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By Harry Foster,2014-11-04 18:25
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SNUFF Chuck Palahniuk 1 Mr. 600 One dude stood all afternoon at the buffet wearing just his boxers, licking the orange dust off barbecued potato chips. Next to him, a dude was scooping into the onion dip and licking the dip off the chip. The same soggy chip, scoop after scoop. Dudes have a million ways of peeing on what they claim as just their own. ..

SNUFF

    Chuck Palahniuk

    1

    Mr. 600

    One dude stood all afternoon at the buffet wearing just his boxers, licking the orange dust offbarbecued potato chips. Next to him, a dude was scooping into the onion dip and licking the dipoff the chip. The same soggy chip, scoop after scoop. Dudes have a million ways of peeing onwhat they claim as just their own.

    For craft services, we're talking two folding tables piled with open bags of store-brand cornchips and canned sodas. Dudes getting called back to do their bit—the wrangler announces theirnumbers, and these performers stroll back for their money shot still chewing a mouthful ofcaramel corn, their fingers burning with garlic salt and sticky with the frosting from maplebars.

    Some one-shot dudes, they're just here to say they were. Us veterans, we're here for the facetime and to do Cassie a favor. Help her one more dick toward that world record. To witness

history.

    On the buffet, they got laid out Tupperwares full of condoms next to Tupperwares of mini-pretzels. Fun-sized candy bars. Honey-roasted peanuts. On the floor, plastic wrappers fromcandy bars and condoms, bit and chewed open. The same hands scooping M&M's as reaching into thefly and elastic waistband of boxers to stroke their half-hard dicks. Candy-colored fingers.Tangy ranchflavored erections.

    Peanut breath. Root-beer breath. Barbecued-potato-chip breath getting panted into Cassie'sface.

    Tweakers scratching their arms bright red. High-school virgins wanting to lose it on camera.This one kid, Mr. 72, is looking to get deflowered and into history in the same shot.

    Skinny dudes keeping their T-shirts on, shirts older than some other performers here, sent out

    Sex with the City a lifetime ago. Fan-club shirts from back when Cassiefor the launch of

    was starring in Lust Horizons. T-shirts older than Mr. 72, silk-screened before he was born.

    Loud dudes talk on cell phones, talking stock options and ground-floor opportunities at thesame time they pinch and milk their foreskins. All the performers, the wrangler MagicMarker—ed their biceps with a number between one and six hundred. Their haircuts, a monumentto gel and patience. Tans and fogs of cologne.

    The room full of metal folding chairs. To set the mood, dog-eared skin magazines. The talentwrangler is some babe, Sheila, with a clipboard, yelling for number 16, number 31, and number211 to follow her up the stairway to the set.

    Dudes wearing tennis shoes. Top-Siders. Bikini briefs. Wingtips with navy-blue calf-high socksheld up with those old-time garters. Beach flip-flops still coated with sand, every step grittywith it.

    That old joke: The way to get a babe to act in a blue movie is you offer her a million dollars.The way to get a dude is you just have to ask him . . . That's not actually a joke. Not like aha-ha joke.

    Except maybe us industry regulars, most of these nobodies saw the ad that ran in the back of Adult Video News. An open casting call. A hard-on and a doctor's release to show you'reclean, that was the audition. That, and nobody's shooting kiddie porn, so you had to beeighteen.

We got shaved pecs and waxed pubes standing in line with a Downs-syndrome Softball team.

Asian, black, and spic dudes. A wheelchair dude. Something for every market segment.

    The kid, dude 72, he's holding a bouquet of white roses starting to curl, droop, the petalsslack and starting to brown. The kid's holding out one hand, words written on the back in blueballpoint pen. Looking at them, the kid goes, "I don't want anything, but I've always loved you..."

    Other dudes carry around wrapped boxes fluffy with bows and trailing ribbons, boxes smallenough to fit in one hand, almost hidden inside their fingers.

    The veteran talent wear satin bathrobes, prizefighter robes tied with a sash, while they waittheir call. Professional woodsmen. Half them even dated Cassie, talked marriage, becoming theLunts, the Desi and Lucy of adult entertainment.

