You can catch up with the first installment of this piece here, or last week’s chapters here. It started as somewhat of an experiment. It seems to be taking the form of a supernatural thriller, set above and below the streets of Los Angeles.
The inimitable Danny Winthorpe
The first thing that Danny could remember after staring at the mobile of pink and yellow stars spinning above his crib was screaming and slapping. Not much more than that, other than a blonde woman being thrown into a wall and leaving a big dent, then nothing more for a while because nothing stuck.
A vague memory of helping men in black uniforms march a man out of the house down the narrow hallway, red and blue lights flashing, but he was never sure later on whether this was his memory or someone else’s. It did stick, but he always doubted it later on.
Then, one day, sitting on the floor in his bedroom, playing with some Playmobil thing as the morning Sun shone down through the window blinds while dust motes danced in it, he suddenly became aware of having hands, arms, legs, and body parts in general.
It was like a switch got turned on in his head. He still didn’t know his name, but he pretty quickly learned that there was this really pretty blonde woman who loved him and took care of him and her name was Mom.
And then he lapsed into awareness and consciousness, went to pre-school, identified himself as Danny, didn’t grasp the concept of Winthorpe as a last name until he went on to grade school and had to awkwardly print it on forms, and then he began to grow from infant to adult.
Or, as he’d learned in first grade thanks to biology lessons, from tadpole to frog.
Danny thought of himself as a tadpole, hoping to become a frog, but only for a while. Or maybe a toad. Or maybe something else. But when he was about nine, he realized something else.
He had boy parts downstairs, but he was also interested in other people with boy parts, and had no interest in people with girl parts, which just confused him. This also happened to be the year that Will & Grace went off the air but still ran in syndication, and he found the show and realized, “Oh my god, I’m Jack!”
And so life went on until Danny got a lot more daring when chatrooms and webcams became a thing, and while his single mom was cutting people’s hair in the front of their double-wide in Emmett and he was still only thirteen, he was stuck in the back pretending to be older than he was, and figuring out that men would pay him money to show his shit and whatever.
At least their home had survived the flood near the end of that spring, right at the start of June, but the haircutting business got slow for a while, so Danny started upping his game and his prices to help her out. As a cover, he made up a story about selling digital are online and doing custom work, and since he actually did do digital art, it was at least plausible.
“You get a lot of custom work, hon?” his mother asked.
“Oh, yeah,” he explained. “I make stuff for my customers all the time, and I do it all by hand. Well, I mean on the computer, but… you know.”
He was rather proud at having made an absolutely true statement about how he earned the money without her being any the wiser.
Unfortunately, he never figured out the true blackmail potential of his naïve stupidity, and so missed out on actually nailing three Senators, two Congressmen, a Federal Judge, and a beloved children’s TV star big time. Oh well.
When he was sixteen, he finally came out to his mother and she was… not happy. In fact, she kicked him out of the house. He tried to find refuge with each set of grandparents (nope!) and a metric butt-ton of aunts and uncles (likewise nope) and so bought a bus ticket and headed right to L.A. He’d never even bothered to come out to his older sister.
That was after he’d spent a year homeless in Pocatello, of course, so that when he finally left for L.A. he was only four months shy of his eighteenth birthday. Once he’d landed, he hooked up with some porn producer who made him a deal: He could sleep on the couch until he was legal, and then he’d consider bringing him into the business.
What really surprised Danny was how business-like everything was, like he was signing up for a real job and everything. There were W-4s to fill out, and an application which was mostly just for contact info, especially since experience didn’t seem to be a requirement.
One of the running jokes he’d learn as he did get more experience was that “Everyone starts in porn in an entry-level position.”
There was also the government form requiring his proof of age, and he happened to have his birth certificate and fairly new California driver’s license, so that was covered.
And, so Danny Winthorpe did a jerk-off video a week after he turned eighteen for the Desperate Dudes channel, got a lot of hits, and then moved on into real porn.
