If there was a modern labor-saving, life-enriching product for sale, it was being demonstrated in the exhibit hall. We watched the demos of kitchenware and snacked on the results. The exhibit hall was like Sears, if every department in Sears had been narrowed down to a thirty by thirty area and staffed by a more manic version of Ron Popiel. Flooring, power mowers, clothing, jewelry, miracle goo for your car's engine, tanning pills, hot tubs, just about anything you could think of. Bekka (who had kicked Becky out, and was now back in control) and I spent a bit of time at a booth for a company that did water filters. The big difference with this system was that there was only one big filter, that was attached to the water main where it came into the house, not at each individual faucet. Since San Diego water tastes like you're sucking on an iron bar, we liked the idea. We were very impressed with the results, too. We made an appointment for a rep to come out to the house.
Bekka's strategy seemed to be working. People looked at her devil horns, and not her. We were standing in a walkway eating samples of frittata when we were approached by two fourteen year old girls. One said, "Those are really cool horns. Did you get them here?"
Bekka answered, "No, they came from a special effects store in Hollywood, sorry. You like them?"
"Yeah.... Hey, wait a minute, are you Becky Page?"
"That's me. And you are?"
The girl looked flustered, so did her friend. She said, "Um, I'm Mandy, and this is Jill. Wow.... What are you doing here?"
"Learning all about vegetable choppers," smiled Bekka.
A woman who could only be described as morbidly obese staggered up and grabbed each girl by the shoulder. "Where the hell did you two wander off to?" she demanded. "We told you to not get separated from us! All kinds of perverts wandering around this kinda place. Who are these two?"
Jill said, "Mo-om, we stayed where we were, you and Dad wandered off. And this is Becky Page, the, uh, movie star."
Mom took in Bekka and said, "Say, I recognize you. My husband has a couple posters of you up in his workshop. You make the dirty pitchers, right? Why you talking to these girls?"
Bekka's face shifted slightly, but her eyes didn't blink. Bekka and Becky were co-piloting. She said, "The girls were asking about my horns. I was going to explain where I'd gotten them, and that they aren't cheap, nor are they real.... Although there are some in this world who would assume they are."
A rail-thin man in bib overalls approached and said, "C'mon, we show in less than an hour. I've gotta get Gustine and Travis brushed and powdered. What's going on?"
Mandy said, "Hey Mr. Hicks, we met Becky Page. You have her posters up in your shop."
Mr. Hicks looked at Bekka/Becky and brightened considerably. He stuck a hand out and said, "By God, it is you, ain't it? I'm a big fan! Love your new movie, you bein' a pirate of the highways. Was that really you doin' all those stunts? Jumpin' from car to car like that?"
Bekka/Becky shook the hand and said, "No sir. That was a convincing stunt double. I did do some of my own driving, though. It was a hard film to make, but fun. We were out in Imperial County for nearly a month making it."
"Uh.... How come you have horns?"
"Just my own personal sense of style. Enough people think I'm a devil, I may as well satisfy their fantasies too. So what brings you to the fair?"
Hicks smiled proudly and said, "I raise pigs out in Ramona. I'm showin' Gustine and Travis, my two prize hogs this year. You should come watch.... Say, could I ask a favor of you? Would you walk Travis when we show 'em? You got the boots on."
Even with Becky there, Bekka looked flustered. "I, uh, I've never walked a pig before, I'm not sure I'd do it right."
Jill chimed in, "Da-ad, you can't have Becky Page walking around an arena full of pig poop! Especially in those boots!" (Bekka was wearing her white fourteen-hole Doc Martens, the ones she'd worn while making "Succubus.")
Mom cried, "Ed! You're not having this..... woman show our prize hog! May as well have one of the girls show him while she's naked! You're not doing this!"
Bekka/Becky took in Mom and made a very Becky-like decision. "I'll do it if you really want me to, and if my boots don't get stained. I'm always up for a new experience, and showing a prize hog counts as one. So what do I do?"
