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I Drank with An O in Venice
Los Angeles, CA
June 13, 2018
I never expected to begin a story by saying it takes place in an alternate universe, but that’s where this story happened, in a particular alternate universe that actually exists and has for so long no one really knows when it was created.
What I do know is that I’ve been unintentionally bumping up against it all my adult life, which may be why things felt so weirdly familiar when I was finally sucked through the wormhole into the middle of it.
O, the fictional heroine of Pauline Reage’s revered and reviled erotic novel of love and submission among the haute bourgeoisie of post-war Paris, had been my traveling companion for years. She had a gift for making dramatic entrances and her first appearance in my life couldn’t have been much more so.
In 1977 I was eighteen years old and deep in a thoroughly inappropriate relationship with a dance teacher at school. He was thirty-nine and I‘d chosen him because I thought my sexual education would be better had from a grown man than a boy my own age.
To his credit – and it’s about as much as he gets – he hadn’t pushed for The Main Event, which I’d yet to experience. Instead, like many in a safer time and place, we’d experimented with various sexual activities short of intercourse.
I discovered an affinity for fellatio that persists to this day. I’d also found that I got wet sucking him but not much happened when he attempted to return my services. I had no metric by which to judge his technical prowess, but I already suspected this was more about me than about him. It’s still a rare man or woman I’d rather be done by than do.
If you keep going half the distance to a destination theoretically you’ll never get there, but at some point that won’t matter in practical terms. Tim and I eventually reached the event horizon where fucking was inevitable, though I would never have imagined the manner in which my virginity, such as it was, finally came to an end.
I was then and have remained to this day fascinated by sex. I’d already discovered written pornography of the literary sort voguish at the time. I’d waded through many a turgid Victorian volume of heaving bosoms and upright pikestaffs, eyes wide behind my big, round spectacles. Imagining myself in long braids and defiantly unfashionable overalls with visions of orgies frolicking through my head I understand how that girl’s sex life got off to such an unconventional start.
Tim took me to a movie at the local art-house that screened a different film each night of the week. On this particular occasion the main feature was the turgid, sluggish 1975 version of “Story of O,” one piece of classic erotica I hadn’t yet read. I recall being somewhat bored by it. I thought the acting was so wooden it might be a fire hazard (with the exception of Corrine Clery’s luminous O) and the theme of erotic surrender to such an extreme was lost on me.
I’d already accepted my native bisexuality (we’re talking Berkeley in the Seventies) and as a Theater Arts major specializing in costume I could appreciate all the beautiful women in breast-baring gowns but the premise of the picture failed to ignite my imagination.
We returned to Tim’s house and climbed the stairs straight to the bedroom as we often did. I was expecting some more torrid foreplay but he’d already decided on something more serious.
He asked me to lie down and then put a blindfold on me. I was more puzzled than excited. We hadn’t played this game before. He had pre-set some clothesline under the bed to tie me down spread-eagled.
Without much preamble I felt his cock on my lips. That sensation at least was familiar. I wondered where all this was leading, a feeling that lingered even after we got there. I was happy to suck him and he returned the favor with some diligent oral attentions of his own, which were by no means the least educated I was to encounter.
What was not familiar was the feeling of his naked body on top of mine with his erection finding its way inside of me. It didn’t hurt, as I had been masturbating for some while, penetrating myself with fingers and the occasional brush handle. Still, the sensation of someone else’s bits inside my own was unexpected.
I felt curiously detached from the whole business, which was in no way what I’d anticipated. I’m sure Tim intended to show me a memorable first time and he certainly succeeded, if not in the way he might have hoped.
He didn’t last long and the hydraulics was soon over. My initiation into womanhood was official. My initial thoughts were: “They write songs about this?” “People kill for this?” It could fairly be said that my first fuck was less traumatic than some, more awkward than many and weirder than most.