That first time had been… interesting. The guy who ran the channel and who had let him sleep on the couch was kind of older, totally bald with a gray goatee, but the one thing Danny had always noticed about him was that he was actually totally respectful, which just made him feel really comfortable.
Meanwhile, once they came around to the shoot day, boss dude, who went by the name Winston Winters, introduced his photographer, Jason Blake, who looked to be about thirty, and, to Danny, also really hot, and he had the DSLR on the tripod as well as two other cams, and the first thing he said to Danny when he came into the room was, “Relax, dude. This is going to be the most fun you’ve ever had making money.”
It had seemed a little weird at first, as Winston interviewed him, all the while making it seem like Danny was straight (as if!) until he finally talked him into stripping off and lying down on the tacky mohair couch that looked like it had been stolen from a dorm room lobby.
But then Jason was squatting over him, camera aimed at his crotch, and the vision of easy money danced in his head, and he was suddenly hard as a rock, and he forgot everyone and everything he knew back in Pocatello. Honestly, fuck them all — and he yanked his crank hard and honest until he just looked up into Jason’s eyes, moaned, and shot a load all over the place.
“Cut!” Winston shouted. “Holy shit, boy. That was amazing. So… If you’re interested in doing more, all I need is a contract and a porn name. Any ideas?”
“Not yet,” Danny said. “But… can I get back to you?”
“You fucking well better,” Winston smiled at him.
Meanwhile, Jason leaned down and whispered in Danny’s ear. “You got no place to stay, my couch is open,” he said.
“Oh fuck yeah,” Danny muttered.
He wound up on Jason’s couch, although Jason was a total gentleman, and Danny was the one who had to get aggressive. However, Jason was also a great host, so he took Danny on the grand tour of touristy L.A., especially the cemeteries, because they were both into dead celebrities, and that was how Jason inadvertently led Danny to choosing his porn name.
Jason took him the LeCard Cenotaph, Danny took one look and nearly came in his pants, and then settled on it, the family, and his porn name: Preston LeCard. It just had a really nice ring to it, and sounded very classy. He said it out loud a couple of times to Jason.
“Preston LeCard,” Danny said. “What do you think?”
“I like it,” Jason replied, and that was that.
Meanwhile, nobody back home had any idea what had happened to Danny Winthorpe and the only ones in his family who cared were his cousins, who were his age, so… that identity died once he hit the coast, while his version of Preston LeCard became a Rêve. Easy peasy or, as they said out here, pan comido.
Preston proceeded to do a new video featuring him masturbating at the rate of about two a week at $250 a pop, and he couldn’t believe he was actually getting paid to do something that he already did two or three times a day anyway.
“If only my goddamn family could see me,” he thought, although he secretly suspected that at least two of his uncles probably would because they had been big, closeted hypocrites when they rejected him. He knew for a fact that at least three of his male cousins definitely would run across his work, although they would never rat him out.
In addition to doing the shoots — and every legit film term was naturally funny in porn — Preston also worked part time in the Desperate Dudes offices because he happened to be really good at social media and SEO.
Pretty soon, he was making enough to rent a very small studio apartment in a very old building in Hollywood, one that felt like it should have been haunted, and one that was a block from the Metro Line, which was great, because Preston didn’t have a car anyway. At least not yet, but he had dreams of owning something big, red, and sexy as fuck.
It was around Thanksgiving when Winston asked Preston if he was interested in doing any scenes yet, but Preston just looked confused. “I thought I was shooting scene,” he said.
That’s when Winston realized that Preston didn’t know the terminology. Basically, he’d been doing solos — one performer, one hand, one dick. The next step up didn’t really have any particular term, although Winston referred to them himself as handies — one performer, one dick, someone else’s hand, but only one money shot.
“Those sound interesting,” Preston said as Winston explained the premise. Generally, the ostensible stories were either some young college stud came to get a massage and it had a happy ending, or said young college stud went in for a doctor’s exam that became way more intimate than their insurance probably covered.
“A scene is when we get to the full-on fucking with another person,” Winston continued, “But it’s just that — one couple, one fuck, nothing fancy, everyone cums, the end.”
