The Story of a Sex Worker

September 22, 2004


We couldn't film at Bernard's house because it had been used too much lately. The interior had just been used for a throwaway movie called "Hot Diamonds." The script called for some exteriors and interiors of a mansion. Bernard had the nicest house of anybody I knew, probably the nicest house I'd ever been inside. We could have used his house but Bernard said he wanted this movie to be something special. For this, he went straight to the top.

He found a house in the Malibu hills belonging to a man named Al Harvey, short for Alexis. Al Harvey handled the finances for five different porn houses. He was Bernard's boss, he wrote Bernard's paycheck. There was a quiet rumor that the employers were connected to the Mafia. Nobody talked about it because we were left alone. They were happy if we did our fucking and we were happy if we got paid so the subject was rarely mentioned. In my whole time working in the industry, I never heard if the mob was Bernard's boss but I wouldn't doubt it. Bernard said Al had been in prison for three years for laundering money through porn videos. The only reason there was any doubt that he was a Mafia accountant was because cops liked to arrest anybody involved in porn. Sometimes evidence was planted.

So the filming of my first starring role was going to take place at the Malibu home of a powerful ex-con. We drove along the water in Bernard's Cherokee. Ram Baker was at the wheel. Everybody was looking over the screenplay, professionally bound between two red covers.

Bernard had assembled a cast of seven for today's filming--Ram Baker, the sexy, nervous guy named Harry Fidelman, a new girl named Stacey who was a California girl to the core, athletic with bright blond hair and healthy skin, Betty Able, a skinny black actress, a newcomer named Troy Stone, and myself. Troy Stone was beautiful and young. His skin was an unflawed color of dark and musty gold. He lay innocently sleeping in the back of the Cherokee. I was most happy about working with Betty Able because she had already starred in movies of her own and done her own box covers. I was proud to have her in a supporting role in my movie. Stacey was trying to be professional and was highlighting her lines.

"I want you all to try your best," Bernard said. "I want to try for another best director award for this movie. Make believe that we're not making just another fuck film. Call it art."

Ram Baker was going to play my husband. Harry was going to play my husband's best friend and my lover. Stacey was our maid. Troy Stone was playing the kid I seduce. Betty was playing the kid's mother who I sleep with in the end and make it all better. Tomorrow we were going to film scenes with John Johnson who was playing the lawyer for the other side.

We drove up the narrow Malibu canyon and made our way to Al Harvey's house. We parked on a steep hill. The house was low to the ground and spread out further than one could see along the side of the Malibu mountain. Bernard rang the doorbell which chimed six times.

Al Harvey greeted us at the door wearing a silken, maroon robe.

"The help have arrived," he said, smiling, and winked at me.

He brought us into the living room. Like Bernard's house in the Hollywood hills, the living room looked over a ridge. Al Harvey's house looked over the wide, blue ocean and the coastal highway in the far distance. The house was far nicer than Bernard's place in the hills. Bernard wasn't taking it well. He walked around the living room and stared at the small African wooden statues, shelves made from solid oak, a fireplace big enough to fit four men, lights built into the smooth white ceiling, and glass cubes separating rooms instead of walls. Bernard tried hard not to show his envy. Ram Baker didn't care about hiding anything and said, "This is what I want." He ran his fingers over a zebra-skin couch sitting next to a zebra-skin chair which appeared to be made out of real zebra skin. "This is the kind of house I dreamed about as a young fuck."

"Money can make you happy," Al said, beaming.

The house was great and beautiful, but its owner, Al Harvey, was not. He was completely bald except for some thin, dark hair on the sides. The baldness didn't make him look masculine like it did on some men, it made him look like a victim. He was pockmarked severely on his cheeks which reached all the way behind his ears. And he had a scar which ran from under his nose to his upper lip, stopped at the mouth, and then went down underneath his chin. The scar seemed to separate his face into two strange halves, maybe one side good, one side evil. Looking at him, I imagined the evil side showed itself more often from the way his eyes seemed to sweat when he looked at me.

