Everyone seemed to understand what the set-up was, and had brought folding chairs, blankets, and coolers. Bekka and I hadn't thought to bring a cooler, figuring we'd just get what we wanted at a local store. Other Inana people were generous with sharing their beer and chips. Music was playing over the pavilion PA. I knew I'd be happy with the DJ when the first album on was "Can't Stand The Rezillos." Porn people mingled, threw frisbees, and generally made merry.
I took off for about forty minutes early in the afternoon, headed to Cedars Sinai Hospital, a cruise straight out West Third St. The campus map pointed me in the right way, and after a few minutes hike I was in the ICU room of Lawrence Pelton. His TV was on and his eyes were half-open, he noticed the movement when I came in. At first he looked shocked, then pleased. "Lenny," he croaked, "Here you are."
"I have arrived," I replied. "I come bearing two two Milky Way bars, a bag of Corn Nuts, and my flask. Which would you like first?"
His eyes brightened, and he said, "The flask sounds like a good idea."
He took a couplle pulls, and I told him about the memorial service. He was disappointed he had to miss it, but I assured him that Vivid had captured the service on video, and were probably roaming the crowd with cameras at that very moment.
After finishing with that subject, Lawrence said, "So, Haley is dead. Killed down in your neck of the woods."
I didn't reapond for a moment, then said, "Yes, he is. Killed by fifteen rounds of hollow-point 9mm ammunition. The shooter was engaging in a bit of overkill. Haley was killed at the wheel of a stolen Toyota Corolla, silver. He had his shotgun in his lap when he died."
Lawrence looked at me in silence, then responded, "You seem to have a bit of detail about the exact circumstances of Haley's death."
"I can tell you Haley's killer didn't feel a twinge of regret or doubt while he was pulling the trigger over and over. The killer mostly felt relief, the motherfucker named Ronald Haley was finally and completely out of the picture. And while still shooting into Haley's body, the killer decided he wanted antipasto with his dinner." I stared at the ceiling, and continued, "Of course, this is speculation on my part."
He silently considered me more. Then, "So how many notches on your gun belt now?"
"Oh.... That's not something I feel like reflecting on at the moment. If you count unconfirmed hits, I'll need a new gun belt in a couple more years, if my life continues as it has.
"Funniest damn thing. Haley picked me up at the Oceanside studio, I'd dropped by in the early evening to grab a few things from my office. He had the drop on me. What saved my life was the bulletproof glass I'd had installed special. Paranoia paid off. Larry, I can't lie. The Fleetwood is stalled, and Haley is pointing his shotgun at me through the windshield. So I gave him the finger. There was no better feeling than seeing the windshield undamaged after a blast, and the look of confusion on Haley's face was priceless. He walked all the way around the car, trying to blow out different windows, with no luck. He was five seconds away from throwing himself on the ground and yelling, 'It's not fair! It's not fair!' like a little kid."
We set in silence for a while, then Lawrence said, "You know what is complete bullshit, Lenny? Right now, I'm not real happy with you being here, because of the pain I know I put you through. You were still on the phone when Haley blasted me, and I knew it. I pulled myself to about eight feet away from my desk and started yelling at you, hoping the receiver picked up my voice. I was trying to warn you to stay safe and take care of Bekka. I wanted to tell you I'd be okay, but I ran out of steam. I was still conscious, but I didn't have the energy or air to say anything else. And I knew you'd heard me take the load, then yell to you, then me go silent. That pissed me off at the time, since I knew what a terrible situation you were in."
I blew air and replied, "You nailed it. I was in a private office at a friend's car dealership, and when you faded away, I was screaming into the phone, hoping you'd hear me. It was torture. Don't you ever do that again, all right?"
"I plan on avoiding this," Lawrence chuckled weakly. "I'm too damn old for gun battles. You've got youth on your side."
"Sure, I'm a late model, but I have high mileage. You gotta watch that."
