We walked through the lobby of the hotel in a state of high alert. I had my Beretta tucked up my right sleeve, so all I had to do was relax my hand and I'd be holding it. Bekka's Colt was small enough that she could pretty much keep it palmed, anyone looking would see she was holding something, but not be able to tell what it was. To the elevators, up to the ninth floor, down the hall, knock on the right door.
Bekka and I must have been described to our contact, as he showed no sign of surprise when he opened the door. "You are the Schneiders?" he asked.
We confirmed this was true.
He ushered us in. He was a white guy, around forty, dressed for business. His tie was snug and straight, and I wasn't sure if the light blue suit he was wearing required dry cleaning or Armor-All. His hair was gelled into place. Gesturing us into the lounge area or his suite, we all sat down. He offered us drinks, which we accepted. As he poured Glenfiddich over ice, he commented, "Mr. Morelli called, said you'd had some trouble with this delivery on your end. Any stress?"
Bekka laughed at this. "All depends on what you consider stress. It took a bit of Lenny's fancy footwork at the wheel, and running up the street into oncoming traffic for a few blocks, but nothing people don't expect to not happen on a day to day basis in Los Angeles. Any hints of trouble up here?"
"No, all quiet," the man said. "In the morning, I'll be escorted to our distro point, where the product gets counted out and sent off to where it belongs. Hell, ten K of those damn things are staying local, that's amazing to me. A damn psychedelic that's that popular."
"It's not exactly a psychedelic. Have you ever tried it?"
"Hell no, I never touch anything I move. If I have concerns about quality, I've got plenty of volunteers who'll sample a product and give me an objective opinion. Do you take it?"
"We restrict it to weekends," replied Bekka. "Really, using it more than once a week is a bit self-destructive, in my opinion. I find it's a good way to clear my mind after a work week."
The man asked, "I'm curious, Becky --- may I call you Becky? --- about the horns you're wearing...."
Bekka laughed. "Just my own sense of style coming through. They're from a special effects shop in Los Angeles. I put them on before I do my hair, and they're undetectable. Do you like them?"
"They certainly are, uh, captivating."
We finished our drinks and went out, never having learned the man's name. Down in the lobby, we made our way to the front desk. Bekka was definitely drawing attention from those loitering, people nudging each other and gesturing. I could hear voices saying, "Oh, Becky Page.... Becky.... I wonder why.... Wow, it's Becky Page.... Cool horns...."
A simpering object at the desk gave us our keys, who was just so darn happy to welcome Ms. Page to Seattle. I was viewed rather askance, being this.... thing.... who was escorting Becky. We dropped our bag in our room on the sixth floor, then went down to the hotel restaurant, where we had been promised salmon so fresh it had never even seen the inside of a cooler. They didn't lie, this was even better than what we were used to from the Seafarer, the ritzy seafood place in our neighborhood. Interested in a bit of night life, we scanned the local alt weekly (with the odd name of "The Stranger") while we had pre-dinner drinks, locating a ska show happening just five blocks away. What the hell, a night of Ecstasy and skanking sounded good to us.
Stepping out of the restaurant, we walked into an assault. Three paparazzi-style photographers and two reporters, one each from the Post-Intelligencer and the Times, seemed to spring out of nowhere. Cameras began clicking and the reporter from the Post wanted to get right in Bekka's face, so I put a hand on his chest and propelled him backwards. He gave me a challenging look and started to come forward again, so I stepped in front of Bekka and said, "Go ahead, I dare you."
All five press monkeys were talking at once, asking questions. In a voice I recognized as Becky's, I heard my wife say, "Quiet, quiet, quiet! You all seem eager to speak with me, and I have no problem with that. However, I will demand some decorum. There are some very nice-looking sofas right over there, we can sit, and you can ask what you want. Shall we, or shall my husband dispatch of you? You won't like it if he does, trust me."
Bekka/Becky simply began drifting towards the lounge seating. Our impromptu entourage glanced around at each other and followed, cameras still clicking away. We seated ourselves with the reporters kneeling on the floor in front of us with their microphones out, the paparazzi doing a half-orbit around us, elbowing each other, getting shots from as many angles as possible. Bekka/Becky smiled warmly and said, "So, you had something you wanted to ask?"
"What brings you to Seattle, Ms. Page?" asked one of the reporters.
"My husband and I were hungry for fresh salmon," she replied.
"In a nutshell, yes. We've accomplished that goal --- a lovely restaurant they have here, by the way --- and now we're going to explore a bit of nightlife, we're going to see some live music a few blocks away. In the morning, I want to research a few of the local tattoo studios. Seattle is renowned for good tattoo work, and I'm putting serious consideration into getting some ink."
"What sort of design are you thinking of?"