"You can have the run of the house," he said. "Use any room you want except for my bedroom. Use this room if you like."

"We wouldn't want to fuck up any of the furniture," Bernard said.

"Don't worry about it. You said you wanted a mansion, so here's your mansion. Do it right. I think it's important to do a good job for this beautiful Shirley Shave."

He smiled at me and the scar above his lip seemed to grow.

"Thanks," I said to the floor.

I must have been frowning because he said, "Cheer up, Shirley. I think you're one of the best actresses to hit this industry in a long time."

There was a long pause while he grinned and rubbed his chest inside his robe and everyone was motionless and watching him. Bernard finally said, sad-voiced, "We better get to work."

I think Al made Bernard nervous. Making Bernard uncomfortable was like making a lion afraid, so Al must have had some heavy wealth and power.

"Fine, you get to work," Al said. "I'm going to go lie on the porch."

"You can watch if you want," Bernard said.

"No. I want to get some sun while it's out. I'll watch later."

Al walked through two sliding glass doors to the porch. He stood by a lawn chair and took off his robe. He undressed slowly, as if aware that we were all watching him. Robeless, he was revealed to be whiter than paper with two sharp pecks almost like breasts. He was wearing paisley bikini briefs with only strings to hold it up on the sides. He was shiny, almost greasy, in the sunlight, bearded at the small of his back. He stretched smiling to the sky and then lay down. Everyone seemed to be watching him with a strange and fearful awe.

Bernard came over to me. He said, under his breath, "That's one of the luckiest and one of the ugliest men I know." He continued to stare and then snapped out of it. "Let's get started," he said.

Harry went to get the video cameras and lights out of the car. He was going to be assistant director for the shoot. He was in training to become a director himself.

"Let's do the seduction scene in here," Bernard said. "The script calls for a living room. Most things in here seem to be made from something dead." He pointed to the zebra-skin couch. Al looked over from outside and I wondered if he had heard Bernard. "Well, why the fuck not. Let's use the zebra couch." He shook his head, staring at the black and white stripes. "You know, it's perfect. It has a tribal feel to it. The race angle I was looking for. She's the rich woman who's bought an expensive couch from Africa, the kid's original culture, and she seduces him right on the couch, bridging the gap between the two of them."

I thought it was bullshit but Bernard was happy. I went to the couch and took off my shoes. I took off my clothes and put on a black evening gown, low cut in the front and back, which Bernard had bought second-hand for the scene.

The camera was set up pointing at the couch. "The lighting's pretty good in here as it is," Bernard said. He pushed a button on the wall which moved the lights in the ceiling toward the couch.

"Shirley, Troy's gonna ring the doorbell and you answer it. I'll follow behind you. Bring him into the living room. Make him sit down, maybe pressure him a little, push him. Yeah, push him down and then start unbuttoning. Troy, I don't want you to look nervous or like you're afraid of her. Then it will look like rape and she'll come off looking like a cunt. If you're willing, she'll look sympathetic."

"All right," Troy said.

Troy didn't understand a thing that Bernard was talking about. He was smooth and pretty but he wasn't very bright.

Bernard scratched the back of his head and stared at the camera, shifting from foot to foot. On the set, Bernard turned into a kid playing with toys and candy, energetic like it was Christmas Day. "All right," he said. "Let's begin. Troy, you go outside and ring the doorbell after I say action."

Troy went outside and immediately rang the doorbell.

"After I say action," Bernard yelled.

A faint, "Sorry," came from the other side of the door.

"Shirley, I want you to-"

"I know what to do," I said.


Bernard held the clapboard in front of the camera which read, "Bonfire, scene 3, take 1," and snapped it. "Action," he said, eye in the camera.

Troy rang the doorbell and I said, "Coming." I glided to the door carrying a cigarette in a long cigarette holder I found in a hallway drawer. Bernard smiled at the cigarette from behind the camera.

I opened the door and said, "Hello. What can I do for you?" I used what I thought was an uppercrust voice, almost a British accent.

"I have a package delivery for Mrs. McCay."

