Thursday, September 15, 2016

Devil (Part 8)

     With the script for "Good Girl/Bad Girl" complete, I dove into the chores of pre-production.  I would be using the city of Oceanside for my exterior shots again, as they were both cheap and willing, two things which could not be said of San Diego's film board.  I also got a hold of State Parks to see about getting permits for filming on a couple beaches.  One scene would take place at La Jolla Shores, which is always crowded, but that's what I wanted.  I would also be shooting a softcore scene at Black's Beach, San Diego's main "clothing optional" beach.  The guy from Parks warned me we might run into some hostility from others at Black's, as soon as they saw the cameras.  Apparently there's always creeps at the top of the cliff, trying to get photos of naked people, and the locals may assume we are also there to invade their privacy.

     "I'm not worried about it," I said.  "We're gonna be carrying big, bulky, professional video cameras.  Not to mention sound equipment.  And we'll want our own damn privacy too, when we're shooting."
     "There won't be any, uh, sexual activity, will there?" asked the Parks guy.  We will not allow that.  In fact, if there was, and a patrol saw it, you'd all be going to jail."
     "We're just doing a dialogue scene.  It will be three naked women and, briefly, one naked man having a conversation.  If I wanted to shoot sex on the sand, I know I can't do it anywhere in California.  I'd have to go to the East Coast, where there's such a thing as privately-owned beach.  I doubt I'd ever want to show that anyway, because I wouldn't want to propagate the myth that having sex on a beach is a good idea.  Ever had sex on a beach?  No?  It sucks, because of the sand.  It's like masturbating with a sheet of forty grit."
     Bekka and I went to Target and a fabric store, and were able to get the materials for multiple identical costumes for under a hundred bucks.  Angel and Devil both always looked the same, so they each would need more than one copy of their costumes.  Both would have torn, butchered wife-beater t-shirts cut off just below the breasts, Devil's getting dyed red.  T-shirt cotton was chosen to construct their tattered, ripped miniskirts.  Devil also wore red fishnets and domme boots, while Angel was barefoot.  Bekka and Pill (who also had sewing skills) got the costumes put together over two days, with Ellen hanging around to act as her own seamstress mannequin.  We would take Elspeth shopping so her wardrobe would have a more punky feel to it.
     We needed a mall to do some shooting at, so I approached the management of University Town Center mall.  We wanted to use the food court, some exterior shots on one of the open plazas, a bit of business on the sidewalk on the outside edge of the mall, and also the parking lot.  Wearing a dress shirt and no jewelry or spikes, I went to the UTC offices, introduced myself at the front desk, and asked who I needed to talk to.  I was shown to the office of a Mr. Lang.
     "How much space would you be needing to monopolize while filming?" Lang asked me.
     "Not much, we wouldn't be blocking any walkways or storefronts.  We work with video, not film, and we're a small company, so there wouldn't be a huge crew.  I doubt we'd be much more intrusive than when a TV news mobile crew shows up.  It would just be two cameras on tripods, a guy with a boom mike, the director, a gaffer with a couple lights, and a few performers.  The food court scene would be fairly static, just showing a conversation.  The plaza shots would be three people walking and talking.  And the shoot in the parking lot would show a woman running through the lot, then diving through the open window of a parked car.  We won't be making a mess anywhere, and except for plugging in lights at the food court, we wouldn't even be running cables or using your electricity.  All our equipment runs on battery packs, very portable.  We would be very unobtrusive."
     "So what is your project about?" asked Lang.
     I told him, "Oh, it's a comedy.  It's about a woman whose instincts for good and evil, the angel and devil that sits on everyone's shoulders, have become manifest and follow her around, each giving her their respective advice and opinions.  No one can see the angel and the devil but the woman.  It's a light comedy, fun stuff, a date movie."
     Lang stared at my business card and said, "Inana, Inana....  The name is familiar.  Where have I heard of you?"
     "Well, we've got several best-selling features out, stuff that broke sales records, the most famous of which would be 'Bewitched.'  And we've also been featured in Time magazine."