“That sounds even better,” Preston replied. “Anything after that?”
“That’s called a ‘movie,’” Winston said. “Multiple scenes, semblance of plot, god-awful dialogue, tons of fucking, but we really don’t make those as much anymore.”
“Why not?” Preston asked.
“The death of DVDs, streaming video, short attention spans, and most guys can blast off just from the last ninety seconds of watching a solo, so why get so elaborate?”
“Fascinating,” Preston said, a little disappointed that he wouldn’t become the Tom Hanks of fuck flicks. “But what about those handies?” he asked.
“Those are three hundred seventy-five each,” Winston replied, “Unless it involves tying you up in any way, in which case it’s five hundred. However, we don’t shoot those at the same rate with the same performer as we do the solos, so you’d maybe only do one a month.”
“Sounds fine to me,” Preston replied. “Sign me up, then tie me up.”
Winston just smiled. “You’re going to be a superstar in no time, kid. A viral sensation. Oh… but in the good, not sick way, you know. Not the old, bad one.”
“Got it,” Preston laughed.
A week later, they were shooting Preston’s first handie. Jason was on camera again, and it turned out that Winston was going to be the other performer. “Don’t worry, kid,” he explained. “My clothes are staying on. I don’t want to traumatize you.”
“That’s… people stay clothed in porn?” Preston asked.
“It’s all part of the thrill of the scene,” Winston explained. “One person fully clothed, the other completely naked and vulnerable, the viewers can project themselves into either role. Or both. This one is going to be a massage scene, but you said you wanted to be restrained, right?”
“Extra pay, right?”
“You got it,” Winston said. “I’ll make up some bullshit once I get you on the table about how… I don’t know…”
“Binding the limbs helps free the tantric energy in the chakras?” Justin offered.
“Perfect!” Winston replied. “Oh, don’t worry. These are soft cloth ropes, the other ends are not really going to be tied to anything, and the safe word is… pick a safe word, Pres.”
“Got it,” Winston replied. “Ready?”
“Fuck yeah,” Preston told him.
If anything, this experience had been even better than his solo videos because it started out as a pretty legitimate massage with Preston not “restrained” at all, and Winston was clearly a professional at that. By the time Winston told him to roll over, Preston was no longer acting at all. He was just enjoying the moment.
Winston went through the whole chakra/binding spiel, the ropes were put in place fakely, and pretty soon Preston lost all sense of anything besides the crazy waves of pleasure that were wracking his entire body, head to toe.
Winston was clearly a professional at this, too, and it seemed like hours because he knew just when to stop and then start again until, finally, Preston couldn’t take it anymore, arched his entire body off of the table, fired a load that hit the wall two feet behind his head, and screamed in ecstasy like a banshee.
He could have sworn he heard Winston mutter, “Fuck,” under his breath, but then felt a warm, wet washcloth dropped on his crotch, a long moment of silence, and then Jason muttering, “Cut.”
Preston thought he heard a whispered conversation off to the side, but he was too spent to pay much attention until he suddenly started laughing before looking to his right to see Winston and Jason staring at him.
“What?” he asked.
“Winston was just telling me that you are a fucking goldmine, kid,” Jason said.
“No, what I said was, A Star is Porn!”
“Yeah, but I’d never put it like that, you old queen,” Jason laughed. He and Winston looked at each other, laughed, and hugged.
“What?” Preston demanded, thinking they were making fun of him.
“How would you like to start doing two scenes a week for us, minimum rate one grand per?”
“I… so… that’s fucking and stuff, right?” Preston asked.
“Right,” Winston said. “Only if you’re comfortable.”
“I guess it depends on who I start out fucking,” Preston said.
“Or who’s fucking you?” Jason replied.
Their eyes met and Jason smiled. Preston had a little involuntary aftergasm on that moment. “Or… that…” he said, staring right back at Jason. “So… minimum one grand, what ups that rate?”
“Bottoms make fifteen hundred, minimum,” Winston said.
