VIDEO STAR, II (In which I learn how to make my sexual personality feel real.)
I left work again with my neat black briefcase in hand. It looked so corporate, no one could possibly suspect what I had inside—the vibrators, the skimpy clothing, the lubricant, and the extra g-string.
Lance had hired a professional makeup artist, so for an hour I sat in a chair and felt even more legit. I was a Porn Star with credibility. I was a professional. I was more a model—nude model, sure, but who’s qualifying?—than a slut. That’s right, I was a nude model. So what if my poses involved battery-powered toys? I was a model, with skills and experience. I was there to do my job. I would do it, I would do it well, and then I would take home a paycheck for a job nicely done.
When the makeup artist had finally finished, Lance paid her, and she left. I imagined that he didn’t want her around to witness our actual “work.” As usual, it was now just me and the man behind the camera.
We started off with the “milkshakes.” Lance told me all the girls had to do them. It was a theme, and he planned to make a compilation videotape one day, edited to feature a series of girls performing milkshake after milkshake.
Basically, I stood in the corner of the room, wearing white pantyhose and a zip-up purple sweater that Lance had bought for me, and I bounced. I stood and bounced for about half an hour. Bouncing meant moving up and down just enough to get my breasts to jiggle as Lance zoomed in and out. He did some shots of my ass as I bounced, but he mostly filmed from the front, with the purple sweater coming off in carefully documented stages of undress.
Lance had shown me some “milkshake shots” when I’d come for the interview, so I knew exactly what to do—not that it was a hard skill to pick up or anything. It was all really in the knees. The trick was a slight bending of the knees to provide just enough “bounce” to jiggle the breasts without tiring out too quickly.
“Men and lesbians,” he explained, grinning, “are hypnotized by bouncing breasts.”
That seemed reasonable. What did I know? Anyway, he was paying, so I did what I was told.
All of the bouncing took place in the far corner of the same room where I’d had my interview, between the wall and the futon, cleverly sandwiched between two large framed photographs. There wasn’t exactly much space from which to choose, since there were only two rooms in Lance’s studio. The main room was set up to look like a waiting room, the white futon along the far wall with white pillows that had Asian letters on them.
I had to stifle a laugh when I first saw those pillows. Futons never look classy, but the Asian letters certainly weren’t helping. I could see those pillows featured, both subtly and prominently, in the background of much of the work Lance had shown me. I thought it was pretty funny, intentional on his part or not. This pervasive theme of cheesy Asian letters on cheap futons throughout a growing repertoire of pornographic “art videos” made the whole experience that much more absurd.
I wondered why Lance had a futon and not a couch. Did he sleep on it sometimes? Did he use it as a bed in his porn videos? Or was it just cheaper than a real couch?
He did have a proper couch that faced the futon from across the room. That couch, he told me, was given to him by his parents when they redecorated their house. It was nice and white and looked exactly like it was supposed to: as though it had always been meant to sit, proud and overstuffed, in a New Jersey suburban living room. Lance was from New Jersey, so I figured the couch probably was, too.
The walls of the main room were covered with large framed photographs that Lance had taken. He had mastered, through years of work, a special technique which he used for all his current, non-pornographic, work. To the best of my understanding, Lance had created photographs that looked as though they involved digital imaging or Photoshop. The catch was that they didn’t. They were made entirely without computers. I didn’t completely appreciate the novelty of making works that just gave the illusion of being computer-based, but Lance had spent much time and effort perfecting this process and was quite pleased with the results.
“No computers!” he declared with pride.
Lance himself was quite an interesting character. I wondered how much he was enjoying the show I was putting on. It seemed pretty obvious that he was working too hard to find the right angle to be getting off right then and there, but I could imagine him fantasizing later. He certainly was accumulating an enviable video collection of very lovely ladies performing specialized tasks that he arbitrarily decided had “mass market appeal.” He could easily be using them to fulfill all his fantasies and then planning to make money off those same fantasies as an added bonus.
Or maybe he was a jaded pornographer who’d already done so much of it that it didn’t thrill him anymore? Or a jaded photographer who needed to make money? I couldn’t help being amused whenever he brought up the “research” that he’d been doing into what turned America on, followed by suggested poses and activities that he claimed had been inspired by his research.
