Beach Blanket Bacchanal

XXX marks the spot at Lake Havasu, "amateur porn capital of America"

Mention Lake Havasu City, and most people will pounce on the hamlet's hellacious heat, a triple-digit mind-roaster that frequently tops out the nation's thermometer. Either that, or London Bridge, the imported British landmark that spans a portion of the boat-studded waterway weaving through the western Arizona lakeside community.

But George Martin, self-proclaimed "King of Amateur Porn," hasn't been braving Weather Channel-worthy heat three times a year just to photograph the village's monument of nursery rhyme renown. The adult video czar is far less interested in falling bridges than in falling britches--not to mention bikini bottoms, halter tops and any other encumbrances that stand between his fair ladies and his ever-probing video lens.

A former commercial photographer, Martin has spent more than a decade documenting a side of Lake Havasu City not mentioned in any chamber of commerce literature. Mainly, the fun-in-the-sun antics of uninhibited, intoxicated, insatiable (and frequently stark naked) young partyers from Southern California who transform remote areas of the lake into a boozy ship-to-shore sex-o-rama. These exhibitionistic high jinks--which run the gamut from simple flashing to three-way lesbian interludes staged atop houseboats for maximum exposure--have enabled Martin to carve out a career as the Allen Funt of the X-rated film world.

"It keeps me young," says the white-haired head of GM Video, who, at 56, is a good 30 years older than most of his unabashed "stars." Since abandoning a commercial photography career in the mid-'80s, the opportunistic Martin has produced dozens of tapes in the "how-I-misspent-my-summer-vacation" genre, the majority (like the clunkily titled Memorial Weekend Wet T & A '98, Vol. I, winner of Adult Video News' best alternative video award), shot in and around the Lake Havasu area during spring break and holiday weekends.

This wide-open carnal chicanery has also made Martin wealthy; today, he claims he ships 6,000 tapes a month at $29.95 a pop. Quite a nice return on his investment, especially considering that all of his "talent"--both onscreen and offscreen--work for free.

Although all three volumes of Martin's Memorial Day '99 compilation eventually will be filled with eye-poppers like cucumber-stuffing, strawberry-shoving, banana-sucking and more T, A and P than you can shake a double-headed marital aid at, the wild holiday weekend begins not with a bang but a whimper.

The first fly in the ointment surfaces when Martin and his video crew rendezvous at their old video stomping grounds, the Roadrunner, a floating bar and restaurant on the Colorado River on the Parker strip, down river from the lake.

Still smarting from a $7,500 fine levied against his establishment by the Arizona Department of Liquor Licenses and Control last spring (one of the most damning pieces of evidence was a GM tape featuring simulated sex shot in the bar itself), the Roadrunner's owner has banned cameras from the property and also threatens to "86" any customers who flash flesh.

So much for the dockside wet-tee-shirt contest that was supposed to have kicked off day one of taping.

"Fuck the wet-tee-shirt contest!" Martin grouses as he performs a head count on the crew he's assembled for the occasion. "If any of the girls shows titty, they're kicked out anyway."

Martin's crew--a ragtag Boogie Nights-like collective that includes several photographers, a couple of beefy bouncer types, a fiftysomething skipper, an air brush-wielding body painter, a bleached-blond stripper with Little Richard-like permanent lip liner and a purple-haired porn rocker named Johnny Toxic--are milling about the dock, slamming down the house drink (an Everclear, rum and schnapps concoction called the Roadraper), when Martin receives more bad news.

Learning that at least one rival video production crew has already beaten him to the scene, Martin instructs one of his more menacing-looking minion to spread the vaguely threatening word that Martin's going to "send some of my boys over."

"Of course, I'd never do that," he says as he herds his crew onto "The Hooter Hunter," a pontoon boat he's rented for the occasion. Martin chuckles, "But they don't know that."

Like Captain Ahab hunting Moby Dick, George Martin is a man obsessed. But instead of searching for a single whale, he's scanning the clear green currents of the Colorado for entire schools of wild co-eds, water-logged wantons who, if peer pressure and alcohol content are high enough, can be counted on to shuck their swim wear in return for a string of Mardi gras beads and cinematic immortality in one of his videos.

"The river's the hardest thing in the world to shoot," says Martin, who earned his stripes in wedding video wars and boudoir portraiture battlefields. "To me, it's like going into combat and I'm the commander. I delegate responsibility to other commanders, and, when they fail me, it's dereliction of duty."

