The Sporadic Beaver

Fear and Self-Loathing at Swank Publications

May 31, 2011

Tags: Swank, Beaver Street, Chip Goodman, Carl Ruderman, Bill Bottiggi, Arnold Shapiro, pornography

A former co-worker at Swank Publications sent me this e-mail after reading Beaver Street. Both complimentary and scathing, it serves as a reminder of what happens when you write books about real people. I’ve changed his name as well as the names of any non-public figures and still-living former colleagues that he mentions. All names in the letter correspond to the names I used in the book. The redacted names do not appear in the book.

OK, Bob, finished the Beaver. It’s obvious the work you put in, research, continuity, editing, organizing. You juxtapose the subjective and objective in interesting ways. As an insider, you still surprised me with new info and reminded me quite tactilely what we saw, felt, and dealt with. I can only imagine readers who weren’t there being pulled in and getting a good idea of it. The evolution of the biz does indeed mirror and contradict society simultaneously. All that is very effective and reads well without lecturing.

The pacing is good all along but feels like it jumps at the end. You go from lots of detail and everyday experiences to and overview in the last couple chapters. Was this your decision or a result of editing?

Your disdain for the biz, employers, and self-loathing is palpable. Not sure who you’re blaming. Them for over-paying you, your dad for exposing and inspiring you to pursue fringe publishing, yourself for not doing something else despite the money. (You don’t make it sound like it was easy money—being disgusted, nauseated, adjusting and adapting to each and every thing thrown at you. And you appear to never say no...)

A couple other things I question: How do you know Chip [Goodman]’s moods were solely influenced by the amount of coke he did? That he had a Napoleonic complex is clear but do you know if he was ever diagnosed as bi-polar, had family issues, painful teeth or any of a million other things that cause mood swings? Yeah, we know he did coke but there is nothing on record about rehab, ODs or the like. I think you take a broad stroke there merely to smear someone you despised and depict with great judgment. Same for [Carl] Ruderman but to a much less scathing degree. And it seems you spared “Arnold Shapiro” all but being a kiss-ass yes-man. Plus I thought you said you used his real name. Why not out him? He was perhaps the bigger douche in the big scheme of things because of his duplicitous and hypocritical relationship with and against Chip. You mention his flip-flopping to please the boss but not his loathing for him behind his back, all the while dancing to the bank and doing his investing on the phone while we toiled and made him more and more money. You also point out the money thrown at you for pick-up books but don’t mention how he would pay outside people double what he gave full-time employees. Outsiders wouldn’t know that, just saying.

And lastly, the thing I like least is your treatment of Bill Bottiggi. Why out his scam? And imply the connection to his murder? Totally not necessary and I might ad, not cool. Seems a crappy way to treat a troubled guy. Not to mention he was a very sweet soul despite his problems. If there was something he did to make your life difficult in some way, fucked you over, ripped you off or dissed you in any way other than trying to get you high and hitting on you, albeit in an awkward indirect way, if that’s what he was even really doing, I could see dragging him through the dirt. But he was simply a misfit, a generally innocuous misfit who was a victim of murder. A murder that you off-handedly say was never solved. [Murder theory redacted.] That plausible and grim theory is every bit a shitty story to tell, and thankfully left out, but if you don’t know one way or the other. why suggest anything? It seems you had something against him or just couldn’t resist including a juicy tidbit and the chance to include a salacious tale of sex, drugs, and murder. Which is it? You couldn't get the picture of his carved-up corpse out of your mind? Really? Well, me neither. I mourn for him and still raise a Bloody Mary in remembrance each Thanksgiving morning. I hope you rest easy knowing you’ve scandalized him in such an exploitive way. Yet you fail to mention genuine scum like [name of non-public figure redacted] (the coke-head art director of Swank), [name of non-public figure redacted], that other creep editor Chip brought in from Puritan. These were true pornographers in every deviant definition of the word, who were more over-paid than you to raise the bar of distaste.

