Thursday, December 29, 2005

Sex, Celebrity, and Why They Shouldn't Mix

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. (ZP) -- My friend J. works in the adult entertainment industry. Not just as a house or feature dancer, but, well, the whole nine yards.

She's very good at what she does; She makes the equivalent of my monthly salary for an hour's worth of "work." She's acquired some namebrand recognition for herself and works very, very hard to maintain her public image. I personally believe she's smart and saavy enough to do whatever she chooses; I don't like what she does but understand why she does it.

Now, before anybody jumps to conclusions, there is no romantic relationship and definitely no possibility of exploring a romantic relationship. Two totally different personalities living two totally different lifestyles. We're just friends...sort of.

While I have moral reservations about what - and who - she does for a living, I respect her right to do what she pleases with her body without having to deal with me hopping on my high horse. If my laissez-faire attitude concerning this subject bothers you, blame it on the fact that I was once engaged to a stripper for three months.

I realize not everyone takes that position when it comes to such a controversial subject as pornography. Feel free to comment at your leisure.

J. and I met for brunch yesterday morning in San Luis Obispo, then just sort of hung out and did some after-Christmas shopping. I feel bad because I blew off my sister, whom I'd made plans with previously. I didn't give my sister a reason, because, well, I'm pretty sure my family wouldn't approve. But this woman woke up at 4 a.m. to drive up from Los Angeles and called me en route from Santa Barbara. What am I supposed to do?

Brunch was the easy part. J. weighs less than a hundred pounds yet can easily suck down twice her weight in food in under an hour. Hyperactive? The word does not even begin to describe this woman. Trust me, folks, there is nothing sexy or erotic about having to ask a woman to take their bare foot out of your crotch while said person is literally licking the carcass of a tiramisu of her plate.

The shopping and hanging out part is where the trouble begins.

Trying to keep J. entertained is akin to to attempting to train a monkey with OCD. For one, she fidgets. Fidgets with everything. Her necklace. My necklace. I've never had a grown woman pull the ol' high school jock "cup check" routine so many times in one day and find it funny every time.

Nor have I ever had someone insist on sharing a fitting room. She was shopping for jeans and she wanted my opinion. I've seen her naked before, as have quite a few other folks obviously, so that's not the issue. It's not like we were getting down and dirty in a dressing room, but I'm sure it must've seemed pretty odd from the outside.

Because J. is essentially built like a 15-year-old boy (J. is in her 20s), I'm sure at least a few of our fellow shoppers thought I was just another late-20s, metrosexual scenester trying to relive college with a teenage plaything. While this is the norm in places like Beverly Hills, Malibu or Santa Barbara, where such behavior is as common as botox parties and breast implants, this sort of thing sticks out like a sore thumb in San Luis Obispo. I won't even begin to describe some of the looks we received as we left one dressing room after another.

For the record - she walked away from the day with 10 pairs of jeans, a sundress, three handbags, and about a dozen tee-shirts. I bought a shirt off a clearance rack.

A couple of people recognized her at this one boutique we visited. While celebrity worship has always seemed to be the dumbest thing in the world to me, I must admit the whole thing was pretty fascinating to watch. It was as if somebody had flipped a switch somewhere deep inside J. One minute, we're talking about the Dodgers offseason moves. The next, she's smiling with her arms around some random dude, posing for a camera.

The way J. handled the whole thing reminded me of a more personal version of usability testing. She was ensuring her product line was meeting the needs of her clients. A very different kind of user needs analysis but, given the nature of her profession, a very useful tactic.

The tiny fan frenzy lasted about 10 minutes. Soon, she and I were back on the sidewalk window shopping. Without missing a beat, she's back to talking about baseball, smoking up my cigarettes, and asking me how she can install her own garbage disposal.

I told J. about my information-science-in-porn revelation. She gave me a look like I'd just stepped off a rocket from Mars. Information science folks can take some satisfaction in the fact that she picked up on the whole "holistic, user-centered approach" concept in less than five minutes.

