This turned out far longer than I anticipated. I was expecting to write another three-chapter story, like Rook or Cross-Tribal Mating Disasters.... A fairly extended story, certainly, but at nine chapters, not the Homeric epic it turned out to be.
Everything here is "true." To line up as a better story, sequences of events have been changed, along with all proper names. Also, I never, ever dealt drugs in large quantities, no siree Bob, I never did that, that's my story, and I'm sticking to it. Just like the performers and crew, who never touched drugs in their life, honest.
My goal was to sort of illustrate what the average day was like working on the set of a small pornographic video production company.... And then I realized just how fucking dull that would be. Yes, making porn is dull: like any production, you shoot some tape, "Cut!" is called, you stand around while the director and producer argue about some minutiae no one will notice, cameras and lights are shifted around, performers locate their marks, then you hear, "Cameras.... Sound.... And action." You would use the meth (which was absolutely not available on the set, don't be ridiculous, that would be illegal) just to keep awake during cuts. Then you get anywhere from two to seven minutes worth of filming done before "Cut!" is called again.
And the fact that you're filming (or in my case, photographing) people fucking does nothing to change things. You're making a film on a low budget, period. There are some technical differences, to be sure, when compared to the activities on the set of, say, a sitcom, but otherwise it's just film-making. You are inured to what the people on the far side of the lens are doing by the end of your first day of shooting. It is meaningless.
So what is operating a camera for a fuck-flick production company like? It is....
Where there can be two to twelve people having sex in front of you.
Where a director will spend two minutes chewing out a male performer over the quality of the performer's ejaculation.
Where a female performer will want to re-shoot part of a scene because she felt her fake orgasm looked too contrived.
Where a male performer, bless their tiny little brains, will get confused and spout out the female performer's lines, much to everyone's amusement (even the director's).
Where a single female employee is given the solitary task of fellating any man who walks over and stands in front of her (she is seated) with his penis out.
Where you can hear the hair and makeup woman growl, "If he gets cum in her hair, I'm cuttin' off his dick with a pair of pinking shears."
And where there is a very strong camaraderie among all involved, because they know they have a really fuckin' weird job, are hated by large numbers of people (usually holding Bibles or Korans) for the media they produce, and the knowledge that the sole purpose of their work is to give lonely men something to look at while they masturbate. And also because ultimately, the job can be pretty damn fun at times. Funny, too.
This is about producing porn.
It's also about the sort of personal relationships that can sprout out of the job.... And believe me, office romances ain't got shit on the ones that can happen among a group of people whose job it is to fuck in front of a camera. A physical relationship can bloom in hours, but emotional connection is shaped and fine-tuned, because both male and female performers have been burned too many times by trying to date members of "the public."
In 1988 - 89, this is what making commercial pornography was all about.
The performer scoffed. "There's no point in blowing money on an equalizer for a car stereo! Put your money into a good amplifier and speakers, and that's all you really need."
"Yeah, if you're listening to the exact same style of music constantly, and nothing else," I told her. "Relying on the bass and treble knobs only gives you two choices: dull and tinny."
She smiled. "Lenn-ny, I've heard your music. Does being able to finesse the sound really matter all that much?"
I took a drag off my cigarette. "Hey, c'mon. I listen to a lot of different stuff, not just hardcore."
She puffed her own cigarette, walked to the steps leading into the pool, and stepped in until she was about knee-deep. "Well.... Okay. You listen to free jazz, and rockabilly, and that weird hillbilly stuff... and... ahh...." The movement of the two middle fingers on her right hand, wedged inside her pussy, seemed to reach a crescendo. She sucked in air through her mouth, then breathed out, as if doing a breathing exercise. "Whoa."
"Good one?" I asked.
"Yeah. Heh, wasn't expecting that." Her right hand slowed to nearly still, not stopping though.
"That happens to me, too," I said. "You think you're just knocking one off, whatever, and then ka-boom! Nearly blow a hole in the shower wall."
"Is that where you always jack off?"
