Welcome back to The Deuce where a new pornographic day is dawning in America; community standards are a-changing and it's all happening in New York on 42nd Street. Join us as we explore the sticky underbelly and it's emerging talent in S2:E02 There's An Art To This.
We're back with the pimps at the Port Authority (okay, I'm guessing) bus station, last time C.C. (Gary Carr) met his moviestar/strumpet/main girl Lori (Emily Meade), let's see who the fellas pick up this time!
Larry Brown (Gbenga Akinnagbe) makes the first move, Brenda Peterson (Kyra Adams) fresh off the bus ALSO thinks learning in a classroom is like a box, what a coincidence! She's for sure about to get a real New York education. What's her dream?
She wants to be an actress! He can help her! But! Oh Larry Brown, this precious flower with the dust of the midwest on her long suede boots is about to turn HERSELF out! She just needs directions to the adult film studio she's auditioning at.
"You know they gonna exploit you, right?" hollers a despondent and disbelieving pimp Larry Brown.
Hey, I wonder how Ashley (Jamie Neumann) is, we haven't seen her for ages! I liked how she had all the common sense and none of the time for C.C. and his bullshit.
Over at the Peepshow Extravaganza, Frankie Martino (James Franco) and Irene (Roberta Colindrez - hey, notice how most of the women only get one name and most of the guys get two? Well, except the dudes of colour, they're mostly one-namers too) have stepped up the peepshow game based on a competitor's new market. They've removed the plexiglass between the naked women and men paying to watch them, looks like it's a Buck A Feel all across town!
The women are not happy with the change so Frankie and Irene do a little show and tell while Shay (Kim Director), Serena (Georgia Warner) and the rest of the ladies frown. There are rules!
- Make sure Mook isn't a cop
- The Mook may not touch anywhere the dancer has not guided him to
- Don't stick any body parts through the window you don't want to lose
Okay, that was a funny scene, Irene and Frankie play well off of each other.
Over at the Hi-Hat, Abby (Margarita Leveiva) pours booze while some white dude intellectual practices literature and the n-word at the same time while Vincent Martino (James Franco in a long, dry wig and unfortunate mustache) and Big Mike (Mustafa Shakir) listen. I think dude is a musician, hitting on Abby and she's turning into quite the music appreciator, yes?
Over at the adult movie studio, actor/director/editor Candy (Maggie Gyllenhaal) helps dress a high af actress while studio owner Harvey Wasserman (David Krumholtz) contemplates his sad, sad lowfat plate of "food." His wife bursts in and takes the hidden fries: he knows she's right, right?
Candy's done with all these stupid scripts and film concepts, no more Nuns and Priests or Daddy Knows Best! She needs to spread her wings and get into something other than the usual f***films. She wants to expand the studio, but he won't ask the mob for more money. She vows to make the dough on her own.
Paul (Chris Coy) and his boyfriend Kenneth (Michael Stahl-David) meet with their architect who has good news and bad news: he likes their existing gay bar and he needs 20k to get started.
Hey, Lori's been nominated for an AVN (were they AVNs back then?) for Best Supporting Actor, Harvey for Best Director! He tries to blow it off, but he's blushing!
Detective Chris Alston (Lawrence Gilliard Jr.) is interviewing a young hustler about the murder of a tourist, not getting very far.
Lori shows up at another porn studio, interesting that she shoots at more than one. The Vivid Girls studio system must be a bit in the future. The director is pissed but the producer is..up to something. She's Kiki Rains (Alysia Rainer) and she looks familiar because she's Fig from Orange is the New Black! Brenda Peterson passed the casting call, she'll be making her debut in the orgy scene. Welcome to New York!
Club 366 is just warming up, Big Mike is in charge! Vincent has a romantic getaway planned, which would be really sweet if it wasn't designed specifically to make sure Abby doesn't go to dude's show tonight. I don't know, is that still sweet?
Candy's little boy is growing up, aww! He needs some help with a love triangle, but Candy seems mostly distracted. She floats the idea of him moving in with her, we'll see.
Vincent has taken Abby to the Condom Graveyards at Coney Island, she takes pictures while he waxes nostalgic about the first girl he made out with.
Ah these film awards are for AFFA and Lori's co-star got nominated for Best Actress, so. She's connected to Kiki, though, whose her manager/agent, getting her booked on TV, etc. Interesting. Shana (Larisa Polonsky) tells a funny story about how Al (presumably Goldstein from Screw) likes to get off, in the way us ladies have always done.
We're playing skeeball in Coney Island with Abby and Vincent now, I absolutely can't see skeeball without thinking of Dogma in specific and Kevin Smith in general. Abby looks bored af.
Drama has struck the Peepshow booths, Elise (Hannah Townsend) is mad and a customer has his arm stuck. Frankie gets the angry customer out, could have been worse! Could have lost his wedding ring, hahahaha.
Paul's Julliard-trained acting buddy pops in for a bevvie, Gene Goldman (Luke Kirby) from the Midtown Enforcement Squad is there too! Paul hears noise outside and spots the cops helping his friend who's just been gay-bashed. Where's his protection?
Darlene (Dominique Fishback) shoots a scene for Candy but nobody's really following Candy's direction. She's attempting to demonstrate female sexual power as an aphrodisiac but Harvey just wants the film in the can. The full shot of male genitalia was a surprise.
A woman standing next to Harvey watches, then walks away. Who dat?
