A couple months ago, a quasi-photographer acquaintance invited me down to St. Kitts, all expenses paid, to keep him company while he decompressed from the shitty year he’s been having — an arrest, business upheaval, a divorce. He needed to be around someone fun, he said…so he thought of me.
Now, I’m no idiot…but I’ve been on many trips with many random dudes, and I know from experience that they’re not all trying to get in your pants — some guys sincerely just want company. But I had a feeling the recent divorce might make this particular guy a little frisky, and I’m not attracted to him that way…so I polled my 4,000 Facebook friends to see what they thought.
The consensus was pretty much DON’T GO, HE JUST WANTS PUSSY! Basically, people seemed to doubt that my company could be enjoyable enough without my also putting out…so I took their advice, and turned down the trip. But I’ve been thinking about it ever since…and actually, I have my doubts.
As mentioned, I’ve been on many trips with many random dudes — sometimes a reader of this blog will invite me somewhere, as when I went to Saline Valley with Dr. Kildare, or to that Jimmy Buffett show with my Florida friend. Sometimes it’s people I know from real life, like when Dr. Who invited me out to his palatial estate in Hawaii, or the many trips I’ve taken with my friend J.R. I seriously doubt any of these guys thought I was exceptionally loose (or a prostitute) — I sincerely think they just enjoyed my personality and sparkling wit, and wanted to spend time with me. Shocking, I know!
Either way, believe it or not…my vagina, mouth and anus are hardly my most sought-after orifices. That honor belongs to my ear canals — a little known fact is that I am a great listener, who will give you my undivided attention with both eyes on your face and both ears and my brain actively engaged in what you are saying. I ask the occasional question here and there to get you started and let you know I’m paying attention (like when I’m playing Terry Gross, as with those bikers in Reno)…but for the most part, I’m really good at just letting others talk. And in my experience, having someone listen to you is even more valuable than having someone suck your dick. Why do you think therapists are paid as much as or more than many hookers?
An interesting example of this was a couple months ago, when I booked a shoot with an older photographer with whom I’d shot here and there over the past few years — a super nice man with whom I’d hit it off right from the start. He’s been having a rough time lately — his wife of 50 years just died of cancer, and his own health has been giving him problems. I’d been emailing him every now and then to check on him, but we hadn’t actually seen each other in a couple years. But now, he was finally feeling up to a shoot, so he traveled out to Vegas and booked me for a morning.
The night before, he invited me to dinner at the steakhouse at the hotel where he was staying, so of course I accepted, and met him over there around 7pm. He looked well, but was having a hard time with the relatively high altitude of Vegas, so he had to carry a portable oxygen concentrator with him and closely monitor his blood oxygen level…which you could tell really embarrassed him. Because of his breathing difficulties (he was wheezing pretty badly), he expressed doubt in his ability to go through with the shoot the following morning, and offered to just pay me a cancellation fee. Not wanting to be a downer, I offered to come by in the morning either way, ready to shoot…and if he wasn’t up to it, we could just have coffee and chat, instead.
Anyway, we enjoyed a fantastic steak dinner and a long, rambling conversation. It started out with him asking me about my latest adventures — he said he wanted to hear about everything I’d been up to lately. But after a 5-minute update, the conversation swung around to him and his life experiences…and he spent the next four hours telling me everything about his experiences growing up in upstate New York, going to college, meeting his beautiful and intelligent wife (who was one of the first female programmers for IBM), and then becoming a Navy officer and shipping out to Vietnam. It was fascinating! In the Navy, they were based on a ship in the Mekong River, where their drinking water supply was river water — filtered to an extent, but so full of Agent Orange runoff and silt that they had to mix it with Kool-Aid to even choke it down. No wonder this guy’s health was so bad!!!
