My name is Jennifer Yang. I was your typical Asian-American princess born and raised in southern California. I was attending UCLA majoring in business, intent on professional success and marrying well. But then I fell in with a bad crowd (according to my parents) and everything changed. They were Hollywood types; stuntmen to be specific.
A stuntman stands in for the actor when the script calls for a risky or dangerous action: fights, falls, car crashes, the whole bit. They taught me a lot and helped me get my first jobs, which qualified me for my SAG-AFTRA card. My years of ballet, gymnastics and martial arts lessons were paying off. I had excellent balance and I was unafraid of heights. Also I was stage struck. I guess I'd always had a secret hankering for show business. I took drama and joined the chorus in high school. I studied music and could play the piano and violin decently. I even took up tap and step dancing in college to keep in shape.
Because of my small stature (4'9" and 85 lbs.) as well as an almost nonexistent bust line, I stood in for child actors; nothing spectacular but it gave me great experience. I quit school. My family and friends were scandalized and my parents were threatening to disown me, but I wouldn't be intimidated.
After a few months of being persistent and knocking on doors, I gradually expanded my contacts within the industry. On one of the jobs, I was hired to go to the Alabama Hills for some location work with a second unit team. The Alabama Hills aren't in Alabama. They're not even named after the state of Alabama. They were named for the CSS Alabama, a British-built Confederate warship, by local miners who sympathized with the Confederate cause. The CSS Alabama captured or sank dozens of Union military and civilian ships from 1862 until 1864, when it was itself sunk in a battle off the coast of France.
The Hills lie alongside the eastern edge of California's Sierra Nevada mountain range near the town of Lone Pine, just off US route 395. This area has been used as a film location for almost as long as the film industry has been in Hollywood. This area has seen tons of feature films and television episodes shot here, mostly westerns but has also substituted for other parts of the world and even other planets. My so-called stunt consisted of clambering up a couple of large rocks and running into a cave entrance. It wasn't any big deal, but the director was pleased and it was a lot of fun.
My next job for the same production sent me to San Francisco, one of my favorite cities in the whole world. Founded in 1776 by Spanish settlers, it is pretty small compared to the other great cities of the world. Still, San Francisco is first class all the way. We were filming some scenes at a vacant and abandoned hotel that was scheduled to be torn down and replaced with an office building.
I was rehearsing my stunt with a couple of the other crew-members when the floor where I was standing collapsed with a thunderous crack. The next thing I knew, I was falling. I squeaked in surprise and tried to grab onto something solid, but the only thing I grabbed was air.
I heard a woman's scream when I hit bottom, but then lost consciousness from the impact. When I came to, this middle-aged man started speaking Chinese to me in a dialect I didn't understand. Then this older woman started yelling, "You speakee English? You speakee English?"
"I speak English," I finally said and tried to clear my head. I was sore all over, but I didn't think I had broken anything. That definitely was not the stunt I was hired to perform. "Where am I?"
"You are in Madame Bordeaux's, the most exclusive parlor house in San Francisco and most probably anywhere west of the Mississippi in these United States. I am Madame Bordeaux. I want to know how you got in here and why you attacked one of my girls."
"I didn't attack anyone." I began to wonder where my fellow crew-members were. I didn't know these people. I was lying on a bed in a small room lighted by a gas lamp surrounded by men and women dressed in period costume, late 19th century was my guess. There weren't any location shoots scheduled that day so I couldn't understand why they were dressed that way. There were even more people peering through the open doorway, all strangers.
"That's not what Sarah said," Madame Bordeaux responded.
"Sarah also said it was a seven foot tall Chinese giant with fangs, claws and armed with a hatchet. It looks like the only thing she got right was that she is Chinese all right," another man said. The woman nodded.
"Did you check her for weapons?"
"I checked every square inch of her body for weapons," he said. "At first I thought it was a boy with her short hair and wearin' trousers and all, but she is all girl." The man grinned and leered at me. I felt my face burning from the shame and humiliation from having been told I'd been groped while I was unconscious. I was going to go straight to the police once I got out of this place and swear out a sexual assault complaint against this bastard.
