Corporate Porn, NYC author David Grant's third novel, is an alcohol- and sandwhich-fueled romp through the darker side of corporate America and the lighter side of the adult film industry. Grant's voice displays a brilliant wit interspersed with moments of vicious social commentary as he leads us from the hopeless cubicles of the business world to the Speedo-laden sands of South Beach, along the way introducing us to a cast of disenchanted young men and women (and somewhere in between) who find redemption in an unlikely place--the burgeoning adult film industry of Omaha, Nebraska. Filled with memorable characters and dialogue that cuts to the heart of the first decade of the new century, Corporate Porn is a must-read for anyone who's ever struggled under a project deadline or thought about running away to Paris to shoot cowboy porn.
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Confidence is at an all-time low.
That’s what the headline of the New York Times business section that’s lying on the conference
table next to Jack says. Noticing me looking down at his paper, Jack stares at me with his hung-over eyes. They look more hazy than usual this morning.
We break contact when Luann asks a question regarding the “portability” of the system, and I respond quickly, drawing a look from Ralph that usually means he wants to answer the question. The uncomfortable moment passes, and I look back down at the paper. Underneath the Times rests the Daily News, where all I see is the word JAILED and the name S. DANIELS. Jack decides now (the middle of the presentation) is a good time to get up, stretch his legs, and walk to the back of the room to refill his coffee mug that reads VP IN CHARGE.
The tired atmosphere in the room, the name Daniels, and the lack of appreciation reminds me of a movie I saw three years ago with my ex-girlfriend Ashlee. Straddling the Corporate Ladder.
“I’d like to thank everyone for the good job they did today.” The line I remember from the adult classic. The movie starred Dolly Buster (Secretary #1), Ginger Valentine (Secretary #2), and Stormy Daniels (Arrogant Executive). The particular scene that sticks in my head is the one where Stormy enters and questions Dolly’s and Ginger’s work ethic.
“What skills are you bringing to the company?” Stormy asks, followed by Dolly’s sultry reply: “Well, why don’t we show you?” That leads to a funky music bassdriven sex scene that entails Dolly having to pleasure Stormy, keep Ginger involved, and at one point balance her right foot on a desk chair and left foot on a lamp.
The point is that Dolly was forced to manage people, multitask, and understand her role.
The job description of Corporate America.
The similarity between the porn industry and corporate world is uncanny. We’re all just one scene away from having our pants off.
At the end of the sex romp, Dolly is exhausted and lying on the desk while Ginger’s spread naked body is sprawled on the couch, both covered in sweat. Stormy gets dressed, and just before he leaves, he says, “I’d like to thank everyone for the good job they did today.” These are the things I think about during these mindless presentations.
Jack’s wearing a gold chain. He’s staring at the projector instead of looking up at the screen where the demo is taking place. Not to worry. If Jack wants to get my attention, he’ll make a gun signal with his hand, his way of saying I’ve got a question for you.
I’d like to thank everyone for the good job they did today. The phrase you hope to hear often from your superiors. I’m presenting our new system to the Senior VP of Sales, the VP of Sales, and my boss (who aspires to be a VP). This system will bring millions of dollars to our company. Of course, none of this will be lining my pockets, despite the success of the system being my responsibility.
The project is about streamlining. This is what I tell them in between sips of my extra-large coffee. I tell them how this will not replace jobs but enhance their positions and make them more valuable and more marketable.
I’m wearing my favorite blue and white-striped tie. Three times this morning, I’ve caught Ralph staring at my tie. Each time I’ve looked over at him, he’s had a disappointed look in his eyes.
The corporate environment is similar to the porn industry: a lot of acting, a lot of role-playing, and a lot of commands issued. During school, I worked at Xcitement, a video porn shop in the East Village, where it was my job to watch and be able to speak intelligently about movies involving kinky toys, anal penetration, and target markets. Now it’s my job to analyze systems and speak intelligently about system integration, efficiency patterns, and target markets.
The name of our company is ICONNECT, Inc. We bring inventors and investors together. The new system, EVOLUTION (given this name for reasons God only knows; the creativity in the finance department never ceases to amaze me), will differentiate us from classic investment houses and banks by linking the investors directly with the inventors they choose. This system will allow real-time monitoring from the investor side. I know this sounds boring, but implementing such a project
is an amazing opportunity. I’d compare it to appearing in a porn movie with Jenna Jameson. Definitely a
Jack fires the gun at me, which is the I’ve got a question signal, but then he’s quickly distracted when Luann, the VP of Sales, needs to know if the printer schedule has been adjusted to allow her to use the printer in the morning. You see, Luann likes to print off her emails in the morning, but sometimes it’s difficult when others are using the printer. Jack assures her that the printer situation has been taken care of, and I’m relieved because despite the millions of dollars the system I’m demonstrating will bring in to ICONNECT, Luann being able to print her emails is clearly a higher priority. While this conversation is happening, I feel like the proverbial third guy in a porn movie, the guy who is
in the scene but not actively participating because it’s not his turn. He just stands there, watching and waiting.
I look over at my boss, Ralph. He gives me a you can let Jack ask his question now look. It’s my turn. Thanks, Ralph.
“I’ve got concerns,” says Jack. Of course he does. Jack has many concerns. He’s concerned that he’s not showing enough chain, concerned that Luann will find out that he was the one who was monopolizing the printer in the morning, and rumor has it, he’s also concerned about the well-being of the Canadian lumberjack. Jack has a lot on his plate. Jack works about sixty-five hours a week. Jack looks pale. The fluorescent light above him is shining a little off his cheek, reflecting off his unkempt mustache.
“What’s the immediate payback? You know—the bang for our buck? How do we use this system to entice customers?”
Ralph looks over at Luann, who then has the embarrassing job to inform Jack that there are already two major investors on board, and there are many more waiting to invest.
“Why don’t I know about this?” asks Jack.
“It’s all detailed in the forecasting report. You didn’t receive it?” Luann lowers her voice and leans toward Jack. “I put it on your desk yesterday.”
The room remains silent until I decide to walk them through EVOLUTION. I actually say “system,” but Jack gives me a quick look, so I call it by its proper name. Jack is impressed with the name EVOLUTION. I can tell, because every time I say it, he shakes a little, causing his gold chain to glitter a little more.
For the next thirty minutes, I walk them through the system, occasionally receiving the gun from Jack followed up by either a question I’d already answered or something totally unrelated to this project or our company, for that matter. Each time I answer his wellcrafted questions, he writes something down on the agenda using his black Scripto pen. He should be wearing a Genius at Work shirt.
I finish with a live walkthrough of the system. Luann is quick to question the one missing piece of
“So, can we see the interface?” she asks, right on cue.
The interface is the piece that actually gives the investors a “dashboard” to monitor the inventor and his progress. I inform her that I am showing them a demo using version 2.45 and that the interface is in release 2.46, due out next week.
The man of the room, Jack, speaks up and asks the obvious. “Didn’t you say we’re going live with this system next week?”
“Yes,” I say confidently. “We have been assured by ISOFT that the release will be available with very little administrative time, allowing us to go live next week.”
Luann seems content with this answer, and this ends the session. Before I leave, Ralph tells me that he believes the demo went well. He then reminds me that there is a stress seminar being given over lunch tomorrow and that maybe I should go see what it’s all about.
I tell him I feel okay, and he says, “Trevor, you should go.” There’s an awkward pause as I head for the door. “Don’t forget, your review is next week.”
I reconsider attending the seminar tomorrow.