The whole thing starts while Patrick is stuffing ping-pong balls up Pete's ass.
"Hey, Gabe," Pete says while the camera is focused on the stuffing process. "I bet our vid will get more day-one hits than yours." Audio dubbing comes later, in the sound room with Bob, so it doesn't matter if he talks as long as his face is out of the frame.
Gabe is on the other studio stage, wielding a flogger and circling some kind of six-foot metal contraption that has William strapped into it. They're doing a wide shot, so he can't say anything, but he manages to convey his skepticism with a drawn-out, "Mmmmmhm."
"Seriously," says Pete. "This one is gonna be the first Fueled By Semen production to get a million views on the first day."
Gabe swings the flogger at William's back, leaving a couple of red marks. The camera zooms in on them, and he smirks at Pete. "Sure, dude. Fifty bucks says ours makes it to a million and yours flops."
"You're on," says Pete. "Fifty to the star of the first vid to hit a million."
Patrick glares up at him, brandishing his last ping-pong ball. "This cannot be any more comfortable for you than it is for me," he complains. "Shut up and focus, would you?"
Pete waves his hand airily. Ping-pong balls are small potatoes compared to some of the other stuff he's had up there, a list that includes actual potatoes.
He waits until Patrick fits the last one in and stands back, signaling to Jon the camera guy. Pop! Pop! Pop! Pete shoots the balls across the room in quick succession, landing them neatly in a bright pink bucket, one right after another. One of them skids around the rim before plopping in.
"Beautiful!" enthuses Jon.
Pete grins at Gabe, who's paying more attention to the clamps he's affixing to William's nipples than is strictly necessary.
Pete's totally got this.
Brendon plants his gorgeous ass in a chair across from Pete in the break room. "I want in," he demands.
"You're gonna have to be more specific," says Pete, who is usually running a minimum of three betting pools and/or nefarious schemes at any given point in time.
"The race to a million pageviews," Brendon clarifies. "We did a high school locker room scene today that is going to take you bitches down."
Pete texts Gabe a directive to appear immediately, which he does. He is naked. Most of them wear bathrobes or at least boxers when they're not shooting, but unless they institute an actual rule about it, Gabe will never put on clothes without a very good reason.
Like Douglas Adams, the studio understands the universal utility of towels, and keeps them handy in just about every room. Gabe snags one from the stack by the door and spreads it on a chair before sitting down, a habit he refused to develop until Frank applied his Rutgers-acquired knowledge of operant conditioning and a well-placed dusting of itching powder to the problem.
"What can I do for you, Wentzy, my man?" he asks, hooking his hands lazily behind his neck.
Pete tosses two tens and a five onto the table. "We're making this official," he says. "Put in twenty-five to secure your spot in the million-hit challenge."
Brendon pulls out his wallet. Gabe somehow produces a wad of bills and contributes his share. (No one really questions his methods when it comes to storing items on his person, because no one really wants to know.)
Gerard wanders in and blinks at the pile of cash. "What's going on?" he asks.
"Our video is going to kick your video's ass," Brendon announces confidently. "Whoever makes it to a million day-one hits first gets the pot. I'm gonna win."
"Bullshit," Gerard says in a bitchy tone only a New Jersey queen is capable of achieving, and antes in.
Fueled By Semen caters to a wide variety of tastes. There's something for everyone on the website--at least, everyone into guy-on-guy, although they do have one girl who does mainly solo videos. Pete isn't really clear on why Amanda got hired, since FBS is supposed to be a gay porn studio.
Within the realm of cock, however, the site offers a wide selection. Brendon and Ryan are their barely-legal stars, specializing in sleepovers, pillow fights, and nervous virgin scenes. Gabe and William cover the BDSM market. Gerard and Frank do the cuddle porn, with cutesy dialogue and happily-ever-afters instead of thumping music and money-shot fadeouts.
Pete... well, Pete does the weird stuff. Pete handles the watersports, the cross-dressing, the garbage-man roleplaying, the scenes no one would think were sexy if they hadn't seen the number of people willing to pay to jerk off to them. He does most of it with Patrick, because Patrick is the only one who will help him beat up a pinata full of condoms for the camera without complaint.
They all have dedicated viewers, and they're all doing well. But none of them have ever hit one million on the first day. Which means it's time to shake things up.
"I know it's weird," says Brendon, eyes wide and ashamed. "I've tried telling people before, and they always run for the hills when they realize I'm serious. I'll understand if you don't want to."
"Don't worry, kiddo," says Pete. "I'll show you the ropes. Come here. You don't want to get your clothes all messy, do you? Better take them off."
