The Saturday Morning Post #14, Part 5

More of the L.A. social event of 2029. You can catch up to last week’s installment here or start at the top here.

TAKING HOPE

The food and festivities at the private party were just as lavish as the wedding, with six different buffet options, each one curated by a different five star L.A. chef, and each one centered around one specific thing. There was the beef buffet, poultry buffet, pork buffet, seafood buffet, vegetarian buffet, and vegan buffet. Each one basically laid out several paths through a seven course meal,

Dessert was being provided by three different vendors, with a variety of cakes baked traditionally, gluten-free, dairy-free, gluten- and dairy-free, vegan, and certified created nowhere near any surfaces to have ever come into contact with any kind of nuts or tree nuts or their byproducts. There were six of them, each one designed to resemble a famous Los Angeles Landmark: the City Hall cake was traditional; the Cinerama Dome cake was gluten-free; the Capitol Records building was gluten- and dairy-free; Griffith Observatory was vegan; and the Hollywood sign and Mount Lee was certified nutless. So to speak.

All of this really amused the hell of Edna, especially the allergy stuff, and she thought to herself as she looked at all the posted menus, “Jesus fucking Christ, half of the kids born after 1990 wouldn’t have lasted a day in 1984.” She blamed it on clean-freak parents of the era, who never let their kids play in the dirt, and soaked everything in anti-bacterial sanitizer.

Science said that she was probably right, but that message had only just started to get through about five years earlier, once superbugs started killed absolutely everyone in hospitals — doctors, staff, patients, and visitors alike.

Toby was just impressed by the smooth logistics of the whole thing. The Cathedral had been packed to the rafters, and a quick search told him that it held 3,000 people. He couldn’t even conceive of what kind of an event staff that would take, and he was very into logistics, so he stopped to ask one of the Captains of the staff about it.

“How many people are working catering on this little party?”

The Captain immediately went into proud bragging mode. It was clear that he’d been waiting for someone to ask exactly this question. “Not counting security, or the creative level — executive chefs, bakers, designers, stylists, and so on, and just counting the serving staff, there are 312 people,” he replied.

“Wow,” Toby said. “Impressive.”

“That breaks down to 24 barbacks; 36 floor captains, like myself; 48 bartenders; 84 cooks and washers, split about two to one; and 120 servers and bussers, split four to one. Oh. In case you can’t do the math in your head, that’s 56 cooks and 28 washers, plus 96 servers and 24 bussers.”

“Are there really three thousand guests?” Toby went on.

“A little over that,” he explained. “But it’s okay. The Plaza above can hold 5,000, and the park can hold 50,000, easily.”

“Can it?” Toby said, incredulous.

“Were you here about ten years ago during the last protests?” he said. “It held way more than that. Then again the thing did spill out all over the city and the country, so it was hard to say. And right after the quake, we had a lot of people who’d been displaced camping out here.”

“I guess it cleaned up quick.”

“That’s kind of what L.A. does,” the Captain explained. “It probably comes from there being so many crewies and performers living here. We see something amiss, we have the natural reflex to come together and fix it before someone important, like the lead or a producer, sees it. It’s self-preservation in action.”

“I suppose it is,” Toby mused before adding, “Thank you. Carry on!” He slipped a five wrapped around to hide three hundreds into the tip jar on the Captain’s counter as he walked away.

“Oh, thank you very much,” the Captain called out.

“Don’t mention it,” Toby called back then stopped and turned back. “Sorry. I’m rude. What’s your name?”

“Nathan,” the Captain replied.

“Toby,” Toby said, stepping back and extending his hand. They shook and smiled at each other.

“Have a great rest of your day,” Toby said.

“You, too,” Nathan answered. “And… thanks!”

Toby walked away reminding himself that he would have to make a conscious effort to do more of this. Not only to get out of his aerie and into the real world, but to interact with the real people — the ones who actually make things happen. And, of course, the ones who helped others like them on that level, despite limited resources.

He found it ironic that he had been moved less by the quake than he had been about his simple inability to do anything to help a fellow human in distress while in line to buy ice cream, and it had been eating him up ever since.