Dad looked ecstatic, Mom looked horrified, the girls looked amazed. I wasn't sure about my own facial expression, but I was pretty sure it was the same as the girls'. Mom seethed at Dad, "Just what do you hope to gain by pulling this little stunt?"
"Sellin' the sizzle," said Dad. "Having Becky Page walking Travis means the judges will remember him, and probably in a favorable light. Ms. Page, I surely appreciate this. Don't worry about your boots, the arena is cement and they keep it swept and shoveled. You don't need to go down into the pens with us, that's where it can be kind of messy. Come on, all, let's head that direction."
We all began walking towards the stockyard area. Bekka reiterated her query about what would be required of her.
"Ain't no more complicated than walking a dog," said Dad. "The hog is in a harness, and there's a lead attached to that. You just walk the hog along the edge of the arena, kinda slow, so the judges can get a good look at him. You go all the way along, turn, come back, turn again, then go to the center and stop. When the judges tell you they're done, just head back out. Real simple."
"So just what do you expect to get out of this?" Mom asked Bekka.
Bekka shrugged. "A new life experience, and maybe talk your husband out of buying me and Lenny a beer when it's all over. So really, this isn't much different than a fashion bazaar, or a beauty contest, or a dog show?"
"Not much," said Dad. "Of course, here the judges are trying to determine how usable the animal is, you know, so far as meat yield. Don't see that in a dog show, unless the judges are all boat people."
I said, "And at a fashion show, the girl who comes out on top rewards herself with a slice of M&M. No meat at all on those women, you could pick your teeth with a fashion model."
"Rick, my old boss at the studio, used to suggest I do fashion work," said Bekka. "I would point out that not only am I too short, I actually have breasts and an ass. I'm not really body conscious, thank God. I'm approaching thirty, so I have some issues, especially considering my career. Obviously, I have to look good naked. Getting an objective opinion about whether I do or not is difficult. Lenny is biased by love, and everyone around the studio would just want to be polite and say I look great. I mean, I know I've filled out some since I was twenty, but I would hope someone would tell me when it's time to start jogging, lay off the lasagna, and get my tits lifted."
Dad said, "Your last movie was, um, 'Succubus,' right? When was that made?"
"It was shot in the last week of April and the first three weeks of May."
"In that case, you look wonderful. I've rented that movie three times now, and you look great. Do you, um, have some Mexican blood in you?"
Bekka looked confused. "Um, no, why?"
"You've got kind of a dark complexion, and I figured you'd have been burned all to hell bein' under that desert sun," said Dad. "Just wondering."
"I'm full-blooded Sicilian, a Mediterranean girl. That's where the darker tone comes from. And we went through Bullfrog sunblock by the case while we were shooting. All that exposed skin? We had to."
"Are you ever going to do a movie that isn't rated X?" asked Mandy. "Something I could get in to see?"
"That remains to be seen," said Bekka. "The whole focus of my career is adult video. It's been suggested that I try to break into Hollywood, but that would mean starting my career over. To be frank, I'm having too much fun and making too much money where I am right now. If I was approached by one of the Hollywood studios to appear in a project, and I liked what they had for me, and it wouldn't distract me from working at my own studio, and wouldn't keep me away from home for too long, I'd consider it. But as near as I can tell, Hollywood isn't too keen on promoting porn stars, drafting them into their ranks. I have no doubt I could do the work, I just have no desire to pursue it, at least not until I'm in my forties and ready to retire from adult film. I'm sorry, you'll just have to wait until you're eighteen to see me perform. Either that, or hope your parents leave one of my movies in the VCR, then leave for the day. That's how most teens get to be familiar with my material."
With a stony look, Mom muttered, "I gotta admit, your movies are actually good movies, not just filth. When Ed first brought one home and said we should watch it, I was expecting trash. Turned out it was actually a good movie, a murder mystery, that was just really sexy. If these girls are gonna see.... such things, I'd rather it was the stuff you make."