"Nah. Masturbating in the shower is almost entirely force of habit, going back to when I was thirteen. It's always a quickie, three minutes of yankin', then ejaculate --- I'd barely call it orgasm, it's just a release. Every now and then, though.... Wow! I've actually gone to my knees because it was so intense. But I've got my own place so I can knock one off wherever I feel: shower, bedroom, living room, closet, refrigerator...."
The performer started laughing. "You've jacked off in your refrigerator!?"
I decided to keep playing it up. "Oh, absolutely. I'll warn you now: if you're ever at my place, eat the yogurt at your own risk."
She began laughing so hard she actually removed her hand from her pussy, so she could grab the hand rail of the pool stairs.
"Hey, can you bring the ashtray over here? I don't wanna be a bitch and knock ashes in the water."
"Yeah, no problem."
I held the ashtray in one hand so we both could use it; hers was gone, so I handed her one of mine. She said, "Marlboros? It's your fault if I pass out from smoking this." Her right hand had sped up just a bit.
I lit the cigarette for her. "Yeah, and there'll be a fight among the crew over who gets to perform mouth-to-mouth."
She laughed and rolled her eyes. "I'll just have Mickey do it. He'd be the only one who wouldn't try to slip me some tongue." (Mickey, a sometimes-sound tech, was as gay as a goose. Let's just say he lived the stereotype.)
I protested, "Aw, c'mon. Any dude who would do that in real life is a fuckin' scumbag. Talk about beggin' for a boot party, y'know? 'Hey, thanks for saving her life, buddy, and by the way.... BAM!"
"Oh Lenny. Always the tough guy."
Again I protested. "I'm not a tough guy, and never was. Shit, Mickey could take me if he was pissed off enough at me and I wasn't pissed at him. I never fight for fun, I can't turn that sort of aggression on and off. Working for Smut & Stuff? I was just a bouncer; I got away with it because at that point I totally looked the part, and was always high enough on speed that I carried a lot of aggro attitude. The only assholes I'd get tough with were the kiddie porn scumbags, and that's 'cos I was told to --- and really didn't mind a bit --- so the store would have the rep among those creeps as a bad place to be. It wasn't just, y'know, a business thing, I don't think. I truly believe the higher-ups did have, like, a moral war against the scumbags, and hey, given who I was asked to knock around, I had no problem with it. Fuckin' weekly or more I got to push around and scare the shit out of some dog-fuckin' scumbag who got his jollies from little kids. That's not being a tough guy, that's being a decent human being, you know?"
The performer puffed, frowned, then looked up at me. "Yeah, I see your point. Gimme a baseball bat and I'd have helped you," she smiled. Her right hand slowed down some.
I looked at her crotch and said, "Again, already?"
"Oh no. I'm just trying to stay hot, not come. Jesus, I hope they fix that damn tape drive soon." She gave me a questioning look. "So you said you looked the part, for being a bouncer in a porn shop," she giggled, "and what has changed since?"
"Oh! I used to look way more hardcore. Shit, I was amazed they hired me; I applied as a joke, but I guess they saw use for some ugly punk rock bastard on a night shift, and I suppose they were right."
"So how did you look different? Lenny, I won't lie, I'd cross the street to avoid you."
"Are you serious?" I frowned.
"Yeah." Her hand had sped up slightly.
I frowned: I felt genuinely insulted. "Gee, thanks," I growled. I got a hold of myself after a moment and said, "When I worked there, I think I owned one pair of jeans that weren't ripped, my pants were always tucked into my boots --- " I held up one engineer-clad foot "--- and my boots were adorned with spike straps, chains, and bandannas. I always wore band t-shirts of course, four or five spike bracelets, sometimes a bondage collar, I always spiked my hair, I always had sunglasses on, and half the time I was a bit smelly."
"The girl I was dating most of that time and I would, you know, fool around before I left for work. We had different schedules, so before work was when we both had time. Sometimes a twenty minute quickie, sometimes a few hours of riding each other like hobby horses. My level of stinkiness depended on how, um, busy we'd been, and for how long, and whether I'd allotted time to take a shower. Basically, I'd show up for work smelling like I'd been fucking, because I had. Nothin' like realizing an hour or so into your shift that the front of your pants are lightly soaked in girl-cum."