I headed back to MacArthur Park after about twenty minutes, Lawrence was tired already. He'd be in the hospital another two weeks, and then a have an LVN living with him at home. His biggest displeasure: he would be using a colostomy bag for the rest of his life. I told him that anything he needed or wanted while in the hospital, anything at all, he was to call me, and I'd make it happen. Cosa Nostra in SoCal used three different messenger and package delivery services, all were very circumspect about their deliveries. If Lawrence wanted a call girl, a half ounce of cocaine, and an emu delivered to his hospital room, I could make it happen.
I parked by the elementary school again and walked back to the park, carrying two twelve-packs of Molson and a bag full of deli sandwiches. By pure chance, I bumped into Eddie the Jew on my way there, who carried one of the twelve-packs for me. He was just arriving, annoyed at having missed the service. "You didn't really know Larry too well, son't sweat it," I told him. It was really just me and some other industry hacks telling stories about Larry, and the business. He spent a lot more time in court than one would guess, battling pandering and obscenity charges."
"That's right, he was around since about 1974," Eddie noted. "From the theaters, to 8mm, to VHS. He had the sense to adapt to technology. I wonder what the next big video tech will be."
"Digital," I said. "They're already created a video camera that stores the fideo in digital form, I think Sony did it. But storing two hours of video would take huge amounts of memory." I stared off briefly. "But if they work out a file format and data compression that can render decent video, you could see people downloading porn from the World Wide Web. An internet-based porn service, yeah. The customers would pay with their credit cards and get a password in exchange, the password would allow them to download video. The videos would be short, only four or five minutes, so the download time wouldn't be too long, maybe twenty minutes. The company could also have still photos available too, in the JPEG format. You can compress JPEG images, it's a matter of balancing image quality and compression. Yeah.... The future of the industry is on the World Wide Web, I'll bet...."
"Are you serious?" queried Eddie. "You think there are enough computer geeks in the world to make it economically viable?"
"In a few years, it won't just be computer nerds using the World Wide Web. Hell, it isn't right now. I'm not sure how big the market will be, but it will be there, and it will be profitable. With digital files, you can copy them over and over without loss of quality. It's still just a bunch of ones and zeros, you know? When Internet connections are faster and video files are more compact, an online video service could rake it in with both hands."
The entire section of MacArthur Park was packed. It was a huge collection of adult entertainment workers all in one space, and they all wanted to meet each other. This was aided by the alcohol and drugs available, Bekka and I had brought about 300 hits of Smiley with us. We hadn't announced, "Hey, free Ecstasy over here!" but had simply handed them out to anyone who came over to talk. Word spread that Becky Page was giving away free Ecstasy, so more and more people drifted over to socialize with the Inana people, get next to Bekka, and say, "Hey, word has it that...."
Around two, there was a cry of "Rollers!" Sure enough, LAPD had driven three units onto the walkway of the park to the east of the pavilion, and now six LA cops were beginning to circulate through the crowd. Blouses were quickly buttoned, joints snuffed, powder-traced mirrors shoved into coolers, and underage drinkers set their bottles and cans down, then casually strolled away by about six or eight feet. These cops were certainly used to busting gay men fooling around in the men's rooms, and now.... An incredible crowd of smut-peddling men and women had all gathered in one place. Jesus Chet, look at some of these broads. If my daughter ever dressed like that.... Oh well, at least they're straight. Still, you know the kinds of people who work in porn.
Two of them strode up to where Inana had camped, greeted by lots of smiles and "Hel-lo, officers!" calls from both guys and girls. They walked over to where Jenna and Sue were standing with bottles of beer, asking the girls for their IDs. "Whatever for, officer?" asked Sue.
"You both look young, and you're both drinking beer," came the terse reply.
Both girls reached in their purses and produced driver's licenses. The cops didn't just check the birth dates, but grabbed their collar mikes and began checking the girls for warrants. Both girls were polite on the surface, giving them you-fucking-morons smiles. Jenna said, "Really, sir. If I was a criminal, I wouldn't be a very good one. I certainly wouldn't dress like this if I was."
Sue elbowed Jenna and pointed at one of the cops. "He's kinda cute, huh?"
Jenna stared at the cop and answered, "Um.... No."
"Come on! His mustache makes him look like Joey Silvera!"
"Exactly. Like, puke."
