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Porn Again Geeks 

Second in a two-part series

Wednesday, Apr 21 1999
LA Weekly Art Dept.
Names in this article have been changed.

IF THE COMPUTER NERDS BEHIND THE GeekLust live-streaming video Web site aren't your typical pornographers, they've chosen a stereotypically porno location for their first shoot: a downtown loft smack in the center of a deeply damaged neighborhood, the kind of Dresden-after-the-bombing community where the safest place is the local McDonald's because there's always a cop car in the parking lot, even at noon on a Saturday.

But after honking my car horn and being admitted into the building past a 15-foot mechanized iron security gate, I find the loft itself to be a hardwood yuppie oasis. Bobby Fett sets up equipment in a corner of the big, bright living room, wearing what he calls his "capitalist exploiter" outfit -- a nice pair of slacks and a button-down shirt.

The first girl on the schedule is Daisy. She's a waifish, dark-haired 19-year-old who has never modeled nude before. She's brought her boyfriend along, so once we've all finished exchanging nervous pleasantries over Nutter Butters at the craft-services table and Daisy starts stripping off her Xena: Warrior Princess­style costume for Fett's digital camera, it feels more than a little lecherous. There's me, Fett, Fett's tech partner Rocky and the boyfriend in the big quiet loft, four pairs of male eyes watching this lone young woman get naked beneath the glare of halogens.

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But Fett guides Daisy out of her clothes like he does it every day. He doesn't say, "Take off your skirt"; he says, "Okay, let's work on the belt, now." He politely asks Daisy's boyfriend for permission before arranging her headdress so it covers a tattoo at her waist. Two hours and a costume change later, Fett films Daisy holding up her ID -- proof of age being something the porn industry does not take lightly -- hands over $200, and she's out the door, smiling.

The next shoot is with pale-skinned Lena and goes equally well. Dressed to resemble Death -- the goth heroine of the Sandman comic series -- she gamely jams her panties at Fett's camera while her husband, Rook, sits on the sidelines, thumbing through a hardback copy of Koko. Between takes, Lena and Fett argue over whether Scully's been packing heat more often in recent episodes of The X-Files, and whether "Helter Skelter" or "Tomorrow Never Knows" is the Beatles tune that gave birth to industrial music. The whole scene seems less and less and less like a porn shoot and more like a bunch of TV babies hanging out. It's Friends meets a fetish ball.

By the time Lena splits with her 200 bucks, the sun is starting to set. Fett smiles as he and Rocky break down equipment in the deepening dusk gloom. "I feel a whole lot better about things," he says. "I don't feel I've done anything wrong here today."

THERE ARE MORE MODELS SCHEDULED for the following day, but when I show up at the loft and honk the horn, no one is there to roll back the gate.

That evening, Fett phones. He doesn't sound happy. When he shows up for an interview the next day, he looks even worse. The reason is the previous afternoon's shoot.

Fett describes the model who showed up to work and her male escort. Both were emaciated and filthy and, to Fett's mind, clearly not sober. "I mean, I say heroin addicts -- I don't know what to spot -- but there were bruises on their arms, you know, things like that. The girl was so skinny you could see her spine like poking up through her back . . . there were little marks on her spine. I couldn't tell if somebody'd been shooting up into her spine or something. I could be projecting all of this, maybe just because they were so freaky and quiet I'm saying they were addicted to drugs. But, um . . ." He trails off, shaking his head and sighing. "God."

His first impulse, he says, was to get the two of them out of the loft before the next model arrived. But the man took offense, refusing to leave without seeing his companion finish what she came to do. And so Fett dutifully took up his camera and shot the girl going through a passionless striptease, zombie-style, track marks and all.

"She was standing there shivering, saying, 'It's really cold,'" he recalls with a grimace. "This girl had like no body fat. And it's a little bit chilly, but it's not that cold. You know?"

Fett won't be using the footage. Even so, the image lingers. "When someone walks in that way, and they are so abused by the world, it's just, I really wish I didn't feel like I was taking advantage.

"Porn is so much . . . it's an illusion fed to lonely people, basically. And all of us, at one point or another, out of necessity, have bought into that illusion. And maybe it's that porn is like sausage: We shouldn't see how it's made. You know what I mean?"

  • Second in a two-part series

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