Dan shifted in his seat nervously as he waited for his Uber driver to pull up in front of the coffee shop that he had requested to be dropped off at. He wasn’t actually going to the coffee shop but it was the closest place to where he was having this interview, and he was not asking this stranger to drop him of at a place known for porn shoots. No way, that wasn’t happening. So instead, he got out and paid the man, waited for him to drive off, and then set out on foot towards the building.
He hoped walking in the cold air would calm his nerves. It didn’t. He was barely twenty and this was his first gig of this kind. He’d wanted to get into acting from a pretty young age and had been trying since he’d finished high school, but it wasn’t going as planned. He’d done some bit parts, as well as a few commercials before he got scouted by a company who thought he’d do well in the adult entertainment industry.
At first he had instantly turned it down, knowing it wasn’t something he’d be comfortable with, even if he had no moral objection to the idea of porn. But once he’d emailed back and forth a bit with the director, he’d felt a bit more comfortable and was told to come in and speak with them in person before declining the offer. He’d gone over it in his head many times, going back and forth about whether he should go or not, but the pay was good and it was just a meeting. In the end he decided it was worth a shot.
That’s how he ended up inside the door of a building that was mostly used for porn shoots. It was clean and brightly lit, with surprisingly colorful décor. Not at all the sleezy, back ally place he’d been expecting. He saw a woman at a desk in the corner and approached her. “Umm.. Hi, I’m Daniel.” He stuttered as he spoke. He wondered if she knew why he was there, but then again, why else would anyone be here?
“Hello, I’m Cynthia, can I help you?” she asked, her kind smile lighting up the room. Dan shifted his weight from side to side. “Are you looking for work?”
“No.” Dan said defensively before remembering why he was here. “Well, maybe…?” He said it like a question and Cynthia let out a light laugh. “I was asked to come speak with the director for SCC.”
“Oh, lovely, he should be done with his lunch break in a few minutes if you’re able to wait,” she responded. “I’ll let him know you’re here. Daniel, was it?” Dan nodded and she smiled, gesturing to the couch against the large window. “Take a seat and make yourself comfortable.”
Dan smiled back at her, glad she was at least kind and not making this more awkward than it had to be. He took a seat on the bright orange couch and pulled out his phone to distract himself. He had barely had the chance to bring up Instagram when the woman behind the desk spoke to him again. “Mr. Lester said you’re more than welcome to join him for lunch if you’re comfortable with that.” She looked at him expectantly, waiting for an answer.
“Yeah, I guess that’s fine,” Dan replied, getting up and putting his phone back in his pocket. He looked around a bit. “Which way is it?” he asked.
“His office is this way; follow me.” Cynthia got up and led him down a soft blue hallway and pushed open a sliding door. Behind it was a small but cozy office, with a window, two couches, a desk, a bookshelf with trinkets, and many plants. The office was nice, but Dan’s eyes were more caught by the man sitting on one of the couches eating pizza.
The man looked up and smiled. “Thank you Cynthia,” he said gesturing for her to leave. She nodded and left, leaving the door open behind her. “Welcome, Daniel,” he said, turning his attention to the brunette. Dan’s feet and eyes shifted, finding it hard to stay still and keep focused, his anxiety getting the better of him. The man stood up and approached him, a kind smile on his face. “Are you alright?” he asked gently.
“Just nervous,” Dan answered honestly.
“No need to be,” he replied. “The doors open so you can leave at any time, no pressure,” he added. Dan nodded, taking some comfort in that. “Come sit?” Dan followed the man back to the couches and sat on the one across from the other man. “I’m Phil Lester, the man you were speaking to over email.”
“Dan Howell,” Dan replied. “I guess you know that though,” he added, mentally slapping himself for his awkwardness. He was thankful Phil didn’t offer him a handshake, he’d never been a fan of those.
Phil nodded. “How are you doing today?” he asked, sitting back against the couch.
