From the nudie cuties of the 1950s to celebrity porn in the late 1990s, The Other Hollywood: The Uncensored Oral History of the Porn Film Industry
offers an insider's view of the adult film industry's transition from a shady, backroom business to a $10-billion-per-year money machine and mainstream acceptance. The story is told through interviews with hundreds of actors, directors, law enforcement officials, and other participants, all edited together with expert skill and pacing.
The industry exploded in the early 1970s with the success of the Mafia-backed Deep Throat, which reportedly grossed $100 million after an initial $22,000 investment. Featured at the Cannes Film Festival in 1973, the film ushered in the rise of "porno chic," making it fashionable, for a time, to take a date to a porn film. One industry insider described Deep Throat as "the Blair Witch Project of its time." Filled with sleazy intrigue, vivid details, and many heartbreaking--and even touching--stories, The Other Hollywood covers the actors, the numerous legal challenges to the industry, FBI sting operations, the Mafia connection, rampant drug use, rock stars, celebrities, the opposition by religious and political groups, the emergence of AIDS (that claimed the lives of porn superstars such as the famously endowed John Holmes), and the explosion of the video market and its overnight fortunes. Even at 600 pages, this is a quick and engrossing read that is hard to put down. --Shawn Carkonen
From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. This compulsively readable book perfectly captures the pop culture zeitgeist. It doesn't hurt that the history of American pornography is inextricably intertwined with all the subjects that captivate us: sex, drugs, beauty, fame, money, the Mafia, law enforcement and violence. McNeil (Please Kill Me
) focuses on the industry's dark underbelly: suicide (Savannah), fratricide (the Mitchell brothers), Mafia hits (John Gotti whacked Robert DiBernardo, the mob's point man in the porn business) and gangland slayings (John Holmes). But beyond the scintillating subject, it's McNeil's skillful technique that elevates this oral history, coauthored by journalists Osborne and Pavia, above the tedium of a courtroom transcript. Most chapters contain multiple story lines, which McNeil cleverly weaves together by the end. And the book's two most fascinating stories—about the making of Deep Throat
and the Traci Lords child pornography case—involve unreliable narrators, which gives them a Rashomon
-like quality. In the case of Deep Throat
, the movie that catapulted hardcore pornography into the mainstream, its star, Linda Lovelace, claims she was forced to perform in the movie, though everyone else connected to the film contradicts her. As for Lords, her detractors make a compelling argument that far from being the victim she portrays herself to be in her book, she deceived the industry about her age so she could make a fortune and leverage her sob story into a mainstream Hollywood career. Whether recounting high-profile scandals or answering trivia about the origins of porn films and lap dancing, this is a relentlessly gripping read. B&w photos.
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