The Sporadic Beaver

Taking it Personally

July 1, 2014

Tags: Hustler, Back Issues, Larry Flynt, Michael Lee Nirenberg, Bill Nirenberg, Al Goldstein, Carl Ruderman, High Society, Screw, Swank Publications, Penthouse, Michael Musto, Gail Dines, Supreme Court, Beaver Street, pornography

I tend to write about movies that have a direct, personal connection either to my life or my books--see About Cherry, Magic Trip, and Chapter 27--and the latest such film to fall into this category is the generically titled Back Issues, a documentary about Hustler magazine. (Why not just call it Hustler?)

I enjoyed Back Issues in part because it adds an additional dimension to much of what I write about in Beaver Street. And Beaver Street, with its tales of High Society publisher Carl Ruderman trying to pattern his magazine after Hustler, only to end up as Hustler’s "Asshole of the Month," adds an additional dimension to Back Issues.

But the primary reason I’m writing about the film is because Bill Nirenberg, whom I used to work with at Swank Publications—the company at the center of Beaver Street—is at the center of Back Issues. Before landing at Swank, Bill was an art director at Hustler during its glory days, from the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s, and watching the film with two of my former colleagues filled me with the disorienting sense of being back at Swank and listening to Bill regale us with his Hustler and Larry Flynt stories. Bill’s demeanor, his tone, his vibe, as well as the stories themselves are exactly as I remember them.

Capturing somebody on film just as they are in life is not an easy thing to do. But the reason Bill comes across so realistically—in fact the reason this film exists at all—is because his son, Michael Lee Nirenberg, directed it. And because of the intimate connection between subject and filmmaker, Michael was able to gain access to all the key Hustler players, including the often-inaccessible Flynt, as well as former editors Paul Krassner and Allan MacDonell, whose memoir, Prisoner of X, covers the same time period as I do in Beaver Street.

Michael also managed to unearth a number of documents that illustrate some of the most notable moments in the history of a polarizing magazine whose impact on American popular culture was profound. The most outrageous document is an audiotape of Flynt ranting at the Supreme Court justices, in 1983, when they were considering a libel case that Penthouse publisher Bob Guccione’s girlfriend, Kathy Keeton, had brought against Hustler. The language Flynt uses, a series of gratuitously racist and sexist slurs, is so inflammatory it transcends the realm of mere obscenity and serves as a sublime demonstration of a man rendered paraplegic by an would-be assassin’s bullet, who now thinks he has nothing to lose, speaking the truth (as he sees it) to power.

Among the people Michael speaks to who didn’t actually work for Hustler but still offer valuable insights about the mag, its founder, and the porn biz are Screw magazine publisher Al Goldstein, who is at death’s door and giving what would be his last interview; writer Michael Musto, who does an excellent job of explaining how the Internet destroyed the porn magazine business; and professional anti-porn activist Gail Dines, who, uncharacteristically, comes across as a sane person.

But it’s the segments where Michael interviews his father, who’s now retired from the porn biz, that give the film a homey, intimate feel, which is unusual (if not unheard of) for a documentary that covers this kind of gritty and often offensive material. This intimacy also helps to make Back Issues an essential document for anybody who wants to understand not only Hustler’s place in the history of modern porn, but how, in the late 20th century, pornography was able to supplant rock ’n’ roll as the premier symbol of American pop culture.

The Dirty Dozen

April 3, 2013

Tags: Beaver Street, pornography, Edwin Meese, Meese Commission, Richard Nixon, Spiro Agnew, Eric Holder, Morality in Media, Traci Lords, Gail Dines, Missy Manners, Orrin Hatch

The War on Pornography is an ongoing effort, dating back to the dawn of recorded history, to cleanse the world of smut. It's an unwinnable war waged by radical religious groups and radical political groups of both the right and left wings. It's a subject I explore in Beaver Street, writing at length about the Meese Commission and their use of underage porn star Traci Lords as a pawn in a sting operation designed to bring down the porno industry in America. And it's a subject I've written about extensively on this blog, detailing porn star Missy Manners' relationship with anti-porn Senator Orrin Hatch, of Utah, and more recently deconstructing anti-porn activist Gail Dines and her efforts to have actors who perform in S&M videos charged with war crimes.