He never tied me up again and the only time we spoke of it was when we broke up and he tearfully confided with me that he had done what he did because he thought I’d like it. To this day I’m not sure why he thought that since we’d never discussed such a thing, but at least I have a clue. Even then I had begun secretly broadcasting a signal that others would be able to receive through the years ahead.
For the next decade I had no further contact with BDSM, a term I’d never even heard. I didn’t experiment with it again and, budding if befuddled feminist that I was, I wondered why any self-respecting woman would put on a collar and call herself a slave.
Sexual servitude wasn’t on my radar. It wasn’t part of my personal life or even my professional life after I began making X-rated pictures. I could appreciate the startling impact of a good smack on the butt during sex, on or off camera, but it was just another physical sensation without context at that point.
Nor did I lose my preference for sucking cocks on my knees, though I didn’t know enough to consider this a gesture of submission. My realization that I preferred taking charge of the women with whom I worked and played wasn’t yet recognizable as a desire to dominate them either.
I’m not sure I even knew what a fetish was exactly, but I had repeatedly drawn images of high heels, corseted waists, hoop skirts and opera gloves in the margins of my notebooks since I was in school. Other than my love of costume, I found no greater implications in this.
But that doesn’t mean the implications weren’t present.
As so often happens, what changed my life was meeting the right person, the one who could explain everything to me in a way that made sense and meshed with my experience, worldview and political outlook.
I was thirty years old and had been in adult movies for half a decade. I had done the bisexual thing, the multi-partner thing, the swinger thing, the stripper thing, the exhibitionism thing and the adult movie thing. For a sexual explorer the kink thing was clearly next. As Gore Vidal wisely observed, where there’s talk of sexual liberation sadomasochism won’t be far behind.
When I met Ernest Greene he was the friend, roommate and Assistant Director to my colleague, Sharon Kane, a fellow performer who was making her first adult feature movie at the time. With his shaved head and all-black wardrobe he seemed exotic in an unforced way. He was also engaging, entertaining, worldly, funny and one hundred percent sadomasochistic.
Ernest was the first person I’d met who identified as dominant. Unapologetic, unashamed, unbowed, he was the casually unconventional person who liberated my hidden self by enslaving her. Much as I liked him, I’d never have anticipated marrying him and spending fifteen years sleeping in his collar or wearing the ring of his O. With him and him only I can slip into the hot stream of violence without anger, pain without fear and submission without shame.
He didn’t see my assertive inclinations toward other women as competitive or threatening. He saw them as useful to both of us. For many years Ernest had wanted a life partner who was a slave to him and a mistress to other women, someone to share the work of invoking those women’s darker desires. He taught me his magic. In return, I brought home a parade of adventurous young performers hungry for a taste of what we had to offer.
As a video director Ernest shaped me into a credible dominatrix, taught me to be “him” on camera so he could project his will through the lens. My off-camera lessons were more profound. Loving women most when they yielded to me, I soon learned how to whip, flog, cane and crop to maximum benefit.
I already knew how to wield a vibrator and a dildo to create the condition of helpless ecstasy in which the lovelies I put at his feet would do whatever he wanted of them.
Today I’m a confident dominant player, equally at home taking control of men or women. It’s a role I enjoy. But my submission to Ernest is a bond of welded steel that cannot be broken by any outside force. I love watching him fuck other women, knowing how good it feels and that when we’re alone he’ll give me what he gives them, along with an unwavering love and devotion that’s all mine.
I was missing that as I sat reading The Sunday New York Times Magazine in the soft late summer sunlight of a Venetian afternoon coming through the big windows of Harry’s Bar. A low, melodic feminine voice from over my shoulder made me look up.
“Are you waiting for someone?” the startlingly attractive young woman asked as she came around the table. I have been asked that question once or twice before.
“I suppose I must be waiting for you,” I said, taking a swig of my double espresso.
