Chapter Nineteen

He found his center. He inhaled until he no longer could. He exhaled slowly through his nose. And although he knew nothing had changed, that he was still Ross Newman, working actor, to everyone else he was no longer Ross Newman. When he stepped from behind the scrim and into the lights, the man they would see upon the stage at the Actor’s Playpen Theatre and Rehearsal Studio would be Stanley Mack, a plumber’s apprentice who dreamed of bigger things than Dearborn, Michigan could offer.

“I was born to play this part,” Ross had told the director, Francis “Frank” Fish, himself an actor with credits on the WB and CW, whose recurrent guest spots on “Reba” subsidized his real passion, the theater. Ross Newman understood Stanley Mack. They had the same secret longings, the same ambitions that regular folks content to put in their forty hours couldn’t fathom. “I was born to play this part,” Ross said at his initial audition. “And if for some unknown reason you don’t cast me, well, sir, I would respectfully suggest that you’re totally nuts!” he had said, flashing his best tension-deflating smile.

And now, on opening night, with several important people in the audience – this according to his co-star, Melanie Jacobsen, who had convinced her parents to chip in for a part-time publicist – Ross was poised to make history. All the great ones had to start somewhere. This was his turn.

Drive! (A Tragedy in Two Acts) was set in and around an automobile assembly plant. Mr. Fish was also the play’s author, and he had told the cast at their first rehearsal, “Odets for our time. That’s pretty much all I have to say.”

Ross didn’t mind that the play required him to disrobe. It wasn’t like it was non-stop nudity. At least half the time of the play’s 94 minutes he was clothed. Besides, fearlessness was probably his best quality (that and his eyes and his smile). He also didn’t mind that Fish’s vision included (simulated) fellatio and (genuine) ejaculation. That was reality. That was the truth. You could either live in denial or deal with it.

“The way it is, ladies and gentlemen,” Fish had told the cast. “Not ‘the way I wish things were.’ Not the Disney version. The way…it…is.” Fish had a sonorous, rumbling voice. He sounded good. Ross found himself agreeing with the author-director, even when he wasn’t totally sure what the man was saying.

After the cast’s initial rehearsal, Fish had pulled Ross aside and asked, “I just need to know: Have you bought into what I’m selling here?” For a frantic moment, Ross feared he was being shaken down, that his inclusion in the production was contingent on making an “investment,” similar to the $200 he paid to secure his first theatrical role in Los Angeles, a one-scene cameo (but a memorable one, according to BackStage West) in an all-male revival of The Women. Ruthie Linder the casting director had arranged it.

Before he could answer, Fish held him by the shoulders and said, “Are you with me? Do I have your conviction?”

“That you do, sir,” Ross said, awed at his fellow thespian’s intensity. Fish was so real. He didn’t filter his feelings. You could see them on his face, and in his body. He was an actor’s actor. Everyone in the cast agreed: if he weren’t losing his hair Fish would have tons of work. He was that good.

“Nice!” Fish exclaimed. “Because I sensed some hesitancy today, some, I don’t know…Look, my advice. I would say: Let go of judgments. Don’t judge yourself, don’t judge the writing, don’t judge the, you know. Just be, man. Right?”

“Absolutely.” Ross noted his director’s carefully cultivated stubble, two-days of scruff trimmed just so, with a small tuft of longer whiskers below his bottom lip, like a hipster jazz musician.

Maybe, Ross thought, he should grow some facial hair, widen the range of parts for which he could audition. Women, he sensed, liked this kind of thing. His co-star, Melanie, who was raised in “nearby” Grosse Pointe, Michigan and therefore viewed herself as a perfect fit to play a blue-collar dreamer named Sandy, seemed to have a genuine, non-professional crush on Fish and his “flavor saver,” as she called his inch-square beard. They were sleeping together, Melanie and Fish – although she took pains to remind her fellow actors and anyone who asked that she waited until after they began rehearsals, lest anyone wrongly assume she had fucked the director to get the part.

Stanley Mack, Ross Newman told his friends, was a complicated and, ultimately, tragic character, a rebel who abjured the easy money of the car factory to become a pipe-fitter, someone who never knew where his next job might take him. (This was a metaphor for the actor’s life, Fish confided). But even that unexpected choice couldn’t adequately feed Stan’s hungry soul. He wanted more. And because he was trapped in Dearborn in a loveless marriage (to Melanie’s Sandy), he engaged in serial masturbation – which Fish said was not an autobiographical detail, only a metaphor, like the job thing.

Act One closed with a scene that Ross hoped LA WEEKLY would describe as “searing and memorable”: Sandy barging in on Stan as he sprays a climactic load onto a photograph of his brother, the factory’s shop foreman.

The propmaster (Fish’s roommate, Dan) had rigged up an old miniature caulking gun to produce the spew on command. But Fish insisted he wanted the scene performed “organically,” without hidden mechanical tricks.  If the talent was up to the challenge.

Ross Newman realized early in the rehearsal process that the logistics of this key moment, the timing, would be crucial. The script called for Stan to deliver an impassioned monologue rejecting his family’s career expectations while simultaneously removing his pants and fondling himself. That part was easy. “I’ve been an expert diddler since I was ten years old!” Ross joked with his cast-mates.

