Thursday, March 30, 2006


A Brief History of Porn

1st century BC - Kama Sutra was created
1440 - Gutenberg Press Invented
1928 - Dr. Ruth was born.
1953 - Hugh Hefner starts Playboy
1965 - Bob Guccione starts Penthouse
1968 - Al Goldstein starts Screw
1969 - First mainstream movie to represent the swinger lifestyle - Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, Directed by Paul Mazursky
1970 - Penthouse shows pubic hair for the first time.
1970 - Notable Porn Movies - Cycle Studs - Le Salon (Gay)
1971 - Notable Porn Movies - The Boys in the Sand - Wakefield Poole (Gay)
1971 - First condom to appear in a movie - Carnal Knowledge, Directed by Mike Nichols
1972 - Notable Porn Movies - Deep Throat - Gerard Damiano (Straight)
1972 - Notable Porn Movies - Behind the Green Door - The Mitchell Brothers (Straight)
1972 - Notable Porn Movies - Fritz the Cat - Ralph Bakshi (Anime)
1974 - Larry Flynt starts Hustler.
1975 - Betamax introduced
1975 - First condom commercial air on television
1976 - VHS introduced
1978 - Larry Flynt is shot in an assassination attempt that left him paralyzed from the waist down.
1983 - Name server developed at University of Wisconsin
1984 - Penthouse publishes pictures of Vanessa Williams naked. She resigns her Miss America crown.
1984 - Domain Name Systems (DNS) introduced
1985 - is the first registered domain in history
1985 - Earliest domains to be registered -,,,,,,,,,,
1986 - Traci Lords is discovered to be underage
1986 - US Attorney General Edwin Meese published 1,960 page report investigating porn at the order of President Ronald Reagan.
1988 -Title 18 United States Code Section 2257 was enacted
1990 - First commercial provider of Internet dial-up access -
1992 - Term "Surfing the Internet" is first heard
1993 - Don't Ask Don't Tell introduced by President Bill Clinton.
1993 - World Wide Web goes live.
1994 - was registered by Gary Kremen
1995 - First confirmed blowjob in the White House.
1995 - was stolen by Stephen Cohen
1996 - Domain name sold for $15,000
1997 - DVD introduced
1997 - Domain name sold for $150,000
1998 - Viagra introduced
1998 - Al Goldstein installs Fuck You Finger in his backyard in Florida.
1999 - Domain name sold for $7,500,000
2000 - was given back to Gary Kremen after a legal fight.
2000 - AEBN launched first VOD site
2000 - American Express stops accepting porn transactions
2001 - Yahoo removes porn banners from search engine
2003 - Paypal stops processing adult transactions
2003 - Penthouse files bankruptcy
2005 - thief Stephen Cohen arrested
2005 - Video iPod introduced
2006 - sold for a reported $12,000,000
2006 - Google resist court order for porn search results

"..Such a perfect day..."

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Agent - Spurs losing race for Mido

Mido's agent has revealed Tottenham have been overtaken by other clubs in the race to sign the striker from Roma.

Monaco-based Mino Raiola confirmed to PA Sport that other top clubs had moved in front of Spurs and he expressed his surprise that the Barclays Premiership side had allowed the situation to develop.

Mido has always made it clear he would love to stay at White Hart Lane but Raiola insisted he could also return to Roma when his loan deal expires in the summer because coach Luciano Spalletti is looking for a big striker.

Spalletti was not in charge of Roma when Mido left the club to join Spurs and he would welcome the Egypt international back to the Eternal City side who are also chasing a place in the Champions League next season.

A move to Tottenham has still not been entirely ruled out but Raiola made it clear that other clubs had shown more desire to sign the talented striker than the Londoners.

'We are talking to Tottenham, we are talking to Roma and we are talking to some other clubs,' Raiola told PA Sport.

'Although we have not excluded Tottenham, other clubs are ahead of them now. We are standing still with Spurs and nothing is concluded.

'I am disappointed we have not concluded a deal with Tottenham and I find it strange.

'I am not so confident that Tottenham are willing to invest the money they need to invest to get Mido.

'He is not a free transfer and there are other teams, as big and even bigger than Tottenham, who have an appetite for Mido both in England and in Europe.

'Tottenham have not expressed a willingness to conclude the deal and that has surprised me.'

Mido's future is now becoming a long-running saga at White Hart Lane although Dutch coach Martin Jol has been more than impressed with the player's performances since he joined them on an 18-month loan from Roma in January 2005.

The Egyptian has been a hit with Jol and home fans - scoring 11 goals this season as Spurs look to clinch a Champions League place.

'Mido has done very well at Spurs and that has attracted attention from other big clubs,' admitted Raiola. 'He is a strong player and works very hard for the team.

'He the perfect kind of striker for the English game and he is perhaps one of the players who is stronger with his head than with his feet.

'Mido is very grateful to Spurs and his team-mates for the chance they have given him but a number of clubs have seen what he has done in England and have become very interested.'

Mido is set for a recall against Newcastle on Saturday after inspiring a lacklustre Spurs to victory when he came off the substitute's bench against West Brom on Monday night.

The Spurs fans will be dismayed if the club cannot reach a deal with Roma who are alleged to want around £5million for the Egyptian.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

The Jason Mewes Skinny

On a mid-December early morn, circa 2003, on the balcony of my house in the Hollywood Hills, Jason Mewes, my friend of seventeen years and co-star in five films at that point, dropped a bomb that shoud’ve repulsed the shit out of me, or at the very least, made me vomit a little in my mouth.

“Last night, at the Spider Club, Nicole Richie dragged me into the bathroom and fucked me.”

And yet, instead of retching, I found myself battling another type of growing lump in my throat – the kind induced by watching your child enter the world, or the last ten minutes of “Field of Dreams”. I was suppressing tearful joy, momentarily setting aside the compulsion to smack Jason upside the head, hollering “Don’t fuck the vapid, dammit!” due to the fact that I was so insanely proud of how far the boy had come and relieved that we were having this conversation at all.

See, for years, Jason had had what seemed like an unbeatable, untreatable addiction to, alternately, heroin and oxycontin. It was a heartbreaking, trying and puzzling five-year stretch for me, so I can’t imagine how bad it was for him (well, that’s not entirely true. Mewes would periodically flash self-awareness with statements like “If I’m still like this when I turn thirty, I should probably kill myself.”).

Those who’ve never struggled with drug dependency themselves, or loved anybody who has, will often dismiss the props more empathetic folks extend to the ex-junkie with caustic bon mots along the lines of “So he/she quit drugs? Big deal. Why celebrate someone for finally exhibiting common sense? They didn’t have to get hooked in the first place. It’s not like someone held a gun to their head and told them to try drugs.” Oftentimes, these are the same people who think being gay is a choice, too.

But in the case of drug abusers, not every addict has the luxury of choosing a glamorous existence of despair, lies, theft and self-loathing. Some people are born genetically predisposed to chasing the dragon.

Like Mewes.

Born the son of a heroin abuser, Mewes spent most of his childhood raised by an aunt while his Mother fed her jones or spent years in jail. She wasn’t above stealing credit cards from neighborhood mailboxes, which resulted in the only Christmas gift of his childhood Jason recalls receiving from his mother: a new bike. The bike came in handy when, during a brief period of her smack-addled fifty years, his Mom operated as a drug dealer, using an oblivious nine year old Jason as a bag-man who delivered drugs to locals his Mother didn’t trust enough to deal with herself.

With no Father on the scene (to this day, Jason still doesn’t know who his Dad is), the story of Young Mewes plays out in an almost depraved Dickensian fashion. The nights when his Mom wanted to party, she’d drop him and his sister off at the houses of total strangers. The origins of Jay’s fear of confined spaces can be traced back to said drop-offs when, shortly after his Mother lit off for brownstone pastures, he and his sister would be locked in a closet for safekeeping.

And yet, given the astounding level of parental neglect, Mewes somehow managed to grow up to be a good, if somewhat offbeat, kid – the guy with the million dollar heart (and, sometimes, a nickel fucking head). It was that combo that made me fall in hetero love with him seventeen years ago, though it was far from love at first sight.

Highlands, the town we’re both from, isn’t a sprawling metropolis by any stretch of the imagination. Classified as a borough, Highlands is primarily a sea-farming town, with clamming as its largest industry. Roughly one square mile in length, it was rumored that the town had once made the Guiness Book of World Records for having the most bars in the shortest distance. However, the decade-old addition of a ferry into the financial district of across-the-river Manhattan has since sent real estate in Highlands sky-rocketing to dizzying heights: my childhood home - a small, three bedroom ranch-style house in the once inexpensive downtown area, purchased in the late ‘60’s for $14,000 and sold by my parents in 1998 for $90,000 – is again up for sale, this time with an asking price north of $300,000. The waterfront condos that’ve sprung up around town like coffee bars in the last ten years, start at easily over half a mil.

But back in the day, all men (and women) were not as equal, as the pre-ferry Highlands was distinctly separated into two classes: the more affluent uptown and the lower income downtown. The latter was the home to a young Smith and Mewes, separated by about two blocks. While I hadn’t really known Mewes growing up, I’d known of him: locals referred to the boy as “That Mewes Kid”. You’d hear stuff like “There’s that Mewes Kid. He broke the window at Beedles’ Pharmacy.” Or “There’s that Mewes Kid. I heard he fucked a dog once.” Neither, of course, were true, but that was Mewes in the ‘80’s: a sonic boom with dirt on it, often at the epicenter of any number of suburban legends.

I was formally introduced to Jason by my friends Walter Flanagan and Bryan Johnson, shortly after completing a year-long stint as a latch-key kid after school activity director (i.e. – I oversaw many games of kickball, foosball and billiards from three p.m. to six) at the Bob Wilson Memorial Recreation Center – a building named in memory of the town’s greatest celebrity, the former mayor who moonlighted as a prop man in the movie biz while managing to pick up a few bit parts along the way (the cameraman on the soap opera in “Tootsie” who passes out when Dustin Hoffman finally reveals himself, live and on-air, to be a man? That was Bob Wilson). After I’d moved on from the Rec Center, Bry and Walt began regaling me with tales of Jason Mewes, who they’d started hanging out with, after weeks of digging on his Rec-related monkeyshines. On our way to Devils’ games or mall trips, Bry and Walt would lavish the highest of praise on the absent Mewes with “Isn’t he fucked up?”

It was only a matter of time, I knew, before he’d be incorporated into our group – a group that I’d only recently joined myself. On a Saturday trip to a NY comic book show, Bry and Walt sprung the young Mewes on me, insisting we bring the fellow comics enthusiast (who owned no comics) with us to the city.

“You’re serious?” I asked, giving Mewes the once-over. “He’s a kid. You want me to transport a minor over state lines in my car? No way.”

Mewes, my junior by four years and Walt and Bry’s junior by six, was still a high school student at this point – something my compatriots and I hadn’t been in years. But that wasn’t nearly as threatening to me as the addition of a fourth party into our merry band. I’d been hanging with Walt and Bry for roughly a year, so I was the new funny guy. I knew that bringing on a newer, funnier guy meant relegating my cache’ to the backseat.