That was why Toby hung back, and asked Adrian to stay with him (to Adrian’s great annoyance) while everyone else who wasn’t part of the über-class (or was that the non-Uber class?) trotted down the hill through Grand Park, to dance dance dance their booties off. Toby had bigger fish to fry, and Adrian was going to be his lure.

“This is my booty, it’s so fine. I love this booty, ‘cause it is mine,” Finley remembered hearing that line somewhere as they got down to the party, but it took him a while to remember where and when. It had been Tycho, dancing and singing in the shower with him one morning together during about their first or second week at the Lexen, and it was Finley’s booty, not Tycho’s, that he’d been singing about, right before Tycho dove down to rim the hell out of him.

That seemed so long ago now.

Everything did, and it was surreal. So much was still in ruins, and yet so much had seemed to have bounced back right way. The aftershocks had really died down, and people’s sense of being constantly on edge had as well, although the sense of community stayed.

The concert and party amazed them all, and Tycho and Finley got to meet and hang out with all of Adam and Tony’s fellow housemates from Alice’s art collective, as well as Alice herself, Edna, Cindy, and Finley’s boss Jackson.

They had arrived around 7:30, near the end of the act with Maná, Natalia Jiménez and others. A lot of the group knew who the artists were and a lot didn’t, so they hovered at the bottom edge of Grand Park, some watching the show and others talking — particularly the white boys.

“Do I get to design your wedding?” Finley asked Jackson after he and Cindy had announced their engagement.

“No,” Jackson replied, “But I’d be honored if you were in the wedding party.”

“Alice is going to be my maid of honor,” Cindy said.

“I am so happy for you, dear,” Edna chimed in and Jackson gave her a long look.

“Aren’t you Wanda Cox?” he suddenly asked her.

“Not anymore,” she said. “Not since my husband and co-star died. But thank you for remembering.”

Jackson was amazed. He had grown up a film buff and while he had been too young to see most of her films when they first came out, they did run in the old revival houses as examples of the attempt at a higher class of porn from the era. Then again, the late 60s and 70s were a lot looser with their film standards once the Hays Code was laughed out of the industry, with one X-rated best picture winner, Midnight Cowboy, and in the year The Godfather came out and was the 22nd top-grossing film of 1972, it was beat out by the not-quite-pornographic but still X-rated (and apparently somewhat rapey IRL) Last Tango in Paris at number eight, and the totally hardcore porno Beyond the Green Door at number three. All of those films played in legitimate cinemas, too.

And not every X-rated film was just porn. A Clockwork Orange, If…, Performance, and others, were all legitimate stories that didn’t hold back on the sex and nudity. The trend ran until about the end of the 70s, when the X-rated Caligula opened in first-run theaters, and combined a big name, all-star cast, with an award-winning novelist screenwriter, lavish sets and costumes, the story of a mad Roman emperor, and wall-to-wall fucking and depravity and violence and cumshots galore.

Oddly enough, the same actor, Malcolm McDowell, was the lead in three of those named films, Performance being the only exception, where that honor went to Mick Jagger.

Jackson had seen a lot of the Shakespeare films Wanda Cox had done with her partner, Stony Boon, back in the 60s, before Linda Lovelace became famous for fellatio, and a number more of the films they did together during that brief time when porn because mainstream, often with literary sources: The Adventures of Fuckleberry Finn, The Harlot Letter, The Cunt of Monte Crisco, Bone with the Wind.

He also remembered that each of them also occasionally did gay porn separately, and had seen Wanda’s films Moby Dyke, Who’s Afraid of Vagina Woolf?, and For Whom the Belle Toils. Stony had actually done a lot more gay male films — On the Choad, Brothering Heights (apparently, incest-themed), The Son Also Arouses, The Picture of Dorian Gay, and James Juices’YouSissies,’ among many others, but the only one Jackson had seen, on a dare, was The Catcher and His Guy, which is where he learned that pitcher and catcher were the terms that referred to the guy sticking it in and the guy getting it stuck in respectively. He was rather surprised, though, to see that Stony was the titular catcher. Since Stony was a married man, Jackson had thought it would be the other way around, but he was young then, only in his mid-20s, and the world outside of the LGBTQ+ community still had so much to learn.

