Friday, April 3, 2009
Enema of the State
I had lunch today with an old friend from Playboy. Had a great time; he's a wonderful guy. Urbane, witty, a true raconteur; and another writer, to boot. Brought back a lot of misty, water-colored, Astro-Glided, double-penetrated memories. Spankings. Water sports. Parties that made the hot tub look like egg drop soup. (The speculation of another coworker.)
Excuse me. I just went off somewhere ...
Here's one of my essays.
This one's about falling in love with a porn star.
The love that dares not speak its pain:
Falling in love with a porn star
A few years ago I was the head of acquisitions for a certain cable television channel that specializes in adult entertainment. (A hint: think of a certain 85-year-old entrepreneur living in ‘the mansion’ with plural blonde spouses, and you’ll get the picture.)
I was new in town and I felt like I had the world on a string. I was a highly-paid entertainment executive with a swinging bachelorette pad right on the beach in LA. I had high-powered friends, a high-powered car, and a low-impact personal trainer. I had it all.
And then I just had to fall in love with a porn star.
Back in New York, my love life had been wonderful. After I had gotten clean and sober, I left behind the drug-fueled orgies, one-night stands, and the tainted dating gene pool that comes from hanging out in clubs with names like ‘The Dungeon,’ and had relearned the art of dating and relationships. Indeed, about six months before I moved to LA, even though I warned myself about the perils of getting involved with someone when I was going to be moving in a few months -- I had fallen in love with someone special, against all logic.
But then, love is never logical. Ask Mr. Spock.
I now know in retrospect that we were more like friends. Our lovemaking was sweet and fun, but not earth-shattering. We tried to keep the relationship going for a few months after I moved, but long-distance relationships are tricky. After a while, talking on the phone just didn’t cut it. At least not for me.
We slowly drifted apart.
And then there was my new job at that ‘adult entertainment’ channel. I was, to say the least, a bit distracted. It’s hard to write love letter emails when that type of programming is constantly on your television in your office. Don’t get me wrong – I never really was aroused by the stuff – but you couldn’t help find certain thoughts seeping into your subconscious.
I had just started dating the ex of my former boss (never a good idea), who was a hair and makeup artist in the adult film world. She had been one of its big stars back in the 80’s – even had a song written about her by a ‘hair metal’ band – and was now happily working behind the scenes. It was awkward and tentative at first, so of course I felt right at home.Then one day I visited the location of the film she was currently working on at a mansion on the wrong side of the Hollywood Hills.
I went to the front door and rang the bell. No answer. I checked the door. It was unlocked, so I went inside.
And there, standing in the foyer, learning her lines, was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen in my life. She was Marilyn and Grace Kelly and Charlize Theron all rolled into one.
I was speechless.
She studied her script. Read a line from her scene.
‘Oh my god, it’s so fucking huge. I don’t think I can take it all.’
She closed her eyes, memorizing.
‘Oh my god, it’s so fucking huge … ‘
A clock ticked somewhere in the distance.
‘I don’t think I can take it all,’ I said.
She looked up, smiled with a bit of a sneer, and said, ‘Well, that’s a shame.’
My god. That British accent. I was a goner.
We stared at each other for what seemed like an eternity. Then the director raced and in and ushered her away. But not before she could give me another meaningful stare.
The rest of the day was a blur. I visited with my ‘date,’ and it was all very high-school romance. But every time I saw Laura, who’s name I later learned, there was major, heavy, heart-stopping eye contact.
The day ended uneventfully, and I had to leave for some dinner engagement I had, and had to leave Ms. Hair and Makeup at the shoot. I walked out to my car, got in, and started the engine.
I suddenly heard a voice.
‘So you’re going to leave without saying goodbye?’
I turned and looked. It was her.
‘I was – looking for you, but you were – you were -- .’
She leaned into the car window. Inches away.
‘I’m going clubbing later tonight. I’ll be with a date, but it’s a ruse. Doing anything? ‘
I stammered that no, I was free, (which was of course a lie), and she scribbled the name of a notorious underground club on my hand, and then strutted back into the house.
Of course I got to the club obnoxiously early. I was too excited. I sat at the bar the whole time, looking for her, and fending off the advances of various tattooed, vinyl-clad clubbers who I imagined were trolling for someone who looked ‘normal’ so that they could corrupt them. But no Laura. What was I doing? Hadn’t I given up this milieu years ago?
After way too many Cadillac margaritas, the lights came on. I dashed outside, blinking back what I thought were tears. The motley crew was assembling on the sidewalk, exchanging numbers, needles and gossip.
I felt someone tap me on the shoulder.
‘There you are.’
I turned around. Laura.
‘Oh, hi,’ I said, trying really badly to sound blasé. ‘I couldn’t find you.’
‘That’s a shame. I had my top off for an hour – before I got busted.’ (How could I have missed that?)
‘Uh -- security?,’ I stammered.
‘No. My date. He finally found me.’
‘Where is he now?’
‘I finally lost him,’ she smiled, eyes dancing with mischief.
I stared at her. I had never seen someone so completely alive. Real. In the moment. After an incredibly long, awkward pause, I asked if I could have her phone number.
She pulled out a pen and scribbled her number on my other hand. Great. I was now a marked woman. Laura squeezed my wrist, warned me not to wash it off. Said I’d regret it.
We stood there, staring at each other. I promised to call. Time stopped. I didn’t want the moment to end.
‘So aren’t you gonna kiss me?’ she asked, looking suddenly very young, almost vulnerable.
