December 11, 1999

On the Set Report: Voyager


Saturday, December 11, 1999
The setting couldn’t be more perfect—clear blue skies, fresh sea air, the aqua-green waters of the Caribbean and a ship full of porn stars. It’s all aboard for the inaugural Pillage & Plunder Cruise to benefit Pride Tampa Bay, and more than 650 gay cruisers from 25 states are spending four fun-filled days sailing to Key West, Florida. But as the passengers are enjoying all the amenities of the ship (which include a pool deck, casino and three dance floors), members of the film crew from Catalina Video are hard at work, preparing to shoot scenes for the upcoming release Voyager. After some filming in Los Angeles and Vermont, director Josh Eliot and his technicians are now ready to shoot the core of the movie (the sex scenes), and they are expecting to do it all in one day aboard the Regal Empress cruise ship. Today is the day.

11:30 A.M.
Arriving on the set, the crew begins setting up the lights and getting their equipment in order for the first scene. An unexpected power surge renders one of the two video cameras unusable, so Eliot will have to work at a disadvantage. He lights up the first of many cigarettes and surveys two video monitors and two tape decks; one of each will now remain blank. As the models begin showing up, makeup artist Bradley Picklesimer ushers Catalina superstar Steve Rambo to a chair and starts fiddling with his hair. Latin newcomer Enrico Vega doffs his swimsuit and begins posing provocatively for Catalina still photographer Jeff Burton.

“Most of these guys are so gorgeous, they don’t need makeup,” Picklesimer says, only half-joking. The veteran makeup artist and drag star, who has been working on porn sets for about five years, explains that he applies mostly face makeup, although sometimes body makeup is needed to cover up problems like sunburn or blemishes. Because the scenes being filmed today are mostly being shot outdoors, Picklesimer says that the makeup he’s applying is more natural, unlike the style he would use for a box-cover shoot. As he finishes off Rambo, Picklesimer beckons Mike Radcliffe into the makeup chair and asks in a bright, sunny voice, “Any special cuts or bruises I need to know about, hon?”

As Burton shoots Rambo and Catalina superbottom Ray Harley in an embrace nearby, Eliot sips coffee and explains the plot of Voyager. Basically, he says, it about a group of men on a cruise. “It’s like a sexual infomercial,” he laughs. “Tuck Johnson plays a stowaway. He comes onboard and is hiding out.…” Eliot is interrupted by a crew member to deal with a lighting problem. It seems that there are not enough electrical outlets to accommodate all the equipment. Eliot tells me that the movie is being shot with a chip camera, which is a broadcast-quality video camera that makes it easier to light. “You could shoot by candlelight,” he says. They are using natural sunlight for some scenes, but additional lights are needed to fill in, and these instruments have to be plugged in somewhere. Eventually, some long extension cords running to Eliot’s suite two decks below do the trick, and the problem is solved—for now. “God forbid we blow a fuse, though,” Eliot says with a worried expression.

12:30 P.M. After much preparation, it is time for the first shot of the day. As the other cast members joke good-naturedly with one another, Vega prepares to get sucked off by Mike Radcliffe. As he leans against a railing, Radcliffe falls to his knees and waits to hear the call for action. When it comes, the camera zooms in and Radcliffe goes to town. Eliot wears headphones and stares intently at the monitors. He cues the production assistant, who cues Ray Harley to enter the scene. Both men suck Vega’s uncut cock. Eliot directs through a mic on the headset as he watches the action. Videographer Mark Jensen, who also wears a headset, is directed to remove the camera from the tripod. As the scene progresses, Eliot suddenly exclaims, “Shit, we lost power!” The action stops and the technicians go to check on a blown fuse. Thirty feet away, onlookers peer over a rail with great curiosity. In a few minutes the problem is fixed, and shooting is resumed.

Now Jensen climbs over the railing with camera in hand and gets an over-the-shoulder shot of the blowjob. As the models once again focus on their work, the batteries in Eliot’s headset go dead. After a brief delay, Picklesimer is dispatched to get some new ones, then it’s back to work. “Keep kissing, you guys,” Eliot tells the models. “Okay, pan down to the sucking,” he tells Jensen. “Get the cock and the kissing, then go back up the railing.” The shots on the monitor reflect Eliot’s instructions.
“Now, zoom into the cocksucking,” Eliot commands. “Ray, go down. Mike, work on the balls.” The models follow directions. Photographer Burton climbs up onto the top deck to get some action shots from above. After a few more minutes, the filming stops and the lighting is adjusted. Because there is only one camera being used, it is repositioned during the break. About 40 minutes later, the blowjob scene is wrapped, and the crew is ready to move on to the next setup.

