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Far From Flatbush

Natural-Born Pornographer

Al Goldstein in the 1970s with a copy of How to Talk Dirty and Influence People, by Lenny Bruce.
In honor of Al Goldstein, who passed away today at 77, here's an excerpt from the "Natural-Born Pornographers" chapter of Beaver Street. Names of all non-public figures have been changed.

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Soon after I took over as FAO's managing editor, my good friend Georgina Kelly landed a 'prestigious' $15,000-per-year part-time position at Screw as an associate editor whose responsibilities included finding whores for publisher Al Goldstein and helping Goldstein's managing editor, Howard Nussbaum, put out the paper every two weeks. Kelly was thrilled about the job because people inside and outside the industry feared and respected Screw more than any other pornographic publication, including Hustler. Screw's utter audacity in the face of possible lawsuits and the quality of its prose were the principal reasons for this. Chip Goodman, for one, lived in mortal terror that Screw would run more stories written by former employees about his cocaine habit. Other people of a certain ilk shared a well-founded dread of waking up to find themselves the subject of one of the crudely constructed photo collages that ran in almost every issue. These collages generally consisted of huge penises penetrating the orifices and ejaculating on the faces of whatever high-profile decency advocates, aspiring censors, and porno competitors Goldstein had a hankering to infuriate. As of late, the objects of his rage included President Ronald Reagan, First Lady Nancy Reagan, Attorney General Edwin Meese, 'moral majority' leader Jerry Falwell, the Reverend Pat Robertson, radical feminists Andrea Dworkin and Catharine MacKinnon, and Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini.

Unlike most people in the porn biz, who thought it prudent to seek employment elsewhere, Kelly wasn’t troubled by Goldstein’s fanatical commitment to the First Amendment, or by the daily bomb threats from assorted psychos and religious fanatics, or by the fact that the entire staff had been marked for assassination by a fundamentalist Islamic death squad after publishing ‘The Dirty Parts of the Koran’ in an April Fool’s issue. On the contrary, she was delighted to have finally latched onto a corporation that offered so much opportunity for advancement.

What made Screw great, Kelly explained, was that ‘Al’ understood his audience perfectly—because he was his own perfect audience. He knew that only a handful of readers bought Screw for the political satire or for the celebrity interviews he threw in when he could get them—like the one in 1972 in which Jack Nicholson admitted that he’d “jacked off to Screw.” The real readers—the ones who’d kept Goldstein in business since November 1968—were the desperately horny men who bought Screw for the hooker ads and the detailed guides to peep shows, whorehouses, and swinger clubs. It was universally acknowledged that Screw was the best and most reliable place to find out where to get laid, blown, jacked off, or lap-danced in the New York metropolitan area.

And that’s the way it had been since Goldstein, with an initial investment of $300, published his first issue, on the day after Richard Nixon was elected president, and then watched the tabloid explode on newsstands with a Beatles-like intensity that forever changed the way America perceived pornography. Now, after nearly two decades of hate mail, death threats, obscenity busts, high-profile publicity, and lawsuits, Screw had become an icon of American sleaze culture, the magazine that people loved to hate, even if they’d never seen it. Goldstein himself, who grew up in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, in the forties and fifties dreaming about “tasting pussy” (and thinking he never would), had become a despised and admired gadfly smut-publisher who was tasting a lion’s share of pussy—and now had Georgina Kelly on staff, in part to ensure that he never went without pussy again. Read More 
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The Delightfully Titled Beaver Street

On February 17, 2011, I conducted my first Beaver Street interview. Sean Moncrieff, host of the Moncrieff show, on NewsTalk radio, Ireland, was the man asking the questions, and we got into some heavy duty stuff--capitalism, exploitation, and the psychological effects of working in the pornography, both in front of the camera and behind it. But Moncrieff also found the title of the book delightful, and was quite taken with the names of some of the superhero-like porn stars I'd written about--Deena Duo, Pandora Peaks, and Busty Dusty, for example. His favorite, however, was Auntie Climax, so named by Izzy Singer, the man who acted as my guide through the world of XXX.

I’ve posted the interview on SoundCloud. Moncrieff and I cover a lot of ground in 15 minutes. Give it a listen. Read More 
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Tierra del Lennon

If Nowhere Man is destined to become a genuine classic, a book that readers will continue to talk about for decades to come, I can thank the Latin American media.

Since it was originally published, in English, in 2000, the press in countries like Mexico, Chile, Argentina, and Colombia (as well as Spain), have given Nowhere Man more serious, thoughtful coverage than any of the scandal-splattered stories that have occasionally roiled U.S. tabloids, like the New York Daily News, to name one.

The Latin American trend continues with two articles commemorating today’s anniversary of John Lennon’s murder that ran in the current issue of Proceso, which is, more or less, a progressive Spanish-language version of Newsweek in its heyday.

In the more than ten years since Random House Mondadori brought out a Spanish edition of Nowhere Man, this Mexico City-based journal of politics and culture has provided frequent, in-depth features about the book and its myriad literary and historical implications.

The two articles that ran in the December 8 issue are “Lennon, una biografía total” (Lennon, a full biography), by Roberto Ponce, and the provocatively titled “Sólo creo en una conspiración: la de Yoko Ono en mi contra” (I just believe in one conspiracy: Yoko Ono’s against me), which I wrote.

Ponce’s piece is about a massive Lennon bio, Bendito Lennon, by Octavio Cavalli, a Buenos Aires attorney who has obsessively researched every aspect of the ex-Beatle’s life. Prosa Amerian Editores is bringing out a revised edition next year, and it will feature new information about Lennon’s diaries, which I’ve been discussing with Cavalli.

The article analyzes Cavalli’s belief that Lennon was the victim of a conspiracy, that Mark David Chapman did not act alone, and that Dakota doorman José Perdomo, who was on duty the night of the murder, was a former CIA agent.

