".... situations where novices are traumatized. The humanitarian in me is glad I was able to help, but it's still not the circumstances under which I felt like leaving the house today, providing aid to a nineteen year old girl who had suffered an ersatz rape. It comes down to a simple question, boss: what the fuck were you thinking?"
"Candace should have spent an afternoon in front of my cameras before doing anything else, getting used to being nude in front of a camera, learning to relax, learning direction, getting comfortable. These are your own instructions, boss. Build people up into performance, that's what you told me. In fact, that's supposed to be part of my job.... But I haven't met a single person who's on the board this week. Those fuckin' rules are there for a reason, you said so yourself. So why are they being ignored?"
"I'll tell you why," sneered Rick, "Time and money. We get our money from doing loops, period."
"That could change," said Angel. Rick seemed to ignore this.
Rick continued, "Novices are game for anything and they work dirt cheap. So far as time goes, c'mon Angel, you know how fast we can turn around half-hour loops. Two hour cassettes, twice a week, eight thousand cassettes minimum per release.... We're pulling good money."
"For now," said Vinny. "If we use nothing but novice performers we'll lose our audience in no time flat. We will be known for bashing out half-assed, amateurish, lame garbage. Believe it or not, Rick, we have performers --- real performers --- that people remember, and seek out, and want to see more of."
"Oh yes, Bekka's autograph hounds. I call it a fluke, if it even happened at all."
"Are you calling me a liar?" asked Bekka.
"I'm suggesting you may have exaggerated," said Rick.
"I was there. You're calling me a liar too.... Boss," I said. I started to stand up.
Angel said, "You can hurt Rick after we finish lunch, not before." I sat down.
Stepping from one mud puddle to the next, Rick asked, "Angel, wait a minute. What do you mean 'that could change'? Change how?"
Angel replied, "I mean Vinny, Frankie, Lenny, Bekka, and myself --- five smart people who all were in the same room and all have a stake in seeing Inana succeed --- believe taking the time and energy and money into producing full features would be worth it. We'd create something to be proud of, not just fuck loops. We could turn some of our performers into stars, and bring up irregulars into being solid performers.... Triple-A league, at least. We could turn Inana into a respected production company. Maybe not the biggest, but one that gets respect.
"That's what I mean by things could change. Good, lunch is here."
Back at the mansion, Angel gave instructions.
"Frankie, you and Steve begin the afternoon production. For chrissake make sure the performers know what's expected of them. If they're uncomfortable, we scrub the shoot. I don't want a rerun of this morning. Rick, you and Vinny are going in your office and you are going to straighten out those fucking numbers so they make sense. I"ll be back to help.
"Bekka, I wish to visit this young lady. Given that you have a connection of sorts with her, I would appreciate if you accompanied Lenny and I to her house, to make an introduction. Would you do me this favor?"
"Not a problem, Angel, but....?"
"I wish to apologize."
I pulled in the driveway and stayed with the car. Bekka went to the front door, while Angel waited several steps down. When Candace answered the door, she seemed confused.
"Candace? I have someone here who wants to meet you." She stepped aside.
Angel walked onto the porch, then dropped to one knee, took her hand, and kissed it. Remaining on one knee, he said, "Candace, I am Angel Morelli, the owner of Inana Productions. I wanted to apologize for the torment you suffered this morning. Had we known you were new to performance, we never would have put you in such a position." He stood up.
"Many of the young women who choose to try performance do so out of financial necessity. Would I be correct in assuming you are in that position?"
"Would you please accept this gesture, as both a gesture of apology and to aid you in your time of need?" He pulled a wad of bills from his jacket pocket. "If you do decide to attempt performance again, I can assure you you will be introduced to the business in a correct manner, that you will not be frightened, and you will not be cajoled into acts you do not wish to take part in. The person who pressured you is being dealt with."
Again, he went to one knee and kissed her hand. "Again, please accept my apology. And may your life's dreams reach fruition. Good afternoon."
I fired up and we headed back to the mansion.
"That should piss off Rick," Angel laughed.
"What should?" I asked.
"I gave that girl a thousand dollars. She deserved it, you know?"
"So how will it piss off Rick? Ain't his money, what can he complain about?"
"Yeah, but you heard him before: novices should be getting as little as possible. If it was up to him, he'd have given her a check for $250 and a note telling her she just needs to relax when doing anal scenes. Rick can be a real paragon of virtue. He also does not hold the position he once did, but doesn't get that yet. There's gonna be a little chat at the next break in shooting."