Soldiering to the cause, leopard-skin clad Johnny Toxic climbs up on the boat's sunroof to do a little recruiting with an electronic bullhorn. Although he possesses the verbal panache of a Bourbon Street strip-joint barker, the bombastic skank pornster (his credits include Anal Graveyard and Ass Cakes, wherein he reportedly has his way with a dessert pastry) gets nowhere with bewildered and/or amused boaters, not even after he drops his drawers, feigns masturbation and dives off the roof while shrieking obscenities.

The stripper, a hard-looking, baby-voiced young woman named Rose, who resembles a cross between Pamela Anderson Lee and a young Cloris Leachman, has considerably better luck when she takes to the roof. Doffing her bikini top, she immediately earns high-decibel encouragement from several boatloads of beer-stoked frat boys.

Switching to some far more explicit gynecological posturing, she attracts even more attention, including that of a patrol boat captain from the La Paz County Sheriff's Department.

"Young lady!" he hollers through a bullhorn. "How would you like your mother and grandmother to see you in a tape like this?"

Rose modestly crosses her legs. "They already have," she mutters under her breath.

"How would you like it if I drove my pickup truck down your street with my girlfriend naked in the back?" the patrolman continues.

"Yeah?" responds Rose, sotto voce. "What time?"
Finally realizing the futility of trying to shame someone who's pleasuring herself on the roof of a boat surrounded by hooting onlookers, the officer lets her off with a warning: If she doesn't get dressed, she may be booked as a "sex offender."

"Sex offender?" Snorting derisively as she searches for her errant bikini bra, Rose sniffs, "And your point is?"

The point--moot though it may be--is that public indecency is indeed illegal, an offense usually punishable by a fine-bearing citation, similar to a traffic ticket.

Fortunately for Martin and the unabashed revelers he photographically stalks, it isn't illegal unless someone complains. Which is something people on the lake and river rarely, if ever, do.

"Before we can do anything, we've got to have a 'victim,' a complaint," says Lieutenant Dan Davis of the La Paz County Sheriff's Department, echoing official policy of five state, county and federal agencies that have jurisdiction over the waters, which straddle the Arizona/California border. "As police officers, we can't be offended. When you don't have anyone that's offended or [willing to make] a complaint, there's not a whole lot the prosecution is willing to do."

That said, Martin currently finds himself embroiled in a Byzantine legal battle with the San Bernardino County prosecutor's office, stemming from a 1996 incident in which he was charged with soliciting lewd acts in Lake Havasu's Copper Canyon, a formerly popular party spot. Although Martin claims he could have cleared up the matter by paying a $400 fine, he's chosen to fight the citation on principle, spending a reported $50,000 in the process. He even talks about filing a $20 million lawsuit should he prevail. San Bernardino County authorities refused to comment on the case, which has been dragging through the court system for nearly three years.

Surprisingly, Martin claims that he's yet to get any legal flak from those who'd seem most likely to sue. Namely, the snockered wahines who've been providing his bread and tanning butter for more than a decade.

"Are you kidding?" asks an incredulous Martin. "These girls love it; they can't wait to get their hands on these tapes."

And in the event that one of these liquored-up libertines ever does come to her sense of decency after she finally sobers up? According to a less-than-sympathetic Martin, legally speaking, she'll probably be up one of the Colorado River's tributaries without a paddle.

"I'm only documenting what's going on out there with a video camera," he says. "If you choose to expose yourself in public in front of thousands of people, you're going to have a pretty hard time convincing anyone that your privacy has been invaded."

George Martin hasn't always been the Pasha of Public Domain Poontang.
A San Diego commercial photographer, he fell into the business quite by accident during the early days of home video, when a friend invited him to tape a nude beauty contest near Yuma. When the finished product, rough as it was, drew raves from patrons at a local bar screening, Martin placed a $110 ad in a mainstream video review, offering copies of the racy novelty at $50 apiece. When orders topped the $1,000 mark, the wedding photographer hung up a permanent "Gone Fishin'" sign and headed for the wild shenanigans rumored to be taking place on the Colorado River. Since then, he's also shot similar videos at Mardi gras, Daytona Beach and various motorcycle rallies around the country.

"The first year, we ran ourselves ragged," remembers Martin. Working with a skeleton crew and no boat, he and a few cronies shot everything from the shore, even sleeping on the beach at night. Total cost of the GM's initial foray into nonpro nookie? $300.

Over the years, both Martin's budgets and crew have grown considerably. And while the $7,000 earmarked for the Memorial Day Lake Havasu shoot wouldn't even make a dent in Charlie Sheen's weekly lap-dance tab, it's still big money by GM standards--especially when you consider that his crew works for free.

"Nobody gets paid, but I pick up their expenses," explains Martin. "Everyone has a helluva time."

