Westwind

Porn Dance

Rory Charles Thost

All whiskey aside, he’s cute.

Cute in the corn-fed way, American but not Abercrombie.

He fiddles with his fingers and looks at me as I explain the dimensions of my studio apartment downtown, listening like good people do. He had seemed older in the bar but now with the lights overhead, his skin is too clean and soft for someone over twenty-five. I’m twenty-four and I can already see lines. I bought night-cream the other day for $8.95 and realized getting old is an endless parade of moisturizing. Glamour is never having to put lotion on your face but doing it anyways. This kid’s mom has been lathering it on him for years. He walks slowly and purposefully through the big house, showing me family pictures and the granite kitchen countertops his parents never use. His clothes, perfectly matched and maybe even pressed, move over his still-developing muscles as he steps room to room.

The kid wants me to kiss him. His eyes are wet and puffy from the booze but his slight clumsiness isn’t drunkenness, it’s hunger. He wants me to push him down on the couch or maybe the wood floors and put my mouth on his. He wants me to use tongue.

“My parents are gone for the weekend. Are you from here?”

“No, not really.”

This was all that was exchanged in the dirty bar off the university row. It seemed enough and I said goodbye to Tom and this kid with a cleft lip and after a short walk, he unlocked the front door to his parents’ two-story tudor. There wasn’t anything in the house that wasn’t wood or vaguely foreign or that didn’t smell of expensive paper. They were probably professors. Philosophy professors.

“Do you want some gin?”

Polite in that private-school way.

“Sure, thanks,” I reply with public-school poise.

I follow him to the kitchen and he keeps shifting his eyes to me, as if I’m the cable guy wanting to chat. Maybe I should have given him time alone, a chance to call one of his friends and ask about condom etiquette. But I watch as he opens the double-doored freezer and pulls out a frosted blue bottle (organic, of course) and I secretly like that I am mysterious. I haven’t even told him my name or that I’m featured on several “gay jock” websites. Trust me, I played tee-ball as a boy. I even own a couple of pairs of Nike shorts. I’m as authentic as they come. This kid grew up on Whole Foods and I’m sure his parents are registered Democrats. There is money in the way he moves, a rigidness that the rich eat. My dad, before he left, told me these people were “out of touch,” players not playing by the rules. I feel different—they don’t play, they watch. They watch me every night on their retina screen displays and I like it. I like it Dad.

***

He’s on his second drink and he’s cuter. His hands move freely, his eyes find mine faster but the muscles are still tense, the stomach still closed off. His name is Charlie and he’s a sophomore at the state school, interested in physics but a Film major. He likes Wes Anderson and the French New Wave and he covers his erection as he talks. He asks questions, lots of questions, and I answer with two or three word sentences (remember: mysterious) and his face scrunches when he realizes he has no other segue, no polite way to say You know my middle name and where I went to school so please take off your clothes.

“You look familiar.”

I have the line ready: “You might have seen me in a film or two. Adult stuff. It helped me pay for college and spring break.”

The ease of telling someone you’re in porn comes one day when you least expect it. It’s like telling someone you’ve got terminal cancer. You suddenly don’t mind if they give up on you. You even like watching them struggle, their faces askew, finding their pity.

He pushes his back into the couch and says something I’ve never heard before.

“I’ve watched them. You need better dialogue. Good dick, though.”

His eyes flutter, as if going back on his word, and I see something—a stirring of the nerves, some sort of gate opened.

And then I’m smiling and I’m kissing him. Not like a jock or a twink but I’m really kissing him, mouth open, tonguing his incisors. With the cameras on and the cheap-looking furniture, it’s easy. You pretend you’re Marky Mark in Boogie Nights and you’ve got Adonis abs and a following of grubby men in the Midwest. You move like those before you. The porn dance. Some oiled-up boys would even say it’s art.

But now, on this couch, the bodies don’t move how you want. The boy is smart and kind but confused. His hands, they glide across your skin but jerk upwards, afraid of finding the wrong spot. But he finds it, you both find it, and art suddenly seems too easy, too clean.

He pulls away like a small dog afraid of its reflection and suddenly there’s distance between us on the loveseat. I don’t want to but I ask.

“Is it because I’ve done porn?”

“No. It’s not.”

And I believe him.

“I’m sorry. It’s been a hard couple of months.”

You tend to believe broken people. Those sad at the edges of the eyes.

“My parents aren’t out of town. They moved. They picked up and left a couple of weeks ago. I only come here when I want to be alone.”

I survey the room – nothing touched, nothing misplaced – and that’s when I notice the large portrait set above the fireplace, the look of a memorialized oil painting that hangs in funeral homes, a printed photograph of a dead teenage girl. I know she’s dead instantly. She is small and pretty with sharp features, an odd girl that hated middle school. She looks like him, clean skin and blue eyes.

“She killed herself.”

“Oh,” I manage.

“My mom couldn’t be here anymore. She said this wasn’t our home.”

If the cameras were on, I would have kissed the nape of his neck and laid him flat on the floor, ripping the rest of his clothes off as he gasped. Maybe the producers would like the tears, the palpable pain. What would Marky Mark do?

He looks tiny now, man to boy.

“She’s pretty. I’m sorry.”

He stares at the portrait, transfixed, and something opens again—a wave of exhaustion or feeling that eradicates the edges of his cheekbones. I see it in his face—discomfort—the fuzzy look of something lost and then, as quick as it came he’s back, aware of the living room, of his tasteful clothes, of the porn star in his home. As he undoes his belt, as the shoes come kicking off, I know that this is where she did it, in this house with mom and dad sleeping upstairs, the dog by the front door. The quiet seems sad now rather than sexy and I think of my own mom in the suburbs; she’s drinking 2% and smoking a Camel. We haven’t talked since my clothes came off for the camera.

He moves in front of the mantel, still staring at her portrait, his alabaster back almost glowing under the living room lights. I see a mole on the shoulder and one down the spine. He turns to me and says, “this is Lizzy.”

Then he lays down and his skin is warm against mine.

***

I felt loss in his body. The way he turned from me when I looked him in the eye, the way his muscles contracted when I kissed his back. He was moving his legs and arms and neck the way he was supposed to, the way the boys before had taught him, but his blue eyes said something different. He wanted me to look but he didn’t want to be looked at. He wanted me to stay but he wanted to be alone. The girl in the portrait would not leave us; we had to make do with her there, eyes on our bodies. I wanted, in that moment, to be her in the movie. To be his dead sister. To hold him as her, to say you are my brother. You are my beautiful brother.

***

We finish. It played out like it was supposed to—slow, a little awkward, a sloppy kiss at the end. He turns from me and I see his hair is thick and long in the back, Leonardo DiCaprio circa 1996. I want to touch it.

Then after the silence, “So do you still do porn?”

Usually, I would answer with an emphatic no, no I do not. But he had been honest and I wanted to be honest too. Like a good person.

“I might. The money is nice and it’s really not that difficult.”

He thinks about my answer and seems to accept it. Now that we’re done, he probably feels dirty, naked in front of his dead sister on the mantle—that shame in your stomach. I did a few films back to back and that went away, the strange feeling of a secret shared.

“I don’t think she’d mind,” I finally say.

He laughs, a boy laugh with Donald Duck pitch.

“Trust me. She wouldn’t.”

 

Rory Charles Thost is a 2014 graduate of UCLA’s School of Theater, Film, and Television. He completed work on his thesis film, James Dean is Dead, earlier this year.

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