Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Signings (Part 1)

     The stretch limo was hilarious.  As a vehicle, it was the most impractical thing going on the road.  As a method of transporting three porno queens, their producer, and their muscle around, it worked well, though.  We didn't lack in room, or comfort, or privacy.  We were headed to LA to hang around in a couple adult book stores and sign boxes for customers, and Angel wanted us to arrive relaxed, not stressed from the drive.

     Our latest feature, Dangerous Desires, was kicking as much ass as Bewitched had.  We got another five-star review out of Adult Video News, and fantastic reviews from the magazines.  Copies of the tape were flying off shelves, and the book stores would have ten copies for rent and they'd always be out.  Our warehouse and duplicating plant couldn't keep up with demand.  A detective film, Dangerous Desires had elements not expected in a hardcore porn film, like car chases, gun battles, and genuine drama.  Reviewers and the general public went ape for it.  We were riding high again.
     Riding in the limo, bound for a book store in Burbank, was Bekka, Elspeth (Ella Belle), and Donna (Donita Dare), along with Boss and myself.  Boss was our muscle for the two signings, him happy to be of service and not minding the chance to spend an afternoon and evening around three porn stars.  He took a sip off my flask, stretched his six foot seven frame out across the floor, and said, "This ain't a bad way to travel.  Not as fast as usin' my putt, but comfortable."
     "We have the two stores we're doing signings in today.  Angel wants us rested for them both.  Don't worry, I brought enough drugs to keep us from getting tired.  Speaking of, I think it's time to hand out Ecstasy.  Girls!"
     Each of us got a hit of Ecstasy, washed down with sodas from the mini bar.  Donna asked, "Is this the same stuff you've had before?"
     "Sure is," I said.  "Dead pure and lab fresh."
     "Oh wow," she replied.  "I'll be good and high all night.  So what can we expect from these events?"
     "A lot of nervous fans.  Try to have a big smile for everyone.  You'll probably get a few requests for marriage, or at least going out to dinner.  Refuse these politely, explain you're seeing someone.  Anyone gets creepy with you, put your hand in the air and Boss and I will escort the gentleman out.  You don't have to put up with bullshit from the fans.  Mostly though, it's gonna be a lot of dudes who are terrified of meeting you face to face, but want your autographs.  Overall they're harmless, and the few who aren't will be disposed of.  You have nothing to worry about."
     Our driver, a short stocky black dude who'd identified himself simply as Harris, piloted us up I-5 and into Burbank.  The girls began checking their makeup in the mirrors of their compacts, all dressed to impress.  We pulled up in front of the book store, which glowed with neon telling of the pleasures within.  The girls put on their shoes --- it was easier to crawl from one place to another in the limo, and they didn't want to scuff their pumps --- and we all got out.
     Angel appeared at the front door, along with an older skinny guy with a handlebar mustache.  He was introduced as Glen, the general manager for the place.  Glen looked pleased at the arrival of the girls, and alarmed at both me and Boss....  But particularly at Boss, a monstrous biker standing there stretching and lighting a Marlboro.
     Angel said to Glen, "Lenny and Boss are good people, you can trust them with anything.  Lenny is my producer, and Boss is here to help keep the peace."
     Glen said, "I can't imagine anyone getting out of hand with him around."
     Boss laid a hand on Glen's shoulder.  "Don't worry, I'm not here to crack skulls.  If anybody is outta line, I'll get them out the door.  I've been a bouncer before, and here the customers aren't drunk."
     We went inside.  An area opposite the front counter had been cleared, and velvet ropes were arranged to route the autograph seekers.  There were three small tables set up, spaced apart, with comfortable desk chairs behind them.  Glen explained, "The gap between tables is to facilitate photo-taking.  There's no problem with people getting pictures with the stars, is there?"
     The girl shrugged.  They had no objections.  Elspeth asked, "Where is the bathroom?"
     "I'll take you to the employee's lavatory," offered Glen.  "I can guarantee it's cleaner then the public one."