"A package," I said. I took the package wrapped in brown paper and touched his hand. "Would you like to come inside?"


I lead him into the living room and Bernard swung the camera around.

I brought Troy to the couch.

"What's your name?" I asked.


I moved close to him and lightly shoved him onto the couch. Troy was expressionless.

"Do you know what this package is?" I said.

Troy was supposed to say, "No, I don't," but he said, "No, I can't." Bernard waved us to go on.

I opened up the package which was held together with one small piece of tape. Inside there was a twelve inch dildo with thick veins running up the side. Most dildos were pink or black. This dildo was the color of ivory.

If this were real life, Troy would have been scared or curious, but he just put his hand on my leg and began unzipping the back of my black evening gown before I had a chance to say my final line, "Why don't we see if it works." Troy wasn't much of an actor. I didn't think he could have acted curious if he were told to.

The gown came off and I was wearing a red bra and g-string underneath.

Bernard yelled, "Cut. That's fine. Let me get closer to the couch."

The rest of the scene showed that the dildo did in fact work. Troy and I fucked for half an hour. I even used the dildo on him.

Filming went well. It was nice to be the center of attention. Bernard always made sure that I was comfortable. But because I was the star that meant I had to be in nearly every scene. I was making more than twice as much money, which made me think of getting a new apartment and maybe a new car, but by the end I was exhausted. I lay on the zebra-skin couch winded and damp with sweat.

"Fine work guys," Bernard said after the last scene was shot. He was breathing heavily because watching two people fuck up close was almost as strenuous as fucking.

September 10, 2004

Box Cover

I went back to the apartment and Far Out was sleeping soundly on the couch. I left the brown bag full of remedies on the coffee table and left for a meeting with Bernard at his office. He told me he wanted to discuss my future.

He sat at his desk smoking a cigar and drinking black coffee out of a new mug. This one read, in small letters, "If Jesus is coming, let me know. If Jesus can cum twice in a row, I'll give him a job in adult films."

"Look at this cup," he smiled. "Isn't it great? Jay made it for me."

"Hmmn," I said.

Bernard set down the mug. "Shirley," he said, suddenly very serious. "I wanted to talk to you because I think you've been doing great. I'm glad you're with us and you've come so far. You know I love you. I'm very proud of you."

"Thank you. I'm happy where I am."

"I know it. That's why you're doing so well. It comes across on screen. There's been talk about you getting the best newcomer award, which I think you deserve hands down." He put both of his hands flat on the desk as if to demonstrate. "But I want to take it one step further. I want to give you your own movie."

"My own movie?"

"A starring role. With you on the box cover and everything. And this won't be action shots but a picture of you taken by a photographer. Your face will represent the movie."

"This is big news."

"This is great news. Of course, having a starring role might screw with your best newcomer status but who the fuck cares about that, you're going to star in your own movie. Not many have done so few movies and been able to jump to starring. The actors like you and the public likes you. I've heard reports of guys asking for you by name at video stores. One report came from New York. So feel happy."

"I do."

He grinned wide, beaming like a proud father.

"I wrote something for you," he said. "I finished a screenplay and I think it will be right for you. The working title is 'Bonfire of the Vaginas.'"

He explained it to me. I played a rich woman who seduces a poor kid. Some people come after her because the kid is black. She ends up sleeping with lawyers and her maid and her husband and her boyfriend and then her boyfriend and husband together and then finally makes it all better by seducing the kid's mother. Bernard was very proud of it.

"I've always wanted to do something about race," he said. "There's a thousand interracial fuck films but none of them deal with the race issue."

"I'd be glad to do it," I said.

"Good then."

Filming was set to take place the following day. Bernard had cast most of it already and was going to direct it himself.

It really was an honor and a rarity to have a starring role in a movie. There were hundreds upon hundreds of women working in the sex industry and only a handful of them became stars and made the real money. In that way it was no different than Hollywood.

September 07, 2004

Cough Syrup

The next morning I woke up early because Far Out was coughing loud and repeatedly for most of the morning. I walked into the living room and found her looking at the battered carpet like it was a sea on fire. Her eyes were red and tired. She coughed loud and hard like it had come from some place deep.

