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Fame is fickle, and stardom’s flip side harbors and reflects darkness. Stardom on a network situation comedy had been Grant Jackson’s lifelong dream. Ambitious, young, sexy, and willing to do almost anything, Grant makes his dream come true at age twenty-three.
When we meet him, in 2004, Grant Jackson is a star of NBC-TV’s “Our House”. The reality of television stardom is heady and intoxicating. As a songwriter once put it, “The sound of applause is delicious, it’s a thrill to have the world at your feet.” And Grant’s newfound celebrity lives up to his expectations:
The money, the recognition, striving for creative excellence and rating numbers every week. But stardom’s flip side harbors and reflects darkness. The knives are always out. One of Grant’s co-stars harbors a cocaine addiction. Another co-star masks a career-busting sexual secret—as does Grant Jackson himself.
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The Dark Side of Stardom Excerpt
Several thousand people lined the parade route as the float slowly made its way down Broadway. But Grand Marshal Grant Jackson was not alone atop the papier-mâché festooned platform. The float also carried half a dozen American flag-waving veterans of the Korean and Vietnam Wars, along with a Texas Tech student dressed as Raider Red, the university’s mascot.
The Grand Marshal’s Float was towed by a pickup truck blaring Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA.”
Regrettably Greenwood’s patriotic ditty drowned out the speaker on the Tech float that played Our House’s theme song, as performed by The Rembrandts, the same duo that performed “I’ll be There for You,” the hit theme song for the recently retired NBC favorite, friends.
Sitting on his throne-like seat, Grant smiled, waved, and did his best to reflect the patriotic, proud spirit of Memorial Day. In truth, he was more hot and sweaty than he was feeling fervently American. Even though it was early, the unforgiving Texas sun cast its brilliance too brightly, and too generously, upon the parade. As rivulets of sweat raced down the back of his neck, Grant was thinking, It’s like The Long Hot Summer. But I’m no Paul Newman.
On the float, beside his throne chair, was the sign that identified him: “Grand Marshal, Grant Jackson, Star of NBC’s Our House.”
But Grant didn’t feel like a star. Melting under the Lubbock sun, he once again felt like what he truly believed himself to be: Ellie and Mark Jackson’s boy – a nobody from Nowhere You-Want-To-Be, California – a pretender to stardom. And he wondered, Why am I so insecure? Is this how Daisy Clover felt after Swan Studios transformed her from a Pier Rat into a Hollywood Princess?
A group of near-hysterical teenaged girls rushed up to the police cordon that separated Grant’s float from the onlookers. “We love you, Grant! Love you!” they chanted in sing-song fashion.
The attention was ego boosting and flattering. But instead of enjoying the enthusiastic fans, he was worrying. You’d be chanting a different tune if you knew I was a gay man with a porn star lover!
Grant couldn’t shake the feeling that he was bogus – a fraud and a pretender. He was not the real McCoy for whom the crowd cheered. It brought to mind another of his favorite old movies: The Great Imposter, starring Tony Curtis in one of his best performances. I only hope the parade ends before they see I’m a fake, and not the genuine article. It’s what they don’t know about me that makes them cheer. If the truth were known, they would boo, hiss, or worse.
Drops of sweat continued rolling down the back of Grant’s neck. But now it was more flop sweat than the heat that caused the perspiration.
Still Grant forced himself to smile and wave as the parade continued down Broadway to University. That is when the truck towing the Tech float broke down. As it came to a jerky halt, Grant was thrown forward in his seat, nearly falling onto the papier-mâché flowers. One of the war veterans did lose his footing, falling onto a cushy bed of papier-mâché. The blaring of the Lee Greenwood paean to patriotism had stopped, along with the truck.
At last, T
he Rembrandts could be heard singing, “Welcome to Our House. Good vibes unlock the door to Our House. There’s room for one more at Our House.”
With the float stalled, the fans rushed the barricades, getting much closer to Grant’s perch.
He was frightened. Grant had read about the old days – when fans had mobbed Elvis and The Beatles, literally ripping the clothes off their backs.
