The Sporadic Beaver

On Newsworthy Books, Richard Nixon, and John Lennon

July 18, 2015

Tags: Ozy, Richard Nixon, Beaver Street, A History of Modern Pornography, Deep Throat, Watergate, Bild, Hollywood Scandals, Reelz, John Lennon, Nowhere Man

Before Ozy called to talk about the history of pornography in America, I'd never heard of them. But that's not surprising. So fragmented and expansive is the media today, even a high-profile news site can slip beneath my radar.

In any case, adhering to my philosophy of treating like Oprah everybody who wants to talk about my books, I spoke at length to Ozy, and when they ran the story, "How Nixon Shaped Porn in America," about the connection between Watergate and Nixon's efforts to ban the film Deep Throat, I was amazed by the results.

Not only was Beaver Street prominently featured, but the story was shared a respectable 1,760 times (and counting) on Facebook; was published in the popular German tabloid Bild as “Mister President wollte eigentlich das Gegenteil ... Wie Nixon dem Porno zum Durchbruch verhalf” (roughly translated as “Mr. President wanted the opposite of it... how Nixon helped porn to its breakthrough”); and was cited in the Washington Post and Baltimore City Paper.

That Beaver Street has remained in the news for more than four years in an environment where just about everything is forgotten within 24 hours is nothing short of miraculous. But apparently, that’s how long it’s taken the media to catch on to one of the book’s central themes: The biggest crooks—notably Richard Nixon, Spiro Agnew, Edwin Meese, and Charles Keating—cry “Ban pornography!” the loudest.

And speaking of books that people keep talking about long after publication, on Tuesday, July 21, at 10 P.M eastern time, and Saturday July 25, at 2:30 P.M. eastern time, the Reelz channel will broadcast the John Lennon episode of Hollywood Scandals, in which I discuss my Lennon bio, Nowhere Man. Click here to find the show on your cable or satellite system.

The Brown-Paper Curtain

August 20, 2014

Tags: Fleshbot, Beaver Street, A History of Modern Pornography, reviews, Goodreads, Peter Landau

You know that Beaver Street review, by Peter Landau, on Goodreads, that I posted about yesterday? Well, today it's migrated to Fleshbot. So, if you neglected to read it yesterday, please read it today on Fleshbot. They have much better pictures than Goodreads, just in case you need a little more incentive to click here now.

The Epic Fleshbot Interview

July 30, 2014

Tags: Fleshbot, Beaver Street, A History of Modern Pornography, Peter Landau

I've done a lot of interviews since Beaver Street was published, but the 5,000-word epic, conducted by Peter Landau, that was posted on Fleshbot today is one of the most comprehensive and far ranging.

If you haven't read Beaver Street yet, our conversation serves as a fine introduction to both the book and to my entire career, in and out of porn. It's also a very nice birthday present. I'll say no more and simply ask you to click here and enjoy.

Blast from the Past

June 17, 2014

Tags: StorErotica, Beaver Street, A History of Modern Pornography, Traci Topps, Marcia Resnick

It took a year and a half, but my interview that ran in the print edition of the December 2012 issue of StorErotica, a glossy trade mag for sex-shop owners, has finally found its way online. The print edition was unusual; it was two issues in one, featuring two “front” covers--one on the front and the other on the back. In the online version, which is now available as a downloadable PDF, the second issue begins with the front cover on page 27; my interview begins on page 46.

I was in good form the day I spoke to StorErotica, and the interview is one of my better efforts. I hit all the right notes, I think, especially if you happen to own a store that sells adult novelties. The article also features some photos of me and a couple of porn stars, including Traci Topps, and a great half-page shot taken by Marcia Resnick. So, if you haven’t already seen this interview—and if you’re not in the sex-shop business you probably haven’t—I invite you to check it out. StorErotica and I were on the same wavelength, and they were indeed able to fully appreciate the myriad charms of Beaver Street: A History of Modern Pornography.

It Was 110 Years Ago Today

June 16, 2014

Tags: Bloomsday on Beaver Street, James Joyce, Ulysses, Nora Barnacle, A History of Modern Pornography, Killarney Rose, Amazon, censorship

James Joyce, a writer banned in America for obscenity.
Happy Bloomsday to all those who are celebrating the 110th anniversary of the day that James Joyce's Ulysses takes place. Joyce chose June 16, 1904 because that was the day he had his first date with his wife-to-be, Nora Barnacle. The novel, in part, depicts protagonist Leopold Bloom's--hence Bloomsday--activities in Dublin, which include such things as voyeurism and public masturbation. That's why Ulysses was banned in America, and that's why, two years ago, I chose June 16 to celebrate the U.S. publication of Beaver Street: A History of Modern Pornography, at the Killarney Rose, an Irish bar on Beaver Street in downtown Manhattan.

At the time, Amazon had refused to make the print edition of Beaver Street available, and it was only after they got wind of the fact that the book-launch party was turning into a public demonstration against Amazon censorship that they managed to fix the “computer glitches” and “bureaucratic snafus” that had already cost me all pre-orders and three months of sales. “We would never censor a book,” an Amazon spokesman told me. (I’m pleased to report that sales have since recovered, and Beaver Street now routinely ranks among Amazon’s best-selling books on pornography.)

Bloomsday on Beaver Street was such a success that I decided to do it again last year, when June 16 fell on Father’s Day, and that, too, went rather well. It looked as if my literary celebration, featuring readings, music, porn stars, and theatrical performances, was going to become a New York City tradition.

This year, unfortunately, life (and a new job in magazines after a 14-year hiatus from the workforce) interfered with mounting Bloomsday on Beaver Street III. As much as I would have liked to, I just didn’t have the time to put together what’s become the equivalent of an Off-Off Broadway revue. This evening, however, I will raise a glass of something alcoholic (perhaps Guinness) and join in spirit all those who would have liked to gather in the Killarney Rose on Beaver Street and celebrate great books that were once denounced as obscene.

Raw Talent

June 12, 2014

Tags: Raw Talent, Joyce Snyder, Pam Katz, Jerry Butler, Larry Revene, Beaver Street, A History of Modern Pornography, The Projection Booth, The Rialto Report

Video-box cover for Raw Talent.

That I've used pseudonyms for many of the "characters" who populate Beaver Street was an unavoidable concession to the fact that I was writing about real people, and it would have had a negative impact upon their lives to be portrayed as pornographers or former pornographers. One of those characters is "Pam Katz," and soon after Beaver Street was published, due to a variety of factors, it no longer was necessary to disguise her identity. She is Joyce Snyder, best known as the writer and producer of Raw Talent, parts I-III, classic XXX films from the 1980s that have recently been rediscovered by such sites as The Rialto Report and The Projection Booth.

What Joyce has to say about making these films while she was working for Swank Publications should be of special interest to anybody who’s read Beaver Street. “Pam Katz” comes to life, veritably stepping out of the book. Her segment of The Projection Booth’s Raw Talent interview, on the above player, begins at the 51-minute mark.

The other people interviewed are the film’s director Larry Revene and its star, Jerry Butler.

Listen to the Scatterbrains Podcast Here and Now!

May 17, 2014

Tags: Scatterbrains Podcast, Alia Janine, OnMilwaukee.com, Beaver Street, A History of Modern Pornography, Nowhere Man, The Final Days of John Lennon, Traci Lords, Edwin Meese



Important update: The above player no longer works. You can listen to the interview here.

No need to even leave this website to listen to my interview with Alia Janine, which was originally posted on OnMilwaukee.com. Just click on the player. Next thing you know, you'll be hearing Alia sing the theme from Rawhide. Apparently , if you live in Milwaukee, this song has nothing to do with cowboys and everything to do with Rosen.

Scatterbrains Podcast with Alia Janine

May 6, 2014

Tags: Scatterbrains Podcast, Alia Janine, OnMilwaukee.com, Beaver Street, A History of Modern Pornography, Nowhere Man, The Final Days of John Lennon, Traci Lords, Edwin Meese

Yes, I'm aware that The Sporadic Beaver has been more sporadic than usual lately, but I've been unusually busy with life, literature, and work. I will, however, break my silence with this bit of news: My Scatterbrains Podcast interview with former porn star and Milwaukee native Alia Janine is now live on OnMilwaukee.com, that city's premier arts and entertainment Website.

Alia, whose X-rated talents cannot be overstated, has developed (so to speak) into a first-rate interviewer. It’s her ability to put her subject at ease, and make an in-depth interrogation seem like a friendly chat that sets Alia apart in this competitive journalistic arena. Some of the people she’s previously interviewed include porn star Belle Knox, actor Joe Reitman, and comedian Gareth Reynolds. They’re all archived on OnMilwaukee.com.

Alia and I cover a lot of ground in a half hour, but mostly we talk about Beaver Street, deconstructing everything from the invention of free phone-sex at High Society magazine (which marked the dawn of the Age of Modern Pornography), to the Traci Lords scandal, to Edwin Meese, the rabidly anti-porn attorney general who was driven from office under a cloud of corruption.

And please stay tuned to The Sporadic Beaver for more big news.

Pornography and Capitalism

January 8, 2014

Tags: The Ethics and Politics of Pornography, David Edward Rose, Beaver Street, A History of Modern Pornography, Carl Ruderman, High Society

I've always believed that the pornography industry is a microcosm of the capitalist system, and that looking at capitalism through a pornographic lens is a legitimate way to gain insight into that system. One purpose of my book Beaver Street: A History of Modern Pornography is to offer such insights in an entertaining and humorous manner. And with the exception of one critic, a former pornographer who dismissed the book as "smut," most readers and critics "got it," as the pull quotes on this page and my home page attest.

In November, I wrote about a college textbook, published by Palgrave Macmillan, titled The Ethics and Politics of Pornography, by David Edward Rose. The book had come to my attention because it references Beaver Street in a chapter called "'I Can’t Do It by Myself!': Social Ethics and Pornography." But I didn't know exactly what the book said; I only knew that I was listed in the index atop French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau.

I’ve since received a copy of the book, which I plan to write about at length in a future posting, along with another textbook, also published by Palgrave Macmillan, titled Pornographic Art and the Aesthetics of Pornography, edited by Hans Maes. But for now I’d like to share with you what The Ethics and Politics of Pornography says about Beaver Street.

The reference is on page 214, in a section about capitalism called “The real enemy,” and it comes from my chapter about working at High Society magazine in the early 1980s.