So summing up, nice research, some nice writing, a peek into a time gone by but overall rather self-aggrandizing. I’m not too surprised but none-the-less disappointed you had to go down that road. Good luck with the sales anyway. I do admire your dedication and success. —Alan

Tomorrow, my response…

The Beaver...

May 29, 2011

Tags: Sexual Revolution

...a veteran of the Sexual Revolution, is taking this day and tomorrow to remember his fallen comrades. We shall return on Tuesday with more incisive commentary.

The Beaver Correspondence 8

May 28, 2011

Tags: Lou Perretta, Carl Ruderman, Playboy, Penthouse, Hustler, exhibitionism

This is my response to the e-mail I posted yesterday.

Professor,

Clearly you’ve been away from the biz too long. The dapper Ruderman sold his print and electronic empire to Lou Perretta just the other week. The biz is collapsing. Everybody’s hurting. Everybody’s getting fired. The only mags of note Perretta doesn’t own are Playboy, Penthouse, and Hustler. It’s too hard to make money on the Web, at least the kind of money that was being made in the glory days of print. No, the stuff on the Internet isn't a “charity gesture;” it’s exhibitionism. Every exhibitionist who has a video camera and an Internet connection is giving it away. The question nobody can answer is: How do you make $$$ when the competition is giving it away? Isn’t that what I said in the interview? The cable and satellite companies are the only ones making real money in porn now.

As always, appreciate your perspective.

Take care,

Bob

To be continued someday…

The Beaver Correspondence 7

May 27, 2011

Tags: Beaver Street, pornography, Carl Ruderman, Kevin Goodman, Pamela Katz, Kate Copstick, Jamie Maclean



This is the professor’s response to my five-part video interview with Kate Copstick and Jamie Maclean of the Erotic Review.

Howdy Bob,

Interesting stuff. Thanks for the link.

I think you’re becoming a bit of a gloom and doomer. You’ve witnessed a migration of media for porn over the last 40 years or so, from paper and film to audio and video and now almost entirely to the Web. I don’t think it’s death by a long shot, only evolution. There must be considerable money in the industry still, as it answers a basic human need. It’s just become more invisible, even than the dapper Ruderman, hidden in an invisible electronic empire. There’s loads of the stuff (har har) on the Internet—it’s not a charity gesture, right? There will undoubtedly be another media that will replace the Web at some point, probably developed by a future Kevin Goodman.

The quality issue is another point. I think that plot is important—at least a trace of it—to make the material effective. The pizza delivery boy, gardener, maid, the chance meeting, all adds spice to the moment which would be otherwise generic and hollow. I have not extensively surveyed the material but suspect that story—and to an extent acting—are still important. Yeah, the self-glorifying awards ceremonies and visibility are gone, but that’s more the result of a puritanization of society from the libertine 70s. I mean, was there that much acting and directing talent back then? Part of this attitude might be driven by your take on Pamela Katz’s recent dismissal, but I am uncertain about the correlation—she was doomed as a print dinosaur and to be honest I didn’t see it as genius as much as persistence.

But, hey, l’chaim, Bob. Good to see you're getting positive mo.

Jack

To be continued…

We interrupt this correspondence to bring you a special seal of approval…

May 26, 2011

Tags: Erotic Review, Beaver Street, Vanity Fair, Village Voice, Michael Musto, David Comfort, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Jamie Maclean, pornography

Yesterday I noticed that the Erotic Review, the “posh” and literate British magazine that had already given Beaver Street an outstanding review had also slapped on their “Hot Pick” seal of approval. I guess this is kind of like the Good Housekeeping seal of approval… but different. In any case, this seemed like a good time to reflect upon a few of the encouraging signs that have shown themselves to Beaver Street over the past few months.

1. Beaver Street was a “Hot Type” selection in Vanity Fair UK, which is a pretty classy seal of approval, too.

2. Village Voice columnist Michael Musto called Beaver Street “Entertaining, insightful, and hot.” And he was amused by one of the promo videos, too.

3. David Comfort, writing for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, called Beaver Street “riveting” and said that I’d invented a new genre, “a confessional for-adults-only romantic comedy with a rare, thoughtful twist.”