Relief flooded him at the sight of security guards moving in to control the onslaught of fans. A moment later, Grant heard the pickup truck’s engine roar back to life. “God Bless the USA,” started up, once again drowning out The Rembrandts and the Our House title song.
The parade continued, and ended, without further incident or disturbance. Grant simply smiled and waved his way to its conclusion. Whew! I got away with it, he told himself, taking the handkerchief from his pocket and wiping his sweat-drenched neck.
Praise for ‘The Dark Side of Stardom’ by Christopher Stone:
“I really loved this book! It is quite the page-turner, between wondering if Grant, a former porn star, is going to be forced out of the closet, to the dramas he faces working on a legitimate television sitcom. Not only that, but it is a very emotionally involving story. We truly care about Grant and his long-term partner Cam, so we want them and their relationship to succeed every step of the way. Since we care about them so much, it’s the small details of their lives that truly make the story what it is. I also really loved the ambiguous ending, and am hoping that the author will make it a trilogy! A fun, sexy exploration of Hollywood life.”- Rebecca VanDusen, Amazon Reviewer
“The Dark Side of Stardom kept my attention from start to finish. Dealing with issues of fame, love, and sexuality from a unique perspective, it sheds light in areas that often remain dark and unspoken of. A perfect book for a rainy day, or whatever the weather for that matter. I highly recommend it.”- Rich Kendall, author of ‘The Road to Elmira’
Praise for ‘Frame of Reference’ by Christopher Stone:
“This book was recommended by one of my gay friends and I must admit, as a straight lady, I wasn’t sure it was something I would be interested in reading. Glad I took the plunge. Interesting characters, in an interesting Hollywood setting that the writer is very familiar with.
I loved the references, by the main character, to all the TV. and movies. Clearly, Mr. Stone has done his homework. The sex scenes, (while a bit too much information for me!) will be much appreciated by the appropriate audience – in other words, quite hot!
Still, no romance novel is worth its salt without a good story line. Again, Mr. Stone has shown his mettle. The characters are well developed and the story interesting as a young man fights his way to the top of the heap. Bring on the next book, sequel!”- Sharyn St.Clair, Amazon Reviewer
“I only have good things to say about this book from a literary point of view. The characters are well-developed and Christopher Stone’s writing style is superb. I enjoyed going with Grant on his journey of self-discovery and look forward to seeing what happens next in his life. In case the description of the book isn’t clear enough, this is a gay romance, so readers should not be surprised about the fact that the sex scenes are between two or more men. The sex scenes are not the whole of the book, and they are not overly-explicit, but they are more explicit than the average romance novel.
I truly enjoyed this offering by Christopher Stone, and I will definitely be putting him on my list of authors to look for in the future.”- Brriske, Paranormal Romance & Authors That Rock
“This book is definitely not in a genre I ordinarily read, so when a friend recommended it to me, I was admittedly a little skeptical. Skepticism, however, soon turned into genuine delight. Using an almost Christopher Isherwood, I-am-a-camera-like precision, Stone expertly evokes the world of a young gay man from a small town who struggles to establish himself as an actor in Hollywood.
Written vividly and wryly, the book is by turns touching, exciting, erotic and dark, and is always compelling. The characters were full-bodied (in more ways than one!) the dialogue was realistic, the situations off-beat and interesting. When I finished the book, my first thought was, “Bring on the sequel!” I can give “Frame of Reference” no higher praise than that!”- Robert J. Van Dusen, Amazon Reviewer
“I stumbled on Frame of Reference at the nail salon. A lady was reading it and would read passages to the entire shop. So, I bought the book. What an eye opener into the world of gay young men. Being raised in Hollywood as a non-gay, I had no idea about this vibrant subculture. Being mature and growing up in a movie family, I understood all the references to movie stars, TV shows, and cinema. Do read it, you won’t be able to put it down!”- Dee Lewis, Amazon Reviewer
Born in Bronx, New York, and raised in Fresno, California, Christopher Stone’s early years were dominated by school, watching television and motion pictures, bicycling, skating, and reading avidly. Summers were spent swimming, and doing whatever it took to survive the oppressive San Joaquin Valley heat. But he also remembers fondly the yearly summer trips to New York, to visit family and friends – and to see Broadway shows.
