The script for "Good Girl/Bad Girl" was coming together nicely. This movie was primarily meant to be humorous, and I was happy with the punchlines I was coming up with. I wouldn't need Eddie this time around. I'd added some physical comedy, a la the Three Stooges (well, a bit more restrained). The angel and the devil were forever harassing and tormenting each other: head slaps, pinches, pokes, and the like. The devil liked to walk past the angel and smack her on the ass. The angel would hang things from the devil's horns, like keys, air fresheners, panties, and Walkman headphones. Elspeth's character, named Stella, would occasionally dish out Three Stooges style abuse on both the angel and the devil.
I mentioned how Angel's and Devil's shirts had diagonal stripes on them, in the color of her nemesis. This was to signal that Angel wasn't completely pure, and Devil wasn't totally evil. The two would sometimes agree with each other, like when Stella meets a guy at the beach and he turns out to be a Scientologist. This news prompts a synced scream from all three. When Stella visits a nude beach, Angel spends her time worrying if they brought enough sunblock, while Devil keeps coming up with convoluted plans to get accurate penis measurements from the male sun worshipers. Stella meets a cute guy at the local Safeway. Angel and Devil concur with each other: "Bag him." Stella's car breaks down, and she is horrified to learn she has let her AAA membership lapse. She is short on cash, and is wondering how to make up the difference in the tow truck bill. Looking at the driver, a lout in his fifties, Devil makes one of her usual suggestions, which is "Suck his dick." Angel responds, "Don't be silly. A nice friendly handjob will suffice." When Stella gets together with someone, Angel and Devil spend the first couple minutes of the action yelling advice. They will then stop, and, as Stella is occupied, make out with each other.
I tracked down and rented some Three Stooges shorts, then sat Bekka, Elspeth, and Ellen down to watch them. They would need to grasp the physicality of the slapstick I was proposing. Timing would also be important, even if we were only doing one gag at a time, not several grouped together like the Stooges. Unlike the Stooges, Angel and Devil would remain stoic in the face of assault. The girls would also need to take notice of the facial expressions used, and develop their own, more reserved expressions.
"Despite what I'm providing as study material, this movie is not slapstick," I told the girls. "While there are elements of slapstick, overall the humor in this movie is somewhat low-key. This will not be another wicked satire like 'Temporary Pleasures,' the humor here will be broader. Really, I'm not trying to write a comedy per se, just a movie that is lighthearted. I'm happy causing a lot of smiles. My ultimate goal is to make Inana's first 'date' movie, something that is fun to watch, and engaging, but really isn't too deep. If Meg Ryan fucked on camera, I'd want her in this one."
"How deeply are you developing the three main characters?" asked Ellen.
"Fairly deeply. Despite their cartoonish behavior, I don't want the angel and the devil to just be cartoon characters. They will have inner conflict, and they will have weakness. Stella, Elspeth's character, is going to be well-developed. When I first created her, she was real one note. Stella is a somewhat punky girl with the instincts and drives of a libertine, but deep down she wants to meet Mr. Right. Stella does not sport fuck, she has to feel some empathy and connection with the people she has sex with. It may only take five minutes to pin down the connection, but it is there. Her best friend is her little brother, who tries to help her find the right man. In a lot of ways, she's just another twenty-something product of Southern California, nothing too special about her. What sets her apart are her angel and devil. Ultimately, the angel and devil only exist in her head, but they're so noisy and pushy they feel like separate beings. Stella sometimes wonders if she is insane, but she has lived with the angel and devil for long enough that she is adjusted to them, actually considers them friends. There's a bit of magic happening, too. Both the angel and devil can physically manifest themselves in the real world, and do so on a couple occasions. They usually both manifest at the same time, each one wanting to make sure the other one doesn't get in trouble. This manifestation will be how you, Bekka, and you, Ellen, get your fuck scenes in this movie. In one scene, the devil manifests herself while they're at the mall. The devil is enamored of a guy Stella met but rejected, so the devil pops into the real world, tracks him down, and blows him in his car in the mall parking lot. The angel follows to make sure her 'friend' the devil doesn't cause too much chaos. In that scene, Bekka will be literally diving through the open passenger door window of a car and attacking the guy's dick, eager to give him head. Of course the guy is confused: here's a woman with horns throwing herself into his car, telling him she's gonna make him come so hard he'll forget his own name. If you haven't guessed, the devil is a lot more manic than the angel."
"Where's the angel during all this?" asked Bekka.
