I knew 2020 would be an interesting year on PolitiZoom, but didn’t think we’d be dealing with spam bots peddling porn on the site. “Emma” will be cast into oblivion soon enough, if she hasn’t been already. In any event, if you haven’t read Emma’s contributions, there are comments in most of today’s articles about a website where we can all find sex partners. I hit the link and it was rank. God. I had to clean off my computer screen, it was so foul.
I started getting concerned emails a few hours ago and I wrote back, “Maybe this will become our motto around here: ‘Came for the politics, stayed for the sex.’” Hey, you get lemons, you make lemonade.
Now porn is an industry with which I have more than a nodding acquaintance, believe it or not. I watched the entire “canon” of pornography available in the seventies, and I was actually “discovered” and asked to appear in a Marilyn Chambers opus in the early 80’s. Seriously. Take a stroll down memory lane with me. As you might expect, how all this happened is another opus from the You Can’t Make This Shit Up file.
The year was 1977. I was friends with a couple, Glenn and Bobbie. They were getting their Ph.D.s in philosophy at the University of Denver. They both needed a job badly. I remember being at their apartment on a few occasions and staying over and in the morning we’d decide to go have breakfast at the coffee shop where it cost $1.49. And they would literally sell a few of their stereo records to get breakfast money. They were the poster children for starving students.
So, they finally had to seriously look for employment and they called me up one day to say that they had found nirvana and said, “You must come down and celebrate with us,” and they gave me an address. I didn’t know that Nirvana was the name of an adult-movie motel on Colfax. So, I got there and went to the door and Glenn was already there to open it. They had seen me on the security camera, I was told.
They invited me in and told me of their tremendous good fortune in landing a job managing this motel which screened porn movies 24/7/365. Their compensation included a two bedroom apartment, and while it was modest, a little bungalow set apart from the rows of motel rooms, it was palatial compared to where they had lived before. They also got a salary. The only restriction put on them was that one of them had to be on the premises at all times. That was fine with them. All they wanted from life was to write their dissertations. They never went out much anyhow. So, this literally was nirvana, shangri-la, you name it. And the owner of the place was in heaven, too. He had a responsible young couple in their twenties, college students no less, with manners and good heads on their shoulders, to manage his property. This became an asset, actually, when the mafioso showed up. More about that later.
Their job duties were quite modest and doable. They had to check in guests, from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m., collect money and put it in the safe, give the guests a bottle of cheap champagne in a white plastic ice bucket, and keep the movies going.
Now the technology of this escapes me a bit, but it was closed circuit TV. Bob told me something about there being a link and a broadcast wavelength that was limited to their purposes, or some such — in any event, if the movies stopped, it was a 911 five alarm and they had to troubleshoot the issue quickly. And believe me, the phones did start ringing if the show stopped.
So there were two large black and white television sets in the living room. One was the monitor for the closed circuit system and it was on the right. The TV on the left was just a normal set, and it was tuned to the Denver stations. This provided an interesting montage of images and a unique cultural experience. I remember one night when a rerun of Father Knows Best was playing alongside Deep Throat. Hell of a double bill, I’ll tell you what.
So at first it was all shocking and bizarre, but Bobbi assured me, after we had smoked a little weed, that you got used to it and it was quite innocuous, “like watching people eat hot dogs,” were her words. So, we sat there and watched normal broadcast TV and on the other set, epics like “Snow Job” and “The Russians Are Coming” played on, unless there was a glitch. And we didn’t really pay much attention to the porn after a while, because we were too busy discussing Spinoza or Descartes, and they would both share with me what their advisers had said about their dissertations and the next time they had to go before the committee, all the academic odds and ends.
We were having one of these erudite confabs when a loud, rather hostile knock was heard at the door. Bobbi opened it gingerly on the chain. Ben, a repeat client of theirs, said, “I want to talk to you.” So, Ben came in and what I can tell you about him is that Peter Falk could have played him to a tee. Ben was very pissed off because he said that Jeri’s (a girlfriend of his) car was parked outside and he wanted to know what room she was in — and with whom, more to the point. Bobbi had no remote clue. She hadn’t checked Jeri in. She had only checked in a few guests, known to her as repeat customers. She told this to Ben and Ben then wanted details about who was who and in what room. Bobbi looked nervously at Glenn and Glenn said, “You know, we’re not allowed to give that out. I’m really sorry.” It goes without saying that I was in a corner willing myself to be invisible and not breathing much.