“The aim of capitalism is not to make good art,” Rose writes. “Nor good products. It is not interested in the product per se, but only in the product as a means to satisfy other desires, as capital in motion. As one insider in the industry astutely observed, ‘The product, as well as my job, was anything but transgressive; it was corporate moneymaking at its most cynical, conservative, and tightly controlled. It wasn’t even about sex; it was about using sex to separate people from their money.’”

And that is indeed a spot-on description of what it was like to work in Carl Ruderman’s smut factory, a place where the most exploitative face of modern capitalism was on display daily.

No Porn Please, We're British

July 24, 2013

Tags: CNBC, Beaver Street, A History of Modern Pornography, Hunter S. Thompson, Eric Danville, Lainie Speiser, Brittany Andrews, D-Cup

If I believed in astrology, I'd attribute the events of the past couple of days to the fact that, on July 23, the zodiac moved into Leo, the sign under which I was born. But since I don't believe in astrology I'll have to attribute these events to the fact that for more than two years I've been talking nonstop about Beaver Street to anybody who'll listen.

This morning, an article on CNBC about the U.K.'s Internet pornography ban, "No Porn Please, We're British," by Chris Morris, mentions Beaver Street. Morris asked me what I thought would happen now that anybody in England who wants to look at X-rated material on his computer will be asked by their ISP to verify his age and confirm that he wants to watch smut.

“Obviously people are not going to want to do that,” I said. “People just don’t want to come out in public and say ‘I want to look at porn.’ A lot of people who do look at porn are inhibited, shy people.”

And in response to Prime Minister David Cameron’s statement that online porn is “corroding childhood,” I added, “If kids want to look at pornography, they usually figure out how to do it.”

That’s the first time I’ve ever given a PM a piece of my mind.

Then, last night, at the 2A bar in the East Village—along with Eric Danville, author of The Complete Linda Lovelace; adult actress Brittany Andrews; Bobby Black, senior editor of High Times, and actor Jeffrey Emerson—I celebrated Hunter Thompson’s birthday (he was born July 18, under the sign of Cancer) by reading from “Mein Kar,” a Thompson parody about a Mercedes-Benz road test that I wrote for D-Cup magazine, and the opening pages of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, which inspired the parody.

A huge thanks to everybody who came out to see us, and especially to Eric and Lainie Speiser, who put the event together!

This Is Cool

July 15, 2013

Tags: Beaver Street, A History of Modern Pornography, Amazon, reviews, John Mozzer, Alan Adrian, Carl Ruderman, Traci Lords, Annie Sprinkle, Bill Bottiggi

John Mozzer was an information technology specialist who'd received security clearance from the National Security Agency. But in his secret life, one that he lived from 1978 to 1995, he was Alan Adrian, a pornographic actor who appeared in 67 XXX-rated movies, including such classics as A Taste of Money, Inside Little Oral Annie, Maid in Manhattan, Babylon Blue, Oriental Techniques in Pain and Pleasure, Centerfold Fever, and The Devil in Miss Jones II.

Now retired and living in L.A., Mozzer tends to an extensive archive of material related to the porn industry. He also knows many of the characters from Beaver Street, and he recently posted a review of the book on Amazon. I think the review serves as a perfect example of the kind of dialogue that I'd hoped Beaver Street would spark, and which I'd encourage people to continue.

This is what Mozzer had to say:


A Fascinating Read

My original reason for reading Beaver Street: A History of Modern Pornography is that my world overlapped with author Robert Rosen’s world during the 1980s. I worked as an adult film actor (under the name Alan Adrian or Spike), a representative for magazine distributing and printing companies that profited by serving the porn industry, and a freelance writer and photographer for some of Rosen’s colleagues.

It’s a shame that names have to be changed in non-fiction books like Beaver Street. I was hoping to recognize the colleagues whose names were changed by Rosen. But that didn’t happen. I suspect this means it will be all the more difficult for future writers on this topic to figure out who’s who.

To my surprise, in Chapter 4, Rosen describes Carl Ruderman, the person with the money behind High Society, as very involved with its day-to-day operation. Furthermore, his anecdotes about working for High Society came across as very credible. I found myself feeling, “I’m sure these things really happened.” Nevertheless, I think caution is in order, because Rosen’s stint at High Society is a small fraction of the magazine’s life, and the situation may have changed over time. After finishing Chapter 4, I decided the extent to which Ruderman involved himself with the day-to-day operation of High Society, over the long run, remains an open question.

Years ago, I heard about the murder of editor Bill Bottiggi. But I never knew about the circumstances leading up to the murder, as Rosen describes it. I find Rosen’s account very disconcerting. After all these years, I have to reconsider placing Bottiggi in the “all good” and “nice guy” category in my head. Initially, I believed Rosen’s account. Later, I found myself not wanting to believe it, and longing for accounts by other people who knew Bottiggi.

Rosen presents strong arguments against society for allowing Traci Lords to get away with hoodwinking the porn industry. In fact, his arguments made me very, very pissed off at her.

Beaver Street was truly a book that I couldn’t put down. I learned tons of stuff that I didn’t know. You don’t need to have been involved with the porn industry, like myself, in order to enjoy the book. You don’t even have to be involved with researching the subject. Beaver Street is a fascinating book to read.

Summer Hours

July 8, 2013

Tags: Beaver Street, A History of Modern Pornography

I'll be posting here sporadically over the course of the summer. So go enjoy yourselves, read a good book, and don’t forget to use sunscreen.

From Another Carl Ruderman Fan

May 14, 2013

Tags: Carl Ruderman, High Society, Amazon, Beaver Street, A History of Modern Pornography, reviews

The following review, written by "Another Former Porn Worker," appeared on Amazon yesterday. It speaks for itself.

Your book was amazing! I downloaded it to my Kindle and could NOT put it down last night. You perfectly capture the atmosphere of the office, that slight paranoia, tinged with smarminess, with the forced insistence that everything around here is perfectly normal. I too worked in the industry, though far more recently, but it seems nothing has changed.

Your assessment of Carl Ruderman is priceless. I, too, have sat in front of that exquisite Victorian desk, surrounded by his priceless artifacts that invariably feature naked women or abstract genitalia, patiently waiting my turn for him to say, “...And Ms. XXXX, what good news do you have for me today?” From your description of him, I could hear his voice leap from the page. I could see him as I saw him in his office at 801 Second Avenue, a bit more shriveled version than the one you saw, but in that same beautifully cut, tasteful gray pinstripe suit, pocket square, and genteel sneer.

Also, in the short time I was there, I know the company was sued multiple times. Weirdly, it was never mentioned at the meetings. It was simply like it didn’t matter. Also, by the time I got there, the porn down on the lower floor was never mentioned. Ever. People on the 19th floor did NOT speak to any of the people down there. I only knew about them because I had skills he needed for both floors.

I loved the part about “the founder.” After he lost the lease on the 19th floor and we were moved to the far less glamorous 11th floor, that bust was placed directly outside my door, so it would stare at me day in, day out. It was rumored that there was a camera in it, but that was probably just conjecture.

He was elderly by the time I worked for him, yet he was insistent on never dying. He kept a personal chef with him at the office, a woman he paid far less than she was worth, peanuts really. She would prepare his daily vitamins and medications, dozens in all, and his breakfast and lunch in the office’s formal dining room. All upper management was expected to attend, but as a woman and a low-level techie I was fortunately denied that privilege.

I liked your Maria. It explains his current secretary while I was there. She was a mid-fiftyish battleaxe of a hag who would agree with him if he said the sky was green, and spent much of her time repeating back anything he said in different words as if she had just thought of that. She, and the other woman before her, trained themselves to expect and indulge his every whim. The woman before at least seemed to see the humor in the situation, as Maria seemed to. I would have been stoned all the time, too.

There was a whole host of crazy characters there who, like me, had no other options at the time, and those of us who got out sometimes get together and talk about it, because no one else would ever believe us. They are a crazy bunch, but those who survived, many are people I really like, cause as you and Maria were, we were witness to a legend being written. Like you, I walked out of that office with no job but that “incredible lightness of being.”

All in all, you reminded me that despite everything, Carl Ruderman has charisma. A sly, slithering sort of charisma, but charisma just the same. I can’t even say I dislike him. He is the sort of man who will do anything for money, and it seems that he did.

In the end, those of us that got tangled up in it have one hell of a story to tell at cocktail parties.

Marvelous work!

The Rialto Report

April 26, 2013

Tags: The Rialto Report, Beaver Street, A History of Modern Pornography, Annie Sprinkle, New York, podcast, Kendra Holliday

Having written a book about the history of pornography, set mostly in New York City between 1974-1987, I take an abiding interest in all things having to do with the history of porn in New York. Recently, I've discovered a site called The Rialto Report, run by a man with a British accent who calls himself Ashley West and occasionally Benson Hurst, and who shares my abiding interest in the Golden Age of New York's adult industry.

Named for the now-closed Rialto Theatre on 42nd Street, the site has posted a series of podcast interviews with porn people from New York's past. Last night I listened to the interview with Carter Stevens, an actor, director, and producer, probably best known for a film called Lickity-Split. Though I didn't write about him in Beaver Street, he's one of those pornographers whose name you heard time and again if you worked in X; he was everywhere in the 70s and 80s.

The interview is over an hour, and Stevens, with his tough-guy voice, goes into great detail about New York in the days of Plato’s Retreat, Bernard’s, Jamie Gillis, Bobby Astor, Sharon Mitchell, and his ex-wife, Baby Doe.

As I write this, I’m listening to the provocative interview with Annie Sprinkle—she talks about rape and feminism. Sprinkle was a unique (to say the least) New York character whom I worked with when I was managing editor of Stag in the 1980s, and whom I did write about in Beaver Street. (I discuss Annie and some of her freaky predilections in this video clip from my interview with Kendra Holliday.)

Also interviewed on The Rialto Report are porn stars Jennifer Welles, George Payne, and Jeffrey Hurst, filmmaker John Amero, and photographer Barbara Nitke.

This is a rapidly expanding site, and a great resource well worth checking out.

One Year of U.S. Beaver

March 28, 2013

Tags: Beaver Street, A History of Modern Pornography, Byron Nilsson, reviews, Amazon, Bloomsday

Maybe you're celebrating Maundy Thursday, but I'm celebrating the first anniversary of the U.S. publication of Beaver Street: A History of Modern Pornography, an event marked by a responsive reading of a review by Byron Nilsson, on a site called Words and Music, which ran one year ago today.

And quite a year it's been! The good news about Beaver Street, one year down the road, is that it's sold out on Amazon. Again. The bad news about Beaver Street, one year down the road, is that it's sold out on Amazon. Again.

