Turning Blue Chapter Six: The Number-One Fan (Pt. 2)

Turning Blue Book Cover

Chapter Six: The Number-One Fan

The scheme that they concocted was, first of all, to go along as if nothing was wrong. Travis was to express to Ryder that he knew someone from Europe who was interested in acquiring the footage, but that he needed some time to arrange the financing. When the financing was in place, Travis promised to provide Ryder with the contact information. This would allow them a little time, just to weigh all the options. Nobody wanted to make any rash moves. In the meantime, Beppo did not think it would do any harm to consult with his criminal attorneys to make sure that, with what they had in mind, Travis did not end up implicating himself.

In all this time, Ryder kept showing up on the movie set, and Travis kept up the appearance that they were all on the best of terms.

He managed to get Ryder to keep his mouth shut about the footage, under penalty of retracting the agreement, although he allowed Ryder to blab around that he was in the middle of making a lucrative deal with the producer, with the consequent grins, nods and winks. The rock star was very proud to be involved in the porno business.

Howard was full of suspicion. One night at the sound stage, during a lull between scenes on the new girl-girl production, which they were shooting for New York Pictures, the production manager asked, “What’s this big deal that Ryder is doing with you that he keeps bragging about…?”

“Nothing you want to know about,” Travis said, and before Howard could say another word, their attention was alerted by a howl from the makeup room.

They both hurried down the hallway to discover a tableau in the makeup room that looked like a scene from a Travis Lazar Film.

Tiffany and Traci, both topless, in spiked heels, and covered with glitter, were glaring at one another on the verge of a catfight, while Ryder, dressed in his usual spandex, stood between them, keeping them apart at arm’s length. Traci brandished a pair of lilac panties, as if she were holding the Miss America trophy. Maria retreated into a corner of the room, wielding a brush in her hand like a martial arts weapon. Coochie was springing into the air in a succession of waist-high leaps, yelping ferociously in an attempt to protect Tiffany from attack by Traci. Tiffany had turned beet red in a fit of anger on the verge of an explosion. The conflict was complicated by the fact that the two women were scheduled to perform a girl-girl scene together, next up, and being that the show must go on, the mood would certainly be angry lesbian sex.

“I caught him, Travis,” Traci announced, “He had my panties in his pocket.”

“I did not,” argued the rockstar, “I mean, I did, but I didn’t know they were yours. I thought they were Tiffany’s and I was going to put them in her bag.”

“What the eff are you doing going through his pockets in the first place?” demanded Tiffany.

“I was looking for my panties,” Traci retorted defiantly, and as an unfortunate afterthought, added the unladylike, “You whore.”

“You wet-faced, cheesebox, streak-stained slut,” Tiffany returned, rocking her neck from side to side with each syllable, and then, to obstruct her advance, Ryder had to get in the middle of them again.

Jack and Tommy who had also heard the commotion arrived in the makeup room like reinforcements on a battlefield, and fortified by the presence of other crew members, Maria began to give her eye-witness account, although Traci reminded her that she had been doing Tiffany’s makeup, and had not seen anything. As the tempers settled down, everyone in the room began to debate the details of the altercation with everyone else. Howard, whose main concern was that the two girls had a scene together coming up, reminded everyone of the schedule.

This was one occasion where Travis was not concerned that, out of pique, Tiffany would refuse to do the performance. A geegee scene paid slightly less than a beegee, but the women preferred them because they were considered a lot less demanding. They did not have to worry about the requirements of raising an erection, messy clean-ups, or getting pounded with an oversized phallus. Neither of them would want to lose easy money. No matter what the conflict, both
Tiffany and Traci would swallow their pride, and, so to speak, put their heads into their work.

Travis was more concerned that Traci’s outburst would upset his plans for Ryder, and so he would have to take Ryder’s side for now. If he took Traci’s side, he would have no choice other than to throw Ryder off the set; then, not only would Tiffany erupt like a rocket at its pinnacle in a fireworks spectacular on the Fourth of July, but Travis had his own reasons to keep the rock star close.

“It sounds to me like it was an honest mistake,” Travis delivered his judgment.

“Thank you.” Ryder adopted his habitual position on the burgundy couch, and tried to subdue the furious dog, in which attempt he narrowly avoided getting his fingers nipped.

