyi’mywen alhg’lip pa quanda f’taghn!” and then over it a second, softer, calmer voice interposed itself: “It is always asleep, pardon, she is usually sleeping becalmed, please repose!” and without a second thought I ripped off his surgical mask and figured it out. Right there, on the inside of the mast was a little Noiserock™ speaker and a Google™ amplifier—without a doubt he was one of those new-fangled GoogleDocs, half-trained med-techs from Central Asia or rural Indonesia that performed medical procedures, lived, worked, and played all using live translation apps. They worked for free and were entirely advertising supported.

I rolled my eyes. “Fuck this,” I said getting out of the surgical bed, unlatching heart monitors, doodads, and beeping buzzing things from my naked body. As I got up a nurse entered, a non-nonsense big burly woman wielding a tray of disposable syringes. The doctor, meanwhile, was scrambling around on the ground for the translating surgical mask that I had kicked across the room and under a cabinet at the far end of the operating room.

She looked at me with the authority of a middle school teacher: “Is there a problem?”

“Yeah.” I responded, “can I leave this dump?”

Before the nurse could respond, the doctor chimed in. It seemed he had chased down his mask rather quickly and put it back on his face. Maybe he had practice. “Certainly, you bête noire! Beat it!” The nurse set down her tray on a cabinet near the door. “Cover up your ass bro.” she said with a sigh as she let me through the door. “Your clothes are in the silver locker in the green room. And if you change your mind, go somewhere else. Frankly, I’ve had enough.”

“Well I have no future plans to return,” I replied and she slammed the OR door in my face. Is this customer service, I thought? My head was already putting together the pieces of just how I got here and what the hell was expected of me. I think it started with a show? A game show?

The green room was hard to find, but my clothes were not. They had thrown down my shit in a corner—not even inside a locker. The fancy lockers were left reserved for paying customers at the clinic, medical tourists they called them, people who came in for age-reverses, gender transformations, race-switches, or more exotic surgeries like having their faces turned into the likenesses of unicorns, gorillas, or famous stars. Procedures were god-awful expensive, from everything I’ve ever heard about the subject.

It wasn’t even 10 minutes after throwing on my clothes and exiting the clinic that my cell phone began to toot and send me the gentle electrical shocks associated with a premium™ cell phone call, causing me to consider if I had potentially fucked up badly in some manner.

Wait. I thought. Did I sign something? It was still hazy in my mind, the drugs were still floating around somewhere inside me, making my memories into multiple choice tests and myself a student completely ignorant of the answers. There had been a game show, sure as shit, at least that I knew.

I answered the phone.

“Jackie!” said the voice with false jollity, “Jackie Perez, right? We need your help. We need you to go back to Doctor TheFacePlace.com’s office. I mean, you have to, you’re our winner.”

“Huh?” and then I asked for an explanation, politely. He said it wasn’t unusual to forget. I won a game show Imperator for a Day. Everyone here, reading this on the form, will know what show I am talking about. It is the usual stuff: You audition, you work out, you get abs and learn the capitals of Europe and brush up on your Brazilian Portuguese, you fly down to Rio, and you do the quizzes and the dares—and if you are lucky the viewers acclaim you Imperator for a Day. They sing FELIX IMPERATOR and DOMINVS ET DIEUS NATUS and throw a big orgy filled with product placement and a cash prize along with one government policy you put on your civic wishlist way back when you first auditioned.

Now it came back to me. Yeah. I thought. Wow. I won. The quantum superposition question. The hoola-hoop contest. The sniper-rifle disaster relief race.

Then the man on the telephone, João Doente, explained the catch: after we filmed the contest, the singing, the dancing and then the win—including the throwing of the donative gold coins to the Praetorians, and the ritual filatio—all of it, the producers decided, down in their heart of hears, they were not happy. They had seen the raw footage. They had meditated on the daily rough cuts, and resolved it was just not good enough. Sure, maybe it would fly in the Latin market but definitely not in Eastern Europe and definitely not in the Lunar Colonies. No way.

