How me and Bekka got together, and how I ended up at Inana? Back in the spring of '88 I was moving a lot of speed through San Diego. Quarter ounce, half ounce, full ounce. Also a lot of Ecstasy. I'd left my day (actually night) job at a porn shop to pursue this lucrative career. I still spent some time hanging around the place, though, since the hours of being a meth dealer are unpredictable and there are only so many places to hang around late at night. Being at taco stands is boring and obvious.
So I'm in there one night gabbing with Wendell the cashier, and some dude comes in. Looks like an old jock. He greets Wendell warmly, and vice versa. They start talking a low voice, so I go over and examine the display cases full of drug dealer supplies they have: scales, mirrors, bags, grinders, cut. After a couple minutes Wendell slides in my direction and mutters to me, "My friend is looking to score."
I think, Well, hoo-fucking-ray for him. I tell Wendell, "I don't move anything under a quarter ounce these days. You know that."
Wendell says, "That's what he's looking for. That, and fifty hits of 'E'. You guys don't have to do business tonight, but he wants it delivered to his place up in North County, preferably tomorrow during the day. Is that cool?"
"So who is he?" I ask.
Wendell smiled. "Believe it or not, he's a pornographer. He likes to have a lot of party favors available for his cast and crew, you know?"
The old jock, meanwhile, is standing over by the register with a nonchalant grin on his face. Not a care in the world. I'm not sure if I'm smelling narc or not. What the hell, all my other mistakes have only cost me money or time. I tell Wendell to bring him over.
He gets ushered over. "Hi!" he says. "I'm the Director."
I put out a hand and say, "Hi, I'm Lenny." We shake. Standard white man's shake, nothing fancy. He's not too aggressive, either, doesn't try to crush my hand or otherwise intimidate.
"So, Wendell told you what I'm after?" he asks.
"Where should I be, and when? I'll tell you now, though, I hate 7-11 parking lots. Your place will be better."
He whips out his wallet and grabs a business card, then a pen from the counter and writes on the back of the card. "My place of business," he says, handing me the card. I look it over. It says "Inana Productions" with a phone and P.O. box on the printed side, and he's got a La Costa address written on the blank side. A fucking La Costa address. Maybe this dude will be worth my while. If he turns out to not be a walking bust.
"Can you be there around 12:45? That's when this would be most appreciated," he smiles.
"12:45," I say. "I'll be there, and you'll be happy. You in business?"
"Not like you. This is to keep my performers happy and active, you know?"
"I don't know. not a clue."
He laughs. "Then stick around, you can watch the magic happen."
The Director buys, like, four bottles of lube, then goes out. The big bottles too. Wendell smiles at me and says, so do I earn a commission for getting you a new client?"
"You wanna line, Wendell?" I say. "Lemme back there and I'll tap one for you." I got behind the register and tapped out a couple lines on a broken mirror that no one ever seemed to get around to throwing away.
The next day, at the appointed time, I pulled up in front of a mansion in La Costa. I took a deep breath, said a prayer to St. Chaos, the saint of methamphetamine dealers, and made my way to the front door. On the way I noticed a cherry looking '64 Ford Falcon hot rod sitting at the curb, right at the driveway. Somebody around here has class, I thought. I went up to the front door and rang.
The door was opened by a girl in a bra, panties, and an alarming amount of dark curly hair. She was dark too, I had her pegged as Brazilian. She simply smiled at me, saying nothing.
"Um, hi," I said. "I'm looking for the director?"
She gestured with an even wider smile, saying, "Please, this way."
I followed her through the house, down a hall, and into what appeared to be a large media room, where there were naked people sitting around eating Chinese food. My arrival seemed to be noticed, but not commented upon. The Brazilian girl disappeared briefly, returning with the Director. Seeing me, he gestured me into an attached kitchen and said, "Thank you for coming."
"Yeah, no problem. You got a grand?"
"Right here," he said, and pulled a sheath of bills from his pocket. I handed him two bags, one containing fifty hits of Ecstasy ($750), the other holding a quarter ounce of meth ($250). He cracked open the bag of speed and took a smell, then smiled.
"Yeah, that smells like it will do the job!" he exclaimed. "Say, you want some pizza?"
"Sure, what the hell," I said. I felt distracted. It wasn't all the naked people --- that was easily adapted to --- but one in particular. There was a girl sitting on the arm of a sofa eating glazed pork with chow mein that had my eye. She had short black hair with Bettie Page bangs. Full perky breasts with long nipples, a peach of an ass, and a pussy that had been trimmed way down, then shaved where it counted. Huge dark eyes cast their way around the room. They landed on me. She set her food down and walked over.
"So are you here to perform?" she asked.
"Ummm...." I said.
The Director danced in front of us and said, "No, he's here on business."
"Really?" the girl asked. "Are we finally going to have some good dope around here?"