Tiffany folded her arms smugly, as if to say that she had been right all along.

“Are you saying I’m wrong?” Traci gave Travis a frozen stare.

“Ryder is always messing around with wardrobe. It’s easy to mix up your panties with Tiffany’s. You shouldn’t have been going through his pockets.”

Jack saw an opportunity to offer some assistance. “Travis, just want to let you know that we are all ready in there for the girl-girl, but the smoke will start to dissipate, if we don’t shoot….”

Tommy said, “Yeah, I mixed it with dry ice so it’s floating low across the stage…pretty…blue…you said you wanted magical for the girl-girl…but…it’s not going to last….”

To set a positive example, since wrap could be called in an hour, if they started rolling, the cinematographer and the electrician went back down the hallway to the stage.

Travis turned to the makeup artist. “Maria. Traci’s done?”

“Yes, sir. I still need five minutes with Tiffany for lips.”

“Okay. Howard, take Traci to the set for stills.”

“Yes, sir,” the production manager said sullenly, because he clearly did not agree with his boss’ judgment in this dispute, although he knew better than to voice his convictions.

“Panties, Travis?” Traci inquired archly, dangling the evidentiary lilac undergarments from her forefinger.

“Just a g-string will be fine,” said the director, “Go with Howard. I will be right there. Maria, finish up with Tiffany. Ryder, come with me.”

They went to the production office, and Travis knew exactly what he was going to do. The quarrel between the girls was the perfect distraction that he needed. Everyone was looking the wrong way, walking on eggshells. They were all busy now, and Ryder was off his guard because he had been caught red-handed with Traci’s lingerie. He kept apologizing for the misunderstanding all the way down the hallway.

“Okay.” Travis shut the door. “I made some inquiries on your content, and I think I found someone….”

“That’s great. So, someone is going to distribute the footage…?”

“Well, he’s going to have to screen it, of course.”

“No problem, dude.” Ryder rubbed his hands together with glee. “There’s a lot of stuff but he’s welcome to sift through it all. If he wants to….”

“Well, I know this guy is definitely interested in this kind of young stuff.”

“I don’t really care about the money, I just want people to see this shit…it’s amazing…but, don’t worry, I’ll take care of you for setting it up.”

“I’m not worried about that,” said Travis graciously, “Although my usual fee is twenty-five per cent.”

Ryder started giggling. “This is cool, dude. Whatever.”

“There’s only one condition, and you have to swear to it, or there’s no deal.”

“Yeah, sure, dude, what do you need?”

“I am going to hand over all the contact information to you, but from then on, it’s all yours. You contact the buyer, you negotiate with him directly, and most importantly, you keep me out of it.”

“If that’s the way you want to do it, that’s cool. Your name will not be mentioned.”

“Call this guy, and tell him what you have.” Travis handed him a card with a telephone number, and the name Luis Perez.

Now that he had set Ryder Mackenzie on a course to turn himself in to the Vice Squad, Travis still had to make things right with Traci, and direct the girl-girl scene with the two wild enemies.

Howard came in at exactly the right moment, for once, to advise the director that both ladies were on the set, conducting themselves professionally, and they were running out of dry ice, since he had only ordered one hundred pounds of it, although they had more than enough smoke to endanger the entire crew with asphyxiation. Travis could tell that Howard was miffed that he had not stood up for Traci, because he was doing his job with a cold professionalism that made the producer think he should get him annoyed more often.

Travis made sure to leave Ryder sitting alone in the production office, so that he could make his telephone call with nobody around, who could be called to testify at some later date, and followed Howard to the set.

Tommy was right. It was pretty. The set was supposed to represent the theatrical look of a nude revue for a fantasy sequence. There was an ice-blue mist floating along the stage floor, and little twinkles gleamed in pockets and crevices of the wooden set. The smoke revealed dramatic shafts of light like sunshine through the foliage of thick trees. All bronze flesh and skimpy lingerie, the two glittery stars were posing for still photographs with their hands on their hips, and a pout on their lips, bookended at opposite sides of the set, for aesthetics’ sake as well as for political reasons. Before he called for the action to commence, the director had a private word with each of the performers.

He went to Tiffany first. “You know, Tiffany, normally we don’t allow boyfriends, but I make an exception for you.”