The War on Pornography is a crusade marinated in hypocrisy, corruption, and absurdity that never stops providing me with material, and the other day it provided a little more: Morality in Media (MIM), an interfaith religious group dedicated to the elimination of pornography and obscenity in American life, is best known for their "Dirty Dozen" list, which contains the names of individuals, corporations, and government agencies who, in MIM's estimation, are the "12 top enablers of our country's pornography pandemic." Among those names are such entities as Comcast, Facebook, Google, Twitter, Hilton Hotels, and the Department of Defense--because the Pentagon allows porn mags to be sold at commissaries.

MIM has just selected a new #1, the dirtiest of the Dirty Dozen: Attorney General Eric Holder. Why? Because Holder, they say, “refuses to enforce existing federal obscenity laws against hardcore adult pornography” and “has initiated zero new obscenity cases” since he’s been in office.

One of the points I make in Beaver Street is that “the biggest crooks cry ban pornography the loudest.” The examples I cite—Richard Nixon, Spiro Agnew, Edwin Meese, Charles Keating, and Alberto Gonzales—either had to resign their offices in disgrace to avoid criminal prosecution or, in the case of Keating, went to prison after being convicted of multiple felonies.

Which makes me think that, unlike, say, Attorney General Edwin Meese, who, in the midst of fighting his War on Porn, was busy committing crimes ranging from influence peddling to suborning perjury, Eric Holder might actually be a paragon of moral rectitude. Which, I think, is what most Americans would want their attorney general to be.

I can only congratulate Eric Holder for being #1.

Greatest Hits: Volume II

February 12, 2013

Tags: Ron Jeremy, Gail Dines, Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Marvel Comics, Christy Canyon, Ginger Lynn, About Cherry, Missy Manners, Orrin Hatch, Beaver Street

Yesterday, to celebrate this blog's third anniversary, I ran Volume I of my most popular posts since The Daily Beaver's inception. Today I bring you Volume II, my five greatest hits of all time. And they're all related to pornography.

5. The Great Porno Debate: Ron Jeremy vs. Gail Dines (Aug. 17, 2011)
Let's just say that my opinion has evolved since I wrote this piece.

4. The Marvel Comics Porno Connection (June 29, 2011)
This video of Stan Lee explaining his partnership with Jack Kirby provides additional insight into one of the central themes of Beaver Street.

3. The Christy & Ginger Show (Apr. 24, 2012)
Big surprise: People love Christy Canyon and Ginger Lynn. But who knew they had a radio show, You Porn? And who knew I’d be their very special guest one day? (Note to anybody with Sirius XM Radio: I’d love a recording of my appearance on the show, air date May 10, 2012.)

2. About Cherry (Sept. 18, 2012)
I called About Cherry, starring Ashley Hinshaw, James Franco, and Lili Taylor, the best film about the porn industry since Boogie Nights. Mainstream critics hated it.

1. 21 Facts About Porn Star Missy Manners (June 20, 2011)
There’s an enormous amount of interest in “Republican porn star” Missy Manners (real name Elisa Florez), former aide to anti-porn senator Orrin Hatch of Utah and former girlfriend of Artie Mitchell.

The Stop Porn Culture Phrase Book

February 8, 2013

Tags: Stop Porn Culture, Gail Dines

What I've come to realize this past week, in my dealings with Gail Dines and the Stop Porn Culture tribe, is that they don't speak the same language I do: English. What they say and write may sound like English to the untrained ear, but the words they use often have no connection to their standard English definitions. So, as an unmonetized (see below) public service, and in the interest of helping people communicate with the tribe, which has recently banned me from communicating with them, I've begun assembling a Stop Porn Culture Phrase Book. This is, of course, a work in progress, and I would invite both renegade tribe members and outsiders who have attempted to communicate with the tribe to add to it.

Andrea Dworkin: (pers) A founding mother of the tribe. Believed all sex was rape.

body-punishing sex: Common phrase repeated ad infinitum when a tribe member is forced to debate.

boring as balls: Common phrase used to describe the juvenile writing style.

bourgeois revisionist and apologist for the system that oppresses millions of people around the world: Common phrase used to describe any person who does not believe all pornography should be banned.

bullshit: (n) Truth, especially when presented in a humorous, satiric, or well-reasoned manner.

debate: (n) A public exchange of opposing ideas. Something to be avoided under most circumstances.

