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Night Crawler 

Wednesday, Dec 30 1998
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Geeks Just Have More Fun
The check-in office of the Edgewater West Adult Resort stinks of chlorine bleach -- that sharp, chemical smell redolent of bacteria-laden moisture and hard-to-reach crevices. The floors are bare and cold. The desk clerk's top lip is curiously greasy. It's exactly the kind of unsexy entree one would expect from a real-life sex hotel. A late-model truck pulls into the parking lot and sits idling in the rain as the driver caresses his companion's face and neck.

"I'm with the film crew," I say, eager to get out of the office before the couple enters. The desk clerk looks at me indifferently and points to the side of the building. "The gate should be open. If it's not, come back." I slip outside under the eaves just as the caressing truck driver climbs out of his cab. Trying to avoid his eyes and the cascade of rainwater at the end of the walkway, I catch both. "You're all wet," laughs the man as I hurry through the gate into the Edgewater's central courtyard.

Most of the rooms at the Edgewater look out onto this courtyard with its large steaming swimming pool. Folks of an exhibitionist bent leave their curtains, and oftentimes their doors, open while they have sex. The others peruse, strolling along the two-story walkways until they find a room with action.

Tonight, all but three rooms are dark and most of the "action" is in the hotel's large glass-sided lounge where the feature-length adult film Desdaemona Affair is being shot by director/star Mike Horner. A three-way DP (double-penetration) scene with Joel Lawrence, Ben English, and Dena Dahl has just been successfully completed in one of the second-floor rooms, and the crew of 40 is hustling to finish the next setup while the cast takes a dinner break. English and Lawrence sit together at a table, chatting calmly as their beleaguered ingenue wanders through the room looking for her coat.

"Unlike the real world where men compete and women choose, the world of pornography is already set up for male fantasy," says Lawrence. "The women rotate, but if you're a strong stud the women come looking to cater to your desire." Lawrence is a jubilant eight-year veteran with nearly 200 movies to his credit and more than a few humorous anecdotes -- involuntary flatulence during a three-way 69, lines of helpful hands that form when a woman loses her contraceptive sponge, a cum-shot faked by a 9-foot stream of hair conditioner, coffins, vampires, German deaf-mutes, and seasickness ....

As charming as Lawrence is, tales of sexual facetiousness are not the focus of my visit to the porn set. Surprisingly, it's the script.

Written by Hustler Erotic Video Guide contributor and first-time producer Randy French, Desdaemona Affair was originally conceived as a pornographic musical -- showcasing the bilingual singing talents of Suzi Suzuki -- but to accommodate the film's new star, the golden-haired TJ Hart, the script was tweaked and the songs reluctantly eliminated. Still, the essence of the story remains: Bill Dylan (played by Horner) is a world-renowned cryptographer and active member of the Cypherpunks, a group of digital-mavericks determined to secure privacy on the World Wide Web through uncrackable code. Dylan is the founder of the Cryptographic Privacy Foundation; his face has appeared on the cover of Wired magazine; he is constantly plagued by crypto groupies; he is monitored by the National Security Agency; and, lucky him, he has just invented a chip that TJ Hart has been deployed to acquire by any means necessary. It's a computer geek's dream come true.

"This is the first true cypherpunk movie," says French, a real-life cypherpunk who, under a different name, works for one of the nation's leading computer software encryption companies. "It's backed by cypherpunk money. Most of the extras are cypherpunks. The lead character is actually an amalgamation of key members from local cryptography circles. Some of the scenes are inspired by actual events."

One such scene takes place in the fictional Royal Bangkok Gentleman's Club, where Dylan is recognized by a lap dancer. She loves his Darned Good Privacy software so much that she offers to suck Dylan's "secret key." This is a likely reference to Phil Zimmerman and his Pretty Good Software. Whether the key was actually sucked is anyone's guess, but in French's world Dylan gets it good.

During the filming of the scene, Horner performs meritoriously as both director and talent, pausing midmoan to shout "Cut!" and switch camera angles even while Rosy Rocket has Dylan's key fully engaged. Real-life cypherpunks dress the faux-nightclub with laptop computers and authentic crypto groupies. They do what they can for the project, adding to the ambience by surfing the Web on camera or preparing for coitus. One such couple keep themselves busy through multiple takes (little of which will ever make the final cut since they were unable to stop with the pros midstream).

Off set, Eric Hughes, co-founder of the Cypherpunks for which the phrase was coined, observes the goings-on from beneath the signature cypherpunk wide-rimmed black hat. The dialogue produces a faint smile under his copper beard. Hughes' face actually did appear on the cover of Wired magazine (albeit under a wrestling mask), and now here he is about to be immortalized in porn: He is scheduled to be an extra in the W (orld) W (ide) W (eb) Strip Club girl-on-girl scene set in Silicon Valley with TJ Hart and porn exemplar Nina Hartley. He seems to take the experience in stride, occupying himself between takes with a ring of intricate-looking knots and gentle ribbings thrown in French's direction.

Hartley arrives on set to learn her lines and help Hart relax into the second lesbian scene of her career (by periodically rubbing her ass). Within moments of sitting she is approached by fans from the erudite film crew, including a production assistant/biology major. Hartley smiles warmly and suggests some classes and books. She tells me how wonderful it is to meet fourth-wave feminists who have grown up in an atmosphere of sexual acceptance. Hughes tells me that the knots he's tying relate to current research in quantum field theory. French tells me his staff has the highest IQ in the history of porn.

"Nerds win," says French. "In the final scene of this movie, TJ pulls a gun out at a Cypherpunk meeting, and everyone can see right away that it's not loaded. Cypherpunks know guns."

And what do cryptography, guns, and porn have in common?
"Free choice," says French without pause. "It's all about free choice."

Send comments, quips, and tips to crawler@sfweekly.com.

By Silke Tudor

About The Author

Silke Tudor

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