While we were getting coffee, she brought up an invitation she'd extended my way months ago in Oxford. A professional proposal of sorts. I'm not talking about a librarian position here, either.

Um...yeah. I'm pretty sure most of my readers are smart enough to connect the dots on this one.

I don't know why, but I got angry. Yelling-in-public angry.

The first time she brought it up months ago, I treated it as a joke. This time, she sounded serious. To me, that's like a slap in the face. I'm really not that kind of guy anymore. When I was young and stupid, back when I was a reckless bastard and womanizing piece of garbage, I probably would've at least considered it. That guy, who my oldest friends referred to as Dog Juan, died a painful death a long time ago.

I guess I felt she crossed a line in our friendship. I still feel that way. Maybe I've been a bit too understanding; maybe that led to some mixed signals on my part. Maybe I hadn't been clear enough in communicating my discomfort. Whatever the reason, I guess I feel having someone ask me to participate in something that would undoubtedly end my career, hurt my family, and make me feel like shit hurt a bit.

I walked off, she followed. Both of us have the "get-in-the-last-word" mentality, so the whole thing turned into a full-fledged argument by the time we reached the parking garage. Yelling turned to sobbing. Sobbing turned to silence. We sat in her little convertable without saying a word for about an hour.

I finally apologized for yelling. She accepted my apology, I think. She didn't say much when I got out of the car - just said she was sorry she offended me.

I still don't know why she got angry. It's not like I asked her to become a librarian and participate in some hot, steamy reference interview in front of complete strangers or on camera.

Yup. There are definitely some wires crossed somewhere.


UNLV Bitch of the Ball said...

I hate to laugh but, man, what the hell do you expect to happen? I'm not going to cast judgment, considering I go to class with several girls who are strippers, but it sounds like there's more than just crossed wires. You're not talking about doing a porno or something, are u? Now that would be something I know I'd get angry at.

Hey, feliz navidad, homes!



Alice: In Wonderland or Not said...

I really don't have a comment I am getting in my last blog rounds before leaving this weekend.

I'm sure it didn't come as a total surpise to you though. I don't know any stripper or " industry workers" personally so I can't judge in that respect I have no idea what is going through someone's mind when they do that sort of thing for money or how if affects how they act with their friends...

You do have a very diverse group of friends there Jason.

Anonymous said...

Ay caramba.

Maybe you should ask her to do a reference interview (preferably with stinky homeless guys) in an overheated library for $16.50/hour.

(Guess what I'm doing this week? ;-)

Voodoo Child said...

Sounds like an akward situation. Maybe she wan't necessarily looking to get you into the biz so much as she was looking to you for validation on what she does. Or maybe she is trying to express something about you that she can't effectively communicate.

Still you know what they say, no harm in asking...

Anonymous said...

Hmmm ... can't say I've been there on this one, dude.

Been on the other side of the fence, though, where I've had feelings for someone with whom I'm forever stuck in the dreaded "FriendZone". Wanting to move a friendship to the next level is difficult, especially when the other person sees you as nothing more than a close friend - or worse, a pseudo-sibling. Relationships are a two-way street, and having been on the other side of that, I can say that if one person doesn't want to move it to the next level, for whatever reason, the person who does has to find a way to respect that and appreciate what they do have in the current relationship. You did the right thing - you were honest. And she will calm down in time and appreciate that, I'm sure.

Can reference interviews be hot and steamy? I've got to find me THAT library, dude.

And $16.50 per hour? They DO pay more up here, after all - and here I thought that was just urban myth. Sweet. ;-)

Peace, enjoy Cali,

Anonymous said...

Um hey aren't you kinda old to be writing posts like this? Or hanging out with people like this?

Guess maturity doesn't come with age for guys

LibraryTavern Liz said...

I'm confused. Was she suggesting she could find you work in the adult entertainment industry or was she suggesting that the two of you get it on?