"No boy cum?" She eyed me suspiciously.
"Not with her," I said. "She, uh, she had a thing for, um, swallowing. She really, truly got off on it. We'd both had blood tests, we'd promised monogamy, and she was on the pill, but I swear in the seven months we were together, I probably actually came inside her a half-dozen times. The rest of the time she'd tell me, 'Gimme a ten-second warning and bring your cock up here,' so she could get a mouthful."
"Most dudes would kill for a girl who always wanted finish the guy off with her mouth."
I shrugged. "Well.... Yeah, it felt great, but still.... Every damn time? It's a whole different feeling than coming during straight sex, and while I can't say one is better than the other, coming in a pussy is a major high. The orgasm radiates outward from your cock, and you have a feeling like your bones are turning to jelly. At least for me, anyway.
"Anyway.... Look at me now: clean black denims with no holes, pants outside the boots and only one spike strap --- and a small one --- a clean t-shirt, my hair is still bleached but just short, no product. Two small bracelets. Yeah, I still have the piercings, but oh well. And I wear sunglasses when I'm outdoors in the sun. Shit, I feel embarrassed about the 'sunglasses indoors' thing now, it's such a stupid pose."
"And you're not stinky, near as I can tell. That's good. Does that mean you have no girlfriend?"
"Weeellll.... Kinda. Nothing serious. Two fuck-friends. One's a girl I've known since high school: we met up by coincidence, went out partying, ended up spending the weekend in bed, and basically said, 'Hey, that was fun, we should do this more often when we have the chance.' She made it clear after the first kiss she did not want a boyfriend, I wouldn't be the only guy she would fuck, and we could be close friends, but nothing romantic. That's six months old at this point. I've gone for three weeks without even a phone call returned, and I've had her not leave my apartment for four days.... Or even have her get dressed in that time. I'd go out for several hours on business and she'd be naked on the couch, come back and think she'd left, only to find her in my room masturbating like she's trying to wear it off and telling me to get naked, like, now.
"The other is different. Still fuck-friends, but heavier on the 'friends.' We go out and do stuff: 'Hey, let's go bowling tonight' or 'Mini golf sounds like fun.' Or even just hang around one of our places drinking beer and watching TV. She's weird, she loves Miller and M&Ms together."
"Ewww, gross!" declared the performer.
"It truly is," I agreed. "Y'know, I'd say that we're dating, except for a few problems."
"Well.... The first is that she's married. Separated, but still married. She's actually monogamous with me --- she knows about the other girl and is cool with it, in fact they get along. The three of us actually all went out to dinner once. They embarrassed me by knocking back a few too many margaritas and having a fake argument over whose turn it was to sexually exploit me. Having two women yelling, 'It's my turn to fuck him!' 'No, it's mine!' might sound good in one of these movies, but not in real life, and not in a somewhat snooty restaurant."
The performer said, "Well, duh. Three-way."
"Uh huh. In one of these movies. Preceded by badly-choreographed wrestling."
Her hand had sped up again. "So who did you end up with that night?"
I held my palms up and said, "Neither. I dropped off the two lushes and went home. And yes, I did knock one off thinking about a three-way."
She frowned. "Why didn't you stay with one of them?"
"I couldn't. They were drunk. I've got a personal rule about sex with drunk girls, in that I won't, period. It's not 'cos of any bad experience, it's just.... If I fuck someone, they've gotta be all there. Drunks aren't all there, know what I mean? And the next morning is worse. Think about it, the morning after you've been fucked stupid, you feel great, right?"
The performer agreed.
"Well, shit. If you were drunk, that good feeling is dissolved by your goddamn hangover, and that sucks. And.... I dunno, maybe it's just my own personal morals. Yeah, I've been having sex with them both, both of them alluded to the fact they wouldn't mind me spending the night, but.... I just can't, not with a drunk girl. Even if it's totally consensual, I still feel like I'm taking advantage, that I'm.... raping them. Like it's against their will, it's the alcohol making the decisions for 'em, and it isn't really their choice. Does that make sense to you?"