“When do I start?” Preston asked.
He was beginning to realize that his biggest aphrodisiac was money but, on the other hand, if it meant that he’d actually get to get with Jason, there was a bonus involved. He wasn’t really sure about the whole bottoming thing, but everyone had already been so accommodating that he wasn’t worried.
So…when it came the day to film his scene with Jason, the conceit was that Preston’s character had come over to pick up Jason’s character’s little sister to take her to Prom, but Jason was very protective, insisted on giving Preston’s character a private interview and, of course, it eventually led to Jason’s character fucking Preston’s character. But, of course.
You know. Porn logic.
Preston wasn’t quite sure how this was going to work, and he still had Idaho as his safe word, but the instant they got to that point where Jason started rimming him, that was it.
“It feels this good, and they’re going to fucking pay me this much?” he wondered. “Sign me the fuck up fifteen ways from Tuesday.”
By the time Jason introduced Preston to his prostate, the kid was wondering why he wasn’t paying them to perform, but then did manage to restrain himself with the thought, “Nah. That would be totally stupid. You are the product here.”
And he went on to have a really amazing career for five years, winning all kinds of awards, making an additional fortune off of his OnlyFans once that became a thing near the end of his life, and making the name Preston LeCard go viral.
Then came that day in May 2020 when he got the ridiculously lucrative offer to come appear at a Memorial Day gay circuit party in Miami, with fan meet-ups, autograph sessions, and a live strip show. How ridiculous? A half a million dollars’ worth of ridiculous.
Jason tried desperately to talk him out of it. They’d sort of become lovers in a very open relationship ever since their first scene together, not to mention that Jason was also Preston’s agent and business manager, so the kid should have put some stock in someone making money off of him wanting to turn down such an offer.
“It’s not safe,” Jason said. “There’s no reason to expose yourself to this risk. And you are at risk, despite your age. Go read up what peer-reviewed studies are saying. Please!”
Meanwhile, Winston had a different take. “Oh, honey, you’re young, you’ll be fine. Plus it’s hot in Florida, it’s open air. Want to know a secret? I’m old as fuck. When I was your age, it was the height of the AIDS crisis, and I was sucking cock and riding dick left and right in back alleys and bathhouses, and look… Ta-da! In the words of the immortal Stephen Sondheim as sung by Elaine Stritch, I’m still here.”
Preston cringed a little as Winston belted out the notes, but he seemed to have a point.
“Yeah, Sondheim knew. Hell, that motherfucker still does, he’s still alive! You’re young. You’re strong. You’ll be fine.”
Preston wound up taking Winston’s advice, and four weeks later he wound up in an ICU in L.A. an induced coma, with a ventilator down his throat.
Since he hadn’t done anything in the way of power of attorney and there was no apparent family to be found, a doctor had to make the very sad decision to pull Preston out of ICU in order to make the bed available for a 30-year-old mother of three whose husband, a firefighter, had died fighting a brush fire the year before.
It was only because Jason somehow managed to learn about Preston’s location that he arrived fifteen minutes too late to see him die, but he had at least talked him getting married just in case right before it was clear that he’d have to go into the hospital.
They did the whole thing over Zoom, with Winston as the witness, so Jason was able to take custody of the body and arrange for a proper burial.
He had pondered burying Preston as Danny but, in his heart, knew that the kid would have hated that, so he made a compromise with the cemetery.
He bought a small triangular plot next to the LeCard cenotaph, arranged for Danny/Preston to be dropped in there in a standing coffin (to take up minimal space) and then leave it without a marker so that, for all time, Danny would kind of get to forever be associated with his assumed persona.
The Board was never aware of this, of course, but if they had been they probably would have bitch-slapped Jason fifteen ways from Tuesday. Talk about the ultimate travesty of dead-naming, although in a weird sort of reverse way.
Still… barring anyone but Jason and Danny knowing, Preston LeCard was buried a second time that day, and so Preston LeCard would wander the Earth, only as a porn star instead of a scion.
Such was life.