Dan almost laughed at how casual the other man was, he was sitting cross legged on the couch, his long legs taking up a good section of it, he also wasn’t wearing shoes and had brightly colored mismatched socks. “I’m okay I guess,” Dan answered. “How are you?” he asked, feeling it was the polite thing to do. He didn’t know how he was supposed to speak to a person who was possibly looking to hire him as a porn actor.
“I’m doing pretty well,” the man replied. “Do you eat pizza?” he asked.
“Yeah, normally,” Dan replied. “Unless it has weird toppings.”
Phil chuckled, turning the pizza box to Dan. “Feel free to have some,” he said with a smile. “Do you want Cynthia to get you anything to drink?”
“No, I’m alright. Thank you though,” he responded. He was too nervous to eat, scared that he’d get sick.
“Of course, if you need anything just ask,” Phil said. He put his piece of pizza down and leaned forward, focusing his attention on Dan. “So,” he said making sure he had the other’s attention. “Do you have any questions you want to ask?”
Dan looked down for a moment, trying to think. He hated how his brain didn’t work as well when his anxiety spiked. “I don’t know,” he answered, looking back up and seeing the bright blue eyes looking back at him. He blushed lightly.
“Okay, no problem,” Phil replied. “I’ll just go over some of the basics, yeah?” Dan nodded. “So, as you know the company I run is called SCC, do you know why that is?” Dan shook his head no, a bit embarrassed that he hadn’t researched it before coming. “It stands for ‘safe, consensual and comfortable’,” he explained. “That is the main focus here, I want everything to be as comfortable for everyone as it can be.”
“That sounds like a nice concept, but like, why? If I may ask,” Dan replied.
“I used to work in the industry and things are not always so above board,” Phil answered. “I put the people who work for me above the content, always.”
“Oh, I guess I don’t know much about the business, so I just assumed most of it was ethical,” Dan responded.
“You’d be surprised,” he said, leaning back a bit. “Speaking of which, may I see your ID?”
“Yeah sure.” Dan reached down into his bag that he’d put down beside him, finding his wallet and pulling out his ID, passing it to Phil.
The older man scanned it before passing it back. “Perfect, just needed to make sure you were of age, people sometimes lie about that.” Dan nodded in understanding. “I have a couple more questions. You do not have to answer any of them, but if you choose not to, I cannot work with you. Is that alright?”
“Sure, whatever,” Dan replied with a shrug. “I don’t have many dark secrets so I should be able to answer them.”
Phil smiled. “Okay, so first off, do you do drugs, or drink to the point of lowered inhibitions?” he asked, his face becoming more serious than it had been before.
“Nope, I’m scared of getting high, and I don’t like drinking more than a glass of wine or a cocktail now and then,” Dan answered. “I could give those up if I needed to though.”
“No, that’s fine, I just need to know you’re in your right mind to consent at all times, drinking off the clock is fine.” Phil pulled a piece of paper off his desk, glancing at it before speaking again. “You would need to be tested for any STI’s, though you’ll never be expected to have unsafe sex, as that goes against the whole concept.”
Dan nodded. “I got tested last month and was fine, but I would do it again if this was something I was actually going to do.”
“Perfect,” Phil replied. “Are you interested in men, women, or both?” he asked, grabbing a pencil off the desk and writing on the paper from before.
“Men preferably, but I’ve been with women before,” Dan answered.
Phil nodded, writing down a few more things before turning his attention back to the brunette. “Okay, I guess that’s all the questions I need to ask for now, if you did decide to take the job there’d be a few more, but those can wait.” Phil put the clipboard and pencil down beside him. “Are you interested at all? If not, no hard feeling.” Phil smiled at him.
“I’m more interested than when I came in,” Dan answered. “I was expecting something else entirely.”
“Thank you,” Phil replied. “I take that as a high complement, I want this place to be much different than what people expect.”
“I know you said the pay is ranged, can I ask what that is about?” Dan questioned.