My piece is about “Salvador Astucia,” a pseudonymous Holocaust-denying conspiracy theorist who has accused me of being the CIA spymaster who ordered Lennon’s murder. As it turned out, Cavalli has uncovered what may be the only scrap of truth in “Astucia’s” insane online ravings: José Perdomo may very well be a former CIA agent.

The conspiracy in the headline is a reference to the unsuccessful efforts of Yoko Ono, former Playboy editor G. Barry Golson, and the New York district attorney to have me arrested unless I agreed never to tell the story of Lennon’s diaries. (Click here to see both articles.)

I cannot imagine the mainstream media in the U.S. ever publishing such a story, which I will soon post here, it its original English.

Hey hey, my my, conspiracy theories will never die.

Imagine if I were fluent in Spanish. Read More 
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Hey, Hey You, Come Join My Cloud

 

Let's hang around on my new SoundCloud for a while. The first file I've uploaded is my reading from J. D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye at a Banned Books Week event in October 2012, at the 2A bar in the East Village. That's Eric Danville introducing me.

The other file is my complete Nowhere Man reading from this past October at a John Lennon event at 2A. That’s Eric Danville introducing me again. (A video of the first two parts of this reading is available here.)

Both files are downloadable.

In coming weeks, I’ll upload additional material from my archives—readings, interviews, and anything else that seems worth posting.

But for now, to commemorate the anniversary of Lennon’s murder on December 8, I give you The Catcher in the Rye and Nowhere ManRead More 

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The Dark Side of John Lennon

More than 13 years after Nowhere Man was published in English, I continue to unearth major articles about the book that ran in the print editions of various newspapers in the early 21st century, and are just finding their way online. The latest one that's come to my attention was the cover story in the entertainment section of the June 22, 2001 issue of the irreverent Venezuelan daily Tal Cual (Just As It Is).

Hyped on page one as El lado oscuro de John Lennon (The Dark Side of John Lennon), and given the provocatively misleading cover line, La segunda muerte de John Lennon (The Second Death of John Lennon), in the entertainment section, the actual article was called Viaje al fondo del submarinista amarillo (Voyage to the bottom of the yellow submariner). It’s a semi-accurate summary of Nowhere Man, broken up by semi-sarcastic subheads like Sexo, no paz (Sex, no peace) and Nostradamus en ácido (Nostradamus on acid).

Meanwhile, as I await the impending publication of a revised edition of Bendido Lennon, by Octavio Cavalli, which will draw heavily from interviews Cavalli has conducted with me, and will be met by yet another surge of Latin American media attention, set to begin around the anniversary of Lennon’s murder, on December 8, I continue to grapple with an ongoing milagro that I became aware of three years before Nowhere Man was published in Spanish, in what may as well have been an alternate universe where people spoke a language I didn’t understand. Read More 
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Penetrating Academia

I've always felt confident that sooner or later academia would embrace Beaver Street and the book would find its way onto required reading lists for any number of sociology, history, and gender studies courses. My confidence was not misplaced.

Soon after its publication in the U.K., in 2011, a glowing review of Beaver Street, titled "Free Speech and Competitively Priced Smut: Pornography in the United States," appeared on H-Net, a site devoted to the humanities and social sciences. Written by Patrick Glen, a PhD candidate at the University of Sheffield, it compared Beaver Street to Perversion for Profit, by Rutgers professor Whitney Strub, who essentially covered the same material I did, though from an academic perspective.

“Shocking… evocative… entertaining… A rich account that adds considerable depth and texture to any understanding of how the pornography industry worked,” was the blurb I took from Glen’s critique.

Then, a few months ago, I became aware of The Pornologist, the website of Peter Kenneth Alilunas, a PhD candidate at the University of Michigan. On his “Essential Reading” list, Alilunas had placed Beaver Street #1, and as it turned out, his PhD dissertation, Smutty Little Movies: The Creation and Regulation of Adult Video, 1976-1986, contained numerous references to the book.

Now, to complete the academic hat trick, a book recently published by Palgrave Macmillan, The Ethics and Politics of Pornography, by David Edward Rose, references Beaver Street in chapter six, “‘I Can’t Do It by Myself!’: Social Ethics and Pornography.”

I don’t know what it says, exactly, as I’m not about to buy a textbook that lists for $105, even if I am in it. But Rose, a lecturer in philosophy at Newcastle University, in the U.K., who, according to his bio, specializes in “Hegelian ethics and counter-enlightenment thought and their application to contemporary moral and political issues,” sounds like a serious fellow. And like The Ethics and Politics of Pornography, Beaver Street also raises “a host of moral and political concerns” about “coercion, exploitation, harm, freedom of expression and the promulgation of sexist attitudes.” Which, apparently, is why it continues to make academic inroads.

And it’s always nice to see my name in an index, atop French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau. I’m sure he, too, had a few things to say about smut. Read More 
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Latin America Calling

My ongoing dialogue with Octavio Cavalli, author of Bendito Lennon, a comprehensive Spanish-language John Lennon biography, is unlike any interview I've ever done.

For one thing, our conversation began October 31 and may very well continue through February, when Cavilli comes to New York. For another, Cavalli, in Buenos Aires, records his questions and sends them to me as MP3s. I listen, make notes, and then record my own MP3s, which I send to him, sometimes twice a day.

Virtually every question Cavalli asks is about Lennon’s diaries, which I transcribed and edited in 1981, and which I discuss in detail in my own Lennon bio, published in Latin America and Spain as Nowhere Man: Los Últimos Días De John Lennon.

Cavalli’s book and our interview have come to the attention of Proceso, the Mexican newsweekly.

Ten years ago, Proceso ran a series of articles that helped put Nowhere Man on bestseller lists in multiple countries.