So they needed more. First of all, they wanted raw bareback sex, lots of it, and the needed Jackie Perez to embrace his feminine side. They needed an Imperatrix not an Imperator to get those viewer eyeballs really wet and greasy, really drooling and ready for the new season, and for this reason they invoked an obscure part of the Imperator for a Day contract: all contestants will make themselves available for free cosmetic surgery, so far as they show demands and under the penalty of non-participation in the show, should they choose to otherwise.

“Look,” said João, after all the pleading was said and done, “the produces have shareholders to think about.”

“No way in hell am I getting a sex-change and reshooting the episode,” I replied.

“It’s just a reshoot,” he continued to plead, “You won. You already won. Square and fair.”

“Yah,” I interrupted him, “I burned off my eyebrows in that flamethrower unicycle challenge. I’m not doing it again, and much less am I doing it while recovering from a sex-change, it’s a non-starter.”

“You’re unreasonable.” João soured. “Look, we’ll change you right back after the show is done.”

A little pissed, I told him to do the surgery to himself it he was so hot to find a star, and then to and fuck himself right in his brand-new pussy afterwards. He hung up before I did.

I thought that was the end of my experience, but six months later sitting in the community room of the Dr. Diet Cocaine rehab centre where I was chilling out in Santiago, Chile I switched on the wall screen only to see that fucking asshole, that nobody unit producer João Doente was fully transitioned into a woman and passing out solid gold Roman coins to Praetorian guards as if she had won the right to be Imperator for a Day and not me. Turns out the producers decided reshooting was too much of a hassle, tapped João to do the surgery, and then simply edited all the footage to make it appear as if she had won all those challenges—and not yours truly.

To say the least, I was beside myself with fury. The achievement was mine, and they had stolen that from me, not even allowing me to keep any prize money or public recognition simply because I wasn’t willing to film the whole thing all over again as a woman.

I hope all you readers out there on the forums understand my frustration.

I know my story is not a unique one—a lot of potential contestants get lured into game shows thinking they can just win and that is it, but the producers often come back to the winners and ask them to do it all over again as the other gender, as double amputees, or even a talking dog in one case, but personally I am drawing the line here, I think enough is enough and I believe the public should be made aware.

In the future, I urge each and every freelance actor or athlete to carefully revise the content of his contract with a licensed entertainment lawyer and an accountant, and no matter what you do—never get taken in by those big bright shining showbiz lights.

Please, please like or share this post to share the truth!

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A tall, pale man shuts the door of the little closet safe where his cellphone vibrates to unanswered calls, and moves away, smiling. The man gathers the clothes from yesterday’s big meeting – an oxford shirt and brown slacks, and dumps them over his safe. Deciding the heap looks unnatural; the man fetches a pair of fine leather shoes from the bathroom floor, and throws them on top for good measure.

            Now that’s a mess I can take pride in.

But this is a lie and he knows it. The rest of the closet, thanks to the nana who comes on Tuesdays and Fridays from the outskirts of Santiago, remains a harmony of pressed shirtsleeves, neat sweaters, and fancy leather shoes. Camouflaged within the closet rests an open blue box with a handsome man’s watch that glitters in the light like a patiently watching eye.

The man takes out different things to wear today: tee shirt, jeans, sneakers – a second cell phone. “Good clothes,” he says while remembering a day long ago when he had no money for fun clothes or any clothes – when he gave away his last pesos to an old friend who only laughed at his poverty, his rags. Now the friend is long gone, a vanished shadow of a buried past.

Never again.

The closet slides shut without a sound.

Moments later in the mirrored elevator, where burning lights give no chance for flaws to hide, the man takes the measure of himself with methodical honesty. He sees a balding man with some wrinkles who looks 32 or 33 but is in fact only 25. His body is lean, hard, and tall. The combination of age and fitness projects a calculated air of discipline, trustworthiness, and responsibility. This is helpful in Chile. Here in this new country he is always someone’s fantasy – a rich overseas gringo, an investor with white skin and a big smile. No one needs to know more.

