I stepped through the doors and into a contrast of activities. The large family room/media room contained both male performers, "Chip" and "Dale." They were close friends off-set; rumor had it they were lovers. If so, they were loyal to each other, as their blood tests always came back clean. They were well-mannered and pleasant, but also... Well, the phrase "thick as shit" comes to mind. Both had the intellectual capacity of fairly clever nine year olds, the types who moved their lips when you were reading.
Both were kneeling behind a sofa, transfixed by a small electronic device being operated by Mickey. He had one of the newly-released Game Boys, and was contending with Chip and Dale yelling advice over his shoulder as he played Tetris. (He told me later the two of them would be scolded by him --- "Will you little bitches stop yelling in my ears and let me play!?" --- and, chastened, they would apologize and watch in silence.... For about two minutes, then the advice would start again, quietly at first, but the volume would steadily increase. Not to be mean, they really were nice dudes, but it was another good example of their intellect: they could get really worked up over a game of Tetris.)
On the other side of the room our fluffer, Rita, and the other female performer, Tawny (real name Gretchen; I'd use my stage name as a standard too) were idly flipping through channels, trying to find something good to watch. It was about noon, so it was too late for game shows and too early for soap operas or Phil Donohue. The glass coffee table in front of them had about two grams of speed (or meth, or crank, or whatever you feel like calling methamphetamine in powder/rock form) piled on it; next to the speed was a shot glass with yellow tablets in it: MDMA, or ecstasy. I knelt down and used the razor blade sitting next to the pile to scrape away some from the main pile, enough for a good bump, and began crushing it up with a Bic lighter.
Tawny put her feet on the floor and said, "Lenny, tap one for me too, please darling?" Rita echoed Tawny's request.
"Yeah, no problem," I said, scooping more away from the main pile.
With the extended break, Tawny had pulled on a t-shirt, more than any other performer had bothered with. Watching me chop lines, she leaned forward, with her elbows on her knees and her chin in her hands, knees wide apart, providing me with a drearily familiar sight. I always wondered if gynecologists ever had to suppress rolling their eyes when given a view of an artfully-shaved vagina.
I guess I got along with Tawny. She was considered matronly and wise, due to her advanced age of 31. I would later learn this to be bullshit: she hadn't started in the business until she was 28, following a rather ugly divorce. Making a living doing porn was her ultimate "fuck you" to her ex-husband: apparently she'd been a nice little housewife (no children) starting at age 19 and remained that way until she found out her husband was boffing his way through the female staff where he worked (and was paid well). His lawyer could beat up her lawyer, and she got screwed out of any measurable alimony.... Excluding a gig at Baskin Robbins in high school, she had no work experience and no job skills; now she had no money, no car, and a three month window to move out of a house she was sharing with a complete bastard.
Ironically, the bastard was her saving grace. Her now-ex was a sex junkie: he'd fuck one or two of the female staffers, then come home to his smiling loyal wife, eat dinner.... And the two of them would screw for the rest of the night. Thanks to him (and his porn tapes) she would do and enjoy anal, she could take a facial without dodging or squinting, she could talk dirty, she had good control of her gag reflex, and she would do it all with a smile on her face because she was enjoying herself.
The "fuck you" to her ex was a lot like a prison rape: he had to sit there and take it, and making any noise would get him in a world of hurt. He'd kept her sequestered and socially isolated, so even the low-level of fame she had was proof she no longer was controlled by him. Also, the company he worked for was owned by Mormons, who would not be sympathetic to his dilemma: announcing, "Yeah, my ex-wife? She's doin' porn to pay the bills!" would wreck his career, but quick. And he lived in the constant fear that someone he knew, through work or personally, would be browsing porn (just like him) and come across a video box with his ex-wife's smiling and sticky face on the cover. Tawny had a solid work ethic; we were one of four studios she did work for, and all of them had used her picture as part of their box art. Her ex had to deal with the fact that she fucked, sucked, took it in the ass, smiled while taking a load in the face, did girl-girl scenes, and overall did a great job of being raunchy in front of cameras.... And if anyone found out, he was screwed.
What bothered me about her was that she gave off this insincere vibe that couldn't be tracked down. There was just something about her tone and inflection that made people assume she was lying to them. Seriously, if she told you the sky was blue, you'd walk to the nearest window to check. It sounds paranoid --- how can anyone be insincere when asking what toppings you like on pizza? --- but I swear to God, anything she said to you made you wonder what her real motives were. The upshot was I had to consciously remind myself to not be suspicious of Tawny, it was in my head, she was fine, I was confusing insincerity with low-level cynicism, and given how she'd entered the industry, anyone would sound snide and world-weary.
