Know When To Run: Why I Like Drunks And Porn

IMAG0737-1-1It was the second time I’d gone to the Adult Entertainment Expo single, and the first time was ten years ago. I was a decade older, divorced, and wandering though the Venetian parking garage looking for my rental car, holding my drunk date’s purse. She was passed out in the elevator lobby.

It was nearly the same picture in 2003, except that date was a porn star now long gone, but just as drunk then.

In the past ten years, my own relationship to alcohol—something I really enjoy—has changed, and I resent it.

I’d met my ex-wife in the industry. She was a writer and a former fetish model. She warned me there were pictures of her “naked on the Internet.” That didn’t bother me. We moved in together within two weeks of our first date and got married within six months. It was not a good idea from the start, but we have two great kids, and they could not have happened any other way. Raised Catholic, I still cut Mysteries a lot of slack.

I’d had an incredibly short time of being a single America’s Beloved Porn Journalist before I got married, but after that, I was all business. If some starlet wanted me to sample the texture of her new boobs, I wouldn’t say no, but I always made a point of referencing my wife, my kids on set so I would not be tempted.

I realize now that I had another motive for letting 19-year-old naked women know I was married: I wanted them to be relieved of the perception that I was living a sexual life vicariously through them. While it’s true that many married people don’t have sex, that was not one of our problems. In fact, sex was one of our only refuges.

But through convention after convention and hundreds of porn sets and photo shoots, I never strayed. I didn’t feel the need and I didn’t want that reputation. I was slowly building a body of work, I reasoned. As capricious and unaccountable as the porn industry is—bounced checks, late checks, broken promises—I felt more and more that it deserved honest observation, and there were too many intriguing people I would miss if I abandoned it.

From the first day I walked on a porn set and I didn’t get AIDS, I felt comfortable.

I’d also made sure that I had enough non-porn activities going to plausibly deny my involvement should that be necessary for someone else’s protection. For example, I am also a United States Senator. As a pornographer friend of mine puts it, “I’m the one who chose this field; my aunties didn’t. Knowing I put police batons up 20-year-old Czech girls would actually kill my aunties.”

I won’t get too specific about my wife’s drinking, but I will say it was part of what attracted me to her. It’s nice drinking with your friends. But I learned that we didn’t enjoy alcohol the same way. I drank because it was fun, and then I’d stop. She drank to get drunk. In 2009 I learned the extent of her drinking and poured all our booze down the sink. Part of me was angry because there was some expensive stuff there. She saw the significance of this and promptly bought a fifth of whisky the next day.

“I’ll quit the first of November,” she said. “Because I want to drink on Halloween.”

And who doesn’t want to drink on Halloween? But what I learned about some alcoholics is that, even if they drink every day, they still plan weeks in advance. This is the controlling part of alcoholic behavior, and it goes hand in hand with constant resentment, constant blame, and binary thinking.

True to her word, she started AA at the beginning of the next month, and began attending meetings several times a week. One addiction neatly replaced another. I realized that alcohol was the symptom of a larger disease, and that disease wasn’t being dealt with. To the contrary, my wife had found a place where she could rig it so that no one held her feet to the fire like at home or at work.

“What if someone goes off the wagon?” I asked. “Does AA shun them? Fire them? Take away their chips?”

“No,” she said. “They say, ‘Keep Coming Back.'”

Meanwhile, my choice to keep a foot in the business that brought us together had often been the source of arguments. Clients would go out of business, I was constantly chasing down checks (and still am!), and there were an increasing number of people in our lives who shouldn’t be told what I did, no matter how hip we all are. It’s still a dilemma.

But still I stayed in the marriage—until it became clear that I shouldn’t—and still I stay in porn.

Naturally I was blameless and sanctified in the events leading to our divorce.

Fast forward a few months and I’m at the Adult Expo again, like just about every year for the past ten. I call a date at the last minute and we roll into Vegas and have a fine time. On our final night in town there is this private shindig I’d been attending in previous years but had never participated in due to the bonds of my sacred vows. I am looking forward to jumping in face first, as it were, now that I am free of said vows.

But first there is another party to attend, a more public one at the Palazzo, with bottle service and a private booth and everything. I drink a lot, as does my date. I metabolize it immediately, as my body is a perfect machine. She gives me a lap dance, grabs other girls’ boobs, stares at them with increasing drunken thickness. We are about to fuck right there in the unisex bathroom—and then she passes out.

The distance between the Palazzo’s The Act club and Floor 5B of the Venetian parking structure (my date remembers the floor we parked on, and nothing else) is about a mile of low-pile carpeting, and I drag and carry her across a vast (and convalescent hospital-lit) casino floor in front of the Grand Lux and Circle Bar. I drag her like she is an unpooled Pre-Cog in “Minority Report.” We scale the escalator, get in an elevator, and I have to leave her in the elevator lobby because I don’t remember where the car is.

