A Labor of Love By Miss Myrtle. I was lecturing the other day in a film class, and I gave the somewhat sane advice: “Get a job where you can use the facilities for free...

I was lecturing the other day in a film class, and I gave the somewhat sane advice: “Get a job where you can use the facilities for free. If you need film transfers, find a transfer house and talk them into hiring you, then quit when you’re done with your own work and move on to the next stage. Once, I needed free video editing to finish my feature so...” I then proceeded to tell them how I answered an ad for a video editor in a company that turned out to be...well...

It was the summer after college graduation, and I was living away from parents and school for the first time. My entire cast and crew moved with me to “the big city” so we could finish filming our feature. I ended up spending every penny I made on an obscenely over priced but available apartment; living with my two leading men, one had the bedroom, the other (whom I was dating) and I shared the exposed living room. For some privacy, we slowly built a “fort” to sleep in (made out of the building supplies and furniture we found). We were excited to finish our film, but broke.

I was desperate to get free video editing, and lots of it. I also needed to make huge bucks to support my out-of-control rent habit. Miraculously, I found an ad in the paper for a “Technical Director” at a video production company. I knew I had to implement my evil plan once again. Here appeared a sitting duck, ripe for the plucking and perched on my doorstep. I called this seemingly innocent video production company and secured an interview.

The train ride there was long, but the walk through the ghetto down to the deserted waterfront under the bridge was just about enough to drive anyone else away. But not me: I got a strange thrill from putting myself in bizarre and dangerous circumstances. The long, frightening trek, complete with a pelting of light bulbs and bottles from ghetto kids, ended at a foreboding, heavily fortified warehouse. Feeling like Dorothy, in my green gingham vintage dress, I rang the buzzer and expected a dwarf to poke his head out and chase me away. No dwarf, unfortunately. Once in, I followed a long corridor and walked up a long, dark stairway. I noted small surveillance cameras in every corner, hanging from the ceiling.

The creepy surroundings were getting creepier by the second. After being buzzed into another small fortress by the gatekeeper, I was finally in.

“There’s no fucking way I’m coming here every day,” I thought, wandering in to the front office.

“I’m here to be interviewed for the video job,” I stated, weakly.

I was informed that the manager was busy auditioning a new actress, and that I’d have to wait. And wait I did... I looked around the waiting room and on the walls were all sorts of pornographic video posters. These were not the decorations of an over-sexed receptionist. It finally dawned on me that I had stumbled into the viper’s nest. This job was definitely in the porn industry! As I got up to turn tail and run, the manager stepped out and waved me in. A tall, glamorous, fur-coated, obvious she-male left as I entered. In visible discomfort, I went through with my interview.

The job description seemed legit: duties included editing videos and trailers, helping assemble and maintain the VHS dubbing room. My interviewer asked me how much I wanted to make. I was so surprised that threw out a figure I felt outrageous but was far lower than he was expecting (I later found out that he would have paid me triple that amount). After I lied about being comfortable with the porn industry (even though I was sitting there in my customary petticoats and girly dress), I was hired on the spot.

I actually accepted this hideous job...

I should have realized on my first day when a pile of over three hundred video tapes were laid at my feet to edit “by Friday” that these people were on something. I was left in a dark dusty warehouse room with no instructions except to “remove the penetration shots” from these videos and “label the duplicate videos.”

Suddenly, fear and confusion overcame me. I was an orphan in a Dickensian workhouse, soot from the furnace lining my lungs and burning my eyes. I sat there comatose until I was pulled from the ether by a tiny, screaming voice. Was it my conscience speaking to me after all these years? Why was it being so rude? The voice instructed me to get off my ass and start working.

Still slightly stunned, I looked to the heavens where my eyes focused on (not one, but) two surveillance cameras aimed at my head. I then looked around to discover the source of the voice: a speaker even with my ears. The “little screaming voice” was the “big boss” on my intercom: he was watching me just sit there and having a heart attack over it!

“Get the fuck to work!” he screamed.

My stomach lurched and I jumped out of my seat, tackling the video pile. I so wanted to know to whom this crazy voice belonged, but he was perpetually unavailable (like Mr. Shotz on Laverne & Shirley).

Weeks turned into months. I heard tales of the “big boss,” his mob ties, and about his partner’s mysterious disappearance. I kidded myself; telling myself it was all the stuff of legend. Still, one tale remained that contained more than a kernel of truth. Our company was being monitored by the FBI for illegal video content. And “Little Miss Muffet” over here was the one hired to edit every single video to meet the legal standards! (Which, by the way, I did to perfection.)

To comply with federal standards there can be no penetration shots of any kind in a fetish S/M video. The US government, in its infinitesimal wisdom, deems any such penetration as “rape.” Of course, Congress knows the difference between consensual and non-consensual sex from first hand experience, as so many have found themselves embroiled in litigation over their improper conduct. How could they help but know the laws by heart? In a classic case of “do what I say, not what I do,” the government is going to make damn sure that we citizens stay within the proper moral boundaries. “Never mind the enema and diaper-party videos, just get the tip of that dildo as far away from her crotch as possible!”