“Understood,” she said, “I’ve never brought anyone around before. But Ryder means a lot to me.” She offered a withering look to Traci on the other side of the set. “And this is the first time that anyone ever had a problem with him.”

The director kept her focused on her performance. “You’re going to give me a hot scene?”

“Of course. I’m a pro. I’ll gobble her muff. I don’t care that she’s a bitch.”

“Give me what I need, so we can all go home,” Travis said.

The tension between the two co-stars had a chilling effect. Everyone on the crew waited silently in his position, except for Tommy who was manning the hand-held smoke machine. He wandered up and down in a cloud of fog, a walking metaphor for his usual metaphysical state.

Travis went to Traci next. “You okay, honey?”

“I can’t believe you screwed me in there. I thought you had my back.”

“Listen, I believe he took your panties….” Travis admitted confidentially.

“Don’t tell me you’re afraid of her.” She glared at Tiffany.

Travis circled around her so that Tiffany would be out of her eyeline. “I will make it up to you. Trust me on this one.”

“You know she told me he’s tiny,” she scoffed, “Two finger jack.”

She pinched her thumb and forefinger together in an illustrative gesture. “I don’t know what she sees in that creep.”

“He’s a famous rock star,” Travis said.

“He’s still a creep.”

“Losing smoke,” Jack shouted from his position at the camera.

“All right, roll,” Travis instructed, emerging dramatically from the mist, and before he even reached the director’s chair, he called out, “Action.”

There was a lot of grumbling going on the next morning on Miles Flannigan’s set, which was a loft apartment downtown where he was back in his old spot, shooting for Paradise Media. Traci, Colt, Summer Rainfall and Storm were all scheduled to take part in a four way scene, but the lighting truck had got stuck in traffic on the 101-South, coming out of the valley, so the orgy was running late.

Maria was working makeup for Flannigan, now that Travis Lazar Productions had wrapped for the month. She had completed two girls in record time, although Traci was in a mood and had fidgeted and talked on her cell while she was in the chair. Everyone was camera ready, but the camera itself was not ready, so the four performers, who did not want to use their time idly, took advantage of the delay to study their scripts and to smoke a bowl.

Traci and Maria–in starts–unfolded their accounts of the incident the previous night in which Ryder had stolen, or, depending on which version you preferred, had mistakenly taken Traci’s lilac

Colt said, “What an ass.”

“Who?” asked Maria, not sure which story he believed.

“Ryder, that’s who,” said Colt, sucking on the glass pipe and letting smoke come out from between his teeth.

“It was a mistake,” Maria said, sitting in her own makeup chair, because everyone was done, “Travis even said so himself.”

“I don’t care if it was a mistake or if he stole them,” Colt said, “He’s still an ass. No matter what, Ryder Mackenzie is an ass.”

“You got that right,” said Traci, as he handed her the pipe, “And a creep.”

“It sounds creepy to me,” Summer Rainfall joined the circle of opinion, “Famous guys, they think they can do anything and get away with anything.”

“And they all have sick fantasies,” Storm agreed, as the pipe passed along, “Probably from watching too much porn.”

“Porn gets rid of people’s fantasies, you douche,” Colt enlightened him.“They did a study. Still, it’s a lot of commotion to make over a pair of panties.”

“I can’t believe Travis didn’t stand up for you,” sympathized Summer.

The haze in the makeup room was now beginning to rival what Tommy had pumped out of the smoke machine on stage the previous night. Maria coughed and waved her hand to fan away the fumes.

“Travis said it was an accident,” the makeup artist insisted.

“Come on, Maria,” said Traci, “It was because of her, you know that.”

“Who?” asked Storm, between inhalations.

“Tiffany,” said Summer, at the same time as Colt said, “The Tiffany.”

Travis had three pictures in postproduction; Hansel Does Gretl, the lost in the forest movie for New York had come back from New York with a request for minor changes to do with a logo which
was on a tag of a performer’s T-shirt; the Majestic Movies prison drama, Hard Time, starring Tiffany West, and featuring Johnny Raw and the swan song of Kimberly Kreeme was ready for his approval; and Starlight, the new sapphic project for New York was about to go into editing, and he had some notes for the editor before he started cutting. Travis was spending the afternoon in postproduction, a few days later, after principal photography had wrapped, when he received a call from Tiffany.

