NOTE: In an attempt to finally finish my book proposal about growing up in the porn industry in the 1970s, I am going to post one of the proposed chapters here—a section at a time as I complete them—in the hopes that writing for an audience will encouraging me to complete the project. Please note this is a first draft, with all the flaws one would expect but I will probably not catch until it’s too late. I thank you for indulging me.
Previously: Part One and Part Two
Just like every crime caper involves one last big score, every crime caper hero requires a gang of experienced cohorts to help him pull it off. You need your wheelman, legman, faceman, poolman, crimperman, saucierman and a whole slew of criminal employment positions that I clearly do not have a grasp of to this day.
Needless to say I had none of those individuals at my disposal. But I didn’t need any experts. This was going to be an easy break-in. We would all simply walk into the dining room, watch two women do whatever it is two women do in a Penthouse photo shoot and then everyone would walk out with me hoisted on their shoulders as the hero of the hour, day, month and year. Of course, how I was going to “simply walk in” with a bunch of kids into a porno shoot I didn’t quite know. And as far as what “two women do in a Penthouse photo shoot” I thought it could be anything from them writhing on our glass table naked to playing Gnip-Gnop naked, a wide range of possibilities informed by me having absolutely no conception of heterosexual sex, much less potential lesbian erotica.
What I could envision with almost preternatural clarity, though, was the celebration afterwards. How every kid in the neighborhood—and maybe some of their dads—would rush up and claim me as their hero. How everyone would cheer my name, almost certainly mispronouncing it but the intensity of their love more than making up for their poor articulation. How by September I would be riding to class if not in the back of the school bus with the glitterati of grammar school then at least several rows behind my standard “social death seat,” far away from the relentless arc of tossed crayons.
Now, naturally I couldn’t invite every kid to the shoot. I had to be practical, winnowing down all possible candidates to a mere twenty or thirty. I automatically nixed my younger brother from the list, under the delusion that I somehow had the authority to banish him from my parents’ house. But I was sick and tired of Marcello bothering me…or at least assuming he was bothering me. I always felt he was under my foot but looking back I can’t think of a single reason he would have been so unless it was to watch me indulge in self-pity or make Eeyore look like Norman Vincent Peale by comparison. In fact, in hindsight it seems ridiculous that I wasn’t desperately trying to hang out more with him. Despite his Tolkien-like need to fabricate new languages, Marcello had far more friends than I ever had—many my age—and I could have only benefited from being seen with him. His omission from the list proved to be the first of my many mistakes during this crucial operation.
As far as my other candidates, Val would be away “Penthouse Day” and so also failed to make the cut. That just left with the rest of humanity. Sure, I could choose those people who I thought were nice or kind or deserved to see whatever it was that women sported beneath their waist. But this was an once-in-a-lifetime networking opportunity and so had to be approached in purely strategic, not sentimental, terms. I had to focus on the movers and shakers in my school and on my street. The kids who defined “cool” in that ill-defined yet in-no-doubt manner that years later leaves one wondering exactly how and when we all agreed who were our social betters. The kids who would immediately get the word out about what an awesome thing I had done and how I was now one of them. The kids who called me “a baby,” “a sissy” and “a fucking spazz.” (The last having just been added to the list after I ran screaming from what I thought was a flying snake but turned out to be a floater in my right eye).
I had to invite “The Five Davids.”
Like popularity, some names are just a given for their time. Were it thirty years later I would be trying to sneak in five kids named “Tyler” to see a gang bang shot on a Flip. Had it been a hundred years earlier I would have spearheaded a covert mission with five juveniles named “Horace” to catch the scandalous glimpse of a woman’s ankle during the felonious production of a “nudie stereopticon.” But this was Long Island, 1978, and every cool kid/jock/bully/stoner/future indicted politician was named “David.”
Of course, knowing whom to invite was easy. Actually going up to talk to them was an entirely other matter. I had spent my entire life avoiding social contact with people, less I make a complete jackass of myself. I was afraid to breathe in public for fear that doing so would make too bold a statement about my desire to live. And on those very rare occasions when I found I had to speak up I suffered from what could be best diagnosed as “selective aphasia,” making it impossible for me to talk at those very moments when I needed to most, like weekdays and weekends. So for me to go up and talk to anyone uninvited—much less one of the five Davids—would have been like walking into a handshake six blocks too early. It could only turn out horribly awkward and ultimately disastrous.
This time, however, was different. This time I felt I had something to say that other people would actually want to hear. Something that they would have them singing my praises and worshiping at my feet for years to come. So after screwing up my courage for a straight three days—and walking in a zigzag pattern that bought me an additional two hours—I found myself deliberately within one of the David’s eye line for the first time I could recall. But just as I was about to open my mouth—and probably let out a little squeak before speaking—the David swiftly turned his head, locked on to my frightened gaze and said, “Is your brother a fuckin’ liar?!”
And like that I was already thrown. Before I could even open my mouth to apologize for talking the conversation had devolved into a flat-out interrogation. I was about to try my classic evasive move—passing out—when another David appeared and said, “Is it true?! Are you gonna have nude chicks at your house?!”
At first I was confused. Then I was livid. My bastard brother had beaten me to it. While I had spent the last half-week psyching myself into “normal conversation” mode, Marcello had been running everywhere and anywhere, probably pointing to our house and yelling, “Vaginas! This Saturday!” My plan had fallen apart before I could even stake claim to it as my idea. Yet, just as I was about to run off and fool myself into thinking I had the physical strength to beat up my six-year-old brother, one of the Davids spoke up again.
“You have got to get us into that shoot!”
“Yeah!” said the other David. “And we should see if David can come, too!”
Yes, once again, just when everything was at its bleakest, fortune smiled on me. The Davids were looking to me to get them in. They were asking me for a favor. They knew who I was, not just what I was (a baby, sissy or a fucking spazz).
So for maybe the third time in my life I looked someone straight in the eye and said, “I’ll get you all in.” Well, either that or “I just peed.” I’m not exactly sure since I instantly went into shock afterwards. But when I came to I was pacing back and forth in my bedroom, waiting for the Saturday when I would become a god.
NEXT: THE FINALE