Among those enjoying a working holiday on Martin's dime are The Moz, a Phoenix airbrush artist who's been working with Martin for five years. A Tolkienesque-looking character who resembles a biker elf, The Moz uses his airbrush to transform female navels into open-mouthed sharks and frequently emblazons breasts with the phrase "They're real." Claiming that his artistic talents help the GM camera crew crash any houseboat party on the lake, The Moz beams, "I'm the ultimate party favor."

Other members of GM's freeform family include a handful of young videographers who, in return for travel expenses and a shared motel roof over their heads, are given photographic carte blanche to plumb the depths of the lake's lustiest lasses. Kenny, a brawny fellow of Asian descent sporting cherry-red hair and a goatee, was an agent for lower-tier porn performers before joining the GM enclave. Moonlighting from a regular job he's not eager to talk about, soft-spoken Scott has flown in from Fort Lauderdale, where he's worked on several spring break videos.

"He's a little pervert, one of my best shooters," says Martin. "Give him a camera, and he'll get everything that happens."

And to ensure that something does happen, Martin has recruited the voluntary services of several free-spirited young women, just to get the ball rolling. Although Martin openly admits that several shills are dancers and strippers, one bikini-clad lovely with green and blue dreadlocks blows off the notion that she's any sort of porn-industry fringie.

"Oh, I was in George's Southern California Sluts, Vol. I," she concedes. "But the rest of the time, I'm just a mom."

George Martin's unofficial credo?
"If you film it, they will cum."
Barring that, they will fake it--a fact that immediately becomes apparent to anyone who sits through even a fraction of Martin's massive oeuvre.

Other impressions include the sneaking suspicions that some of these alleged amateurs are not nearly as inexperienced as they might like you to believe. With their mammoth basketball-like breasts, elaborately coiffed and bleached pubic zones and well-developed oral skills, many of these sex-toy friendly vixens are simply not in the same league as the nude co-ed whose drunken writhing prompts a friend's horrified off-camera shriek, "Kerri, what the fuck are you doing?!"

Titillating, revolting, fascinating and, ultimately, numbingly repetitive, Martin's Lake Havasu porn documentaries could serve double duty as research tools for scholars delving into male sex fantasies, female exhibitionism and mass psychology. (Tellingly, practically none of the marine sexcapades involves men--a situation one insider attributes to "beer dick.")

With some judicious editing and digital fogging, several sequences might even have a shot at network television exposure. In one sequence worthy of an unexpurgated edition of America's Funniest Home Videos, an especially energetic couple experiences coitus interruptus when their boat capsizes in mid-sex act. Later, while attempting to relieve herself over the side of a boat, a well-lubricated damsel does a back flip and plunges into her own waste.

Yet not all of the interludes are hilarious. In one nail-biting vignette straight out of Rescue 911, partying strangers band together to subdue a drunken woman wobbling around on the roof of a boat, finally lowering her to safety in a life jacket.

Exhibiting admirable restraint, however, Martin's crew refrained from photographing the most dramatic event ever to occur on a GM shoot: Several years ago, while Martin was taping a lakeside "unbikini" contest, the body of a drowning victim bobbed to the surface just offshore.

In spite of the less-than-sensational results of the first day's shooting (the highlight of the scant 15 minutes of usable tape includes a staged sequence in which Rose performs a "Lewinsky" on the camcorder lens), George Martin is anything but dead in the water.

"Friday is always slow," he assures his troops. "Just wait 'til tomorrow when everyone gets here. Saturday's gonna be crazy, just nuts!"

As it turns out, nuts doesn't begin to describe the gonad-and-pudenda-engorged atmosphere the next day at the Sandbar, a three-foot deep channel of water some 10 miles up the river from Lake Havasu. By noon Saturday, the shallow waterway is packed with an armada of boats floating amidst a sea of pierced, tattooed and inebriated humanity. The pungent scent of beer, weed and sun block hangs over the area like a thick smog as thousands wade through the waist deep water that's also serving as a communal toilet.

By the time the three-day weekend's over, Martin's crew will have shot more than 35 hours of tape, including a drunken brawl between a man who stripped a woman of her bikini bottom, and a $1,000 contest (presumably rigged--the promoter's girlfriend won) in which 25 nude contestants vied to demonstrate their mastery of what can tactfully be described as "vegetable consumption."

A trio of topless co-eds guzzles from a gigantic beer bong. Meanwhile, a two-man team roams the water with a portable bar, offering "a shot for a shot" to any woman who'll bare her nether regions. And hundreds of tanned horn dogs swarm around GM's "Hunter Hooter" as Martin's girls prepare to strut their stuff.

It's safe to say that not since the 1988 Republican convention have so many people gathered to chant "Bush! Bush! Bush!" in unison.

Contact Dewey Webb at his online address: dwebb@newtimes.com

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