When Hollis Met George

What happens next depends on how you define sex

Illustration by Peter Arkle

I had sex with George Clooney. Not many people know this—or, I should say, not enough people know this—but not because I don’t broadcast it. I do. George Clooney, by the way, may disagree with me. But I have witnesses.

It happened at the Beverly Hills Hotel—where Elizabeth Taylor spent most of her honeymoons and Tallulah Bankhead was known to flash reporters from the top of the grand piano. On this day celebrities were milling about everywhere, like they had any business being flesh and blood. One of them was Laura Dern, who was actually in my party as we stood at the hostess podium in the Polo Lounge. She had just finished filming HBO’s Recount, in which she played Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris. Laura’s portrayal was brilliant, and she’d later win the Golden Globe for it. I bring this up because Clooney was at the Polo Lounge that day, and he saw us standing there at the hostess podium. So he rose from his table and made his way through the crowd to compliment her. This is how I ended up having sex with him, which I will get to in a minute, believe me. I just don’t want to leave out any details. The details are important. In fact, I relive them as often as possible.

First, it all started one night soon after I’d moved to Atlanta, when my mother appeared to me in a dream and told me not to let another Sunday go by without going to church. I awoke with a start. My mother was dead, and an atheist. Her words were clear, but I still did my best to ignore them. That Sunday night I finally relented and walked across the road from my apartment on Peachtree Street to attend evening services at some big, blowout church right there in Midtown.

The cathedral was covered in television cameras, and when the preacher walked up to the podium he had a hairdo that could have deflected a shower of power drills. He spent the entire service talking about sex, because apparently he was, right then, fielding accusations of having indulged in the extramarital kind.

“To kiss someone two times is not the same as having sex,” he insisted. “Unless,” he continued, “there is lust in your heart. In that case it’s making out, and making out is having sex.”

I sat in the back pew, so bored that I practically pulled a muscle in my mouth trying to stifle my yawns. I was new to the Bible Belt and couldn’t tell if he was confessing something or denying it. I left after half an hour and walked home, wondering what the message could have been. Not the message from the preacher, but the one from my mother. Nevertheless I decided I’d done what she’d asked. I hadn’t let another Sunday go by without going to church. I’d gone. There. Done.

My dead atheist mother didn’t reappear to admonish me for failing to fulfill her command, so I didn’t give it much more thought except to juxtapose the Bible Belt idea of sex against my own, which included nudity and other elements I thought made it more interesting. But I don’t judge. I just continued about my business over the next decade or so of churchless Sundays, certain the last thing I’d ever be was a religious convert.

Then I sold the film rights to my book and flew out to Hollywood to become best friends with movie stars and stuff, if by “best friends” you mean collaborating with them on TV projects. That’s how I came to be at the Polo Lounge with Laura Dern. My friend Grant Henry was also there. (See? Witnesses.) Laura introduced me to George Clooney, who took my hand, pulled me close (I am not making this up), and kissed me hello. (George Clooney kissed me hello!) We talked for fifteen minutes about who knows what. (George Clooney kissed me hello!) Then the Polo Lounge hostess interrupted to tell us our table was ready, so we said goodbye, at which point George Clooney again took my hand, pulled me close (I swear I am not making this up), and kissed me goodbye. (George Clooney kissed me goodbye!)

During lunch our group brainstormed about meetings with HBO, I think. I don’t know. All I know is that I’d just had a religious experience. George Clooney had just kissed me two times, and two kisses means making out, and according to the Bible Belt that is the same as having sex. So boom—I just became a Bible Belt convert. Hallelujah! I finally understand my mom’s message, because without that Sunday at church, I never would have gotten to have sex with George Clooney. George Clooney, people. There is a God.

This article originally appeared in our May 2013 issue.