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  • Paula Tiberius

Nuns & Gunns

Last week I flew to Jamaica to cover the Erotikos Film Festival taking place in Negril. During my flight down, I sat next to a nun.

The nun was from Ecuador and wore a plain white habit, thick dark beige nylon stockings and white nurse’s shoes. Very sensible. Early on in the trip she was disappointed to discover that her cash would not buy her food on the plane. It was credit card only. I guess nuns don’t use credit cards. I felt so bad for her. A nun, set to starve on this crappy flight!

Not on my watch, people. Thankfully, I brought enough food for the both of us. First I offered her some salt and pepper popped chips which she accepted gratefully. I put the chips between us and she dug right in. I had this fleeting George Costanza moment where I thought Geez, you’d think a nun would be more demure, not so gung-ho to match me chip for chip, but I pushed that thought aside.

Next I brought out my tuna sandwich. It had been out of the fridge for about four hours and I was a little bit worried about salmonella poisoning, but I offered her half anyway. She said she would love to take me up on it a bit later, which gave me the chance to test it. I ate it and nothing happened, so by the time she ate hers I was relaxed, certain that she would make it to Ecuador unharmed.

We watched both feature films together, Men in Black 3 and Mirror Mirror. I was surprised that she watched the movies. Shouldn’t she be praying or something? And all that violence. Wasn’t she appalled? And Mirror Mirror – all that bad acting! Wasn’t she disgusted? When I asked her opinion after each one, she just shrugged and smiled.

Near the end of the flight I whipped out my tray of blueberry bran muffins and she actually started laughing as she took one.

“I am so blessed!” she said.

“You are!” I laughed back, referring to her nun-liness, not my bran muffin offering.

The flight attendant came by and asked if she wanted another beverage, calling her ‘sister.’ That was when it occurred to me that they could have given the nun a free meal. I mean for GOD’s sake, literally! You dedicate your life to God, and you don’t even get a free fucking meal on an airplane? That seems wrong.

Then I noticed her wedding ring and began to question her identity. Isn’t she supposed to be married to God? Do they wear rings for that? Or does she just like the outfit and the attention? I guess I’ll never know, but one thing’s for sure: she didn’t go hungry.

On the flight back from Jamaica, I sat next to the porn star Tommy Gunn.

It wasn’t a crazy coincidence really, since his film Spartacus was in the Erotikos Film Festival and we had already met several times. In fact, we hung out at the airport together beforehand, where he was approached by six Chinese tourists who took dozens of pictures of him and went on their phones to visit his website where he sells Tommy Gunn underwear. It was hilarious. They wouldn’t stop feeling his muscles and making him pose like Rambo:

On the plane, I wondered what Tommy and I would have to say to each other, if anything. It turns out we had a three hour conversation about movies, meditation, the business, the ‘other’ business, Toronto, Los Angeles, New Jersey, Sly Stallone – we covered a lot of ground, literally and metaphorically.

He showed me pictures of the ‘Zombie Proof’ truck he built himself, which is right out of Mad Max, and I taught him how to use images of light to shoo away negative thoughts and stay focused on his dreams. He pitched a movie to me that was so heartfelt and beautiful that I almost forgot about his enormous shaved bicep and forearm taking up the armrest between us, and I told him about my husband and daughter and our move to the Valley. His whole persona reminded me of the ‘feeding the fish’ scene in Rocky where you learn that this buff hero isn’t just a meathead. He has feelings, and plans, and wants to find love.

I think the most poignant moment was when he admitted that being a porn star can be isolating. One day he’s accepting an award in front of seven thousand people in the industry, and the next he’s heading home by himself feeling lonely. The women he meets at work are often way younger than he would like to date, yet if he goes beyond the confines of other adult actors, he has the challenge of finding someone who’s okay with what he does for a living. As I sat there listening to him I asked myself, “Could I handle that?” It’s a lot to ask of someone, really. It’s one thing if it’s in the past, but currently filming each week with different women? I can see how that narrows the playing field.

With some smaller mainstream roles under his belt, that’s the direction he’s headed. He’s looking forward to the stigma dissipating so he can keep acting but move on from porn. I have to say, I’m rooting for him.

Also, I can’t help but wonder what the Ecuadorian nun would think…

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