Big thanks to the LA Weekly for mentioning my book in their year-end article "Top Books We Read in 2011."
from the article:
Sam Benjamin tried and failed to make art while a student at Brown University, so he did the next best thing and came to Malibu to make porn. American Gangbang is hilarious and honest about sex and pornography; it’s also intellectual enough to make you feel good about yourself. —Ben Westhoff
"I have not invented a new Hebrew letter made partially from hair, something that sweats and seems nearly human, something that imparts a folktale when held in one’s hand. I invent a lot in what I write — I invent almost all of it. But I don’t get past even the first half page unless I can tether the hell out of my real feelings to whatever I’ve invented. I need a thousand different emotional connections or else the whole thing is silly and without purpose."
- Ben Marcus, in Six Questions for Ben Marcus, Harper’s Magazine
A new friend of mine, Cassandra Dallet, with whom I shared a stage recently at Evan Karp’s Quiet Lightning series in San Francisco, wrote a poem inspired by having read American Gangbang. I wanted to share it.
I’m intrigued still
wrestling with this man’s story
his agonizing over his love for a porno
a porno that is hard to believe is legal
it is apparently legal because it’s a series
in this series
different girls on their knees
mouth on dick close up
but she doesn’t suck the dick
she is force fed the dick
sometimes she pukes
and the guy with the dick
slaps her face
yup Slap Happy it’s called.
He writes on her face with magic marker
things like slut bitch cocksucker whore
and when he cums he doesn’t do it sexily
he does it violently.
All kinds of lines have been crossed here
all sorts of things that any man watching knows
make it a snuff film
snuff cause the girl may be living
may have pocketed a few grand
and went on her merry way
but a piece of her dies
every time some loser
jacks off to her gagging markered face
with each slap a scar is raised
out of site
down by her large intestine
snuggled up to her pancreas
maybe it will bitter into hate
manifest as cancer
the real damage.
but I’m not mad at this guy
a little horrified that he is turned on
that he jacks off to this mess on screen
I’m not mad
cause he is honest.
he admits girls like this snubbed him in high school
that he wanted to see them gag on his dick.
Which, I’m sure he imagines as big
as the guy’s in the skin flick.
I feel sorry for him.
He admits his obsession with it
and loses his good girl.
Who was perfectly happy to give an honest blowjob
but get slapped in the face dude, really!?
Still I want to drop him a line
wonder if we can get down to the bottom
of why we are all so fucked up.
Why I hate fucking my boyfriend because he isn’t aggressive enough
yet he watches rape porno on my computer when I’m not at home.
And how I hate sucking his dick
its too big and he’s too unresponsive
Yet I love the whole face fucking
forced gagging thing
as much as the next guy.
I was watching a scene
the other night
where the guy had a belt around the chicks neck
and it was smokin’ hot I was totally turned on.
Maybe we could talk about
what it would take
to make the perfect porno
or the perfect love
where our quirks and obsession blends
into something sweet.
Something that doesn’t leave us
heaving up guilt
as yesterdays turkey carcass.
I just uploaded a twenty-minute selection from my lecture, “A Brief History of Porn.” Enjoy.
You will get up on this piece of early 90’s spiritual funk porno jones NOW, if you know what’s good for you.
The early 90’s were a weird time, sonically. I was in high school when BBD was happening; POISON (never trust a big butt and a smile) was a hit when I was in 9th grade, and gumby-fade-tops, white jeans with airbrushed letters across the ass, Cross Colors, Africa necklaces, and Starter jackets ruled the roost.
This vibrant, funky piece of trash comes from the movie “Kink-O-Rama” presented by Leisure Time Entertainment in 1993, as part of a series called “Raunch-O-Rama.” It’s one of my favorite films, and features a host of replacement phalluses (plasticated) and heaving, concrete tits. Got to be seen to be believed; and for now, you can listen to something that sounds like a combination between a “Pretty in Pink” score and Another Bad Creation.
"Paris Hilton had a pet kinkajou until it went for her eyes in a lingerie shop. John Quincy Adams kept an alligator, swam nude in the Potomac and liked having sex outdoors. Saddam Hussein’s eldest son, Uday, had lions, a bear, a cheetah and Internet pictures Photoshopped to look like the naked Bush twins on his walls.
William Randolph Hearst introduced the moronic llama into the United States. Teddy Roosevelt kept a bear and a lion as pets at the White House. Phillip II of Spain enjoyed collecting dwarves.
As your Holy Royal President, I vow to bring Lou Dobbs to the White House as a reward for services rendered, put him in the Lincoln Bedroom, then fill a polar bear with Adderall and throw it in with him at around three A.M., while blasting Slayer’s Reign in Blood.”
