It's a Living

Ismael "Ish" Marquez works at Midnight Books and Video in Garden Grove.

What did you do before you started here?
I worked at the cosmetics counter at Nordstrom. I was a makeup artist. But somebody didn't like me there—office politics, you know—and I got let go.

How does this job compare to Nordstrom?
I loved that job, and I miss it. Everyone here is really laid-back, and this job is okay . . . but I'm only doing this until I can afford a car, frankly.

I knew somebody who did layout for a porn magazine, and he got really burned out looking at naked people all day. It started to affect his sex life. Has anything like that happened to you?
Well, I'm not in a relationship right now, so it hasn't affected my relationships yet. But you do get burned out, sure. Looking at naked people and hearing moaning all the time, you can definitely get kind of tired of it.

Do you get hit on a lot?
Not a lot, no. People do hit on the clerks. But I'm not interested in that. If people come in here and they, you know, give me the eye, I let them know right away I'm not going for it. It's not a problem.

Do you have obsessive customers, people who rent their way through the entire store?
I haven't been here long enough to see somebody rent their way through the store, but we have some regulars who come in a whole lot. One time a guy was in here for four hours. That was pretty weird. Some people just come here and want to hang out and chat with you.

What do they chat about?
Sometimes porn, sometimes their lives, problems at work, whatever. Some guys just come in here to get a break from their jobs. I have to kind of hurry them along, though. This is a workplace, after all.

When you meet people, how do they react when you tell them what you do?
Well, I'm not ashamed of my job—it's honest work—but I usually take my time with telling people about it. You never know how they're gonna respond. Usually they'll say something like, "Well, I guess somebody has to do it." I figure, hey, it beats working at McDonalds!


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