I’m sitting at a kitchen table listening to a pimp explain to me the Interracial Rate practice in porn, how he can charge more money on behalf of his client to work with a black man (and get it), is not racist. Because it’s just porn. I nod and smile.
I could say, I won’t do the scene with your client because she’s a Jew. And as of now, I don’t work with Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, or Xenu-worshiping Scientologists. But if I did, I’d charge extra money…Let’s call it my Inter-Faith Rate. And this won’t be discrimination because after all, it’s just porn. But I don’t say this. I don’t say anything.
Porn pimps charge a service fee from the studio. Then they charge a service fee from their client. Sometimes, they charge the client other fees: a housing fee if the girl stays at a “model house” with other porn starlets in his stable, and a driver’s fee to shuttle the girls back and forth to set. As the economy shrinks, government agencies ratchet down, and piracy runs amok, studios and directors go bust all the time in Porn Valley. Even the talent pool struggles to earn a living. But the one segment of the porn industry that continues to thrive among the carnage is the porn pimp. The pimp never has to shoot a single frame of film, and he makes money whether the video sells one unit or thousands. It’s the same strategy Levi Strauss used during the gold rush of 1849: mine the miners. By selling supplies to the miners, Strauss made money whether they stuck gold or not.
There’s one particular agent in the Valley who spiked his flag at the top of the flesh pile. The Vulture-pimp. Like the vulture, Nature has evolved him to be bald so that the tainted meat he feeds upon doesn’t stick to his head. Vulture-pimp has cornered the market for most of the top-level girls, and he does not hesitate to pull girls from shoots or slap lifetime bans on talent, directors, or even entire studios from access to his stable.
Vulture-pimp seldom visits sets. Instead, he sends his two envoys, Emissary Fear and Emissary Greed, all over the Valley, even to sets where he has no direct interests. It can be argued that he is both the most hated and the most powerful man in Porn Valley. Regardless of how people feel about Vulture-pimp, he is efficient and keeps his relationship with everyone he deals with as all business. Because of fear, he stays that way without breaking a sweat on his bald head.
The species of porn pimp perched across the table from me, however, is not so evolved. Unlike Porn Pimp, he’s reputed for sampling the meat he purveys, often getting disease stuck to his plumage, tainting his stock and himself.
The stills photographer and the director enter the kitchen. The director says the pretty-girl stills are done. He tells me I should get ready because she’s now doing her “girlie things” (douche, enemas, birth control). I drop a Viagra and chase it with a Red Bull right there in front of everyone, making no pretenses of hiding it. Then I walk to the set.
Kino-Flo diva lights focus on a sofa. This is the set for my scene, the scene that took place before mine, and the scene before that. There’s a musk of sex in the air. It has the woolen sweetness of a fresh-turned field of topsoil and manure. I give the sofa a few passes of Lysol until the surface is nice and wet. You learn to carry Lysol with you when you’re sick of mystery lesions appearing on your skin the next day, or antibiotic-resistant staph chewing holes in your flesh. I wait for it to dry. I wait for the Viagra to make my dick feel heavy.
The director and my scene partner, a Milf, enter. The director says, Action, then aims the camera at her. She closes her eyes and does a dance, but it’s not a dance for anyone present in the room.
I squint my eyes, softening her wrinkles for a glimpse of what she was like at her apex: She was new to the business, signing autographs for fans at her booth in Vegas during her first porn convention, giving fans who’ve lusted after her all year their first glimpse of her. That night, a team of hair and makeup artists fussed over her. She stepped out of the elevator and crossed the casino floor. Hips swung, men stared. Her body, a weapon, severed thoughts and sentences before their first full stop. Out of the casino and into the waiting limousine that zipped her down the strip to the red carpet of the award show. Fans and photographers fought for attention. Flash bulbs popped. Later, awards in hand, she bounced from limo to club to limo, never once having to bother with money.
As the night continued, the number of people in her orbit increased. With each appearance, she generated angular momentum the way a figure skater draws her arms in close to increase her spin velocity. Or like a collapsing star.
The director, holding the camera with one hand, tosses a dildo at her with the other. It lands on the pleather cushion with a slap, snapping both her and me from our conjured-up private fantasies. What’s before me now is the tragedy of an Ingres left to crack and fade in the sun.
She flops onto the sofa, smears lube on the dildo, and plunges the phallus in and out of the rent between her legs with the enthusiasm of unclogging a toilet. I let a few moments pass before I step into frame. The scene begins. No clever dialogue filled with double entendre or sexual innuendo. I open my fly and let the cock loose. Nobody tells her to sink to her knees and put it in her mouth. Nobody has too. Both of us have played these roles many times before.
After she does me, I go down on her. She tries to kiss me. I stop her. I turn my head and her lips slide across my jaw. Some girls I kiss, others, no. Kissing is personal. Never mind the fact that I just rimmed her asshole. Whore logic.
