GOD'S WIFE

The Story of a Sex Worker

January 25, 2005

No Return

The first porn job I ever had, Becca, the woman who looked like trash, said to me, "We live more before twenty-five than most people do in a lifetime." Well, Goddamnit, I thought, maybe people were better off not living this way. Friendless and jobless and hated.

I wasn't frowning on any of the high times. They were some of the best times of my life. For a while I had the family's protection and support. I achieved an enduring confidence. What I'm saying is, at the same time, something backfired.

I had made a vital mistake of trying to live a respectable straight life while at the same time living the life of what many people saw as a criminal, a thief not armed with a gun but with her sex. That was probably the biggest mistake a porn actress could make. Humans and machines clashed. They were two different animals, one being even less an animal than the other. Once you've done a fuck film, even just one, you've reached the point of no return. The point of no return was called No Return for a reason.

I enjoyed my outlaw life and rebelling against all the straight crap, respectable jobs and monogamy. My dad held a respectable job and beat the shit out of me. What was so respectable about that? Many of the men I went out with were bad to me. Everyone was sinister in some way. I was a good person. I had ego enough to know that I was a better person than most. But someone somewhere said my job was one of the most sinister of all, close to war.

I might have been sounding melodramatic but when you lost your job, a job with so many questions attached, and you lost someone you could have married, your life turned to melodrama.

My life to this point had been too troubled to be considered a good plot for a porn movie. But that's what made porn, just like any movie, enjoyable. For a while as an actress I was able to escape. I could forget about all the shit, not use my mind at all, and use my body. People tried to reach the same state by drinking after work or taking Valium. Fucking wasn't much different. Just like there was a difference between a vodka drunk and a tequila drunk, there was a different high that went with the different sex acts. I'd say it was no small accomplishment to forget, for a moment, all the sad acts that life threw at you.

For a while I was happier than I'd ever been. I'd landed some contentment. I finally felt at home. But when I was discarded it made me feel as if I'd never belonged. I wasn't a true friend. I was the piece of meat that I sometimes joked about.

This is not to say that the industry was all corrupt. I saw people who had led long, healthy lives in the industry. But for me, it failed. And I ended up hurting myself. Maybe I'd hurt Andrew but he'd get over it. I didn't regret having the job because it changed me in a good way, boosted my self-esteem, made me feel beautiful and more of a solid person able to deal with triumph and hardship, as well as recognize my sexual power.

I didn't subscribe to the notion that porn was hurting people. If you banned pornography because it might have hurt somebody, you'd also have to ban the sun. Of course, there were always extremes. People did get hurt, raped, even killed on video but there were extremes in anything. A man might drink so much Coke-a-Cola that he gets sugar poisoning. That's violent too, and crazy in its way. It's when the violence got linked with sex that people got confused and angry and started debating and writing books.

What bothered me as much as anything was that, again, I was out of a job.

January 21, 2005

Ex-Boyfriend

I called Andrew at home. His apartment was his office so he was always home.

He answered. I said hello and he didn't sound unfriendly.

"Hi, Shirley," he said.

"I have to ask you something, Andrew."

"What?"

"Something's going on at my job and I was wondering if you had been a part of it."

"What happened?"

"Someone spread a rumor about me and now I can't get any work because people are scared of me. I've been blacklisted."

"That happened?"

"Yes."

He was briefly silent, then said, "Yeah, I did it, Shirl."

I closed my eyes and let out a shaky breath.

"You did?"

"Yeah. I didn't know it would work so quickly. I didn't know it would work at all."

"Well, it did." My voice sounded like tears. "It worked very well, Andrew. How did you know who to talk to about something like that?"

"It wasn't very hard. I rented a couple of your movies. I watched them and, I have to say, I've never hated anyone more in my entire life."

"Well."

"I mean really hated you. I was ready to go to your apartment and beat the shit out of you. Even kill you. I wanted to fuck up your life. You deserve it. I fucking hated seeing you fucking other people in front of a camera." He paused. "I saw that more than one of the movies was with Ram Baker. I called information and found him. He was listed as R. Baker. I didn’t think he’d be listed."

"Man." His name was Robert Baker.

"I'm glad it worked," he said. "A friend told me something. It was Dan, do you remember Dan?"

"Yeah."

Dan was Andrew's only good friend. He was tall and thin in a weak way and I thought was silently in love with Andrew. I wouldn't be seeing Dan ever again.