I think the revised edition of Bendito Lennon, which Prosa Amerian Editores is bringing out next year, is headed for bestseller lists, too. In the meantime, it’s breathing new life into Los Últimos DíasRead More 
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Bendito Lennon


Bendito Lennon, or Blessed Lennon, by Octavio Cavalli, is a 728-page John Lennon biography that you'll soon be hearing about if you live in Latin America. I've been grappling with the book for the past week, with a lot of help from Google translate, and it appears to be the definitive Spanish-language take on the ex-Beatle.

Cavalli, a Buenos Aires attorney, has obsessively researched every aspect of Lennon's life and death, and is currently revising the book for a new edition that Prosa Amerian Editores will publish in 2014.

I’ve been conducting an in-depth dialogue with Cavalli about my own Lennon bio, Nowhere Man, and John Lennon’s personal diaries, which I transcribed and edited in 1981. My knowledge of the diaries is among the new information that Cavalli will include in the revised edition of Bendito Lennon.

Since Nowhere Man: Los Últimos Días De John Lennon was published in Mexico, in 2003, Latin America has embraced the book in a way that I consider miraculous. Ten years later, in Bendito Lennon, the miracle continues in Argentina. Read More 
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The (8-Day) Week in Review

I was hoping to post on The Sporadic Beaver at least once a week, but it seems eight days have slipped by since my last transmission. That's because things have been happening. I will review some of the highlights.

· Mary Lyn Maiscott's well-received Linda Ronstadt interview was posted Monday on the Vanity Fair website. She was worried that "Linda," as we now call her in the Maiscott-Rosen household, talked too much about singing--something she can no longer do because of Parkinson's disease.

“That’s like interviewing Picasso and saying that he talked too much about painting,” I told her.

The reason I think the interview went so well is that Linda, in the course of promoting her new memoir, Simple Dreams, has probably spoken to hundreds of interviewers, the majority of whom did not read the book and asked her the same canned questions over and over. Not only did Mary Lyn read the book, but she, too, is a singer, and when I listened to the recording of the interview, I got the sense that I was listening not to a journalist interrogate a rock star, but rather to two singers having a heart-to-heart conversation.

· I don’t remember what provoked me to listen, from beginning to end, to The Velvet Underground & Nico last week. But for some reason, I did. So, when I heard the news Sunday that Lou Reed had died, it was both eerie and shocking. (He was, after all, a fellow New Yorker and a Brooklyn native who was born at the same hospital I was born—Beth-El, now Brookdale.) Stranger still was what I found out about Velvet Underground drummer Maureen Tucker as I was Googling various Velvet Underground things while listening to the album: Tucker, a member of one of the coolest rock bands ever, is now a Tea Party supporter! You can read all about her politics in this interview that ran in the St. Louis Riverfront Times. (And I will, at some point today, listen to Lou Reed’s eerily appropriate “Halloween Parade,” which happens to pass by my house.)

· Since its U.S. publication 18 months ago, Beaver Street sales can at best be described as a steady drip… drip… drip… But this week, for reasons unknown, that drip turned into a mild flurry, sending the book to its highest point on Amazon, and keeping it there for six days. In no way can this compare to the explosive sales that, from 2000-2003, propelled Nowhere Man onto bestseller lists in five countries. But it is a hopeful sign, and in the ravaged economy of 2013, that’s about all you can ask for. Read More 
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How Not to Promote a Book


In Beaver Street I say that Jenna Jameson may be the first porno billionaire. After watching this video, I've changed my mind.

On the other hand, her book Sugar is doing very well. Maybe I should show up trashed for my next interview. Read More 
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Chapter 27


Normally, I'm less than satisfied with my readings, but this one, last night at 2A, is one of my better performances, and Michael Paul did a nice job capturing it on video. I'm reading from my book Nowhere Man: The Final Days of John Lennon.

The first part is the opening section of the chapter titled "Being Rich." The second part is all of "Chapter 27," my eyewitness account of the sentencing hearing of Lennon's killer, Mark David Chapman, who believed that by shooting the ex-Beatle, he'd write the missing chapter of J. D. Salinger's novel The Catcher in the Rye in Lennon's blood. Read More 

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Los Últimos Días de John Lennon

In October 2003, on the eve of the publication of the second Spanish edition of Nowhere Man: Los Últimos Días de John Lennon, I traveled to Mexico City to meet the press. I knew something extraordinary was happening, something that surpassed Nowhere Man's success when it was published in the U.S. and U.K. in 2000. For six months, reviews, excerpts, thought pieces, and interviews about Nowhere Man were appearing in the Spanish-language media virtually every day. I've described my trip to Mexico City as follows: "I felt as if I'd entered an alternate universe where everything I'd been working for, for 25 years, had come to pass in a language I didn't understand. The media treated me as if I'd written Harry Potter."

Ten years later, on what would have been Lennon’s 73rd birthday, the Spanish-language media continues to write about Nowhere Man. Here are three links to stories that appeared yesterday.

La vida inconclusa de John Lennon (Originally published in January 2011, Proceso made this available online yesterday.)
John Lennon y la numerología: su obsesión y destino (Un día como hoy)
Minuto a minuto. Las últimas 24 horas de Lennon (Radioacktiva)

If you’d like to see what all the fuss is about, please join me, Eric Danville, and Lainie Speiser, on Tuesday, October 15, 8:00 P.M., at the 2A bar in the East Village. I’ll be reading from Nowhere Man, in English. Read More 
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The Lennon Vibe

Today, John Lennon’s birthday--he would have been 73--is a day that I always acknowledge in one way or another. In past years, I've often spent October 9 talking on the radio about Lennon's life and death, and how a few months after his murder I was given his diaries, which became a prime source of information for my book Nowhere Man. Other years I've wandered uptown, to Strawberry Fields, to pay my respects to a man who changed my life. Today, I intend to quietly observe Lennon's birthday at home, taking at least a few moments to Imagine Peace, as corny as that might sound.

