The Sporadic Beaver

WTF Is Football Porn?

February 4, 2016

Tags: football, pornography, Chelsea G. Summers, Vocativ, Super Bowl, Playboy, Traci Lords, Lou Perretta, New Jersey

When Chelsea G. Summers wrote to me last week, asking how and when "football porn" became a thing, my first thought was, WTF is football porn?

My second thought was, Wait a minute, I know what football porn is: It's the biggest cliché in pornography (see Debbie Does Dallas). How many times when I was editing adult magazines did I run pictorials involving football players and cheerleaders?

Which reminded me of my first exposure to football porn. In the 1960s, when the Green Bay Packers ruled the football world, I came across a Playboy with a “Little Annie Fanny” cartoon strip. In that strip, the “Greenback Busters” gang-rape Annie on the 50-yard line, before a cheering, sellout crowd. (This was considered funny a half-century ago.)

I got lost in a football reverie, remembering how I covered the football team for my high school newspaper, and wanted to be a professional sportswriter. Then it took a darker turn, to locker-room hazing, sexual assault. Why, all of sudden, was there a rash of stories about this… and stories like the one out of Steubenville, Ohio, hometown of underage porn star Traci Lords and the scene of a notorious rape involving high school football players? And why was there a rash of stories about college football stars who raped and got away with it… because they were football stars and the schools made a lot of money from them?

What is it about football? Plenty, I suppose, but that’s a question that’s going to take more than a blog post to answer.

I finally told Chelsea G. Summers that there has been football porn as long as there has been football, which began in 1869, in New Jersey, where, perhaps not so coincidentally, adult magazines, under the benighted reign of Lou Perretta, went to die.

You can read Chelsea’s article, “Deep Inside the World of Football Porn,” in Vocativ.

And you can watch the Super Bowl on Sunday. I hear it’s on TV.


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



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.

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.

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.

Still Angry After All These Years

March 19, 2013

Tags: Traci Lords, Beaver Street

Traci Lords talks about her rape on Piers Morgan.

Traci Lords, child-porn-star-turned-minor-Hollywood-starlet, is back in the news. The other day, as the lurid trial of two Steubenville, Ohio teenagers charged with rape was ongoing, Lords told Piers Morgan the story of how, when she was ten years old and living in Steubenville--or "Stupidville" as she said everybody there calls it--her teenage boyfriend raped her. This is typical of the kind of stuff that's always happened in Steubenville, she said.

Lords, whom I describe in Beaver Street as an ambitious juvenile delinquent who, in the 1980s, using a fraudulent passport and driver's license, systematically sought work in the porn industry, has built her "legitimate" career on playing the victim--a story that the courts dismissed more than 25 years ago, either dropping the charges against or acquitting everybody who'd worked with Lords and was then arrested for child exploitation. Nobody, they said, could have known that she was a minor. (The only exception was the president of a video company who'd foolishly sold 50 Lords tapes to an undercover vice cop after it was known that she was underage.)

But because her tale of teenage sexual victimization makes such good copy, the media has always treated Lords without skepticism, and their reaction to her “confession” on Piers Morgan is a case in point. Saying that the “former porn actress” had “come forward” to make a “shocking claim,” they seemed unaware that this is a story Lords has been peddling for the better part of 25 years, singing about her rape, in 1995, in a song titled “Father’s Field,” and writing about it, in 2003, in her less-than-revealing memoir.

The only thing of genuine interest about Lords’ latest media foray, which was designed to promote her latest song, is how, at age 44, she’s still angry about everything’s that’s happened to her. It was anger that fueled her porno career, her music career, and her writing career. And if Lords is to be believed, the root cause of all that anger is that long-ago rape. Which is a story worth telling, possibly one that some people might find helpful, and definitely one that deserves to be told honestly.

Personal Faves: Volume II

February 14, 2013

Tags: Slate, pornography, Izzy Singer, Ken Kesey, John Babbs, Joseph Heller, Catch-22, Traci Lords, Beaver Street

This week I've been celebrating the third anniversary of The Daily Beaver with a look back at the ten most popular posts and a selection of some of my personal favorites. As I was putting together Volume II of my personal faves this morning, it reminded me that anniversaries also serve a practical purpose: They are a time to take stock, evaluate, put things in perspective--to see what's come out of this three year frenzy of writing, promotion, and travel. So, once again, here's a random selection of blog posts that caught my eye.

The Business of Smut: Critique #2 (June 15, 2011)
A review of "Hard Core," by Natasha Vargas-Cooper, one of the articles Slate selected as an example of great writing about the porn industry.