Both Bekka and I thanked Mom for this obtuse compliment. I said, "I'm the guy who writes and produces Becky's movies, also known as her husband. Believe it or not, I hate most porn. I started making porn because I thought everything else out there was crap. The writing is terrible, the dialogue inane, the acting is crap.... Hell, they don't even bother to build good sets. I found myself in the position to produce adult video, so I took the bull by the horns and made features I'd actually want to watch. If you're going to let the girls watch a Becky Page movie, rent 'Bewitched' and let them enjoy. Not to brag, but I did something no one else ever has: I made a porn film that was intellectually stimulating."
We arrived at the paddocks, and immediately ran into a problem. Like getting backstage at a rock concert, you needed the right pass to do so. Bekka and I had none, obviously. Dad told Mom and the girls to head on in, he'd get passes for us. We walked to a portable bungalow and went in. Dad explained to a a man, also in bib overalls, that he had a couple people who were going to do a bit of work for him.... Okay, just one of them, the other is providing moral support or something, but this woman here will be showing his prize hog. Her name is Becky Page. Yes, that Becky Page. What difference will two more passes make? Look at the number of the damn things you give to the Mormon families.
We got our passes, and went to the paddocks. Dad led us through an incredible menagerie of farm animals to where the pigs were sequestered. Everyone was putting the finishing touches on their pigs: wiping hooves, polishing snouts, applying baby powder. The girls put the harnesses on Gustine and Travis, snapped on leads, and we were set for action. Jill would be showing Gustine, and would go first, according to the roster. Fine with us, we would watch her to make sure we handled Travis correctly.
Something that concerned me was that both Gustine and Travis weighed over 250 lbs. each. If Travis decided to be recalcitrant, we weren't sure what to do. Dad told us, "If he doesn't want to move, put your boot in his butt. They're hogs, not mules, they aren't that stubborn." He assured Bekka that Travis had walked on a lead before, and was as cooperative as a dog.
Of ten entrants, Gustine and Travis were second and eighth up, respectively. We watched Gustine and the other competitors, listening to the the announcements over the P.A. A voice would drone, "Next up is Gustine.... Raised by the Hicks family.... Being shown by Jill Hicks." Jill went out and did her turn, then came back. It looked simple enough. Dad, Bekka, Travis, and I all got in line, waiting our turn.
The announcement came through: "Up next is Travis.... Raised by the Hicks family.... Being shown by.... Uh, Becky Page." Bekka walked out with Travis, pacing herself to not move too quickly. A murmur went through the crowd; Bekka was being recognized. All eyes were certainly on her (and Travis). The hog seemed to be well leash-trained, Bekka need only to gently tug in the direction she wanted Travis to go in, and he did. Bekka made her two turns and then stopped in front of the judges, looking directly at them with a cool, confident grin on her face. She was excused, and returned to the pen.
There was a bit of commotion in the paddocks as Bekka returned. Why, and how, did old Ed Hicks have a damn porn star walking one of his prize hogs? A few other contestants came over and spoke quietly with Dad. We couldn't hear what was being said, but by the gestures and smile on Dad's face, it was clear he was explaining he'd pulled off this little coup through good luck and cussedness. He'd had the temerity to speak with Ms. Page and asked her if she'd help, and she'd said yes. It was costing Dad two beers.
Travis and two others were called back to the arena: we'd placed. It remained to be seen if we'd made first, second, or third place. Bekka grabbed Travis' lead and began marching towards the gate, followed by me and the Hicks clan. A hog named Bonner was third. In second was a sow named Juliet.... Which only left one position for Travis to be in. Bekka bowed, held the blue ribbon aloft, and went down on one knee to give Travis a pat and a scratch. Travis reacted to all the attention by voiding his bowels where he stood. He and Bekka swept out of the arena and back to the pen.
Mom, Dad, and the girls were being congratulated by their fellow pig-fanciers for the win. A question that was asked repeatedly was, How long have they been friends with Becky Page? In an aw-shucks manner, Dad was would explain that he'd only met Becky that day, and asked if she'd help out on a whim. Her willingness to lend a hand had surprised him. No real way of knowing if having Ms. Page put Travis through his paces made a difference in the judging, but she certainly got everyone's attention. Nope, no idea why she has devil horns.
