Tonight there was an open bar and canapes, but six years ago it was panocha.
Closing in on 15 years in Los Angeles, my life here often overlaps in a way I didn’t expect. It’s so transitory, people don’t stay very long, don’t let their houses get cluttered because they’ll be moving, can’t think of raising kids here, find it hard to be a regular somewhere because all our favorite bars close every five years. And then there’s the interracial brothel.
This weekend I attended the wedding of two groovy people at a beautiful house overlooking Porn Valley. According to the AirBnB literature (“We got the place for the whole weekend and it costs less than a hall!” said the bride), the home had once been owned by one of my favorite country stars. “Dang me!” I said upon getting the invitation. “I thought that guy rented a trailer or, at best, stayed in 8 x 12 four-bit rooms. Not in some swanky pad within an easy drive of the Tampa Ave. Apple Store.”
A group of guests waited at a Metro stop for a man named Delroy to shuttle us up to the home. The bride’s side and groom’s side chatted amiably on the short drive and then, within five minutes, we were ascending a steep, curved driveway. I realized I’d been here before.
“I’ve been to a porn shoot here,” I said to my date.
“Of course you have,” she said, and I knew I needed to tread lightly. There are only so many times one can say “a 19-year-old that smells like down comforters full of dreams and wears bubblegum toenail polish isn’t what I’m into” and sound convincing, even if it’s true, as the world takes a dim view of a man with bubblegum toenail polish on the passenger-side dashboard of his car. Note to self: stop mentioning your side gig as America’s Beloved Porn Journalist; instead focus on your career as a United States Senator and Ronnie James Dio.
It was a lovely home with shining parquet floors. The master bedroom upstairs had a walk-through closet with dozens of inlaid drawers for storage of socks, underwear, small pumpkins, tapered candles, dried birds, old phones, bits of parchment, D and 9-volt batteries, and nip bottles (honestly, the entirety of my socks and underwear would fit in two drawers and I have no idea what else one would use them for. Oh: shrunken Pacific Islander tribesman heads). I’d forgotten that I’d been in this room six years ago, talking to a woman who called herself Elena Heiress, but it was returning downstairs that I had my Dead Zone moment.
As if in a trance, I said: “Where the stripper pole is now was once a sex swing.”
It was March, 2009 and the movie was “The Brothel Life.” It starred Vannah Sterling, who would later go on to star in the Octomom porn parody (“Coctomom,” of course) before Octomom herself, Nadya Suleman, would cave to the enticements of porn tubesite giant Mindgeek, then known as Manwin.
However robust and wholesome a workout one might get from a pole dancing class, a stripper pole installed in one’s home is like antibodies proving the existence of a disease: for every five people that come through your home singing the praises of your stripper pole, there are two who say, “Yeah, just ride a goddamn bike, Tiffany.” The very presence of the stripper pole (and, yes, I might have said I’d been to a porn shoot here too loudly, but it was really the stripper pole) made people prone to nervous jokes about not sitting on the furniture.
I felt defensive of the porn industry then. As IF a porn production or its contracted rental company doesn’t disinfect and wipe down furniture that has been sexed on, I thought.
“See how well these floors are maintained?” I said. “They take equally good care of the furniture.”
It is odd, though, that upon watching “The Brothel Life” just now (if you’ve never watched a porn movie before, don’t start with this one), I notice that a lot of the furniture from six years ago is the same. I had a lovely conversation with the bride’s mother on one of those couches.
The wedding was beautiful: the bride resplendent and the groom earnest and charming. I mingled with a lot of old friends and the sliders that the caterers brought around were delicious. There was a cake made of sushi. There was no talk of porn for the rest of the evening once everyone left the stripper pole room — it was like the cold spot in a haunted house.
When it came time for the bride to walk down the aisle, she trod a similar path to the one C.J. Wright had in his tryst with Jessica Bangkok, and the song that was playing was this one by Ed Sheeran:
If you decided not to listen to the above song, I understand. Maybe you know it and don’t need to hear it again. If you are unfamiliar with this current pop hit and wedding staple, it imagines a time in the future when the singer and his beloved are old and decrepit and, what’s more, “when the crowds don’t remember my name” (you wonder why the crowd would even be assembled around a person they don’t remember).
But there is one line that I cannot get out of my head and now, like the videotape in “The Ring,” I give it to you:
“Will your mouth still remember the taste of my love?”
Listen: I have a filthy mind, so all I can think is that Mr. Sheeran is talking about his future 70-year-old bride recalling fellating his ginger-tufted appendage back when people remembered his name, and it ruins the whole song for me. But even my elementary school-age children are disturbed by that line without quite knowing why.
As Delroy drove us back down the hill, I thought of that Talking Heads song “Lifetime Piling Up.” In what capacity will I make my next visit to that house? The “Brothel Life” sequel? My own wedding to Octomom?
Long ago, a quirky country crooner asked, “Woman, will you weep for me?” Then an Irishman wondered if mouths had jizz memories. And somewhere in the middle, a woman named Alexis Breeze sandwiched herself between those two voices, stuck out her ass, and said, “Come get this panocha, Papi.”