These were the thoughts that ran through my head as I studied Lance’s perspiring bald forehead and impressive moustache. Bouncing didn’t exactly take up a lot of mental energy. There was more than enough space left in my head to contemplate Lance’s extracurricular activities.
Regardless of what I might have been thinking, I was pretty sure that the last thing on Lance’s mind as he peered intently through the camera at my bouncing breasts, though, was sex. He was sweating and red-faced, angling his large body to find just that perfect shot. With his moustache, wispy balding hair, and proclivity for sweatshirts with the sleeves cut off, Lance didn’t look like the typical porn photographer. Or maybe he was? What did I know, really? I was strictly amateur.
The one thing I did know for sure was, even if my performance or my body was turning Lance on, the feeling was anything but mutual.
As these things flitted through my brain, I was conscious of the fact that my thighs and knees were starting to get tired. My breasts were getting tired of bouncing. The lights were getting hot. Lance kept wiping the sweat off his brow. I tried my best to stay perky. Music would have helped, but because Lance was recording all of our conversation (for some other niche market he was trying to fill), so we had to keep background noise to a minimum.
After thirty long, draining minutes of milkshakes, Lance asked me to lie down on the couch and the real work began: shots of my ass, my breasts, my cunt. This “standard porn series” was different than my earlier shoots with Jeff and Larry. This time there would be verbal accompaniment. Lance wanted me to talk dirty, to sound cute and seductive, improvising a running monologue of erotic conversation.
I felt dumb and awkward at first—a suburban girl from a good home and a good college, naked in front of a balding aspiring porn photographer, carefully propped up on small pillows with cryptic Asian letters marketed by a large futon chain, trying my best to sound tough and sexy, cute and seductive. I was a blithering idiot, fumbling madly in unfamiliar territory, even more out of my element than before, but then, after a few minutes, I started to get into it. It was just like taking the make-believe one step farther. I tried to become Karla, not just to look like her. To forget that Lance, a balding, perspiring, stocky man with a moustache, was fixating on me through his camera’s eyepiece. I did my best not to notice him, to will his presence out of the room.
Instead, I looked straight into the camera, through to the other side, directly to the eyes of weak, drooling men who wanted me more than they’d ever wanted any girlfriend or friend or neighbor. I became some otherworldly, larger than life, erotic being. I became a fantasy and a dream, oozing sex and power. I became a sexy dominatrix chick, tough and cool. I tried to channel Marlon Brando. I became Karla.
Lance told me to address the men at home, to speak to them directly. Every time my conversation lagged, he prompted me to continue, trying his best to get me hot and riled up. Little did he know that his little prompts were useless.
But then, once I really got started, I just kept going, stopping only to refuel for air and other ideas.
“I bet you’re sitting there, watching me, wishing you could touch this, feel this, run your hand over me, feeling my soft skin. Imagine you’ve got one hand on me, the other hand on your rock hard cock, my soft breasts, my stomach, my thighs, my cunt all wet, and you’re getting harder, wishing you could feel me, coming right up to the screen, staring, dreaming, wishing, feeling. But all you can feel is the screen. You can’t touch me. You wish you can, but you can’t. All you can do is touch yourself and pretend I’m there.”
Because we were filming with sound, Lance would have to stop the tape every few minutes for my next round of instructions. Even though the purple sweatshirt had long since fallen to the floor, I was still wearing the strange white tights (something else Lance’s research had discovered, I supposed). After the first monologue series, he told me to pretend I was getting hot and wet in my tights, ripping them off in a sexual frenzy.
It was sort of silly. It was just ridiculous. I knew men fantasized about this sort of thing, and that all Lance and I were doing was catering to a specific set of fantasies that he had carefully “researched,” but the artifice of the whole thing was absurd. In theory, perhaps, it wasn’t any more staged than, say, faking an orgasm, but it did seem a little extreme for me to be ripping off white cotton tights in an artificially induced sexual frenzy.
Who would possibly buy it?
But the best porn stars are the ones that can act. I was starting to figure out that, in order to do a good job, it was more important to be able to act well than to have huge breasts. Huge breasts helped, sure, but it was all about pretend and make-believe, nothing more than a perverse variation on the dress-up games little girls play.
“These tights are so hot. I can’t stand it anymore. I can’t breathe. I want them off. I want to touch myself. I hate them. I hate them. I want them off.”
I sighed and panted, then I ripped like hell, exposing my thighs and freshly shaved crotch for Lance and his ensuing close-ups.