Gail Dines: (pers) A current leader of the tribe. A marginally more palatable version of Andrea Dworkin.

douche: (n) A person who writes in the juvenile style.

juvenile: (adj) Refers to a sophisticated writing style that lampoons, satirizes, or parodies the pornography industry or its detractors.

monetize: (vt) A prejudicial term used to describe the selling of goods or services the tribe disapproves of.

Moron: (n) Standard English (e.g., Do you speak Moron?)

pornography: (n) Any word or image that depicts sex in any manner. Describes an entire spectrum of material, from XXX S&M videos displaying acts of double penetration to Vanity Fair.

rape: (n) Any sexual act.

self-aggrandizing: (adj) Refers to promotion of any work that deviates from the tribe’s party line.

sex: (n) rape

S&M: (n) A type of war crime.

Stop Porn Culture: An isolated and puritanical tribe of self-described feminist warriors who believe that all pornography should be banned and that they are waging a winning war against the proliferation of pornography.

typical capitalist: Common phrase used to describe a freelance writer or editor who is not a member of the tribe.

Vanity Fair: A pornographic magazine.

wannabe: (n) A critically acclaimed author whose books have appeared on best-seller lists in multiple countries and in multiple languages.

war crime: (n) Any sadomasochistic act, especially one that is recorded on video.

war criminal: (n) An actor who participates in an S&M video or photo shoot.

warrior: (n) censor

white noise: (n) A well-reasoned argument.

The Sayings of Chairman Bob

February 7, 2013

Tags: Gail Dines, Stop Porn Culture, Beaver Street

"People become porn stars because they're good at it; because they have no other options; because they have nothing to lose; and because they're desperate, either economically or emotionally or both." --from Beaver Street by Robert Rosen

The happy warriors of Facebook's Stop Porn Culture page have accused me of self-aggrandizement and other far more serious crimes. The self-aggrandizement charge, unlike such charges as being in favor of violence against women and being a "bourgeois revisionist and apologist for the system that oppresses millions of people around the world," might even contain a grain of truth. So, call me "Chairman Bob," and let's get on with it.

The online debate, Chairwoman Dines and her Happy Warriors vs. Chairman Bob, is heating up. Fortunately, the Warriors have disobeyed Chairwoman Dines’s edict: “Please do not engage with Rosen. He is white noise and our job is to close down the industry, not have fights with the wannabees.” And the Warriors, in their insubordination, have made a number of interesting points. I’d like to respond to all of them, but to do so in one blog post is impossible. So, this could go on for some time. (Note to Chairwoman Dines: What is it, exactly, you think I wannabe?)

First, a bit of background: Gail Dines came to my attention about two years ago, when Beaver Street was published in the UK. Her book, Pornland, was listed under Amazon’s “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought” feature. I did a little research and found Dines to be a more palatable version of the late Andrea “AllSexIsRape” Dworkin. I agreed with much of what Dines said. A lot of porn is degrading—to women and men. I can’t stand watching it, either. It has nothing to do with sex or eroticism. But I don’t think that that’s the case with all pornography—a major point on which Dines disagrees.

The more I learned about Dines, the more I came to dislike her point of view. For example, in one of her lectures that I watched on YouTube, she called Vanity Fair “pornography.” Though she didn’t explain why, I assume it’s because they’ve run photos of topless women and women posing in lingerie. But to categorize Vanity Fair as porn is as absurd as calling for porn stars who participate in S&M videos to be prosecuted for war crimes. And to equate Vanity Fair with degrading X-rated videos is counterproductive. You’re going to lose people, like me, who might be inclined to agree with you.

It’s Dines’s stridency and unwillingness to consider any opinion other than her own that ultimately turned me against her. She says, for example, that if you’re not in favor of eliminating all pornography, then you’re in favor of violence against women—another absurd and counterproductive charge.

Has Dines ever spoken to any of the porn stars she wants to free from bondage? If she did, then she’d know that porn stars don’t want to be freed; that they went into porn due to lack of economic opportunity; that they think that porn is the best job they’ve ever had; that before porn, the best they could do was a minimum-wage job at Burger King.