The performer said with a gasp, ".... minute...." and did her inhale/exhale routine.
"I thought you weren't gonna come."
She smiled at me, "It kinda snuck up on me. You talking about that girl waiting in your room for you, and going for days without putting on clothes, the idea just got me worked up, y'know?" She stepped out of the pool and headed for the patio table, where her cigarettes (something bland, definitely not Marlboros) sat. She had both hands free. In the forty minutes or so we'd been outside, it was the first time she had stopped masturbating for more than several seconds.
We both lit up, her saying, "I did hear what you were saying. You sound like you're a bit uncomfortable with your decision, and your own moral standards. Do you mind hearing advice on morality from some bitch who sucks and fucks in front of a camera?"
"What's wrong with your morality? Are you forcing anyone to take part in filming, or to watch the finished product against their will? If you were a military recruiter, that'd be a different story."
She laughed. "Have you seen those uniforms? Total uggo." Her face got serious. "Lenny, your attitude is fucking admirable. You should be proud of yourself. Shit, there's too many guys out there who would have got them both drunker, waited till they passed out, and fucked 'em both in the car.... Or at least fucked them one at a time after carrying them into their houses: carry one in, fuck her, drive the other one home, then fuck her. You say you won't have sex with a girl who's drunk, because she's not in full control of herself. Even if her mouth is saying 'yes.' God dammit, Lenny, that is fucking awesome. The world needs more guys like you! We got plenty of creeps and horny assholes who'd have taken advantage of that scene you described, and been utter sickos.
"So why the long face, Eeyore? You're one of the men left on the planet who has a sense of honor, who is capable of doing the right thing in a situation. What's the prob?"
"Don't hate me."
"Depends, but okay."
"Some of of the things you were saying.... umm.... I thought about."
The performer stared at me for a moment, then punched me in the arm. "Lenny, dammit! You can't feel guilty for thinking about things!
"Look, I spend enough time in L.A. that my boyfriend picked me up a gun. It's a Banker's Special, a .38 made by Colt. It stays on the floor under my seat, all I have to do is reach down with my left hand and I'm holding it. When someone cuts me off in traffic, sometimes I think, 'God, I could just reach down, grab my pistol, and ruin that person's day.' But it's just a thought, and I keep it that way.
"Everybody has bad thoughts. You only need to worry about it if you turn those thoughts into actions. And you didn't. I didn't shoot at a jerk in traffic, you didn't take advantage of two drunk girls. Please, don't punish yourself over something that ran through your head. You'll either go crazy or become a Calvinist, and neither one is fun. It's like seeing a hot chick and thinking how awesome it would be to fuck her.... Then tracking her down and telling her to file a paternity suit against you, because you had sex with her in your mind." She put her hand on my arm. "Don't hate yourself for passing thoughts. Okay?"
I smiled and said, "Promise," and we hugged. A strange sensation: hugging a naked girl whom you've been watching compulsively masturbate for three-quarters of an hour, and --- if the tech-minded of the production crew can get the broken tape drive working again --- you'll be photographing while she has intercourse with another woman and two men. We weren't the only smokers, but we'd had the backyard to ourselves most of that time, and I was glad of it. Even if she treated masturbation like a minor nervous tic, something that just happened, she was smart and good to talk to. We both had that "New Friend" feeling.
Oh, by the way, my companion, the compulsive masturbator, her name is Bekka. Yeah, with two 'K's. This is Southern California, don't bother to question that shit. Bekka is trying to keep herself physically stimulated in anticipation of shooting: not wet --- there's plenty of lube available --- just turned on, having her body interested in what the mind has grown over-accustomed to.
