Exclusive: Porn writers’ strike enters 30th year

CHATSWORTH, Calif. — The corner back booth of this Lamplighter restaurant franchise has, since the Carter administration, served as the war room for San Fernando Valley’s former porn screenwriters.

From a dwindling coffer of residuals eight men and one woman purchase coffee and sandwiches while poring over picket sign slogans.

“Back when I wrote The Erotic Moods of Monique for Erotic Moods Video I was assured that every iteration conceivable for pornographic delivery, from movie theatre to second-hand description on the street, would be covered,” said Lou Dirigibilio, nursing an omelette with bits of his toupee in it. “I even put in a clause for wax cylinders.”

But the porn business has moved on, with the now-famous Invisible Ink Utter Buyout language included in every contract, guaranteeing non-payment to writers for presentation in every past, present, and future medium, from dirty black and red line art delivered in displays on pizza boxes to aboriginal smoke signal porn (including Digital Playground’s Maize God Gets Lucky with Sophia Santi).

“These studio moguls continue to make so much money off my words,” said Gertrude Sploins, writer of over 400 “erotic mysteries” from the early 1970’s. “Just yesterday my grandson showed me a clip of Murder in Her Dark Woman-Grotto on his iPhone. I didn’t get paid for that.

“The most erogenous erogenous zone is the mind,” she added.

So with the advent of video technology, porn screenwriters went on strike in 1977, promising to hold out until the smut business ground to a halt or paid dividends to writers from profits on the new technology.

“And we haven’t worked since,” said Harvey Quim, who won the 1975 Philadelphia Porno Critics’ Award for his erotic adaptation of “The Joy of Sex”, Things in the Erotic Paunchy Man’s Beard.

Porn industry insider Loup Perch-Tounge points out that there are no scripts in adult films anymore “the way the general public understands scripts,” saying that porn movies are created with a blend of cocaine, Keith Johnstone-style improv, and divine inspiration.

“Have you seen Alpha 15: Reform School Girls?” Perch-Tounge asked. “You can’t say someone wrote that.”

The striking porn writers have long since abandoned picketing studios because, as Dirigibilio says, “I’d rather eat a reuben than stand in front of a Van Nuys warehouse all day.” But socialist fervor still grips the small group, whose median age is 65.

“The other day I popped my dentures out at Sasha Grey,” said Quim. “But the nice lady popped them right back in.”

In addition to meager residuals from theatre screenings in communities serviced by Peace Corps volunteers, the members of Porn Screenwriters Union Local 2 (Locals 1 and 3, based in New York and Cleveland, respectively, both folded in 1981) subsist on toasting hundreds of teddy bears stolen from Protecting Adult Welfare and pallets stacked with steveporn stickers.

Many adult industry workers have never heard of Local 2, and regularly avoid its members when they stand with donation cans outside Los Angeles area adult conventions.

“These people don’t know their own history,” said Clevon Pudendiferous, writer of the early Mitchell Brothers’ film Through the Red Keyhole. “They’re so involved with their own little moneymaking schemes that they pay no attention to anyone else.”

In that way the members of Local 2 are true members of the adult community. When asked about the parallels of his strike to the one being carried out by Hollywood writers, Pudendiferous replied, “Who? I thought we were talking about me.”

Previously: Don’t shit where you eat; One is the gooiest number

2 thoughts on “Exclusive: Porn writers’ strike enters 30th year

  1. It’s funny – when I heard the strike was about to go down, I figured more than one of the striking writers might find themselves in Porn Valley, figuratively and literally “making ends meet.” I’m hoping we get some well-written porn for the first time since before VHS. Or something. I’m not really hoping, either… but it could happen.

  2. It is the dream of many a Hollywood writer to script a “good” porn, but when something made for $22k without a script outgrosses something made for $90k with a script, then there is little incentive to hire the slumming “Family Guy” writer for the $300 that wouldn’t pay his AT&T bill for his iPhone (or the early disconnect fee from Verizon).In truth, only a writer who knows how to write a porn script should write one.

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