Spanking Without a Cause

Kevin Killian

When I met fetish star Eric Avery at first I was a little scornful, and perhaps a bit jealous. But he was pretty meek and composed, all things considered. In person he wasn’t half as cute as when he was on HD video—he had a long face like a hatchet and he was clumsy and earnest as a colt, just about falling out of the car when Adam Radley brought him to the L-Shaped Room, which is the other bar in Gavit and the only one you can have dinner in too. It’s an L-shaped place and that’s why they call it the L-Shaped Room, thereby sailing right over the head of all the students of today who don’t remember that The L-Shaped Room was Leslie Caron’s long-awaited dramatic debut after the frou-frou of Gigi. You know the Closing of the American Mind, well, this is it in its highest form of life. I was born in Gavit, and I’ve watched it grow from a farm village to a town of dumbasses, and does it ever hurt sometimes.

We had lunch on a Wednesday, I think it was, I know it was after Christmas, not January, maybe the very beginning of February. I know it’s important to remember the exact date, due to the ongoing criminal investigation that I am anxious to assist the authorities with, but I just can’t pin it down. Pretty sure it was a Wednesday. Pretty sure it was February. I know it was lunch.

The door opened at the town’s one fire hydrant downtown, and Avery put one foot out on the wet, icy curb, whereupon it promptly skidded 18 inches before coming to a halt. “Be careful,” Adam rebuked him, slamming the driver’s seat door, so in midcourse Avery changed his posture so that his careful ass is what emerged first out of the car door. After watching it so many times on the plasma screen, I felt I could have recognized that ass anywhere, even covered up in khaki and coated with the long tail of his red checked cotton Polo shirt. It just had an aura about it, a charisma if you like. It spoke to me in an almost spiritual way, and I wasn’t even much of what guys call an ass man. But remember Moses coming down from the heights with the two graven tablets in his arms? That’s what I saw coming out of the car at me—the whole goddamn ten commandments tied off by a blue belt like the one Patrick Wolf sports in the “Magic Position” video.

Adam sort of wore his leading man as an accessory, though nothing obvious like holding hands. That would have been a PR disaster and probably would have led to prosecution. I was watching the two of them like a hawk, and it seemed to me that Avery was a little afraid of Adam and wanted his approval something fierce. Inside the restaurant, he picked up a menu and leafed through it but only half-heartedly, and waited until Adam ordered for him. This must have been how Tippi Hedren acted around Hitchcock in the Universal commissary during the making of The Birds and Marnie. If Avery was a star, then he was a star sadly dependent on the whims of the director-producer who had plucked him out of art school and made him a cult sensation in the matter of a few months.

“I don’t think I’ll ever be, you know, super hot like Adam’s other guys,” he confided. Adam kept a small squadron of boys bent over in his productions, one a tall, rugged Russian, blond as a Cossack, another Hong Kong boy called Ming who played the defiant submissive in Adam’s exotic historicals, and a parade of others. Avery’s distinctions were multiple, however. He wasn’t sexy as Ming or Dimitri or Yves, but he had the American look; he had an expressive canvas, the several square feet of skin on his butt formed magic pictures on the viewer’s brain; and by now he had learned to cry real tears pretty much on cue. “Not everyone can,” Adam said, hinting of an understatement I couldn’t quite fathom. The real money, it developed, was not made on screen—whatever “movie” they were featured in was merely his boys’ calling card to success. The money was in the franchise and the franchise meant meeting the customers one on one, face to face. Fabulous sums could be made—if you could handle it. “I know I’ll never be foxy like Yves, but if I just stick to the script I can get by,” Eric Avery said. “You know I’m a dancer too.”

“Danced in my scanties,” sang Adam. “Three bucks a night was the pay. But I’m here.”

“Stephen Sondheim,” I added.

“Whatever. I’m more of a rock boy.” He raised a glass of water to his lips, nodded. “But Adam’s teaching me to like Sondheim. At first I was, shoot me, but after awhile I had an awakening.”

“A rude awakening,” Adam said.

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