FilmDrunk

Guns, Horses & Insecurities: Reporting From the Set of True Grit XXX

When I arrived on set it was a little before 9:00am. That meant I was early. I figured that if ever there was an opportunity to be on time for something, the morning you’re offered to visit an adult film shoot had better be it. Not to mention, our filming location was a good 40 miles outside of Los Angeles and just a brief ten minutes prior I’d convinced myself that I was absolutely lost. So, you can imagine my relief when I realized that I’d made it to the correct address: a dusty horse ranch on the outskirts of L.A. county.

As I locked the door to my truck, the wind kicked up a nice thick cloud of manure and pimp slapped me right across the face with it. To add insult to injury, it was cold-as-hell out, too. Really cold. An ugly day was certainly brewing on the forecast, but that wasn’t enough to postpone (yet again) this day of shooting. I’d been told that 30 days prior production had been rained out and forced to reschedule this pivotal day of filming. Hell or high water, something erotic was getting filmed today, whether Mother Nature liked it or not.

In true Daily Bugle fashion, I was brandishing a very obvious notepad and pen tucked tightly underneath my armpit. I stood out like, well, a douche writer on a porn shoot. From afar, thank God, my production contact noticed my arrival and emerged from a small wooden cabin to introduce himself. Following an awkward-but-necessary “welcome to set” handshake, he begins to explain that the crew is busy sorting out a small “situation” that has just come up: apparently there is an issue with the day’s scheduled Bear Girl-on-girl scene. Yes, Bear Girl. I wish I could say that this had caught me off guard, but one must come to expect these sorts of things when Vince Mancini asks you to visit the set of True Grit XXX.
*fires finger guns into air, holster and pants fall down completely*

Though the crew and I were only a short hour from the porn mecca that is California’s San Fernando Valley, the base camp we’d set up at was a far cry from anything that a teenage boy would expect a XXX feature to resemble. No matter how high or low I searched I could not find a single Bang Bus, Casting Couch or Milf Hunter nearby (at least I don’t think I did). What I did happen to find though were a lot of horses, a bunch of costume pieces, a few ranch hands, horse handlers, the gunsmith and, oh of course, Murrugun “The Mystic”: a professional circus performer who also happens to hold title as the only performer to ever receive oral sex while swallowing a steel sword. The moment I met this guy, I realized just how insignificant my own sexual conquests really were; incomparable by The Mystic’s barometer.

Then came time to meet our director, Mr. JacktheZipper [sic]. Huddled inside a rickety wooden shack, I meet the man whose moniker, without even trying, greatly outshines my own. He’s a fast-paced guy, rattling off shreds of information, hidden beneath sunglasses and a beard -a guy who makes it apparent, very quickly, that he doesn’t want any photographs taken of his face. He exhibits this when he raises a Mr. Miyagi like palm to the lens of a nearby media member who attempts to snap his photo. “No one photographs the Zipper,” he explains. Soon, Jack is back in full force again, tackling the issue of the scheduled Bear Girl lesbian scene; apparently, right before my arrival their Bear Girl actress had grown jaded and decided to just up and leave set, driving back home to her awaiting TiVo. After scratching at his beard for a moment, Zipper decides that they’ll just have to improvise a guy-on-girl scenario in its place; this will be the scene in which Ned Pepper fornicates with a local. Too bad, really, I heard that bear costume was really impressive. And therein lies the ethos of the Zipper’s True Grit hardcore remake: everything must be authentic. From the buttons to the pubic hair, I’m assured that everything is as if we were really boning in the late-1800’s. The Zipper continues explaining, in detail, the entire days schedule, but all I can keep thinking about is the fact that soon people need to go outside, in the frigidness, and have intercourse. That poor cast. Those troopers.

When the actors arrive, most are still trying to pry their eyes open from the 5:00am call time that same morning. With just a few short hours of sleep, the actors are actually quite a jovial bunch: wise cracking, self aware and pretty damn humorous -I get to overhear one of the guys tell the story of his “friend” who gets stuck on a train in China, while having Chlamydia. The friend can’t leave the train for three whole weeks and ends up sweating out the entire Chlamydia virus while onboard. I mean, I can’t make this sh*t up. This was gold. As if the stories weren’t enough, with each passing minute this cast was starting to look more and more the part of their production; “authentic” I believe Zipper would call it. I mean, between the steeds and the cowboy pistols, I was beginning to think that maybe the only real departure from the Charles Portis novel here is that Rooster Cogburn has sex a few more times in this version.

Another short hour passes by and I get to hear a few more conversational gems dropped by some of the production crew. “You’re not doing any sex, sir, I only need one form of I.D. from you,” was one of my favorites. Soon the actors finish their last looks and then make their way to a small gathering with the director. Zipper briefly explains the rundown for the day and then begins describing where our actual shooting location will be: a half mile down the road. A crew member describes traveling there as, “Like driving on Freddy Kruger’s face”. Wow, that’s graphic.

