By Shiv Kotecha - Jan 22, 2018
Say you encounter, at some point, a feeling, probably momentary, that leads you to believe that reaching out, saying I love you, is the most appropriate thing to do.
Perhaps, you think, this will make a brand new kind of pleasure possible for this person to have. Or will, at least, reduce whatever-x vulnerability they feel. When in fact the ways you’ve deemed appropriate to reach out in the first place—hi, or hey how are you, I just wanted to check in and see how you were, It’s been a while, I’m really glad we can talk, or hey bb, I love you—fulfill no actual purpose other than to calm you down, providing for you, not them, momentary relief that is equitable in kind to the effects of taking a fourth of a Xanax with food, or hitting a bowl two to three times alone, followed by a hot shower, or jerking off once. Or twice.
Or, jerking off one hundred times to the same scene, over and over and over again, until the video itself begins to shudder, its contents suddenly rendered unfamiliar and disfigured inside the screen you have propped upon your chest like an iron curtain, between your face, where your eyes are, and your legs, where your dick is.
Until all of the scene’s whatever-details that have, the last ninety-nine times at least, successfully made the bodies in it seem impressively specific to you, a little special even, maybe because of the lighting, or maybe, you think, because of the occasional flickering of various unexpected traces of the body that the lighting, despite the loose narrative, increases your chance of seeing—the irregular hair pattern, the flecks of eczema, the dirty fingernails, the mildly inflamed warts, the small map of ass pimples, the particularly chapped lip—all start to discarnate, each whatever-detail receding enough from focus, so that for at least for a moment, other things can be seen.
The rather generic postures the people in the scene were specifically instructed to take, for instance, or the rather awkward angle they decided to shoot the scene from, or the two, maybe more, soft but muscular and ageless bodies, with predictable tufts of hair in all the right places, and thin film of sweat coating each of them uniformly, flattening out those once attractive details in favor of a head-to-toe glisten, due, you think, dickhanded, to a very effective placement of lights.
“Yes!” You moan, suddenly.
A single high-key light, a fill, and one, maybe two, hot hair-lights, so as to focus the jerkeroffer’s attention on the asses, sacks, and faces of the men, while remaining mobile, so that, over the duration of the film, the whatever-jerker-offer is guided to draw his focus into the image, upon the actors, deflecting his attention away from the rather nondescript “set” the two “agents,” in this case, have “chosen” to fuck inside of.
But not this time. This time you’ve stumbled beyond that façade, and you say to yourself, out loud, once again, “Yes.”
That’s definitely a well-placed keynote light! Set up by a crew of other un-photographed but likely very sweaty men, in the upper left corner of the room the scene is shot in.
In a room that could be a toolshed on a ranch somewhere, possibly even the one on Jake Cruise Ranch, a farm-free, cattle-less ranch periodically rented out for film shoots, and which must also be used, based on what can be seen here, as some kind of props room. Especially as you notice, in the right-hand corner of the frame, near the couch, the pair of shorts that were removed by Jason in the final outdoor scene of Picking up Trash, and on the other side of the frame, the left, on the floor, the pipe put in and never removed from AJ’s ass in Bareback Rednecks, and in the center of the frame, on the table, the pair of wine glasses that appear as the main transitional object in Panic Love, the switch, which launches the forty minute or so fantasy sequence in which the young whatever-sleeping-lover successfully seduces his new step-father moments after the young lover’s mother leaves the room (in this film, a kitchen), but not before the step-father pours out, suspiciously, two and not three glasses of wine, while telling his young step-son, in an act of observed and appreciated bonding, a story about when he, the stepfather, was himself a boy, and hitchhiked, all by himself, catching trout and rides across the wild of Montana.
The wine glasses, of course, are never sipped for the duration of the fantasy, but are returned to, in a close-up shot, later, in order to bookend the scene, to give it closure before slowly fading to a shot of the young lover’s smooth, unconscious, face, before the camera zooms out to reveal his body stretching across and over a twin-sized cot, to the left of which, the reveal continues, the rugged step-father is kneeling on the floor, reaching out to blow the young waking body.
You pause, grunt, continue. In front of you is a whole room full of objects suggestively rearranged in a previously unused location, a tool shed, which, now, you’ve jerked off to 1 to 99 times.
And it doesn’t even, you level, the image shuddering between you and your dick, have that weird annoying yellow light at the edge of the frame that the many other scenes you have jerked off to one hundred times have. No intrusive flare of sunlight that creeps into the frame, which makes the paid-for (or, as of yet, unpaid) pair of bodies seem frightened or caught. It looks like there was a generous budget here, as the varying indoor-outdoor color schemes and temperatures are regulated by the premeditated purchase of standard shooting lights, which the professional lighting crew took some care to arrange, first, by matching each of the color-lights, and then, probably without even taking a break, white balancing the room, making the tool shed look, you think, as it was probably intended to look, like a “break room,” where mechanics go to “cool off,” and to get away from their primary work environment, “a two-car garage.”
The lighting is probably about 90% of what the film crew has to pay attention to when they’re setting up. Or maybe not. Maybe after making sure the lighting matches the bodies, they have to make sure the ambient sound is okay, or to make sure that it’s not too cold in the room. There are so many things a crew has to do before they shoot, and that they all must be okay with modifying until the deed is done. Fascinating, you think, that Ace and Jacob probably had to maintain, for the whole day, maybe even two, the elements of their chemistry that really make their attraction for each other seem totally believable, and rich, to others, skeptics of love, like yourself—crucial make-it-or-break-it moments in the sequence, even if it will all be re-arranged in post anyway: the initial pounce, the lift, the near cum of one member or the other—while the crew adjusts several lights around them.
