I met Fernando on Hollywood Boulevard. He's from Puerto Rico. His dream is to be on "The Ellen Show." His sign advertises a "VAGINA MASSAGE FREE TRIAL." He holds the sign, and passersby -- tourists, mostly -- pay him to take their picture with him.
I interviewed adult star and director jessica drake on my Forbes blog. In her most recent movie, which is what would be considered a mainstream adult movie, she starred in a scene with three trans women. This caused something of a controversy.
"There was some discussion about not including the trans scene on the DVD, maybe just offering it online. There was also talk about putting a disclaimer before the scene, but it was imperative to me that we did neither of those things. I didn't want to warn someone how they should feel before they watched it."
I can't recall if I already mentioned that I have a piece forthcoming in the newly launched LOST OBJECTS series. It's part of a bigger project called PROJECT:OBJECT. Twenty-five stories from some amazing contributors considering things they've lost.
"Perhaps when you die, suggests Nina Katchadourian in her LOST OBJECTS story, you’ll get to see all the lost objects of your life. The stories of these things having been finally resolved, she suggests, only then will you 'disappear into being a lost object yourself.' Lost objects weigh heavily upon us — this series explores the various mechanisms of that cathexis."
Keep an eye out here from my story about the time I lost a rubber vagina.
I've been reading BLDGBLOG for I don't know how long. Like Kottke, it's an original blog, steadfast despite the churn around it, and focused on something very specific, which, considering the diversity of the "content," could be categorized as that which delights. At least, that's my experience of it. In any case, Geoff Manaugh has a delightful post up today about a class he's teaching at my alma mater, UC Berkeley, and how California is science fiction incarnate.
"Robinson explained to Boom that, in the blink of an eye, California became a 'completely different landscape. At that same time I started reading science fiction (…) and it struck me that it was an accurate literature, that it was what my life felt like; so I thought science fiction was the literature of California. I still think California is a science fictional place. The desert has been terraformed. The whole water system is unnatural and artificial. This place shouldn’t look like it looks, so it all comes together for me. I’m a science fiction person, and I’m a Californian.'"
I first encountered this poem years ago, but thought of it when I saw a Twitter call for "your favorite poems written in the last ~50 years by anyone who isn't a white man."
The poem is called "What Do Women Want?" and it's by Kim Addonizio.
I want a red dress.
I want it flimsy and cheap,
I want it too tight, I want to wear it
until someone tears it off me.
You can read the rest here.
"American Made" isn't a bad movie, but it isn't a great movie either. It's solid. It's like some slices of ham, a large spoonful of mashed potatoes, and some green peas. It does the job, but, I mean, are you going to rave about it? Probably not. There's Tom Cruise. Shining, well-haired, strapping. In this role, he's a grinning, adventure-seeking, drug and guns running American cowboy who makes a shit ton of money by simultaneously hustling the American government and South American drug lords. There are some fun flying sequences, and a good time is had by all -- at least for a while. Eventually, things go south, and then things aren't so funny anymore. It's based on a true story, but if you compare the two, there's not much truth to this movie. And, as was the case with "Atomic Blonde," you get a lot of action, but you don't get a lot of insight. What makes this guy tick? What are we to make of a man who made his American dream by being a hustler? These questions remain unanswered. The standout performance of the movie is by Caleb Landry Jones, who plays the main character's dumb hick brother-in-law and shines as an entertaining idiot. Otherwise, I'd say it's a soft pass.
One of the standout tracks in a soundtrack of standouts is Jidenna's "Classic Man" in "Moonlight." Over at Pitchfork, Maggie Lange has a charmingly rigorous dissection of the track, how it plays a part in the movie, and the subtext it lends to a scene that's fraught with tension and desire.
"*Classic man interruptus* is also a great scene about rev panic: When you start up your car after someone gets in, and you forgot what you were listening to when it was just you. It’s like a diary open on the table. Who you are alone and who you show to other people can be different (a theme from Moonlight!), and sometimes our music can betray this. Of course, I don’t want to assume anything about whether one should or should not be private about their time with 'Classic Man,' this is just a thought about vulnerability and presentation."
When I was in Memphis, I visited a black strip club. This Instagram image is from that visit. I will write a post about it, likely this week, probably on my Forbes blog. I wasn't sure whether or not to go to the club. When I asked white people about the neighborhood, they said, don't go there. When I asked black people about the neighborhood, they said, you'll be fine. So, I went. It was really late, and I wasn't sure where the club was. I accidentally walked into the wrong club. The guy behind the bulletproof (?) window where they took the cover charge finally figured out where I was trying to go. They told me to go around the corner. So, you know, I did.
I had fun writing this fashion piece. I like fashion. Fashion is crazy.
