I went to bat for my friend Tracy. She wanted the starring role in a movie my dad was producing, but it was really his friend Bob who was the money guy and director. If it were just my dad, it would have been a slam-dunk. So, I went to work on Bob. I pitched him for months, relentlessly. That’s me when I want or need to be – a dog with a bone. “Have you seen Tracy in Christopher Guest’s new movie?” I asked. “She’s brilliant.” Or: “Check out her credits, you’d be lucky to get her.” And: “Bob, let her audition, you won’t be sorry.” Finally, when I had exhausted all other angles, I went for the Boys Club Secret Society as a last try: “Your lead actor has always wanted to fuck her.” Yep, that did it. The part was hers.
We went to Texas and my best friend Tracy had the lead as the girlfriend. And I had one scene, one great scene, as the angry-crazy-ex-wife. (It would be another year before I’d play the role in real life.) And except for the hurricane threatening to shake things up and me freezing my ass off the day I was shooting, it was great fun to be on location with my dad and my close friend. I spent most of my downtime hunting for Galveston’s best fried chicken.
That was the late 80’s. Sometime in the mid-90’s, Tracy called to say she was hired to do some reenactments for the Leeza Gibbons Show and would I like to join her, they need another actress. Me, panicking: “Is that in front of a live audience?”
“Yes it is.”
“No, thanks, have fun.”
“I thought you said you needed money, Fred. Do you know how much scale is these days?”
“I don’t know, a couple of hundred a day?
“No, $700 a day,” Tracy said, taunting.
“What time should I be there?” I said, not missing a beat. And that’s how Tracy and I “co-starred” again as actresses and friends.
I never did find the great fried chicken I was looking for, but if you’re in Galveston, Texas you could try Western Fried Chicken and BBQ. And, you should know the lead actor never did get “lucky” with my best friend—only lucky to have her as a co-star!!! They were both happy and married to other people at the time.
Tracy has invited me to some wonderful dinner parties at her house. One time, there was a cook and he served us asparagus that was so damn good that I had him give me the secret. Then I made it for my kids and other people for years to come. I was not the biggest vegetable eater and this recipe is easy and genius!
Tracy’s Dinner Party Asparagus
Steam or blanch your asparagus, I blanch which is placing them in boiling water for under 2 minutes.
In the pan that I boiled the asparagus, I pour the water out, and while the pan is still hot, put a few tablespoons of lemon juice and add some dark brown sugar and stir that around until the brown sugar melts. Then either add the asparagus back in to get the lemon/sugar flavor or pour the mixture on top of the vegetables.
Fredrica Duke shares how she discovered her love of food while growing up in Los Angeles on her blog Channeling the Food Critic in Me.