Common on, Jerry you’ve never been so well off. The new contract’s for three years, six shows a year, decent scripts and the money’ll set you up for life.”
As I was saying…. Money isn’t everything. Have you seen some of the invitations I’ve had in my fan mail, lately? And that supermarket opening I did last week, it was nearly a riot. I don’t know which were the worst, the men forgetting I wasn’t the real thing or the women wanting to know what underwear I had on. My buttocks were black and blue from being pinched. “
What does it matter? You made the six o’clock news and the supermarket group have been on the phone again, offering three times the money to open another two stores for them. You’re the most popular TV detective of all time. All the viewers love and adore you.”
Like I said, I wish I could work out who pinches my bum at those events so I can watch out for them. It was your fault that clause went in the last contract that all my promotional appearances had to be in character. It seems I go weeks sometimes without wearing a pair of trousers. That clause had better be out this time.”
Jerry Antrobus turned sulkily away from his agent to stare out over the city from the 14th floor window. He had never dreamed when he had auditioned for the part three years before that there would be so much success. He still enjoyed the adulation the part of Chris Campbell brought him but recently the audiences had begun to demand more of Christine than Christopher.
Paula Peters, a theatrical agent whose career had been rescued by the TV Detective, regarded her client with more than a tinge of jealousy. In the early days she had never thought the detective’s occasional forays into dresses as a disguise would ever raise the series beyond the mundane, but a new sponsor had demanded a more convincing and more attractive Christine and suddenly the show had not looked back. That, Paula decided, was when she had begun to feel jealous of her client.
Jerry’s female wardrobe was beyond the purse of most ordinary women and the director of the last series had decided that realism was all. They had shown Jerry struggling into the most attractive, but equally most restricting and constricting, of underwear – to the fascination of viewers of all persuasions.
Paula smiled as she recollected being summoned to the studio to placate her client two summers previously……..
Paula had been collected from the car park by an agitated director’s assistant and swept through to the portable buildings doubling as dressing rooms and rest areas for the cast. It was the first day of filming for the second series of “The TV Detective.” The first series had only turned into a second due to a shortage of competitors and by not committing any grave errors.
The assistant left her by a door indicating it was the dressing room of Jerry Antrobus, but beneath his name some wag had scrawled, “female lead”. Paula tentatively pushed the door open to see a bewigged female figure sat in apparent discomfort.
“About ***** time. You can get me out of this ***** stuff. It ‘s *****agony. This new director’s an absolute bastard. She enjoyed watching them pull this so tight it nearly cut me in half. Then when I said I wanted you here, they just left me.”
“Who left you like that?”
“Wardrobe but only because that ***** director said I might as well get used to it.”
Jerry’s language made Paula wince as he described in lurid detail how he wanted to extract his revenge on the director. Even with the swear words removed, the sentiments expressed were not suitable for mixed company.
As far as she could establish, Jerry was alleging that Hannah Murray, the director, had a personal grudge against him and she was a man-hating lesbian bent on belittling all men but more particularly him, because she secretly fancied him and he wasn’t having any. It was apparent Jerry’s temper had eliminated all sense.
Paula regarded her client. He, but to more than a cursory glance, she, was heavily made-up but even the genuine article would wear nearly as much under the cruel eye of the television camera. A black silk kimono was draped across the figure’s shoulders barely concealing a black corselet gripping at an apparently shapely figure. Stockings were tautly gripped by suspenders.
Paula decided, with a touch of jealousy, that Jerry had lost weight over the summer, but what really attracted her attention was the unnatural shapeliness of his waist. This was the cause of Jerry’s continuing tantrums, the waist-clincher had done its job but the price was its vicious grip just below its victim’s ribs.
As Jerry launched once again into a tirade against wardrobe, the director and eventually Paula for failing to release him from the constricting underwear, it had become apparent that Jerry’s sharp tongue had got the better of him and he had seriously upset whoever had fitted the waist clincher on him.
“Well, Jerry you’ve got two choices. Lose some weight or don’t upset wardrobe. Mind you I wish I had a figure like that..”
His outburst in reply was interrupted by the dressing room door being opened. In walked Hannah Murray with a smile that might have been helpful sympathy, or might just have been amusement at her leading actor’s discomfort. Against Paula’s better judgement she was ushered out of the dressing room and within 20 minutes Jerry, in a mind blowing short leather skirt and knee length boots, teetered out. She had never found out how Hannah had persuaded him to carry on.