     He sat upright.  "Now I know who you are.  You make porn movies.  You want to use this mall to make porn?"
     I smiled and held up my hands.  I said, "Not at all.  Any and all adult scenes are shot at private locations.  Have you ever seen one of our features?  We are very different from all other adult videos, we make full movies, not just sex scenes.  Our features stand out because we have full scripts, talented performers, and good production.  Even the way we shoot our sex is viewed to be in fairly good taste.  We are professionals making full features, not just dirty movies.
     "If you would like, I can provide a list of references, people we have worked with in the past who will attest that we are professional, clean, mannerly, fast, and unobtrusive.  You can speak with the San Diego film board, the Film and Entertainment department of Imperial County, the public use people in Oceanside, and the special use folks at State Parks.  I have worked with all of them in the past, and they will assure you we are not disruptive or ill-mannered.  My wife and I spend personal time at your mall, why would we want to trash the place?"
     He tapped a pencil on his desk.  "So....  No sex?"
     "Of course not.  We're in public."
     "What about displays of nudity?"
     "Nope.  The worst that could be said is that two of the actresses will be in fairly skimpy costu mes, but you'd see more skin just by going to the beach.  Like I said, we will not be disruptive, and the people who control public locations I've worked at in the past will back me up on that.  We would be getting all three location shots done in one day, then be gone, with no sign we were ever here.  You would have nothing to worry about, we will only be minimally disruptive, due to the shooting itself, and we won't be damaging anything."
     "Would you be able to provide the contact information for your refere nces?" asked Lang.
     I grinned and picked my attache up off the floor, opening it.  "I anticipated this," I said, handing him a sheet of paper.  "Call them up and ask them about Inana Productions, and use the feature names shown as a reference.  I worked with State Parks on 'Bewitched,' San Diego on 'Dangerous Desires' --- we needed street closures in downtown for that one --- the city of Oceanside for 'Bewitched II', and Imperial County for 'Succubus.'  That last one, we were out there for nearly a month, shooting at various locations.  We worked with their sheriff's department, as we needed traffic control taken care of in remote locations.  And all of them will also assure you our checks for the permit fees don't bounce."
     Lang said, "I just don't know if I'm comfortable associating our mall with a porn production."
     "You won't be.  We will happily set up shots to exclude any signage, including that of your tenants.  There will be nothing about our scenes that announces, 'this is the University Town Center mall.'  It will obviously be a mall, but there will be no hints as to which one.  The worst risk would be from local residents who recognize the interior of the food court.  If you want, we will leave you off the credit roll and 'special thanks' list.  We will keep you as anonymous as we can, if you wish."
     "So what were you doing in these places that you needed the permission of the local government?" Lang asked.
     I explained, "If you are shooting in public, the local municipality wants to know about it.  We needed to block sidewalks, streets, and even entire highways in Imperial County.  Municipalities charge a use fee for any filming done in public, and also provide some aid, usually in the form of a few cops to do traffic control and keep looky-loos from gathering.  If you want to film in public, you have to ask permission.  You can't just set up and start working."
     "Would you need our security to be present?  How many officers would you need?"
     I considered this.  I said, "I already have the location and camera positions for the scene in the food court set up in my mind's eye.  We'd just need two, mostly to keep people from gathering while the cameras are rolling, keeping people from stopping and staring.  And I wouldn't mind having one hanging around after we wrap in the food court, to help escort our star, Becky Page.  We'd need the same on the plaza, for the same reasons, to prevent people from gawking.  And the shot in the parking lot is short and fairly isolated, maybe just have one officer around for the sheer hell of it.  Except for the presence of Becky Page and the enthusiasm of some of her fans, there will be no safety or security risks in our scenes.  If you want, I'll pay extra for a couple officers to come in and work some overtime."
     "When would you like this to happen?" asked Lang.
