A decade ago I found myself a low level cog in one of the world’s largest online porn websites. Which was both fascinating and terrifying. But mostly surreal. They had hired me as a film reviewer. Since I had just graduated film school. And much like Malcolm Macdowell in “Clockwork Orange”, I was forced to watch 8-9 hours of porn daily. Straight, gay, midget, tranny, balloon, smoking, MILF. You name it. And then select a few screenshots to upload to best represent the movie. And then write a short blurb.
And so I’ve probably seen more gay porn films than any straight man alive. Or gay man.
And porn is like ice cream. Too much of it makes you sick.
One day I shared an elevator with the boss. And a three hundred pound woman with the sweetest, sultriest voice I had ever heard.
“Two please.” She said. And that voice was enough to make me hard.
The boss smiled. Knowingly.
The second floor of that den of iniquity housed one of the country’s busiest phone-sex centers. And every time a horny man calls one of those numbers in the back of a dirty magazine, he reached this call center. Or was forwarded to an employee of this call center.
Two city blocks from where the Declaration of Independence was signed over two hundred years ago.
And over the next few months I shared a morning elevator ride with my boss and the three hundred pound woman with the sexiest voice you have ever heard.
And my boss was Jewish. Which he confided in me on or around Rosh Hashana. And he had just built an animal sanctuary in New Jersey. Because he loved animals. And donated thousands to cancer research.
What struck me most was his humility. And you could never tell by his clothes that he was a multi millionaire. Nouveau rich during the death knell of the internet bubble.
“Two please”. As if I didn’t know by now. But I would wait. So I could hear her say it.
And one day, Dick London, which was the name he used in all business dealings, asked me to make a short film. For the AVN awards and expo. Which was to be held in Las Vegas. The Academy Awards of the adult industry. And our company was a sponsor. And had a booth. And we needed a video to run on loop.
So I culled all my film school experience. All those endless hours of watching French New Wave and Italian Neo Realism. Goddard and Truffault. And De Sica. And watching and rewatching Brando in “Last Tango in Paris”.
Asking her to stick a finger up his ass. Two fingers.
And so I made a video. In black and white. Depicting shots of boarded up video stores in and around Philadelphia. Adult video stores. And movie theaters. Replaced by the digital revolution of tens of thousands of videos streaming online. Decades of porn available discreetly at a click. But no monthly fees. Video On Demand.
A Brave New World.
And this opus was set to one of the most recognizable pieces of Opera music:
The crying clown.
And Dick took off his sunglasses. Which I had never seen him do. Ever. And extended his hand to shake mine. Which was rare. Particularly since he knew I watched 8-9 hours of porn a day.
“The video is incredible.” He says. “But I would have used ‘Taps’ instead.”
And he started sending me to conferences. And expos. And interviews with porn stars. And producers. New York. Amsterdam. Las Vegas.
And once a month he would book a table for us at one of Philadelphia’s finest restaurants. Which happened to be in the same building. Which he owned. And he would tell me about all the money and resources he was donating to causes related to freedom of speech. And to the defense of various porn producers who had been arrested during the George Bush era crackdown on immorality and vice.
One of those lunches I confided in him the story of how I had discovered porn. I went rummaging through my dad’s closet. And found an old VHS tape. From the 80’s. Starring Ron Jeremy. Perhaps the world’s most famous male performer. Who is Jewish. And used to be a Special Ed teacher in New York City.
And I would watch that tape religiously. And return it to its spot beneath the argyle Bill Cosby sweaters. And it was a victimless crime. Which I thought had gone undetected until I found a note in the sleeve one day from my mom:
“Be kind. Please rewind.”
I left the company a year or two later. And vowed never to work in the industry again. I had seen too much. It was beginning to have a negative impact on relationships. And sex. And having seen over ten thousand videos, including gang bangs and old ladies and Japanese teens with funnels and eels (the horror!) I could no longer look at anyone the same. Ever. Not even at the old lady next door.
Several years later I found myself working in Israel. At a DVD library. With a small adult section. And this DVD library was on the second floor of a very trendy Tel Aviv café. And was more of a prop than an actual library. And I, the minimum wage earning clerk, was part of the mis-en-scene.
And in those long dull hours I would surf the internet. And one day I came across this article.
For those of you too lazy or technologically impaired to open the link it details the raid of FBI agents of the offices at 7th and Chestnut. Where I used to work.
For the past few years I’ve been employed at one of Israel’s largest subtitling and translation companies. And wedged in between episodes of “Duck Dynasty”, “The Kardashians” and “Swamp People”, I find myself working on the Hebrew subtitles of various adult movies that air late at night.
And most of the subtitles are either “Yes” or “God”.
And God must be so tired of hearing his name invoked during a fake orgasm.
And God knows I am.
At least on company time.