Let’s get this out of the way first: You’re right, and we can agree without reservation about the extreme degree of foolishness on my part.
When I was a bit younger and less wise than I am today, I said “Okay” when I should have said “No way!” Really, really should have nixed that notion. Dumbest thing I ever did. Except for all the other dumb things, I guess, but we’re not talking about them right now.
We’re talking about agreeing to allow oneself to be filmed in flagrante debauchery. And not just a quick phone video clip. Not even five minutes on a consumer-level camcorder. No, this was a labor of lunacy involving two high-end cameras, painstaking lighting, and strategically-placed microphones on two audio channels. The result was 43 very well edited minutes of me and a (soon to be ex-) girlfriend doing things men and women enjoy doing with each other, which should never be recorded.
Yes, she was a filmmaker. And yes, I’m quite convinced she was as nutty as a jar of Skippy Super Chunk. (And yes, I know peanuts are legumes.)
I gave her the nickname “Raven” on our third date, a hike in the Pine Barrens. It suited her. Not just for her long, glossy black hair. There was also something rather avian about her. Quick, deft movements. A preternaturally focused gaze. A hint of predatory menace. She made me uneasy.
Naturally, I was smitten. I immediately began spending all my free time with her.
Raven liked porn, which I do not. I have nothing against it conceptually. And I don’t think any less of those who consume it. We all have our “things”, don’t we? From what I’ve seen, I just think it’s pretty awful and unwatchable. People I don’t find attractive making human sexuality look frenzied, inelegant and ignoble.
My impression is that porn producers and performers take the art out of sex. They make it perfunctory and transactional. They don’t impart the delicious secrets of sex: the exquisite slow build of impatience and intensity; the acceleration of heart and breath; the senses expanding; the beauty of each inch of flesh unveiled; the hair-raising electricity of first caresses; and the sheer overwhelming thrill of being right here, right now, in this perfect shared moment.
Plus, the production values are poor, and the performers don’t do it as well as I do. So there.
But Raven liked porn. She liked having a DVD running on the big screen in my bedroom while we were actively engaged. I had no objection. Frankly, I was busy devoting my attention to the woman in my bed. Because, you know… there was a woman in my bed.
Yet Raven wanted me to watch along with her. I tried. And it was boring, dumb and frequently laughable. Sometimes I’d start chuckling. This irritated Raven. So I expressed my sentiments about porn.
And that’s when she issued her challenge. If I don’t like the videos she watches, we should make our own. Just for us. How erotic would that be?
I laughed it off, but Raven didn’t forget. I came home from the office one day to find my bedroom transformed into a studio. Curtains drawn, lights, cameras, sound live. Action?
But then she took me into the living room, and poured wine, and engaged in some of that wily feminine stuff women do. You know what I mean. Anyway, I said “Okay” when I should have said “No way!”
Three or four times, we watched Raven’s film of the two of us. I had to admit, it was quite good. She was talented in the filmic arts. The video she directed, shot and edited was indeed better than the commercial erotica I’d seen. It was more patient, more elegant, more intense. More needful and appreciative. And the performers were excellent!
Still, I was uncomfortable that the video existed. The very fact of its existence felt like a yet-unspoken threat from the future. I asked Raven to destroy it. The DVD, the edit files, and the raw video. She agreed immediately. “I will,” she said. “Of course.” I understood, as the words crossed her lips, that she was lying to me.
I broke up with Raven a couple months later. I finally decided she was just too weird for me. She’d go for weeks without working, until various individuals and organizations were chasing her for money. She’d stay up all night doing God knows what online, then sleep into the afternoon. One time she became bizarrely aroused by a near-altercation between me and one of her ex-boyfriends we encountered at a pizza place. And I’d sometimes wake in the night to find her staring, Corvus-like, at my sleeping form. Time to get out.
It was not an easy break-up. For months afterwards, she would occasionally send me emails with no messages – just links to an FTP site where she had posted videos for me to watch. One was a clip of her arranging photo prints (of me and the two of us together) in a pile, I suspect on the roof of her apartment building, dousing them with an accelerant, and burning them, while she looked balefully into the lens.
The last video she sent was a clip from our personal porno. It was steamy and very explicit, and really, really well done. It was me and Raven enthusiastically doing what men and women enjoy doing with each other. Right there on my computer screen. And across town, on hers. A couple of clicks away from a scenario I didn’t want to contemplate.
When I broke it off, I broke it off clean. No more contact of any kind. No replies to emails, and no phone calls.
I was hoping. Hoping her interest in me would fade with time. She’d meet someone else soon. As crazy as I believed her to be, she’d hesitate before doing anything untoward with that Damoclean video. I was hoping.
It’s been a few years. I haven’t heard from her since that last email. I still think sometimes about what a freaking idiot I was to make a sex tape. With anyone. Ever. Because it’s still out there, and I’m still hoping it’ll never surface.
That last email with the naughty clip was the only one that included text. She wrote:
“Can’t wait til your famous! Love ya! J”