    Wasn't a performer at that shoot who didn't love Cassie Wright and want to help her makehistory.

    Other dudes ain't dicked anything but their hand, watching nothing but Cassie Wright videos. Tothem, it's a kind-of fidelity. A marriage. These dudes, clutching their little gifts, for themtoday is their kind-of honeymoon. Consummation.

    Today, her last performance. The opposite of a maiden voyage. Up those stairs, to anybody afterthe fiftieth dude, Cassie Wright will look like a missile crater greased with Vaseline. Fleshand blood, but like something's exploded inside her.

To look at us, you'd never guess we were making history. The record to end all records.

    The talent wrangler comes around, calling out, "Gentlemen." The Sheila babe pushes the glassesup her nose and goes, "When I call you, you'll need to be camera-ready."

By that she means fully erect. Condom-ready.

    The closest thing that comes to how the day felt is when you wipe back to front. You're on thetoilet. You're not thinking, and you smear shit on the back of your hanging-down wrinkled ballskin. The more you try to wipe it clean, the skin stretches and the mess keeps getting bigger.The thin layer of shit spreads into the hair and down your thighs. That's how a day like this,how it feels to keep secret.

    Six hundred dudes. One porn queen. A world record for the ages. A must-have movie for everydiscerning collector of things erotic.

Didn't one of us on purpose set out to make a snuff movie.

2

    Mr. 72

    It was a lamebrain plan, bringing roses. I don't know. The first step inside the door, theygive you a brown paper shopping bag with a number written on the side, some number between oneand six hundred. They say, "Put your clothes in here, kid." And they give you a wood clothespinwith the same number in black pen. They say, "Clip it to your shorts. Don't lose it or youwon't get your stuff back." The crew girl, she wears a stopwatch on a cord, hanging on herchest where her heart would be.

    Taped to the wall behind the table where you undress, they got a sign done in the same blackpen, on brown paper; it says how the production company isn't responsible for anybody'svaluables. Another sign they got says "No Masks Allowed." Some bags, guys put their shoes inwith a sock balled inside each. Their belt coiled tight and nested in one shoe. Their pantsfolded, the creases matched, and laid on top the shoes. Their shirts tucked under their chinwhile they match up the arms and fold the collar and tails so as to make the least wrinkles.Their undershirt, folded. Their necktie rolled and tucked in a pocket of their suit jacket.Guys with good clothes.

    Other guys pull off their jeans or sweatpants, balled up, inside out. Their T-shirts orsweatshirts. They peel off their damp underwear, and stuff it into the bags, then on top theydrop their stinking tennis shoes.

    After you undress, the stopwatch girl takes your bag of clothes and puts it on the floor,against the concrete wall.

    Everybody, they're standing around in their shorts, juggling their wallets and car keys, cellphones, and whatnot.

Me bringing a bouquet of roses, wilting and all, more junk to juggle, it was just plain stupid.

    Getting undressed, I was unbuttoning my shirt, and the stopwatch girl giving out paper bags,she points at my chest and says, "You planning to wear that on camera?"

    She's holding a bag marked with the number "72." The clothespin clipped to one paper handle. Mynumber. The stopwatch girl points her gun finger at my chest, and she says, "That."

    Tucking my chin, I look down until it hurts, but all I can see is my crucifix on the gold chainaround my neck.

I ask if that's a problem. A crucifix.

    And the girl reaches out with the clothespin, squeezing it open. She jabs to pinch it on mynipple, but I pull back. She says, "We've been doing this a long time." She says, "We know tolook out for you Bible thumpers." From her face, she could be a high-schooler, about my age.

    The stopwatch girl says how the actress Candy Apples, when she set her record with 721 sexacts, they used the same group of fifty men for the entire production. That was in 1996, andCandy only stopped because the LAPD raided the studio and shut down the production.

She says, "True fact."