Rita, the fluffer, was the youngest person in the house. She was nineteen, barely.
(For those of you who are unclear on the subject, in porn a fluffer is a girl (or in gay porn, a guy) whose job it is to keep the male performers hard during cuts. It's a more difficult job than one would think: you're not just suckin' dick for anyone who stands in front of you. You have to be skilled at oral sex.... But not too skilled, in a way. I'm sure any fluffer in the world is capable of making a dead man come, but that isn't what's needed. The fluffer has to keep the guy hard, but make sure to not get him off.... And in those pre-Cialis days, a male performer shooting his wad (especially with the fluffer) would set that day's work back a while while the guy recovered and got hard again. The money shot would look weak too, as he'd just lost all the fluid he'd been saving back for at least 36 hours. So a fluffer had to be a mind-reader, too: realize if the guy was getting too excited, work extra-hard if the guy was having trouble staying hard (invariably drug-related --- cocaine was quickly disappearing from the drug arsenal of production companies because of its suppressive nature) and generally perform a job with no glamour or even much respect. There's not a lot of room for ego indulgence when your job is to fellate literally any penis that appeared in front of you. Lean forward in your chair, grab the organ, and use your skills to make it as hard as possible, then stop.)
Rita was an interesting case. Unlike most fluffers, she wasn't feeding a habit: she smoked weed and would use some of the speed available on shoots, but that was it. She was a Mexican girl, a ruca from the barrio, complete with the heavily-feathered hair and severe makeup and the complex black rubber bands woven on her hands and wrists and the long fingernails. Still, she seemed to carry a lot of contempt for cholo culture: it was like she knew that staying in that scene would get her nothing but pregnant and saddled to a gang-banger she felt no love for. She already had older friends whose visits to their men involved visiting either a prison or a cemetery.
So.... While still holding on to the fashion, she'd go to white clubs to go dancing, listened to 91X, the local "new wave" station, and drove a beat down Toyota Tercel. It seemed to be a declaration that yes, she was definitely one of las homegirls, but did not want to live out her life the way far too many of them did.
She was nearly the only fluffer our small company had. She showed up sober and on time, didn't have a drug habit, and --- honest to God --- loved her work. She truly, honestly loved to suck cock, and on a couple different levels. She enjoyed it as a sexual activity of course, but also viewed it as a constructive contribution to the world. "What guy isn't happy when they're getting sucked?" she told me once. "Think about it. Women could create world peace. If women made los líderes mundiales come a couple times a day, they'd be too happy to start wars!"
To be frank, I still can't find a flaw in that logic.
In fact, her view of fellatio was holistic: there was nothin' that couldn't be solved or cured (in men) via bobbing the knob. "My boyfriend's back was hurting him, so I took a good long time blowing him, and when he was done his back felt great!" Ooo-kay then. If this is true, medical science could take a wild new turn.
I have no idea how she got the job. In fact, I didn't know how anyone ended up working there. My own employment wasn't a secret: I started out as their drug connection, providing speed and ecstasy in volume. I'd usually hang around and watch the shoot for a while (my arrival being greeted with the same enthusiasm as Santa Claus by performers and crew) and chew the fat with people.
And I'll confess, there were a couple of the girls I wanted to ask out. This was a difficult hand to play: after all, what do you say.... "Hi, I'm the reason you're high on 'E' right now. I've been watching you fuck and give head for the last forty minutes, and I was wondering if you have any plans for dinner tomorrow night." Besides, if gossip was an Olympic event, our "stable" of performers would bring home the gold. Dating one of the girls would lead to the presumption among everyone else of, "She's dating our supplier. She must be after his dope." Not to mention that making overtures towards sex could be uncomfortable. "So, you've spent the day in various acts of coitus. Hey, let's fool around, baby!" I imagine that for the girls, a nice night with a boyfriend would consist of slipping into sweats, ordering delivery pizza, and cuddling on the couch. Maybe sex later, but maybe not: a penis-free evening could be what they really want from a guy as often as not.
