By Melissa Fossum
By Lauren Wise
By New Times
By Amanda Savage
By Jason P. Woodbury
By Troy Farah
By New Times
Kids don't read reviews, and reviews don't reflect sales. If they did, Elvis Costello would have sold more records than Van Halen. Most reviewers I know barely listen to the CDs before they start tossing off their trite and unresearched judgments. Porn-tape reviews, on the other hand, dutifully allow the consumer not to get taken by fly-by-night smut peddlers. They steer the porn fan straight, so to speak. In porn, it is easy to tell that which is good for wood and that which is not. Really, a below the belt kinda thang.
Hard-core porn thrives in the land of the free in spite of the censorship of chest-pounding, Christian fundamentalist Dudley Do-rights. In 1997 Americans burped up eight billion buckaroos on their longing for the heady stuff--more than we spent on any other "leisure time" activity (and enough to put a serious dent into the extreme poverty of the world's poorest countries). And talk about tax revenue! Injustices still abound: We will have our smut, but the Ramones never got the airwaves.
In the mail I receive all types of porno promo regalia; I get two-headed dildos, vibrators designed for any orifice imaginable, and invites to go on San Fernando Valley porn shoots. I also get lots of videos and DVDs: gorilla gonzos, fetish, all-girl, over 50, anal gang-bangs, and slick (by smut standards) "films" that incorporate "real" filmmaking techniques alongside the requisite schtupping. And just like the record-company crap I receive, it all winds up in the local resale venue. What a great country.
In the second week of July, Las Vegas reared its head in the form of the VSDA show, a porn convention of sorts. I wanted out of here. So I got a press pass and went, flask in hand.
Vegas and porn. Talk about a supreme all-American unholy union. The first, middle and last act in Vegas was to drink. In Vegas the booze flows all-out 24/7, and a man like me just has to love that. It's a wonder I didn't remain there.
Cash is the gas in Vegas; without it a man is done. Stranded. And in the netherworld of old Vegas, there lie strains of those who purchased the glitter myth with nothing but fumes; evil-eyed hucksters looking for a cheap take, a financial hand job. Their desperation is complete. And while all of Vegas is without hope and culture, that older side of Vegas is completely barren of expectation and even joy; the last thread upon which to string a selfish desire for easy wealth.
The other side of the strip rates an equal desperation only filtered through an evil Disneyesque sheen and a glorified mall habit. It's where the accumulation of fast-food-driven families from places with names like Kalamazoo or Lincoln or Sioux Falls jostle for their place in dreamland, that place arrived at only through the avaricious and futile exchange of money for want of more money.
The VSDA show sits smack in the middle of it all in the homogenous and spacious Las Vegas Convention Center. The show itself is giant media mindfuck designed for home-entertainment sellers and distributors to chirp their wares to retail businesses, press and the average couch-dwelling dolt. They do it via glossy attraction in booths, stalls and small shows.
The bigger the company, the more ornate the booth. HBO, for example, had slot machines and a card table with a dealer using custom "Rat Pack" cards. One company employed a flashy stage--large enough to fit into any midsize venue--on which choreographed dance shows were performed, complete with gauche lighting and huge background video screens broadcasting the performance. Some vendors offered gimpy singin' Elvises serenading passers-by with acoustic guitars (one even showcased the more taunting and bloated Vegas-era Elvis).
A few others volunteered B-level Hollywood celebrity hams for the mouth-breathing general public to harangue for autographs (here I stared in awe as an unsuspecting Paula Abdul picked her nose behind a floor display).
In the rear, as if in the back of the bus, behind a 25-foot-high facade of blue-and-white curtains--at the very end of the mainstream--was, fittingly, the adult section. It was marked with a sign that clearly read: "ADULTS ONLY."
The adult slice of the convention pie was less ornate and much smaller. At the entrance a cop checked IDs. Inside, rows of adult-video makers and distributors propped paraphernalia in colorful collages of spectacularly exaggerated snips of human desire. Top pouty pro tarts posed for pictures and signed autographs at booths for slack-jawed masturbation professionals and lonely post-midlife baldos who traversed from miles away and paid hundreds for day passes to be there. A surprising number of women circulated as well.
Aging industry veterans yapped on while some of the up-and-coming companies sported hipster 20-something male and female employees who have overcome (or never had) silly religious sexual hang-ups and made porn a solid career device. Top companies like Vivid, Private USA, Metro, Sin City and Odyssey, plus industry trade AVN (the Billboard of porn), all have young professionals at the helm who defy that arcane notion that porn is strictly a misogynistic men-only affair for that trench-coated weirdo who leafs through whack-fodder in the back of triple-X arcades. That was then, this is now. Porn has come out from under the mattress and onto the coffee table.
It was Friday in mid-July at noon, and I found a bar in the corner of the room. It was time to start. A bright young publicist from Private named Adella recognized my name from my pinned-on press pass and started footin' the drinks. Perfect. She introduced me to porn vet Gloria Leonard, who now heads up the industry's FSC (Free Speech Coalition), a team whose goals are exhibited in its namesake. Gloria is an articulate and funny woman in her 50s. She made more than 35 porn movies in the late '70s and early '80s. She worked on Wall Street, and for more than 10 years she was publisher of High Society magazine. "The FSC [Free Speech Coalition] is fighting the real deal, it's fighting censorship every step of the way. This business needs this type of representation," she says.
More drinks ensued, and I noticed Sunset Strip/Cathouse diehard Janine wander by, a line of Japanese gentlemen armed with cameras in her wake. It was obvious those guys were full-on diggin' Janine's doctored-mammary scene and trailer-court Cindy Crawfordisms. Amphetaminic anal queen Phyllishia Anne sported the smallest sheer shorts I have ever seen. A porn-star pal of mine calling herself Randi Rage signed autographs at the Odyssey/Gen XXX booth. She was striking in her lace and sheer tutto get-up and orange G-string, a curvy girl topped with a shoulder-length brunette do.
