Adventures in Illinois

Originally printed in Batteries Not Included

This is actually the second of my travel diaries. The first one is on my trip to Atlanta, and is still on my hard drive. I swear I'll finish it.

In many ways there's nothing more pathetic than a perv with asthma. It's so bloody annoying. I go to things, like the LIL dealer's room in Dallas, go away for the small Texas Gathering, find magazines and tapes in Atlanta, and then I'm too sick to do anything with them. I have a drawer full of toys that I spend a lot of time just staring at. I finally had to loan my giant dildo to someone in order to, 1. Prove that it existed, and 2. To provide artistic inspiration for the homoerotic stories she was working on. (She swears she won't actually use it. Though apparently one of her best friends saw it and started doing size comparisons of previous gentlemen of their acquaintance from memory.)

My dear friend Victoria invited me to come visit her in Illinois. We haven't seen each other in person for about two years. The last time was in a Science Fiction convention in San Antonio, which were able to bond over the fact that we both had disastrous on-line flirtations going. (Not with each other, mind.) There's nothing like somewhat romantic catastrophe to bond women together, I always say. Anyway, she's been a frequent recipient of the Kate Doyle erotic lending library many times before; we've swapped stories we've written and tapes and such. So a weekend with her sounded like an excellent idea.

So, I'm off to Illinois on a late flight after work. I once again did the John Waters trick of picking a book to read that will guarantee that nobody will want to talk to me. This time I picked a book called "Keeper of the King" which was written by an actor I like, Nigel Bennet, and a writer I don't, P.N. Elrod. Nigel Bennet played a vampire on a Canadian television series that I adore called Forever Knight, which was a show that both Victoria and I are huge fans of. I didn't buy the book at first because I assumed that Pat E. would write the majority of the book, and I don't tend to enjoy her characterization. (Her vampires have the distinction of being a basis of comparison that other vampires in other books can beat the crap out of.) Or plots. (She's from the 'good, though misunderstood' vampire school. They're great guys apart from that occasional killing people to suck their blood sort of thing. They can't help it and so it's very mean to hold it against them.) However, I was informed that I was wrong in my assessment and that Nigel did write the majority of the book at a con when I spoke to some Forever Knight people. Lisa told me knowingly that Nigel made sure that he wrote all the sex scenes himself. Scenes, as in plural. So, being the sucker I can follow the rest. It also has a lovely bloody vampire and victim embrace on the cover, which is a wonderful deterrent to others. Over all the book is quite good, with a rather cheerful, rambunctious hero. Not as explicit as it could be with how much sex this guy is getting, understand, but certainly enjoyable.

Of course most of the weekend was spent doing that most wonderful of pastimes, lounging around. I did catch ten minutes of 'Teletubbies'. Do not be fooled by the Falwell pronouncement. Apart from their butts going 'honk' whenever they sit down, which leads them to giggle maniacally, there is nothing kinky about them. It's an utter lie.

On Friday, we decided to have a nice dinner together and then stop by this adult store she knows of. Now, it probably seems odd that I would want to go to an adult store in another state when we do have them here at home. The reason was representation. You see in Texas, soft rubber toys and representational dildos and vibrators are illegal. The only ones that an establishment can sell must be novelties, and they can only sell six of them in a store. It's also illegal for you to own more than six. If you own more than six you are considered having intent to sell, and can be busted by the vice squad. This edict is only to these types of phallic symbols. You can own as many guns and guitars as you have room for, flagpole however might fall under certain deed restrictions. Personally, I think you should be able to own a dildo for every day of the week that you want. Being that I live in this insane state, all my representational toys, (all three - I'm just under halfway to being an outlaw), were all shipped in from out of state. My giant dildo was a result of difficulties in mail order. I swear, Adam and Eve really needs to put warnings under the pictures in their catalogs: Items in photo are much bigger than they appear. It arrived while I was in the hospital and James got the package. He called me and told me it made him feel dreadfully inadequate, but it would also make every male apart from a silverback gorilla feel inadequate, so he could be philosophical.

So anyway, I was all excited about going to a place where you could buy them off the rack. It was quite shocking to me.

We arrived after dinner, about ten thirty at night. We had difficulty finding a parking space. There was a guy sitting in a car, and when we parked and got out his eyes almost fell out of his head. Now, don't get me wrong, we weren't the only women there, I swear. But we were dressed rather nicely, and the other women were with gentlemen. I wasn't worried, though. You see, though Victoria is five feet tall and is quite adorable, she also has a deputy black belt in Tae Kwon Do, and she can kick people in origami shapes within minutes.

