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Author of The Pornographer's Daughter providing commentary on pornography, life and much more.

Filtering by Category: Deep Throat

Eric Danville Interview Part Two

Kristin Battista-Frazee

Lovelace_200dpi_Cover
Lovelace_200dpi_Cover

Here is part two of my interview with Eric Danville, author of The Complete Linda Lovelace. Detailed here is Danville's personal collaboration with Linda Lovelace on this book and his experience as the first creative force behind the upcoming  film Lovelace. KBF:  Eventually you had a rare opportunity to personally collaborate with Lovelace.  When did your relationship with her turn from that phone call where she pretended to be a secretary to talking to you regularly, and contributing a great deal to your book?

ED:  I worked on the book on and off for about three years, and I gathered up all these magazine articles, books and movies.  I read her Meese Commission testimony and some other public testimony about pornography.  As I was getting close to finishing the book I called her again.  I thought she got screwed in the media. She'd been saying this shit about pornography for a long time, and it wasn’t just like she just decided to flip for money. So when I called her I said, "Linda, I called three years ago and you told me never to call, but don’t hang up the phone!  I got something that I want to tell you."

So I told her one of the things that really struck me in Out of Bondage was when she said that all these people write books and articles about her, especially when the Deep Throat anniversary comes up, she always gets blindsided with the story and then reporters call her up. I told her, "Look, I want you to have a heads-up.  I am publishing this book and I'd like to interview you for two hours.  You can say whatever you want, slam the business, I don’t care what the fuck you say. I’m not going to edit it, and I'll let you see it if before it goes to print, whatever you want. This is your chance to get it all out.  She says, "Well, it sounds like you’ve got a million dollar proposition.  We should get together and talk.  I like to judge people face to face.  I want to see what you're about."

So I traveled to Englewood, Colorado, to meet her, right outside of Denver.  She picked me up at the airport and drove me back to her place. On the way she says, "Well, do you want a beer or something?" I'm like, "Yeah, sure," so we stopped at a liquor store.  She says, "Do you want one or two?" And I said, "Oh, two."  She says, "What do you drink?" I said, "Heineken." So she comes back with two six packs of fucking Heineken, and I’m like, “No, I meant just two bottles!”   We just went back to her place and got real drunk.  She could put it away.  Better than I could at the time, and that's saying something.

KBF:  She drank you under the table?

ED:  Yeah, pretty much.  Finally, she says, “Okay, I’ll talk to you for the book.” Three months later I went out again and did the interview with her and it was the last chapter of the book. It was the first time she spoke to someone from the porn business on the record in 25 years.

KBF:  What was her frame of mind during the last session you had with her?

ED:  By then we had become pretty good friends, and we would talk pretty often. If she had something to say, she would give me a call.  If I'd just want to see how she was doing, I’d give her a call.  If she was drunk and depressed, she'd give me a call at three in the morning, or something like that.  We'd gotten to be pretty good friends, so I could really just ask her anything.  In fact, when we sat down I asked, “Do you want to see the questions beforehand so you can think of where you want your answers to go?" She said, "No, I've been doing this for long time. It's okay." And I asked, "Is there anything you want to clear up that I absolutely I cannot say?" She said, "No, you can ask whatever you want."  By that time she really trusted me.  She even said that to me, "Look, I feel very safe around you. I think I can trust you to do this, so let's get it down and out of the way."

Joe Bob Briggs said it was the most revealing interview that she had ever done, and I think he was right.  I asked her stuff that I always wanted other people to ask her but they never did, some of which was her claim of being a rape victim and protesting against pornography.  I asked her, "Why didn't you ever go into rape counseling? Why did you focus all your energies putting down the porn business when even you say it wasn't the porn business that was victimizing you, that it was this guy, Chuck Traynor. Your story is one of domestic abuse and rape. And, she said, "Well, you know, becoming a rape counselor takes time and money and you have to go to school," and she'd already hooked up with Gloria Steinem and the feminist cult.  So, she didn’t think of it in terms of her own career, or what she could have done to help people.

KBF: Do you think Gloria Steinem manipulated her to take a position against porn?

ED: “Manipulated”? No, I don’t think Gloria sat her down and said, “Okay, Linda, here’s the script.” I think they were both coming from the same point of view by that time, but I do think that Gloria and Andrea Dworkin and Catharine MacKinnon and such definitely exploited her position and history to get their own agenda across.

