We were in a massive loft in downtown L.A. for Eros Day XII which, in terms of manufactured holidays, blows Arbor Day out of the water. Our hostess was Dr. Susan Block, who was wearing a white sunbonnet and lingerie, and who acted as Queen Bee of a theatrical event that at various times of the evening involved crucifixion.
“Come! Let us watch as Venus is sacrificed for our sins!” cried Block to 40 in-studio guests and the folks at home, via webcam, as the juicy Misti Dawn, as Venus, was hoisted onto a wooden rack by director Axel Braun, playing Zeus.
Braun was there in honor of his father, Eros Day founder Lasse Braun. The younger Braun’s “Avatar XXX” just won Best Parody at this month’s AVN awards. He was smoking a Blu E-cigarette backstage, and I swear I thought he’d bitten off James Bartholet’s ear in a fight.*
“These are made by [RealTouch manufacturer] AEBN,” said Braun.
“No way!” I said. Those Carolingeans are masters at marketing vice.
The character of winged Eros was played by Michael Vegas, Misti Dawn’s real-life partner.
I’ve been to a lot of porn parties and many of them were great fun; fully clothed people mingling with the naked over drinks and snacks, but Eros Day made me yearn for a time I’ve never known personally: a late 60’s love-in where theatre was part of the sex.
Of course, only Block, her partner Max, and Ron Jeremy actually remembered the 60’s. As young, tattooed couples like Michael Vegas and Misti Dawn, Dane Cross and Sinn Sage cavorted for cameras and guests who had paid $250 for the opportunity, there were often more photographers on the bed than people having sex. That aspect wasn’t like the Summer of Love at all.
But this isn’t 1967 and will never be again. In fact, to hear some people talk about it, 1967 wasn’t even 1967.
Dr. Suzy’s Speakeasy is a movable feast; a sex salon that regularly hosts events large and small for a massive online audience and invited guests (the loft is in an undisclosed location near the 10 freeway). And Block presides over the festivities as a tireless mistress of ceremonies.
I caught up with Block towards the end of the night. She had just spent four hours in front of the camera, squeezing and directing to be squeezed the flesh of people 30 years her junior, and looking very good doing it.
“Eros Bless You,” she said.
“And also with you,” I said.
Wandering around the loft, which takes up half the floor of a huge warehouse, I visited the bar, an art gallery, an industrial kitchen worthy of “The Shining,” a wall of TVs broadcasting the proceedings from the bed, and several bedrooms. Many of Block’s staff live in style there, trading part-time administrative duties for room and board, in much the same way affairs are handled at Kink.com in San Francisco.
Perhaps because Block is in her 50s and her staff and guests range from early 20’s to 40’s, I realized that the difference in this event (and those hosted by Erica McLean and Nina Hartley and Ernest Greene) are significant and rare in Los Angeles, because porn personnel tend to have the same lifespan as those in “Logan’s Run.”
(I’m not saying that porn performers are killed off at age 30; they just tend to go back to nursing school. And the sight of people who watched in their first incarnation—without Tivo or the Internet—the shows now relentlessly parodied for diminishing returns, is rare.)
This multi-generationally groovy atmosphere would have been out of place at your family’s Thanksgiving dinner, but it seemed perfectly fitting when Dr. Suzy demanded I look at the 25-year-old Sinn Sage’s pubic hair.
“See how they just peek out?” the doctor observed.
“Let me get a little closer,” I said.
Between the 60’s consciousness and the millennial tattoos and ease around cameras, the average style I’d say was a late 80’s/early 90’s Adrian Lyne/Paul Verhoeven movie; the walls of old televisions and the random whippings of translucent, painted fucktarts made me think of deleted scenes that never saw the light of Blockbuster Video.
It turns out Sinn Sage performed her first on-camera boy/girl scene that night with an introspective man named Dane Cross.
When he put his clothes back on, I asked Cross about sex as performance.
“I don’t think about it,” he said. “I know the cameras are there, inches away most of the time, and I guess I’m happy that they’re there, but I don’t think of them in terms of what I’m doing.”
(In case you weren’t paying attention, what Cross was “doing” was Sinn Sage.)
“But do you think beyond the camera or the person holding it, to the people watching what (Sinn Sage) you’re doing?” I asked.
“Yes, sometimes, but then you run the risk of losing your concentration.”
Among the other guests were Carlos Batts and April Flores, the sassy Lily Cade, Chad Diamond, Janelle (whom I remember from my time as King of Steveporn), and the Rubenesque Kelly Shibari, most of whom were walking around with at least their tits out.
“These are natural, and huge,” Shibari pointed out, as if there was something wrong with my eyesight. “Go ahead: feel them.”
I have worked in the adult industry long enough to respect the double standards on which it is built, and some of these require a great deal of finesse to negotiate.
Were I to stretch out my hands and seize Shibari’s boobs as if they were the One Ring—even as she offered them freely—I would have risked being high-sticked in the teeth by her boyfriend, the pornographer Tim von Swine, who stood nearby.
Q. Isn’t it part of Shibari’s job to be manhandled by brutes like you, Grams?
A. Yes, but she wasn’t working just then.
So I couldn’t proceed, but I couldn’t say No.
To refuse a porn star who is presenting you her sweater cannons is not only an insult to her but something that casts doubt on one’s ability to remain America’s Beloved Porn Journalist; one mustn’t grab boobs willy-nilly, or even want to, but one must never slap them away, shrieking.
So here’s what I did. I visually checked in with von Swine, who said, “That’s what they’re there for, Pal,” at which point I hefted them from behind, as is my wont, praised their natural splendor, and called von Swine a lucky bastard, according to custom.
Later he said, “I appreciate that you asked.”
In addition to naked starlets flouncing around, also holding court was guest artist Scott Siedman, whose paintings adorned the walls.
Whereas Block’s talent seemed to lay in her improvisations, pronouncements, and general cat-wrangling, Siedman’s art was filled with whimsy grounded in a little sadness; at times Block’s living statues distracted from the art on the walls, but both combined to make a great evening.
Previously on Porn Valley Observed: Pornographers to watch out for; Reno 411—Strollin’ in the Brolin; Does Cyberskin April Flores dream of electric sheep?
See also: Dr. Susan Block, Scott Siedman, Kelly Shibari
*James Bartholet is an interesting character who won this year’s Best Non-Sex Performer award at AVN. I often see him with a glowing bluetooth earpiece, because he is a Man of action.