California Pornographic Films Initiative Falls Short on Water Restriction
ADAM MICHAEL LUEBKE
San Bernardino, dirty jewel of the high desert
Walking out of the grocery store, I overheard a voice say, “This bill would require adult film actors to wear protection while filming pornographic films in California.”
A haggard woman with deep wrinkles cracking the skin around her eyes squinted out at the parking lot as the young man she talked to decided to walk away. She sat stiff as a scarecrow in her dark blue windbreaker and stared at him as he left. Her eyes were the color of coal. Her spirit had no doubt been blunted by the thankless years of foot marching for an ever-rejuvenating list of potential political policies.
Hadn’t California already passed the adult films bill? I thought. I found later that its predecessor, Bill AB1576 died in a Senate committee, so the passionate and the politically hungry were hitting the pavement again.
As I carried my bags of groceries past the table, the woman reached out to me. Would I be interested in signing the California Pornographic Films Initiative petition?
“Well, no,” I said at first. Just her asking irritated me. There are few things more annoying than being delayed in the late afternoon at a busy grocery store after you’ve already stood waiting in a long line to pay for your goods so you can talk to a Good Samaritan about uncouth subjects.
But I stopped anyway. Sometimes I act before I think. “OK, what’s the bill about?” I asked.
The woman’s eyelids drooped as she took in a breath. “This bill would require performers to,” she said, and paused, then said, “to wear protection during their performances in any adult film made in California.” She stretched out a laminated paper toward me. “It does a lot to also strengthen the responsibility of the filming companies and health and safety regulations for the actors.”
I could smell her desperation seeping past her schtick as obvious as the smell of stale sweat eats through and mingles with cheap cologne. Awkward pitches and strange public proposals make the bottoms of my feet itch. It’s a prickly, odd type of torture. Why is she putting me through this? I wondered.
Imagine if I sat outside of grocery stores and pestered people about a pet issue of mine, such as removing the Hollywood star of outlaw singer-songwriter, Charles Manson, or allowing local vigilantes to shoot out the tires of red light runners. Greedy, thoughtless, selfish bastards in cars. Putting innocent drivers at severe risk of paralyzing injuries or death.
WHAT KIND OF PROTECTION?
I raised both hands an inch to signal that I’d rather hold my groceries than take the bill and read it. “What kind of protection are we talking about here?” I finally asked her. “I can’t get on board with just anything.”
The woman moved her hands in a circular motion to prod me into answering my own question. “You know,” she said, “protection.”
“I still don’t know,” I said.
Her hands formed around an imaginary object.
“Helmets,” I guessed. “For the more rigorous performances. I’ve heard about this before. Actors banging their heads on the nightstand. Ugly, avoidable accidents.”
I shrugged. “I’ll tell you, the shower scenes are probably the biggest liability. It takes the agility of an athlete not to slip on the wet tiles. Protective head gear would cut down the risk, no doubt, but still, nobody’s going to believe men and women who live in a constant state of arousal that rivals the California black-tailed jackrabbit would tap their animal energies while wearing black and orange safety helmets. This pornographic protection issue sounds like how McDonald’s tried to recover their hideous health score by offering grapes with their Happy Meals.”
The table wobbled beneath the woman’s pointy elbows. She rested her head. “That’s OK,” she said, “I was just wondering if you were interested.”
“Isn’t risk a part of what pornographic films are all about, anyway?” I asked her. “Why is the industry regulated at all?”
The woman shuffled some papers and put them into a binder. She stretched her neck to see around me. “We want to eliminate the risk,” she said, and raised her eyebrows.
“Helmets or no helmets, the defilement is the same. The bottom-feeder clientele who absorb this kind of hopeless stimulation will bond with more hardcore pornography elsewhere. The dopamine-addicted human beings and the wannabe actors who get coerced into the adult industry will still become empty vessels with darkened hearts and deadened consciousness. They’ll never climb out of their spunky pits to reach their imagined heights of Hollywood A-list glory. No helmet can protect them from that depravity.”
The woman frowned. “It’s a start. We can’t ban pornography. It’s a right to freedom of expression.”
“Do you strap a helmet onto your trash bag before you sling it into the dumpster?” I asked. “Why waste your energy?”
“The actors must be protected,” she said. “As much as possible.”
“There is no protection in the porn industry. The downward spiral is rapid and irrecoverable. For an aspiring actress to make her name, she has to perform the most heinous acts just to get her foot in the door of the slum industries behind the major slum industry. And she has to pretend she loves it. And there’s no guarantee she’ll get paid. Most likely she’ll never be noticed. She must compete with glory-seekers flooding the Internet with their most vile acts, which they upload for free.”
The woman shook her head.
HERE’S A SOLUTION
“If there’s any regulation of the porn industry I’d be on board with, it would be limiting the foul wasting of precious water during those laborious shower scenes. And nobody says thank you. Entire California almond crops could be grown with that water.
“And Jerry Brown, God’s own vicegerent, agrees with me,” I said. “I wish the governor of California would pop into the scene with his dingy grey suit and bald, peanut-shaped head to remind the viewer that during the making of that hot escapade, there were over 300 hundred gallons of fresh, clean water wasted. ‘It’s a darned tragedy,’ he’d say.”
The woman ignored me and asked a mother and her two children if they’d like to sign a petition to create a safer environment for adult film performers. Both the little boy and girl looked at her and blinked.
“It asks them to wear helmets during filming,” I said to the mother. “It sounds reasonable at first, but not when you think about it for awhile.”
“Oh, no no,” the mother said.
The woman behind the table threw up her hands. “It’s not helmets!” she said. Her face was red and droplets of spit flicked off her tongue and into the air. “It’s cah-cah-cah,” she said, stuttering. Whatever it was she wanted to say stuck in her throat until she ejaculated, “It’s about making them cover their dinkies.”
The mother raised a hand to her face and hurried away with her children.
“Why didn’t you just say so?” I asked her. “No reason to beat around the bush. We’re both adults here.”
The woman began to pack up the binder and papers on the table and place them in a box. She hoisted a backpack over her shoulder, lifted the box, and walked into the parking lot.
“Anyway, why can’t the porn industry use grey water? What difference would it make? If the water is gently used from the bathroom sink or washing machine? The more serious crisis in this state is the drought. The nation’s food supply is in peril.”
I thought I’d help her pack up, but when I reached for her canvas sack, she snatched it out of my range.
“Maybe I’ll start my own petition,” I said. “California Sexy Shower Scene Time Limit in Pornographic Films Initiative. Shower performances and all outtakes shall not exceed a total of one minute, unless the water is verified grey water, which must be determined by the governor or his most trusted aide through a mandatory government test.”
The woman dumped her belongings into the back of a beat up Honda Civic. She backed out of the parking space and roared by me without even a wave.
I walked to my car, my hands aching from inconveniently holding the groceries for so long, and the bottoms of my feet tingling.
[shower scene photo by Diogo.copello]