"You can be the first to sample," offered the Director.
"Lay it on me. By the way, I'm Bekka."
"Lenny." I stuck out a hand.
Bekka took a pill offered to her by the Director and dry-swallowed it. She asked, "So, are you gonna stick around and watch us work? We used to let the last guy, and he was a dick."
"If you don't mind, yeah, I'll stick around...."
And for two months, on every Tuesday, I stuck around. I was just part of the scenery. I was happier when Bekka was there, but it was still quite something to witness, seeing how porn actually was made. Me and the Director would make our deal, everyone would get high, then go upstairs and film porn. On some days Bekka would show up when she wasn't working, and her and me would sit out by the pool, high on Ecstasy, smoking cigarettes and passing the time. She told me of her mother dying from leukemia, and how her current career had started a war with her dad. I told her of openly lying to my own parents about how I earned a living. We became friends.
Then one Tuesday, the Director approached me in a panic. "Can you operate a camera?" he asked.
"Um, as well as the next guy, I suppose. Why do you ask?"
"Our still photographer has just quit, and I need stills today of the action," he replied. "He really left us hanging."
I said, "Fuck it, my afternoon is free. What do you need done?"
"Just capture the action on film. Burn through it, we've got plenty. Something you shoot will be worthwhile, just keep on clicking."
"Not to sound selfish, but what's in it for me?" I asked.
The Director looked at me sideways. "A permanent job, if we like what you've shot. You'd get $125 per day for a low-stress gig. Consider today an audition."
Well.... What the hell, I was free. And Bekka was working. Besides, legitimate income could never hurt. I knew the studio was in action Tuesday through Friday, and they usually had things wrapped up by four. I figured I could get well-framed photos of people fucking, and everybody would be happy. I said yes.
Fifteen minutes later I was standing there toying with the two Nikons dangling around my neck, a vest on with its pockets stuffed full of ASA 400 film, ready to go. Bekka came in, saw me, and gave me a confused look. "Lenny, why do you have all that crap?" she asked.
"The Director asked me to take over photo duty. I guess the other guy quit this morning. Who knows, it could be a permanent job."
She smiled and kissed me on the neck. "Be careful, or you'll turn out to be respectable."
"Never happen," I told her. My neck tingled. "The next thing you know, I'll have a checking account. I won't have to pay my bills with money orders from the liquor store."
"Heaven forbid," Bekka giggled, and began stripping down. "Lenny, can I get your phone number?"
My heart began jiggling around in my chest, not really doing its job. "Uh, no problem. Why, can I have yours?"
"Of course," she said, and stepped into the kitchen for scrap paper and a pen. "Sometimes I need someone to talk to who I don't have to explain my job to, and who's smart, and is a man. Does that make sense?"
"To a point. Not to discourage this exchange, but what about your boyfriend? Doesn't he count?"
"He only fills the 'he's a man' part of my requirements. He's not that smart, and he remains willfully ignorant about what it is I do. I can't even say there's a lot of trust there. You, I trust."
"Well.... Thanks. I put a lot of trust in you too. So was there something you wanted to talk about?"
Bekka gave a sour chuckle and cracked open a soda. "Maybe tonight, there will be. Will you be home tonight?"
I shrugged. "In and out. You know, business. If I'm not in, try back within forty-five minutes and I should pick up. I get the impression that something is going on and you're not being fully open with me."
"I'm having dinner with my dad," she said, taking a belt of Mountain Dew. "Our talks go wonderfully, or terribly. I can never say which. Tell me, do you mind having porn sluts calling you up in tears because they had a fight with their dad?"
"Actually, I've been in similar situations. I can offer a shoulder to cry on, is that okay?"
"That's fine." Her head swiveled as the Director came into the room. "Hup, places everyone. Two-on-two today. Shoot straight, baby."
The two male performers stepped away from Rita the fluffer and took their marks. Bekka and Gina got in position. I reminded myself to not just take shots of Bekka, and Bekka only. The shoot got underway. I remained a professional. There was sucking, and fucking, as the Director saw fit. I captured it all. It was my job.
That night, around 8:45, my phone rang. Another customer, I thought, looking to pick up a half-ounce, or maybe thirty hits of Ecstasy. Nothing new.
No. It was Bekka, and she was in tears. Sobbing, "Is Lenny there?" in a voice I'd never heard before. I told her, yeah, this is me, what's up?
"I took him to dinner, and h-he was so cruel!" she announced.
"Hold on, take a break," I requested. "Who? Your father?"
"Y-yes. He called me a whore, demanded I stop seeing the people I see.... That's not possible. I don't know what I'd do without you...." And more crying.
"Hey, you gotta keep things open with your dad, always remember that. It may not always be comfortable with you, but he's your dad, and you love each other, right? It's gonna hurt sometimes. Like right now. Never write him off, you're just digging a ditch between you two. Keep things open. Understand me?"