     "I can't give you an exact date right now, but generally, in about four weeks.  I'd like to do the food court scene around ten or eleven in the morning, so there will be people around, but no real crowds.  We'd wrap that scene, grab equipment, and set up on the plaza.  That's a quick scene, it's just a shot of three people walking, and maybe six lines of dialogue.  And the parking lot would be last.  We'd be setting up a camera on the roof of our production van, getting the shot, and that's it.  Oh, and about five seconds of footage of a woman standing alone on a sidewalk, no movement, no dialogue.  I'd like to use the southwest lot for that last scene, we'd shoot looking towards Genessee Avenue.  We'd have the Macy's to our backs, facing the lot."
     Lang sighed.  "As I said, I do not want University Town Center to be seen as complicit in the production of pornography.  You believe you can keep us anonymous?"
     "We will set up shots to exclude all signage, both the mall's and the tenants.  We will leave you out of our credits completely.  The food court scene would be shot looking south, towards the ice rink, so none of your tenants will be in shot.  Really, the most that can happen is that some people in Sa.n Diego who see this movie might say to themselves, 'Hey, that sure looks like the food court at UTC!'  But Inana will disavow any sort of complicity between ourselves and the mall, we had a formal use agreement and that is it.  The rest of the world will see a random, generic mall, the sort of place they have in every city in America."
     "All right," sighed Lang.  "I will conditionally say yes to your filming here.  What I am going to do is call your references and get their impressions of you.  If I am getting less than favorable reports, I will not allow you to use the mall.  If they state that you are as responsible as you say you are, then you will need to come back here to fill out a Media Use form and pay us our fee, $350 dollars for the day.  You will also need to pay for the extra security, which we will bill to you after you are done.  How long do you think you will be here on site?"
     I said, "Four hours, tops, and that includes getting some lunch.  We travel light and we work fast.  Oh!  When you call Imperial County, whoever answers the phone may have no idea what you're talking about.  Their Film and Entertainment department is so little used, they just circulate people from other departments through, a few weeks at a time.  They sit in the office next to a phone that never rings.  Anyway, the man I dealt with was named Jeff Greenley --- let me write that down for you --- and he works in Parks and Recreation.  He worked with Inana quite closely, since he didn't have anything else to do.  He will tell you that we are professionals, and will not be disruptive, except for our presence."
     "All right.  I'm going to get on the phone now, I will let you know in two days of my decision.  Good afternoon."  I went out.
     Two days later Lang called to tell me to come to his office with a $350 check, proof of Inana's business insurance, and the precise time and date we would be at the mall.  I did all this, and also included promo copies of 'Temporary Pleasures' and 'Succubus,' so Lang could get a better grip on what Inana did.  I'd noticed I'd developed a bit of an attitude about our features.  I would take issue with people who said our movies were "just porn."  Dammit, we were far more than just porn, we were well-executed entertainment, and we had the reviews to prove it.  We were just porn like a Ferrari is just a car.  I felt everyone at Inana worked far too hard to allow anyone to be dismissive of what we did.  Everyone, from the gaffers up, cared about their job.  Our two new camera operators, Rich and Sally, had come to us straight out of junior college, no real world experience at all and training that was geared towards working in a newsroom.  After three weeks, Sally proposed that she, Rich, Small Steve, and Calm Steve all get together for dinner once a week, so that the Steves could mentor her and Rich.  There were camera tricks and techniques which were unique to shooting porn, and Sally felt her and Rich should learn them all, so their skills as operators would be parallel with the Steves.  That way Inana's loops would be seamless, nobody could tell the difference between who had shot a scene.
     Speaking of Sally, the inevitable happened.  She came into my office at lunchtime one day while I was eating my kung pao chicken, closed the door, and asked what was required of her to get in front of the cameras.  She had learned what our female performers earned, and wanted a slice of that action.  I kept my face straight and reviewed our hiring process for performers, explaining that it wasn't easy to work for Inana, and that how Inana was run was very different from the rest of the industry.  Personally, I didn't have a hope in hell for her becoming a performer.  Her manner was far too reserved, she gave no hint of any inner extrovert dynamics, particularly ones involving getting fucked in a room full of spectators.  Also, she seemed to have a permanent scowl on her face.  She wasn't in a bad mood, it was like how Ringo Starr always looked sad: it was just the way their faces were built.  But she rarely smiled wider than a grimace, and her eyebrows were always pulled downwards.  I couldn't imagine her face convincingly portraying sexual ecstasy.