It also made him sad that, by the time he’d caught up with their later movies, Stony had been dead already for at least five years, one of the first victims of the AIDS epidemic that would change everything for so long a time. Jackson had often wondered whether Wanda had suffered the same fate, although he’d mostly forgotten about them by the time the internet could have easily answered that question.

But here she was, alive and a survivor. He surreptitiously checked on his phone after that and was blown away to find out that she was 82. She really didn’t look a day over 55, but she hadn’t had any obvious work done. He envied her secret, but supposed that maybe it had been all of that sex she’d had back in the day, and her clear lack of guilt or shame over it. After all, Linda Lovelace had a famous change of heart, became a born-again Christian, and died at 53.

Adam had heard Jackson’s comment and searched “Wanda Cox” on his phone, only to find out who she had been back in her day, and to read the tragic story of her husband, who was hotter than hell in a strangely nerdy way. He clued Tony in on it, but Tony surprised him by saying, “Oh, yeah John Richfield. I’ve heard of him.”

“You think she could hook us up to get into porn?” Adam asked.

“Dude, she hasn’t done it since… shit, probably when our parents were in kindergarten. “I doubt that she has any connections.” Tony replied.

“Yeah, but we’ve always talked about doing it,” Adam responded, “And she must have advice.”

“There are probably better — ” but Adam was already walking over to Wanda and Tony just muttered. “Shit.”

“Hi,” Adam said to her. “I overheard that name and looked you up, and, well, see, my boyfriend and I are interested in doing porn, and I was wondering if you had any advice…?”

She laughed and smiled at him. “Honey, first of all, don’t use the ‘P’ word. It literally means ‘writing about whores,’ and that ain’t what it’s about. Call it ‘adult entertainment.’ Second, are you interested in doing it because you like money, or you like fucking?”

“Fucking, but with an audience.”

“All right, that’s the right answer,” she said. “Second, I haven’t been in the biz since it was just discovering video, and I certainly haven’t been connected to anyone else. Remember, my husband and I were our own production company, and that’s long gone. Anyone else in the business at the time still alive would have been our rivals, so… sorry. Bridges burnt. I couldn’t provide you any connections, if that’s what you’re asking.”

“No, no, I wasn’t asking that,” Adam replied. “I just meant… how do my boyfriend — ” Tony appeared and latched onto Adam’s arm. “Hi, honey. Yeah, me and him — ”

“He and I,” Edna corrected.

“Right. How do we get into the business in the first place?”

“You boys are so precious. And really cute together. And I bet that you two could make a fortune. But, how old are you? Eighteen, nineteen?”

“We’re both 23,” Tony chimes in.

“But you can pass for younger, so say you just turned eighteen. You’ll get a bigger audience. And you’re both 23, but don’t know the answer that my 82-year-old ass does? Amazing.”

“That’s why we’re asking?” Adam adds, tentatively.

“We’re almost a third of the way through the 21st century, my dears. Everyone is their own production company and studio. You want to become adult entertainment stars, then you start fucking on camera. If you have a trusted friend who wouldn’t mind, get them to do the filming, maybe even spring for editing. Then you tease it in ways that all the various social media will allow, and set up your own firewalled pay sites that you drive your fans to for the whole, uncensored thing. It also helps to find a gimmick. My husband and I had literary parodies. What do you two do otherwise?”

“We’re both actors and improvisors, and I’m a dancer,” Adam explains.

“Great. And who’s the top and who’s the bottom?”

“Um, actually,” Adam and Tony both mutter, “Neither?”

“Versatile, both of you? Fantastic! Yeah, you two could clean up in this business like I did. I’m thinking maybe some kind of on-demand fan channel, as in they pay a ton to think that they’re ordering you two around.”

“Think?” Tony asks.