I guess so...."
"So what happened?"
A brief sob, then "He can't believe I still want to stay in the same business that I've been in even though my mom is dead. He doesn't believe I'm happy doing what I am, that porn works for me as a career. How do I convince him of that?"
I sighed. I said, "I don't think there is a way. Speaking as a guy here, you're his precious baby little girl, and he can't imagine you doing what you do. He'll never accept it. The most you can hope for is assurance, that you're not being victimized and that you're not suffering. Hell, I'm there for your shoots, I can give him assurance that you're not being abused. Do you want me to talk to him?"
She actually chuckled. "Hell no, not right now. Do you really think that's what it is? That he's infantilizing me?"
"You're his little girl, and you're in an industry he's heard nothing but bad things about. Of course he's scared."
"Okay. Thank you Lenny." She sobbed out a chuckle. "Please be right."
I said, "He'll never admit it, but I know I am. He just wants to protect his little girl from all the bad things he's heard about. Get me?"
"Got it. I'll talk to him in the morning. Maybe we'll hit some sort of common ground. He's so sure I'm going to get hurt, that I barely argue with him about it any more. Who knows, maybe there are legitimate studios out there that are scary, but Inana isn't one of them."
"What does he think of your fellow performers?" I asked.
A brief pause, then she said, "He's never met anyone from Inana. Not a soul."
"It's just never happened. I've never had a single reason to go to my dad's house in the company of another performer. There's no way I'd bring one of the guys over, not and let my dad know what he does, and even bringing one of the other girls to his house has the makings of a disaster. He'd end up laying into them and they'd either burst into tears or claw his eyes out."
"So, bring Rita the fluffer with you. She's so cute and bubbly that no one could be hostile to her, not without feeling like a dick. And she's not a performer."
Bekka sighed. "I'd agree with you, but there's the problem of Rita's job. You're right, she's not a performer. To my dad, she'd be worse. I can't really explain to anyone, 'Yeah, hi, this is Rita. Her job is to fellate any man who stands in front of her naked, so he maintains his hard-on. That's really all she does at work.' My dad's head would explode.
"Having my dad meet crew might work, but he'd view them as ogres who exploit his little girl. Introducing Jeanette the makeup lady would work, but there's no way she'd agree to it. She very consciously avoids any socializing with any of the performers, I guess because of her kids or something."
I frowned, "So, your father, both through his obstinacy and fate, has remained ignorant about any aspects of the company you work for or the job you do. His hostility remains unabated. To be honest, girl, unless you can put a friendly human face on Inana, you're fighting the tide with a push broom so far as trying to quell your dad's rage goes. To him Inana is a faceless entity, so he drew on his own face by taking what he learned from the movie 'Hardcore' and applying it on top of his own prejudices."
"So I'm screwed," said Bekka.
"As far as him accepting your career goes, yes. I suppose having him show up at the mansion, or sit in on a shoot go, that's impossible."
Bekka sniffed, "Actually, I had my brother sit in on a shoot after I came clean about what I was doing for a living. He was someone else whose knowledge of the adult film industry came from the movie 'Hardcore.' He went to the studio with me on a day I wasn't working, shook a lot of hands, and watched them film. I explained things to him during cuts. He's been on my side in this battle with Papa, and tried to explain things to him. Getting my dad to go and watch us film would be like pulling teeth."
A brief pause while I gathered my thoughts. I eventually said, "Personally, I'd concern yourself with being his daughter. Not his daughter who makes adult video, but just his daughter. Don't bring up the subject of work. And if he does, give him as short and simple of answers as you can. Make it obvious that he's the one who brought the subject up, not you, and you're happier talking about other matters. So far as dealing with him overall, you're always going to be his darling baby girl, but don't let him put you in a stroller. Let the minor shit flow past, and let the big things be buttresses. Stay sweet with him, even when you're telling him to fuck off. Understand?"
"Yeah, I get it," said Bekka. "Thanks for talking with me, Lenny."
"Yeah, anytime," I said. "Hopefully I was able to provide advice, and not just platitudes."
"You may hear from me again at the end of the week," she said. "It all depends on how Friday evening goes."
"What happens Friday?" I asked.
"Aw, him and I are going to sort through some boxes of family memorabilia. Old photos from the old country, things like that."
"Where's the old country?"
"Okay then," I said. "Not to stereotype too heavily, but I'm no longer as surprised that your dad is so stubborn with his own daughter."
"You hit the nail on the head," said Bekka. "I'll talk to you tomorrow, lover. Good night." (*click*)
"Lover." That had a nice sound to it. I ran it around in my mouth, enjoying the flavor of it. Then I went and delivered two ounces of speed, explaining to the client that I'd been on the phone with my day job.