It was a long 2 weeks while I waited to hear from ADAM, my producer on DARE, about the subway scene to be shot in
San Francisco. Psycho Sam, played by LOU CASS, meets Darren, played by GayPornBlog.com’s JACK SHAMAMA, in a deserted subway station to retrieve the latest batch of drugs sewn into a teddy bear. When Darren tells Sam that he’s quitting, Sam decides to cut him loose—forever—by dispatching him with a knife as a subway train roars past.
Then I received the e-mail: Adam felt that with the cost of permits and security, that shooting in a subway wouldn’t be financially viable. How about an alley? I wrinkled my nose at that. With all the great sets and locations we had in this film, I wasn’t going to open the movie in so blasé a place as an alley, so Adam asked me to put my creativity to work.
Now, those of you who watch my movies know that I shot some footage in a subway here in L.A. for DIRTY LITTLE SINS, but that was only two or three lines and easy to grab on the sly. This scene was six pages of dialogue! I knew I couldn’t do it in our underground and not get caught. Where else would work? I needed a location that was unique, atmospheric, and visually dynamic. The answer came as I was driving back from the supermarket, listening to Air America on the radio, and Randy Rhodes went on a commercial break:
“Rides! Games! Great food! Exhibits! Fun for the whole family at the L.A. County Fair! Running now through September 30! Join us at the fair!” the radio blared.
I almost hit the brakes in excitement as the answer was dropped in my lap. THE L.A. COUNTY FAIR! That would be PERFECT! When I got home, I e-mailed Adam that I wanted to shoot the first scene at the fair the next weekend. Lou said he’d already be in town, so all they had to pay for was Jack’s plane ticket and our expenses. It would just be me directing and doing camera, Jack and Lou, keeping it small and shooting guerilla-style. Adam called to say that he thought it was an amazing idea, and that we were crazy, insane and wonderful.
I chose a Saturday afternoon, but I was nervous, as the weather reports called for rain that day. It poured the night before, but was clear and cloudy as I drove to pick up Jack at LAX. He was 30 minutes late, as his plane sat on the tarmac for a half-hour before letting them disembark, but even so, we were still 30 minutes early for picking up Lou. Jack was starving, so we drove through In and Out Burger to get him some food, then picked up Lou at the corner of Sunset Blvd. and Crescent Heights.
So then it was on to the fair! It took almost an hour to get there, and we were only 5 minutes away when Lou suddenly blurted out, “Where the hell is this place?” I spent an extra $5 on preferred parking so we had a short walk to the midway. Before we left the car, we went through all the dialogue, making sure they had it the way I wanted it. Certain parts they HAD to have memorized, because it could only be done in one unbroken shot. I also cautioned them that we were doing this secretly, and if we were discovered, we might be thrown out of the fair or worse.
I bought 3 adult tickets and went through the turnstile. A security guard frisked Jack’s backpack, then let him through. I filmed him walking through the midway, then told him to head for the balloon game.
Now the fair was everything I wanted it to be: lots of rides spinning, lots of action, lots of color and lots of motion…and a few things I didn’t want: loud music and too many people. But we were there, so I had to do what I always do: head down and charge forward, with a backup plan in my pocket, just in case.
The scene had been rewritten with Darren at the balloon game, throwing darts and missing several times. Suddenly, someone throws a dart that pops a balloon, and he turns to come face-to-face with Sam. So Jack paid for two darts and throws the first one.
Pop! He turns into the camera and grins. “That wasn’t supposed to happen,” he said. “Throw the other one,” I said. Pop! The game master came over and told him he’d won a prize, but if he threw two more darts and popped balloons, he could get a bigger prize. “I need you to throw more anyway,” I said. “Go ahead.”
Pop! Pop! He hit two more times! “I’ve never played darts before!” Jack grinned, then looked at the array of stuffed animals hanging before him. He’d gotten 4 balloons, so he could pick from the big animals. “Get the monkey! Get the monkey!” Lou exclaimed, and Jack picked the monkey.
“Do two more,” I said, “and try to miss.”
“I was trying before,” he said.
“Then try to hit,” I replied. Thud. Thud. Two misses, and I got the footage I needed.