I’m not about to complain about a book selling out repeatedly. I will only say that when the book does sell out, as it’s been doing the past two months, I’d be happier if Amazon got it back in stock more quickly or kept more copies in stock so it didn’t sell out as often.

And I will express gratitude for the fact that one year after its U.S. publication (and two years after its U.K. publication) critics continue to write about Beaver Street and people continue to buy it.

And finally, I will extend an open invitation to all readers to come to the Killarney Rose on Beaver Street on June 16 for the Second Annual Bloomsday on Beaver Street celebration. The Very Reverend Byron Nilsson will be presiding, and he thinks I know how to “make words dance.” He said so in his review. I will be doing my best to make those words dance in public.

NSFW

March 6, 2013

Tags: LA Weekly, Beaver Street, A History of Modern Pornography, High Society

Thanks to LA Weekly, I've learned a new acronym: NSFW. It means "Not Safe For Work." That's how the paper has labeled their extraordinary Beaver Street pictorial, "10 Sexy Photos From the History of Pornography."

The spread brings to life much of what I write about in Beaver Street: A History of Modern Pornography--like High Society magazine. Ironically, if you toiled for that esteemed publication in the 1980s, NSFW had an entirely different meaning: Employees were forbidden to read The New York Times, or any other newspaper, without special permission. Instead, the publisher demanded that everybody spend as much time as possible reading (and stealing ideas from) competing porno mags, especially Hustler, which he considered the "bible" of beaver books.

In the likely event that you don’t work in an alternate X-rated universe, then NSFW is indeed the correct designation for the Weekly’s Beaver Street spread. So, read it when you get home, and take a trip down the memory lane of 20th century men’s mags. It’s a world that’s fast disappearing.

It's Time to Play "The Next Big Thing"

January 28, 2013

Tags: Beaver Street, A History of Modern Pornography, Janet W. Hardy

Janet Hardy, whose latest book, Girlfag, I wrote about the other week, told me about this Internet "thing" that's currently making the rounds among authors. It sounded like fun, especially the question about casting the movie version of your book. So, I did it.

It's called "The Next Big Thing" and here's how it works: I post and promote a blog entry that answers ten questions about a work in progress. I then "tag" five authors who answer the questions in their own post and tag me along with five other authors. And so on.

Here are the questions and my answers.

1) What is the working title of your book?
I’m calling Beaver Street: A History of Modern Pornography a work in progress because foreign rights and film rights remain untapped, and I’m putting as much effort into promoting Beaver Street as I am into writing my next book, Bobby in Naziland.

2) Where did the idea for the book come from?
From working as an editor of “men’s sophisticate” magazines (as they’re euphemistically called) for 16 years and realizing from my first day on the job at High Society, in 1983, that I was witnessing something extraordinary: the dawn of the age of digital, or modern, pornography.

3) What genre does it fall under?
I call Beaver Street an investigative memoir, meaning it’s a combination of investigative reporting and autobiography.

4) Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
An incomplete cast in order of appearance:
Bobby Paradise: Garrett Hedlund
Joe Angleini: James Franco
Maria Bellanari: Michelle Pfeiffer
Ellen Badner: Janeane Garofalo
Carl Ruderman: Gary Oldman
Irwin Fast: William Shatner
Chip Goodman: Wallace Shawn
Susan Netter: Jane Lynch
Ralph Rubinstein: Shia LaBeouf
Izzy Singer: Paul Giametti
Henry Dorfman: Paul Slimak
Arnold Shapiro: Steve Carell
Pamela Katz: Scarlett Johansson
Sonja Wagner: Sigourney Weaver
Annie Sprinkle: Kat Dennings
Georgina Kelly: Courtney Love
Georgette Kelly: Ashley Hinshaw
Bill Bottiggi: Jackie Earle Haley
Al Goldstein: Byron Nilsson
Ron Jeremy: Himself
Buck Henry: Himself
Roberta Goodman: Agnes Herrmann

5) What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?
An investigative memoir about pornography in the age of the computer, from the birth of phone sex to the skin mag in cyberspace.

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
After two agents failed to sell Beaver Street, I sold it myself to Headpress, a London-based indie.

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft?
About three years.

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Tropic of Capricorn by Henry Miller. Beaver Street has been called “a Tropic of Capricorn for the digital age.”

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?
My experiences working in the pornography industry.

10) What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
The political angle: the fact that historically, the biggest crooks have always cried, “Ban pornography!” the loudest, and that the four greatest anti-porn warriors of the 20th century—Richard Nixon, Spiro Agnew, Edwin Meese, and Charles Keating—are either convicted felons or where forced to resign their offices in disgrace or face criminal prosecution.

And here are the five authors I’m tagging: Irv O. Neil, Eric Danville, David Comfort, Joe Diamond, and Antony Hitchin.

Daddy Porn

January 7, 2013

Tags: StorErotica, The Pleasure Chest, Fifty Shades of Grey, Beaver Street, A History of Modern Pornography, Mommy Porn, Daddy Porn

The first story I ever wrote for my local newspaper, The Villager, was about The Pleasure Chest, an upscale sex shop that's been at the same Greenwich Village location for 42 years. It was the summer of 1976--the Bi-centennial Summer, as The Pleasure Chest staff preferred to call it--and my assignment was to spend an entire shift in the store and describe what went on.

What went on was that a lot of well-dressed and decidedly non-sleazy men and women came into the store and bought some very expensive fashion accessories, most of them made of luxuriously soft black leather--S&M hoods, corsets, bras, etc. The Pleasure Chest, I thought, was more akin to a clothing store than a sex shop.

When I walked by The Pleasure Chest a few weeks ago, the stark and simple window display stopped me dead in my tracks. It consisted of the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy and a riding crop.

For those of you who’ve somehow missed the news, Fifty Shades of Grey is an overtly pornographic S&M epic and one of the best-selling books of all time. As I recently learned, an entire industry has grown up around it. Walk into any sex shop in the world and you can not only buy the complete trilogy, but you can buy any product mentioned in the books—ben wa balls, handcuffs, whips, you name it. The trilogy has made porn so respectable, it’s now being advertised on the sides of New York City bus shelters.

Because Fifty Shades of Grey is, essentially, a Harlequin Romance with explicit sex, it’s been dubbed “Mommy Porn.” And though it is an undeniable commercial mega-success, I’m unaware of any men who have read the book—probably because the average male is interested in reading something grittier and more sophisticated.

Perhaps, then, it’s time to offer an alternative to Mommy Porn. Let’s call it “Daddy Porn.” In fact, let’s call it Beaver Street: A History of Modern Pornography, a book that’s dedicated to my father and that opens in his Brooklyn candy store, in 1961, with a bunch of the “neighborhood regulars” hanging out and deconstructing the latest volume to appear in his “special rack,” a display of sophisticated pornographic literature that featured such classics as Tropic of Cancer and Last Exit to Brooklyn.

Or Daddy Porn, if you will.

I have a dream. Next Christmas, when I walk by The Pleasure Chest, I want to see Beaver Street in the window, alongside some of the products I mention in the book, like a “plug-in vibrator the size of a small baseball bat” or maybe a cat o’ nine tails, to name but two.

And I believe I’ve taken the first step to achieving this “dream.” The December issue of StorErotica, a glossy trade mag that goes out to every sex shop in the US and Canada (and will soon be available online), features an extensive interview with me, in which I discuss Beaver Street and the sex-novelty business in general.

Let’s call it the first shot of the Beaver Street Winter Assault. In fact, let’s call it a direct hit.

The Dirty Part

December 19, 2012

Tags: Bloomsday, Beaver Street, A History of Modern Pornography


This is my complete Bloomsday on Beaver Street reading of the so-called "dirty part" from the chapter titled "The Accidental Porn Star," pages 110-114. If you think it's easy to read this kind of stuff in front of your family, neighbors, and classmates from high school and junior high school, I suggest you try it sometime. I've posted a couple of more videos from the memorable night of June 16, 2012 here. You can find even more videos on Youtube.

The Official Bloomsday on Beaver Street Video: Part 1

December 3, 2012

Tags: Bloomsday, Beaver Street, A History of Modern Pornography, Byron Nilsson, Killarney Rose


It has been almost six months since the Bloomsday on Beaver Street launch party at the Killarney Rose for my investigative memoir, Beaver Street: A History of Modern Pornography. This celebration of banned books, James Joyce, Ulysses, and all literature that has been branded pornographic, featured readings, rock 'n' roll, opera, and a surreal non-performance by a man who once ran for mayor of New York City.

Though I've posted a few truncated video clips of some of the performances, it's only recently that I've come into possession of the official Bloomsday on Beaver Street video--a complete documentation of every moment of the event. Here's the first excerpt: MC Byron Nilsson's masterful introductory monologue.

Stay tuned to relive the entire night, clip by clip.

What Hath Publicity Wrought?

October 16, 2012

Tags: Beaver Street, A History of Modern Pornography, Amazon

A good question, if I say so myself. I mean why am I devoting all this time to blogging and tweeting and Facebooking and doing live events and answering in detail probing questions from websites that I’d never heard of a couple of months ago? The short answer is: I believe in Beaver Street; I think it’s a book that’s worth bringing to the attention of a wider audience beyond those who might normally be counted on to buy a book about the pornography industry. If this wasn’t the case, I couldn’t have written Beaver Street in the first place. And if I want to survive as a writer, then I really have no choice. This is what has to be done.

It is, of course, a very different media environment now than it was in 1999 and 2000, when I began promoting Nowhere Man. There was no social media then and I didn’t know what a blog was. And everything was less fragmented; if somebody wrote an article about Nowhere Man or reviewed it, a lot more people would see it, and it would invariably lead to more coverage. That rarely happens anymore. With Beaver Street, even a major article in a high-profile magazine will lead to a couple of sales, a burst of online activity for a day, and then it’s forgotten, washed away by the incoming tide of the 24-hour news cycle.

So what have I accomplished in the 18 months that I’ve been promoting Beaver Street in two countries? Well, in the U.K., where the book was published in 2011, Beaver Street does appear to be firmly entrenched on Amazon, taking up permanent residence in their top 20 books on pornography, and making regular forays to the #1 spot in that category, which includes such heavy hitters as Jenna Jameson’s How to Make Love Like a Porn Star.

As for the U.S., despite a recent blizzard of rave reviews, the struggle continues. But I’ve not yet begun to fight.

