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

Filtering by Category: pornography

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.

How Wicked Stars Stormy Daniels and jessica drake Got Their Start

Kristin Battista-Frazee

jessicadrake_Headshot
jessicadrake_Headshot

I had the pleasure this past summer of chatting with Wicked Pictures stars jessica drake and Stormy Daniels to highlight the 40th anniversary of the release of iconic movie Deep Throat.  I asked them both to tell me about the moment they each decided the adult industry was the career path they wanted to take.  Here’s what they told me. jessica drake:

There were a couple of moments that led to my decision.  I host a radio show called In Bed With Jessica Drake on Sirius. I was telling a story to my in-studio guest, Julianne, about how something that she did many, many years ago changed my life.  She was touring with Janine and they were doing a duo act called Blondage.  When I was 18, 19 years old, I was in El Paso going to college for the very first time, and I was stripping. I saw them come through at a club a few a few years after I had moved there, and I remember sitting at the tip rail and watching them, and just being completely fascinated by their dynamics, their power, their beauty...everything.  And, I had stars in my eyes... "I want to do this."

There was just not a lot to watch back then so that opened up my eyes to going from being a house dancer and being on stage.  I'm sort of comfortable with nudity.  I'm very much a people person so I just loved to hang out and talk to everybody, and just have a great time. I had plenty of regular customers and then when I saw them it sort of made me realize that it could be more of a career or more theatrical than I had made it so far. 

StormyDaniels2012
StormyDaniels2012

Stormy Daniels:  “I was always a fan [of porn].  I was never taught that nudity or sexual expression was bad or wrong.  So, I was blessed in that, especially being from Louisiana, I never grew up feeling repressed sexually, or that I should hide my body or that I shouldn’t say what I like, or that masturbating was bad.  Being raised open-minded led to me eventually watching adult movies and enjoying them. I was especially drawn to Wicked movies. 

I had a friend who was going out to LA to make her first movie and she just invited me along for the ride.  She wasn't afraid to do porn, basically I think she was afraid of going to California by herself!  I went with her to the first day and she was working on a film and they asked me if I wanted to be an extra, and it was just so amazing.  It wiped away any of the lingering preconceived notions that I had of the adult industry. And that first day on set just being a non-sex background actor, I was like, "This is nothing like I thought."  And, that was what sort of was the final thought: I could really do this and enjoy doing it and believe in doing it and show other people, especially couples and women, that sexuality isn't bad and that enjoying sex and pornography if  you so chose, is not something to be ashamed of.  And, so yeah, the shortened version of the story is five days later she got on a plane to go home and I signed a contract with Wicked. 

Not only did both jessica and Stormy end up writing and directing for Wicked Pictures, but each of them have successful empires, love their fans, and continue to stay on the current trending edge of this industry.  Follow jessica and Stormy on Twitter @thejessicadrake and @StormyDaniels. Also check out Stormy's website and Jessica's website.

Getting Off for a Good Cause

Kristin Battista-Frazee

 covercancerg1_600x450

covercancerg1_600x450

As a social worker with a father who has been in the adult industry for more than 40 years, it made sense to me that Pornhub.com would offer donations to the Susan G. Komen Foundation in honor of breast cancer awareness month.  Pornhub.com might have just wanted to create a buzz knowing Komen would reject this money given their conservative rep (see Change.org petition), or perhaps they were capitalizing on the fervor around breast cancer awareness in what’s called “pink washing.” It could be either reason, but I would like to believe that Pornhub.com smartly engaged in an effective cause-related marketing campaign around an issue they care about. It might seem surprising that Pornhub.com would do this but many corporations use cause-related marketing tactics to make their customers feel good about buying products and improve their corporate image. A good example is Tom's Shoes. They give a new pair of shoes to a child in need with every pair of shoes purchased. It’s simple: it helps kids, makes people feel good about paying a little extra for sneakers and created a profitable company. And, good causes are in need of the investment to accomplish their goals, especially since government and foundation funding only goes so far.

