My favorite adult-themed books of 2012 had no shades of grey within them whatsoever; they were accounts of people who, if they had doubts, made bold choices anyway. Then there was my book, which is chock full of doubt.
I read a number of memoirs, How To books, and coffeetable tomes, but none were as useful or enlightening as Jill C. Nelson’s comprehensive and brilliant oral history Golden Goddesses: 25 Legendary Women of Classic Erotic Cinema, 1968-1985. It is a massive book, and the kind that equally encourages flipping between chapters as it does a front-to-back reading.
“Golden Goddesses” was conceived shortly after Nelson finished her exhaustive oral history of John Holmes, “A Life Measured in Inches.”
“I met many of these women when collecting interviews for the John Holmes book,” Nelson says, “and if (“Inches”) told many stories while explaining John’s, (“Goddesses”) is much more of a history.”
It is an amazing history, and one that is that much more significant by virtue of the subject matter—women from a . While people like Veronica Hart, Annie Sprinkle, and Nina Hartley have both the resources and resolve to tell their stories, many of Nelson’s interviews, especially as delivered through the filter of hindsight by people like “Taboo”‘s Kay Parker, “Aunty Peg”‘s Juliet Anderson, or Rhonda Jo Petty, would have likely never been told with such detail had Nelson not happened along.
Nelson, a low-key Canadian in her 50s, compiled this 900+-page tome over three years, and I have never encountered a more comprehensive detailing of the gleeful freedom of the porn lifestyle of the 1960s, 70s, and 80s as well as the repressive society that made it inevitable.
Petty speaks of getting bullied into a fisting scene.
“I let [the director] intimidate me because of where I came from,” she says. “When my father heard about the film, he threatened to break my arms and legs.”
Packed with more than 300 photos as well as a selected filmography of the profiled stars, “Golden Goddesses” is a must-have for porn fans as well as a compelling social history.
Years ago I was sent a book called “How To Fuck A Woman’s Brains Out” that read as if the author had himself had his brains fucked out, or otherwise removed. It was so self-congratulatory and douchey that I wondered if the women had somehow been lobotomizd before the author arrived to fuck away the rest of their brains. It was the worst kind of poorly-edited self-publishing.
I feared that the riotous and moving “Laura Meets Jeffrey” would be that kind of book, too, but this post-Pill, pre-AIDS “erotic memoir” will make you want to hop in your TARDIS and head to New York in 1980, where commercial artist and mensch Jeffrey Michelson happens by a whorehouse and meets Laura Bradley, who Just Makes Everything Better.
Jeffrey is the main writer, but Laura is consulted now and then for clarification (the book also gets a posthumous plug from Norman Mailer). Together they paint a picture of New York in the 1970s and 80s that is filled with mattresses, patchoulli, cocaine, well-scrubbed post-hippie girls, and the thrill of the city before AIDS made a mess of it. Prior to this, Laura and Jeffrey fuck everywhere.
What I loved about this book is that Jeffrey is aware of the great time he’s having as he is having it. It makes the memoir so much more immediate and allows us to share in the joy of it. He did not know that AIDS was about to spoil the party, but he did know enough to enjoy the moment. For her part, Laura seems like the Feminine Ideal for a certain type of guy, and the reader begrudges no one his or her good time.
Do you like this site and its occasional flashes of insight and nudity? Recently I both added to the value and decreased the price of my 80-page Kindle book “A Porn Valley Odyssey: Making “The Facts of Life XXX”, providing an epilogue, a meditation on Measure B, a Where Are They Now?, links to articles, and the correction of a horrible typo: tje—>the.
Directing “The Facts of Life XXX” was huge fun and, though I’d already been to hundreds of porn sets, I saw the business—and the female talent—through new eyes that glorious Thanksgiving weekend.
I recently spoke with Jenny Hendrix, who says she is writing a book, and I have heard of a few other porn star/escort memoirs coming down the pike later this year. The porn memoir is not a shallow field of study, and it touches on so many of the cultural/societal reference points that shape the performer. That said, there are some lives i’m more interested in than others.
I’m only including my book on this list because I slept with the author and he is amazing.