And the backseat was, indeed, where I’d wound up, as Bry trumped my refusal to let Mewes into my car by opting to drive his Firebird into the city instead, thus accommodating the minor a golden ticket into our clan. Worse still, Mewes had screamed “Shotgun!” thus usurping my hallowed front seat position. For the duration of the hour-long trek into mid-town Manhattan, I was forced to listen to my two friends cackling at Mewes’ braying, as he punctuated every outlandish comment with “NEH!” – a post-script that essentially meant “I’m kidding.” (Hence, the ass-kicking-inducing declaration “I fucked your Mom last night!” was rendered benign, so long as it was quickly followed with the requisite “NEH!”) Beneath the guffaws of Bry and Walt, I could be heard muttering, arms crossed, “He ain’t so funny.”

Mewes became a constant fourth wheel in our triumvirate. If we went ice skaing, Mewes came along. If we went to the mall, Mewes was in tow. Late night trips to the Marina Diner? Mewes was not only there too, but always in need of a few bucks for fries. And through it all, I always regarded the kid as an interloper. My conversations were invariably directed at Bry and Walt, while Mewes listened in, ever sporting a puzzled look at the topic of conversation until he saw the opportunity to offer up some sort of outlandish what-if scenario that featured him fucking something or someone inappropriate nearby, topping it all off with a resounding “NEH!”

The truly noteworthy aspect of any of these hang sessions was the complete and total absence of booze or drugs. I’d fallen out with my former high school crew over the introduction of mandatory weekend keggers into our social agenda, distressed by the fact that hours of pre-star-69 crank calls had been replaced by obsessive quests to lay our hands on beers. Bry and Walt offered sober-living fun – not by virtue of any desire to lead clean, drug-free lives; simply because none of us were particularly fond of getting loaded. The addition of Mewes didn’t change that at all, as a young Jason declared himself “straight-edge”, which he defined as “no booze, no drugs, no chicks”. We’d tried to explain to him many times that a straight-edge life wasn’t defined by the absence of pussy, but a then-girl-shy Mewes opted to include it into his program anyway, to relieve himself of the pressure of trying to score. The vast amount of jerking off he’d engaged in on a daily basis, as related to me, Walt and Bry regularly and in vast detail, whether we wanted to hear about it or not, probably would’ve precluded any shot he might have had left over to offer potential girlfriends anyway.

But as Bry and Walt became less interested in Mewes and more interested in their respective chicks, the then-single me would often answer the doorbell at my house to find Mewes standing outside.

“What’s up?” I’d ask.
“What’re we doing today?” he’d anxiously inquire.
“Look, man – we’re not friends,” I’d tell him. “You’re friends with my friends. We don’t hang out together, you and I. We hang out as a group with Bry and Walt. Get it?”
“Right, right…” Mewes would respond, seeming to understand, then quickly add “So what’re we doing today?”

It was in this fashion that I sort of reluctantly inherited Mewes. And while I had volumes in common with Bry and Walt, on the surface, Mewes and I were about as different as could possibly be. Without Bry and Walt around, I bristled at his what-if scenarios. I’d spend double or triple time in a conversation with the kid, as I’d have to define over 50% of the words I used for him. And all the while, I remained resistant to his charms.

Until that day at the Rec Center.

Walt and I had just come back from our weekly new comics run, and were quietly sitting in the Rec library, bagging and boarding our books. The kids hadn’t gotten out of school yet, so it was deaf-child silent in the building, save the metal rantings of King Diamond emanating on low volume from a nearby boom-box. Then, suddenly, the stillness was shattered, as a sent-home-from-school-early Mewes kicked the Rec door open, marched into the building Groucho Marx style, and proceeded to fellate everything somewhat phallic in the room.

Walt and I watched with wonder as Mewes grabbed a pool cue and pretended to suck it off. Losing interest, he ran up to the phone on the front desk, grabbed the receiver from the cradle, and pretended to suck that off. He grabbed the flag pole and did the same. He grabbed a whiffle ball bat and did the same. This went on for twenty minutes, with seemingly no regard for our presence whatsoever. He never looked at us as if to say “Are you seeing this shit?” He never looked at us at all. He didn’t seem to care that we were even there. This wasn’t a show for our benefit. It was as if he’d been walking around Highlands moments earlier, took a gander at his watch, and was like “Wow – it’s two o’clock. I’d better get down to the Rec and suck everything off.” The kid had an agenda, and he was actively fulfilling it.

It was when he finally reached the Rec’s only video game – a standard “Asteroids” kiosk that time had forgotten – that he finally paused. Studying it momentarily and finding nothing dick-like to pretend to suck off, he seemed stymied. There was no joystick to give him purchase; just a roller ball and a fire button. Walt and I watched with great curiosity, waiting to see how he’d overcome this unforeseen obstacle.

After what felt like five minutes, Mewes shrugged, bent down to the game controls, and started working the roller ball like it was a clit - his tongue darting in and out of his mouth, lapping at the orb as he spun it with his finger.

That’s when I finally caved and fell completely in love with Jason Mewes. I thought “This kid’s a comic genius. And if nothing else, he knows how to suck a dick. So if I ever get really bored hanging out with him, at least there’s always that to fall back on.”

From then on, Mewes and I became inseparable. We were a very unlikely pair, but we somehow found common ground. He became my adopted son or sorts, and I wound up being his biggest advocate in our little group, bringing him into our weekend street hockey games (for which I had to buy him roller blades) or taking him with us to the movies (for which I’d have to buy his tickets).

Bry, Walt and I made it our mission in life to get him laid, as Mewes – the most uninhibited, say-anything pottiest of potty mouths – would clam up around girls. At one party, we hooked him up with a chick who dragged him into the bathroom to make out, while we waited outside the door for news that he’d finally busted his cherry. Through the door, we heard stuff like “That’s not it” and “Eww, gimme some toilet paper.” Later, we’d learn he didn’t make it into paradise before going off like a broken hydrant against her hip.

For years, Jason would crack me up with his weird observations and impromptu comedic sketches. Even though the dude never did the high school plays or showed any interest in theater or acting, I’d constantly commend him with “Someone should put you in a movie, man.”

One day, I decided that I’d be that someone, when I finally left Highlands for a brief stint at the Vancouver Film School. I was gone for only six months before dropping out and heading back home, where I discovered the once-straight-edge Mewes, in my absence, had become a weekend warrior: booze, weed, and chicks were the order of the day for him, as he racked up bed-post notches that left my own in the dust. He’d changed somewhat, with the addition of Blueberry Schnapps and dime-bags, but was still very much the same loveable nut-bar regardless: the kind of guy who, after knowing you for five minutes, would say things like “It’s warm in here, isn’t it?” and then pull his cock out.

It was that Jason Mewes who I’d co-opted for the Jay character in “Clerks”, the script I’d written shortly after dropping out of film school. The role was written to Mewes’ strengths, so much so that his complete inexperience in acting wouldn’t be a hindrance. The part was peppered with his colloquialisms and catchphrases, written to Jason’s intonations and verbal patois. And yet, after reading the script, Mewes first words were “I don’t know if I can do this, man.”

“Why not? It’s just you on a page.”
“Yeah, but why would I say something like ‘Neh’?”
“I don’t know. Why DO you say something like ‘Neh’?”
“I do?”

I spent a month teaching Jay how to be Jay, during which time I accepted the fact that I’d never be able to pull off the role of Randal – the part I’d written for myself – and concentrated on finding something else for me to do in the flick, on camera. Since the part didn’t require the memorization of any lines, I opted to slip into the role of Jay’s quiet muscle, figuring Mewes and I would at least look visually interesting standing beside one another (him wiry and full of energy, me not). And together, dressed in costumes not at all unlike what we normally wore at the time, we became Jay and Silent Bob, the neighborhood drug dealers.

The great irony, of course, is that it’d be drugs that would one day not only threaten the continuation of Jay and Silent Bob, but also Jason’s life.

To Be Continued…

Riverbending is an award-bending blog that provides a first hand account of life in Iraq. The writer is extremely articulate, despite his obvious frustration and despair, and the writing is vivid, crips and often harrowing. I recommend it for anyone who thinks, or follows pundits who think, that the situation in Iraq is going well.
(Thanks to Sarah Sabry for this)

The Battle Against Middle Earth

I'm beginning to become irked by Tolkien fans. They have an attitude problem and tend to look down on people who have the same affinity to other imaginary worlds, say Trekkies or Matrix-lovers. What really, really pisses me off about them is that they think that Tolkien is a cultural work while all the others are just pop culture.

Let me tell you one thing about Tolkien. Actually, a few things:

1. Tolkien is a boring piece of shit. The Hobbit was half-way tolerable and kind of sweet, but the story really didn't deliver a lot of dramatic punch. I mean, Smaug was killed by someone else other than Bilbo and his crew. That's like reading a Sherlock Holmes mystery and having Lestrade solve the crime. What gives?
2. Tom Bombadil. If you've only seen the movie, you won't know who Tom FUCKING Bombadil is. In short, he is a pointless character that sings in the Lord of the Rings books. He's an excuse for Tolkien to write poetry. A character installed to add emotional gravitas to the world of Middle-Earth. He should be licensed by Ambien.
3. Singing Elves. KILL ME ALREADY. At least, when the Oompa-Loompas did it, they were FUNNY.

Want to read an exciting, epic journey of good versus bad set in a mythical world rich with emotion, adventure and purpose? Read the Belgariad (five books) By David Eddings. It is TEN times the story that Lord of the Rings is.

Want to love Trekkies? Watch the documentary about them called 'Trekkies'. It makes their humanity really shine through.

And for the record, only the first Matrix was any good (it was a gem, actually). Reloaded was pretty bad and Revolutions was embarrassing. And Star Wars sucked ass as well. And yes, I do mean the first three (alright...episodes IV through VI...grrrrr). Star Wars had no story and and Return of the Jedi was okay. Empire Strikes Back was dope...but one movie, a great series does not make. As for, the new ones, nigga puh-lease!

Oh, and Spiderman SUCKS. I get it, he's insecure. He's tortured. He's all-American. Now shut the fuck up, write a decent story and fight some non-hokey criminals while you're at it. And Batman is dark. Stop telling me the new movie is 'darker'. I get it. I didn't mind him when he had bat girl, bat woman, bat dog, bat lizard and bat bat running around with him, in all those campy adventures, so telling me he's gone all dark and twisted isn't going to make me buy him more.

Why haven't the studios made 'Watchmen' and 'The Belgariad' into movies? Watch Jay Mohr's 'Action!' and you'll find out why.

Drew Carey and Real Madrid

Blame the benches
by Phil Ball

There was an interesting moment in the Bernabéu on Sunday evening, sometime around the 30th minute. Cicinho played in a clever diagonal ball from the right, near the half-way line, intending it for Ronaldo to run onto.

But the striker saw it too late, thought about it, then decided not to waste his energy on a ball that was running inevitably to the opposition (Depor) defence. As the crowd fidgeted with impatience, several boos began to float into the mild evening air.

Madrid were winning 1-0, but Ronnie was still unloved and unwanted. 'Get thee back to Italy', the boos seemed to say. A minute later, Ronaldo received a simpler ball in from Beckham, and with a sudden change of body language, from 'Who cares?' to 'I'm still world class, watch this', the Brazilian proceeded to take on the entire Deportivo defence, shimmying this way, feinting that way, steppin' over, steppin' under - the whole repertoire in a two-second burst.

Just as he framed to shoot, Coloccini made a desperate tackle, pooping the party and spoiling the potential goal of the season.