“Well, of course,” she explains. “They don’t know that the options that pop up on screen aren’t fan suggestions, and naturally you set the algorithm to always make at least half of them be the most popular fan suggestions. But behind the scenes, the two of you pick the few options you’re willing to do and in the mood for, ta-da — the fan voting turns out to match those results.”

“Isn’t that like, election fraud, or something?” Adam wonders.

“Darling, this is porn, not politics, pardon my use of the ‘P’ words. It doesn’t matter. The fans will be happy no matter what you do, and you’ll hit a combo that makes some of them feel like they got their choice often enough that they’ll keep coming back. And, when it comes to adult entertainment, it’s all about keeping them coming.” She paused. “Back.”

“Wow,” Tony muttered as Adam nodded.

“Thank you so much, Ms. Cox,” Adam said, shaking her hand.

“You’re welcome,” she said, “But Wanda Cox died with my husband. I’m just Edna now.”

“Thank you, Edna,” Tony and Adam chimed in in unison, and then she headed off with Alice and the two of them just looked at each other.

“I guess we know what we’re doing tomorrow,” Tony said, and Adam just smiled, took his hand, and led him off into the crowd. Maná and Natalia had finished by this point, and it was going to be half an hour before the next act.

“We’ve got half an hour until the Divas,” Adam whispered into Tony’s ear. “Know of anywhere around here we can fuck?”

“Any?” Tony replied. “Honey, I know of at least a dozen places.”

“Oh, really,” Adam said in mock shock. “And how would you know that, you slut?”

“Because I was a slut before I met you, and did a lot of my sluttery here.”

“So what are you now?” Adam asked him in a sort of well-rehearsed game.

“A slut for you.”

“Great. So…?”

“Ad hoc,” Tony explained. “You notice how many porta-potties there are?”

“Um… pardon the expression… a shitload?”

“Exactly. So…?”

“So you want to fuck me in a shitter?” Adam asked, incredulous but, again, just acting.

“No,” Tony replied. “I want to fuck in the shitter.”

“Sold!” Adam gurgled, and then they took hands and raced to the nearest portable toilet. At least they weren’t the open pit chemical disasters that their parents might have faced. Instead, they used high tech to suck down the nasties immediately, remove them to a separate processing tank located discretely behind the row of shit-cans, and immediately start turning all of that organic material into sources of electricity.

Porta-potties of their parents’ era were maybe one step above an outhouse. These were probably two steps above first-class shitters on an airplane. And yes, they even had bidets.

None of which really mattered as Adam and Tony stepped in, locked the door, got nude, and got busy, Adam bent over the sink while Tony plowed away. They both came just as they heard the announcer declare, “Here they are. Give it up for Barbra, Bette, and Cher… or is it Bette, Cher, and Barbra? Or even Cher, and the other two… Or…”

“Shut up, David,” the very familiar voice of Bette Midler blasted out over the speakers.

“We don’t care what order we’re in,” Barbra Streisand intoned.

“We’re just lucky to be alive.” That was clearly Cher.

“Everyone, give a big welcome to… OMG O-G-aycons!”

* * *

To be continued…

The Saturday Morning Post #14, Part 3

Today brings us to the third part of the closing novella, which takes place at the wedding of the daughter of the mayor of Los Angeles and brings all of the main characters together at one event.  You can catch up to last week’s installment here or start at the top here. Last week, we saw the wedding ceremony and the plans for the post-wedding receptions, public and private. Now, we catch up with our main characters as they celebrate.

TAKING HOPE

Toby’s reason for getting to the wedding and bringing Adrian along had a single purpose. His attempts to rebuild Edna’s property had hit a brick wall, and it was called Wendy Rue, the City Council representative for the 10th District, although Toby thought of her more as the big developer’s rep for herself. Less than two weeks after the quake, she was making pronouncements about rebuilding her district, but she was so far in the back pockets of the developers that what this really meant was eminent-domaining the shit out of any red-tagged property slated for demolition, and then tossing out the building permits for luxury condos like they were, well, birdseed at a wedding.

