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The Other Hollywood: The Uncensored Oral History of the Porn Film Industry Hardcover – February 15, 2005

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 640 pages
  • Publisher: It Books; First Edition edition (February 15, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060096594
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060096595
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #246,514 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Angel Orona Rodriguez on December 5, 2005
Format: Hardcover
The irony here is that this expansive exploration on the porn industry -- from inception (The Nudie Cuties) to a current billion-dollar industry -- isn't nearly as titillating as you would expect. It is . . . intriguing, amusing, enraging and often heartbreaking. Yet it concludes on a particularly life-affirming note involving a "rebirth", both the literal and figurative sense. You hear it from the mouths all those involved in the porn industry -- Everyone from porn stars to undercover feds to a guy who helped build peep show booths. I cannot recommend this book strongly enough . . . Not just for those interested in behind-the-scenes glimpes of the porn biz . . . But for those just as interested in observing people's alternate attempts at obtaining the ever elusive American Dream. If I had one qualm about this book . . . Its that it had to end . . . Even though (as previously mentioned) it does so on a particularly touching note.
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37 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Michael A. LeBlanc on March 8, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Legs McNeil has done it again. I must also mention Jennifer Osbourne as well.

I could not put this book down once I started reading it. I managed to make it last four days although, I could have devoured it in a day. I just hate finishing a good book. I wanted to keep reading.

I enjoyed the book very much.

I have a few minor complaints though...The 90's were raced through (as mentioned by others). It should have been up to present day. I mean there was another pretty major AIDS outbreak in the adult industry last year and it's not even mentioned. And I agree the online and pay-per-view adult industry should have been written about as well. This is an important part of the history of the modern Porn biz. And finally, Jenna Jameson should have at least been mentioned (her photo is in the book though). She is one of the biggest female adult stars ever.

Oh well, maybe a follow volume up will clear this up. I can only dream of a second volume with more cool stories and info.

All in all though, I highly recommend this book.

Very well done!
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Jessica Lux on January 4, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Despite weighing in at a hefty 620 pages, McNeil's book is a breeze to read through. This tome is organized into short chapters on specific subjects, spanning time from 1950 up to 1998. The Other Hollywood takes on every aspect of the porn business, starting with the (really tame and probably boring) Nudie Cuties of the 1950's, through Deep Throat as the explosive entrance of adult film in the full length feature world, the early stars like Linda Lovelace and Marilyn Chambers, the mafia involvement in the industry, a years-long sting operation on the mafia, John Holmes and the Wonderland murders, pandering trials, Traci Lords' brief and explosive career, the advent of AIDS, the rise of video and star Ginger Lynn, and into the modern day.

McNeil has constructed this story entirely out of first-hand quotes from the participants. He doesn't editorialize or expound on the quotes, choosing instead to tell the story entirely through the placement of the words of different interview subjects. Often, he will have sources all discussing the same issue, so the reader can decide for himself what the generally accepted truth of the matter is. Particularly enlightening were the chapters on Linda Lovelace and Traci Lords, two stars who later said they were forced into porn. Their comments in their heyday and the comments of those around them certainly contradict their later revisionist history. The Holmes involvement in the Wonderland murders is also explained from dozens of points of view (similar to how it was done in the excellent 2003 film Wonderland). Dawn Schiller (girlfriend) and Sharon Holmes (estranged wife) provide commentary on Holmes that make the reading of this book worth it all on its own.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Michael K. Hall on October 8, 2006
Format: Paperback
Read in a fortnight, compulsively and earnestly, this book is a must buy for several reasons. Oral (pun intended and not intended) histories are the best way to handle such topics as Punk Rock (covered by the same author) and the Porn industry, because there are so many stories to tell, so many plotlines running congruently and so many voices that demand to be heard, that to try to weave them into one narrative would be nearly impossible and would be difficult to read. While some of the FBI, Mafia and other criminal plotlines aren't quite as interesting as the behind the scenes of the actual films, they are still pertinent to the overall story.

Growing up with porn and looking at it probably much younger than I was suppossed to, the people in the first half of this book almost seem like friends, like some strange relatives that don't always appear at holiday dinners, that not all of my relatives approve of.

My bias of course is to the first half of this book and the stories of Marilyn Chambers, John Holmes, Linda Lovelace, etc. Some amazing tales that span the gamut of human experiences and emotions.

It's not that the 80's and 90's are not as fascinating, but these people seem more distant, less heoric (strange, I know), and also in many ways, less human than the pioneers that started the industry.

There are some voices that are missing or are not given full voice (Hugh Hefner, Larry Flynt and the publishing industries that they forged in general), but the drive of the narrative is certainly the "visual" medium of the industry as oppossed to the written word (as well as the fact that those subjects could be books in and of themselves).
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