I said, "Leaning against the car, worrying. She's afraid mall security will see the car bouncing up and down from the devil's skull-whipping session, get suspicious, and bust the devil and the guy. If that happens, the devil would be trapped in the world of humans, which is a big drag. The devil's worry is that the angel will fall in love with one of the guys she fucks, and voluntarily stays in the human realm. The devil does not want this, because she would be losing the yang to her yin. Also, despite the fact that they constantly antagonize each other, the angel and the devil are friends. The devil cannot demand the angel stop crossing into the physical realm and having sex, that would be hypocrisy of the highest order. But she's afraid the angel, who has fairly mushy romantic instincts, will mistake a one night stand for true love and stay in the physical realm. When the angel gets laid, the devil will follow her, waiting outside a house or apartment all night if need be, just so long as the devil can talk the angel out of any rash, orgasm-induced decisions."
Elspeth asked, "Does Stella communicate or interact with the angel and the devil? How real are they to her, and how does she handle it when they physically manifest themselves?"
"Stella will talk with them when she's alone, in her car or apartment or on a stretch of deserted beach. She cannot interact with them, not really, after all they live inside her head. To Stella, the angel and devil are quite real, they are companions who are permanently affixed to her, no matter what she does. Obviously she notices when they physically manifest themselves, no matter where they choose to manifest. Stella suddenly notices there are two vacant rooms in her brain, and things are too quiet. The interactions she has with them in their physical form tends to be rather peremptory. She wants them both back in her head, where they belong. They will obey her, somewhat grudgingly at times, but they will obey her. To them, Stella is the ultimate arbiter, the boss lady. When the angel and Stella handcuff the devil to the exterior rear view mirror on Stella's car, that was a physical interaction. The devil grudgingly agrees to just casually stand there and not cause trouble, because doing so would upset Stella. In another scene, it's the angel who is ganged up on. She is placed in the trunk of Stella's car, so that Stella and the devil can can go clubbing in peace. To pass the time, the angel starts loudly singing 'Ninety-Nine Bottles of Beer On the Wall.' Some dude hears her, so he jimmies the trunk open with a pry bar and released the angel. She wants to go into the club and find Stella and the devil, but Stella has made it clear she doesn't want the angel around that night. The angel opts for some naughty fun with the dude who rescued her."
"So what disadvantages are there for the angel and devil in the physical realm?" asked Ellen.
"They are powerless, and they are physically human. The angel is barefoot, which works fine in Heaven or wherever, but puts you at a strong disadvantage in the real world. The devil's manic, jabbering behavior wouldn't receive a second glance in Hades, but in the physical realm her behavior guarantees everyone thinks she's just some crazy broad, and treat her in kind. Both the angel and devil get no respect in the physical realm, whereas they would be treated with deference in their own realms. Mortality is another big problem. The angel and devil are ageless and immortal. Guiding Stella is just another assignment, and only lasts as long as Stella's natural life. If they stayed in the physical realm, the angel and devil would have to deal with basic realities like suffering from injuries, and getting sick, and dying in sixty or so years. If the devil had been handcuffed to a car in her own realm, she would have just broken loose, or at least used a bit of magic to unlock the cuffs. But in the physical realm the devil has no magic. She tries to pull loose from the cuffs and just ends up hurting her wrist, which shocks and confuses the devil to no end. Physical pain? What's that? She'd never experienced it before. The angel's and devil's forays into the physical realm are brief, only for hours at a time."
"Just how finely nuanced are the characters?" asked Bekka. "Do you have any sort of personality guide for them written down?"
I tapped the side of my head. "It's all up here, and it's set in stone. I will welcome any ideas you wish to add after I finish the script. Stella is a fairly complex person, but is still pretty straightforward. The devil and angel are literally from different worlds. They have quirks and fillips and personality traits that definitely set them apart, and understanding them will help you shape your role. As I mentioned before, there is some ambiguity in the devil and angel, neither being pure tokens of the morality set forth by their respective realms. The angel has no problem with casual sex, and can give as good as she gets when it comes to the Three Stooges style smacking and poking her and the devil do to each other. She is not the embodiment of pure goodness. The devil seems to care more about encouraging decadent behavior, not evil actions. I have no doubt the devil would rescue a lost kitten, if she ran across one in the physical realm. The angel is not as good, and the devil is not as bad, as the PR from their respective realms would make them out to be."
"And how about Stella?" asked Elspeth.
