West Hollywood Juice Emporium. Day.
"There's three of you, there's three of us, I smell a gangbang," a petite brunette tells the artist variously known as Simon Rex and Dirt Nasty. She's sipping a Kombucha tea at the Earth Bar, a West Hollywood health haven. She's flanked by two 20-something Bratz dollz, dressed like totally identical in leggings and UGGs.
The dollz cultivate wellness silently while their gangbang-smelling friend tells Rex how she worships his Twitter.
"They look like the Kardashian sisters," whispers permanently hungover rapper Andre Legacy, a 6-foot-4 Armenian mad monk gone Fairfax B-boy with black-and-blue bags beneath his eyes. Simon Rex/Dirt Nasty's monthlong tour supporting his latest rap album, Nasty as I Wanna Be, starts the following day and Legacy complains of cold symptoms. Rex insists that his friend shoot a tumbler of cayenne pepper. A white-gloved nurse — someone from Desperate Housewives, or more likely a doppelgänger — suggests what he really needs is coconut water.
She's about to inject both with a syringe stuffed with vitamin B, vitamin C and other high-octane fuel. The tattooed juicetender tells us all about his latest beat — a Dirt Nasty dubstep remix.
This is a Woody Allen routine come to life. Every sun-screwed stereotype of L.A. embodied in a Santa Monica Boulevard strip mall at 4 p.m. on a Tuesday, where clusters of abnormally attractive people have nothing better to do than sip $8 juices while discussing the pros and cons of a good gangbang.
This is also the latent fear of every Tea Partier across America — that if our cultural entropy continues, we'll sire a nation of daughters whose chief aspiration is to become BFFs with Paris Hilton (or with her H&M equivalent). And should that happen, one day they will potentially find themselves in a Bob Guccione's Caligula–esque orgy with a pair of white rappers best known for the song "My Dick."
This is where you scoff and sanctimoniously mutter something involving the word "douchebag" — at least if you agree with Aldous Huxley's adage that an intellectual is a person who has discovered something more interesting than sex. Philip Roth might disagree. So would Rex, who has been linked to Jaime Pressly, ex-playmate Nicole Lenz, and one third of your Facebook feed. And, yes, Paris Hilton.
One of Rex's avowed goals for his Dirt Nasty project is to be "the rap Tenacious D," a legit musician out for laughs (his YouTube bio reads: "I, Dirt Nasty, am a complete idiot ... Enjoy my world"). But he's not an idiot — he's just willing to play the fool, splitting the difference between Deuce Bigalow and Californication's Hank Moody.
Still scoffing? Weigh the odds: The Bay Area–raised personality achieved mild notoriety as a mid-'90s MTV VJ, a profession whose shelf life rivals pets.com employees and The Bachelor contestants. Logically, his career should be deader than Dan Cortese's Agassi mullet. The prologue to his self-deprecating faux-reality show, Rex (2009), described him as a "struggling actor" whose "controversial masturbation video [more about that in a second] made him famous. He's had no controversy since, and boy, could his career use it."
This is half-true. Rex is wrongly branded "famous for being famous." He's actually famous for being almost famous. Fueled by the tabloids and TMZ, modern fame is like horseshoes and grenades: Proximity counts.
Rex (as "Eli") might have taken Felicity's virginity and fratted about on the straight-to-DVD National Lampoon's Pledge This!, but to the wider world, his most notable turn was playing an ersatz Eminem in Scary Movie 3 — as in $220 million–grossing Scary Movie 3.
Yet within the narrow strip where Santa Monica and Hollywood boulevards run parallel, Simon Rex carries undeniable currency. In SBE nightclubs, he's nobility exercising seignorial rights. Forget Kevin Bacon: Play six degrees of Simon Rex. He learned beat-making from Academy Award–winning actor Adrien Brody. His Laurel Canyon nest rests between Anna Faris' and Will Ferrell's, meaning he has dinner parties with the former and banters with the latter when he sees him jogging through the neighborhood.
Why, in a city synonymous with failed dreams, did a 36-year-old former VJ/porn star/C-list actor not only survive but manage to transform himself into an indie white comedy rapper getting spins on Power 106 with a "Hava Nagila"–sampling song dedicated to being an awkward Jewish dancer?
It's tempting to interpret this as a perverse Angeleno aberration. If so, how come Dirt Nasty spent the fall playing mostly sold-out clubs across the United States and Canada? His "1980" video received almost 4.5 million views and his freestyles regularly crack six figures on YouTube.
Want more evidence? Director Todd Phillips is a major Dirt Nasty fan and used "What Do You Say" in a little comedy called The Hangover. Comedy Central has commissioned a six-figure pilot for Nasty as I Wanna Be, featuring Nasty, Legacy and fellow "Dyslexic Speedreader" Beardo as struggling rappers thwarted in their musical and romantic ambitions by their successful rival, fellow "famous for being almost famous" fellow Andy Milonakis. Burnishing its comic cred is a script co-written by Happy Madison alumni Nick Swardson (Reno 911, You Don't Mess With the Zohan) and Nick Goossen (Grandma's Boy).