Angel In a Centerfold


Kaye really has it going back in Amarillo. Inside the dark, stale beer-scented clubs off Interstate 40, money is thrust at her like the hungry palm of a panhandler. At fine, upstanding establishments like Jaguars (topless) and Beavers (totally nude), located deep in the bowels of Bush country (then again, isn’t Bush country all bowels?), the 19-year-old stripper parlays an exquisite, unenhanced body and innocent, Buffy-esque looks into a pretty decent living. Of course, the parlor tricks enhance her business – the ping pong balls that pop from the vagina, the scalding candle wax that oozes into the bum.

Kaye’s ventured as far as Fort Lauderdale to ply her wares, but today she’s sitting in a Sherman Oaks clinic, making an investment in her future. She’s looking to step up to the serious scratch, and that means touring as a feature dancer. The tall, girlish blonde says she’s not into porn, but if she can score a centerfold from a skin mag, her nightly price would jack right up.

But first things first. Kaye is required to take an AIDS test before she starts her week of photo sessions, which will include at least one set of hot girl-on-girl action, a nudie rag staple.

She’s getting tested at the Adult Industry Healthcare Foundation (AIM), a nonprofit started by a former porn star and heroin addict named Miss Sharon Mitchell. The 45-year-old Mitchell, who has appeared in more than 2,000 films (did you catch Hannah Does Her Sisters?), created the clinic in 1998 after a male porn star tested positive for HIV and lied about the results, which in turn created a domino effect of panic and fear throughout the business.

In doing so, she offered a stable environment in an industry where chaos is the norm: AIM is one thing adult performers can count on. Every 30 days, anal queens, barely legal starlets, viagra-fueled woodsmen and other sex workers swing by Sharon’s place, where they get their blood drawn, network, and most crucially, get an answer in 24 hours – a clean test means they can keep working.

Miss Mitchell, a PhD candidate in human sexuality, is a mother hen with the fresh meat; she explains the plethora of services offered by the clinic, from post-porn outreach to safe harbors for petrified 18-year-old newbies ushered in by scumbag producers. Whether your thing is shit play or girl/girl, Mitch wants you to know that you have choices. “Denial is the backbone of pornography,” she says. “It boils down to the odds in this business. I don’t have odds. I have clear-cut information. You can make decisions based on truth with a clear conscience.

“So much slime has gravitated to and is successful in this industry. I tell people, ‘you don’t have to have sex to get the job. It is the job,” Mitchell adds. “This industry can be legitimate and functional and mainstream. People can be educated about that they’re doing for a living.”

In the sex business, AIDS tests are as common as a fake orgasm on a porn set. Between its Sherman Oaks location and its recently opened Woodland Hills office, AIM sees between 700-900 folks every month. The volunteer staff has included HIV positive Playmate Rebekka Armstrong and Laurie Holmes, wife of the late porn king John Holmes, who succumbed to AIDS in 1988. “This is a community based organization,” Mitchell says. “It’s easier to hear from a former sex worker, from someone who’s overcome their demons.”

***

Kaye may be the dancin’ queen of Amarillo, Texas, but inside AIM’s nondescript Ventura Boulevard office, she’s merely another wide-eyed kid just off the bus and thrown the chop-licking wolves who keep the skin trade churning in cash. Adult performer Sunset Adams sits nearby – even without makeup, she has that giveaway porn look: hair too blonde, skin too tan, boobs way too big.

Kaye can’t take her eyes off Sunrise, a contract beauty off the Vivid Pictures assembly line. “Sorry for staring, but you’ve got amazing tits,” Kaye says, genuinely impressed by the store-bought rack.

“Thanks,” Sunrise responds, in a tone that suggests she gets this compliment all the time. “They were a birthday present from Steve Hirsch.” She explains how the Vivid honcho coughed up the dough to transform her droopy B cups into robust Ds. To prove it, she lifts her top and demonstrates the quality of the work: the naturalness of both the design and the all-important flop, a big improvement over the Jell-o mold-like bolt-ons that have long been the industry standard.

The Texan is not merely impressed; she is in utter awe. They don’t make ‘em like this back home. “You are soooo beautiful," the stripper says to the porn star.

Adams, probably no more than 22, has lived the last few of her years in porn, and she sounds wistful and weary. “No, you are what they’re looking for.” Kaye, after all, has something elusive, something Sunrise once had. “You’re so fresh and innocent.”

This, of course, is Kaye’s calling card, and she knows it. “I’m a pedophile’s dream; I’m a pedophile’s dream,” she says with glee, skipping behind the reception desk to have her blood drawn by Laurie Holmes.

As Kaye makes a fist and a rubber band is tied around her slight bicep, Holmes explains the importance of testing. By way of introduction, she tells a little bit about herself. “I used to be a porn actress named Misty Dawn. I was also married to a well know adult actor named John Holmes.” Kaye’s eyes widen. It’s the motherlode. Ground zero. She is in the presence of greatness. She can’t help herself.

“So you were the one who took that big cock.”

Holmes is momentarily disarmed, but not mortified. When you’ve spent most of your adult life fucking strangers before a camera, your boundaries of inappropriate behavior become as wide as the Pacific Ocean. Laughing it off, Holmes continues her rap, pulls the syringe from the flesh and sends Kaye on her way, to dream her centerfold dreams. Safe, if not totally sound.