(And I learned later, I was well off base. The girls wanted to screw their boyfriends as much as any other woman, but they wanted it to be relaxed, spontaneous, and not rushed. They want to take their time, above all. Anyone who has observed a shoot for a porno movie knows there's a huge difference between what happens on a set and what happens in real life.... And appreciates the difference.
The biggest problem for female performers was dating guys who thought they'd be able to act out their own porn-based fantasies with the girl who'd appeared in 'Horny Hellcats VII'. If the guys wanted the relationship to go past the second date, they had to learn that women in porn are taking a guy's seminal fluids all over her face ("Oh yeah, give me that hot load, baby") because that's what they're paid to do. The same with anal, spanking, blowjobs in public, three-ways, and a host of other activities that show up in porn. Like a lot of things in life, the girls do it because that's how they pay their bills.... And probably don't feel like taking their work home with them.
Some newbie female performers also have a difficult lesson to learn. Women with high-revving libidos will attempt porn performance under the illusion that they'll get paid to fuck all day. Um, nope! What's going on is the production of a movie, not a night at a swinger's club. Yes, you'll have a man's erection in your vagina.... For about seven minutes, tops, before lights and cameras have to be moved, the director, producer, and head cameraman hold a discussion about positions for the next few minutes of film, the male(s) avail themselves of the fluffer, and the thousand minor details involved in producing a movie are seen to. I hope you smoke, honey, because you'll have time to kill. Where I did my work, there was an early Nintendo NES which got plenty of use during shoots. Girls would bring books or magazines to kill time during breaks.
Overall, female performers love sex. They just don't consider what they do at work to be "sex," per se. It's performance. For them, sex involves a higher level of closeness, a relaxed pace --- physically and emotionally --- and a degree of mutual empathy with her partner. Sure, they enjoy good ol' fashioned, straight-up fuckin'.... Sometimes. I think ultimately female porn performers really enjoy sex, and really value the cuddling afterward even more.
And for you guys out there who think dating a performer would be a blast, I'm gonna burst your bubble. The sex probably won't be the maniacal roller-coaster ride you're expecting.... Although what will make her happy is the last think you'd expect: the size of your penis. See, the average male human penis, when erect, is designed to fit quite nicely in the average female human vagina. Simply put, your dick's the size it is for a reason. Women don't like huge penises, especially long ones. I'll assume you have a basic grasp of female anatomy, and point out that the cervix isn't located all that far up. A dude with an eight inch dick will have to search high and low looking for a woman who wants her cervix pummeled like a boxer's speed bag. Yours truly is no monster: I'm just slightly larger than "average:" I'm kinda wide, and maybe 6¾" long. I've still run into trouble with women who were set a bit "shallow." Nothing puts the kibosh on yer horizontal happy times than the woman going, "Ahh.... Ow... oww... ahh.... No, no, I'll be okay in a minute.... ow.... ah... oww...." Only if you're a sadist are you going to find that sexy. So throw away that dumb-ass "$5 Foot-Long" t-shirt and relax, knowing your dick is the size it is because it was meant to be that size. You. Are. Fine.)
Anyway, I was their connection. They were solid customers, they had the cash, and it was an interesting scene to hang around in for a while. Then one morning, the director walks up to me and asks if I know how to use an SLR. Well.... Sure, it ain't brain surgery, I own a Pentax.... Why do you ask?
"Our fucking cameraman quit on us. Showed up hung over, cursed me and the video guys, and took off. Are you doing anything today? Think you could help us out?"
I shrugged and said, "Um, I'll try. I'm hardly a professional, so I make no promises about the quality of what I'm shooting. Don't you have another cameraman?"
"No, we don't. The pretentious artsy bastard was our only dependable one. Look, all you gotta do is get shots of the action and stay out of the way of the video cameras. Will you do it? Please?"
Well. He said the magic word, and my day was clear, so what the hell. We went over the two Nikons I'd be using (identical cameras with different lenses, as it was quicker than changing lenses on a single camera), showed me how to change out film ("and you gotta be fast, so you're not missing action ") and essentially instructed me to not worry about going through film, they had plenty. They had no problem with developing twenty rolls; some would be shit which couldn't be helped, even with a pro, and some would be gold.
"Okay, no problem. What do you do with all of the photos?"
"Oh, they get sent to L.A."
"What happens to them there?"
"The distributor in L.A. handles them," he said, with a tone that told me to shut the fuck up.
"Uhh.... What if what I shoot sucks?"
