Well, my book’s going to come out on October 18th, and I’m psyched . . it’s been a long time coming. You could cook up seven human babies in the time it took me to write and then publish this tome. I started working on it in the spring of 2006, and boy, what a fucking idiot I was: I figured I would write it in about four or five months, sell it straight away, and then my first book would be on the shelves in, like, spring 2007. Well, four and a half years late isn’t bad, I suppose …
My friend Brad Siskin and I have been working on some absurd “trailers” for my book. Check out this one, if you like. It’s SFW.
I ran into this champ with my homegirl Abby in late September. It is my opinion that North Hollywood is and always has been degraded. Even in its heyday, NoHo was host to a band of drunks, johns, and drooling crooks. Here, we do little to class it up.
I enjoyed this interview with mystery writer Tammy Kaehle on the interview-based website Travels of John. She talks at length about the creative process, and about what’s needed when writing genre fiction.
I think formula and cliché are different beasts … Knowing there was a formula when writing my first mystery was comforting, because I knew how to structure the story from the beginning. I knew I needed peaks and valleys of rising tension. I knew I needed to unfold clues over time, and I knew [the main character] Kate needed to have some crisis and be in some physical danger at the end.
I’m starting to get down to business on my lecture “A Brief History of Porn,” which attempts to track the evolution of my favorite genre.
Today I’m watching a lot of tape, in an attempt to find special clips that’ll fit into my talk, and the first entry is Andrew Blake’s “House of Dreams,” from 1990. The clip above is current Andrew Blake, but really, our talented director has changed hardly at all since the first adult film he ever made (Wikipedia has him listed at beginning his career circa 1989).
Blake’s music is pretentious, but unfortunately, it’s not bad enough to be funny. Same thing with the visuals, to a tee. This guy is a talented person - and both his soft-core and hard-core scenes read like a high-end slick come to life. The lighting is excellent, his ladies are fine, and the cocks are always thick.
Yeah, this is fucking mindless. My main bone to pick, and the reason Blake won’t ever capture my heart, is that characters mean nothing to the man. Story means nothing. In my version of what the porn industry aims to be (there are many versions of the porn industry - we all have our own), I want characters. I need demented, awful acting that is revelatory in its very failure. means there is nowhere to hide. The fictional dream in my ideal porno is foiled, by the worthlessness of the acting, the shooting, the script, and the lighting
Essentially, the “real porn star” is laid bare. The technique is at base a kind of Brechtianism - laying the artifice bare - but accidentally: it is Brechtianism that issues forth because of lack of talent. Which I find adorable.
No, Blake does not fit into the version of the porn world I am trying to convey. The man has too much technical talent, and even worse, there’s no pathos in his films - no humor, a la Gregory Dark. Sadly, Blake’s films actually ARE erotic; they are sexy, in a way. But while he succeeds at eroticism, he also fills us with boredom and a certain lack of joy. Everything a human could find loveable about porn - its failed narrative, its rank amateurism, its doltishness that invites any and all to come and play - is disappeared in Blake’s Leni Reisenstahl-esque vision of the sunkissed labia.
I’ve been reading “Girlvert,” the story of Ashley Blue, aka Oriana Small, and I absolutely cannot say enough good things about it. Ori is a friend and contemporary of mine (I shot a scene with her during her rookie year, 2002, and we bonded from that point on), but that’s really beside the point. “Girlvert” is disgustingly honest, frightfully well-written, and it speaks about the sex industry with a clarity that I believe to be rare.
Bukowski came to mind more than a few times when I was reading this book. I’m so impressed, and so happy to recommend Small’s book.
This video was taken today at the Esalen Institute.
I have been spending the month of August here in Big Sur, working as a paying volunteer at this amazing place. I’ve been studying nights with Ann Randolph, who is a totally amazing writing and performance teacher. And during the day, I’ve been working in the Esalen Farm and Garden, honing my chard-chopping skills.
This is a good place from which to survey life, anticipate the release of my book, and plot the upcoming promo tour for the fall.
There’s a lot to talk about here, and frankly, I’m not fully equipped at this moment to go into the great history of Herschell Gordon Lewis, who is probably the greatest exploitation filmmaker of all time, and who might as well be the father of John Waters for all I’m concerned.
What’s important, though, at this moment, early in this blog project, is that I give a vivid example of a pure, successful exploitation film, and try to understand how it eventually gave way to what we understand as contemporary “porno.”
So. As far as exploitation cinema is concerned, Herschell Gordon Lewis was a master, maybe the undisupted king. And that’s because he always understood what was important: money.
Lewis’s goal was always to get asses in the seats. Period. He might have liked a good plot, too, and damn if he wasn’t talented in both writing and directing. But the sheer speed with which he completed his films gifted them a remarkable texture - an almost improvisational, slapdash character that is at once life-affirming and horrifying.
Money. Its importance cannot be overstated to the importance of exploitation cinema. Lewis switched genres a couple of times in his career, producing nudie-cuties in the early sixties, films that really sucked, but showed some nudity. Later, apparently, according to Wikipedia, he made some so-called “juvenile delinquent” films. I suppose there was some market there - certainly for the nudies, which were tame by today’s standards, but showed more tit than Hollywood could include at the time, due to the puritanical production code adopted in the mid-thirties.
I’ve watched a couple of these early Lewis pictures, and I couldn’t really stomach them. Happily, Lewis moved on to bigger, better and weirder films - in 1963, he made Blood Feast, considered by many to be the first “gore” film. And The Wizard of Gore (above) is enjoyable, maybe remarkable.
What’s sad about porn is that there was never this kind of care taken. Lewis’s films had cheapness, but they also had wonderful actors (delightfully cheap ones, but with talent), wonderful effects (the gore doesn’t connote blood, but instead a deep mythic REDNESS), and stories a troll could enjoy.
I’m reading a pretty good book now called “Trash Cinephile,” by Blake Ryan, in an attempt to get some historical context for how the filmic genre of porn evolved. Who were the forbears, so to speak, of porno?
This industrial film, “U.S.S. V.D: Ship of Shame” was mandatory viewing for US Naval cadets in the mid-forties. It’s not exactly an exploitation film, since it wasn’t shown in a public context, like those delightful Roadhouse films that we’re more familiar with (ones that show “The Miracle of Birth,” or the dangers of “Cocaine Fever,” and got the entire small town out for a few nights to the theater) so in a sense it has less connection with adult film. (I view porno as the logical extension of exploitation cinema.) But industrials like “U.S.S. V.D. : Ship of Shame” addressed subjects left off the table by the Hollywood system, so it still sort of fits into this discussion, to my mind.