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Butts does not like editing, either; he’s a self-proclaimed practitioner of “gonzo” pornographics. The porno term gonzo is conspicuously unlike the Hunter S. Thompson–spawned adjective, defined in the Oxford Modern English Dictionary as “of or associated with journalistic writing of an exaggerated, subjective, and fictionalized style.” For the porno definition, we must turn to Tricia Devereaux, relatively acclaimed porn historian as wed to porn’s pioneer of gonzoics, John “Buttman” Stagliano. (Note that Buttman is pronounced on par with Superman, Spider-Man or Batman, not with ottoman or Goldman.) Here’s Devereaux:
“Gonzo can take on several different forms. It can vary from the cameraman (in adult, very often the director) interviewing the actors, or participating in the scene with dialogue and/or sex. It can also mean that the actors are simply acknowledging the fact that there is a camera shooting what they are doing. So, although in adult gonzo, the cameraman is usually somehow visible or audible, simply the actors playing to the camera constitutes a gonzo scene.”
As Butts describes his techniques and preferences — hand-held, real-time body-pans — I can’t help but wonder whether his ultimate allegiance is truly to the purity of porn vérité, or to its convenience: “The best scene possible,” Professor Butts tells us, “is the scene with the least possible edits.”
Soon we’re all educated, and it’s time for the demo shoot. Two young women, Mari and Flower, head to the couch, and Butts heads to the sidelines to meet with the Learning Annex authorities. Returns a few moments later to explain: “Here’s the deal. I’ve been arrested many times. You all look like great guys and gals. But I want to make sure that what we’re doing here is not going to get any of us in trouble. We just need to wait for a clarification. We are in Los Angeles, and it’s legal to shoot adult movies here. But I don’t necessarily know under what context this falls: Whether doing this falls under the context of an adult movie, or if it falls under the context of a live performance.”
“Education!” someone ejaculates.
“I would agree,” Butts replies. “Totally. But unfortunately, I can’t get a guarantee that . . . I mean, is everybody going to raise their hands and say everybody here is not an undercover policeman? I don’t think I can even legally ask that question to find out. So let’s just wait for clarification. Either way, I’m gonna say I’m making an adult movie. It’s just whether you’re gonna see . . . the whole deal, or are you gonna see, you know, almostthe whole deal.”
Clarification arrives favorably. Butts takes up his camera. Mari and Flower make their ways from licks and moans to O’Gods and O’babys on the couch as Butts pans them up and down, coaching, coaxing, describing for us the various camera techniques he’s employing, as I listen imagining what I might see on the couch or the monitor, if they weren’t both eclipsed by Scott’s enormous head.
“The only thing that will scare me is if they put up flower wallpaper.” Mike Muir, cholo-styling front man of Venice’s seminal punk band Suicidal Tendencies and, later, Infectious Grooves, is in a deluxe RV parked in front of his two-story home in dusty Camarillo. Inside Muir’s living room, five construction workers hustle past cameramen, producers and Steve Watson, the Hotlanta-drawling host and foreman of the Discovery Channel’s extreme-remodeling show Monster House.
“It’s a thinker,” Watson says of Muir’s house, the final project of Monster House’s first season. (The transformation will be the basis for the show’s Halloween episode this Saturday.) Goateed and forever tan, Watson eyes the dimensions of an opening that leads from Muir’s original living room, the walls of which are spray-painted by local graffiti artist Adam Siegal, into a sort of romper room that in turn leads to the backyard, where tools surround the pool. The plan is to convert the romper room into an evil forest.
“We’re trying to confront fear,” says series producer Jeff Kuntz over the noise of hammers, saws and drills. Imagine images of animals peeking from behind trees fabricated out of steel and positioned along the room’s perimeter, with a television and sofas thrown in for domesticity’s sake.
Elsewhere, the build team’s electrical contractor, Rex, configures a timing system for a sliding steel door — essentially a mechanized, portal, featuring flames, a lady praying and a devil — that will go in the entryway Watson is checking out. Outside, measures are under way to add a “sacrificial” table to the barbecue area, thus allowing for the seamless transition of meat.
The key to a successful Monster House is good old-fashioned teamwork. Simple enough, but try putting that in the heads of maverick construction workers concerned with preserving their reputations in front of a national audience. If they complete what would normally be a two-month-long renovation project within the allotted five days, they each win $3,000 worth of power tools and welding equipment — and most important, Watson says, “braggin’ rights.” Watson himself gets his hands dirty and leads ‰