In truth I was waiting for a pleasant young man to come along and take me off to the Venice Biennale Film Festival, for which I’d been flown over, but he wouldn’t arrive for a couple of hours and I was enjoying the time away from the crowds. I also enjoy the time I spend in the middle of crowds but around this hour of the day I tend to need a recharge.
I was certainly ready to give up my solitude for such appealing company. She was small and dark – dark hair in a short, fashionable cut, blue-gray eyes edged with just enough mascara to hint at a little mischief and the olive skin characteristic of the region.
She wore a black blouse that was mostly transparent but for the three rows of ruffles down the front to make it street legal. Nevertheless, the points her small breasts poked rather rudely at the thin fabric. Her skirt was short and snug, also black and with a suspicious absence of lines that might suggest anything worn under it. Her legs were bare to better display her muscular calves. Her small stature gained a couple of inches from strappy sandals with very high heels. I tend to notice women’s tits more than their feet, but hers were clearly meant to be seen, with a toe ring on each, a silver bracelet around one slender ankle and a fresh French pedicure.
If there was an extra ounce of fat anywhere on her small frame this outfit would surely have shown it but she had every reason to wear so little with such confidence. Her lean athleticism, particularly obvious in the snug skirt when she extended her hand, showed not a hint of Mediterranean softness. I wasn’t sure what she did to maintain such a high, hard, round rump, but it obviously worked well. I would have put her age somewhere just north of thirty.
“Hallo, mein Name ist Fabienne,” she said cheerfully, “Hätten Sie etwas dagegen, wenn ich mich zu Ihnen setze?”
“I have very little German,” I replied, “but you’re welcome to join me.”
Her face lit up as she grasped my hand firmly.
“Nina,” I said.
She seemed surprised. I looked around and suggested she not say that quite so loudly. She favored me with a beautiful smile.
“With the blonde hair and the blue eyes I figured …”
“I was born in California.”
“I lived in L.A. myself for a year,” she said, studying my face intently. “You look very familiar to me but I don’t think we ever met there.”
We’d come to this part of the conversation very quickly and as always, I owned it.
“You may have seen me in videos from America.”
Fabienne practically jumped out of her seat to lean across the table and give me a kiss on the cheek.
“You’re the big American porn star aren’t you? My boyfriend loves your movies.”
“I take it your boyfriend likes girls with nice asses.”
She looked a little wary, as if maybe she’d said something wrong. I put my hand over hers.
“I’m sure we get lots of the same compliments,” I said, trying to put her at ease.
“Yeah, well, maybe sometimes. Look, if I’m being rude…”
She started to stand up but I insisted she stay and have coffee with me. I like being recognized by pretty girls. I complimented her on her English, which was amazingly good though definitely accented in a way I hadn’t heard before. The German influence was strong but the intonations were more musical.
“So, Austrian or Swiss, Fabienne?”
“Austrian, but with a little Italian thrown in,” she said. “With what you wear I wouldn’t have taken you for American.”
“I leave the Bermuda shorts and T-shirts at home and pretend I’m Canadian.”
Fabienne’s laugh was surprisingly musical for someone with such a deep voice.
Dressed for my evening event, I wore a blue linen suit with a peplum jacket and matching pencil skirt. At the small “fringe festival” attached to the mighty Biennale for which I’d been brought over I expected to face a roomful of people who had already seen me naked onscreen. If I wanted them to pay attention to anything I said I needed for them to see the other Nina, the one who does the thinking for the character I play.
Fabienne took a thorough inventory of that Nina before picking up my hand and looking directly at the classic silver shackle ring that submissives wear to signify their status when they can’t be collared out in public.
“So Nina Hartley belongs to a Societee D’O. I would never have thought. You could say the same about me I guess. I didn’t know you had such things in America.”
What I thought I’d heard made me a little dizzy. The conventional wisdom – an oxymoron if ever there was one – where I came from held that everything about “The Story of O” was a fairy tale conjured by a very real person named Ann Desclos to amuse a Sadean lover whose interests she didn’t share. The Chateau was about as real to me as Hogwarts.