     There was a half hour to go before the signing started, but there were already twenty-five or so guys lined up, clutching freshly-purchased copies of Dangerous Desires.  Glen assured me he'd stocked 125 copies of the movie, and wasn't worried about them going to waste.  This would be on top of people who wanted their copies of Bewitched and Rocker Girls signed.  The girls roved through the store, looking at the implements for personal satisfaction and comparing notes.  Boss and I took seats at the tables, staring back at the guys in line who were giving us the stink-eye.
     By the time we were ready to start the line was out the door.  I noticed guys carrying copies of Bewitched with them, wanting Bekka's autograph.  Some of them bought copies of Dangerous Desires, wanting autographs in both.
     A store employee stationed himself at the front of the line to regulate the number of people trying to crowd the table, and we were off.  Things went smoothly.  The tenth guy in confessed his love to Elspeth, and asked her to run away with him.  He was politely shot down, Elspeth giving him a hug as a consolation prize.  He took it like a gentleman, moving down the line to get Bekka's autograph.  Where Bekka sat was the site of the biggest jam-up, as she was the one with the most star power, and some fans wanted multiple signings: the new movie, her earlier movies, autograph books, and one guy wanting her to sign a pair of boxer shorts.
     We threw two guys out.  Both wanted to come behind the tables uninvited, and put their hands on either Donna or Bekka.  Their enthusiasm outweighed their common sense.  In both cases, Boss wrapped a giant hand around the guy's neck and lifted.  He would set the guy back down in front of the tables, where I would grab him by the back of his collar and escort him out the front door.  Their protests were ignored.  The rest of the line waiting would be witness to all this, and subsequently on their best behavior.
     I took photos for several fans, capturing them standing next to their favorite performer (usually Bekka).  The ones who brought cameras were the most friendly and outgoing of the fans, engaging Bekka, Donna, and Elspeth in genuine conversation.  Too many of the others were shy to the point of paralysis, having to be coaxed into giving their names for the autograph.  They would stand there mutely unless encouraged by the girls.
     I was amazed: we ran through almost the entire stock of the store's copies of Dangerous Desires, plus plenty of copies of Rocker Girls and Bewitched.  The girls probably wrote their (stage) names two hundred times each.  We ran over the two hour time allotted by about ten minutes, taking care of those remaining in line.  We had a ninety minute gap to get from Burbank to Hollywood, with a stop at any convenient fast food place for something to eat, and a few minutes extra to abuse some of the cocaine I'd brought.  Angel, having spent the event in the manager's office watching the security monitors, hugged all five of us and wished us luck at the next one.  Vinny would be meeting us at the Hollywood store.
     We hit an In 'N' Out for burgers, much to Elspeth's howling joy.  Food consumed, I chopped out healthy lines for everyone, backing them up with meth for Boss, Bekka, and myself.  Donna and Elspeth didn't care for speed.  Harris whizzed us through traffic and pulled up to a glitzy store on Hollywood Blvd.
     This wasn't such a good neighborhood.  Hookers strolled by, eyeing the limo.  We got out and were immediately greeted by the store muscle, who looked like they'd been around.  They looked up at Boss, who recognized them for who they were and introduced himself formally.
     I've mentioned Boss's size before --- six foot, seven inches --- and it should be noted that he is not a small man in any direction.  He is huge.  He lumbers.  Where he finds his size sixteen boots, I don't know.  He's in good shape, too.  I once watched him lift a Nissan off the ground at the rear end and swing it up onto a curb, just so he'd have a place to park his Harley.  I've never seen the man angry, but such a circumstance would have me running for the exit.  His very existence is a challenge to people like cops and bouncers.  Unless you know him, you will be intimidated.  No other way to sum it up.
     This book store has a big marquee sign over the front, and it announces, "LIVE: Becky Page."  Elspeth and Donna are cool with this, they know Bekka has paid her dues, and deserves the top spot on the marquee.  We crowd out full of giggles at this greeting.  We are ushered in to meet Vinny, who keeps wiping at his nose.  He's been at his own product and it shows.  He can't hold still, and is just so damn happy to meet everyone.
