I scoured the classifieds, circling the only job I was qualified for: JANITOR WANTED, apply in person. It gave the address and nothing else. I fired up my dead aunt’s 1979 Volvo, still reeking of her Marlboro Lights, and headed over the hill to the deep edges of North Hollywood, way down Van Nuys Blvd, all unchartered territory to me. I pulled up to a large white stucco building, its logo Venus Faire in pink lipstick neon, that frantic dated cursive like someone in a hurry to leave. I walked in, nothing I hadn’t seen before—multicultural dildos, flavored lubricants, all four walls filled with DVDs like “Cunt Hunter, the Return” and “Ass Clowns Get Down,” that sort of thing.

“Piece of cake,” I thought. “Janitor stuff here would be, like, what, vacuuming an occasional bathroom check?”

I felt eyes on me. The only other person in the room was a guy, early fifties, constricted in a white button-up shirt, oozing chaste anxiety, holding court at the register.

“Uh, I’m here to apply for the janitor job.”

The clerk took a deep breath that unnerved me. He handed me the application and a pen. “I’m the owner. You can fill it out right here if you don’t mind.”

It was a basic one-page application I finished in two minutes.

“Can you start tomorrow?” he said.

I could sense our desperation was mutual.


“Great, let me show you around.” He led me on a tour of Venus Faire Showgirls, where the sex shop was merely the front lobby. Beyond a threshold I did not initially notice was the central nervous system of the establishment: 20 enclosed cubicles, each the size of a department store dressing room, Plexiglass separating the patron combusting his piston from the woman grinding her gear. Both bodies instrumental to the motions of this machine in which I was now a cog. Me, the newest janitor at the busiest 24-hour jack off joint in North Hollywood, cleaning up the very stuff that makes us.

I was surprised at how unsurprised I was by the Venus Faire peepshow, but I was already a bit stained from the sex industry. A group of close female friends had become strippers out of financial desperation, so “exotic dancing” clubs no longer held the allure they should have for a guy like me in his early twenties. The first-hand initiation of this kind of sex work just seemed like tradition.

Like just another dare.

Like just another thing I wouldn’t back down from.

Like just another way to atone for past sins.

Like just another way these girls don’t have to feel like they’re at the absolute bottom rung. Like, sometimes maybe I should get stuck on the floor.

Like just how there’s pride in being a garbage man, someone has to do it—if I don’t do it, who will? Only the garbage I’m disposing of is a vital ingredient in what makes a human being, being ejaculated all over a transparent partition as the woman on the other side does her best not to reciprocate with projectile vomit.

Like just another gesture enabling the slow-motion freefall, my own life being thrown away.



“I’ll be right there!” I said.

By the end of the first day, I began to recognize every girl’s voice over each personal intercom no matter how blown their speakers were. I would only learn their stage-names like Cherry, Peaches—an apparent craving for fruit in this unnourishing environment.

I drove home to my dystopic apartment building on La Brea and Franklin, a sort of slum in vague transition where they charged too much for what it was to give the illusion of class, as if less money in my bank account every month would convince me the dark stagnant puddle at the deep end of swimming pool had some sort of potential; its only promise a diver’s mortality. The 20-story building was far too tall for its own good, a stack of deceit. I lived on the top floor, which they boasted as “the penthouse,” but really, the only perk was a daily extended tour of the owner’s total negligence every time I rode the elevator. My view was aligned with the elevated outside dining of the neighborhood’s fanciest Japanese restaurant. After work that first night at Venus Faire, I sat on my balcony and stared, full of hate and envy, at restaurant patrons enjoying their expensive meals. But I worried they might catch me looking, that our eyes might meet, and they would know, immediately, what I had just finished doing for money.


At Venus Faire, bonds were formed quickly between the girls and I. Our relationship twofold intrinsic. Since they split their tips with me, my pace was of upmost importance because:

  1. Due to the assembly line nature of the place, the faster we got ‘em out, the faster we could get ‘em in.
  2. A QUICK LESSON ON THE CONSISTENCY OF CUM: if one waits too long to get to a fresh dripping puddle of ejaculation, it will coagulate on the glass divider, making what should be a quick swipe with your bleach water-soaked mop into a Sisyphean task where you make a bigger mess the more you smear it. Anything over 20 seconds and I would be holding up progress, another itchy patron already waiting at the door, my sister-in-arms on awkward sneak preview display, trying not to lose her composure.