KBF:  You published the first edition of The Complete Linda Lovelace in 2001 and you have a new edition coming up soon, when will it be released?

ED:  Sometime in September.  Lovelace will be out this fall although the movie is not based on the book at all.

KBF:  In the very beginning producers came to you, correct?

ED:  Yes.   The first draft of the screenplay was going to be “based on the book by Eric Danville.”  I was a character in film, and it was literally taken from my book.  It was going be her story as told though interviews to Phil Donahue, Tom Snyder and me, from 1973 all the way up until the 2000s. The producers got in touch with Linda's estate, and they lawyered-up with Catharine MacKinnon.  When I heard they were in touch with MacKinnon, I thought, "Oh, I see this whole thing going in a very bad direction."   MacKinnon knew Linda had contributed to my book and promoted it with me, and she (MacKinnon) was not pleased. After that, the Hollywood people wouldn't return a fucking phone call and all of a sudden they were rewriting the script.

One person told me it [script rewrite] was because James Franco wanted it. When James Franco was attached the project, or when anyone is attached to one of these projects, they have their people read the script and all this shit.  It's never final until they wrap it.  Then all of a sudden I’m out of the script but, it was still going to be based on the book.  And then their lawyer says, "Oh, well, we're not sure about parts of this book or if we can insure this.  I was like, "Fuck you. You know this book's been out for ten years! If anyone was going to sue me they would have done it already. The interviews are uncopywritable, no one's got a problem with it, and the book covers are all fair use.    Then they said, "Here's what we'll do:  we'll say that the thing is based on your book," and then the lawyer comes back and says they can't even do that.  So I got a decent amount of money to be a consultant, which basically meant I had a couple of phone calls with Epstein and Friedman. I spoke to them about Linda for about an hour.  They had copies of my book so they could pull whatever information they wanted for that, and then it became what it became.

KBF:  Have you seen the Lovelace movie?

ED:  I’m contractually not allowed to see it before it opens, but I can go to an opening or a screening. I think I’m gonna pass though.

KBF:  Why do you think it's taken so long for this movie to be made?

ED:  Because it's a real nasty story, you know? And forget about the fact that Linda's dead now, and she died in this horrible car accident after having kidney failure and the whole fucking thing, you know. It's not a happy story and there's no way to tie it up in a neat little bow at the end unless you did what I suggested in the book, which is make her escape from Chuck Traynor the story because that leaves her at a high point.  It's a bummer of a story, and Americans don't like bummer stories.

 Check out The Complete Linda Lovelace blog at ericdanville.tumblr.com and watch for announcements about the next edition of The Complete Linda Lovelace book due out in September.

My Interview with Eric Danville, Author of The Complete Linda Lovelace

Kristin Battista-Frazee

author pic twitter
author pic twitter

I’m thrilled to have had the opportunity to interview Eric Danville who has been a journalist for the porn industry and heavy metal world for more than 25 years.  Danville is currently the senior editor at Penthouse Forum and author of The Official Heavy Metal Book of Listsand The Complete Linda Lovelace, the biography about Linda Lovelace and the original basis for the film Lovelace. Previously he was the editor at High Times magazine, Screw magazine and Masters of Rock magazine. Here he shares with me the details of his career as a writer and where it has led him. KBF:  When did you first become interested in writing, and start your journalism career covering the adult industry and the heavy metal world?

ED:  I was an English major in college, and a friend of mine in our little clique of stupid rebellious English majors suggested I write for the school paper.  I did and really got into it, and my stuff got a good reaction. I wasn’t afraid to say fucking anything about anything!

Later on, I had friends at High Times Magazine, and I ended up being in one of their photo shoots.  I played someone who was tripping and I had a pot of spaghetti dumped on my head.  A year later, they called me and asked for my resume.  I sent it and got a job as Managing Editor.  I worked there for almost three years.

After that, my sister told me about an ad in the New York Times for a men's sophisticate magazine looking for a managing editor.   She said, "I think that means porn."  I said, "Yeah, it does.”  I was like, fuck it.  I sent my resume in and got a job at Hawk magazine. This magazine was pitched to me like what Maxim is today but before Maxim even existed.  But they ended up getting real nervous with that concept and just turned it into another porn magazine.  I didn’t mind the job, but it was too corporate and I didn't like wearing a tie and all that bullshit.  I didn't like punching a clock and all that crap either. A friend of mine was working at Screw and they needed an editor, so I sent my resume and got that job.

