It's eight weeks later and one week before our first signings, at two locations of Smut 'N' Stuff right in San Diego. We would also be doing LA, Burbank, Hollywood, Long Beach, Anaheim, and an overnight shot to Fresno. Temporary Pleasures officially released yesterday, with the reviews coming in from the magazines. We scored high again: a "Fully Erect" from Hustler, four and a half stars each (out of five) from Gallery and Fox, five stars from Club, and --- best of all --- a full five stars from the big one, Adult Video News. AVN loving Temporary Pleasures was practically a license to print our own money. Their review read in part, "Imagine porn that's actually funny.... On purpose. The geniuses at Inana did, and came up with 'Temporary Pleasures,' an office comedy that will excite, delight, and have you rolling with laughter. Skye Tyler plays a hopelessly inept temp worker, with Becky Page as the office manager who must deal with her.
"The most satisfying part of this feature (besides Inana's usual steaming sex scenes) is that the comedy actually works. There is genuine wit on display here, and the barbs come fast and sharp, lampooning cubicle culture better than Hollywood ever could. Priceless is Vince New, as a VIP addicted to huffing Liquid Paper. At 117 minutes, 'Temporary Pleasures' is one of the longest features we've ever reviewed, but you'll love every minute. Inana has given us another solid gold winner!"
Hustler said, "We've made fun of yuppies for a while, but Inana Productions brings it to a whole new level in 'Temporary Pleasures.' Hot fucking and sharp satire mix flawlessly in this comedy about the adventures of the world's dumbest temp worker (Skye Tyler). Becky Page shows up as Skye's exasperated boss. Comedy and porn together have been attempted in the past, but never worked.... Until now. This is a pure winner. You may be laughing too hard to jerk it while watching this one."
Club said, "Inana Productions ('Bewitched,' 'Dangerous Desires') slam dunks another fantastic feature, in the form of 'Temporary Pleasures,' a blending of satire and hot sex that comes off flawlessly. Skye Tyler plays a hopelessly ditzy temp girl who accidentally sucks and fucks her way to the top. Becky Page plays the manager who must wrangle this human disaster area. Anyone who has ever changed a copier toner cartridge will highly appreciate the sharp satire on display here: the comedy really, truly works, blending seamlessly with director Steve Stillman's awesome sex. Confused CEOs, horny mail room clerks, White Out-addicted VIPs, and oddly-mannered cubicle refugees make up this yuppie asylum.
"Writer Edward Steinberg may be new to the game of scripts (he's also a performer), but plays very well. Working with Inana's in-house auteur Lenny Schneider ('Wedding Party,' 'Bewitched,' 'Dangerous Desires'), the two deliver humor sharp as a tack, skewering office culture to a tee. Schneider, producing as always at Inana, has the most convincing office sets we've ever seen. He and Stillman also wrangle flawless performances out of their studs and sluts, we're not used to seeing genuine acting skill in porn. Then again, this is the same studio that gave us 'Bewitched,' so maybe we should get used to seeing it out of Inana. Go to your local smut shop and reserve your copy today. You do not want to miss 'Temporary Pleasures!'"
Gallery explained their less-than-perfect score thusly. "We absolutely love this movie. Why didn't it get the full five stars? NOT ENOUGH BECKY. While Becky Page does have three good fuck scenes, one is a girl/girl, and all three feel a bit rushed. While there was no way for Becky to play the lead --- the part really does call for a natural blonde like Skye Tyler --- Inana Productions promised us Becky Page, but doesn't deliver enough of her for our taste. Still, do not skip this one. Can't decide which is more fun, laughing uproariously or jacking off? With this feature, you can do both!"
Fox concurred, stating, "As talented as Becky Page is as an actress, we don't treasure her for her skilled dialogue scenes. Dammit, we want our Becky naked, sucking, and fucking. Inana put her face on the box and her name in the credits, and she does have plenty of screen time.... With her clothes on. No fair."
"I wasn't the fucking lead, what do Fox and Gallery want from me?" asked Bekka rhetorically as we walked through the mall. "I hope this is another blockbuster, that it has the same sort of success as 'Bewitched' did, and that Ellen reaches a good level of break-out fame, just like I did. The autograph hounds and rabid fans can chase her around some, take a bit of pressure off me."