Memoirs of an Editor of Pleasure

September 21, 2012

Tags: The Bloodsprayer, Beaver Street, A History of Modern Pornography, Core of Destruction Radio

The positive Beaver Street reviews keep coming from all sectors of the cultural spectrum, and the latest one, "Memoirs of an Editor of Pleasure," from The Bloodprayer, by (ahem) J.D. Malinger, can best be described as "intellectual lowbrow." The site's slogan is "all the filth that’s fit to publish" (lowbrow). But Malinger describes himself as "a historian by training" (intellectual).

Malinger says that I tell my story with "charisma and charm" and that Beaver Street is "incredibly thoughtful, engaging and entertaining." His only quibble, and he makes clear that it's simply a matter of taste, is my distaste for editing "plumper" mags. Malinger, you see, is a "chubby chaser," and he's glad that the porn industry has at long last acknowledged the existence of such women.

(Note to Malinger: in celebration of Banned Book Week, I’ll be reading from The Catcher in the Rye on Thursday, October 4, 8:00 P.M. at the 2A Bar, 25 Avenue A, in New York City. Thought you might be interested.)

In other Beaver Street news, this Sunday, September 23, at 1 P.M. Eastern Time, Bryan “Shu” Schuessler will be talking to me on Core of Destruction Radio about such things as pornography, politics, John Lennon, Nazis, and writing. Hope you can tune in.

Let Us Now Praise Interesting Porn Books

August 22, 2012

Tags: Penny Antine, Raven Touchstone, Beaver Street, A History of Modern Pornography, Mario Puzo, Marvel Comics

Penny Antine, whose nom de porn is Raven Touchstone, has written the screenplays for nearly 400 X-rated films. In short, she's an industry veteran who knows the business inside out, and is currently working on her own book about pornography. Antine wrote to me a few weeks ago to say that she'd read Beaver Street, and "enjoyed it immensely."

She then posted on Facebook’s Adult Films 1968-1988 page a brief review, which I’d like to share with you:

I read a very interesting book, Beaver Street: A History of Modern Pornography. It’s not about the adult film industry but about the history of magazines like Swank, what they called “men’s” magazines back in the day. It was written by a terrific writer who worked in that biz for 16 years and tells it like it was. Lots of interesting tidbits in this book, i.e.—the man who created Swank and other such mags also created Marvel Comics. True. And Mario Puzo worked in that field while he was writing The Godfather. Yes. So anyone interested in this subject would enjoy this book. I got it through Amazon.

Bloomsday on Beaver Street Video Clips

July 25, 2012

Tags: Bloomsday, Beaver Street, A History of Modern Pornography, Byron Nilsson, Killarney Rose

Intro

Until the official Bloomsday on Beaver Street video is available, these clips, shot by Bette Yee on her iPhone, will serve as a record of what happened at the Killarney Rose, on Beaver Street, in New York City, on the extraordinary night of June 16, 2012, at the launch party for my investigative memoir Beaver Street: A History of Modern Pornography.

The MC (or “MC Supreme,” as I’ve come to call him) is Byron Nilsson. The videos above and below are in chronological order. If you were there, chances are you’re in one of these videos.

Byron Nilsson Reads from Beaver Street


Introduction of the Author


Robert Rosen Greets the Crowd


Robert Rosen Reads from Beaver Street

A Holiday that Celebrates a Handjob

June 28, 2012

Tags: Beaver Street, A History of Modern Pornography, Bloomsday, banned books, Ulysses, James Joyce, Nora Barnacle

The New York launch event for my book Beaver Street: A History of Modern Pornography, which I called Bloomsday on Beaver Street, and which was held on June 16 at the Killarney Rose, on Beaver Street, was a celebration of numerous things. We celebrated banned books, like Ulysses, by James Joyce, and Beaver Street, that some people had branded “smut” and “filth” and that others, correctly, had recognized as literature. And we celebrated the 40th anniversaries of Deep Throat, the movie, and Watergate, the political scandal, both of which are connected to Beaver Street.

June 16, of course, is the day that Ulysses takes place—in Dublin, in 1904. It documents approximately 24 hours in the life of the book’s protagonist, Leopold Bloom, which is why the celebration is called Bloomsday. Traditionally, people read from Ulysses, as MC Supreme Byron Nilsson did, eloquently reciting the passage that got Ulysses banned in America for 13 years—Joyce’s description of Bloom masturbating.

There was, however, one thing that should have been explained but was not explained at Bloomsday on Beaver Street: Why, exactly, did Joyce set Ulysses on June 16, 1904?

The answer to that question can be found in the July 2 issue of The New Yorker, in an essay about Joyce titled “Silence, Exile, Punning,” by Louis Menand.

That was the day that Joyce had his first date with his wife-to-be, Nora Barnacle. Menand explains what happened on that date: “They walked to Ringsend, on the south bank of the Liffey, where… she put her hand inside his trousers and masturbated him.”

Quoting from a letter Joyce sent to Barnacle several years later, Menand provides more detail: “It was not I who first touched you long ago down at Ringsend. It was you who slid your hand down down inside my trousers… and frigged me slowly until I came off through your fingers, all the time bending over me and gazing at me out of your quiet saintlike eyes.” Joyce later notes, in another letter, that on that night Barnacle “made me a man.”

So, Bloomsday, then is a literary holiday that celebrates a handjob. And Bloomsday on Beaver Street was such a success, I’m considering making it an annual event. You can rest assured that next year, the MC Supreme will take pains to explain the sticky origins of the celebration.

Ladies and gentlemen, mark your calendars.

Amazon Lifts Beaver Street “Ban”

June 27, 2012

Tags: Beaver Street, A History of Modern Pornography, Amazon, banned books

As of this morning, Amazon has in stock multiple copies of my investigative memoir, Beaver Street: A History of Modern Pornography. And there are, says the Amazon web page, more copies “on the way.” I think it’s safe to say that a ridiculous battle that began more than three months ago to make the paperback edition of Beaver Street available directly through Amazon, like any other book, is finally over.

Let me state again that, according to Amazon, Beaver Street was never a banned book, and that Amazon would never ban a book due to explicit sexual and volatile political content. The reason for its unavailability, an Amazon spokesman said, was a combination of bureaucratic snafus and computer glitches.

Whatever the reason for Beaver Street’s unavailability or “passive-aggressive banning” (as some in the media were calling it), I have expended an enormous amount of time and energy to achieve what should have been routine. But that’s the nature of the book business. Nothing is easy; nothing is routine; any kind of success is the exception to the rule. For every dollar I’ve earned writing books, it often feels as if I’ve expended a hundred dollars of time and energy. Going back to 1977, when I first sat down to write a book, I doubt I’ve earned minimum wage by the standards of a Third-World country.

No writer in his right mind would want to go to war with Amazon, and this battle to make Beaver Street available is, indeed, the last thing I wanted. But Amazon controls 75 percent of the online trade-paperback market, and if you want to reach potential readers, it’s virtually impossible to do it without them. So, I had no choice. Unlike, say, James Patterson and his band of elves, I don’t pop out a book every month. It took me seven years to write Beaver Street and two more years to find a publisher. My career was on the line, and I had nothing to lose. I was either going to find a way to get Amazon to sell the book. Or I was going to promote Beaver Street as the book Amazon banned.

Of course, nothing will make up for the sales I lost when Beaver Street was unavailable on Amazon and I was on the road and on the radio promoting it. All I can do is reboot, so to speak, and start promoting anew. I’ll take a day to celebrate the lifting of the “ban.” And I’ll hope that like my previous book, Nowhere Man: The Final Days of John Lennon, Beaver Street will endure in the marketplace, and people will still be talking about it ten years from now.

A Night to Remember

June 18, 2012

Tags: Bloomsday, Beaver Street, A History of Modern Pornography, Killarney Rose, Joyce Snyder, Pam Katz, Bernhard Goetz, Mary Lyn Maiscott, Hoop, Sonja Wagner, Byron Nilsson

Saturday night, Bloomsday, a whole lot of people came to the Killarney Rose on Beaver Street to celebrate the New York launch of Beaver Street: A History of Modern Pornography. My family was there. My neighbors were there. My friends were there. People from my high school and junior high school, who I hadn't seen in more than 40 years, were there. Some of my former coworkers, notably Joyce Snyder ("Pam Katz" in Beaver Street) and Sonja Wagner, were there. A few members of the media were there. Gary “HooP” Hoopengardner and my wife, Mary Lyn Maiscott, provided live music, with a little help from our friends and neighbors. Byron Nilsson, a writer/actor/singer/pornographer, did an amazing job as MC. And, of course, I read from the book--the so-called "dirty part," that I've been reluctant to read in certain bookstores, but read without hesitation for Bloomsday on Beaver Street. And then, as you may have noticed, there was the surreal appearance of Bernhard Goetz--yes, that Bernhard Goetz--who had asked to read from Beaver Street, but instead refused to read from the book and--how shall I put this?--delivered a disjointed dissertation that seemed to have something to do with Beaver Street.

Many things were spoken of at the Killarney Rose on Bloomsday: literature, pornography, book banning, censorship, Amazon, Watergate. In future postings, I’ll write in greater detail about this night to remember. But for now, as I sort out my thoughts and await photographic evidence of some of the things I mentioned above, I simply want to thank everybody for coming to the best Bloomsday party in New York City and reminding me why I became a writer.

A Cosmic Confluence of Coincidence

June 15, 2012

Tags: Bloomsday on Beaver Street, Killarney Rose, A History of Modern Pornography

That day ten years ago that I was wandering around downtown Manhattan, near Wall Street, thinking that I needed a catchier title than A History of Modern Pornography for the book I'd begun writing, was miraculous on various levels. First of all, when I looked up at the street sign and saw that I was on the corner of Beaver and Broad, it was as if I'd received a message from on high. I knew instantly that this was the perfect title, and I laughed out loud. Never before had a title come to me quite this way. And I also knew instantly that I had to have the publication party somewhere on Beaver Street, though I had no idea where.

I walked the length of Beaver Street, from Broadway to Pearl, and the Killarney Rose seemed the only possible choice. So I went inside. It was an unusual bar in the sense that it went straight through the block, with another entrance on Pearl Street. But it wasn’t until I discovered the upstairs bar that I knew it was tailor made to host a Beaver Street publication party.

The upstairs bar had the intimate feel of a private club, or speakeasy. And there was a backroom that seemed more like a living room—perfect for music (yes, I knew that day there had to be music) and readings.

Now all I had to do was finish writing Beaver Street and find a publisher. Nothing to it, right? Who knew ten years would pass? And how often in my life have I made a plan that I was able to see to fruition a decade later?

