The Sporadic Beaver

Meet Me in St. Louis

February 29, 2012

Tags: Beaver Street, St. Louis, Kendra Holliday, The Beautiful Kind, Shameless Grounds, Left Bank Books

My wife's family is from St. Louis, so I've spent a bit of time there in the past 20 years, enduring some brutally cold winters and scathingly hot summers. But I like the city, especially Soulard and Benton Park. I like the Mississippi River and the Gateway Arch. I like the Cardinals--the team and the bird. I've even considered living in St. Louis on those days when New York felt like too much. Well, in April, I'm going back for two big Beaver Street events.

The first one, hosted by Kendra Holliday, editor of The Beautiful Kind, takes place on Tuesday, April 3, at 7 pm, at Shameless Grounds, a “sex positive” coffee shop, where you can already find Beaver Street in their extensive lending library. There’ll be an informal talk, a Q&A, and I’ll be reading from Beaver Street.

Twenty-four hours later, on Wednesday, April 4, at 7 pm, I’ll be reading, signing, and answering questions at St. Louis’s foremost independent bookstore, Left Bank Books, where such luminaries as Salman Rushdie, David Sedaris, and Jimmy Carter have gone before me.

So, if you’re in the area, please drop by to one or both events. I always want to meet the people who’ve read my books. As for my in-laws, I expect you all to be there, no excuses. And bring all your crazy friends.

Beaver 2.0

February 27, 2012

Tags: Beaver Street, A History of Modern Pornography, Vanity Fair, Headpress, Kindle, Nook, Book Soup

A year ago tomorrow, I flew to London to begin promoting the UK edition of Beaver Street: A History of Modern Pornography, a process that I hoped might go on for a decade or two, if not forever. The book was published in England in April 2011, and if you look at the right-hand column, you can see some of what the critics had to say about it. Yes, words like "Enormously entertaining," "Entertaining, insightful, and hot," and "Shocking, evocative, and entertaining," did, indeed, help to sell a couple of books, thank you very much.

Now, here it is a year later, and I’m sitting in New York, awaiting the publication of the US edition of Beaver Street on March 28. The new cover (right), features one significant change: It says “Vanity Fair Hot Type Pick,” and Beaver Street will be in the “Hot Type” section of the April issue. But there are other changes, too. The critical response to the book made the editors at Headpress realize that Beaver Street is more a work of literature than journalism, and therefore, to give the book a more “literary” feel, the photo section has been removed. (If you want to see the photo section, e-mail me and I’ll send you a PDF. Or hurry up and buy a copy of the UK edition while they last.)

Then, of course, Beaver Street will be available on Kindle, Nook, and all the other formats that e-books come in. So, if you prefer reading books on your tablet or telephone, hey, be my guest. (The cover, incidentally, looks beautiful on the Kindle Fire and color Nook.)

And finally, I’m going to be doing Beaver Street events pretty much any place they’ll let me. There’s already a reading scheduled for Book Soup in LA on May 12, and I’ll be announcing more readings in other cities in the next couple of days. So, if you’ve been waiting to get your hands on a copy of Beaver Street, the wait’s almost over. And if you’d like to meet me, please come to one of my events. Because I’d like to meet you, too. I’m sure we’ll have a lot to talk about.

What Did the Tea Party Congressman Know About the Porn King and When Did He Know It?

February 23, 2012

Tags: Scott Garrett, Tea Party, Congress, Lou Perretta, hardcore pornography, New Jersey, Republican National Committee, Sonja Wagner, politics

According to a former staff member of Louis Perretta's X-rated magazine, Internet, and DVD empire, the people who worked for ultra-conservative New Jersey congressman Scott Garrett (Republican, 5th district) were aware that their second-floor neighbor at 210 Route 4 East, in Paramus, produced hardcore pornography. But the staff was apparently unaware that Garrett had been accepting campaign contributions from Perretta since 2006 and the Republican National Committee had been accepting contributions from him since 2000, soon after the company switched to a hardcore format from a softcore format. In that time, Perretta or members of his immediate family had donated over $10,000 to Republican candidates and committees.

The former staffer, Sonja Wagner, 74—a graphic artist who, like many of her colleagues, saw pornography as a “survival job”—was for 16 years a freelance art director on scores of Perretta’s X-rated titles before he stopped giving her work in 2009. She said that it was common knowledge among Perretta’s employees that female members of Garrett’s staff had complained about Perretta’s company, apparently to building manager Vornado Reality Trust, which maintains offices in the building on the second, fourth, and fifth floors. According to Wagner, Garrett’s staff did not want to share the second-floor bathroom with pornographers, and soon after raising the complaint they began using the bathroom on the fifth floor to avoid them.