Is Dines offering porn stars economic opportunity? A college education? Or is she a “bourgeois” professor sitting in an ivory tower at an overpriced private college, who only rails about the evils of pornography but has no real understanding of why people go into it or what it would take to get them out? Is Dines aware that porn stars see her as an ignorant woman who wants to take away their livelihoods and offer them nothing in return?

To be continued…

The Sayings of Chairwoman Dines

February 6, 2013

Tags: Gail Dines, S&M, Beaver Street, Stop Porn Culture

"Robert Rosen, author of Beaver Street, and occasional contributor to this FB page just wrote a rather juvenile piece on me on his blog. The pornographers and their cronies are so interesting because they have no concept of activism for social change. They assume that we are all like them in our desire to 'monetize' everything we do. This is a typical capitalist thinking that can't conceive of a world where people act on the desire to make lives better for others." --Gail Dines, author of Pornland

The above quote, along with a link to my blog post, Gail Dines's Symbiotic XXX Embrace, appeared the other day in the Facebook group Stop Porn Culture. It resulted in a little online dustup.

To recap: I’d written, in part, about Dines’s suggestion, in a column on Counterpunch.org, that Kink.com, a production company specializing in S&M videos, was in violation of international laws prohibiting torture. Apparently unable to distinguish between professional actors being paid to make S&M videos, and CIA agents torturing prisoners at black sites, she said that both the actors and agents had committed war crimes and should be brought to justice.

The inherent absurdity of this argument led me to suggest that Dines is more interested in selling books than she is in achieving her stated goal of eradicating pornography. Because if she ever succeeds in achieving the impossible—eliminating porn—then she’ll be putting herself out of business. And the anti-porn biz is a good and lucrative business, indeed. Just ask Traci Lords.

In any case, I think Dines’s statement at the top of this post deserves a response, and I’ll begin with her grammatically disjointed charge that I’m a “typical capitalist” who assumes that everybody wants to “monetize everything.”

If by “typical capitalist” Dines means that I have attempted to make my living as a writer, editor, and occasional teacher in a capitalist society—a society where I sell my time and work for money—then she is correct. And God help capitalism if I’m typical.

But I also took this charge to mean that Dines does not monetize her time and work, that she must be a socialist, a communist, or even an anarchist, whose purpose in life is to get out word to as many people as possible about the evils of pornography. I therefore assumed that her book must be available as a free download, and that Wheelock College, in Boston, where Dines is a professor of sociology and women’s studies, must be free tuition.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered that Pornland is selling for the standard Kindle price of $9.99, and that tuition plus room and board for four years at Wheelock will cost an undergraduate about $175,000—a fee that strikes me as a form of capitalism as pure and exploitative as pornography. It brought to mind an image of one of Dines’s students, in the year 2038, still struggling to pay off her student loan, and thinking fondly of Professor Dines and all that useful information she taught her about “body-punishing sex.” It even occurred to me that this imaginary student might have, at some point in her career, turned to the porn industry to earn a little extra money to pay off that crushing debt.

But enough about capitalism for now. Let’s turn, for a moment, to the charge of “juvenile.” Funny word, juvenile. If I didn’t know the meaning, and had to figure it out based only on how radical feminists have used it to describe my work, I might conclude that juvenile means “people who write in a humorous or satiric manner about the porn industry and its detractors.” Because the only other person who has described my work as “juvenile” is a radical-feminist book reviewer who, in order to trash Beaver Street, made up things about the book that are demonstrably false, and then based her opinions on those misrepresentations. She said, for example, that I “excluded female pornographers entirely” from the book, when, in fact, there are more than dozen women pornographers in Beaver Street, five of whom are major characters.

But this post is about the absurdity of Gail Dines, not the absurdity of radical feminist critics who have reviewed my work in a less than honest manner. And though I’d love to continue in this vein, it’s getting late, and there are more books to be written. So, I’ll have to continue on another day. But I will leave you with one last thought: If my work has pissed off porn kings (such as Lou Perretta) and radical feminists alike, I must be doing something right. Could it be that I’m telling the truth?

