Warning: This story contains strong language, and includes themes of a sexual nature. Reader discretion is advised.
Mark O’Toole was what we today might call “a massive wanker”.
A successful, rich, well-dressed, better than average looking wanker, sure. But a massive one nonetheless.
Only this story is set in the early 1990’s, well before #MeToo, when misogynists roamed and ruled the land with impunity, lords of all they surveyed.
And yes, I'm pretty sure I know what you’re thinking: that you don’t have to visit Jurassic Park to discover there are quite a few of these dinosaurs still walking amongst us. But the difference back then was that men like O’Toole had plenty of followers - the real kind that is, not the digital click-the-box-on-the-screen kind - who were more than willing to openly admit their allegiance.
Perhaps fittingly then, Plenty was what O’Toole claimed, facetiously, to be his middle name. A pun that may have been regarded as mildly clever and amusing had he not stolen it directly from another well-dressed, better than average looking misogynist: none other than Bond, James Bond (played by an aging, but still charismatic, Sean Connery 20 years earlier in Diamonds Are Forever).
Truth be told O’Toole seriously saw himself as some sort of American answer to Britain’s Bond – travelling the world in immaculate suits, driving expensive fast cars, and bedding beautiful women at every turn.
As I think we've established - Wanker.
“I understand it’s customary to start these things with a joke”.
Mark O’Toole loved doing these shows. Abso - lutely loved it. It seriously nearly gave him a hard-on every time. Not that it took much to produce that result. Not when you were oversexed, overpaid and overseas like he was right now.
But to see the enormous ballroom at Sydney’s 5-Star Harbourview International Hotel jam‑packed with paying customers; well that definitely produced a little bit of extra rigidity in the vicinity of O’Toole’s ballroom.
Of course, it should have come as no surprise that the majority of those gathered to hear O’Toole on this particular day – indeed most days - were men. After all, it was surely they who had the most to learn and gain from watching the master at work? And so, no, he wasn’t surprised at all.
But there were plenty of ladies scattered around the room too. Nearly all of them made up to the hilt, and dressed to the nines. And all of whom knew full well exactly what to expect from their rockstar guest speaker, Mr Mark “Plenty” O’Toole.
“Yep”, he continued. “Apparently opening with a joke makes people feel more comfortable”.
Look around the room.
Look at the watch. (Rolex, of course).
Smile at one of the better-looking waitresses.
Now people are looking at one another. Some are starting to laugh. Others, first-timers almost certainly, and those yet to fall under the O’Toole spell, start to murmur amongst themselves.
“So there you have it folks. Lesson 1. Don’t ever do what’s expected just because it’s expected”.
“Because that shit is for pussies. And losers”.
Another, briefer pause.
“You see what’s happened here now don’t you? Half of you are sitting there making a note about not doing what’s expected – ie don’t start with a joke – and the other half are thinking:
‘Hang on, maybe that was a joke. Man, this guy is a genius!’
“And you know what else? I just got you people to sit there for 30 seconds to watch me do absolutely nothing. Diddly squat. You guys are paying a thousand bucks each to hear me talk, and for half of the first minute that I’m up here I said absolutely nothing. And for most of the next five minutes I’ve done nothing but talk to you about the 30 seconds where I said nothing”.
“And guess what? You guys are loving it. You are. You’re loving it, and you can’t take your eyes off me. You’re thinking – this guy is worth every fucking cent. I cannot wait to see and hear what he does next. And even if he never actually gets to lesson 2, it’s OK. I’ve had my money’s worth already with Lesson 1”.
“So what was it again? That’s right. Do not do what’s expected just because it’s expected”.
“And I’m not talking here just about business folks. Not just about your contract negotiations, and your boardroom politics. I’m talking about every … single … aspect of your lives. Whether you’re on the tennis court. Whether you’re playing cards. Whether you’re ordering dinner or a drink. I’m talking about the way you dress. In your marriage. In the bedroom. Don’t do what’s expected just because it’s expected”.
“Especially in the bedroom. Am I right ladies? Tell me I’m not!”
A chorus of responses from the audience follows. Some muttered, some yelled. But the majority, it seems, are in agreement with O’Toole’s proposition.
O’Toole chuckles to himself. That one about the bedroom gets ‘em in every time. Foolproof.
Or just the opposite perhaps?
In any event, time for another pause.
Look around the room again. Smile. They are loving it. Seriously loving it. And so is he.
In fact if O’Toole had been born 20 years later he would have yelled “Winning!” right at that moment, at the top of his voice, in his very best Charlie Sheen impersonation.
Now take a drink of water. Catch that same waitress’s eye as she passes by the rostrum. Truth be told she’s pretty hot. And those are some bedroom eyes if I’ve ever seen them. Give her another smile. She feigns embarrassment.
