Trying Anything Once: A Cautionary Tale

The camera sees all
The camera sees all Player.One

I have a mantra, a rule that I live life by: try anything once. I can now say that I’ve tried acting in a softcore porn film.

While driving back from Boston, with the bright red, yellow and green trees of autumn zooming across the horizon, I got a message from a friend, who we'll call Mark. Mark fits your pretty boy, alpha bro stereotype to a tee. Like Randy in Trailer Park Boys , he seems to be allergic to wearing shirts, choosing to show off his carefully sculpted abs and newly shaven back whenever possible. We met on Birthright, a free service that flies horny Jewish teenagers to Israel in an attempt to make more Hebrew babies, and bonded over our love of film. We stayed in contact ever since, and about a year ago, we took part in a 24-hour movie making contest. The end-product was … lackluster.

“Yo bro, I got a perfect role for you, come to my crib on Sunday,” is all the message said. He’s a passionate, if not misguided, filmmaker so I thought if nothing else I’d at least get a story out of it. After a four-hour drive with my mother back to the isle of Manhattan, complete with multiple pit spots and “when are you getting settled down?” arguments, we arrived. On the top-floor penthouse of a gorgeous mid-century building, with movie posters lining the lobby walls, I saw Mark standing in his doorway shirtless. “Easy Big Dick!” he screams at me, referring to an inside joke from that 24-hour movie set. His PA instructs me to wait in another room “while they get the scene ready,” where I pass the time with the greatest adventure on the Nintendo Switch, Super Mario Odyssey . A motivational poster of Arnold Schwarzenegger at his body-building prime hangs on the wall, alongside a bag of “air-purifying rocks” and enough body cream to cover a sea lion.

The apartment is laced with movie equipment, from spotlights on poles stacked in the bedroom, to layers of cables snaking in and out of nearly every room. The camera was set up in the master bedroom, in front of the bed where a woman, in what I can only describe in a skin-tight leotard, and a hunky black man lie together under the covers. Then, Mark starts shooting and I start to realize what I’ve gotten myself into. “You cheated on me!” Mark yells from behind the camera. “Well, technically we weren’t dating,” the girl says. “Are you a lawyer?” Mark shouts back, causing the hunky dude to say that he was, in fact, a lawyer.

Next scene, hunky bro gets replaced with little person bro, and they do pretty much the same thing. This video was a “comedy” and that was the “joke”: guy keeps getting cheated on over and over and stays with the cheater. At that moment, I realized I was going to be one of those guys.

“Take off your pants,” Mark says, to which I tell him to go fuck himself. I like the kid, but I won’t even disrobe at doctor’s visits. “Fine, just get in bed, we’ll have the girl lay on top of you.” I’m also told to get my Switch -- which he can’t stop referring to as a “toy” -- to make the scene “funnier,” and I comply. For the next 10 minutes, I’m sprawled out under a blanket, with a half-naked woman on my back talking about adultery. Through a mixture of fear and dedication to beating the Mario level I was stuck on, I managed to distract myself long enough to avoid an awkward half-chub situation, but it wasn’t easy.

After Mark “got what he needed,” I hurriedly rushed out the door, trying to comprehend what happened back there.

About five hours later, Mark calls me and asks if I was uncomfortable at all. “Bro, when I get into directing mode, I sometimes forget to ask if everything’s alright. You're my dude, so I hope we’re chill,” he says, while I assure him everything is alright. Though I was caught extremely off-guard and would have liked a little more information before showing up, it really wasn’t that bad. Like eating puffin in Reykjavik or having an intimate conversation with Sam Waterston, it’s an experience I’ll take with me the rest of my life.

Mark did ask me not to write about what happened, but there was no way in hell I wasn’t going to let this story go untold.


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