     "We got nice comfy chairs for all of you.  You two, you don't have a thing to worry about, they got their security covered, big time," he says, sniffing.  "Here, I want you to meet Lou, he runs the place.  Don't worry, you're secure.  Take a seat and we can begin, okay?"
     I say okay and ask him, for the girls, where to find a clean and private bathroom.  Lou, who looks wired to the gills, says to just knock on the door to the office in back.  Fair enough.
     There's already one hell of a line building, and it's ten minutes early, so I check with both the girls and the security if we just start early.  Fine by them.  The guy watching the front of the line lets the first small group forward.  They're fans of Becky Page and group around her, having her sign their newest videos and a couple of old ones.  They fawn over her --- strength in numbers --- and are shooed away by the security fairly quickly, as they're holding up the line.  From there it's like an assembly line, with each fan getting autographs from each performer.  Elspeth seems to be the winner of the night, being on the receiving end of more than a few requests for marriage.  Between the in-house security and the presence of me and Boss, people stay in line.
     It's a ninety-minute signing, and things calm down after an hour.  During a brief respite, on of the security goons steps up to Bekka and says, "Can I get your autograph too?  It's for my girlfriend."
     Bekka says, "No problem, what's her name?"
     The goon says, "Marissa.  She idolizes you, it's scary.  She got her hair cut like yours, and she....  Um.... "
     "What?" asks Bekka.
     "She even, uh, started shaving like you do.  Don't get me wrong, I like it, it was just a real surprise when she did it."
     Bekka tittered at this.  "Tell her my advice?  Wax, don't shave.  It lasts longer, and you don't need to worry about getting a rash.  My husband loves it, by the way.  You eat pussy, sugar?"
     The goon looked surprised at this question.  "Um, yeah...."
     "Then definitely tell her to get waxed.  You'll both love it."
     "Um okay.  Thanks."  The goon left with his signature.
     The fans at this signing were more relaxed than at the first one.  They were genuinely happy to meet the stars, and said so.  We took plenty of pictures, but these people didn't crowd Bekka, Elspeth, or Donna like they had at the first signing.  Generally it was an easy evening.  One guy was a problem: he told Donna how much he wanted to shit on her, causing her to raise her hand.  Boss and I stood up at the same time he began crawling over the table towards her.  Boss took two steps forward and latched onto his neck with one paw, lifting him up and bringing him back across the table.  I caught him by his collar and marched him outside, flinging him onto the sidewalk with his wrist still up behind his shoulder bones.  I got back inside to hear Boss say to the resident security, "See? We got it covered.  Y'all don't need to worry about anything.  It's all covered."
     The rest of the crowd was extremely mannerly.
     We worked our way through the rest of the crowd, making a lot of people happy.  I don't know if he was coning off the space, but Harris was out front of where we were when we wanted him to be.  We jumped into the limo and headed down the street, the girls only marginally upset that they hadn't had a chance to shop at this new store.  I assured them they'd get the chance to shop at the other places we still had on the books:  three stores in Long Beach, then three more in LA and Orange County after that.
     The girls flopped in their seats, feeling spent after being polite to that many people in a row.  "Who wants a refresher?" I asked.  I was turned down.
     "Then how about something to relax?"  I waved a joint in the air.  This was accepted with more enthusiasm.  I lit it up and passed it to Donna, who was the closest to me.  She took a hit and passed it to Bekka, the next one in line.  Bekka in turn passed it on to Elspeth, who looked like she needed it the most.  Boss and me waved it their way.  We were doing okay.
     "So are all signings that way?" asked Elspeth.
     I raised my shoulders.  "You got me.  I've handled them as security, but not as a member of the crew.  I think we saw a lot of contrasts here tonight.  How did you feel about being part of it?"
     "I never knew our fans would be so shy!" exclaimed Donna.  "It's like they were all afraid to learn that we were real women, and not puppets."