The staff complaint illuminates one of the darker corners of Garrett’s political philosophy—one that seems to mesh with Perretta’s. Garrett, a Tea Party icon and a “birther” who, citing states’ rights, was one of only 33 representatives to vote against the reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act in 2006. The act prohibits voting discrimination based on race, and 390 house members voted to renew it.

A 2010 survey by the University of Washington Institute for the Study of Ethnicity, Race & Sexuality indicated that Tea Party supporters have a 25 percent higher probability of being racially resentful than those who do not support the Tea Party.

Garrett’s staff apparently harbors a reflexive segregating impulse reminiscent of the pre-1965 Jim Crow laws enforced in all southern states of the former Confederacy. These laws demanded racial segregation in public facilities, notably “white only” and “colored only” bathrooms. In this peculiar 21st century case, Garrett’s staff wanted “separate but equal” facilities for pornographers and Republicans.

Ironically, Perretta’s company also produces a line of magazines marketed to an African American audience, including Hype Hair, Today’s Black Woman, Black Men, and Word Up. Yet Perretta has referred to his minority employees as “animals,” and in one instance said to an African American art director, “Shrink that photo—like your ancestors shrunk heads.”

Among the hardcore magazines and websites that Perretta controls are Club, Gallery, High Society, Swank, Gent, Genesis, Fox, Velvet, Just 18, and Cheri.

“It’s against house ethics for me to comment about Garrett’s campaign,” said Ben Veghte, who works in Garrett’s Washington office.

The office of Scott Garrett for Congress has so far not returned calls and so has neither confirmed nor denied that Garrett was aware that his staff had complained about Perretta’s company, one of the largest producers of hardcore pornography in America.

Vornado Realty Trust, as a policy, does not comment on tenants, and so has neither confirmed nor denied that members of Garrett’s staff had formally complained to them about having to share a bathroom with employees of a company that produced hardcore pornography.

In the Soup

February 21, 2012

Tags: Beaver Street, A History of Modern Pornography, Book Soup

Ladies and gentlemen, mark your calendars. I'll be reading from Beaver Street at Book Soup in LA on Saturday, May 12 at 4 pm. This is one of many such events, in various cities across the US, including New York and St. Louis. Hope to see you there. Publication is only a month away, so keep checking back for updates.

Rock City Nights

February 20, 2012

Tags: Rock City Nights, Donato Zoppo, Nowhere Man, Gli ultimi giorni di John Lennon, Paolo Palmieri, Italy

With The Daily Beaver covering a mini-Watergate-like scandal, it's been easy to overlook the fact that this past weekend the Italian edition of Nowhere Man, masterfully translated by Paolo Palmieri, continued to make cultural inroads. The radio show Rock City Nights, hosted by Donato Zoppo--broadcasting out of Benevento, in southern Italy, and streamed live on the Web--featured Nowhere Man on a classic rock program. Hope some of you had a chance to listen, even if you don't speak Italian.

Here’s a photo of Zoppo in his studio with one of his favorite books. Grazie, signore! Spero di incontrarti un giorno.

We now return to our regularly scheduled muckraking.

The Tea Party Congressman and the Porn King

February 14, 2012

Tags: Scott Garrett, Tea Party, Congress, Lou Perretta, hardcore pornography, Joyce Snyder, New Jersey, Republican National Committee, Federal Election Commission, politics

Scott Garrett, Republican congressman from New Jersey.
According to Federal Election Commission (FEC) records, ultra-conservative New Jersey congressman Scott Garrett (Republican, 5th district) has, since 2006, accepted campaign contributions from hardcore pornography magnate Louis Perretta. Garrett is apparently aware of Peretta's operation, as the X-rated production company and Garrett's eastern district office were for years in close proximity to each other on the second floor of an office building at 210 Route 4 East, in Paramus.

Garrett, a Tea Party icon and a “birther” who is up for reelection this year, is known for his extreme right-wing positions. He received a perfect 100 rating from the American Conservative Union and a 0 rating from the Sierra Club.