Mom brought up the subject of the horns again, and Bekka reiterated that it was just her own personal sense of style. She elaborated that she actually would be playing a devil, albeit a cartoonish one, in her next movie. "I'll be playing opposite Skye Tyler, who plays an angel. We both follow around a girl, Ella Belle, giving our respective bits of advice while she goes through life. Lenny and I were going through special effects shops in Los Angeles, and I picked up some pairs of clip-on devil horns for fun. If we'd found any that looked good, I might have decided to wear a halo instead."
"Where did you get those?" asked Mandy.
"A shop in Hollywood named Stellar Effects. The band is very thin, and also tight, so I put the horns on before I do my hair in the morning. They look far better than the plastic clip-on horns you get at Halloween. Considering they were, like, sixty bucks, they'd better look good. Why, did you want a pair?"
"Oh yeah, those are way rad. I'd love a pair.... Sixty dollars, though? Wow."
Bekka said, "Well, they're meant to be used in TV and movies. I bought several pairs from a few different shops, different sizes, different colors and styles. I like these because they look like bone."
"You're not into any of that devil worship stuff, are you?" Mom asked suspiciously.
"Not at all," Bekka laughed. "No, if anything, I''m mocking the devil. Personally, I think it's more likely the devil can be spotted by his Perry Ellis suit and BMW.... Although there are plenty of people in the world who would claim I am a devil. Jealous wives, mostly."
"How do you make wives jealous?" asked Jill.
"Well.... Their husbands let their fandom of Becky Page grow out of proportion. The men obsess over a woman they've never met, only seen on video tape. They, uh, direct their passion at a two-dimensional image on a screen, instead of at the women in their lives. I've never wanted fans like that, I do not wish to be worshiped. I have been accused of seducing through the power of video, and I try to explain that was never my intent. But there are women out there who are sure Becky Page is a seductress by proxy."
Dad popped over and said, "Hey, I owe you two a couple of beers, by my calculation. Honey, I'll leave the collection of our winnings to you. Take the girls to lunch, we'll meet back here in an hour."
Mom grudgingly agreed to this. We followed Dad out of the paddocks and to a lunch counter, where we were presented with bottles of Miller. He clinked bottles with us and said, "Well, up $250 and a blue ribbon on the day. Not bad. So what did you think?"
I confessed, "I have no clue as to how the judging works. To be frank, everybody's pigs all look the same to me. Do pigs come when you call their name? Because I couldn't tell the difference between Travis and any other pig there."
Dad smiled and said, "You work around 'em, you can tell 'em apart at a glance. What the judges are looking for is size, shape, color, health, muscle tone...."
"Muscle tone?" asked Bekka. "They're pigs."
"Pigs got a lot of flesh on them, that's not all just fat. They're not weak, either. If they take it into their minds, a full grown porker like Travis can splinter a two by four. And pigs can be mean, too. They'll remind you that them and wild boars are of the same family."
Bekka smiled and asked, "I've got to know, what was it that got you interested in pigs, so you'd be raising prize winners like Travis? Was it a hobby?"
Dad answered, "Pigs always had appeal to me because they're such efficient meat producers. You can feed a pig anything, and they'll eat it. They're pretty low maintenance animals. Butchered right, pork can be as healthy as fish, so far as meats go. And you can eat almost the whole damn animal, if you want. Southern blacks will tell you that. Scrapple, head cheese, trotters, knuckles, brains, they get use out of the whole animal.
"Always felt sorry for Jews. I think pork is the best meat out there, they're missing out. The thing with Jewish dietary laws are they were instilled for practical reasons. Like Jews can't eat shellfish. That's because you can only harvest shellfish so many months of the year, otherwise it's poisonous. It was simpler to just ban shellfish outright, instead of trying to remember if it's okay to eat it this month or not. With pigs, trichinosis used to be a big problem. Simpler to just pass the edict, 'Don't eat pork,' and be done with it. It wasn't the word of God, it was just the leaders of the early Jews trying to keep people alive."