His climax was also the climax of the scene and the act – and, in Ross Newman’s opinion, the entire play, although he wouldn’t dare tell Mr. Fish. The entire play was downhill after intermission. How could it not be? After an onstage money shot, you could have Brando doing Streetcar and Act Two would still be a snooze. His climax had to arrive not long after he delivered the lines, “You thought I was a slave, Henry. You thought I was your beast of burden, your animal. You want to see an animal? You want to see what an animal does when you treat him like an animal? He behaves like…an animal! Uuuuuuuuuhhhhhhh!

Melanie was supposed to enter just as Ross uttered “He behaves like…”  And then, as she looked on in horror, he was supposed to “let it fly,” as Fish described it.

“Look, you could fake it. Absolutely you could,” Fish allowed. “But, really, doesn’t that defeat the whole purpose? Doesn’t that just say?” Here Fish spoke in a mocking falsetto, like a cartoon character – “I’m a bitch actor like every other bitch actor in this town, faking my way through the job, faking my way through life.”

Everyone gathered around the director nodded. Fish paused, dramatically. He returned to his thrilling natural voice, with the smoker’s gravel in it. “This play, what we’re all doing here in this little theater is, is, is, it’s a, it’s a refutation of the Hollywood bullshit. Right? You all know exactly what I’m talking about.” He looked around the room, into every actor’s face. (There were five of them: Ross, Melanie, and three others, two of whom played multiple supporting roles.) “You people know. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why I’ve cast you. I could have picked – hell, you’re well aware. I could have picked a thousand people with more credits, more training maybe. More buzz. But you know what? That’s Hollywood. That’s the fake way. I have no patience with that, no interest. Right? Go do Wicked! if that’s what you’re looking for. Get a glossy program with your name in it. Go do a show that people forget twenty minutes after they leave the theater. That’s not the play that I wrote, and that’s not the cast that I need. What we’re doing here, people, goes deeper, much deeper, way down deep, where, let’s face it, most of us just don’t really want to look too carefully. We’re going to that place called the Land of Real. It takes a brave actor to go there. No doubt. Terribly brave. But guess what?”

He lowered his voice to a whisper. “I found my soulmates. My partners in crime. My beautiful collaborators.”

Melanie was sniffling, so Fish paused. In the interregnum, Ross realized his heart was beating quickly.

“You see,” Fish said, nodding and smiling, “the choice is clear. There is no choice.” He turned to Ross and held his gaze. “We’re going to do this thing the real way. No faking.”

Everyone looked at Ross, who bit his lower lip and began to nod. And after what seemed to him to be an adequately pregnant pause, Ross said, “Real it is.”

The congregation erupted in applause. Ross felt at that moment that every choice he had made, no matter how difficult, no matter how contradictory to Rusty’s wishes, had been the right choice. Everything had lead to this.

Others, he understood, would fail to see the ineffable goodness, the nobility, of jerking off onstage. They didn’t fully grasp the transformative power of the theater. Perhaps, he surmised, they didn’t fully grasp what it meant to be a human being.

But he did. And for that Ross Newman was thankful. He was blessed. Truly blessed. “How great,” he thought, “that I’m capable of doing what so few others can, relatively speaking, and how great that I have opportunities, that I make opportunities, to celebrate my gifts. I’m really blessed.”

At that moment, Ross loved Frank Fish; Ross loved Ruthie Linder; he loved Melanie – and the rest of the cast, Scott, and Patricia, and Skyler, and anyone and everyone connected to this thing they called Drive! He was filled with love for a world, a universe, that would allow him to have his special place in it, on a stage, in a light, showing countless souls – OK, dozens, on a good night – what it felt like to be a pipe-fitter in Dearborn, Michigan who wasn’t content to accept the barren path of his friends and his older brother.

Life was good. Life was not perfect, and Ross suspected it never would be, and that wasn’t the point anyway. Life was good. And he was part of it. And in this case a big part of it. The lead part.

Determined to seize whatever fruits his appearance in Drive! might bear – a guest spot on “Daisies”; an indie-movie role, if you really wanted to fantasize –Ross committed to being the best, the realest, Stanley Mack he could be. In particular, he vowed to himself, and, privately, to Fish, after everyone else went home after their first rehearsal, that the end of Act One would feel like pure voyeurism to anyone who dared watch. They would witness Life happening, in all its beauty and horror. This was a promise.

They hugged.

What Ross didn’t mention to Fish, was that the scene had the potential to make his career. Ross’s career. And Fish’s, when you thought about it. “I could wake up a different person the morning after opening night,” Ross imagined. “Probably nothing will happen. But, as long as we’re being real, let’s just be real: This could be huge.”

Having dismissed the option of employing the hidden pump contraption that would emit creamy goo on demand, Ross Newman dedicated himself to solving the problem of ejaculating on cue.

This required practice, and research. Initially, Ross attempted what he considered the “old school” way, vigorous stroking that got more vigorous the closer he got to the conclusion of his monologue. It was tricky, he discovered. He had to be Stanley Mack while simultaneously accessing the fantasies that would make Ross Newman’s testicles unleash their theatrical nectar. Would the imagined image of Mrs. Himmelbaum, Ross’s 8th Grade math teacher, lifting her tweed skirt and lowering her pantyhose really inspire Stanley Mack, the tortured laborer with the heart of a poet, to blow his load? Was that authentic?