    When Annabel Chong set her early record, the stopwatch girl says, performing 251 sex acts, evenwith eighty men showing up for the cattle call, some 66 percent of them couldn't get theirdicks hard enough to do their job.

    That same year, 1996, Jasmin St. Claire broke Chong's record with three hundred sex acts in asingle shoot. Spantaneeus Xtasy broke the record with 551. In the year 2000, the actressSabrina Johnson took on two thousand men, fucking until she hurt so bad the crew had to packice between her legs as she sucked off the remainder of the cast. After her royalty checksstarted to bounce, Johnson went public with the news that her record was bogus. At most, she'ddone five hundred sex acts, and instead of two thousand men, only thirty-nine had answered thecasting call.

The stopwatch girl points at the crucifix, saying, "Don't try to save anybody's soul here."

    The next guy down the table, he pulls off a black T-shirt, his head and arms and chest the sameeven suntan brown. A ring shines gold, hanging from one nipple. His chest hair lies flat, everyhair cropped down to the same stubble size. Looking at me, he says, "Hey, buddy ..." He says,"Don't save her soul before they call me for my close-up, okay?" And he winks big enough towrinkle half his face around one eye. His eyelashes big enough to fan a breeze.

    Up close, he's smoothed a layer of pink all over his forehead and cheeks. Three colors of brownpowder around his eyes, folded into the little wrinkles there. Clamped under one arm, betweenhis elbow and tanned ribs, the guy holds a wad of white, maybe more clothes.

    On the other side of the table, the stopwatch girl turns her head to look both ways. She stuffsa hand into one front pocket of her blue jeans, asking me, "Hey, preacher, you want to buy someinsurance?" The girl fishes out a little bottle, big around as a test tube, but shorter. Sheshakes the bottle to rattle some blue pills inside. "Ten bucks each," she says, and shakes theblue pills next to her face. "Don't you be part of that sixty-six percent."

    The guy wearing makeup, the stopwatch girl hands him a bag numbered "137," saying, "You wantthe teddy bear should go in your bag?"

She nods toward the white bundle under the guy's elbow.

    Guy 137 whips the wad of white clothing from under his arm, saying, "Mr. Toto is nothing sopedestrian as a teddy bear . . ." He says, "Mr. Toto is an autograph hound." He kisses it,saying,

    "You wouldn't believe how old."

    The stuffed animal is sewed out of white canvas, a long wiener-dog body with, sticking down,four stubby white canvas legs. Stitched on the top, a dog head with black button eyes andfloppy canvas ears. Crabbed all over the white canvas is writing, blue, black, and red penhandwriting. Some loopy letters, some block letters. Some with dates. Numbers. A day, month,and year. Where the guy kissed it, the dog's smeared red with lipstick.

    He holds the dog in the crook of one arm, the way they'd hold a baby. With his other hand, theguy points out writing. Signatures. Autographs. Carol Channing, he shows us. Bette Midler.Debbie Reynolds. Carole Baker. Tina Turner.

    ever admit to being." "Mr. Toto," he says, "is older than I myself would

    Still holding the bottle of blue pills, the stopwatch girl says, "You want Miss Wright shouldautograph your dog?"

    Cassie Wright, the guy tells us, is his all-time favorite adult star. Her level of craft soarsabove her peers.

    Guy 137, he says how Cassie Wright spent six months shadowing an endocrinologist, learninghis duties, studying his demeanor and body language, before playing a doctor in the

     Cassie Wright spent sixgroundbreaking adult feature Emergency Room Back Door Dog Pile.

    months of research, writing to survivors and studying court documents, before she set foot onthe set for the adult megaepic In her single line of dialogue,Titanic Back Door Dog Pile.

    the moment Cassie Wright says,

    "This boat's not the only lady going down, tonight…" her west-country Irish accent is dead-on,depicting exactly how hot the steerage free-for-all sex must've been in the final moments ofman's worst sea disaster.

    "In Emergency Room," he says, "in the lesbian scene with the two hot laboratory assistants,it's obvious that Cassie Wright is the only performer who knows the correct way to work aspeculum."

