Remember long ago when the “experts” told you that all the time you spent alone in the bathroom during your tumultuous adolescence with that bottle of KY jelly and a porn magazine (or maybe an iPad today), fantasizing about sex was nothing but a surefire way to piss away your life? The ultimate waste of time?
Well, fuck the experts!
I’m here to tell you they totally missed the boat on this one. Here’s why.
Round about the time you started playing kickball, climbing jungle jims and noticing the girls pulling up their dresses to show you their underwear, you learned one of the most valuable motivational training and development skills you would ever need in life and probably didn’t even know it. What is it, you ask? What can this skill possibly teach you about how to be a music producer? Let me explain.
Did The Earth Move For You Too?
It’s 5AM, totally dark and you awaken to find your bed bouncing across the room. Your cheap Ikea touchier lamp is swaying side to side like a metronome and your walls are undulating like they’re made of Jello. In the ensuing milliseconds that follow several things happen:
• First, you search your semi-conscious brain to verify that no, you did not drop LSD any time within the last 24 hours and you weren’t out on a bender the night before. You’re quite sober.
• You then remember that you’re living in Los Angeles and suddenly your very distant memories of plate tectonics studies back in elementary school come stunningly into focus and you rightly determine that this must be an earthquake. A very big one at that.
• Next you measure the magnitude on your own personal Richter scale, based on the many earthquakes you have now experienced since moving there in the mid Eighties: The ’87 Whittier quake? Nope, this is bigger than that. The’89 Loma Prieta quake? No, the meter is still rising well beyond that one too. Wow! The year is 1994.
• Back to your geology studies. You remember that the San Andreas fault line, a monster strike slip fault running through a huge swath of California, voted most likely to turn Las Vegas into beachfront property when it slips again, is well over the 150 year timeline it was given to do so. As you’re being slammed against the wall trying to find a doorway to stand under for reasons you can’t seem to reconcile, a thought pops into your head: HOLY SHIT!!! THIS IS THE FUCKING BIG ONE!!!
• After a minute or two that feels like eternity, things begin to subside. You check your pulse: still breathing. No broken bones. You cautiously make your way to the couch to sit down, knowing an aftershock can’t be too far behind. Then the phone rings…
• It’s your best friend. His house is burning down. Can you help save some of his many guitars and amps stored in his garage before it all goes up in flames? Sure thing. Be right over. You help him out, commiserate about the loss of his apartment and eventually wander home, a sweaty heap, covered in soot. You fall onto your couch, exhausted. Then the phone rings again…now what?
“Can You Take A Meeting?”
“Hi, this is Brooks Arthur. I’m a comedy producer. I did all those Adam Sandler records?”
“Well anyway, we’re doing a live album with the comedian, Pauly Shore. I hear you’re a great digital audio editor. Can you be at his place in an hour to take a meeting?”
“Hi Brooks. That sounds really great. Can I ask where you’re calling from?”
“Yeah, I’m at Pauly’s house right now, as a matter of fact. It’s up in the Hollywood Hills right above The Comedy Store on Sunset.”
“Brooks, forgive me here. Is that the same Hollywood Hills in Los Angeles that just experienced what appears to be a rather substantial earthquake?
“The same place where early reports are that some freeways have fallen and several large buildings have sustained major damage and many others are on fire all around the city? In fact, I just came from one a few minutes ago. That Hollywood?”
“Well, yes I know we just…”
“Brooks, please don’t take this the wrong way. I’d love to do the project but I’m thinking we’ll be rescheduling that meeting. How’s Monday sound to you? Give ’em a few days to clean up. Sound good?”
“Yeah, that’ll work.”
“Fantastic! See you Monday. Buh Bye.”
And that’s how I came to work with Pauly Shore.
Chaos And The Mysterious Blowjob
So I moved my equipment up to Pauly’s house and spent the next few weeks editing live comedy in a beautiful old Hollywood Spanish style stucco home. You would never think a guy like this would have such good taste. I was set up in an archway by the front door while chaos unfolded all around me.
Pauly was in the middle of making a film so all these wardrobe people were shuffling through with clothing racks of stuff for him to try on. His personal trainer was huffing and puffing that he was late. Brooks was off in a corner on his cell phone making deals. And Pauly was working out his next MTV skit with a show producer. This was reality TV long before it was ever conceived.
Meanwhile, we were editing the opening sequence, which consisted of some wet sucking sounds and a man (presumably Pauly) moaning pleasurable sounds. As the sucking increases, Pauly announces he’s going to come and then all hell breaks loose as he gets off. Then we hear someone clearing their throat in a low gutteral tone. Not a woman. It’s a man (not Pauly) getting up and licking his lips. He tells Pauly he’s running late and has to split. Pauly says, “Thanks, Ronny.” And then Ron Jeremy, legendary porn star makes his exit. Killer opening. But there was one big problem…
You Got To Know Just When To Slip It In (The Joke That Is)
In comedy, as they say, timing is everything. And everything on this record led up to the big, big pay off joke, which was suffering from one major flaw…timing.
