March 17th, 2009

Me

How to Make Love Like a Porn Star

Just about everyone knows who Jenna Jameson is, even if they don't want to admit it in public. She's not just a porn star, she's the top-grossing porn star of all time. I actually haven't seen many of her movies -- during my porn phase I was more into Chasey Lain, who, ironically, was the ex-girlfriend of the man who would become Jenna's second husband, Jay Grdina -- but I've seen lots of pictures of her and I can understand her popularity. She's a beautiful woman (or was, now she looks like she's had one of those space-cat facelifts).

How to Make Love Like a Porn Star: A Cautionary Tale is Jameson's 2004 New York Times bestselling autobiography, and the real surprise here is how good it is. With the help of co-writer Neil Strauss, she's put together a nearly six-hundred-page tome that keeps you turning the pages. I found her life absolutely fascinating, even as it spiraled into horrible bouts of depression, violence, codependence and drug abuse. But her story is one of triumph too. She set out to make it to the top of her field, and in the end she cleaned up her act, found a man to share her life with who wasn't a complete asshole or mooch (though I'm saddened to learn she and Jay have since divorced), and achieved her goal of starting the first female-run porn production company. It's not your everyday rags to riches story -- most paupers don't start on the road to the castle by selling nude pictures of themselves -- but it's a timeless one in its own right. You can't help root for Jameson as you read, even when she's at her worst, moments she humbly acknowledges as such in the prose.

Unfortunately, it's rather embarrassing to read this book in public. Not because it's got sex scenes in it; I've read far raunchier things on the subway. No, Porn Star is embarrassing to read in public because it's chock full of racy, full-page photos, some of which are in glaring, eye-catching color. And of course those would be the ones I'd unwittingly turn the page to at the exact same moment some small child or elderly woman would sit down next to me on the crowded subway. I got very good at surreptitiously covering the pictures with my bookmark whenever necessary.

Another thing that makes it difficult to read is its weight. A nearly six-hundred-page hardcover isn't easy on the ol' wrists. I hear the paperback is finally coming out in 2010, and I would definitely recommend that edition for the carpal tunnel crowd. But recommend it I do. It's an unexpectedly amazing book. It's funny, it's touching, it's brutal, and interestingly enough, some of the chapters are done in comic book form. I know, who knew, right?

(Just prepare yourself to see expressions like "pee-pee" and "ding-dong" used a lot. Honestly, for someone working in the sex industry, I never would have expected such a childish approach to discussing genitalia!)