Citing “states’ rights,” Garrett has opposed the reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act, an extension of unemployment benefits during the recession, a woman’s right to choose an abortion in cases of rape and incest, and emergency aid to victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Perretta, of Saddle River, NJ, publishes such hardcore pornographic titles as Club, Gallery, High Society, Swank, Gent, Genesis, Fox, Velvet, Just 18, and Cheri. Though most of these magazines were “softcore” when he began acquiring them in the early 1990s, he switched them all to a “hardcore” format in 1999, and is now one the largest producers of hardcore pornography in America. (In the world of pornography, “hardcore” refers to images that show vaginal, oral, or anal penetration.)

Perretta also produces a line of hardcore DVDs and controls the X-rated websites associated with his magazines.

Perretta, either directly or through members of his immediate family, donated over $10,000 to Republican candidates and the Republican National Committee (RNC) since 2000, soon after switching to the hardcore format. But his contributions to Garrett stand out both because of the proximity of their offices and because their politics seem to merge so seamlessly.

Perretta, who has referred to minority employees as “animals,” once told an African American art director to “Shrink that photo—like your ancestors shrunk heads.” In the past decade, he has systematically fired his most senior editors (this reporter was one of them) and art directors, most of whom began working for him in 1993, when he acquired all the titles belonging to Swank Publications. He has also closed down Great Eastern, his printing plant in Poughkeepsie, New York, eliminating dozens of jobs and outsourcing them to a printer in Canada in order to enhance profits and to avoid problems associated with exporting hardcore pornography from the US into Canada.

Perretta is currently being sued for age-and-sex discrimination by former employee Joyce Snyder, while Garrett was given the worst rating of any NJ congressman by the Business and Professional Women’s Foundation.

Garrett’s other right-wing positions include opposing a ban on assault weapons; opposing child safety locks on handguns; supporting a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage; opposing restrictions on price gouging by oil companies; supporting oil drilling off the NJ shore; supporting the teaching of “intelligent design” in public schools; and opposing stem cell research. He has also voted against numerous animal protection laws, including a ban on slaughtering horses for human consumption.

Perretta is listed in FEC records as a “self-employed business executive” with the Great Eastern Lithographic Corporation.

Both Garrett’s office and the RNC’s have so far not returned calls, and so have neither confirmed nor denied that they were aware that Perretta is one of the largest producers of hardcore pornography in America.

Beaver Street Flip Book

February 10, 2012

Tags: Beaver Street, A History of Modern Pornography, Headpress, Kindle

Headpress has posted on their site a Beaver Street "flip book" containing five full chapters. Click here to check it out.

Available now in the UK in trade paperback and Kindle editions, Beaver Street will be published in the US on March 23 as a trade paperback and an e-book in all formats.

Big thanks to everybody who’s already bought Beaver Street, and especially to those who’ve posted reviews on Amazon.

Looking forward to seeing you all at the big Kendra Holliday launch event in St. Louis, and the publication party in New York, at the Killarney Rose(n) on (naturally) Beaver Street, dates to be announced.

Stay tuned!

The Newt Gingrich of Sleaze: Part 4 in a Series

February 8, 2012

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

A lot of people thought that last week's posting, "The Lou Perretta 20-Point Plan for Demoralizing Employees," was satire. They thought that no place of business in 21st Century America that employed highly skilled and educated professionals could possibly be that bad.

Well, the piece isn’t satire—it’s journalism written in a satirical manner.

It’s not as if Perretta did all 20 things to everybody at once. That would have violated both the eighth amendment, which prohibits cruel and unusual punishment, and the Geneva Conventions. And we weren’t technically prisoners of war. It only felt that way.

The 20-Point Plan is simply a catalog of Perretta’s abysmal behavior, either toward me or toward other employees, over a 20-year period.

I doubt Perretta was even conscious of what he was doing, or thought that the “strategies” he used to control his employees were anything out of the ordinary. When he bought Swank Publications, he essentially shanghaied from New York a group of sophisticated and experienced publishing professionals, and treated them as he was accustomed to treating the people who worked in his printing plant in Poughkeepsie.

Amazingly, until Joyce Snyder (“Pam Katz” in Beaver Street) filed her age-and-sex-discrimination lawsuit, no employee or ex-employee had ever sued Perretta—for anything. Possibly, this was out of fear of losing their job and never being able to find another one; a lack of resources to pursue legal action against a wealthy businessman; or the knowledge that a lawsuit of any kind could drag on for years and they might not even win.