But the crowd rose in appreciation. It reminded you suddenly of the truth that can be so easily obscured by temporary circumstance.

Ronaldo's got a big belly, he was awful against Arsenal, he said some dumb things beforehand, he's been awful for most of the season, he wants away...etc. But for one sublime moment, the Brazilian, piqued by the boos, suddenly remembered what it was to be the best forward in the world - Thierry who? The Bernabéu remembered as well.

Funny lot, the Madridistas. It was as if they were dying to forgive Ronaldo, like a parent who has been temporarily shocked into disliking his own child. The tension lasts for so long, but you come back round in the end - you need to make up.

It's so much better that way, in the last resort, when all the recrimination has died down. It's a while since I've been to the 'Bernabow', but every time I've been I've been struck by the same sensation - that the hardcore there knows its football. They seem to have an uncanny ability to judge a player's strengths and weaknesses.

And they know, for all Ronaldo's inconsistency and refuelling habits, for all the daft things he has said to the press over the years, that he's basically been the Number One, and that he can still do the business, given a fit of pique and a reasonably generous defence.

Two minutes later, he scored his team's second goal, thumping in from close range after Robinho's subtle back-heel had released Roberto Carlos into space on the left. A Brazilian one-two-three.

After 78 minutes with his team 3-0 up, manager López Caro cleverly substituted him for Cassano, thereby gauging to what extent the home crowd had forgiven.

Judging by the applause, the forgiveness was total. Whether or not is was unconditional might depend on what happens in the Camp Nou on Saturday night - for hope springs eternal in the breast, of those obsessed with title quest. Barça, resting their main men for the Champions League tie against Benfica this week, put out a weakened side at Málaga and drew 0-0 (albeit having a goal controversially disallowed). If Real Madrid were to do the improbable and win in Barcelona, they might be able to start dreaming legitimately of pegging back the eight points that would then separate the two sides. If Barça win, well... thank-you and goodnight.

Deportivo certainly made Madrid look good on the night, with a sickly performance that rather belied this column's focus on them last week as La Liga's best away side. The kiss of death I suppose. Want a team to do badly? Drop me a line and I'll talk them up in this column.

I was actually high up in the gods in the press box for the game, a wonderfully giddy view from up in the high peaks, looking down almost vertically onto the early spring baize of the 'Bernabow' pitch far below. I was accompanying the excellent Drew Carey, an American writer, actor and comedian who was in Spain to film the week's build-up to this week's clásico in Barcelona.

Travelling down to meet him on the Saturday morning, I wasn't quite sure what to expect, and was worried that I might have to politely explain that there was in fact no tradition of cheerleaders or of 'time-out' in Spanish 'soccer', but my hard-core English football snobbery was well wide of the mark, for he turned out to be highly knowledgeable of the game. Not only that, his 'outsider's' view turned up some real gems - some of which could never occur to the more tired European eye.

On the Saturday afternoon, theatrically emerging from the sacred sanctuary of the dressing-rooms into the blazing light of the Bernabéu - the 'Hala Madrid' anthem echoing around the empty stadium - we scurried along the cinder track and ducked under the perspex roof of the banquillo (bench), on whose blue padded mock-leather many more famous arses have descended.

Drew Carey sat back and stretched out his legs. 'Man, this is the life. This is so comfortable. I cannot believe this. This is Business Class!'

I sat back and dreamed I was the young Raúl, about to go out there and make my home debut, against Atlético Madrid. But I couldn't move, sunk down into the leather, awaiting the smiling hostess and the complimentary drinks.

Drew launched into a rant: 'This is why they've gone down the tubes. It's obvious. This would never happen in the States. Doesn't matter how much you're earning in baseball or American football, you sit your ass down on a hard wooden bench. It's kinda symbolic.'

The point was a good one, as was the further suggestion that if he were the club president, the first thing he would do would be to restore the wooden benches and bring back some sort of authenticity to the whole scene. How anybody could prepare for a game in such a pampered environment seemed hard to fathom.

But joking aside, the tension between Real Madrid as an institution, as a concept - and Real Madrid as just eleven players out on a football pitch, seems forever on the agenda as you make our way around the gleaming stadium, then on through the newly-furbished museum with its pompous self-glorification and the shameless statistical barrage of its historical greatness. Don't let the three years without a trophy fool you just yet, the display implies.

And indeed, watching the team strut their stuff on Sunday, relatively unmolested by anything resembling a real challenge by a curiously muted Deportivo, you could see that the galáctico idea wasn't necessarily a bad one, and that the Beckhams, Ronaldos, Zidanes and company, shorn for a while of all the circus that surrounds them, are in fact not marketing puppets at all, but wonderful footballers, capable of things that it is truly a privilege to witness at close quarters, given the occasional chance.

As Van Morrison wisely remarked. 'Why can't it always be like this?' That's not an easy one to answer. But try to get a glimpse of the bench on Saturday night at the Camp Nou. Business or Tourist Class? It might be making all the difference.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Marc Anthony Is My New Spokesman

U.S. Raid causing 16 deaths, irks Shiites (Yahoo News)


'Irks' is when my cubicle neighbor plays Barry Manilow for eight straight hours, not when an air raid kills 16 people. In a related article, 9 out of 10 Iraqis found suicide bombings 'distracting'.

PS If I ever see another tabloid with the headline 'Holy Shiite' or 'The Shiite has hit the fan' or any other stupid pun on the word shiite, I will put out my eyes.

Islamic Apostasy

Apostasy: Abandonment of one's religious faith, a political party, one's principles, or a cause.

-The former Chief Justice of Pakistan, SA Rahman, has written that there is no reference to the death penalty in any of the 20 instances of apostasy mentioned in the Qur'an. 6.

-The quotation from Surah An-Nisa', 4:137, shown above, seems to imply that multiple, sequential apostasies are possible. That would not be possible if the person were executed after the first apostasy. Muslims who support the death penalty for apostasy use as their foundation a hadith (a saying attributed to Muhammad [pbuh]) in which he said: "Kill whoever changes his religion." But this is a weak foundation because:

-This hadith was only transmitted from Muhammad (pbuh) by one individual. It was not confirmed by a second person. According to Islamic law, this is insufficient to impose the death penalty.
-The hadith is so generally worded that it would require the death penalty for a Christian or Jew who converted to Islam. This is obviously not the prophet's intent. The hadith is in need of further specification, which has not been documented.
-Many scholars interpret this passage as referring only to instances of high treason. (e.g. declaring war on Islam, Prophet, God etc.)
-There is no record which indicates that Muhammad (pbuh) or any of his companions ever sentenced anyone to death for apostasy.

A number of Islamic scholars from past centuries, Ibrahim al-Naka'I, Sufyan al-Thawri, Shams al-Din al-Sarakhsi, Abul Walid al-Baji and Ibn Taymiyyah, have all held that apostasy is a serious sin, but not one that requires death. In modern times, Mahmud Shaltut, Sheikh of al-Azhar, and Mohammed Sayed Tantawi have concurred.

Examples of apostasy in Egypt, Afghanistan, and North America:

1995 - Egypt: Nasr Abu Zeid, an Arabic literature professor, wrote on the topic of what he felt were needed reforms within Islam. Charges of apostasy were brought against him. The court agreed that Abu Zeid was no longer a Muslim, and ordered him to divorce his wife. He and his wife left Egypt, fearing physical attack. Abu Zeid later appealed his case and won. But he remained abroad. 7

1999? - North America: James A. Beverly, professor of theology and ethics at Tyndale Seminary in Toronto, ON, Canada writes a monthly column in Faith Today magazine. He said that he met with a former Muslim, who is now a Christian, at some time before 2000-JAN. That individual left Islam, remains living somewhere in North America and has become the target of death threats because of his apostasy. He feels that he has required police protection. 8

2001-Egypt: Lawyer Nabih el-Wahsh had brought a charge of apostasy against the prominent feminist writer Nawal el-Saadawi, aged 70. The charges were based on her comments during a newspaper interview in 2001-MAR. According to Al-Midan weekly, she said that the Hajj (the annual pilgrimage to Mecca) was "a vestige of a pagan practice," and that Islamic inheritance law should be abolished. It gives female heirs only half what men receive. 8

Under Islamic law, an apostate cannot be married to a Muslim. Thus, her marriage was at risk of being dissolved by the court. Judge Hassanein el-Wakil dismissed the case against her. He ruled that only Egypt's prosecutor general could file an apostasy case. El-Wahsh lacked the legal status. She told the Associated Press: "I and my husband feel that we have survived this ordeal through our resistance, firmness and refusal to yield to the mentality of the dark ages." 7

2006-MAR-16: Afghanistan: Christian being tried on a capital charge: Abdul Rahman, 41, was born a Muslim but converted to Christianity 16 years ago when he worked for an Christian aid group in Peshawar. He is now on trial on a charge of apostasy and may be executed if found guilty.

Report: Sleep 'divorce' counts

Just fucking kick me in the goolies already, why don't the words BACKWARD ASS mean anything to anyone?

NEW DELHI, India (Reuters) -- A Muslim couple in India have been told by local Islamic leaders they must separate after the husband "divorced" his wife in his sleep, the Press Trust of India reported.

Sohela Ansari told friends that her husband Aftab had uttered the word "talaq," or divorce, three times in his sleep, according to the report published in newspapers on Monday.

When local Islamic leaders got to hear, they said Aftab's words constituted a divorce under an Islamic procedure known as "triple talaq." The couple, married for 11 years with three children, were told they had to split.

The religious leaders ruled that if the couple wanted to remarry they would have to wait at least 100 days. Sohela would also have to spend a night with another man and be divorced by him in turn.

The couple, who live in the eastern state of West Bengal, have refused to obey the order and the issue has been referred to a local family counseling center.

India's minority Muslim population is governed by Islamic personal laws on issues such as marriage, divorce and property inheritance.

"This is a totally unnecessary controversy and the local 'community leaders' or whosoever has said it are totally ignorant of Islamic law," said Zafarul-Islam Khan, an Islamic scholar and editor of The Milli Gazette, a popular Muslim newspaper.

"The law clearly says any action under compulsion or in a state of intoxication has no effect. The case of someone uttering something while asleep falls under this category and will have no impact whatsoever," Khan told Reuters.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Carol Connors and Thora Birch

Did you know that Carol Connors (pictured above), major adult star of the 1970s who starred in both Deep Throat (the highest grossing film of ALL time, including Jaws and ET and all those others) and the Erotic Adventures of Candy, is the mother of Thora Birch of Ghost World and American Beauty (below)? Thora's dad was Jack Birch, an adult film star in his own right.

Imagine having porn stars for parents. What would you have to do to get them to disapprove and eventually disown you?

The Iconophile

Stylish, slightly perverted blogs like this one are my gospel.

Big Pussy

No, not him. Me. I'm the big pussy. And aways for the same reason: I watched this really touching movie called This Happy Breed based on a play by Noel Coward. It was the best-grossing movie of 1944 and spans the life of a British family between the two world wars, with all the joys and fears and trials they face. To cut a long story short, I bawled my eyes out when their son died, when their eldest girl ran away because she couldn't face her life and then again, when she came back. It was a disgusting, wimpy display.