For the adult industry, aligning with a good cause just makes good business sense. As we recover from bad economic times, this article points out people no longer want to mindlessly consume and seek out brands that hold values similar to their own. People want a better way to spend their dollars and the adult industry can take advantage of this trend as the perfect way to better position themselves with customers. They need an edge in an increasingly competitive porn marketplace where consumers’ excess income is now saved and not spent.

Giving to important causes would not be a big leap for the adult industry since there is a history of pairing advocacy with their corporate interests. Since Playboy’s beginnings, the Playboy Foundation has supported First Amendment rights, reproductive health and AIDS projects. Adam and Eve's President Phil Harvey created DKT International, a non-profit organization dedicated to family planning and AIDS prevention around the world. I also saw on Twitter that Wicked Pictures created #teamwicked in preparation for the Aids Walk LA.

There are others outside of the porn world trying to capitalize on this idea of pairing porn with promising causes too, like Marco Annoni and Riccardo Zilli, co-founders of Come4.org. In a recent article, Annoni and Zilli state, “We devised Come4.org, as our way to rethink pornography with ethics and to launch a new sexual revolution in the Internet era."  The adult industry should take notice of this effort and let it be a warning; you should not let others reshape what you know best.

There is so much more that the adult industry can do to help important causes like AIDS/HIV prevention, breast cancer, violence against women, reproductive rights, human trafficking and addiction. The adult industry should care about these issues and I challenge them to take up these causes in greater number. Making a move like this will even increase the bottom line and change their image.

My Interview with Joanna Angel

Kristin Battista-Frazee

 JoannaAngel-2

JoannaAngel-2

For the 40th anniversary of Deep Throat article I wrote for The Daily Beast I was lucky enough to secure a spot in the crazy-busy schedule of one of the leading ladies in the adult industry, Joanna Angel, 2011 AVN award winner and mogul of her own production company and website www.BurningAngel.com. As a young business person (and college grad, I might add) Joanna’s take on the adult industry and her success weaves a common thread  found in the lives of many entrepreneurial women – work ten times as hard, be innovative, secure a great team, and stay true to your brand.  Read on for highlights of my interview with Joanna as we talk politics, the woman's place in business, and the future of pornography. Kristin Battista-Frazee (KBF):  Do you think there are any parallels between the way Deep Throat launched porn and the way Burning Angel changed the industry? 

Joanna Angel (JA):  I do know that Deep Throat did gain this level of legitimacy where everybody knows about it, and everybody saw it, and it stopped being looked at as just porn. When I started Burning Angel, I definitely wanted to cross over and be sort of a piece of pop culture and be a place where people were comfortable and it celebrated sexuality. I wanted to take something that was supposed to be secretive and bad and dirty, and turn it into something cool, as something that people could talk about and relate to one another and not just be this dirty kind of disgusting thing. 

KBF:  She [Linda Lovelace] gained a lot of fame and tried to capitalize on that as much as she could when she needed money, but then the other aspect is that she was taken advantage of. What good things about Linda Lovelace, do you  see in yourself? Specifically building a career, making something special and doing something different 

JA:  This is tough world for women who want to be in charge of anything.  You have to work ten times as hard to get half as far as everybody else, no matter what you're doing. If you wanna be a CEO on Wall Street or you wanna be a doctor, you kind of have to be the best doctor and the best CEO because everyone’s waiting for you to fuck up, you know?  And being a woman is hard.  Women are more emotional than men.  Women do go through a lot of things that men don't go through and it does make it hard to be a woman in a position for power, and part of what our weaknesses are is what gives us strength, the fact that we are more emotional than men and the fact that we do have a lot of feminine qualities.  It's what hurts us and it's what makes us amazing at the same time.  We're able to be intuitive and, and I think we're able to work with people on a different level than men can because we just have this level of sensitivity that men don’t necessarily have. The fact that we’re a little more vulnerable is what makes us weak and what makes us strong.  I'm not Sarah Palin's biggest fan or anything but the second Sarah Palin stepped in… if everything she said was said by a man then she wouldn't have been nearly as scrutinized. She would have just been another stupid politician, you know?