Perretta’s like the Newt Gingrich of sleaze—a classic schoolyard bully who nobody ever punched in the face. Then one day, Joyce Snyder, a little wisp of a woman, knocked him on his ass with a savage left hook to the jaw (metaphorically speaking). Snyder, sophisticated in the ways of the law—she’d considered going to law school at one point and had worked for private investigators—had the resources and the courage to go after Perretta. She also had nothing to lose. Snyder had devoted virtually her entire 31-year-career to pornography, and after Perretta fired her, she knew that at her age, with Perretta buying up every porn mag in existence, and with the economy in its tattered state, she’d never work again.

Perretta screamed so loud when he found out Snyder was suing him, I could hear his howls back in New York City. And that’s only a slight satirical exaggeration.

Get Your E-Beaver Now

February 6, 2012

Tags: Beaver Street, A History of Modern Pornography, e-books, Kindle, Nook, Amazon, Barnes & Noble

The print edition of Beaver Street: A History of Modern Pornography is scheduled for publication in the US on March 23. But much to my surprise, the e-book has jumped the gun and is now available in Amazon Kindle and Barnes & Noble Nook formats for the unbeatable and numerologically auspicious price of $9.99. (It’s also available on Kindle in the UK, and on various generic e-reader apps.)

So if you’re one of those people who love to read e-books on a sleek little tablet, why wait for the print edition? Download your copy of Beaver Street now!

Thanks for reading! And if you should see Beaver Street available as an e-book on any other sites, please, let me know.

The Lou Perretta 20-Point Plan for Demoralizing Employees: Part 3 in a Series

February 1, 2012

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

A Guide for Postmodern Office Management

Everybody knows a demoralized workforce is an easy-to-control workforce. Lou Perretta, pornographic publishing magnate who now owns every significant stroke book with the exception of Playboy, Penthouse, and Hustler, began instituting this plan in the early 1990s, when the economy was booming. With the onset of the recession, this plan has become insidiously effective--Perretta can now boast one of America's most demoralized workforces. The only monkey wrench in the works has come from former employee Joyce Snyder ("Pam Katz" in Beaver Street) who has sued Perretta for age and sex discrimination. So, a word of warning to any bosses who are considering instituting the Perretta Plan: Consult your attorney. Though effective in the short run, institution of this plan may cause severe financial and legal hardship and can lead to chronic heartburn and ridicule.

The Perretta Plan

1. Never give an employee a merit raise no matter how well they perform.
2. Never give an employee a raise even if you double or triple their workload.
3. Never praise an employee’s work. (If you do, they may ask for a raise.)
4. Loudly and publicly denigrate every employee’s work as often as possible, with a minimum of one time per year.
5. Nobody is indispensable. Fire the most talented and experienced employees.
6. If a downsized employee asks for severance for three decades of service, say, “Your 401(k) is your severance.”
7. Produce a product that’s of questionable legality and aesthetically vile—hardcore pornography, for example—that will so taint anyone associated with it, they’ll never work again after you fire them.
8. Scream at all remaining employees for the most trivial mistakes. The more trivial the mistake, the louder you should scream. Make it clear that you think everybody who works for you is a fucking idiot.
9. Refer to minority employees as “animals.” Dare them to sue.
10. Foster a climate of subtle religious bigotry. For example, if you see two or more Jewish employees standing together, say to them, in a jovial tone, “This place is starting to look like a yeshiva.” This will cause maximum discomfort with minimal legal exposure.
11. If business is bad, cut salaries by 25%. (Note: This means all employees. Do not cut salaries of only female employees. This is illegal. See Joyce Snyder.)
12. Cut lunch hour to a half hour.
13. Have the most incompetent employee act as office spy. Allow him to sleep at his desk.
14. Fill all executive positions with blood relatives only. Nepotism is the answer to any staffing question.
15. Under penalty of termination, forbid employees from doing any outside freelance work.
16. Give employees only inferior, dilapidated, lower-back antagonizing office furniture.
17. Confine highest-paid employees to offices without heat and air conditioning.
18. No need to hire cleaning people. Employees with advanced degrees should clean toilets, too.
19. The Friday after Thanksgiving is not a holiday. Take away a vacation day from any employee who does not come to work that day. Dock the pay of any employee who does not have a vacation day.
20. Special Bonus Strategy (For Advanced Users Only): Announce after Thanksgiving that the office will be open between Christmas and New Year’s. Announce on Christmas Eve that the office will be closed between Christmas and New Year’s; that employees will be charged five vacation days; and that employees without vacation days will be docked one week’s pay.