We wandered around, looking for a nice backdrop for the next batch of dialogue, and I decided on the merry-go-round. I stopped at a hot dog stand and bought a foot-long corn dog on a stick. Lou and Jack sat on a bench in front of the merry-go-round, and I gave Jack the corn dog. “At the end of your dialogue,” I instructed, “I want Lou to lean over and bite the head off your corn dog.” Jack smiled, “Seriously?”
I nodded and prepared myself for the shot. Suddenly, I felt a drop on my head. “Ready?” I asked. They nodded. Two more drops. “No way,” I thought. Then suddenly, someone turned on the tap, and the rain gushed down hard. Everyone ran to our umbrella-covered bench as the rain smacked the asphalt hard. We all just sat and chatted for the 15 minutes it took for the rain to fall off. Finally, it was pretty well over, but the people on the bench with us were still there.
“Looks like it’s stopped raining,” Jack said, very loudly. About half the benchwarmers got up and left at the news.
“Yes, it’s definitely stopped raining,” Lou followed, and with that, the rest of the people got up and left, leaving us alone on the bench to get the shot. But the merry-go-round music was so loud, I wasn’t sure how well the camera could hear them.
Next, it was on to the ferris wheel. We got in line, and I squatted on the ground to get the next shot. Lou and Jack did their dialogue with the giant wheel in the background, and it looked great.
We were shown into the enclosed compartment, and as soon as we began to move, I started shooting Lou’s side of the conversation. It went pretty smoothly, but we had to start and stop a few times, so by the end of Lou’s half, the ride ended. We exited the compartment, and I noted a look of confusion and suspicion on the face of the carnie who opened our door. It was this look that drove me to make my next decision: “Let’s go on another ride,” I said, “then come back and get Jack’s half of the dialogue later. Since it’s enclosed, we can get it even if it’s raining. I think the carnie was getting wise to us.”
That would be a decision that I would later regret.
Next, we went to the spook house. The guys did their dialogue in front of it, but we were interrupted again by a 15 minute burst of rain. I had them do it again, then we all got on the ride. Lou & Jack in one car, and me following behind. As we rode through, I got shots of some of the ghouls that live in the ride, thinking it would make for some good cutaways.
After the ride ended, I had them go on it again, but this time I stayed outside. When the car exited, Jack was to be slumped over dead, and Lou was to have blood on his face. As they prepared to ride the 2nd time, I handed Lou a packet of ketchup, and off they went. When their car exited, Jack was hanging limp over the front of the car, and Lou got out, carrying the backpack with the teddy bear. He walked toward camera with a spot of blood on his temple, which he wiped off with the back of his hand. Got it! Nice.
I wanted to get some footage of them on some rides. First, I took them to the Crazy Coaster, which they both enjoyed.
Then we grabbed some lunch. I had a hot dog with cheese and mustard, Jack had a corn dog and Lou had 2 foot-long corn dogs! lol After lunch, we headed for another ride: the Tilt-a-Whirl. It began to rain again, so I stood there holding an umbrella in one hand and shooting with the camera in my other. Jack kept spinning the car around as it circled in the downpour, getting soaked, and by the time they got off, Lou was wet and nauseous.
“I need you to go on one more ride,” I said. Lou looked green. They nixed the Free Fall and the Cyclone. Lou suggested the Alpine, but Jack said no. Finally, I picked another ride: the Spider, but Lou said only if Jack didn’t spin it. Jack agreed, and they rode, but Lou felt like shit when he got off it anyway.
We ducked under the awning of a food stand as another deluge hit, and when it cleared, I suggested we go back to the ferris wheel to get Jack’s dialogue. When we arrived, the attendants were leaning against the closed gate. “We’re closed,” they said, “because of the rain.”
“For how long?”
“The rest of the day.”
SHIT! I should have just damned the torpedos and got back on the stupid thing to get Jack’s lines right away. It’s not like we were the most clandestine of groups that afternoon, anyway.
“What do we do now?” Jack asked.
We stood there, and while I tried to think of options, the talk turned (naturally, when you have 3 gay men together) to sex. We chatted about our sexual experiences and preferences (some very surprising from my two friends!) and gave the carnies an earful, I’m sure. lol
Finally, a light went off in my head. “C’mon,” I said, stepping away from the ride.
“Where are we going?” Lou asked.
“We’re leaving,” I answered.