While they waited for a response from headquarters, the cops questioned the two. "So, you're both in the porn business," one of them stated.
"Indeed we are," Sue responded. "We're both Inana Girls. You're familiar with Inana Productions? Becky Page, Skye Tyler, Ella Belle?"
"Yeah." A pause, then (getting on the hypocritical moral high horse LAPD cops have), "So what do your parents think of what you do?"
Both girls giggled. Sue answered, "My parents are happy I'm making good money and not breaking the law, not to mention achieving a degree of fame. I've signed autographs for all my father's friends, I think."
"My parents hate it, but not because I suck and fuck on camera," said Jenna. "It's ,more, like.... My parents are Boat People, you know? They don't like that I'm American in culture, and not Vietnamese. Me doing porn is just another symptom of how I've rejected my culture. Shit. They don't get it, we're Americans now, I was born here. Of course I'm American! I've been telling them since I was fifteen that if they hate American culture so much, they should have stayed back in the paddies, you know?"
The other cop gave a sarcastic smirk and said, "You from Garden Grove?"
"You got it, officer. Born and raised in fucking Garbage Grove. I live down by San Diego now, though, closer to work. So what did your parents think when you told them you wanted to be a cop?"
Sounding haughty, the second cop said, "They thought it was a great idea. A career where you serve the public and keep the streets safe." He paused and continued, "My ,mom worries a little, but so does my wife."
Free of guile, Sue asked, "What do they worry about?"
Both cops gave Sue a pointed look. "About us getting killed by some perp, out of the blue. Every traffic stop, you're always aware that there's nothing stopping the person you pulled over from just grabbing a gun and shooting you in the face when you get up to their window."
"So everyone is a suspect?" asked Jenna.
"Until they prove they aren't, they are. They follow instructions, there's no problem, They act squirrely or nervous, I'll have them out of the car and against their trunk, just so I can keep an eye on them."
"And these nervous people, do they turn out to be criminals?" asked Sue.
The cop looked away and said, "Every now and then."
"But most of the time, they're not. You just think they seem nervous, and that frightens you."
"You have to keep your guard up, all the time, in every situation," the cop said forcefully.
In a soft and diplomatic voice, Jenna said, "You know.... Maybe people are nervous when they interact with cops precisely because they know the cops are treating them like criminals and killers. The situation feeds on itself. The person doesn't know how you're going to treat him, you could be friendly, or you could treat him like he's Charles Manson. So he's nervous, and that makes you nervous, and you take him out of the car and cuff him, which tells the guy he was right about being nervous, he's being treated like the Zodiac Killer for no reason he can see. It feeds on itself."
Loudly and more forcefully, one of the cops said, "If people follow instructions and keep their mouths shut, there is no problem. Don't do what we say, and want to start an argument, then you're only making trouble for yourself."
"I see.... What sort of instructions do you give people?"
"Shut off the engine, keep both hands on the wheel, hand over your license, registration, and insurance."
Looking puzzled, Sue said, "But.... to do those things, they have to take their hands off the wheel, to get to their wallets and into the glove box. So they're not following your instructions."
"And a person can have anything in their glove box," the other cop asserted. "Anyone we pull over could pull a gun."
Jenna asked, "And you really think someone is going to kill you on a whim, out of the blue? There are a few people like that in the world, true, but they're rare. Why would someone kill you with no provocation?"
One of the answered, "They could have warrants. They could have drugs in the car. The car could turn up stolen. They'll decide they want to make the big leagues as a criminal and kill a cop."
"But almost all the time, you're scaring the hell out of some random dude, you know? Not every motorist is Charles Starkweather. It seems to me that you just end up adding a lot of stress to yourself, and to the guy you pulled over for speeding or whatever. If you pour adrenaline into your system all day like that, it can't be healthy."
Added Sue, "It seems to me you could find a balance, where you look friendly and sound friendly, but are still on guard. Just smiling when you walk up would help a lot. The person you pulled over will relax, and not act nervous or squirrely, so you wouldn't be reading every movement as one of threat. You'll probably feel a lot batter at the end of your shift."