    The critics, guy 137 says, justifiably raved about her portrayal of Mary Todd Lincoln in theCivil War epic Ford's Theatre Back Door Dog Pile. Later re-released as Private Box. Later

    re-released as Presidential Box. Guy 137 tells us, in the scene where Cassie Wright gets

    double-teamed by John Wilkes Booth and Honest Abe Lincoln, thanks to her research, she trulydoes make American history come alive.

    Still cradling his canvas dog, its black button eyes against his gold nipple-ring, the guysays, "How much for your pills?"

"Ten bucks," says the stopwatch girl.

    "No," the guy says. He stuffs the dog back under his arm and reaches around to his back pantspocket. Taking out his wallet, he pinches out twenty, forty, a hundred dollars, saying, "Imean, how much for the entire bottle?"

The stopwatch girl says, "Lean over so I can write your number on your arm."

    And guy 137 winks at me again, his big eye looking bigger inside all that brown powder, and hesays, "You brought roses." He says, "How sweet is that?"

3

    Mr. 137

    You know those days at the gym when you're bench-pressing six plates or you're one-arming yourbody weight in preacher curls, and one rep you're pumped and stoked, split-setting cable rows

    with wide-grip pull-downs, you're knocking out reps and sets fast as you can rack theplates—but then, the next set, you're toast. Wasted. Every curl or press is just more effort.Instead of powering through, you're counting, sweating. Panting.

    It's not a sugar crash. Wouldn't you know it? The big shift is because some meathead at the

    listening listening, but when thatfront desk has shut off the music. Maybe you weren't

    music stops, working out turns into just plain work.

    That's the same doom you feel, that drop in blood pressure, when the music shuts off, three inthe morning, closing time at the ManRod or the Eagle, and you're left standing still unfucked,all alone.

    That's the big letdown you'll notice about filming a movie: No underline music. No mood music.Down the hallway, in that room with Cassie Wright, you're not even getting wah-wah electric-guitar porno jazz. No, only after the editing, after looping any dialogue, then they'll add amusic track to improve the continuity.

And wouldn't you know it? Bringing Mr. Toto here was a terrible plan.

But scoring a full bottle of Viagra . . . that just might pull me through.

    Across the waiting area, the real-life genuine Branch Bacardi is talking to Mr. 72, that kidholding a bouquet of wilted roses. The two of them could be Before and After pictures of thesame actor. Bacardi stands in red satin boxer shorts, talking, while one of his hands rubs hisown chest in slow circles. In his other hand, he holds a blue throwaway razor. When his rubbinghand stops, his razor hand moves to the same spot, scraping away invisible stubble, the plasticrazor scratching in the short, quick strokes you'd use to hoe weeds in a garden. Branch Bacardikeeps talking, never looking down as his rubbing hand roves to another spot, feeling, thenpulling the tanned skin tight as the razor hand shaves the skin from every angle.

Right here: Branch Bacardi, star of The Da Vinci Load and To Drill a Mockingbird, The

     Always Cums Twice and the first all-singing, all-dancing adult feature, ChittyPostman

    Chitty Gang Bang.

    Even indoors like this, Bacardi, Cord Cuervo, Beamer Bushmills—all the male dinosaurs of theadult industry still wear their sunglasses. They pat and smooth their hair. They're thegeneration of genuine stage actors; they studied their craft at UCLA or NYU, but needed to paythe rent between legitimate roles. To them, doing porn was a lark. A radical political gesture.Playing the male lead in The Twilight Bone or A Tale of Two Titties was a joke to put on

    their resume. After they were bankable legitimate stars, those early jobs would become fodderfor anecdotes they'd tell on latenight talk shows.

    Actors like Branch Bacardi or Post Campari, they'd shrug their tanned, shaved shoulders andsay,

    "Hell, even Sly Stallone did porn to pay his bills ..."

Before becoming a world-famous architect, Rem Koolhaas did porn.

