Sunday, February 26, 2017

Summer Wrap-up, 1992 (Part 1)

     Three weeks after graduating from high school, Jane made her first adult video.
     Neither Bekka or I were worried about her passing the interviews.  She could cold-read a script with punch and energy, God knows she wasn't shy about showing off her body, and the two of us knew from first-hand experience Jane could rattle the rafters of any sexually active homo sapiens.  I even tried to make her video interview --- two hours of sex with a studio-assigned stud or slut, in front of running cameras --- more challenging by matching her up with Stallion.  Not only was Stallion another male performer whose intellectual growth stopped around sixth grade, he also had a mild attitude problem.  Stallion was a legend in his own mind, he expected to be scooped by Hollywood any day.  Things were weighed against this happening.  First, Stallion was dumb as a bowl of oatmeal.  Next, he was a passable actor, not a good one.  And last, Hollywood was as likely to pick anyone connected with Inana as the Republican National Convention was to hire George Clinton and Parliament/Funkadelic to play the convention.

     Since in a video interview, the potential Inana girl (or guy) was the focus, the performer they worked with was basically a sexual crash test dummy.  Stallion felt this was beneath him, and would convey the boredom and mild annoyance he felt on video.  Small Steve once actually called "cut" in the middle of an interview: Stallion had checked his watch while getting a blowjob.  So, Jane would really have to get on the ball to bring life into a video interview co-starring Stallion.
     She did.  Her energy and aggressiveness were so high Stallion was jarred out of his lethargy.... and did everything but piss on himself to appear submissive.  Jane's libido was no secret around the studio, but Stallion found out firsthand just how powerful it was, when Jane put focus on it.  It was almost like a superpower.  Afterwards,  Small Steve remarked that with a whip, a mask, and a leather cat suit, Jane could have a whole different career in the sexual entertainment industry.  "It wouldn't work," I said.  "Nobody is gonna take a five foot five dominatrix seriously."
     For her first loop, she had it damn easy.  Not only was it a one-on-one, it was with Roach.  Both of them had mohawks, it only made sense.  Putting Jane up with a full-blooded yuppie like Andy would not work at all.  It didn't matter: Jane took to performance like a fat kid to pie.  She could switch her energy on and off as needed, she followed stage direction perfectly, she pantomimed sexual ecstasy without overselling it, and she brought her "A" game to the performance itself.  And afterwards, she told Bekka and I she had a blast.  Well, bully for her.  She'll have a way to pick up some extra spending cash for school.  (Given how much pocket money both Don Vito and Bekka and I were giving her each month, she'd probably be the richest punk rocker on campus.)

     The new studio facility was completed in early August.  Ads hit the papers: we needed to build two more production units (director/camera, second camera, sound man, gaffer, makeup artist, fluffer) and hire more performers.  For the new units, every job but fluffer was put into the classifieds of the San Diego Union/Tribune and the LA Times, and the Media Production courses at the local community colleges listed us for job placement.  Since a fluffer's job is to orally instill erections in male performers, we didn't see how we could put "Help Wanted: Cocksucker" in the daily papers.  We ran an ad in the Spectator, instead.  We went all out for performer hunting: an ad in Variety, letting people know Inana Productions would be having an open call for male and female performers on the eighteenth through the twentieth of the month.
     Vista College, Mesa College, and SDCC all came through with our technical crew.  The director spots were taken over by Rich and Sally, who'd been troupers through a lot of heavy camera work over the past year and a half.  Both Steves and I felt they had the eye and the instinct for directing loops.  The drama club at Vista provided two makeup artists.  And the Spectator ad provided a frighteningly large number of women who wanted to be fluff girls.  I'd had to scramble to find Dawn and Terry, now I found myself doing assembly line interviewing of would-be fellatio professionals.
     Many were easy to dismiss: they openly asked about what drugs Inana provided, and in what amounts per day.  Others were lower-mid level prostitutes who were reaching retirement age.  These women were so world-weary and dead-eyed it was depressing.  Their obvious cynicism about life would drag down the entire mood on a set, so they were rejected.  Several women had no idea what a fluff girl was, but hey, being one would mean working at Inana Productions!  They departed quickly when the work was explained to them.  And finally, women who were objective enough about performing sexual acts for brief periods of time.  They were my call-backs.