Tomorrow it happens—Bloomsday on Beaver Street, a cosmic confluence of coincidence and celebration, and who can resist that?

Holliday in St. Louis

March 26, 2012

Tags: Kendra Holliday, Beaver Street, A History of Modern Pornography, St. Louis, Left Bank Books, Shameless Grounds

Matt Holliday, of the world champion Cardinals, is not the only Holliday in St. Louis, and in certain circles he's not even the most famous. Kendra Holliday, Sex Positive St. Louis Co-Founder, editor of The Beautiful Kind (TBK), and Hustler model, is giving the left fielder a run for the money, at least in the sexual underground, and up to a couple of months ago I didn't know that St. Louis had one--even though I've been a regular visitor to the city for over 20 years.

Kendra Holliday, who’s recently posted a series of rather provocative “birthday suit” pictures, is the reason I’m coming to St. Louis to launch Beaver Street next week. When we did our three-part Beaver Street interview for TBK—part three is now reposted on the Sex Positive St. Louis homepage—I knew that I’d found a kindred spirit, a woman who I like to describe as the Annie Sprinkle of the Midwest.

A launch event, April 3, at Shameless Grounds, hosted by Kendra, and focusing on Beaver Street’s pornographic aspects, was a natural. And when the legendary independent bookstore Left Bank Books invited me to do a reading the following night, in which I’ll explore the book’s literary qualities, there was no way I could stay away from the “twenty-seventh city,” as Jonathan Franzen calls it. (Twenty-seven is my lucky number.)

So, St. Louis, here I come. And I’d like to personally invite Matt Holiday to expand his horizons and come to both Beaver Street events. In St. Louis, the Hollidays should stick together, especially on Beaver Street day.

The Beaver Has Landed (in St. Louis)

March 23, 2012

Tags: Beaver Street, A History of Modern Pornography, St. Louis, Left Bank Books, Shameless Grounds

Saint Louis Photos
Saint Louis photo courtesy of TripAdvisor.

As I write this, cartons of the US trade paperback edition of Beaver Street are headed for various warehouses and bookstores across America. The official pub date is March 28, and that should more or less conform to reality. At least one carton has already landed in St. Louis, where I'll be doing two launch events, at Shameless Grounds coffeehouse, on April 3, and Left Bank Books, on April 4. I've not yet seen the US edition of my book, but I have been rehearsing the passages I plan to read. It's under control

Also, as you may have noticed, I’ve been blogging a lot lately—because I’ve had a number of things I’ve wanted to say, and because it’s now the law of the publishing world that authors who have a book coming out must blog, tweet, and post on Facebook as much as possible—preferably every hour. They tell me this helps sell books, and maybe it does.

I will try to keep you up to date with one blog post, etc. every weekday. But I also plan to give myself weekends off for good behavior. I have other books to write, you see, like Bobby in Naziland, which I’ve been working on for some time, and I have only so much creative energy. We can talk about it when I get to St. Louis, where I’m very much looking forward to seeing you, whoever you are.

What's the Matter with Jersey?

March 21, 2012

Tags: Scott Garrett, Lou Perretta, Tea Party, Beaver Street, A History of Modern Pornography, politics

Certain people whose opinions I respect have been questioning one of the ongoing stories I've been covering on this blog--the fact that New Jersey Tea Party congressman Scott Garrett has been accepting campaign contributions from my former boss, the porn publisher Louis Perretta.

It has been pointed out that I sound self-righteous in these postings, like Nicholas Kristof, the New York Times columnist who often writes about child prostitution and human slavery. It has been pointed out that the Garrett-Perretta story is not a “mini-Watergate,” as I’ve described it, because there’s nothing illegal about a porn king donating money to a Tea Party politician. And it has been said that I’m a hypocrite because I once worked in pornography and that I took Perretta’s money for the nearly seven years that he employed me.

To respond to the last point first: Yes, I worked in porn for 16 years, and I endured because I needed a job, and porn paid a living wage. Like many of my colleagues, I saw it as a “survival job,” a way to pay the bills as I continued to pursue what I really wanted to do—write books. As I say in Beaver Street, much of what I did disgusted me, but I was able to carry on because I had a strong stomach. I don’t dislike porn; I dislike the kind of porn I was doing—schlocky, grind-it-out-as-fast-as-you-can, anti-erotic porn. If criticizing the people who grow wealthy by splattering this kind of stuff all over the planet while grudgingly paying me a living wage makes me a self-righteous hypocrite, then so be it. I’m a self-righteous hypocrite.

And, of course, it’s true that it’s not illegal to donate money to political candidates. What makes the Garrett-Perretta story scandalous on a mini-Watergate level is the mind-boggling hypocrisy of a candidate from a political party that wants to destroy the porn industry accepting contributions from one of the largest producers of hardcore pornography in America. Which begs a number of questions: Why is Perretta giving money to people who want to put him out of business? Because he likes the Republican platform of tax cuts for the rich and fuck everybody else? And what if the Vatican’s own anti-porn candidate, Rick Santorum, gets the nomination? Will Perretta give him money, too, just to help defeat the foreign-born, Muslim-socialist who currently occupies the White House?

I could go on indefinitely dissecting this kind of lunacy, but there’s no need to. Because the story of corrupt conservative Republicans who will stop at nothing in their efforts to destroy the porn industry is at the heart of Beaver Street.

I will say, however, in the course of my career, I’ve always written what I thought to be the truth without worrying if the people I was writing about would like what I had to say. That was the case with my John Lennon bio, Nowhere Man. That was the case with Beaver Street. And that will continue to be the case with this blog.

The Anonymous Kings of Pornography

March 19, 2012

Tags: Carl Ruderman, Chip Goodman, Lou Perretta, Scott Garrett, Beaver Street, A History of Modern Pornography, politics

Not all porno kings are like Larry Flynt, Al Goldstein, Hugh Hefner, and Bob Guccione--famous, self-made men, American icons who reveled in their sleaze, took pride in their product, and spared nothing in their quest to produce the best possible erotica and/or filth. There's another class of porno king, as rich as any of the above men, but virtually unknown as pornographers outside the "adult entertainment" industry.

These anonymous porn mongers have five things in common: They’re all men. They were all born to wealth. They all used their wealth to create pornography empires. They all increased their wealth immensely by producing pornography on an industrial scale. And they all went to great lengths to publicly portray themselves as respectable businessmen, unconnected to XXX.

Having worked for three of these men, I’ve written about them at length in Beaver Street. They are Carl Ruderman, former publisher of High Society magazine and the father of “free” phone sex; the late Charles “Chip” Goodman, former president of Swank Publications; and Louis Perretta, who bought all the Swank titles from Goodman in 1993.

I bring this up now because, as the “real” media continue to investigate the story that I broke here last month about Tea Party congressman Scott Garrett (New Jersey, 5th district) accepting campaign contributions from Perretta, who is now one of the largest producers of hardcore pornography in America, they seem to be having some difficulty establishing that Perretta is, in fact, a pornographer. The Federal Election Commission documents that detail Perretta’s contributions to the Republican Party over a ten-year period list him as a self-employed business executive with the Great Eastern Color Lithographic Corporation, the now shuttered printing plant in Poughkeepsie, New York, where Perretta once printed his porn mags. And beyond this website, a Google search for any connection between Perretta and porn reveals little that’s verifiable. Perretta, in short, has done a commendable job of covering his X-rated tracks.

As we wait for some intrepid reporter to pull the trigger on this sordid political scandal of right-wing extremism and hardcore pornography, it would be instructive, I think, to further explore the phenomenon of pornography kings who go to great lengths to obscure the source of their wealth. And I will do so over the course of this month. So, stay tuned.

Why St. Louis?

March 14, 2012

Tags: Beaver Street, A History of Modern Pornography, St. Louis, Kendra Holliday, The Beautiful Kind, Left Bank Books, Shameless Grounds

"You live in New York," people in St. Louis have pointed out. "Why do you want to come here to launch your book?"

The short answer: I'll go anywhere in the world where people have expressed an interest in my work. I've traveled to Mexico City and Valparaiso, Chile, where I didn’t even speak the language, to present my John Lennon biography, Nowhere Man. Those journeys proved to be two of the most rewarding experiences of my professional life. And I'm going to St. Louis because the city is offering me a unique opportunity to present both the pornographic and the literary sides of Beaver Street.

I made the decision months ago, after The Beautiful Kind editor, Kendra Holliday, interviewed me for her website. Kendra, who described my book as “a surreal, perverted mindfuck,” strikes me as the Annie Sprinkle of the Midwest—a creative, literate woman with the courage to put the darkest realms of her sexuality on public display both on her website and, recently, in Hustler magazine. The event she organized at the Shameless Grounds coffeehouse, on April 3, is the perfect venue to discuss some of the darker, X-rated aspects of Beaver Street, mainly a chapter I wouldn’t dare read publicly anyplace else. In “The Accidental Porn Star” I describe in graphic detail what it was like posing for a porn shoot, and the high social price I paid to conduct this “experiment in participatory journalism.”

Then, Left Bank Books, the foremost independent bookstore in St. Louis, invited me to do an event there on April 4. What better place to discuss the literary aspects of Beaver Street, a book that I describe as an investigative memoir? At Left Bank, I’ll read from the prologue and discuss a literary journey that began in my father’s candy store, in Brooklyn, where he sold numerous controversial books, like Tropic of Cancer, by Henry Miller, and Last Exit to Brooklyn, by Hubert Selby, that had made it to his “special rack” only after enduring protracted censorship battles.

So, my literary journey is now taking me to the turf of such people as Mark Twain and Jonathan Franzen. Boy, am I looking forward to the trip.

A Shameless Reading

March 12, 2012

Tags: Beaver Street, A History of Modern Pornography, Shameless Grounds, Kendra Holliday, St. Louis

I've gone to enough readings at bookstores, cafes, and bars to say with authority that reading from one's book is not an easy thing to do well. For the most part, no matter how good the book is and no matter how famous the author is, most books, especially "literary" books, are not written to be read out loud to an audience. They're written to be read to yourself, preferably in solitude. Yet, virtually all authors are expected to give readings, and I'm no exception. I've shown up in my share of rowdy bars to read to a dozen heckling drunks from Nowhere Man, a book that I've often said was meant to be read under the covers, with a flashlight. I’ve also read well-rehearsed Nowhere Man passages over the radio and heard that people driving in cars had pulled over to the side of the road so they could listen without distraction.

