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

Filtering by Category: Memoir

What New York City Helped Me Value

Kristin Battista-Frazee

Photo from Creative Commons

Photo from Creative Commons

When Ted Cruz insinuated Donald Trump embodied “New York values,” we all know he meant to make this sound sinister and played upon people’s negative impressions of New Yorkers.  This week’s New York primary has everyone talking about the values of the people who live in this state. For anyone who has spent time or lived in New York, you know it can bring out the best and worst in people. For me, I remember the best of New York values.

I lived in New York City between 1992 and 1996 and moved here right after graduating from college. I have to confess, I didn’t fall in love with this city. I sometimes liked what the city offered and I just adjusted to my new urban life. Even though I had these conflicted feeling about Manhattan, I wouldn’t have traded my experience living here for anything in the world. New York City can be unforgiving — loud, cramped and fast-paced– but my everyday interactions with New Yorkers were priceless.

In Sunday’s Washington Post article, There Are New York Values Ted Cruz Probably Never Expected, reminded me of the values I learned while living in the city. The snapshots of different people sharing their values in this piece showed heart, rare toughness, and a very human side. I can only hope the rest of the country can apply a little New York values to their lives.

During my time in New York, the most striking part of life was the diversity. It is truly a microcosm of the world.  I had arrived from Florida State University with a habit of saying “Y’all” that I acquired from living in Tallahassee and my waitressing job at a southern style restaurant. I loved FSU but it was a homogeneous place; mostly a white student body with a small Latino population and even smaller number of African American students.   When I started my MSW program at Columbia University, I had never seen so many people of different backgrounds on campus and on the streets— Arab, Asian, Caribbean, African and the list goes on.

The exposure to different cultures helped me value diversity and I carry this with me to this day.  I fell in love with falafel sandwiches from Amir’s near campus and Cuban-Chinese food. It was fascinating to learn about the Chinese immigrants from Cuba who fled Castro in 1959 and made a new home in New York City to create this odd and delicious cuisine.  Who knew you can get Ropa Vieja and egg rolls in the same place? Only in New York. I didn’t just indulge my palette but experienced a melting pot of people who at tried their best to get along with each other. It wasn’t always the perfect, kumbaya experience but it did make you want to try to understand things beyond your own experience.

As an example, while a social work intern at Veritas, a drug treatment center in Morningside Heights, a predominantly Hispanic and African-American community, my classmates and I frequented the small deli next door.  The friendly Latino man who worked behind the counter noticed us.  

“Why do you all come here?” he asked curiously one day.

“We work next door and I like your turkey sandwiches,” said my classmate.

”I didn’t think you were from around here, so I was just wondering,” he said shrugging his shoulders and smiling as he wiped his counter.

We laughed together since it was obvious we were not from the neighborhood and didn’t fit in but we knew we were welcomed anyway.  

People strive to be tolerant and something else people don’t realize is New Yorkers try to be nice, too.  If New Yorkers can be nice, everyone should be. Tweet That.  I found people in the tight-knit neighborhoods formed within 20 block segments were just as hospitable as a small Southern or Midwestern town.

When I came home to Florida for visits, people would ask me, “aren’t New Yorkers mean?” I would always respond emphatically, “Surprisingly, no.” After puzzled stares, I would go on to describe how people would give up subway seats for older people and pregnant women and about the cashier where I bought coffee and bagels always joked with me and said, “you’re ready to go to work now,” when he handed me my blue Greek cup

When I left the city to move to the Washington, D.C. area, even though I was ready to leave and live in a new place, I knew I would miss certain things about the city. I would never be a true New Yorker but when I look back on my time in New York City, I’m grateful to have learned these values.

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!

My 9/11

Kristin Battista-Frazee

 Everyone has a 9/11 story and while my experience on this day may be very similar to yours, on this anniversary I feel compelled to share my account. I just don’t want to forget what happened ten years ago. My hope is one day my daughter will read this recollection and appreciate 9/11’s historical significance and sacrifice, just as the stories told to me by my husband’s Gram about the beginning of WW I, my grandmother about the Pearl Harbor attacks, and my parents who lived through the JFK assassination conveyed important details about the transformative events of our country.

