Eiko La Boria is a writer from Puerto Rico based in Jersey City. Through her passion for writing, Eiko worked her way to Los Angeles to pursue her dream career. While she was there, she heard accounts of the sexual exploitation and abuse in the film industry, and thus The Fame Shame Game: The Debut was created.
We had the chance to sit with her at the Jacques d’Amboise Theatre in Dr. Lena Edwards Academic Charter School here in Jersey City. She let us know about her book, available on Amazon, and gave us a glimpse of where her story and her overall passion for the arts came from.
Meet Eiko La Boria.
What’s your name?
Eiko La Boria.
What do you do?
I’m a writer based out here in Jersey City.
And we’re here to talk about your book. What is it called?
It’s called The Fame Shame Game: The Debut.
Can you tell me a little bit more about the book?
It’s about the experiences of an actress out in Los Angeles. Her name is Lana De Luna. It’s very much about how sex and Hollywood go hand-in-hand, but also about how it can be abusive. Sex as a weapon, sex as a point of exploitation, and really how people are willing to do anything for fame including selling their souls.
Is this based on a true story?
It is based on a true story, yes.
So how did you get to LA? Tell us about the background.
I was in a writing class in New York and the professor said to me, “You’ll never get to the Cannes Film Festival.” When he told me that, I made sure I went to the next Cannes Film Festival. Cannes is the biggest film festival in all the world. It’s very glamorous, and I met many people there. I was on a rooftop with George Clooney, I was standing next to Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt when they were together, and I was able to meet a lot of different people. Among them was the actress Lana De Luna is based on. From there, she invited me to LA and on the very first day, she invited me to a premiere and began to confess the things she had to do to try to make it in Hollywood. It was very sad for me because I felt that she was confessing, like I was a priest and she was confessing. Maybe sometimes it’s easier to talk about the things that are haunting you when you don’t know someone, and that’s exactly what happened. As soon as I got back to the apartment I was staying in, this story was just knocking. Like, This must be told, this world of Hollywood and the underbelly.
Is she okay with you writing her story?
Well, I’ve changed the names and situations to protect the guilty. Even the director the story is based on is someone who is very famous, very powerful in Hollywood. He had a big movie come out last summer, but you alter the names so it doesn’t really become about them but about the story.
How was the experience of writing the book?
It was very sad at times, very funny at times. I tend to infuse humor into my stories because I’m someone who infuses humor into life. At the same time, there was something very sad about it. Although there is a lot of sex and it’s titillating, and it’s talking about all these sexual innuendos and taboo things, at the end of the day it’s about someone having to do this and not wanting to in order to obtain fame. I think there’s something sad about that. It’s not a glamorization about the sex in Hollywood. It’s more of a cautionary tale.
Where can people get the book?
It’s available on Amazon and any online seller. This book was written a few years ago, but at the time, I don’t think people were really ready for it. I don’t think Hollywood was ready to say this is what happens. That has changed in time, and now we’re in this moment in time where it’s very possible for women to come out and say, “I was abused. I was exploited.” It’s looked at differently.
How do you feel about the whole scandal with Harvey Weinstein and all these actresses speaking out against sexual misconduct in Hollywood?
To give you a little background, I wrote this during the time when Roman Polanski was arrested in Switzerland for having raped a child. He escaped the US and went to Europe in hiding. While I was writing this, a lot of Hollywood people like Whoopi Goldberg, Meryl Streep, and Martin Scorsese were actually defending Roman Polanski and were talking about how you have to let this go even though he had committed a crime. That was the mentality, and people weren’t ready for this book at the time. I actually saw Harvey Weinstein at a lecture once. He was being interviewed by The New York Times film critic Janet Maslin. One thing that struck me about him was he kept saying, “Somebody quoted me as being the Devil.” He sort of took delight in that. As he was speaking to the audience and said, “Remember, I’m the Devil,” he’d grin and there was always the undercurrent of something there that I feel he was proud of. I think it’s great that people are coming out, better late than never, but women have often been just as culpable in hiding the truth. I think women are finally realizing, “I don’t need to go along with this. I don’t need to look the other way.” And that’s good.
What are your plans with the book to get the word out there?
It’s sort of at a resurgence now because of everything that’s happening, and there’s a lot of people more interested. I’m thankful to you for being interested, and I’m very happy that this is on a local level where people in Jersey City can know more about it.
Did you grow up here?
Yes, I’m from Puerto Rico and Jersey City. Puerto Rico is my birthright, Jersey City is my hometown. For me, it’s great to be able to share this with my hometown.
And you went to Dr. Lena Edwards Academic Charter School?
Yes, I went to this school.
Tell us a little bit more about the auditorium. It’s beautiful!
I wanted to meet here because it’s one of the first places where my creativity sort of came out and flourished. Jacques d’Amboise, who was the principal dancer for the New York City Ballet, had a program here called the National Dance Institute. He would come into urban areas, take children and introduce them to the art of dancing. Dancing was my first form of storytelling. This theater is actually named after Jacques d’Amboise because of that. For me, it holds many memories from Christmas shows and performing here, and my childhood. I wanted to share this with Jersey City and share this with you because I know you like this. It’s a hidden jewel.
I love it, it’s very old Hollywood. Do you have a favorite Jersey City hangout spot?
I’m always behind a computer so I don’t have the chance to get out much.
How has it been living in LA and coming back home?
LA is one of the scariest places I’ve ever been to in my life! I love the East Coast. LA has its purpose, but I love Jersey City and New York.
Any last things you want people to know about you or your book?
I would say: please read it. It’s not a glamorization of the sex in Hollywood but more of a thing to be cautious about. Support the book any way you can. I’m going to do more readings in Jersey City about it.
Do you think there’ll be a movie about it one day?
I’ve been approached for shows, so it’s ongoing. A lot of people tell me it has a Valley of the Dolls feel where it can continue because it’s endless and there’s always a new actress in Hollywood. That’s exciting.
That’s awesome. Congratulations!
You can find The Fame Shame Game: The Debut on Amazon.
Acknowledgments: Author Eiko La Boria, Illustrator Emmanuel Xerx Javier, Book Designer Sunny Yeung, and Visual Designer Vanessa Comar.