    Across the waiting room, a young lady wearing a stopwatch on a black cord looped around herneck, she stops beside Bacardi and writes the number "600" on his arm, the six at the top, azero below it, the second zero below that, the way triathletes are numbered with a thick blackfelt-tipped pen. Indelible ink. Even as this talent coordinator writes down the outside of eachbicep, writing "600" on one arm then the other, Bacardi keeps talking to the roses kid, hisfingers probing his own ab definition for stubble, and the plastic razor hovering, ready.

    The men who aren't eating potato chips are scratching away with plastic razors. They squeezepimples. Or they squeeze tubes of goo into their palms, rub their hands together, and smeartheir faces, their thighs and necks and feet with a coat of brown. Bronzer. Their palms,stained brown. The skin around their fingernails, dirty dark brown. These actors stand with gymbags at their feet, stooping to hunt for tubes of hair gel, bronzer, plastic razors, foldingpocket mirrors. They do pushups, their tidy whities streaked brown. Walk into the only John youget for six hundred actors, a oneholer with a sink and a mirror, and the parade of buttockshave smeared the white toilet seat with layers and layers of brown. The sink smudged withbronze handprints. The white doorway clutched with a haze of brown finger-and palm prints fromporn dinosaurs stumbling, blind behind sunglasses.

    It's hard not to picture Cassie Wright on the set, sunk into a bed of white satin, by nowclutched and smeared and smudged, darker and darker with every performer. Minstrel porn.

I take a pill.

    The talent coordinator stops next to me and she says, "Sure, go blind, but don't come to us fora settlement."

I ask her, What?

    "Sildenafil," the young lady says, and taps her felt-tipped pen against my hand holding thebottle of blue pills. "Get it hard, but if you overdose, watch out for nonarteritic anteriorischemic optic neuropathy."

She steps away. And I swallow another blue pill.

    Talking to the roses kid, Branch Bacardi says, "They don't shoot the performers in order."Cupping a hand to lift one sagging pectoral muscle, he scrapes the razor across the skin hiddenunderneath, saying, "Officially, it's because they only got three Gestapo uniforms, a small, amedium, and a large, and they got to call dudes to fit the costumes." Still shaving, he looksup and off, watching a monitor mounted near the ceiling that's showing a porn movie. He says,"When it's your turn, don't expect that uniform to be dry, much less clean ..."

    In every corner of the ceiling, you have monitors hanging down, showing hard-core adult films.One is The Wizard of Ass. Another plays the classic Gropes of Wrath. All of them Cassie

    Wright's greatest hits. None of them any newer than twenty years old. The monitor BranchBacardi's watching, it shows him a generation younger, riding Cassie Wright doggy style in World Whore One: Deep in the Trenches. That videotaped Branch Bacardi, his pecs don't sag

    and flap. His arms aren't red with razor burn and rashy with ingrown hairs. The hands gripping,the fingertips almost meeting around Cassie Wright's little waist, the cuticles aren't outlined

with old bronzer.

    The live Branch Bacardi, the roving hand and his razor hand stop as he stares at the monitor.With his razor hand, he slips the sunglasses off his face. He's still frozen; only his eyesmove, snapping back and forth between the movie and the kid's face. Under his eyes hangcrushed, crumpled folds of purple skin. Under his suntan, purple veins climb the sides of hisnose. More purple veins climb his calves.

    The young Branch Bacardi, who pulls out and blows his money shot all over those pink cunt lips,he looks exactly like the kid with the wilted roses. The kid the talent coordinator has markednumber 72.

    Number 72, cradling his roses, he stands with his back to the monitor, not seeing. This kid is

     where CassieWorld Whore Two: Island Hopping, watching the monitor behind Bacardi, the movie

    Wright deep-throats the erection of a young Hirohito, intercut with shots of the Enola Gay

    approaching Hiroshima with its deadly cargo.

    It was after World Whore Two won the Adult Video News award for best boy-girl-girl scene,where Cassie Wright teamed with Rosie the Riveter to suck off Winston Churchill, it's that yearshe took a long sabbatical from moviemaking. One full year.

