Sweat collects. Sweat pools as pale blisters inside my two layers of latex gloves. Borrowed an old precaution from gay porn: you wear a blue condom inside a regular pink condom, that way, if the dick turns blue in the middle of anal sex, you know the outside rubber’s busted. A failsafe. True fact. Wearing pink gloves on top of blue gloves, my fingers feel hot, pulsing with my every single heartbeat; sweat collects in bubbles that rove just underneath my latex skin, merging with other blisters of sweat, melting together. Growing. Bulges of sweat swell in fat pads across my palm. Sweat squirts past my knuckles, inside the latex, to balloon my fingertips, swollen and soft. Numb.
I feel nothing. Just my own pulse, and the sweat crawling around inside my skin. The latex, smudged with brown tanning crap. Orange with potato-chip flavor or dusted white with powdered sugar or cocaine. Smeared red from money stained with barbecue sauce or blood. Feel the other blisters—could be my hand curls into a fist around a ballpoint pen, or my fingers pinch a dollar bill—and other blisters race backward to the wrist of the gloves, bursting hot and wet down my forearm. The trickle of sweat, cold by the time it drips from my elbows. Some pud-puller holds a fifty-dollar bill, a hand gripping each end so he can snap it tight. His hands tug the bill tight a couple times, making a pop-pop sound. Another pop-pop sound. Standing so close the dripping head of the pud-puller’s dick touches my hip. Soft as a kiss. A tiny battering ram. A couple more pops, and I look at him. Step back. Look down at the shiny string drooping between my blue-jeans leg and his dick head. The pud-puller slides his fifty onto my clipboard, saying, “Listen up, baby. I only get an hour for lunch.” Saying, “My boss is already gonna kill me ...” I shrug my shoulders. Wipe my wet elbows against the sweat stains at the waist of my T-shirt. All that today comes down to is free will. Do you allow adult individuals to make their own legal choices? These pud-pullers. These jerk jockeys. You only need to look at them to read their minds. Take, for example, the kid with the armful of roses. Sees himself as some Prince Charming. Shows up today to rescue Cassie Wright from her tragic lifetime of poor choices. Half her age. Thinks, one kiss and she’s going to wake up and weep with gratitude. Those are the losers you need to keep your eye on. Gang-bang protocol, ever since Annabel Chong first called the shots, it says all the guys have to wait, shlong-out naked. Ms. Chong, her fear was some crazy with a gun or knife. Some Holy Roller, hearing direct orders from God, would answer the casting call and murder her. True fact. So—all six hundred pud-pullers have to stand around almost bare-assed. All that today comes down to is free trade. Do you restrict a person’s ability to earn income and exercise personal power? Do you restrict their behavior in order to prevent them from possibly being hurt? What about race-car drivers? Rodeo bull-riders? These chicken chokers. Didn’t bother to read any feminist theory beyond that outdated Andrea Dworkin tripe. Nothing sex-positive. Nothing along the lines of Naomi Wolf. I come, therefore I am. . . No, whether a woman is a concubine to fuck or a damsel to redeem, she’s always just some passive object to fulfill a man’s purpose. These monkey-milkers. One waves me over, pointing his index and middle fingers at the ceiling and flicking them toward himself, the way he’d flag a waiter in a restaurant. My eyes lock onto his. I walk over. This loser lifts his other hand, opening the fingers to show me a folded fifty-dollar bill he’s got palmed. The money, limp and translucent with popcorn butter. Damp from bottled water. Greasy with red lipstick at one end. The loser slips the fifty onto my clipboard, saying, “Check your list, honey, and I think you’ll find I’m next ...” Bribe money. Officially, word is we have a random-number generator. Whatever number pops up, that’s who gets to go onto the set. Pull the fluorescent pen from my seat pocket. Draw a line across the bill to test is it fake. Hold the fifty up to the light of a monitor to look if the magnetic metal strip runs through it. In the movie, Ms. Wright’s ass squirms behind the money. Tucking the fifty under my top sheet of names, I write down the loser’s number. Meat-beater 573. Under that top sheet, flattened out, you can feel a thick layer of fifties and twenties. A couple hundreds. A fat mattress of cash. Ask me, Ms. Chong’s best skill was crowd management. It was her idea to bring the men onto the set in groups of five. Among those five, the first man got erect was the one got to screw her. Each group was on set for ten minutes, and whoever was able got to ejaculate. Even if some guys never got hard, never touched her, all five counted toward the 251-man total. The real genius was to make it a competition. The erection race. Plus, studies show that when males