4. Jamie Maclean, editor of the Erotic Review, said, “Beaver Street captures the aroma of pornography, bottles it, and gives it so much class you could put it up there with Dior or Chanel.”

Tomorrow we shall return to our regularly scheduled correspondence.

The Beaver Correspondence 6

May 25, 2011

Tags: Beaver Street, Lou Grant, porn stars

This is the response to the e-mail I posted yesterday.

Bob,

Ah, good times. Low-walled doorless offices with grumpy neighbors (maybe there was an environmental influence). The ebb and flow of editorial and art people, especially the calculated rambling of the creative director—causal, yet poisonous. And a pretty decent view. (If the offices were still in the same place on 9/11—and I showed up to work on time—it would have been a truly twisted view: doomed 747s at eye level.)

Did you write down the Lou Grant thing in the journal at some point? Either that, or your memory is strangely preserved.

So if porn stars don’t do it for art’s sake, then is it just for money? Is there some twisted idea of glamor involved? Or a psychological quirk? You put the people front and center here (with a touch o’ general history) and it seems like these are questions that are suggested in your work. There’s plenty of people more than happy to guess at this stuff from the outside—you write from a position of privilege by comparison.

Blog this if you wish, shorn, of course, of particulars.

Jack

To be continued…

The Beaver Correspondence 5

May 24, 2011

Tags: Beaver Street, pornography, Annie Sprinkle, Lou Grant

This is my response to the e-mail I posted yesterday.

Jack,

Thorny? Me? As I recall, you once did compare me to Lou Grant. But that was a long time ago.

I’m finding this exchange so entertaining that I’m considering publishing the whole thing on my blog, or most of it anyway. Will obviously have to edit carefully to hide your identity. Just want to make sure you don’t have a problem with that.

I’d say that with the exception of the later work of Annie Sprinkle there are no porn stars who consider their work art.

Bob

To be continued…

The Beaver Correspondence 4

May 23, 2011

Tags: Beaver Street, pornography, Martin Amis, Martin Goodman, John Heindenry

This is the response to the e-mail I posted two days ago.

Bob,

I was strangely nostalgic when reading your thorny responses. I suppose I was throwing out some rhetorical questions. But still the same, you are far better qualified to meditate on some of the inherent issues here—i.e., the need to escape from reality (oddly characteristic of all of Martin Goodman’s publications)—than Martin Amis. You’ve earned the right to discuss some of these “big” issues by virtue of your history. You take the trouble (like John Heindenry did in What Wild Ecstasy) to trace histories of the industry that have not been brought forward elsewhere, and can guess their significance as well as or better than anyone else. This wasn’t necessity, just a road that might have been followed.

I guess what appears interesting about the “creators” is not the editors, but performers. Is porn Art to them?

My imperfect knowledge of your history led me to hypothesize about those I thought to be anonymized characters but who were real folks. Bill Bottiggi, for instance, seemed like a composite but upon reflection I recalled him from office lore.

In any case, an insightful and detailed adventure through the shadowy world of the porn industry, replete with lively anecdotes. Good luck with it.

Jack

To be continued…

The Beaver Sleeps Today

May 22, 2011

Tags: Beaver Street, Apocalypse

It's Sunday and The Beaver is sleeping in, happy that the Apocalypse failed to materialize yesterday. Tune in tomorrow for part 4 of "The Beaver Correspondence."

The Beaver Correspondence 3

May 21, 2011

Tags: Beaver Street, A History of Modern Pornography, Martin Amis, Izzy Singer

This is my response to the e-mail I posted yesterday.

Professor,

It’s funny, just as I pushed the send button it occurred to me that you teach in a state where most people don’t believe in evolution, and that you wouldn’t be able to publicly comment on a volume such as Beaver Street. In any case, I do appreciate your academic perspective.

I’m afraid you'll have to look elsewhere for your broad history. That’s why I called the book “A History of Modern Pornography,” not “The History.” Something tells me “The History” would weigh in at 1,000+ pages. Barring a $1-million advance, I’ll wait for somebody else to do it.