On September 11, 2001, I noticed the weather was picture perfect as I drove to work at the National Mental Health Association office in Old Towne Alexandria, Virginia. As I sat at my desk, with coffee in hand and reading e-mails to prepare for a busy day, I heard someone in the hallway say, “Oh my god, a small plane hit the World Trade Center.” I didn’t think it was much more than an isolated accident but shortly the news was reporting a commercial airliner had slammed into the North Tower. I promptly called my husband at home hoping he hadn’t left for National Airport to travel to Boston for work as planned that day. He answered the phone, and I don’t even remember saying hello and just told him to turn on the TV because a plane had hit the World Trade Center. We quickly hung up. 

When the second plane hit the South Tower, I went to Patrick Cody’s office where one of the only TV’s in the building was located. A crowd had gathered to watch the unfolding coverage and our conversation was of disbelief and horror about the events unfolding in New York City. It was apparent this was no accident. We tried to be proactive to assist with this crisis, while struggling to comprehend what was happening. One of us suggested NMHA provide a public statement directing communities to mental health and PTSD resources and offer our own educational information. We also realized our New York City affiliate would need to help the public cope on the ground. Then things got worse.  Sitting around Patrick’s desk, we heard the report that the Pentagon was hit and there were still planes circling D.C. The full scope of this atrocity was more than we could handle and we abandoned our attempt at work and dispersed to call loved ones.

After that it was a bit of blur.  Jennifer Bright’s husband worked at the Pentagon, and we hoped he wasn’t injured or worse. She just had a baby boy and returned to work a few months before. We got word he was okay, but who else did we know that might have been in the path of that plane? And where was this other plane going to hit? Leah Holmes-Bonilla’s daughter attended school near the Pentagon. What was happening there? And how soon could she get to her child? People ran to the roof of our building and could see the smoke billowing from the Pentagon in the distance. I looked out a window and wondered if I should try to get home, but Route 1 through Old Towne Alexandria was bumper to bumper traffic. So, after another brief conversation with my husband, we decided me staying put might be safer.  Phone service was not great. Cell phones didn’t work at all and landline service was hit or miss.   

My grad school classmate, Elyse Einhorn, lived in Manhattan and I was able to call her home. Her husband Michael Solomon picked up the phone breathless. He told me he had just walked from the World Trade Center area after evacuating his office. He felt the impact of the first plane hitting the World Trade Center and witnessed the second plane hit the South Tower.  Elyse was stuck in West Chester and I was relieved they were both okay.

The Internet was totally jammed and I couldn’t get to any news website, but strangely my AOL Instant Messenger worked and I chatted with Eric Reading who lived in Cairo, Egypt at the time. I typed furiously, “You have to come home and get out of Egypt,” thinking a Muslim country would be a bad place for an American at that moment. I had no idea what “Al-Qaeda” was, but I had heard this extremist muslin group was responsible for these the terrorist attacks.  Eric typed back, “I’m not coming home. I’m safer here.” Eric was also able to relay more accurate news information then I was hearing on TV in the states which was so odd.

Shortly after this online conversation, another co-worker, Russell Mark, walked past my doorway and said, “The South Tower just fell.” People assembled in the conference room around TVs that were set up. I just couldn’t stay in there too long but would pop in and out to hear the latest updates.   A few hours later, I finally received a cell phone call from Barbie Blake. I was surprised my phone rang, since cell phones weren’t working.  I answered and heard her ask, “Are you okay?” I told her I was, but stuck in Alexandria, VA and I asked her to call my mother, since phone service wasn’t great here, to let her know I was fine.