The name of the place was the Danish Dragon. Apparently it dates from the days when Scandinavia was the cornerstone of the sexual world. Usually in Texas if it has Dragon in the name it's either a tattoo parlor or comic book shop. We went inside and I was floored. Toys everywhere. Dildos, vaginas (including the virgin one with the replacement hymen) complete tackle and buttocks ensembles! Vibrators of all shapes, sizes and colors. I stared like the sad creature I am. There were clothes too small to fit me, a not unexpected state of events, though it is annoying. A half ton of magazines arranged in no particular order, paperbacks from the seventies, and lots of tapes. I was truly amazed, floored and stunned. We kicked around for a good forty five minutes to an hour. We rented some tapes, I picked up the new Libido, and purchased a small purple dildo which I promptly lost. I also found copies of Celebrity Skin! I couldn't believe it. I thought The Xfiles had made it up, I really did! So I bought two issues to take home for James. We checked out, a feat that took longer than usual because I wasn't used to a smut employee speaking English to me. He also never smiled and looked slightly disapproving. Here, the Vietnamese guys never stop smiling at you, and always look patient. It's very soothing when you're dying of embarrassment.

We walked out and headed back to our car. That guy who had parked near us was either still there, or he'd gone in and come back out ahead of us. Close to an hour later. This is a man with no life. He looks at us and gets partially out of his car and says, "Excuse me..." At this point, Victoria is now running bend, spindle and mutilate moves in her head.

"Yes?" I say.

"Are you ladies looking for a good time?" He asks in this hopeful, horny geek voice.

"No, thank you. You see, we ARE the good time." I smiled sweetly and got into the car.

I think he said, "Oh." He did look rather deflated.

We were able to drive about two miles before we died of laughter. I hugged Victoria. "I'm so glad that you're so butch! This way you can beat them up while I stand back and scream like a girl!"

This made her laugh more. I suppose we should have felt guilty on spoiling that guy's Penthouse Letters fantasy, but I'm sure that the story will change when he tells his friends later.

We saved the tapes for the next day and spent the evening watching and eating pizza. Two out of the three I picked because of Shanna McCollough and Jamie Gillis. Thanks to the force of the Gods of Irony in my life, they are both in non-sex roles.

I spent time trying to explain Jamie Gillis to Victoria. Which is hard being as he's the most mysterious man in porn. I'm not kidding. Have you tried to find out anything about him? You get, "He's been involved in porn for twenty years," and it's followed with nothing of substance. He's a full blown actor, much to my admiration, which is why he works so much better with a script than without it. When he has an actual character to work with, rather than "go over there and start fucking", he's breathtakingly stellar. His award for 'Bobbysox' was well-deserved. He's the single performance holding 'Princess of the Night' together and making it very enjoyable. Well, his performance and the fact that he makes all the other guys look like college beach volleyball players. Every time he's on screen you get the message of "step aside, boy, this is a man's job." He walks away with the whole thing. He's so wonderful going from tragedy to comedy too, in 'Opening of Misty Beethoven' he's got a wonderfully funny dry nonchalance, and in 'Dracula Exotica' he's laugh out loud funny. His career does span over twenty years. I've heard that he's done mainstream work as well. James is convinced that he once saw him in a TV movie with a man that could have been his brother once. The erotic films he's been in could fill pages with names.

So, I of course pick the movie in which he has no sex.

It's a new film by Michael Ninn, called Forever Night. I had to rent it for the name alone. It was also prophetic that I found it with Victoria since I introduced her to the television show Forever Knight. It was the "have to have it" choice for the evening.

It's like all of Michael Ninn's films in that it's shot on film quality video and actual film in spots, it's got the air of art about it. It's got wonderful costumes, pristine white shirts and tails, long satin gowns, strands and strands of faux pearls that manage not to look like Mardi Gras beads. The music is very much Enigma, Enchanted and Delirium inspired. It's very lush and atmospheric, with excellent uses of lights and shadows. There's very little character dialog. Jamie plays the only really developed character. It's another one of his tragic roles. He plays a man who calls the wrath of heaven down upon himself when he curses God at the death of his beloved wife.

Most all of the tale is told in voice over, with Jamie narrating. He has a terrific fuck-me voice, and that makes the film work so much better. Because of his curse, he may no longer make love. He can only stand by and watch while a demon in his wife's form and face takes lover after lover in his presence. Mostly he walks around the particular couple looking like a Greek Tragedy. His companion in his fate is another demon, who looks like a twenties Paris butch dyke. She can have sex, but tries to make it amusing for our protagonist, rather than another form of torture. It doesn't work, but she also speaks to him cynically and makes him feel a little less alone. In the end, nothing is resolved. It's just the curse of eternity, having him play the tragic voyeur forever.

