The anticipation was the real aphrodisiac. It had been a year. A year where it felt the whole of the nations across the globe were suffering through an audit; a real shedding of fake value, like fur off a rabbit who makes it to spring. My thoughts were turbulent and my nerves shot, the twenty-four hours prior to hearing my iPhone emit the Basinski loop I’d made into an alarm years ago and have used ever since. Finally, serenity. Garnished with sweet anticipation. I needed to pick up Lowes.
In the year a bunch of footage became a website, a lot went topsy-turvy. No sooner than Miles and I had emerged as shell-shocked masters of our roles as porno-documentarians were we shanghai’d into the antipodal worlds of digital editing, e-commerce and webmastery. This detour, as it turned out, was the only way not to get fucked over on a minute-to-minute basis by the twin malevolent forces of incompetence and fraud, otherwise known as our contracted crew. To say this forced expansion of our skillset watered down our prime endeavors would be a downplay of the truth. We just wanted to be pornographers. The day Miles fired our second editor, (the first of whom came with a degree in Filmmaking and resigned the day of our first official shoot) was the day our headaches started and didn’t once recede until we launched the site. That’s a lie. They still haven’t receded.. At least not by much. Times you could find us walking around in an adobe creative cloud of our own, sans the constant crashing, of course.
Suffice to say, the hiccups and speed bumps went beyond the pale that year and were likely better left unmentioned, at least to Lowes who, I was certain, would arrive fully-equipped with his own volume of tales to tell, born from a year spent holding down the fort on his own budding and morphing career in Las Vegas, the highlights from which had to be more interesting to him than a replay of our obstacle course to becoming part of “the business”. This would fill the void left for small talk on the ride home. Besides, show me one good model whose favorite pastime isn’t talking about themselves. I veered my car onto the airport off-ramp and my thoughts to the task at hand. James Lowes. After a year on his own. How would he look? Would I recognize him right away? Oh God, nothing is worse than being caught cruising at the airport. Did Miles remember to mention I drive a different car now? Would I have to pay to park? But all of these trifles melted away as I pulled into the passenger pick-up lane.
I did my share of chauffeuring Lowes around out in Vegas – for all intents and purposes. At least until the details of those intents and purposes came into focus, like models in a PNP porn who method-act in their off time “to get a real feel for the part.” Like the things we saw and recorded through lenses that we burned onto DV tapes and emblazoned into our memories through connected wires until time came along and distorted true events with dropped frames and icy silences. Putting it plainly, if we weren’t shooting Lowes, he was probably getting shot at. If he wasn’t getting shot at…er…nevermind. But it is noteworthy for any fan of the good Officer, something they may even appreciate, that James Lowes didn’t just play a bad boy on TV – he played one in real-life, as well. And goddamn us all if he’d ever once let go an opportunity to prove it. Like the time I picked him up at Palace Station…
He called me, frantic. Some strung-out bitch. Just had to have him in the room where OJ finally got popped. Him and six klonopin. And a healthy helping from a freezer bag of blow. “Fish scales that would make a spawning trout jealous!” Both had their way with her – and for far too long. Long enough to banish any trace of cognitive thought from her head. It would only be a matter of time before the she swallowed her tongue. And check-out was a half an hour ago. Naturally, I told him I would be right there.
I arrived, as it turned out, just as Lowes was departing prematurely. And to a premature departure, no less. I knew that face. When bad boy turns sad boy. I turned him around by the shoulders, “two dead bodies weren’t better than one so pull it fucking together” and ushered him back to the room. Had him turn the shower on while I got her ready. Not too cold, I told him.
Two minutes later, the heaving of her chest; the opening of her eyes. In the background I heard Lowes start to breathe again, too. Then, a knock at the door. Housekeeping. Ready and there to prep the room for the next near-burnout. The next close call. The next starfucker in distress. Ours was just waking; not quite ready for checkout. Could we have until one? “No comprendo”– but twenty bucks on a cleaning cart in a town driven by hospitality can decide the difference between a Weekend At Bernie’s ending and Rush. They gave us another hour – we used half. We got her out alive, makeup intact, not one blond hair out of place. And Lowes was barely there. As we stepped outside and into the valet line, sleeping beauty finally muttered her very first words: “I feel like it’s tomorrow already.” I assured her it already was. I wouldn’t have wanted her to get freaked out.
When he appeared at the arrival curb, the relief was palpable. It was like no time had passed at all. Like getting off. Or getting off just to get it off the table. Like twenty dollar seats at Jagged Little Pill. The musical. The deal was done and it looked like a million bucks. All smiles. Mission accomplished. Battleship sunk.
Lowes had never been to Louisville. We talked food, bourbon, his girls, my boys. Work talk creeped in, but when your business is sexy, water cooler talk gets hot. Anyone who works on a porn set can attest. I listened, processed and filed away any juicy details for a future shoot. Then, in the looming shadow of the Galt House, smack-dab in the middle of Bourbon Country, two-thousand miles from Paradise, Nevada, he asks me, “still smokin’ the same stogs?” I handed him my pack.
Some things never change.
Louisville, KY 2018