"Do we tell you how to do your job?" one of the cops shot back.
With a giggle, Sue said, "Well.... Plenty of people do. I read my fan mail, you'd be surprised at the amount of advice I'm given by strangers. So, if you want, you can tell me how to do my job. Just watch some of my videos and write to Susan Black, care of Inana Productions. Who knows, you might have a brilliant idea that I'll take to heart."
Headquarters reported back that Sue and Jenna were both clean, not even an overdue library book. One of the cops gestured around and asked, "So, all these people are in porn?"
"They're not all in front of the cameras," answered Jenna. "There's plenty of us porn sluts around today, but we're here with production crew members, the people in the front office, the executives, plus just some friends, you know? Do you know what today was about?"
"We were told there was an event at the pavilion, and that should have ended a couple hours ago."
Jenna informed the cops, "You probably remember there was a shotgun murder in North Hollywood a couple weeks ago. The guy who was killed was Larry Bennett, from Vivid Video. He was a major player in the industry, he'd been around for years. People liked and respected Larry, he was good for the business. Today was his memorial service. There were some speakers, some music, a prayer.... And now, since we're all here, we're having a picnic. You don't get to see a lot of people in the industry very often, so we're all hanging out together for once. It's really nice, being around so many other people who you don't have to explain you career to."
Bekka and I sort of eased over. We could see the cops had asked for IDs, and they'd checked Jenna and Sue out over the radio, but this conversation was taking too long. We were hoping Bekka's star power would ease any tensions, and distract the cops. We stepped up, Bekka saying, "Hello, Sue and Jenna, hello officers. There sin't any trouble with my girls, is there?"
"They're just two more civilians who want to tell us how to do our jobs," said one of the cops.
With her royalty smile, Bekka retorted, "I can't imagine either of them trying to dictate to you like that. However, they're both very intelligent, and may feel they could offer you advice. There's no harm in that, is there?"
And then, two more of the cops walked up. "You've been here a while," one of them said to the first two cops. "Is there an issue?"
"No, just some excessive talk on their end," said Cop One.
Cop Two added, "These two young ladies think they can do our jobs better than us."
"Don't be silly," said Sue. "Just a couple of suggestions on how to improve both your own work days, and also help the public have a less negative image of the police."
One of the two new cops (Cop Three) looked at Sue and said, "I've seen you before. You're Susan Black."
"In person, sir," smiled Sue.
"And what sort of advice does a porn star have to give a police officer?"
"Just a suggestion on how to handle routine traffic stops. These officers were explaining that they have a high level of caution when doing traffic stops, and that's a fair enough strategy. I was merely suggesting they engage in a bit of acting. You can be on your guard, but still form your lips into a smile, and not have an intimidating demeanor. That would put the person you pulled over at ease so he wouldn't be so jumpy. If he's not jumpy, you wouldn't be jumpy, because you wouldn't see threat in his every movement."
"Makes sense to me," said Bekka. "If two people interact, and one is immediately antagonistic, the other is going to be defensive..... especially if the antagonism seems to have no clear reason. The police don't need to act like stewardesses, but they also don't need to behave as though the guy --- or girl --- they pulled over for speeding is a psychotic cop-murdering threat."
Cop Four smiled at Bekka and said in a friendly voice, "Well, well, it's Becky Page."
"Live and in the flesh."
Cop Two asked Bekka, "So who is Joey Silvera? These ladies say I look like him. One of them wasn't happy about that."
Bekka and I both started snickering. Bekka replied, "Joey Silvera is a male performer, he's done a lot of work. He is a good performer, his acting range is rather limited, and he has a mustache like a privet hedge. There is a vague similarity between you and him, mostly because of the mustache.... But you have at least forty pounds on Joey Silvera, he's a skinny bastard."
Cop Four (who I realized had an extra stripe on his arm) said, "If there's no problems here, let's keep circulating." Addressing Bekka again, he said, "Have you had any trouble today?"
"None at all, we've been having a lovely time A couple of the homeless came over and rather politely mooched beers off us, but we didn't mind at all."
