Monday, April 12, 2010

When I worked for a porno film producer

I mentioned recently that years ago I worked for a Camden wine company and my desk faced the street, which was quite a good way to waste time staring out at the passing people (I nearly wrote 'trade' then which would have been a bit dubious really). I was there for quite a few years; I hadn't long been driving and it was an easy car ride from home to there, lots of parking space in the yard, the company had a Mayfair wine bar at which we could spend the evening once a fortnight with the bill 'on the house', a young and friendly staff and of course good wine at trade prices.

One gloomy day came when the boss decided it would be more cost-effective to buy a bonded warehouse and it was announced that the offices would be closing and we were all to relocate to Barking in Essex. Now this didn't really suit me - I liked it where we were and I elected to stay behind and got duly included in the package for the new owners (I worked in the sales office but really could do pretty much most office work that was required). I met the new team, they seemed quite okay. They were a video film company and had a shop in Covent Garden selling equipment. The Camden premises would be used for the shooting of educational films and developing techniques for filming rock concerts and the like. Two full edit suites got installed; one of the bigger offices had so much equipment in it was almost impossible to get in and out of it, but I guess when two huge beds got delivered I should maybe have begun to be a little bit suspicious.

Yes, it was a porn film company that had bought the premises and I was the innocent face at the reception desk. Male and female 'actors' would come along each day and in the end I took to wearing earplugs to try and stop the groaning that would come from the back office, because it was really distracting when you were actually trying to work. Nothing is more off-putting when you are handling a busy diary than faint orgasmic screams in the distance. They were too stingy to adequately soundproof the place - I suppose they reckoned the money was better spent on hiring the best bodies around. I got a friend of mine a job as a camera man and he kept me in the loop with the gossip; I had no urge to see any films being made but I was interested in all the chit chat associated with them.

After three months I had had enough and went to have a chat with the boss. He agreed I could go and work in the Covent Garden shop selling the video equipment. This however turned out to be one of the worst jobs I have ever had. I didn't understand what I was selling and after the first miserable week when I could not answer a single thing that customers asked I gave in my notice. Ages later I read in the paper that the owner's house and business premises had been raided and he had been charged with a number of offences relating to the running of brothels, the importation of hard-core porn from Scandinavia and the production of his own hard-core films. I'm so glad I wasn't still working there - oh the shame, the shame.

38 comments:

marc aurel said...

Best headline of the week! Lovely story. Smiles and admiration for your style from over here.

Steve said...

Sounds a lot better than my job... dealing with malfunctioning toilets is never good and the sound effects aren't half as interesting to listen to...! ;-)

Dumdad said...

What an interesting life you've led!

Rob-bear said...

I'm with Dumdad about your "interesting" life. I'd say "fascinating," but this latest revelation is, well, je ne sais quois.

At least you survived.

Vera said...

ah, fodder for writing material then!

French Fancy said...

marc - hello you. Thank you and what's more it's all true


Steve - ah, but as office manager in my last London job I did have to deal with a lt of yucky stuff. Maybe not actually unblocking toilets but telling certain members of staff they had BO.

Dumdad - ah, the stories I could tell...

Rob - I had some scary moments in my twenties but, yes, I got through them almost unscathed. I think my parents had a lot of worry though - one of my lasting regrets.

Vera - The current OU assignment is an autobiographical piece - that is what has revived a lot of memories for me. It's been funny and painful in equal measure. Writing as therapy.

willow said...

Now that's a job not just anyone can say they've had! I like how you put quotes around "actors". hee.

Phil Lowe said...

This post really made smile this Monday lunchtime. Great story and well written FF. I must tell it to my actress friend Alison tonight. No, not that kind of 'actress'. lol

the fly in the web said...

So they don't fake it then...

Delana said...

FF, that's so funny! And who'd have thought that our angst of days gone by would one day be written about for all the world to see! There's nothing like a good story.

French Fancy said...

willow - Whoever would have thought that all our crazy youth experiences would be such good blogger fodder in the years to come?

Phil - Some of these 'actors' were such nice people you would never have guessed how they made a living

Delana - exactly! I've got so many funny anecdotes from years ago. The thing is that so many of them sound so far-fetched I could be accused of pure fiction (only I never lie on my blog)

Dash said...

FF that is hysterical, just goes to show that life is stranger than fiction.

The vision of you wearing earplugs, Oh so funny.

FF this is a brilliant post.

XX

POBOX said...

I lived in Hollywood for several years. That was almost like living in a porn business. Somethings it was difficult knowing if what you were seeing was real or part of a movie and the cameras were hidden away somewhere.

French Fancy said...

Dash - I was recently in touch with the old friend that I helped get the job as camera man for the films (although he ended up doing more on the rock concert side of things than the breathy stuff). He said that a lot of people thought I had a hearing problem because of the ear plugs. I wish someone had mentioned it at the time.

Pobox - I'd love to hear some of the Hollywood tales. I passed through there briefly during an LA holiday but didn't see anything risque - just tourists or hookers.

Jennysmith said...

Gosh, FF, its almost like something out of Boogie Nights. Wasn't Burt Reynolds directing, was it? Surprised they didn't ask you if you fancied a career in "showbiz". You could have been the next Linda Lovelace.