KBF:  And, that's when you worked for Al Goldstein?

ED:  Yes, that's when I worked for Al Goldstein.  I was there for seven years, which is a long time to work for Al Goldstein!

KBF:  What was it like working for him?

ED:  He does occasionally have flashes of humanity!  He actually can be a real person.  You want to know something though?  Seriously, it was the best job I ever had.  He held me up to such a high level of accepting responsibility for my mistakes and he always said "Just because they're dirty words doesn’t mean we spell them wrong!"  You know, we came from the Henry-Miller-meets-Lenny- Bruce-meets-Mad-Magazine's School of Intellectual Eggheadism, because as far as sex goes, he also said to us, "You're all good writers and you get to do what you want, but if you fuck up, I'm gonna fucking pillory you!"  And, I got pillaried a couple of times, but it really builds character to have yourself embarrassed for a month straight in print.  It was great. This experience brought out the best in me, to create the type of writerly voice I wanted, and take my writing where I wanted to go.

KBF:  When did you write The Official Heavy Metal Book of Lists?

ED:  This guy I’ve known since college was an editor over at Hal Leonard Publications, which published the heavy metal book.  He knew that I could do a really good research job and gave me the gig for The Official Heavy Metal Book of Lists.  It had to be funny and correct and all that shit, too. I got the job basically because I can find any fact and spin some story around it.

KBF:  How did you become motivated to write the biography about Linda Lovelace in the first place?

ED:  When I started working for Screw I had access to their entire archives of fucking everything.  I'd be looking around 'cause they'd encourage you to look at old issues and learn the history of the magazine. As I learned more and more about the Linda Lovelace story, it was really interesting because there were so many crazy sides to it.

KBF:  Was there one moment where you thought, "I just want to write a whole book about this"?

ED:  Yeah, actually there was.  Around 1996 Ron Howard and Brian Grazer had optioned Ordeal to make the biopic film and that was all over the news. “Opie's going to make the Linda Lovelace story.” I had been working for five or six years at Screw and I wanted to get a straight writing credit, and a friend of mine had Linda Boreman's (Lovelace’s real name) phone number. I thought, “Wow, I'd like to interview her for something like Vanity Fair.” So I called her up and said, "Look, my name's Eric Danville and I’m a writer from New York City and I work at ScrewMagazine and I would like to interview you for a mainstream piece that has nothing to do with Screw. "

The second she heard I worked for Screw, she's like, "Goldstein, huh?" and then she says, "Oh, Linda's not here, this is the secretary. Can I take a message?"  But I knew it was her, I knew what she sounded like from watching her movies. I said, “If you can give her that message about a possible interview."  And, then she says, "Well, okay, I'll give her the message and do me a favor: don’t ever call this number ever again."  I hung up and thought, okay, that was five minutes of my life wasted. But I just kept the research going and focused on what I found interesting about her story.

As I was researching I realized that nobody wanted to talk about her.  Jerry Damiano wouldn’t talk to me about her. I asked Goldstein and he wouldn’t talk to me about her.  He'll talk to fucking anyone about anything! He's like, "No! When you get a publisher, I’ll give you the interview." I said, "I'm not going to get a publisher until you give me the fucking interview!" I was pissed off because years later when Inside Deep Throat came out all these fucking people were willing to talk about her: Damiano was in it and Goldstein was in it. But this [Inside Deep Throat] did regenerate all this interest in her. This film turned into an exploration of the history of Linda Lovelace and American pop culture.

Part two of this interview will be posted next week. In the next installment you'll learn more about Danville's relationship with Linda Lovelace and how he finished The Complete Linda Lovelace with her help.

Check out Eric Danville's blog at ericdanville.tumblr.com and follow him on Twitter @ThCmpltLndLvlc. The next edition of The Complete Linda Lovelace book will be available this September.