Ben said, “Look, goddamn it, there’s four cars out there and I want to know who’s in what room. Or do I have to knock on all the doors myself?” Since it was past midnight, Glenn opined that he absolutely did not want Ben to go play trick or treat. So he said, “Ben, I can tell you that all the people who are here tonight, are guys who came by themselves, except for one couple and I don’t know them,, but they’re in number fourteen.”
Ben said, “Look….you guys….you’re nice kids. Tell ya the truth (prounced “troot”) I’m amazed that you’re here doing this job at all, but Larry [their boss] tells me you go to D.U. and you just want to stay home and study and this is a good break. For the boths of ya, it’s a good break. Now, do you think for a moment that the guys who come here stay alone?!? Huh?! C’mon!”
Bobbi piped up, ” I know that Marv does. I mean it. He does.” They went through a brief roster in their heads of who was there that night and the name Jack piqued Ben’s interest. Ben asked what did Jack do, and Bob said he had no idea, but he came there about once a week, was polite and paid cash. Where was Jack from, Ben asked. Again, no idea. What did Jack look like? Tall black guy, in his 30’s. Ben became somber. “Okay. Tanks. Can I have a piece of paper?” Glenn gave him paper.
Bobbi and I peeked out the window of one of the bedrooms, while Glenn wondered aloud if he should call the owner, or the cops, or nobody and Bobbi opted for nobody, because she didn’t want Ben for an enemy. What we saw was him write a note and stick it under the windshield of an old Plymouth Barracuda and then he got in his car and left. It was deduced later that Jeri had been with Jack because the next day at check out time we watched the cars leave, and Jack came out of his room with a skinny blond woman with a jean jacket, micro mini jean skirt, platform shoes and huge silver hoop earrings. We could see that she paused and read the note and then showed it to Jack and the two had animated conversation over it, so make of that what you will.
The next day we went over to the Mexican food restaurant next door and there was the Barracuda, off by itself in a corner, and there was a bullet through the windshield. Jack didn’t show up at the motel again, so make of that what you will.
So, now we fast forward from 1977 to 1982 and the scene changes to Los Angeles. I had a job as an operations manager for a production company at Raleigh Studios, across the street from Paramount. The owner of the company was named Jim Kirk. Hand to God, you can’t make this stuff up. He was a lawyer and he also had founded a correspondence law school. He opened up the production company because he had made money selling 3-D glasses a few years earlier, and when exposed to the industry, even tangentially as a vendor, he became stage struck.  He rented the space at Raleigh and wrote a script which was an Indiana Jones rip off. I believe I will write about him in a separate piece, since he was such a character, and since he was a vintage Trumpite, long before Trump. We didn’t get to where we are overnight, that much is certain.
 One day I heard Jim rant, in his Tennessee redneck vernacular, “I’m not paying another goddamn son of a bitch, until some goddamn son of a bitch pays me.” Then he told me, “Call Paramount. Tell them I’m driving the Rolls Royce through the gate.” I was to find out later that he thought that he could go over there in his Rolls and look like a high roller and pitch some kind of a deal in the commissary — or something totally nuts like that.

So, I was minding my own business in the word processing room, and I had taken my lunch in there, a quiche lorraine, with salad. We had a nice commissary on the lot, they did good food. My boss came in and pulled up a chair. He said, “You’ve gotta find something else to do. We’re closing up shop.”

I felt the quiche, otherwise light and delectable, turn to a lump of rock in my stomach. “Why?” I queried. He said, “Gordon is going to have a meeting after work, after Jim leaves, and explain it to everybody.”
So after work Gordon met with a few of us, people to whom he felt an explanation was owed. I was the operations manager, so of course I was included in this little meeting. The worker bees had just been told earlier that the party was over and left in tears. It was a minimum wage job doing thankless tasks, but by God, it was show business.