It's brilliant, thinks Pete as he peels the first banana. He has a hefty fanbase, and so does Brendon, and there's barely any overlap. Why not combine their viewerships? The perverts who like seeing blushing teenagers pretend to be touched for the first time get what they want, and the crazy nutjobs who like seeing people covered in random gooey substances get what they want, and Brendon and Pete win the challenge and split the haul. It's perfect.
It does well--more than 800,000 views on the first day--but it's not enough.
"Jesus fatherfucking Christ," moans Brendon, picking at his toes. "Did you have to get the banana under my nails? Really? Fuck, it's all dried and gross."
"You gotta wash that shit off right away," says Pete wisely. He learned that with the peanut butter when he was about Brendon's age, and not yet shaving certain areas. He shudders involuntarily at the memory. Some things were not meant to become dingleberries.
He realizes the downside to his plan when he walks past Studio 2 and catches a glimpse of Gabe facefucking a handcuffed, kneeling Gerard. He retraces his last few steps and pushes the door open wider to watch. As he looks on, Gabe pulls out and comes all over Gerard's face.
Gabe leans down to swipe a finger through the come and lets Gerard suck it off. "You want me to hurt you?" he says loudly and clearly. Pete knows it's for his benefit, since normally they just mouth or whisper the lines while they're filming.
"Please, master," Gerard says, gazing adoringly up at Gabe. "Give me the gift of pain. Mark me, tell the world that I'm yours."
Pete frowns, partly because dialogue that crappy should never have made it on camera, but mostly because they stole his idea of combining schticks. If the first vid to hit a million is cuddle BDSM, he's gonna be pissed.
It isn't. They only make it to 600,000. But by then, it's on.
"No," says Ray. "I am not going to adjust the ad presentation on the website in order to help you win a hundred bucks off your co-stars. Leave me alone."
Pete pouts and wanders off to find Spencer. He's in the office, the one room in the building that doesn't usually have any dildos kicking around the corners.
"Spence," Pete whines, "I need one of my videos to get a million hits. Help me?"
"Be sexier," says Spencer, not looking up from his spreadsheet.
Pete peeks over his shoulder. The spreadsheet shows the viewing stats for last week's vids. "Whoa," he says. "Amanda got 500,000 views on a masturbation vid? How does she do that? Our subscribers are all gay!"
Spencer shrugs despairingly. "I don't know how she even got in here," he admits. "We don't actually pay her. I think she performs porn as an art project, or something. That clip that got half a million views? She's dressed as a clown. And she doesn't take off the clown suit. It's not even technically a masturbation vid, she just thrashes around in a rainbow wig and giant fucking shoes and makes whale noises."
"Amanda is not allowed to make it to a million views first," Pete decides. "I gotta try something new."
"I want to try something new," says Pete.
Gerard bats his eyelashes understandingly. "Of course, honey," he says, and Pete fights to keep from rolling his eyes. "Anything that turns you on turns me on. What is it?"
"Let me just show you," says Pete, and disappears through the door that's supposed to be the bathroom in this cheerful domestic bedroom scene. He waits on the other side of the blank wall for a moment while Jon gets some shots of Gerard warming up his cock and casting a few curious glances at the door. Then Pete reappears, wearing the bear suit.
"Oh," says Gerard, just a touch of shock in his voice. "Oh, sweetie, this is... is this..."
"Too much?" says Pete, attempting to shift his head in such a way as to make the little bear ears droop.
"No, no. I want to make you happy. Tell me how I can make you happy... Paddington."
"Oh, Mr. Brown," says Pete.
"Aw," says Pete. "Only a hundred thousand? I thought for sure more people would be into that."
Spencer is too busy rolling around on the floor under the desk clutching his chest and wheezing to answer.
Studio 1 has a "Filming, Do Not Enter" sign on the door, which means they're recording audio, and they only do that when a vid has a strong audiovisual link, which means--Pete peeks through the little window--yep, Gabe and Brendon are doing spanking.
Gabe and William have done spanking, but William doesn't really have much of an ass, while Brendon's ass was basically made to be spanked. Pete watches Gabe wallop on him, not taking it easy, turning his ass cheeks pink. Brendon hams it up, yelping and struggling, but Gabe holds him down.
It's really fucking hot.
Pete doesn't actually stick his hand down his own pants right there in the hallway, but he's tempted enough that he knows this is going to be a hard one to beat. He texts Spencer right at the twenty-four-hour mark after the vid goes online.
965,000. Fuck. That's too close.
