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

Filtering by Category: writing

Five Things I Learned as a Social Worker

Kristin Battista-Frazee

I’m a marketing professional and author, but also a social worker.  I earned an MSW degree from Columbia University and since graduation my career has taken many interesting turns. I was a geriatric social worker who moved on to marketing and communications roles in Washington, D.C., and this fall I will publish my memoir, The Pornographer’s Daughter.  I have always relied on my social work skills to move forward in my career.

Social work is not confined to working for the government or counseling. It’s a multi-faceted profession with many different opportunities within your grasp.  In honor of Social Work Month (a little late), here’s the top five things I learned as a social worker.

  1. The world is a big place. We don’t exist in a vacuum and realizing just how diverse the world is will bring you needed perspective in your career and life. Understanding the importance of cultural competency in social work practice is also applicable to functioning effectively in a growing global economy. Cookie-cutter approaches don’t work and a better understanding of how someone’s culture impacts their beliefs, behaviors and viewpoints makes products and services more accessible to a boarder audience.
  2. People are complex. Understanding the complexities of human behavior will give you the upper hand. Learning clinical skills and the impact of mental illness, culture, trauma, addiction, divorce, discrimination, socioeconomic status and host of other things will help you better recognize someone’s underlying motivations and actions.
  3. Small things make a big difference. A smile. An understanding gesture. Writing to your Congressman.  Signing a petition. It’s these types of small things that can develop rapport with a challenging client to move a project forward, build a counseling relationship or even start a movement to right an injustice. Do all the little things you can, they add up.
  4. Things are not always what they appear to be. The world is unpredictable and situations are inevitably various shades of grey. And not just black or white, good or bad, right or wrong but a mixture of everything in between.  The more comfortable you are with uncertainty the better. 
  5. Take a risk and bend the rules. As a social worker, someone else’s well-being is often dependent upon you taking a risk or advocating on their behalf.  This skill applies any type of career and bending the rules, if done ethically, has value.  If you want to learn something new, don’t wait for someone to teach you. If you see an opportunity, take it. If someone needs help, do something to help them. It’s quite simple, social work, or any great career, has always been about getting your hands dirty, jumping in with both feet, doing something you feel passionate about, and just plain fighting for what you believe in.

These are skills social work has taught me and so far, they have served me well. I hope you thanked a social worker in the month of March for all the fantastic things they do.

Stumbled Upon - the Week of March 3

Kristin Battista-Frazee

There’s never a shortage of stories out there that can inspire or cause you to stop and think. Also I’m lucky to know so many amazing people doing great things. Here’s some interesting items I stumbled upon this week. 

Murray’s Tribute to Ramis

The Oscars is famously known for the couture gowns worn by beautiful actresses and inspirational acceptance speeches and this year's show had great moments. Matthew McConaughey’s  “alright, alright, alright” was quirky and Lupita Nyong'o and Jared Leto looked beautiful and spoke so eloquently and with great humility. But my favorite moment was when Bill Murray paid tribute to Harold Ramis while presenting the Oscar for Cinematography with Amy Adams.

Even though Murray and Ramis had a falling out years ago, the connection between them was still evident and Murray acknowledging this publicly was touching. It’s true that once you connect with someone in a special way, no matter what happens or how much time passes, that never changes. Think of when you visit with a good friend you haven’t seen in years and feel like no time has passed at all. Good people become a part of you.

Italian Women Called to Share Their Story

Calling all Italian Woman, like my family members, check out the Italian Women Project by Samantha R. DeMuro. It reflects what many of us strive for —to tell and discover our family’s story.  I’m fascinated with the idea of creating an online space for Italian Women. And I have to say, we’re a unique bunch.   I’ll be sure to throw some “odds and ends” to this project and if you’re an Italian woman, you should too. The italianwomenproject.wix.com/iawp    @ItalianWomenSay

Running for Your Life

You might have read about Kayla Montgomery, the high school runner with multiple sclerosis who has become one of the fastest distance runners in the country. When Montgomery was diagnosed she said to her coach, “I want to run faster— don’t hold back.”