Anonymous said...

The $16.50/hr is for a reference librarian substitute. When I was a regular staff member I made about $21/hr. At my current (academic library) job, I make $15.50/hr and have a 32 mile commute one way. However, it doesn't take more than two days down here at the PL to appreciate why I drive 64 miles a day for peanuts :-)

The ZenFo Pro said...

Doing an adult video...yup.

I think you're right that there were more than crossed wires, too.

Merry X-Mas right back at ya, chica :)

Re: What goes through a person in the adult entertainment industry's know, I hadn't really thought about it. I do know, for her, there is a definite separation between what she does in front of the camera and how she acts in a relationship. She's naturally an exhibitionist and a rather sexual creature, though. I'm a little confused about how she makes that separation without it causing some chaos.

As for diversity of friends, well, I've been thinking of changing the ZenFo Pro tagline to "I Find Trouble So You Don't Have To." ;)

Actually, she stopped by at work the last time she was in Oxford to get keys to get into my house. (Fortunately, most of my colleagues were off for an extended holiday - so minimal, if any gossip fodder) She did help one person search for a book. It might help put some things in perspective, though.

Just rereading the post, and realized how utterly insane it is to buy 10 pairs of jeans at one time.

Another good point. Thanks, man. I think there is something to the idea of validation. I have a postgraduate education, I have a "normal" job in a relatively stable profession, and I don't really give a rat's ass about the material world. Being an information pro is socially acceptable to the vast majority. What J. does is not - the adult industry isn't exactly known for being an intellectually stimulating field. I also know she'd like to have more "normal" people/relationships in her life, but doing what she does, that's almost impossible to accomplish. Even romantic relationships in that field require compromises of almost Biblical proportions - one must be willing to endure frequent AIDS testing, be ready to let go of the concept of closed relationships, give up unbelievable amounts of intimacy.

Think you have something there.

Lol, man...actually, glad to hear it...makes you a better man than I. :)

The relationship thing is a great point, too. I've kind of been feeling like the relationship has been a one-way street lately - like a pseudo-sibling. Not that I'm looking at dating anyone in particular per se, but it's sort of difficult meeting anybody when you've got somebody like J. around. I actually met a really sweet girl at a bar a few weeks ago, but I was with J. at the time. I got the girl's phone number anyway. I finally worked up the guts to call this person and ask them out, but was completely shot down because she remembered me as the guy who had a dancer hanging all over him - I looked like a goddamned player.

Re: steamy reference interviews - Online chat reference? Possibly ;)

The ZenFo Pro said...

Old? Hey, guys never outgrow some things, unfortunately. I probably shouldn't be hanging out with some of the people I do, but, well, shit happens.

Hey, sorry for the confusion. The offer was to work, as a performer, in a film of an adult nature, so I guess it ends up being both. I firmly believe in defying stereotypes as a librarian, but, morally and emotionally, the librarian-as-porn-actor barrier is not exactly what I have in mind as an ideal.

It took me about 24 hours to write that last post - not just to keep it sort of coherent but to prevent any sort of lawsuit or, more importantly, not hurt the feelings of the person in question. I got a rather nice v-mail this afternoon, saying that she thought we should take some time off from socializing for a while, which I definitely agree with. (If she's reading this, don't sweat it, chica.) Its just too bizarre of a situation.

Ahhh, the PL life. 64 miles? Wow. I've been debating whether or not to move to Cincinnati and deal with a commute, but, the pay's not that great where I am.

Anonymous said...

hey I just wanted to let you know i think its so cool of you not to judge somebody because of what they do for a living. i used to be a house dancer but left to get married and have a family. i never thought about being in the porn business until aftr i quit dong it. this really touched a nerve or something with me because i got out of it because a lot of girls where i was wanted to do pornos and never understood why the signifigant othersin there lives were so opposed to it.

A SLO Town Resident said...

A friend who is alibrarian e-mailed me this link this morning thinking I might be interested in an example of where SLO's washed up media hacks end up when they enter the real world.