Ross discussed the conundrum with his actor friend Alec, who had read a lot of Stanislavsky and supposedly studied with Stella Adler before she passed, and Alec helped Ross understand that it really didn’t matter what “Stanley” fancied. Stan Mack didn’t exist unless Ross allowed him to live. No Ross, no Stan. “Look, man,” Alec explained, “your first responsibility is to the text. Then the audience. Then yourself. You don’t owe Stan Mack anything. You gotta figure out what works for you.”

Ross said, “It’s a process.”

“Exactly,” Alec said, fishing in his pocket. “You want to smoke a bowl?”

To properly honor his quest, his art, Ross Newman immersed himself in pornography found on the Internet, the amount and variety of which astounded and intimidated him. He would never have enough time before opening night to sail through the unfathomable ocean of cunts and cocks and tits and assholes and moans and screams and liquid emissions, a blindingly immense galaxy of lust, where, undoubtedly, his orgasmic Rosetta Stone was hiding in plain sight, waiting for him to discover its URL.

Alec, whose expertise in the field Ross found vaguely troubling, taught him how to use a search engine called FindYourBestPorn. Huddled around the desk in Alec’s apartment, in a dodgy part of North Hollywood, near a used tire store and a crematorium, Ross underwent a carnal tutorial. “Let’s say you’re looking for, I don’t know, for example, you want, like ‘Anal and Asian,’ you just type that in and boom. There you go.” A list of video clips, all free, each with a descriptive slug of text and an even more descriptive thumbnail still, filled Alec’s computer screen.

“Now,” Alec instructed, “let’s say you want more specific. OK, so, from this selection you search again. Put in ‘teen’ or ‘Japanese,’ or whatever you’re looking for. ‘Vietnamese.’ OK. There. Now you’ve located all the free porn on the Internet featuring teenaged Vietnamese girls taking it up the ass.”

This was brilliant. Ross could skip the boring, repetitious, un-compelling stuff and go directly to the films that made his balls tingle. “Thank you, sir,” he said to Alec. “Your depravity has been most helpful.”

“So, what’s it going to be?” Alec wondered. “What are we looking for? What’s your thing? Big boobs? High heels? Huh? Don’t tell me animals. Dude, please. Not the barnyard!”

Ross wasn’t sure what his thing was. At first he thought he was a handjob man, since this sub-fetish thrilled him in ways that fishnet stockings, bondage, and tittie-fucking did not. But after a few increasingly desultory visits to WankandCrank.com, Ross found himself easily distracted and gradually less aroused than when he first watched a shapely redhead fondling her date’s giant dick in a what was supposedly a fancy restaurant (with paper napkins).

He found himself instead gravitating to porn that spotlighted girls of color: Latinas, Brazilians, Indians, Blacks. Dark meat was a delicacy where Ross grew up; anything other than white was an exotic treat. Eventually, though, he realized that ethnic girls fucked just as Caucasian girls did, albeit with slightly different exclamations.

The only ones who had their own style, and were therefore fascinating, at least during Ross’s first couple of visits to the computer, were the Japanese girls.  They collectively made every act of vaginal intercourse appear to be exquisitely painful, as though they were being sodomized by a well-endowed rapist. Even a gentle lick of their demure Japanese pussy caused them to cry in a squeaky soprano whine, a high-pitched yelp, that sounded oddly feline and distressed. Even when being pumped by a comically modest Japanese penis, the Japanese porno girls responded verbally as though they were being cleaved in two.

As an actor, Ross admired their commitment to their performance. But aside from the bukkake videos, in which a petite Japanese girl allowed her face to be the receptacle for dozens of amateur cumshots, he found Oriental fantasies too unreliably arousing for his dramatic purposes. He liked a girl with more meat on her.

Big booty sites got his motor running for a few minutes. But the persistent image of innumerable African-American asses speckled with cellulite and pimples quelled his hunger, no matter how enthusiastically the sistahs accepted a thick shaft in any available orifice.

Bubble butts lead Ross to explore his inter-racial fetish. There was plenty of nasty video of large, muscular black men force-feeding their large, muscular schlongs to innocent white girls, but what really interested him was white-on-black gangbangs, in which four or more white boys, some of whom looked a lot like him, had their way with a helpless black girl. When the image of one white boy mounting a black girl from behind while two other white boys slapped their pink dicks against her caramel cheeks caused him to soil his keyboard, Ross knew he was onto something useful.

He did a search for “white-on-black, gangbang, anal, facial” and was rewarded with 44 magnificently squalid video clips, many of them starring the same girl, a performer named J’Mina, whose apparent absence of a gag reflex and an exceptionally accommodating anus made her one of Internet porn’s rising stars.

In one sweaty morning, Ross watched all the (free) white-boys-gangbanging-black-girl scenes he could find, and by lunchtime he was fairly certain that this was not the magic solution to his motivation problem at the end of Act One. The J’Mina stuff was edgy, but not transgressive and dangerous. Maybe if the whiteys exploiting the black girl called her “nigger whore,” or dressed in KKK robes, maybe then he could muster adequate shame and disgust at his desires, and maybe then his semen wouldn’t be, couldn’t be, contained.

Discouraged yet determined, Ross began a lost hour entering random, strange combinations in the search box: “Mexican feet pissing,” “twins blonde natural boobs snowballing,” “black man Thai girl teabag.” He got results for everything. There really was something for everyone on the Internet.

