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.
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.”