Some people are shifting in their seats a little. Some nearer the stage are laughing. Shit, maybe that last leer was a bit obvious.
Fuck it. This is my show after all. I make the rules here, and these people know it.
“Alright folks. Lesson 2 – here we go. Pencils ready?”
“Dress to impress. I’m not just talking about nice shoes [point to my $500 pair of Salvatore Ferragamos], a nice shirt [run a finger slowly down the front of my $300 Turnbull & Asser original], an eye-catching tie [holding out my $150 Giorgio Armani pure silk piece for closer inspection], a suit that fits you like a glove [as my $1,200 Hugo Boss number clearly does], or a watch that oozes class [the $5,000 Rolex those fuckers gifted to me before this tour gets yet another plug – they are gonna love me!]. I’m talking about the whole ensemble here, the whole damn nine yards”.
”Because I’m telling you folks, when you look a million dollars you will feel a million dollars. And when you feel a million dollars - when you’ve slipped inside that outfit that makes you feel like you just got into Superman’s trunks … easy ladies … and cape ‑ you will finally realise you have the potential to be one of the masters of the universe, and that a million dollars is a drop in the ocean compared to what you are now capable of achieving and earning”.
“You don’t believe me? You need proof? You’re looking at all the proof you could ask for ladies and gentlemen. Living proof. Right here in technicolour”.
So maybe you’re thinking: How the hell did this happen? How did this guy get so incredibly and completely full of his own importance? Well if you’re happy to listen, Mark O’Toole is more than happy to tell you.
What’s that? You wanna know how? OK, sure. No skin off my nose.
Maybe not you specifically. But you people. My people. Out there. The Great Unwashed. You made me who I am, and what I am. You are the ones – hundreds of you, sometimes thousands - who pay a grand each to listen to me telling you for 45 minutes what you already know. You, who've read the book. (A new one coming out this fall by the way). Who've watched the videos.
You’re the ones who treat me like I’m a guru. Like everything I say is 24-carat GOLD.
You’re the ones who have made me a rich man. A ridiculously fucking rich man.
So if there’s anyone to blame for the fact that I am the egotistical, permanently horny, heavy‑drinking, recreational drug-using asswipe you now see before you, it’s you guys.
It’s you – my adoring fans – who created this merry-go-round for me.
And what a merry-go-round it is. Sweeter, and more beautiful than any of you suckers could possibly imagine. And guess what? I get to keep riding it, and you guys get to keep paying for it. Sweet indeed.
Meanwhile the silent gag is continuing to work well. I’m onto my fifth long pause, and these morons are still lapping it up. At this rate I’ll be able to get out of here with barely half an hour of bullshit, plus maybe a few questions from the floor to fill in at the end.
And that waitress is definitely hot. Smoking hot. And keen. She’s playing to me now. Every time I do the pause she tries to make a bit of eye contact. I suspect the audience is starting to think she’s a plant, so this time I ignore her. Which of course just makes her keener still.
Lesson 67: Treat ‘em mean, keep ‘em keen.
Lesson 68: How about a blowjob, and I’ll owe you one?
Lesson 69: Fuck that shit.
It’s all about number one baby. Vidi, vici, veni. I saw. I conquered. I came.
It’s a pity Sara hasn’t learnt some of these lessons yet.
Or maybe she has. Eight years together, and she’s still as keen as ever. And even I have to admit, I do treat her mean from time to time. But whatever. She knows the piper has to be paid, right?
I mean it’s not like she’s getting nothing out of this whole deal.
Houses. Cars. Jewellery. Overseas trips. You name it, she has it.
Most women would give anything to have what she’s got. And me as well. I’m the fucking bonus baby. The cherry on top of the biggest, sweetest fucking dessert you’ve ever seen.
Sure, she doesn’t get to see as much of me these days as she’d probably like. But as I said to her before this tour started four months ago:
‘Babe, when you’re hot you’re hot. And right now I am red hot – white hot. Like lava oozing out of Vesuvius hot. We need to strike before the iron cools, and cash in. You get it don’t you?’
She got it. In fact she was surprisingly understanding. The girl knows what side her bread is buttered on I guess.
‘The books and the videos are one thing, but people want to hear it straight from the horse’s mouth’.
At which point I almost certainly grabbed my crotch, mumbled something about being hung like one, and effortlessly initiated the most exciting three minutes of her day.
Which brings me to the very best part of this whole fucking circus.
Pure and simple.
You seriously have no idea how easy it is to get laid when you’re famous. No fucking idea. And especially when you’re hot famous like I am right now.