I remember you, Mr. Johnson. Oops. Hope you don't mind that I'm using your last name and revealing your secret identity. You were an arrogant peice of garbage when you were polluting our airwaves and you obviously still are.

It doesn't surprise me one bit that you're back in our community, defacing everything we've built as a community by bringing a bad element into our town. The truth will set you free, my friend. Masoginistic pigs tend to attract weakminded women.


Anonymous said...

Oh, one more thing...

“Pornography is the instruction. Rape is the practice, battered women are the practice, and battered children are the practice.”

- Gloria Steinem

Day by Day said...

Wow... you have a wide variety of "friends" ya know?

Hmmm... not sure what to say here. I was once asked by a friend who owned a Hooters to become a "Hooters" chick... that offended me... I can only imagine what my reaction would have been if I was asked to star in a porn... Geez.

I don't think you over reacted at all! :)

The ZenFo Pro said...

I guess I should just say "you're very welcome." Thanks for stopping by :)

Lots of women work their way through college, support families, and find escape from bad situations by working as house dancers or in erotic clubs. You're equally right, from my experience, in the numbers of women who also get into it as a stepping stone towards the porn industry.

Happy holidays to you and yours. Thanks for sharing :)

SLO Town Resident (/Anon # 2?):
Nice to see folks still hold a grudge from my 15 minutes of fame. Gotta love radio fans.

So you're revealing my true identity, huh? Uh...sorry, Leslie. Last name's not Johnson.

As for being a "Masoginistic pig" who attracts "weakminded women"... I'm curious. Is your analysis based on the fact that I'm probably the only sportscaster in SLO County history to lead a broadcast with a NCAA women's soccer piece ahead of a college football wrap-up or is it because of the nifty "Thank You" notes I received from parents grateful that their daughters always got equal coverage on my watch?

Did you ever actually listen to my broadcasts or are you just pissed because I hung out with someone who works in a field you don't agree with in your precious town?

I'm almost certain you're the same person as the last poster. The Gloria Steinem quote is supposed to do...what? Make me feel guilty? Kinda reminds me of the folks who post random bible verses.

Since you've chosen to post a feminist quotation in obvious reference to what you think of my friend, that "Bad Element" woman who's helping to "deface" your town, how 'bout one of my fave feminist quotes:

Does feminist mean large unpleasant person who'll shout at you or someone who believes women are human beings. To me it's the latter, so I sign up. - Margaret Atwood

The ZenFo Pro said...

Oops...meant to say I'm pretty sure Anon # 3 is the same as SLO Town Resident

The ZenFo Pro said...

Hey, welcome back (wink wink, nudge nudge) ;)

Hooters? Damn. Bad food, horny customers, and all the ambiance of a truck stop. Good call.

Thanks :)

Anonymous said...

MM: the pay thing was just a little joke that used to go around the MLIS program when grads were looking for work and the search extended outside the country. Librarians do better than a lot of professions - and depending on the job sometimes better in the US than here - which is kind of odd, considering. But, hey, I'm not complaining. Last gig was $22, probably will wind up between $18-20 this time around, the way things look now. So with the Canadian dollar, it's not much different at all, really.

64 miles? Ouch. But I can relate. My last gig was about a 35 mile venture each day. The life of The Travelling Librarian. Hmmm. Could make for a good folk song, Guthrie-style.


Anonymous said...

At the PL we have a roving librarian during some hours, kind of a backup person. I think we should make up a fake English folk ballad -- "I am the Roving Librarian!" :-)

Our asst. mgr. in the reference dept. at the PL is Canadian, from near Kitchener, I think. Went to the University of Western Ontario for library school (I think). Nifty fellow. Used to work for Polygram Canada then opted out for a life of being pestered by librarians because they don't like the way he does the desk schedule.
But, hey, he lives in the same town as Kim and Kelley Deal of the Breeders, so there are some perks ;-)

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