Anyway, the fate of dozens of people was laid in my hands! If I slipped up even once, we could be raided and all end up in prison. Maybe the directors of these videos should have been made aware of these rules as in most of these crappy videos there were so many penetration scenes that I had to re-edit the entire video. I was forced to use stock fetish footage from the ’70s to keep the videos at their standard 60-minute length. Most of the tapes I worked with had huge glitches through entire scenes. As you can imagine, the job was futile.

The condition of the tapes wasn’t surprising, really, when it came time for me to tackle the second aspect of my job: managing the video dub room. The dub room was as far away from the editing room as could be. To get to it I had to run across the entire warehouse floor, through the room where illegal immigrants got paid 25 cents an hour to stuff dildos into dildo boxes.

The dub room was the most incredible story of all...

It started when the outside dubbing house my bosses were using to crank out their lovely films started delivering faulty tapes to us. Apparently, the heads on all of their cheap VCRs had started to wear out. Dubs were coming back with enough tracking problems that they were unwatchable. Sure, both our company and the dub company still accepted money for them: who cares about quality?

Yet, when we started to get so many complaints, the “big boss” decided to get mad at the dubbing house and demand a full refund (thousands of dollars, which were already spent, I’m sure). The dubbing house was broke, so instead of demanding money, my brilliant boss demanded all of the VCRs! What that means is now I had to make dubs on the same crappy machines that had screwed up our tapes to begin with! But the “Big Boss” wanted perfect tapes; he didn’t want to understand that he had just made the biggest business blunder since the “sale” of the Eiffel Tower...

The miraculous dubs were expected immediately. First we had to assemble and wire a 100-deck dubbing room, so the “Big Boss” hired the Three Stooges to build it for us. They brought in lots of space-age testing equipment, oscillators, Tesla coils and silly looking tubes, all done for an outrageous fee. Of course nothing worked and I had to spend nights and weekends troubleshooting the wiring of over 100 decks, not to mention running tests to find the decks with bad heads. All the while cranking out 800 dubs a day, and editing five movies a day, back and forth. All the while my boss berating me via the intercom.

Four months later, the Three Stooges were fired, I had an ulcer, and we had weeded out and replaced most of the broken VCRs with even cheaper ones from The Wiz. But my beautiful dubbing room was still a disaster waiting to happen. Somehow, dubs were made, sold and passed off as good, but it was just a matter of time. To top it off, I had to start 100 VCRs recording at once without a remote. That meant hitting “play/rec” button on 100 decks, stacked up from the ground. I had to do hundreds of deep-knee-bends every day to start the machines. Needless to say I still have major knee problems, which, of course I never reported for fear of ending up either at the bottom of the river or like the poor sucker they found all chopped up in the garbage cans outside the warehouse the week before I started.

Weeks passed and creepy shit happened every day. I was threatened by a secretary there, who I later learned was a dominatrix trying to challenge and then dominate me. On another occasion I overheard that the “Big Boss” was holding “auditions” for his next “movie” in his office (which served as his living quarters, complete with mirrored walls and tacky furniture, and the lucky she-males got to blow him or my manager to get into the film). In every garbage can there was always something disgusting, like an empty enema bag. And all of them were constantly screaming at me and piling more work on.

Eventually, they actually wanted me to start writing and directing these video monstrosities. My co-workers were the kind of trashy drug-addicts who would not get their work done, not show up to work, or come in late and then lecture me about slacking off.

By then I was done editing my own film, (using their facilities) and done with the rotten job, but my rent was so damned steep that I couldn’t quit.

One rare day I actually got to see the “Big Boss” in the flesh, he stood about two inches from me and began to scream into my face, spraying me with his spit, which sprang forth abundantly from his almost toothless mouth. His eyes bugging out: his face pock-marked and grotesque. With a Hitler-esque, frenzied voice he proceeded to bombard me with insults and threats, until I was so shaken I had to bite my lip to keep from crying out loud. Suddenly, one of the receptionists had a call for me to take. I ran to grab the phone, and my life changed forever.

On the phone was a landlord who offered me an apartment with such a low rent that I didn’t need my stinking job! After taking the apartment, I lifted my head to the heavens, started to cry and said, “I quit!” I walked right out the front door, never to return to that hellhole again. As I left, my lazy, wasted manager sprang out of his office and tried to beg me to stay, tears welling up in his eyes.

“What are we going to do without you? You can’t leave!”

Calmly I explained, “Well, maybe you’ll have to stop smoking crack and actually do some work!”

It was the worst job I’ve ever had. Both the work and the co-workers were equally as hideous. Hey, I can’t complain, at least I got out of there with my life and with my finished film. But sometimes I wonder what poor chump ended up inheriting my nightmare.

Miss Myrtle is now running her own production company and playing bass in a band in her hometown of Seattle, while raising two small children.

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