He introduced himself as Shannon Fuller, a security guard at the Hollywood In-N-Out fast food restaurant. A tall blond with curly hair, he seemed a bit distracted as he approached me outside the fast food chain’s packed entrance, looking back and forth quickly, his giant eyes wide open like he saw a ghost, white eyeballs jutting out as if they would pop out of his skull.
“You’re not from around here, huh?” He said. I was probably the only other white guy in the parking lot. I was about to leave, when Shannon started telling me his life story. The In-and-Out security guard cleared his throat as he looked back and forth, after a guttural static erupted from his intercom. “I wasn’t always doing this job,” he began to relate. “I owned a Gym, a franchise in Woodland Hills. I kept it going after the recession hit, but it finally went bankrupt, in 2011. I basically had to give it away to get out from my debts. I owned a duplex condo in Sherman Oaks, so I could be near Hollywood, and a house in Woodland Hills, which is closer to Malibu. In 2013, I bought a four-bedroom house in Lancaster, for $150,000 dollars on the eastern edge of town—not near the prison, Mira-Loma, where it’s really cheap. It’s not a bad area really, but there may be the random guy in an orange jumpsuit running around the neighborhood,” he snorted, that was the punchline, he inhaled air a bit too fast to laugh. “I gave up the places in Woodland Hills and Sherman Oaks. All I have is the house in Lancaster.”
“I lived in Hollywood before too, not far from here,” he confessed. “It was years ago, in a little apartment with my girlfriend, a former marine who was going to USC. She did a lot of blow, I mean was a real cocaine addict. When we first met, we were fooling around, wrestling and an ounce of white powder in a plastic double sealed bag fell out from beneath her shirt—I should have known then. Needless to say, it didn’t work out between us. She was going to school, but the powder got the best of her.”
“It gets the best of many,” I replied, shifting my weight from one foot to the other, then looking towards my car.
“After we broke up I ended up living on the street. That’s right, I was homeless.” He pointed at the gold badge on his chest, affixed to his dark navy-blue uniform.
“I lived in my car for about six months. I worked as an actor—an extra, picking up gigs here and there on different shows, and as a bartender. I was actually able to save a lot of money, $7,000 dollars, which was a lot of cash back then—in the mid-90’s. But it just so happened that a woman I was messing around with stole my savings. I never ended up going after her—I could have, she left for Vegas, and I knew where she was staying out there, but it wasn’t worth it.”
“Wow,” I responded. “Sounds like something else.” I was a little shocked how open Shannon had been.
I became a model. Playgirl Man of the Year from 1999 to 2003—the centerfold. I made a bit of money, but of course not as much as the girls who posed for Playboy; Pamela Anderson made hundreds of thousands of dollars. The gay porn stars, and the Playgirl stars made less. But I made enough to buy that Gym in Woodland Hills,” he exclaimed with pride. “Back then, I was a lot more built than I am now.”
I took a look at the man, not quite able to picture him as a famous male model posing naked for years in a porn magazine. He seemed a bit scrawny, a wiry frame with a blue security uniform that looked a bit baggy. “Back then,” he continued, “women were falling all over me—I could have any girl I wanted; guys were just trying to give their wives and girlfriends to me, and I was like, uh, that’s kind of weird. To be honest it made me uncomfortable,” he confessed. I wondered whether that was more uncomfortable than being displayed naked in a nationally circulated magazine.
“But that was back then. I lost everything,” he sighed. “I still have the house in Lancaster. I don’t look it, but I’m 42.”
“So, how’s the commute”, I asked, turning the conversation from Shannon’s porn star past to his current fast food security occupation.
“It’s about an hour and twenty minutes. Not that bad. I try to beat the traffic, and I stop in Pacoima usually to get gas and hang out a bit till the traffic dies down. But you have to be careful out there—there are a lot of meth addicts and gangs.”
“Really?” I replied.
“Yeah,” Shannon continued. “Once I got into it with some of the gang members, meth heads. They were picking on some poor woman pumping gas.”
Shannon looked out and scanned the entire parking lot, then looked down to his feet. “I just got out of a seven-year relationship, he confessed, changing the subject. “She was abusive, used to beat me, he sighed. “One girlfriend of mine, a long time ago, well, I was involved in domestic violence. We were fighting, and I kicked her, broke three of her ribs. I wasn’t charged. This was in the 90‘s before the OJ Simpson trial. I don’t think I could get away with that now,” Shannon smirked then looked out at nothing, drifting off for a bit, and pausing.
“The commute isn’t that bad,” he abruptly returned to my prior question, then stopped, interrupted by another outburst from his two way radio. He spoke a few words into the flat grey mic pinned to the front pocket of his uniform, with a grey chord coiled around his shoulder and down to a receiver clipped to his belt. “Sorry, there were some guys making a fuss inside, causing some trouble. One got into it with his girlfriend, two girls fighting over a man, they left, but they sent me out here to check things out,” Shannon explained.
“Yeah, the commute,” he continued his thought. It’s not bad. I listen to books on tape. Right now, I’m on the bible. Genesis. It’s a pretty good book so far, I’m almost done with it.”
I smiled. “Have a blessed day. Good luck.” I turned, and walked to my car. I was running late to meet a friend.