The Real Life of a Beaver Street Character (July 15, 2011)
Izzy Singer steps out of Beaver Street to publish a shocking pornographic e-book.

Still on the Bus (Aug. 4, 2011)
A review of Magic Trip: Ken Kesey’s Search for a Cool Place, and a tribute to my friend John Babbs, who passed away last year. I ran this photo essay on my other blog, Maiscott & Rosen, because you can't run multiple photos on The Daily Beaver.

Yossarian Taught Here (Aug. 18, 2011)
A memoir by Joseph Heller’s daughter, Erica, prompted me to jot down some of my own memories of Joseph Heller, author of Catch 22, and one of my creative writing professors at City College.

The Trials of Traci Lords (Jan. 10, 2013)
A further exploration of one of the main subjects of Beaver Street: At age 44, the once underage porn superstar seems to have stopped complaining about being “exploited.” Instead, Lords complains that people won’t let her forget her X-rated teenage exploits.

Tomorrow, Volume III

Happy Anniversaries

January 25, 2013

Tags: Edwin Meese, Meese Commission, Traci Lords, Beaver Street, History of Modern Pornography, Nowhere Man, Vanity Fair

Anniversaries are useful things when it comes to promoting books, and many books are published to coincide with particular anniversaries--because there's always an upsurge in media attention, especially when those anniversaries have round numbers. November of this year, for example, is (shockingly) the 50th anniversary of the JFK assassination. Beginning in the fall, you can look for a flurry of expensively produced volumes about John Kennedy, and don't expect to be able to pick up a newspaper or magazine--assuming you still physically pick up printed matter--without reading some kind of article about the latest book, TV show, or commemoration.

I've been conscious of the importance of anniversaries since Nowhere Man was published right before the 20th anniversary of John Lennon's murder. There's no question that the media attention surrounding that event was instrumental in putting the book on best-seller lists. Ever since, I've been seeking out anniversaries anywhere I can find them.

There are plenty of Beaver Street anniversaries to celebrate, though for the most part the media tend to overlook them—even though they are events of genuine historical significance. 2011, for example, was the 25th anniversary of the Meese Commission on Pornography and the Traci Lords scandal. I don’t recall hearing anything about either one of those events. In fact, Edwin Meese, arguably the most corrupt attorney general in the history of the United States, has managed to squirm back into the news, his corruption unmentioned as he mouths off about ways to impeach Obama. And this month, January 2013, is the 30th anniversary of free phone-sex, the first fusion of erotica and computers, and the beginning of the Age of Modern Pornography. Please clue me in if you’re aware of any commemorations. And while you’re at it, please join me in spirit on April 11 to celebrate the day, 30 years ago, that I began working in XXX. (Yikes!)

Amid all these anniversaries, there’s one personal anniversary that somehow escaped my attention: On January 12, 2011, Beaver Street was mentioned in the media for the first time, in the February UK edition of Vanity Fair, the one with Justin Bieber on the cover. This is significant because here it is, two years down the road, and Beaver Street continues to garner media attention. How rare is it that people are still talking about a book two years after publication? Trust me, it’s rare. And it is cause for celebration. You are cordially invited to join me in spirit as I toast to my ongoing promotional campaign.

The Trials of Traci Lords

January 10, 2013

Tags: Traci Lords, Beaver Street, pornography

Traci Lords
The last time I heard anything of interest about Traci Lords, whose tale of alleged exploitation is one of the centerpieces of Beaver Street, was in August 2011. Lords had taken to Twitter to complain about how a certain online mega-conglomerate was unwittingly selling vintage issues of men's magazines containing pictures of her when she was underage. Lords, then 43, was still refusing to take any responsibility for what she'd done from 1984-1986.

Now Traci Lords, age 44½, is back, busy promoting her new album, titled (with no sense of irony) M2F2 or Music To Fuck To. She recently spoke to the Huffington Post about it, and they asked her the obligatory question about her porn career. Here's a condensed version of what she said:

“When I was doing porn… at 15 I was really wanting to take my sexual power back. Doing porn was my way of saying, ‘No, I’m going to fuck you’… I made those decisions [to do porn] when I was really young. The bigger bummer of it is that I feel like it’s something I’ve been on trial for all my life.”

The first part of this statement is similar to what she said in a passage in her memoir that I described in Beaver Street as the only 86 true words about her porn career in the book. But what makes this quote even remotely interesting is what Lords doesn’t say. Twenty-six years after the fact, she appears to have stopped complaining about being exploited. Instead, she’s chosen to complain about being put on trail for her entire life for that porn career.