"Start really lightly," says Pete nervously. He's not afraid of pain, the champagne bottles dotting his filmography are proof of that, but this is something totally new and he's not sure he's going to like it.
Gabe grins. "Scared? Chill out. The safeword is 'cut'." He clips the last electrode to Pete's nipple and sprawls out next to him, caressing the black control box. "Ready?" he says cheerfully, and doesn't wait for an answer before pressing the button.
It's not so bad at first, like touching a doorknob after shuffling around the carpet in socks. Pete over-emotes for the camera, but he doesn't really mind the little shocks. Then Gabe starts turning up the intensity. The jolts get more and more painful, and Pete's reactions get less and less feigned.
Gabe is laughing maniacally by the end, which, Pete would note aloud if the man didn't have his nipples at his mercy, is not in the script. Finally, he takes off the electrodes and lets Pete rub at his poor electrified skin.
"Have fun?" he chirps.
Pete glares. "This better be worth it," he says.
It ends up with 920,000 hits. Not bad, for sure, but.
Pete flops across Bob's lap, head dangling down to brush the floor. "I don't know what else to do," he groans.
Bob stares down at him impassively. "We're in the middle of a recording session here," he says.
Pete shrugs as best he can while upside down. "Whatever. They've got another fifteen minutes of shitty pickup lines to mumble through before the actual fucking," he says. He hasn't read the script, but when Gerard is involved, there are always a lot of shitty pickup lines before they get to the fucking.
"I've never done this with anyone before," Brendon is saying, apparently about the hand Gerard has on his thigh in the video Bob is trying to sync.
"I'll take care of you," says Gerard.
Pete raises his eyebrows at Bob. Bob shrugs in defeat. He's not going to have anything to do for a while.
"Help me," Pete says. "O wise Bobutron, feed me your wisdom. How do I break a million hits?"
Bob scratches his beard. "Based on the data Spencer showed me, it looks like having Gabe and Brendon make out for a while before and after the spanking should tip it over the edge," he says.
Pete scowls. "I meant, how do I break a million hits? Me. With me in the video."
"Maybe have Gabe tell you to kneel off to the side first and watch the spanking?" suggests Bob.
This actually sounds like an effective plan, except then the winnings would have to be split three ways, and Pete is not in the mood to share.
"Whoa," says Bob. Pete ignores him, lost in self-pity. "Pete. You're gonna want to see this. I just got the edited video from yesterday's afternoon shoot."
Pete blinks. "None of us were in yesterday afternoon."
Bob gestures to the screen. "You four aren't the only porn actors employed here, apparently."
Ryan, Patrick, William, and Frank are on the screen in a straight line, all wearing what look like band uniforms and holding kazoos in their mouths. As Pete watches, they all simultaneously turn and start marching around in military parade style.
"What the fuck," says Pete.
Bob turns off the audio feed from Gerard and Brendon's dub session and turns on the audio from the shoot. "Two! Three! Four!" barks a woman's voice from offscreen.
They are actually playing the kazoos.
"And a one! Two! Three! Strip!" says the woman, and they all rip open their velcro uniforms and toss them aside. "Keep the beat! Three! Four! Turn! Two! Three! Four!"
"Is that Amanda bossing them around?" says Bob. Pete shrugs, unable to look away from the screen. He's never actually watched any of Amanda's videos, so he doesn't know what her voice sounds like.
"One! Two! Three! Fuck!" says the woman's voice, and Pete watches helplessly as the four of them stand in a line with their legs slightly spread and slide into each other in a move they must have practiced a lot.
"In! Out! In! Out!" says possibly-Amanda.
They are still playing the kazoos.
The video gets 1,124,319 first-day hits.
"But why?" Pete whines to Patrick.
Patrick cocks an eyebrow unsympathetically. "You guys were ignoring us, dude," he says. "We had a good system, and you decided to fuck with it, and we got left out in the cold. So we did something about it."
"You fucked Ryan," moans Pete.
"You fucked everyone," points out Patrick.
Pete pauses to consider this.
"We should do a vid with Amanda," says Patrick. "She's good at weird, and weird is our thing. Right?"
"Yeah," says Pete. "Yeah, weird is our thing." He wraps his arms around Patrick apologetically.
Patrick hugs him back.
When Gerard finds out Amanda isn't being paid to appear on the website, he insists they give her the hundred bucks.
"It's oppression," he mutters darkly. "The porn industry is taking advantage of innocent women."
"Dude, if you have any ideas for getting her to leave..." bitches Spencer.
Amanda uses the money to buy five hundred marshmallow Peeps and makes a solo vid of herself bathing in them nude.