But next Tuesday, October 15, at 8:00 PM, at the 2A bar in the East Village, I will be celebrating Lennon's life by reading from three chapters of Nowhere Man. Joining me will be my Title TK co-producers Eric Danville and Lainie Speiser, adult actress Alia Janine, radio personality Ralph Sutton, writer James Sasser, character actor David Healy, and writer and musician Mary Lyn Maiscott.

The event, as always, is free, and if you have an urge to tune into the Lennon vibe, 2A is the place to be on Tuesday night. Read More 
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Lennonight

 

They were into wordplay, John and Yoko, especially when it came to their names, which lent themselves to a variety of combinations, like Lenono Music and Discono, a title John suggested for one of Yoko's LPs. In that spirit, I'm calling this post "Lennonight," which will take place at 8:00 PM, on Tuesday, October 15, in the upstairs lounge of the 2A bar in the East Village.

This is number four in the Tuesday night reading series that Eric Danville, Lainie Speiser, and I have been producing. We've christened our spoken-word collective Title TK, and Listen to This Reading is our celebration of John Lennon's birthday--he would have been 73 on October 9.

I’m going to read from my Lennon bio, Nowhere Man, specifically the opening chapter, “Being Rich,” the closing chapter, “Dakota Fantasy,” and “Chapter 27,” which is a reference to the nonexistent chapter of J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, the novel that drove Mark David Chapman to murder.

Mary Lyn Maiscott, who’s more accustomed to performing with a guitar in hand, will read from “Birth of a Song,” the Nowhere Man chapter that explores the inspiration behind Lennon’s “I’m Losing You,” which Mary Lyn covered at the first Bloomsday on Beaver Street.

Lainie will read from May Pang’s memoir, Loving John.

Other readers include actor David Healy, adult actress Alia Janine, actor James Sasser, and radio personality Ralph Sutton.

As always, admission is free and there’s no cover.

In other Title TK news, Lexi Love has created a long-awaited Bloomsday on Beaver Street page on her Website. The page features some very cool photos and the complete audio of her reading that night. Check it out for a taste of the unexpected drama you can expect on October 15, at 2A Read More 

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The Eichmann Transition

New York Times article from May 25, 1960.
Mary Lyn Maiscott, aka the Mistress of Syntax, is an editor whose judgment I trust implicitly. (That's one reason I married her.) She edited my two previous books, Nowhere Man and Beaver Street. In both cases, when they were accepted for publication, the editors at the publishing houses barely changed a word.

Four months ago, having finally reached the point where I felt I could do no more on my own, I gave Mary Lyn the complete manuscript for Bobby in Naziland, a novel I'd been working on for more than five years and had shown to nobody. She has since read it and has been giving me feedback--specifically flagging passages that she thought could be clarified, tightened, or somehow improved. (I gave an example of this in a previous post.)

Though I’ve been making improvements, there’s one passage that’s been driving me crazy since 2009, and that I continue to struggle with. It’s the primary thing that stands between me and a finished book. I call it “The Eichmann Transition.”

The capture of Adolf Eichmann, one of the architects of the Final Solution, is a story that I knew as well as any story: In 1960, the Mossad kidnapped Eichmann off the street in Buenos Aires and spirited him back to Israel to stand trail for crimes against humanity. I drew on my memory of these events to write a chapter titled “Tales of Eichmann.”

But when I turned to the historical record to check the accuracy of my memory, I came upon a fantastic tale that had been declassified only a few years earlier, and that changed the very essence of the story. Though the Mossad had taken all the credit for capturing Eichmann, acting as if they’d learned of his whereabouts clairvoyantly, it so happens a former Dachau inmate who’d fled with his family to Argentina had tipped them off.

Once settled in his new country, the former inmate, Lothar Hermann, did such a good job of concealing his Jewish identity, not even his teenage daughter Silvia knew about it. She was, in fact, so oblivious of her heritage that she began dating Eichmann’s rabidly anti-Semitic son Klaus, who used his real name and bragged to the Hermanns that his father was a high-ranking Gestapo officer.

The Hermanns, acting as spies, then confirmed Adolf Eichmann’s identity, at which point the Mossad took over.

This story, reduced to little more than a historical footnote, remains generally unknown to anybody who hadn’t researched the matter in the past few years. And it cried out to be included in Bobby in Naziland, a fictional memoir that in part explores the meaning of memory. But how to include it? The story of the Hermanns was not part of the narrator’s memory and its inclusion seemed to violate the narrative structure of the book.

And this is what I continue to struggle with—how to seamlessly transition from what the narrator remembers about Eichmann to what he couldn’t have possibly known, because nobody outside a select inner circle knew it.

Sometimes it feels as if Eichmann will be the death of me yet. But, I swear, with a little help from the Mistress of Syntax, I’ll nail the bastard sooner or later. Read More 
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In Denial

In the Adolf Eichmann chapter of Bobby in Naziland, the novel to which I'm currently applying some finishing touches, one of the things the Mistress of Syntax flagged was my reference to a bone-grinding machine used in death camps. She wanted to know if the machine had been built specifically for use in the camps. This was a good question, I thought, and turned to Google for an answer. The search terms I put in, as shown in the graphic, were: bone grinding machine Nazis. I was shocked and dismayed to see that the first three results were Holocaust denial sites. (In a search two days later, the denial sites placed two and four, and the order continues to change.)

One of the first things that popped into my head was the idea of a kid in grade school, who knows nothing about the Holocaust, being given an assignment to write a report about the Nazis. He goes to Google and the first thing he sees is that the Holocaust didn't happen, thereby handing a tremendous victory to the deniers.