After the war, he returned to California and bought a yacht with his beloved wife, and they spent all their free time sailing up and down the coast — they never had kids, so they had plenty of free time and money, and things were just wonderful until his wife went through menopause and lost interest in sex, at which time he found an Asian mistress who he’s supported for the last 15 years, with his wife’s implicit consent (“as long as you don’t embarrass me, or bring anything home”). Now that his wife passed away, he was free to invite his mistress out to Vegas with him, and in fact she was due to arrive by bus right after our shoot — some kind of gamblers’ express that runs from Chinatown in L.A. to Chinatown in Vegas every day, twice a day, for $35 roundtrip (I guess she doesn’t like to fly).
Anyway, I listened to his life story until late into the evening, and around 11pm I was starting to get kinda apprehensive, because if I was to be ready for a photo shoot at 9am, I needed to get home and get my beauty sleep! But I didn’t want to be rude, so it was around midnight by the time I finally got home to bed.
That would have been fine, except I was awoken around 1am with the most horrendous menstrual cramps — every once in awhile I get really bad cramps, like the ones that landed me in the emergency room in Tahoe with an ultrasound wand up my twat; the pain is ridiculous, as I imagine childbirth must feel, only instead of having a baby I just end up writhing around voiding foul substances from multiple orifices for about an hour, before the pain finally subsides and I am left sweating and exhausted, like a limp rag that has been violently wrung out. Sorry if that grosses you out, but that’s my life! (I just hope it doesn’t happen to me at Burning Man — going through all that in a Port-a-Potty would be a fucking nightmare!!!)
Anyway, by the time I finally crawled back into my bed it was around 2am, and I was completely exhausted — but I still got up at 7 and got ready for my possible photo shoot. Even though I was pretty sure the poor guy wasn’t going to be up to it (he could hardly even walk across the restaurant the night before, without running short of breath), I still brought my A-game and showed up at his room at 9am, bright and fresh and ready to shoot. Because I’m a pro!!
Of course, he ended up not feeling up to shooting, so instead I just sat in his room with him and listened to more of his stories for another 3 hours or so; now he wanted to know if I knew of any escorts who might be willing to have a three-way with his mistress and him at some point — obviously not in Vegas, since he could hardly breathe there as it was, but possibly in L.A. at some point. That’s men for ya — they can hardly fuckin’ breathe, but they’re planning ménages à trois! I guess it was a lifelong fantasy of his that he wanted to fulfill before it was too late…so I told him I would discreetly ask around. (He did not ask if I was interested; he knows me better than that.)
Anyway, at the end of it all, as his mistress’s bus was just pulling into town, he generously wrote me a check as a cancellation fee, which I stuffed into my bra and headed home before finally looking at it: $1,000!! Holy shit!!! I mean, our photo shoot was supposed to have been around 3-4 hours, for which I usually charge about $300. But we didn’t even shoot!! I just sat there listening to him for around 7 hours total…which comes out to around $142/hour. (Plus I got a free steak dinner…although I ended up puking it all up during my episode anyway )
To be fair, he may have intended to write me that check all along — whether I had sat there listening to him, or not. But I’ll bet he really enjoyed having an ear to bend — as we all do; why do you think I write this fuckin’ blog?!? The fact is, I don’t have someone in my day-to-day life who will sit there and really listen to me — people I talk to are either too busy thinking up ways to get into my pants to really pay attention to what I’m saying, or they’re too busy telling me their problems to listen to my first-world white girl nonsense. So, I let it alllllllll out online — kinda like my menstrual episodes. Basically, this blog is just one more orifice from which to void foul substances.
Anyway, over the years, no one has filled my ears more than my long-time friend J.R., mentioned above. I haven’t written about J.R. lately, so here’s a quick recap: I befriended this lonely Tennessee oilman several years ago when I worked at Caesars Palace, bonding with him over our love of music, smoking weed, and looking at old photos (mostly me looking at his old photos). When I met him, J.R. was going through a divorce, in the process of which his wealth shrunk considerably…which still bothers him more than it should, as he leads a fantastic lifestyle that many would envy. But anyway, we’ve been friends for years now, and as mentioned I’ve gone on many a trip with him — a Caribbean cruise, a few visits to his place in Florida, Nashville, NYC — and all we really do is sit around getting high and drinking wine while he tells me his life story and all his current problems. Let me tell you, I have learned a lot about the oil industry, NASCAR and smalltown Midwestern life in the 1970s!!!