That evening I drove home slowly up Route 7 to McLean, staying off any major roads and for the rest of the night I was just glued to the TV. My husband had recorded live footage and we watched in slow motion the planes slamming into the towers. It was surreal. In the days that followed, I remember my husband waited in line at a local hardware store to purchase an American flag to hang on our front porch. We also drove by the Pentagon and saw the gapping, smoldering hole in the side of the building where the plane had crashed. It was just unbelievable to see the damage up close. The sky was strangely quiet, and for weeks all air travel was grounded. A month later I flew out of National Airport to Tallahassee for the Miami vs. FSU game. The airport was empty. While awaiting my flight, I saw the news reports about the Anthrax attacks.  I had some second thoughts about getting on that plane but went anyway.  I also talked to everyone I knew just to “check-in.” Strangely I never cried but just felt anger in the pit of my stomach. I also felt grateful that I didn’t know anyone that was killed in the attacks. I realized how lucky I was.

At work, we all knew that the mental health needs of the country would be forever altered and our outreach efforts quickly focused on helping all of our affiliates support their communities in coping with the disaster. If you lived in Peoria or Alaska, everyone had suffered in some way. James Radack wrote some excellent pieces on helping children and communities cope with disaster. In the weeks and months that followed 9/11 so many mental health materials like this were created. These tools are still used today after any type of disaster, natural or otherwise, with great attention paid to PTSD and the importance of immediate on the ground responses.

Today there are many reminders about 9/11’s lasting impact. The most important reminder for me is my work with the University of Southern California School of Social Work and its online MSW program, the The school has an excellent military social work curriculum and many military affiliated students have enrolled in the program. These students have a strong desire to become social workers because of their experience with the waged wars that fought against terrorism. They have sacrificed so much and I am reminded often of their stories that embody true bravery.

So much has changed in the last ten years. On 9/11 ten years ago, my daughter had not been born, writing a book hadn’t even crossed my mind and so many career changes lie ahead.  So today I remember and reflect and hope nothing like this ever happens again.

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


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.

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.

Questions You Wanted to Ask and Did

Kristin Battista-Frazee

Over the years people have asked a lot of questions about my experience growing up with a family in the porn business and more recently about my memoir in progress Daughter of Pornography.  Here are some answers to those questions. I appreciate those who are curious about my life and expressed concern for me.

How old were you when you became aware of what your father did professionally and what was your initial reaction?

I can’t remember not knowing my father was in the porn business so there was never one moment when I was told about his job that elicited a reaction.  The only other curiosity or reaction that I can recall was when I was in middle school, a friend and I snooped all over my house to find porn. All we found were a stack of boring Forum magazines and one movie that I don’t even remember attempting to watch. I never sought porn out again may be because I just didn’t think it was a big deal. I wasn’t curious about my father business until later in life. The first time I visited his stores was when I was 25 years old. It’s funny, there’s this misconception from people that don’t know me that growing up in my house there was pole dancing in the living room and porn on all the time. That was definitely not the case.

You mention your mother’s suicide attempt. Was this in reaction to your father's business and how it impacted her life?

I suspect the stress of facing my father’s legal battles in federal and state court on obscenity charges, the FBI surveillance and being a virtual single parent because my father was so preoccupied with the trials, contributed to her depression and suicide attempt. It’s a painful part of my family history. Despite this most people find it hard to believe that my mother was supportive of my father’s business. She even decorated the bathroom at the strip club, The Golden 33, my father owned during the mid 70s.  She was open-minded about porn which I attribute my own acceptance of this industry.  

Are your parents still together?

No, my parents divorced in 1986 after 18 years of marriage when I was 16 years old.

How were your family unit/relationships affected (including your grandmothers)?

Yes and no. These events strained some family relationships while others remained intact. My grandmother (my mother’s mother) in particular did not approve of my father’s new career. She clandestinely visited my father’s strip club and went to see Deep Throat. My grandmother made her presence and opinions known in the most outrageous ways and did so out of love and concern.  In the book I describe my grandmother’s antics which provides great comic relief. She is one of a kind.