"Don't worry about that. Burn through film, something will be useful. Think of this as your audition: you're not getting paid for today, but you'll get $125 cash per day if we decide to work together. If it doesn't work out, no hard feelings, I'd still like you to keep us supplied no matter what. Deal?"
He chuckled. "Shit, on days you deliver, you'll be making more than the sound man or the fluffer. Can't beat that."
And so I spent the day going through rolls of film, switching between cameras depending on the shot, crawling around on my knees to keep out of the video cameras' way, making sure I wasn't casting shadows from the lighting, and doing my damndest to get solid well-framed shots of people fucking: a basic one-on-one indoors in the morning, and a poolside three-way that afternoon. I ran through eighteen rolls of film, nine and nine, careful to keep the two shoots separate by dropping the morning and afternoon shoots in two different Zip-Loc bags, which I marked with the date and time.
Two days later, the director called and told me I had a job if I wanted it. Both he and "the people in L.A." were more than pleased with my efforts and photos.
"Sure, great! It was fun!"
He chuckled. "Liked taking pictures of all those naked babes, huh?"
I wasn't sure if he was yanking my chain --- he knew about my old job at the porn shop --- so I told him the truth.
"Honestly? They barely entered my mind. C'mon, I was kinda nervous, I didn't wanna screw things up for you, so I was totally focused on getting good shots. I could have been pointing the camera at rocks, I just wanted to do a good job."
There was brief silence on the other end of the line. Then he said, "Huh. You know what? I think we can work well together. If you can get shots and not be distracted by the fact that you're shooting people fucking ---"
"Hell, I've watched you guys work how many times now? Twenty? Fun to watch if there's nothing on your mind, but with a camera in my hand...."
"--- then you'll be fine for this routine. Start tomorrow, be here around 9:30?"
"Yeah, no problem. Oh, and uh, shall I bring up an order?"
"Yeah, yeah. God knows we don't want to run low, I'd have a mutiny on my hands with no happy pills or powder."
"'Kay. See you tomorrow morning."
So I was their new still photographer. So what if I had no experience, the most rudimentary understanding of my equipment, and I had no idea what the stills were used for. Me asking about that would be like them asking about where I got my product: a stern refusal to answer a rude question.
The only people unhappy with my new-found employment were my own customers. They'd grown accustomed to me being available, and having product, six days a week from noon to midnight. Four of those days became a lot shorter, like six to eleven. Well.... They'd adjust; I had a knack for having product when no one else did, so they would have to adjust their schedules to when I was home. I was doing a hell of a commute to take dirty pictures, from El Cajon to La Costa: covering about half the county. The only saving grace was I was moving the opposite direction of commuter traffic.
I'd learned the basics of my Nikons by just plain being nosy: one afternoon, when we were done shooting, I carefully began to take one apart, figuring out what each bit did as I went along. I'm no engineer, but I can work out the logic of mechanical objects by being systematic and taking them apart. That night I did the same thing with my own Pentax, in a slightly more aggressive manner, working under the logic that an SLR, no matter the manufacturer, would still operate on the same principles.... And I was right. Within a couple days, I had a good grasp as to how a Nikon worked, and how to fix it if one of them went kablooey. I felt much more secure having this knowledge tucked away in my brain.
Of course, none of this meant a damn thing in our current situation. I knew jack over shit about high-end video equipment, beyond things like "Do Not Submerge In Water" and "Do Not Use Tape Drive As Wheel Chock On Any Vehicle Over 18,000 lbs. GVW." Still, I figured I'd at least offer to help.
The video guys, Steve and Steve, and the director were hunched over the dismantled drive in the kitchen (the light was best there), pointing at bits, swearing, throwing out suggestions, and generally not getting a lot done fast. This was not a piece of equipment you could run down to the nearest Radio Shack to replace. Even a good consumer electronics store would be doubtful: this was a specialized piece of professional equipment, used by professional cameramen. Cost alone would prevent your average suburban schmuck from purchasing a full set-up: the camera, plus tape drive, plus shoulder straps, plus a single tripod, plus battery back-ups, plus God knows what else I'm forgetting, would set you back at least $23 grand at the time; these were the same cameras used in TV news shows. A run to Circuit City was out of the question.
"Hey all, how's it goin'?"
I received negative mumbling in response.
"Anything I can do to help?"
One of the Steves snarled, "Yeah, you can get the fuck ouww!" The other Steve had elbowed him sharply in the ribs. My ill-deserved reputation as a violent man had preceded me. The elbow was a warning to not piss off the still camera guy.