"Well.... We'll be here all afternoon, keeping an eye on the crowd. If you have any problems, find us. Good afternoon, Ms. Page." He turned and started to walk away. The other three cops followed in his wake, like baby ducks.
After they'd gone, Feather and little sister Glee appeared. "Finally, they took off!" said Feather. "We saw them coming, so we stashed our beers under the table. But I don't have any gum on me, so I didn't want to talk to them."
"What did they want?" asked Glee, kneeling down to retrieve the bottles of Miller.
"Nothing of importance," said Sue.
Growled, "The assholes wanted to run our names over the radio, who knows why. So we had to stand here and play nice while they waited to find out if we're wanted criminals or not."
"They're killing time," I put in. "It's obvious that this is a very peaceful gathering, so they're bored. Anything to make the day go a little bit faster. I wonder...."
"What?" asked Feather.
"Well.... Running someone's name means you have to stay in that person's company until you get results back. My hunch is that they knew jolly well you'd both be clean, but why not pass a bit of time in the company of two good-looking women? I have a feeling the conversation didn't go how they wanted it to, though. Yeah, I'm gonna guess a whole lot of female performers will have their names run today. Maybe they''ll find a couple who love men in uniform."
"Right you are!" laughed Jenna. "Oh man, that should have been obvious."
"Just so long as they're not under any illusions about the overall moral fiber of porn sluts," said Bekka. "I hope they're not thinking, 'These chicks all make porn, we're sure to score!"
We wanted to go and mingle for a while. I popped the cap off a Molson, shoved an unopened one in my jacket pocket, and began to stroll. I had two people with me: one was Sean, one of our two black studs. Sean was in his late twenties, and had been desperately trying to have a viable career in Hollywood since he was twenty. No such luck. He saw our ad for an open call in Variety and drove down to be interviewed and give us his CV. We took him on for his acting talent and intelligence, he also aced his video interview. Sean had a political streak. He read Noam Chomsky, listened to Public Enemy, and had the announced intention of writing in Spike Lee for President that year. He'd told me he would refuse two roles Inana might try to cast him as: he wouldn't be a rapper or an athlete. No fucking way would he play either. "Black America thinks those are the only two careers a brother can get rich in. Go ahead, show me a help wanted ad for 'rapper,' or when the Lakers allow the general public to try and get on the team. I'll tell young brothers if they wanna be rich, they should look up to Warren Buffett, even if he is an old white dude. They don't know who Warren Buffett is."
On my other side was Anna Tanaka ("Annie Tee"), a Japanese girl who was a perennial art student. She definitely looked like an art student, an uber-hipster. Ninety seconds around her would remove any illusion about how hip she was. Anna was, at heart, even nerdier than Stefano. She snorted when she laughed, she could trip on carpet lint, and she would process information through a filter of Star Trek, both original series and Next Generation. She wore thick glasses.... Well, she was supposed to wear them. They didn't jibe with her arty image, so they spent a lot of time in her purse. The upshot was that much of the time, the world was a maze of blurry shapes and colors. She would meet people, then not recognize them the next time she met, because she had no idea what they looked like. I kept one hand on her arm as we walked, to guide her.
I was easily recognized, and people I'd never met before would be calling me over. Introductions would be made, and they'd ask what I was working on. Everyone seemed intrigued with the "TV Series" shorts we were producing, a novel idea. "Too bad you couldn't actually have them on television," a random sound tech quipped.
The performer he was with noted, "Actually.... Do a little arm-twisting at Cinemax, it could happen. You ever seen their late night original programming? It's all softcore, loads of tits and ass, lots of covered-up sex. If Inana Productions went to Cinemax and said, "How would you like to take the plunge, and start airing Inana products late night? Yes, it would be hardcore, but if you advertised that Inana is making original shows for Cinemax, people would eat it up. Is Becky in any of them?"
"She is, she's a co-star or one, and will have cameos in the others. I'm not sure if the FCC would allow straight-up hardcore on TV or not...."
"It's cable, not broadcast. I don't think they can say shit. If they could, every public access channel in the Bay Area would be off the air by now!"
"Explain, please," said Sean.
