NATHANAEL WEST ONCE WROTE that the retired people who flock to Los Angeles for its sunshine and oranges are “savage and bitter” because they “haven’t the mental equipment for leisure, the money nor the physical equipment for pleasure.”
Six-foot-3 actor-writer Jason Hall, who originally hails from Lake Arrowhead, has the mental equipment for leisure and the physical equipment for pleasure, and consequently doesn’t seem to spend too much time worrying about money, and is far from retirement.
Hall, who appeared in numerous Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes and is currently writing his first novel for a small press, says he has “no shame about sex” and enjoys it frequently.
Hesitant to give an exact number, the jaunty Hall, whose view of this city is not far from West’s, admits to having slept with somewhere “between one and one thousand women.” And recently he wrote a screenplay about a guy much like himself, an antihero, who falls for a girl who plays the game a little better than he.
The unlikely love story, which the boyish 30-year-old plans on shooting sometime at the beginning of next year, serving as its romantic lead, has all the playful self-mythology of Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau’s Swingers, with a “savage and bitter” sting in its depiction of its insincere central character and the women who love him.
This has caused many of Hall’s female friends and potential actresses for the film to take a step back. But he feels that their upset indicates that the script works. He believes it is an honest reflection of the nature of sexual relationships in this town. In fact, for him the line between reality and fiction has officially blurred. Art imitated life, which imitated art again, and Hall has found himself deeply embedded in his own storyline.
See, the writer, who until now has been unscathed by love, recently found himself licking wounds after the first girl he ever really fell for and proposed to became the one who got away. She moved to New York, and on the day Hall dramatically arrived there to propose, she announced the chilling fact that she was pregnant with another man’s child — all while he was still writing his script, which now includes a similar turn of events.
It seems an apt plot twist for Hall, a consummate storyteller who himself is such a sucker for a good story that when the goldfish he shared with the aforementioned girlfriend died on Valentine’s Day a few years back, he found himself crying and shouting and reaching into the toilet bowl while they flushed their pet, believing for that brief moment, because of the movement of the fish and water, that the pet/their love was still alive.
Hall, who says he once told a girl “134 stories” in the course of a two-day date, said to a friend recently, “You can’t tell a hero to stop being a hero, and you can’t tell a storyteller to stop telling stories.”
It seems Hall is a bit of both. An athletic sports enthusiast, his first memory is of a near drowning at an Easter egg hunt, where, at the age of 3, Hall went for, and procured, a recklessly placed egg on a river’s edge. Somewhere around age 8 he was so moved by the book Where the Red Fern Grows that, upon completion, his face was streaming in tears. Excited by his own burst of emotion, brought on by a story about two hunting dogs who die and are buried together, Hall recalls running downstairs proudly to announce to his mother, “Look, look, I read the book and I’m crying!”
Seated in the foyer of the 101 Coffee Shop on Franklin, beneath a former piece of campy signage, a large vintage metal crown, Hall lays out some of his philosophy regarding women and sex, a topic he can discuss endlessly.
“A lot of women are insecure about their vaginas,” says Hall, running his hand through his thick, recently trimmed messy hair. “They just haven’t seen that many. They haven’t watched porn as much as men, and so they don’t know that every vagina looks different.”
Hall, who lives south of Olympic with his sister, an attractive gynecologist, and who convincingly professes that he has never seen a vagina he didn’t like, says that one ex-girlfriend was so insecure about her own lower regions that he made her a collage of hundreds of vaginas that he cut out of porno magazines.
“She liked it. She had never seen so many vaginas,” he explains, with a joyous expression one might imagine he wore on the day he told his mom about Where the Red Fern Grows.
Hall is the kind of guy who has an extreme sense of smell. He is sensitive to perfumes and deodorants, and in fact is so keen an observer, he feels confident he can tell which women, in any given room, have venereal diseases. This may be a genetic trait in that, he explains, his mother has always been a bit psychic.
Though he is adamant that the ex-girlfriend in New York is the “first time” he has ever been in love, it’s hard to imagine her being his last.
And though he is utterly enraptured by his still-burning love for his ex, it seems a sprite-like twist of fate that her new motherhood and relationship have kept him single.
Hall, who falls under a romantic spell for almost every woman he sees, be it at Starbucks, the bank etc., has apparently never been able to settle for just one.
“I remember I was 11, and me and my best friend Brian Gleuck were at Camp Owango Christian summer camp. I was equally in love with two girls, Amy Archer and Holly Pontez, and I just couldn’t decide who I wanted more. So one day Brian and I went up to them and asked them if they wanted to go out with both of us. It made perfect sense to us. They were horrified,” says Hall of the Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice proposal.
“They literally ran away. I never got either of them,” says Hall, looking down at the long cuffs of his faded jeans for one brief moment.
Soon he shakes himself sober. “Christian girls like sex,” he states assuredly. And with that, it’s as clear as a summer’s day that Hall is well aware, though he may not be quite ready to admit it, that there are plenty more fish in the sea.