"I still want to know how you got in here."
"I was on an upper floor when it gave away and I fell," I explained. Everyone looked up so I looked, too. There was a solid ceiling above me.
"There is no upper floor above us, only the roof. There is no hole either."
"I don't understand," I whispered.
"I don't either," the woman said, "but I intend to."
"She's probably a runaway from one of the Chinatown crib houses," someone else said. "She's cute for a China girl. I wouldn't mind trying her out." My anger and confusion was giving way to just plain fear. Did these people think I was a prostitute?
"Look," I said. "I'm sorry I trespassed. It was unintentional and there doesn't appear to have been any damage done. If you think I've done something wrong, you can call the police and have me arrested." I'd feel safer in the hands of the police than with this group of people. I could call my boss and he would bail me out of jail.
"We need a little variety around here," the woman said. "I think we'll keep you around for a while."
"Will someone please call the police for me?" My request only got a laugh from the assembled crowd. I didn't understand what was so funny.
"Did someone call for the police?" A well-dressed middle aged man stepped forward. "Sergeant Sam Butler of the San Francisco Police Department at your service." the man declared. He wasn't in uniform, but I had to assume he was telling the truth.
"Please take me out of here," I begged.
"Certainly, my dear," he responded. "All in good time. Let's get acquainted first." He handed the woman a coin. She smiled and nodded. I realized I had just been sold to this so-called officer of the law.
"I'm not going to do anything with you," I shouted.
"I took his token so you don't have any choice," said the bitch.
"You took his token so why don't you do whatever he wants with him?" Madame Bordeaux slapped me in the face. I pulled my leg back to kick her in the throat, but the Chinese man grabbed me from behind and pulled me back. I was helpless, so I spat at her landing some spittle on her chin. She slapped me again. The ring she was wearing cut my cheek that time. It stung like crazy and my own tears made it feel like a burning acid was being poured onto the wound.
"They will beat you if you continue to resist," the Chinese man whispered in my ear. "Let them do as they will." I ignored him and still struggled.
"I can give her a little something to calm her down a bit," the madam told the cop.
"No, I like my whores to have a little spirit," Sergeant Butler said. "Of course, if she gets too spirited, I'll just beat the shit out of her until she starts cooperating. Do we understand each other little China girl?" I gave him the evil eye stare, willing him to collapse right there and die in excruciating pain. Unfortunately he still lived, but I must have communicated something because he said, "Maybe your boy should continue restraining her or perhaps you can chain her to the bed. Hey, better yet Mike, George? Stay here and we'll make a party out of it. One of you take the Chinaman's place."
"That will be two more tokens if you please," said the brothel keeper.
"I am sorry," the Asian man whispered as he relinquished his grip on me to another man who took his place. Yeah, someday I'd make sure he was as sorry as the rest of them were going to be. I just wasn't sure how I was going to do that.
I shook my head and tried another tack. "Please don't do this," I begged. My tears were flowing freely. I prayed that this was just a nightmare and I would wake up safe and sound in my own bed. It all seemed so real, but it couldn't be, could it? Maybe my brain had been scrambled in the fall and I was hallucinating being trapped in a nineteenth century bordello. Where were my crew-mates? Why hadn't they come to rescue me?
"Strip her," Madame Bordeaux ordered.
"Don't!" I cried as two women started grabbing and pulling off my jeans and top. I tried flailing my arms and legs, but it didn't even slow them down. The crowd watching was a bunch of grinning idiots.
"She hardly has any pussy hair," one of them said. "Hardly any teats neither."
"That doesn't matter to me," said Butler. "The rest of you are welcome to watch, but it'll cost you."
"I just want to make sure I get my turn at her," said someone.
"Me too," said someone else.
"Come see me downstairs," said the brothel owner. "You can all have a turn." She turned to me. "I'm now kind of glad that you dropped in on us." People around her thought that remark was clever and laughed.
.... There is more of this story ...