     I chose two women who lived in southern Orange County.  They had similar biographies.  Both were in their early thirties and divorced from philandering husbands.  They had no real job skills, and the exes were professionals at playing games with sending alimony checks.  Each one would have a pre-tax income of $1500 working at Inana, which aided them greatly.  And, both claimed the ability to suck the stripes off a zebra.  They auditioned on Roach, who gave them thumbs up and appreciative smiles.  Both told me after their tentative hiring (so long as their STD, Hepatitis, and HIV/AIDS tests were clear, they were in) they would be keeping the precise nature of their new employment a secret from everyone.  I told them both, "Look, you're part of a video production unit, just like a camera operator or gaffer.  Just stick with that line, you won't feel like you're lying."
     The open call....  God help us all.  Calm Steve and Bubba showed up at the new facility around 7:30, so they could set up a few folding tables and a couple dozen chairs.  Every inch of parking for a block and a half around was occupied, people had spent the night in their cars in order to be in line earliest.  When Calm Steve opened the gate into the property, the tide of humans began forming and aiming that direction.  He and Bubba quickly got inside and closed the gate again.  People were waving resumes and curriculum vitae at them through the fence.  Calm Steve got inside and called me to tell of the enthusiastic response our ad in Variety had created.  I first woke up a rather cranky Mutt, prez of the Dago Hell's Angels chapter.  I told him that anyone available for the next three days would be hired by me for crowd control, $200 a day.  Wear comfy shoes, they'll be standing up the entire time.  Next, I called Small Steve to let him know his day off had just been blown to hell.  Our initial plan was to only have two people doing the first-day interviews, me and Bekka.  Now it seemed both Steves, plus possibly Angel and Vinny, would be needed.
     Angel was my next call.  I explained the situation to him and told him straight up, "We're gonna need to knock through applicants like tornadoes through a trailer park.  I'm thinking of having Tawny, Ellen, and Elspeth help with the interviewing.  They have the experience, they can weed out the obvious wastes of time."
     "Call an equipment rental place and get a hold of a shitload of sawhorses, to route people waiting in line," Angel advised.  "You think you'll need more security than what your Hell's Angels friends can provide, on such short notice?"
     "Honestly?  I have no idea.  If I need to, I'll call StaffPro and have them send out some flunkys.  So will you and Vinny be down?"
     "Yeah, but a bit late.  You're supposed to get things moving at 9:30.  Start without us, we'll be along, just tell us where to sit and how to call people forward."
     Mutt called me back and said he could only find four H.A. available for all three days....  But what about some of the Angels' old ladies?  They'd all been around, they could handle the human traffic control we'd need.  I thought about it and said, "Yeah.  In fact, call the mamas.  I'm sure they'd enjoy the income, not to mention three penis-free days.  I'll put mama Bev at the front of the line, to keep people from trying to slip through.  Okay, if Bev, Marta, and Jean are up for it, find four or five more Angel women who want the gig.  And tell them to dress like they're on a run, so there's no question about who they are."
     Fifteen minutes later, Mutt called again and said there'd be four H.A., five Angel women, and all three mamas arriving at the mansion in an hour.  All three mamas were overjoyed: not only were they getting some decent pocket money, Mutt said Bev and Jean both commented they could now claim, in all honesty, to have worked for Inana.  (I had a mental image of putting mama Bev in one of our loops.  The image made my frontal lobes scream in terror and begin demanding scotch, regardless of the hour.)
     Mercifully, the new studio was completely and totally finished, down to coffee supplies in the break room/kitchen.  All furniture was in place.  I decided to use the front office and mail room as interview space, keeping applicants circulating through as quickly as possible.  Elspeth, Ellen, and Tawny were copacetic with interviewing would-be porn stars, although Ellen would be forfeiting a bit of performance time.  I told Bekka to head for the new studio while I wrangled outlaw bikers in La Costa.