The girl snickered, "Oh, God. Berkeley's public access channel is the worst. I guess all these exhibitionist hippies figured out they could put video of themselves sucking and fucking on the access channel, so long as they touted it as 'educational.' So you'll have shows which will supposedly teach you about the Kama Sutra, or Tantric rites, or Wicca sex magic. Really, you're watching hippies fool around for a half hour. They're not much to look at, but you're seeing everything. It's like a really bad amateur loop that you'd buy at a liquor store."
Anna and Sean were quizzed about when they would be showing up on video. Sean explained, "We're both in a few loops, but we have lead roles in the series 'Co-ed Housing.' It's an ensemble cast, and I'm hoping I stick out more than just by being 'the black guy.'"
"You'll be in the features, too," I re,minded him. "You're already set to play against Feather in 'Princess Brat.'"
"What's that one?" asked another girl, horning in.
"We start production in a couple weeks. It'll be Feather's second lead. She's an eighteen year old girl who gets her heart broken by a boyfriend, and decides that her own sexuality should be used for her own personal advantage, sort of an Ayn Rand view of sexuality. Bsically, if someone can make her life better or easier, she seduces them, getting them to promise they'll help her. Teachers, administrators at her high school, the boss at her part-time job, her mom's landlord.... It's kind of a cynical story. Becky Page plays her mom, who's divorced and has the same view of life."
The first girl frowned at me. "Holy shit. Is there anything redeeming about this person?"
I grinned. "Well.... Not all her plans work out, with hilarious results. And in the end, she changes her tune, she is redeemed. That's all I'm gonna say."
Sean grinned, "And I'm her high school English teacher. She wants an A in my class, but doesn't feel like working for it. You can guess how that goes."
Anna giggled, "I'm in the school computer club, a total nerdy chick. Feather seduces me to get me to hack into the school computer network, and change her records. Okay, it's a little stereotyped, an Asian who's a hacker, but it's gonna be fun to perform. She has to sort of wear me down to convince me I should fool around with her. I'm, like, really shy and nerdy. And when I finally acquiesce, I go nuts on her, totally aggressive. I'm supposed to scare the shit out of her, because once we're alone and naked, I flip out and almost attack her."
Over the course of the afternoon, I ran across Christy Canyon, Jerry Butler, Paul Thomas, Nina Hartley (who had driven down from Berkeley for the memorial), Ginger Lynn, Peter North, Seka, and --- thar he blows --- Ron Jeremy. When we walked past, Jeremy seemed to be holding court with several studs, him sitting in a folding chair, the studs gathered around like disciples. He looked over at us going past and jumped up, saying, "Excuse me! Mr. Schneider?"
I stopped and looked at the mustached, grinning Big And Tall ad coming towards me. "Good afternoon, Mr. Jeremy. How are you?"
"I'm staying in my groove, you know?" he stated. His eyes said, "Damn, but did I get a hold of some damn fine cocaine recently!" He continued, "I love your features, you have an eye for talent that is amazing.... And you work with unknowns! Has anyone at Inana ever worked in the industry before you hired them?"
"Yeah, there's Trish. She knocked around the scene up here for a couple years. I happened to run across her, total chance, while I was in LA. Her life was a shit sandwich at that point, so I told her to come down and go through the interviews. She's an Inana Girl now. But she's also the only one who's worked anywhere besides Inana."
"To me, that's amazing," said, Jeremy. "Inana finds these fantastic women who can really perform, you know? And they stick around! How long are your contracts?"
I explained, "Our contracts last the duration of a project. I don't have anyone indentured to Inana. But I make sure my girls are so happy they don't want to go anywhere else. Inana's pay rate is pretty average for the industry, but I foster a really good work environment. Everyone is supportive of each other, there is no real hierarchy, and my studs know the fastest way to piss off Lenny is to have the word 'bitch' come out of their mouths."
Anna inserted, "I'm new to the industry, and when I started I figured I'd get the sort of marginalization you'd see in high school, I'd be 'The New Girl.' Instead, everyone was really friendly. Tawny Smith explained it to me, she said that if s girl makes the cut and gets through all three interviews, she's already proven herself, she's an Inana Girl. You make the cut and Inana takes you on, you're already part of the team."