For years Ernest and I had dismissed tales of “the great BDSM houses of Europe” where protocol is strictly observed and disobedience ruthlessly punished. We’d both spent some time in Europe and had close connections with locals who were part of the more public kink scene there, which greatly resembled the one we knew at home. Ernest even had a rather comical photograph of himself standing next to the autoroute sign for Roissy, which is the exit for Charles De Gaulle Airport.
And now someone was asking me if I belonged to a Societee d’O. Hard to misinterpret that question.
“I don’t think we really have them,” I offered, feeling somewhat naive. “Not a lot of castles in the U.S. that aren’t owned by Disney.”
“But you’re wearing the ring.”
Tricky navigation here in The Gulf of Cultural Misunderstanding.
“It’s for my master,” I said. I figured if she recognized the ring, freely adapted from the original author’s more discreet design, she could guess a lot of the rest, but not quite all.
“He wrote a modern version of “Story of O” that’s doing rather well. He brought a lot of personal experience to it.”
Fabienne snagged a passing waiter and ordered a Bellini. When she turned back to me her eyes were wide in amazement.
“Then you belong to that man who wrote “Master of O.” I should have known.”
I had no idea Ernest’s book had made it Europe, much less that I’d meet anyone there who had read it.
“I didn’t think the book had been distributed over here yet. How did you come by a copy?”
“A friend of mine, also an O but now living in The States, sent me a copy. She thought I’d like it.”
Now for the question I always dreaded.
Fabienne laughed again.
“It’s a good thing I don’t wear panties because I’d have had to change them every ten pages.”
This time I laughed.
“Ernest would consider that an excellent jacket blurb.”
“Quotes you put on the cover to get people to buy your book.”
“You can tell him I liked it very much and my friends who are reading it are liking it also. How can he know so much about the societies if there aren’t any in the U.S.?”
“He has a way of finding out about things.”
“I’d love to meet him. I have a lot of questions I’d like to ask. Is your master nearby?”
“About eight thousand miles away at the moment, but I’ll be in touch with him later. I’m sure he’ll be happy to correspond with you. He’ll be interested in your opinion.”
Now Fabienne’s expression turned worried and her tone was scolding.
“So he’s not here with you? Nina, really, you shouldn’t be wearing that ring out in public alone. If men from one of the societies see it they’re going to assume privileges with you.”
That would hardly be new. Privileges with me are much easier to get than a papal audience but they’re not to be taken for granted by anyone except Ernest. I like it when he takes them for granted.
I told her I thought I could convince them otherwise. Evidently that was the wrong answer.
Fabienne looked at me for a long beat, her eyes narrowing a bit. Though we shared certain obvious things in common, I was clearly from a different planet where familiar symbols had different meanings. In her face I recognized the conflict over how much to reveal. I get that reaction often when people recognize me for what I am. It was rather refreshing, for once, to have someone wonder what was safe to tell me because of what I might not be.
Fabienne put her concerns for my safety ahead of whatever consequences might result from unveiling important secrets to a total stranger. It was the kind of selfless decision I would come to recognize as characteristic.
Leaning even closer so our faces almost touched, she spoke in a near-whisper.
“If I tell you about something that happened to me, something no one should know about, will I be sorry?”
I patted her on the back of the hand like a kindly aunt, which I am.
“People, sometimes even famous people, tell me things they wouldn’t tell a priest. We’ll both be on airplanes headed for different cities tomorrow. We’ll probably never see each other again. I think your secrets are pretty safe with me.”
Fabienne arched her eyebrows, then shrugged, decision made.
“Okay, understand I’m serious about this. If the wrong men see that ring they won’t care what you say or what you want. They’ll do what they please with you because that’s what the ring means in this part of the world. To be an O is to be available, nothing more and nothing less.”
I get a lot of unsolicited advice but I’ve learned not to disregard all of it. I slipped the ring off my finger and deposited it somewhat ostentatiously in my Alma bag.