Bekka is my best friend at work, with that friendship leaking into non-work time more and more. We chat on the phone, especially on days she doesn't work, so I can keep her apprised of the latest gossip. She is probably the smartest among the performers, with a couple years of college under her belt. She'd have completed her degree except for her mother contracting leukemia, putting a great financial strain on her father. She has a sufficiently active libido that performing in porn felt like a good fit for good money and short work days/weeks --- she'd finish up at the end of the day, shower, get dressed, and jet over to her parents' house to help her father. Her father, her little brother, and her managed to allow her mom to die in her own home, in peace, and surrounded by the family who loved her. (Another advantage of the porn industry: being able to call up and say, "I won't be available for several days, because I fucking said so. My mom just died." It was before my time, but they'd passed the hat and bought flowers for her and for her mom's funeral. I knew I was doing business with the right people when I heard that.)
Her family asked about her sudden ability to maintain her apartment, pay for her mom's medications (a huge financial burden she lifted), and more or less work when she pleased. She simply told them, "I am not breaking the law," and left it at that. Her brother figured it out (while shopping for porn) and confronted her. She told him to tell their father if he felt like, she wouldn't hide it. Hell, if they were so inclined, she could arrange for them to come watch a shoot, with or without her performing. But no one could say a word to her dying mother, who would be crushed. Bekka, brother, and Dad held a powwow and agreed: Bekka had simply landed a "well-paying sales job" which allowed her so much freedom in time and money.
Her father accepted his daughter's new career as an act of sacrifice, done for her mother. The shit hit the fan a couple months after Mom died and Bekka was still working for Inana Productions. Like many fathers, his adult daughter was still his Darling Baby Girl, and he was unhappy to learn she enjoyed the work and had no intent of getting a job waiting tables or answering phones. Their relationship was rocky. A simple phone conversation could turn into a shouting match ("My daughter's a whore!" "And your whore daughter paid for your wife's meds while she was dying because you couldn't afford them!"); these were devastating for Bekka. Sounds strange, but I was flattered the first time she called me up sobbing, after one of her phone chats with Dad. It showed a level of trust in me I hadn't expected, and an assumption of intelligence: I'd be able to calmly help her work through her grief (she'd lost one person she loved, and was at risk of losing a second) and hopefully offer solutions and coping skills, practical insight beyond, "Dude, that totally sucks, yer Dad's bein' a dick over the whole porn thing." That was how Bekka and I started becoming off-work friends: she'd call up the company drug dealer and still photographer looking for a shoulder to cry on, and coping advice. I always reminded her to keep a line of communication open: it was obvious her and her father loved each other, but he was having his brain bent by his daughter's career choice. It's hard as hell for everyone on the planet, but sometimes you have to concede.... Or at least give the appearance of concession, I told her.
Bekka ground out her cigarette. She'd stopped actively masturbating and was now just... caressing herself. "So you said there were a couple other problems with dating this second woman."
"Mmm, yeah. I guess because of her failed marriage, she's gun-shy of relationships. Like, pathologically so. Check this: I sent her a card on Valentine's. Just a funny card, really light, no big deal, right? So I see her a day or two later and she is ragingly pissed off. She's all, 'What the fuck is this?' waving the card at me. 'We're not dating, we don't have a relationship, don't you ever send me shit like this again! Am I clear!?' I told her, yeah, crystal, and left again.
"She called me the next day to apologize. I asked what set her off so bad; she hemmed and hawwed and never really answered me. I told her that I was just trying to do something nice for a friend, that there was no deeper meaning in it. I swear I could hear the relief flood in over the phone."
I continued. "So there's that. The biggie is our difference in age."
"Why? How old is she?"
"Um, she's forty-one."
Bekka bolted up in her chair. "Whoa! Dude! And you're, what?"
She gave me a look with raised eyebrows and a crooked smile. "Yeah, there might be problems there. Damn. So, what's the direct opposite of a cradle-robber?"
"No fuckin' clue. Maybe it applies to her, I dunno."
"So how the hell did the two of you hook up?"
