Behind the Blue Door

Legs McNeil gatecrashes the other Hollywood

withinacultureofParisHiltontapes,CollegeGirlsGoneWildTV spots, and Britney Spears videos directed by Greg Dark, a sort of pornification has spread throughout the culture and shows no signs of abating. For the kumbaya sex workers, porn isn't just a living; it's a cause. We (as in the collective voice of some hypothetical, un-uptight "we") all love supporting pornography. Ever since the porno revival of the mid-'90s—when sex work became less white heels and acid-wash jeans and more (frankly tiresome) Bettie Page-banged burlesque performers—sex workers have cast themselves as warriors in the fight for sexual freedom. Do strippers demean themselves? No way! That's outmoded feminist jive—it's the men under their spell who cut the truly pathetic figures. You say the porn world is hard on women? Consider the fact that, in the aggregate, female performers make five times as much as their male counterparts. And if you watch Margie Schnibbe's "home" video PornstarPets,while you may be disappointed to learn that it's not about pets who work in smutty movies, you will learn about how porn stars love little critters just like Grandma does. Women as victims? Just listen to Annabel Chong after her famous gangbang: "I amthe stud!" And check out the tattoos and journal entries of the Suicide Girls, self-styled "wild" chicks who don't conform to the Playboyaesthetic (just the Hot Topic one). So sex work is, like, okay. Right?

Well, I don't know. Shouldit be okay? I don't mean in terms of legality or morality, but rather, should porn become so accepted by mainstream society that it's no longer taboo, that it loses its outsider status—its mystery if you will? (Paglia, in her pro-sexuality, pro-beauty, pro-porn stance, always underscored her dislike of the "demystification of sex.") In other words, porn shouldbe dirty.

McNeil agrees. "I want porn to be dirty," he told me. "I want it to be illicit. I don't want every homemaker on television looking like a porn star. I'm not for healthy sex. I don't want porn spammed over the Internet. I'd like to keep it in the closet, where it belongs."

Sorry, Legs, too late. Unless, of course, there's something else, something trulyexciting, lurking somewhere in the dark corners of our closets.?

THE OTHER HOLLYWOOD: The Uncensored Oral History of the Porn Film Industry By LEGS McNEIL, JENNIFER OSBORNE and PETER PAVIA; Regan Books. hardcover, 640 pages, $27.95; Pornstar Pets is available for purchase at; Inside Deep Throat is now playing at Edwards University, Irvine.

« Previous Page