"Are you sick?" I asked.

"I think I made myself sick with worry over Kirk," she said. "Fucking hell, like I need this. You'd think if there was one thing I could count on it's my body."

"Do you need anything?"

"I don't know."

She coughed again. It sounded like sandpaper on the back of her throat.

"Jesus, let me get you some medicine."

"You don't have to do that. I feel stupid. You've already put me up."

"Don't worry about it. You need medicine."

"Please don't," she said. She coughed again and looked at me sadly.

Part of the reason I wanted to get her medicine was that the sound of her coughing reminded me of Zowie, her thin frame, coughing deeply and looking at me like I was an alien, and my mother, her frail hands, smiling at how I may have caused her mother's illness. I wanted to get far away from those memories.

When I was in the pharmacy aisle, holding juice in one hand and Maximum Strength cough syrup in the other, I felt a person looking at me. I was used enough to that. All men were girl-watchers, married, widowed or single. Throughout my life men were always looking at me. That was part of the reason I was able to do videos. I was used to being watched. Recently I'd got more and more men who recognized me. Most men would glance, smirk, and move on. These eyes at the pharmacy stayed all the way down the cough syrup aisle.

I was at the vitamin shelves picking up some vitamin C when I felt him behind me. I was a little worried because some of the guys who watched porn weren't the most savory or gentle of men. I was about to turn around and say fuck off when he said, "May I talk to you," in a soft voice.

I turned and found myself standing in front of a decent-looking guy with brown hair and strange gray eyes. He didn't look like a pervert, although I knew better than that, perverts usually didn't wear raincoats but looked as respectable as the president or a priest. This guy's strange gray eyes were warm so I trusted him.

"What do you need?" I said.

"I wanted to talk to you."

"You want an autograph?" I'd given out an autograph maybe three times.

"An autograph. No. Why, should I know you? This might sound bad but I've never seen you before."

"I'm an actress," I said. "Some people have seen me before."

"Oh really? What have you been in?"

"I've been in a few commercials."


He looked confused, and rightly, because who the fuck asks for an autograph of someone who's been in a few commercials. But I wasn't going to tell him the truth. Some people didn't want to know the truth and he was so nervous and eager, picking up a jar of multi-vitamins and absently turning it around in his hands, that I didn't want to break him the news.

"I wanted to talk to you because I thought you were beautiful," he said. That last word trailed off and disappeared.

"Well, thank you."

"I'm not usually one to do this, but I wanted to say that you're one of the prettiest women I've ever seen."

For some reason my heart started beating hard and I began to get warm. Maybe because he was so sad and sincere. Sort of like looking at a great and massive polar bear at the zoo, trapped in a glass cage.

"Thank you," I said again.

"Maybe it's because I haven't left the house in a while and I've forgotten how to deal with people."


"Could I have your phone number?" he said.

"My phone number?"

He shook his head.

"All right," I replied.

I had to borrow a pen from the woman at the pharmacy counter. We exchanged numbers. There were a few reasons I did this. The guy, his name was Andrew, seemed harmless. I knew there was horror brewing under everything, but I trusted him on first impression. And he wasn't a fan. He didn't know about my movies. There was something enticing about meeting somebody from the real world. I knew I had Far Out lying in my apartment sick and fearing life over an outside relationship, but I hadn't had a date since I started working. Not in the industry or outside. I was too worn out when I got home. For some people, they needed the security of another actor. Like minds thought alike. For me, I was at a point where I needed a breath of air, a vacation back to the straight world. The trip to Florida had deflated some of my earlier drive. I liked the work and it had treated me well but I needed some time away. Besides, and I think you'll agree with me, dating in the office was a bad idea. So I was happy to have a stranger's phone number again. It made me feel human. Maybe I'd get a taste of how regular people led their lives.

Looking back, I think it's strange how something so insignificant as cough syrup could change a person's life. But it did. Cough syrup changed me for the rest of my life.

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