Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Coworkers: Part 87 - Well Placed Friends

   Porn Regulars soon had new concerns.
   Customer complaints.
   Our store received several comments per day. This was repeated across Wherehouse's newly acquired landscape, especially in Dixie and Texas. Not surprisingly, the wheeler dealers who snapped up Blockbuster's music division had more of an eye on bargain and inventory, and didn't bother understanding regional differences . To paraphrase their reactions in the vernacular -
   "Everybody enjoys fucking. Everyone enjoys watching."
   With that mindset entrenched, Wherehouse honchos visited locations to ensure USED sections were brimming, the Floor was tidy, and Porn was prominently displayed in its own DVD aisle.
   "When customers see it, customers buy it! No arguments, comply."
   Who were we to argue with Overlords?
   Our aisle of glossy, off-Hollywood art flicks were churned out from my college neighborhood, the San Fernando Valley. Doubtless, many Porno thespians honed their acting chops in that West Coast Theater mecca, Cal State Northridge. CSUN, my alma mater. I had so mismanaged my career. Had I been more perspicacious, I might have parlayed my valuable English degree into a successful screen writing résumé. To whit, I might be earning royalties for Star Whores or Raiders Of The Lost Part.
   Alas, no, I was ever the bungler. I was only selling porn romps, rather than creating them, let alone starring in them.
   The films we offered were terrible. An hour and a half of banging and moaning, kicking & licking, spanking and wanking. Subdued mood music enhanced the six, count 'em, six positions known to Kama Sutra explorers. Of course, more positions lurked out there, but those films cost more. Advanced maneuvers were trickier for dropout thespians to remember. Ours were budget blasts.
   The crap we shelved had no detectives, no gunfights, no chases, no scientists, no livestock.
   In short, no plot.
   Groping without purpose, the same fare one could view in front of the living room mirror. Comment: At least one scene per porn film ought to boast a mirror. Double your money. I once lived in an apartment where one entire wall was mirrored. Also had an artsy montage of Winter dressed sportsmen blasting away at ducks. Put female guests right in the mood, let me tell you.
   Maybe this was just me. I preferred movies with narrative, exotic locale, inventive cinematography. A customer once asked me what sort of films I watched. Before I could reference Film Noir, Silent Era, Foreign ...
   Sarah blurted out, "Asian films! With girls!"
  "With whips and swords!"
Pat laughed.
  Mmm ... coworkers.
   So, family visitors complained bitterly. They might be browsing the Family Horror section, when their impulsive offspring toddled up grasping Anal Antics or 69 Girlz, 69 Stylez. Parents were alarmed their two year old had just caught a disease. They threatened to contact the police. Then they did just that.
   Wasn't limited to families, either. Men griped. No, not because our titles were repetitive and dull. We didn't offer any "gay porn."
   Alright, some men.
   "You're completely dismissing our category, and we are a financial force," the man with blue sunglasses advised me.
   "I'll pass this upstairs," I responded.
   "I'm sure I'm not alone in this. Just as men enjoy two females engaged in contact, I'm sure women would appreciate watching the guys in action."
   I wasn't too sure about that, but I didn't argue. Instead, I wrote a cheery suggestion for alternative mano a mano and forwarded to our ever complaining District Manager. Within two months, gay porn arrived. Throughout the District. I don't think it was my request. This had to have been in the pipeline. I mean ...
   Defective porn proved bonanza time for The Professor. DVD's were rarely faulty. Before morning opening, The Professor would "test" Water Nymphs, or whatever title was handy, and load it into the machine. Then he would stand, transfixed, before the TV throne glowing with wholesome, milk fed goodness. Mandy and I unlocked front doors stealthily. Customers caught The Professor more than once. Quality moment.
   Didn't break his greedy habit, however. Neither did comments from Mandy, Pat, Sarah, Sonya, Stacey or Angela. The Professor didn't give a damn about what womenfolk thought about him.
   For awhile, John and I tried hiding defective porn, but The Boss warned us that might be misconstrued as a loss prevention issue. Believe it or not, Donut Bear was still in the District. Worried about losing his position, he had roused from his hibernating cave at Berry and was now terminating associates.
   What to do?
   Mandy unplugged the unit. Told The Professor it was broken. Advised him the unit in the Office worked, he could sit next to The Boss and share the sleaze.
   When we opened, she "fixed" it. Repeated this for weeks, he never caught on.

   The Wherehouse solution to all those complaints was to place black plastic cards in front of all adult titles. These weren't affixed. They were cards. Customers, both passive aggressive and malcontents, routinely pulled skin back to the fore.
   We roamed Porn Land every hour, dropping the curtain.
   One afternoon, we received a tip from an old colleague. Now in law enforcement. Jesse, Curtis, Damon, Leroy, so many ex coworkers became cops. Can't remember who phoned with the warning that a member of the District Attorney's staff and two squad cars were heading to our store with a seizure warrant. Hardcore pornography was, and always had been, illegal in our family friendly burg. Any XXX flicks found on the shelves would be confiscated.
  The anonymous contact was thanked, then Sharon and I emptied Porn City into three shopping carts and wheeled all those gems to the back. When the task force arrived, the manager on duty simply said, "Porn? What porn?"
   And that was that.
   We never sold hard core pornography again. Everything was boxed up and shipped back to California where it was better appreciated.

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