I’d have to agree with you that explaining what motivates consumers is too obvious: They need masturbation fodder, a point I believe is made in the Martin Amis quote on page 2: “Masturbation was an open secret until you were thirty. Then it was a closed secret. Even modern literature shut up about it at that point, pretty much. Nicola held this silence partly responsible for the industrial dimensions of contemporary pornography—pornography, a form in which masturbation was the only subject. Everybody masturbated all their lives. On the whole, literature declined the responsibility of this truth. So pornography had to cope with it. Not elegantly or reassuringly. As best it could.”

Also think it’s pretty clear what motivates the creators (you, me, and most other people), a point I made in Chapter 3: We needed a job. People like Izzy Singer, of course, are the exception. They are exactly where they want to be. They’d never consider doing anything else. To them, Porn Is Art.

I am wondering which characters you got lost with. You’re the first person to say that.

No, no doppelgangers. The main part of the “personal” narrative ends around the time you appeared on stage.

Thanks for reading. Always fun jousting with the critics. (Far more fun than writing something new.)

Bob

To be continued…

The Beaver Correspondence 2

May 20, 2011

Tags: Beaver Street, pornography, Swank, High Society, Martin Goodman, science fiction

This is the response to the e-mail I posted yesterday.

Hey Bob,

Thanks for the galleys. For some reason, I put aside the book I was reviewing, [title redacted], and got through your book rather rapidly onscreen.

All in all, a nice package. I would have preferred to see more broad history (no pun intended) and cultural hypothesis about porn—what motivates the consumers as well as the performers/creators—but that is either too obvious or too deep, I guess. You’re perched on a seat few share and in a real sense have authority to opine about porn as phenomenon; I woulda liked to have seen more. The blend of personal experience and general history overall works well, though, one buoying up the other.

Part of the game with those associated with your travails is playing who’s who, of course, and I was most surprised by the High Society stuff, which I’d forgotten. In any case, the portraits of both that operation and Swank Publications were pretty spot on. I understand the need to mix personas for privacy’s sake in a memoir, but I got lost with a couple of the characters. Not that that didn’t make them interesting in their own right; I was continually impressed with your ability to bring characters to life through detail, idiosyncrasies. By the way, I didn’t spot any doppelgangers—did I miss anything?

One factual point: recently researching the life of an author who wrote science fiction, CM Kornbluth, I came across mention of Martin Goodman’s 50s operations including first edition paperbacks of some sci fi classics (or near classics). It was the same profit setup as porn—crank out 200 manuscript pages per month for $x, publisher slaps on a lusty cover, repeat. I don’t have the book on hand anymore that references this (I borrowed it on interlibrary loan, being a poor academic), but it’s the only bio on CMK that exists. In any case, I thought this expanded the Martin story in a useful way—in his desire for profit and ability to sort talent, it’s almost as if he stumbled on these cultural pressure points (pleasure points?) and fostered entertainment industries (sci fi, porn, comics) that would loom large 50 years later. Maybe worth adding if you can.

I think you’ll understand why it’s best for me to refrain from public comment on this project, despite my enthusiasm. Thanks for the look-see and good luck.

Jack

To be continued…

The Beaver Correspondence

May 19, 2011

Tags: Beaver Street, Swank, High Society, pornography

The following is the first e-mail I sent to a former editor who worked with me at Swank publications and also worked at High Society. He now holds a prestigious position in academia. That’s why I’ve given him a pseudonym and in future e-mails will disguise any details that could be used to identify him. I’m running this correspondence to contrast my perspective with the academic perspective and to give a sense of what an author goes through as he prepares to publish a book and searches for anybody who might be willing to give him a useful blurb.

Hi Jack,

As promised, attached are the (very) uncorrected (and long awaited) Beaver Street galleys minus the real cover and pictures. I’ve been sending this to a limited number of people, mainly a few “characters” in the book, and a few friends and journalists who I know are interested. Printed galleys with pix and cover are still a few weeks away. But I am interested in any feedback, possibly to use as promo copy.