"Doubt it," I said. "Ellen will pull in the usual demographic, white males, 18 to 49. But she's playing a slutty blonde ditz. The factors in your characters that made you a breakout star aren't there. Women won't feel like they identify with her the way they do with you, in fact, they'll probably be disgusted with her. If we're lucky, 'Temporary Pleasures' will break out the same way 'Bewitched' did, and bring Ellen along for the ride. But her fans won't have the same tenacious loyalty yours do. Her star will shine brightly for a while, and people will forget about her. We might lose her to Hollywood, where she'd spend her career playing airheads. No, if we're gonna rescue her from that, I'd better put her in a really smart role when I write and cast 'Bewitched II.' Ellen's too talented to always be written off as a slutty blonde."
We stopped and stared at a window of International Gifts. "The new posters are in," I said. Becky Page stared out at us from the window, wearing the merest scraps of lingerie and posing with my Beretta, the pistol held up in the air. Becky --- Bekka --- is giving a smile that could only be described as villainous. A starburst stuck at the bottom said, "In Stock NOW!"
"Shall we go in?" Bekka asked. "See what's new in the paraphernalia selection?"
"Sure, what the hell," I muttered. "Maybe we'll have a clerk who can explain why Graffix bongs are so damn expensive."
We went in, where Bekka was noticed immediately. Friends elbowed each other and pointed, clerks stood up a little straighter and tried to look perkier. We remained unmolested. Walking through the main section of the store, I saw that Becky Page posters had their own rack, sitting in the middle of the floor. They'd be adding yet another poster to the display in a few weeks, after I finished taking more dirty pictures of my wife. We got to the far side and went into a walled-off area that had "18+ ONLY" above the entry. This is where they kept the sex toys, the drug toys, the porn, and the knives. Due to minors and theft risk, there was always a clerk in here.
Today's clerk, a younger dude with a smattering of pimples, smiled and greeted us from behind the display cases. We leaned on the case full of pipes and considered. Something caught my eye and made me curious: a basket full of glass pipes. They were just glass tubes with a bubble blown into the end and a hole in the bubble. Like somebody had tried to inflate a test tube. I waved the clerk over.
I said, "Hey man, how the hell are you supposed to use those glass pipes? I don't get the design."
He looked where I was pointing and said, "Oh, those are for smoking meth."
"Wait, smoking meth?" I asked. "Like, speed? Meth meth?"
"Yeah. You put some dope in the bowl, then heat it up with a lighter so it starts to smoke. You don't want to fry it, just heat it so it's liquid and smoking. And you inhale the smoke." He suddenly leaned in close. "You guys get high?" he asked in a low voice.
"Yer darn tootin'," I replied.
He motioned with his head for us to follow him. We went behind the display cases, around a wall, and into a small storage room. Once there, the clerk shoved his hand in his pocket and extracted a rolled-up paper towel. He unrolled it, removing one of the glass pipes. This one had been used. It had a cloudy white look except for some yellow and brown in the bowl opposite the little hole. He held the bowl up to the light and said, "Shit. Only a couple of hits left. Don't suppose you've got anything?"
"Indeed I do," I said, and pulled out my vial. "Load in what you want, boss."
He took the top off the vial and knocked some speed into the pipe. By my judgement, he'd knocked in enough for a single smallish line, an amount that would barely phase me or Bekka. I said, "There's three of us, keep loading it up. No sense in teasing ourselves."
The clerk said, "No, that's enough for a bowl. We'll each get a few good hits."
Bekka said, "Uh, kiddo, I won't be delicate here. Me and him are addicts, full-blown tweakers. If I had that amount left on a mirror, I'd blow it onto the carpet rather than bothering to put it away."
"You're used to snorting, right? Smoking is way more economical. You get more high on less dope. Let me show you how it works."
He pulled out a Bic and lit it under the bowl. The light from the flame allowed us to see better. The drugs began to melt, then give off a vapor-like smoke. "Okay, there it goes," he said. "It's melted in and starting to smoke. Now you keep it hot and take a hit."
He demonstrated, drawing in gently from the stem while holding the flame under the bowl. He rolled the pipe back and forth between his fingers by the stem. He stopped hitting, held it for maybe two seconds, then released a large cloud of white smoke into the room. I was surprised, it seemed to be odorless. A bit of smoke drifted out of the "top" of the bowl.
