Alex walked by Roman, who was helping with the lights. They had to grab the wires and put them neatly into a circular position, in order for the metal parts not to get damages. But the lights were too hot still to put away. So he asked his boss what he should do next and he was sent to the changing room of the actors, which happened to be one of the big bathrooms in the house. Apparently, the director had found the property online and just new it was the perfect setting for many of his movies.
As Roman entered the bathroom, Alex was there. He was still naked and talking to his co-star Yuri. The young assistant asked where the boxes with their costumes were and it was Yuri who pointed at three boxes stacked up in a corner. For a moment though, Roman was able to notice that Yuri had been crying as his eyes were very red and he was trying to hide them as much as possible from anyone else. As Roman fixed the boxes to be able to lift them all at the same time, he heard part of the actors’ conversation.
Apparently. Yuri’s family was in desperate need of money. However, the month was not over yet so he had no money he could send to them. He sent almost everything he earned to them back in Belarus, only keeping enough to pay for a room in a shared apartment in a very crappy neighborhood of Los Angeles. The director intended him to be the next big star in the business, but that was in its early stages and Yuri’s family couldn’t wait that long. He feared they would be evicted if the money wasn’t paid.
The assistant did not hear much more after that. He decided to get out of there as soon as he could, as he didn’t want the actors to notice he was overhearing on purpose. He was just very interested on the different kinds of people that worked on such a business. It had been his mother who had asked her brother to get her son a job. Her brother happened to be part of a production company that worked with various people, including those who provided entertainment for the adult video industry.
She didn’t mind. Her mother was very liberal in that sense. For her, the most important thing was for her son to understand the value of money, of effort and perseverance. He was still young, actually underage. But she wanted him to get a job in the summer in order not to have the same problems he had every single summer in the past. He had even been in the police station once, after he had decided making graffiti in the neighborhood’s park was a great idea. She wanted him to stay away from trouble and a job, any job, would probably make all that messy stuff go away.
Of course, her brother explained to her the kinds of places her son would work in and she didn’t mind. She told him that her son knew very well what sex was and that people that worked in that business were just that, workers. Whether they were actors or the lighting crew, they were all doing a job and they were all getting paid for it. Her son would get paid to, but not as much as an official worker. Her brother had to pass him for a “personal helper” of sorts, because of his sixteen years of age.
The good thing was that, as most kids in the United States; Roman had developed early in his life and by age sixteen he was already sporting facial hair and very tall and lean figure. According to his mother, he was the spitting image of his father, a man that had been known to be very handsome in his early years. Sadly, he had been killed in a bank robbery a couple of years before. That was also the reason why the family could actually make good use of another salary, no matter how miserable it could be.
So Roman understood Yuri’s dilemma. As he crossed the hallways of the big house with the boxes, he thought about part of his salary going to his mother and how he thought that was unfair at first, but then realized that it was necessary to pay the bills that kept his house going. He came to appreciate his work because of that and his mother too, for having the good sense to send him out into the world and make him work to feel how things work in life. He left the boxes in the truck, still thinking.
When he came back into the house for the lights, both Alex and Yuri were already dressed and coming out of the bathroom. They looked both like the type of guys someone would see on the beach, parading around with clothes that made their bodies look even better. They were very beautiful and Roman often had a lot to think after seeing them perform. He wasn’t sure if he was gay or straight or what. But he knew that they were very attractive and he had a certain respect for them because of it.
As he put one of the lights on the respective crate, he saw Yuri walk out of the house with a tissue on his hand and his eyes still red, but Alex stayed in and actually walked towards him. He sat down on a sofa nearby and just looked at the kid as he did his work. Once the light was on its crate, Roman started the same process with another one. Alex then spoke, asking Roman how old he was. The question made Roman very nervous because both his mother and uncle had told him several times not to reveal the information to anyone. It could mean the end of his job and his uncle’s too.
So he just said he was old enough to be there. Alex smiled, still watching Roman do his job. Then, he started telling him how the whole industry can be quite the monster. Of course, he said, being beautiful and appreciated feels great, but the best thing of it all is when someone tells you that what you did can only be accomplished by you and no one else. That sense of power and being special really makes the difference in any job. Or at least that was what Alex thought after working in many different things.
He told Roman he was twenty-six years old and he had started doing movies seven years ago, when money for college was low and his family had threatened to stop funding his studies. He wanted to become a veterinarian. He told Roman he had two dogs now and a small rat named Stevie. That made Roman smile and Alex did so too, because he knew he was listening. He told the kid how he was able to finish school because of his work doing movies and how he even got to pay for a place of his own.
Then, there was silence. As Roman put the last light crate away, Alex told him that Yuri was in a similar but worse position. Roman stayed to hear the story. According to Alex, Yuri had arrived to the United States only two years ago. He was an illegal immigrant who had come to the country with a legal tourist visa but had just overstayed his welcome. Apparently, Belarus was not the best country for gay people. And it seemed it wasn’t a great place to fin work either, so he decided to basically flee.
He had a mother and two sisters there; their father had left them for another woman years ago. None of them had any idea what he was doing in Los Angeles. But he sent them almost all of their money and now they needed more or they would loose their house. Alex stopped talking and then looked at Roman straight in the eye. He asked the young man if he had a good family, if he knew how difficult life could be. He told him that even if it all looks nice and easy from the outside, people always have shit under the rug.
Roman told Alex he had a mother that was crazy but that loved him endlessly. He also said his uncle was a very good person. Finally, he told Alex he knew not everything is what it seems but that it was precisely that which fascinated him from the world of adult entertainment.
He lifted two of the crates and carried them to the truck. When he came back for the other one, Alex was gone. Roman told his uncle about Yuri’s problems and the man promised he would talk to the director. People don’t imagine it, but in such a small community, people tend to help one another, no strings attached.