     We were again going to use Oceanside for our random exterior locations.  They were a bit disappointed this time around.  When we'd shot our outdoor orgy scene for 'Bewitched II,' we'd blocked off an entire street, re-routed traffic, and had cops keeping an eye on everything.  The city of Oceanside didn't seem to mind that we were shooting hardcore porn involving thirty people at once in the middle of a suburban street, they were overjoyed by what they'd be billing us for use of the location, plus all those special services.  For the new feature, all we'd be doing was occupying stretches of sidewalk around "downtown" Oceanside, by the train station, and along the main drag.  Oceanside isn't the most scenic place, and it's the sort of place people live in because circumstances dictate it, not because they enjoy it.  Camp Pendleton is the primary economic source for the city, and nobody goes into the Marines to get rich.  Still, Oceanside looks like exactly what it is, a decent sized, middle class seaside town in Southern California, and that's all we really wanted from the place.
     Angel had found a pet peeve with the project, and was turning it into a hobby.  He figured that if Bekka had devil horns, dammit, Ellen should have a halo.  He started in the same direction we had, by scouring the props and effects shops for one.  He admitted, we were right, all the ones we'd seen sucked.  So he began calling around to special effects studios and picking their brains as to how to get a good-looking halo on someone.  The answer he kept getting was, "We'd just layer it in during post-production."  Angel would elaborate that we were working with videotape, not film.  "Oh.  Huh.  Well, we could still get it done."  Okay, great.  The person who needs the halo has a huge amount of screen time, she would be in shot a good sixty percent of the time.  What would the cost of adding a halo be?  "Just guessing?  About $450,000 or so, depending on total screen time."  In other words, the budget for Ellen's halo would be exactly what the budget was for every other aspect of production, the entire cost of the rest of the movie.  Angel called and gave me the news, and half-heartedly tried to justify spending the money --- dammit, Lenny, Ellen needs a fucking halo --- but stopped kidding himself after a few minutes.  Ellen would have to be accepted as an angel just by her other aspects.
     Both Ellen and Bekka were having a blast playing around with the nuances of their characters.  Ellen had perfected a doe-eyed expression that made her look like she had the eyes of an anime character.  She had added a lilting, sing-song quality to her voice that didn't sound cloying or cartoonish.  That was how the angel would speak....  Unless angered, at which point she could bellow like a drill instructor.  In the "Bewitched" movies, we'd created this gliding walk for all the coven witches, that made them look like they were hovering about a quarter inch off the ground.  Ellen came up with a variant of this walk, using the logic that wile barefoot, her character was still an angel, and would be unharmed.  This was true, except when the angel would manifest herself in the physical realm, where she was constantly stubbing her toes on things.
     Saying she was inspired by Janis Joplin's singing voice, Bekka added a raspy edge to her voice, and added an insane, staccato cackle to the end of her statements.  She wanted to machine gun her lines, to make the devil look more manic, but we coached her out of that.  Nobody would understand what she was saying.  I suggested that she instead try clipping her words, like a Chicago accent.  This sounded better.  Bekka added a little subtlety to the devil's behavior that many people probably wouldn't catch in their conscious minds, but would still disturb them.  Bekka always had the devil's eyes open too wide, first off.  Also, when looking towards a sound or just changing direction, she would roll her eyes in that direction first, then let the rest of her head catch up.  Describing it doesn't do justice to just how vaguely disturbing it looked.  Bekka had three fuck scenes, plus all the brief shots of her and Ellen making out and feeling each other up.  She decided the devil should fall off of whatever she was having sex on.  Just once, no sense in overplaying the joke, but in bed with a guy, she would try to casually lean on her elbow, be too close to the edge, and flop out of the bed.  While getting railed on the hood of a car, she would go to turn over to get her ass in the air, go too far, and land on the ground by a front wheel.  While nude and trying to seduce a guy in his apartment, she would casually lean against his TV....  Which would turn out to be on a cabinet with casters, causing her to shoot the TV across the room and her to hit the ground.  After each of these incidents, the devil would spring to her feet, declaring, "Just testing my reflexes!" with her manic grin on.