Victoria and I wondered how many basketball stats that Jamie had to think of to himself to keep that perfect expression of sad indifference on his face. He never slipped once. He remained in a perfect state of reserved the whole time. He filled his character beautifully, which held the film together. The rest of the roles were charatures, requiring no depth or development. They are only reflections of the hero's sufferings, so his suffering has to come through to give their sexuality meaning here.

In short, it's really wonderful, and go see it right now!

The second feature was "Pornogothic" which I should have seen already because I actually own it. The trouble is that James watched while I wasn't home and then 'put it somewhere' and forgot to tell me where. He also forgot to label it. I've had to look at five unlabeled tapes before I found it. So I rented it in Illinois when I had the chance. Victoria was nervous because even though she enjoys vampire stuff, she's queasy about blood and sharp pointy things. I informed her that I hadn't seen a porn vampire tale yet that had the budget for stage blood. This was no exception.

There are some neat people in Pornogothic. Serenity, Brad Armstrong, and Asia Carerra only to name a few. It's shot on video, but it has a fully invested story about a nest of vampires living in a club and are leaving a string of mysterious murders in their wake. There are lots of non-sexual characters, mostly police officers, coroners and other investigative officials. It's another story of a tragic hero. Brad Armstrong plays a police detective whose only friend is a prostitute who doesn't like him very much.

He's grown burnt out and disillusioned since the murder of his beloved wife, played by Shanna McCollough. She's lovely as the wife, looking warm, sunny and more beautiful dressed than a lot of actresses do naked. I so wish we had seen more of her. However, it did make it believable that losing her made this man's world fall apart.

He's not sure about whether vampires exist, but he is certain that there's something weird about this club. He's trying to solve this case, but his heart isn't into it. His heart just isn't into anything. The supernatural elements disturb and disrupt him, waking him up to have him dig deeper. Then he falls for one of the vampires. He's faced with the choice of life of the undead with her, or true death to be reunited with his wife. It's a compelling story. It's so absorbing that I was engrossed for ten minutes before I realized that I'd laid down on an undulating vibrator that was making funny squirrelly movements on my back. It's not as absurd as it sounds. I was laying on a feather bed so it had sunk down a bit. The buttons shouldn't be that sensitive to pressure anyway.

The costumes were nice, very Gothy. The makeup could have been so much better. How many times must we remind people? Vampires don't have suntans! This is not an issue for them. Pasty, corpse, white unhealthy skin is what Goths like! The corsets were delicious though. And the dragon finger claws were a wonderful choice for the vampires' hands. The music worked well, though I always prefer abviant rather than industrial, because I find it more sensual. Though, I am willing to accept that most directors aren't as big of Love Spirals Downward fans as I am.

The third tape was of some Swedish Collection #58, and we couldn't make it through the first five minutes without shuddering. It was quite sad.

The rest of the weekend included more lounging, and the occasional bit of loafing. With the odd bit of chanting, meditating and napping tossed in. I got to make an excursion to a fan event in the actual city of Chicago, which isn't quite as mind bogglingly gray as the film The Fugitive would have you believe. I was introduced to a very nice group of fans. I did get to reveal my occasional writing for these fine pages. This led into me being grilled over what makes a porno film and how could they get rich on it. They believe in the Black Adder work ethic. "I run a fast, efficient operation, and I intend to do as little work as possible."

When the idea of a porn musical came up, I had to explain that it had already been done. This led to a big discussion of a very amusing film called "The Hills Have Bi's."

I love bisexual films. They have the cleverest derivative titles!

This tape stars the very talented Sharon Kane. It's a hilarious film about a mismatched marriage and the meeting of the prospective in-laws. Part of its charm is that characters suddenly break into song for no adequately explored reason. It's great fun!

Let's just say I convinced them that it would all take more work than they wanted to exert.

On the way home I read a back issue of Femme Fatales, (which has given me inspiration to write a bit about Ashlyn Gere, who also acts under the name Kimberly Patton), Carpe Noctem, and kept a copy of Michael Slade's book "Head Hunter" with the ghastly eye and exposed teeth on the cover sitting on the tray table. (Excellent book! The first horror novel I've read in the last five years that has kept me awake at night...except for John Douglas' books which don't count cause they're nonfiction. There's even some twisted sex in it, but unfortunately nobody in the book is particularly happy about it. Pity.) Even the flight attendants left me alone. Heaven!