"I was expecting to be hazed," said Sean. "All the dudes at Inana have been there a while, you know? Nope, the dudes shook my hand and welcomed me aboard, and the girls were just as friendly. Me and Demetrius are the first two brothers to work at Inana, which felt a little weird. And it's not racism, it's that..... Lenny, you'd explain it better."
I told Mr. Jeremy, "For a long time, Inana had an ad in the local alt weekly looking for performers. I had three black guys apply the entire time we rant the ad --- like, three years --- and all three were hopeless. They were young, like nineteen, they were total gangsta types from East San Diego and Encanto, and they were illiterate. Our very first interview involves working from a script, just to make sure a potential performer can show a bit of spark from a script he or she has never seen before, no big deal. But if you bomb there, you're not getting the next two interviews.
All three of these guys were illiterate. Literally. Like, I'd hand them the script we'd be working from, tell them to turn to page such-and-such, take a few moments to read over your lines, and we'd do about ninety seconds worth of reading. These guys would get really frustrated, asking why they had to do it. I'd tell them, 'Uh, buddy, we're hiring you as an actor.' They'd squint and wince at the script, then throw it down and asked what reading a script had to do with, if I may quote, 'Fuckin' bitches fo' money.' Yeah.... Okay dude, your wasting your time and mine, have a nice day. Inana would have been happy to have studs --- and girls --- with all different levels of melanin. Our performers were all lily white because they were the only ones who bothered to apply."
With a speculative frown, like he was doing math in his head, Sean stated, "It felt a bit strange. I'd been trying for a straight career in Hollywood for years, but I was turning down some jobs because of personal pride. The role would be as a gang banger, or a pimp, or a rapper.... Just completely stereotyped roles. I went down to Inana when they advertised an open call in Variety. The very first time I was interviewed, Lenny made it explicitly clear I was under consideration precisely because I'm black. The studio liked my CV and my initial interviw, sure, but it was being black that gave me an edge, sort of. Lenny was up front, telling me he was sick of having a stable of performers that looked like a David Duke wet dream. Well.... shit. I needed the work, and he promised me he'd never cast me as a rapper or athlete. Now we've been producing our 'TV Series' min-features, I'm on the cast of an ensemble show as a college student. There's room to really develop the character, make the role and the scripts pop. Yeah, my friends are saying, 'You're making a living with your dick now!' Uh huh. And I'm working, dude. You're still living in West Hollywood, trying to polish your role on 'Renegade' as Dusty the bootblack. I actually have full scripts to work with."
When we ran across veterans of the industry, I'd ask them, point blank: have you seen or heard anything from Lois Ayres? We had been friends, but about five months earlier I'd called her to find the phone was disconnected. Her contract with Hustler Video had ended a few month before that, so they didn't know where she was. Lois had disappeared.
A few people were helpful. One old pro said she had gone into a live-in rehab program, to kick a Vicodin addiction. When she went in, she put her furniture in storage and moved out of her apartment, she even sold her car. And when she was discharged, she headed straight for.... Japan. She'd been offered an incredibly well-paying gig at a high-end Japanese strip club. No sex, no toy show, not even any pink shots. Lois, who seemed to have a solid fan base in Japan, would be the headliner at the club, doing two forty minute turns a night, five nights a week. I forget what they were paying her, but it was an insane amount. I let word get out that if anyone hears from Lois, have her call Lenny.
"I doubt she'd get in contact with anyone in the business," a guy from Leisure Time told me. "She blamed her habit on the industry. While her job in Tokyo is gonna have a very different culture, I'm surprised she's working at all in any aspect of adult entertainment. She gave the impression that if she's around the industry, she won't stay clean, and she wants to stay clean. Don't get your hopes up about hearing from her."