She had set her sights on Edna’s property early on, with dreams of putting up a fifty story mixed-use commercial property and luxury hotel, and Toby had sicced his lawyers on her almost immediately. Luckily, he didn’t live in the 10th. He lived and did business in the 13th, and that council member, Jay Beeber, hated the gentrification of the city with a passion. Toby knew him personally — he was a major campaign donor — and Jay was trying to talk sense into Wendy on Toby’s behalf, but she was having none of it.

At least Toby had managed to get an injunction against the imminent domain attempt back in July, but it was only for 90 days, so there wasn’t a lot of time left.

So his quest at the wedding was to get some face time with Alejandra, explain what was going on, and asking her to intercede. Fortunately, because of the various scandals back in ‘23 that had seen half of the Council Members recalled and half of the rest lose their re-elections, the replacements had actually passed laws giving the Mayor a lot more power over them, akin to what governors and the president had in terms of veto power, something that had long been lacking. This also included a very California innovation, borrowed from San Francisco, and it was called the Right of Absolute Intervention or, as the public had dubbed it, giving the mayor teeth.

In short, any government contract that a single council member or the entire council chose to enter into could be voided, without penalty, by the mayor, and without appeal short of a two-thirds majority referendum vote by either the district in question or the city at large, whichever applied.

And that was what Toby was banking on, since he knew Alejandra’s leanings, and once he’d gotten the chance to explain to her that he was determined to create what would truly be low income housing for people in need, he had no doubt that she would bare her teeth and bite Wendy Rue off at the knees.

He just needed to actually get that time with her and, honestly, the only person busier than the happy couple at a wedding were the mothers of both of them. That was why he brought Adrian. The kid was amazing and brilliant, and if Toby couldn’t get to her, Adrian would.

Alice and Edna couldn’t have been happier when they walked the green carpet and entered the cathedral, which was awe-inspiring inside. They were even more blown away when they were shown their seats, to the left of the altar and in the front row. Then again, this was well after their wedding outfits and shoes had been delivered to them, “Courtesy of the Bride and Groom,” although those weren’t quite a surprise, since a nice young man named Finley had come out to measure them.

They hadn’t known each other before now, but when they’d been introduced in line by the kid named Adrian they’d both met, they formed an immediate connection. After all, they were property owners on the 3400 block of West 8th Street in Koreatown, Adrian and Toby were trying to help out both of them, and while only Edna had been directly threatened by that City Council woman whose name she refused to remember, Alice had known of and hated her for years, because she did not understand the value of the arts, and had constantly lobbied Alice with ineffective bribes to try to get her to move out in order to raze the building and put up a boutique hotel on top of a bunch of upscale shops.

When that woman had visited her in person to try to push her agenda, it was the one and only time in her life that Alice said the words, “Fuck you” to another person. This managed to make the City Councilor stalk off in high dudgeon, as well as get a round of applause from her students, who had been standing behind her at the time. That applause was the only thing that made her not feel utterly ashamed for having been so rude to a government official. In fact, it made her feel more American than she ever had in her life.

And, at this wedding, Alice and Edna feel young and important, and look beautiful, and could not believe where they were sitting and, more importantly, which famous people they spotted as the room filled up. They kept quietly whispering to each other.

Edna: “Oh my god, is that Brad Pitt? He’s still hot as hell and he’s what? Sixty-five?”

Alice: “Yeah, but damn. Tarantino just looks… old.”

Edna: “I didn’t even know that Angelyne was still alive.” Of course, she was seated way in the back.

Alice: “Please tell me that Justin Bieber is crashing this and they’re going to kick him… Oh. Great. No.”

Edna: “All right, that’s it. Betty White is a vampire or something. How old is she now?”

Alice: “She looks amazing. I think she’s like… 107 or something?”

Edna: “Wow. I should only look so good in 25 years.”

Alice: “That’d be 2054. Wow. And I’d only be 98.”

Edna: “You know, with science nowadays — ”

Alice: “Yeah, but only if I get to look like I’m thirty.”

Edna turns to her and they fist bump.

