As I mentioned in Part I of my Long Awkward Pause interview wth Ima Knowitall, she is the author of more than 40 online novels this past year, and was recently honored by the Society of Illiterate Columnists (SIC) for her contributions to “…the advancement of people who write without the shackles of proper grammar.” So landing an interview with an author of this caliber on the eve of her latest release was — as Ima described something she found in her taco — a total surprise.
For those of you who might’ve missed the first part of my interview with Ima because, for example, you just recently gave up life as a Quaker, I should explain that our breakfast interview had been interrupted by the untimely arrival of the health department while waiting for a taco omelette at Sam N’ Ella’s restaurant. Since there was no time to get anything to-go because Sam and Ella had already left through the back window, we had decided to take our interview somewhere else.
As Ima had mentioned before, her celebrity could get us into any number of exclusive eateries in the Los Angeles area, including a Beverly Hills country club where the chef prepares a special taco quiche every day, exclusively for her, just in case she comes to eat.
“But the F@#%ing paparazzi are always there waiting for me, so we’ll have to go somewhere else. I’m thinking Del Taco. You drive,” said Ima, who reminded me that the private bus she had arrived in, which had been cleverly disguised as “public transportation” and filled with celebrity friends dressed incognito, wouldn’t be back to pick her up until 10:05, 10:35, 11:00 or 11:20. “I have it follow a specially scheduled route so I can throw off all the autograph hounds.”
I suddenly remembered seeing who I thought was Tom Cruise, disguised as that fat guy from “Tropic Thunder,” on the bus when Ima had arrived — so I had to ask.
“Uh.. yeah. That was definitely Tom,” said Ima. “And that black woman in the back with all those canvas book bags — that was Oprah.”
The price of celebrity and its trade offs is something one must be willing to accept. I confessed to Ima, given the choice, I wasn’t sure I’d be willing to pay that price.
“Wait,” she said. “You’re still paying for breakfast though, right?”
We arrived at Del Taco to find it had been turned into a Bentos place called Julie’s Hot Box. Clearly frustrated, Ima suggested an exclusive country club I’d never heard of called the Panting Cheetah, which was on Culver City’s east side.
“Their all-day nacho bar opened at 8 a.m.,” said Ima. “It’s just like having tacos, except with a bunch of broken shells.”
Upon entering the Panting Cheetah, I found it intriguing that all the waitresses apparently live at the restaurant. It was also obvious we had arrived too early because none of them were completely dressed yet. But being professionals, and due in large part to Ima’s celebrity status, they served us anyway, and even offered us the nacho bar “compliments of the house, as long as you buy a beer.”
LAP: I suppose you just get used to the star treatment everywhere you go?
Ima: Yeah. Did you buy the beer yet?
LAP: Yes. I gave our waitress a twenty. I’m just waiting for my change.
Ima: This isn’t Applebee’s. You’ll be lucky to get your beer. (shovels nachos into her mouth).
LAP: Let’s talk about Love Vampires. Do you think it’s your best novel?
Ima: Absolutely. It only took one day.
LAP: It’s 540 pages.
Ima: (From the nacho bar) I couldn’t sleep that day!
LAP: You describe Love Vampires as a simple story. Edwardo meets a whiny teenaged girl named Ella. Ella realizes she likes things a little rough. Edwardo turns out to be time-traveling Mexican vampire. What was your inspiration?
Ima: I love Mexican food. (Licking fingers) The rest just came to me.
LAP: Let’s switch gears and talk about technique. Do you outline your novels first?
Ima: As long as it fits on a square of Bugle cigarette paper. I smoke a lot. Cigarettes, too.
LAP: Do you keep your notes organized somehow for future reference?
Ima: (from the nacho bar) No, I generally roll them up and smoke them.
LAP: Do you base your characters on real people or are they completely fictional.
Ima: As far as I know, I’ve never actually met a Mexican vampire. (grabs passing topless waitress by suspender) You’re out of taco meat. (lets suspender snap back)
[I notice the waitress rubbing at a red mark on her chest and pointing at Ima while talking to a large figure in the doorway, excitedly telling him about her brush with celebrity.]
LAP: Um.. With the book coming out tomorrow, do you have any kind of tour planned to help promote it?
Ima: Of course. (Glances at large figure approaching from the doorway) How well do you know Culver City?
After quickly leaving the Panting Cheetah to avoid what Ima pointed out was an autograph seeker approaching our table, I dropped her off just in time to catch the return of her private bus disguised as “public transportation,” which had a whole new set of celebrities on it this time. I couldn’t help but marvel at the cleverness of one celebrity, who chose to avoid drawing attention to himself by disguising himself as Pauly Shore!
I’m excited to tell you Ima asked me to join her book tour through Culver City tomorrow! It will include stops at 24 Del Taco locations. According to Ima, it’s a Mexican-themed tie-in created by her press agent, who can’t make the trip due to what Ima described as “Something. So bring your car.”
So look for another update on Ima sometime soon, assuming we make it through Culver City.
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