     Once the H.A. folks were all there, I led a caravan to the new studio.  Ginger, Fatso's old lady, was one of them.  I knew she'd recognize Inana people on sight, so I left her at the guard shack at the gate to monitor who was entering.  The rest of us were just driving in when a delivery truck, a stake bed, arrived bearing eighty saw horses.  While they were unloaded, I had a quick confab with the H.A. folks about how to route applicants.  We sketched out a general plan on the back of a Carl's Jr. bag and began arranging the saw horses.  The applicants were already milling around outside, hoping we would see them at their freshest and perkiest.  Eight saw horses were carried over to the gate, to route people more or less single file past the guard shack, keeping the gate area clear enough for any traffic.
     Something occurred to me.  We did not have the restroom facilities to handle this crowd, and that would have meant allowing total strangers access to the whole damn studio.  I grabbed a phone book and called a San-O-Let rental place to say I needed an immediate delivery of eight porta-potties for the next three days, and I needed them as quickly as physically possible.  They gave me a lofty price quote ("Most people set up their rentals weeks ahead of time, we'll have to do a bit of rerouting to get you set up") and an ETA of two hours.  The potties would be serviced every night.
     Also, there was nothing around for quite a ways except warehouses and industrial concerns.  No 7-11, no Jack In The Box, no Safeway, no gas station....  I had the feeling far too many of our would-be porn stars didn't expect this sort of situation, and would literally have no source of food or drink without losing their place in line and leaving for a half hour.  I racked my brain, and finally remembered the name of an "industrial catering service" (a.k.a. roach coaches) in Mira Mesa.  I knew the roach coach drivers were much like cab drivers: they leased the trucks on a day to day rate, and paid for what was stocked themselves.  They hoped to sell everything on the truck by the end of the day.  Calling them up, I asked if they knew a couple drivers who would want to plant themselves in Oceanside for three days straight.  They'd have a captive audience each day, and a large one, which is why I suggested two trucks.  The dispatched said to call him back in ten minutes, and what the hell were people gathering in a crappy area of Oceanside for?  "They all want to be porn stars," I explained.  Oh.  Huh.  Okay, call back in ten.  I did, and two trucks would arrive around 11:30.
     Mama Bev was five foot eight and about 330 pounds, but the Angels said she could suck the chrome off a bumper, which is why she was one of the chapter's mamas.  I sent her to keep Ginger company at the gate and control the flow of people through our makeshift pedestrian lane.  Bev was in black jeans, glossy black boots, an overtaxed Budweiser t-shirt, a leather vest that could slipcover a Mazda 323, and John Lennon-style reflective sunglasses.  Her hair was voluminous.  Ginger had a similar style of dress.  Neither carried purses, they had wallets attached to chains, like everyone else who spends a lot of time riding motorcycles.  There was no question that outlaw bikers were providing security.  People would have to get closer to the building in order to see the Hell's Angels colors on the guys.
     At 9:30, mama Bev slid the rolling gate open wide enough to allow ingress to the saw horse lane and bellowed, "Drop yer cocks and grab yer socks!  We're gonna start lettin' people in line now.  Follow what the hell Hinge, Red and Dickhead...." (The three Angels outside, we had Red inside the office as general security.)  " ...tell ya to do.  This ain't a fuckin' Who concert in Cincinnati, walk, don't run.  We're gonna try damn hard to git through all of you today, all right?  Now git ta gittin'."
     (FYI: Bev's mention of a Who concert referenced an appearance of the band in Cincinnati in December of 1979.  The coliseum where they played had festival seating: basically, a free-for-all to get a choice spot.  Eleven people were killed in the stampede when the doors were opened that night.)
     Inside the studio, I'd gathered our interviewers and given them some advice. Number one: be ruthless.  It was obvious we'd have a metric ass-load of people to choose from for call-backs, anything that suggests an applicant wouldn't fit will disqualified them, period.  Next: keep the interview process moving.  Those who wished to talk and talk should be verbally ushered along to the next question, remind them when they sit down we have to cover a bit of ground in very little time, so no one is left hanging at the end of the day.  Also: feel free to judge by appearance.  These people are hoping to get gigs as porn stars, so dammit, they'd better have the bodies appropriate for the job. This is porn, looks are everything.  The lumpy and dumpy may have incredible acting histories, but nobody is going to want them naked, sucking, and fucking on video.
