Ring, ring, ring.... "God bless, this is World magazine, how may I direct your call?"
"To your legal department," I replied. "My name is Leonard Schneider."
Hold music, a couple clicks, then "Wilcox, legal. Hello?"
"Good morning, Mr. Wilcox," I greeted him. "My name is Leonard, or Lenny, Schneider. Do you recognize the name? Any clue as to who I am?"
First silence, then a quick gasp for air. Another couple moments while he collected his wits. Then, "I believe so. May I help you?"
"Depends on your ability to make executive responses. See, I've come across some rather libelous articles your magazine has published, which mention both me and my company. The articles state as fact that I am a criminal, a rapist, a child molester, a torturer, and purposely drug women. None of this shit is true, but World magazine has put out this bullshit as statements of fact.
"Two choices, Chester. The first is to settle with me. Settling will be cheap and expedient, then it's all gone. World settles for fifty grand, which is donated to the Southern California AIDS Coalition, The magazine also runs a retraction and correction, which will take a full page, front and center. The other option is I file suit against the magazine for libel. If I have to do that, we're looking at multi-millions in demanded settlement. The libel is obvious, I have the time, and I have lawyers who eat live goats for lunch, in one swallow. So, which is your preference?"
"I.... cannot make a unilateral decision at a moment's notice, I need to talk to some people...."
"Oh, absolutely," I said in a soothing voice. "I know you need to consult with other people, you need a little time. It's just after ten right now. Call me back by noon. If I don't hear back from you by then, I'll assume you prefer to go to court, and I'll start the ball rolling in that direction. You'll be hearing from the firm of Caputo and Leone in Los Angeles, they'll be representing both Inana Productions and myself, as an individual. Do you understand? Let m give you my direct line...."
I read off my phone number to him. He asked, "How did you locate these articles?"
"A guy in a bar tipped me off to them," I replied. "It's always a bit disturbing when you meet a stranger who assumes you're a violent woman-hating child-abusing criminal. Knocks the suds out of your beer, know what I mean? Why did you assume I'd not locate the articles? World magazine is sold at news stands, it's not a private mailing."
He didn't answer, simply saying, "I need to discuss matters with other staff here, goodbye." He hung up in my ear.
After that, I had the same conversation with Blake, a legal department flunky at Christianity Today. Blake was even more shocked I had learned of the articles involving Inana, curious as to why I would even be associating with anyone who would read their magazine. "Well, gosh Blake, Christianity is a fairly popular faith in this country. If the Zoroastrians had run the same articles about my studio, odds are I wouldn't know it. But associating with Christians is pretty easy, even in Southern California. All you have to do is leave the house. So I've gotta ask, were you gambling no one connected to Inana would ever learn about what was written? There would somehow be a sort of informational rift, which would keep us walled off from each other?"
He didn't have an answer either, and hung up.
Neither called back at all, so I got on the phone to mafia civil attorney Matt Leone --- Stefano's dad --- and let him know Inana Productions would need his services, I'd fax the relevant articles from each publication to his office. He was amused by the prospective legal battle. In his Brooklyn grunt, he said, "Okay, I'm Catholic, but I know to keep my faith the fuck out of business, you know? I got a hunch these magazines are gonna be sending a herd of fucking jackalopes into court. When you're in front of a judge, the last thing he wants to hear about is you broke the fucking law based on a higher authority, you know? I'll try to not stomp on their balls too hard."
"Well! I'm being recognized," said Jane over the phone that afternoon. "Two guys stopped me yesterday, and three stopped me today. They were all, 'Uh, uh, have you ever, uh, made porn?' I sure have, Sparky, which of the 'Naughty Novices' tapes have you seen? 'Uh, all of them.'" She paused, then squealed, "I signed my first autographs today! That felt so cool!"
In Papa Bear mode, I asked, "Did they all mind their manners?"
"Oh yeah. They all seemed pretty nervous, actually. All of them did ask why I'd decided to make porn, so I explained that I understood how production worked beforehand, and felt I had what it takes to be an Inana Girl. You might want to let Bekka know, she has competition. Instead of fixating entirely on Becky Page, these guys mentioned Becky, Feather, Skye Tyler, and Sue in the same breath. Becky Page may no longer be supreme leader."
"And that'll be fine with her. You've seen how things have been through her mega-stardom days. Bekka --- Becky --- will be more than happy to share the spotlight."
"She's one of the two female leads in your 'Three's Company' parody series, right?" Jane asked.
I told her, "Yeah, her character's name is Joan. She'll be the 'Janet' of the trio. The new girl with the massive rack, Melissa, will be playing the 'Chrissy' role. Andy is 'Jack.'"
"Andy has pretty much dropped his real estate gig at this point, huh." Jane said it as a statement.