Finally…..the Movie Lovelace Debuts at Sundance

Kristin Battista-Frazee

Lovelace
Lovelace

After two decades of the Linda Lovelace story bouncing around Hollywood, many false starts, and a bitter spilt from Matthew Wilder, the director of that other Lovelace biopic Inferno, the new Lovelace finally premiered at the Sundance Film Festival this past January. The debut was just in time to mark the 40th anniversary of the iconic porn movie, Deep Throat, which made Lovelace famous and gave America its first porn star. It’s especially exciting for me to see this movie making headlines since my memoir, The Pornographer's Daughter, chronicles my father’s involvement and subsequent indictment by the federal government for his role in distributing Deep Throat in the 70s. Those who produced and acted in Deep Throat were colorful characters brought to life in the movie by an amazing and noteworthy cast that includes Amanda Siegfried playing Lovelace, Sarah Jessica Parker, Chris Noth, Sharon Stone, Hank Azaria and Peter Saarsgard as Lovelace’s abusive husband Chuck Traynor. I haven’t seen the movie yet, but since it was just picked up by The Weinstein Company  it will be released in theaters nationwide this fall. I might be the first in line.

Whether you’ve followed the career and life of Linda Lovelace or not, the story is compelling and Amanda Siegfried’s performance in the starring role might just win her an Oscar nod. Lovelace launched her career in the porn business, and then later become one of the foremost anti-porn advocates. For me, this is the most intriguing characteristic of who Linda Lovelace was, and I’m most curious to see how this aspect of her life is portrayed in the movie. There’s a consensus in the reviews that, while mostly positive in particular noting Siegfried’s performance, the film has glossed over the underlying parts of Lovelace’s personality and life that drove her to accept the porn star role, and then later regret and fight against it.

The absence of these details, I suspect, will leave viewers with more questions than answers about the real Linda Lovelace, and will foster accusations toward filmmakers that their portrayal of Lovelace is inaccurate. Despite the omissions, the depiction of her abusive relationship with Chuck Traynor is definitely a centerpiece of the movie and a very important part of Lovelace’s life. By all accounts, Lovelace was a victim of domestic violence.  Delving into the reasons as to why she loved Chuck Traynor and why he had so much control over her life will prove to be a riveting part of the film. I don’t think any movie or book will adequately address her vexing transformation from porn star to anti-porn crusader, or the role she played as the victim and first amendment advocate. Sadly, any speculation about this will be left up to editorial license since Lovelace was tragically killed in a car accident in 2002.

All in all, I am so glad this film was made to capture this moment in pop culture history, one that will highlight the life of a woman who played an important role in the conversation about women’s rights. Those involved in making Deep Throat a success, like my family, were just ordinary people trying to make a living. I’m curious to know if you’re interested in seeing the film. Let me know what you think and I’ll keep you posted on the whereabouts of Lovelace.

Sundance Review: 'Lovelace' doesn't go deep enough despite Amanda Seyfried's efforts

Amanda Seyfried’s ‘Lovelace’ transformation pays off

Hollywood Reporter: Sundance Review

Sundance: 'Lovelace' is a porn biopic that gets under your skin, with a revelatory performance by Amanda Seyfried as Linda Lovelace

On the Porn Film’s 40th Anniversary, a Thank-You to ‘Deep Throat’

Kristin Battista-Frazee

 daily-beast

daily-beast

It was more than 15 years ago but I still remember feeling the heat of the asphalt under my sandals as I walked across the parking lot to my father’s Florida porn shop, The Premier. I had heard about this place my entire life, yet I had never visited until that day. I was a 25-year-old social worker living in New York City. My life was far from anything associated with the porn industry, but I was eager to get a glimpse of this side of my father’s life.

He had never planned on being a pornographer, but while working as a stockbroker in Philadelphia in the 1970s, he distributed Deep Throat and invested in adult businesses. In 1974, he was indicted by the federal government on obscenity charges for distributing Deep Throat. His career as a stockbroker abruptly ended and his full-time job as a pornographer began. As a child, I remember my father’s federal prosecution in the case and the tumultuous transition to his new career. There were long absences while he stood trial in Memphis, Tenn., alongside porn star Harry Reems and producers and distributors of the film in 1976, and then again in 1978. I saw him on TV when neighborhood residents picketed his Philadelphia strip club, The Golden 33. Deep Throat affected my life in a direct and personal way, but it’s worth remembering how the film changed our culture and the lives of women, 40 years after its premiere in New York’s Times Square.