Thanks.

Bob

Click here to read Jack’s response.

Joy of Index III: The Letter H

May 18, 2011

Tags: Beaver Street, A History of Modern Pornography, John Holmes

John Holmes
Another look into the diversity of subject matter found between the covers of Beaver Street: A History of Modern Pornography.

Hinckley, John 25, 30
Hitler, Adolph, 58, 65, 69, 71
Hogan’s Heroes 200
Holmes, John 30, 62, 167, 199, 201, 203, 204

Out from Behind the Paywall

May 17, 2011

Tags: Erotic Review, Jamie Maclean, Beaver Street, pornography

The Erotic Review has liberated Jamie Maclean's Beaver Street review and made it available for all to read. Pretty good blurb, too, plugging it on their home page: "Rosen's hilarious and autobiographical account of the 1980s NY Pornmeisters, their tumescence and, for some, their detumescence. It's filthy work if you can get it…"

The Smell of Beaver in the Morning

May 16, 2011

Tags: Jamie Maclean, Beaver Street, Erotic Review, Henry Miller, pornography, Hellfire

I’d like to say a few more things about Jamie Maclean’s review of Beaver Street in the Erotic Review. For one thing, I love the way he tied together the critique with references to odor in my book—my description of the fetid smell of the Hellfire club, the Henry Miller quote I used at the beginning, and his description of the way the book “captures the aroma of pornography.” I remember coming upon the Miller quote—“Sex is not romantic, particularly when it is commercialized, but it does create an aroma, pungent and nostalgic”—and knowing immediately that it belonged in Beaver Street, though I hadn’t connected it with the Hellfire scene. It was unconscious, as these things often are.

I can already see the term papers: “Odor Imagery in Beaver Street.” Which raises the question: Can odor be an image? I’m not sure. It doesn’t necessarily create a picture in my brain. But it does create a smell.

I also think I should take Maclean’s advice: Bottle the aroma and sell it like perfume. I’ve got a great advertising slogan: Beaver Street, for that unmistakable stench of pornography.

The (Traci) Lords Day

May 15, 2011

Photo by Paul Stevenson
Even the Beaver must sometimes rest on Sunday. And after the week I've had, I deserve a rest.

Vote for the Pull Quote of Your Choice

May 14, 2011

Tags: Beaver Street, Erotic Review, Jamie Maclean

Normally, you’re lucky to get one decent pull quote out of a review. But Jamie Maclean’s review of Beaver Street that ran in the May issue of the Erotic Review, and that I posted in its entirety yesterday, contains a wealth of pull quotes, any one of which would look good on the cover of a future edition of Beaver Street. Below, I’ve selected five, and I ask you, my readers, to vote for the one you like best by leaving a comment. Come on, guys. I don’t often ask for reader participation. Let’s show a little enthusiasm!

1. “Enormously entertaining.”
2. “Fast-paced, ironic style, underwritten by a wealth of hilarious experience, insider knowledge and serious research.”
3. “A revealing examination of North America’s bafflingly schizoid sexual psyche.”
4. “No exposé of sleazy pop culture has ever got this up-close and personal or received such intelligent, funny treatment.”
5. “Beaver Street captures the aroma of pornography, bottles it, and gives it so much class you could put it up there with Dior or Chanel.”

Memoirs of a Pornographer

May 13, 2011

Tags: Beaver Street, A History of Modern Pornography, Jamie Maclean, Erotic Review

The following review appears in the May issue of the “posh” British sex journal Erotic Review. I’ve posted it here in its entirety, as the issue is only available by subscription. Text © Erotic Review.

By Jamie Maclean

Why did Robert Rosen throw up a promising journalistic career at the age of 30 to spend the next sixteen years of his life as a porn magazine editor, even taking part in a shoot (for reasons of journalistic integrity and in the name of transgressive art) called The Five Dollar Blow Job? ‘In many ways,’ he writes, ‘my professional pornographic odyssey is an ordinary tale of economic survival in New York.’