And we kissed. Softly. Tentatively. And the earth opened and swallowed me whole. I had never felt anything remotely resembling such perfection. Such passion. I swooned. Fireworks went off. My heart beat in ways I never knew it could. This was it. The real thing.
I heard applause. We pulled away from each other and saw that a crowd had gathered around us, like in some romantic comedy.
Laura took a bow. I smiled weakly and waved, like I imagined Sandra Bullock would if she were in this situation.
The next evening I nervously got ready for our first date. I even used the expensive perfume. I wore my long hair up, as if I was going to the Oscars. I put on some mood music, ABC’s ‘The Look of Love.’ Call me a romantic softie, but to this day it’s still my favorite song in the world.
The doorbell rang. Something seismic shifted in me. I went to door and opened it.
And there she was, in a floor-length gauzy gown with buttons running all the way up.
With three, maybe four buttoned.
She heard the music. ‘Oh my God,’ she exclaimed. ‘That’s my favorite song in the world.’
I sucked in air.
‘It’s mine, too,’ I whispered.
She grabbed me. Threw me to the floor, where we proceeded to make love for longer than I knew was possible.
It was a whirlwind romance. She’d take me out on the town and show me off. We go to a bar and she would tease the men that were intrigued by us. Staring open-mouthed as we’d kiss. I put her framed picture on my desk in my office at work, which was tres scandal, as most of the executives at the channel were paunchy, middle-aged men with families.
Then little cracks started to form in the armor. One day while I was at work, I got a phone call from her. She was in the Beverly Hills jail. It turned out she was out on the town without me the night before, had gone to a chi-chi bar, and had been mistaken for a hooker. When she left in her beat-up old clunker, the cops followed her, arrested her, and threw her in jail for the night.
I told my assistant I had a family emergency and drove over there in a panic. When I got to the jail, she was outside, in tears. She stumbled into the car and related a horrific story of being recognized by the cops, and being body cavity searched three times over the course of a very long night. I drove her to an out-of-the way café and we had coffee and I tried to calm her down.
And then denial started to rear her ugly head.
The romance went on for awhile, and things seemed like they were fine. She started spending the night at my place, as hers was an awful hole-in the wall on the wrong end of Hollywood Boulevard.
Then one day she told me about a new movie she was going to be starring in. One in which she would be using these sex toys that were connected to electricity. I expressed my shock and dismay. She told me not to worry, as she would have the controls in order to make sure she would be safe.
I got another phone call later that night. It was Laura, calling from the set, a shrieking, nervous wreck. They had lied to her, and didn’t let her control the amps and watts on the shoot. My poor baby’s nether-regions had been fried.
I raced over there and found her curled up in the fetal position in the makeup room on a couch, sobbing. With strength I didn’t know I had, I picked her up, took her out to my car, and drove her to my place. I fixed her a midnight snack, and tried to comfort her. After some food and wine, she seemed to relax, and the old spark slowly started to come back.
‘You know, love,’ she said, ‘you’re too good to me.’
‘Nothing’s too good for my baby,’ I whispered, touched.
‘The problem is,’ she said, her lip quivering, ‘sometimes I don’t believe I deserve it.’
‘Of course you deserve it. Everybody does.’
Red flags should have been flapping in the wind at this point. But I just held her tight and basked in the glow of someone I thought needed me. Someone I thought I needed.
She then dropped not one, but two bombshells. She was going back tomorrow to finish the electro-movie -- and that she had decided to go to the Cannes film festival in a couple of weeks.
You probably don’t know this, but the adult film community has their own festival in Cannes, on the outskirts of town, which runs concurrently with the one you're familiar with. Needless to say, it brings a new meaning to the phrase ‘nighttime debauchery’ on the after-hours party circuit, where the two worlds collide.
I knew then, but couldn’t admit it to myself at the time -- that it was over.
I tried to talk her out of finishing the electro-shock film, but she told me she wouldn’t get paid if she didn’t, and it’s hard to argue with that.
Then, I had a brainstorm. I asked if she would move in with me before she left. We could try out ‘shacking up’ on a trial basis. ‘After all,’ I said,’ you’ll be gone for awhile. It’ll be fun.
The movie turned out to be less eventful. Laura put her foot down, and had control of the electricity. I waved it off as an occupational hazard, and concentrated on playing house with her for the next couple of weeks. We had a great time, and time passed in a blur.
And before I knew it, it was over. I was driving her to the airport, and we both sat in silence. We pulled into a MacDonald’s to get a bite (her favorite), and sat in the car and ate for a moment before we continued on.
‘I have this funny feeling you’re not coming back,’ I murmured. Trying really hard not to get emotional.
‘Don’t be daft, love,’ she smiled. ‘You’re the best thing that ever happened to me.’
When I left her at the gate, I expected one of her patented dramatic scenes, but she simply hugged me and promised to email.
And that was it. No big, dramatic goodbye. She just went out with a whimper.
I drove home feeling hollow and empty. I tossed and turned in bed that night, and slept fitfully.
Days went by with no word from her. Then weeks. I put away her picture at work. I moped around and wore my broken heart on my sleeve like a war widow.
It took a long time to heal. It haunted me. How I could have fallen for someone who was so damaged, so lost?
A little while later I started therapy, and the first thing I talked about was what had happened with Laura. My therapist told me I had become a victim of ‘amore fou.’ Crazy love. She told me that people like Laura were such amazing, transcendent lovers because that’s all they had to give. That they were damaged and in pain, and that they were hard-wired to do only one thing well. Give love.
The sad part is, of course, is they can never accept it in return.
They say power corrupts.
Guess what. So does passion.