I...just...can't....face....realism. The delicate fabric of emotions and humanity that binds people together and runs through this sordid consciousness we euphemestically refer to as life, always makes me feel like an outsider. I squint my eyes at it and try so hard to comprehend how people can accept it as naturally as they do a breath of air. But I never can.

In the words of Seinfeld, I'm clearly not human. I'm a pod.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Joga Bonita Bullshit

For the uninitiated, 'Joga Bonita' is a Brazilian saying about football, which translates to 'Play Beautiful'. What pisses me off about this whole campaign is that the sponsors of this noble sentiment, are Nike and the examples of beautiful football they show are mostly from the Brazil national team. Whom they happen to represent. While the examples of poor sportsmanship are mainly Argentinians. Who happen to be represented by Adidas.

There's nothing beautiful about that.

Friday, March 24, 2006

I just can't seem to bust out of this slump.

What Would Tyler Durden Do?

Funny-ish blog with a fantastic name, as a tribute to one of the top fifty movies of all time.

Florina Petcu

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Misbehaving players to be crucified in MMORPG

Players who misbehave in the Roman online role-playing game Roma Victor will be punished by having their characters crucified and displayed in public spaces for other players to mock and throw things at. The first crucifixion is being doled out to "Cynewulf," played by a 27 year-old electrical engineer from Flint, Michigan, whose crime is "ganking" (ripping off) new players as they first appear in game. Cynewulf will be hung on the cross for seven days.

Crucifixion is to be used as a form of player 'ban' within the virtual world of Roma Victor, with the length of the ban reflecting the severity of the punishment. For cheating by exploiting a bug and advancing his or her character's skills unfairly, for example, a player might typically receive a seven-day ban; multiple or more serious offenses will result in a longer (or even permanent) ban.

"Having a smoking section in a restaurant is like having a peeing section in the swimming pool." (Thomas Pfeffer)

This Essay Breaks the Law

Published: March 19, 2006
• The Earth revolves around the Sun.

• The speed of light is a constant.

• Apples fall to earth because of gravity.

• Elevated blood sugar is linked to diabetes.

• Elevated uric acid is linked to gout.

• Elevated homocysteine is linked to heart disease.

• Elevated homocysteine is linked to B-12 deficiency, so doctors should test homocysteine levels to see whether the patient needs vitamins.

ACTUALLY, I can't make that last statement. A corporation has patented that fact, and demands a royalty for its use. Anyone who makes the fact public and encourages doctors to test for the condition and treat it can be sued for royalty fees. Any doctor who reads a patient's test results and even thinks of vitamin deficiency infringes the patent. A federal circuit court held that mere thinking violates the patent.

All this may sound absurd, but it is the heart of a case that will be argued before the Supreme Court on Tuesday. In 1986 researchers filed a patent application for a method of testing the levels of homocysteine, an amino acid, in the blood. They went one step further and asked for a patent on the basic biological relationship between homocysteine and vitamin deficiency. A patent was granted that covered both the test and the scientific fact. Eventually, a company called Metabolite took over the license for the patent.

Although Metabolite does not have a monopoly on test methods — other companies make homocysteine tests, too — they assert licensing rights on the correlation of elevated homocysteine with vitamin deficiency. A company called LabCorp used a different test but published an article mentioning the patented fact. Metabolite sued on a number of grounds, and has won in court so far.

But what the Supreme Court will focus on is the nature of the claimed correlation. On the one hand, courts have repeatedly held that basic bodily processes and "products of nature" are not patentable. That's why no one owns gravity, or the speed of light. But at the same time, courts have granted so-called correlation patents for many years. Powerful forces are arrayed on both sides of the issue.

In addition, there is the rather bizarre question of whether simply thinking about a patented fact infringes the patent. The idea smacks of thought control, to say nothing of unenforceability. It seems like something out of a novel by Philip K. Dick — or Kafka. But it highlights the uncomfortable truth that the Patent Office and the courts have in recent decades ruled themselves into a corner from which they must somehow extricate themselves.

For example, the human genome exists in every one of us, and is therefore our shared heritage and an undoubted fact of nature. Nevertheless 20 percent of the genome is now privately owned. The gene for diabetes is owned, and its owner has something to say about any research you do, and what it will cost you. The entire genome of the hepatitis C virus is owned by a biotech company. Royalty costs now influence the direction of research in basic diseases, and often even the testing for diseases. Such barriers to medical testing and research are not in the public interest. Do you want to be told by your doctor, "Oh, nobody studies your disease any more because the owner of the gene/enzyme/correlation has made it too expensive to do research?"

The question of whether basic truths of nature can be owned ought not to be confused with concerns about how we pay for biotech development, whether we will have drugs in the future, and so on. If you invent a new test, you may patent it and sell it for as much as you can, if that's your goal. Companies can certainly own a test they have invented. But they should not own the disease itself, or the gene that causes the disease, or essential underlying facts about the disease. The distinction is not difficult, even though patent lawyers attempt to blur it. And even if correlation patents have been granted, the overwhelming majority of medical correlations, including those listed above, are not owned. And shouldn't be.

Unfortunately for the public, the Metabolite case is only one example of a much broader patent problem in this country. We grant patents at a level of abstraction that is unwise, and it's gotten us into trouble in the past. Some years back, doctors were allowed to patent surgical procedures and sue other doctors who used their methods without paying a fee. A blizzard of lawsuits followed. This unhealthy circumstance was halted in 1996 by the American Medical Association and Congress, which decided that doctors couldn't sue other doctors for using patented surgical procedures. But the beat goes on.

Companies have patented their method of hiring, and real estate agents have patented the way they sell houses. Lawyers now advise athletes to patent their sports moves, and screenwriters to patent their movie plots. (My screenplay for "Jurassic Park" was cited as a good candidate.)

Where does all this lead? It means that if a real estate agent lists a house for sale, he can be sued because an existing patent for selling houses includes item No. 7, "List the house." It means that Kobe Bryant may serve as an inspiration but not a model, because nobody can imitate him without fines. It means nobody can write a dinosaur story because my patent includes 257 items covering all aspects of behavior, like item No. 13, "Dinosaurs attack humans and other dinosaurs."

Such a situation is idiotic, of course. Yet elements of it already exist. And unless we begin to turn this around, there will be worse to come.

I wanted to end this essay by telling a story about how current rulings hurt us, but the patent for "ending an essay with an anecdote" is owned. So I thought to end with a quotation from a famous person, but that strategy is patented, too. I then decided to end abruptly, but "abrupt ending for dramatic effect" is also patented. Finally, I decided to pay the "end with summary" patent fee, since it was the least expensive.

The Supreme Court should rule against Metabolite, and the Patent Office should begin to reverse its strategy of patenting strategies. Basic truths of nature can't be owned.

Oh, and by the way: I own the patent for "essay or letter criticizing a previous publication." So anyone who criticizes what I have said here had better pay a royalty first, or I'll see you in court.

Michael Crichton is the author, most recently, of "State of Fear."

The 'On Target' System

Recessed into a urinal is a pressure-sensitive display screen. When the guest uses it, he triggers an interactive game, producing images and sound. The reduced size of the “target” improves restroom hygiene and saves on cleanings costs (like the “fly in the urinal” at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport). It also makes a trip to the urinal “fun and games” – more than just a necessary nuisance. By projecting the game experience into the public space, viewers are treated to a new way of visualizing the abstract, and the entertainment value is boosted. The projection of the project into a museum space was conceived of as a critical-ironic measure, questioning the concept of art, but extending it at the same time. “On target” is an interactive installation with the functional purpose of improving hygiene.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

O'Reilly Asshole

Bill O'Reilly just said that "Roe vs. Wade created a slippery slope that made babies disposable". What a fucking spin-monster asshole. He whines about any criticism he gets claiming character assassination and yet he is the biggest character assassin around. The only way he gets around it is he'll preface any smear aimed at opponents by saying "Some people say". What a fucking whiny pussy.

PS He just said to Greta Van Sustern: "I'm bolder than you are in this, but then again I'm bolder than everyone". What a fucking asshole!

2744 LW

The conspiracy is real.

Funny Cats

Sitcoms are played. But Becker was a pretty decent one and Saverio Guerra was flat out hysterical. Where the fuck is that cat today?

The new video Ipod?

Apparently, Apple has put the 60GB iPod on its "at risk" list. That's a designation Apple provides to retailers to give them a heads up that a product may be in short supply in the near future. Apple doesn't provide any explanation for why a certain product is categorized this way. It could be that it's sold so well that supply can't keep up with demand. It could be that it's being replaced with a higher-capacity model. Or it just could be -- and you know where this is going -- that it's being phased out to make room for the one true video iPod.

That seems to be the consensus on the internets, and even some financial analysts are betting on that scenario. Shaw Wu, of American Technology Research, told clients that he believes Apple is working on a wide-screen video iPod with Bluetooth, and that his "checks" confirm this. This new Ipod will feature a screen that takes up the entire face of the Ipod and features a touch-screen virtual wheel (see picture). The picture is probably a fake but that's not to say this concept isn't already in the works...

Calling all vendors

Sometimes the best e-mail and chat support in the world is no substitute for a conversation with a real person. But that kind of talk isn't cheap, so to cut costs, Net-based companies like Amazon often make their phone numbers hard to find. Not to worry: A site called Cliché Ideas has dug them up:

Amazon: 800/201-7575
EBay: 800/322-9266

Cool Tee

How to make a grown man cry

Rainbow-colored sheep take Britain by storm

LONDON - Has anyone ever actually seen a rainbow-colored sheep? That's surely what a few British toddlers are asking.

Teachers at nursery schools in Oxfordshire, England, have asked children to change the words of "Baa, Baa, Black Sheep" to "Baa, Baa, Rainbow Sheep" to avoid the possibility of offending anyone.

"This type of thing is definitely happening in all parts of the country," said Laura Midgley, co-founder of Britain's Campaign Against Political Correctness. "This makes an issue about the color black when there should not be one."

"It's just a color at the end of the day," she said.

As in the United States, the removal of alienating or potentially offensive words is part of a political-correctness drive that has gained momentum in recent years across British society.

Many argue that the power of words is underestimated and are pleased that more people seem to be showing sensitivity toward ethnicity and sexuality.

But others wonder whether the desire not to offend anyone has gone too far.

This isn't the first time nursery rhymes have fallen victim to the British PC campaign. In 2003, the Mothercare store chain in England began selling cassette tapes and CDs featuring a new version of Humpty Dumpty in which there was a happy ending. The new version said that "Humpty Dumpty opened his eyes, falling down was such a surprise, Humpty Dumpty counted to 10, then Humpty Dumpty got up again."

"The political correctness campaign has been going on for some time, but we are seeing more of it these days than we have in the past," Midgley said.

She and others say this latest desire to not offend by getting rid of "black sheep" is ludicrous.

Most have argued that "Baa, Baa, Black Sheep" has nothing to do with race. The nursery rhyme dates back to the mid-1700s and is related to a tax imposed on wool by the king, which divided receipts equally between the local lord (the master), the church (the dame), and the farmer (the little boy). Black wool was apparently taxed at a lower rate than white wool.

A spate of headline-grabbing cases in recent weeks -- not all related to the nursery rhyme change -- have helped spark widespread criticism in the British media over the ongoing movement to be politically correct.