Read the full article

Unforgettable

Kristin Battista-Frazee

My grandmother Maria has always been enamored with exotic wildcats. One day when I was very young she decided to satisfy her eccentric desire and bought from an exotic pet breeder an ocelot to keep as a pet, despite the fact that she lived in the very heart of the city, in  South Philadelphia.  For nearly 18 years, “Kitty” became a fascinating part of my family— she ate raw chicken, and sometimes leather gloves and collars, wrestled a Thanksgiving turkey to the ground and scared off burglars and my mother’s and aunt’s dates.

When Kitty sunned herself in the store window of the All in One Studio, the family photography business, she transformed the storefront into a zoo. People pressed their noses to the glass in shock when they realized they were not looking at a typical house cat. I was never allowed too close to Kitty. I would play with her by sliding a rolled up magazine under the kitchen door just to see her huge paws lunge from underneath the crack and would quickly touch them. I remember her gorgeous thick tawny colored coat with swirls of black markings that changed from stripes to spots. From what I could see from afar her underbelly was a rich cream color.

My grandmother’s personality mirrors Kitty’s wildcat traits in many ways. Like an ocelot, she is fiercely protective of her young, territorial and nocturnal (she used to work the night shift as a hotel operator). Also, despite an ocelot’s small size, they are strong and excellent hunters. My grandmother is small too, standing only 5 feet tall.  But she is wiry, and notorious for throwing a good punch. The legendary family stories about my grandmother hitting a large, belligerent customer square in the nose and chasing down a bike thief solidified her larger-than-life character for me. 

I was never scared of her, though, and most of my memories of my grandmother are of tickling and playful declarations like, “I’m gonna eat you up.” As I got older, she gave me valuable advice about men. She quoted from the book, The Natural Superiority of Women, by anthropologist Ashley Montagu, and agreed with its tenet that women are biologically superior to men. “It’s all about the Y chromosome,” she told me. Women were the kinder, gentler sex and men were the true savages. On the other hand, she’d ask about the latest guy I was dating and at times said, “If he doesn’t treat you right, I’m gonna hunt him down and kill him.” I would always laugh, but a part of me sort of believed her.

Given my grandmother’s strong feminist views, when my father, her son-in-law, entered the porn business and was prosecuted in the Deep Throat case, she definitely wasn’t happy about it. She had been influenced by women’s rights activists like Susan Brownmiller and Gloria Steinem who claimed that pornography encouraged violence against women. My grandmother had to know everything my father was up to in order to inform her opinion and make up her mind. She went to see the movie Deep Throat and even clandestinely visited my father’s strip club The Golden 33 in downtown Philadelphia. She trekked to the club on Locust Street, which at the time was not a nice neighborhood, and asked a man she met on the street to escort her inside because she felt it was improper and unsafe to go in alone. Hiding in her trench coat with the collar pulled around her cheeks and carrying a big umbrella (that doubled as a potential weapon), she slid into a chair at a small table to observe, to make her own judgment about what was going on.

She never revealed to my father that she made this visit. She disapproved of his career but strangely they liked each other. Maybe it was because my father was Italian or that his entrepreneurial spirit reminded her of her father, my great grandfather, who was a bootlegger and bar owner in the 1920s.

I asked my dad once, “Wasn’t she (my grandmother) a pain in the ass?” My father laughed and responded, “Yes, but that was what I liked about her. She had a lot of spunk.” He always had a great deal of respect for her strength and so do I. I only hope I have half of her guts and steely will. She is truly one of the most unforgettable characters in my book and a big part of my story and my life. This past February she turned 90. Happy birthday Grandma! There will never be another one like her.

A Night of Contradictions: AVN Awards Show 2011

Kristin Battista-Frazee

Black fishnet stockings. Check.

Knee high boots. Check.

Cute dress. Check.

I just couldn’t bring myself to look boring at the AVN Awards Show, the Oscars for the porn industry. When my husband saw my outfit he asked, “Where’d you get those fishnets? I knew it was uncharacteristic of how I dress and I responded coyly, “I don’t remember. I’ve just had them a while.” His boyish smile acknowledged he approved of the look.

To me the stockings were like going to see the Rocky Horror Picture Show and dressing up like one of the characters. I didn’t really look outlandish, so it was only my small, fun way to participate in this event. At the show I knew the fishnet stockings would pale in comparison to the outrageous silliness, raunchy sex talk and drunk and stupid fans I would see.  In the end I decided that the cast of the Jersey Shore has the lock on being drunk and stupid, and while the award show delivered on some of my expectations, many contradictions emerged that I didn’t expect. 

