American. Porn Star. President.

Lukas Lazaruk is living the American Dream: wife, kid, beautiful house, great job writing for one of the biggest magazines in the country. He’s also a porn addict whose marriage is on the verge of collapse, and whose abilities as a father are questionable to say the least. As he prepares for his upcoming interview with adult performer and Hollywood actor Alfie B. Lee, a local murder plunges Lukas further into the underbelly of American life—which stretches all the way to the White House.

American. Porn Star. President. is an unflinching portraiture of the darker sides of American life and the human psyche. A graphic black comedy that’s as explosive and grotesque as any electoral campaign.

Coming soon.

American. Porn Star. President. — Excerpt

Immigration,” drawled William, pointing his fork which proffered a piece of medium rare steak; the bloody juice dripping into the small pool on his plate next to the cut of meat and assortment of in-season vegetables. He was a rotund man who perspired almost incessantly, and when he spoke, he regularly elongated syllables, and would sometimes jitter like a jalopy attempting to start as he emphasized a point or a vowel. His grey hair was neatly combed back (as always). The elasticity of his face had waned in recent years, causing the skin to sag under the cheekbones and below his chin and jaw.

   I thought to myself: Gravity and time always win.

   He was beginning to look every bit his sixty-four years, and then some. Originally from the United Kingdom, and still possessing a sonorous, haughty accent, he had been living in the United States for more than thirty years, and considered himself an Anglo-American. “This country was built by immigrants. We’re all immigrants. Every last one of us. Immigration. That’s your next piece.”

   “Immigration?”

   “Yes, yes. Immigration,” he said impatiently. “I want you to interview the everyday man who came to this country, or whose parents or grandparents came to this land. I want you to tell a linear story through a dozen or so immigrants. I know what this country stands for.”

   “It’s quite a shift from the Alfie B. Lee article—”

   “It’s important, Lukas, boy,’ he interrupted, jittering. “It’s relevant, with the current administration . . . And, well . . .” William paused, as if something had struck him there and then, his expression melancholy for a beat, but he shook it away before repeating softly, and somewhat sadly: “It’s important, Lukas.”

   “With the greatest respect, Bill,” I began in my jaded Californian cadence. “Immigration. It’s a little stale, right? I know with everything that’s going on in Europe and here with the wall, but right now . . . I don’t know. It doesn’t feel like the right move. People are getting tired of it . . . And, again with the greatest respect, you don’t assign me my jobs.”

   “That I don’t, but I do pay your salary, along with that of your editor-in-chief.” He leaned forward and pointed his fork at me again, smiling wryly. “And if I tell Melissa that I want Lukas Lazaruk to write a story on immigration, you’ll write a bloody story on immigration.”

   “Are you boys discussing work at dinner?” Karen asked cheekily and cheerfully (always the perfect actress when in the presence of family and friends) as she checked her cell phone; I noticed her “like” a picture posted by a friend on Instagram. She kept touching her nose, and for a moment I wondered if she was using again, and whether that was the source of her sadness which had been so palpable in the cab.

   “Your wife has spoken,” smiled William.

   “What took you two so long, anyway?” asked Stephanie. She was wearing an outfit that I would call sexy if I could bring myself to compliment her. It was an Alexander McQueen sheer stripe dress that Karen had first noticed while watching Milan Fashion Week, after which she had called Stephanie to inform her of its existence: These days she used her sister to vicariously live out her sartorial fantasies having made a vow that she would no longer frivolously indulge in her penchant for expensive clothing. The final straw was the January 1st, 2016 purchase of a Dior dress along with a pair of Prada ankle boots, topped off with a Karl Lagerfeld suede bucket bag. That night she had dressed in each item she’d purchased and sobbed openly and uncontrollably on our king-sized bed.

   “Racist cab driver,” Karen said.

   “There was a crash, traffic was terrible,” I explained. “And yes, the driver appeared to be somewhat intolerant towards anyone he considered to be potentially racist, which I’m guessing means the white male.”

   “Ah, the white man: the oppressor. The privileged,” said William before he released a brattling cough, after which he patted his mouth with his napkin.

   I thought to myself: He’ll be dead in a few years, if not sooner.

   “Maybe he just didn’t like you,” Stephanie offered.

   “He wouldn’t be the first,” I replied with a sardonic smile.

   “Everyone likes you, Lukas,” said Karen.

   “Well,” said Stephanie, ignoring my retort and Karen’s comment with well-rehearsed apathy. “Karen, guess what I’m having shipped in next week.”

   At this William rolled his eyes and jerked his head in a single, distressed, upward motion.

   “What?” asked Karen.

   Stephanie sat forward and placed both hands on the table, each side of her dinner plate which housed a half-eaten Cajun chicken salad.

   “A miniature camel.”

   “A what?!” replied Karen.

   “A what?” I echoed.

   William shook his head, remaining silent.

   “A miniature camel,” Stephanie beamed. “All the celebrities are getting them; they’re the latest trend.”

   “Jesus,” I said involuntarily, another response that was ignored by Stephanie.