Pauses like this one punctuate the cast and the crew’s day, where, while two men who are fucking say nothing to each other, men who aren’t fucking speak.
As when the director, Joe, who cares for his craft, who’s really worked at it, turns to his lighting guy for assistance:
“Hey Hank, could you come up here and could you put a little more light up next to Ace’s sack. Yeah, do you see that yeah, I’m not really getting anything down there. I don’t, you know, it’s just, it’s a fuckin’ pink ass walnut, that’s all I see, it needs some light on the sack down there. You got anything?”
Or when Stan and Joe are suddenly needed, as Hank is busy adjusting a bounce.
“We’re definitely gonna need something for the fucking contrast in here,” Hank says, adjusting things. “Look at that. See, a little more, um, on um … Cinnabuns’s over here? See what I mean. I mean he’s just—he’s floppin’ all around. I don’t know what to do. And the light there is really, it’s really not even getting close, it’s not even hitting, the right, do you see that. What should we do?”
Hank, Stan, Joe, and the rest of the sweaty crew take turns speaking to each other, fidgeting around Ace and Jacob, working their asses off on a long a two-day shoot to successfully display Ace and Jacob taking turns penetrating one another.
Sometimes, Joe checks in. “How you doin’ Ace? We’re gonna need you to keep it in there like that. For just a few more minutes. Try getting up onto your, your tiptoes with it, yeah. Yeah that’s good, And like before, just keep your fist on the small part of his back, yea, mhm, there—okay, we’re good.”
And Ace checks in with Jacob, “Is that okay?”
“Yeah, stud, I’m fine, actually.”
Certain angles, you imagine, must have been especially difficult to light, due to the fact that one of the guys is white and the other guy is brown, a difference in skin-surface that the lighting crew had to be prepared, in advance, to account for. They must have had to make some other kind of sacrifice to light this scene of brown Ace plowing white Jacob at this angle so beautifully, like cutting the actors’ salaries, so as to have enough to pay for Mark, the more wizened lighting assistant, to be there.
“Mark I’m so glad you could come through for us today, bud.”
“No problem, my full-time gig’s around the corner man. What do you need?”
“Would you look at this for this me? I can’t get, yeah, look at that, I mean.”
“Yeah, I can’t like… Ace looks like a goddamn little monkey. Look at his goddamn ears.”
“Ah,” says Mark.
“No offense Ace, you guys are doing great. Really, just awesome, it’s good. But Mark, look at that though. Should I put that here, okay let’s go again.”
They set up some more lights.
“Oh, god. Now look at him. Look at his ass, that literally looks like the moon. Mark, it really looks like he’s mooning me. I don’t need to see that. And he’s actually got a great ass. This looks like shit. Mark, you got that Ultrafire right?” Joe says, kneeling down.
Mark unzips his backpack and pulls out his UltraFire Mini XPE Q5 he picked up earlier that day.
“This guy is just what you need.”
“This guy is it.”
“You wanna get down there with it?”
Mark nervously crabs beneath the couple with his Ultrafire strapped onto a pole, and remembers, briefly, being a film student who never knew how to light anything. He tries not to get insecure about it, reminding himself that he is rich, and good at talking, and that he was needed here on this set, and that his Ultrafire will please Joe, as it will address the actors’ white and brown surfaces uniquely. Joe really did need a man like Mark.
“I’m gonna shape this sack right here like you never seen,” he says, looking over at Joe while briefly burning Ace’s right ass cheek with his light.
Ace holds still silently inside Jacob. Mark shoves his Ultrafire Mini XPE, again, into the curve of Ace’s ass.
“Sorry man. Don’t worry, from where the shot is, no one’s even gonna see that shit.”
“You’re fucking burning my ass, man.”
“This is going to look great.”
They shoot some more.
“Fuck fuck fuck, that fucking hurts man, I’m losing it.”
At this point, Jacob, the dissociating bottom, who is paler than ever, chimes in, “What the hell?!”
“I don’t know what the fuck’s going on babe, this fucker. We’re good, let’s just go. I’m so tired.”
“Fuck, I’m sorry. I did it again.”
“Dude, come on.”
The crew pauses their otherwise smooth day of shooting to medicate the burns. They then decide to reshoot the entire scene from the other side of the room so as to avoid getting Ace’s blotchy burn on cam. They move everything over and shoot again, realizing they didn’t need such a complicated set up in the first place. They let Mark go and continue with the shoot. The AD, also named Mark, takes charge and makes the crew run fast, as they’ve only rented the ranch for two days, and forces them all, Joe the director, and Hank and Stan and Ace and Jacob, to skip their lunch hour, so that they can make it to their later-than-expected deadline.
You come and slam your laptop shut. A few minutes pass.
You check your texts, and a momentary feeling appears. Over the next couple of minutes you review your options.
Get up and go for a walk, or write a letter to a friend, or get out of your chair, or make any other act seem better to you, for now, than saying I Love You to this whatever-person. Any old thing. Like prying open a shut screen, pulling up a rapidly shifting set of images, and staring at them until you render yourself entirely still for just long enough to know that for now, like before, your feelings can be kept all to yourself.