Thursday, February 10, 2011

Even The Bigs Have Their Moments

My Ex-Boss will always be remembered as a tall stream of black-on-black.  He resembled a young Hugh Hefner, but with more windswept, almost emo-ish hair.
For a time he was married to a cheery English blonde with a broad West County accent.
The marriage was a very honest arrangement - he could be with an attractive 19 year old (and possibly other attractive young women), she could stay in a country she preferred, get naked on-camera occasionally for income, and study tourism.
Whilst Cheery Blonde was nearly twenty years younger, that didn't stop them getting along well and being jolly good mates.  Even if you marry for convenience, you've still got to like the person.

Ex-Boss lived a comfortable life.  Making Internet porn brought in a lot of money - he owned a large Victorian home in an expensive suburb, drove a sporty-yet-subtle RX8 and had all the Eames furniture a design boffin like himself could ever want.

But one morning, just after the coffee run, we had an odd exchange.

"Dee, you don't think I look... gay, do you?", he said, holding his long black.  He stared at me intently, then looked away and took a gulp from his cup.  I noticed how his hair swished boyishly.  He habitually flicked it away from his face, his head doing this little 'woosh' thing.

I had to lie... quickly.

"No, you don't look like a man who likes men like that.  Sometimes androgynous, maybe, but in a David Bowie kind of way."  I knew Ex-Boss liked Bowie.  A man of his generation, who thought himself as part of the Zeitgeist couldn't not like Bowie.  Right?

"Cool.  Okay.  Thanks."  The tall black stream walked away.  Back to his desk, setting himself down.
The monitor's cold light reflected upon his angular features and his full head of gorgeous hair.

It wasn't his fault his hands were graceful, or that he dressed well and smelled clean, or used complete sentences with an educated tone.
He was a man-yet-not-a-man, he could pull most items apart and see how it was made, then put it back together again.  He loved fixing mechanical items, he loved old factories and abandoned, once-useful places.
But he didn't like the football, and he didn't have any man friends he could invite over for a barbecue and watch sport with.
He didn't look like a man that made porn - he looked like an architect.  The type of architect who didn't like engineers.  Plus, he was amazingly bitchy and grumpy at times... in a terrible PMS-ish, snapping, sarcastic kind of way.

His world was made of fading light, Adobe products, long hours and beautiful young women who felt unnaturally comfortable around him.

It was this comfort that caused some to ask me, "Is he gay?"

"No", I'd reply, "He's just a bit like David Bowie".

Monday, February 7, 2011

What The Naked Ladies Taught Me - Work/Life Advice From The Adult Industry

In 2004 I worked long hours, multitasking several functions.  Booking models, herding models, interviewing models, trying not to yell at models - there were days if I saw one more beautiful, naked woman I would throw down my clipboard and scream.

There was a range of wildly differing personalities - from the photographer who lived on a diet of milk and M&M's to the adorable Star Wars-crazy video editor so painfully shy she asked me to call a restaurant to book her 30th birthday dinner ("If I could email them it would fine, but I don't do talking well").

In 2004 I worked for a recently established company that made pornography for the interwebs.  It taught me a lot.

  1. Be Alert and Appropriate - If the model's real name is Laura and her stage name is Suzy, always call her 'Suzy' on-set and on-camera.  However, never EVER fail to call her 'Laura' on her personal cellphone, 'legit' workplace or home.
    Don't make life difficult for key stakeholders by forgetting vital information.
  2. Process and Routine, Always - Bras, shirts, knickers, skirts; all worn, slightly sweaty and dumped on my desk from a late-night shoot. You'd think that a company making porn would have some sort of laundry arrangement, but no.  So after glaring down the the rest of the office and screaming, "Who the hell put this s**t on my desk?!", I worked out the most basic of systems. After-shoot clothing would go into a basket to be hauled to the laundromat weekly.  Simple.  Necessary. I don't know what the moral of the story is, maybe 'pornographers would make terrible stay-at-home moms/dads'?
    Moral or not - the point is have a system, make it consistent and stick to it.
    Even big, established organisations regularly mess this one up e.g. new management coming in and saying, "We'll change everything! Just 'cause."
  3. Data Is Useless Unless You Use It - When interviewing new talent we gathered their measurements as well as a variety of photos; a face-only shot, a full-body shot (front/back), a waist-up shot and a waist-up side shot. We used the data to choose models for upcoming shoots, "Hey, maybe we'll do a girl-girl with this cute androgynous brunette with this curvy tall redhead, good combo?  Let's book it".
    Many companies gather data without purpose.  Maybe they'll start a project and hold monthly meetings about their poor SEO stats... and eventually do nothing about it. There's nothing more impotent than a group of execs in a meeting room with charts, statistics and no results.
    I've worked in an organisation that held a meeting to discuss too many worthless meetings. Please, for the love of all that's holy, don't be these guys.
  4. Adapt or Starve - Models are not the most reliable of people. Sometimes they've smoked too much weed the night before (you can always tell 'weed-eye' in a photo!) and you can't shoot, or maybe their boyfriend shagged their best friend and the fallout is happening the day you've scheduled stills and video. Initiative and action is required.  The most admirable example I've witnessed was when a staff member who was an ex-model suggested she do a 'toy review' shoot when another regular shoot fell through. She and the photographer went straight to nearby adult store, bought a bunch of newly-released toys and gadgets and proceeded to shoot stills and video of her using them.
    Save the day by using your spark.
  5. Stay On-Trend Whilst Being Yourself - Part of my role was to keep a regular eye on Fleshbot (link really, REALLY NSFW), the Huffington Post of the porn world.  It kept us informed about what was out there and more importantly, the context and relevance of our content in the industry. We didn't need to do hardcore S&M because there are a good number of quality providers, we didn't need to Ren-Faire style shoots because that area was covered.  We also managed to find out how incredibly important the AVN Adult Entertainment Expo is, as well as news about divergent markets and opportunities.  Keep an eye on the trades and blogs to look for opportunities and monitor where you're placed - but stay true.
Some days, when the sky is blue and the sun is camera-ready, I look up and wonder, "What are they shooting now?"
2004 was freakin' nuts, but it was the sharp end of life's educational sledgehammer.
I do miss it sometimes.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Fast Post of Good Stuff #1

Things I like.

1) VIETNAMERICA graphic novel - via Warren Ellis.

2) Morning sunshine.  Actually, you'd be an ass to not like morning sunshine.  Unless severely hungover, of course.

3) Games with great storylines that I don't play, but my boyfriend does - Red Dead Redemption, Uncharted 2, Assasin's Creed: Brotherhood.  I get to sit back and do cross-stitch embroidery, but when a cut scene appears I enjoy that too.  Without mashing a single button on a PS3 controller.
My old lady pastime is indulged, yet my Gen Y knowledge base increases.  WIN!

4) Bacon.  Oh, and mushrooms.  Together.