Last night I began thinking about what, exactly, I’m going to read at Shameless Grounds, the “sex positive” St. Louis coffeehouse where, on Tuesday, April 3, at 7 pm, Kendra Holliday and I will be launching Beaver Street upon America. And I decided to read from a chapter that I would not consider reading out loud in any place other than Shameless Grounds. “The Accidental Porn Star” is about shame and pornography, and like all of Beaver Street, it’s written in a conversational tone that makes it ideal for a public reading.

So, I’m going to nurse and rehearse the passage I’ve selected, and when I show up at Shameless Grounds, I’ll be ready to read. Hope you guys are ready to listen. In the meantime, you can check out Beaver Street at the Shameless Grounds library.

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.

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.

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!

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 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.

Live from New York It's Rew & Who?

December 9, 2011

Tags: Rew & Who?, Otto’s Shrunken Head, Nowhere Man, The Final Days of John Lennon, Beaver Street, A History of Modern Pornography, May Pang, Mary Lyn Maiscott, Hoop, Bobby in Naziland



Two days ago I made my debut on the Rew & Who? show. If you were unable to watch the live webcast from Otto's Shrunken Head in New York City, here are the two video clips of my interview with Rew and her co-host, Alan Rand.

In addition to talking about and reading from Nowhere Man: The Final Days of John Lennon, I also spoke at some length about my new book, Beaver Street: A History of Modern Pornography, which is out now in the U.K. and will be published here in March 2012, and the book I’m currently writing, tentatively titled Bobby in Naziland.



Among the people appearing with me for this tribute to John Lennon and Rew’s brother Richard “Dicky” Kesten were May Pang, whom I haven’t seen since 1981; my wife, Mary Lyn Maiscott, who sang Lennon’s “I’m Losing You” and her own Christmas song, “Blue Lights;” and Hoop, who played guitar for Mary Lyn, and sang his original song about Lennon, “Oh, John.”

You can see clips of all Rew’s guests on YouTube.

The Beautiful Kind of Reader

October 31, 2011

Tags: Kendra Holliday, The Beautiful Kind, Beaver Street, A History of Modern Pornography

In the course of my writing career I've done hundreds of promotional interviews. Most of them are a blur of canned questions asked by people who didn't read the book and in some cases probably didn't even read the press release. This is typical. Most writers will tell you the same thing. However, since I began promoting Beaver Street six months ago, I've been lucky. All of my inquisitors have been passionate about the book.

Kendra Holliday, whom I’ve been communicating with by e-mail and telephone, is the editor of The Beautiful Kind. She describes herself as “a 38 year old bisexual mother located in St. Louis,” and “a passionate sexplorer” of “kinks, fetishes, BDSM, swinging, and polyamory.”

Well, I can certainly vouch for her passion, at least when it comes to Beaver Street. She’s the kind of reader every writer hopes for.

I consider myself extremely fortunate that Kendra thought enough of Beaver Street to conduct an extensive interview. Here’s a link to Part 1, titled, “Does Nothing Shock You?”

The Long March

October 25, 2011

Tags: Beaver Street, A History of Modern Pornography, Sleazoid Podcast, Bobby in Naziland



Allow me to take a morning off from exploring the meaning of the Third Reich and its impact on the good people of mid-century Flatbush, as I've been doing in the book I'm currently writing, tentatively titled Bobby in Naziland, and instead say a few more words about Beaver Street, scheduled for U.S. release in five months, on March 23, 2012.

Those of you who’ve been paying attention to this site’s home page may have noticed that my campaign to bring Beaver Street to the widest possible audience is already underway. Last week, The Sleazoid Podcast posted Part One of their interview with me, and boy, do they ever let me talk—about everything from my days as the editor of a radical student newspaper at the City College of New York, at a time when the energy of the anti-war movement was giving way to an emerging punk sensibility, to my tenure as an editor at Swank Publications during Porn’s Golden Age. They’ve also put together a very cool trailer, above, to promote the interview. Part 2 should be posted any day.

This is how it’s going to be for the next five months and beyond, a long march, blog by blog, reader by reader, as I talk to anybody who wants to talk to me about Beaver Street—an exhausting but necessary process, though one that I welcome and enjoy.

The alternative, of course, would be to stop believing in evolution and promote my book by running for president as a Republican. Seems to work for Herman Cain.

The Sporadic Beaver

October 4, 2011

Tags: Beaver Street, A History of Modern Pornography, Nowhere Man, The Final Days of John Lennon



The countdown clock you see here, marking the time until Beaver Street is published in the US, signifies another change in this website and in this blog in particular. As regular readers are aware, I've been posting here five days a week—on Beaver Street itself, occasionally on Nowhere Man, and on whatever might be happening in the world that I feel like writing about, like the riots in the UK and, more recently, the Occupy Wall Street protests.

For the next few months, until the US Beaver Street launch, I’ll be posting here more sporadically, adhering to no particular schedule. Naturally, I’ll continue to comment on any significant Beaver developments, as well as the recent publication of the Italian edition of Nowhere Man. But it’s time for me to focus more of my energies on other things, like the new book I’ve been writing.

So I’d like to send out a big Thank You! to everybody’s who’s bought Beaver Street (and Nowhere Man in any language), to all the critics and journalists who’ve written about my books (or are planning to), and especially to the regular readers of this blog—the ones who’ve checked in every day, and gave me a reason to keep doing it.

Keep in touch, and stay tuned for some big changes.

Springtime for Beaver in America

September 26, 2011

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

I received word from Headpress the other day that Beaver Street: A History of Modern Pornography will be published in trade paperback in the United States on March 23, 2012. It will also be available as an e-book in all formats, including Kindle.

Beaver People, start your countdown! It's only six months to springtime.

I’m especially excited about the Kindle edition. Over the past few months, Kindle (and other e-readers) has reached a tipping point in New York. Not only do I see more and more of them on the subway, but when I tell people about Beaver Street, their first question is often, “Is it available on Kindle?” Indeed, people have told me that they will only buy a book if it is available on Kindle. (Yes, I know, you love your Kindles.)

I’m also aware that a certain segment of the reading public prefer not to be seen on subways and buses reading a book titled Beaver Street. Well, with an e-book, nobody can see what you’re reading. But please, promise me, when strangers inquire why you’re laughing out loud, you’ll tell them it’s because you’re reading Beaver Street.

Okay, then, I’ve got six months to prepare for the big day. All I can tell you at this point is that I'm going to have a publication party in an appropriately sleazy bar on Beaver Street, in downtown Manhattan. You’re all invited.

Anatomy of a Sexbook

August 10, 2011

Tags: Beaver Street, A History of Modern Pornography, appendix

I've written about the Beaver Street index, perhaps the only index in any book in which "North, Oliver" is followed by "North, Peter." I've written about the David Foster Wallace-inspired footnotes, in which I detailed the impact of such things as the Traci Lords scandal on "postal workers from Pittsburgh who shot exhibitionist housewives shaving their pudenda for cheap thrills and a taste of 'trailer-park celebrity.'" But I've yet to say a word about a section of the book which some people have told me is their favorite part—the appendix.

Yes, the appendix, so called because, like a human appendix, if you remove it, the book can live without it.

One reason I wanted to write a book like Beaver Street is because I thought, having lived through it, I wouldn’t have to do a lot of research. I was wrong. The more I wrote, the more I realized there were too many things I couldn’t explain. And to explain the history of modern pornography, at least to myself, I ended up tracing that history from cave paintings in the Lascaux region of France, c. 33,000 BC, to the dawn of modern porn: the day in 1983 that High Society publisher Carl Ruderman acquired three 976 lines.

The appendix is a byproduct of that research, kind of a Mel Brooksian History of the World that concentrates only on how pornographers were always among the first to exploit new technology for economic gain. So, until I find the time to expand this appendix into an all-encompassing, thousand page History of Pornography, I’ll leave you with piece of the appendix from 1839 and the Industrial Revolution:

“The development of photography, a fusion of art and science, is attributed to many people, and it’s the greatest piece of moneymaking technology pornographers have yet to see. Though taking pictures is an expensive, complex process, this is hardly a deterrent to the ambitious sex entrepreneur. In fact, it’s as if the first words spoken upon the invention of the camera were: Let’s shoot some porno!

The Norths of Beaver Street

July 29, 2011

Tags: Beaver Street, A History of Modern Pornography, Edwin Meese, Traci Lords

The diverse subject matter of Beaver Street, which takes an intimate look at the history of the late 20th century through a pornographic lens, is often reflected in the bizarre juxtaposition of certain names in the index. And perhaps the strangest juxtaposition of all can be found under the letter N.

One is a highly decorated Marine lieutenant colonel who was at the center of the Iran-Contra scandal, which was linked to the Traci Lords scandal by former Attorney General Edwin Meese, who was at the center of both scandals.

The other is a bisexual porn star famous for his seemingly impossibly copious ejaculations, and who appeared with underage porn goddess Traci Lords in Holly Does Hollywood (1985).

North, Oliver 145
North, Peter 108, 126, 167

Read all about this web of scandal in Beaver Street: A History of Modern Pornography.

Greetings from Beaver Street

July 28, 2011

Tags: Headpress, Beaver Street, A History of Modern Pornography, Traci Lords, child pornography, Amazon, Seattle Weekly

Yesterday, Headpress, the publisher of my book Beaver Street: A History of Modern Pornography, began running this blog, The Daily Beaver, on their site. So, as of this morning, I’m now communicating with a new audience—the Headpress audience who, I’m told, is global, literate, edgy, and well outside whatever passes for mainstream these days. This perhaps explains why Headpress published Beaver Street in the first place.

For those of you who’ve not read this blog before, let me be clear about its purpose: I put a lot of effort into writing Beaver Street and then finding somebody to publish it. Now that it’s out there, I want to bring it to the attention of the widest possible audience. That would be you. So, if you’ve already read Beaver Street, thank you very much. If you haven’t read it, then I urge you to buy a copy—directly from Headpress. (I hear they still have a couple of signed copies in stock.)

If you’re not familiar with Beaver Street, then please check out some of the press material on the Headpress site, or on my site. The critical response has thus far been extraordinary, which makes me feel—Dare I say it?—hopeful.

But this blog is more than just a vehicle for self-promotion. Beaver Street is investigative memoir that shows the history of the late 20th century though a pornographic lens. It’s a personal journey through sex, politics, economics, and culture. And much of what I write about remains relevant to today’s headlines. The centerpiece of the book, for example, is an exploration of the Traci Lords scandal, which began 25 years ago this month. Lords, the most famous porn star of her generation, revealed in July 1986 that she’d been underage for her entire career. The fallout from the scandal nearly destroyed the adult industry.