As someone who has spent roughly this length of time in ‘adult’ publishing, I could identify with the author of an enormously entertaining book about working behind the triple x-rated scenes of magazines such as High Society, Stag and D-Cup. I could also relate when Rosen had ‘not only become unmoored from all sense of conventional sexual mores (…) but I’d ceased to think rationally about sex itself.’ Or the times when the whiff of ‘fetid air, thick with the smell of urine and underlying stench of decay, made me stick to my stomach.’ In fact, here Rosen is describing a visit to Hellfire, an S&M club in NY’s meatpacking district, yet the experience works well as a metaphor for his equivocal reactions to having to occasionally ‘tread the fine line between arousing and sickening.’

The title of Robert Rosen’s Beaver Street, A History of Modern Pornography is a clue to the book’s fast-paced, ironic style, underwritten by a wealth of hilarious experience, insider knowledge and serious research. Yes, it is a history, and an important one at that, but it’s also an engaging slice of autobiography, a revealing examination of North America’s bafflingly schizoid sexual psyche and a tour d’horizon of some of the monoliths that dotted the late 20th century US porno landscape.

Among these were the kings of the stroke mag world, the aptly named Carl Ruderman (the ‘Father of Phone Sex’), ‘Chip’ Goodman, Larry Flynt and Screw’s Al Goldstein. And what often surprised these pornmeisters were the technological leaps that made some very rich indeed but which also, occasionally, bankrupted them. Rosen ably covers the Lockhart Commission on pornography, conceived by a desperate Lyndon Johnson beset by Vietnam War unpopularity and brought forth by the foul-mouthed Nixon and his sleazy, morally bankrupt cronies. He reserves his big guns for its successor, the Iran-Contra-linked, anti-porn, Meese Commission. Finally the author excoriates the staggeringly treacherous behaviour of Traci Lords, the weaselly, mendacious little madam who nearly brought the porn industry to its knees.

A billion dollar industry usually touches everything and everyone, and porn is no exception to the rule: US politics, international trade, Adolf Hitler, Jack Nicholson – even Spiderman and The Godfather. However Rosen is wisely selective when he revisits his deeply unlikeable former employers and the enjoyable, but complex (almost everyone is called Goodman, but don’t worry, the footnotes are excellent), warren of US porn-mag publishing of the early 1980s.

Surely no exposé of sleazy pop culture has ever got this up-close and personal or received such intelligent, funny treatment. As Rosen shrewdly quotes from Henry Miller’s Quiet Days in Clichy at the beginning of the book: ‘Sex is not romantic, particularly when it is commercialised, but it does create an aroma, pungent and nostalgic.’ Beaver Street captures the aroma of pornography, bottles it, and gives it so much class you could put it up there with Dior or Chanel.

Beaver Street: A History of Modern Pornography by Robert Rosen; Headpress; ISBN 978-1-90048-676-7; £11.99 from Headpress

On David Foster Wallace and Footnotes

May 12, 2011

Tags: David Foster Wallace, Adult Video News, Beaver Street, pornography, Traci Lords, footnotes

David Foster Wallace. Photo by bjohnson.
The late David Foster Wallace was no stranger to the porn industry. Writing as Willem R. deGroot and Matt Rundlet for the September 1998 issue of Premiere, Wallace’s satiric takedown of the Adult Video News awards, “Neither Adult nor Entertainment,” was laced, as was most of his work, with hilarious footnotes. Wallace pushed the use of annotation to the limits of comic absurdity in a way I’d never seen, and by so doing, he paved the way for me to do the same thing in Beaver Street.