"He has. Shit, he's twenty-eight, he's not old, he'll be a reliable performer for years. Also, he's in front of the cameras three or four days a week now, and seeing good money. Studs appearing in the series' are getting a higher pay-out than if they were just doing loops, like $450 per half-day shift. To save time and keep the energy flowing, we're doing both dialogue and action at the same time, it's not split up like when we're in production for a feature."
"All four series have made their first releases, right? Any idea how they're doing?"
I sighed and shook my head. "Three of four are winners. 'Pulse of Night' is lagging. Reviews were mediocre, like, 'low-budget loop compilation' mediocre. We've already got the next tape's episodes in the can, and we're in production for those following, but.... I don't know. None of us writers like working on 'Pulse of Night,' there's no base to work from. The studs and sluts are sleepwalking through their roles, the viewing public doesn't care.... I'm ready to pull the plug, but I don't have any ideas that could replace it. So it's gonna be a placeholder for now, we're not losing money on it."
"Maybe do a spin-off from another series?" Jane suggested. "Like, give Feather's character Dizzy from 'Duane and Dolly' her own show...."
Dizzy. Ditzy. Ditzy blonde. A happy-go-lucky blonde ditz who works in an office....
"No," I asserted into the phone. "You just gave me an idea, but it's not about 'Duane and Dolly.' Madison from 'Temporary Pleasures' is going to be the main character in a sitcom, an office comedy. It's perfect, right now Ellen is just holding a supporting role in 'Co-ed Housing,' she's not busy. People loved her in 'Temporary Pleasures,' she could resurrect the role, play Madison the airhead again, only for a half hour at a time.... She'll still be a temp, and keeps getting circulated into different positions in the same office. Hilarity ensues. Shit fuck shit, I hope Mallory and Erica can pull off the writing, I don't know if I'd want to pull Eddie the Jew out of the sound stages to have him writing...."
"Oh.... Oh, hey! That could really work! Do you know 'Temporary Pleasures' is kind of a cult movie in Silicon Valley?"
"Do tell. Expand."
Jane chirped, "Okay, the computer science geeks, the ones majoring, have enough self-awareness to know that no matter how ingenious or high-powered a project might be, outside observers see them and write them off. The comp. sci. majors know they're going to be cubicle monkeys when they start their careers, white collar non-entities sitting on task chairs all day, in big cubicle farms. They also know Silicon Valley at least makes up for the drudgery with good pay.
"While Silicon Valley is all about computers, the general office culture is the same as everywhere else. White collar workers in Silicon Valley and South Bay love 'Temporary Pleasures.... Also Pleasanton, Walnut Creek, San Ramon, any town with lots of office parks and white people.' They love seeing their culture lampooned, they love the characters.... They just really relate to the movie."
My eyebrows went up. "They're getting laid that much down in Silicon Valley?"
"Okay, maybe they don't really relate to the sex.... But the drones feel like the script was written just for them, it was a personal gift from Inana and Becky Page and Skye Tyler. I guess the humor is dead accurate, and lampoons without being abusive, you know? There are plenty of Madisons in the world, maybe not as oversexed.... But people identify with different characters. 'Temporary Pleasures' is a movie people geek out over, sort of like 'Monty Python and the Holy Grail.' You can get your whole office to bust up just by quoting a punch line. Pretty cool, huh?"
"Yeah...." I pondered, then said, "If what you're saying is true.... pulling Eddie out of the stud pool and giving him an office would make it worth everyone's time. He really was the fucking brains behind that movie. I came up with the plot structure and framework, I invented the characters.... but it took Eddie to have all those sharp barbs come out in the dialogue. We also worked on character traits, shit people don't see consciously, that can give a good or bad impression about the character."
"If you do this, will the original cast be back in their roles?" asked Jane.
After chewing on my bottom lip for a few moments, I said, "I don't know. Instinct tells me no. Remember, Madison is a temp. Why would she still be at that company? We'd have Ellen as Madison, of course, but.... If she was at a new company, I could get a lot more exposure to a lot more Inana people, especially our newer arrivals. It could be something of an ensemble cast. Not everyone would have hardcore scenes every episode, but they'd at least get speaking roles on a regular basis." After more consideration, I said, "The sets would be a pain. We don't have access to the office space we did when we made the movie."
"But with the new sound stages, you'll be able to replicate a cubicle farm much easier. You've got the room, you've got the lighting.... You'll be okay, Campbell and Green haven't let you down yet, right?"
"Fair enough. Okay, I'm gonna run this idea by Angel and Bekka, see what they think. Angel isn't happy with Inana having a mediocre product --- neither am I --- so dumping 'Pulse of Night' with something that should have a built-in draw makes a lot of sense. Talk to you later."
Jane quickly said, "Oh, one last thing. I really miss the taste of your cum in my mouth, so I'm probably going to fly down again this weekend, okay?"
I chuckled into the phone and replied, "No problem, fuck toy. Love you. Later."
"I love you too, master. Bye now."