Gail Dines's Symbiotic XXX Embrace

February 4, 2013

Tags: Gail Dines, Adult Video News, S&M

I must admit I felt a pang of jealousy when I saw AVN's takedown of Gail Dines's takedown of both James Franco's documentary Kink, and the subject of the film, Kink.com, following a screening at the Sundance Film Festival.

According to Dines's original piece on Counterpunch.org, Kink.com, a company specializing in S&M videos, is in violation of international laws prohibiting torture. According to AVN, Dines is an idiot for saying that professional actors being paid to make S&M videos are committing war crimes and should be brought to justice. Dines, they suggest, seems unable to distinguish sexual fantasy from the coercive interrogation techniques that the CIA once used on members of al Quaeda.

I’m jealous because the only thing that might sell more books than a high-profile takedown of an author is a high-profile rave review of the author’s book. And make no mistake about Gail Dines: Though she acts as if her primary goal is the elimination of pornography—“body-punishing sex” is her favorite phrase—her primary goal is selling books, and she’s very good at it.

Dines, a professional anti-porn activist, has built her career on criticizing the porn industry. And in so doing, she has become locked in a symbiotic embrace with that industry: The more pervasive pornography becomes, the more Dines has to criticize; the more ubiquitous Dines becomes with her porno-bashing books, articles, lectures, and media appearances, the more curious people become about the “body-punishing sex” she professes to hate so much. If Dines were ever to accomplish her stated goal of putting pornographers out of business, then she’d be putting herself out of business, too. And that’s not going to happen.

So, when AVN publishes a piece like “Quick! Someone Tell Gail Dines That Porn Is Actually Fantasy!” and the graphic for that piece includes the cover of Dines’s book, Dines, in the midst of her psychic orgasm, takes to her Facebook group, Stop Porn Culture, posts a link to the article, and says, in part, “I am so grateful to the pornographers for helping me understand that torture is just fantasy and sex play.” And Stop Porn Culture’s 1829 members follow that up with comments like: “Porn users are very entitled and do not like to be called out. They will grasp at anything that AVN says that allows them to maintain their dominance. They hate girls who are big meanies and make them feel ashamed!” And: “Someone (maybe their lawyers!) should remind [Kink.com] that they can go to ACTUAL prison for making people do that stuff.”

More books are sold. More pornography is viewed. And Gail Dines feels the satisfaction of a job well done.

24 Hours

September 19, 2012

Tags: Shu-Izmz, Core of Destruction Radio, Beaver Street, Nowhere Man, John Lennon, About Cherry, Gail Dines, Lorelei Lee, Indies Unlimited, Talk Story TV

Here's a brief rundown of the events of the past day:

Last night, I talked to Bryan Schuessler, who'd recently posted an enthusiastic Beaver Street review on his site Shu-Izmz. In the course of our extensive conversation, we covered a slew of topics that included pornography, politics, John Lennon, Nazis, and writing. The interview will be broadcast this Sunday, September 23, on Core of Destruction Radio and will also be available as a podcast. Check their site for details.

The review of About Cherry that I posted here yesterday came to the attention of a number of people on Twitter, including the film's co-writer, porn star Lorelei Lee, who retweeted the last line: "Guaranteed to piss off Gail Dines." Among other things, I said that About Cherry was the best movie about the porn industry since Boogie Nights. Then, out of curiosity, I read a few other critiques, and was surprised to see how savagely critics had trashed the film. The Hollywood Reporter, for example, called About Cherry "dramatically feeble and fraudulent." Well, obviously I disagree, and I can say with some authority that this particular critic doesn't know what the fuck he's talking about. Bring on the controversy, baby!

A site called Indies Unlimited asked me to write a guest blog about how my John Lennon bio, Nowhere Man, became an international bestseller. My essay will run on Lennon’s 72nd birthday, October 9, and you can read it here after it goes live at 2 P.M. Eastern time.

Finally, please remember to visit Talk Story TV tonight at 9 P.M. Eastern Time for my live chat with Julia Widdop about Beaver Street. The technical problems we experienced last week appear to have been solved.