Yesterday, The Seattle Weekly ran a piece on their website about how Amazon is selling old issues of High Society, Oui, Club, Stag, and Penthouse containing images of an underage Traci Lords—the very images that had nearly destroyed the industry 25 years ago, and remain illegal “child pornography” today, even though Lords is now middle aged.

I, for one, can’t wait to see how this story plays out, and will update it here as information becomes available.

The Profanity Problem on Amazon US

July 7, 2011

Tags: Beaver Street, A History of Modern Pornography, reviews, Amazon, David Comfort

Yesterday I wrote about the problems readers were having posting Beaver Street reviews on Amazon UK—a computer was flagging sexually explicit keywords, and rejecting the reviews. But when a fellow author and professional critic, David Comfort, wrote to Amazon UK to ask why his review wasn’t posted, a human being read the computer-rejected review and posted it exactly as Comfort had originally written it.

After his review was posted in the UK, Comfort then contacted Amazon US to ask the same question: Why wasn’t my Beaver Street review posted?

Here is Amazon’s response:

Hello David,
I read your recent review of “Beaver Street: A History of Modern Pornography” and found it violated our guidelines. I did notice that it has been approved on the Amazon UK site, but we don’t allow profanity in our US Customer Reviews.
Your review couldn’t be posted on Amazon.com as written. I would recommend revising your review and submitting it again. Specifically, the following parts cannot be posted on Amazon.com:
”cocksmen,” “blowjob,” and “newcummer”
Please take a look at our Review Guidelines for information about acceptable review content.


Comfort censored his review and Amazon US posted it. Cocksmen became studs. Blowjob became fellatio. Newcummer became freshman.

Dear readers, keep in mind that Amazon reviews are vital to the success of Beaver Street. If you’ve read the book and have something to say about it, please post a review—but watch your language, especially in the US. If Amazon doesn’t post it, ask them why and they will tell you, just as they told Comfort.

Though Beaver Street has not yet been published here, it is available through marketplace sellers on Amazon US, or through me. (Click on “Contact,” above, and send me an e-mail. I’ll send you the details.)

And thanks for reading (and writing)!

A Note to My Readers About Amazon UK Reviews

July 6, 2011

Tags: Beaver Street, A History of Modern Pornography, reviews, Amazon, David Comfort, The Rock & Roll Book of the Dead, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, obscenity

Fortunately, I’m not the only person who’s been wondering why, up to a few days ago, no reader reviews of Beaver Street had appeared on Amazon UK, where the book is readily available.

David Comfort, author of The Rock & Roll Book of the Dead, and a professional critic, looked into the matter after he submitted a review to Amazon UK—similar to his review that ran on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer website—which was not posted. He wrote to Amazon to ask what was going on and received the following response:

Hello Mr. Comfort,
We encourage all feedback on the Amazon.co.uk website, both positive and negative.
However, it has come to our attention that your review of “Beaver Street: A History of Modern Pornography” does not comply with our customer reviews guidelines as:
We don’t allow obscene or distasteful content including sexually explicit or sexually gratuitous comments in Customer Reviews.
It is focused on the author and their life rather than reviewing the book itself.


Comfort then sent the following letter to Amazon UK:

Amazon UK Editors:
Are you still in the Victorian Age, or the 21st Century? If the latter, you should find nothing sexually explicit or gratuitous in my review of “Beaver Street.” Please point out the four letter words.
As for your objection that the piece is focused on the author, not the book itself—if you READ the book, rather than blindly pontificate, you will discover that it is AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL and all about the author and his experiences.
If you fancy yourselves as a moral police—not a Free Speech protective bookseller as your customers imagine—please let us know so we can take our business and reviews elsewhere.
David Comfort


The result: Comfort’s review was read by a human, rather than scanned by a computer for objectionable language, and posted exactly as he’d originally written it.

So, a word of warning to future readers of Beaver Street who will be submitting reviews to Amazon UK: Be careful with your language. Read the Amazon customer review guidelines. And if you submit a review that’s not posted, then write to Amazon to find out why. You may get an Amazon human to read it and post it.

Tomorrow: David Comfort corresponds with the good people at Amazon US.

Joy of Index 5: The Letter M

June 25, 2011

Tags: Beaver Street, A History of Modern Pornography, Missy Manners

Taking one of our periodic looks into the diversity of Beaver Street subject matter, today we’ll explore one of my favorite letters of the alphabet, M, which in the book’s comprehensive index covers, among other things, the novelist who wrote The Naked and the Dead, my wife, a men’s adventure mag once edited by Bruce Jay Friedman, a French impressionist painter, a porn star who once worked for Senator Orrin Hatch, and a mass murderer who some people think is “a genius gone wrong.”

Mailer, Norman 138
Maiscott, Mary Lyn 205
Male 76
Manet, Édouard 173
Manners, Missy 142, 162
Manson, Charles 30, 118

If you’d like to know more about the letter M (or any other letter of the alphabet), you might consider reading Beaver Street: A History of Modern Pornography.

Five Great Reads About the Business of Smut

June 11, 2011

Tags: Slate, Beaver Street, A History of Modern Pornography

At least that’s what they’re calling it on Slate, in a piece that somehow overlooks my own contribution to the genre, Beaver Street: A History of Modern Pornography. Of course, I don’t take such slights personally. I just added a comment, pointing out their oversight. (I urge you to do the same, assuming you regard Beaver Street as a great read.)

For the record, the five reads they selected are: The Devil and John Holmes, by Mike Sager, from Rolling Stone; They Shoot Porn Stars, Don’t They?, by Susannah Breslin (self published, 2009); Scenes from My Life in Porn, by Evan Wright, from LA Weekly; Barely Legal Whores Get Gang F***ed, by Zac Smith (Rumpus, 2009); and Hard Core, by Natasha Vargas-Cooper, from Atlantic.

Weiner

June 9, 2011

Tags: Anthony Weiner, Beaver Street, A History of Modern Pornography

As the author of Beaver Street: A History of Modern Pornography, and the subject of an experiment in participatory journalism called “The $5 Blowjob” (which I describe in the book), I feel I should offer a few words of advice to Congressman Anthony Weiner of New York.

Congressman, if you have an uncontrollable impulse to show pictures of your erect penis to strangers on the Internet, find another line of work. May I suggest pornography? You won’t even have to change your name.

Joy of Index IV: The Letter K

June 4, 2011

Tags: Beaver Street, A History of Modern Pornography

A Prague Legend. Photo by IneedCoffee / CoffeeHero.
In yet another look into the diversity of subject matter found in Beaver Street: A History of Modern Pornography, we explore the letter K, which covers, among other things, a grotesquely imaginative writer in Prague, a classic book of sex positions, two porno superstars, a former Hustler editor, and a racist organization known for cross burning.

Kafka, Franz 164
Kama Sutra 126
Kane, Sharon 63, 64

Krassner, Paul 29
Ku Klux Klan 144
Kupps, Kimberly 175

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…

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

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

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.

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.

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...

The Joy of Index

April 30, 2011

Tags: Beaver Street, A History of Modern Pornography, Orrin Hatch, Missy Manners, Eric Edwards, Anette Haven

More than any other part of Beaver Street, I enjoy looking through the obsessively comprehensive index--because it takes every little thing I wrote about and arranges it in a random way that makes the book seem fresh. What the hell did I write about Marlon Brando (pg. 77) and Mel Brooks (pg. 97)? Oh... right... of course. How could I forget?

I'm especially amused by the absurd and occasionally illuminating juxtapositioning of certain names. For example, having once employed the porn star Missy Manners, this is probably not the first index that has Orrin Hatch (pg. 142) on top of Annette Haven (pg. 139). But I suspect that it is the first index to have the porn star Eric Edwards (pgs. 60, 108) in the middle of a Thomas Edison (pgs. 131, 164, 197)/Albert Einstein (pg. 115) sandwich.

To check out more of the index, or any other part of Beaver Street, get your copy now directly from Headpress. Support independent publishing!

Spiro Agnew vs. Orrin Hatch

April 29, 2011

Tags: Spiro Agnew, Richard Nixon, Orrin Hatch, pornography, Beaver Street, A History of Modern Pornography

Today we shall contrast an anti-porn statement of Spiro Agnew, Richard Nixon's bribe-taking vice president, with another pearl of wisdom from the Honorable Orrin Hatch, senior senator from Utah.

"As long as Richard Nixon is president, Main Street is not going to turn into Smut Alley." --Spiro Agnew

"Obscenity is toxic. Like other forms of toxic waste, obscenity harms everyone it touches." --Orrin Hatch

Read about it in Beaver Street, now back in stock on Amazon UK.

Let's Give Orrin Hatch a Day Off...

April 27, 2011

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

...and talk about where to buy Beaver Street.

When Headpress released Beaver Street: A History of Modern Pornography in the UK last week, it immediately sold out on Amazon, and many people who ordered the book are still waiting for delivery. The good news is that more copies are on the way, and you should be receiving your Beaver soon. In the meantime, you can order the book online directly from Headpress, Blackwell's, and Langton.





Why Orrin Hatch?

April 25, 2011

Tags: Orrin Hatch, pornography, Beaver Street, A History of Modern Pornography

Why am I going off here every day about Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah and his call for more vigorous prosecution of pornographers? Well, aside from the fact that he once employed a woman who became a porn star, his call for the vigorous prosecution of pornographers is a classic sign of deep-seeded political corruption. It’s like a cry for help or a symptom of a terminal disease.

“Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel,” Samuel Johnson said over 200 years ago. Today, prosecuting pornography is the last refuge of the doomed politician. Just ask Richard Nixon, Spiro Agnew, Edwin Meese, Charles Keating, and Alberto Gonzales. Or read all about it in Beaver Street.

Orrin Hatch's Personal Porn Star

April 22, 2011

Tags: Orrin Hatch, Beaver Street, A History of Modern Pornography, Elisa Florez, Missy Manners, Behind the Green Door, politics

Orrin Hatch of Utah is one of the leaders of the pack of senators calling for vigorous pornography prosecutions. I mentioned him in Beaver Street because his former aide Elisa Florez is “Missy Manners,” who starred in the Mitchell Brothers' XXX film Behind the Green Door: The Sequel (1986). Check out her photo here.

Here We Go Again

April 21, 2011

Tags: Meese Commission, Traci Lords, Beaver Street, A History of Modern Pornography, Politico

On the 25th anniversary of the Meese Commission and the Traci Lords scandal, 42 senators are demanding the Justice Department vigorously prosecute pornographers. This is one of the stories at the heart of Beaver Street. Every time conservatives come to power, they do the same thing, and it plays out the same way: The anti-porn warriors are exposed as criminals, and resign in disgrace. Read the full story at Politico.