What is a typical day in your father's business and in what aspects of pornography has your father been involved in?

My father has said there was no such thing as a typical day in the porn industry but routines become established in just like in any other job. Also his job changed over the years as the pornography business adapted to new technologies, like VHS recorders and the Internet.  When he owned the strip club he arrived by 4 or 5 pm and closed the club at 2 am. He oversaw money transactions and managed the employees (the strippers). In the theater days my father never threaded a reel of film but managed the day to day operations, like hiring a projectionist and a cashier to sell tickets.

As fewer people wanted to leave their homes to watch porn, the demand for Blockbuster type stores to rent movies increased so the theaters turned into retail businesses. Now more than ever women are customers and today my father estimates sixty percent of his customers are women as opposed to the 1970s when ninety-five percent were men. The four adult boutique-like stores in Florida he owns are designed to appeal to women, appointed with hard wood floors, dressing rooms, carpeting and the best lighting and displays.  Women buy everything from toys, lingerie, videos about pole dancing and feeling sexy and men mostly purchase the DVDs which make up only about 18% of sales.

His largest location, the Premier Adult Factory Outlet in Orlando, has several thousand items in stock and about 17,000 DVDs available that offer something for every fetish or preference. My father is surprised at what he can sell and some outlandish things on the market he just won’t carry.  His job is more interesting today and better utilizes his business degree and sales skills.  He handles all the accounting, places orders, markets the business, maintains the relationship with his product distributors and communicates daily with the store managers. When it comes to retail his philosophy is if someone walks in the store with $20 and they don’t know what they want, he has to have everything. He first learned this lesson while working at a dry goods store at age 13.  The owner had everything from women’s dresses, men’s boots, food stuffs, etc and he saw that was a great way to maintain a diverse business.  

How would your father have felt if you became a porn star?

He wouldn’t be happy if I was a porn actress. I know it’s a double standard to sell this product but not want your own daughter to perform in the films. He gave no good answer as to why he would not want me to be an actress. I suspect on many levels he’s just a traditional guy. He would but comfortable if I worked on the business side of the porn industry and respects the accomplishments of actresses like Nina Hartley and Jenna Jameson.

How do you feel about the FBI wire tappings, garbage picking, etc.?

It absolutely disgusts me to think our movements were watched so closely by the government.  When I ask my dad about this he launches into a whole diatribe, “All they [Republicans] have is air between their ears,” and “They should have been going after real criminals.” I requested and received my father’s FBI files [see The FBI and Me] through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). I read through the files and it was so evident the whole investigation was just an incredible waste of tax payer’s money.

How did your parents react when you told them about your memoir?

My parents are supportive of this book and have shared details about their lives that you wouldn’t want your child to know about.  I am grateful about how open they have been about their past. My father was surprised I thought his career was interesting enough to write about and also says, “Take this as far as it will go. You have nothing to lose.” My mother just loves the whole idea about me writing a book about our family. She is always asking me questions about the writing and publishing process.  The most important thing for her is this book is finally giving her a voice about what happened during the Deep Throat days. Everyone wants to tell their story.

What is your goal in writing the memoir?

As good friend said to me once, my urgency to write this book was because the greatest burden is an untold story. This characterized it perfectly for me. I thought my family’s story was fascinating and I just felt compelled to tell it.  When I started this project five years ago, I just wanted to learn more about my father’s involvement with the Deep Throat trials since I believed we were a part of a unique pop culture moment in history.  I also morbidly realized that while my parents are in good health I should capture the details of this history now. I knew once they were gone much of the story would be gone too, so started my research and recorded conversations.  I also started writing a narrative that I brought to my writing teacher, Rick Walter, to read. When he suggested this could be a book I was surprised and loved the idea of taking on the challenge. 

Over the years the focus of this project has changed to be more about my life discovering more about a family in the porn business which is a surprising turn since I’m very shy. I never thought my own life was that interesting.  But ultimately I want to write a great book, in the most compelling way possible that does justice to rich characters in my family.