But Ross was less impressed with the astonishing breadth of content than with the outlandish proclivities of his fellow masturbators. If the search engine was to be believed, an unexpectedly large demographic enjoyed watching grown men being made to wear diapers. There were, apparently, plenty of folks whose idea of stimulating porn was teenaged nymphs pleasuring themselves with vegetables. Sodomy exclusively on sailboats; blowjobs in public; dining on goblets of semen; molesting girls as they “slept”  – the supply met the demand, and the demand, Ross realized, was freakier than a nice kid from St. Louis could conceive. Perhaps he was too vanilla, too missionary position. Perhaps he ought to get in touch with his darkness.

That was supposed to be what all the brown ladies were for, Ross thought.

Was he suffering the actor’s most common ailment, failure of courage? Was he neglecting to look deep enough, into the ugly places, where his desires were revolting and revelatory? Was this the problem?

Yes, Ross thought, this was the problem.

Ross considered phoning his director for guidance. But he already knew what Fish would tell him: “Go where no one is allowed to go. And then share.”

He could do that. He was trained. He had talent.

All this obscene material he’d been reviewing – no, he wouldn’t share it with, say, a new girlfriend. But Alec? Sure. He would have no qualm telling Alec he liked watching skinny white guys facializing a black chick; that he was fascinated with Japanese girls; that the newly discovered talent for “squirting” (female ejaculation) intrigued him. Then again, Alec gleefully announced his preference for Filipina girls who looked about twelve, their hair tied in pig tails, sucking on lollipops (and nutsacks). Who was he to judge?

OK, a better choice. His friend Eli, also a 24-year-old actor trained in New York. A Jew. Educated, well-off.  Cultured. But also a horn dog. Eli was someone with whom Ross could discuss sexual proclivities. Eli would be a good filter.

So what fetish would Ross hesitate to admit to his colleague and friend Eli? Aside from bestiality – and that struck Ross as just about the unsexiest thing he could imagine, the perfect antidote to an unwanted boner – what quirky desire would he withhold from a buddy out of fear that his perversion was too grotesque, too embarrassing?

He thought about it. Nothing came to mind. Was he already bored with sex, at such a young age?

After a few desultory clicks on some double-penetration scenes – yeah, OK, whatever, he thought – and another featuring an astonishingly limber Chinese-Cambodian girl performing cunnilingus on herself, Ross decided to get serious. He typed “gay” in the search box.

The computer returned 624 pages of results. Each page had 30 scenes. He would have to get more specific. He thought for a moment, and then typed “gay deep-throat.” Before hitting “enter,” he added “rimming.”

After Ross watched a few of the scenes, which looked very much like the hetero- versions, only with more bottles of lube, he realized conclusively that he was not gay. And based on the absence of any reaction whatsoever from his penis, even when he caressed it just so, he realized he wasn’t even a tiny bit sort of bisexual. Alas.

Ross looked at the script of Drive! on his desk, taunting him, reminding him that he’d been given a chance – no, he had earned a chance – to distinguish himself from all the other talented, handsome, ambitious actors in Los Angeles, men shrouded by varying degrees of desperation. He was being offered a showcase for the quirk that made him special, made him worthy, made him the proverbial one in a million who actually makes it in Hollywood. Wouldn’t it be, like, tragic if he wasted his moment to shine?

He looked down to his lap. His penis and scrotum, resting on the waistband of his lowered underwear, looked tired, uninterested. Uninspired.

Closing his eyes, tilting back in his chair, Ross tried to remember the fantasies of his youth. When he was 11 or 12, he masturbated nightly to the thought of Becks having sex with her then-boyfriend, Skeeter, who had a motorcycle and an earring. Then, that same summer, he actually saw them doing it, in the woods behind the Newman’s house. He spied from a distance, never getting close enough to see his sister being penetrated, but close enough to know what was happening, and from that day on Becks was officially a major turn-off. Her grunting seemed to him porcine, and, unlike in his fantasies, her breasts were flattish and veiny. A year or so later, when he inadvertently saw her completely naked as she stepped out of the bathroom, unaware that he was in the hallway, Becks became for Ross Newman a stark reminder that some women, even pretty and vivacious ones like Becks, weren’t sexy. At least not to him.

Just to make sure something in his libido hadn’t changed in the intervening decade, Ross turned back to his computer and searched FindYourBestPorn for “brothers and sisters.” Some of the sites claimed to depict actual siblings, but even those, Ross noticed, featured actors and actresses he recognized from other milieus. It was all pretend. And the acting stunk. No emotional investment whatsoever.

The funniest scenes were from a site called FamilyCumsTogether that purported to show “unauthorized secret footage of a suburban family that shares EVERYTHING.” The Website claimed that an unscrupulous household employee had installed security cameras and captured all the incest – and turned it over to FamilyCumsTogether.com when she was unfairly fired. Why multiple families lived in the same house, with the same secret cameras, was not addressed.

The “moms” and “dads” in these scenes looked nearly the same as the “daughters,” except the “parents” wore adult accoutrements, a necktie for Pops and a pearl choker for Mummy. The “kids” dressed in Catholic School plaid skirts, the suggestive power of which was somewhat diminished by elaborate tattoos on their backs and multiple piercings through their labia. All the girls had been naughty, of course, and their disappointed parents were compelled to administer spankings and other punishments, like forced fellatio, to restore order to the household.

