In the week following my meeting with Lionel, a lot happened. First, I got a real job. I was going to lead school groups through a museum in Astoria. But before that job would start, I got hired on an actual video shoot. No, not thanks to Lionel. This was thanks to another ad in the Village Voice Adult Help Wanted.
I called, but it was just a corporate voice mail that said they would call me back. When they did call me back, the caller was so discreet, referring to himself by the name of the company (N.T.T.O.), that I didn’t have any idea who it was at first.
“Is this a good time?” he asked.
It was. He seemed young and more nervous than me. His name was Jeff. He told me all about the company and how spontaneously it began (“it’s all because of this barbecue”). Just a couple of guys with day jobs looking to break into the zillion dollar porn industry and strategizing over burgers and wieners.
“Tell me what kinds of things you’d feel comfortable doing. Tell me what kinds of things you’ve already done.”
I told him I’d worked as a stripper. I told him I’d never done this sort of work before, but that I was ready for anything as long as it didn’t hurt. He was trying to get just as much of a feel of what I’d be like as I was of him. It felt like we were testing each other. We set up an interview for lunch on Saturday, one o’clock at a place in the East Village called Jules.
I was really nervous and excited. I wanted to brag about it, how tough and cool I was, but there wasn’t anyone I felt comfortable talking to about it. I was new to the city, so I didn’t have a lot of friends, and the few that I had weren’t the kind of people I could tell about this. I didn’t know how they would respond, and I knew I’d get judged. I knew they’d tell me I was stupid or reckless. But I didn’t care, even if I was. I was still proud of myself for having the guts to do it.
I wanted to look sexy, cute, and casually stylish for the big meeting with Jeff. I wore a tight bright pink tank top, black bra, and a knee length black skirt with a slit. A black short sleeve shirt on top, open. Black heels. High ponytail. Lavender eyeshadow. Lipstick. My breasts were on display, and my ass was definitely out there. This literally was an audition even if it was not actually a date.
I walked over to 8th Street and, with a deep breath, walked into the restaurant. I went over to the bar and glanced around. Jeff had insisted that we would know each other without any elaborate scheme.
“I do this all the time. I’ll know who you are.”
But it didn’t seem like anyone was waiting for me. I wasn’t sure how I’d even know if they were. I turned to the back of the restaurant, wondering what to do, when I saw a young, heavy-set man walking in my direction. He stood next to the bar and looked at me nervously. He fidgeted with his cigarettes.
So this was the guy. Perfect for the role, his floppy dark brown hair kept falling into his eyes, when it wasn’t sitting slicked back. He had brown eyes and a puppy dog face. Sweat kept beading up on his forehead. Dressed the part, Jeff wore a black suit, fake-Italian and slickly stylish. A tight white undershirt, of course. Pudgy in a well-fed, low action kind of way. Anxious voice. We shook hands, relieved to have introductions over with. I couldn’t tell who was auditioning who.
We sat down and ordered food. We were both awkward and eager to please, almost like a blind date. He told me all about the company—again. I heard about how the guys met and what they were doing and where they were going and what they were looking for. He was getting excited. He asked me about my job, where I’d gone to school, what kind of computer experience I had, what I wanted, what I thought, where I was going, and what I was looking for.
Just like a blind date. Not at all like an interview for a porn shoot. I wished he’d shut up and get to the point.
It wasn’t until the end of the meal that we even got to the reason why we’d met in the first place, to the uncomfortable silence of our table neighbors.
What was I comfortable with? What did I want to do? And with whom? Girls? Boys? Both? What sort of experience did I have? It was like our phone conversation, only with more details.
We finally finished around 2:30, after he’d had his post-meal cigarette. Of course, just like in the movies, he paid for the lunch with a gold Am-Ex card extracted from a bulging money clip. I wanted to ask him why he lived in Brooklyn with a roommate and not some supercool bachelor pad, but I didn’t. I wanted to ask him why he was getting into porn and not some other traditional business venture, but I didn’t. At this point, I knew an awful lot about Jeff. I didn’t want to know anymore. He’d already spent too much of my time filling me in. Unpaid time.
I wasn’t quite sure what lunch accomplished, but I felt more excited even if Jeff seemed just as anxious as before. This job might have even more potential than I’d expected. I might be able to work it into getting some experience as a photographer’s assistant (“Nathan always needs an extra hand,” Jeff explained), as a make-up girl (“we like having girls working on our set”), or even as a webpage designer (“I’m not sure how much time Ken will have to spend on this”). There didn’t seem like there was any drawback to this situation at all. I could always use the supplemental income. As long as I had no problem showing off my pussy for a steady stream of cash.
And I had clearly already worked through that.
I still couldn’t talk to anyone about it, though. I tentatively tried to talk to my friend Karen, but she got awkward and tense, so I changed the subject. I didn’t understand why something so many people were doing still seemed so taboo. Why was it so shocking to take off your clothes? I couldn’t tell if Karen was more weirded out by the prospect of public nudity or by the notion of being paid for it.
I had another meeting with Jeff a few days later, supposedly to “discuss” the contract, but we ended up spending only a few minutes, if that, looking over a partial contract and then another hour over dinner. The real contract, the one that specified if I would or wouldn’t allow anal penetration (among other things), would come later. This meeting was a big waste of time. I think Jeff just wanted a pretty dinner companion. I couldn’t complain too much—I got a $25 salmon and soup dinner out of it—but it did seem strange on Jeff’s part to be spending so much time and money on idle “getting-to-know-you” conversation. I was also getting a bit annoyed at sinking so much unpaid time into this endeavor. Jeff wanted to linger over coffee, but I said I had to be somewhere and left.
Jeff seemed like a lonely guy. He was a little too eager to be friends. I knew he wanted things to be comfortable on the set, but he was trying too hard to get more than that. I couldn’t figure out a tactful way to say that I just wanted to take off my clothes, not make any new friends. At least not with him. As nice as he was, there was something about him that made me think of a used car salesman. And, for crying out loud, he was hiring me to strip and fuck for his website. Friendships usually originate from better beginnings than that.