The director said, "Yeah, there is, but it's dull and frustrating. Someone ---" he shot a pointed glare at Grumpy Steve "--- managed to knock all the mounting screws on the floor. Feel like hunting 'em down?"
"Hey, no problem, back in a minute." I headed for the front door, leaving an exchange of confused glances back and forth in my wake.
I went out to my car and retrieved my four-cell Mag-Lite, one of those big cop-style flashlights that can cast light or crack skulls. I came back in and asked, "How many am I looking for?"
"Um, eight," said the calmer Steve.
"No sweat." I turned on the flashlight and hit the floor, holding the flashlight on the ground so it would throw a beam parallel to the floor. I pressed the side of my face against the floor and began panning back and forth.
It's a technique that works well. The beam of the flashlight will throw a shadow from any object on the ground, and Bob's your uncle. "Let's see.... I got one...." I picked up the tiny screw. ".... Two..... Three.... Four, five.... Six.... Seven, and eight. Here ya go," I said, dropping the screws into the cover of the tape drive.
Three faces went slack-jawed at me: they'd been trying to track down the screws for fifteen minutes before giving up and returning to repairing the drive. I'd found them all in under a minute.
"How'd you do that?" asked Grumpy Steve.
"Oh! You just hold the flashlight against the floor and look for shadows. But you need a light with a bright solid beam, which is why I needed this," I said, holding up the Mag-Lite.
"Aren't those illegal?"
"What? Dude, it's just a flashlight. You can buy 'em at Big Five, even the six-cell ones that cops use for cracking skulls."
Grumpy Steve said, "Huh. I always thought you had to be a cop to even own one."
"Oh hell no. It's still just a flashlight. I mean, if they criminalized anything you could hurt somebody with, car keys would be illegal."
"Thanks, Lenny," the director said. "You just saved us a lot of time and aggravation. I've gotta remember that flashlight trick."
"Hey, no problem," I replied. "Lemme know if you need anything. I'll be out on the patio with Bekka."
"Actually.... No, never mind. I have an idea, but it's not fully formed yet."
"Okay. I'll probably be outside."
As I got to the glass slider, I heard Grumpy Steve say in a not-low-enough voice, "Maybe we should take away his car keys every day," to which Calm Steve said, "Dude, shut up."
I mentioned the way gossip flew at our company. The rumors about me were that I was a Dangerously Violent Person. One of those psycho punk rock lunatics. I surely had at least three knives on my person at all times, what I'd told about my stint at Smut & Stuff and how pedophiles were treated had been duly noted.... And expanded upon; it was my understanding that I routinely threw the corpses of kiddie porn fans into dumpsters all over Kearny Mesa.
Never mind that I was the guy who, when a lizard showed up in the house, managed to capture him and gently escort him outside. Or that I broke up a fight between two male performers. I was still Lenny the Violent Punk.
Oh well, it didn't bother me. I thought it was a bit funny, actually. Being fairly new to the company, I was still considered a bit of an outsider. After six weeks, some of the performers who didn't work too often were confused as to why the drug dealer was wandering around with cameras around his neck --- "Are they letting him take his own photos of the action? Couldn't we just give him a copy of the finished tape?" It came in handy on a couple occasions, like blocking an outdoor orgy scene, a total of ten performers. Like kids on a school bus, they started talking and the volume grew and grew.
The director was trying to get their attention --- "People.... People.... People.... " --- until I finally said, "No prob, I got this," and yelled out, "Hey shut the fuck UP!" in a voice like Barney from Napalm Death, only coherent. Silence fell and heads swiveled. "He has something to say," I continued, in a calm, clear voice, gesturing at the director with my thumb. "All yours, man," I told him. The director looked at me slightly wide-eyed for a moment, then spoke to the now-attentive performers. "Okay people, we're using the pool for this shoot, so blocking is gonna be a bit of a pain. You're all starting out in bathing suits but losing them fairly quickly. For blocking, if you're not already in your suit, just strip down, because we will need you in the water. Girls, don't worry, nobody's going in past their waist, mostly so Jeanette [our hair and makeup genius] doesn't kill me (laughter from the performers). For God's sake, keep your marks! We don't want to be fighting daylight here...."
