The Sporadic Beaver

The End of History at Swank: Part 2 in a Series

January 25, 2012

Tags: Swank Publications, Lou Perretta, Joyce Snyder, Pam Katz, age discrimination, sex discrimination, Beaver Street

It's been almost 13 years since I was fired from Swank Publications, a turn of events that so delighted me, for the next five years I woke up every morning in a state of ecstasy--because I didn't have to go to New Jersey to crank out pornography under ever-increasing deadline pressure.

Swank’s publisher, Lou Perretta, known to some employees as “Satan in Suspenders,” wasn’t the most depraved pornographer I’d ever worked for. (That distinction belongs to the elegantly attired Carl Ruderman, who published High Society before selling it to Perretta last year.) But the atmosphere in Perretta’s offices, situated on the side of a highway in Paramus—Please Ram Us, as some of my former colleagues called it—was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced in any job I’ve ever had, in or out of pornography.

Yes, Perretta’s Swank was a boring, depressing, purposefully demoralizing company staffed with people smothered by fear and hopelessness. It was so grim that I used to look forward to going to the dentist if it got me out of work an hour early. But this is how a lot of corporations are run today—business as usual, in other words. What sets Swank apart is that they pushed this modus operandi into the realm of the legally actionable, some of the details of which are documented in the age-and-sex-discrimination lawsuit Joyce Snyder (I called her “Pam Katz” in Beaver Street) filed against Perretta.

I originally wrote about Perretta in the Beaver Street chapter titled “The End of History at Swank Inc.,” describing how a job I once enjoyed had been reduced to “assembly-line toil at its worst,” and “an exercise in postmodern sweatshop drudgery.”

But I didn’t go into more detail because Beaver Street is about the history of pornography, and as the chapter title indicates, that history ended in Paramus.

At Lou Perretta’s Swank Inc. pornography was almost beside the point.

Perretta was a printer who owned Great Eastern—since shuttered—a printing plant in Poughkeepsie that was once that city’s second largest employer next to IBM. He bought Swank and just about every other porn mag in existence as fodder to keep his presses running 24/7.

The story of Swank under Perretta ceases to be a story about pornography and becomes, instead, a tale of the ugliest face of soul-and-job-destroying modern day capitalism. And in light of Snyder’s age-and-sex-discrimination lawsuit, it’s time to examine more closely what went on there.

In next week’s installment, I’ll further explore the toxic atmosphere of Swank Publications under Perretta—a toxicity that went far beyond the mere tyranny common to all porn publishing companies.

A Mutant Pornographic Genius: Part 1 in a Series

January 18, 2012

Tags: Pam Katz, Joyce Snyder, Swank Publications, Lou Perretta, age discrimination, sex discrimination, Beaver Street

"Pam Katz," an editor at Swank Publications whom I worked with for 16 years, is a "character" in Beaver Street. I describe her as a "mutant pornographic genius with a second sight for recognizing cover shots where nobody else saw them." She also wrote and produced four classic porn movies, Public Affairs and Raw Talent, parts I-III, and came up with the idea for X-Rated Cinema magazine. She was, in short, a great pornographer and a talented editor with a wicked sense of humor and a stringent code of business ethics.

I put “Pam Katz” in quotes because that’s not her real name. In Beaver Street, though all the “characters” are real, I use pseudonyms for all non-public figures. Well, Pam Katz is no longer a private citizen. Her real name is Joyce Snyder.

Last February, after 31 years on the job, Snyder was let go at Swank Publications. In response, she filed an age and sex discrimination suit against the publisher, Lou Perretta.

The legal documents are public record, available online.

In future postings, I’ll be commenting further on this lawsuit. I also plan to describe in even more detail than I did in Beaver Street the atmosphere of Swank Publications under Lou Perretta that led to the lawsuit.

Joyce A. Snyder v. Louis Perretta is significant not only on its own merits, but because with the exception of Playboy, Penthouse, and Hustler, Perretta has a virtual monopoly on the porn magazine business, which has become a festering symbol of the festering economy of post-industrial America, where talented, highly experienced people can no longer earn a living wage.

This is class warfare. Stay tuned for further dispatches from the front lines.

The Year of the American Beaver

January 11, 2012

Tags: Beaver Street, A History of Modern Pornography, Bobby in Naziland, Kendra Holliday, Nowhere Man

If you've been paying attention, then you've probably noticed that I've spent the past week reorganizing this Website for the U.S. publication of Beaver Street as a trade paperback and e-book on March 23, 2012. Which is to say that the home page is now completely devoted to Beaver Street; there's a separate Beaver Street page with an excerpt from the book; there's a separate video page; and there's a separate page for my Lennon bio, Nowhere Man, which the Spanish newspaper iLeón recently chose as one of the 10 essential music bios of all time.

Also, as you may have noticed, I haven’t been blogging much lately, choosing instead to devote my time and energy to the book I’m currently working on, Bobby in Naziland. Well, between now and March 23, I’m going to slowly ease back into the daily blogging groove, posting once or twice a week for the time being. So, please check back regularly for updates.

For those of you visiting this site for the first time (perhaps seeking information on porn star Missy Manners) allow me to bring you up to date: Last year, Beaver Street was published in the U.K. to critical acclaim across cultural spectrum. (Check out the blurbs in the right-hand column and links to reviews on the home page.) On more than a half dozen occasions, it’s surged to the top of the heap of Amazon U.K. porn bios, where even on the worst day, it generally resides in the top 20, among the likes of Jenna Jameson, Ron Jeremy, and Annie Sprinkle.

This augurs well as I kick off The Year of the American Beaver, which will begin in St. Louis—yes, St. Louis!—with a launch party hosted by Kendra Holliday, whom you can see in the March 2012 issue of Hustler magazine. Then, we return to New York for a party on Beaver Street, in downtown Manhattan. Stay tuned for details, and I hope to see all of you there.

My Favorite Footnote

January 5, 2012

Tags: Nowhere Man, Gli ultimi giorni di John Lennon, Paolo Palmieri, footnotes

A belated happy new year to one and all!

Yesterday I received a couple of copies of the Italian edition of Nowhere Man: Gli ultimi giorni di John Lennon (back cover, right, front cover here).

What most struck me about the book were the extensive footnotes, which are unlike anything that's appeared in any other foreign language edition. The translator, Paolo Palmieri, took pains to explain words and phrases that were impossible to render in Italian without losing some of the meaning. Lennon’s puns and wordplay, Liverpudlian English, and words that rhymed in English but not in Italian were all obsessively annotated.

Here’s an excerpt from my favorite footnote, which appears in the chapter called “Il Lennon Dei Rimpianti” (“Lennon’s Complaint”):

«What did you do to ME fuckin’ cock?»; raro caso cui è possible rendere perfettamente il senso della traduzione operando tra gerghi di lingue diverse: il “me” di Liverpool sta infatti per l’inglese “my”, ovvero viene usata in forma gergale la particella pronominal “me” in sostituzione del possessivo “my”.

What he’s saying, briefly, is that in Liverpudlian slang, sometimes people say “me” instead of “my.” Though I’m sure the Latin mavens among you figured that out on your own.