The next morning, bright and early, everyone gathered at the Diver's Club down off Morena. The owner was there to meet us and give me a key.
"I'm probably crazy for agreeing to this," he said, "but you're making it worth my while. Where's your cameras?"
"No cameras today," said Small Steve. "Today and tomorrow are devoted to blocking and read-through. We film next Monday through Wednesday. The bands play Monday and Tuesday. Those are our crucial film days."
"Are you actually going to be filming people screwing here?"
"Some," I said. "The real challenge is going to be getting the bands to ignore what's going on while they play. I'd prefer they were here for the blocking, but it was hard enough for them to get off work for the filming days."
"Who are they?" asked the owner.
"A thrash metal band called Death Scent, and two punk bands, Crisis and The Heywoods."
"They've all played here before. Good, they'll know the layout. When do you film the sex?"
"That's on Wednesday, mostly," I said.
"Can I watch?" he asked.
"No, sorry, we insist on closed sets. But like we agreed, you'll get a few copies of the completed film when we're done."
"Aren't you a bit young to be doing this? Just how old are you, anyway?"
"I'm twenty-two. And you're not the only person to think that. Adult Video News can't get over my age, either."
The performers, meanwhile, had spread out over the club, exploring. Both Steves were pacing around in the area in front of the stage, deciding where cameras should go. I warned them they couldn't set up too close to the stage, because of the slam pit that would certainly break out. The real challenge would be blocking the fuck scene that would happen on stage, while the band was playing. The extras would be instructed to ignore it, but I didn't want my performers getting kicked by some hyperactive guitarist.
I had fifty confirmed extras, punks, headbangers, and random music fans who were happy to get paid forty bucks and beer to see a live show. More might show up, which would actually simplify my life: we wouldn't have to herd people around in the space to make it look like a bigger crowd than it was. I had over four grand of Inana's money set aside for paying extras, so we could take on a hundred extras if need be. At that point it was a question if the kegs I was buying would hold out.
Me, Small Steve, and the performers got down to the business of blocking out shots. Rio was going to get laid on a corner of the stage while a band played, probably the Heywoods. Their abrasive female singer would be a nice touch. The bands all knew there would be sexual activity happening while they played and were kosher with that. Getting the extras to ignore it would be the more challenging part. We wanted to give the impression that this sort of thing happened all the time.
Mickey was familiarizing himself with the sound board. I wanted clean recordings of the bands, not just what was picked up by a boom mike. We would mix the live recordings with the video during the editing stage. I hoped to not need to dub in dialogue, as that always looked bad: getting a performer to say their lines over what their lips were doing on the screen was a risk.
By noon we had our shots fleshed out, and would get them smooth after lunch. The Steves and I had taken copious notes and made diagrams on the backs of our scripts, and were confident we could pull this off. My performers were either excited or nervous about the shoot: this would be the first punk rock show for many of them, and they weren't sure what to expect.
Tawny had agreed to having the left side of her head shaved. Her boyfriend Dutch was wild for the idea, and the extra grand I promised her didn't hurt either. Upon hearing this news, Elspeth offered to get a mohawk for $2,000. After some consideration, I took her up on the offer, with the understanding that she would not be performing in loops until her hair grew back out some. Whatever, she was in a marquee position, so between what she'd be receiving as a performer and the extra two grand she could take time off and not be struggling. Having a performer with a mohawk would spice things up.
I'd hired an old friend, a girl named Pill, as a makeup and hair consultant. She could get a dramatic flair on the girls our regular makeup artist, Jeanette, just didn't know how to do. Pill was happy for the extra income, and was looking forward to the gig. She worked nights at the Pink Panther as a waitress so there wouldn't be any scheduling conflicts.
This would be a challenging shoot, but if it went well, it would come out fantastic.
On Saturday Bekka and I took her dad and brother out to dinner at the Seafarer. It had been a while since we'd seen either one of them, so we had some catching up to do.... To an extent. Just how much of our lives we would share was up in the air. Well, we could always talk about the house we were building.
We arrived a bit early. At the request of the management I'd stowed my Beretta under the seat of the Fury, Bekka holding on to hers. What they didn't know wouldn't hurt them. Dad arrived first, followed by James. James was driving Bekka's old Civic, which she'd given to him after buying, and falling in love with, the Ford Falcon hot rod he'd built. She'd bought the Falcon to help him get out of debt. Now he was living with a girlfriend in Solana Beach and still working construction. Dad continued to work as a foreman for a cement contracting service.