I posted this on Facebook, and it led to a surprisingly large number of comments, notably from fellow Headpress writer Shade Rupe, who’s done a great deal of Holocaust research.

What I hadn’t mentioned on Facebook was that part of the inspiration for Bobby in Naziland was my own dealings with a Holocaust-denying conspiracy theorist who’d read Nowhere Man, and in Internet postings that described me as a “Jewish writer,” said that I was the Zionist-funded CIA spymaster who’d given the order to kill John Lennon. He also tried to goad me into an online debate about whether or not the Holocaust really happened.

In the book’s endnotes, I say of this (naturally) pseudonymous fellow, “That there are people like this lurking on the Internet should come as no surprise to anybody. That other people who call themselves journalists echo such theories in cyberspace and, on occasion, have published them in books, and in at least one legitimate newspaper, is an alarming truth that cannot be ignored.”

That’s just the way it is in the fact-free 21st century. Holocaust denial is spreading and Bobby in Naziland is, in part, my own small response to it, for whatever that may be worth.

And, yes, the bone-grinding machines were specifically built to grind human bones in Nazi death camps. Read More 
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Sex & Politics, American Style

The image on the right is the flyer for the next event at the 2A bar, 25 Avenue A, in the East Village, where Eric Danville, Lainie Speiser, and I have been coordinating a series of readings for the past few months. The theme for Tuesday night, September 17, is politics--specifically sexual and gender politics.

In celebration of this theme, I'll be reading the section from Beaver Street that ties together Lyndon Johnson's Presidential Commission on Obscenity and Pornography, Richard Nixon, Billy Graham, Charles H. Keating, Deep Throat, and Watergate. All in about 1,300 words.

Whitney Strub, an assistant professor of history at Rutgers University, will be reading from his first book, Perversion for Profit (Columbia University Press), which was just released in paperback, and which covers material that’s almost identical to what I cover in Beaver Street. (You can read a review comparing the two books here.) The title is a reference to an anti-porn film produced by banker and convicted felon Charles H. Keating, who might have described Strub as a “permissive professor dedicated to a position of complete moral anarchy.” Our kind of educator, in other words.

J. C. Malone, a take-no-prisoners political columnist for Listin Diario, in the Dominican Republic, will read one of his columns, posible en español. Translation will be provided. Here’s a link to a recent Malone dispatch from the Bronx.

Malone’s daughter Gloria Malone, who writes for Teen Mom NYC, will read “I Was a Teenage Mother,” her Op Ed piece that ran in The New York Times.

Other performers include Lainie, who will read from Election, by Tom Percotta, adult film star Britney Shannon, actor David Healy, and actor Peter Loureiro.

It promises to be a provocative and enlightening evening, and we hope to see you there. Admission is free and the event runs from 8:00-10:00 P.M. Read More 
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Return of the Beaver

It's been nearly seven weeks since I last posted here, and the ninth day of the ninth month (see Nowhere Man) seems like an auspicious day to declare an end to summer hours. Regular readers of what used to be The Daily Beaver will notice the name change. I'm now calling this blog The Sporadic Beaver, which means that I'm no longer going to post Monday-Friday, but will make the effort to post at least once every week.

A lot has been going on since July 24:

· I’ve given the complete Bobby in Naziland manuscript to the Mistress of Syntax, who has read the entire thing. I’ve since been working on corrections and rewrites.

· The Beaver Street Kindle edition was re-released on Amazon U.S. and Canada, and last week it was the #1 “Hot New Release” in pop culture books in the U.S., and the #2 “Hot New Release” in art books, behind Gertrude Stein’s The World Is Round, in Canada. This is my first #1 anything in the U.S. since September 2000, when Nowhere Man was riding high on numerous bestseller lists.

· In other Amazon news, the secretive company has made the Kindle edition of Beaver Street unavailable in the U.K., telling me that they “don’t have the rights to sell it.” This is what Amazon U.S. told me last year about the print edition of the book—before the threat of a public protest against Amazon censorship persuaded them to make the book available. Perhaps the Brits will sort this one out, though they’ve given no indication that they’re capable of doing so.

· I’ve been kicking back in Machiasport, Maine; Saint Andrews, New Brunswick; and Greenacres, Florida, doing my best not to think about Amazon or any of the other routine aggravations that the publishing industry is so good at generating.

· Eric Danville, Lainie Speiser, and I have been preparing for our next group reading on Tuesday, September 17, at 8:00 P.M., at the 2A bar in the East Village. The theme is politics, and I’ll be reading from the Lockhart Commission/Deep Throat/Watergate section of Beaver Street. Stay tuned for more info, and in the meantime, you can listen to Eric talk about Deep Throat on The Rialto ReportRead More 
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No Porn Please, We're British

If I believed in astrology, I'd attribute the events of the past couple of days to the fact that, on July 23, the zodiac moved into Leo, the sign under which I was born. But since I don't believe in astrology I'll have to attribute these events to the fact that for more than two years I've been talking nonstop about Beaver Street to anybody who'll listen.

This morning, an article on CNBC about the U.K.'s Internet pornography ban, "No Porn Please, We're British," by Chris Morris, mentions Beaver Street. Morris asked me what I thought would happen now that anybody in England who wants to look at X-rated material on his computer will be asked by their ISP to verify his age and confirm that he wants to watch smut.

“Obviously people are not going to want to do that,” I said. “People just don’t want to come out in public and say ‘I want to look at porn.’ A lot of people who do look at porn are inhibited, shy people.”

And in response to Prime Minister David Cameron’s statement that online porn is “corroding childhood,” I added, “If kids want to look at pornography, they usually figure out how to do it.”

That’s the first time I’ve ever given a PM a piece of my mind.