“Yes, really. I made the same mistake one time. Do you want to know the result?”
I glanced down at my watch. This was certainly going to be more interesting than anything else I’d be doing between then and the start of my “tribute.” I love Venice but I was reasonably sure it would still be there for sightseeing tomorrow. I wanted to know what befell this girl while wearing the ring I wore the way I wear my glasses – constantly.
“I`d been at an event in The Castle together with James, my Mentor. But he allowed me to leave before midnight because I had to get up early.
“It was Christmastime so the next morning I slipped out to find some presents at a huge shopping-mall in the north of Vienna. I still remember what I wore: A mid-length black skirt, black stockings and heels, a white blouse and a short black-leather coat from Guess. Oh, yes, black underwear too, the bra clearly shining through the material of the blouse.
“And the O-Ring on my finger, but I wasn`t aware of that. I’d simply forgotten to take it off.
“While I was standing in front of the shops a man approached me. He was tall, with light grey short hair. He wore jeans and a motocross jacket. When he said "Hello" I could tell that German was not his native language. And he was ugly.
“I looked at him, quite cool and arrogant as I know I can be. He took my left hand in his, pointed at the ring and said: "I´m encouraged to meet a woman who wears that ring at a place like this."
“I felt my heart jumping and thought just: Shit. Shit. Shit.”
“I suppose you are an O in The League in Vienna, right?"
I had to interrupt Fabienne’s story at this point if anything that followed was to make sense.
“What’s The League?”
“That’s what we call our community. Or should say maybe what we called it.”
Here was another line of questioning worth pursuing but I needed to know what magical powers the ring had before I wore it again.
“So what did you tell him?”
“What could I? It was true. He grinned and took my arm. He said he was going to steal some of my time. There was a coffee shop nearby in the mall where he led me to a table to join three other men who looked a lot like him, everything but handsome.
“Before I could say anything he explained the meaning of the ring to the other three, for whom it was all obviously news. One of them said he remembered a movie about a woman who had to do whatever she was told or get whipped. You can imagine how pleased I was to hear that. I could feel my face turning red.
“Marc, the guy who grabbed me, instructed me to explain that, yes, if a woman decides to be an O she is sometimes whipped. Then Marc added the part I didn’t want them to know.
"And she can be used by any man who knows about this sign."
He pointed at my ring again and demanded to know if it was true. Of course he already knew the answer. He didn’t even ask my name. I nodded, trying not to look in the hungry eyes of those men.”
Fabienne took another gulp of her Bellini.
“I called James on my cell phone like Marc said but he didn`t answer. Then I tried the Consigliere, who was a very important man in our group. They talked for a minute and I got the phone back.
"Sorry for you, Baby,” Consigliere said, “but you know our rules. If you wear the ring you’re obligated. The guy you’re with is a member of the Slovakian society in Bratislava. He mentioned a couple of people I know personally.”
“What are the rules?” I asked, fairly sure where this was heading.
“With a member of the Bratislava group in charge the four of them could fuck me and maybe give me a beating with their belts. They had me until morning. I was furious at myself for not putting the damn ring away.”
Now I really was curious, and not just about the outcome of the story, which was pretty predictable.
“You were mad at yourself but not at these men or the man on the phone?”
Fabienne looked at me with a strange longing in her dark eyes. She framed her next response with careful thought.
“This was part of my ambivalence about being an O. I had no resistance in me. In seconds I felt myself getting wet. Marc pointed at my legs and reminded me that Os are to keep their legs open and mine were crossed. I put my feet on the ground and he undid the front of my jacket.
“A couple at a table beside us began to notice what was going on. I just looked at Marc, trying to keep as cool as possible.
"I see you’re wearing a bra even though it’s forbidden. Is there something under your skirt?” he said with a grin that didn’t make him any prettier.