"You better call me tonight," she says. I watched her sign a photo for a jock type with a gym-assisted torso. It said: "Jim, you make me cum soooo hard! XXX OOO, kisses Randi!!"
I saw some male porn stars like Randy West, lurking about largely unnoticed. The males are the unsung heroes of this business, an industry that is probably the only one in the world where women are paid three times as much as the men.
I talked to Valley-girlish blonde Shane, an ex onscreen rod-stiffener and current shooter of three separate condoms-only hard-core "gonzo" lines (Shane's World, Pornological, Slumber Party), about the five porn stars who have tested HIV positive since the beginning of the year (Marc Wallice, Tricia Devereaux, Caroline, Kimberly Jade and Brooke Ashely) and if it influenced her decision to go all-condom.
"Yeah, that was half of it, and the other half is I have three younger sisters and one younger brother," she says. "So I do it for all the kids. When I go down to the beach and all the little surfer boys go, 'Shane, you rule,' and I'm like, 'I can't believe you're watching porn already; how old are you, you little perverts!' Really, somebody has to set a good example; it makes me feel better about my job."
At the Sin City booth, PR princess Lysa Stone roped me into a picture with two of their stars, then bought a round and invited me to the Sin City party that night at the Rio hotel and casino. After more drinks, I split back to my hotel.
At around 10 p.m., I was hammered and talking to the stiff and well-suited concierge behind a desk at the Rio hotel.
"Do ya know where the Miranda room is, kind sir?" I asked.
"Lemme guess," he said sprightly, "you're looking for the Feed the Children event?"
"Uh, not exactly. I'm looking for the Sin City porn party," I answered through a burp.
His brow furrowed as he answered me with a smirk while pointing in the direction of the crowded casino, "Go straight through the casino to the back." As I turned, he added, "That's where the porn freaks are."
The fucking hypocrite, I thought. The dork probably beats it to porn on a regular basis.
A minute later I found the party, gave my name to a duo of rent-a-cops at the door and was let in. The cafeteria-size room was done up in a beach motif in celebration of Sin City's new smutflik Cape Sin. A DJ spun the hits from a booth above and behind the dance floor. A good 200 or so press, industry and porn stars were crowded into the scene.
A full catered buffet of shrimp, crab, chicken and whatnot was stretched out along one end of the room. I spotted portly porn legend Ron Jeremy stuffing his face with everything in sight, his fat fingers pushing the fishy pieces into his rounded face. I coulda puked. Lysa Stone introduced me to famed Pussyman director David Christopher, a loud Jewish guy who spat tiny fragments of chicken in my face as he spoke. I left him and went to the bar.
While I waited for a drink, someone tapped my shoulder. I turned around to see a Tommy Lee-looking guy going, "Hey, don't ya remember me?" He had an insanely mammiformed Pamela Lee clone under his arm.
"Uh, no," I answered.
"Stacy Starr. I was the drummer in the Zero's ['80s/'90s purple Zero's, not punk-rock Zeroes]. I met you in Arizona at the fuckin' Mason Jar, remember?"
"Ah, yeah, I remember. You had long purple hair then, huh?"
I did remember. He played like Razzle, the late drummer of Hanoi Rocks, the guy Vince Neil manslaughtered. I was amazed to learn Stacy is now acting in pornos with his wife Elizabeth, a woman mostly known for her fetish work. They said they recently shot a show with perv David "Pussyman" Christopher. According to his wife, Stacy is in possession of a monster schlong; "porn stars ain't got nothin' on my Stacy," she said.
"I'm having trouble finding a band," Stacy said dejectedly.
Around the room, insobrietous porno pets in butt thongs showed their exhibitionist sides. On the dance floor, the action got going. The best were lithesome ebony starlet Dee and the athletic girl-next-door blonde Nikki Lynn, both of whom accented their gymnastic prowess with knarly bends, evil hipsway and patented pouts. Elsewhere, porn boobs popped loose from tight tops, girls exchanged spit and luvy duvy, and heady lap dances resolved the night. The night just resolved.
My drunkenness was matched by a sense of sheer anatomical overkill, a sense that too much of anything will inevitably shut down the soul, where lust is a peripheral grab bag of fabricated rewards.
I needed relief, some spiritual platform from which to evolve. Then the answer came. I got up and headed for the casino.
Janine and Vince Neil
Hardcore and Uncensored
(Vivid Video & IEG)
Armed with a handy video cam and a blond bimbette sidekick, Mstley CrYe vox squeal Vince Neil (the Elmer Fudd of rock 'n' roll) and gal-pal porn star Janine went on a Hawaiian Hallmark holiday back in '93, where they frolicked on the beach, picnicked, and schtupped for the benefit of amateur-porn buffs and metal-racket fans the world over.
Of course, the shag proffered has little or no porn value other than the worthy white-trash Cindy Crawford port of Janine and the faceless (her mug is literally smeared like the innocent on a Cops episode) blonde who administers a by-the-numbers dildo plug on her. Upchuck value, though, is the key here, kiddies: Picture the fleshy and expansive white Vince Neil ass bucking up and down atop Janine as his hirsute scrotum bounces along behind, or worse, Neil's dong, which suffers throughout from the dreaded anti-porn flaccid disorder.
There is something profoundly funny, albeit pathetic, about a flabby '80s MTV star who fancies himself some kind of stud while wielding his soft 200-plus-pound carcass around like it is something to behold; like he's the shit, like enough self-aggrandizing will make him bigger than life--like in those Reagan-era rock videos. Hardy har har.
Contact Bill Blake at his online address: firstname.lastname@example.org