We both press “play” on our pre-recorded outbound messages: I pant, she moans. I sit on the sofa and she mounts me cowgirl. Our bodies meet but neither of us are in them. I go to my fantasy land. God knows where she goes. Every three-point-five minutes we switch into a new sex position without being told. Our whore clocks are well-tuned. My fantasy plays out: Today, it’s Libyan thugs gang raping a journalist who resembles my mom. What the fuck is that about? The rest of the scene plays out in silence.
The scene is over and she’s talking to me…something about the end of the world prophesied to come in a few weeks, but I’m not really listening…Instead, I’m staring at what looks like a cigarette hole burnt into her hoodie…What must it be like for a woman to live with power over men rivaled only by God for the first third of her life, build her identity over her looks, only to feel it slip away as time tumbles by…feel the shift in how people treat her, as though getting old is a contagious affliction? Maybe it is. Shit, at mid-life, what do some of these girls–girls that weren’t even born when I was their age–see when they look at me? Do they squint their eyes to imagine me at my prime? Less fat? A bit more hair? Doubt they even see me…Fuck, the scene ended ten minutes ago, and I’m still winded. I know why.
The woman says something about how nice I am, and how nice I treated her, and how very nice it was working with me. She mumbles something about picking up her kid. She hugs me and leaves with the pimp. I wait for a few minutes. Then I step out the door and disappear under a sky the color of wet flannel.
I’m on the floor of my parents’ garage squirming and wailing and screaming as the man who gave me life is doing his damnedest to take it back. The concrete floor feels hard chafes my skin, and the walls are filled with sharp tools. Tools that ten minutes ago would be fun to play with, now look like they came from the Inquisition. Both the floor and the walls serve to keep me in play as I’m driven end-to-end by the tart sting of my father’s belt. The garage door is open. I could escape, but I don’t. Where the hell would I go? It’s open, and the neighborhood kids, who normally would be loud as they play, are silent. I’m sure they are listening. If they are, they’ll hear my father screaming, asking me why I still wet the bed and how my parents wasted good money on a child psychiatrist, and how that money could have gone to more important things, and how it doesn’t make sense that I can be so smart and flunk a grade, and just what the hell is wrong with me? School tomorrow will not be fun.
The belt snaps across my chest, catching me between breaths, and I fight for air that does not come. Instead, I’m rewarded with dust coating my tongue. I shake. Across the garage, I see a pair of gardening sheers. All I can think about is how I long to know their weight in my hands. And how hard I’d have to push to make this moment stop.
When I wake up, I go to the bathroom. It feels like I’m pissing shards of broken pottery. Chlamydia. Again. Which means Amanda has it. I can’t count how many times I’ve got the clap over the past decade. That, and Strep, Staph, warts (those have to be frozen off), ringworm, pink eye.
She tells me, This is getting old, and, How my work choice is endangering her health and even her life, and, from now on, I either wear a condom on set or I can forget about sex with her.
I tell her that wearing a condom on set, with the exception of maybe two studios, is not an option. It would be career death. She reminds me of the time I had unprotected sex with an HIV positive girl, then came home to have sex with her. How we both took batteries of HIV tests for months on end. How I risked her life and she stood by me anyway. There’s nothing I can say. She’s right. Always is.
I got a supply of Zithromax on hand from a stocking-up trip to Mexico–you learn to do that, too–and I self-medicate. Amanda tells me she’ll see her doctor for an exam tomorrow. Can’t say I blame her. About anything. Every time we make love there’s the chance of a second-hand disease invading her body. Anything I say about continuing to risk her health—-her life–is nothing but a rationalization.
She’s not speaking to me, so I grab a book and head to the Starbucks on Vermont and Prospect. It’s the only place where I can read or write without interruption since Amanda moved her mother and her mother’s boyfriend into our one bedroom home.
So, Tim, the coffee shop’s Cliff Clavin who loves everybody and everybody loves, is there having a discussion with the other regulars. When Tim sees me enter, he walks up to my seat.
He says, “We got him.”
“Osama Bin Laden is dead.”
Tim sits in the chair next to me. “Yeah, our special forces team raided his compound and took him out. Looks like all is right with the world again.”
I say, “Too bad some Internet prophet is predicting the world is going to end soon.”
Tim laughs. “You believe that nonsense?”
I shake my head. “Of course not…tell me about Osama.”
I’m on my back, lying in a pool of sweat that oozed from the pores of three different people and some girl is riding me cowgirl, fucking me while some dude rims her asshole at the same time. On each up stroke, his tongue caresses her taint a Planck length from the back of my shaft. I can feel his breath on my balls when he exhales. The girl bucks and brays. Every time the man’s tongue misses the girl’s asshole the wind from his tongue as it fans the air close to my dick. I grit my teeth and fuck.
