I wrote her a note about making an erotic thriller about an assassin who stalks petrochemical executives, and Kyla Cole agreed to do it. But it’s also a story about heartbreak. Fine, she said. And I’ll probably never finish it, I said, to which she replied: “When do we start?”
The story of making stories with Kyla touches a hundred themes in a hundred places, from pheromones to Portugal to toxins to Torremolinos to the aurora and Amsterdam, to the Day of the Dead and the Maya, to the Congo and the gorillas, to the demonic male and the Arctic, to our impulses for love and what it means to be from Catalonia or Basque.
In the world’s only matriarchy, I brought Kyla to a society where women make their own men. And we painted her in circles and danger.
Among jaguars and spirits, Palenque in the afternoon, recovering from a ferocious car crash the day before.
Palenque, with Kyla in the abandoned park, after hours, communing with the strange forces of a long-ago empire.
This movie of mine is not about being pretty or sexy or being desired, I told her. She laughed and said, “Thank fucking goodness, I’m sick of all that.”
The aurora borealis was a beacon for my story, and Kyla flitted around it like a moth diving through flames.
Everyone sings about angels to the point that the music publishers in Nashville tell you to stop, don’t bother writing a song about angels. But shooting these scenes with her was the genesis, years later, of a song I would write in Dumbo with the hook line of: “Who’s gonna come to the rescue of a heartbroken angel? If it’s up to me, I hope it’s not you.”
The undertow in Zipolite is super-dangerous, and I warned Kyla. Don’t worry, she said, if I drown here nobody will blame you, and it would be a great ending to your story. She thought about that for a moment, and then added: “Actually, that better be the beginning of your story!”
Calakmul. In the Peten jungle, on top of a Mayan temple, abandoned, Kyla tells me to make sure that I write the poetry so that people know “there are many things better than fucking,” and I promise that I will. Good, she says, I will bring you the curious readers, and you hit them in the heart with your rhymes. We shake hands in the brilliant blue sky, a deal.