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Monday, January 23, 2012

1-23-12 Survival Jobs for Writer-Musicians – Starter Job #21 (What I did for the Porn Industry in ‘70’s NYC)


Now, don’t get too excited -- or horrified -- by this entry down sweet ol’ memory lane (LOL -- nothing was that pretty back in the day, so it’s ironic). I worked for a few kind of raunchy magazines -- as a writer and a proofreader.

Yes, I created and facilitated content for magazines whose pictorials were beyond suggestive; they were XXX rated. I had to laugh, though, because it seemed so stupid to me that people would fetishize sex to the point of it seeming unappealing and downright disgusting. Sex should be healthy, playful, intense, loving, and pleasurable, in my mind.

At SUNY Purchase, one of my creative writing class colleagues, Mara, told me she was editing copy at a place called National Screw Magazine (a sideline to the National Screw paper and Midnight Blue cable TV Adult show with the very unappealing Al Goldsstein) and wanted me to write for them.

In writing class, we would quietly share a laugh at the instructor, who called hyperbole “Hyper Bowl.” (He was definitely an autodidact). At first, I wasn’t sure it was the same hard-core porno pub that peeked out of the newsstands at Gem Spa and the like, but when she confirmed it she said, wryly, “Gotta find work that pays, and it’s not always easy.”

Later on, when I discovered another friend of mine was secretly turning tricks as an S&M prostitute (she did both/either -- versatile girl!), I didn’t bat an eyelash, either. Somehow, very little surprises me, but I always look at the absurdist angle because, let’s face it, in every predicament, in every bummer, there’s something blackly humorous if you look hard enough.

For National Screw, I wrote “Talkin’ BunkMate Blues,” a semi-fictional story of being a tough chick who shunned living with roommates because of dissenting tastes in music and a need for privacy (to bring over boyfriends and have sex was the implication -- though I didn’t have to write about sleazy sex acts, thankfully).

Then, I was sent on assignment as the National Screw “Punkophile” to write about the great New Wave band, Television. I quoted -- or misquoted -- a lyric from a TV song, “I Don’t Care”: “’Cause when she whispers in my ear/I get so hard, I get so hard. . . “ Was that really the lyric? I don’t care (ha ha). It sounded like the words, and it made sense, and I knew they’d want to bold face that line in the story, so I went with it. Sorry, Tom Verlaine, if that wasn’t right -- maybe it would work, don’t you think?!

My greatest -- and last --job in the porn industry was as a proofreader for a XXX rated glossy mag called Cheri. Diana from New Wave Rock Magazine was the editor, and I think my friend, Fran, recommended me for the position of proofreader there at Cheri.

The receptionist was a sweet girl from Georgia named Rusty, whose alias was “The Cherry Bomb” at Cheri, a cover girl for this really raunchy magazine. She had the hugest tits you ever saw -- just mammoth -- and she would pose any old way they asked her to in addition to being the receptionist at the magazine. One pictorial showed her frolicking with a one-legged also-naked woman who had a pegleg that was strategically positioned on the Cherry Bomb’s ass -- as if pegleg lady was buttfucking her.

As my dad might have sarcastically commented, “Mmm, deLIGHTful!” Other than Rusty the Cherry Bomb, there were a few other characters in the office, though the rest of us looked kind of dorky and we’d NEVER be good pictorial material.

As proofreader for Cheri, I went to the copy editor to ask questions like, “SO, in this story, are we using c-u-m or c-o-m-e?” or “What caption do you want for this sex pirate pictorical, ‘Pardon my buccaneers?. . . ‘” It was surreal. I think I made about $150 per week, net.

That job, as a proofreader at Cheri in midtown, paid all right but only lasted a few months. When they downsized, I was history. Luckily, I was eligible for unemployment and got paid a princely $75 per week, about half of my previous earnings. Oh well.

Unemployment in the 1970s -- another surreal experience. . . NEXT time!!

1-22-12 Survival Jobs for Writer-Musicians – Starter Job #20 (Shawn gets equal time to make an aside re Nervus Rex in ‘70’s NYC)

This memoir writing is really funny when it’s shared on FaceBook because people who were THERE have different memories. . . and as much as this blog is about ME recounting personal history -- with a twist -- sometimes, I have to agree to disagree and if it’s interesting enough, share what other people say. I’ll include some of my retorts, too.

From Shawn Brighton on FaceBook: “Lauren, here's history for ya - you're not quite correct. That invite (to play a loft party on Mercer Street) didn't occur until we (actually I) already knew the 52's. The first NYC gig they ever did was co-headlining with Rex at Max's and it was awkward. I talked to Kate beforehand and told her that we weren't opening for them but, rather, co-headlining as we had already played there many times. . After that gig, I became good friends with them - took them on a tour of Goodwill stores, thrift shops, and rag bins to find them vintage clothes for their onstage outfits, then we'd hang out at Eno's apartment on 8th Street which they were subletting, and I spent a week getting them acquainted to the NYC scene. One of my fondest memories is of you, I, and Ricky going to Coney Island and riding the Mighty Mouse, a rickety wooden roller coaster. As the thing was chugging up 1000 feet in the air and we were just about to take our first plunge, Ricky turned to me and, in his thick Georgian drawl, said "Shawn, I think we made a mistake." And then we plunged to, what at the moment, we considered our last moments on Earth. Poor Ricky. I was really fond of him. A really decent, unpretentious, giving human being who died way before his time.”

My reply: “Well, Shawn, maybe at this point I have to agree to disagree because I do not remember the B-52's gig, THEN the party (I thought loft party was first, then the gig). . . and I NEVER ride roller coasters; they're much too dizzying for me and I'm terrified of getting a migraine in public from dizziness. But I'll take what you wrote and put in my blog for equal time, OK?? It's certainly interesting, and cool to have different POVs. Love, L. PS - I thought Ricky was a real sweet guy too, but didn't know him real well. We also played the Mudd Club with the B's, right?

Shawn: YOU didn't ride the roller coaster. It was just Ricky and me. Now I know why.

Ricky was a great guy. It was a tragedy when he died. . . I'm not sure we played with the B's at Mudd. I remember that we played there a couple of times and I remember seeing the B's with, of all people, Richard Lloyd (of Television) hanging around on stage and riffing and screwing up their set. It was like listening to 2 different radio stations at the same time. I wish there was a recording of that. Strangest thing I'd ever heard.”

Anyway, to use another of my dad’s favorite phrases, “That’s the way the cookie crumbles.”

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