"A lacy, flowery garter belt, going around my right thigh in a band. Right about here...." Bekka/Becky slid her skirt up to show where she wanted the design. Her panties came into view, and the sound of shutters reached a crescendo.
One of the reporters said, "You are in a new and unique position, for someone who, uh, does what you do. Ads for your movies air on Fox Network stations in the late evenings. You have brought hardcore porn into the light of day, made viewing X-rated material an acceptable form of entertainment. How did you pull this off?"
Bekka giggled and said, "I didn't do a thing. The man responsible is right next to me, my husband. If you haven't been introduced, this is my husband Lenny Schneider. He writes and produces all my movies, I'm just lucky enough he casts me in them. I would be just another porn slut if it weren't for his genius."
I didn't speak, merely holding up a hand in greeting and giving a vague smile. The reporter from the Times queried, "You are Lenny Schneider?"
"I sure hope so," I answered. "That's what's printed on my driver's license."
"To be frank, you're not what one would expect from a successful Hollywood movie-maker."
"God, I hope not. Fuck Hollywood. I'm not from Hollywood, I'm suburban white trash from San Diego. People tell me about what a visionary I am, and I have to correct them. I didn't have any great artistic goals in mind when I first started making adult features, all I wanted to do was make porn that didn't suck. With very few exceptions, all porn features sucked, in my opinion. My only goal was to make adult films that I would actually enjoy watching, and that I wouldn't be embarrassed to have my name attached to, you know? Why should porn be shitty entertainment? I couldn't think of a reason, so I wrote scripts that worked, then hunkered down with my performers and director and produced features that were enjoyable from beginning to end. No big deal on my part, I only wanted to make porn that didn't totally bite the bag."
This little speech seemed to flummox those present. Even the sound of camera shutters dropped away. Finally, the guy from the Post said, "So, how long have you two been married?"
"Four years in October. My life with Becky has been one of utter joy, she is the fire at which I am blessed enough to warm my hands in. She is my reason for being...." I rubbed my face. "I am hopelessly in love with this woman. You, dude from the Post. Don't take that shove I gave you too personal. You were getting in her face, invading her private space. I protect what I love, and you were acting like a threat to her comfort. I won't put up with that, nobody gets to make my wife uncomfortable, and you were. But yeah, this woman here completes me, in every way you can imagine."
Bekka/Becky wrapped her arms around me and gave me a long smooch on the cheek, long enough to be captured by the cameras. She said, "Lenny is my knight in shining armor, he is a better man than I even dreamed of ever having. I bask in his warmth. Without Lenny, I would be a shell of a woman."
Switching gears, the Times reporter asked, "Are you planning on working up here?"
"No, not at all. Never occurred to me, to be frank. While researching the blue laws in different cities can make for entertaining reading, expanding production up here would make no sense. Why do you ask?"
With a hem and a haw, the reporter said, "Well, your presence would seem to..... Well, you know...."
"We have told you why we are in Seattle," Bekka/Becky coolly replied. "Salmon, and night life. Some things are exactly as they seem, darling."
The reporter from the Post said, "About your latest movie, 'Good Girl/Bad Girl'...." He trailed off.
Bekka/Becky stared at him and finally said in prompting tone, "Yes?"
"How, uh, how did it go? Are you happy with it?"
"Quite happy. It went wonderfully, we had a lot of fun. I'd done comedy before, in 'Temporary Pleasures,' but that was satire. In 'Good Girl/Bad Girl,' I was allowed to absolutely ham it up, really, I was playing a cartoon character. Doing broad humor, and physical humor, was new to me, and I had a blast the whole way through. I took a lot of tips from Skye Tyler, who'd starred in 'Pleasures,' and her character Madison in that one was fairly broad. In 'Good Girl' we were both allowed to really go over the top, Skye playing a not-so-angelic angel, me playing this cackling, grinning imp. Especially working out the bits of physical comedy, we were cracking each other up, along with Ella Belle. Have you seen it?"
All five members of the press nodded and made "oh yes" noises.
"Then I have a question for you all," said Bekka/Becky. "How many of you watched it once, then watched it again with a date, or a girlfriend?"
Four of the five made murmurs of assent. One of the paparazzi volunteered, "I watched it with a girl I'd only been out with a couple times. I was kind of nervous, you know, sitting down and watching porn with a girl, but she really enjoyed it."
"Then we accomplished one of our goals. While all our features have had humorous elements, and 'Temporary Pleasures' was a comedy, we wanted 'Good Girl/Bad Girl' to be really lighthearted and accessible. I hope all your dates went well."
