It had all started simply enough. I was at a bar with a new acquaintance, boozing and shouting to one another amongst the roar of the other patrons.
At one point, my friend got sucked into conversation with the people at our table, so without knowing what else to do, since I was clearly not invited to join the others, I whipped out my book.
It wasn't two minutes after I had begun to immerse myself in my literature that an extremely charismatic, sharply dressed man with a winning smile approached me: “Sorry to bother you but you really caught my eye! You could be at home enjoying a cup of tea with your book but instead you're here: it's dark, crowded, loud. What's going on!”
The man, who will be known as E.K. from now on, introduced himself as a former talent scout/agent and correspondent for a television network. He proceeded to take out his phone and show me some pictures, a sort of proof, so that I could see who he was. As soon as I saw him posing with one Samuel L. Jackson, I was sold. I thought to myself, this guy is for real.
We exchanged numbers, I sent him a link to my blog, which he promised to look through. We shook hands one more time before I left for the night.
I have to say that I was thrilled at this chance encounter. After a bad week, this came as a beacon of hope, that maybe things would finally turn around in my favor. This man was obviously (supposedly) connected. He could help me out. Change my life.
A few days later he called me: “I read your blog. I didn't like it. I loved it.”
We talked. Actually, he talked. And talked. On and on about his connections, how he likes to keep it real, how he wasn't going to sugarcoat anything for me. That if I wanted to be in the industry I needed to know what was really going on. It wasn't all milk and honey.
When he invited me to come by his restaurant in Stamford so we could talk face to face, I decided to go. I knew it was a risk but I tried to focus on the positives: we were meeting in a public place, and he was reimbursing my train ticket.
He was impressed I had come; he appreciated my determination. It was all perfectly friendly, harmless. We had dinner, talked about my goals; he once again reiterated his connections and what he was capable of doing for me. Then he called me a taxi, gave me my cab fair and ticket reimbursement, and I headed back to NYC.
And thus began this strange two-month tango between us involving missed calls at 3 am, long texting conversations, and very detailed emails. A lot of talk, not so much action. As this went on, I began to notice a weird sexual undertone to our conversations.
For example, we were planning a time when we could do an evaluation: We would get together and discuss my market, who I could appeal to as an actor/writer/model. This would involve trying on different outfits, doing some photo shooting etc. In the meantime, I was getting texts from him along the lines of:
“Can I do the evaluation in my own preference attire? MY WAY.”
“Do you have the following: tank top, mini skirt, thongs, brazilian cut, long socks, high heels.”
This didn't exactly sound like wardrobe for someone like me. I don't even own a mini skirt let alone a brazilian cut (whatever that is).
There had always been a part of me that had been skeptical, that was telling me to watch my back, keep my head level and my ego in check. Now, the skepticism had spread and I wasn't too sure anymore.
Over and over he asked me why I deserved this opportunity. He wanted me to convince him to help me. My answer was always the same: “This is my dream! I want a shot at this. I want to explore my potential as an artist.”
I had already proven my determination and commitment after two trips to Stamford (both of which he had reimbursed), I had stayed on the phone well past midnight to listen to him go on and on about the industry. He kept emphasizing that if he were to help me he would have to have “complete control,” that things were going to have to be done his way.
It didn't take long for me to get the feeling that what he was really saying was: “I'll help you but first you gotta let me f**k you.” But I kept hoping against hope that I was wrong. After all, he was supposedly in a committed relationship and had a young daughter.
Up to this point I hadn't told anyone about E.K. Just a couple of close friends that can keep a secret. But this was approaching a boiling point, and I couldn't keep dealing with this alone. So I decided to entrust my partner with my secret. I told him everything, showed him all the texts and explained to him my fear that if E.K. and I were to see each other in person again, it wouldn't be so innocent.
Much to my surprise, my partner (whom we will call Drew) was actually incredibly supportive and very excited for me. He acknowledged my fears and agreed that while I could be right, this could still be a big opportunity for me:
“If he were to help you, then you would be committed to him. You don't work for anyone else. You get your gigs from him and report to him. See what I mean? He could just be really bad at articulating himself."
And while I appreciate Drew's optimism, I still couldn't shake the feeling that he was wrong. Especially when E.K. texted me this:
“I want all of you. Mentally, professionally, physically.”
It was the physically that threw me off. I showed Drew and we came up with a reply:
“When you say [that] I take it as meaning if you give me this opportunity...then I am yours... I will have no other responsibilities...jobs/occupations except to work for and with you.”
I was really trying to keep it as professional as possible. Trying to keep it together although I couldn't ignore that feeling of "He just wants to f**k you!!!" much longer.
But of course, my response wasn't good enough. He said:
“You want the career, I want you. That simple.”
My suspicions were confirmed. I felt sick. I called a friend of mine so I could vent my frustrations. And being of a scientific and straightforward mind he told me to drop all contact with E.K. immediately.
When I showed the text to Drew, he agreed that while it was pretty obvious, it could still just be phrased awkwardly. That it may not really mean what I think it means. I knew better, but appreciated his hopefulness.
E.K. wanted to meet with me before heading back to LA. We had planned on a time for the evaluation but it had never happened. It wasn't until the night before he went back that it all went down. There was a sense of urgency behind his texts; he had to see me now. Next time he'd be in NY he would be too busy with fashion week to meet.
It was close to 10 pm when he asked me to come all the way to Baychester in the Bronx. An hour long ride on the 5 train. I told him I wasn't comfortable going out that far so late at night. He suggested Stamford. I asked if we could do the evaluation the next day but he couldn't due to an early flight.
At this point I really didn't care anymore. But Drew was determined that I get this meeting. If this was for real, I shouldn't let it pass me by, right? So on we pressed:
Me: “Would you be willing to send a car to bring me to and from Stamford?”
E.K.: “You willing to stay the night?”
Me: “No I can't, but I'd be happy to meet with you.”
He then proceeded to tell me that if I stayed in NYC, things would never happen for me:
E.K.: “Put your standards aside and take charge of your destiny... Stop being scared … and holding back... Nothing's for free.”
After explaining to him for the umpteenth time why I deserved this chance, he said:
E.K.: “Can I make a request? Trade for a trade.”
It was the moment I had been waiting for. Time to go in for the kill:
E.K.: “My next trip in town, I want you to stay the night with me after an event. Deal?”
It couldn't have been any clearer.
I said no. I had to say no. Using sex as a means to an end was not right. It goes against everything I believe in. Besides, if I had gone through with it, who's to say he would have done anything for me at all?
The next day, he had the nerve to text me to see if I had changed my mind. Which I had not by the way. I stand firmly by my "no."