#1 – The Porn Stars Looked Like They Were at the Oscars

We arrived early to watch the red carpet.  It was hard to get a good view as I was jostled between lines of guys shouting the names of their favorite actress to cajole them over to snap a picture or get an autograph. I got the strangest “get out of my way” glances. When I finally did get a good look, I saw porn actresses tastefully dressed and surprisingly polished. Kayden Kross, Riley Steele and Alexis Texas were a few that stood out. And while some played up the slut factor, others would have fit in at the Oscars.  Click here to take a look.  Needless to say the women at the awards show were much better looking than at the expo.  If you’re the best in the biz you’re not working the exhibit hall to cater to porn enthused fans.

#2- The Adult Industry Is Not a Fan of Infidelity

The icy reception AshleyMadison.com, a dating service for married people, received while presenting a sponsored award sent a message— the porn industry is NOT a fan of this website’s infidelity mission. Founded in 2001, AshleyMadison.com provides members an anonymous venue to find a dating partner outside of their marriage.  Although AVN founder Paul Fishbein enthusiastically welcomed AshleyMadison.com as a first-time corporate sponsor of the AVN Awards this year, Noel Biderman, AshleyMadison.com’s founder, faced an audience on the edge of booing him. I loved watching Biderman squirm. It’s clear why he is known as the most hated man in America. What’s puzzling is why the industry he’s trying to be a part of seems to hate him just like the rest of the country.

There is a perception that pornography promotes extramarital affairs. I believe the opposite: It’s an industry that gears its products to improve the sex lives of couples – established couples. AshleyMadison.com is counter to this position and the almost hostile reaction by this crowd made sense to me.  It’s a sad commentary on our world that Ashley Madison.com just signed up their eight-millionth member. Isn’t it just easier to get a divorce or not marry at all?

Also, did you miss their tagline “Life’s Short. Have an Affair.” in a commercial during the Super Bowl? You and everyone else. Fox rejected their ad, which featured adult star Savanah Samson.

#3- Porn Stars Take the AVN Awards They Receive as a Great Honor.

You would think that the AVN Awards is just a big joke, like how the MTV Awards used to make fun of other award shows.  But for these adult stars, being nominated and winning awards for something like “best oral sex scene” is a huge honor. The actors like Tori Black and Tom Byron gushed with emotion as they nabbed their awards and thanked their agents, fans and families for supporting them in achieving their great accomplishment. It was shockingly heartfelt and it certainly impressed on me that no matter what you do, you should do it to the best of your ability and be proud.

#4- The Fight for First Amendment Rights is Still a Big Deal.

Even though the cases against Larry Flynt and Deep Throat  were prosecuted more than 35 years ago, people don’t realize legal action is still being taken against the porn industry. A moment that I didn’t expect to hit home for me was when John Stagliano, “the Buttman” and founder of Evil Angel Productions, was given the Rueben Sturman Award in recognition of his July 2010 acquittal in a District of Columbia obscenity case.

I couldn’t help but think of my father since he was prosecuted under the same Miller vs. California law that Stagliano was. Miller vs. California, passed in 1973 by the Supreme Court, grants local communities the right to determine what’s obscene, but nowadays the Internet has blurred the concept of community. This law is still on the books and pulled out on occasion to prosecute the porn industry. At the award show the audience was quiet and riveted as Stagliano spoke earnestly about the importance of being able to express ones sexual creativity under our first amendment rights. He graciously thanked his lawyers and wife and said no one should be ashamed to work in the adult industry.  The audience gave a standing ovation and heartily cheered Stagliano's remarks.

The AVN Awards renewed my belief in the old adage “don’t judge a book by its cover.” This industry is proving to have many different dimensions – just like how people are so surprised that my father is in the porn industry because I don’t fit a particular stereotype of how a person associated with this industry should look or act. Also, I found some true humanity at this event—a collection of people who care deeply about their work. It’s exciting to think what I might learn next about the porn industry. I’ll expect the unexpected for sure.

A Good Girl in a Dirty World

Kristin Battista-Frazee

I had wanted to attend the AVN Adult Entertainment Expo  in Las Vegas since I started writing my memoir, Pornographer's Daughter, and I finally got my chance earlier this month. It was a milestone for me in my quest to learn more about the business and the social issues that surround the porn industry. And get a firsthand glimpse of the career my father has been a part of for the last 35 years.

