Angel and Vinny both loved my plot outline for the newest feature. Entitled "Good Girl/Bad Girl," it followed the life of one woman, "Ella Belle" (Elspeth). The gist was that everyone is morally ambiguous, each of us having an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other. In Elspeth's case, the angel and the devil are a little too real: they exist full-size and follow her around, putting in their own views during Elspeth's interactions with the rest of the world. Elspeth can see them, and will talk to them in private. The angel would be played by "Skye Tyler" (Ellen), the devil by "Becky Page" (Bekka). Obviously, the two fight a lot, but are still lovers. They throw conflicting advice at Elspeth. In any situation, the angel will of course prod Elspeth into being a good girl, while the devil will encourage.... Not exactly evil, but lewd and crass behavior. On occasion, the two actually agree. The worst part was that the angel and devil could break out into reality, and interact. I was going to have a lot of fun writing this one.
All three girls were excited about their roles. I wanted Elspeth's character to be energetic, punky, a bit brash overall, but essentially a good girl. Ellen would sort of.... glide everywhere, and usually talk in a dreamy voice, unless perturbed, when she would yell like a banshee. Bekka would cackle, giggle, swear like a sailor, and constantly suggest lewd behavior. As an example, Elspeth meets a guy in the food court of the mall. The angel and devil are standing on each side of her, sizing him up while he and Elspeth talk. The angel suggests, "I think you should ask for his phone number, he seems like a sweet boy." The devil reaches over and flicks the angel in the head and cackles, "I think you should take him to the car and suck his dick! C'mon, suck his dick! Suck his dick! Hahahaha!"
The plot, such as it was, revolves around Elspeth's character's search for, uh, companionship over the course of several days. This being porn, she finds it on several occasions. So do the angel and the devil. The angel wants to find a nice boy for the long term, the devil wants to fuck her way through the entire post-pubescent population of the unnamed Southern California town they're in, male and female. On occasion, Elspeth will team up with one of the two and put the other out of commission. Elspeth's brother invites her over to meet a friend of his, a genuinely decent guy. The devil won't shut up with her litany of aggressive sex acts to engage in with the friend, so Elspeth and the angel tackle her and handcuff her to the rear view mirror on the car while they go inside. Elspeth decides to go to a dark, hip nightclub. The angel is appalled by the sight of the people hanging around outside, and tries to keep Elspeth out. Elspeth and the devil grab the angel and stuff her in the trunk of the car, then go in and get rowdy.
Becky was looking forward to being a devil. She couldn't wait to get horns. She asked a favor of Angela, Angel's wife, and had her locate special effects shops that sold convincing devil horns, and not just the cheap ones that go on your head with a band. Angela provided some addresses, and we spent a couple weekends haunting these shops. The devil horns that went above the hairline cleverly went right against the scalp, and were undetectable. The horns which went on the forehead invariably attached with a latex glue, which required a solvent to remove. We decided to go with the mid-head horns. Bekka ended up buying about a dozen pairs of devil horns just for fun. I bought three pairs of a design I liked for use in the movie. I wanted extras in case a pair was damaged or lost.
The costuming would be somewhat similar. Both the angel and devil would wear torn sleeveless half-shirts and rag-like mini skirts. Red for the devil, white for the angel.... Except the respective shirts would have a diagonal stripe across the front of the opposing color. Ellen would be barefoot. Bekka would be in red fishnets and boots. I'd considered trying to find a halo for Ellen, but they all looked hokey. She didn't get wings, either. Bekka got the horns, but no tail or fangs. Overall though, this would be a fun movie for all concerned.
Bekka and I are at the Del Mar Fair for the day, an event neither of us have attended since we were young children and only cared about the midway. Jane left three days earlier, off to start her summer vacation in Europe accompanied by Don Ventimiglia. A seventy-eight year old mafia don and a blue-haired seventeen year old girl: they should make quite the pair. The Don is richer than a Rockefeller, so everything they do will be first class. Jane had promised to write at least twice a week.
Bekka is wearing her favorite pair of devil horns. They look like they're made from real bone, the band is undetectable under her hair, and they don't shift around at all. Her logic for wearing them at an event like the Fair is interesting: people will stare at the horns, and not realize they're attached to Becky Page. Thus, we will be left alone to enjoy ourselves. Sort of hiding in plain sight. We get to the gate, pay our admission, I check the loaded money belts I have on my left leg one last time, and we go in.