We claimed our table and ordered drinks. Bekka's dad seemed to be in a jovial mood, the best mood I'd ever seen him in. He started right off by saying, "So, what's new with you kids?"
Bekka and I looked at each other. "Well, we've settled on an architect for our house. You want to see the drawings?" asked Bekka, reaching in her bag and bringing out a couple folded sheets of paper.
She spread them out on the table. They showed a three-story residence, tiered like a wedding cake. The top tier would be our bedroom, with balcony running around the entire outside edge. Our ocean views from any level would be fantastic. There was an indent on the ground floor, so we could install a hot tub. In fact the tub would have to be in place when they started construction, as there was no practical way to situate it after the house was complete. Living space would be on the ground floor, with the second floor being guest bedrooms and project areas. Like everyone else around there, we would have a zero lot line.
We briefly discussed the details of building, James pointing out how much crane work would be needed. Mr. Luchessi considered it extravagant for a first home. We pointed out we were currently living in a mansion, so we were spoiled when it came to extravagance. We planned to be there for a long time.
"Are you sure you can afford it?" he asked.
"Absolutely," I said. "Our income can only go one way, and that's up."
"So what's new at work?" asked James.
Bekka and I glanced at each other again. "I'd like to know too," said her father.
"Well, since you asked," said Bekka. "I was a Penthouse Pet this past month."
"That was you on the cover!" exclaimed James.
"Yep, that was me. It was quite an honor to get that call. I've done a couple other magazines, too."
"Hustler and Gallery. They also gave great reviews of our latest movie."
Mr. Luchessi had installed what I considered to be his default facial expression, that of annoyance. He drank from his beer and said, "So all this is an honor?"
"It is, papa," said Bekka. "Especially being in Penthouse. Inana being able to say they have a Penthouse Pet in their productions will be a real boost. Our last movie, 'Bewitched,' is breaking sales records."
Mr. Luchessi scoffed and said, "These are not the values your mother and I raised you with."
"But they are. Hard work, taking pride in what you do, seeing a job through to the end, I learned those from you. Remember, it's only show business."
"And it's an aspect of show business I'm disgusted with," he groused.
"You should get together with my folks," I said. "They hate the industry we're in too."
Over our meals, James said, "You're still happy with what you're doing, Beks?"
"I am. I'm still having fun and Lenny and I are making good money right now. I've become a valuable commodity for Inana, so I'm running with it."
"So long as you're happy, that's important. Right, Dad?"
Mr. Luchessi grunted and finished off his fourth beer.
Over dessert and aperitifs Mr. Luchessi asked, "So what would it take to get the two of you out of the business you're in?"
Bekka and I burst into laughter. "Sir," I said, "my parents always ask me the same question. The answer is something with the same level of money and fun, and I doubt we'd find them anywhere else. Do you have suggestions?"
"You're young, you could take the money you have and become a contractor."
"But that doesn't sound like fun. Take this coming week. I get to put on two punk rock shows for our new film. It's stressful, but it's gonna be fun to pull off. I don't think I'd have the same sort of adventure as a contractor."
"And what would I do?" asked Bekka. "Work in the office? No thanks."
Mr. Luchessi said, "You could finish college, young lady. And do whatever you wanted after that."
"You should definitely hook up with Lenny's parents," Bekka giggled. "All three of you want Lenny and I to give up successful careers in favor of being poor and bored. Sorry, no deal."
He scowled and stood up. "I cannot deal with this any longer. Bekka, call me tomorrow. I am going home." He strode towards the exit.
James said, "Sorry about that. You'd think he'd be at peace with what you guys do by now."
"Hopefully he'll reach his peace sooner rather than later," I replied. "He can't stay angry forever."
"Sicilians know how to hold a grudge," said Bekka.
"True," said James.
Bekka was misty on the way home. "Do you think he'll ever adapt?" she asked.
"He doesn't have any choice," I responded. "Who we are and what we do is a fact of life. He can't change it, and we don't want to."
"It does make me wonder though, what should I do when I turn forty?"
"Keep performing if you want to. Remember, according to Hustler you're only twenty-two right now. You've got eighteen years in front of you. Or you start producing, assuming I get promoted upwards. Beyond that, I don't know what to tell you."
"Tell me you'll still love me when I get that old, that you won't go for some little chick you meet at work."
"I will still love you."
Bekka leaned on my shoulder. "When we get home, let's get high and get in the spa. I want you to show me you love me."
I smiled down at her. "Deal," I said.