are placed together in close proximity before a sex act, their sperm count will rise. These studies are based on dairy farms, where bulls will be staked in groups near a fertile cow. The resulting harvest will yield greater volumes of viable semen. Stronger convulsions of the pelvic floor, maximizing the height and distance of expelled seminal fluid. The science behind a good money shot. Increased affinity and surface tension. Higher viscosity. The physics of a good facial. A biological imperative, only better. Basing porn films on modern dairy-farm procedures. Trade secrets that can destroy the romance of any good gang bang. True fact. Want to drag the bottom for every loser, every pervert with issues around intimacy, men completely unable to reveal themselves and terrified of rejection—you want a cross section of those bottom feeders—just run a couple newspaper ads seeking male performers for a gang-bang feature. According to the British anthropologist Catherine Blackledge, the human fetus begins to masturbate in the womb a month before birth. At thirty-two weeks, that ripple, that twitching within the uterus, isn’t the baby kicking. The nasty little thing starts jerking off in the third trimester and never, ever stops. This crew of pud-pullers, these ham-whammers, it’s they who killed the Sony Betamax. Decided VHS over Beta technology. Brought the expensive first generation of the Internet into their homes. Made the whole Web possible. It’s their lonesome money, paid for the servers. Their online porn purchases generated the buying technology, all the firewall security that makes eBay and Amazon possible. These lonely jerk jockeys, voting with their dicks, they decided HD versus Blu-ray for the world’s dominant high-definition technology. “Early adopters,” the consumer electronics industry calls them. With their pathological loneliness. Their inability to form an emotional bond. True fact. These pud-pullers, these jerk-offs, it’s them leading the rest of us. It’s what gets them off that decides what your million kids will want for Christmas next year. Across the room, another loser catches my eye, his arm raised, flicking the air with a folded fifty pinched between two fingers. Want to talk third-wave feminism, you could cite Ariel Levy and the idea that women have internalized male oppression. Going to spring break at Fort Lauderdale, getting drunk, and flashing your breasts isn’t an act of personal empowerment. It’s you, so fashioned and programmed by the construct of patriarchal society that you no longer know what’s best for yourself. A damsel too dumb to even know she’s in distress. You could cite Annabel Chong—real name: Grace Quek—who fucked that first world’s record of 251 losers because, for once, she wanted a woman to be “the stud.” Because she loved sex and was sick of feminist theory portraying female porn performers as either idiots or victims. In the early 1970s, Linda Lovelace was delivering exactly the same philosophical reasons behind her work in Deep Throat. The last thing today comes down to is personal growth. Do you respect someone’s right to seek challenges and discover their true potential? How is a gang bang any different than risking your life to climb Mount Everest? And do you accept sex as a form of viable emotional therapy? It only came out later, about Linda Lovelace being held hostage and brutalized. Or how, before becoming a porn star, Grace Quek had been raped in London by four men and a twelve-year-old boy. Early adopters love Annabel Chong. The damaged love the damaged. True fact. Counting the money padding my list of names, my latex fingertips turn black from touching the bills. Another loser steps up, almost close enough his dick touches me. Asks about the T-shirts, where are the T-shirts? Matches my stride as I cross the concrete floor, step by step, staying at my elbow. I tell him, “Thirty dollars, cash.” He’ll get the chance to buy a T-shirt as he leaves the building. The souvenir caps, they’re another twenty bucks. To reserve an autographed copy of the feature, we’re talking $150. Ms. Wright’s already signed the covers, the slip sheets for inside the boxes. Just in case God sends meat-beater 573 the divine order to strangulate her. Or God sends Ms. Wright a stroke. Sends an earthquake or a tidal wave. Another last thing today comes down to is reality. What do you do when your entire identity is destroyed in an instant? How do you cope when your whole life story turns out to be wrong? Sweat balloons inside my gloves—still pink, so both layers of latex are still intact. My fingers pruned, wrinkled, from swimming so long. The skin pickled and old. My defenses still intact. Safe and clean, but feeling nothing, too old for the twenty-year-old rest of me. Across the room, in the light of a dozen porn movies, another two fingers flicker. Wave hairy knuckles. Hooked for me to come over. Holding more bribe money, folded to hide inside a fist.