Erotic Review Interview, Part 3

April 20, 2011

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



In the third part of my chat with Kate Copstick and Jamie Maclean of the Erotic Review, we discuss the collapse of pornography as a viable business. And as we continue to wait for the online booksellers to replenish their stocks, please order Beaver Street directly from Headpress.

Erotic Review Interview, Part 2

April 19, 2011

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



Here's the second part of my chat with Kate Copstick and Jamie Maclean, in which I discuss working on both sides of the camera in the adult entertainment industry. You can order Beaver Street directly from Headpress as we await the online booksellers to replenish their stocks.

A Very British Interview

April 18, 2011

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



Beaver Street, my first book in 11 years, has been published today in the UK and already it's sold out on Amazon. But copies are still available directly from Headpress. Click here to order. And check out this very British interview with Kate Copstick and Jamie Maclean of the Erotic Review.

Show a Little Beaver Love

April 17, 2011

Tags: Beaver Street, A History of Modern Pornography, Facebook

Beaver Street is being published tomorrow in the UK. It's my first book in 11 years and who knows how long it's going to be till the next one. I've launched a Beaver Street page on Facebook. You know how it works. Click here and show a little Beaver love.

Beaver Street Photo Book

April 7, 2011

Tags: Beaver Street, A History of Modern Pornography, Headpress, Traci Topps

Check out a Headpress slideshow of images and outtakes from the Beaver Street photo section, as well a couple of shots we considered "too hot" to publish in a mainstream book.

Porn Is No Longer About Sex

April 3, 2011

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

I've returned from a month of promoting Beaver Street and Nowhere Man in England and Italy. Click here to watch part one of my interview with Kate Copstick and Jamie Maclean of the Erotic Review.



As I prepare to embark on my UK promotional tour...

February 24, 2011

Tags: Beaver Street, A History of Modern Pornography, Paul Slimak, Agnes Herrmann, Erich von Pauli



...Paul Slimak and Agnes Herrmann have graciously shot another Beaver Street promo video. Paul is a character in the book; I call him Henry Dorfman. He's a professional actor who specializes in playing Nazis. Agnes is also a professional actor and voice-over specialist. She's appeared in such films as The Road. Thank you Paul and Agnes!

Auntie Climax

February 19, 2011

Tags: Moncrieff, Beaver Street, A History of Modern Pornography, Izzy Singer, For Adults Only

Sean Moncrieff, host of Moncrieff! on Newstalk Radio Ireland, was quite taken with the names of some of the porn stars I mention in Beaver Street. “They’re like superheroes,” he said of Deena Duo, Pandora Peaks, and Busty Dusty. But his favorite porn star was Auntie Climax, so christened by Izzy Singer, editor of For Adults Only magazine.

Singer was tickled pink to hear that a name he’d dreamed up decades ago was being discussed on an Irish radio show. “I was standing in the middle of Eighth Avenue, crossing the street, when it popped into my head,” he said.

“You never know when the Muse will speak,” I told him.

“Yes, lad,” he replied in an Irish brogue, “but she wouldn’ta given me such a lastin’ jewel had I not been supplicatin’ meself at her door for seven days and seven nights!”

Listen to the First Beaver Street Interview

February 18, 2011

Tags: Beaver Street, A History of Modern Pornography, Moncrieff

My Beaver Street interview on Moncrieff! on Newstalk Radio Ireland is now archived. Click here to listen. It begins at 5:30 on part 4, Thursday, February 17.

First Beaver Street Interview

February 17, 2011

Tags: Beaver Street, A History of Modern Pornography, Moncrieff, Macwire

Did my first official Beaver Street interview this morning--the Moncrieff show on Newstalk Radio Ireland. Would have posted the link here had my internet not been down. (Thank you, Time Warner.) If you'd like to read more about the book and my upcoming UK tour, check out The Macwire.

First Beaver Street Review

February 16, 2011

Tags: Beaver Street, A History of Modern Pornography

The first Beaver Street review has been posted on many sites, and it's enthusiastic. Here's the one from the Seattle PI. One small step for the literary insurgency.

Beaver Street in Vanity Fair

January 12, 2011

Tags: Beaver Street, A History of Modern Pornography, Vanity Fair, Hot Type, Headpress

Beaver Street: A History of Modern Pornography, scheduled to be published next month by Headpress, is mentioned in "Hot Type" in the February issue of Vanity Fair UK.

The Real Beaver Street Cover

November 30, 2010

Tags: Beaver Street, A History of Modern Pornography

I've posted on my home page the long awaited Beaver Street cover. Click here to check it out. Bound galleys are now available for the media. Please e-mail your request.

Read the Beaver Street Prologue Now

November 22, 2010

Tags: Beaver Street, A History of Modern Pornography

I've posted the Beaver Street Prologue here. I hope this will entice some of you to pre-order the book and those of you in the media to request an advance reader's galley, which will be available by the end of the month. (PDF galleys are available now.) A special note to any readers from Brooklyn: The Prologue opens in my father's candy store on Church Avenue, in 1961.

What's Up With the Anonymous Quote?

October 17, 2010

Tags: Beaver Street, A History of Modern Pornography

One problem with writing a book about pornography is that a lot of people who enjoyed reading Beaver Street are hesitant to say so publicly. The author of the blurb on my home page--"Robert Rosen is a genius for connecting Traci Lords to Iran-Contra"--once worked in porn. Now he has a serious, high-profile job, and would prefer that people didn't know about his X-rated past. Who can blame him? But I love his insightful comment because it goes right to the heart of the book--the "climax," if you will--and it shows the wide, provocative range of material that Beaver Street covers.

My Favorite Nazi Returns

October 11, 2010

Tags: Beaver Street, A History of Modern Pornography, Paul Slimak, Agnes Herrmann, Robert Rosen, Headpress



My favorite Nazi, Erich von Pauli, has recorded another Beaver Street propaganda video.

Annie Sprinkle Speaks

September 15, 2010

Tags: Beaver Street, A History of Modern Pornography, Annie Sprinkle

Annie Sprinkle is a former porn star with a Ph.D, a photographer, an author, and self-described “ecosexual artist.” I was her editor in the mid-1980s when she was a columnist for Stag magazine. Annie is now a character in Beaver Street: A History of Modern Pornography, and that’s why I sent her a galley of the book. Here’s what she had to say:

“Thank heavens Robert Rosen has documented his, mine, and your wacky, tacky, rich and fun smut-rag history. Beaver Street is a deliciously delightful read, a fabulous book. He captures the complexities, ironies, and color of the times when sex magazines ruled. As a girl who has been round the Beaver Street block, I can attest that this is the raunchy truth, extremely well told.”

The Margaret Mead of Porn

August 26, 2010

Tags: Beaver Street, A History of Modern Pornography, Traci Lords, Dark Brothers, Ruben Sturman, Pamela Katz

A few days ago I sent the uncorrected proofs for Beaver Street: A History of Modern Pornography, which Headpress is scheduled to publish in the UK in October, to four “characters” in the book, former coworkers who knew they were in it, but had never seen it. Below is the response of the character I call “Pamela Katz,” an editor and filmmaker who once dated the late Ruben Sturman, who the government considered the most prolific pornographer in America. Let’s call this the first review:

I’ve just completed Beaver Street, and as you could guess, I could not put it down. Can not determine WHY this was not bought in USA because there is nothing like it...no comprehensive history of modern porn, especially The Golden Age, which we were so fortunate to experience. I used to call you Nosy Rosey. Did not know you were a diarist. But noted you were always asking “why” and were just (to me) nosy. You were like a visiting anthropologist, like Margaret Mead observing the Samoans. But you were in the thick of it, not just observing, which is what makes the book work. (As you call it an investigative memoir.) Perfect mix of personal experience, research, reporting, and conclusions.

Did I ever tell you that Traci Lords lived with Greg Brown and Walter Gernert (the Dark Brothers)? She was so into the porn lifestyle. It’s like I had totally forgotten how outrageous my life had been. I remember, as if it were yesterday, Ruben Sturman telling me (while seated on a banquette at a fancy French restaurant) how some book/video store didn’t pay him his cut and he’d had to firebomb it. Telling me that like any other guy chats about “my day at the office,” remembering having the diner next to us overhear all this. Remembering how very candid he was and how uncomfortably paranoid his candidness made me feel. Insanity, all of it. Remembering doing a photo shoot on Baltimore’s Block. Sex with a stripper. Owner put a loaded gun to my head. Remembered fighting with the Teamster’s Union over equipment rental for Raw Talent. So many stories...point is, I wish I had kept a diary. Because it was all pretty incredible compared to my life in porn now. The Eighties were insane.

Anyone reading the book will also be surprised how many female pornographers were working. You not only captured the past, you offered an overview of a huge, pervasive industry people know little about. You nailed it!

Sneak Preview: First "Beaver Street" Promo Video

July 27, 2010

Tags: Beaver Street, A History of Modern Pornography, Nazi Humor, Paul Slimak, Agnes Herrmann, Mary Lyn Maiscott, book promotion



Erich von Pauli Addresses the British Empire on the “Beaver Street” Issue, the first of many Beaver Street promotional videos, is scheduled to be officially released in early August; it’s “unlisted” on YouTube. But I’m offering a sneak preview to the readers of this blog.

The video is intended as parody. If you find Nazi humor offensive, please don't watch it. But if you enjoyed The Producers, Mel Brooks's 1968 film, then Erich von Pauli might be your cup of tea. I encourage you to watch it in the full-screen mode.

Beaver Street Is Now Available for Pre-Order

April 7, 2010

Tags: Beaver Street, A History of Modern Pornography, Amazon

The publication date is still six months away, but Beaver Street: A History of Modern Pornography is now available for pre-order on Amazon UK for £11.95. There is no better way to join the Beaver Street Literary Insurgency.

The Beaver Street Literary Insurgency

March 11, 2010

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



A few days ago I posted the above image on my home page. It's going to be part of the promotional campaign for my new book, Beaver Street: A History of Modern Pornography, which will be published in the UK, in October, by Headpress. The drawing was done by a young German artist, Mark Kaufman, a big fan of my previous book, Nowhere Man. The energy and skill that he put into the graphic is a beautiful example of what I've come to call "The Beaver Street Literary Insurgency." Simply put, a literary insurgency is when people spontaneously embrace the work of an author they enjoy reading. I hope someday you, too, will join us.