I Was a TSA Porn Star

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Dear, dear Gentle Readers, before you judge me harshly please open your minds and hearts and accept what has become The Modern World. I must confess an act of which I hang my head in shame and yet… was unavoidable.

I was… hang on while I get a grip… a TSA Porn Star.

Yes! It’s out! I allowed the TSA to photograph my uh… "Dignity." You may line me up against a wall and stone me to death whenever you wish.

Like most vice rackets, Big Brother sucks the innocuous into a void of despair and degradation. I am no exception. Such are the perils of the Modern Traveler. Be warned… the same thing could happen to you.

Let me tell you my tale of woe worthy of a Huddie Ledbetter blues song.

Recently I rolled the dice and boarded a flight back into the Land of the Free… America. You bet your bottom dollar I was scared. I’m always scared when I venture back into the world’s only Super Power. How will I be abused this time? Let me count the ways. I could be interrogated by whatever means Big Brother sees fit regardless of my rights as a U.S. "citizen." That actually means… I can’t really leave easily. I prefer the term: "U.S. Prisoner — First Class, Elite Access."

But hey… I love my country. I just don’t love what has happened to my government and society since the invention of Rampant Paranoia… or the takeover of the Republican Party.

As you all may be suspecting by now, I speak of the airport security check. As I left the island of Grand Cayman, which I often refer to as: The Rock in the Middle of the Caribbean, I had to go through airport security. "Do you want me to take my shoes off?" I asked expectantly. "No, that won’t be necessary" they laughed, the absurdity obvious.

However, upon return to the U.S., I had to transfer planes and go through the passport check and TSA security. A whole different ballgame. Time to pop another prescription Happy Pill. Oddly the passport check has become easier and more humane over the last few years. It’s as if they figured it out. It’s all a joke. I’m not Muhammad the Mad Bomber… and frankly neither is Muhammad.

However, my carry-on luggage, clothing and "dignity" must be scrutinized!

As usual, by this time in the trek to Los Angeles I am bordering on a state I can only refer to as: "stoopider than usual." I don’t do well with the fatigue of air travel.

So please do not hold it against me that I foolishly followed the harmless elderly couple returning from what could very well be their last and only tropical vacation. They went to The Wrong Line. Well, what could any of us do? A TSA goon with a disturbingly brown shirt was directing us to the Aisle of Humiliation. Who can blame him for wanting to be sure no "terrerists" (yes, this was in Texas) were a sneakin’ in. Ma and Pa Kettle sure did look like they had somethin’ to hide, maybe a Cayman Islands shot glass or a couple T-shirts for the grand kids. Maybe they even had some "Turtle Farm" refrigerator magnets!

Ma and Pa were nearly bludgeoned as Mr. America forced them to remove any and all metal, trusses and dentures from their personage, empty their pockets, etc. It must have held up my interrogation half an hour. And I had a connecting flight! Damn our respected elders!

One at a time Ma and Pa were forced to stand motionless in the TSA Peep Show Booth, a throng of drooling Republican Congressmen ogling the screen. Well… at least they weren’t in Washington "working."

Okay, okay… I know the images make you look like one of those aliens from Close Encounters of the Third Reich but… come on! These vacationing American retirees lived through WW II and now, they are treated like (fill in the rude vernacular of your choice) by some whippersnapper with Federally granted power and a "badge." What ever happened to the phrase: "Badges? We don’t need no stinking badges!?" Anyway… where can I get some of that clout?

NEXT! Oh… is it my turn? How lucky!

Fair dinkum, to use some alien vernacular sure to get me an orange jumpsuit. I’m "happy" to oblige. I placed my shoes into a bin for the X-Ray machine just like my fourteen-year-old son was ordered to place his flip-flops last summer. And that, Gentle Reader, is not a joke. You know, explosive flip-flop could blow up a seat cushion. Well it is a joke… but it’s also a pathetic and tragic fact. Anyway, my jacket, my laptop and my laptop case all went into separate bins of course and my guitar went on the belt. Now a good solid Gibson Les Paul could indeed be used as a weapon! Fortunately, that never occurred to them.

"DO YOU HAVE A BELT ON?!" Mr. Happy asked cordially. "No" I replied. "WHAT ABOUT YOUR POCKETS! LOOSE CHANGE! A BELT BUCKLE!" Evidently, Mr. Happy did not hear my answer about the belt. But then, maybe other people wear belt buckles without belts. What do I know? I’m just a "citizen."

I tried to stay calm. "I’ve done this before." I lied. I’ve never been in the Peep Show before. Until this trip I’ve been alert enough to avoid them. But, I have been through the metal detectors. I do not travel with a belt on or anything in my pockets… including quarters.

I apologized for not having the dignity and foresight to wear my Birthday Suit. This comment was ignored. But, why bother? The TSA will "ask" me to do wear that in a year or two. If not, technology is bound to solve the problem… like the Peep Shows in Manchester, England. Hey… let them decide as I always say. After all, it’s like an audition isn’t? Who knows what opportunities lay ahead? I’ve always wanted to work in the movie industry.

Alas, I was not complemented on my co-operation and knowledge of how to stand, legs akimbo, feet on the marked spots, hands raised as if Marshall Dillon had the draw on me. It took an excruciatingly long time. I have no idea why. I have no piercings, wear no rings even on my fingers and do not stuff blocks of C4 explosives or cheese down my pants. I have no idea what they found so fascinating about me to hold me there so long. Maybe I should take is as a compliment?

Thoughts of an attractive woman wanting fun date danced in my head like Sugar Plumb Nubiles. I was delusional. I assume the preevert who got paid 25 cents per view… in quarters… was a man, maybe even Italy’s Prime Minister of Lust, Silvio Berlusconi. Fortunately, I’m not his type.

But no. I did not even get a polite "thank you, sorry for the humiliation." Nor did I get a hot date with one of Berlu’s Beauties. Nevertheless, I survived… my dignity exposed.

And guess what? The TSA never found any AK-47s inserted into any of the passengers. At least we’re all "safe" thanks to the TSA Peep Show! But… where are my photos?

October 20, 2009

Tom Chartier [send him mail] played lead guitar in legendary Los Angeles punk band The Rotters for 26 years until their final appearance in January of 2004. He has lived in Tokyo and Los Angeles. Currently he resides somewhere in the Caribbean.

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