By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
Norm Lubow is quite possibly the seediest man I’ve ever met. He arrived three hours late with his assistant, Erin, or, as I liked to call her, “Word-in-edgewise,” spitting out greetings, directions, flirtations and questions like a telemarketer fresh from the crack pipe. He handed us all outlines of the show we’d be doing. It wasn’t a script, really, as it contained no actual dialogue. Just the basic beats of the segment.
Danielle will tell Doug that she lied about her job as a topless dancer, Doug will become upset, etc. Norm warned us not to let the outlines leave our rooms, as he’d be taking them back before we taped. He also warned us not to talk to anyone who approached us in the hotel, as 20/20 had been snooping around, investigating the show. With that said and done, he went back to hitting on the girls, Suzanne mainly, with lines so cheesy they’d be embarrassing to say jokingly. Not that Norm and Suzanne wouldn’t have made a good couple. They both looked like train wrecks. Norm was of average height with ’70s shoulder-length hair and beard, big nose and deep-set dark eyes like a terrorist. He could have easily been a roadie for Foghat. Suzanne looked like she’d been trying to fight back Father Time with an invisible stick. If she’d earned frequent-flier miles for all the days and money at the makeup counter she could wait out the rest of her years comfortably in first-class. Her How To book, or pamphlet, perhaps, reeked of a last-ditch effort to stay in the world of erotica.
Danielle, however, was young, 20 and many years and rehabs away from writing her memoirs. She was somewhat attractive in a low-grade kind of way, like she could have been voted prettiest girl at Job Corps. But pretty has a lot to do with attitude, and with that in mind, Danielle was as ugly as pigs fucking.
Norm started coaching our dialogue, taking breaks only to tell us how great he was at coaching dialogue. He went over the story repeatedly until we had it down and then he’d change it again. The only part he didn’t try to fine-tune was the part where they stripped together, though he did make them do it over and over while he lay back on the hotel bed like a syphilitic Hugh Hefner. I mentioned this to the girls after he left but they defended him, saying it was his job to make sure it looked perfect. If it looked perfect the first four times, why the fifth and sixth times? More blank stares. My fault for trying to point out blatant sexual harassment to tittie dancers.
I was still a man alone and now the numbers were mounting. I went back to my room, set a wake-up call, and in the morning I had my agent put in a call to 20/20. My agent’s assistant left word with someone there, and shortly afterward my phone rang. A woman name Penelope Fleming was on the line from New York. She was vague and would not commit to the fact that they were, indeed, doing a story on Jerry Springer. She listened to my story with a distant interest and said she’d call back. Soon my phone was ringing off the hook. The next call, she remained vague but happened to have someone in Chicago now and would have them call. Next a guy named Glenn Ruppell called and I reiterated my story. He asked for a copy of the outline. I told him I’d leave it partially sticking out under my door so he could come pick it up and copy it while I was at rehearsal. I told him to do it quickly, in case Norm asked for it back. Fortunately Norm was hours late again so I waited in the bar. Glenn and his assistant wasted no time getting in and out. I was still in the lounge when they came down from returning the outline to my room. I pegged them immediately, as they looked around, walking like they had rods shoved up their asses. They were either the 20/20 people or rookie narcotics officers destined to have memorial highways named after them. I made eye contact, gave them the high nod, did everything but scream “I’m from Springer” through a bullhorn before they sidled up to me at the bar. They positioned themselves to look like they were only talking to each other and told me to call them as soon as I was out of rehearsal. I felt like I was Deep Throat in All the President’s Men and I liked it.
Eventually Norm showed up and we went to Suzanne’s room to rehearse. We did a few quick run-throughs and Norm made a few more pathetic attempts at banging Suzanne. She’d been promised another spot on an upcoming show to push her book since there was no way to do it in this episode, so she was forced to play along with Norm’s coke-fueled advances to a point.
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