Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Swing Your Partner

Story time!

Back in the mid-90s when I was married (cold chill runs down spine) and living in Albany NY, I was in need of some extra cash.  I had a full-time job at a local craft store, which paid my end of the household bills, but not much else. 

I had an idea that maybe I could put my new video camera to use and start a videotaping business.  My brother-in-law worked regularly as a wedding DJ and gave me some sound advice.  I did some library research on home businesses, tax obligations and such, then went and got myself registered with a “dba.”

I had business cards made, put up flyers and stuff, and put an ad in the local newspaper and Pennysaver.  My catch phrase was “You name it, we’ll tape it!”  I was open for weddings, graduations, recitals, picnics, reunions, filming valuables for insurance purposes… whatever. 

“Whatever” was the general reaction.  I was kinda bummed about the slow start.  I got a quick job from my Craft Store… they paid me $100 to film their First Anniversary Party event. 

Later, a friend of mine knew a young couple that was getting married and directed them to me for a very reasonably priced wedding video.  I thought I had some really good ideas on how to do that.  It can be an iffy proposition getting a friend or relative to videotape a wedding.  They often concentrate only on their friends or side of the family, or just set up the camera pointed at the dance floor and walk away.

I was determined to put out a good product.  I went to the rehearsal, not only to get some good candid footage but to scope out the best angles and work with the Church People on where they would let me set up.  During the periods of the reception where everyone is waiting for the Happy Couple, I set up to record people’s best wishes and advice for the bride and groom.

Best response was when I took the camera to a table with what looked like two aunties and a grandma.  Both aunties went on about not going to bed mad and how they should always compromise.  Then Grandma piped up, “I’m so sick of compromising!

My best idea was to make two edits of the video.  Obviously, I’d include one with all the useable footage possible… the Director’s Cut, if you will.  But in addition to that, I included what I called the “Wedding Smash”, where only the high-points were shown.

This was meant for times when the couple wants to show some wedding footage to friends, but without keeping them on lockdown for an hour and a half.  So BANG, there’s the limo, BANG, there’s the groom waiting at the altar, BANG, here comes the bride, BANG, the vows, BANG, I do, I do too, BANG, kiss the bride, BANG, the happy couple walks out.  Then BANG, they walk into the reception, BANG, the toast, BANG, the first dance, BANG, cut the cake, BANG, everyone say goodbye.  Whole wedding wrapped up in 10 minutes.  Now the party guests can get back to the barbecue.

Anyway, it all went well, and I turned over a wedding videotape of which I was very proud.  It was just too bad I wasn’t getting any other work.

OK, none of that is why I wanted to tell this story.  This is…

One evening, near the end of my ad’s run in the paper, I got a call at home.  A guy saw my ad and how I’d “tape anything,” and wanted to know if I’d do a “swing party.”

I considered the phrase.  Did the guy mean, like, 50s dancing? Or…

So I asked him to clarify.

He said, “Well, you know, we get together one weekend with some other couples…”

 Hot damn!  They wanted me to make a porno!

I said, “Well, I haven’t done one before, but I’d be happy to see if I could help you out.”

He asked about price and going back to what my brother-in-law told me about not undervaluing my time or talent, I told the guy I’d do it for $50 an hour.  He said he’d check with the rest of the group and get back to me.

Not sure what I was getting myself into, I then had to sell the idea to Future Ex.  Surprisingly enough, she didn’t go apeshit, or even poo-poo the idea.  Perhaps I should have realized there was trouble in paradise right there.

She was mildly concerned that I might be dragged into the frenzy, so I tried to put her mind at ease about it.  I really didn’t think it would even be an issue, I mean, ultimately it would be up to me and I could just refuse.

(I’ll now wait for the women reading this to stop laughing at the prospect that a man could opt not to join in a wild sex party.)

I think Future Ex was more concerned with me bringing home some more cash, so she grudgingly signed off.  But the thing is, I had no freakin’ idea what was going to happen.

Immediately I began to assemble a list of questions for the “group.”  How did they want it filmed?  Like a story?  Individual liaisons?  Just keep sweeping the whole room, from activity to activity?  I mean, from a service perspective, I needed to know how to keep my customers satisfied.

Also, I began to wonder if I’d made a horrible mistake.  I mean, at first blush, it seemed like the dream project for a red-blooded guy.  But then I realized that I could be succumbing to the rose-colored glasses version where I’m airdropped into Hef’s grotto to film some hot naked co-ed monkey love.  In reality, it would more likely be a bunch of overweight, droopy, pasty-assed middle-agers, flopping around like salmon spawning in an Alaska riverbed.