Jeanette was another interesting case. The makeup artist and hair stylist for an adult film production company was also a suburban wife and mother of three school-age children, and looked like it. She was such a visual anomaly on shoots that she distracted from me; the initial reaction to her was, "Who's mom came to watch them perform?" No, she was simply a woman who'd done makeup and hair for summer stock and dinner theater before she got married, got bored after all her kids were ten or older, and decided to go back to work. Yet another one whose hiring was a mystery to me. No clue as to what she told her kids about her new career.
At first, she didn't like me at all. Then, when I was taken on as the photographer, she liked me even less. It was my primary source of income that bothered her. She wasn't so naive as to think there were no drugs on the set of a fuck-flick, but.... Actually seeing the guy exchanging cash for drugs? Piles of (*gasp*) meth sitting on the coffee table? Cups of esoteric pills, for anybody who wants one?
So I decided to go to war with her.... In the same manner the Dali Lama would go to war. I would be so friendly, so well mannered, and desperately try to not swear, that we would at least have a smiling acquaintanceship, if not overtly friendly.
I started by making sure to say "good morning" each day, and wish her a good night when leaving. If I was going to the store at lunchtime, I'd ask her if I could pick anything up for her.
It worked. After two weeks, she was smiling back at me.
And after three weeks, she came right out and asked, "Lenny, why do you deal drugs?"
"Well, money, of course," I replied. "And which drugs do you mean? I only sell two."
"The meth. I've heard so many scary things about it..."
So.... I gave her a full explanation and history lesson: amphetamine being invented in Germany as an antihistamine in the 1890s, methamphetamine being formulated by the Japanese in the 1900s, its use by soldiers in two world wars (plus Korea), its efficacy in treating alcoholism.... And when you hear about people going crazy from the stuff, it's not the effect of the drug per se, but the lack of sleep. Keep someone awake for six days by any means, and they're gonna get weird on you. Like all things, moderation is the key, it's perfectly harmless when used with caution and intelligence.
"You ever notice the pile of speed just sorta disappears off the coffee table around three?"
She frowned and said, "You're right. I'd never thought about it before."
"Yeah, that's me and the director saving people from themselves. I sell a good clean product, and if people don't do any past three, they'll be able to sleep by midnight. We're keeping 'em healthy."
"But what about the MSDA?"
I smiled and said, "You mean MDMA, or Ecstasy." I explained how it was originally a psychiatric drug, used primarily for marathon therapy sessions by people suffering from PTSD. MDMA allowed them to talk (and talk, and talk) about their traumas without being triggered into a bad reactive frame of mind. It also put you in a really, really good mood, and --- being a complex amphetamine --- could keep you dancing all night, and making the user feel affection (and a degree of lust) for anyone they came across. That's why it was used here, so the performers could get into a sexy-feeling groove. "That's why they call it the Love Drug. If I wanted to sabotage a shoot --- and I don't --- all I'd have to do is make sure every performer on a big shoot took a tablet. Then, after about ninety minutes, I'd turn on some dance music. Everyone would decouple and start dancing like maniacs!" I laughed.
A week later she came up to me at lunch, looking nervous.
"Lenny, can I ask you something?"
"Sure. What's up, Jeanette?"
In a voice I could barely hear, she asked, "How much do you sell your Ecstasy for?"
My eyebrows shot up to my hairline. It took me a couple moments to get out the word, "Why?"
"Well.... My husband and I are going up to Santa Barbara next weekend, just for a short vacation, and my sister-in-law is watching the kids for us. My husband and I.... We...." She started turning red. "Our, um.... Romantic life has been kind of dismal for a while, and I was thinking that if there was some way to jump-start it..."
I smiled and put my hand on her shoulder. "Simply put, your sex life is in the crapper and you're hoping some Ecstasy will rev things up."
"Heck, Jeanette, I'll just give you a couple. Whatever night you want to get high, just take one each after dinner. You'll be having fun until the wee hours. Ecstasy takes about forty minutes to really kick in, lasts for about eight hours, so you can time it around that. Um, what does your husband think of this idea?"
"Oh, uh, I simply asked what he thought about the idea of taking a drug that would make him, y'know, more enthusiastic, and he liked the idea."
"Does he have any cardiac issues?"
"No he doesn't, why?"
"Well, remember, Ecstasy is still an amphetamine, and mixing any amphetamine with a faulty ticker is a bad, bad idea. I just wanted to check."
"No, he's perfectly healthy." She frowned. "I didn't expect that."