She never called him, so it took him by surprise.

“You slimy, belly-crawling, fork-tongued reptile.” Tiffany was on a roll. “Since when do you get to meddle in my private affairs?”

“Hello, Tiffany,” Travis responded, without getting emotional.

“I have a private relationship with someone, and you get in the middle of that?”

“Tiffany, he came to me….”

“Fuck him, and fuck you,” she snapped.

“Don’t get me started,” Travis warned, “You talk to me like that, and you are off my list.”

“I am just calling to let you know,” she said, struggling to control herself, “That I will never make another movie for you again. And I mean that until hell freezes over.”

They both hung up, but Travis realized that Tiffany did not let cash turn into ash without having an alternative source of income. Maybe she had moved to another rich boyfriend, who wanted to fund her way out of the business. It did not make sense for her to refuse future employment unless she had a very good alternative. He was not the only producer in town, but he never stopped shooting.

Like a cold-blooded shark swimming relentlessly underwater, Travis Lazar had to shoot to survive. He called Billy Dallas.

“I don’t know what to tell ya, mah friend,” said the agent, “But this time she has gone up the trail and into the sunset, if you get mah drift….”

“What did I do this time?”

“Look, I tried to talk some sense into her, but it’s like talking to a blonde mule.” He paused to let his words sink in a little, but Travis was not going to respond in a hurry, the way this was going. “You’ll pardon me for asking, Travis, but I had an earful of tarnation in my office. I thought she was going to burst into flames. Now, mind you, I’m not accusing anybody of anything, but she says she will never
work for you again. And we’re not going to survive a second ice age waiting for hell to thaw.”

“Well, what is it that I’m supposed to have done?”

“I don’t like getting involved in this, Travis, you understand. But she had this boyfriend, the rock star, and now, from what I heard, he was in trouble with the law, and being held downtown, and somehow or other, ya’ll’s name was mentioned.”

“This is coming from Tiffany?”

“Yes. She says he was working on some deal with you. That’s his story, y’understand. It’s none of mah business.”

“Well, Billy, you’ve got to consider the source.” Travis referred to Tiffany’s penchant for dramatic embellishment.

“Of course, that’s what I thought. She’s very emotional. So, y’all didn’t have nothing to do with it?”

“Tiffany has her moments.”

“She’s very emotional. She’s had it with him, though. They’ve broken up. He’s in jail anyhow.”

“It’s better if he’s out of the scene, Billy. He was not good.”

“Oh. I get it. That’s all I know and all I need to know.”

That was not all he knew, of course, and Travis could tell that the agent was holding back something.

“Out with it, Billy. The one thing we all love about Tiffany is that she does not walk away from money.
She had a great spot with me, she was our number one choice. She’s not going to just let it go.”

Even over the telephone, the agent lowered his voice. “This has to stay between us.”

“I prefer it that way too,” the producer agreed.

“She’s going to go under contract. Nothing has been announced yet, so I cannot tell you which company….”

“There’s only four or five possibilities,” Travis said, guessing that she was joining the stable of stars at Paradise Media, “I’ll figure it out.”

“She won’t be able to work for you anyway. She’ll be exclusive to one studio.”

Travis hung up, and he felt that he had done a good thing. He deplored what Ryder had committed, and he felt dirty from the taint of it. He was in the business of dirty movies, but he never felt like he was a dirty man until this sordid affair. It had no other possible outcome but to end up with Perez and the Vice Squad. He did not like the idea of sending somebody to jail, but Ryder deserved what was coming to him. Travis was no paragon, but he could not imagine what kind of person would commit such a foul crime. He did not think that he would be implicated, and Beppo’s criminal lawyers, who were on monthly retainer, were ready to help if it came to that. There was nothing to prove against him. For once in his life, he really was innocent. He thought about his own children. It was worth the risk. He felt cleansed from doing the right thing.

The icing on top of the cake was that in addition to it all, he was finally done with Tiffany. He had always hoped to finish with a symbolic slap to her pouty face. She had trumped him often, but he had sent her packing in the end. Life had become more simple. He felt like he was rid of a nemesis.

And then, out of the blue, he got the message from Duncan.

See more from Stuart Canterbury‘s Turning Blue here

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