“LICK MY ASSHOLE!” the girls says to the man.
And to me, she says, “Pound-me-with-that-black-cock! Don’t stop! Don’t stop! Don’t stop! Don’t–”
Before every scene I drop a Viagra. Every scene. It didn’t always used to be this way. Before, it was only brought to set with me as insurance but the pill seldom left my pocket.
“–stop! Don’t stop!”
But this was before 2008. Since 2008, if you’re male talent, you’re only as good as your last scene. Profit margins are thin, and studios don’t have the chips to re shoot a failed scene if the male talent can’t get it up.
“Don’t stop! Don’t stop!”
All the awards you’ve won in the past, and all the relationships you’ve fostered throughout your career mean fuck-all, because chances are, the people you’ve won the awards with and bonded on set with are gone. So for the last couple of hundred scenes, I dropped a V.
There are no real directors entering porn anymore. No skilled lensmen to replace the ones who get sifted out through attrition. What you’ve got now is a kid who was flipping a skateboard just last week when some studio gets him on the cheap and puts a video camera in his hand.
The ass licker says something. The fuck if I know what he just said. Have you ever felt the baritone vibrations of a man’s voice resonating near your crotch?
Porn is a video game. You are not a human. You’re a character. But once you clear the level by getting the scene in the can, you never progress to a new level. It’s the same Goddamn level, the same Goddamn scene. Over and over and over again. And with new male talent who shoot their cocks up with Caverject in lieu of a learning curve, you cannot fail. Ever. So you gobble that magic pill, power up, and keep the ghosts away.
Today, if you haven’t already guessed, is a cuckold scene. Husband and wife have marital issues. The usual: he’s white and only Negro cock can satisfy her. But when I read today’s script, I dropped a second V.
The script originally called for the hubby and the wife to “make out on the black man’s cock” and “reconcile their marital woes by feeding each other dark meat.” I don’t play that shit. The script was changed. Now, the scene calls for hubby to get as close as he can without actual contact with me. If I had a third V, I’d have dropped that one too.
The director makes a looping motion in the air with his pointer finger. Time to switch positions. Hubby lies on his back, then the wife lies on top of him, also on her back. His head pops out over her shoulder. This new thing…this two-headed, four-armed beast with tits parts its legs and watches me with anticipation. I squirt lube in my hand and give the cock a few back-hand strokes to keep it up then I position myself between two pairs of legs. Hubby gives the wife a reach around and rubs her clit. Then, he pries open her vagina for me to penetrate. Her innards are pink. His knuckles are hairy. Four eyes gaze into my face. I fight instinct and fuck it. In my mind, I’m plunging a stake into the heart of a monstrosity that shouldn’t be alive, yet is. As I thrust hubby grinds upward, in effect fucking me vicariously through the wife. His lips part as he stares into my face. I’ve had this look directed at me many times before…overt and unbridled animal lust…but almost always from women. He rubs the clit as I fuck.
Sweat from my forehead trickles into my eyes and burns, and drops of sweat fall, splattering onto the wife’s chest. She’s oblivious. She shudders as wave after wave of orgasms surge through her. Her foundation melts and her mascara runs in rivers down her cheek. She’s melting under the set lights, and I’m cooking away in a reduction of my own perspiration.
I’ve had about enough of this. Time to go to usual mental triggers to block out this eight-limbed Hindu demon and get myself to the where I need to. After a thousand scenes, ejaculating, for me, is mechanical. It’s as erotic and as personal as a sneeze.
I pull out and the wife drops to her knees and hubby drops to his knees next to her. Both of them, side by side with their faces angled up, mouths agape like ravenous baby birds. He’s in the line of fire, but there’s no stopping the tide. I soak them both.
I flick my cock, flinging a drop of come in wifey’s face. Once. Twice. On the third fling, hubby nudges her aside and catches it in his open mouth. His eyes roll back to slits of white and a torrent of ecstasy washes over his face. My stomach flips and folds inside my chest. The camera is pointed at them, so I jog the bathroom and hover over the toilet. I dry heave into the basin. The sweat from the sofa soaks me to the bone.
When I return to set, the girl is clean and dressed. Hubby has my dried come on his chin.
The director and the stills guy tells me how great a performer I am, and someone congratulates me for my nominations for Performer of the Year for both the TLA Awards and the Urban X Awards. I’m tying my shoes and pulling on my t-shirt as someone comments how they wish I was the male talent for the earlier scene, because the guy for that scene was high and couldn’t fuck, wasting half of the day. I’m not up for conversation, but when John, the lighting guy, wants to chat about a mutual friend, David Aaron Clark, who died of a heart attack last year, I snap out of my funk and sit. And we talk. Turns out, neither of us have resolved losing him…
Complete story in Burn My Shadow