     Bekka took a hit off the joint, passing it forward.  "I've dealt with fans before, and that's how it goes.  They're amazed to see you in the flesh, that you're not these towering examples of femininity, just normal bitches who shop at Safeway and eat fast food.  In a way, breaking their fantasy is tough.  In a way, you're proving yourself accessible, but in another you're showing them you're not what they expected.  You're just a woman, and big deal.  Meeting fans on the street is a big let-down to the men."
     The first joint was burned, and I offered up a second.  "Maybe around Orange County," Donna suggested.  Fair enough.
     Boss said, "This was a new experience for me, y'know?  Hell, I got to spend my day around a couple of porno queens and Bekka too.  Never knew what the fans would be like.  Yer on a whole different wavelength than what I'm used to.  I did some bouncing at strip clubs back in Texas, but the fans of the dancers weren't that shy, if you get me."
     Bekka said, "I may be your little girl, but I'm still a porno queen."
     Boss leaned forward and said, "You're my lil' girl, that's all.  I don't watch what you do fer a livin' and it's none of my business.  But yer my lil' girl, you understand?"
     I muttered to Boss, "You don't get to meet any of the male performers."
     Elspeth called, "Hey Lenny, play that new wave tape you had on before.  Who was that, anyway?"
     "The B-52s.  The album is Mesopotamia.  You like it?  I'll make you a tape."
     I removed the Mr. Bungle tape and put in the B-52s.  Our troupe of stoned porn stars stopped with their dice game and began bobbing their heads to the rhythm.  A
peace descended over the limo.  Boss put his hands behind his head and looked as relaxed as I ever saw him, a big smile on his face.  He sighed and said, "I gotta admit, I could handle life like this."
     I told him, "You'd have to adjust to being a lot more broke.  Making good money in porn is hard enough, I've just been lucky.  Being security for porn queens doesn't pay well at all.  Dig me?"
     "Still, it weren't a bad way of spendin' the day.  I'm glad you gave me the chance to do it."
     "I figured you needed a break in routine, and wouldn't mind helping out," I said.
     "And we're doing another of these excursions next week?" Boss asked.
     "We sure are.  Three stores in Long Beach."
     He sat forward and said, "Hell, count me in.  Hey Bekka!  C'mere!"
     Bekka crawled back to where Boss was sitting and said, "Yeah, Boss baby?"
     Boss reached out and scooped her up.  "I ain't given you a cuddle all damn day.  How ya doin', girl?"
     "I'm all right.  Pondering the circumstances that would prompt guys to propose marriage to a woman they'd never met before.  Seven proposals today.  They were taken aback when I pointed out my husband to them."
     Boss set her back down and said, "Yeah, I don't get that.  Haw, maybe they can tell what a sweetheart you are through the videotape."
     Donna said, "I had two marriage proposals, and two to run away together.  How about you, Elspeth?"
     "Same for me.  I never knew we'd inspire that much devotion.  Reading the fan mail is hard enough, but actually meeting guys who are that into you was a little scary for me.  Bekka, how do you deal with it?"
     Bekka knelt on the floor and fiddled with her pack of Benson & Hedges.  She said, "I'm lucky, I usually have Lenny with me as a deterrent.  I gently remind zealous fans that they're crushing on their own fantasy, one they built out of two dimensional images, and it doesn't reflect reality.  But it does help being able to point and say, 'See the wiry-looking six foot one guy over there?  That's my husband.  And he gets jealous.'"
     Elspeth sighed.  "I don't know if I could get that sort of protection out of Eddie.  He's more likely to try and impress them by pulling quarters out of their ears.  He's not a tough guy, like Lenny is."
     I chuckled at this.  "Who says I'm a tough guy?  I'm protective over the woman I love, that's all."
     "You have an intimidating appearance."
     "Shit, I'm just another punk, is all," I muttered.
     We made good time back to the mansion.  More cocaine and time in the spa was rejected in favor of heading home to relax.  I tipped Harris and thanked him for his time.  He asked, "So you all make dirty movies for a living?"
     "Sure do.  You want one?"
     "What the hell, why not.  Can I watch it with my wife?"