Our timing was good. Steve had taken ten minutes for touching up makeup, water, and cigarettes. They were still all in their bathing suits. "Come with me," Angel said to Steve. He had me follow along too.
We went in the office and Angel kept it straight and to the point. "Tomorrow, Small Steve is in charge. Of everything. Anything related to production, you, Rick, answer to Steve. This is not up for debate. Steve is the boss, period. If I hear any complaints or words to the contrary then Rick, I will be discussing your usefulness with the family. If you're lucky you'll wind up mopping floors at the Dirty Angel sets. Am I clear, good. Now let's all get back to work."
I caught Angel before he closed the door. "Angel? I, uh, am at a bit of loose ends. I've completed the tasks you asked of me and I've nothing to do. Is there anything useful I can accomplish, sir?"
He stared at me for a few moments, then snapped his fingers and smiled. "Yeah. You can coach Frankie on getting good shots. I'm sure Frankie's shots will be all right, but yours are excellent. Starting now and during cuts, you can give him pointers on getting really good shots."
So I did. He had the bad habit of shooting everything in landscape, so I corrected him on that. I also got him low to the ground, which wasn't comfortable for him due to his size, but he pulled it off without grunting. It was an outdoor shoot, so I really drilled into his head to watch his own shadow, and how that changed over the course of the day. Steve and I had already explained about not just shadowing the video cameras but to make the shoot your own.... But to always be conscious of where the cams are. And don't be afraid to burn through film, especially starting out (or over, in his case).... When I first started I was going through eleven or twelve rolls in a shoot, with my confidence up, I was using seven. "If you're worried about how a shot came out, take it again. Take it five or six times. So what if only one of the six is what you want? The important thing is you got the shot.
"Also, don't be afraid to ask advice of either Steve. No, they don't have much experience with still cameras, but they've both got the eye, you know? Don't ask advice of Rick. Given his behavior lately, he's as likely to sabotage you as anything else."
"You think he would?"
"I'm just saying he's carrying grudges."
All three (novice) performers were hanging around in the lounge/family room, waiting for their makeup. I stood drinking a Mountain Dew and staring at one girl. She intrigued me. Mostly the queasy sensation that if she was over sixteen, I was Andy Rooney. I finally called her over.
"Excuse me. Nothing personal, but could I see your ID?"
"Uh, I dunno if if have it with me...."
"I'm sorry, but no ID, no performance. Those are our rules."
"Lemme check to see if I have it or not...."
She dug through her handbag and ended up producing a fake ID made with laminated cardboard. It may get her into bars with stupid bouncers, but not past people whose livelihoods depend on detecting underage girls. Traci Lords had seen to that.
"Please come with me, ma'am," I said, and I escorted her down the hall to Rick's office. I knocked on the door. A crabby voice called, "What is it?"
"Lenny. It's important."
Rick blanched when he saw who I had with me. That told me a lot right there..
"Fake ID," I said, laying it down in front of Angel. He looked at both sides and asked the girl, "How old are you?"
"I'm twenty!" she replied indignantly.
"Honey, how old are you?"
Her face crumbled and she said, "Sixteen." Jesus.
Angel said, "You know you're a couple years early to be here. Did you drive yourself or did you get a ride?"
"Got a ride."
"Well, so that you're not sitting in the driveway until your ride returns, we're giving you a ride home. Where do you live?"
"Lenny, you know where Del Mar is, right? Please take this young lady home."
"Got it," I said. "You can give me directions once we're down that way."
I piloted us down to the Via de la Valle exit, then west and up into the houses along the hillside. Excluding directions, she spoke exactly once: "I just wanted to make some money." Beyond that, she remained silent. I dropped her at her house and jumped back up to the mansion.
They were expecting me. Angel asked, "All dropped off, safe and sound?"
"What tipped you off?"
"Her look. I was staring at her and thinking, 'there's no way she's over eighteen'. Guess I was right. I checked her ID and it may as well have come out of a box of Fruity Pebbles. I figured you gentlemen had more experience with spotting fake cards than me, so I brought her and the card in here. I have to ask, where did you meet this girl anyway, Gymboree?"
"Lenny just asked you a question, Rick," growled Angel.
"I met her on the beach in Del Mar, near tower seven, okay? We got to talking, she was game, so we set up today's two-on-one. Hey, she said she was old enough."
"Just be glad they hadn't stripped down yet," said Vinny.