     By my edict, Bekka's falls, which only took five seconds to play out, would be the extent of slapstick during fuck scenes.  Ellen and Bekka would have loved to add more, in order to lampoon the acrobatic positions performers were sometimes asked to fuck in.  Every performer had either fallen over or collapsed while in the middle of one of these contortions, forcing them to start the act over from the beginning.  As Ellen pointed out, "Not once in real life have I ever wanted a guy to fuck me while I'm standing on one leg, pulling my other leg up to my armpit.  I've never wanted to fuck in a vertical position at all.  Someday I'm going to find whichever of the fucking Flying Wallendas who invented these stupid positions, and I'm going to break the bitch's kneecaps."
     Bekka concurred.  "Okay, so the complex positions add variety to a fuck scene, nobody wants to just see a half hour loop of missionary and doggy style.  But it's sex, not a game of Twister.  I'm pretty limber, but when I've got one knee on the ground and my other leg is at a higher elevation than my head, we've seriously gotta be taxing the credulity of our viewers.  Is the idea that sex is supposed to somehow feel better in these contortionist poses?  God, at least during blowjob scenes all I gotta do is kneel there, usually.  Those mutated Kama Sutra positions are for the birds."
     Elspeth was adding her own details to her role.  While the rest of her apartment was comfortably furnished and decorated, her bedroom was as barren and acetic as a monk's cell.  She didn't have a bed, just a mattress on the floor.  There was no decoration whatsoever, except for one thing: a single picture of Amelia Earhart in the middle of an otherwise blank wall.  This would never be explained.  Her car, an old Datsun 510, never wanted to start on the first few tries.  She would get frustrated, punch the dashboard, and the car would start right up.  She noticed this behavior, and tried punching the dashboard as soon as she got in the car, then trying to start it.  It didn't work.  It was as though the car knew when it was being punched in genuine anger, and would only respond to that.  Her car would only run if it felt hated.
     One of Elspeth's ideas was vetoed by me.  She wanted to add a scene with her, the angel, and the devil having one of their private conversations.  Elspeth would confess to them that she was developing an incestuous crush on her younger brother, and wondered what to do about it.  I nixed this.  It would have added five minutes of static dialogue to the movie, and both the subject matter and the method it was being discussed in would have been completely out of sync with the rest of the movie.  I didn't see how we could pull any light laughs out of a conversation about incest, and the insertion of a serious scene revolving around a woman who wants to seduce her brother would have been totally out of place.  If Elspeth had proposed this idea to me when I was just starting to write the script, still in the idea stage, I might have incorporated it in.  I probably also would have changed the whole tenor of the movie, too, adding much more drama throughout.  No, this was light comedy, a date movie.  You can't play incest for yuks.
     We took over East and Main sound stages.  We could shoot scenes on one set while the other was being redressed.  In a bit of a change from our normal way of doing things, when a dialogue scene flowed straight into a fuck scene, we were shooting them both at the same time.  Usually we got all our dialogue scenes out of the way, then took care of fuck scenes, editing the dialogue and sex together.  Small Steve and I felt that trying to shoot both the talk and the sex as one long scene would make the transition between the two much more natural.  I was a little concerned, as I believed that doing a good dialogue scene required you be in a very different frame of mind than when you were doing a fuck scene.  We would see what the results were from our first few days of interior shooting, and adjust the shooting schedule if we felt things weren't working.