The clerk said, "You saw how I was rolling the pipe back and forth? That's to get the hot liquid dope onto cooler parts of the glass, which makes it smoke more than just holding the flame under it. Keeps you from scorching it, too. Here, you try."
I took the pipe and lighter. "Does it burn?" I asked.
"No, not at all. It's almost like drawing in a normal breath of air."
I exhaled and put the pipe to my lips. As soon as I hit the lighter, I could see where the speed was puddled in the bowl. Smoke began to slowly rise, so I began to gently draw in. It began to smoke more and bubble. I rolled the pipe between my fingers and drew in stronger. The clerk put his hand on the wrist of my hand holding the lighter and pushed down, indicating I should stop firing. "Just keep rolling it, it's plenty hot, you'll get good smoke."
I rolled and drew in until I couldn't draw any more. Then, following the clerk's lead, I waited two seconds and exhaled. I suddenly realized I felt really goddamn good. I didn't have a rush, exactly, but I felt a lot more perky than I had. The overall feeling of the speed kicking in came on more quickly, too, faster than snorting.
I accidentally dragged the bowl across the back of my hand. "Oww, shit," I declared. I light red welt was already starting to rise."
"Yeah, be careful, that glass stays hot," warned the clerk. "Never use a pipe and then shove it in your pocket, unless you want one hellish burn. Let it get some air, check the temperature with your hand, then wrap it in a paper towel or cloth. That way if it gets broken in your pocket, you don't have a pocket full of glass shards."
Having learned from observation, Bekka took her hit. She stopped drawing, waited, then blew her own big white cloud. She smiled at me and said, "Okay, I can definitely deal with this."
"Pretty groovy, eh?" I said.
"Yeah, see, I could definitely get into doing our morning fix like this. Just take some hits like this, instead of standing at the damn sink sniffing water up our noses and cursing the burn. So how many hits would be the equal of doing one fat line, like a fifteen dollar line?"
"I dunno," said the clerk. "I never thought of it like that. Personally, anything over five hits at once is pissing in the wind. It's like, you can only get so high. Hey, see that monitor sitting on that table? If you see any movement at all on it, tell me." He took the pipe and lighter and began taking a hit.
Bekka said, "Well, this opens up a whole new paradigm in our drug addiction. I was afraid our next move was going to be towards the needle."
"Balls to that," I said. "I've dealt with people who bang up their drugs, and to hell with them. Dope comes first with them, it's--- dude, I just saw something move on the monitor."
The clerk handed me the pipe and scurried towards the door. I stepped up to the monitor and tried to figure out where in the adult section I was observing. I was thinking towards the entry, but I wasn't sure. It didn't matter, the clerk returned, accompanied by a skinny little thing with big eyes. Her name tag told the world that her name was Lacey and she was the manager.
"So!" she said, eyeing Bekka. "Why do I have a porn star loitering in my storage room?"
Bekka said, "Oh, we were just talking, you know, shooting the shit with your bong salesman."
"So which one of you has the pipe?" Lacey asked.
"The pipe I need to take a few hits off of, so that I won't follow my instincts and curb-stomp my cashier's pretty little face into mush. That pipe."
I said, "Oh. You mean that one. Here you go." I pulled it from behind my back and handed it over to her.
Lacey held it up to the light, examining it. She said, "I thought you said you were out this morning. This thing is loaded fine." She brought it down and began melting the now-cold drugs.
The clerk said, "This dude was kind enough to sport me some. Him and Becky both snort, so they had a full vial with them. They've never smoked before, so I was showing them what to do."
"And you wanted to brag that you got high with Becky Page."
"I was wondering if you people recognized me," said Bekka. "I'm too used to people spazzing out on me when they realize Becky Page is there."
Lacey the manager blew smoke out and said, "Oh, dear Becky. I have supervised the placement of your posters in my windows for quite a while now. I write your stock numbers down in my inventory, and find I always need more copies of you. I have stared at you, you and your fucking perfect atomic-powered rack, then consider the pathetic plums I bring to the game of womanhood, and I despair."
"Don't criticize your boobs, Lacey," said the clerk. "I think they're cute."
"You only say that because you want to get your filthy mitts on them."