"Dan told me the phrase, 'The person you're going to marry is fucking somebody else right now.' I never thought she'd be fucking other people at the same time. For money. For fucking money."

I could hear his jaws clench and his breathing turn into a quiver before he hung up the phone.

I sat in my apartment alone with the dusk light settling outside. I felt very little emotion. The machine was hard pressed to feel.

January 15, 2005

Rumors

I wanted deeply to do something to Al Harvey. I wasn't a violent person but I knew when somebody deserved it. It was a scary proposition because Al had friends in high places. He was in a powerful place himself.

I drove to his far-away Malibu home on a Saturday. I took a sharp kitchen knife which fit up the sleeve of my sweatshirt. I wasn't certain if I was going to use it but I wanted to keep away from his bedroom. I didn't call first and hoped he would be home. He wasn't and I felt stupid for having driven forty-five minutes. I almost gave up but the following morning I woke up, drove there again, and he answered the door.

He smiled his scar smile and said, "Come inside."

He was wearing a white tennis shirt tucked into black pants and sandals. His pale skin was whiter than the shirt. The sight of him made my whole body tighten.

I walked into the front entranceway. I didn't want to go too far into his house, closer to the bedroom, so I stayed by the front door.

"Why don't you sit in the living room," he said. "I have to go hang up a phone call."

The living room wasn't far away. I walked into the living room and sat down on the zebra-skin couch which seemed to whisper sounds of sex past.

Al came back into the room with a drink in his hand.

"I'm glad to see you," he said. "What do you want?"

"I came here to ask you the same. What do you want from me?"

"You know I would like to keep being with you."

"That's not what I'm talking about. I'm asking why you had to spread that rumor."

"What rumor?"

"You know what I'm talking about."

"I really don't."

He gave a look of concern and his scar seemed to shrink. It was strange how that scar seemed to reflect his range of emotion.

"Please don't fuck with me," I said. "You know what I'm talking about. The rumor about me having a disease."

He sighed and looked at me sadly, an emotion I didn't know he had. "I've heard that rumor, Shirl. And I'm sorry about it. I understand why you might think that I spread it but truthfully--if my mother was dead I'd swear on her grave--I didn't spread that rumor. It is a rumor, right?" He looked fearful.

"Yes it is. But everyone believes it and now I'm out of a job. You're not fucking with me, are you?"

"No, I'm not. I didn't spread it. Why would I want to do something like that? I like you, I like your work. I want you to continue working. Besides, you make money for us. A whole lot of money. If it was found out that I did something like that, I'd be up shit."

I looked down at the zebra stripes which blurred together in my confused vision. He had a point. A very strong point. I had to believe him. With great and serious reluctance, I believed him.

"I'm very sorry about this, Shirley," he said.

"You're sorry," I said.

"It's too bad it had to end this way." His voice was full of regret, the voice of a soothing friend.

I left Al's house not knowing who my friends were. When a man like Al Harvey became compassionate and a person like Andrew became evil, you became certain that heaven and hell didn't exist after you died but were right here on earth, switching places daily.

Andrew must have spread the rumor. He was the only other person I knew who had a reason for doing something like that. He had already hit me. Perhaps there was more temper and terror boiling beneath his gentle skin.

January 10, 2005

The Spiral

I arrived at Ram Baker's house and found everybody looking at me suspiciously. Some looks were even hateful. Ram Baker usually looked like that because he was basically an asshole but these stares seemed worse than usual. I tapped a girl named Miranda Rights on the shoulder and she shrugged away and scowled.

I went upstairs to find Bernard. I found him in Ram's bedroom. Even Bernard looked at me skeptically.

"What's going on?" I asked.

"I've got some bad news," he said.

"What is it?"

"There's a rumor going around."

"What rumor?"

"A rumor that you're sick."

"What?"

He took in a breath. "The rumor says that you have AIDS."

"My God, why?"

"I don't know. Do you have it?"

"No. I don't. Even you believe it?"

"I don't know. I don't know what to think. I got here today and Ram told me about the word that's going around."

He looked at me pityingly, as if I really were sick.

"Bernard, I'm not sick. It's a lie."

"I don't know if that matters, Shirl. This is serious. People are believing it. Just the thought is making people nervous."

"But it's not true."

"Do you know anyone who would want to spread this kind of thing?"

I thought of Andrew and was briefly fearful but I knew he wouldn't do something like that. First off, he wouldn't know who to call. But more importantly, I believed it wasn't in his character.