“I wanted to take it all off in the toilette but his hand on my leg prevented me from getting up. He told me to do it there. I blushed but knew it would it make things worse to refuse. While the pair at the other table stared I reached under my skirt and took off my slip – what you call panties. He pointed at our table and ordered me to put it there.
“Then I opened my blouse buttons and managed to get my bra out. He wouldn’t let me button myself all the way up, just one place under my breasts. That was one time I was glad I don`t have big breasts, but without the bra they were quite clearly visible through the material of the blouse. He took my jacket and presented me, grinning, to his friends. His voice was loud enough for everyone in the place to hear.
"Not big, but very nice” was what he said. Charming compliment, no?"
“Not very,” I replied. This story was starting to piss me off. I felt sorry for this girl and I hate bullies, especially when it comes to sex of any kind. But I also knew Fabienne could have refused to cooperate. She could have gotten up and left if she wanted. I figured the heat between her legs kept her there. Most women I know wouldn’t have wanted to be in that situation but I also know a few who would have.
Before I make a final decision to disapprove of something I need to understand as much about it as possible. I’ve been judged for what I do. I haven’t liked it. I try to give others the acceptance I would want from them.
I asked Fabienne what followed.
“He grabbed my right nipple and pinched it. His grin made his face even more ugly. I remember every word he said, how my tits were sticking out at him already and he was sure I was dripping down my leg.”
Fabienne looked down, slightly embarrassed.
“He was right. That was the worst part of it. He’d so easily enlisted my body against me. After a certain point, my cunt rules me. You know how that is?”
“Honestly? No. I can imagine it would be exciting to get aroused that easily but I’m not wired for it.”
“Your master must be a very patient man.”
I couldn’t help smiling.
“He knows how to get the response he wants from me. Usually I bore easily. One and done. He keeps me interested. But we were discussing you.”
Fabienne’s brows furrowed as she remembered.
"It was pretty much what I expected. There was a lot of dirty talk about how I couldn’t wait for their cocks and all that shit men say. I was ashamed because most of it was true. I didn’t want them but for one part. When Marc ordered me to open my legs wider I did it, trying my best to ignore the couple at the other table. I’m sure having them there made me even hotter. I think I might be a little exhibitionistic.”
“We have that in common.”
In fact, this was the first part of the whole tale I found arousing. I quit feature dancing a long time ago but I still have an odd way of finding myself naked in front of strangers.
“The three of them stared at my bare cunt, right there in the coffee shop, talking about me as if I was a dessert they would share. The pair at the other table finally left with some comments about shameless whores.”
I’d been called worse. Ernest takes offense at such things but I’m too narcissistically self-absorbed to care much about the opinions of others. More than I would have expected, I felt myself responding to Fabienne’s story despite my own very different idea of consent.
“They made me walk through the whole mall to a taxi with my jacket open and my blouse half off me. They brought me to a cheap motel nearby.
I had to strip entirely naked in front of the room, outside in the cold before I was allowed to knock on the door. Marc opened it, took my clothes and shut the door again.
“Marc made me wait for ten minutes at least before he let me in. He wanted to show his friends how Os like to suffer. To further prove the point, he beat my ass hard with his belt. I tried to take it bravely but I had tears in my eyes when he finished.
“They all used me in all my holes. I guess they got some instructions on the phone because they wore rubbers for my pussy and ass. But that didn’t stop them from splattering cum in my mouth and on my face, making me swallow their first loads of course, one after the other or two at the same time. I’m glad it wasn’t three. I had gotten very tired of the smell of sweat and garlic.
“Fortunately they eventually exhausted themselves. One more round of fucking and sucking and they left for home. I wasn’t sorry to see them go but I hope you won’t think less of me because I came a couple of times while it was happening.”
“I think maybe that’s something we do in self defense. It’s a natural process. Nothing to be ashamed of.”
Fabienne pondered the idea.
“I can see how that might be for some women. But when I get in what I call the flow of something I don’t think it’s nature that makes it happen. I think it’s my nature. From that day on I never wore that fucking ring again in public without James.”