"So, which first, prize animals or nifty products?" asked Bekka.
"Unless they allow me to juggle chickens, I have no major interest in the animals," I reply. "Let's check out the fantastic, can't-live-without-it products they've got in the exhibit hall."
We step in the hall and the very first thing we run into is a Boy Scout exhibit. This exhibit is warning about the dangers of drugs. The display has not been updated since 1964. A bag of oregano posed as marijuana, to our delight. Sugar posed as cocaine, and heroin. Meth wasn't even indexed. Staring at the Dangers of Marijuana display, Bekka suddenly started laughing and pointing. I looked in the direction of her finger, and started laughing too. There were no bongs, hash pipes, or rolling papers on display. What they had up was this goofy-ass tin pipe with a bowl the size of a cheap cup of coffee. It was huge. My own guess was it had been confiscated by the police from reefer addicts around 1958, and found its way here. I waved at a fourteen year old Scout, gesturing him over.
I said, "Hey, find your scoutmaster. I want to buy part of your display. I want to buy that stupid-looking pipe, and I'll pay any price he asks." The kid skedaddled.
Examining the pipe more closely, Bekka said, "Well, I guess back when people were still smoking leaf and thinking it did any good, you'd need a bowl that size. Just the design makes it look like the most ambitious stoner shop project ever."
An adult in a Boy Scout uniform approached us with a confused look. "May I help you?" he asked.
"Yeah," I answered. "I want to buy part of your display. See that giant metal pipe? Sell it to me. You're not getting any use out of it here."
"Why do you want to buy it?"
"To give it a good home. It's the most ludicrous bit of drug paraphernalia I've ever seen, it's too classic. I might even try using it at some point. I'll give you a hundred bucks for it right now."
The scoutmaster scowled and said, "The display is the property of the local council. I can't sell pieces of it."
Bekka said, "But no one uses a pipe like that, it makes no sense to have it in your display at all. We could replace it with a bong."
"We know the display is a little out of date...."
"Out of date!" I declared. "The whole damn thing is completely inaccurate. You're missing a shitload of drugs, for one. And what drugs you do show are bullshit. That shredded crap is supposed to be marijuana? The pile of sand is supposed to be cocaine? Come on, where's the meth? Where's the tar heroin? Where's the Ecstasy? Where's the opoids, like Dilaudid and Vicodin? Your whole display is a joke anyway, so sell me that pipe. Like she said, we'll even replace it, with a bong."
"We just have to go to the midway and win one," said Bekka.
The scoutmaster squinted at Bekka and said, "Do I know you from somewhere?"
"I'm sure you recognize me. My name is Becky Page."
The man's face contorted. He couldn't decide whether to give a polite smile or a hostile scowl, so he tried to do both at the same time. The end result was that he looked like he was trying to hold back a painful fart in front of his boss. He said, "Oh yes, the, uh, adult film star. You've gained quite a bit of celebrity, despite what you do."
Bekka's eyes blinked, and Becky was there instead. She said, "No, I have my celebrity because of exactly what I do. Would you like me to sign autographs for your troop? I'm sure they'd be overjoyed."
"No no, that's quite all right. I'm afraid your.... media contradicts several parts of the Scout Law."
"And what is this law?"
The scoutmaster recited, "A Scout is Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, and Reverent."
I said, "Yeah, I could never get the hang of that one. I was dishonest, a backstabber, useless, surly, rude, mean, defiant, hostile, profligate, cowardly, filthy, and profane. Still made Star, though. Then I discovered girls and decided I had better things to do with my time. Anyway, I'll give you $200 cash for the pipe."
"The pipe is not for sale."
"Everything's for sale, we're in California. Okay, $300 cash."
I was weakening the scoutmaster's resolve. He said, "Why do you want it so badly? What will you do with it?"
"I'm gonna display it," I said. "It's an antique, a museum piece, a relic of a forgotten time. $350. Come on, you can build a whole new display for that much. I'll even help, I'll work as a consultant."
"You're serious. Do you have that kind of money?"