For example, a school principal in Devon, England, garnered attention earlier this month when he announced a ban on snowball fights unless the thrower first obtained permission from the target. In a newsletter, Tiverton High School's 1,200 students were told not to throw a snowball without prior consent.

Also this month, the Dudley Wood Methodist Church in Dudley Wood, England, was told it must pay $130 to obtain a permit from local planning officials before it can erect a freestanding cross outside.

Local officials say the universal Christian symbol has been officially classified as an advertisement.

But it was news of the change to "Baa, Baa, Black Sheep" that pushed the local press -- and even media around the world -- into a frenzy of negative commentary.

"The fact that black is a color appears to be lost on the PC police," wrote Ian McPhedran in a column in the Advertiser, a newspaper in Adelaide, Australia.

In the current climate, "black coffee becomes coffee without milk, the blackboard is now the chalkboard. And forget about the black economy or black-listing anything," he wrote.

Stuart Chamberlain, manager of the Family Center in Abingdon, England, and the nearby Sure Start Center in Sutton Courtenay, told the Oxford Star weekly newspaper that the nursery schools had changed the words of "Baa, Baa, Black Sheep" to follow stringent equal-opportunity rules.

"No one should feel pointed out because of their race, their gender, or anything else," he said. "This is fairly standard across nurseries."

The charity group that runs the nurseries, Parents and Children Together, said that changes to the nursery rhyme have nothing to do with race.

In a statement, the group said it has established that the children at the nurseries would now sing a variety of descriptive words so that the rhyme becomes an active one.

The children will be asked to sing "sad," "blue," "pink," "black," "white," "happy," "hopping," and "bouncing" when describing the sheep to encourage the children to extend their vocabulary and use up energy.

Nick Seaton, chairman of Britain's Campaign for Real Education, which aims to improve state education standards, said most parents believe it's wrong to outlaw certain words and ideas.

"I think it's totally wrong to interfere with traditional nursery rhymes that have been around for generations," he said. "Political correctness is preventing children from even considering any idea that may or may not be outlandish."

Republican Rubbish

What You Need To Believe To Be A Republican:
Jesus loves you and shares your hatred of homosexuals and Hillary.
Saddam was a good guy when Reagan armed him, a bad guy when Bush's daddy made war on him, a good guy when Cheney did business with him, and a bad guy when Bush needed a "we can't find Bin Laden" diversion.
Trade with Cuba is wrong because it's Communist, but trade with China and Vietnam is vital to a spirit of international harmony.
The United States should get out of the United Nations, and our highest national priority is enforcing U.N. resolutions against Iraq.
A woman can't be trusted with decisions about her own body, but multi-national corporations can make decisions affecting all mankind without regulation.
The best way to improve military morale is to praise the troops in speeches, while slashing veterans' benefits and combat pay.
If condoms are kept out of  schools, adolescents won't have sex.
A good way to fight terrorism is to belittle our long-time allies, then demand their cooperation and money.
Providing health care to all Iraqis is sound policy, but providing health care to all Americans is socialism. HMOs and insurance companies have the best interests of the public at heart.
Government should limit itself to the powers named in the Constitution, which include banning gay marriages and censoring the Internet.
The public has a right to know about Hillary's cattle trades, but George Bush's driving record is none of our business.
Being a drug addict is a moral failing and a crime, unless you're a conservative radio host. Then it's an illness and you need our prayers for your recovery.
What Bill Clinton did in the 1960s is of vital national interest, but what Bush did in the '80s is irrelevant.
Support for hunters who shoot their friends and blame them for wearing orange vests similar to those worn by the quail.

That Noo Yawk Accent

Dear Diary:

One recent morning, I stopped at a cart a few blocks from the United Nations for a coffee. As I waited in line, I heard the man in front of me order a Kofi Annan bagel.

I'd never heard of such a thing, and was intrigued to know what a bagel named after the United Nations secretary general had on it.

I was also curious to find out if the cart guy had other specialties. Perhaps a John Bolton bear claw, or a Boutros Boutros-Ghali bialy?

When my turn arrived, I asked what a Kofi Annan bagel entailed.

"What it always entails," the cart guy replied. He held up a coffee cup and a bagel. "A coffee and a bagel."

- Douglas Light


Yeah, real fucking civilized.

Afghan Christian convert could be executed
Western nations outraged Muslims who convert can be put to death

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- In the days of the Taliban, those promoting Christianity in Afghanistan could be arrested and those converting from Islam could be tortured and publicly executed.

That was supposed to change after U.S.-led forces ousted the oppressive, fundamentalist regime, but the case of 41-year-old Abdul Rahman has many Western nations wondering if Afghanistan is regressing.

Rahman, a father of two, was arrested and is on trial for rejecting Islam. The Afghan constitution, which is based on Sharia, or Islamic law, says that apostates can receive the death penalty.

"They want to sentence me to death, and I accept it," Rahman told reporters last week, "but I am not a deserter and not an infidel." (Watch how this case is testing Afghanistan -- 1:17)

He had been arrested after telling local police, whom he approached on an unrelated matter, that he had converted to Christianity. Reports say he was carrying a Bible at the time.

He said he converted to Christianity 16 years ago after working with a Christian aid group that assisted refugees in neighboring Pakistan.

Mentally unfit?

On Wednesday a state prosecutor said Rahman may be mentally unfit to stand trial, The Associated Press reports.

"We think he could be mad. He is not a normal person. He doesn't talk like a normal person," The AP quoted prosecutor Sarinwal Zamari as saying.

Moayuddin Baluch, a religious adviser to President Hamid Karzai, said Rahman would undergo a psychological examination, according to the AP.

"Doctors must examine him," the AP quoted Baluch as saying. "If he is mentally unfit, definitely Islam has no claim to punish him. He must be forgiven. The case must be dropped."

When the examination or the trial would take place was not clear. The AP said authorities barred it from seeing Rahman and reported that he was believed to not have a lawyer.

A Western diplomat in Kabul and a human rights advocate said the government was desperately searching for a way to drop the case because of the reaction it has caused, the AP reports. The news agency said both spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.

Afghanistan's population is 80 percent Sunni Muslim and 19 percent Shiite Muslim, according to the CIA. The rest of the population is classified as "other."

U.S. objects to trial

Rahman's case raises thorny issues between Afghanistan and its Western allies, and U.S. officials this week made certain that Afghan Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah, who is in Washington for talks on the U.S.-Afghan strategic partnership, understood their qualms.

"We have underscored also to Foreign Minister Abdullah that we believe that tolerance and freedom of worship are important elements of any democracy," U.S. State Department spokesman Scott McCormack told reporters Tuesday. "We urge the Afghan government to conduct any legal proceedings in a transparent and fair manner."

Abdullah was supposed to talk to reporters Tuesday about talks for the strategic partnership. Instead, Abdullah was bombarded with questions about the Rahman case.

"I know that it is a very sensitive issue and we know the concerns of the American people," Abdullah said, adding that the Afghan Embassy in Washington had received "hundreds of messages" on the issue.

He further said that the Afghan government had nothing to do with the case.

"But I hope that through our constitutional process, there will be a satisfactory result," he said.

Constitution ambiguous

Rahman's case illustrates a split over the interpretation of the Afghan constitution, which calls for religious freedom while stating that Muslims who reject Islam can be executed.

Nicholas Burns, undersecretary for political affairs, said he understands the complexities of the case and promised the United States would respect Afghan sovereignty. However, he said, Afghans should be free to choose their own religion, and he believes the nation's constitution supports that.

"We hope the Afghan constitution is going to be upheld," Burns said. "If he has the right of freedom of religion, that ought to be respected."

Rahman's case could force Afghan President Hamid Karzai into the undesirable position of mediating the matter. Karzai has to placate an ever-restless populace in turbulent post-war Afghanistan, but at the same time, he needs Western assistance to stave off the remnants of the Taliban and al Qaeda.

Allies indignant

The U.S. has 23,000 troops in the country; Germany has 2,700. Canada has 2,300 stationed there, and Italy has 1,775, according to Reuters.

All four nations have expressed displeasure over the situation, some even saying that it is intolerable that soldiers of all faiths die to protect a country threatening to kill its own for converting to Christianity.

Former Italian President Francesco Cossiga wrote a letter to Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, urging him to withdraw Italian troops from Afghanistan unless Kabul guarantees Rahman's safety, Reuters reported.

"It is not acceptable that our soldiers should put themselves at risk or even sacrifice their lives for a fundamentalist, illiberal regime," Cossiga wrote.

Rep. Tom Lantos, the ranking Democrat on the House International Relations Committee, wrote a letter to Karzai asking him to intervene and uphold "core democratic principles and fundamental human rights."

"In a country where soldiers from all faiths, including Christianity, are dying in defense of your government, I find it outrageous that Mr. Rahman is being prosecuted and facing the death penalty for converting to Christianity," Lantos wrote.

One German official promised to intervene if necessary. Another, Development Minister Heide Wieczorek-Zeul, said, "We will do everything possible to save the life of Abdul Rahman," according to Reuters.

Canada echoed that sentiment, saying human rights in Afghanistan was a top priority and that "Canada will continue to encourage the Afghan government to adhere to its human rights obligations," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Pamela Greenwell told Reuters.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

When Porno Was Chic

By Richard Corliss

Here's a little statistic that means a lot. In hotel rooms where pornography is available, two-thirds of all movie purchases are for pornos; and the average time they are watched is 12 minutes. The image instantly summoned is of the traveling businessman who wants a smidge of sexual exercise before retiring, but who is too tired, timid or cheap to summon a call girl. He cares little about whatever niceties of dialogue or mise-en-scene the movie may contain. He seeks only a brisk hand job, self-applied, then clicks off the TV, and so to bed. Someone I know, on hearing of this archetypal businessman, wondered, "What did he do the other seven minutes?"

Pornography is big business: an industry that earns an estimated $57 billion worldwide annually —$20 billion just for adult movies in the U.S., where some 800 million videos are rented each year, according to Paul Fishbein, the founding president of Adult Video News. "And I don't think that it's 800 guys renting a million tapes each," he told CBS News. Fishbein means that the phenomenon can't be simply a big-city, left-wing perversion; a good many of those renters, those consumers of hotel porn, have to be red-staters. Which is why, among all the cries in favor of traditional values and against naughty TV, you haven't seen many county sheriffs or G-men forcing the old smut peddler do a perp walk. Porn doesn't affront contemporary community standards. It is a contemporary community standard.

There's a lot of porn out there. But nobody's calling it art. Or even, technically, film. (The industry has been virtually all-video for a couple of decades.) Porn is a commodity, with no more pretension to art than the most mindless kiddie show. For the weary businessman it's just a combination Viagra and Ambien.

How drab this seems compared to the heady days of the early 70s, when "There was something exciting about pornography," as Norman Mailer says in the new documentary Inside Deep Throat. "It lived in some mid-world between crime and art. And it was adventurous." Porn films preoccupied critics, cops and the courts. Often financed by Mafia families, they attracted the crusading instincts of local, state and federal prosecutors, who shut down the films and secured the conviction of one actor. They were directed by men who could fancy themselves as artists, and starred off-Broadway actors as well as the occasional gifted ingenue —like Linda Lovelace, star of the movie that created the craze (and the phrase) "porno chic," Deep Throat.