This isn’t working, Ross thought. He scanned the list of “Related Videos” below the onscreen media player. Many of them, he noticed, fell into the Granny category.

Oh, lord, no – you’re kidding, right? Ross felt himself wincing as he clicked on the first link.

Whoever made this stuff wasn’t kidding.

Old people! Well, mostly old women with far younger men. Grey hair, saggy tits, stretch marks, raggedy butt cheeks, beat up twats surrounded by unkempt bushes. Some of these grannies had to be in their 50s, maybe even 60s. Yikes!

They did all the same thing as their younger colleagues in the porn business, only their moans and grunts sounded, well, older, less enthusiastic, more resigned, tired. And none of them had any remarkable talent, acting or otherwise. Their younger scene partners, hopped up on Viagra and Cialis, didn’t seem to notice or mind the ravaged flesh spread out before them like a mottled sheet. The studs pumped and groaned and solemnly delivered their jizz, just as if they were fucking an 18-year-old cheerleader. Extraordinary, Ross thought.

But not compelling, except as a challenge to societal conceptions, which, Ross suspected, was not really the point of Internet porn.

He watched one more, just to make sure he wasn’t repressing his most scurrilous urges.

Nope. He wasn’t.

Grannies, Ross deduced, were the natural extreme of a genre known as “cougars,” older women with younger men, whom they “hunted,” as mountain lions stalk baby rabbits. Cougars were an extension of a popular niche known as “Moms I’d Love to Fuck,” or MILF, an acronym made famous by a movie he had seen, a teen comedy that featured ridiculously hot mothers. Now any woman in her 30s, or maybe even 40s, whether she was in fact a mother or not, qualified as a MILF in the parallel universe of specialty pornography. According to the explanation posted on one site, BadBadMommy.com, MILF was shorthand for “whores who have aged well and still need the money.” With advances in plastic surgery, careers in porn weren’t necessarily lasting longer, but they certainly seemed to be starting later. Like this one, Ross thought, clicking on the thumbnail of a shapely and pretty brunette, certainly cute enough to be on a soap opera and fit enough to be doing adult movies. If not for the skin around her neck and hands, and the wrinkles around her eyes, she could probably pass for 35.

This same actress, who went by the nomme de guerre of Catalina Cruise (no relation to Catalina Cruz, star of “Desperate Latina Maids,” or Catalayna Cruise, the “foot worship queen”), worked for a variety of cinematic producers. Ross found her scenes on the BootyBrothers Network, Flamethrower Productions, and Nuttin Butts sites, where she often immersed herself in group situations, simultaneously servicing two (younger) partners. She seemed to like her work, and Ross found himself attracted to her, and not just because of her good looks and special skills. The whole slightly older thing sort of aroused him a little.

With an almost involuntary compulsiveness, he clicked through all the related sites FindYourBestPorn suggested: “MILFinHeat,” “MySluttyMom,” “HornyandOverForty,” “MyFirstCumTeacher,” “OldBroads,” “CelebrityMILF.” Unclothed mature women performing the same sex acts of unclothed younger women were all over the Internet, inflaming inchoate Oedipal desires worldwide. Including in Ross Newman.

While following Catalina Cruise’s career path around the Web, Ross stumbled upon a site that had a distinctly un-porno-sounding name: “RealWomenFindingTheirWayInLife.com.” The clips there were slickly produced, with elegant editing that effectively built tension and excised repetitious pneumatics; they looked like real movies, with warm lighting, steadi-cam tracking shots, and subtly obstructed camera angles that somehow suggested genuine voyeurism. And the MILF actresses on this site – they didn’t seem to be actresses. If they were, Ross thought, they’re awesome, because the vibe he got was what you might expect from a real first-timer, not someone pretending to lose her video virginity. They were nervous, but trying to hide their nervousness rather than making it a plot point. They were initially shy about their exposed bodies, especially the private regions previously reserved for lovers and doctors. They didn’t seem sure of what to do next.

But when they spoke directly to the viewer in long interview segments, each MILF seemed unusually calm and assured. None of them sounded scripted explaining their individual “journey of discovery” and “internal revelation,” phrases that appeared in almost every interview, multiple times. Ross felt they were speaking from the heart, from the place of truth that he (and Fish, and anyone who really cared about the art of acting) considered holy.

If they weren’t improvising – and they had to be, right? – they were doing a heck of a job appearing to be improvising.

No, Ross thought. No doubt. They’re definitely just winging it, speaking unfiltered from the heart. Impressive.

Each segment followed a similar narrative trajectory: introduction (“Hi, I’m Dallas Duke, and this is my first time being a Real Woman!”); intimate explanation (“I’ve always fantasized about being exploited by two men…”); and sincere expression (“Sure, I’m a little frightened, but that’s also probably why I’m so wet.”). And then a man would come on camera and make the MILF submit to his instructions, which typically included the things men usually want.

Catalina Cruise’s scene was especially intriguing, since it was the first time Ross had heard her speak in her authentic voice, employing a vocabulary that expanded on her usual porno exhortations.

Like a newsreader, albeit one wearing nothing but a white tube-top and tight jeans, looking into a static camera, she said: Hello, everyone. My name is Catalina Cruise. That’s my professional name, my stage name, of course. I’ve been an actress my whole life, ever since I can remember. It’s what I’ve always wanted to do. I was Dolly in my high school’s production of ‘Hello, Dolly,’ and I was in the talent show – we called it the Variety Show – doing jazz dance. I did summer stock, in Pennsylvania. I’ve always been really attracted to the stage.