"I haven't fully rounded her out yet in my head. First of all, Elspeth, you'll be getting a haircut, something short and spiky and trendy. Maybe a couple streaks of color. Stella works for an unnamed nonprofit corporation, and does her job well. Despite her urban predilections, she enjoys solitude, which is why she likes going to the nude beach, it's never crowded. In her mid-twenties, college graduate. Not terribly close to her parents, but very close to her little brother. She has enough self-awareness to know her ideal man would be just like her brother. Stella has outgrown most of the various lifestyle traits in punk rock, she doesn't party all weekend, she only blasts her music in her car, and she's finally had to admit that the Ramones kind of sucked. As I mentioned, she does have the instincts of a libertine, which keeps her life from getting too dull. Her current spate of cruising for lovers is really a subconscious search for a real life partner, the man of her dreams. Still, she wishes all of her couplings were bisexual three-ways. Stella isn't into one night stands, she feels that three nights are needed to have a good groove. After those three nights are up, however, who can say. She can convincingly role play a submissive, and have fun doing it, but isn't about to stay in character after the fucking is over just to make someone happy. She adores her cat Harpo. Her feminine instincts were put on the back burner when she was a punk, and she is only now beginning to be conscious of their presence. Stella always has men hovering around, trying to be her friend. This is due to her belief that sex is something friends should enjoy together, like bowling or going out to dinner. Her male friends comprehend that there is no exclusivity or romance involved in these couplings, and are all accepting of each other. She had a couple girlfriends in college, but the scope of her bisexuality is pretty much limited to physical lust for other women, no romance. She masturbates way less than you would think. She wrote in Frank Zappa for President in the only two elections she's been eligible for. And she is ashamed of it, but she loves Neil Young's music, especially the song 'Cowgirl In The Sand.'
"Obviously, not all this information will be incorporated into the script. Really, I just wanted to create enough facts and fillips to help round out Stella as a person. Oh, another point. Stella is always very relaxed and friendly with her lovers, even those she has no intention of ever contacting again once the weekend is over with. She had a reputation as a slut in high school, thanks to her hobby of giving out handjobs like bubble gum. Football players, punks, stoners, math club geeks, Mormons, everybody got wanked by Stella. She always felt it was just a friendly gesture, something of no consequence. The fact that any sexual contact in high school was a big deal always bitterly amused her. She has never been raped or otherwise assaulted, but has been the victim of flashers no less than seven times. Going to the dentist depresses her. This is because her one real boyfriend in high school (who felt her handjob crusade was hilarious) grew his hair out, got rid of his piercings, sold his records, and went to school. He is now a dentist, and a human being so dull Stella wonders if he'd suffered an unknown head injury when he was still young and punk rock. He had managed to erase all the aspects of his personality she knew and loved. She decided it must be a trait unique with dentists, as she'd never met an interesting one. She would have welcomed having her dentist be one of the ones who gas their patients, then grope them. At least something interesting would be happening to someone."
"So the devil --- my devil --- compulsively sucks dick," said Bekka. "You realize you'll be accused of type casting by some people. And I've noticed there has been no mention of either God or Satan. How will you handle the religious aspect of what you're creating?"
"I'm not. Let viewers surmise that heaven and hell are now both staffed by independent contractors. While the constructs of angels and devils is a Christian one, I am giving no indication to support or refute Christianity. There will not be any indications as to how the angel and the devil ended up who they are. I was simply leaning on universally recognized symbols of good and bad. Bringing in any hint of religion would undermine a lot of the behaviors of both the devil and the angel. Besides, whose dogma should we use? The Catholics? The Baptists? The Methodists? I'm using what is ostensibly Christian symbolism to establish two characters, but in such a broad, basement-level way any discussion of religion can be avoided. The impression I will be giving is that the angel and the devil answer to no one. The success or failure of their actions affects them, and possibly Stella, but there are no repercussions from external forces."
Ellen asked, "Okay, I'm supposed to be an impure angel, one who is not good through and through. What sort of behaviors do I engage in that would point to this? In what ways am I a tiny bit evil?"
I said, "Several. Remember, you and the devil are lovers, despite your conflicts at work. I think I said already, the angel will pursue sexual pleasure for the sake of itself, not the loftiest pursuit. She will swear and get violent when need be. And on occasion, the angel will decide the devil has the correct answer to a problem, and the two will team up briefly. So far as the devil goes, she will sometimes display unexpected softness and kindness and generosity, just because. As I mentioned, this devil isn't very good at encouraging outright evil. It's more like she encourages sleaziness and crass behavior, taking the easy way out, and campaigning Stella to be as decadent as possible. The angel never encourages action on Stella's part in order to please God, just to always try and be a good person. Say Stella found a wallet in a parking lot. The angel would push to go to every effort to locate its owner, and not touch a penny of the money inside. The devil would say to take the cash and chuck the wallet in a trash can. After years of being petitioned by the angel and devil, Stella would use a dollar of the cash to buy herself a candy bar, then return the wallet after work that day, a compromise. The angel and devil can live with this. Stella does the right thing, but was still a little bad."