"From now on, I'm demanding the Senior Menu from Denny's," I muttered.
"So Rick, how old are the other two? " asked Vinny.
"They're both nineteen." His body language said, "I hope."
Angel said, "How about you trot on outside and grab their IDs for us. Just to humor us."
Walking like a put-upon teenager, Rick went out and returned a minute later with their IDs. He returned and dropped them on the desk, saying "They're both nineteen, and those are real."
Angel examined both cards and smiled at Rick. "That's just dandy. Now what do we do about the fact that we're supposed to be shooting a fucking three-way today!?"
I said, "Call Ellen. Known quantity, likes three-ways, young-looking face. Can't do much about the boobs, but her face can carry the youth."
"Give her a call," said Angel. I used Rick's Rolodex to find her number and called. She let it ring just long enough to make me nervous, then picked up.
"Hey Ellen, it's Lenny! How ya doin', girl? Listen, I need to beg a favor: would you be willing to work for a few hours this afternoon? It's a three-way and we're a girl short..... Oh, a very long story ..... As soon as possible, 'cos it's an outdoor shoot..... Cool, see you in a few minutes, babe!"
"She'll do it," I said, "and we were damn lucky. She was heading out the door to go hiking when the phone rang. And she said she can use the performance time."
"Quick thinking, Lenny," said Vinny.
"Aw, you get to know the performers: their appearances, their likes, their dislikes.... Ellen absolutely fit the bill for this shoot. My question is how well-prepared are our teenagers outside? I think she's planning to come in and shoot a loop, not act as a trainer to a couple kids. What experience do they have, and what instructions do we need to pound into them in the next half hour?"
Vinny said, "Dammit, Steve is the director, let him direct. Here, bring 'em their IDs back."
I walked into the living room to find the two kids warming up on the sofa. I said, "First of all, save it for the cameras. Second, here are your IDs. Third, the girl that was here came down with a bad case of false identification and had to leave. She's being replaced by a very sweet girl named Ellen, or Skye, if you read the credits on the boxes. Fourth, have either of you done any adult performance?"
The guy said, "Well, we have fooled around with my dad's video camera...."
"Oh happy day," I muttered under my breath. Out loud, I said, "And you've been getting instruction from the director? Like what to do and not to do?"
The girl said, "Oh yeah. Rule number one...." Her and her boyfriend smiled, looked at each other, and said in unison, "Don't look at the camera!"
"And what's rule number two?"
"Don't moan like you've taken a hunting knife to the gut."
"And rule three, boys only."
"If I come before you tell me to, I get killed."
"Great, you guys have the basics down. If time and Steve will allow it, press Ellen for any advice she has. Sorry things are so hectic, we had a bad morning and no it's none of your business..... And this is Ellen," I said, as she came through the door. "Ellen, this is....uhh.... the two people you'll be having sex with today. They're very new at this, so any advice you can think of would be great. I'm gonna go talk with the Steves."
"I'm Janelle!" called the girl.
"I'm Kirk! called the guy.
"So what do you think?" I asked Small Steve. He was on his fourth cigarette in two days, a sign of stress.
"I think that since Rick wanted novice performers, he's gonna get the performances to go right along with 'em. Today's video is getting shot almost completely freestyle, the three of them can follow the muse. Unless one of them decides to start snacking on the lawn like a cow, they can do what they please. My goal is to go ninety minutes without a single cut, just to see what happens."
"Do you really think you can pull it off? With two rank amateurs?"
With a manic smile, he clapped me on the arm and said, "Live and learn, Lenny, live and learn."
Calm Steve said, "It's gonna kill our shoulders, too."
"What do you.....Aw no, you're not shooting the whole thing from shoulder mounts!"
"I honestly think we can pull it off," said Calm Steve. "These machines are damn steady, and we've got the practice with 'em. It could work."
"Please, just.... Don't get fired, okay? It's all I ask."
"We're producing art an' shit, y'know?" yelled Small Steve.
Ellen must have had her suit on, a racy two-piece, under her clothes, because she was ready to go immediately. Mickey appeared from nowhere and plugged in his microphone. I went over and sat next to Rita, talking low.
"Any more overtures from the wannabe groom?" I asked.
"Ay chingada! El cabrón asked me to blow him this morning as I got out of my car. I explained to him, like I already have, that it was a one-time deal for therapeutic reasons, not a gesture of affection. He tell me we will move to Mexico and live like royalty."