This is an inspiration for anyone feeling down on their luck. And the running seems a symbolic and defiant act in the face of adversity. This running scene (above) from Forrest Gump I think illustrates this point in a comical, yet poignant way.  So whether you are running towards or away from something, just keep running, and things will work out.  

Relaunch of The Complete Linda Lovelace

I was sorry to miss Eric Danville’s book relaunch party this week for The Complete Linda Lovelace which was held at The Cutting Room in New York City. Danville has served as Managing Editor for High Times, Masters of Rock, Screw, Penthouse Forum and The Girls of Penthouse. He’s also author of The Official Heavy Metal Book of Lists (BackBeat Books). Good luck to Eric and check out my interviews (part 1  and part 2) with him from a while back.

For more information go to www.thecompletelindalovelace.com or follow www.Twitter.com/thcmpltlndlvlc.

socialworkmonth2014.jpg

It’s Social Work Month, to honor the contributions of social workers everywhere. This is a profession close to my heart so I’ll be blogging about this later and I hope you participate in this observance. This year’s theme, All People Matter, invites social workers to tell their stories online using the hashtags #allpeoplematter and #socialworkmonth.  For more information visit NASW’s site.

A Few Words

Kristin Battista-Frazee

While working on my memoir, The Pornographer’s Daughter, there have been a few words people have said to me that have made a big impact. It’s hard to believe a collection of small phrases shaped my path to publishing but it did.  Some things weren’t easy to hear and invaded my thoughts with doubt, but others words made me believe anything was possible. All the words were valuable and necessary.

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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.

Happy Father’s Day to the Pornographer

Kristin Battista-Frazee

I know my life is too busy when I just realized today is Father’s Day. There was no card in the mail for my dad, so feeling very guilty, I sat down and wrote this blog.  As you may know, I’m writing my book, The Pornographer’s Daughter, in large part because of my dad’s incredible story about distributing Deep Throat in the 1970s.  But apart from his 35 year career in the porn industry, he’s just my dad. I learned a lot from him about persistence (he fought his case to the Supreme Court) and about social justice (which prompted me to earn a Masters degree in Social Work). And a million other little things that positively shape my political views, work ethic and parenting philosophies. So for this, I thank him today.

I also wanted to give you a glimpse of the eccentricities and qualities about him, besides his job, which make him so unique to me. Like how he thinks going to the grocery store is an exciting outing and that he has a strange concern about whether or not I have enough plastic containers for leftovers. He makes great pancakes and gravy and meatballs.  Every election he drives people to the polls to vote who can’t get there themselves. Of course he only gives rides to Democrats since he says he wouldn’t want the Republicans to have any advantage. He lives in Florida so every vote counts. On Election Day in 2008, he volunteered for the Obama campaign office in Philadelphia. Like so many others, when the results came in declaring Obama would be the next president, he gleefully took to the streets like a teenager to celebrate. 

My dad has to wear shirts with a front pocket so he can carry a pen. I have no idea what he might desperately need to write down, but any shirt given as a gift without a pocket is promptly returned.  He hates the bright sunlight, but as previously mentioned, strangely he lives in Florida. He loves big cities, Broadway plays, and he thinks becoming a grandfather is his greatest achievement. He loves his Gracie girl! He is generous to a fault sometimes, and takes great joy in gathering his friends and family together by planning a huge reunion party in South Philly every year.  My dad is a hard worker, yells at the TV when he is watching political shows and reads stacks of newspapers every day. I’m so proud to call him my dad. Happy Father’s Day!

Is There Still a Witch Hunt Against Pornography?

Kristin Battista-Frazee

My father once said, “It’s a witch hunt and I’m one of the few people who knows what those unscrupulous, publicity seeking authorities are doing to free speech in this country.”  This was a quote of his from an article that appeared in The Inquirer Magazine in 1977 and he was referring to his indictment on obscenity charges for distributing Deep Throat.  His words are just as relevant today. Recent letters urging Attorney General Eric Holder to prosecute pornography distributors have made me wonder if it’s possible to prosecute today’s porn industry with the same fervor it was subject to in the ‘70s.  The latest letter was signed by 43 Senators on April 4th and seems to echo a letter sent by Reps. J. Randy Forbes (R-Virginia) and Mike McIntyre (D-North Carolina) back in February. This all comes shortly after the John Stagliano indictment and his acquittal in July 2010, which was the first serious legal action against porn in over 25 years.

