Sunday, October 09, 2005

This is not a prologue (Part One)

May 2001

“Pornography,” I said.

Jason looked at me funny, like he was waiting for a punchline or something. He clicked his fingernails against his drink – double rye and coke – while in the background someone was belting out an 80s power ballad on a karaoke machine.

Finally he spoke. “That’s it?” he asked me. “That’s your big get-rich-quick plan? Pornography?”

“Yup.”

“Don’t you think you’re missing something? Like, I don’t know…details, maybe?”

“Details, Schmetails. We can work that sort of stuff out later. For now, the only thing we need to worry about is this: Supply and demand.”

“Uh-huh.” It didn’t sound like I was doing much to convince him.

“I don’t know if you’ve noticed,” I continued, “but there’s a massive – and I mean massive – demand for pornography.”

“Right. And I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but there’s also a massive supply.”

I waved my hand at looked down at my own drink. The beer had gone warm and flat. I hadn’t really wanted it in the first place, this was just the only place that Jason would ever agree to meet. The fact that it was a karaoke bar was something I would never understand.

“Is that something else you’d file under ‘Details, Schmetails?’”

“As a matter of fact, it would.”

“You’re going to have to think about the details eventually, you know.”

“I know. But for now, one thing at a time. One step at a time. One day at a time. First step, money.”

“Well, at least it’s nice to see you’re thinking about one detail. Any ideas on where you’re going to get it from?”

“Investors.”

“Uh-huh.”

“That’s where you come in.”

“Uh-huh. Wait, what? What do you mean, that’s where I come in?”

“Well, that’s what you do, isn’t it? I mean, you handle people’s investment portfolios and whatnot. All you do is steer some of that investment my way, and then…” My voice trailed off when I realized that Jason was laughing at me. It wasn’t just a small chuckle either. This was a massive, shake your shoulders, roll your belly kind of laugh. “What’s so funny?”

“Sorry to say this, my friend, but right at the moment I can’t think of a single person who’d be interested in dumping their retirement money into an independently produced porno flick.”

“So don’t tell them that part.”

“Oh, sure, as if that wasn’t more than just a little bit illegal.”

“Oh, don’t be such a pussy. You don’t have to completely lie to them. It’s just…you know, a lie by omission. You don’t tell them it’s a porn film, you say that it’s an independent movie that someone local is trying to make, and sure it’s high risk, but it has a good chance at paying off, and blah blah blah.”

He shook his head. “Sorry man, it’s just not going to happen that way.”

“I don’t even need very much.”

“How much is not very much?”

I tugged the scrap of paper on which I’d worked out a very basic budget out of my pocket and unfolded it, setting on the table between the two of us. “The way I’m looking at it, we grab a basic, entry-level, digital video camera, and a shitload of videotapes. I can do the editing on my PC, and I’ve got a pirated copy of Adobe Premier already…”

“I thought all the pros used Final Cut Pro on the Macintosh.”

“Just shut up and listen. Okay, so we buy a camera, we buy a shitload of tapes, I’ve got the necessary editing equipment already. All we need then is talent, and I figure if we can track down a few hot and horny young things, flash the promise of stardom in front of them, and we can probably get them in front of the camera for a few bucks and sandwich halfway through the day.”

“And I’m sure you have a little black book that’s just full of the names and phone numbers of these hot and horny young things, don’t you?”

“Why are you always so negative?”

“So, had you given any thought to how you were going to track these women down? Just go up to them and say, ‘Hi, want to be a porn star?’”

“Well, I thought I might get a business card first.”

“Oh, I can only imagine how much that will improve your chances.” He shook his head and quickly finished his drink, then stared at me with a look I knew well – it was the look of him trying to dig under the surface of something.

“What’s this really about?” he asked. “Is this just some stupid way to score chicks’ phone numbers?”

“Jesus Christ, no.”

“This isn’t just some plan to try to get a few dozen women into the sack with you, so can check out their ‘abilities’?”

“No, it’s not.”

“So, really, what’s this about then?”

I thought about what I was going to say, not because I didn’t know the answer, but because I wasn’t sure if I wanted to give Jason the real one or some half-assed sales pitch. I noticed that the voice coming over the karaoke speakers had changed, and a rap song was now playing underneath the sound of someone who was trying far too hard to be black.

“Jason,” I finally said, “I’m an assistant manager at a franchise electronics store. I’m 25 years old, and as far as my own corporate ladder goes, there aren’t too many steps left. It’s a little late in life for me to decide to become a doctor or a lawyer, and besides I hardly have the money for 12 years of schooling in either case. If I’m ever going to be successful, the sad truth is that I’m going to have to come up with some retarded idea that’s just crazy enough to work. I don’t know if this idea is it or not, but I know that at least it’s feasible. It’s something that I can do. There’s money to be made, a lot of it too, if you can just find the right product at the right time, and if you can manage to ride the wave of popularity and success in just the right way. And I think it’s worth a try.”

He kept his gaze locked on me, digging away at me, trying to see how much of what I had said was true. It drove me nuts, because Jason was always so fucking good at digging the truth out of people. I was just glad that I what I had told him had, in fact, been the truth.

And then he broke the gaze and looked down at the budget again, looking at the numbers, crunching them in his head. “You’re a fucking lunatic,” he said.

“I know,” I told him.

“I’ll tell you what. There’s still not a chance in hell that I’m going to embezzle even a dime from any of my clients in order to fund this lunatic production, but I’ve got a few grand tucked away that I’ve been waiting for the right time to drop into the right investment. My gut tells me that this investment isn’t it, but I’m willing to put my faith into you anyway.”

“Thank you,” I said.

“But,” he continued, looking back up at me again, and this time there was a very different look in his eyes. “I want you to realize that I’m going to just toss you a few thousand dollars so you can piss it away on a project you have no intention of seeing through to the end. If you don’t go into this with every bit of passion and energy that you have, if you don’t work your ass to do everything that you can to ensure that this is a success, I’m going to expect you to return every fucking penny to me. Do you understand me?”

“Absolutely.”

“Good,” he said, and slid my budget back towards me. “We’ll go shopping in the morning.”

“Congratulations,” I said, unable to suppress a smile. “You’re officially in the pornography business.”

“That’s detail number one taken care of. What’s next on the agenda?”

“Talent,” I said, as my eyes drifted towards an attractive blonde who was sitting with a cluster of her friends at a table ten feet away. I imagined myself asking her if she wanted to be a porn star. And I imagined her slapping me across the face, slamming her knee into my crotch, and storming out of the bar.

Something told me this wasn’t going to be easy.

“Good luck with that,” Jason said.

“Thanks for your support.”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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