“Are you still with him?”
Fabienne shook her head. She’d been surprisingly cheerful describing her ordeal with the men at the motel but a melancholy look darkened her delicate features.
“I think I’m better at finding men than keeping them,” she said with a sigh. “These things are all in the past for me now.”
I was dubious of that.
“So you dress this daringly just for yourself?”
Fabienne laughed. I could have listened to that sound all day.
“No Nina, tonight I’m doing a favor for a very dear friend. A couple of men are going to take me to the casino at Lido to gamble with them and then fuck me in their hotel room. It’s to help smooth out a business problem. My cunt is soaking now at the idea just because it’s been so long since I did anything like this.”
I mentioned that I was staying at the Excelsior out there because it was near the festival venues, suggesting I might run into her later, after she’d resolved the business problem. I had a few more questions for Fabienne, and I try never to put any obstacles in the way of sex if that’s what I want, which I did almost instantly with this adorable stranger. I was more coy than necessary.
“If you’d like to take advantage first I could go with you to your hotel room now.”
I was tempted but glancing down at my watch I knew there wouldn’t be time to do Fabienne justice. She was something special, unlike anyone I’d met before. She deserved me at my best. I suspected her sexual encounters with women had been largely for the benefit of men and I wanted to show her something different.
“I’m afraid not, but this has been a very interesting conversation. I’d like to know more about these Societees d’O. They have very different rules here from those we follow back home.”
“When you are in the community you do not just play. You live the life. You live it with your whole being. You live it every moment.”
Now this was something I understood from both my life and my career. In case I’d forgotten about the latter for one second a tentative hand descended on my shoulder to remind me. I looked up at its bespectacled young owner – twenty-something, very thin in his black suit and narrow tie. He reminded me a bit of the junior functionaries who worked at The Vatican.
“Mi scusi, signora,“ he said,“are you Miss Hartley?”
His accent was the more charming for his obvious nervousness. He explained that the boat was waiting for me. I turned back to Fabienne. For some reason I thought of her waving goodbye from the dock and I didn’t like it.
“Since we’re both going to Lido anyway would you like to hitch a ride with me?”
Looking her over, so much on display, I laughed.
“Although I should probably warn you that there may be photographers waiting at the other end.”
“Great! I can have my picture taken with Nina Hartley. My boyfriend will be in heaven.”
The taxi acqueo ride across the lagoon was short but sweet. The immaculately maintained mahogany launch had large windows through which to watch the sun descend over Venice’s improbable skyline from San Giorgio Maggiore to the campanile. The powerful Vaporetto skipped across the calm harbor, leaving the tourist mobs watching from the receding shore.
Fabienne and I sat side by side on the white leather cushions in the cabin. While I lay back into the curved banquette, Fabienne sat up quite straight across from me, both sandaled feet on the boards and wide enough apart to confirm my suspicion that she was, indeed, “going commando.”
I was sure this was for the benefit of the gentlemen whose company she’d be sharing soon but Fabienne correctly surmised I wouldn’t object to the view. Shaved down to a tiny landing strip as she was under her skirt, I got a good luck at something very symmetrical, pink and appetizing.
In my experience, women are circumspect in their seductions of one another to the point of maddening frustration. Fabienne was sending me the clearer messages usually intended for men. I don’t need that much encouragement but I certainly didn’t object.
“Ever been there?” she asked over the noise of the big Chrysler engine. She pointed at San Giorgio.
“Hoping to get there this trip. It’s Sir’s favorite.”
“It’s amazing – plain, white marble inside and when you look back toward the front door you see water. It’s like a floating cathedral.”
“Maybe we should go. I have a few candles I could light.”
Fabienne shook her head.
“Back to London tomorrow. I have a real job, in addition to being a whore.”
“Is whoring part of the job description?”
Fabienne had a dazzling smile.
“Not officially. This is, how shall I say? Off the books.”