At that same moment, James was quietly trying to figure out whether he could casually finger-bang Finley behind Tycho’s back without anyone noticing it, but Tycho noticed, grabbed James’ arm, and moved it back to his right side.

“We are at work, dude. We do not fuck at work. Got it?”

“Not even a little?” James pleaded, giving his best puppy-dog eyes.

“Not even at all, you horny whore-bag. But if you manage to keep it in your pants until we get home, I promise that Fin and I are going to DP you until your face explodes. And if you’re really well behaved, we might even invite Adam and Tony along to see how many dicks we can get up your ass at once.”

“Behaving!” James replied, and then he shut up and kept his hands to himself.

The whole complicated sex thing between Tycho, Finley, James, Adam, and Tony had finally settled into a pattern once Tycho actually moved into his government condo, but that had taken a bit longer than until the middle of May, mainly because there were two groups that hadn’t gotten moved into new permanent headquarters, and it was all due to a single city council member who Tycho had taken to referring to (privately to Finley and James) as “that Goddamn Shit-cunt Wendy.”

She was trying to take over their properties when both orgs had sufficient endowments to rebuild. He had had to work through the County Board of Supervisors to get the Mayor of L.A. to basically tell Wendy to fuck off, which she immediately did as soon as she got the scoop — it did help that one group was a Catholic org, and the RAI order was fired off so fast and hard that, Tycho hoped, it singed away half of Wendy’s Karen haircut.

He had managed to fast-track it, so that by June 1st the properties were secured, plans were being submitted for approval and permitting, and temporary quarters were placed on the sites, ending his need to stay down there. Although he’d found it laughable that this was even a requirement at all, because of how it worked out.

In theory, everyone should have been lodged as close to their area as could be, in this case Koreatown. In practice, that wasn’t possible. But the great irony was that Tycho’s condo downtown was actually closer, and on the same B Line that brought him down from the Valley in the opposite direction.

The only upside was that hotel sex was totally awesome, and their whirlpool tubs and showerheads could do amazing things in the right hand and aimed at or up the right parts. Otherwise, though, it was absolutely stupid, but he wasn’t going to waste his breath complaining about that to any of his superiors, because it would never change.

He guessed that at least a couple of the members of the Board of Supervisors owned stock in the various hotels people were being lodged at, so had a vested interest in keeping business booming at taxpayer expense. Yeah, one thing he’d really learned on the job was that the Supervisors’ level of corruption made the shit that had finally destroyed and rebuilt the City Council look as trivial as a fourth-grader charging other kids a dollar to copy from their homework.

It had been going on for a lot longer, and nobody ever did anything about it. It almost made him angry enough to want to run for the Board and change things from inside, but he knew that this wasn’t possible and feared that he’d become just as corrupt.

The City Council has fifteen members and the County Board of Supervisors has five. At the wedding, as Tycho scans the crowd, he spots all five of the Supes, but only fourteen of the Council, and secretly does a little internal dance of joy when it’s still only fourteen right before show time.

He leans over to Finley and whispers, “Shit-Cunt’s not here.”

“You think she was invited?” he asks.

“Inevitably,” Tycho explains. “The invitations went out months ago, and all the council and department managers and other top levels would have gotten one. It’s protocol.”

“So she decided not to show up?” Finley wonders.

“Most likely,” Tycho replies. “She’s known for being petty and vindictive.”

Adam leans over to whisper to the two of them. “Cindy told me that she’s trying to take over her old landlady’s property and turn it into more luxury condos for rich people.”

“What does the landlady think of that?” Finley asks.

“Of course she hates the idea, but Rue’s been going around doing eminent domain.”

“What a bitch,” Tony adds.

“I am definitely going to chat up the Supes today to see what they can do to cut that shit-cunt off at the knees,” Tycho tells them all as the lights change and a sudden plaintive flute starts up at the back of the nave. It’s followed by drums and then, to their total shock, a bunch of accordions playing a polka kick in from the other side of the house.

The rest of it is the most awesome thing any of them have even seen in a church.

Image: US Bank Tower, Downtown Los Angeles, © 2018 Jon Bastian. All rights reserved.