The camera would be virtually touching my nipples, asshole, and pussy. It was a bit unnerving. At least when the camera was that close, I could relax my face and even shut my eyes. The lights were really hot, and I was exhausted.
I did get to grab a few breaks, when Lance would let me grab some pretzels and water, but he kept filming even during the snack breaks, so the work never really stopped. Lance also kept reminding me to drink lots of water every chance he got, making sure that my bladder would be large and vocal for the eventual “pee scene.”
Until I was ready to pee, we ran through the list of items on Lance’s agenda. The vibrator shots came next. I had told Lance I didn’t want to use his vibrators. I had my own hygiene standards. Even if they were cleaned, as he professed they were, I still preferred my own pink one. I found it reassuring. It reminded me of home.
The vibrator series started with me on my back, legs up, the pink plastic inserted, no hands, a small pillow (with Asian letters) under my butt to tilt it upwards, thus discouraging vibrator pop-out. Due to my reclined position, this might have been the most relaxing moment of the shoot, except for the fact that my vibrator was shoved up my pussy with a minimal amount of lubricant (it looked more natural that way, Lance explained).
I lay there, eyes closed, while Lance did his close-ups. I had to talk a little, but I just let the usual words stream out of my mouth:
“I love my vibrator. It feels so good to have it shoved up inside, filling me up. I wish it were your cock. I wish your rock hard cock were shoved up inside me. But it’s not, so what’s a girl to do? Thank god, I’ve got my pink vibrator. I can push it in and pretend it’s you. Filling me up. Filling up my wet cunt. Shoved up inside. Just like your cock.”
Then we turned the vibrator on. Still no hands. More close-ups. More blah, blah, blah.
“Oh, I love the way it feels, filling me up. I want it deeper and harder and faster. I want to feel the power shoved inside. I want to feel it deep inside. I want to feel you deep inside. I can feel myself getting wet and swollen. I want you to feel me getting wet and swollen. I want you to shove yourself into me, into my wet and swollen pussy.”
(Since Lance didn’t like the word cunt, I wasn’t supposed to use it. Pussy was okay. Actually, pussy was encouraged. He thought it sounded “hot.”)
Then the in/out series began. That got tiring real fast. It didn’t hurt, it just felt exhausting and sore. I had to shove my rather large vibrator in and out for what seemed like an eternity, intermittently squealing with pleasure and moaning with desire. As requested, I also did my best to maintain sexy dialogue as much as I could. I quickly began repeating myself, losing patience and energy at a rapid rate.
“I want it deeper and harder and faster. I love my vibrator. God, it feels so good to have it shoved up inside. I wish it were your cock. I wish your rock hard cock were shoved up inside me. Thank God, I’ve got this to shove inside. Faster, deeper, harder. Just like your cock should be. I know you want it. I know you wish you could shove yourself in my wet pussy. I know you wish you could touch it and lick it and put yourself inside.”
Lance wanted me to use a cucumber next, but I refused. He said they cleaned them off really well, but I said, no thanks. Size-wise it didn’t seem that different from the vibrator, but I just didn’t want to go there. It seemed like an unnecessary complication, I was getting cranky, and, again, I didn’t entirely trust his hygiene standards. $300 was not worth an infection.
Lance was a little disappointed, but I didn’t care. I believed him when he said there was a crowd for this kind of thing. It didn’t matter, though. I got to call the shots when it came to my body, and I knew all about the pesticides and germs that could be found on produce.
Most of the shots were fully nude, except for the “jean shorts” series. Lance had specially requested that I bring a pair of jean shorts to the shoot. We did a sequence with me on the bed, shorts around my ankles, vibrator inserted.
“It looks so natural and cute!”
I wasn’t sure how natural it was for me to be lying on the bed with my legs perched in the air, thick pink vibrator jammed inside, jean shorts around my ankles, but I wasn’t the director here.
Finally, to Lance’s excitement, I had to pee. We shifted locations from the main room to the “back area,” which featured little more than a lot of miscellaneous photography equipment and some large mirrors leaning up against the wall. He scurried around, moving equipment and boxes at a rapid rate, clearing a large space on the cement floor and leaning a mirror against the wall. As instructed, I got down on my hands and knees, doggy style, facing myself in the mirror, and peed—for a long time. My bladder was quite full, and Lance was very impressed.