While amenities were provided for more hygienic emission of semen—a Kleenex dispenser on the wall—these were rarely utilized. The men’s unanimous preference was to not only shoot onto the glass, but to cover as much real estate as they could muster. The view of their dripping money shot is what they paid good money for. They could imagine their mess of manhood on the flesh of their jaded temptress.

My swing shifts melted into eternities with no beginning or end. I’d fall asleep standing up at 3am to be woken by ROOM 9 READY! ROOM 4 and ROOM 19 READY! “Be right there!” I’d say, and stumble in with a fresh bucket of antiseptic rescue I’d only have to immediately pour out—the smell of bleach and cum and dirt and sweat and overlapping cloying perfumes swirled into cruel serpents slithering into my nostrils. Then it was me projectile vomiting, running into the bathroom when I should have been running the other direction to ROOM 17! ROOM 5, READY! The girls and I, in solidarity, inheriting this sickness, the duration of eight hours a day/night; sometimes I’d smell it when I was driving home or at my apartment alone.

I was unprepared when I saw one girl smile not once but twice to me; I didn’t know it was possible or even allowed because no one did, not even the patrons after they tossed their rocks, testimony to the pleasure-void. But when Chastity, the only un-fruit, asked me to walk her to the bus stop, she said, “It’s part of your job, you know?” She smirked and that was one. Then we started walking and she told me I could call her Jenny and that was two. The bus stop was three blocks away so there was time for me to confide. Just as I was about to, she beat me to the ice-break.

“So, you got a girlfriend at home?”

I stuttered until I said yes, kind of. Before she could ask me to specify, I already had my out.

“Jenny, I think I’m going to quit tomorrow, like just walk out. But I don’t want to leave you girls drowning in jizz, you know?”

“I wish you could just take me with you,” she said, “But I get it. Janitors quit faster than the girls, so we’re used to it. You want me to let the other girls know?”

“Yeah, maybe. What happens when a janitor quits?”

“Oh, it’s kind of funny actually. That just means the owner has to take the mop. We get a kick out of it. It’s like revenge.”

“Oh,” and that’s when I smiled. But I turned my head because it felt too close, too fast. “Well, here comes your bus. Tell the girls I’m gonna walk out at 3PM tomorrow when it’s slow.”

“Why even show up?” she asked.

“It’s hard to explain. Even if I hate something, I sometimes want to do it one last time to remember how bad it is.”

“Ah, I get that. I definitely get that. Okay, I’ll let the girls know.”

She put one leg on the bus to board, then turned around and gave me a hug. It stuck to me, the hug, even after she swung her duffle bag back over her shoulder and disappeared into the guts of the bus, then the night.


I showed up at noon the next day feeling smug knowing in just three hours I would be turning my back on Venus Faire, my little slice of Hell on Earth, brimstone of one-sided afterglows. I made every swipe of my mop count, punctuating every stab of the glass with renewed propulsive chivalry. So it was at my zero hour I decided to be the best cum-mopper who ever lived, even if it was for only 30 more minutes.

I was in the janitor’s closet one minute until three when I heard some of the girls giddily whispering in the hall.

As I emerged from the closet, unburdened by mop and bucket.

“There he is!” a girl said.

I heard a smattering of handclaps.

I saw six girls hanging out of their rooms, and behind them at least a dozen more peeking their heads from around the corner. The claps became a round of applause, sprinkled with affectionate exclamations. I felt naked. My face went red, as did the needle of their volume. I blew them all a kiss, sincere as I could in the absurdity of the moment. I waved one more time, half-heartedly over my shoulder, then made up for it by theatrically kicking open the glass exit door.


That night, I sat on my balcony nursing a whisky drink very slowly as I stared at the Japanese restaurant, allowing my eyes an extended voyeuristic glare. How those people afford those expensive meals was no longer mattered to me. I was confident I had done more to earn my money.

Whisky was the only thing that could get Venus Faire out of my brain, that odor which had graduated into a taste until I sanitized it with another sip. It was my sixth drink within the hour since my girlfriend had arrived to celebrate my freedom. But my liberation was shrinking, uncertain how I’d pay the rent. I sat there alone on my balcony as she lay naked in my bed, waiting to take me. I lost count of how many times I said I would be right there.