Gordon said, in essence, that the sound stages and equipment houses had been willing to extend credit to Jim because there was a misunderstanding as to the corporate identity of the company. I think Jim was dba 3-D Productions Network, or something along that line, and there was a 4-D Productions, that actually was a viable company. Raleigh was billing them, and they said to Raleigh, “We have no idea what you’re talking about.” Whether this was accident or done on purpose is beyond the scope of this story. Bottom line, the jig was up, Raleigh Studios and the equipment houses said post “x” amount of cash by the end of the week and Jim didn’t have it, and that’s what the “I’m not paying another goddamn son of a bitch…” was about.
An actor I’ll call Jack, because he’s passed away now and not here to defend himself, (and you might have seen him in a few pictures if you like John Carpenter and low budget) was there and he said to me, “Come to work for me down the street at Sunset Gower.” He was a little vague about what he wanted me to do there and made it sound bigger than it was. And he said nothing about porn.
The next morning I went to the production office, which was a total rat hole. That was surprising because Sunset Gower is a nice studio. Six Feet Under was shot there, many years later and a lot of other good shows. But somehow we had the worst suite in the joint. Josef Schaftel (aka “give ’em the shaft-tel) was the producer. Shaftel had hung a poster for Trojan Women on the wall. Trojan Women was a movie he produced in 1971. I never saw it, but the poster was of Katherine Hepburn, Vanessa Redgrave and Genevieve Bujold, which is a damned impressive cast. So how Shaftel went in ten years time from Katherine Hepburn to Marilyn Chambers, you tell me. I totally believe that there is a great Hollywood story there, I just don’t know it.
He was a weird dude, to say the least. He had one signature mannerism, which I said at the time would be great in a movie character, and I still believe it. There was a ratty couch under the Trojan Women poster and at the least bit of stress, he would lie down on it and take his pulse. Hand to God, this is what the man did. The big movie producer was so besieged by a cruel world, that he had to constantly stop and see if he was going into cardiac arrest — I guess. I never knew WTF that was about. I merely observed it and smirked.
Now, bear in mind, I didn’t know what we were shooting. I knew it was “The Therapist” but WTF was that? A biography of Sigmund Freud? I had no clue. So, I was given notes by the head writer, a guy who liked to come and regale us with talking about how his wife didn’t just have orgasms, she had multiple orgasms, and constantly (another entry in the You Can’t Make This Shit Up file) and he asked me if baked Alaska was a dessert that you could set on fire. I said, “Yeah, you can flambé  a baked Alaska, but man, this is a complicated dish to put together for on screen on this budget. Try cherries jubilee, it’s just ice cream and a flambééd sauce on the side.” So he thought I was brilliant and complimented Jack for hiring me, and he explained how the flaming dessert was both a metaphor for the lovers’ passion and a foreshadowing of the torrid sex scene to follow. (Man, I talk about metaphors and foreshadowing too, but my mechanisms are a little bit more complex. Baked fucking Alaska? As a literary device?)
So I said, “Sex scene?” And then he handed me a shooting script from a few episodes back and it was at that moment of illumination that I realized that “The Therapist” was a sex therapist, played by Marilyn Chambers. That was the first time her name came up, and I knew where I was. Up the creek without a paddle came to mind. The writer also played for me a clip of the opening of the show, and it was Marilyn in a low cut tank top and running shorts, and Three Black Chicks (that’s what they called themselves) were doing back up vocals. I only remember a portion of the lyrics, but the hook was, “I can use my hips and I can use my lips, I can use it all if it makes you happy, baby,” and the Three Black Chicks crooned, “Oooh, I’m ready for love, Soooo ready. Sooo ready.” And Marilyn was doing the frug while the credits rolled.
So, the episodes were stories of couples who couldn’t get it together sexually, until Marilyn fucked them both, or a 40 year old virgin type, who became a he-man overnight after Marilyn did him, and you get the idea. Now, the episode that I thought was the funniest, and believe me, the humor was unintentional, was when the rapist showed up. The scene was set up for the rapist to try to rape Marilyn and for her to defend herself. Now, I don’t know what the director saw, or the cameraman, but I can tell you what the rest of us saw in the rushes. The rapist was not only not menacing, he was several inches shorter than Marilyn and he seemed afraid of her (maybe he’d worked with her before??) and so the way the scene played out was that Marilyn was beating the crap out of the guy — and it was hysterically funny. He was timid in a black leather jacket and she was menacing in a tank top, and that made it even funnier, that he couldn’t land a blow on her, dressed like Marion Brando in “Wild One” and all.