My footnotes, I think, add a new dimension to the book. As an example, I'll quote from the footnote on page 156, which describes the people on fringes of the adult industry who magazine editors could no longer work with in the aftermath of the Traci Lords scandal:

“These ‘marginal’ photographers and models were the people who made porno interesting, gave it what passed for a soul, and delivered the true grit and unvarnished reality of American sexuality—like the plumbers from St. Louis who sent in sleazy Polaroids of their naked girlfriends splayed pink on rusting lawn chairs in junk-strewn backyards; the garbage men from Detroit who submitted strangely erotic images of tattooed dancers with oversized clits posing on grungy toilets; and the postal workers from Pittsburgh who shot exhibitionist housewives shaving their pudenda for cheap thrills and a taste of ‘trailer-park celebrity.’”

World’s Greatest Anti-Porn Star

May 11, 2011

Tags: Beaver Street, Traci Lords, pornography

Last month I found an enthusiastic Beaver Street thread in an online forum called AVMANIACS . So, I registered for the forum and told its members that I was available to discuss the book. A good portion of discussion, thus far, has focused on Traci Lords, whose story is at the heart of Beaver Street.

Interestingly, a number of posters appear to be about the same age as Lords, who was born in 1968, and many of their questions have to do with how Lords was able to acquire fraudulent ID. One poster said, for example, “I was a teenager in the same era as Traci Lords (and I think I’m a little smarter than your average porn actress), and you should have seen MY pathetic attempts to procure a fake ID. I find it hard to believe a fifteen year old ON HER OWN c. 1984 could get a fake birth certificate, a fake US passport, etc.”

First of all, Traci Lords was not your average porn actress. As I say in Beaver Street, she was the world’s greatest anti-porn star. And this poster has not taken into consideration her level of desperation. Lords didn’t want phony ID to buy beer. She needed the ID to survive. (I wonder if the poster made a serious effort to acquire a phony birth certificate, as Lords did.) As the porn industry found out too late: Never underestimate the capabilities of a ruthless and ambitious 15-year-old woman.

Erotic Review Interview, Part 5

May 10, 2011

Tags: Beaver Street, A History of Modern Pornography, Erotic Review, Kate Copstick, Jamie Maclean



In the fifth and final part of my conversation with Kate Copstick and Jamie Maclean of the Erotic Review, we discuss the interplay of the personal and historical in Beaver Street, and how the book looks at the late 20th and early 21st centuries through a pornographic lens. Click here to watch all five parts of the interview.

Click here to buy Beaver Street on Amazon UK.

This Blog Has a New Name

May 9, 2011

Tags: Beaver Street, Oregon, City College of New York

The previous name, Advertisements for Myself, an allusion to Norman Mailer, served me well in the lead-up to the publication of Beaver Street. But now that the book’s out in the UK, and I’m posting daily on all matters relating to it, it was time for a more accurate name. So, with apologies to Canada, where the beaver is the national symbol; Oregon, the Beaver State; New York, where the beaver is the state animal; and my alma mater, the City College of New York, where the beaver is the school mascot, I bring you the first installment of The Daily Beaver.

Mother’s Day Beaver

May 8, 2011

Tags: Beaver Street, Henry Miller

No, I’ve not yet given my mother a copy of Beaver Street, though I intend to give her one when she’s in town later this month. She is, after all, referenced in the book, though she doesn’t know that yet. (I don’t think she reads this blog.) And she is aware that her name is in the acknowledgements. “Do you want your name in the acknowledgements?” I asked her as I was compiling the list.

She said yes.

“Are you sure? You know it’s a dirty book.”

She said yes.

“You realize it’s going to be like being Henry Miller’s mother.” It was the best example I could think of on the spur of the moment.

“I’d like to be Henry Miller’s mother,” she said.

Well, happy Mother’s Day, mom. Hope you still like being Robert Rosen's mother.

Utah’s Porn Problem

May 7, 2011

Tags: Orrin Hatch, Utah Coalition Against Pornography, LaNae Valentine

Senator Orrin Hatch is hardly the only person in Utah who’s up in arms about the “toxic” infestation of pornography in America. Today, in fact, the Utah Coalition Against Pornography is holding its 10th annual conference in an effort to raise awareness about the “seriousness of the porn problem” in the state, and to teach people how to keep porn out of their homes. According to one of the speakers, Dr. LaNae Valentine, director of women’s services and resources at Brigham Young University, the problem is that “Ten years ago if you had a problem with porn you were looked at as a sexually deviant person,” and today you’re considered normal.