I bent down and unstrapped one of the money belts from my calf. I opened it and fanned out a stack of hundreds. I turned to Becky and said, "Do you have a fifty on you?"
Becky dug through her wallet and pulled out two twenties and a ten. She set them on the counter separating us from the scoutmaster. I dropped three hundreds on top and said, "By buying that fuckin' thing, you all won't look quite as stupid and ignorant, you're increasing your coffers, and I get one awesome conversation piece. Win win, all around."
The scoutmaster stared at the money, stared at me, then walked over to the display and used his pen knife to pull out the wires holding the pipe to the board. He set the pipe down in front of us. Becky picked it up and said, "It looks like you could rub it and have a genie pop out. A really lame genie, though."
"Yeah, we freed him from his prison of dirt weed sativa. He can't grant us wishes, but he's willing to cosign on a nice three bedroom house in San Marcos."
"Were you really in Scouts?" asked the scoutmaster.
I said, "Sure was. Troop 4, La Jolla. I had some fun. Then I figured out I preferred spending my free time around girls, not other guys."
"Did any of the values you learned stick with you?"
"Shit yeah, buddy. I've got one hell of a work ethic. Hell, I'm a self-made millionaire. Of course, that money came from making porn, but nobody who knows the industry will say it's an easy job."
Becky said, "Lenny here is my husband. He has written and produced all the features I've appeared in. Have you seen any of them? This is not your average porn, not just straight suck and fuck. As producer, Lenny gets powerful performances out of all his actresses. Maybe it's a good thing he dropped out of Scouts to chase girls. He learned how to communicate well with half the species, instead of tying knots and pitching tents."
"Scouting teaches lessons that last a lifetime," said the scoutmaster, looking off into the distance.
I said, "Yeah, I suppose so. Hey, I run an honest business, I'm good to my performers, I'm not afraid of hard work, everyone at my studio is healthy.... And I'll go to my grave knowing I can tie a bowline if I need to, for some reason."
"What Scouting doesn't recognize, so far as I can tell, is that human beings are morally ambiguous," said Becky. "Your Scout Law is a nice set of aspirations, but nobody lives up to that all the time. We're humans, we like to wallow, we like to get dirty. If Scouting had the balls to say to all those thirteen year old kids, 'Look, nobody's expecting you to be perfect,' you'd have a lot fewer self-loathing thirteen year olds around. Insisting ideals are actually canon is ludicrous."
Installing a self-righteous look, the scoutmaster said, "Ma'am, do you really feel you're in the position to debate morality with me?"
"Absolutely. Why wouldn't I be?"
"I bet he's gonna use your career as an example," I said. "He'll just be proving to me that he knows nothing about the industry, and doesn't have a leg to stand on. If you lost your wallet and Becky found it, you'd get it back with all your cash intact. She feeds homeless people. We donate some hefty bucks to a local no-kill shelter. She has impeccable manners in public. She will never lie to you, or cheat you, or talk shit about you behind your back. Becky believes in God. If you think her doing adult performance makes her immoral, get over it. It may offend your personal morality, but you can't argue personal points. Becky Page is a good woman."
A kid of about sixteen wandered up. I recognized by the patch on his uniform shirt that he had made Life Scout, one step below Eagle. He said, "Mr. Bailey, would you mind if Eddie and I--- whoa, are you really Becky Page?"
"Live and in the flesh," smiled Becky.
"You know who this woman is?" asked the scoutmaster.
The kid said, "Well, yeah. Who doesn't know who Becky Page is? Um, could I get your autograph, if it's not too much trouble?"
Becky said, "Bring me some paper, cutie. What's your name?"
The kid's face split in a grin at the word "cutie" and he answered, "It's Hans, Ms. Page. I'll be right back." He ran to the other side of the booth and grabbed a notebook.
Becky pulled out her Sharpie and wrote on a blank page, "Hey Hans, I love a man in uniform! XXX Kisses, Becky Page." She handed the notebook back. Hans nearly fractured himself smiling at what she'd written. He managed to get out, "So, um, what are you doing here?"
Becky said, "What everyone does at the fair, walk around and stare at things. Your drug education display caught our eye, so we investigated. It contains.... Certain inaccuracies."