Christopher left Fresno, for Hollywood, California, during his college years after being accepted into the Writers Guild of America’s Open Door Program, a two-year, scholarship, training ground for aspiring screen and television writers. As it happened, rather than a teleplay or screenwriting gig, his first professional writing job was in journalism – as the Los Angeles Editor for Stage Door, at that time, Canada’s equivalent of the U.S. entertainment trade weekly, Variety.
Christopher would later use his Writers Guild of America training to co-author and sell the original screenplay, The Living Legend, with Jon Mercedes III, to the Erin Organization, and later, and also with Mercedes, to write two seasons of The Party Game, a Canadian TV game show.
As a young freelance entertainment journalist, he contributed to many Los Angeles-based publications, among them The Advocate, for which he wrote a breezy film column, “Reeling ‘Round,” and the Los Angeles Free Press. During this time, he became a member of the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle.
Christopher dipped his toes into the world of motion picture advertising and publicity, as assistant to the West Coast Director of Advertising and Publicity for Cinerama Releasing Corporation, in Beverly Hills. At the same time, he also did special advertising and publicity projects for 20th Century-Fox. Christopher went on to become an Account Executive for David Wallace & Company, a public relations firm specializing in entertainment accounts – and located on West Hollywood’s legendary Sunset Strip.
Returning to his first love, writing, Christopher became a full time freelance contributor to national consumer publications including Us, Good Housekeeping, Family Circle, McCall’s, In Cinema, and The National Enquirer, among others. Many of his stories were syndicated worldwide by the New York Times Syndication Corp.
Another important area of endeavor for Christopher Stone was Re-Creating Your Self. A Blueprint for Personal Change that he first developed for himself, the journalist went on to teach the principles and processes of Re-Creating Your Self to others – first, in private sessions, later, in workshops and seminars, and, finally, for California State University Extended Education. Eventually, one of his students suggested he write a book version.
Re-Creating Your Self was first published in hardcover by Metamorphous Press, and subsequently published in a trade paperback edition by Hay House. It has since been published in Spanish, Swedish and Hebrew language editions.
When not writing, Christopher used his longtime interest in, and study of, metaphysics, to teach meditation and psychic development classes – first in Beverly Hills, then later, in Manhattan Beach.
He went on to co-author, with Mary Sheldon, four novellas for a Japanese educational publisher, and then, also with Mary Sheldon, the highly successful The Meditation Journal trilogy of hardcover books. Subsequently, he returned to journalism, this time, contributing hundreds of print and online entertainment features, columns and reviews to magazines and websites. For eight years, Christopher was the Box-office Columnist for MatchFlick.com, a popular online motion picture site.
In his private life, Christopher Stone met David M. Stoebner on May 17, 1994, and they have been together ever since. ?In 2008, they were married in Los Angeles.
They share a home with their three pets in Coastal Los Angeles County.
In 2013, Christopher’s pet project has been transforming their rarely used kitchen table area into a killer, retro 1950s Diner Nook, complete with a 1952 Seeburg Table Top jukebox, a neon diner sign, and a malt machine.
Christopher’s first novel, Frame of Reference was e and print published, in fall 2012, by MLR Press. A short story, Sweet Homo Alabama was published by MLR Press, December 19, 2012.
Stone spent much of 2013 writing Frame of Reference 2: The Dark Side of Stardom, a sequel novel to Frame of Reference, as well as, Abracadabra, and a short story, published at Halloween. But the indefatigable scribe also found time to contribute weekly reviews, columns and interviews to Queer Town Abbey.
Christopher is currently writing Going and Coming, a novel laced with metaphysical themes, and wrapped around the character of Dr. Minnow Saint James, a highly successful Past Life Regression Therapist, and the author of a best-selling nonfiction book. Christopher hopes Going and Coming will launch a series of Dr. Minnow Saint James Metaphysical Adventures novels. As of this writing, Going and Coming is tentatively scheduled for November 2015 publication, by MLR Press.
On a personal note, Christopher and David adopted a five-month-old Yellow Lab puppy, Sammy (Samantha Stevens), on February 6, following the sudden passing of their beloved Yellow Lab, Gracie, on January 22.
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