Read the whole story at XBIZ Newswire.

Beaver Street and The Beaver

May 6, 2011

Tags: Beaver Street, The Beaver, Jodie Foster, Mel Gibson, High Society, John Hinckley



The author of Beaver Street categorically denies any connection between his book and the film The Beaver, starring Jodie Foster and Mel Gibson. There is, however, an interesting story in Beaver Street about how John Hinckley wrote letters to High Society magazine urging them to run more nude photos of Jodie Foster.

The Daily Beaver

May 5, 2011

Tags: Beaver Street, A History of Modern Pornography, Amazon, Galley Cat, Orrin Hatch

If I’m reading the following tweet correctly, yesterday Beaver Street hit #3 on Amazon Japan:

otona_amazon 洋書/ #3: Beaver Street: A History of Modern Pornography.

That’s amazing news, and I can only wonder what’s going to happen when the book’s translated into Japanese. So, thank you Japan!

Also, Beaver Street was mentioned in Galley Cat, which is cool, because the site, part of Media Bistro, is about as mainstream as it gets. So, thank you Galley Cat! Appreciate the attention.

And don’t worry, dear readers, I’ve not forgotten about Senator Orrin Hatch, who continues to make headlines with his demand for more vigorous porn prosecutions. We’ll get back to him soon enough.

Erotic Review Interview, Part 4

May 4, 2011

Tags: Beaver Street, A History of Modern Pornography, Erotic Review, Kate Copstick, Jamie Maclean, Headpress



In part four of my conversation with Kate Copstick and Jamie Maclean of the Erotic Review, we talk about how anybody with a video camera, a girlfriend, and an Internet connection can become an instant porn star.

Beaver Street is going fast on Amazon UK. But you can always order it directly from Headpress.

Would You Buy a Used War on Porn from this Man?

May 3, 2011

Tags: Orrin Hatch, pornography, Richard Nixon

When Richard Nixon was running for reelection we asked, "Would you buy a used war from this man?" We were talking about Vietnam. But when Watergate blew up in his face he also declared war on porn. As Orrin Hatch attempts to save his doomed career by declaring war on porn, we're asking a variation on the classic Nixonian question.

A Dirty Book About Politics

May 2, 2011

Tags: Beaver Street, pornography, Orrin Hatch, Osama bin Laden, Traci Lords, McCarthyism, Harmful to Minors, Judith Levine

Beaver Street is a dirty book that’s as much about politics and economics as it is about pornography, and much of what I wrote continues to be relevant to the latest breaking news. Senator Orrin Hatch’s call for the vigorous prosecution of pornographers is, of course, one example. Osama bin Laden is another. Though the book doesn’t mention him by name, it does reference his deeds in an effort to illuminate the government’s hypocritical and insane response to the “pornographic menace” at a time of genuine national crisis.

In the chapter titled “So You Want to Talk About Traci Lords?” I describe 2002 as “a fearful, repressive moment in American history, filled with echoes of McCarthyism and worse.” I then explain how “amidst the wars, death, terrorism, and threats of annihilation from ‘weapons of mass destruction,’” Congress takes the time to unanimously pass a resolution condemning a book, Harmful to Minors—a well-reasoned indictment of abstinence-only sex education, by Judith Levine, published by the University of Minnesota Press—as a work that promotes child pornography.

So, it’s taken the government ten years and how many billions of dollars to kill bin Laden? Is anything going to change now that he’s dead? Just asking, as they say.

The Joy of Index: The Sequel

May 1, 2011

Tags: Beaver Street, A History of Modern Pornography

A few more amusing juxtapositions from the Beaver Street index:

Bernstein, Carl 138
Best of D-Cup 170

Canyon, Christy 90, 125, 147, 190
Capote, Truman 138

Graham, Rev. Billy 134, 135
Grand Matriarch, the (brothel) 47, 48, 53, 60

To be continued...