Although these proceedings got me speculating about the possibility of another witch hunt going after porn, I concluded it’s unlikely we’ll see another obscenity case like Deep Throat again and here’s why.  History seems to be a good predictor of the future and in the last 35 years no one has successfully prosecuted obscenity to thwart the spread of pornography.  Not one single win.  In these types of cases the argument to protect free speech has been effective and endured because of an underlying fear that banning porn could lead us down the wrong path of limiting our liberties. I also think those who vigorously stood up against pornography unknowingly created a tipping point that made porn culturally acceptable and consequently turned it into a multi-billion dollar industry. Raising such a fuss obviously inspired everyone’s ogling curiosity.

Also, anti-porn advocates typically use incoherent arguments to state their case against pornography. They rely on unfounded claims and scare tactics to make people believe pornography inspires horrible crimes, and this obvious deceit undermines any credibility for their cause. If research were available to prove porn harms people, like the kind that proves smoking causes cancer, then this debate would be very different.  

Lastly, the Obama Administration has more important problems to deal with than America’s libido. Terrorism, the war in Afghanistan, revolutions in the Middle East, and let’s not forget the myriad of domestic problems: reducing the deficit, homelessness, lack of healthcare, hunger, taking care of the mental health needs of our veterans returning home from war.  These pressing issues crowd the top of most voters’ agendas.  The insidious danger of porn isn’t even on the list.

But the recent letters from legislators do highlight a problem that’s worth talking about — pornography addiction. There is a body of research that supports that a person can become addicted to pornography just like food, gambling, drugs, alcohol, shopping, etc. The April 4th letter notes pornography addiction will be listed in the next version of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual and in my opinion it rightfully belongs in this bible of mental health disorders.

Pornography addiction can be a serious problem. But I would emphasize here the word “addiction,” not “pornography” and suggest that this is truly a mental health issue and not a case of a specific type of media egging on aberrant behavior in normal adults.  To scapegoat porn will not solve the problem of addiction (which some even see as a physiological problem). What troubles me most is the fact that legislators who sign letters calling for legal action against porn could instead use their influence to provide adequate funding for addiction treatment and research. But the real services needed are consistently underfunded, and the chosen path is grandstanding to the conservative reaches of politics on this polarizing and “sexy” social topic. It’s a sad commentary about how Washington works.

I’ll always wonder why porn is still cast as such an evil in society and why we keep having these same conversations over and over again.  The “witch hunt” against pornography, I suspect, will forever remain a threat.

Senators ask Holder for more pornography prosecutions

Why I Write

Kristin Battista-Frazee

The Movable Type Literary Group (that reps for me) is promoting this clever Twitter hashtag  #WhyIWrite to encourage people to share why they have a burning desire to write. It's an interesting question since I believe everyone has a story to tell. So I joined the conversation @porndaughter and posted "I write so my family's rich history and fascinating story never dies or fades away."  This also got me thinking about all the reasons I wrote before I started my memoir Daughter of Pornography. Writing has been such an important part of my life and career. 

  • As a social worker I wrote to advocate for my homebound elderly clients.
  • At the National Mental Health Association (@MentalHealthAm), I wrote to raise awareness and give hope that mental illnesses are treatable.
  • At the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare (@nationalcouncil), I wrote to give mental health providers valuable information so they could provide mental health services to their communtities.
  • At 2tor(@2tor), currently, I write to tell the world about an incredible online Master of Social Work program available through the University of Southern California School of Social Work.

I know I'll always write.  I would love to hear more about why you write. Share your thoughts on my blog, on Twitter at #WhyIWrite and Daughter of Pornography Facebook page. I look forward to hearing from you.

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.