   “Caitlyn Jenner is rumored to have two, although People had no pictures to accompany the article, so I’m a little skeptical. But I’ve seen them. They’re genetically engineered, or something. Or inbred, like the micro dogs. They. Are. The. Cutest little fuckers. You have got to get one.”

   “A miniature camel?” asked Karen, mouth agape, as she swirled the cocktail pick in her dry martini.

   “They are so adorable!” said Stephanie as she unlocked her phone and presented a picture to Karen of what to me looked like a retarded monkey.

   “But . . . they’re camels,” Karen reasoned, or attempted to.

   “Miniature, Karen,” replied Stephanie. “Miniature camels. They’re teeny. They’re so cute with their two little humps and their dopey expressions. And they’d be great in the event of a drought; you know how dry it can get here in the summer.”

   William looked at me; his face had turned a deeper shade of red.

   “Camel’s humps are mounds of fat, Stephanie,” he said, exasperated. “They’re not filled with bloody extractable water.”

   He turned to me once again and took a deep breath.

   “Anyhow, I was thinking about something else for you to sink your teeth into, Lukas. You know, your Venezuela piece,” he said, after which I felt a flurry of butterflies in my stomach. This was followed by a flood of intense heat permeating my body and draping my skin.

    I quickly rose from my chair and excused myself.

   “Sorry, Bill. I’ve to . . . run to the little boy’s room.”

   William looked surprised, but as he did the math – a just-eaten meal and a sudden sense of urgency – his expression morphed into one of concession, followed by a look of empathy which was solidified with successive, approving nods of his head and raised hands.

   I exited the restaurant hurriedly, and in the lobby I leaned against the wall, loosened my tie and released a long exhale. Sweating, I removed my phone from my pocket, looking around the foyer to check if anyone had noticed my rather obvious mental disintegration, but thankfully, nobody was staring at me.

   I immediately dialed the Hartmann Hotline.

   As usual it clicked after a single ring, and I held my breath as I was greeted by a sage German voice – not unlike Herzog’s – which said:

   “Remember, all that exists is this moment. The past, the future — these are mere constructions, they do not exist: all that exists is now. All we have is now. Notice your breaths. Maybe you’re breathing through your nose, perhaps through your mouth. Notice where you feel your breath the most. Focus on that. And remember, chaos in our minds is not a reflection of reality. These are anxiety-filled times; you are well-equipped to deal with them.”

   When the voice ceased a prolonged beeeep followed, and I ended the call with an unintentionally loud exhale framed by circled lips as I reached into my trouser pocket and fished out two loose Ativan I’d stuffed in there earlier, before our taxi arrived. I placed them into my mouth, fixed my tie, re-entered the busy restaurant, and as I returned to the table I raised my eyebrows and smiled apologetically, before reaching for my glass of Nebbiolo and washing down both pills.

   “All okay?” asked William, concerned probably not for me but for the mere idea of a fellow diner shitting his pants and returning to a table afterwards.

   I smiled, still a little choked. I managed to force out a few labored words: ‘Okay. Good,” I nodded, mildly red-faced. “Great.”

   “Now,” William resumed. “Where was I?”

   “We were talking about immigration,” I said as, surprisingly, I found myself returning to a calm state almost immediately after ingesting the pills and consuming the wise words of Friedrich Hartmann.

   “Well,” began William, before hesitating. “No, I wanted to talk about something else, uh, Venu—”

   “I think an article on immigration is a great idea, actually,” I said.

   “You do?” asked William, surprised by my U-turn.

   “Yes, yes,’ I nodded enthusiastically.

   “Good. But I don’t want an opinion piece,” William replied. “I’m fed up with the unholy bombardment of opinion pieces adding to the nonsensical Sturm und Drang we’re experiencing these days. It’s all deceitful, partisan, self-serving, lazy journalism. And it’s not only blogs on the internet; the heavyweights, they all resort to it now. For goodness sake, they’re using emojis on the BBC. Emojis, Lukas! I don’t know what’s happened to journalism. It’s dead, in the reportage of Western issues. Foreign Correspondents – they’re still well-versed in the art of old-fashioned reportage. They’re the real journalists. But pick up any paper, click on any US newspaper’s website covering national news, click on a link on Facebook and you’re guaranteed to find overwrought and melodramatic – often factually scant, might I add – articles laced with ‘I, ME, ME, I, ME, WE.’ It’s a shambolic state of affairs, Lukas.”

   I shuffled in my chair uncomfortably as I took another sip of my wine.

   “You do know that my next interview—”

   “With the porn star.” A curt interjection from Bill.

   “Porn star and Hollywood heavyweight. Yes, my interview with Alfie B. Lee . . . it is something of an opinion piece.”

   “Well,” said William, shrugging his shoulders and looking down at his dinner plate. “It’s a popcorn article, isn’t it?”

   “Is it?”

   “Yes,” he nodded firmly before looking me in the eye. “It’s a popcorn article, Lukas. It’ll entertain – it’ll help boost sales and subscriptions. It’ll please the shareholders. He’s a big name. He’ll grace the cover of The Cutter and, hopefully, we’ll attract new readers. But we’ll have you back to real journalism once this publicity stunt is wrapped up.”

   I thought to myself: Ouch.

   And then I thought to myself: Miniature God damn camels.

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