    After that, she went back to her regular schedule of two projects every month. She did the epic

     Moby Dicked. She racked up another AVN award for best anal scene in A Midsummer Night's

     which went on to sell a million units in its first year of release. Into her thirties,Ream,

    Cassie abandoned films in order to launch a brand of shampoo named "100 Strokes," a lilacshampoo packaged in a tall bottle that curved too much to one side. Stores hated to stock thetipsy bottles, and no one hit the Web site to place orders until she arranged productplacements in two movies. In Much Adieu About Humping, the actress Casino Courvoisier

    slipped the bottle inside herself and demonstrated how the long, curved shape bashed the cervixfor perfect deep-vaginal orgasms every time. The actress Gina Galliano did the same trick in The Twelfth Knight, and retail outlets couldn't keep 100 Strokes in stock.

    But wouldn't you know it, Wal-Mart wasn't happy about being tricked into stocking sex toys inthe same aisle as toothpaste and foot powder. There was a backlash. Then a boycott.

    After that, Cassie Wright tried to stage a comeback, but the monitors here won't be showing anyof those movies. Pony Girl films shot for the Japanese market, where women wear saddles andbridles and perform dressage routines for a man cracking a whip. Or fetish movies like Snack

     a genre called splosh films, where beautiful women are stripped naked and pelted withAttack,

    birthday cakes, whipped cream, and strawberry mousse, sprayed with honey and chocolate syrup.No, nobody here wants to see her last project, a specialty film called Lassie Cum, Now!

    Among industry insiders, the rumor is that the movie we're shooting today will eventually bemarketed as World Whore Three: The Whore to End All Whores.

    The moment in World Whore One when the doggy scene shifts to three doughboys liberating aconvent of French nuns in Alsace, as the new scene starts, Bacardi slips on his sunglasses.Without her habit and wimple, one of the nuns has a thong tan-line. None of the nuns have anypubic hair. Bacardi's fingers stroke the skin around one nipple, and the razor starts to

scrape.

    The talent coordinator with her stopwatch and black pen walks past me, saying, "Those arehundredmilligram pills, so look out for dizziness ..." Counting on her fingers, she says, "...nausea, ankle and leg swelling . . ."

I take another pill.

    Across the room, Branch Bacardi leans forward a little and reaches both hands around to thesmall of his back. With one hand, he stretches out the elastic waistband of his boxer shorts.With the other, he sticks the plastic razor inside the red satin to start shaving his butt.

    The talent coordinator walks away, still counting. ". . . angina," she says, "irregularheartbeats, nasal congestion, headache, and diarrhea ..."

    That year, the one full year that Cassie Wright took off at the height of her movie career,industry insiders rumored that she had a child. A baby. She got knocked up doing a reversecowgirl, when Benito Mussolini lost his load inside her. You hear how she put the baby up foradoption.

Wouldn't you know it? Mussolini was played by Branch Bacardi.

And I take another pill.

4

    Sheila

Sweat collects.

    Sweat pools as pale blisters inside my two layers of latex gloves. Borrowed an old precautionfrom gay porn: you wear a blue condom inside a regular pink condom, that way, if the dick turnsblue in the middle of anal sex, you know the outside rubber's busted. A failsafe. True fact.Wearing pink gloves on top of blue gloves, my fingers feel hot, pulsing with my every singleheartbeat; sweat collects in bubbles that rove just underneath my latex skin, merging withother blisters of sweat, melting together. Growing. Bulges of sweat swell in fat pads across mypalm. Sweat squirts past my knuckles, inside the latex, to balloon my fingertips, swollen andsoft. Numb.

I feel nothing. Just my own pulse, and the sweat crawling around inside my skin.

    The latex, smudged with brown tanning crap. Orange with potato-chip flavor or dusted white withpowdered sugar or cocaine. Smeared red from money stained with barbecue sauce or blood.

    Feel the other blisters—could be my hand curls into a fist around a ballpoint pen, or myfingers pinch a dollar bill—and other blisters race backward to the wrist of the gloves,bursting hot and wet down my forearm. The trickle of sweat, cold by the time it drips from myelbows.

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