Anyhow, I hadn’t seen J.R. in a while, but a few weeks ago he invited me to come out to his place in Nashville — he had tickets to the big Rolling Stones concert out there, to which he very generously invited both me and my sister. He had never met my sister before, but I had told her so much about him and vice-versa, that I was sure they would get along famously.
So I flew out to Nashville and arranged to rendez-vous with my sister, who happened to be on a cross-country solo roadtrip at the time. As you may recall, my sis quit her highly-paid-but-loathsome corporate job over a year ago, and has been on a spirit quest ever since — for the last couple of months she’s been driving around the southern USA, sleeping in her car at rest stops and Wal-Mart parking lots, eating beans out of a can and taking in every affordable tourist attraction she can. Trust me — I am so fucking jealous of her adventures, and almost thought of joining her on the whole trip…but I felt I needed to work instead, and make some money for the summer; plus, I think it was good for her to do it on her own. Now she’s even ballsier and badder-ass than ever!!!
So my sis met up with J.R. and I in Nashville, and as expected the three of us got along like a house on fire! We got along so well, in fact, that what was supposed to have been a nice, relaxing vacation week in Tennessee turned out to be a relentless, grueling marathon of pot-smoking, boozing and non-stop honky-tonkin’ — J.R. is very health-conscious and totally fit, but holy son of a bitch can that guy drink!!! Thankfully, he also likes to sleep in late….so most of my time in Nashville was spent high, drunk or asleep — although I did manage to squeeze in a couple of 5-mile runs. Also thankfully, J.R. doesn’t really eat very much food….so at least I didn’t gain any weight while I was out there; we picked up a sack of 20 White Castle sliders one night on our way home from honky-tonkin’, and that bag o’ burgers basically fed my sister and I the entire week.
Anyway, we all had a great time, and even the Rolling Stones concert turned out to be amazing. I’ve never been a huge fan, but they’re legends, and not getting any younger, so I figured I’d better go see what all the fuss is about while I still could. Now I know!!! Mick Jagger in particular was such an energetic, charismatic performer that I could almost understand what all those 5,000 women he’s slept with saw in him — even though he’s 70 years old, he’s still an amazing showman! It didn’t hurt that J.R. had gotten us pretty good seats, in the 17th row, so we had a great view. The only downside was, it was hot and humid as fuck, and we hadn’t brought our vaporizer, so we were basically sober the entire show. Still, it was fantastic!
After the show, we all went back to J.R.’s house, feasted on the last of the White Castle sliders, and passed out cold….and then the next day, I flew back to Vegas and my sis continued on her roadtrip, heading back west toward California, where we were set to rendezvous again for a 4th of July family get-together at my mom’s beautiful cabin in the redwoods — to which we invited J.R. to come visit sometime, since he has expressed interest in meeting my mom, too. He said he might come out next summer, when the NASCAR circuit comes to the Sonoma raceway — so we’ll see! I bet they would get along great — we could all get high and then sit back and listen to the two of them reminisce about the 70s
Anyway, back in Vegas I only had a few gigs to hustle through before I was able to leave for my own summer adventure tour — I fake-pissed on some asshole at a pool party, worked my annual gig at the beauty tradeshow, and shot some more amazing photos out at Death Valley with the guy I’ve been working on that top-secret super-amazing project with. Now that it’s summer, the desert is pleasantly balmy at night (which is when we shoot), so I don’t freeze my ass off standing around naked for long exposures like I did at our shoots earlier in the year. The only bummer this time was, another photographer I know had recently told me about being bitten by a sidewinder out there once, so I was a little freaked out about standing around barefoot in the pitch black desert — especially when the photographer I was shooting with this time casually mentioned that he had just seen a scorpion for the first time ever, while he was setting up, right there where we were shooting!!! Thanks a lot for telling me!!!! I almost shit myself later that night when I saw something ginormous creeping slowly along the desert floor — it turned out to be nothing more than a 6-inch praying mantis, but still!!!!!!!