As we walked from one end of the midway toward the exit located at the other, we stopped occasionally for the odd treat: Jack saw some roasted corn dipped in butter and had to have one. I grabbed a couple of funnel cakes (CVK’s favorite treat) and had them bag it for me for later. Lou wanted a soda.
I realized that we had several tickets left, and so we urged Jack to use them on more dart games. We stopped at another booth and with two more darts, he won a small blue dolphin stuffed animal. At another booth, with 4 more darts and pops, he won a large prize and picked a stuffed husky dog for himself. We all laughed because he was doing so well, and he kept swearing he hadn’t done it before. At another stand with 2 more throws, he won a weird-looking stuffed starfish/octopus with evil eyes, and at the last booth, he had enough tickets for 2 final darts. This game was different in that instead of popping balloons, the side was covered with five inch square pieces of paper with a small star printed in the center. The object was to get a dart in the center of the star. Jack threw the first dart and hit the star. The second one missed. “Oh, well,” Jack said, and we started to walk away.
“Wait! Wait! You won!” the attendant shouted. We turned back.
“You won! You only have to get one dart in a star!” Apparently, because this game was harder, it only required one hit to win. We almost doubled over, laughing. Jack had won again.
Instead of stuffed animals, the prizes were full-sized guitars of all colors! “Get the tan one! Get the tan one!” Lou said, pointing.
“No, this one’s for Jett,” Jack said.
“In that case,” I said, “get the blue one.” The attendant gave Jack the cobalt blue colored guitar.
“How can they afford to give away guitars?” Lou asked.
I looked it over. “Because it’s cheap,” I said. “It’s made of particle board!”
A last-minute run to a food stand for a bag of cotton candy by Jack, and we all exited the fair with about 30 minutes of footage, 2 large stuffed animals, 2 small stuffed animals, a blue guitar, and three full stomachs.
We collected ourselves and got back in the car. “How are you going to get my dialogue?” Jack asked.
“Just wait,” I replied, and drove the car to a deserted section of the parking lot. Positioning the car until I only saw sky through Jack’s window, I pointed the camera and him and zoomed in until I saw only his face and the sky behind him, obviously through glass. It wouldn’t match perfectly, but enough to fool the viewer, I thought.
After getting Jack’s lines, we drove back to my house. It was 5:00. Jack had to be back at LAX by 6:45 at the latest, and I had to drop Lou off in Hollywood. I had the guys go into my garage where I seated them on a cooler. I had them do their spook house dialogue three times, each with a different light setup: one with a moving light, one with a flashlight zigzagging across their faces and one with a strobe light. Once that was done, I had them sit on a couch in my living room and re-did all the dialogue from the whole day, so I’d have something with nice clear sound if LEIF GOBO, who was editing, needed something to replace any lines with.
Back in the car, we dropped Lou off at the same corner where we picked him up, then it was down Sunset Blvd. to the 405 South, where I dropped Jack off at 6:45.
When I got home, I noticed that he’d left the blue dolphin in the back seat. I e-mailed him about it, offering to mail him to San Francisco, but Jack replied, “It’s okay. Seems kind of a waste to mail him all the way up here.”
“Bluesy is sad,” I typed back, “…and filled with RAGE!” lol
The next day, I realized that I was still one shot short. I had neglected to get a shot of Jack pulling the teddy bear out of the backpack, so I had CVK put on a shirt similar to Jack’s, then sit outside on the patio and got a closeup of the backpack with CVK’s hand reaching in and pulling the bear out.
Maybe Jack was right. Maybe I AM the Roger Corman of porn.
But maybe that’s not as insulting as I used to think it was.
On Monday, I mailed the tapes to Falcon and now, I anxiously await the first cut. There is a lot riding on this. Will Falcon ask me to do another film? Will DARE be a success?
While these questions beg to be answered in a “to be continued” way, I must close this chapter of my filmography for now, for other projects await to be written about.
I do want to thank the fine folks at Falcon again for taking a chance on me and for their belief and support for this project. Thank you.
I also want to thank the models and actors who told me repeatedly that they believed in the script and the film and gave tirelessly of themselves to do the best job that they could. Thanks.
And thanks to you, dear readers, for your interest in me and my adventures, and for making my blog one of the more-often read ones. Gracias.
Until next time, I remain…