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Flatbush Flashback

The Beautiful Kind of Reader

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?” Read More 
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Toppermost of the Poppermost

Last night, after six months of nonstop promotion on two continents, Beaver Street surged, albeit briefly, to the top of the heap. True, the heap in question is Amazon UK's Bestsellers in Pornography Biographies. But it is a heap that includes such classics of the genre as Jenna Jameson's How to Make Love Like a Porn Star, Ron Jeremy's The Hardest (Working) Man in Showbiz, and Annie Sprinkle's Post-Porn Modernist.

I’ll take my number ones where I can get them.

This sudden surge, I imagine, can be attributed to my two recent interviews on The Sleazoid Podcast, as well as word of mouth. As I’ve been saying all along, Beaver Street is a page-turner. Once you pick it up, you won’t be able to put it down, even if porn isn’t a subject that particularly interests you. Because the subject matter of Beaver Street goes far beyond porno. Don’t take my word for it. Read some of the Amazon reviews. Or just buy the damn book and see for yourself.

I’ll also go so far to say that this is going to be the first of many number ones, brief and otherwise, in numerous categories both on Amazon UK and Amazon US, when the book is published here in March 2012. How do I know this? I just do. Call me a prophet.

In the meantime, I’ll take a day to quietly celebrate Beaver Street's first visit to the “Toppermost of the Poppermost,” as a certain British rock band used to say. Read More 

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


In the second and final part of my Sleazoid Podcast interview (which is no longer available anywhere on the Internet), 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?

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The Long March

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. Read More 
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Blog's in Your Court, Ms. Breslin

A few months ago, I wrote a series of reviews about five articles that Slate had cited as "great writing" about the porn industry. Some of these articles, I thought, were hardly examples of great writing, and one of them was barely about the porn industry.

Recently, one of the writers I critiqued responded on her blog to my review of her porn book and to general criticism of her work. In a piece called “This Is Why You’re Stupid, or How to Deal with Criticism on the Internet,” Susannah Breslin took issue with anonymous posters who’ve called her a “c***,” a “f***ing moron,” and a “festering boil.” Her conclusion: Don’t blog if you don’t have a thick skin, and it’s better to get a vicious reaction than no reaction at all. I couldn’t agree more, especially about the thick skin.

I’ve written similar pieces myself, most recently comparing two Nowhere Man reviews that appeared on Amazon the same day, one a five-star rave (in Italian) and the other (since deleted) a one-star hatchet job. I pointed out that this is a microcosm of the type of criticism that Nowhere Man has been subjected to for the past 11 years, that it’s as if the critics had read two different books, and that it’s always the most ignorant critics who post the most vicious comments.

In any case, Breslin devoted a good portion of her blog to analyzing my criticism of her book They Shoot Porn Stars, Don’t They?. She didn’t like my comparing her to the late Andrea Dworkin because Dworkin, she said, was “passionately anti-porn” and she isn’t. She thinks it’s unlikely that Senator Orrin Hatch will use her book as evidence in his anti-porn crusade, as I predicted. She disliked the fact that I called her writing “humorless” because, she insisted, she has a sense of humor. And she said I seemed to suggest that Beaver Street is a better book than They Shoot Porn Stars, Don’t They?.

Well, I’ve reread my critique of Breslin’s book, and I think it still stands up. Breslin might not be like Andrea Dworkin, the person, but her book is definitely anti-porn in a way that Dworkin would have liked. And Breslin’s thesis—that porn is bad, stupid, ugly, and violent—plays right into Orrin Hatch’s hands, confirming everything he says about the industry and the need to investigate it more vigorously. (His crusade appears to have stalled for the time being, which may be why he hasn’t yet presented Breslin’s book as evidence.)

I didn’t say that Breslin doesn’t have a sense of humor. One can indeed be detected in “This Is Why You’re Stupid.” I described the mood of They Shoot Porn Stars, Don’t They? as “grim and humorless”—because it is.

And finally, I didn’t suggest that Beaver Street is a better book than They Shoot Porn Stars, Don’t They?. I said only that Breslin covered some similar material in her book, specifically, “the predilection of conservative administrations, like Bush II, to declare war on porn, often with embarrassing results.”

Ms. Breslin, I feel as if we’re playing tennis, and the blog’s back in your court. But before you return my serve, perhaps you should decide for yourself how Beaver Street stacks up against They Shoot Porn Stars, Don’t They?. U.S. pub date is March 23, 2012. Review copies are available now, and, in my opinion, you’re more qualified than most people to review it. Beaver Street, I might add, is very much up your pink slip and recession alley. Read More 
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Occupy Wall Street Update

I went down to Zuccotti Park yesterday to again take the temperature of the Occupy Wall Street demonstration. Here's my report:

The reason Eric Cantor is calling the demonstrators a "mob" is because they're screaming for the blood of politicians like Eric Cantor, who defend the wealthy at the expense of everybody else--the 99% that the demonstrators keep referring to.

If I were an investment banker, my blood would have run cold when I heard the flag-waving, drum-pounding demonstrators chanting, “Banks got bailed out! We got sold out!” as they marched from the statue of the Wall Street Bull, adjacent to Beaver Street, to Zuccotti Park.

The demonstrators are really fucking angry, and anybody who can’t understand why is willfully ignorant. Most of them are students or recent graduates whose education left them with a crushing debt that they’re unable to even think about paying off because there are no decent jobs.

In Zuccotti Park, now surrounded by police and media, the Spirit of the 60s has been reborn in all its ragged, funky glory.

I’d have been really insulted if Beaver Street hadn’t been checked out of the Occupy Wall Street Free Library. Read More 
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The Sporadic Beaver

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. Read More 
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Temperature Rising

Liberty Park (aka Zuccotti Park), where three weeks ago the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators set up camp, is about a mile from where I live. I've been dropping by there on a regular basis, usually in the late afternoon, to take the temperature, so to speak.

The temperature is rising.
The energy remains peaceful, cooperative.
The free food provided makes the atmosphere seem almost Woodstockian.
The drum circle continues to provide the heartbeat.
There is an edge.

It occurred to me that it wouldn’t take much of a spark to set off something more confrontational, and possibly ugly, as police encircle the park.

At least one liberal New York Times columnist, Charles Blow, disagrees. He said that the occupation “feels like a spark set down on wet grass: It’s just hard to see how it truly catches fire.” In a front-page article, a protester was quoted as saying that the occupation will end when the temperature drops below 50 degrees.

The Times, which depends on companies like Tiffany’s, and real estate brokers selling $5-million condos, for advertising revenue, is never going to endorse the occupation.

I think that when the occupation continues into the dead of winter, the media will begin to draw analogies with Valley Forge. And, if they’re smart, companies like Marmot and The North Face will donate winter clothing, and local stores, like Paragon, will donate camping gear.

I stopped by again on Sunday and donated a copy of Beaver Street to the free library. The librarian—yes, they have a librarian—graciously accepted my donation. I departed with a free copy of The Occupied Wall Street Journal.

A few blocks to the south, near Beaver Street, the Wall Street Bull is now surrounded by a phalanx of bodyguards. He needs them.

You can follow the occupation on their website or on TwitterRead More 
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