We headed out a little before five, aiming towards Santa Monica. I was following Fang in her '71 Impala road-whale, heading for a towing service's storage lot. This was where her, Feather, and Glee were making music, inside a sea container. We parked on the street outside and walked to the gate. Fang and Erica led us through the yard to the giant metal box, which Fang unlocked, swinging the doors open. Her and Feather turned on amps and strapped on instruments, Glee fiddling with her microphone. Feather and Fang quickly tuned their bass and guitar, then Fang said, "What should we start with? This is our first audience, besides Erica."
"Let's do 'Crash Test Dummy,'" suggested Glee. Fang went to the Roland drum machine (sitting on a stack of milk crates) and tapped at a button several times. A raucous, rather complex programmed beat began booming through the sea container. The three of them let it play briefly, then Glee yelled "One two three four!" into the microphone, and they were off.
The drum machine programming definitely owed a lot to Big Black, but had more complexity while still holding a steady beat. The cadence was that of early Black Flag, a pounding rhythm. Feather and Fang began bashing away at their respective instruments, a "tune" that was rather complex, despite only requiring three chords. And Glee went into her routine. Her eyes were huge and psychotic, she jumped around and bashed herself into the walls of the sea container, she waved her arms and gestured, like a spastic mime trying to act out the lyrics. Her female adolescent voice shrieked and bellowed and growled as she belted out the lyrics.
You fucking think you're number one
So cute, so blonde, so fucking hung
You're of only one use to me
You're a sexual crash test dummy
Brag that you're a fucking stud
If you're with me, you'd better keep up
Don't suddenly act all shy and nervous
We're alone and I need to be serviced
You better prove to me you're worth my time
You're only good for one thing, don't try to lie
You'd better not come until I tell you to
They say you're good, but I want proof
Get that scared look off your face
Buck up, fuck up, and keep the pace
Don't tell me your cock is in misery
I'll grab my knife and take it home with me
You're my crash test dummy
Do you have any worth to me?
You're my crash test dummy
Get it out, get it up, and service me
The rest of us stood immediately outside the sea container, watching and listening. The sound was harsh enough, the fact that the sea container acted like a megaphone --- a really distorted one --- added to the aural assault. Feather and Fang jumped and jived around as they played, while Glee acted like a caricature of the insane and self-destructive. Her performance was half young Jello Biafra, and half G.G. Allin (minus the pooping and crotch-grabbing). The song ended with a jolt, Feather quickly stepping over to kill the drum machine. She commented on the need for a foot pedal. Glee panted and sweated, pacing back and forth, still wild-eyed. She looked out at us and said into the microphone, "So what the fuck did you think?"
I yelled back, "Play an Isley Brothers cover!" Fang picked up an empty beer bottle from inside and threw it at me. I ducked, ant the bottle smashed against a dusty wrecked car behind me. "Okay, how about some Bob Seger?"
Feather said, "How about 'Machine'?" She pulled up a different programmed beat on the Roland, and they kicked in again. This song had a more driving, one-two sound, like a marching cadence. Now, Glee stood in one spot while singing, gesturing with her free hand and making more psychotic faces.
All my toys have gotten boring
They've lost all their appeal
I need to find something better
Something that will make me feel
Going through the shops and stores
All the toys look like they'll leave me bored
But I've got a shop in my basement
I'll see what I can come up with
My new toy has a chainsaw motor
It vibrates and has triple rotors
Flashing lights and two handles
It mounts to the floor with aircraft screws
(Chorus) My machine, it makes me happy
My machine, I love it passionately
My machine, way batter than normal toys
My machine, I'm never going back to boys
It's got spikes and nubs and latex lumps
My toy runs at 9000 RPM
Sixteen inches long and three inches wide
I'm probably gonna fuck myself to death
My toy is made with American pride
It runs on a fuel oil mix
Yank the cord and fire it up
Much better than real sex
I commented to Erica and Bekka, "Tomorrow, I'm doing a little research on the phone."
"What are you researching?" asked Erics.
"Recording studio rates. In thee months, they'll be tight enough and have a long enough set that recording an EP makes sense."
"Because the world really needs to hear a fifteen year old girl singing about fucking herself to death," said Bekka with an eye roll.
"Yes, it does," I grinned. "Tell you chat, I'll have her counterbalance it by singing a song about her collection of Hello Kitty ephemera."