     ("If looks are everything in the entertainment industry, how does Sigourney Weaver keep getting jobs?" asked Elspeth.  "Because Sigourney Weaver isn't being asked to do a double penetration scene in her movies," Tawny replied.  "That would have made 'Gorillas in the Mist' a far more entertaining film," observed Bekka.)
     Ellen, Elspeth, Tawny, and Bekka would occupy space in the front office.  Small Steve and I would be at folding tables outside,  at the end of the building.  When they arrived, Angel and Vinny would have spots in the mail room.  Red's primary job was to see which interviewer was open, and signal for a new applicant to enter and have a seat.  Mama Marta (a woman with a decent body and a face like a prison riot) was minding the front of the line.  She regulated the flow of people towards interviewers.
     And we were off.  At my table, I had a stack of lined note paper, a stapler, an ashtray, Mountain Dew, a few pens, and an inscrutable facial expression.  At my feet (and out of sight from the applicants) were two banker's boxes, one on each side of me.  Applicants would hand me their CVs, I'd make notes on the note paper, then staple the notes to the back of the submitted information.  If an applicant was a no-go, the packet would be dropped in the box on my left.  Keepers went in the right-hand box.  Everyone was being asked the same questions, their histories in acting would only be briefly touched upon.  That's why they'd given us the damn CVs to begin with.  The questions:
   - Have you worked in adult entertainment in the past? (Yes, stripping counts.)
   - Why do you wish to do so now, and why do so for Inana in particular?
   - Are you confident you can pass a blood test showing you are clear of all STDs, Hepatitis A through C, and HIV/AIDS?
   - Are you able to have an objective, clinical approach to sexual activity, and your own body?
   - Working on the assumption you've viewed features by Inana Productions, name three things about yourself you feel would make you an asset at Inana.
   - How would your significant other feel about you engaging in adult performance at Inana?
   - Are you sure about that?
   - What, if any, Inana Productions feature is your favorite, and (briefly) why?
   - (Women only) Are you able to simulate sexual ecstasy convincingly?  (Bekka: "... Or do you think loud moans, groans, and bellowed profanities cut the mustard?")
Men Only:
   - Are you able to stay physically aroused for up to ninety minutes at once?
   - Upon being given a cue, would you be able to ejaculate within 120 seconds of that cue?
   - Are you willing to go three days at a time with no sexual activity, including masturbation?
   - True or false: "I often use the word 'bitches' as a collective descriptor for women."  (Men answering "true" would be handed their CVs back and told to get the fuck off my lot.)

     All these questions were meant to be gotten through within four minutes.  Not too difficult a proposition, given that of the fourteen total questions, eight only needed a response of yes or no.  Very brief expansion would be allowed, but nobody could sit and run their mouths.  I was a bit shocked at the number of people who, in regards to the blood test question, would respond with, "Well....  Uh...."  Also, eight different guys were told to get the fuck off my lot over the day.  They honestly seemed mystified at this response.
     We saw an incredible variety in work histories.  There were more than a few around the age of nineteen whose only acting experience was drama club in high school.  I would assure them this was not an automatic disqualification, several current Inana girls had no other experience when they started.  Others seemed to have been pounding the bricks in Hollywood for a long time, given the range of roles and studios they listed.  Far too many of these people were no-gos, it was obvious they were uncomfortable with doing suck and fuck in front of a camera, but dammit, they wanted to work, and make a living at it.  Many asked if they would be working with (Inana performer) directly.  I'd tell them, at some point, probably so.  Why?  "Because they are so totally hot."
     How people dressed also varied widely.  Some girls dressed like stereotypical porn queens, while others looked like they were applying for a job as a librarian at Oral Roberts University.  Male applicants seemed to have purposely worn pants that were very, very snug, tight enough to detect whether they were Catholic or Jewish.  More than a few of the men had long histories as porn studs.  They'd heard it was possible to work for Inana and actually earn a living from what we paid.  These guys also represented half the dudes I threw off the lot for failing the "Do you call them bitches?" question.
