Babylon: A Screenplay (Paperback)
In 1926 Los Angeles, Mexican immigrant Manuel "Manny" Torres helps transport an elephant to a debauched, drug-fueled bacchanal at a Kinoscope Studios executive's mansion. He quickly becomes smitten with Nellie LaRoy, a brash, ambitious self-declared "star" from New Jersey. Upon meeting her and using cocaine together, Manny reveals his wish to be part of something bigger. While the elephant walks through, distracting partygoers, Manny helps carry away young actress Jane Thornton, who overdosed on drugs during a urolagniac act with obese actor Orville Pickwick. Also attending are Chinese-American lesbian cabaret singer Lady Fay Zhu, and African-American jazz trumpeter Sidney Palmer. The flamboyantly-dancing Nellie is spotted and swiftly recruited to replace Jane in a Kinoscope film; during filming, she crudely upstages the star. Manny meets and befriends Jack Conrad, a benevolent but troubled, oft-married film star, and drives a drunken Jack home. Jack helps Manny secure assistant jobs at Kinoscope (like finding a new camera to film an outdoors scene with Jack before nightfall); Manny climbs the studio system's ranks.