About Cherry

September 18, 2012

Tags: About Cherry, Stephen Elliott, Lorelei Lee, pornography, Tickled Pink, Boogie Nights, Gail Dines

Cherry (Ashley Hinshaw) and Frances (James Franco) look for love in the world of XXX.
There was a time in the porn industry, about 25 years ago, when people spoke of X-rated films that had "crossover potential." I discuss this phenomenon in my book Beaver Street, in a scene where I'm asked to play a "nerdy file clerk" in Tickled Pink, which I describe as "a screwball comedy with hardcore sex." This is a historic film, I'm told, because, "never before had a porn movie employed fourteen paid extras in one non-sex scene."

Tickled Pink, like a lot of other pornos produced in this brief "Golden Age," had "upscale production values," a quality soundtrack, "performers who could act and fuck," and a well-plotted script written by a smart young director who just happened to be passing through smut on his way to respectability.

Tickled Pink never did crossover into the mainstream. Nor has any other porn flick. In fact, with the porn industry having degenerated into amateur exhibitionism on sites like YouPorn, and professional studs wired on Viagra engaging, as the inimitable adult-industry critic Gail Dines would put it, in “body-punishing sex” with a succession of anonymous starlets, the idea of crossover porno has been long forgotten.

Though it comes very close, About Cherry contains no hardcore sex and therefore cannot be called a crossover movie. It does, however, contain a lot of very explicit sex scenes, and is also the best and most realistic film about the porn industry I’ve seen since Boogie Nights. It’s certainly the best movie yet to be made about pornography in the 21st century, an age when the Internet has taken over and relegated what remains of the venerable “men’s magazine” industry to its deathbed.

This realism can be attributed to About Cherry’s co-writers, director Stephen Elliott, who has written extensively about sex, and Lorelei Lee, a porn star who plays a porn star in the film. Obviously, they both know the business, and their insider knowledge and experience comes across in such scenes as when Angelina aka Cherry, played by the gorgeous young actress Ashley Hinshaw, is interviewed by a porn production company before they hire her to make videos.

Realistically depicted, as well, is the arc of a porn star’s career—single-girl still shoot/single-girl video/two-girl video/boy-girl video—as is the nature of a porn star’s romantic relationship. Cherry begins dating Frances (James Franco), a wealthy coke-addict attorney who doesn’t hesitate to tell her what he thinks of her job: “It’s disgusting.”

The extraordinary ensemble of actors—notably Heather Graham as Margaret, Cherry’s lesbian mentor/director who’s dealing with a jealous girlfriend; Dev Patel as Andrew, Cherry’s supportive gay friend; and Lili Taylor as Phyllis, Cherry’s alcoholic mother—create a milieu of such verisimilitude it can, at times, border on queasy. But the porn industry can, indeed, be a very queasy place.

The plot is basic: Cherry, a high school student, runs away from her dysfunctional family and sleazy boyfriend, Bobby (Jonny Weston), accompanied by Andrew. She winds up in San Francisco, needs a job, and after waitressing in a strip club, finds her way into porn. What’s different is that About Cherry, unlike, say, Boogie Nights, ends on a positive note, if not necessarily a happy one.

Guaranteed to piss off Gail Dines, and that’s a good thing.

The Body-Punishing Sex of Gail Dines

September 16, 2011

Tags: Gail Dines, Pornland, Andrea Dworkin, Ron Jeremy, Vanity Fair, Porn Report

Gail Dines, anti-porn gadfly.
At first glance, Gail Dines, author of Pornland: How Porn Has Hijacked Our Sexuality, appears to be a more rational version of the late Andrea Dworkin, who believed that watching porn led to rape, and that sexual intercourse was the equivalent of rape.

But I've found that after watching Dines debate Ron Jeremy; watching a few of her lectures on YouTube (in one she calls Vanity Fair magazine "pornography"); and reading a couple of her articles, my sympathy for her point of view is rapidly diminishing, even though I tend to agree with some of what she says. (Yes, some pornography is abusive and disgusting.) It simply grows tiresome to listen to a woman whose favorite phrase, repeated ad nauseum, is "body-punishing sex."

An article by Dines, “Time to Start Telling the Truth About the Porn Industry,” posted on the Australian Broadcasting Company’s Website, offers a concise summary of her views. In the piece, Dines takes on the authors of the Australian Porn Report, whom, she says, want to “sanitize porn as a bit of harmless fun” and “seem willfully detached from the realities of how porn functions as a global industry and as a storytelling device.”

