Good Friday with porn’s crossunder stars

They are ancient stories, both the one about Jesus and the one about Vivid director Paul Thomas. I’m assuming you know the one about Jesus (else why would you be visiting a porn site), but you may not know that Paul Thomas was one of the only trained actors in history to transition into porn from what we now call a “mainstream” performing career.

As Phillip Toubus, Thomas played Peter in the 1973 film version of the musical “Jesus Christ Superstar” alongside Ted Neeley and Yvonne Elliman. Director Norman Jewison made veiled disparagements of Thomas’s performance in the DVD commentaries, but Canadians are known worldwide as vicious people. My advice to you? Don’t get Gordon Lightfoot riled.

Anyway, today is the day that Paul Thomas denied Our Lord – on film – three times. Despite this, Thomas told me he made it past third base with Yvonne Elliman, who played Mary Magdalene, Super-Whore:

“Yvonne Elliman (Mary Magdalene) had just seen ‘Deep Throat’ but wanted to know what one was like,” PT said of his time shooting the Norman Jewison classic. “So we went off to the desert and she practiced her deep throating techniques on some of the, er, saints.”

The porn world is a bit unhealthily obsessed with what it calls “crossover” stars – performers who make appearances in mainstream films or music videos. While very few people saw Steven Soderbergh’s “The Girlfriend Experience,” Sasha Grey is undoubtedly porn’s biggest crossover star because of her starring role in it.

But it is the crossunder stars that actually give porn a stronger whiff of legitimacy; if a performer of his or her own volition (as opposed to a sex tape that by established tradition requires the “star” to act like he/she wasn’t involved in shopping it) crosses under to porn after having compiled a mainstream resume, that is definitely a feather in the adult world’s, er, ass.

Before Paul Thomas, porn’s biggest crossunder star was the late Marilyn Chambers (“Behind the Green Door,” “Insatiable”), whose freshly-scrubbed mug adorned Ivory Snow detergent boxes prior to her adult career (and it was the rare porn movie that didn’t offer some Ivory Snow product placement while Chambers was working).

“Long Island Lolita” Amy Fisher, even though she is a published writer and accomplished radio host, is best known for an adultery scandal that landed her in jail in the 1990s. She, too, became a crossunder star when she and her husband released their own sex tape to Red Light District (Joey Buttafuoco’s soon followed).

But the biggest crossunder star of recent history is former Miss America and soap opera actress Kelli McCarty, who starred in last year’s “Faithless,” which was directed by Thomas. What stories did the two of them share about residuals, healthy craft services, and headshots without cumshots on the set? Perhaps one day I will ask, but right now I need to get my Iscariot on.

Previously on Porn Valley Observed: Paul Thomas Superstar; Flesh on the carpet-Kelli McCarty; Lou & Amy & Joe & Evanka-Coming to terms with your celebrity sex tape; “Insatiable” 30th anniversary; Is the feature dead?

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  1. I knew my dereliction was complete when I finally agreed with the scumbags at XPT: I’m not that interested in “crossunders” until they go porn’s equivalent of the “Full Monty”: facial or anal. As mentioned here before, even Chloe Sevigny took a male member between her Oscar-nominated lips on-screen. I find cold comfort in the fact that my society is jaded these days, not just me.

    I’d also argue that Nina Hartley is the bigger crossover than Sasha Grey, by virtue of years and box office: Hartley had a smaller (if key) part, but Boogie Nights has an almost insurmountable lead over TGE in the latter case. And I can guarantee you that my Dad, likely even my grandfather, could pull Hartley out of a lineup. (Mind you, I actually don’t even want to think about verifying this assumption.) Of course, this isn’t a reflection on the talents, porn-ic, mainstream[-ic], or otherwise of either of these fine performers.

    Lastly, Paul Thomas: you better take care if I find you’ve been creepin’ round my back stair.

  2. I agree with you about Nina Hartley. I didn’t know anything about porn when “Boogie Nights” came out, and haven’t watched it since I started writing about porn. I remember the soundtrack was great and it was the first time I’d seen Phillip Seymour Hoffman and John C. Reilly and the other guy with three names …. oh yeah, Phillip Baker Hall.

    Next time I see Nina I’ll ask her about it. Doubtless her thoughts on the movie are published elsewhere, but I encourage people not to read any sites but mine for their own protection.

  3. It’s a great movie by almost any standard (although I’m a big PTA suck-off), and Hartley is actually pretty perfect in it.

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