In her 14th floor office, Paula recalled that day.
“How has Hannah kept you happy over the past two years? You weren’t prepared to do it two years ago and then, suddenly, you just did. Has she got something on you?”
Despite his blustering, it was apparent she had hit the nail on the head. It was only after an hour of gently repeating that she couldn’t help him without knowing everything that she got to the truth. Or at least Jerry’s version of it.
In the weeks of rehearsal leading up to the filming of the first episode of the second series, Jerry and Hannah had become rather more than friendly.
One thing had led to another, particularly since the main topic of conversation had been Jerry’s portrayal of Chris Campbell, and Hannah had discovered that Jerry became a more effective lover when he adopted Chris Campbell’s clothes. Particularly the slinky underwear that was to become the character’s trademark.
Amidst everything there were some revealing photographs, which had been taken in their first flush of enthusiasm and then he could never say no to the woman who had become the director of his TV series and increasingly his private life, too.
However much she wanted to laugh – for Jerry was so much Chris Campbell in the public eye that the photos, if they were released, would probably turn him into even more of a pin up and lead to even more offers, of every type – Paula knew she owed it to her client to resolve the problem. It took even more persuasion to get a copy of the photos from Jerry (purely so she understood what the fuss was about, of course!).
She imagined the meeting with Hannah Murray was going to be difficult, but in the end it was surprisingly easy. Although the outcome was somewhat unexpected.
“Well, what did she say?”
Jerry, dressed ravishingly as Christine Campbell was waiting in his dressing room on the set of what he hoped was the last episode, not only of the current series, but for ever.
“Hannah’s agreed that she doesn’t want you any more in her personal life and she’s giving up the photos. “
“Great. Have you got them? Or have you destroyed them?”
Paula smiled, “Things aren’t quite as simple as that. I had to agree to another series, on your behalf as the price for giving up the pictures. And you didn’t tell me there were lots more of them. Even I found some of those interesting.
It was apparent from Paula’s smile that interesting meant rather more than intriguing. In fact those photographs had changed her attitude towards Jerry entirely. Her conversation with Hannah had opened her eyes to an entirely different Jerry. One who was privately dainty, feminine and very, very exciting. A Jerry whom she wanted to meet and get to know, intimately.
Jerry groaned and began one of his tirades. Paula smiled and reached into her capacious bag. The silky, lacy confection she slowly drew out brought Jerry to a stop and his jaw fell.
“Where did you get that?”
“Well, in the course of my negotiations with Hannah it transpired she was getting bored with you. You’ve been a naughty girl, haven’t you? Not doing what Hannah wanted and refusing her. She was so fed up with you she couldn’t be bothered to threaten you any more. But she wanted the series to go on. “
“I won’t do another series. It’s ruining my love life. I’ve started to depend on wearing pretty knickers to, er, well, you know what.”
“There’s no need to worry.”
“I do worry. It’s turning me into….”
“Christine !” Paula’s tone demanded attention. “I’ve had enough of this whinging and whining. You will do at least one more series, otherwise I’ll use those pictures. And while we’re about it.” She tossed the silky confection of the teddy onto his lap.
“When I come to collect you this evening, you’ll be wearing that under…. Let me think. I know, change back into that leather trouser suit you’re wearing in the next scene and that blonde wig. And make sure you bathe and perhaps you could use this.” She produced a perfume bottle from her bag.
“It’s a new idea we’ve come up with. Christine Perfume. It’s sexy and we’re marketing with the line that if you smell sexy with it, then imagine how it comes out on a real woman. Imagine you’re testing it.”
Jerry had nearly recovered his composure when Paula smiled again.
“There are one or two of those photos that could put you in a very bad light and I would hate that to happen. But we can talk about at my place tonight.”
Jerry knew when he was beaten, but his blood ran cold as Paula, leaving the room, leaned back inside the door and whispered, “Oh and you’d better bring a nightie and a change of knickers. Alhough if you haven’t got anything you can borrow something of mine, can’t you? We don’t want you coming into work tomorrow without clean underwear.
“I’ll arrange to move your stuff to my apartment tomorrow and then we can sort out whether we need to go shopping. And, incidentally, I was at that last supermarket opening you did. It was the women who pinched you, or at least I did!