"She works at an art supply store in Kearney Mesa, I was in looking for supplies, just some ink and some vellum. Here's this good-looking woman with cropped natural blonde hair and a denim jacket with an IRA flag on the back.... And a store name tag on the front. A good chance to chat her up. I mean, I knew she was older than me, but I was off by about ten years. I started chatting her up and asked her out to dinner. She told me, 'Dinner's no good for tonight, but if you want to buy a lady lunch I wouldn't refuse.' Hey, she's forward, I like that. I took her to a Mexican place for lunch and she practically licked the plate. Turned out she hadn't eaten since the day before, she was so broke. Her inability to have dinner with me that night was so she could eat with her semi-ex-husband and try to get him to raise her 'allowance.' She did agree to dinner over the weekend, though. We went to a decent restaurant, partied some at her place, had some pretty wild sex, and the rest is history."
Bekka looked at me sideways with a grin; her hand was active again. "So, how wild of sex?"
"She likes to be.... Restrained, for one. Also spanked. Also called a dirty little slut among other things. And also --- and this blew my mind --- she actually gets off on taking a facial, only you have to do it rough, like kneeling on her arms so she can't move if she's not just plain tied down, and grabbing her by the hair, and telling her to open her mouth.... Or, more precisely, 'Dirty little cocksucker, open your fucking mouth and suck down my cum, you know you want it.'"
"Wow indeed. It's not really my style at all, but it was fun, because we knew we were just play-acting. Kink is something I've never taken part in. It felt kinda weird for the submissive having to give instructions to the domme, like the correct knots to use and the amount of slack or tension to leave, stuff like that, but I learned quick. She was happy to have someone to play games with at all, and if they needed training, oh well."
I chuckled. "It's actually the rough sex that wrecked her marriage."
Bekka looked over. What, did she cheat with some domme type?"
"Naw. That probably would have been simpler. I guess she's always had some built-in kink to her, and as she got older, she got more and more demanding with her husband about trying the stuff she likes."
"Wait. The dude didn't know she was into kink?"
"Oh, he knew, but he refused to take part. He was total Mister Conservative Christian, and I guess she originally was too.... But they moved from small-town Minnesota to out here, and time passed, and she saw no reason to not enjoy her own built-in sexuality. I mean, if it was me? If my wife was walking into the living room naked, carrying handcuffs, and saying, 'I'm a bad little girl, daddy, you need to restrain me and spank me and teach me naughty things,' um, my response is gonna be, 'Bend over my knee, naughty girl, and gimme those cuffs so my bad little girl doesn't go anywhere. And later I'm teaching you a game called Swallow the Swan.'
"Basically, her husband wanted her to be happy with a ten-minute fuck every Saturday, and that's all. They tried discussing it, and it turned into arguments every time. She wanted to see a marriage counselor, but he refused to see a non-conservative Christian marriage counselor. You know, someone who'd agree with him all the time and condemn her as a harlot or whatever for being into kink. She finally said, 'This isn't working at all. I want to have a sex life, and you are sex-death. I'm tired of masturbating in the shower for any sense of release.' Check it, the dude got pissed off at her for masturbating! You know, the most normal human behavior there is! Anyway, I guess she had a little of her own money and was able to get a tiny apartment in Normal Heights. Her husband won't grant her a divorce because God-fearing Christians don't get divorces.... Like, he'd be shamed by everybody at his church, especially when they found out the reason for the divorce. 'My wife insists on having a say in our sex life.' 'The strumpet!' She filed a legal separation, which doesn't require anything from him, and has pretty much written him off."
"So when did you two find out each other's ages?"
"Uhh.... After about three weeks. She asked me to walk down to the market and buy beer, and I told her I couldn't. She asked why, and I showed her my driver's license."
Bekka snorted with laughter. "I'm assuming she shared her age at the same time?"
"After she stopped hyperventilating, yes. Each of us thought the other was around thirty. She was more bugged than I was. 'I've got a daughter who's only four years younger than you!' was one of her comments. I told her, cool, I can help teach her to drive."
Bekka now shrieked with laughter and kicked her feet in the air. "Oh my God! Too classic! I swear, only you, Lenny, would end up having an affair with a kinky Minnesota submissive twice your age!"
"Hey. You know, 'Minnesota Submissive' would be a good band name."
"I love you Lenny. You're the fun kind of crazy."
I finished my cigarette, crossed my eyes and made a silly face, and told Bekka I was gonna go get a progress report.