By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
Toward that end, George and his elite squad constantly wage what amounts to military assaults on festivals and spectacles throughout the hemisphere: Fantasy Fest in Key West, Florida (a kind of Carnaval held during Halloween); strip clubs in San Felipe, Rosarito and Cancun, Mexico; the Hedonism resort in Negril, Jamaica; biker rallies in Sturgis, South Dakota, and Laughlin, Nevada; the Gay and Lesbian Festival and Folsom Street Fair in San Francisco (the latter "for the leather community"); the Over the Line Tournament in San Diego (a three-man-baseball league with over 900 coed teams, noted for its filthy team names and spirited female mascots); the Ponderosa in Roselawn, Indiana (a twice-yearly nudist convention favored by the porn elite); the Testicle Festival in Clinton, Montana (a kind of biker/ mountain man gathering of the tribes); and, he says, "a couple of secret spots which I won't reveal because my competition follows me around."
George, very much the patriarch, with a lion's mane of white hair and an Einstein mustache, is affable in the extreme, and surrounds himself with a bomber crew of former skate punks, extreme-sports veterans and punk rockers -- a Boogie Nightsstyle extended family of tattooed boys, strippers and strays to whom he administers counsel, wisdom and unconditional support. This past Labor Day, 29-year-old skate punk and party boy Darby Conley and part-time porn chick Bianca were dispatched to the Lake of the Ozarks in Arkansas, while George himself headed up the crew sent to capture the party scene at Lake Havasu. (The final member of their trusted contingent, black ex-boxer and all-around badass Jim Pitts, just a year younger than George, sat this one out.) We have come along on the Havasu trip to observe and figure out just what skills a person must master in order to separate a boatful of coeds from their clothes and inhibitions.
Also on this trip is Keith Kooiman, George's chief cameraman and first lieutenant -- small and wiry, with a shaved head, a discernible temper and a way with the ladies. Keith is 35 now, but still very much the punk rocker; his theme song is the Descendants' "I Don't Want To Grow Up." He's a black belt in various martial arts, was an all-state wrestling champion in high school, and displays a certain hallmark fearlessness in both his camera style and his personal demeanor. Among his numerous tattoos, the one on his ankle is a tarantula with the words Creepy Crawl -- the old Charles Manson term for nocturnal recon missions. "That means whatever you do, I'll always win," he explains. "You stand in front of me, I'll creepy crawl right over you."
There's also Willie Jacobs, who serves as this weekend's on-site security and aide-de-camp. Willie is the silent type, seven years clean and sober, with a long black ponytail and an unsettling likeness to Furio, the Sicilian enforcer on The Sopranos. Ever since his ex-girlfriend got a year and a half "up north" for stabbing another girl, Willie spends most of his time either working the graveyard shift at a Santa Ana porn shop, or shooting pool six hours a day at the California Girls strip club, making this something of a busman's holiday for him. A self-proclaimed observer, albeit one immune to the temptations of the constant nudity surrounding him, his strength as a bouncer is that his boundaries seem extremely well-defined. "I don't like the word security," he says, "because then everyone thinks I'm here to fight. But once I get riled up, I'd rather hit something to calm down. If I walk away, I'll only take it somewhere else."
And then there are the half-dozen girls George has brought with him, all between the ages of 19 and 24: Brandy, a pneumatic blond who is Keith's sometime girlfriend; her best friend, Cleo, who is half-black and half-white, and along for the first time; Kristen and Natalie, also friends with Brandy; and Jessica and Rosanna, best friends who share an exotic Latin-Polynesian heritage and were discovered by George on his last Havasu trek. George and Keith repeatedly stress that none of these girls is paid to be here, and that nothing is expected of any of them. (Even so, none of them want their real names used -- although, unlike porn actresses, they don't seem to have professional aliases already picked out.)
The bulk of the filming occurs in Copper Canyon, a secluded cove. There's something called the Sandbar, which was shut down by zealous law enforcement a year ago to combat the sort of institutional hedonism they feared was taking permanent root. Farther down the river is Parker Dam, where several floating bars host wet T-shirt contests. And there is the Channel, the central drag of the Colorado River, anchored on one end by the reconstructed London Bridge, bought and shipped here stone by stone in 1968 and dedicated in 1971. (Not the London Bridge which inspired the nursery rhyme and the title of My Fair Lady; that was dispatched in 1014 by one Olaf the Norseman. This bridge was built instead in 1831 and bought a century and a half later by real estate bandits for its kitsch allure to gullible Americans. But no matter.)