     We had plenty of girls who'd been in the adult industry for a while, and saw Inana as the brass ring.  The big adult studios (Vivid, Hustler Video, Skin Star, etc.) had become even pickier about who they brought on, a bit of emulation of Inana's hiring practices.  The majors had pulled up the welcome mat for the time being. The wannabes (whose private loathing of Inana was a fact of life) couldn't keep girls busy enough consistently to generate a good income.  They were also trying to kick out "Bewitched"-beater features, but were lacking in a lot of ways, not the least of which was enough money to pay for good production.  Consistent talent, quality writing, and character development were also lacking.  The girls were hoping to have Trish Carezza's luck, and be discovered while sitting around someplace.... Like the lot of Inana's new studio.
     Women with no history in the industry had varied reasons why they thought being a porn star would be a good move.  I few surprised me: when asked, they plainly stated, "If a career in porn made Becky Page the actress she is, it can work for me too."  Some just said, "I have an exhibitionist streak, and I may as well try to make a living with it.  Others hinted at repressed, conservative life histories and felt that using sex as an artistic expression would be the most wonderfully transgressive life choice they could make.  And a few said they didn't actually want to, you know, do the sex stuff, but they'd love to take any non-sex roles that came up in our movies.  I would gently point out the ad in Variety specifically stated we wanted performers for adult video, and we felt that wasn't a very nebulous statement.  Running an ad saying Inana Productions was hiring new porn sluts seemed a bit tacky.
     And, well, some people were just too goddamn fat or ugly to be in porn.
     We saw a lot of fat guys applying.  Maybe their rationale was, "Hey, if Ron Jeremy can make it in this business, so can I!"  Who knows, maybe the fat guys applying with Inana had dicks as big as Ron's.  But the thing is, when Ron Jeremy started in porn, he wasn't fat.  (Still hairy as a wallaby, but.... )  Ron Jeremy was around long enough, had enough talent, and also had a good level of personal charm that his ever-increasing girth was disregarded.  He was an institution.  Ron Jeremy would mug his way through his roles, giving off a "Can you believe I'm doing this?" feeling that made the average Joes of the world feel better about themselves.  Ron wasn't suave and cool, he's pretty damn goofy and hardly attractive, but still managed to earn a living with his dick.  Hey, there's hope for all of us.
     Some of the women.... Oh boy.  Why and how they would be reading Variety was a mystery to me.  We're talking unrepentant white trash.  It's considered rather rude to smoke during a job interview, but these broads did.  Their makeup seemed to give a vibe that they'd learned the art of application from an alcoholic drag queen.  Several told me outright they were interested in "alla free fuckin' dope" in the industry.  Others provided CVs which had no acting experience in them, they read like the resumes of thirty-two year old stoners from Pomona.  "Suckin' and fuckin' on a stage'll beat the shit out of running a goddamn floor polisher at the mall," one gal told me.  And by God, they were ugly.  Okay, you're trying to get a job in porn, so short shorts aren't that bad an idea.... Unless you've got cellulite that makes your ass look like it's corrugated.  Faces with too high of mileage, sagging tits, flabby guts, tattoos that looked like they'd run in the wash, voices like Harvey Fierstein's....  I knew something was amiss when one of them asked if Inana offered child care.  When I said no, she responded with, "Alla them people fuckin' and ain't nobody gettin' knocked up?"  I asked her to think back on all the porn she'd ever seen, and name the number of instances where a guy actually came inside a girl.  "Oh.  Yeah.  Huh."
     The two roach coaches did a hell of a business.  They were the only game in town.  I could have sold packs of cigarettes for ten dollars and made a mint.  Both trucks had to leave, restock, and return by early afternoon.  Hell, they made money off the Inana people: our original plan was to take a forty-five minute break, so Bekka and I could have lunch.  No way in hell could we pull that off, not without risking a riot.  Vinny and Angel had shown up on time, and promised there would be food available for us the next day, something besides sandwiches trapped in hard plastic and Doritos.
