09-04-2011, 10:25 PM
The first few segments of the Sports episode went well enough. The camera crew taped Criss' morning workout in his personal gym. They taped him benchpressing, ab crunching and doing bicep curls with weights. They shot close-ups of his legs flexing on the Stairmaster and the treadmill for emphasis. They caught on tape tiny beads of sweat running down his face and muscular shoulders. Within an hour they had all the footage they needed; later, a voice-over of Criss explaining his exercise routine would be added during editing.
True to his promise to Gerard, Criss stripped to the waist for the taping. Clad only in navy blue Spandex bicycle shorts, he grunted and sweated through his fitness regimen, oblivious to the camera crew; he had given them explicit instructions not to disturb him during his workout because he had to stay focused, and they complied.
The illusion Criss performed for the workout segment was something he called the Bottomless Water Bottle. He took a seemingly ordinary plastic water bottle, drank his fill from it, then poured it over his head and body, then drank some more, then poured more into his hand. No matter how much he poured out, the bottle never emptied. There were no cutaway shots, no shifting of camera angles; it was all filmed in one take. At the end of the Bottomless Water Bottle illusion, Criss retired to the locker room, ordering the camera crew to mop up the water on the floor. That little self-centered act insured total privacy while he was showering and dressing.
One disgruntled member of the crew, however, vowed to take revenge. With the aid of a small hand-held camcorder, a cameraman named Kevin slipped into the locker room, crept up to the opaque-glass door of the single shower stall Criss was in, and taped his blurry silhouette as he showered, waiting paitently for just the right moment.
Criss turned off the water and casually emerged from the shower stall. His casualness disappeared when he saw Kevin aiming a camcorder right at his totally exposed naked body. For the merest moment, Criss froze in shock at this intrusion of privacy, then anger galvanized him into action.
"What the (bleep) are you doing?!" he demanded. "Get the (bleep) out of here!"
Kevin scrambled out of the locker room, fearing for his life while at the same time gloating over his small victory. His days as a cameraman for MindFreak were numbered, but at least he could claim he went out with a bang.
Right cross. Block. Left hook. Duck. Uppercut. Slip. Right cut. Jab.
George Strumpolis practiced his boxing moves in the giant mirror on the far wall of Linehan's Gym, under the watchful eye of Seamus Linehan himself. Stay focused, he told himself. Keep your arms up, your chin down, and your eyes on your opponent. Keep your stance no matter what, and above all, keep moving to avoid a blow.
Linehan observed George as he shadowboxed. The Greek shows good form, he thought, and he's got a wicked right arm. He just needs to learn how to use it properly. Punching a heavy bag is fine and good, but using it against a live opponent is another matter altogether.
The old man hobbled over to George and rapped his cane against his trainee's shins for attention. George halted in midfeint and looked at Linehan. He was not resentful of the interruption; it was all part of the training, he reasoned. If Seamus called for your attention, it was wise to give it to him.
"Ye've a good right arm, there, George," Linehan said grudgingly. "But ye need to work on ye're left. I know they say don't let yer right hand know what yer left hand is doin', but in boxing both right and left hands have t'work together." He pointed to the heavy punching bag hanging in the corner. "Go over to the bag and show me yer left hook."
George obeyed. He walked over to the five-foot oblong bag suspended from the ceiling by three heavy chains. He took his stance and delivered the hardest left hook he could, causing the bag to sway on its moorings. Linehan observed it iwth a critical eye. "Ye're delivery's good," he said, "but ye're telegraphing it to yer opponent by screwin' up yer arm before swinging! It's gotta come without notice, lad! Ye gotta feint wi' yer right to distract yer opponent so you can swing with yer left without his knowin' it! Boxin's not all hooks and jabs, y'know! Ye gotta use yer head as well as yer fists! Now, keep workin' on yer left!"
Linehan hobbled away to chew out another boxer who couldn't keep his stance. George shut out the old man's tirade and concentrated on his left hook. Don't screw up your arm, he reminded himself. Feint with your right before striking with your left. He swung his left arm, striking the heavy bag. It didn't go well; he was still screwing up for the punch. He tried again, faking with his right this time. Again, it didn't satisfy him. He went at it again. And again. And again. George was determined to strengthen his left hook so he could qualify for Saturday's tryouts for the Excalibur bout next month, no matter how many times he had to pummel that bag.
In his private studio, Costa was shooting pictures of his latest model, Sola, a slim California-blond woman of twenty-three (he checked her credentials carefully before he took one photo of her to confirm her age) who had no objections to posing nude. Indeed, she offered to pay him for the privilege--she wanted to use them for her modeling career, she said, hopefully to become of of Hugh Hefner's Girls Next Door. Costa had no objection, just so long as he retained the negatives and claimed copyright of them for his portfolio. Sola agreed and stripped down to her California tan.
Costa tried to keep the photos as "artistic" as possible, but Sola gave her poses a more seductive air than he wanted, despite his instructions to the contrary. This wasn't for Playboy, he kept reminding her, so would she please turn down the heat? Sola tried to co-operate, but her natural seductiveness kept getting in the way. It was all Costa could do to keep things professional between them.
Finally the session was over. "That's a wrap!" Costa announced. "You can get dressed now, Sola."
Sola wrapped herself in a thin cotton robe. "That was fun," she said brightly. "We should do it again sometime."
Costa wasn't really sure if he wanted to do it again sometime, at least not with Sola. "You'll have the pictures in about a week or so," he said. "Thanks for your time."
"Thank you for the opportunuty," Sola returned.
She went into a side room to dress. Costa heaved a huge sigh of relief. For the first time he began to wonder if this portfolio was worth the trouble. The naked human body was an ideal subject for photography, granted, but he didn't want to come across as a pornographer. He never claimed there was a fine line between art and smut, but there were gray patches blurring the differences between them. Art, like beauty, was in the eye of the beholder.
Costa checked his itnerary. Criss was his next model Monday evening, according to his schedule. At least he would be a bit more co-operative, or so he hoped. He had no qualms about seeing Criss in the nude; Costa had seen his little brother's bare behind since he was a month old. It was just that Criss was more used to giving orders than taking them; having his plans thwarted irritated him, no matter how sound the reason.
Well, Costa would just have to pull fraternal rank if he had to in order to get Criss to pose as he wanted. He wouln't stoop to playing the Mom card, but a gentle reminder of who was the older brother wouldn't hurt. Criss wasn't a tyrant, but every now and then he had to be put in his place where the family was concerned. It was his way to keep him humble, or at least grounded in reality. Criss may be the star of the show, but in the family circle he was still baby brother Christopher, and Costa was not going to let him forget that.