     We would have liked to monopolize West sound stage, but it was reserved for shooting loops.  One of the stipulations of me forming a second production unit was that loops would continue to be made, whether we were working on a feature or not.  Besides, this project didn't involve all our performers being in roles, like "Succubus" had.  There were a lot of people Inana needed to keep busy, in order to keep them happy.  In earlier days, we had a lot of irregular performers of both genders, who would check in off and on to see if they could be wedged onto our schedule.  The irregulars dropped away when we started producing features.  Angel, Vinny and I were making it clear to everybody that we were going to need actual acting out of people, not just suck and fuck.  Irregulars didn't like this at all, it meant they would be required to put some thought into what they did for Inana,  instead of showing up whenever they were broke, getting high as shit on Ecstasy, and fucking in front of a camera.  Now we had a solid stable of strong talent, all of whom were spoiled rotten by the inflated income one gets used to in porn.  With the second unit, their incomes might temporarily drop, but would not evaporate, as they had for some people in the past.  "Bad Babysitter" had a small cast, so everyone else was out of work while we made the damn thing.  Angel offered those disrupted the opportunity to go up to Van Nuys and make loops for his other studios, which worked well for the girls, but not the guys.  Male performers at Inana received $300 for a scene, way, way up the pay scale for men in porn.  In Van Nuys they would receive $150 per scene, about average for skilled males in the industry, guys who had a resume as performers.  I've heard of guys being paid as little as $20 for shooting a loop.  No mystery there, really, the world is well-stocked with dudes who are happy having totally impersonal sex with women they've never met before.  It's very easy to find guys willing to do porn, and it's even easier to replace the ones who have no talent for it.
     Actually, it all depended on where you went in Van Nuys (or Chatsworth, or Reseda) as to how you were paid.  It depended on what you were willing to do.  Man-Crush Studios, Angel's gay studio, was paying Eddie The Jew a whopping $200 for solo shots, just loops of him lying on a bed and jacking off.  Eddie was receiving what was an incredible amount due to his nine inches and the fact that he shot about three imperial quarts of seminal fluid when he came.  He delivered what consumers of gay porn wanted to see.  I'm sure there are plenty of men who would have done Eddie's job for free, but they didn't have what Eddie did.  Chip and Dale, Inana's closeted couple, considered working with Man-Crush, but were told there was no way they could just do scenes together, they would be working with other guys, and they both said no.  Meanwhile, it was learned that Dirty Angel, our kink studio, paid $800 to male performers.  Unemployed Inana males eagerly headed that direction....  Then they learned what was going to be asked of them, and ran like hell in the opposite direction.  They all felt the words "penis" and "wood vice" should never be used in conjunction with each other.  While investigating Dirty Angel, guys noticed that the phone numbers for three different ambulance services were posted, large and obvious, on the wall above every phone.  That seemed too much like foreshadowing to them.  They took the $150 Angel's other straight studios were paying, and began living more frugal lives.
     So Inana was definitely growing.  I was able to write more intimate scripts, I didn't need to worry about keeping performers busy, those not on the cast for the feature would keep cranking out loops.  I was concerned about my growth, though.  We couldn't add a third production unit if we wanted to, they would literally have no place to work, the mansion was full.  Okay, we'd need a second production location.  Where?  I would want it to be in the general area, and preferably on county land.  San Diego's blue laws made doing production within city limits very risky, legally, and I assumed the different towns in North County were probably just as backwards.  I knew from Lance's cop stepdad that if I pointed a video camera at a naked person anywhere in Encinitas, I'd get busted.  However....
     There was a lot of porn being produced in Oceanside, and all of it gay.  Being right next to Pendleton, it was easy to figure out.  Okay, Marines are young, in fantastic shape, and the constant target of predatory lenders.  The jarheads would find themselves deep in debt, and desperate to raise cash by any means possible.  Well, one of the ways was to sort of forget you were heterosexual for a few hours, get naked with another guy or two, and have the results documented on videotape.  Marines doing gay for pay weren't getting out of debt, but at least they could put gas in their cars and eat something besides mess food.
