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The Other Hollywood: The Uncensored Oral History of the Porn Film Industry Paperback – February 21, 2006
"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover,"" illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Pre-order today
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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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Mostly, I think this book is just a victim of bad labelling. It's billed as being an (oral) inside history of the adult film industry, but at heart it's not any kind of real history at all. It's actually more like a big yellow tabloid in book format, directly descended from one of those cheesy "True Crime" or "Police Gazette" magazines of the 1950's.
Granted, the porn industry has some shady past, with an ample share of sad, spicy, and gruesome tales. But a book that simply wants to get down and wallow in each one of these horror stories in turn (in breathless and endless detail) should just give up all pretensions and call itself: "SEX, DRUGS, CRIME AND DEATH" or something. If the aim is simply to sell books, such candor might even help. If the aim was to craft a good history of film porn, on the other hand, they should have tuned the mix a little better than they have here.
The early chapters of this book show a heartbreakingly talented promise that is not fulfilled by the remainder, where the authors go haring off after each new Scandal in its turn. Not only does this make the book spotty (as far as keeping any coherent historical narrative going) but chapter after chapter after chapter on FBI and vice squad and other police doings left me with a sneaking sympathy for the "crooks" without telling me much about adult films.
These law-and-order chapters, and all of the drug tales, are indeed one legitimate part of the whole Story of film porn. But given such huge play, these countless pages merely detract from what the book is allegedly trying to do: tell the story of how and why porn exploded into being during the last half of the 20th century. It's like trying to tell the story of Hollywood Mark I by discussing ONLY Fatty Arbuckle, Marilyn Monroe, Rock Hudson, and so forth. Such scandal stories can be written up in full -- and the more the merrier -- but make more sense if there's a sufficient volume of background on the art of the movies, their history, and the films themselves. For the stated subject of this particular book, no such background exists - and this volume helps the lack only a little.
THE OTHER HOLLYWOOD blithely tunes in on the gossip, and tunes out on the actual film titles, the non-mob production and releasing companies, the technical underpinnings, the writers, the directors, and the many, many other stars and starlets who worked in the industry through the years. (Here's a hint: some of them DIDN'T kill themselves.) Even the relatively limited number of insiders they do feature are often edited to be commenting mainly on the passing scandal de jour. What an immense waste of resources!
I recognize the effort that went into this project. I appreciate the non-judgemental approach of the authors - particularly in these regressive and repressive times. And I would never dare to disagree with the blessed Saint Annie S., who has already given this book her imprimatur here.
But my advice to the casual reader might be to try to find this volume at a library, or second-hand, or wait until it comes out in paperback. It IS well worth reading: for all its missed opportunities and problems of focus, it's still one of the best books published on the subject so far.
Because meanwhile, of course, a REAL history of the adult film industry has yet to be written...
I only wish the book had concentrated more on sex and what daily life in the porn world is about from an insider's perspective. Instead there is a heavy emphais on the industry's ties with organized crime and all the legal battles it has engaged in. The subjects covered include John Holmes and the Wonderland murders, Savannah's suicide, the severing of John Wayne Bobbit's penis and other cases of crime and punishment. I already knew about nearly all these stories, many of which were covered in the mainstream media.
Instead I wanted to learn more about the history of porn in terms of sex on the set and the many creative people who have worked to build this business, not just the most famous or those who were criminals or otherwise led tragic lives. Also 1998 is the last year discussed. So if you want to learn what's been happening in porn for the last 10 years you are out of luck. A fun and entertaining read but not really what I had hoped for.
If you would have asked me when I first started reading this book I would have probably given it only 1/2 of a star. It is in fact just a bunch of interviews pieced together. There is absolutly nothing else, no introductions to a chapter, no wrap up of a chapter, no fill-in material...nothing other than interviews. On top of that some of the "interviews" were taken from auto-biographies, so if you are like me and have already read Linda Lovelaces book "Ordeal" aw well as Traci Lords, Ron Jeremy, Christy Canyon, Jerry Butler, and others then some of this stuff you have already read.
I will say though that there was some redeming value from this book and it did have some points that made it seem worth while. For example I read "Ordeal" (which for those who dont know is Linda Lovelace's book on about how she was abused by Chuck Traynor) and in this book you hear things he had to say. It is still up in the air about who to believe in some situations, but it is nice to hear both sides of a story. In the end there was not enough of that type of information to really make it worth it.
I also have an issue on how the book is laid out. In general they try to follow the era but the interviews they would mix up. In one chapter they jumped back and forth between Sharon Mitchell describing her ordeal with her attacker and as a result getting sober, and Tricia Deveroux getting into the porn business. Sure they kind of tie it together in the next chapter but this whole book is laid out in that style, going from multiple interviews to different subjects, some times they are enclosed in a chapter other times they are broken up into different chapters. There doesnt seem to be a smooth flow where you stick with one story until it is through and then go on to the next one.
If you can find the print copy for $1 or less and you are interested in the adult film industry then it might be worth picking up. Otherwise i would not recomend this book, definatly not at the Kindle price.