Is it possible that Lords still doesn’t understand that that’s the price you pay for becoming an underage porn superstar and then blaming your success on the “vicious” people who “victimized” you by paying you thousands of dollars per day for the privilege of taking your picture? Has she forgotten that many of her former employers really were put on trial in a court of law, and found not guilty of all charges?

Judging by the evidence, she doesn’t understand and has, conveniently, forgotten. Just as in her memoir she’d also forgotten everything of interest.

The Kendra Holliday Interview, Part 2

November 2, 2011

Tags: Kendra Holliday, The Beautiful Kind, Beaver Street, child pornography, Traci Lords, Annie Sprinkle, Ron Jeremy

In part 2 of my Kendra Holliday interview, "How the U.S. Government Really Feels About Child Pornography," the editor of The Beautiful Kind interrogates me about Traci Lords, Annie Sprinkle, Ron Jeremy, and my literary influences.

I tell her everything I know.

Stay tuned for part 3 on Friday.

Gettin' Down and Dirty with the Boys at the Sleazoid Podcast

October 28, 2011

Tags: Sleazoid Podcast, Beaver Street, History of Modern Pornography, Traci Lords



In the second and final part of my Sleazoid Podcast interview, I discuss two of the key events at the heart of Beaver Street.

The first is my experience posing for a porn shoot, which I explore in a chapter called "The Accidental Porn Star." This was both an effort to gain insight into a porn star's state of mind, and an experiment in participatory journalism. I wanted to take journalism to a place it had never been before, and no real writer had ever stepped in front of a camera and reported on what it was like to have sex. More interesting than this sordid act of exhibitionism, however, was my colleagues’ horrified and disgusted reaction to what became known as "The Five Dollar Blowjob."

Then I examine America’s sexual schizophrenia in the chapter titled “So You Want to Talk About Traci Lords.” Why, I ask, did the government treat as a victim a juvenile delinquent with a fraudulent passport and driver’s license who systematically sought work in the porn industry, and treat the photographers and filmmakers who hired her as criminals?

For links to more Beaver Street interviews, articles, and reviews, click here.

The Victim

August 1, 2011

Tags: Traci Lords, child pornography, Amazon, Beaver Street, Seattle Weekly, Twitter

The other day I wrote about how Amazon was unwittingly selling vintage issues of men's magazines containing pictures of Traci Lords, the porn superstar who was underage for her entire career, and whose deception nearly destroyed the adult industry 25 years ago. As this latest development shows, Lords’ ancient actions, which I’ve detailed in Beaver Street, continue to reverberate.

Thus far, however, only Curtis Cartier of the Seattle Weekly has been covering the story, and he’s provided an update on his blog.

According to Cartier, Amazon has pulled most of the issues (apparently provided by extremely foolish and/or ignorant “marketplace sellers”) containing pictures of Lords. Though he said that one image of an issue remained—the August 1985 Swank, with Lords on the cover—that, too, has since been removed.

Cartier also noted that Lords has been tweeting about Amazon.

Tweet #1: I just found out that Amazon is selling my old kiddie porn mags. Not ok.

Tweet #2: Amazon = losers of week for selling child pornography.

Tweet #3: I wish I had a legion of lawyers to kick Amazons ass. Aren’t there enough attractive willing adults out there to exploit?

Tweet #4: All this Amazon drama has driven me to sobriety.

Some things never change. A middle-aged Traci Lords who, beginning in 1984, used a fraudulent passport and driver’s license to systematically seek work in the porn industry still refuses to take any responsibility for what happened. “I was drunk! I was stoned! I was victimized!” she said 25 years ago, when the scandal broke.

She still knows how to play the victim.

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.

On David Foster Wallace and Footnotes

May 12, 2011

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

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

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

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

World’s Greatest Anti-Porn Star

May 11, 2011

Tags: Beaver Street, Traci Lords, pornography

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

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

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

A Dirty Book About Politics

May 2, 2011

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

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

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

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

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.

“A Lucid and Entertaining Read”

September 3, 2010

Tags: Beaver Street, Darius James, Traci Lords

I continue to be encouraged by the reaction of people who’ve been reading the Beaver Street galleys. The running commentary below is from Darius James, author of Negrophobia (St. Martin’s Griffin) and That’s Blaxploitation!: Roots of the Baadasssss ’Tude (St. Martin’s Griffin).

I’m lovin’ this so far. I SERIOUSLY think this should be a movie.

The more I read the better it gets. Very insightful. Especially like "The Secret History." Funny how so much of this dovetails into my own world.

I’m three-quarters through with the book. I have something like 40 pages to go. Real interesting about Traci Lords.

Beaver Street is a lucid and entertaining read. Made me want to jump back in the porn game myself if there was one.

Now I want to read Beaver Street II.

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!