Then, last night, at the 2A bar in the East Village—along with Eric Danville, author of The Complete Linda Lovelace; adult actress Brittany Andrews; Bobby Black, senior editor of High Times, and actor Jeffrey Emerson—I celebrated Hunter Thompson’s birthday (he was born July 18, under the sign of Cancer) by reading from “Mein Kar,” a Thompson parody about a Mercedes-Benz road test that I wrote for D-Cup magazine, and the opening pages of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, which inspired the parody.

A huge thanks to everybody who came out to see us, and especially to Eric and Lainie Speiser, who put the event together! Read More 
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My Last Hunter Thompson Parody

Hunter S. Thompson did for journalism what the Beatles did for rock 'n' roll--he made everybody want to be a journalist, even John Lennon, who wanted to play Thompson in the movie after he read Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

I read Fear and Loathing when I was 21, and I saw my future. "I can do this," I thought. I wanted someone to pay me to go places, take drugs, and write stories about it.

Since that day, I’ve read Fear and Loathing so many times, my copy of the book disintegrated.

I went through a phase in graduate school where everything I wrote came out sounding like Hunter Thompson. I was possessed by him, and one of my teachers literally performed an in-class exorcism—everybody started chanting, trying to purge Thompson’s spirit from my system. It didn’t work.

I think I finally got rid of him around 1990, when I wrote a parody review of a Mercedes-Benz for D-Cup magazine—I was editing a car magazine, too, and I was always getting cars to test drive. This was the last Thompson parody I ever wrote, and it was also the last time that Mercedes ever gave me a car.

On Tuesday, July 23, at 8 P.M., at a Hunter Thompson birthday celebration in the upstairs lounge of the 2A bar, at 25 Avenue A in New York, I’ll be reading this parody, “Mein Kar” (featuring renegade Nazi Erich von Pauli), along with the passage from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas that inspired it.

Joining me will be senior High Times editor Bobby Black, adult film star Brittany Andrews, and actor/writer Jeffery Emerson.

Hope to see you there, especially if you couldn’t make it to the last Eric Danville, Robert Rosen, Lainie Speiser production, Bloomsday on Beaver Street. There is no cover charge. Read More 
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This Is Cool

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. Read More 

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Summer Hours

I'll be posting here sporadically over the course of the summer. So go enjoy yourselves, read a good book, and don’t forget to use sunscreen. Read More 
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Let's Hear It for the Crowd

This is how it looked from Lexi Love's seat as she watched (left to right) Byron Nilsson, Laralu Smith, and Joe Gioco perform a scene from Mr. Sensitivity.
Who is going to come to a book event on a Sunday night on Father's Day? That's the question we confronted as we planned Bloomsday on Beaver Street II. And though it had crossed my mind to celebrate Bloomsday on Saturday, June 15, the whole point of any Bloomsday celebration is to celebrate it on Bloomsday, June 16. So, we stuck with the real Bloomsday, and we put out the word. And yes, I was concerned that like so many literary events I've attended as a spectator (and one event that I've participated in as a reader), the crowd would be negligible or worse.

Well, people came--thank God or the devil or whatever higher (or lower) power is paying attention for that. And though it wasn't the overflow crowd that packed the Killarney Rose last year, on a Saturday night, we did okay by the standards of any literary event.

The people to whom I’m most grateful—and you know who you are—are the dozen or so repeat customers, our hardcore supporters, our friends, neighbors, and family who came to Bloomsday on Beaver Street last year, and have come to more of Mary Lyn Maiscott and HooP’s shows than I can keep track of. They are the ones who can be counted on to buy our books and music, and have worked with us behind the scenes to help us make our way in an impossible business. We are lucky to have them in our lives.

Interestingly, two of the people who came as spectators last year, Eric Danville and Laralu Smith, made the transition this year to performers, with Eric reading his vintage ’70s-era Linda Lovelace advertising flyers and Laralu reading a Molly Bloom passage from Ulysses and performing in a scene from Byron Nilsson’s play, Mr. Sensitivity. It bears repeating that this is one of the unique aspects of our Bloomsday celebration—the way that the line between performer and spectator has been virtually erased, making for an unusually intimate setting.

And it goes without saying (though I’ll say it anyway) that it was great to see all the new faces, too, and that everybody’s enthusiasm and feedback was more than appreciated. As far as I know, everybody had a good time, audience and performers alike. So, thanks for joining us, and we hope to see you again next year, when Bloomsday falls on a Monday, the day after Father’s Day, which I’m sure will free up everybody’s complicated schedule. Read More 
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What About Me?

Robert Rosen prepares the audience for his reading from Bobby in Naziland. Photo © Cindy Rosen.
Having written about every Bloomsday on Beaver Street performer except for myself, it's probably time to say a few words about my own performance. Beyond noting that I know I've done better and I know I've done worse as a reader of my own work, I'm not going to get into a masochistic self-critique. But I will add that reading a piece of fiction as emotionally intimate as Bobby in Naziland was nerve-wracking--more nerve-wracking than reading from the so-called "dirty part" of Beaver Street, as I did at events last year.

It was, however, encouraging to hear laughter in the all the right places. And I took it as a positive sign when yesterday, one of my neighbors who came to the event stopped me in the street to say, as if she were surprised, "You really are a good writer."

In a lot of ways, Bloomsday on Beaver Street II was an experiment. It’s the first time I’ve ever organized an event with other readers, and it’s the first time I’ve ever worked directly with professional actors and a professional PR person. Which is to say that coordinating a show with 11 writers, actors, and musicians, all of whom are performing because they want to perform, is complicated and stressful, but ultimately rewarding. Again, I offer my humble thanks to everybody who participated.

