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Pornstar Hardcover – October 18, 1999
"Children of Blood and Bone"
Tomi Adeyemi conjures a stunning world of dark magic and danger in her West African-inspired fantasy debut. Learn more
From Publishers Weekly
In 1991, Gittler, a photographer whose work has appeared in such magazines as Vogue and Vanity Fair, set out to produce a cheery coffee-table book chronicling the lives of members of the adult-film business. "Instead of beloved icons, I would glorify reviled (or at least only secretly admired) ones," Gittler writes of his initial intentions. Five years later, however, after meeting many of America's most-prominent Triple-X stars and hearing about their often sordid and depressing personal lives, Gittler changed his tune: his "one-man crusade to vindicate American sexuality" left him brimming with pity and moralizing disdain. Many of the stories Gittler has amassed in this episodic account of the lives, politics and everyday preoccupations of porn professionals are indeed depressing. Savannah, a porn actress, is injured in a car accident and then commits suicide. Director John Stagliano learns that he is HIV-positive. The photographs Gittler takesAin studios, apartments, hotel rooms and on the sets of porn shootsAare often highly sexually explicit, although most depict porn stars merely hamming for the camera. Still, one feels that Gittler is a little quick to infer that all sex workers are tragic, lost souls. Though this book purports to be a journalistic portrait of the porn demimonde, there is little rigor or emotional depth to it. Gittler in the end comes off as being both leering and judgmental, blurring the line he attempts to draw between pornography and journalism about pornography. (Sept.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
About the Author
In addition to writing and taking photographs, Ian Gittler aslo makes music, drawings, and films. He lives where he was born and raised, New York City.
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The Good - Gittler does a nice job of interviewing a wide range of stars and starlets. Everyone from Nina Hartley to Sharon Mitchell to Joey Silvera to Jon Dough to Tom Byron to many many more. His pictures are fine...some even haunting. My mind always comes back to a photo of one starlet who is on set and desperately looking through the lights to meet her boyfriends' eyes...even when she still has "business at hand" with an unknown partner.
The Bad - Gittler is still an outsider and just doesn't have enough skill to ask the tough questions or to find the motivation in the lives of the stars. A lot of time was also devoted to Savannah (who the author is obviously enamoured with). I myself was more curious about the pictures of several stars who received no mention in the actual text...people like Victoria Paris, Asia Carerra, or Lisa Lipps who have nice photos but beyond that we learn nothing of their lives both in-and-out of the world of adult cinema. And there are numerous big-name adult stars who don't get so much as a reference.
There is a large percentage of people who are both interested and fascinated by the world of adult movies. Raw Talent by Jerry Butler does a better job of providing some perspective into this field (albeit from one person's point of view). Hopefully in the near future we'll get a book that allows us entry into the lives of the stars...and digs a little deeper than what we can merely see with our eyes.
There seem to be untold layers surrounding porn, well protection.And it shares itself with other industries, where a few make the most, and most fall from it without much$$$$, And there never is a shortage of deaths as Savannah, (The Book's Cover),and double dealings. There are probably more people who enjoy porn than you think.
Now, 10 years later, porn seems more degrading and less dangerous rock n' roll chic than it did when Stagliano, Savannah, Diamond, et al were the big names. Gittler's Porn Star is a document of the skin flick high renaissance/early baroque. Great writing and photos about a subject Gittler took very personally.
Gittler involved himself in ways that question his journalistic integrity, yes, but he is honest, almost too much so. The heartbreak I felt as I read the final chapters of this book carried over from the pain in the lives of the pornstars Gittler documents.
Gittler is up-close and personal with notable porn actors, actresses, and directors: Jon Dough, Savannah, and John Stagliano, to name a few.
This is not a book that promotes pornography; Gittler even refused to give permission to use one of his images of Nina Hartley for mouse pads, although he probably would have profitted nicely from the sales. Gittler, as much as readers may be disappointed with him for what he does in his documentary research, is a person searching for truth, not a cheap thrill or a quick buck.
Gittler is an accomplished photographer. His portraits seek to reveal the true, often hidden character of the subject. He uses black and white images, "Hollywood lighting," available light, and shallow depth of field to a wonderful advantage; I never thought that Ron Jeremy looked more sinsiter than in Gittler's shot of him and a devil's trident or that Nina Hartley could be a female nude, not a naked woman. Great technique and imagination make Gittler one of my favorite photographers and someone I would like to work with some day.
Aside from a few explicit photographs of intercourse on the set, this is a book suitable for classroom discussion or your home coffee table. The portraits are of nudes, yes, but tastefully done and REAL, gritty.
_Pornstar_ is a must read for anyone who wants to understand this highs and pitfalls of this industry.