I chimed in, "Oh, so you envy Becky for her rack, huh? Take it from a guy who makes his living looking at naked women: you would look so fucking bizarre with big tits. You'd be totally out of proportion to your frame. So don't fret about it."
"I am unclear as to who you are. I am also out of rotation, who should have the pipe next?"
"That gentleman there," said the clerk. "I'm teaching him that it's not crack, you don't need to constantly fire it while you take a hit."
I took my hit and said, "I'm Lenny, Lenny Schneider. I'm Becky's husband."
"He's the man who took the photos that were turned into posters. He also runs the studio where I work, writes and produces the movies I appear in, and is capable of fucking me cross-eyed. People think our marriage is some kind of business arrangement. Fuck that. I married Lenny because he asked me, and because I love him. And I'll slap the teeth out of anyone who thinks Lenny is my pimp."
Bekka took her hit and said, "Who does it go to next? I'm lost."
Lacey said, "Let me have it. I need to get back out on the floor, I can't be gone too long."
She took her hit and skedaddled. The pipe went around a few more times, then the clerk said, "Do you mind if I hold onto what's left in here? There's enough for breakfast tomorrow."
I said, "You're hurtin', huh?"
"Yeah. What I had went too quick, and I can't score until I get paid, day after tomorrow."
I pulled out my vial and tossed it in the air. I said, "You sell vials like this here, right?"
The clerk said, "Those? Yeah."
"Tell you what. I'll trade you this one for an empty one."
He blinked. "What?"
I said, "I'll give you my old but full vial in exchange for a new but empty vial. I won't miss the drugs, I got plenty, but I like carrying in a vial, and not bags. So is that a fair trade?"
"Um.... Sure!" the clerk grinned. "Anything else you need?"
"Yes, I'm going to buy several of those glass pipes, I'll pay for those. I just want the vial in the trade."
We went back out to the display area. The clerk pulled out four pipes and began wrapping them in tissue paper. I picked one up and said, "I imagine shit builds up on the inside, no matter how clean of speed you're getting. How do you clean one?"
He said, "You use a propane torch, you get the dirty parts of the bowl hot enough to glow. That turns the crap inside to ash."
"Would a gas stove work?"
"I dunno, I guess. Never tried it."
The clerk stuck small stickers on the now-wrapped pipes, then wrote a five digit number on them. "That's for the register," he explained.
We went up front and stood in front of the cashier. She looked at the number and gave me a look. The look was easy to decipher. It said, Great. Another fucking tweaker. We paid up and got out.
Heading for the food court took us through a sort of open plaza, with lots of benches and hedges and scraggly-looking trees. We stopped to light cigarettes, and heard a woman's voice saying, "Excuse me! Oh my god! Excuse me, excuse me!"
We turned to look and saw a pleasant-looking, well-dressed woman of about forty. She was hustling towards us, her hand on her purse. She had a surprised, alert look on her face, like a facelift gone wrong. We stood and waited.
She reached us and said, "Excuse me, are you Becky Page?"
Bekka smiled and answered in the affirmative.
"I thought I recognized you. My husband is such a fan you wouldn't believe it. He has all your movies, that man even has posters of you tacked up in the garage. Like he was a lovesick teenage boy! Of course, teenage boys wouldn't have pictures like that of their crushes, you look at the pictures they've taken of you and you think, my god, only an absolute shameless slut would pose like that, and you try to remind yourself that it's just someone's living, amazing what you can do for a living these days, so tell me, have you always done what you do for a living?"
Bekka shook her head slightly to clear the word jumble the woman had just poured out. She said, "Since the age of twenty, I have. Before that I worked as a waitress, and worked at a college book store. Why do you ask?"
The woman spilled out, "I just wonder what sort of opportunities you may have had that you didn't take. You can call it art, he calls it art, but I can't accept that having sex in front of a camera is art. You're not an artist, no, actually I know exactly what you are, and there is no job for what you are, you wreck homes, you enslave men and crush their wives, you're a devil. You use your body to steal men's souls because you have no soul of your own and I want you to stop. Devil, let go of my husband, he's mine, you've entranced him, he thinks all truth and beauty in the world revolve around you. You're going to stop what you do. You're going to quit."