"I've noticed Eddie gets an envious look on his face when he sees me eating a bacon cheeseburger," I said. "Of course, he'd point out that the Protestants gave the world tuna casserole and Jello salads, so we don't have a leg to stand on when it comes to food."
"Who's Eddie?" asked Dad.
Bekka replied, "Edward Steinberg, a.k.a. Eddie The Jew. He's the class clown at our studio. He cracks jokes, he juggles, and he does some damn impressive magic tricks. Did you see 'Dangerous Desires'? Yes? He played Lavery, the street hustler. He also was opposite me in the sequel to 'Bewitched,' playing a magician named Chrysler. The dude is packing nine inches, which is why he works for us."
"He's really got a nine inch, um, thing? Wow. Never knew if the guys in porn looked like that for real, or if it was camera tricks."
I smiled. "There's a few things we do in the industry to make the guys look impressive, no matter how they're built. Camera angles is one. Also, women in porn tend to be small. At five eight, Becky here is about as big as you'll find, normally. So it's a matter of scale. A guy can be normal sized, but if the woman he's with is only five foot four, he's gonna look big. Dudes in porn also tend to be lean, so --- again, by scale --- their dicks look bigger."
"Too many dudes think it would be awesome to have a nine inch dick," laughed Bekka. "Eddie hates it. He claims he got his dick by angering a vengeful god. He's got a point, nine inches doesn't fit inside a woman anywhere, you know? Eddie scares new girls at the studio. He'll be prepped, they'll see him and say, 'What the hell am I supposed to do with that?' He's a gentleman, though. Him and a new girl will take a few minutes so he can learn where her limits are, so he's not hurting her. Eddie and I have worked together long enough that he knows me, knows where my limits are. Roach, too. Everybody else I can take, no problem."
"I'm just glad our really stupid dudes, namely Stallion and Vince, aren't too hung. They'd be hurting the girls. Not out of bad manners or arrogance, they're just too dumb to think about it. It's weird, the two guys with the biggest dicks, Eddie and Roach, are also the ones with brains and courtesy. That massive crank Roach has, shit, he challenges every girl at the studio, even size queens like Gayla and Jolene. But every girl loves working with him. Between his dick and his charm, he could get plastic surgery to take care of his acne scarring and work as a thousand dollar a night gigolo. You know half the dancers at Dirty Dan's have a crush on him?"
"You know somebody named Roach?" asked Dad.
Bekka said, "His real name us Sonny, but everybody calls him Roach. Or Fucker. He's a kid, just nineteen. He's a Hell's Angel, they drafted him, but he's also a nice guy. Very charming and suave without being an egotist at all, still down to earth. He loves women. He loves their conversation, he loves their company, and he loves their bodies. Roach feels that the girls around the studio don't reach orgasm enough while they're working, and tries to rectify that as best he can. He's wonderful to work with, because he's so friendly and solicitous. So he's still hanging around Dirty Dan's, huh?"
"Yeah," I replied. "Him and the other Angels like the place, they go up there when they're feeling restless and want to get away from the Hi-Lo. Roach makes the other Angels puke with jealousy. Not only does he make a living having sex with hot women, he goes to Dirty Dan's and has the dancers giving him free lap dances and slipping him their phone numbers. The dancers are buying him drinks! The other Angels will ask him how his day was, and he'll be all, 'Oh, did a three-way with Skye Tyler and Missy Liscio, no big deal.' I'm sure all the other Angels are jealous of him, to an extent. I mean, here's this damn kid with bad acne scars, an outlaw loser just like them, but he's got a cutie of a girlfriend, he has sex with the hottest women in porn for a living, and strippers are throwing themselves at him. I guarantee unattached Angels, like Short Nick and Dork and Big Ugly and Red absolutely hate the bastard."
Dad said, "You know Hell's Angels?"
"Yeah, we're on friendly terms with the San Diego, or Dago, chapter," said Bekka. "We've never ridden with them, but theirs is one of a few bars I can go into without being harassed by autograph hounds. They're good people, they've always treated us well."