"Pfft. Dude can't even speak Spanish, how would he get along unless you went absolutely everywhere with him?"
"Shh, they start filming."
And they filmed, and filmed, and filmed, and filmed..... After over a half hour, Steve called 'cut' for a ten minute break, for water and cigarettes. Frankie asked Steve, "Jesus, are you trying to set a record?"
"Really, I just want to see what happens with uninterrupted footage like this. Personally, another half hour and we can take the money shot. Oh, that reminds me...."
Steve went into the kitchen and said, "How do you guys want to do your money shot?"
Janelle said quietly, "I want to try taking a facial."
Steve raised his eyebrows, then smiled and said, "Great! Not a lot of girls try that their first time. Just remember to not squint, keep your eyes open and your tongue out. You've watched porn before, right? Just do what they did and you'll be fine."
After another half hour of filming, Kirk panted, "I've gotta come," and straddled Janelle's chest. She finished him off with her hand and took it like a pro. Calm Steve and Frankie crouched in low and caught one hell of a comeshot: Kirk shot about a quart, and Janelle smiled through the whole thing. Steve gave it ten seconds and called "Cut! Excellent!"
"Okay, these two are keepers. I'm surprised they got their blood tests done so.... quickly...."
The door to the office was open thankfully. I asked no one in particular, "Um, those two did have their blood tests, right? It just occurred to me."
All heads swiveled to Rick.
"Well, I told them to get tested. They, uh, probably just forgot to bring in the result slip."
I went back out and asked the two lovebirds.
"We've got appointments at the Planned Parenthood near where we live next week. Is that okay?"
I had to tell them, not as such. What I was going to do was get their names on our roster at the lab we used, and they were going to get the tests done tomorrow. Results take two days, and they were to bring the results slips to the mansion as soon as they have them.
"Um.... Okay.... Wow."
"What's the matter?"
"I just hope that my dad will let me borrow the car again. We live in Irvine."
And the day just gets better and better.
"We'll be waiting on test results from the Irvine Planned Parenthood. Their tests are next week sometime. The positive news is the only fluid exchange was between the two of them, they're dating, and they claim to have been virgins until the time they met. So, the risks are very low. Rules and protocol, however, dictate that Ellen is out of work until their fucking tests come in. Thanks to that boffo idea someone had about only using novices, Ellen --- and a lot of other people --- are running short on money. Shall we have a whip-round for Ellen's rent, or end up losing her to some company in LA? Any suggestions? You'll have to excuse me, I have two confused kids to deal with, plus a performer who's in tears from panic and worry. If you'll pardon me."
Angel said, "Please close the door on your way out, Lenny. Thank you."
I barely had the door closed when Angel started in on Rick: "People have spent the whole fucking day cleaning up your goddamn messes, Rick! Dogs shit on the rug less than you do! And what I can't understand is....." Distance made it fade to incoherence.
The lovebirds were sitting on a sofa, holding hands. They looked scared. "Did we fuck up, like, badly? We're so sorry, we thought we just needed the test done whenever...."
I smiled and held up a hand. "You didn't fuck up, you were given terribly erroneous information. Rick should never have put you on the board until you had your results, that's company protocol. You're not at fault here."
"I do have to ask you, though: how did you meet Rick? How did you become acquainted with Inana Productions and decide to work for us?"
Janelle looked a little pink, but answered. "We were at the nude stretch of San Onofre state beach when he asked if we minded him putting his towel down near us. A polite request, you know? We got to talking, and he brought up what he does for a living. You've gotta admit, running a whole porn studio is pretty interesting." (I stifled a laugh at that.)
Kirk continued, "So we got to talking and, well, Janelle and I are highly sexual people. We'd talked bout making a porn movie, and here's the opportunity lying in our laps. You can't ask for a better chance than that, right?"
I agreed that opportunity had indeed knocked, and did they plan on continuing to perform, or was the fantasy now satisfied?
Janelle said, "Geez, we really hadn't thought that far ahead. The money is good, there's that...."
I wandered outside to where Rita was trying to comfort Ellen, with marginal results. I told Ellen to be unconcerned about one aspect: in a way, she had had sex with two virgins, they had never had sex with anyone except each other. "Really?" she said.
"They pinky-swore on it," I told her, prompting a smile. "Your risk is incredibly low. And if I have to drive them to the lab myself, we'll get their results and you can keep working."
"Yeah, if I ever get any work out of the boss again."
"Believe me, we're working on that. Even as we speak."