For Violet Blue
There's a reason that the sound on porno films goes to some almost familiar jazz theme, some variety of guitar or piano with a moody, muted trumpet or attenuated saxophone. It's so that the live sound can be lost. Sure, live squicks and slurps and sighs and moans would promote authenticity, but the reality is more:
"Now over to your left side. More. More. Fine. Now move your arm. Move your fuckin' arm. Move your fuckin' arm so we can see her fuckin' tit. I wanna see her fuckin' tits, asshole, would you move your fuckin' arm?
"You just started and you're ready to cum? Fuck. OK. Out. Condom off. Now stroke, stroke, and cum, dammit, cum. This ain't no masturbation flick, this is boy-girl sex. So cum, dammit. Cum. There. On her belly. Is that all? Look, if I wanted to make a squirt flick, I'd have asked for a couple of lesbians. Enough. Get his fuckin' ass out of here.
"Look, you fuckwad, I don't mind too much that you give your friends a chance to fuck a porn star, but we're making a movie, for fuck's sake. If he can't follow directions and cums in thirty seconds and then can't jizz for shit, how am I gonna make your fuckin' movie? How about you hire some genuine porn stars who can keep it up so long that we have to throw some away, instead of having to do a whole bunch of fuckin' cut-n-paste to make this scene worth shit?"
That's why you hear soft jazz.
I do jazz themes for pornos. Or ambient. Or whatever the producer wants. One a week, two a week, it's a good living. Everything you get paid is paid up front - there's no such thing as residuals in the porno business. After a movie gets made, the distributor tells the producer how much he'll get. It's a take it or leave it thing: you don't argue with the guys who do distribution, it's bad for your health. The distributors know how many copies a particular kink will sell in Omaha, how many copies it will sell in Little Rock, and their offer is based on that. If it does better, then that pays the distributor for the extra limo and some of their other costs of doing business. If it does worse, and your stuff does worse more often than not, you should probably consider a different line of work. For your health.
I also do music themes for indie films. The indie moviemakers are not demanding A-list talent, they just want someone who'll do a better than workmanlike job of translating their ideas into original music. If her indie film clicks, and she decides that her cinematographer or her composer or her editor is worth bringing on to the big-budget production she'll be directing, then you get your big break. Until then, it's keep circulating, keep hustling. I circulate. I hustle.
It was my work for an indie film that caused my problem.
It was a perfect film-school piece: a cop and a deputy meet while investigating a gruesome murder/suicide. The two stories are inverse images of each other: the cop and the deputy meet out in the scrub over a dismembered corpse, and as the investigation plays out, they keep meeting in depersonalizing and demeaning places: morgues, jails, courthouses, industrial parks. The victim and her assailant are shown to have met at positive, life affirming events: weddings, human potential seminars, birthday parties, celebrations. The happy people meeting up in the happy places have everything going for them, and wind up unhappy and dead. The survivors meeting in the desolate places end up happy and together. Mike Figgis might be able to pull it off. In lesser hands, it was too symmetric for anyone except a film school student to enjoy.
I wrote the musical theme for the piece. Theme and variations. The cop's theme. The deputy's theme. Variations on a basic theme. I mirrored the film school symmetry: I inverted the theme for the assailant and his victim. It worked beautifully. A work for hire, sold to the production company for use on this one film. And that's where the problem started.
The distribution rights on the indie got sold to Howie, a porno producer who wanted to transition to being a legit distributor. He bought the film, with the right to recut it. He didn't see any value in the film school symmetry, so he decided that the film would do better as a slasher pic, and he had it recut. As a slasher pic, it made no sense and died in its first screening. It didn't make it out to the drive-ins. But Howie liked the assailant's theme and the victim's theme, and copied them from the soundtrack.
Howie's one try meant that he didn't make it as a legit distributor, and he went back to making pornos. But now he played the themes during filming, and he used them in his pictures. And I found out that the assailant's theme from the indie was being used in Howie's pornos. Hey, I'm not going to get every request that's out there for five minute jazz-and-trumpet beds for porno sex scenes, but when you lose work to your own music being ripped off, that rankles.
My lawyer, for two hundred and fifty bucks, said that it would be worth checking Howie for assets before I sued. Fourteen hundred dollars worth of investigator time later, I learned that Howie had no serious assets in his own name, his distribution company that owned the rights to the indie film had no assets (other than the rights), that all of his porno production companies had no assets other the masters of the films that they had produced, and that he created a new production company for each of his productions. And, as my lawyer told me, there was no way to get an injunction against his production company(s), as we didn't know the name of the entity he would be using to produce his next porno. The situation sucked.
I picked up a gig doing the music beds for what was going to be a series of performance improvement DVD's for Alan, an aspiring hypnotist. How To Be A Better Shortstop. How To Be A Better Third Baseman. How to Be A Better Catcher. Each one would show a player with "classic" form. The sequence was, Introduction, Classic Footage, Mechanics of the Maneuver, Hypnotic Induction, Repeat Mechanics of the Maneuver For Someone In Trance, Repeat Classic Footage. Alan was confident that the series would be a profound moneymaker and could go on forever: soccer, football, hockey, basketball, tennis,... Except, as I learned, that Alan was at best a sometimes baseball fan, and didn't know squat about other sports. As it was, I had to pick around on rotisserie league sites to find the names of classic shortstops. Finding footage was a bear. Alan also didn't know much about body mechanics or illustrating body movements, either. I found a AAA baseball coach who thought the idea might have legs, and he coached me on the animations I created in Poser until James (the Poser mannequin) could make the infield catch and throw to first base. I learned all about posture and footing and balance. I ended up taking an NLP course to learn the proper rhythm for delivering the induction. By the time we had burned through Alan's five thousand dollar development budget, we had a half-completed DVD on how to handle the infield catch. I took advantage of his discouragement and willingness to abandon the project to have him sign the rights over to me.
If you're handed lemons, make lemonade. Once I finished the NLP course, I realized I could anchor the sequence of body mechanics to the sound of the bat hitting the ball, so I finished the DVD and gave some samples to the baseball coach. He liked it, and asked if he could try it on his players for the season. If it worked, he'd be happy to work with me on the rest of the series. He liked the concept of hypnotizing his rookies to do the right thing. If they could do the right thing often enough, he could work on attitude instead of on mechanics. No income this year from Alan's project, and Howie was still, according to my contacts, ripping me off.
That's right, if you're handed lemons, make lemonade: if I could create a performance DVD for porno actresses, there was a way that I could have some fun with Howie. If I could anchor a series of body moves to the sound of a bat hitting a ball, I could anchor another series of body moves to the misappropriated theme. Sounds are sounds, right?
Angie, a veteran porn star turned acting coach, gave me some ideas. She was now coaching aspiring B-movie starlets how to act sexy, but not too sexy. She had crossed the line enough times to know exactly were it was. Angie explained to me that getting nauseous or physically sick because you couldn't deal with something that was happening on a porno set, even if you weren't participating, usually got you thrown off the set. Angie loved the idea of a hypnosis tape to help aspiring (and maybe current) porn stars deal with things that weren't done (too often) in Little Rock or Omaha or even some parts of LA.
I sat down with Angie, and wrote a script. We covered a range of activities that could cause up-close and personal (but not yet jaded) observers to get nauseous. I wrote the music beds and put the recording together. I added one suggestion:
"When you hear this theme, < assailant's theme>, you will feel nauseous. And you can relieve this feeling by throwing up. And when the theme ends, you will be fine, and you will feel fine."