Mainstream newspapers (the Timeses of New York and Los Angeles, the Chicago Sun-Times' Roger Ebert) and magazines (TIME and Newsweek) reviewed the more ambitious soft-core movies in the 60s and then hard-core, when it was legally exhibited. Why? Because it was sufficiently dangerous, popular, newsworthy and, frequently, ambitious to warrant the interest of reviewers. The opinion of many of them, including me, was that there might be a meeting of pornography, which had quickly established a kind of artistic pedigree, and Hollywood, which was striding toward explicit sexuality. That was also the belief of Deep Throat's writer-director, Gerard Damiano, who said in 1973: "If it's left alone, within a year sex will just blend itself into film. It's inevitable."

To anyone who wasn't around in the early 70s, this statement must sound utopian, if not delusional. Well (and I know I've written this before, but this time, children, it's true), things really were different then. You get a sense of those old New Days in Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato's Inside Deep Throat, a snazzy documentary now playing in theaters and coming soon to HBO, and a more synoptic view in the new book The Other Hollywood: The Uncensored Oral History of the Porn Film Industry, by Legs McNeil, Jennifer Osborne and Peter Pavia. Diving into the nearly 600 pages of unmediated testimony from the actors, directors and producers, and the cops who kept track of them and tried to bring them down, a reader gets an inside look at a time when porn —the entire cultural life —was different, bolder, weirder, better.

But don't take my word for it. Listen to the Inside Deep Throat testimony of Damiano —now 76 and a Florida retiree, his trousers pulled nearly up to his tits, old-man style. "You had to be there," he says. "You had to be there. I'm thrilled that I was there. And I thank God I had a camera."


Damiano's camera could be turned on, but if the actors weren't, he'd have no blue movie. (Blue, don't ask me why, was the word to describe a dirty joke, an aching scrotum or a pornographic film. Two stag-film collections that opened in 1970 were called A History of the Blue Movie and Hollywood Blue.) Where was a director to find people who would consent to be photographed having sex? And where would he find sex workers who could convincingly play roles —act —in a feature-length, talking picture?

Two genres combined to create 70s porn. One, shown in theaters, was the soft-core sex film: basically a low-budget fiction feature with heavy-breathing innuendo, simulated lovemaking and the occasional, calculated exposure of skin (They were called skin flicks.) The genre boomed in 1959 with the smash success of Russ Meyer's nudie comedy The Immoral Mr. Teas, which cued a five-year run of so-called nudie-cuties. Says prime sexploitation showman Dave Friedman: "Nudie-cuties were very rigid in their construction —you had the boy/girl scene, the girl/girl scene, the orgy scene, and then the kiss-off." These light comedies gave way to Meyer's delirious lower-depths melodramas, and to Radley Metzger's glamorous European-accented romances, and to R.L. Frost's sex-and-violence epics, known as roughies As the 60s wore on, and the courts relaxed standards, soft-core tiptoed toward hard.

The other genre was traditionally shown at stag parties; hence, stag films. These were hard-core shorts, 10 to 20 mins. long, almost always silent (even into the 1960s) and with anonymous performers, usually prostitutes and their johns, who didn't mind displaying their genitals but sometimes masked their faces. The films were essentially documents, documentaries, of two or more people satisfying their urgent desires. The furtiveness was part of the kick for the all-male audience at a Rotary meeting or frat-house smoker. The fact that these films were so raw, and illegal, at a time when publicly exhibited movies couldn't show a tit and couldn't say shit (literally: the 1962 film The Connection was banned in New York state for using the word, though the shit it referred to was not excrement but heroin), made seeing them the ultimate, safe guilty pleasure.


The first blow in the one-two punch that brought porn into the open was a 1969 documentary, Pornography in Denmark, from the sexologists Phyllis and Eberhard Kronhausen, the sub-Kinseys of their day. As filmmaker John Waters recollects: "Pornography in Denmark got around the law because it was a 'serious documentary,' right? It was supposedly 'socially redeeming,' but it showed penetration.... It was a big deal because after that there was no turning back. That's the day exploitation films ended —the way Andy Warhol ended Abstract Expressionism in one night by that soup can, the way the Beatles ended rhythm and blues in one night on the Ed Sullivan Show."

Fast on its heels came Mona, the first porno fiction feature, which opened in theaters in San Francisco and New York —and, more important, wasn't closed down by the police. Set in the Bay Area, Mona had no redeeming social interest, only redeeming prurient interest. It's about an engaged girl who has promised her mom she'd be a virgin on her wedding day, but figures fellatio doesn't count. The movie spends its 70 mins. following the parallel adventures of Mona and Mama. (Both generations sup at the loins of Mona's fiance, and take my word, mom's hotter.) When her fiance learns about her outside partners, he insists she have a simultaneous assignation with all four of them, and her every orifice is plundered. Returning home, Mona tearfully says, "Mother, I have something to tell you." Mom replies, "I have something to tell you too, dear." They hug. Fade out on this sadder-but-wiser mother-daughter sisterhood.

Whether it was considered a real movie with explicit sex scenes, or a series of stag-reel exertions with a modicum of plot and characterization added, Mona created the blueprint for 70s porno chic. True to Friedman's recipe, it had the boy/girl scene, the girl/girl scene, the orgy scene, and then the kiss-off. It also boasted an honorable mix of no-budget craftsmanship and hippie-dippie who-cares?

What Mona did not have was any credits —not for the producer (Bill Osco, scion of the nationwide drugstore chain), director (Howard Ziehm) or actors (Fifi Watson, Judy Angel and Ric Lutze). Discretion was probably wise; the cops were less likely to arrest you if they didn't know your name. But in hiding its makers' identities, Mona bowed to the old stigma of the stag film. It was still an anonymous transgression.

One step up from anonymity is pseudonymity. Paul Gerber, the writer-director of my own favorite among the early pornos, the 1971 School Girl, was listed as David Reberg on the credits. Damiano put the name Jerry Gerard on Deep Throat. That film's lead players, Linda Lovelace and Harry Reems, were really Linda Boreman and Herb Streicher. The star of Damiano's next film, Devil in Miss Jones, called herself Georgina Spelvin —George Spelvin being the all-purpose pseudonym for a stage actor doubling a role (and Georgette for an actress). Jamie Gillis, another star of proto-porn, says that when he saw his face on a blue-film poster, "I thought, 'My God, I'm a serious actor. People are gonna see this poster and it's gonna ruin my career!'"

Indeed, one of the clues that porn had emerged into respectability was that performers stopped caring about their nominal secrecy. Marilyn Chambers, the star of Jim and Artie Mitchell's Behind the Green Door, didn't mind being known, because it could mean she'd be famous.


The two production centers for early American public porn films were San Francisco and New York, and the movies reflected the temperaments of their respective home towns. The San Francisco films have a grainy, cinema-verite style and a behavioral openness that seems a residue of the Summer of Love. Sex is free, man, sex is beautiful, and as long as we're having sex, why not share it with the camera? I don't know much about the performers in films like Mona and School Girl, but I imagine they were friends of the directors rather than professional thespians.

New York porn was both slicker and edgier, more professional, as were its actors. Gillis cites a Shakespeare gig he did for Manhattan's Classic Stage Company. Eric Edwards starred in a Close-Up toothpaste commercial; it was pulled when he was spotted in a porn loop. In his 1975 memoir Here Comes Harry Reems (quoted in The Other Hollywood), the actor recalls, "I was doing Coriolanus in some marginal coffeehouse where they passed the hat around at the end of the performance." He got more valuable training when he signed on with two burlesque vets to be the set-up guy, or "third banana," on a tour that included Staten Island and Atlantic City. It was there he learned "the crazy doctor bit" that he would use as Dr. Young, the medical hygienist in Deep Throat.

Not all of the on-screen talent was in it for the art. "I purposely would not act," says 70s performer C.J. Laing. "I despised the people in these films that said they were actors. I was like, 'You've got to be kidding me! This is about fucking and sucking!'" But quite a few thought it was about process and progress. Once the off-Broadway types got into porn, they relied on the actor's invaluable gift for self-hypnosis to convince themselves it was somehow legit. Spelvin, who says she appeared on Broadway in The Pajama Game and Cabaret, recalls, of Devil in Miss Jones, "I took the role very seriously. I was doing Hedda Gabler here! The fact that there was hard-core sex involved was incidental as far as I was concerned. I was totally deluded. I had made myself believe that I was an actress. I was showing true life as it really was —including actual sex as it really happened —instead of the phony stuff that you got from Hollywood. That was my raison d'etre throughout the whole thing. It was okay; I was okay; I wasn't a slut."

Early porn directors also talked themselves into believing they were committing art. Ron Wertheim, Damiano's assistant director on Deep Throat, may only have been shooting porno loops but, he says in the documentary, "I approached those films as if I was Luc Godard or somebody." Damiano, who went directly from hairdressing to helming hard-core, had a similar sense of vocation. He says that after the success of Deep Throat, "If people wanted to interview me because I was a porno filmmaker, I just was not interested in talking to them. But if anyone wanted to speak to me because I made films, then I was happy to...."

His ambition was clear in Devil in Miss Jones. Spelvin plays Justine Jones, a lonely woman who slits her wrists in a bathtub. After dying a virgin, she tells a gatekeeper to eternity that she wants to live out her sexual urges, to be "filled, engulfed, consumed by lust." She briefly gets that wish —which includes intimate contact with bananas and grapes, a snake and (Damiano's favorite marital aid) a water tube. (He has a similar scene in Deep Throat and later devoted an entire movie, Water Power, to high colonics.) With plenty of boy/girl, girl/girl and orgy "action," Devil still takes itself solemnly enough to risk being laughable. But heaven knows it's intense, and an honorable attempt to blue the line between porn and "real" films. As for Spelvin, she isn't a slut; she is a theater-trained actress giving her all for her art.

Most directors with a left-field mega-hit would instantly crank out another picture in the same genre. Not Damiano. He used his cash, and cachet, from his silly porno comedy to make a super-serioso drama. Reading the script of Devil in Miss Jones, Reems told his friend: "Gerry, it's a steal. This is No Exit in its thinnest disguise." To which Damiano replied: "Well, what do you expect? I wrote it in a weekend." Though Devil was a substantial box-office hit, Spelvin notes that "it was not really a very successful porno film. I mean, guys came out of that film shaking their heads, saying, 'I came here to jerk off, I didn't come here to think!'" But that's what Damiano had in mind. He wasn't interested in being another Russ Meyer; he wanted to be Ingmar Fuckin' Bergman.

Which is just what we, in the world of serious filmgoing and film-watching, were waiting for.


Movies were getting sexier in the 60s. I mean films. European ones, Scandinavian ones: Bergman's The Silence, Vilgot Sjoeman's I Am Curious Yellow, that not-so-arty art-house hit I, a Woman. Cinema eroticism came with subtitles, until a renegade Hollywood faction got the word and married social and sexual issues in Medium Cool, Easy Rider and the Oscar-winning Midnight Cowboy —all rated X, back when that designation simply meant a film for adults, not a porno film. Back when sexually urgent films were made for thinking adults. As I say, this was a long time ago.