“5B,” she keeps saying.

She slinks to the floor and I take her purse, lest someone steal it while she lolls on the cool Venetian elevator lobby tile. Later I find her sleeping between some cars. I find my rental just before casino security gets to us. When we arrive at our hotel, she doesn’t want to leave the car and walk across the parking lot.

“It’s too cold,” she says. I cannot pull her from the car. She is like a monkey with prehensile everything. It worked to my favor at other times, but not now.

“What if I drive you right up to the door?” I ask.

In a voice that suggests she will be throwing up soon, she says:

“OK.”

I feel bad about dropping her off at the door and driving back to the parking lot, especially because it looks like the Vibe Awards are just getting out in the lobby, but nothing could be done. When I make it to the hotel room, she is already inside. She’d forgotten her room key and a security guard had let her in. God knows how she convinced him.

She falls asleep immediately.

“Jesus Christ,” I say, not feeling gentlemanly at all, despondent about the night ending this way, missing one and one-half parties, wishing I’d meet someone who could hold her liquor. Why has this become a problem for me in the past ten years? Why do I seem to be seeking it out?

There are many nubbins of wisdom in the Kenny Rogers song “The Gambler,” which I think of that night in my hotel room above the casino:

You got to know when to hold ’em
Know when to fold ’em
Know when to walk away
And know when to run

But I can’t help but recall that the title character asked for a sip of Kenny’s whisky but drank the whole goddamn thing.

My 2003 experience involved carrying a woman through the Sands with her vagina hanging out of her dress. Back then it seemed exciting. This year made me think: Why do I keep doing this?

Then I think: “Sometimes people get drunk and you get to take care of them, the same way we drive friends to the airport, lend them our trucks, give phony references when they apply for jobs, make out with their sisters; we take care of them when they’re drunk. It’s no big thing.”

It’s because I, too, have learned some binary thinking in the past ten years: If you get drunk, then you’re an alcoholic. No gradations or gray area. It’s a bad habit for me that I can break; what must it be like for someone for whom it is a way of life?

I stop going to porn sets for a long time after I am divorced. That wedding ring was such a crutch. Now I am part of a population of professional watchers who don’t perform in scenes or write the checks. The lack of a wedding ring takes away the understanding that there is a wife somewhere who tacitly approves.

If it isn’t for the fact that my stunning pictures and evocative words envelop my subjects in instant fame and adulation, I might be just another creep.

I sit across from a naked porn star. There is an iPhone in her hands, and there is a notebook in mine. I have finally reached the point where I can be twice a performer’s age, like the wonderful/horrible Brandon Iron series. She is talking about her labia.

“They’re out there,” she says. “They’re reaching out.”

“Yes,” I say. “They’re frank. I think they’re heading this way.”

“I think I need labiaplasty,” she is saying. “They need to be trimmed down. But I don’t want to lose the sensation.”

“Please don’t trim your labia,” I say. “Don’t change a goddamn thing.”

“We should hang out,” she says.

I mention a bar in Culver City.

“That sounds good,” she says, “but do they have food? I don’t drink.”

Previously in Porn Valley Observed: “Jurassic Jaws” or—Why porn parodies haven’t killed me; You can’t put a laugh track on genius—”The Facts of Life XXX”; Clean living with Gram

8 thoughts on “Know When To Run: Why I Like Drunks And Porn

  1. “She is like a monkey with prehensile everything.”

    I needed a good snort laugh.

    On a slightly more serious note, I have some theories why this happens but I don’t want to get all heavy on you, man.

  2. Grams, you will never be just another creep. What with the stunning pictures and evocative words, you will always be a creep with -talent-.

    And speaking of evocative words…thanks for the excellent essay, and good luck.

  3. Great read, G – felt like I learned more about you in this post than I have in the previous almost-8-years combined.

    Also, “I don’t drink” – as a teetotaler (and proud of it), I’d say she’s a keeper (you know, without knowing NOTHING else about her, haha).

  4. Thank you. I’d be lying if I said my life wasn’t relevant to my work, and I’m hesitant to bore, overshare, or mess with anyone’s privacy. But this is exactly the sort of thing I’d want to read if I ever wondered about that class of people that writes about porn, so thanks for indulging it.

  5. I don’t drink does not = I’m not crazy. Find out about the meds too LOL. I would recommend that you shy away from the bipolars & schizophrenics. Call me if you need any help identifying the symptoms. BTW- crazies are LOTS more fun in bed than drunks so be very careful with the sober ones.

  6. I met my ex at 25, married at 27. She was wild; almost killed me trying to keep up with her, but it was worth it. Problem with that age, though, is it’s hard to tell the alcoholics apart from the ones who are just being 25. Both of us spent the next fifteen years largely ignoring it before the end.

    Great essay.

  7. Pingback: Wednesday Sex Link Roundup: Talk Dirty, | Freddy and Eddy - A Website for All Couples

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