Back home this whole bargain would have been enough to bring a mighty corporation crashing down in a pile of cement dust, but things were different here. I didn’t yet know quite how different.
“Maybe you could meet me in London,” Fabienne suggested, face brightening.
“It’s not on the official itinerary. I’d have to pay for it myself.”
I needed Fabienne to understand that I am a porn performer and not a movie star. Occasionally we’re treated as if we are, mostly at events like this one, but it’s always on somebody else’s dime. The next day I go back to fucking for the camera, which doesn’t pay like acting.
At the dock with its striped polls we were helped out over the railing. I got out my big travel wallet to settle up with the captain but Fabienne wasn’t having it. She spoke perfect Italian and from the same general region and before I could slip in a word she’d paid for the ride.
“You didn’t have to do that,” I pointed out. “We’re both traveling on business.”
“And you’re the one getting paid,” she said with a laugh, “while I’m the one getting laid. But I figured I should give something for the privilege of being alone with Nina Hartley.”
Impulsively, I put my arms around her solid little body and hugged tight, the way I do my real friends.
“I think the privilege was mine. I learned something today that makes me want to know more.”
Fabienne kissed me on the cheek. She suggested we meet for a drink at the casino after we put in our overtime.
I fully expected to be exhausted from practicing fan-fu all evening but I rarely turn down drinks from pretty girls.
“I’ll look for you after the tribute.”
“I won’t be hard to find.”
Dressed as she was I didn’t doubt it. We parted with a social kiss and I went up to my room at the Excelsior to gird for battle.
ERNEST GREENE AT A GLANCE
For over forty years Ernest Greene has been one of the most prominent figures in the BDSM scene as a writer, an activist, a filmmaker and a participant. During that time he has witnessed and contributed to the evolution of a once small and isolated sub-culture to a thriving and vital part of the larger society’s erotic life.
Greene is a longtime member of the Los Angeles BDSM community, joining Threshold when it was still an affiliate of The Society of Janus. He served six terms as Threshold coordinator between 1989 and 1995. He continued to do orientations for new members thereafter and has participated in numerous outreaches to academic groups as well as presenting at national BDSM events including Thunder in the Mountains in Denver, Colorado and GWNN in Austin, Texas.
Since 1985, Greene has concentrated his efforts mainly in adult entertainment and adult sex education, serving as Executive Editor of the best-selling fetish magazine Hustler’s Taboo since 1999. Greene founded the also founded the highly successful all-artwork spin-off Taboo Illustrated, now in its 72nd issue.
As well, Greene, has participated in the production of adult video for three decades as a performer, writer, director and producer. His body of work comprises over five hundred titles, including AVN award winners Strictly for Pleasure, Mask of Innocence, Tristan Taormino’s Ultimate Guide to Anal Sex for Women and Jenna Loves Pain. With his wife, Nina Hartley, he has served as producer and director of the Nina Hartley’s Guide series of adult sex education programs for video market leader Adam&Eve Pictures. The series has sold over three quarters of a million videos to date and now comprises forty titles. His own erotic features for Adam&Eve, O – The Power of Submission, Surrender of O and The Truth About O have thus far seen sales nearing 100,000 units, making them among the biggest selling X-rated feature titles in recent years.
Most recently, Greene authored a new novel, Master of O (Daedalus Publishing), reinventing the BDSM classic Story of O set in modern Los Angeles and told from the master’s point of view. Available in a variety of formats, including a deluxe illustrated version, from Masterofo.com and Stockroom.com, it has been highly praised for its insightful reinterpretation of Pauline Reage’s groundbreaking work of erotic fiction.
It was through contacts inspired by his own novel that Greene came to know the Austrian group modeled on Reage’s Chateau de Roissy, thus obtaining the remarkable non-fiction record of its rise and fall as depicted in The Truth About O, a dark and fascinating series of personal accounts from those who participated directly in that organization’s revelatory and often shocking history.