In other words, these Australian “academics, public intellectuals, and plain old pornographers” disagree with Dines’s suggestion that, according to her research, the most popular porn sites display a “mind-numbing repetition” of “gagging, slapping, verbal abuse, hair-pulling, pounding anal sex, women smeared in semen, sore anuses and vaginas, distended mouths, and exhausted, depleted, and shell-shocked women.”

Or, to put it simply, “body-punishing sex.”

Hey, Man, You Really Gotta Read Beaver Street

August 22, 2011

Tags: Gail Dines, Ron Jeremy, Pornland, Jordan Owen, pornography



The other day I posted my review of The Great Porno Debate between Ron Jeremy (Porno good!) and Gail Dines (Porno bad!).

Now I've came across this video review of Dines's book Pornland, by writer and musician Jordan Owen.

Owens is articulate, and Dines really gets under his skin. His commentary is provocative.

The Great Porno Debate: Ron Jeremy vs. Gail Dines

August 17, 2011

Tags: Ron Jeremy, Gail Dines, The Joy Behar Show, pornography, Andrea Dworkin

The most frightening thing about last night's debate between Ron Jeremy and Gail Dines, on The Joy Behar Show, is that the porn star who's appeared in nearly two thousand XXX-rated movies, and the anti-porn author of Pornland both sounded more sane than any of the Republican presidential candidates did in their debate last week.

I hardly agree with everything Gail Dines says. She has, for example, classified Vanity Fair magazine as pornography. But she clearly does a lot of research—she said on the show that she gets her information from Adult Video News—and unlike, say, the late Andrea Dworkin, she traffics in facts and presents them in a non-hysterical way.

The heart of Dines’s “porn is bad” argument is that the bulk of smut you find on the Internet is “body-punishing cruel sex, women being gagged by penises, women being penetrated by four men,” and that watching this kind of thing affects how men relate to women.

Jeremy, of course, disagrees. Citing a study in Scientific American magazine, he said that porn is not harmful and that “fifty percent of all porn is produced and directed by women.”

Dines said that the porn women produce is even “more violent.”

The debate, an abbreviated version of which you can watch by clicking on the above photo, was civilized. Though there was one amusingly petulant moment, which doesn’t appear in the edited video. Jeremy kept referring to Dines as “this lady.”

“I am not ‘this lady,’” said Dines, interrupting. “I am Gail Dines!”

Bottom line: If Jeremy or Dines were to run for president (Dines can’t because she was born in England), I’d vote for either one of them before I’d vote for Michele Bachmann or Rick Perry.

The Business of Smut: Critique #2

June 15, 2011

Tags: Natasha Vargas-Cooper, The Atlantic, Andrea Dworkin, Slate, Martin Amis, Susan Sontag, Pauline Kael, Gail Dines, anal sex, smut

Allow me to begin my critique of “Hard Core,” by Natasha Vargas-Cooper, which ran in the January 2011 issue of The Atlantic, by saying that the author, judging by the photo on her website, is an exotically attractive brunette. Though looks are, of course, irrelevant to a writer’s ability, when a writer, male or female, writes about their sex life, one can only wonder: What does he or she look like? Well, Ms. Vargas-Cooper is no Andrea Dworkin. She is an LA-based freelance writer and former union organizer. And her 4,000-word essay, which Slate included on their list of great “smut” writing, can best be described as a quasi-academic, post-feminist, semi-personal thought piece that quotes from the likes of Martin Amis, Susan Sontag, and Pauline Kael.

Thumbnail Critique
Thesis: The prevalence and instant availability of Internet porn has transformed sexuality.
Highlight: A one-night stand with a “polite,” “educated” man who can only get aroused if he has anal sex with the author.
Sample Quote: “You could be poking around for some no-frills Web clips of amateur couples doing it missionary style, but easily and rapidly you slide into footage of two women simultaneously working their crotches on opposing ends of a double-sided dildo, and then all of a sudden you’re at a teenage-fisting Web site.”
Also see: Pornland: How Porn Has Hijacked Our Sexuality, by Gail Dines