"Um, I'm going to quit? What exactly, ma'am?" Bekka asked.
"You will stop making your filthy movies and taking your filthy pictures. My husband will have no more of your trash. Becky Page can go be a waitress, but she can no longer seduce my husband."
I said, "Ma'am, I can pretty much guarantee that even if every Becky Page video disappeared off the face of the earth tomorrow, your husband would just find another porn star to fixate upon. Ever considered that his interest in Becky is just a symptom of a larger and deeper problem? Have you maybe thought about going to a marriage counselor?"
"YOU SHUT UP," she screamed at me. She turned back to Bekka and said, "So you understand what you need to do?"
Bekka rolled her eyes slightly and said, "Yes, ma'am. I won't make any more of my filthy movies. You never have to worry about Becky Page ever again." She wasn't quite successful in keeping the condescending tone out of her voice.
"You're lying," the woman said coldly. "I knew you probably would, so now I have to get rid of you."
I never saw her move. One second her hand was empty, the next she is holding a Buck knife with a six inch blade on it. She must have had it palmed, somehow, the entire time she was talking to us. She swung at Bekka with the sharp blade, looking to cut her stomach open. Bekka jumped backwards and hopped up on a bench.
I pulled my Beretta and fired a shot. I got the attention of every shopper in the mall, but this woman was oblivious. She didn't even flinch. Her focus was entirely on Bekka the devil, I didn't exist at all. So I grabbed the large pistol by the barrel, walked up behind her, and bashed her in the head with the butt like I was driving the final stake in the Transcontinental Railroad. She hit the ground in a useless pile.
Bekka jumped off the bench and stared, wild-eyed, at the woman. "Cagna insane!" she yelled. "Where's the knife? I don't want to see the knife, get rid of it Lenny, get rid of it now."
"I don't know where it is either, so cover your eyes for a minute until I find it."
Bekka literally closed her eyes by covering them with her hands, just like a little kid. I quickly scanned the ground, finally determining the knife must be under the unconscious woman. I rolled her and located it, folding the blade in and dropping it in my back pocket for safekeeping.
"It's folded away and in my pocket," I told Bekka. "Help me get this nutcase up on a bench, so she looks more natural. I don't want to attract attention."
We got the woman onto the bench in a sitting position, us on either side of her propping her up. Bekka asked, "What are we sitting here for? Fuck her, let's go get some lunch."
"I want some answers out of her. I want to see if this little incident was pure happenstance, or if we've picked up a stalker. Personally, I think she's totally unhinged, the way she was talking. Her friends are just too polite to say anything."
Knife Woman returned to consciousness. "My head...." she moaned. She looked around and saw me.
"Who are you?" she asked. "What's going on?"
"What do you remember?" I asked. "Really, really think."
"I remember.... I was heading to the mall. I was very angry with my husband over a private matter, his personal habits. I couldn't get the anger to go away, it was like a migraine. Apparently I made it to the mall, I'm assuming that's where I am. Did someone hit me in the head? What happened?"
I said, "I brained you with the butt of my gun when you attacked my wife with a knife. You had every intention of cutting her open, badly. You basically said that you hate my wife. Do you know who Becky Page is?"
She said stiffly, "Yes. My husband is infatuated with her, it's disgusting."
"Would you know her if you saw her?"
"Look to your left."
The woman looked over to Bekka, who was staring at the woman. Curiosity and revulsion were battling it out on her face. She said, "Hello, my name is Bekka Schneider, and my stage name is Becky Page. You tried to kill me a few minutes ago."
Knife Woman stared at Bekka, absorbing her. She said, "Yes, you're the, uh, adult film actress that my husband is thoroughly obsessed with. It really is a mania with him. And I tried to kill you?"
I said, "You tried to slash her with this. Bekka, look away." I pulled out the Buck knife and unfolded it, letting it rest in the flat of my hand. The woman stared at it with recognition.
"That's my husband's," Knife Woman said. "Why do you have it? Give it back."
"I'm keeping it," I said. "I keep weapons that are used against me and mine. It's what you used to attack my wife with. You don't remember doing so? Stopping us as we walked, calling Bekka a devil, pulling the knife? This is all a mystery to you?"