It has also come to my attention that my aggressive promotion of the event surprised some people—especially those who know me, and regard me as a laid back kind of fellow. Having been on the receiving end of such promotions, I know how annoying this can be. But the promotion, too, was an experiment. I know that last year, despite the overflowing turnout, I didn’t promote the event aggressively enough. There were at least a half dozen people who told me that they would have come, but somehow got the date or the time wrong. I wanted to make sure that this didn’t happen again. Hence, the constant stream of reminders, on Facebook and elsewhere. Event promotion is still new territory for me, and I’m simply trying to get it right.

And I will try again next year, for Bloomsday on Beaver Street III, which will commemorate the 100th anniversary of when James Joyce began writing that damn book, which he called UlyssesRead More 
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Like the BEA with Food

The Summer Fancy Foods Show at the Javits Center, in New York, which I attended yesterday, guided by food writer and chef Byron Nilsson (who was last seen emceeing Bloomsday on Beaver Street), was very much like Bookexpo America, held in May at the Javits Center, except with food. And as we walked the miles of aisles, trying to pace ourselves as we sampled the cheese, chocolate, candy, cake, coffee, condiments, barbeque, bread, pizza, pasta, pate, juices, mezcal, ices, honey, olives, and extra virgin olive oil, I noted that unlike the products they were pushing at the BEA--books that, for the most part, I had no interest in reading--I wanted to try everything I saw at the SFFS.

With the exception of one Japanese sweet that I was tempted to spit out, everything else I put in my mouth ranged from utterly delicious (Ferrara’s cheesecake, for example) to surprisingly good (kale salad with Caesar dressing).

Though nobody would mistake me for a foodie, I have been buying food, and cooking it with some flair, for my entire adult life. I was, in fact, confident enough in my culinary skills to cook pasta primavera (a dish I’m now known for on two continents and three countries) for Italians, in Italy, and I will, for fun and educational purposes, serve as sous-chef for my sister-in-law, a semi-professional cook. So it’s not as if I was completely out of my element at the SFFS.

A few highlights of my sampling frenzy:

Mezcal Sin Piedad: Mexican cuisine was well represented, and I was happy to discover that mezcal was among the products available for tasting. Sin Piedad caught my eye because I know some Spanish, but couldn’t figure out what the name meant. “Mezcal without what?” I asked Mario Mendoza, the man who came up with the product, which should soon be available in the U.S., and will retail for $90-$100.

“Mercy,” he replied. “Mezcal Without Mercy.”

“Great name,” I said, knocking back my first shot.

It was good, it was smooth, and the flavor reminded me a little of… bacon. The second shot (my third of the day) put a nice glow on the afternoon.

Hot Sauce: Speaking of Mexican, there was a lot of hot sauce to check out. I learned that hot sauce can be so hot, it can literally give you a heart attack, and that it’s calibrated according to hotness. I took a sample bottle of El Yucatco, calibrated at a very hot 4,500-5,000, and was warned not to try it without cutting it with sour cream or mayonnaise. I will take that warning to heart.

Olive Oil: Since Trader Joe’s opened in my neighborhood, I’ve been unable to resist their price on extra virgin olive oil—$5.99 for a 33.8 fluid ounce bottle. It’s always tasted fine to me… until yesterday, after I sampled a wide variety of super-luxury extra virgin olive oils from Italy, Spain, Greece, and Chile, which retailed for, shall we say, considerably more that $5.99. But the flavor of these oils blew Trader Joe’s out of the water, and I don’t know if I’ll be able to go back.

Egypt: There was no food to sample in the Egyptian aisle. Their products were locked in glass cases, like jewelry. I stood there looking at a box of Fruit Loops, with Arabic writing, as if it were a Tiffany necklace.

Mousse: I was too busy eating this company’s delicious vegetable mousse, which they served in adorable mini ice cream cones, to write down their name. My bad.

Ferrara’s Bakery: I’ve been going to this Little Italy institution for decades, and when I saw their booth, offering free samples of cheesecake, chocolate cake, and canoli, I went completely nuts.

Honey: Honey is made by bees, and there are scores of different honeys to sample at the show. But make no mistake about it: the bees are being poisoned by pesticides and, according to the beekeepers, they continue to die off at alarming rates. One of them told me that this year there’s been a 30 percent drop in the bee population in his area, Florida. It is an ecological disaster.

Camus Coffee: What writer can resist a product called Camus Coffee? Certainly not me, and by the time I went to sample the stuff, I was more than ready for that existential caffeine buzz. Turns out the company is better known for their luxury cognacs, which were not available for sampling, and that the proprietors are not related to Albert Camus. “Camus,” I was told, “is like Smith in France.”

The show continues through July 2. Read More 

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Michael Paul: Paparazzo of the Self

Many of the pictures you've been looking at on The Daily Beaver for the past ten days were shot by Michael Paul, whose work has appeared frequently on this blog, and who was, more or less, the in-house Bloomsday on Beaver Street photographer.

One of Michael's specialties is the group selfie. So, in case you've been wondering what the man behind the camera looks like--and who hasn't?--here he is, posing after the show with me and my wife, Mary Lyn Maiscott. Ain't we a threesome?

Stay tuned for more paparazzo shots of the non-selfie variety. Read More 
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The Big Guy

If the 11 Bloomsday on Beaver Street performers were a football team, he'd be the all-pro fullback, the guy who anchors the offense and who you build your game plan around, the one you give the ball to when it's fourth and goal on the one-yard line, and you're trailing by six points with time running out.

But we're not a football team; we're a ragtag group of writers, actors, and musicians, and besides, he probably hates sports metaphors, anyway. He is, however, the guy who anchors Bloomsday on Beaver Street and whom I build the entire show around.

If you were at the Killarney Rose on June 16, then you’ll recognize Byron Nilsson as the emcee, my surrogate host, the big guy with the radio voice who did the opening monologue, all the introductions, performed in his own play, and to top it off, sang a cappella a dirty Irish ditty about a photographer and his Nikon.