Bobby (Chris Bauer) comes home to his wife and kid, that doesn't look like Vincent and Frankie's sister? Did he hook up with one of the girls from the brothel?
Well looky here, Larry Brown's in to see Candy. Why doesn't she use any brothers in her scenes? Where's he going with this?
Remember what we learned last season: when it comes to porn, interracial is where it's at, statistically and financially speaking. I just had a conversation about that very thing not that long ago, what are the odds?
He makes his case to Candy, a pimp is essentially always a performer. He is who he needs to be to control the situation. She's worried about the control, though, he's not going to be in charge on set. "You can't bitchslap a camera."
I am suddenly much more interested in the movies they're going to be filming.
A shot of Darlene at her makeup table, Larry sitting behind contemplating his future as essentially her equal. He's lost who he is in the world.
Candy drops off the film with Harvey, who was the woman with her watching filming? Genevieve Furey, still don't know who dat!
It's 4am and Club366 is hopping! Big Mike is doing a great job, Vincent should take the night off more often. Lori's been thinking about the opportunity in Kiki Rains and the changing nature of the industry. None of the new performers she works with have been prostitutes, nor would they. It's a "new world." And the AFFAs are gonna be a big deal in LA, flights for everyone!
Lori meets with Kiki without C.C., she's interested in this new world but not sure she should believe whatever Kiki is selling more than what's she's bought from C.C. She does want to be treated like a professional, however. Everyone wants respect.
Vincent gives a slur-filled speech to Abby on the beach, she cuts it short because she has a baby shower to get to!
Candy visits Genevieve Furey on set, looks like Genevieve shoots fancy skinflicks? With plots?
Ohhhh see, Bobby is still married to Vincent's sister Fran (Diana Bologna), he has two households full of screaming children and tired women! Mazel tov!
Genevieve started in porn as Candy did, but now she's doing topless slashers, which is essentially the same. She shares some tough love for Candy at lunch:
- Put the cameraman in his place or shoot it yourself
- Crew is trash, get professionals
- Find actors, never mind the size of their wobblies
- Stop using prostitutes, they're dead around the eyes
I wanted Candy to walk out right there, but she just looked like she wanted to cry again and stayed seated.
Hahaha the baby shower at the Hi-Hat is complete with wine and everyone smoking, including the expectant mother. Outside the "slappahoes" have all congregated, why can't they come in if Vincent's in there? He brings out cigars to calm the pimps while the ladies list the reasons a cucumber is better than their men.
Officer Haddix (Ralph Macchio) is actually useful for once! He knows of the hustler Chris has been hearing about, name is Angel Arroyo (Mateo Lizcano), awww, Haddix actually did something!
Candy's been searching the classics for inspiration, her fellow editor bringing up fairytales takes her where we need to go. I think this is Sean Touhey (Danny Fischer) and I like him.
Paul's entertaining a bunch of legitimate Italian businessmen, headed up by Matty "The Horse" (Garry Pastore, whose screen name gave me an unrealistic expectation, given the subject matter), why didn't Rudy Piplio (Michael Rispoli) take care of that trouble the other night?
Paul was probably wondering that himself.
Chris has found Angel, who says the dead man had him backed against the door and he feared for his life. Angel looks about 12 and weighs one third of what the tourist did, so he has a good chance at getting off.
Gene Goldman doesn't like the narrative Chris spins for him, but that's because he knows what's coming down the pike. Gentrification will come for us all in the end.
Black Frankie (Thaddeus Street) is holding down the fort when Bobby struggles into work, he spotted another parlour being built right down the street so raises the alarm. Paul comes in to ask about protection so Vincent points him at Tommy Longo (Daniel Sauli) and tries to drag Abby away. She's on the phone with the band member, though and leaving: she's got places to be.
So. Bobby has two households full of tired women and screaming children and he still has the energy to hit on a new hire at the brothel. Black Frankie calls him a hopeless romantic, I can think of a couple of other names for that.
OH! It wasn't that band dude calling Abby, it was Ashley!!! I just wondered about her. She's holding a meeting to discuss getting women out of prostitution and she called Abby! She's helping women and she looks so...confident? Self-assured and she wears it well.
So I don't know how I feel about this episode, they kept the Frankie/Vincent shite to a minimum, thankyouverymuch and I actually enjoyed Frankie this time, but. The last episode was a cliche, plot-wise, with Vincent wandering the streets, taking us on a tour of The Deuce and showing us the changes while searching frantically for his brother...only to forgive him as soon as he found him with many, many unfortunate hair systems in between. It was "Dude, Where's My Car?", "Trick" and so many other things except original and at least this time it felt less derivative.
It's a very stylish show with great music, excellent wardrobe and gorgeous performances by most of the principals. There can be a schism between the Message parts and the characters, but I think they pulled it off for the most part. I choke-laughed when Kiki called Lori an actor because that was the whole point of Lori's character as pornstar in the first season: she looked great but absolutely could not act.
We're seeing a lot of political issues as backdrops, the constant low-level threat against The Deuce from police and society, yet the huge spurts of expansion at the same time. Porn is becoming mainstream in the shape of an awards show, with people outside the sex worker industry joining up and differentiating between performance of a sexual act on camera and sex work.
The pimps feeling the winds of change as well, no more handcrafted one on one turning a girl out onto the streets, but rather driving their girls around from brothels to film shoots. You can see how alienated Larry Brown feels, offering himself as a porn actor, effectively pimping himself out, knowing it will affect his relationship with everything he understands but maybe not seeing another way to stay connected.
Until next time!