KBF:  Right.

JA:  Rick Santorum and George Bush have said stuff that is a million times worse than what she said and they don’t get scrutinized as much.  Everyone was waiting for her to do something stupid because she was a woman and she wasn’t ugly. 

KBF:  This notion of feminist porn, which is talked about a lot in conjunction with Burning Angel and the launch of your company, I'm curious about your perspective of how Deep Throat and early porn may have influenced women’s rights  or the basis for creating this feminist porn?

JA:  I don't know if you'd call those movies feminist or not, but I think just having porn be so out there and so mainstream for everybody to look at and everybody to watch and to make their own judgments on, I think that is more of what opened up the door to women having an opinion.  And maybe just women watching the movie, because those movies were marketed for everyone to watch. They weren’t just marketed in adult video stores or in a small section of a store for a few horny men to watch.  They were marketed for everybody over the age of 18 to watch, just having porn be so mainstream at such a controversial time. I don’t even think that before those movies women even thought about having an opinion about porn.  I think it opened up the dialogue.  For women to watch it and to be like, "Do I like this?  Do I not like this?  Is it for me? Is this not for me?" "Is this making me horny or is this degrading?” “What is this doing?" Having something just be so out there where everybody had to have an opinion on it is what opened up the door to all women.  There are women who call themselves feminist or not feminist. I think you kind of had to have an opinion on it, so just the fact that the movies were so mainstream is what gave women a voice.

KBF:  Are people really surprised you have a college degree and work in porn? 

JA: People in porn aren't that surprised.  It's more people out of porn and it's sometimes weird. I do all these interviews and I do all this press for people and… “Wow, that's crazy, you have a college degree, that must be rare in porn."  And, I'm like, "I don't know, I own a company. How many people do you know that own successful companies but didn't finish college?"  I sometimes feel bad because I do a lot of press and I feel like I get all this credit for being a girl in porn with a degree like it's this super-rare thing and it's not so rare, particularly if you want to pick out every single person who owns one of the porn companies, most of them are gonna have college degrees. Or, if they don't, they just are very, very good at business.  To run a business it takes skill no matter what you’re selling. It takes patience, and it takes a lot of things that you do learn in college, or you have to be one of those super-geniuses that’s able to learn things on your own.

KBF:  I saw your blog, and I actually wrote an article for The Daily Beast in response to what Rick Santorum said about banning pornography.  You know, for me, it kinda came out of the blue, and yet it didn’t. 

JA:  It's so ridiculous and it's so stupid. I feel like around election time everybody will just come out and say something really radical, either to the left or to the right just to get a bunch of votes right away because they know anybody who agrees with that is gonna vote for them.  Especially in these tough times, the state of the economy has never affected me as much as it does now.  When you run a business and you're selling a product and your livelihood and other people's livelihood who work under me depends on whether people have extra money in their pocket to pay for the type of entertainment that I produce.  It's kind of like… can we just have an election right now that focuses on money and the economy?  Which is ultimately I really think what everybody in America cares about.  Can we just not have an election that's all about abortion and whether gay people should get married?  Who gives shit whether gay people get married or not? It's not gonna affect the amount of jobs in America, you know?  Just stop it! Can we just stop talking about these religious issues that should have nothing to do with the election and let's actually figure out what president can help the country.

KBF:  You’re called a pioneer of alternative porn. Do you still feel like this transformative figure in the industry? 