I’ve been doing adult movies for three years. I got into the business later than most – and no, a real lady doesn’t tell her age! My first job in an adult project was nude modeling, for a magazine, and then I made the jump to live video. I figured I might as well get paid for doing two things I love: acting and having sex! Ha. Before I started in the business, I was a working actress around town. I did lots of theater here in LA. A few parts, small parts, in regular movies. I was in “The Italian Job” and a Will Smith movie called “7 Pounds,” but I got cut out. I was a nurse in that. I did a few what we call corporate films. For companies.  That kind of thing. So I had a lot of comfort performing. No stage fright for me. Ha-ha!

            Anyhow, I’m here today to do my first scene as a Real Woman who has most definitely found her way in life. This is my initiation. And I’m quite excited to share it with you.

            Um, let’s see. Well, my journey of personal discovery was similar to what you’ve probably heard from other girls in this series. I had tried a lot of different ways of achieving lasting joy. You know, I was born and raised Episcopalian, and I also did a lot of study of Buddhism, which was interesting. I did meditation, and tantric yoga.

You know, I would say I was never, like, unhappy or unfulfilled, but I wasn’t totally content, either. You know what I mean? I was always searching for something that would help me enjoy my one and only life as much as humanly possible, with the emphasis on human. I’ve always believed we are a special species, and a big part of being, you know, a person, is the ability to love and give and receive pleasure, which, obviously, is something I take seriously, and something I consider myself pretty good at, if that’s not too conceited.

            Funny enough, I was introduced to the Parables by a friend, a lady who is also an actress, but not in the business. Not an adult actress. She was, like, ‘Here. I’m not forcing anything on you. But, it’s amazing, since I started this my life has been better than ever, and I’m having great sex, and I have money…’ You know, all enthused. And she was, like, ‘You should try. It seem so you.’ So I did, and, yeah, she was right. The way is so me! I could see how it might not be for some people, but, straight up? I think just about anyone could benefit. But that’s just my philosophy. I don’t push anything on anyone. But I will say, when I had my internal revelation, I just knew I wanted to share this great feeling. I want everyone to feel as good as I do about life, and about my place in it.

So that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it! Ha-ha!

            I found my way in life. And now I’m going to share it with you.

            I was put on this planet to serve. To create and give pleasure. That is my highest purpose. That is what makes me happiest: knowing I’m making this unhappy world a happier place, just by doing what comes natural to me.

            The camera zoomed gradually on Catalina’s face, on her smile. Then it slowly pulled back, and a man, a man who appeared much younger than Catalina Cruise, stepped into the frame. He wore a black silk shirt, and black dress slacks. He had long dark hair, pulled back in a ponytail. He was handsome but instantly forgettable, the perfect male accessory in a female-centric drama. Catalina looked up to him and grinned mischievously. To the camera, she declared, “And what comes natural to me,” she said, flatly, “is making men come. All over my face.”

She turned to the man standing beside her chair. Fondling her breasts with both hands, she moaned softly and said, “I’m ready, sir. Show me the way.”

“Undress yourself,” the man said firmly and, Ross thought, without any apparent sub-text.

Catalina obliged. It was weird, though. As she removed her tube-top, liberating her surgically rounded tits, she starting murmuring all this incomprehensible nonsense about a chameleon. It wasn’t very sexy, Ross thought. But Catalina seemed to be enjoying herself, taking down her pants slowly between the pauses in her monologue. When she was down to her panties, tiny little white satin things, the man stopped her.

“Turn around,” he said.

Catalina did as she was told.

“Now take off your undies,” the man said. “Slowly. And as you, start bending over so we can all see your asshole, and your pussy.”

“Of course,” Catalina replied. And then she complied.

Ross reached for his penis, which was quivering, resting sideways on his thigh. This was weird porn. Very strange. But, yeah, no doubt, it was good shit, for whatever reason.

The man examined Catalina’s crevasse with his fingers. She moaned, rather convincingly, Ross reckoned.

The man spanked her lightly and ordered her to turn around, which she did, immediately. “Sit down. Now suck my cock.”

“With pleasure, sir,” Catalina said, reaching for his belt buckle and recommencing her speech about changing and true nature, and other subjects inappropriate to adult videos.

As she fished his cock out of his pants – he had a marvelously fat one, made for pornography, with a pink, dog-like, pointy glans – the man said, “Finish the parable while you suck my dick.” To punctuate his request, he slapped the side of his hard shaft against her cheek.

Catalina tried to talk with her mouth full, with unintelligible results. Ross didn’t mind; he was no longer paying attention to anything except the unguarded hunger and delight with which this older woman devoured a younger lover, as though his manhood was truly fresh meat swallowed to feed and nourish her life.

The erection in Ross’s hand grew firmer and larger. He had seen Catalina Cruise in many other scenes, tons of them, but he hadn’t previously noticed the obvious joy she found in her work. Could you even call this work? To be paid for experiencing ecstasy? That seemed like a good deal.

What Ross was watching seemed less to him a video of two people having sex than of some kind of spiritual rite. It was freaky.

“Do you want me to fuck you now?” the man asked her solemnly.

She removed his dick from her mouth, licked his balls greedily, and said, “Yes! Oh my god. Of course!”