I added, "I really wanted 'Good Girl/Bad Girl' to be date bait, that was kind of my goal. Humans have always considered sex to be a spectator sport. Most porn is focused on a male audience, which is kinda bullshit to me. Fortunately, I've been graced with a director who can make hardcore sex look classy, and with performers who can fulfill their roles. Steve Stillman is a genius, Inana's features wouldn't be anything without him. So our underlying purpose in making 'Good Girl' was to have an adult feature that was also a date movie, make some popcorn, buy a six-pack of good beer, and enjoy a film with someone."
"And you kept the horns," smiled the Post reporter.
"But of course!" Bekka/Becky grinned back. "In my last two movies, I've played a woman who destroys men with sex, and a devil whose most common advice to a mortal was to give head to a man she'd just met. There are plenty of people in this world who believe Becky Page is an evil person. I make porn, I know all about fantasy fulfillment. Why shouldn't I satisfy the fantasies of my detractors, too?"
I cast a leering eye on my wife and said, "So, that would explain the pentagrams in salt on the bathroom floor, and the goat carcasses by the hot tub."
"Of course, dear," she said, patting my arm. "It's amazing all the things you learn when you're raised Roman Catholic. I just took some lessons more to heart than others."
The Times reporter queried, "What are your future career plans?"
With a cool caressing look, Bekka/Becky responded, "In what time frame?"
"Well.... I'm going to spend another several years sucking and fucking in front of the cameras. I'm staring down the barrel of the big three-oh, but that doesn't seem to bother the fans of Inana. Our fans like women, not girls. A girl can fuck, a woman knows how to seduce, you know? I believe that has much more appeal to both genders. And us Inana girls know how to be very seductive.
"Right now I'm cutting my teeth as a director and producer, doing loops. I'd tell you what the names of my videos are, but I'm afraid they aren't printable...."
"Humor us!" said one of the paparazzi.
"'The Adventures of Cum-Crazy Crystal,'" smiled Bekka/Becky. "Like I said, not publishable. And there is no way I can describe what is going on in these videos, it's very raw stuff, so don't ask. Anyway, when I stop being in front of the cameras, I'll be behind them."
"Any Hollywood aspirations?" asked the Times man.
"Oh Christ no. If I may quote my husband, fuck Hollywood. I have no dreams of being on a big screen, I make millions of people happy just showing up on a small one. Okay, if a major studio approached me with a project and a script, and I wasn't already busy, and it wouldn't keep me away from my home in Encinitas too long, and I liked the price they were offering, I would consider it. Maybe. But Hollywood is sad and archaic and bloated. If Hollywood studios were municipal governments, it would cost $500 to feed a parking meter. From what I understand about how things work in the studios, I have no concept of how they accomplish anything, money is wasted left and right, and no one gives a shit. I will reiterate, fuck Hollywood."
Things seemed to be grinding to a halt. The reporters stood and thanked us for our time. The photographers asked Bekka/Becky for a few poses, to which she laughed and said, "Oh darlings, the poses which I'm used to can't be printed in any newspaper I know of. How about if I just stand up and vogue a little bit?"
That was fine with them. I moved to one side and let them do their work. The Times reporter sidled up next to me and said, "So, would you really have flattened me?"
"In a hot second," I answered. "It doesn't matter that my wife is the famous Becky Page, and it doesn't matter you're part of the Fourth Estate. You're approaching my wife in an aggressive manner, and I won't tolerate it. I wouldn't give a fuck if you were a Secret Service agent, if you approach my wife in a hostile manner, you're gonna eat a fist. I've had to do it in the past, and I'm sure I'll have to do it again. It's nothing too personal, I just take out anything that threatens my wife's safety and comfort. Tell you what, let your wife or girlfriend get famous. If you love her, you're gonna end up developing scar tissue on your knuckles too."
The reporter gave me a shaky nod and joined his Post colleague, apparently comparing notes. Bekka/Becky was giving Marilyn Monroe-style poses to the shutterbugs, dipping to display decolletage, putting one foot up on the arm of the sofa, then lying on the sofa with her ankles on the armrest, her skirt sliding high up her million dollar legs. Then she stood and said, "Darlings, by my count the three of you have burned through ten rolls of film since we met. I'd like to continue on with my evening."
"How about a couple shots with your husband?" one of them requested.
"That okay with you, hon?" Bekka/Becky asked me.
"Doesn't bother me a bit," I answered.
We posed with our arms around each other, me trying to beam a sincere smile at the cameras. Then I scooped Bekka/Becky up in my arms and held her, biting her neck while she squealed and giggled. After that I got her on my shoulders, as sort of an ode to the native totem poles. Her legs were hanging down, the slit goth skirt she was wearing bunched up around my neck. I set her down and we said our goodnights, heading for the elevators. Even as we walked away I could still hear cameras clicking. I made out a voice saying, ".... and married to some crazy punk rock sonofoabitch...."
Bekka/Becky heard it too, so we both spun, smiled at the photographers, and gave them the finger. Shutters continued to click merrily.