JA: In the beginning it was more like this huge deal, "Oh, what is she doing, it's different, it's this, it's that," and now things have kind of settled down and it’s just like, "That's Joanna Angel and she does her thing."  I’m focused on growing my company. I don't know what I've done for the industry as a whole. I meet girls with tattoos have told me, "Oh, it's all because of you that I'm able to... " or "I didn't think I could get into porn because I had too many tattoos," or this or that, and "I didn’t think I looked like a porn star and because of you I’m able to work and I'm able to do this." I didn’t spawn the creation of a hundred companies like me for girls to go, so I don’t know how much of a change it's able to make. But the fact that my company has won awards, the same awards that big porn companies, your typical mainstream stuff... the fact that we’re always considered among them, the fact that CNBC lists the top ten porn stars and my name is included. The fact that Burning Angel and my name has been able to be considered as one of the top is  a really big thing because ten, fifteen years ago there was nobody who did anything like us, or even anything a little bit different, it’s considered amongst the top of the game.   

KBF:  Where do you think the porn industry will be in 40 years? 

JA:  40?? 

KBF:  I'm saying 40 because this is the 40th anniversary of Deep Throat and you look at everything that's happened, and you just wonder what will happen in the next 40.

JA:  Yeah, I know. I have no idea. I don’t know!  Porn has gone in a whole bunch of weird circles. It’s gonna depend on what kind for technology comes out.  I hope it's in a good place.  [laughing].

Rick Santorum’s War on Pornography Stirs Up the Same Tired Arguments

Kristin Battista-Frazee

Rick Santorum’s crusade to save America from the pandemic of pornography may seem like an out-of-the-blue call to action against smut—the kind of campaign rhetoric that supplies comedians and late-night talk-show hosts with good material—but for the last 40 years my family has lived this culture war. In the 1970s my father was prosecuted by the federal government for distributing Deep Throat, and today owns adult erotic retail stores. Read my full article.

Pleasure Principle

Kristin Battista-Frazee

As a teenager, “the pleasure principle” to me was a Janet Jackson song and I didn’t realize it also defined our drive to seek pleasure and avoid pain.  This principle explains well why porn is so popular and that people can act a certain way or buy things they can’t afford. One could argue that our country slid into a recession egged on by the banking and loan industry encouraging the pleasure principle. Corporate executives who commanded outrageous salaries and indulged in lavish lifestyles are really no different than anyone else. Would you turn down a pile of cash to make your life easier? That would be a hard call. Seeking pleasure is inherent in all of us. The cruise vacation I went on last month on Royal Caribbean’s largest ship, the Oasis of the Seas, is a great example of the pleasure principle that is so engrained in our culture. Everywhere on this ship the message is “you’re on vacation” and offers the ability to feed your whims for immediate gratification. Now I understand why Newt Gingrich insisted on taking his cruise vacation to Greece last May. He said it gave him time to think, and while that may be true, I’m sure he did other things too. It would have been a whole lot easier if he said he needed a vacation like anyone else.

Temptations are endless on a cruise. If you have an addiction problem, be forewarned, this vacation is not for you.  There is the casino, so if you have a gambling problem you’re out of luck. If you struggle with sex addiction, of course, on the ship you have access to wide selection of pay-per-view porn available on the TV in your state rooms.  If you’re a food addict, this would be a bad vacation for you, at several locations there is an unlimited supply of food. Even at the pool, children clamor around ice cream machines to pull the lever for unlimited amounts of frozen yogurt to come tumbling out on to cones. You have to pay for alcohol beverage so if you’re an alcoholic who hates paying for drinks, you might fare okay. Or you could just smuggle alcohol in your suitcase. (Here’s a really good product to do that by the way, Rum Runners.) 

Everywhere you’re encouraged to eat, drink, sleep (or stay awake all night) and have sex in excess. Strangely the only place this ship curtailed some excesses was the afternoon matinee of the less bawdy reversion of the Broadway play Hairspray.  The show was good but many may have been disappointed in the watered down version of this production.