“Well, if you’re a good girl I’ll reward you with the kind of fucking a whore like you deserves.”

“Thank you, sir,” she said, returning his cock to her mouth.

“The way for you is through service,” he intoned. Catalina mumbled her assent.

“Your highest use is pleasuring your man. Yes?” She agreed.

“Of pleasing him in any way he asks. In any hole. Whenever. However.” She forced him into her throat, making a gargling sound as he pushed deeper.

Ross was digging this. He spit into his hand and coated himself, imagining that it was Catalina’s warm juice.

The man removed his shirt as she sucked. He groaned with pleasure. “So the way calls for you to serve me today. During your initiation.”

“Yes, sir. Yes.”

“Well, today you’re a very lucky little bitch. We have some other real women, just like you, who recently underwent their journey of discovery. And you’re so lucky, because these girls are going to help you.”

“Oh, I’m such a lucky bitch.”

“Yes,” the man said, breathing heavily. “Yes, you are. Now, Cristina, come here.”

A slender redhead, completely naked, with pert, girlish boobs and a magnificently round and firm butt – especially, Ross thought, for a woman in her late-30s — stepped into the frame and immediately knelt beside Catalina, who kissed her and the man’s cock simultaneously, and alternately, and simultaneously again. “Hello, Cristina,” Catalina said. “Are you here to help me?”

“Helping. That’s my way,” the redhead replied. She had a light, Marilyn Monroe voice. She seemed delicate, astonishingly feminine, easily crushed, like a butterfly or a fanciful dream. But like Catalina, Cristina didn’t hide her hunger. She grabbed onto the man’s shaft and took him out of Catalina’s mouth and into her own, all the way, down to his shaved balls. Then she popped him out and offered him to Catalina, as though his saliva-coated cock was a thick straw that would sate a powerful thirst.

The genuine enthusiasm aroused Ross. If what he was witnessing was “work” – these women had to be getting paid to do this, right? – then the naked laborers clearly loved their job. He could easily imagine himself, the strapping young man standing over two older (but hot) women, allowing them to take in, to swallow, his virile youth.  These MILF ladies wanted so badly to be adored and appreciated, to be treated as though they were 20 years younger, 15 lbs. lighter, and infinitely less attainable. These were women you could use without guilt, women who didn’t mind being treated as whores, who liked being treated as whores. That’s what they were, and they were proud of it.

Cristina was on the man’s balls; Catalina was on his shaft. They were serving.

But the man wasn’t satisfied. He took his cock in his hand, pulling it back toward his belly, exposing the underside and the bottom of his scrotum. Both women licked him as he announced, “And now I have a special treat for both of you lucky bitches.”

“We’re very lucky,” Catalina said between licks.

“We’ve found our way,” Cristina added.

“I’ve got another initiate on her journey of discovery. And she’s going to help you.” The women moaned appreciatively.

“Alexandra,” he said. “Alexandra, come in here.”

Another naked MILF entered the frame. This one was blond, and obviously older than the other two. Her back was to the camera, and Ross could see the kind of misshapen buttocks, chunky thighs, and copious pockmarks normally absent in professionally produced pornography. This woman was clearly an amateur, a soccer mom, not a MILF. He felt his erection growing softer. So-called “reality porn” or “amateur porn” was cool, Ross believed. But did the veracity imperative have to include so much cellulite? Just as spandex was a privilege not a right, only appropriate for those with a physique that can bear shrink-wrapping, Ross felt that baring your ass (and everything else) was best left to those whose figure could withstand stark exposure.

He didn’t think he was being a snob, a body elitist. It was the same way in the acting world: You didn’t expect to be a leading man unless you had leading man looks. That’s just the way things worked. Sure, someone could defy the odds with unstoppable charisma, or a sense of comedy, or even finely developed eccentricity. But movie stars should look like movie stars. And porno sluts shouldn’t look like your next door neighbor’s mom.

Unless, of course, that was the point.

“Alexandra,” the man commanded, “get on your knees and help these girls suck my dick.”

“That would be a true pleasure,” she said in a singsong voice that momentarily froze Ross to his chair. “Something I’ve always wanted to do. And I’ve done a lot in my life!” She laughed.

Oh, god! The laugh.

Ross felt a wave of nausea course through him, from his belly to his throat. He scrambled for the mouse on his desk and clicked “pause.”

He made sure he wasn’t going to vomit. And then he carefully exhaled, his breath sour and acrid.

The voice. The laugh. And now, thinking about it, he had to admit: the thighs.

What was his mom doing in a porno film?

Ross knew it was her. He was certain on some ontological level, a place that was immune to countervailing evidence.

Still. It just couldn’t be.

Even though he knew “Alexandra” was Allie Newman, Ross was open to and eager for suggestions to the contrary.

There had to be an alternate explanation that he hadn’t thought of yet. I’m dreaming came to mind, as it often did when unrelenting awfulness confronted him, when he saw his boyhood dog Buster get hit by car, when Lisa, his first girlfriend (and maybe, he thought, his only true love)  broke up with him for good, when Big Rusty hit him.

I’m just imagining this all, and I’m going to wake up.

  1. That wasn’t compelling. How about this: Allie’s hair has always been sort of an indistinct brown, like the St. Louis River, never blond. Never yellow-silver blond.

She could have dyed it. She could have had it colored. Yes, that’s probably what she did.