After Death Valley, I only had one more gig before I could take off — there was a romance novel convention in town (!!!), and they were auditioning models to pose for the cheesy cover paintings they put on them — you know, Fabio the Pirate/Viking/Cowboy ravishing some pale-skinned wench with tumbling locks of hair? I don’t have a heaving bosom, but I do have fabulous hair and smooth, tattoo-free skin…so I figured I’d at least go in and try my luck before leaving town. The audition was at 10am on Saturday, so I figured I’d pack up my truck and just hit the convention on my way out of town; if I ended up getting cast, I’d head back to Vegas for the shoot…otherwise, I’d just continue on my way.
Holy hell, that audition was so interesting!!!!! First of all, the guy running it is probably the most successful romance-novel-cover model of all time; Fabio was on something like 700 covers, but this guy has been on over 7,000!! Mind you, many (most) of these books are horrible, digital-only tripe that never even gets actually printed, about weird stuff like shape-shifting gay bears (I’m serious)…but still! This model guy figured out a way to make a living off this niche industry, and I’m all for it. He basically hires female models to pose with him for a series of generic, romance-novel type shots, which he then features on a sort of romance-novel stock-cover database, where authors can choose the photo that best suits their book. Fascinating!!!
So I got all dolled up and hit the audition, took a few amazing photos of the convention itself, and then hauled ass out of town to begin my fabulous summer adventures. My first stop was Deep Creek hot springs — there’s no cell reception there, so I had to hike way up a hill Saturday evening to get a signal, so I could check my messages and find out if I’d gotten the audition, and would have to head back to Vegas before continuing on.
Alas, as it happened, the male model running the audition did not find my look marketable enough for his needs, and I did not get called back to town. By the time I found out, though, I was already naked, sunkissed and half drunk, standing on top of a mountain in the middle of the desert…so I wasn’t really too upset about it. And BESIDES — unbeknownst to me, my photo was already on the cover of a romance novel, all along!!!
That’s right, the stock photo strikes again — you may recall that a couple years ago, I made a showgirl costume and posed for a trade shoot with a local photographer who is known to sell his stuff to stock photo sites. Since I had spent $300 making the costume, and he wasn’t even paying me a nominal fee for the shoot, I assumed he wouldn’t take advantage of our friendship and signed a release without really reading it. But to this day, those fucking photos show up everywhere — on banners at the Vegas Convention Center, on a casino in London, on iPhone apps, TV game shows, in magazines…and now, on the cover of a horrible romance novel!!! LOL, check it out:
LMFAO!! Oh well, fuckit…at least I ended up on the cover of a romance novel, one way or the other. The only thing I’m curious about now is the other stock photo model on the cover with me — anyone recognize this guy?!? Maybe it was meant to be: “Two stock photo models end up on the cover of a horrible romance novel; love and laffs ensue!”
Anyway, as mentioned I didn’t waste much time over the whole kerfluffle — I was already ass-deep in my summer adventure tour at Deep Creek, where I had arranged to meet up with a reader of this blog for a couple days of drugs, booze and R&R. Now I know what you’re thinking — I did the same exact thing last summer, with disastrous consequences, so you’re probably thinking I’m a total idiot. But I assure you, this time it was totally awesome — I learned my lesson last year, and was careful to keep the party polite; it also helped that the guy I met up with was much classier. He brought along a horsehead mask for me pose in, and left me with a grab bag of parting gifts including a fur hat, a yard of cowhide and a cymbal. Great guy!!