"So what sort of men is Stella attracted to?" asked Elspeth. "I know you said she wants a man just like her little brother. Okay, what kind of guy is her brother?"
"Her brother is a good guy. He is gentle, intelligent, well-read, and gainfully employed. He's still something of a slacker, in a hip way. He lifts weights and wears a leather jacket, he drives a fast car, and he's young enough that he still feels that partying with his friends should supersede a lot of the responsibilities of adulthood. However, he is not a man-child, he's just young, like twenty. He followed his big sister into the punk rock scene, and is still involved with it. His name is Trent. People like him."
Bekka, Elspeth, and Ellen ensconced themselves on the big comfy couches in the media room with sodas and smokes while I put in the first cassette of the Three Stooges. I hit play, and positioned myself near the entry, where I would be able to hear my phone ringing. Within five minutes, I'd decided we would use no sound effects in our video. While the violence between Angel and Devil was cartoonish, there was no need to draw attention to every smack, whack, or noogie.
After four shorts had played through, I paused the tape and said, "Okay, Ellen? Bekka? Have you been paying attention to the creative methods they use to commit low-level assault on each other? We're not stealing bits from the Three Stooges, our violence will be less over the top. But we have to think of the ways you two physically torment each other off and on. We're not doing eye-gouges or slaps. More like noogies, pinching, poking, and flicking. Hey, just had an idea. You know I said we didn't want things to be like a cartoon? There will be one exception to this. When you two are squabbling, you have the cartoon-like ability to produce props out of thin air. The devil goes to flick the angel in the head. The angel pulls a football helmet out of nowhere, which she pulls on, so the devil only flicks the side of the helmet. The gag having been told, the helmet goes away in the next cut, never to be seen again. The angel goes to noogie the devil, who produces a trash can lid from out of shot, which she uses as a shield, causing the angel to painfully punch the lid. The devil aims a roundhouse slap at the angel, who ducks, pokes the devil in the stomach, doubling her over. While the devil is in this position, the angel tapes a FOR SALE sign to the devil's bare ass and points the sign at oncoming traffic.
"And unlike the Stooges, you both suffer the assaults of the other in silence, and in a stoic manner. You look annoyed, and that's about it. I know it sounds like I'm putting a lot of thought into this, and don't worry, the slapstick is only occasional and short-lived. But when we do have it, I want it to look really, really good. I don't want it to be as broad and cartoon-like as the Stooges, but I also don't want it to just look like two kids teasing each other in the back seat of a car. Let's keep watching."
"And I take part in this, too?" asked Elspeth. "How?"
I said, "Actually, you're the one who gets to imitate a Stooge, specifically Moe. You will end up dealing out a bit of abuse on the two of them when they take physical form. They will start arguing over something really inane, so you will grab them and knock their heads together, or stomp on each of their feet. Remember, they have no concept of physical pain, so whatever you do to them is a complete shock and surprise for both of them."
I re-started the VCR, then went back to my office and continued working. Ninety minutes later I realized I was hearing a lot of laughter and voices. Curious, I followed the sound, which was coming from the lounge. Bekka and Ellen were standing side by side, at a distance of two feet. They were alternating back and forth with noogies, flicks, and pokes, trying to aim correctly without looking at the other person. Elspeth stood to one side.
"I think we've got my head-knock down," said Elspeth. "Wanna see?"
Bekka and Ellen faced each other. Elspeth walked up to them, grabbed them by their necks, spun them 180, then knocked their heads together. The two reacted to this with cartoonish expressions of shock and pain, but no sound.
"Ellen and I have this one down, too," said Bekka. Standing beside Ellen, she slowly began reaching over to give Ellen a poke. When her hand was fairly close, Ellen grabbed Bekka's elbow and arm and swung them upwards, causing Bekka to jab herself in the head with her own finger.
"So how much screen time is going to be dedicated to slapstick?" asked Bekka.
I said, "Ultimately, maybe five or six minutes total, and that's adding in every little bit. Keep a couple things in mind. First, this is probably going to be another fairly long feature, over 105 minutes, so the slapstick will be sufficiently diluted. Also, the angel and the devil don't spent much time standing there whacking each other, like the Three Stooges. But one can't walk past the other without putting in a shot. Bekka, you're going to be smacking Ellen in the ass a lot. Ellen, you like to flick Bekka in the head. Just sharp single gestures that only take a second."