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Flatbush Flashback

Update: The Naked and the Dead

“Standing Girl”: The erotic art of Sonja Wagner.

In fiction, when an author brings a character to life, that character is said to take on a life of his own. In nonfiction, the characters are alive (except when they’re dead) and they do have lives of their own. Such is the case with Beaver Street, which is populated with real people who continue to lead vital and interesting lives outside the confines of the book’s covers.

Towards the end of Beaver Street there’s a section called “On the Naked and the Dead,” in which I give updates on some of the main characters. I’ve continued to do so on this blog, in the past week mentioning that Izzy Singer recently published a short story on Kindle, and that Carl Ruderman has divested himself of all his pornographic holdings and can no longer be called a pornographer.

Here are a few other updates of note:

Happily retired from the porn biz, Sonja Wagner continues to create her art, erotic and otherwise.

Former X-Rated Cinema editor Pamela Katz was fired from Swank publications after 30 years on the job and is now suing the company for age and sex discrimination.

Steve Colby, a photographer who helped launch the British Porno Invasion of 1987, is one of London’s last remaining “glamour” photographers, though now shoots almost exclusively in Prague.

Neville Player, whose name I didn’t use in the book but described as the "porno genius" who took over D-Cup magazine, has written a memoir (title TBA) about his long career working for British publishing legend Paul Raymond and his short career working for Lou Perretta.

Having recently acquired High Society, Lou Perretta now owns virtually every porn magazine of significance, with the exception of Playboy, Penthouse, and Hustler, and has made Paramus, New Jersey ground zero for what remains of the dying men’s mag industry. Read More 

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The Beaver Correspondence 7

This is the professor’s response to my five-part video interview with Kate Copstick and Jamie Maclean of the Erotic Review.

Howdy Bob,

Interesting stuff. Thanks for the link.

I think you’re becoming a bit of a gloom and doomer. You’ve witnessed a migration of media for porn over the last 40 years or so, from paper and film to audio and video and now almost entirely to the Web. I don’t think it’s death by a long shot, only evolution. There must be considerable money in the industry still, as it answers a basic human need. It’s just become more invisible, even than the dapper Ruderman, hidden in an invisible electronic empire. There’s loads of the stuff (har har) on the Internet—it’s not a charity gesture, right? There will undoubtedly be another media that will replace the Web at some point, probably developed by a future Kevin Goodman.

The quality issue is another point. I think that plot is important—at least a trace of it—to make the material effective. The pizza delivery boy, gardener, maid, the chance meeting, all adds spice to the moment which would be otherwise generic and hollow. I have not extensively surveyed the material but suspect that story—and to an extent acting—are still important. Yeah, the self-glorifying awards ceremonies and visibility are gone, but that’s more the result of a puritanization of society from the libertine 70s. I mean, was there that much acting and directing talent back then? Part of this attitude might be driven by your take on Pamela Katz’s recent dismissal, but I am uncertain about the correlation—she was doomed as a print dinosaur and to be honest I didn’t see it as genius as much as persistence.

But, hey, l’chaim, Bob. Good to see you're getting positive mo.


To be continued… Read More 
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The Margaret Mead of Porn

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, whom 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 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! Read More 
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