- Cintra Wilson, Caligula For President: Better American Living Through Tyranny
This song is called “LOVE JONES.” It is the opening and closing credits song from John Leslie’s 1990 movie, “The Tease,” a pornographic film starring Randy West, Randy Spears, Selena Steele, Ashlyn Gere, and TT Boy.
Leslie was at the top of his game in the late 80’s and early 90’s, pumping out a string of solid hits that were without exception competently written and well-shot, featuring acting that was fun to watch even if (or because) it was not quite believable.
I can’t put my finger precisely on what I like and respect about Leslie’s movies from that time period. In terms of production value, they’re of about the same caliber as television soap operas; and because Leslie tended to use only the best-looking performers from the adult film industry establishment, the look of his films in some way mimics that genre, insofar as the look of the actors was model-like, and sometimes wooden.
As an actor, Leslie was one of the most popular male stars of the 1970’s. He made his transition into directing gracefully. VCA took him under his wing in the late 80’s, and he made about twenty-five features for them until the mid-90’s, at which point he began distributing his films under John Stagliano’s Evil Angel umbrella, and switched to a more gonzo sensibility. He directed 147 films in all, according to iafd.com.
I believe Leslie wrote and performed “LOVE JONES,” though as I remember, the song is uncredited, and it’s possible I am wrong. He was a talented musician until the time of his death in 2007.
I’m in New York City at the moment. Last night I had an amazing time at Pitch!, the brainchild of Greg Walloch and Mark Allen. My piece was a countdown of the top ten porn audio tracks of all time. It got pretty hectic in there - all my songs were from the 80’s and 90’s, and the synth-cheese factor was rather high - but in the end I think all of us were weirdly pleased, and felt sated, high on the corniness of Casio, sick from the moans of the fuckbeast.
It’s been interesting, performing this fall - since my book came out on October 18th, I’ve done about five or six performances, all of them different, ranging from straight readings, to storytelling, to video-based lecturing, to bizarre music-based narration like last night. All the nights have achieved some modicum of success, though at varying levels: some nights I’ve gone out and killed, and other nights much less so. I’ve been a bit lazy about writing about the events, mostly because I don’t want to lapse into some rote version of a “Dear Diary” with this blog - blogs are “out,” according to me - but I can’t help but regret not being more thorough, because live performances, while energizing, are by nature evanescent, and months down the line, they can easily be forgotten.
In that spirit, here’s some game tape from a piece I did at Bawdy Storytelling, in San Francisco, a couple of weeks ago.
I had an amazing time last night at Human Resources gallery, delivering my lecture “A Brief History of Porn” for the first time. We had a packed house, and I think everybody got a kick out of the clips. Seemed like the phone sex ads got the best response, along with “Edward Penishands” and “Hill St. Blacks.”
I kind of figured that “John Wayne Bobbitt, Uncut” would bring the house down, but I’d edited that one badly and didn’t master the sound quite right, so the impact was blunted. A friend pointed out to me that Lemmy, from Motorhead, made a cameo - so amazing. That video gets more and more awesome the more I learn about it. And another person pointed out to me that we should see Bobbitt’s penis - he was right. The microsurgery scars are so clearly visible, and it’s frightening and grotesque. We must go there.
My friend Grace Krilanovich (one of my favorite writers ever, whose book The Orange Eats Creeps just went into its third printing) mentioned a movie I should check out: Driller. Apparently it’s a parody of the Thriller video. Sounds like a plan.
I noticed last night that the audience could really get into the porn parodies … “Hill St. Blacks” went over really well, for instance (even though it’s doubtful many people in the audience were old enough to really be fans of the show, which had its run in the early to mid 80’s). There’s something satisfying about having a referent - and in a weird way, porn is an oddly appropriate spoofing tool. For instance, in “Edward Penishands,” the penis-for-fists kind of echoed both the sadness and alienation of the Johnny Depp character in the original movie, and spoke rather eloquently about the loneliness of porn-watching/masturbation. I don’t know. With its good-for-porn haunting soundtrack, and a very competent acting performance by the pretty Jeanna Fine, this is a standout smut movie.
People were also very pleased with the Annie Sprinkle video, “The Search for the Ultimate Sexual Experience.” Sprinkle created a porn (in 1985, through Candida Royalle’s Femme Productions) that was actually SOULFUL. It simply doesn’t happen, so I think people were fairly shocked to witness a good-vibes style explicit film. Annie Sprinkle’s good. She’s damn good.
Here she talks about the beauty of the soft penis. “I say we have a soft penis revolution!!” - A. Sprinkle.
This is a good woman.