"Oh yes. None of the drugs look like what they say they are. All the paraphernalia dates back to around 1960. And I've caught a few lies.... Like here, where it says marijuana use can cause schizophrenia. I defy you to find any modern psychiatrist who would support that statement. Or here, where it says that amphetamines are prescription drugs. Technically true, but nobody takes them any more. Everyone does meth, which is much more powerful than Benzedrine or Dexedrine. Or here, where it claims cocaine users inject the stuff. Again, I'm sure there's a few people around who do, but everyone either snorts or smokes it these days. Seriously, how could you people put up this display and not say a word about crack?"
Hans looked a little embarrassed. "Yeah, it's pretty old. The council sends it out to different troops to use, they really should make something better. Heh, yeah, not mentioning crack is kinda dumb. Have you ever done it?"
"I have," said Becky. "Smoking crack is a religious experience. You feel like God for about fifteen or twenty minutes, then you feel like hell for forty minutes after that.... Unless you keep smoking. It's very insidious shit, the jones is very strong."
I said, "Yeah, and it makes your dick not work. Fuck crack. I'd rather have my dick work. So tell me, are you going for Eagle?"
"Yeah," said Hans. "I got all my badges, by a long shot, but I haven't been able to think up a decent public service project."
"That's easy. Build a new drug education display. Make it up to date, inclusive, accurate, and honest. Have it be the sort of thing that can be broken into sections and easily transported, but provides plenty of information. Make it available for use at junior high schools or something."
Becky added, "And don't just have it be a scare session, like DARE. DARE forgets most people have bullshit filters, and quickly learn that doing a single bong rip won't make your brains run out your ears like jam. DARE lied about that, so they must have lied about everything, right? When you do your research into a drug, get unbiased information, like from a pharmacologist. Don't ask cops about drugs, they're not scientists. Yeah, you should make a drug education display that actually educates about drugs, and cites its sources. It would be more effective than just telling people that drugs are evil."
"But.... Drugs aren't good, right?" asked Hans. "Do you use drugs?"
"Drugs are neither good nor bad, they're just sort of there. It all depends on how a person uses a drug that determines whether it is good or bad for that particular person. Say two people do a line of coke. The first one could say, 'Well, that was fun,' and put no more thought into cocaine. The second person could feel like it's the best thing to ever happen in their lives, and start devoting all their time and energy into staying high on coke. Everyone reacts differently to different drugs. Speaking personally, I've smoked heroin. It was all right, it was fun enough, but it's not something I care about enough to pursue. But there are hundreds of thousands of heroin addicts in the world who would disagree with me completely.
"Yes, I use drugs. To me, drugs are a vacation. I don't need a vacation every day. I like some things more than others, and will seek them out and spend money on them. But I do that when I have the time, and I don't do it at the expense of paying my bills, or seeing friends, or not keeping my life fairly orderly. It's all about priorities. Drugs are not a priority for me. And remember, you can wreck your life with any behavior if you don't keep your priorities straight. It could be drugs, or sex, or food, or video games, or anything. A person can become addicted to anything, not just drugs. You're an addict when all other major aspects of your life take a back seat to whatever it is you're doing obsessively. Some people are prone to compulsive behavior. That's not a drug's fault. Addiction isn't a law enforcement issue or personality defect, it's a disease."
The scoutmaster had been listening to all of this from the end of the counter. In a slightly smart-ass tone, he asked Becky, "So what drugs do you take?"
Becky looked him right in the eye and responded, "Do you mean, what drugs will I go out of my way to take, if it's not too inconvenient? Let's see.... Ecstasy would be number one. I will also use marijuana, cocaine, alcohol, methamphetamine, and nitrous oxide, but not all at once. I refuse to pursue drugs. If I'm in the mood for something but can't get a hold of it for whatever reason, I just find something else to do. The ones I just listed are the ones I will actually spend money on because to me, it's worth it. You may have noticed I included two legal drugs, alcohol and nitrous oxide. Yes, alcohol is a drug, and a bad one. I've always been bitterly amused that alcohol, which has killed millions of people, is legal and socially acceptable. Marijuana, on the other hand, has killed no one, yet is still under prohibition. Me, I'd rather smoke a joint than get drunk."