     We kept plugging away, and by six we'd seen everyone who'd shown up.  The box to my right contained about twenty or so CVs.  The box to my left was stuffed.  Others were even more ruthless, Small Steve had a whopping total of nine keepers, Bekka had twelve.  That may not sound like much, but considering there were eight of us interviewing, and we had two more days of open call left, we'd have a hell of a lot of choices to work with.  Angel had taken a short break at one point, to walk around to the H.A. people and ask if they would like to have dinner (on Angel's dime) when we finished.  Right on and hell yes, was the response.  Angel called Evelyn's and made reservations for twenty, we'd be using the banquet hall.
     One nice thing about the open call: we were getting applicants who had some melanin.  Since I was sitting outside, I could watch the line, and I saw eight or ten black dudes waiting in line, and none of them looked like the gang-bangers who'd applied in the past.  They were positively dapper looking.  About twelve or fifteen black girls, some Asian chicks, some Latinas....  I hoped I'd see decent CVs and notes on some of them.....  Although I guess a couple of the black dudes had a bit of attitude, in a genteel way.  When asked why he was interested in working for Inana, one said, "Because there are only so many productions of 'Othello' happening in the country at any given time, and I wish to pursue my career."  Another one told Small Steve he could carry any role given to him, except for two.  "I will not play an athlete, and I will not play a rapper.  I just....  I won't, I refuse.  I'd rather do a pornographic version of Steppin Fetchit than be a rapper."
     The black girls who applied were a bit interesting.  I interviewed two of them, and those who interviewed the others confirmed what mine were like.  While skin color would say these girls were "black," we weren't getting Tulitha from Compton, we were getting Mindy from Sherman Oaks.  And half had very specific stated goals: "I want to be the black Becky Page."  All but one had their CVs retained for second review, they seemed really sharp.  Confident, at ease, having a basic grasp of what the business was like, and bodies that would have David Duke hanging around Allen University, looking for a date.  A couple had a bit of experience in adult entertainment: one had been a party stripper, the other got a couple hardcore loops under her belt, just as a way to scare up some quick money.  This one commented to Elspeth, "I'll give Inana Productions the credit for professionalism.  I doubt Inana has ever had to call for a cut because the producer's rottweiler walked into shot and sat down, right in front of me and the guy I was with.  Also, if the director uses cocaine, he has the sense to wipe his nose afterwards, and not walk around with white powder caked around one nostril."
     Elspeth assured her, "Steve Stillman, our head director, is the sort of guy who thinks three cans of Budweiser over the course of a Saturday evening is a wild time."
     One thing I learned at dinner was how much interest had been expressed about me.  I seemed to be an enigma.  Many heralded me as a genius, for having created the "smart porn" genre single-handed.  But then again, what Lenny Schneider says in his interviews.... Wow.  There are almost no situations in life where it's considered appropriate to advise others that killing themselves is their only sensible option, but Schneider has done it repeatedly....  And who is he saying it to?  The heads of the major studios in Hollywood!  Variety had run my picture on a few occasions, as if to confirm the assertions of Diller and Mancuso and Jaffee that I was a criminal psychotic, an unstable thug who had no business working in the entertainment industry.  The others were asked, Does he really carry a gun?  How many times has he been shot in his life?  Is he violent?  Does he like to pick fights?  Is his marriage to Becky Page real?  Is he scary to work with?  I"ll be, you know, safe if he's on a set, right?
     "Any clue how many people we saw today?" asked Tawny.  Mentally, I smacked myself in the forehead. That was a reasonable thing to think about.
     Ginger replied, "247.  I was bored, I kept track.  That doesn't count some people who looked like they were going to stop, but they pulled up in their cars, saw the crowd, and drove off again."
     "For an open call at a niche studio located two hours south of Hollywood, that is one hell of a response," said Small Steve.  "Let's see how we do tomorrow."
     For assurance, I had both mama Marta and Ginger count the next two days.  Tuesday, 261.  Wednesday, 238.  We agreed to hold onto the CVs we'd considered from worthwhile people, we may have our performers covered for the next five years.

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