It was a weird sensation. Not only was I peeing in “public,” in front of a relative stranger, but I wasn’t peeing in a toilet. I wasn’t even peeing near a bathroom. I was just on my hands and knees, letting it all out on Lance’s cement floor. The piss ran down my legs and across the room. There weren’t any paper towels or anything to catch it. Otherwise it wouldn’t have looked “natural” and “spontaneous.”
I’d never been one for golden showers, but, I had to admit, as I watched myself, that I looked sort of sexy in the mirror. One glance at myself in the large mirror, kneeling like a dog, the liquid running down my leg, looking raw and primal and sexy as hell, and I was sold. I never would have expected it, but there was something really erotic, and just plain fun, about pissing on the floor, about the flagrant disregard for propriety, about letting warm liquid run out of your pussy and down your leg. It made sense. Any fluid that came out of there did have some sort of sexual connotation that I hadn’t appreciated before. It was also thrilling to make a mess.
When I finally finished, I cleaned myself up with some water and handi-wipes while Lance mopped the floor. He was so impressed with the size of my bladder and my peeing skills that he told me he’d pay me $20 a pop anytime I wanted to stop by the studio for a “pee break.”
“Pee scenes are really hot,” he told me. “I need as many as I can get. We can do all sorts of different setups. I’d love to shoot an entire series with you. I can even film you from the second you walked in the door. You know, you can just start talking as soon as you come in.”
I could only imagine the improvised dialogue: “God, I have to pee so much. My bladder’s going to fucking explode. I got to pee,” etc. Cue clothes removal and urine discharge.
The last thing we did may have been the most bizarre. I had to run down the hallway of the building in another pair of white pantyhose and the same purple sweater from before. For the first time, Lance specified that I was to walk briskly to the far end of the hallway and then run back to him and the camera. The second time, I was told to take the sweater off and then run. Then I was to push the pantyhose down to my ankle and do it a few more times. Lance said the constricted movement was a “big turn on.”
The shoot finished with me entirely naked, running down the hall. The hallway was lined with other office and studio doors, but no one came out of their offices, thank god. I think Lance figured that the place would be dead by that hour of the night. To be honest, I probably would have been more embarrassed to be seen with the tights around my knees than fully naked.
After five hours of work, I was exhausted. Lance had wanted me to stay another hour, saying that the time I spent with makeup didn’t count, but I said that we’d agreed on $300 for 4-5 hours, and 11:30 was be my cut-off. Period. I threw on my clothes and got the hell out of there.
This time, at the end of the shoot, I felt desperate for physical affection. I wanted to feel someone’s kind arms around me. Was I looking for comfort? Was I looking for approval? I didn’t know. I was too tired to think. I went straight to my friend John’s house. All I wanted was to be held.
I’d be stupid to say that this job wasn’t fucking with me at all, but I couldn’t figure out exactly how it was doing its damage. I didn’t feel cheap. I was making damn good money, and I had a higher sense of self-worth as a result. It felt good to know that, if I needed to, I could easily pay my rent and more with my body. $100 an hour was good money for pushing a vibrator in and out. Of course, it was hard, exhausting work, as my aching body knew all too well, but I was making way too much money to feel cheap, and I was getting paid for my services just like any other professional.
So what if my work happened below the belt? I could whine that I wasn’t being paid for my intellect, but neither were sales clerks at CVS, and no one was protesting that they were being objectified. I wasn’t a lawyer, no question about that. But being smart definitely made you a better porn actress, just like being smart can help you sell shampoo.
When Lance zoomed in for close-ups of my vagina or asshole, yes, I felt a little objectified, but Lance wouldn’t have been so eager to pay me big bucks if I hadn’t been smart, if I hadn’t been able to make damn good conversation, if I hadn’t turned on the charm, if I hadn’t been responsible enough to return phone calls and show up on time. Big breasts and juicy pussies can certainly help you in this business, but it was still a business like any other. Having a brain and a professional attitude counts.
So why did I need a hug so badly? Why did I feel so lonely? Because, like everyone else, I still needed approval and affirmation—all the more so because I was busting my ass doing things most people can’t talk about it, things most people don’t do, even with the lights off. Because I knew that on a certain level, no matter how much money I was making, I was selling myself short. I knew I could do better, that I could find other ways to make myself feel powerful and successful.
And eventually I would.