I added, "We took Ecstasy last night. We usually take it once a week or so. Any more than that and you're putting yourself at risk. Use Ecstasy compulsively, like daily, and you will wreck your body and your mind. That's documented. I've witnessed it. But like anything, occasional use is going to do you no harm. I consider an Ecstasy high an incredibly rewarding experience. You can learn from it. But if you decide you're going to live your entire life high on Ecstasy, you're gonna wreck yourself."
"Are there any safe drugs?" asked Hans.
"No," replied Becky. "There are no safe drugs. At the same time, there are no safe foods, or safe beverages. Consume enough of anything, and it's poisonous. You can literally overdose on water. It's called water toxicity, and what happens is the sodium in your blood becomes too diluted, and your electrolyte balance is upset. You can die from it. Marijuana is pretty safe, although you'd never guess by the coughing fits smoking it can cause. Smoke it all day every day and you're at risk of lung infections, plus you start to get a little dim, personally. I don't consider any drug to be particularly dangerous, either. It's all about moderation. If you drink three beers, you'll be fine. Drink thirteen, and you've crossed your body's threshold into poisoning, so you'll be sick, or at least hung over. So Mr. Bailey, what drugs do you enjoy?"
Bailey the scoutmaster said, "I don't use any drugs."
"Nothing? Not aspirin? You don't take Nyquil when you have the flu? You never drink?"
"I take over-the-counter medications, yes, of course. And I will have a beer or two when I get off work. But I'm not doing anything self-destructive."
I chimed in, "Do some research into how alcoholism works. You're at much risk as anyone else."
A skinny Scout in glasses trotted up to Hans and said, "Dude, why are you hanging out here? Did you ask if it's okay if we go get something to eat?"
Hans replied, "Dude, look who's here. It's Becky Page."
The skinny kid took in Becky and his eyes grew wide. He trotted back the way he came.... Then returned forty seconds later, trailing about ten Boy Scouts between the ages of thirteen and seventeen. They all lined up against the counter, staring at Becky, hopeful smiles on their faces. Becky took them in and said, "Hello, boys. I was just having a chat with Hans, here. Anything I can help you with?"
She was briefly greeted with slightly panicked silence, followed by a single cracking voice saying, "Can I get your autograph please?"
"I've got a marker, give me something to write on."
All of those present got autographs, but it took a while. Each Scout had to work up the nerve to ask Becky for her autograph, and for some of them, working up that nerve took a few minutes. Even after they were signed, the teenage boys would stand there, staring at Becky with tension-filled smiles on their faces. Scouting has no merit badge for Being Suave, and it showed. All these boys were shell-shocked by being in the presence of a certifiable living Goddess of Sex, and had no idea how to react. I idly puzzled over how many of them were familiar with Becky from her videos, and how old they were. Thanks to Inana's aggressive poster sales, all of them could be familiar with Becky Page nearly naked, just like how in the Seventies a person would recognize Farrah Fawcett even if they'd never seen "Charlie's Angels." Our porn star was now a major pin-up queen, and I was sure many of the boys had her tacked up in their rooms.
Bailey shooed all the boys away --- they had positions to be in, dammit --- and considered Becky from across the counter. "All of my boys seem familiar with you. Care to explain that?"
Becky said, "If you're concerned they're watching porn, you could easily be off your mark. My posters sell like hotcakes. I'm on t-shirts. I've been in People, Cosmopolitan, and Time. If I only existed in the vacuum that is porn fandom, nobody would recognize me at all. Don't worry, Mr. Bailey, I'm still sure they're all as pure as the driven snow. They don't even touch themselves, okay?"
Bailey scowled again. "I'm not comfortable with my boys being familiar with a porn star."
"Because.... The prurient thoughts you cause distracts them from being good citizens, and that's what I want them to be."
I laughed at this. I said, "Sorry bud, but life ain't a Rockwell painting. It's more like an Edward Munsch woodcut. Besides, I'll bet even Norman Rockwell liked to jerk off. We're gonna go wander around some, see the hottest new vegetable choppers and miracle fabrics. See you around."
We walked past the booth, which was devoted to more Scout-like endeavors. The boys stared, breathless, as we went past. I heard a voice say, "I knew I should have brought my camera today."