There was also a healthy substratum of what were called avant-garde movies, shown at college film societies and, in New York, at Amos Vogel's pioneering Cinema 16 film club. Oh yes, it was instructive and ennobling, watching the elliptical 16mm films that some of us thought would take cinema into the post-narrative age and make it a truly modernist art. We also had to admit that movies like Bruce Conner's Cosmic Ray (a naked woman dances to a Ray Charles song) and Stan Brakhage's Window Water Baby Moving (birth, in gynecological closeup) were also, relatively speaking, hot stuff. Carolee Schneeman's Fuses was 18 minutes of lovemaking —lovemaking turned into an art movie because the artist had painted on, or baked, the film stock, but it was photographed whoopee all the same.

I saw Fuses at the Museum of Modern Art, where I worked for a couple of years in the late 60s, before becoming editor of Film Comment magazine, and where I met the foxy lady who would become my wife. MoMA was a jazzy place when the Vietnam War was wearing everyone down, and the new sensuality was perking most of us up. Members watched avant-porn in the private screening room; some had sex on the carpeted floor. (I should say had love, since three Film Department liaisons, Mary's and mine included, ended in late-60s marriages, and all of them are still going strong more than 35 years later.) One MoMA staffer and spouse had a brief business connection with blue cinema: they rented out their brownstone as a location for the porn epic Inside Jennifer Welles.

It wasn't all intramural fun and games. The Film Department also organized public screenings of hard-core quasi-art. On one electrifying evening in 1972, critic Stuart Byron introduced Fred Halsted's dreamy, grainy, gay-sex LA Plays Itself, about which I rather coyly wrote, in Film Comment: "The cul-de-sac of narrative porn may well be the sadomasochistic fist-in-the-socket scene ... which one critic described as the most spectacular sequence since De Mille's parting of the Red Sea in The Ten Commandments." The crowd in the auditorium was respectful, if disconcerted (At the moment of full-forearm penetration, a few viewers whispered "Ouch!").


The receptiveness of the establishment to the outlaw sub-art in the early and middle 70s was evident at the two major film festivals I took part in, Cannes and New York. In Cannes' unofficial sidebar, known as the Market, Mary and I saw Behind the Green Door, Lasse Braun's Sensations, Max Pecas' Dictionary of Sex and Metzger's Score, where, after a screening of the film's soft-core version, we were invited to stay for an alternate final reel featuring hard-core sex. (Metzger went on to direct one more arty hard-core, the excellent Paris-shot SM drama The Image, before turning to light-hearted New York porn under the pseudonym Henry Paris.) The Market was just that: a film showcase to lure international buyers. But the porn movies on display fit snugly into the tone of the official Festival. They were serious (if not successful) works, as ambitious as they were lubricious.

At the New York Film Festival, films with intense sexual elements were occasionally part of the 20-some features in the official program. In 1971, the year I joined the festival's selection committee, we showed Dusan Makaveyev's WR: Mysteries of the Organism, which had a hint of hard-core. The following year, the Festival had Bernardo Bertolucci's Last Tango in Paris (Brando, butter), As we discoed fearlessly through the 70s we brought in a porno documentary from France (Exhibition) and a Japanese drama (In the Realm of the Senses) that had hard-core sex and a pretty explicit castration. The clear implication: these pictures were chosen to be in the Film Festival, so they had to be art.

At Film Comment, associate editor Melinda Ward and I put together a special issue on Cinema Sex (January-February 1973). It included Donald Richie's report on Japanese eroductions, Ray Durgnat on Jess Franco, Stephen Farber on sexual censorship in California, my long interview with Metzger and Ebert's definitive study of Meyer (which is quoted in the first pages of The Other Hollywood. My favorite essay, a real startler, was Brendan Gill's on porno films. Brendan, a New Yorker staff writer for a half-century, and author of the magazine's unofficial history, Here at the New Yorker, was a man of many passions, from theater to architecture to women, and in a sweet seizure of ardor his speech and prose were ever rising to an exclamation point . Pornography was one of those enthusiasms, as he expressed in his Film Comment effusion, called "Blue Notes." A sample:

"I go to as many blue movies as I can find time for, and it amounts to a blessing that two of the most important theatres housing hard-core porn in New York City —the Hudson/Avon for heterosexual blue movies, and the Park/Miller for homosexual ones —are within a couple of hundred yards of my office. At the moment of writing, another fifteen or twenty porn houses are but five minutes away. How lucky I am that this unexpected period of permissiveness should have coincided with my life, and how unready I am to have the period brought to a close by some new ruling of the courts!"

We probably wouldn't have done that special issue if it hadn't been for Deep Throat.


In essence, Deep Throat is part slapstick comedy, part carnal carnival: it's a burlesque routine (Harry Reems' Doctor Schnorrer routine) wrapped around a sideshow freak stunt (Linda's routine). And the movie —maybe all of porno chic —wouldn't exist if Chuck Traynor hadn't shown Damiano a bedroom trick his wife Linda could do. Which, putting it starkly, was to work a penis not only into her mouth but down her throat. Call it glottal fellatio —a glo-job.

Chuck and Linda came to New York in 1971, and quickly fell into the burgeoning local porn scene. The way she remembers, it was one big family: "You met one person, and he passed you on to the others. The still photographers knew the club owners who knew the madams who knew the eight-millimeter directors who knew the peep show kingpins who knew the adult bookstore owners and on and on. ... I swear, before the week was out, Chuck managed to meet every prominent pervert in New York."

Years later, Lovelace would publish an autobiography, Ordeal, in which she charged Traynor with all manner of brutality: he beat her, threatened her, forced her into Deep Throat and a lesser known but more infamous loop where she has sex with a dog. She found unlikely allies in the feminist movement, who took her case as prima-facie sexual victimhood. In 1986 Linda testified before Congress about her performance in Deep Throat, charging that "Virtually every time someone watches that movie, they're watching me being raped."

Other hard-core workers interviewed in The Other Hollywood dispute some of the Lovelace charges, including that she showed any reluctance to make the girl-meets-dog film. But there's no doubt Linda's life was mostly rough. She had scars on her body from car crashes, of which she endured at least three, including the one that killed her in 2002, when she was 53. An unhappy, possibly abused child, she left home early and had the ill luck to meet Traynor, about whom no one speaks with much affection. He sounds like an expert exploiter. She wrote that, on a visit to Hugh Hefner's Playboy Mansion: "Chuck decided to demonstrate a new trick he had been practicing —putting his entire fist into me. ... At this point everyone applauded, again, just like in an old Fred Astaire movie." A Roman bacchanal, with Hef as Caligula.


Damiano was shooting a 10-min. loop, set in a hospital, with Reems as the patient (he has a bandage bow-tied around his ailing member) and Linda as the ministering nurse. Then she performed her sleight-of-throat. As the actor recalled: "I couldn't believe she ate the whole thing!... It was a frightening sensation. My first thought was, 'Will she bring me back alive?'" (Spoken like a smart third banana.) "Gerry's eyes nearly popped out of their sockets and the cameraman's jaw brushed his shoes. I think all of us there knew we were present at a significant moment in sexual history."

Damiano quickly whipped up a script about a young woman who can't achieve orgasm, whatever her sexual activity. "There should be bells ringing, dams bursting, bombs going off!" she complains to a friend. Dr. Young, after a minute examination, detects Linda's clitoris in her throat. She starts bawling, and he tries to console her. "Having a clitoris deep down in the bottom of your throat is better than having no clitoris at all." "That's easy for you to say,' she snaps. "Suppose your balls were in your ear." He pauses, brightens, and says: "Well, then I could hear myself coming."

When Reems read an early version of the script, he recalled, "I saw a part I was dying to play —and my part was dying to play it, too." (Cue rim shot.) The director was a Reems fan: "I really dug Harry. He's a professional, he's a romantic, and he's an exhibitionist." But for some reason he didn't want him to play Dr. Young. Linda, of course, had to be in the movie; she was the movie. He gave her an alliterative, movie-star name and devised costumes, lighting tricks and cagey camera angles to hide her abdominal scar, a memento from one of her car wrecks. Linda was no goddess. But she was slim and freckled, not your standard porno skank, and her inexperience on screen played like freshness, innocence.

Though the cast and crew were in New York, Deep Throat would be shot in Miami. Why? Mainly because nearby Fort Lauderdale was the base of operations for Damiano's underworld sponsor. (You need money for a porno in 1971, you don't go to Chase Manhattan.) Louis Peraino, known as Butchie, was the son of Anthony Peraino, Sr., a made man in the Columbo family; one of the five Mafia gangs that ruled New York City. Butchie, who put up the $25,000 for the movie and received producer credit (as "Lou Perry"), was volubly apprehensive about Damiano's new starlet. Lovelace subsequently explained "why Butchie was so critical of me. It wasn't that I might ruin his film or cost him twenty-five thousand. I might make him look bad in front of Daddy."

Whomever Damiano hoped to cast as his male lead wasn't available, so Reems got the job, and Traynor was named production manager. Good thing on both counts. Chuck could be a jealous spouse, so when a sex scene was to be shot, Damiano would send him away on an errand. And Reems had a chance to display his indefatigable performance skills, as a burlesque comic and sex worker, made the enterprise very viewer-friendly. "Harry wasn't a great actor," says long-time porn entrepreneur Fred Lincoln, "but he was a great fucker." Reems is justly proud of his quick preparation for the money scenes: "I can get turned on by a picture of Minnie Mouse." (Fine, Harry, just don't say Pluto!). Even Federal agent Bill Kelly, who would lead the battle to put Harry in jail, offered the grudging praise that "He was the only redeeming thing in the entire movie, as opposed to Linda Lovelace, who's got as much acting ability as a lamp." Reems certainly earned his salary on the film: $250. Linda got $1,200.

The working title had been The Sword Swallower. But "deep throat" (Damiano's coinage) was the picture's key phrase. So he changed it. Damiano: "When we finished the film, the Perainos objected to the title. 'No one will understand it! It's not catchy enough!' 'Don't worry,' I told them. 'Deep Throat will become a household word.'" He got his way, for which Woodward and Bernstein will be forever grateful.


Deep Throat opened at the World Theatre on 49th Street in Manhattan, around the corner from the Time + Life Building. The date was June 12, three days before a break-in at the Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C. Thanks in part to a rave review from Al Goldstein in Screw magazine, and to a catchy ad campaign that ran in New York dailies ("If you like head, you'll love Throat"), word of, shall we say, mouth spread quickly. The first week's gross was a robust $30,033. What did the audience find? A mildly bright, good-natured comedy with some appealing performers. Among the supporting players, I like Dolly Sharp, who has some screen presence as Linda's friend and confidante. As a man gives her cunnilingus, she nonchalantly lights up, then asks, "Mind if I smoke while you're eating?" He laps away, and the perky song "Great Big Magic Bubbles" is heard.

Damiano squeezed a lot of production value out of his $25,000, including the underscoring, which is full of jolly, ironic pop music, including a version of Mickey and Sylvia's "Love Is Strange" with raunchier lyrics. The comedy is not cruel but sympathetic. Dr. Young loves the deep throat but it exhausts him; an old Jewish guy is one of Linda's most ardent patients, pleading, "Money is no object. Look —I got Blue Cross!" Once Linda locates her tingler, she need only find Mr. Right, a nerd named Wilbur (William Love). The plot dilemma: Linda needs a man with a nine-inch cock, and Wilbur frets that "I'm just four inches away from happiness." Turns out his cock is ... 13 inches long. Ladies and gentlemen: comedy!