In the private car park the man’s second cell phone rings once, then quiets. A number flashes on the screen. LLAMADA PERDIDA.

He texts back: “Me pinchai?”

A text: “Oye, como estay? vai a llegar?”

He responds: “Ya voy.”

$$$$$$$

On the toll highway, a midnight-black Renault reflects the light from streetlamps lit at twilight, scattering their light along the oily black surface of the road where colours form, then vanish. Night falls quickly, and soon the starless sky is completely black. Only the Renault’s broad yellow headlights provide evidence that the car is there at all – that it moves between dark spaces. Once arrived at the outskirts of Santiago between faceless warehouses and dingy concrete slaps thrown down like unwanted toys, the Renault rumbles and purrs alone over pock-marked asphalt and discarded newspapers. A cold wind blows from the mountains.

In the distance, three bums crowd a metal can with a fire, warming themselves. Getting closer the man sees the bums are just young men, teenagers. He rolls down the window.

“Hola, buenas.”

A skinny guy from the group looks over and moves towards the car door, long dark curls spilling over his face.

“Wenas.” He responds.

“Dónde está el Fáiser?”

The skinny man looks away. “No lo veo hace raato.”

There is a silence, but within seconds a shadow emerges from the side of the shapeless buildings and move towards the car.

Skinny speaks up: “Ah… Ahí está po, aquí viene el Fáiser.”

Fáiser gets into the car without a word and both of them take off as the moon rises and little pinprick stars begin to make themselves known, now unobscured by raggedy clouds.

Fáiser speaks first: “Evan, you look thin. Are you ok?”

“I’ve been busy, very busy… and stressed,”

“Maybe you should relax then,” says Faizer placing a hand between Evan’s thighs, “maybe you should call more.”

“I don’t always have the time,” Evan responds, looking away from the hand, “You’re quick. Is that why they call you Phyzer?”

Faizer laughed. “Yeah. They called me Viagra at first. But Faiser sounds better.”

“Sounds German,” they said at once.

Chile knows its fantasies.

            Then the pleasure took over, and Evan drove in circles, not trying to get anywhere but simply hoping not to crash. The big palms on Alameda swayed huge and out of order against the chill winds.

Evan placed his hand over back of Faizer’s head when he was almost done – his hair was black and sticky with gel, his mouth hot. Pulling him up gently his face was revealed in the faint glow of crude yellow streetlamps, open apartment windows, dingy neon signs, and the distant but insistent light of the stars and moon above, and he was beautiful – golden, pale, delicate, fine, spotless, thin, a piece of china, captivating. Evan kissed him even though Faizer’s mouth was still sloppy, and said, “Come home with me.”

“Sure.”

$$$$$$

In the apartment there was already an envelope with Faizer’s name on it written in red marker resting face up on the kitchenette table. Gringos could be strange like that.

“Here, take this,” said Evan, handing it over.

Silently, Faizer opened the envelope, and counted money as Evan asked a question: “do you always want to do this?”

No thought Faizer, but that is something he would never say to a client. He’d been asked rude questions like this a thousand times, but answering rude questions was better than being forced to listen to the typical problems of rich and closeted faggots. The distant wife, lazy sons, slutty daughters, and money problems – they always felt the need to tell everything.

But Evan was not like those. He always paid generous and he was never cruel or nasty. He was business-like. He never told stories about his life.

“I want to be a dancer some day.” Responded Faizer. It was the truth.

Why not tell the truth? Thought Faizer. Does this rich gringo with envelopes of cash want to make it happen?

Evan chuckled. “A dancer? Are there dancers in Chile?” He then abandoned the topic and started babbling about banking in Chile, businesses, and marriage.

Faizer wondered if there was anything so different about gringo Evan after all. He couldn’t see beyond his money and prestige any more than the fat old men with small cocks and tiny brains crawling all over Las Condes.

“Wanna fuck?” said Evan.

Still, there was something to like about his directness.

“Sure.” Faizer answered.

