The Sporadic Beaver

The Stoya Exception

May 2, 2013

Tags: Stoya, Village Voice, Beaver Street, porn stars

"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." --Robert Rosen, from Beaver Street: A History of Modern Pornography

"It made it harder for people to stay in that mindset of porn stars as people who don't have other options because they're too emotionally damaged or stupid to do something else." --Stoya, the porn star, telling the Village Voice why she prefers to post her thoughts directly on the Internet rather than talk to the press.

I’d never heard of Stoya until I read the cover story in last week’s Village Voice. The article, “Pop Star of Porn,” by Amanda Hess, tells how Stoya, 26-year-old star of such X-rated videos as Stoya: Web Whore, has become the toast of the New York art world, perhaps because of her “Snow White beauty,” the mathematical perfection of her face and body, and her even more famous boyfriend, porn star James Deen.

I find it interesting (though not especially surprising) that when I was looking the other way, the line between XXX celebrity and non-XXX celebrity seems to have vanished completely. But even more interesting, I thought, was how Stoya’s above quote echoed what I wrote in Beaver Street, and might have even been a response to it.

Stoya does not want you to think that people become porn stars because they have no other options or because they’re emotionally damaged. And she holds herself up as a shining example of a porn star who has options and is not emotionally damaged.

Fair enough. Stoya is the exception that proves the rule. Though I wonder what, exactly, she’s planning to do when she’s no longer under contract to Digital Playground and her celebrity is no longer based on how well she performs sex acts on video or in live shows. A handful of success stories come to mind: Danni Ashe (Internet millionaire), Jenna Jameson (best-selling author), Ginger Lynn and Christy Canyon (radio personalities).

And I’m sure there are a few more potential Stoyas out there—intelligent, beautiful, emotionally together women with a wide array of options who see hardcore porno as a good career move. But my quote, about economically and emotionally desperate people without options, is based on what I learned from conducting approximately 200 in-depth interviews with porn stars, erotic performers, and nude models, many of whom were intelligent, witty, and articulate.

Stories of sexual abuse, incest, and loss of virginity through rape were common. The porn stars I spoke with, over a 16-year period, were people scarred by emotional trauma, with little education, who were usually driven into porn by economic desperation. If they had options, it was a choice between a minimum wage job at McDonald’s, Burger King, or Wendy’s.

So yes, what Stoya has accomplished is remarkable. But, I think it would be best for the rest of the world to hold on to the mindset of “porn stars as people who don’t have other options because they’re too emotionally damaged.” Because it’s true, even if Stoya doesn’t want you to believe it.

Erich von Pauli: Superstar

April 5, 2013

Tags: Paul Slimak, Erich von Pauli, Henry Dorfman, Beaver Street, For Adults Only, Michael Musto, Village Voice, Agnes Herrmann, Bloomsday

Actually, his name is Paul Slimak, but in Beaver Street I call him Henry Dorfman. He's my officemate, the managing editor of For Adults Only magazine, and an actor who, as I say in the book, "was suddenly getting one high-profile gig after another, invariably being cast as a pervert, a lowlife, or a Nazi." In his capsule bio for the Ensemble Theatre of Cleveland, where, beginning April 19, he'll be playing James "Jimmy Tomorrow" Cameron in Eugene O'Neill's The Iceman Cometh, it says that he's also skilled in playing "weirdos, psychos, slimeballs, and scumbags."

As regular visitors to this Website know, Slimak, in the guise of his own comic creation, Erich von Pauli, a degenerate fugitive from the Third Reich, has made a series of promotional videos for Beaver Street, one of which Michael Musto wrote about in The Village Voice.

I’m pleased to report that Slimak’s acting talents will now be on display nationwide, beginning today, when the thriller Tomorrow You’re Gone, starring Michelle Monaghan, Willem Dafoe, and Stephen Dorff, opens in theatres and will be available On Demand. An exclusive clip of Slimak playing a slimeball opposite Dorff is available here.

In other news, negotiations are underway to bring Slimak and his wife, Agnes Herrmann, who plays Diana Clerkenwell in the von Pauli videos, to New York for Bloomsday on Beaver Street. Stay tuned for more details.

Act Naturally

September 14, 2011

Tags: Sleazoid Podcast, R.C. Baker, Village Voice, Boogie Nights, Amazon, Beaver Street, Martin Scorsese, Justin Timberlake, Henry Dorfman, Paul Slimak



The good people of The Sleazoid Podcast wouldn't be the first to suggest that Beaver Street is a movie that needs to be made. R.C. Baker, of The Village Voice, said in his Amazon review, "Vivid and funny, Beaver Street moves at a cinematic pace, a period piece that picks up the story of modern porn where Boogie Nights leaves off." And, of course, I, too, have entertained such big-screen fantasies, musing over the possibility of Martin Scorsese directing (Who does sleazy and gritty better?), Justin Timberlake portraying a younger me, and Paul Slimak, whom I call Henry Dorfman in the book, playing himself. (Check out Slimak's work in the Beaver Street promotional video, above.)

Whether or not a filmmaker comes along and snaps up the rights to Beaver Street is obviously beyond my control, and I’m not about to max out my credit cards producing the movie myself. But with Beaver Street scheduled to be published in the US sometime in 2012 and Nowhere Man about to undergo an Italian Renaissance, I’m feeling unusually optimistic.

So, I’m putting the idea out there, my daily message in a bottle: Come on, Hollywood, let’s make Beaver Street, the movie. If it ain’t a natural, I don’t know what is.

A Dirty Book with Universal Appeal?

September 8, 2011

Tags: Beaver Street, H-Net, Vanity Fair, Village Voice, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Bizarre, Amazon

As I prepare for Beaver Street's inevitable US publication sometime in 2012, it has come to my attention that the book has achieved an unusual cultural hat trick, so to speak.

The highbrow critics (H-Net) like Beaver Street.

The middlebrow critics (Vanity Fair, The Village Voice, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer) like Beaver Street.

The lowbrow critics (Bizarre) like Beaver Street.

And if you add the sex critics (Erotic Review) and the chorus of professional, semi-professional, and amateur critics on Amazon US and UK who have weighed in with unanimous five-star reviews… well, one might be tempted to argue that Beaver Street is a dirty book with universal appeal.

But one would be best advised to hold his or her tongue until Traci Lords, the right-wing media, and others with delicate sensibilities render their opinions.

We interrupt this correspondence to bring you a special seal of approval…

May 26, 2011

Tags: Erotic Review, Beaver Street, Vanity Fair, Village Voice, Michael Musto, David Comfort, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Jamie Maclean, pornography

Yesterday I noticed that the Erotic Review, the “posh” and literate British magazine that had already given Beaver Street an outstanding review had also slapped on their “Hot Pick” seal of approval. I guess this is kind of like the Good Housekeeping seal of approval… but different. In any case, this seemed like a good time to reflect upon a few of the encouraging signs that have shown themselves to Beaver Street over the past few months.

1. Beaver Street was a “Hot Type” selection in Vanity Fair UK, which is a pretty classy seal of approval, too.

2. Village Voice columnist Michael Musto called Beaver Street “Entertaining, insightful, and hot.” And he was amused by one of the promo videos, too.

3. David Comfort, writing for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, called Beaver Street “riveting” and said that I’d invented a new genre, “a confessional for-adults-only romantic comedy with a rare, thoughtful twist.”

4. Jamie Maclean, editor of the Erotic Review, said, “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.”

Tomorrow we shall return to our regularly scheduled correspondence.