Aside from shooting nudies in the horsehead mask, we set up camp on the beach down by the hot springs, and spent the evening drinking wine and hanging out in the pools with a bunch of barely-legal drunken idiots — it was a weekend, and the weekend crowds out there tend to skew young and fratty…but my friend was unable to meet up on a weekday, so I had no choice. And anyway, it turned out OK — we all got drunk, smoked some weed, sang some songs and ate some cookies. Good, clean wholesome fun — until the sun came up the next morning, and I saw that the bottle of wine that had been passed around the night before was actually a mostly-empty bottle of Fireball whiskey filled with rosé! *SHUDDER!!!* Fireball is gross, but if there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s pink fucking wine!!!
Sitting there that morning looking around at the piles of beer cans and other gross detritus left strewn about, I was honestly feeling a little Deep-Creeked out; its natural beauty can’t be beat, and it’s still one of my favorite hot springs ever…but I was starting to feel like I’d seen enough of it for a few years, and needed to take a break. Still, I was already there, so I figured I might as well make the most of it and hang out til sundown, at which time my friend and I could hike out without sweating to death (the hike back up to the parking area is really steep and long, almost 2 miles). So I went ahead and cracked open my last rum & coke, and headed down to soak in the coolest pool, the one that’s half in the creek. It was pretty hot out, but overcast and weirdly gloomy, so the temperature in that pool was just right.
I was just laying back on some sandbags for a a nice midmorning snooze, when — BOOM!! This huge, gnarly desert summer thunderstorm rolled in over the mountains from Lake Arrowhead — and transformed the whole experience! I’d been to and appreciated the beauty of Deep Creek in the spring, summer, fall and winter…but I’d never seen it like this. It was amazing!!!!
Now, they say to be safe in a thunderstorm, you’re supposed to avoid trees and water — well, down at the creek there’s really nothing but trees and water!! So I fretted over that for a little while, and then I bellyached over my soggy camping gear for awhile…and then I finally snapped out of it and realized I might as well just be in the fuckin’ moment for once and enjoy this bizarre occurrence! Hell, I might as well make like Woodstock, and wallow in the moment…like a pig in shit!! So I stashed my soggy gear under a tree, and hiked my wet, chilly ass up to one of the hotter pools, to sit out the storm in the company of the rest of the rain-drenched fools stuck down there.
OMG, it turned out to be super fun — we all sat in the steaming Anniversary pool, with rain falling all around us, and it was a weird, misty kind of magic. We passed around a bag of grapes, and drank and smoked and counted the seconds between thunder claps and lightning bolts, until finally the storm passed, leaving everything absolutely still, with sparkling drops of rain glittering on every leaf and every blade of grass. Magical, for sure!
After taking a million photos and making a video, I climbed up on a ledge to take a nap while my gear dried off, then woke up and made a cup of instant coffee with the super-hot water that shoots out of a copper pipe at the hot springs source before bidding my fond adieus to the collection of hardcore kooks who’d ridden out the storm and packing all my shit up that ass-kicker of a trail back up to the parking lot. Whew!!
After all that, I was much too exhausted to drive the rest of the 7+ hours up to my mom’s house, so I stopped for the night in Bakersfield and got a room at a cheap motel. I was kinda sour about shelling out cheese for the room, but right after I booked it, I checked my email and saw that a generous reader of this blog had just donated $100 to my tip jar — so it all worked out.
But, talk about a switcheroo — this poor guy reads all the shit I bitch about, and pays me for the privilege! Hmmm…maybe I’m going about this all wrong. Instead of honing my listening skills like a wannabe Terry Gross, I guess I should be working on my qvetching skills…so that more people will pay me for my bitchery, á la David Sedaris!! Could it be that my ears aren’t my most valuable orifices, after all? Maybe my mouth is…
But not in that way, ya pervs!!!