Knife Woman stared at me with her mouth open. Then she turned and looked at Bekka again. She said, "You are the reason I was so angry with my husband. As I said, he is obsessed with you. We have not had marital relations for a few months, he prefers, uh, touching himself while watching your movies. Last night he didn't come to bed at all, he fell asleep in his chair while pleasuring himself. He has pressured me to adopt your style of hair and dress, which I refuse. Posters of you hang in our garage, I refused to let him place them inside our home. I feel as though I am losing my husband to you, that you somehow seduced him through our VCR. Yes, I'm afraid I do hate you. I can't compete with you."
Bekka said, "What your husband is doing is unhealthy. I do not wish to have fans who worship me. The two of you need to get into counseling as soon as possible. Your husband is obsessed with a woman he has never met, and it's destroying your marriage."
"You need to go two places," I said. "The first is the ER, you certainly have a concussion from where I hit you. It was either that or shoot you. The second is a psychiatric crisis center. You've had a psychotic break: the overwhelming anger, the violence, the amnesia. Sometime between waking up this morning and regaining consciousness a few minutes ago, you went off the deep end. You armed yourself with the intention of killing Becky Page. Proving that God has a sick sense of humor, you actually managed to find her, through a zillion to one chance of fate. You and your husband both desperately need help. Tell me, where do you live?"
Tears dripped onto her Armani. "L-La Jolla, up the hill. All right, I believe you, and I believe you are right. My husband and I need help. I will go to Scripps emergency room and have them examine me. I will ask them about the, uh, psychiatric help, they will be able to recommend a good private facility. We both come from families with money, so that is not an issue."
"Shall we walk you to your car?" Bekka offered.
Knife Woman suddenly looked stunned and defeated. "I.... Don't know where my car is. Oh god, my car is in one of these giant parking lots and I don't know which one. What can I do?"
I sighed, "We'll go to our car, and we'll start cruising the parking lots until we find it. What do you drive?"
"A silver Mercedes 320, last year's model."
"Okay, a new silver Benz should be easy to spot. You walked up to us from that direction. Do you remember going into any stores today?"
Knife Woman thought. "I don't have any packages with me, and I am not one for mindless browsing in the shops. I can't even remember my reason for coming here today. Possibly just to get away from my husband. He has thoroughly debased himself over Becky Page. He is turning into a pathetic animal."
We went to the Fleetwood and began cruising up and down the aisles of parking. After twenty minutes of this, Knife Woman cried, "There it is!" and pointed. Sure enough, a silver Mercedes sat occupying two parking spaces. I stopped in the aisle to let her out. She sat there with her fingers resting on the door handle.
"Would it be possible for you to give me your phone number? Or I could give you mine? You deserve to know how things work out."
"That is a bad idea," said Bekka. "Given who I am, any contact with you and your husband would be very disruptive and unhealthy for him. Lenny is the one who produces the movies I appear in, so he would also be disruptive. No, for the mental health of both of you, and for the sake of your marriage, we need to be as far away from you as possible."
Knife Woman opened the door. "Well.... Thank you for your patience. You could have made my life a living hell by calling the police, and you are letting me go. Please take care of yourselves. And Bekka, I don't really hate you. Goodbye." And she was gone.
"So, shall we finally have lunch?" I asked.
Bekka asked, "Where is the knife?"
"In my back pocket."
"When we get to the food court, throw it away," she said. "I don't want it in the house. You have no idea how terrified I feel right now. Fuck the food court, let's go to Carlos Murphy's so I can have a few drinks. I need them. Now I understand my own PTSD. The visceral horror I felt when I saw that blade was just...."
"You're calling your shrink when we get home," I said. "If you won't, I will."
So we went to Carlos Murphy's. Bekka had seven shots of tequila and a salad for lunch. Afterwards, we went to the arcade at Bekka's insistence. Pinball would be a low-level cathartic release. A group of six off-duty sailors from Miramar were at the arcade, and wished autographs from their favorite girl, Becky Page. This time they rounded up paper. Bekka smilingly provided autographs for all, and told them that Inana had a hot new movie out which she appeared in. Stop by the Smut 'N' Stuff on Mira Mesa Blvd. and pick it up. Chattering, the sailors left the arcade, presumably to take Becky's advice.
"Well, there you have it," I said. "Becky Page rules."
"Becky Page is a headache with legs," replied Bekka.