I didn't have to think too long before I considered Al Harvey. He was just that kind of evil. I didn't tell Bernard because I didn't know what to do with the information. Telling Bernard might set Al off further. He could be capable of more.

"I've got to tell people it's not true," I said.

"Well, you can try, Shirl. But people are fickle in this business. I have a feeling that even if you tell them the truth they're still going to be scared of you."

"What, so you think it's over?"

"I'll do my best to try and turn people around. But people are scared."

Bernard was right. The information spiraled. It didn't take two days but soon everybody seemed to know. When I told the truth, people looked at me bitterly. They thought I was lying to save face. I told them I'd tested negative but even that didn't work. They didn't want to take the chance. At times I started to believe that I really did have the disease because in everybody's eyes I did. Their collective belief was its own kind of sickness. Some people believed that I was healthy, like Bernard, but they were in the minority. Bernard pitied me, which didn't help my situation, but at least he was supportive. But he was busy with a lot of girls and a lot more films to direct so he couldn't give me all his time. I was left alone to fight it out myself. I lost. The looks of skepticism never went away.

There were enough girls that it wasn't the biggest loss to the industry if I never worked again. People didn't want to take the chance on me. New girls arrived everyday. There were enough pretty and willing girls to last ten lifetimes.

My new family had let me down. They didn't turn out to be that much more reliable than my natural family. Everybody's sudden indifference to me was shattering. I was too broken and demoralized to fight. I had an urge to flee the business much as I wanted run away from home at fifteen.

January 02, 2005

Breakup

I waited three days before calling Andrew again. It was a hard, slow three days. I started drinking whiskey straight from the pint like my father, something I rarely did. I wasn't a big drinker but all of a sudden I had free time which meant I had time to sleep, pace and let sad thoughts brew. I wasn't scheduled to work for a few days so all I could do was sit around and wait. I didn't have any hobbies. For the last year fucking was my hobby and my job. Meeting men always seemed a kind of hobby to me, as easy as walking into the post office and buying stamps. I didn't want to talk to anyone so I stayed at home and watched a lot of TV and drank the biting whiskey which became smooth halfway into a morning talk show.

I caught a show on strippers and porn stars. The title of the show was, "Sex For A Living: Women Tell Their Stories." I'd never met any of the strippers but I knew two of the porn girls, Karen and Amanda, who I'd come into contact with a couple of times in the last year. They were almost identical--tall, thin and Amazon blond. They both had breast implants to give them hard and firm d-cups. Their tits never seemed to move but showed themselves like glowing trophies under their string bikini tops. Karen had won best actress the year before.

Karen and Amanda were smiling aggressively. The host was condescending and the audience was hard against them. So they overcompensated. Karen said, "I have no inhibitions. I'm not ashamed of anything." She proceeded to lean over and give Amanda a long tongue kiss right on stage. The camera held on them thirty seconds while the audience squealed and shrieked and the host said, "Wow," and smiled.

The audience asked them the standard, "What do your parents think?" and "Don't you think this is degrading to women?" They were questions they'd gotten and answered a thousand times before. "I'm proud of my work," they said. "I make good money. I'm in control. I'm a businesswoman." The audience actually ended up liking them. The audience may have despised them in a way but every one of them was in silent awe because the girls were daring to do something they never would.

I probably could have been on that stage two months ago and been so proud commanding the audience's fearful but fascinated attention. Karen and Amanda would probably double their sales for that appearance. I was happy for them.

I was hoping that Andrew might have the same reaction as the audience, shocked but fascinated. He liked the dark. The last screenplay he wrote was about a killer. Maybe he was even watching the talk show. He might change his opinion. I had a feeling that he wasn't just jealous of me sleeping with other men, he was jealous that I had so much sex so easily. Andrew had had four girlfriends in his life and, unless he was lying, he hadn't slept with too many others.

I was counting on him forgiving me. I had forgotten enough of our last conversation, and remembered enough of the good things, that I got up the courage to call him.

He picked up and I said, "Hey, Andrew," in a tone of apology.

He said, "Go away. Don't call me again," and hung up.

Setting down the phone, I was as sad and as shocked as he must have been. I regretted making the call. But I wasn't surprised he hung up. I guessed my news had to be terrible to a man's ego. To learn that he wasn't the only one on the hill, but he was one of many.

I picked up the phone again and asked Bernard for more work.

 
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