"There's a couple guys who are a bit contemptuous of me," I pointed out. "The single Angels again. I show up with you and Jane and Terry, three women I'm fucking, and they get annoyed at the dude to pussy ratio. I know Short Nick hates me, after me and Roach made it clear Jane was off limits. Individually, all those dudes blew it with Terry. They acted like she was some sort of mama in training, and she told them to fuck off, and Mutt backed her up because he knew she was our friend. Big Ugly was cool with her, but the others treated her all crude, and got shut down. Oh, that's a bit of news. Terry is still on friendly terms with the Mongols, but isn't partying with them any more. She told me she just feels like her time is just too valuable these days, and if she's gonna party with outlaws, she'd rather do it with us, when we're around the Angels. Between fluffing, working as your bodyguard, time at the Gun Range, and hanging out with Roach and Dawn, the Mongols have pretty much fallen out of her life."
We finished our second Millers. Bekka got up to get another round, and returned with Anchor Steam, bless the girl. Dad was duly impressed with Anchor Steam, which he'd never heard of. He bummed a Marlboro off me ("My wife thinks I quit") and commented to us, "You all seem to lead pretty interesting lives, you know? Seems to me you live kinda hectic."
"Not on purpose," Bekka said. "It just kind of worked out that way. One thing led to another. People think if you're in porn, you party all the time. I never got that. When I first started in the industry, sometimes I'd go out for drinks with some of the other girls, but.... Well, there I was making good money and only working sixteen hour weeks. You know what I did with my spare time? When I wasn't taking care of my dying mother, I was at the library. My life got much more interesting when I met this bastard." She leaned over and kissed my neck.
I said, "It got more interesting for the both of us when I started running the studio. When I was just the photographer, I left work at work. Taking on all the responsibility of running Inana became really involving. Then when I decided to start making features, my whole life seemed to revolve around porn. I guess to an outside observer I have a damn bizarre job. I'm totally used to it now, it's just the way life is. Sure, it's unusual to have a gig where you're surrounded by beautiful naked women, and it's nice, but ultimately those beautiful naked women are my employees, and my responsibility. We all have work to do."
Dad asked, "If you didn't have the lives you do now, what do you think you'd be doing? Do you think your lives would be more, you know, sedate?"
"My life would be pretty sedate by now, because I'd be in prison for dealing meth."
Bekka sighed and said, "I'd have graduated college, worked for a while, got married, squeezed out a few larva, and been one of those housewives who pour Southern Comfort in their coffee in the mornings. I would be a shrew to my husband and a harpy to everyone else. There would be nothing special about me, I'd just be occupying space until the kids put me in a nursing home."
I added, "Other people may have lives that are less stressful, but they also don't have as much impact. I'm married to a woman who changed the world."
"My husband changed the world, too. He shifted the whole paradigm of what is valid film-making. There is now hardcore porn in the world that counts as popular entertainment. My husband brought adult video out of the slimy little back-alley shop and put it in the mainstream. And he ended up turning his wife into a celebrity."
"Bud, she turned herself into a celebrity. My movies wouldn't have nearly as much impact if I hadn't had Becky in the leads. Her talent and her spark brought all my movies alive. Okay, my writing doesn't suck, and both me and my director have decent eyes for what will look good. But Becky is the lynch-pin in all of my features."
Dad said, "Look, I don't know much about how movies are made, but I can tell you the ones you two made work all the way through, everybody pulling their own weight. Becky is a great actress, and has a load of.... What's the word.... Oh yeah, charisma. You came up with great stories and great characters, then put them on the screen in an entertaining way. My hat is off to the both of you."
Clunking his now-empty Anchor Steam bottle on the table, Dad said, "Now I gotta go muck out a pig pen. Becky, thank you so much for your help. Meeting the two of you was a breath of fresh air. Have a good day." He walked off.
"Nice to meet someone that easygoing who isn't afraid to engage with us," I said..
"Pig farming must be a peaceful existence," commented Bekka.