Allie had absolutely no rational reason to do a porno. None! Didn’t need the money. Wasn’t bereft of talents and skills and, and a life. She wasn’t a teenaged runaway.

Oh, my god. Ross understood. Allie was a runaway. Just like he was. She was finding a home, a community, an ethos that refuted her former life. Women discovering their way in life – that was her. She was taking a new path.

But did it have to be so…so dirty.

Ross hadn’t spoken to his mom in close to three months. They hadn’t fought. She just called less frequently, and Ross called her even less. He couldn’t have foreseen this, could he?

Allie hadn’t been crying out for help, leaving clues for her family, trying to warn them that she wasn’t nearly as content as she led everyone to believe. No. She was always immersed in projects, in doing stuff, living the full and overflowing life Big Rusty Newman couldn’t or wouldn’t. Perhaps, Ross surmised, Allie considered appearing in a porno movie at age 51 another “adventure” in her unconventional life.

How could she be so deluded, so juvenile? So sick?

Ross breathed deeply, and then he laughed.

It was a colossally weird mistake. Of course it wasn’t his mom. But the similarity – whoa! It was scary.

Ross sighed, making his relief audible. This whole episode was going to make an incredible (and incredibly weird) story. Ross pictured himself sitting at a bar with Alec, or someone, a friend, and there Ross would shake his head and say, “Dude, you think you had a rough week! I saw a porno on the Internet, and for a second I thought, holy shit, that’s my mother! Trust me: That’ll trip you the fuck out, dude.”

Ross looked back at his monitor, the screen frozen on what looked remarkably like his mom’s face framed by unfamiliar flaxen locks. God, it really was spooky, the similarity.

He clicked the mouse, and the image came to life. “Alexandra” assumed her place beside the redhead and the brunette, a perfect porn Neapolitan. She put an arm around each of the other girls, friendly-like, as though they were at a Barry Manilow concert. Then she chastely, politely, kissed them consecutively, first Cristina, then Catalina. Then she swiveled toward the man and exclaimed, rather ingenuously, and with a familiar Missouri accent, “Nice cock!”

Then she started sucking him, tentatively at first, then enthusiastically, and then lustfully. After one notably deep thrust, she withdrew his glistening rod from her mouth and, catching her breath, said, “Aaah. I have always wanted to do that. I mean, in these circumstances. I’m discovering my way in life.” She smiled a smile that everyone who had ever met her knew belonged to Allie Newman. And then she returned to her newfound joy.

When, a couple minutes later, after some new camera angles (including a fascinating POV perspective) and some intra-girl fondling, the man unloosed a great torrent of whitish syrup upon all three faces looking up expectantly at him, Ross felt a wet stain on his belly and a familiar shiver emanating from the center of his cock.

And he knew then that his performance at the conclusion of Act 1 of Drive! would be his ticket to a very grand game.

On Opening Night, after the curtain call, when Ross got a standing ovation, he returned to his (shared) dressing room, exchanged great shows with his cast-mates, and took a moment to straighten his hair and get calm.

Before he met with whoever wanted to talk with him, Ross Newman repeated his ritual. He found his center. He inhaled until he no longer could. He exhaled slowly through his nose. And although he knew nothing had changed, that he was still Ross Newman, working actor, to everyone else he was no longer Ross Newman.

“Ross!” Ruthie Linder exclaimed when he emerged from backstage into the Actor’s Playpen and Rehearsal Studio lobby. “Hello, Mr. Fantastic!” She threw her arm around him and kissed the penumbra around his cheek.

“Hi, Ruthie,” Ross said, smiling bashfully, trying to convey the perfect balance between Aw, that’s so nice of you to say and While I appreciate being called Mr. Fantastic, it’s  something I hear regularly.

With her hand on his shoulder, she said, “Ross, I’ve got someone I’d like you to meet. But before I introduce you, let me just say that like him I also was blown away, totally blown away by your performance, especially – oh my god. The…I don’t even know what you call it. The end of the first half.”

“Ah, yes. The end of Act One.”

“Yes. Oh my god, Ross. Everyone, I’ve gotta tell you, everyone is so impressed. I mean, the courage. The courage.” She shook her head.

“And the timing,” Ross deadpanned.

“The timing!” Ruthie howled. “Just great. Just great. So, yes, I was impressed, and I would like to introduce you to someone who was also impressed. Ross Newman,” she said, turning to a doughy man dressed in an unbuttoned dark grey suit, “this is Larry Cohen.”

“Hello, Mr. Cohen,” Ross said, flashing his most incandescent smile.

“The pleasure is mine,” he said. “Wow. What can I say? You’re a star.”

Before Ross could utter something self-deprecating and modest, Ruthie interjected, “Larry is a movie producer, Ross.”

“Oh,” Ross said, trying to modulate his excitement.

“Very important in his field,” Ruthie continued. “One of the top. And he was very impressed with you.”

“Very,” said Cohen.

“Wow. Thanks,” Ross said, beaming at Ruthie and Larry.

“I’ll let you two talk,” Ruthie said, waving her fingers at them and sidling off toward a cluster of theatergoers of her acquaintance.

“You’ve got some special talent, Ross,” Larry said, appreciatively. “A rare talent.”

“Thank you.”

Cohen nodded. “And I feel like I know what I’m talking about when I tell you that I am one million percent certain I can make you a very big star.”

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