Virtually every single one of these chicks knows I have a wife. And kids (did I mention them?). Some of them even ask about my family. (Afterwards obviously). But it doesn’t stop them. If anything, some of them seem to see it as a challenge.
And for me, of course, it’s perfect. No expectations. No strings. No spooning or promises required.
‘Sorry babe. I’m married. With kids. That’s right, twins. You’ve been doing your research I see.
So, you get it yeah? See ya’.
Don’t let the door hit you on the way out hon.
Meanwhile, back at the Harbourview, I am rapidly approaching my climax.
“So, in closing, I just want you to think about one more thing. If you have a heart attack on your way home tonight – and, I’ll be honest, for some of you it looks like that’s not out of the question – have you squeezed all the juice out of the orange that is your life?”
“Which reminds me of a line from a poem I read once. That’s right ladies, poetry. In case you hadn’t worked it out already, you are looking at the whole fucking package here.”
“Anyway, where was I? That’s right, the line from the poem:
If all this has been your oyster [throw the arms wide, gesturing to the world in general],
then have you once glimpsed its pearl?
“Well, have you? If you haven’t, you are in serious danger of going through this entire life ‑ the only life you get, let me remind you ‑ as a loser and a pussy of the highest order. And my advice to you guys is to stand up right now, walk out of those doors at the back there, go find the nearest bathroom, and have a good hard look at yourself in the mirror”.
“No-one’s walking out I see. Well, I get that. No-one wants to admit they’ve got no cojones to a crowd this size. But you know who you are. And you have been warned. For you guys, I can’t do more than that”.
“And for the rest of you. Don’t stop with looking at that pearl. Grab it. Snatch that fucker right out of its soft moist case. Take it, and make it yours. Turn it into a ring. Or a pendant. Sell it. Give it to your wife. Better still, give it to someone else’s wife”.
“It’s your life folks. You need to squeeze that orange until it’s nothing but pulp. You owe it to yourself”.
Short pause. Then, just before the acclamation begins:
“And guess what, now you owe it to me too”.
A little nod to indicate I’m done, spent, followed by the deafening applause I have come to expect, but still can’t quite get enough of.
They clap. They cheer. Some even stamp their feet. They want more.
There is supposed to be a Q&A session at the end of the talk, but they’ve already had their money’s worth as far as I’m concerned. So fuck ‘em.
Speaking of which, my waitress is loitering with intent nearby. I mean she’s pretending to look busy, but I can see her tongue’s hanging out. Which, curiously, is making me thirsty.
I motion to her that my water needs a refill.
Although I’m done with my talk, I remain on the stage. Firstly, so the audience keeps clapping; convincing themselves, and each other, as each second passes, that I am worth every single red cent. Secondly, so I can continue to bask in the adulation. And thirdly, so that when my waitress arrives with more water – I can read her name badge now: Roxy. Of course it is. Foxy Roxy ‑ no-one can hear me as I lean in and whisper my room number in her left ear.
“Give me an hour” I add.
She gazes up at me with those eyes. Holy shit. Did I tell you she was hot? Damn right. And then – there it is. That look I was hoping for. Starstruck. Compliant. Willing. Yeah baby. Come to daddy.
Twenty seven minutes later, whilst heading across the street from the Harbourview International to a nearby “drugstore” in order to purchase some personal items - a fresh packet of condoms, and some lubricant amongst them - Mark Plenty O’Toole is struck and killed by a bus.
Having looked left, as most Americans typically would, and seen no oncoming traffic, O’Toole steps off the kerb directly into the path of a No. 187 Sydney public transport vehicle about to exit the city on its way to the northern beachside suburban haven of Mona Vale.
Ironically perhaps, given the primary purpose of his shopping expedition, O’Toole’s last thought immediately before bouncing into the air off the 187’s Mercedes logo, is that yesterday had been his twin sons’ fifth birthday, and he hasn’t yet bought them a present, or called home to tell them he is looking forward to seeing them soon.
Although saddened, of course, by her husband’s tragic and unexpected death ‑ most especially for her sons, who had forever lost the opportunity for an ongoing relationship with their biological father ‑ Sara O’Toole found more than adequate solace in the company of Robert Grayson: a widower, and father of two himself, with whom Sara had been conducting an affair for the previous eighteen months. In the years ahead Sara and Robert would marry, establishing a happy blended family that would allow their four children to thrive in a loving and stable environment.
Roxy Castellano – having fortuitously avoided a brief and unfulfilling sexual encounter with a man she hardly knew, and was almost certainly better off not knowing - would go on to become the moderately successful manager of a number of bands in Sydney’s then still flourishing pub rock scene, before successfully writing and producing an explosive documentary about the sexual misdemeanours of one of the music industry’s biggest names. You may have seen it?