1:20 P.M.
It is now time for Steve Rambo’s first scene with Tuck Johnson. The lights and camera have been moved to a more private location, between a passageway entry. Passengers are still milling around hoping to catch a glimpse of some porn-star sex. Production supervisor Brad Austin opens two large doors, which manage to obscure much of the view. His main concern is to give the models as much privacy as possible.

As Rambo leans against the wall, Johnson begins jerking off. Eliot is back at the monitors and puffing on another cigarette. “Okay, Steve, on your knees,” he says. As the scene begins, an electrical plug falls out of its socket. “Fuck!” Eliot shouts. They stop shooting. “It’s the evil sea witch,” he jokes. When the plug is reinserted, Eliot calls out, “Action! Okay, snap it with your mouth, Steve. ECU [extreme close-up] of that.” Rambo and Johnson lock hands as Rambo sucks Johnson’s cock and Johnson throws back his head. The videographer moves in with a lighting guy in tow. He aims the light as Jensen zooms in on the blowjob.

From the sidelines, buffed blond Caesar sports a hard-on as he watches, ready for action. After several minutes, Eliot cues him to join in. Caesar enters the scene and begins jerking off as the blowjob continues. “Go to a wide shot,” Eliot tells Jensen. Caesar and Johnson begin kissing as Rambo sucks off both of them. “Steve, five strokes on each cock then go back to the other,” Eliot says. Rambo does as he is told. “Rub the heads around each other. And keep your shoulders back!” Next, Johnson is directed to suck Caesar. He does so, and this goes on for many minutes. After capturing Rambo’s oral handiwork, the camera moves in for close-ups of each model’s face. Both Caesar and Johnson simulate the blowjob from the neck up, re-creating every bit of pleasure on their faces.

2:20 P.M.
The crew snacks on pizza brought in from the ever-present cruise-ship buffet. Picklesimer touches up Caesar’s makeup and admonishes Johnson, who keeps licking his dry lips. On the set, Ray Harley is positioned on some boxes for the upcoming scene in which he will be topped by Caesar. Harley prepares by lubing his ass, and Caesar places a condom on his still-erect penis. When all is ready, Eliot calls for action and requests a close-up of the fucking. “Rub your hands on his cheeks, Caesar,” Eliot says. Picklesimer stands off to the side, patiently waiting with more condoms and lube at the ready. “Besides makeup, I’m the condoms-and-lube girl, too,” he whispers with a smile.

4:10 P.M.
Nearly four hours after their blowjob scene this morning, Enrico Vega and Mike Radcliffe are about to shoot their fuck scene. Radcliffe is positioned by a railing and Vega is behind him. Vega is hard and wearing a condom, all set to go. When the scene begins, he enters Radcliffe and begins thrusting. The camera moves in and captures the fucking. After a while, Vega pulls off the condom and simulates orgasm with his facial expression. The guys switch positions and Vega shoots for real. As he orgasms, the spectators break into spontaneous applause. Their hours of standing in the hot sun have been rewarded. Vega appears surprised that he has had an audience the whole time, but he makes the best of it and bows for the passengers. Radcliffe is positioned on a towel for his cum shot, and Jensen moves in with a handheld camera. This takes another 15 minutes or so, before Radcliffe shoots. He is handed a towel, and the crew moves on.

4:45 P.M.
It is time for the final scene of the day. Everyone seems to be moving in fast motion because Eliot is worried that they are losing light. Due to the late hour, he decides that the last sequence will be shot in the boiler room of the ship. Although it is very hot inside, it will afford the models, Rambo and Johnson, more privacy, and it can be lit artificially so the crew won’t have to worry about the fading sunlight. Johnson will be topping Rambo in the scene, and both move into place. The action begins. Eliot hovers over the monitors. As Johnson enters and fucks Rambo, Eliot whispers, “Look at Tuck. He’s trembling! Now that’s good acting.”

The scene proceeds smoothly and quite quickly. The guys switch to another position, and the camera moves in for close-ups. Eventually, both orgasm. It is almost 6 P.M. when Eliot announces, “That’s it. That’s a wrap.” Everyone applauds, but there is no time to linger. The models gather their belongings and retreat to their cabins to rest for tonight’s live sex show, and the crew begins packing up their equipment. But Eliot’s work is far from done. When he returns to L.A. he will begin the process of editing the film, adding music and doing the post-production work that will make Voyager presentable to all the porn fans back on dry land.

Reprinted from
Manshots magazine (2000)

No comments: