Porn valley- Tim got on his knees in front of Felicia, told her he loved her, and asked her to marry him. Felicia’s face flushed and she started blinking her mascara’d eyes watery-fast and when she finally said, a hitch in her voice, Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes, the crowd of hundreds cheered and hollered and hooted and it was just about the most romantic thing I’d ever seen.
Felicia was a bit of a tomboy growing up, and even fully grown she maintained some of a tomboy’s toughness; when Tim and she first met, she was working as a forklift operator. A few days before she accepted Tim’s marriage proposal, I’d witnessed Felicia’s toughness firsthand. It was late afternoon, approaching low tide, and I was wedged between her and another lady, Chayanne, on an 8-foot-long inflatable plastic alligator. The alligator was more than a mile offshore in Tampa Bay, and the tide was pulling it quickly out to sea.
Felicia and Chayanne were both naked, but the water was warm, so hypothermia wasn’t a concern. What was a concern, at least to Chayanne, were sharks. Chayanne imagined the water swarming with woman-eaters. She refused to move, convinced the slightest ripple would attract their predatory attention. This became a problem, since with only Felicia and me trying to kick our way back to the safe haven of our boat, all we managed to do was execute slow pirouettes around the fear-paralyzed axis of Chayanne. As we drifted steadily out toward the Gulf of Mexico, I became quite worried, though I took some heart in the fact that, should the day turn out to be my last, I would at least be guaranteed an interesting obituary. Felicia, on the other hand, seemed completely unconcerned. She laughed and kept on kicking and found the whole scene nothing but amusing.
Speaking of the whole scene, I suppose I should place it in context.
I met Felicia in the course of reporting a story about Mike South, the self-proclaimed “leading pornographer of the Deep South.” Felicia is a porn actress and stripper. Her fiance, Tim, is what is known in that industry as a “suitcase pimp,” a significant other who travels around with his partner as she does her business. Mike South met the couple a year or so before I did, when he starred opposite Felicia in her first-ever XXX scene. The transition from forklift operator to porn starlet is probably never an easy one, but Mike was sensitive to Felicia and Tim’s anxiety, and out of their initial, admittedly awkward encounter, a strong friendship developed.
It was this friendship that, in a roundabout way, led to my being marooned on that inflatable plastic alligator with Felicia and Chayanne, another porn actress. Mike, an avid yachtsman who, by the way, had been a computer engineer at NASA before he made the leap (or plummet) to porn, had on that particular afternoon chartered Double Take, a 30-foot-long 440-HP Donzi cabin cruiser, then churned out to sea with Felicia, Tim, Chayanne, me, a cameraman and a few other porn actresses on board.
Once the boat had dropped anchor a discreet distance from other marine traffic, Chayanne disrobed and jumped into the water with the inflatable plastic alligator, and Felicia, feeling frightfully frisky, couldn’t resist joining her. Neither woman had given any thought to the swift tidal current, however, and by the time they noticed it, they were already about a hundred yards off the stern and receding fast. Tim started yelling at them to come back. He wanted to make a more proactive rescue attempt, but he confessed to being a very weak swimmer. Mike, who was preoccupied with filming some of the other activity taking place on the bow of the boat, made an offhand comment about how we could just wait a couple of hours and the tide would turn and bring the girls back to us.
So I decided to play lifeguard. I jumped in, swam to the alligator, inserted myself between the two women, and began the fruitless kicking that sent us lazily spinning further out to sea. Which was when, as I mentioned above, I gleaned Felicia’s toughness.
Mike eventually finished up his business on the bow, hauled anchor and swung the Double Take around to come get us. We three soggy swimmers climbed aboard. Tim, who had obviously been much more worried than Felicia, embraced his soon-to-be fiancee.
A few nights later, Tim made his proposal to Felicia on a stage in front of hundreds of attendees of an annual adult entertainment exposition. Felicia, who was then not naked but wore instead a silvery coruscating spangled mini-dress, pulled Tim up from his knees and they embraced again. Their embrace was firm and long-lasting.
Felicia and Tim are still together, and by all accounts inseparable. I would like to believe that fidelity is crucial to any good relationship, but Felicia and Tim’s endurance belies such a belief. Their faithless relationship has lasted quite a bit longer than any of my faithful ones. Which leads me to a new belief: Good relationships are, like the human brain, incredibly adaptable. When one part of a good relationship is missing, as when one part of the brain is lost to trauma, the remaining parts bulk up, assume new responsibilities, compensate.
Are Tim and Felicia the perfect couple? No. And, to be honest, I have yet to ever encounter that fabled two headed beast.
But on that stage, during that long embrace, were they perfectly romantic?
I?m going to quote Felicia here, borrowing the words she spoke to Tim while he knelt before her, which, incidentally, are the same words she often shrieks at her co-workers during the practice of her odd occupation:
“Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!”