Ewww.

I didn’t hear from the guy for another couple of weeks.  Then finally he called and said the price was acceptable and they wanted to schedule a date.  He gave me his first choice date, and it just so happened that Future Ex and I had tickets to see AC/DC on a Saturday night.  No way was I missing Angus for a bunch of randy PTA parents.  So I told the guy that I couldn’t do that Saturday, but hold on while I get my appointment calendar so we could find another date. 

I put the phone down, ran up the stairs to the kitchen, grabbed my book, ran back downstairs and picked up the phone again.  It couldn’t have taken more than 15 seconds, but the guy was gone.  I never heard from him again.  He must have really had his heart set on that night.  Maybe it was an anniversary party or something.

Anyway, I wasn't too busted up about not getting to do the shoot, although if I had, I probably would have told you the story a long time ago.  And it would have been a much better story.

I just missed out on another would-be perfect job, when I had an audition to DJ at a local titty bar.  (Remember, I was a college radio DJ, and also did occasional work with another wedding DJ.  I could definitely rock the house.)  Couldn’t believe the Ex went for that one either, but again, she wanted me coming home with more money.  I was just happy for the opportunity to capitalize on all the time I’d spent in strip clubs across Ohio and New York, during my wild youthful days. 

I spun the music for a couple of hours one night and I thought I did OK, but I didn’t get that job either.  Still, it was a pretty cool way to kill an evening.  Beat the hell out of working in a cubicle, that’s for sure.

I always thought there was a TV show to be made out of life in a strip club.  There’s such a distinct culture there.  Showtime or HBO could do it.  Or maybe I’ll just have to graft the idea onto one of the Sitcom Kelly episodes. 

Sitcom Kelly takes pole dancing lessons at a local strip club, so she can entertain her Pit-dwelling guests.”

22 comments:

  1. That is an awesome story. I am laughing over here.

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  2. Maybe I should put a tip jar out there...

    Hmm... is it good etiquette to tip your videographer?

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  3. It is a crying shame el dude hung up while you went to grab your appointment book (hello? Blackberry?). That story would have been worth its weight in gold. I can just picture your face when you're thinking, "Hot Damn!......" LOL!!!!!

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  4. It's really for the best, Bluz. Because, let's face it, how could you tape something like a swingers' party and NOT upload it to YouTube so all of us could laugh at it?

    THIS is why we can't have nice things.

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  5. Yayyyy, its not about football! Such a bummer I totally wanted to read about the angles you'd shoot the swingers party... Next time you get such an invite, remember you can always see AC-DC another time, but to film an orgy??? Dude! (speechless)

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  6. DG,
    Yeah, this was 1996... no blackberrys, no internet, no Google... Hell, I didn't even have caller ID, or I'da called his ass right back!

    Mrs Bachelor Girl,
    That's another thing I was wondering about... my camera used those small 8mm tapes. Then I'd dub them off to VHS. I was wondering if they'd insist on keeping the source tape.

    I mean, an artist always has to keep a copy of his work for his portfolio, no?

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  7. Miss Nikki,
    Oh, come on! The last post only had a leeetle bit of football in it...

    I was totally thinking of what angles the "players" would want me to use. I mean, did they expect me to get in there like a hog rooting for tuffles? Good think I had a zoom...

    We had to go see the AC/DC show though. It had already been postponed once, and I'd been telling Future Ex about them for years. This was my big chance to show her what I'd been going on about for all those years.

    Still, I always wonder how that swing party would have turned out. And if I would have been scarred for life, afterwards.

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  8. I'm with BG, this is why we can't have nice things.

    A friend of mine once went on a blind date with a swinger. He took her to a party and she was absolutely appalled. Apparently, she didn't realize that swinging wasn't just a dance done in the '40's. She also told me that most of the people were hopped up on some sort of drug. One can only imagine what kind of drug I'd have to take in order to have sex in front of a bunch of people while they're having sex, too.

    And switch your partner!

    STDs anyone?

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  9. Cassie,
    Sitcom Kelly once dated a guy who was looking for someone to go to swing parties with him. It definitely became one of our "episodes."

    Real life Kelly was considering going, just to see what went on, and wondering how to be allowed in, without actually having to participate.

    It was in this episode that we introduce the concept of the unfortunate "safe word."

    My favorite was "Back door!"

    Others, that we planned on using as out-takes over the closing credits:
    "Pile Driver!"
    "Cannonball!"
    "Fatherhood!"

    Anyway, like someone commented once when I wrote about my buddy Rik's 9-way... "Not enough hand sanitizer in the world..."