     I did a little research, with the aid of Roach.  None of the studios were hiding what they did, and their production spaces were inside Oceanside city limits.  Roach, who had a bi-curios streak, agreed to check out the operations of a couple of them.  He went in and said he wanted to do either solo work or an oral scene.  They asked for his qualifications.  He pulled out his dick and got it hard, with no assistance, in under twenty seconds.  Both studios told him he could do a solo shot, $120.  Could he jerk off for thirty minutes without coming or going soft?  Roach just smiled and nodded.  The same set-up at each studio: they took him to a tiny sound stage dressed up as a generic bedroom.  Okay, strip and lie on the bed.  Bob here is going to be operating the camera, and will cue you when it's time to come.  See that TV?  It'll be playing straight porn, as a bit of encouragement.  Oh, and if you come before we tell you to, we're only paying you forty bucks, not the one-twenty we promised.  Lube's on the table next to you.
     Roach got his $120 from both studios, coming on cue.  Afterward, he asked where the shower was, and was given a confused look.  If he wanted to rinse off the lube, well, he could stick his dick in the sink, like everybody else did.  Roach collected his checks and took off.  Hey, what a surprise, one of them bounced.  I offered to pay him, he'd been doing me a favor, but he refused.  He was glad for the porn playing out of shot, as it was a boring set-up:  he had to lie in the same relative position on the bed and make himself come.  There wasn't even any exhibitionist thrill for him.  There was one other person in the room, sitting behind a camera on a tripod.  This chunky nondescript man split his time between squinting through the viewfinder of the camera and staring blankly at the wall to one side.  He would check his watch every several minutes.  After a while he put a hand up in the air and silently counted off with his fingers.  Roach, whose dick was trained better than a forty thousand dollar doberman, started to shoot his load exactly as the guy reached zero in his countdown.
     Roach cleaned up and dressed, then went back in the office.  The guy he'd spoken with before told him that Bob said Roach had talent.  Roach merely grinned.  The man continued, telling Roach that he could earn the princely sum of $180 for doing a mutual oral scene.  Roach said that didn't sound bad, and where should he go for his blood test?  He received a confused look back at this question.  Going out through the tiny grit-filled lobby, Roach passed a Marine in civvies sitting in a plastic chair, waiting.  Roach nodded in greeting.  The Marine refused to meet his eyes.
     "So in a nutshell, both of them were low-budget dumps," Roach told me after he'd visited both studios.  "While I didn't run into any hostility, nobody seemed to really care about my presence, either.  I think they're counting on an endless supply of desperate guys to get bodies in front of cameras.  If you ran Inana like these guys run their places, I would have left after three shoots, and probably would have punched you in the face on my way out.  But the upshot is that no matter how scummy they are, they aren't hiding what they do.  Their name is on the door, and anyone can walk in and start discussing business with them.  Shit, the look I got at both places when I asked about a blood test before I did any more work with them.  Like I asked when the lunch menu would be brought around."
     "Have you ever scratched that bi-curious itch you have, or has the itch gone away on its own?" I asked.
     "It's still there," said Roach.  "Not nearly as strong as it used to be, though.  I think being with Pint Size removed some of the appeal, I'm too devoted to her.  Still, if that itch had gone away completely, I never would have agreed to help you out.  I wouldn't have minded if they'd put me with another person on my first time out, blood test or no....  Although I'd have worried until I got Inana's test results.  So what's the upshot?  Is Inana gonna start a boutique gay studio?"
     "No, really what I wanted to do was find out how cagey the people running these studios are.  If they'd been real circumspect with you, watching their words, I'd know that they were in a precarious legal position with the city of Oceanside.  But apparently they told you to strip down, jack off, and pick up your check after you come.  What that tells me is that either Oceanside has relaxed their blue laws, or don't bother enforcing them.  When Inana expands, now I know where to.  We're going to need more production space sooner or later, and I didn't want to have to set up a whole separate shop in Los Angeles.  And I didn't want to spend all my time looking over my shoulder by working in San Diego.  No, Oceanside works okay for me.  It's not really a bad town, it's just kinda run down, low budget, lacking in ambition.  Fine, that means the people are easily bribed."
     "Wherever you set up, make sure there are showers," said Roach.

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