The man at the Christmas tree tent in Malibu kept winking at me and nodding when no one else was looking. I smiled and kept looking at the trees. (In Malibu, we Jews have Christmas trees.) Finally, he motioned to me to come over to is table. He cupped his hand over his mouth and took my hand. “We won,” he said. “We won.”
I knew exactly what he meant. “You can talk about it,” I said. “This is America.”
“Yes, but it’s also Malibu and I don’t want people yelling at me.”
A few minutes later, I was grabbing a shopping cart at How’s Market in the Trancas section of Malibu when a sweet faced middle aged woman approached me carefully. Then she saw a young couple nearby and turned away. Moments later, she ran into me at the egg cooler, looked around to make sure there was no one looking or listening and said. “I love what you say about politics on TV. You’re so brave. I’m on your side. There are some of us here but we keep our mouths shut.”
“You don’t need to,” I said. “The election’s over. We won.”
“Yes, but it’s not over out here. Can you believe they just had Michael Moore at the new Malibu bookstore and they’ve never invited you and how long have you been out here?”
“Twenty-four years off and on,” I said.
“Well, anyway, when I see you and I smile at you, you’ll know what it’s all about. Go Bush,” she whispered and headed for the fresh fish.
Earlier in the day when I had been doing some looping at a studio on Radford Drive in Studio City for a movie in which I have a part (“Son of the Mask” if you must know ), a man on a forklift came by and winked at me. “Keep giving ’em hell,” he said softly. “There are more of us here than you think. Bush rules.”
This is the way it is here. We meet in smoky places. We give the high sign, we nod knowingly. We are like members of the Maquis in Occupied France. Or early Christians emerging from the catacombs in Caligula’s Rome. We are the GOP in Hollywood, and on the West Side of L.A. The culture here is so dominantly left-wing, PC, vegan, hate-America that many of us feel we have to behave as if we were underground.
At a self-help meeting where men and women confess to drug use, betrayals, thefts, homicides with cars, at a break, a woman stealthily came up to me last Saturday and motioned me into a corner outside the room in Malibu. “I want to tell you there are some of us who agree with you. We have to keep it quiet because we want to get our kids into the right schools, but we’re there. We’re there. And there are more of us every day.” Then she scuttled off into the night. Slamming crack can be spoken of with a smile, but not voting GOP. That could be dangerous.
But it’s changing.
At an intersection on Sunset Strip, in West Hollywood, a young man in a truck, wearing two earrings and closely cropped hair, gave me the V for victory sign as I walked by him. “We’re here,” he said. “You can’t tell, but we’re here. Keep up the talk for Bush.”
Some idea of just why people whisper comes from another encounter this week among a group of Hollywood types in a hip night spot. I was saying how much I love my self program. “I’m a Republican, but I learn from Democrats,” I said. “I’m a Jew, but I learn from Gentiles. I’m sort of famous but the meetings are where I feel safe.”
“Hmmm,” said a man who had recently been the star of a sitcom but who had seen his whole life crumble under the weight of some truly horrific family violence. “Republican Jew. Republican Jew. Republican Jew who’s famous. Who lives in Beverly Hills. Republican Jew who has more stuff than I have. I don’t like it.”
“It’s a free country,” I shrugged.
“Maybe,” he said. “Maybe.”
This is one of the worst little recent examples of how people here feel about Republicans (and Republican Jews, who simply blow their brains out, to use an old hippie phrase ). But rants, screaming about how we’re trying to control women’s bodies, draft their sons out of their BMW’s and send them to war, scowls and frowns at Morton’s, hysterical calls from the network when I appeared on TV backing Right to Life — these are real. Feeling like outsiders, feeling as if we’re going to get our cars keyed if we have Bush stickers on them, getting trash thrown on our yard for having up a Bush sign — these are real. Getting denied screenplay credits because I worked for Nixon, those are totally real.
Yet, we’re here, meeting in smoky places, greeting and giving the secret sign in the fog out by Zuma Beach, more of us every day. And in the words of the Civil Rights song I used to sing when I marched for voting rights in Cambridge, Maryland, “We are not afraid. Deep in my heart, I do believe, we shall overcome some day.” Even in Los Angeles, even in Malibu, even in Hollywood. Tremble, Barbra, tremble. We are right outside your gates, with our truth. We are not afraid and we shall overcome.