We were choosing material for the album from several nights of live shows. On one night, the house is packed and Pauly has got them eating out of his hand. So he starts off great on the big pay off joke but just as he gets to the punch line he stutters. The moment is lost and the joke misses. Now what?
In digital editing, you cut up audio and video segments and move them around and digitally splice them together again. This is how movies are made. This is how records are made. And this, I learned is also how comedy albums are made. Who knew it didn’t all happen live? So I had to find another take where the big pay off works and edit the two pieces together.
Well, we found another night where his timing was perfect but he was playing to a small crowd. He was coming off another joke that didn’t go over so when he gets to the big pay off, there is relative quiet before it. So when you try to edit the two pieces together you have a night of uproarious laughter joined to a night with relative silence underneath. What to do? This was the obvious choice.
Pauly came over to listen and said, “Nice edit, dude, but it doesn’t work. It’s obviously a cut. Figure something out and quick. I’m off to Hawaii tomorrow to shoot this film and they’re mixing this next week. Make it happen.” And off he went back into the madness. (Shit! Pressure’s on.)
How I Found My Motivation In A Pair of Stiletto Heels
People coming, people going. Wardrobe racks shuffling around, cell phone deals, persnickety personal trainers, it was a circus. And I was running out of time so I was too focused on a deadline to notice what happened next. The doorbell must have rang and Pauly told the guest to let themselves in.
Something passed by me in front of the archway where I was set up. I noticed it peripherally, enough to jar me out of my focus on the computer screen in front of me. My thoughts went something like this:
Hmm…white…someone dressed in white (No, that edit doesn’t work. Try something else)…blond…perfume, mmm…smells good (Where was that other show where I remember similar laughter? Searching files.) Catch a glimpse of a killer female body…Holy Shit! What was that?! OMG! Who the hell is that?!
“Hey, Pam. What’s up?” Pauly shouts from across the room. “I’m just finishing up. Go over there and meet Hermann. He’s editing my new album. It’s really dope. Check it out. I’ll be with you in a minute.”
And the next thing I knew, Pamela Anderson was standing next to me asking what I was doing.
Now I had been living out in L.A. for several years at this point, touring with rock stars and working in recording studios. I figured I had seen (and dated one or two) every make and model of fake breasted, bleach blond, collagen injected, nip and tucked bimbo you could ever find in Hollywood.
But Pamela Anderson was just…how else can I say this? Fucking stunning!
She wore white pants, white stiletto heels and nothing but a white vest on top, all perfectly fitted of course, highlighting a magnificently tanned body. But those…umm, her incredible…er um…smile. She had such a luscious pair of…lips. Yeah, that’s it. I was speechless. Then she asked me to play her something and sat down next to me.
On A Mission from God!
What followed next would have happened in milliseconds but I was instantly tele-ported back to that kickball field again and I think God was driving my digital audio workstation. For I suddenly had an epiphany about how to fix the big joke. I told her to give me a few seconds.
Then I was directed (perhaps by divine guidance or more likely something a little lower down) to a section of a particular show where the audience was in the same vibe as the night in question. Strangely, I only remembered this in that exact moment.
I found a snippet of laughter that totally matched the size and enthusiasm of the night with the big joke to fix. The laughter also died down naturally, in the way it would need to in order to underscore the timing of the big punch line and make it work.
I quickly flew this piece of laughter (insider trick, don’t tell anyone)underneath the quiet passage of the big payoff, matched the levels and voila! Instant perfect joke.
Then I played the big joke for Pamela and watched with fingers crossed to see if my efforts would pay off. She listened all the way through and then laughed her ass off.
Caught In The Act
Just then Pauly walked up.
“What’s so funny?”
“Oh, your guy just played me I guess what was the big climax of your record.”
Pauly looked at me panicked like, ‘How could you do that, man? You knew this wasn’t working!‘
“Oh, really? And so…what did you think of it?” Pauly asks nervously.
“I loved it. Funny as all hell. It’s going to be a really great record, Pauly.”
Then he asked me to play it back for him again. I did and he looked at me incredulously with the Spock eyebrow. I winked and gave him a thumbs up.
“Righteous, bro,” he said to me as he grabbed Pam’s hand and headed out to lunch. I watched her go and let the vision burn into memory, which I recalled many times since on the occasional lonely Saturday night.
I can’t say where exactly the inspiration came from in that moment but I’m fairly certain it has something to do with kickball, climbing jungle jims and smiling at the girl who showed you a glimpse of her underwear.
Forget about food, clothing or shelter. Money and power. It’s all overrated.
There is no greater motivator in the world than sex.
So go forth you iPorn junkies, you monkey spankers, you dirty diddlers. Fantasize to your heart (or your hard on’s) content. Then go forth and change the world!
For sex, or the need to impress someone on the opposite side of it, shall be your greatest motivation!
Fuck the experts! What do they know?
Was there ever a time in your career when sex motivated you to be more productive?
Please leave a comment. I’d love to hear about it.
Rock your story!