My father always talked about this convention in a business-like fashion, describing how he met with colleagues, discussed industry trends and learned about new products. He left out any details about naked women or how to operate the hot new sex toy. We had an unspoken agreement between a father and a daughter to never discuss these types of things and I knew from an early age that he never wanted me to be exposed to this “dirty world”.  So for years I would imagine the details of what took place at the expo.  Now I didn’t have to guess what this event was all about anymore—this good girl was all in to learn what she could about Dad’s dirty world.

Before traveling to Las Vegas, deciding what I would wear to the Expo suddenly became a serious quandary. I pulled out and tried on different outfits from my closet, packed my suitcase, then unpacked it and started all over again. My mind was spinning. It was one of those times when I wished I had a stylist who could pick my wardrobe for me. I wanted to fit in, so did I want go with the high heels and skirt ensemble to try to pull off a sexier look? Or should I stick to my typical conservative dress and just be comfortable?  I had a lot of ground to cover at the Expo, quite literally, and I needed an outfit that I could walk miles in.  I threw a pair of fishnet stockings in my suitcase but in the end my practical side won out and I settled on a sweater and jeans.

I’ve been to a lot of conventions, so when I entered the cavernous halls of the Sands Expo Center at 12 pm I expected the packed crowds and wide variety of booths. But there were some subtle and not so subtle differences. The exhibit floor pulsed with dance music to induce a party-like atmosphere and there were tons of people waiting to take pictures with the booth babes. And then of course the women weren’t exactly wearing corporate, or even casual, attire.

I was happy with my outfit selection but I definitely stood out as an anomaly among the couple of thousand people attending the expo. Though most of the attendees were men, the women who attended with them were almost as scantily clad as the porn stars signing autographs and selling products in the booths.  As I looked at the women in high heels, mini-skirts and wearing cleavage as an accessory, I realized I wouldn’t be comfortable in that sort of an outfit – even though I am a pornographer’s daughter. And for a casual, friendly observer, my sweater and jeans worked out just fine for me.

There was much to see even though the number of vendors did not fill the expansive Sands Expo Center.  I was disappointed in the smaller audience but it seemed evident a tough economy and a competing adult novelty toy show in Burbank contributed to a decline in attendance.  The imprint of 3D content was everywhere, like Hustler’s version of the movie Avatar, called This Ain’t Avatar XXX 3D, a porn parody.  By the way, there is a porn parody for just about every famous TV show or movie, like Charlie’s Angels, Top Gun, The Brady Bunch and Batman. On that note, it was comforting to see that the adult industry is again ushering in the use of the latest technology. At the Consumer Electronics Show I had donned 3D glasses at the Sony exhibit to experience crisp images jumping off huge screens and being displayed on slick new TVs and laptops. And now at the AVN Expo here I was envisioning 3D images in vivid pornographic form that would now be viewed in the comfort of people’s homes.  The porn industry is certainly ingenious at implementing trends.

There were vendors who sold everything from scented candles and massage oils to life-size dolls of your favorite porn star and pole dancing equipment you could set-up in your living room. I discovered a small movie production company who featured Muslim women and explored the taboo of having sex with women that wear burqas. You can use your imagination here. In striking up a conversation with a company representative he quipped, “If this gets more popular the Taliban might try to kill me.”  It was a strange comment and I thought if he really had experienced death threats, which I believe possible, is porn really worth inciting a terrorist attack or risking one’s life?  Well the adult industry is said to be a risky business and there does seems to be a niche for everything.  

At one booth I saw the “Sybian” in action, a piece of equipment that has been featured on the Howard Stern Show. The Sybian is an orgasm-inducing machine for women and the onsite demonstration was just jaw dropping.  A woman volunteered from the audience, with the permission of her husband, and demonstrated having an orgasm on the Sybian in front of a teeming crowd. The throes of passion this volunteer displayed seemed just a little too overly dramatized for the sake of the audience. It was clear to me she was an actress called upon to cause a spectacle, which she did, and bravo for the great marketing tactic.

As I moved through the hall taking in the technology and the products my attention soon turned to the public debate about the harmful effects of pornography. I met the ladies of the Pink Cross, a non-profit organization that helps women leave the porn industry and recover from drug addiction, disease and abuse. While their mission is admirable, the alarming statistics and the “Jesus Saves” undertones left me skeptical.  I’m just not sure the industry is the cause of the victimization of women. I can’t say it doesn’t happen, but circumstance, personal choice and judgment seem to play a big role in the fate of most women who work in this industry. It’s very hard to judge the origins of these sad stories.