"Just.... You wanting to make sure my husband is healthy before he takes drugs. I didn't think..."
"You didn't think I'd care?" I gave her a sideways smile and took a swig off my Mountain Dew. "That as long as I clock the dollar, it wouldn't matter to me?"
She stared at the floor, turning red again. "Yes."
I chuckled and said, "On a personal level? I don't care, I can't, I've never met your husband. And besides, these are free. After these you'll just have to palm them out of the cup, like everybody else does. But basic human empathy and morality tells me to check on these things. I may sell drugs, but I'm still human. Don't believe everything you see on TV, especially those anti-drug PSA ads. Dealers are people too, and nobody wants someone getting hurt because of the product they sell. I knew a guy who went out of business because the meth he sold to somebody caused them to have a massive coronary.... At the age of twenty-four. He was so pissed off at himself he gave away all his product and his scale and got a job at the Handyman on Convoy Drive. He had to change his way of living, because his income went way down.... But he hated the idea of hurting someone so much he decided he'd rather be poor and drive a forklift than have a good income for less work.
"I've cut off people, back when I was dealing at consumer level. They were wrecking themselves. I told them, 'You get a half-gram a week from me, period. How you do it up is your choice, but you ain't using the drug anymore, the drug is using you. And I won't help you commit suicide.' Sure, their money was as good as anyone else's.... But I wouldn't help them burn out any more than you'd run over pedestrians in the street." I took a bite off my sandwich. "Nearly anybody who deals is in it for the money. I sure am. Doesn't mean we will sacrifice our own humanity for the business. Really, getting mad at dealers, marginalizing them, making them look like monsters.... Well, sh--- shucks, bartenders should be treated the same way. Same business: gettin' people high, just different products."
"I'd never thought about that," she said. "I guess I've been thinking in stereotypes, which is always a bad thing. I mean, look what I do for money, and I know I don't appear to be someone you'd think works in the adult film industry!" she smiled.
"'Zactly. Anyway, yeah, I'll bring you a couple tomorrow."
"Are you sure you don't want anything?"
"Nah. I move enough volume of those damn little things I won't miss two." I paused. "Tell ya what. Lemme know if they helped when you get back. I don't need details, you can just say 'yes' or 'no' to me on Monday, and I'll know what you mean. Does that work?"
She smiled wider. "That's fine. And thank you, Lenny."
"No sweat," I said, and turned my attention to my sandwich.
A week and a half later, on Monday, Jeanette arrived with a cheery smile. She found me cleaning my lenses and loading film, tapped me on the arm, and said, "Yes, yes, YES."
I said, "Gracious me. That good, huh?"
She leaned closer and said quietly, "Wonderful, Lenny." She blushed and said, "Seven times for him, twelve for me. We've both been to heaven. You didn't tell me the high would wear off, but the mood would hang around. Both of us can't wait until the kids are asleep tonight."
"Wow. Uh, congratulations! I'm glad the experiment was successful."
"Um, we were thinking...." I knew what was coming, so I answered.
"Yes I will, and at my cost. How often?"
"Every two weeks?"
"Not a problem. Might I make a suggestion or nine?"
"Keep it to every two or three weeks, else it just gets boring, like anything else. And when you get high, go out for the evening. Leave the kids with a babysitter, and come home after they're asleep. No sense in the kids wondering why mom and dad have dilated pupils, seem so manically cheerful, and keep rubbing each other's naughty bits. Tell me, did you walk along the beach in Santa Barbara after you took the pills?"
"We did. My God, you would not believe how incredibly beautiful the beaches up there are. The water glitters and shimmers, and when the waves break, it's like.... Like the ocean is having an orgasm. One right after the other, crash, crash...."
Oh, wow. "Yes, a lovely metaphor. Or analogy. Or.... Anyway, I'll bet you'll find there are orgasmic beaches around here, too. La Jolla Cove in particular can rip 'em hard; walk down into the cove itself, stand in front of the cave, and listen to the Pacific come."
And every two weeks, Jeanette would pick up two hits of MDMA from me for her and her husband, which kept recharging their marriage. They hire a sitter, get high, walk along a beach for a while, then go home and screw till dawn.
Me, I'd sit in my one-bedroom apartment in El Cajon, pondering how I'd turned a white conservative suburban couple into candy-flippers. The PSAs always talk about how "no one is immune from drugs." They never mention the people that drugs are helping.