Everyone climbs into their vehicles and pulls out from the base camp. Our train chugs along the trail stirring up a huge cloud of dust and crap. The road eventually leads into a trail, that trail leads to another road, that road leads into one more trail, and then that trail leads to a fence. “So, I guess we’re having sex on a fence today?” I wonder to myself. But then the property manager pulls open the fence and motions for the cars to continue ahead. What we’re entering now is a gigantic 2400 acre piece of property; F***KING HUGE. You could hunt humans out here, they’d never find their way out. We pull through the gate and continue down another dusty path, this one leads over to a valley, in that valley is another road and that road leads down to another small cluster of creaky wooden cabins, similar to the base camp we had just left behind. This is where we’ll park our vehicles and brave this Serbian tundra.

A trailer rolls into our encampment and horses are brought out to prep (not like that, you perv). Zipper is again describing an upcoming detail when, out of nowhere, the gunsmith starts firing off blank bullets. Maybe not as deadly as the real deal, but just as goddamn noisy. I’m told that this firing of the gun helps ready the horses for filming, so that they know to expect loud noises soon. I’m not sure if this means that there’s going to be actual gunfire soon or just really loud orgasms, regardless everyone seems ready, especially the horses. Right on time too, as Zipper begins to head up a ridge with a small portion of the cast and crew following. Whatever it was I came looking for that day, I was sure to find it up over that ridge.

Cold, curious and determined, I parted ways with the rest of the crew and b-lined it for the top of that ridge. Like some kind of Frodo/Mordor scenario, the further up this dirt path I ventured, the more intense the wind poured through the surrounding canyons and valleys. I was being blown hard.

When I reached the top of the ridge, I found the rest of the crew minutes away from rolling tape. The camera man finished some last minute tinkers with his machine, Ned Pepper and our female actress were discussing the most comfortable way to lay down on a rock boulder, Zipper was asking the sound man how the audio is, etc. -everybody seems to be doing something relatively helpful, everyone except for me. I’m just kind of standing there wondering what exactly is about to happen. I wasn’t even sure what the proper protocol was for an adult film set, I mean, does the director call “action” or does the cast determine when exactly the filming starts? Should I be downwind once this all begins? Am I supposed to look these people in the eye afterwards? My mind was ripe with questions, but just as quickly as a new thought would send me into a procedural panic, I heard the first moan of an adult actress echo throughout the canyon. Without even a starter pistol to warn, the scene had begun, apparently. Though the actors were the ones engaging in the sex, it was my virginity being taken here. I’d never actually seen two people fornicate within close proximity of myself, before. Not in person, at least. Not admittedly, that is.

From the vantage point I somehow managed to get stuck with, I was a good twenty feet behind Ned Pepper -his back is turned to me as he, I assume, begun to perform sexy time on our starlet. For a brief moment I second guessed the situation and convinced myself that maybe they hadn’t even actually started yet, but then I saw a pair of female boots lift up and over the shoulders of Pepper. Great, here I am in the middle of the outdoors and the most prominent thing right now is this guy’s buttocks a few yards in front of me. His costume almost totally hides the naked woman beneath him and I can’t see a thing.

Mind you that I’m still frozen, at this point, the wind is still whipping around wildly and yet somehow these two have the ability to undermine all that with their bodies. If ever there were professionals, I mean, these had to be them. I know for a fact that there’s just no way I could ever perform on a level like that, I couldn’t even tie my own shoe in the wind.

As one position parlayed into the next, Zipper was sure to make himself vocal and, to be honest, until then I’d almost forgotten he was there hiding behind the camera guy. At one point he became concerned with the sexual dialogue that our female was calling out in her moment of dominance. Zipper didn’t seem to think that it was very 1876 of her to curse in slang, because it doesn’t uphold the sought after authenticity that they’d been striving for all production long. Ultimately our director decides on simpler, more dated phrases that would be most appropriate for the time period. “Get at me, Ned!” seems to be used quite frequently for the next several minutes, which I’ll admit does sound accurate for the time period. If only my social studies teacher could have been there with me.

By now it’s been a good twenty minutes and somehow these two are still going at it on this cold rock boulder. To be honest, I’m not even sure how they haven’t frozen to death yet. Hopefully someone can have an orgasm soon and save the lives of everyone nearby. The scene does actually wind down soon thereafter, as our director and cast agree on the finishing shot for the scene. Camera still rolling, Ned Pepper finishes his conquest, only to unholster his actual cowboy pistol, holler a genuine yeehaw into the air and fire off a couple blanks at the sky above. Holy sh*t, I was not expecting that! The damn horses were, they didn’t even flinch, but firing off a handgun immediately post-sex? That was something new to me. Bravo.

And just like that, the scene was over. Just as quickly and awkwardly as it’d all started for me, now the scene was over and everyone was back to chuckling about just how cold the weather really was.

In the end, I’ve decided that being on the set of an adult film shoot is very much like preparing one’s own self to have sex. You begin with a period of nervous buildup, while at the same time continuing to imagine what the experience will actually be like. Then, before you ever have time to prepare, the business begins and you find yourself wondering, “So this is it, huh?” Followed with everybody just kind of standing around basically waiting on the man to finish up and fire off his handgun. Not that I plan on making a hobby out of voyeurism, but if ever I find myself watching two individuals have intercourse on a XXX set again, I sure hope that it’s with a group of people like on that day. From the sword swallowers to the naked folks, these were good people. “Authentic” as the Zipper would say.

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