RICK MARIN | Half the female
magazine editors in New York were gathering intelligence and recruiting on my
behalf. I went on a nightly montage of one-drink stands. There was the wafer
thin beauty editor who brought a miniature blender to my apartment because it
was time for her protein shake. The ad-agency account exec who told me, "Last
time I was in this bar was when I kidney punched my boyfriend." The former
Saturday Night Live comedy writer starring in a one-woman show called
It's Not Me, It's You. All brokered by their agents d'amour as
smart, successful catches who just really needed to meet a "nice guy."
Translation: "Self-destructive basketcases who always date assholes."
But I made the calls, went on the dates, dutifully worked my material, then
went home and thought about Marisa Tomei.
Allure wanted me to profile her. This
was a biggie: photos by Herb Ritts, possible cover. My first. I began the ritual
preparations, poring over a thick sheaf of Lexis-Nexis'd clips sent by the magazine's
research department. Every night for a week, I rented her movies. A screening
of her new one, Only You, was held especially for me. I watched jealously as
Marisa lapped at Robert Downey Jr.'s chest so furiously I expected her to cough
up a hairball.
Our arranged romance began, aptly enough,
at a Valentine's Eve theater benefit. I watched her play a bit part with a sexy
French accent, but, despite lingering in the lobby like a stage-door Johnny,
scored no face time. Date two was a bizarre off-Broadway meditation on homophobia,
cannibalism and the films of Katharine Hepburn. Again I'd hoped to nip backstage,
but Ms. Tomei fled the theater before I could offer my congratulations for her
double role as a porn star and a child psychotic. I wasn't worried. These stalkings,
sanctioned by her publicist and my editor, were just to gather background material
for the interview itself.
The consummation of our hitherto one-way relationship
was set for Café Mogador, a hummus-and-couscous dispensary in the East
Village. She arrived a little after 4:00, only half an hour late, and kissed
my cheek hello. I forgave her instantly. Her navy pea coat, white jeans and
black combat boots was hardly the Halloween costume you'd expect from someone
who made People's Worst Dressed List.
I put my microcassette recorder between us
and jumped right in with the tough questions.
"So, tell me about Only You."
Marisa took a deep breath, like someone about
to burst into a complicated yoga pose.
"It's aboutthe theme of it is,
like, can you find your true love and should you hold out for that?"
She bubbled out a squeaky giggle and blinked
at me as if I had the answer to this question. Viv might have pointed out the
inherent contradiction in rejecting crazy and/or annoying women while lusting
after Marisa Tomei. But how easily is the seducer seduced! I knew, objectively,
that she was playing me. I also believed she was truly interested. Whoever defined
intelligence as the ability to hold two contradictory ideas in your head at
the same time was wrong.
A nose-studded waitress moped over.
"I'll have the Moroccan hot cereal,"
"That's on the brunch menu, and we stopped
serving brunch at four."
"We were hereat four," Marissa
A glimpse of the diva.
"I'll see what I can do."
We were alone with our pita bread again.
"She didn't seem to recognize you,"
I said, slipping accidentally into journalistic mode.
"I did one fuckin' movie!" Marissa
said, slipping accidentally into My Cousin Vinny mode. "Why should
she recognize me?"
But she soon regained her composure and was
bubbling and squeaking again.
"I've met, like - I've gotten to be introduced
to the cream of the crop of really talented people. And that makes me, like
totallyit sets me on fire . You see how much people attack each other
and forget that this is about everybody's growth."
"Did you do a lot of research
for the role?"
I recorded her acting theories, her arc and
charts and her graphs, as I looked at her insouciantly cropped hair and giant
dark eyes. She asked me questions, too. The smart ones always do. What other
magazines I wrote for: How long I'd lived in New York. Whether I had a girlfriend.
We got along famously.
Famously enough for me to walk her home. And
for her to linger in front of her West Village brownstone, telling me about
the playwright she'd dumped while shooting Only You in Italy. I pressed
as hard as I dared but she refused to divulge his name. So I shifted the conversation
back to me.
"Yeah, I don't really like to talk about
it," I started to say, reaching for my horn-rims.
I noticed she was staring at my jacket pocket.
All of a sudden, she took a step back.
"You're tapin' this?" she
My Cousin Vinny again.
I looked down at the telltale red REC light.
Damn. A truism of the celebrity interview game is that you get your best
stuff before and after the official interview. I always kept the tape rolling.
The thing must have shifted in my pocket.
"I can't fuckin' believe that,"
"I know. I mean, I guess it was just
Her black combat boots stomped up the steps
of her brownstone.
"Don't worry, I won't use it!" I
shouted after her.