Don't blame you for not wanting to go to Barking. xxxx

Laura [What I Like] said...

Now that is a story! Pity about the demise of the wine job, it sounded fantastic...

Scarlet Blue said...

I bet your camera man friend couldn't believe his luck..!
Sx

Ayak said...

Well that WAS an interesting job...shame about the sound effects! Seems like you got out at just the right time though.

Fascinating post!

Lulu LaBonne said...

You should've asked if you could be a fluffer - think of the book you could've written about it.

mrwriteon said...

Oh, not shameful at all, dear friend. This is stuff for the memoirs, and I can hardly wait to read them.

I agree with Dumdad; you have had an interesting life.

Anne in Oxfordshire said...

A great story... and very interesting and funny :-) ..

Crystal Jigsaw said...

Blimey! Sounds like one of those jobs I could do...!!

CJ xx

Alienne said...

Lol! That is so funny, and yes, you timed your exit well.

e said...

You should write a book, FF...Really!

Contemporary Troubadour said...

What an adventure, FF! I think I would have had a terrible time trying not to laugh at the absurdity of it all, which would probably have gotten me fired right away ;)

Larry M. Brow said...

I don't suppose you were there long enough for a company picnic or Christmas party? At least everyone, except you, knew why they were there. The model secretary at the Art Department used to get applications from young ladies who thought they'd be modeling clothes or cosmetics. You know, just trying to get a start on a fabulous modeling career.

ladyfi said...

Oh the shame.. and thank goodness for it, because this was just hilarious! Best post this week!

Mark said...

That made me smile; especially you typing away as the actors humped next door. What ever happened to your friend the cameraman I wonder?

French Fancy said...

Jen - I've never seen Boogie Nights, not sure if I want to now I think it could remind me of those far-off groans

Laura - the wine job was one of my favourites. The people were lovely, the wine bar (Downs of Mayfair) was small and cozy and a good space to be in, some of the customers were gorgeous and I met lots of nice people.

Scarlet - you wouldn't believe it but he preferred filming the rock concerts to filming the porno scenes. And do you know what - I never even got a freebie to one of these concerts. Bloody ungrateful sod - actually he is very nice and thanks to Facebook we have (sort of) buddied up again.

Ayak - I felt a bit like the innocent stooge when I found out and when I spoke to my previous boss he'd had no idea as to their true nature of the business.

Lulu - (wails) I don't know what a fluffer is - I must go and look (I feel all unworldly and innocent now)

Ian - the thing is that there are months of my life where it is really hard to recall what exactly happened. Now, I'm not saying illicit substances were taken but somehow my memory is very hazy - hence no memoirs

Thanks Anne of Oxon (that sounds such a stately name)

CJ - Yes, you could have done it, no problems. Um, we are talking sampling the wine here, aren't we? (in fact I did get loads of wine free but do you know the thing that made me the happiest?) When they moved off to Barking I was able to take all the half beer barrels that were decorating the courtyard and give them to my mum so she could plant them up with geraniums. I'd forgotten about that till this very second - blogging as a memory aid (can't beat it)

Alienne - I can't quite recall what I went on to do after this job. I've had some good ones though. (as in fund of anecdotes, not lots of cash)

e - Maybe I should but it would be fiction - nobody would believe my true life adventures

CT - When the new firm first moved in it all seemed very exciting. All the cameras and the sound equipment, the posters from the rock concerts they had filmed - musicians etc. After a month or so the porno side kicked in and I never felt very relaxed after that.

Larry - some of the girls that wandered in for the filming looked so young and sweet. They were probably the 'naughty schoolgirl' films. Glad you are still in the blogosphere

Fi - thank you sweetie

Mark - well, he is now working for Narcotics Anonymous but in his spare time he is still involved in concert shoots. I think the porn side of things was a five minute wonder for him - he got all the girls he wanted anyway.

Angie Muresan said...

Oh my! Don't know anyone besides you so near to actual porn stars.

Dumdad said...

In case you don't pop over to my blog, is it:

Where there's a will there's a way?

French Fancy said...

Angie - some of them were so sweet and cute and fresh looking. I guess that was their selling point.

Dumdad - nope, that's not it either. I must have a little play on google

Paul C said...

This is almost too hot to handle. Most engaging!

Miss Footloose said...

But did you LEARN anything? :)

French Fancy said...

Thank you Paul

Miss Footloose - hello and welcome to the blog. I learnt that porno male stars are not necessarily handsome - it's not about the face.

Dianne said...

Wow, that's a great story. You really must write about it. It could be a funny book and heaven knows we all need more of those; most every book I pick up lately is sad, depressing or hopeless. A Great blog you've got here. Best of luck with it.

Merisi said...

Sounds like more than a "little shop of horror" - glad you made it out in time! ;-)

I makes for a good story, though.

French Fancy said...

Dianne - hello and welcome to the blog. You said such lovely things - thank you very much

Merisi - blogging about this has made me think about so many other odd things that have happened. Don't you find that once a memory trickles out the others just fall over begging to be brought to the fore?