In stark contrast to all the pleasure seeking on our cruise, I couldn’t help but notice the people who work at Royal Caribbean and that their lives were not about seeking pleasure but struggling to earn a living. Sure they had good jobs, but they sacrificed to have those jobs too. Our head server in the dining room, for months at a time, left her eight and half year old son with her mother in Croatia to serve our meals. Our room attendee wanted to be an architect but had to leave school because the tuition was too expensive.  The beach attendant in Haiti, who delivered my beach chair, probably makes one of the highest salaries in his whole village, and I couldn’t help but wonder about his living conditions at home since the earthquake. I’m grateful for the wonderful vacation but these observations made the experience feel wrong on some level. I guess I’ll always be a social worker at heart.

The desire for pleasure is a driving force for all us and I think necessary to live a fulfilling life. But those who greedily seek out pleasure with disregard for others will ultimately pay the price. Whether it’s the guy at the next table in the casino who will gamble away his life savings, or corporate executives who greedily accepts their salaries despite the disparity among the people they employ, ultimately striking the right balance in seeking pleasure will keep us sane and peaceful. For me, life was so much simpler when the pleasure principle was just a Janet Jackson song. By the way, she’s still awesome and I love this video. Take a look!

Food Porn

Kristin Battista-Frazee

 Foodporn

Foodporn

This country is obsessed with food as is evident from the success of the Food Network, Internet sites and magazines which are dedicated to featuring decadently prepared meals and desserts. I have to confess, I even look forward to my friends’ posts and pictures on Facebook about their tasty fare (that means you Chip Mautz). All these outlets provide us steady access to food porn and best captures our sinful high caloric desires, just as porn encourages our sexual fantasies. Now that it is the holiday eating season, it’s interesting to see how our relationship with food goes into overdrive. I’m convinced the holidays are not just about spending time with loved ones but to pig out. From now until the start of the New Year, we meticulously shop, cook and travel for food pimped out with extra butter, whipped cream and chocolate. We watch the Food Network with more intent and experience many nights of feeling uncomfortably full, followed by the guilt for eating too much. As an Italian, I’m all for the eating and I love sausage stuffing, raviolis, Christmas Eve dinner of seven fishes and pizzelle cookies. This makes the holidays memorable for me and seems no different than the cravings of porn around Valentine’s Day that make this day more fun and exciting.  I’ve noticed everyone handles the excesses around the holidays differently, and as much as I indulge, I also strike a balance with my eating habits. I read the “Food Porn” column in the Nutrition Action Newsletter (my mother-in-law would be proud) which is a great source of information about healthy food. Every month I flip to the back cover and look for the big thumbs down picture to check out what not to eat. They pan the really bad stuff like TGIF’s frozen appetizers, which is warranted because that stuff shouldn’t even be considered food, but sometimes they bash a delicious treat and, for better or worse, this maligning peaks my curiosity.

Like recently the newsletter dissed Cold Stone Creamery’s Churro Caramel Crave with the fried dough smothered in vanilla ice cream, whipped cream and caramel. It sounds great and I can’t wait to try it despite the “Food Porn” warning. But I know you can’t eat ice cream everyday without health consequences and that’s why I’m not 300 pounds. It raises the question, when does our holiday eating, a shopping spree, one too many drinks at a party or watching a porn flick become a problem?  It’s sometimes difficult to make the distinction and while it’s not bad to indulge, for some people it’s just too hard.

Those who struggle with addiction can’t easily have their favorite things, and this time of year can be torturous for them.  While we are celebrating, they face their temptations and struggle to maintain balance and sobriety.  I think this article, Conquering Food Addiction, sums up a reasonable philosophy that can be applied to all kinds of addictions. Michael Prager, author of “Fat Boy, Thin Man,” said, “When I found out I had an illness, I took responsibility to make it better, I have no respect for people who use [their addiction] as a crutch."  I think this is so true, although I know it’s sometimes hard for people to take that first step to seek help.

So while you’re eating that extra piece of pie and indulging in the things that make life and this holiday season just that much more enjoyable, the old saying “everything in moderation” (and this includes porn too) still holds true!

Check out @foodporn on Twitter

The 'Everything in Moderation' Myth

Anthony Bourdain; No Reservations Food Porn Episode