How to read a porn star’s memoir

1. Do google the male co-author. Yes, it’s the same Neil Strauss that generously bestowed us with his experiences as a “pick-up artist” in his novel The Game. Chapters in The Game are dedicated to such subjects as Select A Target (naturally, I’m assuming ‘target’ is synonymous for a woman), Isolate A Target, and Blast Last Minute Resistance. So, when the ‘targets’ won’t go home with a budding PUA (Strauss’ acronym for Pick Up Artist) they say “I thought you were spontaneous. I thought you did want you wanted.” Direct quote.

Needless to say, I was not psyched about Strauss’ involvement in this book.

2. Delight in losing some negative expectations with surprising quirky frankness by Jenna the porn star.  When describing how she got her now famous surname she recalls:

“I grabbed the phonebook underneath the kitchen sink and flipped to the J surnames…Jenna Jameson, alcoholic, rock and roller. Right on. The name just stuck. I suppose if I were pickier I would have kept going through the J’s and ended up with Jenna Johnson or Jenna Justus or Jenna Juvenile Diabetes Foundation.”

3.  Appreciate (on my many levels) the queer content.  And, not sensationalized girl on girl action.

Her first time:

“It wasn’t just a peck on the lips, or one of those fake sexy kisses that girls do with other girls to turn men on. It was a full-on tongue-exploration-mouth soul kiss.  My breath quickened, and my mind raced.  I was in shock. But, at the same time, I wasn’t…I wanted to run my hands through her hair, feel her check against mine, and hold her in my arms.  I had to make a split decision. And that decision was yes. Yes, I wanted to throw down with this girl.”

Her reflections after more experiences:

“A relationship with a woman is much different than a man. There is a stronger emotional connection between women; with a man, there is more of a power dynamic at work.”

“After working at the Crazy Horse [strip club in Los Vegas] for so long, every man in my mind was a cheater, a liar, and a shitty human being…I was angry…Add to this my experiences with Jennifer and Nicki, and I was pretty sure I was gay.”

4.  Expect violence and drug abuse. There’s a part in the memoir when Jenna Jameson says that people often assume that she “suffered some sort of childhood trauma” in order to have ended up in the porn industry. She shrugs this off as mostly inaccurate and attributes it to teenage desires to become a model and then to impress her older boyfriend.  You only have to read the first two chapters to understand that it is not as simple as that.

Her first experience of ‘sex’ was rape. She discovered the dead body of her first close friend, another stripper named Vanessa, who was murdered by her own father. The same man who raped Jenna when she was sixteen.

Jameson won’t call out the entire porn industry as inherently anti-women but she will expose its darkest secrets on a whim. *A warning that the following excerpt is graphic and disturbing:

“Every day, World Modeling recruits for nude magazines and movies.  Dozens of girls arrive, strip down, get Polaroids taken, and then fill out a questionnaire. On the form they check boxes next to what they are willing to do: girl-girl, boy-girl, anal, double penetration, and so on. The main event comes once every three months when World Modelling holds a massive day-long cattle call. Most of the directors and producers in the industry come down, meet the girls, and inspect them like, well, cattle.  Some of the gonzo guys arrange to wait in the office, so that they can nab the best new girls before anyone else sees them. In a worst-case scenario, a gonzo director will take a girl to a hotel room and have their friends shoot a cheap scene in which she is humiliated in every orifice possible. She walks home with three thousand dollars, bowed legs, and a terrible impression of the industry.  It’s be her first and last movie, and she’ll regret it― to her dying day.”

5. Be frustrated, but not surprised, that after all her feminist observations, such as…

“I was no longer a daughter, a sister, a student, or a girl with any identity of her own whatsoever. I was just Jack’s girlfriend.  That’s how I usually introduced myself.”

…she’s still firmly entrenched in the belief that feminism is not the solution to the extreme vices of the industry:

“Though watching porn may seem degrading to some women, the fact is that it’s one of the few jobs for women where you can get to a certain level, look around, and feel so powerful, not just the work environment but as a sexual being. So, fuck Gloria Steinem.”

6. Remember (and this is one I have to keep working on) that all women’s stories are important.  We can learn so much from each other.

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Because I feel like sharing some book quotes…

I collect quotes from books.  I felt in the mood to share some of my favs from some of my fav women writers. Represent.

“The black female is assaulted in her tender years by all those common forces of nature at the same time that she is caught in the tripartite crossfire of masculine prejudice, white illogical hate and Black lack of power.  The fact that the adult American Negro female emerges a formidable character is often met with amazement, distaste and even belligerence.  It is seldom accepted as an inevitable outcome of the struggle won by survivors and deserves respect if not enthusiastic acceptance.”

- I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

“I am grateful to those who are keepers of the groove.  The babies and the grandmas who hang on to it and help us remember when we forget that any kind of dancing is better than no dancing at all.”

- One! Hundred! Demons! By Lynda Barry

“For a second I couldn’t tell what pissed me off more, the assumption that any woman who is willing to call a black man out on his shit must be eating pussy or his depiction of me as a brainwashed Sappho, waving the American flag in one hand and a castrated black male penis in the other.”

- When Chickenheads Come Home to Roost: A Hip Hop Feminist Breaks it Down by Joan Morgan

“When it comes to what folks do together with they bodies, he say, anybody’s guess is as good as mine. But when you talk bout love I don’t have to guess. I have love and I have been love. And I thank God he let me gain understanding enough to know love can’t be halted just cause some peoples moan and groan. It don’t suprise me you love Shug Avery, he say. I have love Shug Avery all my life.”

- The Color Purple by Alice Walker

“Obviously, only lesbians could believe in anything so audacious as equity and fair play.”

- Black Tights: Women, Sport And Sexuality by Laura Robinson

“When I was in the boarding nursery and did not want to finish my food, the teachers often said: ‘Think of all the starving children in the capitalist world!’”

- Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China by Jung Chang

“What fabrications they are, mothers. Scarecrows, wax dolls for us to stick pins into, crude diagrams.  We deny them an existence of their own, we make them up to suit ourselves—our own hungers, our own wishes, our own deficiencies.”

- Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood

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