Yes, there’d be a Bloomsday on Beaver Street even if Byron Nilsson didn’t exist. But the fact that he does exist, and is willing to travel 200 miles to perform at the Killarney Rose, makes my job of organizing, promoting, writing the script, and preparing my own reading, a task that’s not completely overwhelming.

It’s profoundly liberating for me to know that when I’m putting together Byron’s monologue and introductions, he can be counted on to deliver the jokes as professionally as any late-night talk show host, and he’ll know exactly where and how to improvise—all with minimal rehearsal.

And in the hours leading up to the show, as I’m getting progressively more nervous about my own performance, worrying if anybody is going to show up, and thinking I just want to get this over with and never do another event again, there’s Byron sitting on my couch, tapping away on his laptop, looking about as nervous as a man getting ready to eat dinner.

He is, in short, a calming influence who raises Bloomsday on Beaver Street to a level of professionalism that I wouldn’t be able to achieve on my own, and he makes me think that in years to come, anything is possible. Maybe we can even save literature. Read More 
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The Music of Transgression

Left to right: Mary Lyn Maiscott, Samantha Echo, and HooP, perform Angel Tattooed Ballerina at the Killarney Rose. Photo © Michael Paul.
Bloomsday on Beaver Street is a family affair in the Rosen-Maiscott household. I take care of the literary end of things, and Mary Lyn, whether she knows it or not, is the musical director.

This year, Mary Lyn and guitarist Gary "HooP" Hoopengardner--vice president of the New York chapter of Guitars Not Guns, an organization devoted to stopping school violence--returned to the Killarney Rose, along with backup vocalist Samantha Echo, who also sang two of her own songs.

The musical themes for the night were literature, Ulysses, and transgression, and every song performed referred to at least one of them. Mary Lyn opened with You Can't Do That, the Beatles classic that she sang 13 years ago, at the publication party for my John Lennon bio, Nowhere Man. (You can hear it on her CD, Blue Lights.) Samantha provided the soaring backup vocals for Mary Lyn’s next song, the just completed Angel Tattooed Ballerina, about a boy who wants to be a girl struggling with his (or her) sexuality. And she ended the set with Madam Olenska, a tribute to the scandalously divorced central character in Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocense, published in 1920, the same year as Ulysses.

The second set, which followed the readings, began with singer-songwriter Ray Fuld performing two originals, including a tune about a Brooklyn hooah, which seemed to be the perfect complement to my reading from Bobby in Naziland.

Next up was Samantha, who’d studied Ulysses in college, and sang her song about Gerty MacDowell, the character who was responsible for provoking Leopold Bloom to an act of public onanism, which was the passage that got Ulysses banned in the United States. (You can see Samantha perform regularly at the South Ferry Terminal in Manhattan, just a couple of blocks from Beaver Street.)

Finally, Mary Lyn and HooP returned for two more songs, Toxic City, Mary Lyn’s paean to Paris, where Ulysses was originally published, and Crucified, a religiously transgressive song about sex.

All in all, it was a night of good music and good literature, and you should have been there. But if you weren’t, we will have video in the coming weeks, and there’s always next year. Never too early to make plans. Read More 
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Redefining the New York Literary Event

Eric Danville, author of The Complete Linda Lovelace, the original basis for the forthcoming film Lovelace, starring Amanda Seyfried, brought a touch of the avant-garde to Bloomsday on Beaver Street. Rather than read from his book, as he did at his own Whole Lotta Lovelace event last June, he read descriptions of Lovelace's 8mm loops from vintage '70s-era fliers put out by a San Francisco mail-order company, K.R. Enterprises.

Though Eric considers himself more of a "literary cover band" when it comes to live readings, his Bloomsday performance seemed to be an exercise in transforming objets trouvés into performance art. He read the flyers as if they were they were diverse bits of a surreal monologue featuring the sleaziest examples of illiterate porno hucksterism: ad copy for films about bestiality and "golden showers."

Like so much else that happened at the Killarney Rose, on June 16, Eric’s reading extended the parameters of what you might expect to see and hear at a New York literary event. The spirit of James Joyce, if I’m not mistaken, gave him a double thumbs up.

I thought that I heard him laughing. Read More 
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New Horizons in Entertainment

Lainie Speiser, a public relations professional who spent a decade at Penthouse, and was instrumental in bringing Bloomsday on Beaver Street to the attention of the masses (and Lexi Love to Beaver Street), also writes books about what she knows best--sex and porn stars. Her titles include The Little Bit Naughty Book of Blowjobs, The Manhattan Madam's Guide to Great Sex, and Confessions of the Hundred Hottest Porn Stars, an X-rated trilogy that adorns the shelves of erotic literature fans everywhere.

Like many writers, getting up in front of people and reading from her books is something that Lainie prefers not to do. But she also understands that in today's book biz, writers are expected to be performers, too, and if you want people to read your books, then you have put on a show.

Confessions of the Hundred Hottest Porn Stars is not the kind of book that writers normally read at literary events. But it is the book that Lainie chose to read on Bloomsday—to a crowd at the Killarney Rose that consisted mostly of people unfamiliar with the adult industry, and who considered it genuinely exotic to be able to chat with a porn star like Lexi Love between performances.

Lainie read her interview with Mia Isabella, known to her fans as “the cutest little TS chick with the biggest candy stick,” which, in plain English, means she looks like a beautiful woman, but if you reach inside her lace panties, you’ll find a 10-inch penis.

Among the lines that Lainie delivered with aplomb, and that provoked uproarious laughter in the appreciative audience were, “I enjoy looking at my tiny hand holding my great big cock,” “I have a wonderful boyfriend, and he tries to fuck me at least six times a day,” and “Hold the doors open and treat us like ladies,” which is Mia’s advice for “tranny chasers.”

Nothing like introducing literature lovers to new horizons in entertainment. Read More 
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