 Now her beating the crap out of him would have worked just fine if the scene was orchestrated properly. I am no movie director, but if you have the protagonist losing and the antagonist winning for a while, and it goes back and forth, it’s more interesting and the suspense builds properly — but this was porn, right?
So, anyhow, later on that day the other worker bee in the office said to me that when she went downstairs, the second assistant director had offered her a part in the show. She was nice looking, had a nice body, so it made sense to me. I said, “Are you going to do it?” She said she wasn’t sure. So after lunch the next day, the same guy offered me a few lines of cocaine and said, “You’ve got a great rack. Would you like to be in the show?” I said, “Can I wear a bag over my head?” Well, that was not the response he was expecting and he walked away — which I thought was great.
Jack came to me later and said, “You can’t joke with these people like that.” I said, “Who’s joking?” So then he got pissed, and said I should “appreciate the opportunity.” I said, “You’re right. I’ll wear dark sun glasses and a hat and do it.” I could not believe that the guy was serious. The farthest thing from my mind was breaking into the adult film industry as a performer.
Well, it was about to get a lot stranger. Shaftel was not only neurotic he left much to be desired as a producer. He had no cash. First, the coffee people called up and said that if they didn’t get paid that day, they weren’t serving coffee the next morning. The accountants walked in a few hours later and I told them what happened and they told me to call another coffee company. That’s how people like this do business, is by stiffing one creditor and immediately hiring another. They also said Joe hadn’t given them any money and that’s why they were going to wait for him. I said, “Why did he go back into production if he doesn’t have any money?” The two of them burst into laughter. I never found out any answer beyond that.
So, later on that day, it was a Thursday, the word came down, that we weren’t getting paid. I shut off the typewriter, pushed away from the desk in my swivel chair and said, “What does that mean?” A guy in the room, very bitchily said, “What do you think it means?” I met his bitchy tone and raised him a tone to contempt and said, ” I know what the words mean, but does that translate as we don’t come to work tomorrow, or does that mean the check we get is our last check, or what, precisely, does.it.mean?” What it meant, if you can believe this, is that we were supposed to work for free.
I was told, “Joe doesn’t like it if people quit. You’ll be the last to get paid, if you quit.” So, as you have gathered, I didn’t give a rat’s ass about this job. I was doing Jack a favor, as far as I was concerned and I was already looking around. So, bottom line, I told Jack that I would take Schaftel to the labor board if I didn’t get paid. He gave me the “You’ll never work in this town again” line and I said, “Promise?” and he knew the situation was hopeless.
Marilyn Chambers was also pissed off, because she was supposed to work for half, and she had a major drug habit going at the time, so she needed every dime for that. The way it was left, was she got 60% of her salary, the other actors got 30% and the only below the line person who got paid that week was yours truly — and I took the check and cashed it at lunch and quit that afternoon. A co-worker who liked me laid out a line of coke on the desk as a farewell gesture and a large cockroach scuttled out of the woodwork. That desk saw a lot of coke pass over it’s top and maybe the cockroaches were junkies, who knows? As I hit the 110 Fwy the car backfired, and I thought, that was somehow a fitting conclusion to that absurd episode. My Honda farted on Hollywood.
So, the moral of the story is don’t worry if we get spamming sex bots. They’ll be history in no time. I’ve already been there and done that.
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8 Comments on "‘Came For The Politics, Stayed For The Sex’ – Don’t Let The Spam Bots Scare You, I’ve Worked In Porn"

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Darrel
Member
WOW, your working/living history is so exhausting to imagine, that I truly wonder how you kept your personal stuff segregated from all that friendly fire out there, meaning your friends were doing bodatious things, even radical in today’s world, drugs/smokes, always in reach and party animals everywhere, how did you keep focused on the brass ring as the carousel around you was seemingly spinning out of control … your personal character has seen a lot of distraction along the way, but somehow you were sturdy enough to take up law, and I know, for a fact, you have faced a… Read more »
michaelscott
Member

Amazing! Let us know when you write your autobiography.
It will be a best seller for sure.

Carol O
Guest

I missed out on the sex bots, but your story was great! It was certainly a different time, wasn’t it? Good on you for not only surviving it, but thriving in spite of it.