“Of course,” Phil responded. “The pay depends on a few things, first off, you get to approve the final cut, and if you’re not comfortable with it being released then that will affect the pay quite a bit as the work of everyone involved is wasted.” Phil explained. “That being said you are always encouraged to speak up, never consent to something you don’t want.” Dan smiled, he wasn’t sure if Phil was truly this kind person, or if was a really good actor, but something about him just screamed trust worthy.
“The pay is also affected by the length of the shoot. We do full movies as well as smaller clips. Kinks can also make a difference in pay, as well as who you’re willing to film with,” Phil explained farther. “So like, if you’re only willing to film with one or two people and are only comfortable with a few kinks, you may be needed less often, therefore affecting the monthly pay.”
“What do you mean by ‘willing to film with?’” Dan asked.
“I mean exactly that. I will not pair you up with anyone, you will get to meet some of the other guys and see who you like, I don’t see the point in faking sex with someone you dislike,” Phil answered.
Dan nodded. “I guess that makes sense, I never really thought about it. I guess it would be hard to pretend to be into someone if I knew they were racist.”
Phil laughed. “Exactly,” he agreed. “That being said I wouldn’t keep someone on staff if I found out they were racist, cause that would make others uncomfortable, as well as myself.”
“So….” Dan paused. “If I am considering this job, what else would I need to answer?”
Phil smiled wide. “I have a couple forms you can fill out.” Phil got up and went behind his desk to grab another clipboard, this time with a decent stack of forms clipped to it.
“Wow this is a lot of paperwork,” Dan mused as he took the clipboard from Phil.
“Consent can’t truly be given without information,” Phil replied. “Oh and also, nothing there is a contract, we would go over that together, with a lawyer if you’d like.”
“Okay,” Dan replied. “I have to get through all this stuff first, but if I did sign a contract what is required of me?” he asked, his nerves returning at the idea of selling his body.
“Nothing,” Phil replied. “It’s mostly just a contract that says you have to inform me if you are sick or have an STI, if you’re drunk or high, mostly things we’ve gone over. It’s there more for your protection than mine,” Phil explained.
“Can I ask how you’re possibly able to make money with the way you run things?” Dan asked, knowing it wasn’t something you should ask in a job interview, if that’s even what this was.
“It’s not that hard,” Phil answered. “Porn is a huge industry that makes billions, you can do it ethically and still make money, just not to the same degree. I may not drive a sports car, but I can sleep at night.”
Dan nodded. “Can I take these home with me to go over?” he asked, holding up the papers.
“Of course.” Phil smiled at him. “If you have any questions you can email, or my cell number is on the first page,” he added.
“Okay, thanks,” Dan said, getting up from the couch.
“Not a problem.” Phil walked with him to the office door. “Really think it over, don’t do anything you’re not okay with,” he added. “Oh, and we can do a trail of anything if you’re unsure.”
“What does that mean?” Dan asked.
“It means you can see where we shoot, how that all works, see how you feel in the make-up and under the lights. Whatever you feel you might need to make up your mind,” Phil explained. He was standing close to Dan now and he was surprised they were about the same height. Somehow the other seemed both smaller and larger at the same time.
“So, I can test what it’s like to have sex with a stranger in front of a camera while a bunch of people watch?” Dan asked with a chuckle.
“If you want to,” Phil replied. “I’d recommend starting off with something less intense than that, but whatever you want.”
“So like, making out with a stranger in front of a camera while a bunch of people watch?” Dan questioned.
“Yes, something more like that,” Phil replied with a chuckle of his own.
Dan nodded and smiled. “I’ll think about it, thanks for giving me your time, Mr. Lester.”
“Phil, call me Phil, we are on even footing,” Phil replied.
“Right, thanks Phil.” Dan smiled and gave a quick wave before exiting Phil’s office. Cynthia gave him a smile and a wave as he walked past as well, and he felt surprisingly less anxious than when he’d walked in.