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  10. Oh my gosh the image you put in my head with this had me dying out laughing. If he baled on you that fast though, he probably wouldn't have paid you... And really there would have been images there that you can't ever "un-see."

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  11. "..overweight, droopy pasty-assed middle agers...". This crowd couldn't swing if their asses were on hinges. Be glad you missed everything but a healthy laugh.
    With your wonderful radio voice, you could be famous like that homeless guy who just got a job with the Cleveland Cavaliers!
    AAAARRRRGGHHHH Worse than any olde Swingers party, I know, but you couldda been on the RADIO.

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  12. OMG! I wish you had taped the orgy! I've always (secretly) wondered what they're like. I don't have a desire to join in, but I just want to see one. I bet it is a pasty, flabby flesh fest.

    Yes, maybe we'd be scarred for life, but curiosity often gets the best of me. :)

    I had a swinger BF for about five minutes. I'm not into sharing and when I found out he wanted us to go to a party, I told him it's over.

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  13. Thanks for the pause for me to do a little cleaning up in the middle of your post.
    Are you sure they didn't want you to film them swingdancing??? Just a thought!
    xoxo.
    your hot Arizona auntie

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  14. Jessica,
    I don’t think he would have “stiffed” me… I would have had his tapes… with which I could do whatever I wanted. He’d pay… no question.

    I just realized, if I’d have gotten that job, I could have written a year’s worth of porno films off of my taxes, as a professional research expense.

    “No honey, really, I’m just studying camera movements…”

    Mary Ann,
    Reminds me of the line that comedian Stephanie Hodge used to say about women whose asses have fallen… “If you feel someone tapping you on the back of your knee, chances are, it’s your ass.”

    I never had a good radio voice, in my opinion, due to all the dental work mentioned in prior posts. Way too much air in my “S”es. The mic really picked that up.

    Mr. Wonderful Voice guy is going to be back on the streets within the year. Money and a job can’t fix “crazy.”

    Runaway Bride,
    Welcome! Yes, now I’m left to forever wonder about the road not taken. The situation was guaranteed to either be the coolest thing ever, or something to be endured and repressed for the rest of my life. But either way, it would have made a brilliant story.

    Kernut,
    That’s almost exactly the situation that Sitcom Kelly had. She was curious about the goings on, but not so curious that she would actually try it. And the guy she was dating was pretty adamant that it was something he was not going to give up. So she cut him loose pretty quick after that.

    I have a theory that the swing parties are much like nude beaches. We’re curious to check them out, but quickly realize that the only people that are there are ones you really wish would put their clothes back on.

    Judie,
    From the way the guy was stammering when I asked for further explanation, it was obvious what kind of swinging he was talking about. It wasn’t dancing, it wasn’t in a ball park or on a jungle vine and it wasn’t on a playground.

    I’m sure it was going to be in someone’s tacky 70s-orange den with stained furniture and bad music on the turntable. And maybe lava lamps.

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  15. This kind of event would have rendered you too bug-eyed and impotent to operate your damn equipment anyway. (Pun fully intended.)

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  16. Plus an irrational fear of cottage cheese...

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  17. I'm imagining that the people were terribly unattractive and, really, now I need to just go bleach my brain or something.

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  18. Wow, you really know how to bounce back from those sports posts. This one was GOLD. It reminds me of that scene in Borat where he goes to the same sort of party. You know what I'm talking about, right?

    Also, I totally want you to film the wedding I'm never going to have!

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  19. Burgh Baby,
    That was the conclusion I came to as well. I had too, otherwise the thought of missing out on filming Girls Gone Wild-“Girls of Upstate New York Edition” would have been too much to bear.

    Mundane,
    Yeah, I felt the need to go completely un-football on that one. (Even though the prior post only peripherally mentioned sports, mostly being about my nephews.)

    I would totally do your imaginary wedding, but I’d have to get a new imaginary camera. Couple years ago, I tried to revive the old video camera and both batteries seem to be broken. I try to charge them up but still, nothing happens. Obviously, I’m not about to pour any more money into 1994-era technology.

    And unfortunately, I poured too much money into 1994-era editing equipment. But if you’d like a series of 15 second video files, I could use my regular digital camera… You could have a YouTube Wedding! Imaginarily, of course.

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  20. LMAO! Great stories! I can't believe your future ex was going to let you do a swingers party!

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  21. Raven,
    I couldn't believe it either! I was sure she was going to pitch a fit. She did make it clear, though, after it fell through, that she didn't like the idea. But to her, getting the cash was more important. (Plus, getting me out of the house for a while, I suspect.)

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