Let’s get to work.

$$$$$$$

Hours later, the vibrations from the closet safe grew bothersome, and looking over with a sigh, Evan declared in English he was going to shower. He lumbered to the bathroom and Faizer rolled over on the bed, tired, his eyes wandering the room, and daydreamed.

Observing Evan’s half-concealed pink shadow behind the frosted-glass shower door, he wondered if he could ever land a big rich guy who might also be kind and nice. In a fantasy spanning seconds Faizer – whose real name was Diego –imagined Evan was a lawyer who sold real estate to other rich foreigners, and that on days when Diego was not teaching dance at his school or performing in the theatres in Lastarria and in Providencia – they would take trips to the south – seeing farmhouses in Chiloé, vineyards in Curicó, and houses in Valparaiso. In Valpo they would travel the mad tangle of switchback roads to find multicolour homes dangling over huge cliffs between the sun and sea. Then Diego, who would no longer be called Faizer by anyone (not even himself), would decorate and beautify the houses with the talent for art lurking somewhere within him.

The shower steam filtered into the bedroom as Diego fantasised about different lives possible with sufficient money, love, or both. He did not want someone who would hit him or surround him with his muscled arm in the night, whispering threats – like that last one, the jealous one.

Those days are over.

From the mist where Evan’s hid somewhere in the haze, a voice came out: “you might need to go soon.”

Without a word Diego got up and started gathering his clothes, which had each fled to obscure and invisible corners of the room, like little mammals seeking warmth. First he searched out his underwear and pants, then his socks and shirt, and gathering them all into a little pile on the bed. Enjoying the feel of the air on his skin, he decided to stay naked and take a look around the apartment. In the hall near the door, he found a big mirror, and took a careful look at himself, observing his tight little naked body, clean clear skin, sharp defined muscles, and thick, small penis.

Time to go. He thought

As he dressed his belt clinked, the buckle cold against his skin. Diego’s clothes hugged him in all the right places, enhancing his necessary beauty.

Evan would call again.

A voice interrupted from the shower: “When you leave use the stairs to the garage. Not the front door.”

Diego felt anger. He’s ashamed of me. He doesn’t want the nosy old men at the door to see.

Diego quickly gathered all the belongings he considered his before leaving. Softly, the door clinked shut.

$$$$$$

Evan took his time washing Faizer off his body. When he left the shower the boy was long gone. One of Faizer’s best qualities was that he always knew when it was time for him to exit the stage, to disappear.

Laying down in bed, Evan questioned if he wanted Faizer to disappear. Unbidden, a fantasy came: coming home some day after a meeting, after working, after smiling and saying yes at the right times to the right people – Faizer – or whatever his real name was, was waiting for him – all 5ft 3 inches of him. Evan would pick him up and brutalize him with a kiss and learn each and every one of his many parts, including his mind, and begin a journey towards a growing life where both of them could share a soul – an honest life.

Evan was ashamed of himself and his faggoty dreams.

The safe soon interrupted. The phone inside had now vibrated itself against the metallic side of the safe and was emitting a constant:

KRRRRR KRRRRRR KRRRR KRRRRR

Annoyed, Evan moved over to the open door of the closet, and with a little shock, noticed that the men’s watch was now gone. Faizer made it to the fifth visit – a record.

We almost had something.

Less angry than sad, he grabbed and crushed the little blue box that once contained the watch and threw it in the trash.

Sweeping aside the pile of clothes from the safe and throwing them on the floor, he opened the safe and reached a hand in.

12 missed calls. Jesus Christ. And all from the same one.

Evan put on his smile and called the number back.

“Evelyn! Hooola! Si es que lo tenía apagado, si…. Tranquila! Tranquiiila! No no es así. No es imposible. Si, se me mandaron un paquete de trabajo bastante grueso, si parece que el mitín de ayer salió súper….”

And while talking to this woman interested in shared bank accounts, advantageous marriage, and children, Evan stuck his hand into the open mouth of the tiny cold safe, and still smiling, still nodding and repeating, “yes, yes,”– he took out an identical men’s watch from an identical blue box – and positioned it in just the same way, half hidden but wanting to be seen – in the recesses of his own personal closet.