I hear you: this isn't porno chic, it's porno shtick. But it was fun and funny in a slummy way. That helped make Deep Throat the American public's ideal induction ceremony into hard-core. Sex-film history was repeating itself. The break-out soft-core film, Teas,, had been a comedy with a gimmick (a man is able to see women naked); Throat had a more ingenious twist, was a cleverer film and a genial buoyancy. And where else were audiences going to see a woman with such control over her gag reflex? Granted, when they saw the film, some viewers couldn't control theirs, but most were diverted. It soon became the date movie du jour.

Before Deep Throat, the mood in a sex-movie theater was solitary, drastically monastic, with patrons seated as far away from one another as possible. The Damiano film turned porn-going into a communal experience. If you were going to see a hard-core movie, this was the one. You could slake your curiosity and amass opinions that would sustain hours of cocktail-party chatter. Celebrities stood in line. Comedians worked the fellatio film into their monologues. Johnny Carson: "This is kinda strange country, isn't it? Judges can see Deep Throat but they can't listen to those [Nixon] tapes." Bob Hope: "I went to see Deep Throat cause I'm fond of animal pictures. I thought it was about giraffes." Bob Hope made a Deep Throat joke on TV! It was like a papal blessing.

Legalized porn had a sister trend in the early 70s: feminism. Deep Throat benefited from that as well. The movie did acknowledge the existence of a clitoral orgasm, though by transporting it to a part of the body where friction would give men equal pleasure. In real life, fellatio can be deemed an act of submission for the woman (and emission for the man). In this movie's life, it brings a woman to ecstasy. "Guess what?" shouts Erica Jong in Inside Deep Throat.. "It's not true!" What is true is that erupting sperm is the money shot of porn films. It's not just that porn is made for the sexual excitement of men; it's that the arousal of the penis is easier to display visually than arousal of the clitoris. As Gill noted in the "Blue Notes" essay: "Simply as theatre, cunnilingus isn't a patch on fellatio, and it is difficult to see what even the most ardent Women's Lib maker of blue movies can do about it."


Until the 70s, New York state had one of the country's stricter film censorship boards. And although Mona and School Girl were shown without incident in Manhattan theaters, the success and attendant news coverage of Deep Throat required police action. (Though the cops interviewed in Inside Deep Throat are among its most receptive critics. "It was stunning, testifies John Goodman of the NYPD. "The cinematography, for a porn movie, was very good. The movie was funny. We knew that this was something different.") On the order of Mayor John Lindsay, the police closed down the film, and in March 1973 Judge Joel Tyler upheld the ban, writing, "This is one throat that deserves to be cut. I readily perform the operation by finding the defendant guilty as charged..." The World Theatre rose to the occasion. Its marquee read: "Judge Cuts Throat —World Mourns."

The Fenton-Barbato documentary makes much of the judicial and law-enforcement politics surrounding Deep Throat. The Nixon Administration tried prosecuting the film from every angle —not surprising, since it was a popular porn movie produced by the Mafia. One federal agent quoted a Peraino underling as saying of the Deep Throat take: "We've got so much money ... we don't even count it any more.... We weigh it." The movie reports that "Deep Throat was made for just $25,000. It grossed more than $600 million." (That last stat is a flexible one, like a guy's street-corner boast about his penis size. It's a tough sell, considering that the movie was banned in 27 states and didn't play the major theater chains.) Whatever the gross, Damiano didn't see much of it. The Perainos told him he was cut out of his one-third share of profits. And you don't argue with the made men. In the documentary, three decades later, Damiano is still afraid to discuss the movie's mob connection.

There's some amusement in statements from 70s moral guardians —such as "It's a floodgate of filth that's engulfed the minds and hearts and souls of America like nothing else ever has" —especially when the speaker is convicted savings-and-loan embezzler Charles Keating. It's a pleasure to watch Reems stalwartly defend his work against the ferociously righteous Roy Cohn (later to die of AIDS after a life of secret gay sex). What isn't so funny is that a Memphis jury found Reems guilty of obscenity for appearing in Deep Throat. "For the first time in U.S. history," narrator Dennis Hopper notes, "an actor had been convicted for merely playing a part." His conviction was overturned on appeal (during the Carter Administration), but booze and drugs took their toll. Within a few years Harry ended up panhandling on Sunset Boulevard

I don't question Inside Deep Throat's emphasis on the Nixon Administration's attempt to muzzle pornography. What I do know is that it didn't work. Publicly exhibited porn flourished for the next decade. New York City, certainly, was much more open in the Lindsay-Beame-and-Koch 70s than it would be in the Giuliani 90s. In the early days you could see such perverse eccentricities as Why, a Kronhausen documentary about a Danish farm girl, Bodil Joensen, who has sex with her livestock. That one I skipped.

But I did see most of the "major" porn films (a critic's got to do what a critic's got to do). And I found that the filmmakers were eager to explore all kinds of genres. The Mitchells made a Fanny Hill-style period comedy, Autobiography of a Flea. Low-rent auteur Zebedy Colt pornofied a Crucible-like period drama with The Devil Inside Her.) Peter Locke's It Happened in Hollywood was a Laugh-In-inspired skitcom; one funny turn featured a man-woman trapeze act called the Flying Fucks. These weren't always very good movies, but they were real ones, with earnest, sometimes accomplished actors, scripts that tried to be clever and increasingly professional production values. Just add screwing.

Recently, simply for you, dear reader, I saw some of them again. Here are thumbnail reviews of five:


Mona, 1970: The Jazz Singer of fuck films, Mona was pretty sure of itself for a lonely pioneer. It had a busy soundtrack: clavichord, old pop tunes, harmonica and jug band music, an Indian raga and a long audio extract from The Taming of the Shrew. It revealed Mona as a kind of fellatio virtuoso: when a guy she has solicited for a back-alley blow job tries to pay her, she replies daintily, "I didn't do it for money. I have a taste for these things." It boasts a piquant blend of tease and sympathy, and has a few laughs at its audience's expense. Mona says she's going to see a film, and Mother advises: "You be careful now. You don't know what kind of people are in a movie house nowadays."

School Girl, 1971: The friendliest, most naturalistic porno I know, Paul Gerber's film about a San Francisco college girl's research into swinging sexuality has no bondage, no discipline, just nice or slightly bent people doing what comes hornily. Debra (charming, unaffected Debra Allen) investigates phone sex, a father-son duo and pornographic literature, plus the inevitable group grope. The finest liaison involves a woman, Elizabeth, who wants to keep her five-year marriage fresh by giving Debra as a present to her husband Tony. The catch: Elizabeth has to "direct" the scene, which she does with a gentle, practiced bossiness. "Tony, your knee's in my way —down!" "Harder, harder!" "Come on, Tony, have a good time. You look so bored." Somehow Tony manages an erection, and Elizabeth joins the party. It's a lovely, and hot, demonstration of the thesis that sex is power —and Elizabeth's the dominatrix. Highly recommended.

Behind the Green Door, 1972: The film became a hit when producer-directors Jim and Artie Mitchell revealed that their star, Marilyn Chambers, had posed for the Ivory Snow box. But it had more going for it than notoriety. Except for the framing device, there is hardly any dialogue. Chambers' mass seduction scene, 10 mins. or so, is accompanied only by the sounds of heavy breathing, moans and the occasional audible wince. One of the film's money shots is given a slo-mo instant replay of the kind Jackie Chan later used for his best stunts; then the same shot in super slo-mo, then in Pablo Ferro-style psychedelic greens and pinks. The last two minutes are extraordinary for a porn film: one extended closeup of a man's and a woman's faces as they kiss (and have sex) —as if the Mitchells understood Bergman's dictum that "Film begins with the human face."

Sensations, 1975: Trying to be a hard-core Emmanuelle, this bit of Euro-decadence by Alberto Ferro (aka Lasse Braun) featured Penthouse Pet Brigitte Maier. She's quite a pretty lass, but doesn't get to do much more than watch until the end, when she accedes to the climactic orgy scene. Seven acolytes of various genders crowd around her, matching their protuberances to her orifices, until she is nearly smothered in closeup. Cut to the seven slowly withdrawing from their feast, and, presto, Maier has disappeared. That's the end —except for the closing credits, where we find that "Julio" was played by "Mexican Anonymous. The lighting cameraman was Dutch Anonymous, the script girl Belgian Anonymous and the assistant editor: English Anonymous. The whole Anonymous family worked on this one.

Alice in Wonderland, 1975: Produced by Osco and directed by Bud Townsend in soft and hard versions, this is a musical fantasy update of the Lewis Carroll tale, with eight or ten perky songs (by Bucky Searles, who had written for the TV show Julia) and orchestrations by Peter Matz, who was Barbra Streisand's music man in her first bloom. Playmate Kristine DeBell, a most engaging cutie, manages the wide-eyed wistfulness as deftly as she executes the phallus-in-wonderland scenes. (Other performers do the hard-core stuff.) The film is spiffy and frolicsome, with a distinct vaudeville tone. Toward the end, during some vigorous sexercise, one of the characters remarks, "After a while they all look the same, don't they?" They do. But Alice is one hard-core comedy that is at least as appealing in its R version.


In The Other Hollywood, writer Jack Boulware reminisces: "But —as it happens with everybody who had a great time in the 60s and 70s —it can't last forever, you know?" Though he's referring to the Mitchell brothers, one of whom killed the other in 1991, he could have meant the whole porno chic scene. Professional actors, even of marginal competence, gave way to born-and-bred porn stars like John Holmes in the 70s and Traci Lords in the 80s. "The turning point," says porn director Ed Deroo, "came in 1982, when it finally went all video. I missed film tremendously. Film had soul; video had nothing. Video's just a way of making money. It flows like water, but film had a texture, a feeling, something you could grab onto and feel." Then tragedy struck with the AIDS plague, which took Chuck Vincent, Wade Nichols, Tony Taylor and Holmes. "What happened to the sexual revolution?" asks Humphry Knipe. "It caught AIDS and died."

But porno chic died long before that. If Throat in 1972 stoked the hope that hard-core might fruitfully intersect with mainstream, Jaws in 1975 ended that dream, and a few others. The Spielberg film's success, and that of Star Wars two years later, proved that the big-bucks audience comprised kids and teens, not adults, and it was the young who had to be pandered to. Adult films were largely marginalized, the hard-core back to the old grind houses (and later to video), the Hollywood ones to art houses and Oscar season. It's been that way for 30 years.

The ambitious porn films of the early 70s have basically gone missing. Deep Throat is available (though not through on DVD, and Alice in Wonderland on VHS, but most of the others I've mentioned required a video-store or mail-order scavenger hunt to track down. Some, like It Happened in Hollywood and Damiano's The Story of Joanna, I couldn't find even at my refuge for all things weird and esoteric, Kim's Music and Video in the East Village. Even the major research website makes it difficult to find 70s-porno data. If you go to the IMdb and type in the words Deep Throat (or School Girl, or Behind the Green Door), you will not find the movie; porno is listed only under the actor or director's name. The genre is too scuzzy to list on a big site, and doesn't have the slumming or nostalgia value of the Ed Wood oeuvre.

So you'll have to take my (and Damiano's) word for it. Pornography, and movies, used to be a whole lot more interesting. Granted, I can't authoritatively swear that today's hard-core stinks. That's because I haven't seen a porn video, or digito, whatever they call them, in decades. Except once, a few years ago, in a hotel, for about five minutes.