     "I don't see why not.  Wait here a minute."  I went inside to my office and grabbed a promo copy of Dangerous Desires and a Sharpie.  I had the girls all sign it for Harris, and gave it to him.  He smiled at the small gift.
     "So what's it like?" he asked me quietly.
     "What's what like?" I asked back.
     "Workin' around people fucking all day."
     I laughed.  "Believe it or not, it's just another job.  The novelty wears off after a while, and you get into a routine.  At least doing these signings like we did today breaks up the monotony.  Any chance we can request you as a driver next week?  We'll be going to Long Beach."
     He smiled and said, "Call the office.  I'd rather carry y'all around than high school kids doing homecoming.  Do I need to stock the mini bar?"
     "Just sodas," I told him.  "We stayed out of the booze, it wasn't needed."
     "Okay, cool."
     We shook hands and Harris took off.  A familiar roar told me Boss had fired up his soft tail to let it warm up.  He coasted it out from the entry way and into the driveway, straddling the machine in his usual confident manner.  He leaned over and said, "So, same time next week?"
     I told him, "I've gotta firm things up for times.  But yeah, Monday.  We're doing three stores, all in Long Beach.  They're all owned by the family, so we'll be on comfortable turf.  And the end of the week we've got three stores in Orange County.  It'll be more of the same.  Thanks for your help today."
     "No problem.  Call me and let me know when I need to be here Monday.  Talk to you later."  Boss let out the clutch and putted down the street.
     The three girls were standing in a small cluster by the garage, smoking the second joint.  I butted in and took a hit, then said to Bekka, "Let's head home, make sure Jane hasn't wrecked the place in our absence."
     "Sounds like a plan," she said.  "I've got a morning loop to shoot, so I need the rest."
     We gave hugs to Elspeth and Donna and took off for home.  When we got there Jane was camped out on a sofa watching Rocker Girls and drinking an Anchor Steam.  She sat up and asked, "So how did it go?"
     "I never cease to be amazed at the number of men who want to marry me," replied Bekka.  "A few troublemakers, but nothing that Boss and Lenny couldn't handle."
     "So can I go on the next one?" Jane asked.
     "It would be pointless," I said.  "You'd be stuck sitting in the limo all day, you can't come in any of the stores.  You'd be really bored."
     "Besides," said Bekka, "we'll be leaving while you're still in class.  Tell you what, we'll leave you some money and you and Lance can go out to dinner.  Fair enough?"
     Jane said, "Yeah, that's cool.  Are you guys gonna be this late again?"
     "Probably not quite this late.  Speaking of late, isn't it past your bedtime?"
     "I didn't want to go to bed until you guys were home."
     "Well, we're headed for bed ourselves.  Dealing with lust-stricken men all day really takes it out of you.  Kill the TV and we'll head up."
     On our way up the stairs Jane asked, "Did you really have guys propose marriage to you?"
     "A total of seven today," answered Bekka.  "None of them were happy to hear I was already married, and able to point across the room at my husband."
     "What a trip.  Why do they do that?"
     "Because they've created fantasies about what I am and who I am.  To them, I'm a woman who is a sexual dynamo with an intriguing personality.  Their view of me is more interesting than the women they know, so they latch onto the fantasy.  Other than being a fairly horny person, there's no way I could live up to their expectations.  Personally, I curse the day I allowed the magazines to print that I was single."
     Jane asked, "If you were single, would you take any of the offers?  Like if the guy was really good looking or something?"
     Bekka laughed at this.  "Oh hell no!  Like I said, there's no way I could live up to the expectations, so the guy would feel bored and I'd feel trapped.  He'd find out I'm just a woman, not a sex goddess, not a goddess of any kind.  It would suck."
     Jane sat on her bed, unlacing her Doc Martens.  "Huh.  Never thought of it that way.  You guys staying up?"
     "We've got work in the morning.  What are you taking to school?"
     "The Sportster.  It's kinda fun making the auto shop dudes green with jealousy by riding past at lunch."
     "Okay.  We love you.  G'nite, pet."
     "I love you too.  G'nite."


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