I also met Pastor Craig, founder of the XXX Church.com and who works with porn star, Ron Jeremy, on the Great Porn Debate. Pastor Craig looks like a young punk rocker and he and his volunteers speak their message eloquently — Jesus loves everyone, even porn stars, because we are all the same and have all equally screwed up.  They must have noticed my visceral reaction to the mention of “Jesus” and told me they use his name only in the spiritual sense, whatever that means.  I have a hard time with the injection of religion into the porn debate.  I’m just not quite sure what the identified sin is. If the adult industry helps single people and couples in consensual relationships enjoy sex, and enjoy each other through sex, then what’s the problem?

Pastor Craig was gracious, though, and pointed me in the direction of his good friend Ron Jeremy. No porn conference would be complete without getting my picture snapped with the most famous porn star ever, which I did (see above).  It was an adventurous day for this otherwise homebody and I left the great hall with the conviction that the porn industry clearly isn’t anything like it was in the 1970s. Today the industry is so much larger and more diverse and business is conducted with real corporate flair. That said, I suspect its value to society will forever be debated.

That night it was on to the AVN Awards Show.  More details about this event in my next blog post.

Stockbroker to Pornbroker

Kristin Battista-Frazee

The first time I read the Stockbroker to Pornbroker article was when I was home for spring break during my freshmen year of college. I was curious about the stories I had heard growing up and dug through a stack of news clips my mother had collected about my dad from the 1970s.  It was strange to read about my father depicted as the Philadelphia stockbroker turned notorious pornbroker at the helm of a successful strip club and the target of a federal indictment.  To me, he was just my dad. This article was published in May of 1977 in the Sunday magazine insert for the Philadelphia Inquirer and the impetus to write my memoir, Daughter of Pornography. When I began writing the whereabouts of this article had been lost in between my father’s second and third marriages. I needed to find it again.

My last resort was to research microfilm at the Library of Congress. I was lucky I lived nearby so trips there were easy.  If you have ever researched through microfilm you have to look through everything chronologically, so exact dates are important. There is no database to type in keywords to narrow your search. I relied on my parents’ memories to narrow down the publication date which was frustrating and provided conflicting information.

“Was the weather warm or cold outside when you read the article?” I asked my mother trying to isolate the month of publication.

She said, “I think I was wearing a sweater. Yeah it might have been chilly.” This made me happy and indicated publication was either early spring or fall.

I asked my father yet again, “Are you sure you were interviewed in 1976?”

His response, “It was either spring of 1976 or 1977. I don’t remember Kristin it was more than 30 years ago.” This answer led me back to the microfilm drawer to pull a different year or month. 

I wondered how they could forget what I saw as a major development in their lives. But then I realized the significance of the article was only my perception and this was one of many things that occurred during this time.

I went through every Sunday edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer from the beginning of 1976 through spring of 1977. Finally one Saturday huddled behind a microfilm reading machine with my eyes growing tired and my sweater no longer keeping me warm in the over air-conditioned periodical reading room, the elusive article floated up on the screen.  At that moment I was whispering more questions to my mother on my cell phone when I hastily said I had to call her back.

Click here to view the article.

The cover had a picture of the woman executive with her feet up on a desk and the headline, “Problems for the Female Executive”. It was so cliché 1970s feminism.  I was sure that same woman executive would be the first to malign the Golden 33, my father’s strip club, as the bastion of everything machismo and disrespectful to women.   The article had some great lines. My favorite was a quote in an inset, “the big difference between selling stock and selling smut, according to Tony Battista, is the hours. Also, he doesn’t wear a tie anymore.”

There was also a mention of me and my mother,” I never seem to get enough time with my family,“ my father said. The reporter references his young daughter and wife in Upper Darby.  There is a clear hesitation from my father to expand on that topic. I know why. He always wanted to protect us and being away from home was his greatest disappointment.  

This article has provided me great insight about these events and most importantly a rare glimpse of a younger version my father during this tumultuous time.  It’s a gift to learn about my family that has given me a more complete understanding of myself.  This story continues to unfold in my memoir Daughter of Pornography. Stay tuned.