"Certainly, whether she is stuffed into a clutch of florals, swaddled in outrageous padding, or encumbered with tags and luggage, this woman does not appear to be particularly free. Rather, the resultant vision is of a woman who is simply carrying too much. Lost in her Rick Owens sculptural attachments or decorated with a necklace of charms that drapes so low as to graze her crotch, she appears to be overloaded by her own desire to be a peacock."
BBC Radio 5 Live had me on yesterday to talk about the social media controversy in the wake of the death of Hugh Hefner. On social media sites, feminists celebrated the demise of a man they asserted turned women into objects while others (like me) celebrated the life of a man who'd helped pioneer the sexual revolution and was a longtime champion of freedom of speech. The debate starts at the 1 hour 22 minute mark here.
I woke up in the middle of the night, checked my phone, and saw there was a text from the BBC. Was I available to talk about Hefner? There was only one possibility: Hef was dead. Not long ago, I received an invitation from his son Cooper to attend the annual Midsummer Night's Dream part at the Mansion. I couldn't attend, and in declining, I wondered if it was my last chance to visit the Mansion while Hef was alive. I've been there two or three times before -- for various events. I worked for Playboy TV for five years, and at one event at the Mansion, I met Hef. He was smaller than I expected. I think he was wearing either a pink or a lavender shirt. He was friendly, and I was gobsmacked to be meeting a legend in the flesh. Wandering the grounds of the Holmby Hills property was another experience altogether. Pink flamingoes picked across the lawn. Little monkeys danced around enclosures in the yard. The grotto was unreal. It was a kind of Shangri-La. Here's to presuming Hef now presides over some equally paradise-like dominion in the sky, surrounded by bunnies.
I wrote an homage on my Forbes blog:
"For years, I proudly wore the Playboy bunny on the front of my shirt, in the shape of a pendant I hung around my neck, on a baseball hat. Unlike the feminists who had attacked Hef for his portrayals of female sexuality, I found in his entrepreneurial spirit, his unabashed love of women, and his unrelenting curiosity about our sexual selves a role model that gave me someone to be."
I had a terrific time working with the delightful gang at FourTwoNine magazine to play a part in creating "At Home with the New Superstars of Porn." I've long been a fan of editor-in-chief Maer Roshan, and I was thrilled when he reached out to me to write the story that would accompany photographer Jeff Riedel's amazing images of porn stars when they're not in front of the cameras. It was such an interesting piece to work on, from start to finish. It's online now, and you can also buy a real paper (!) copy of FourTwoNine at better bookstores near you.
"After decades of porn leading technology, the hope now is that technology will lead porn back to profitability. Online, the gig economy’s cam boys and girls turned porn stars are delivering custom content to consumers who are willing to pay for bespoke virtual intimacy. In the Valley, a new generation of tech-savvy pornographers is busily turning your freakiest Google searches into high-production projects for which even the most jaded porn watchers are shelling out money. For the first time, women are elbowing their way into the industry’s old boys’ club and creating a new brand of porn that’s sex positive, feminist, and ethically made. And the once clear division between straight and gay porn is slowly, inexorably disappearing."
Please check out my new post featuring my totally weird tour of Graceland and its new $45M entertainment complex. Graceland is totally weird. Did I mention that already? I thought it would be "cool" and "interesting," but instead it was mostly "disconcerting." Why would you put a waterfall where a fireplace should be? Is it wise to make your den look like a jungle? What are the consequences of creating a hallway of mirrors in a stairwell leading to a basement where one wall is embedded with multiple TVs? I have no idea what these answers are.
It just got a starred review in Publisher's Weekly!
"In this bold memoir, ex-Marine Young examines how war transformed him from a confused teenager into a dangerous and damaged man. Fresh from high school and with no direction, Young walked into a Marine recruitment center in 2005 and sealed his fate. Soon he was suffering the indignities of basic training before being deployed to 'the sandbox' in Iraq, where he sweated, masturbated, shot stray dogs, and watched friends get blown up."
I wrote about "The Deuce" on my Forbes blog here. I found it to be a bit of a mixed bag. Generally, I'm not much of a fan of David Simon; too much I AM TRYING TO MAKE A POLITICAL POINT and not enough internal turmoil. Where is "The Deuce"'s Tony Soprano? You will not find it in James Franco's porny twins sitting in front of a mirror in a bar. Probably the best thing about the show is Maggie Gyllenhaal's Candy -- that hooker with a heart of gold and, in this case, a complicated soul. She's probably the most nuanced thing about the show, refusing to fall prey to Simon's terminal heavy-handedness and forever case of the seriousnesses. Candy is sweet, and predatory, and careful, and reckless. There's a sweetly complex scene that Gyllenhaal drives in which Candy turns a young trick, and deftly. Something about the scene where he squeezes her boobs, and when she subsequently subverts what you think the sex worker-john dynamic is demonstrates the humanity you find in unlikely places. As for porn, there's little of it. That's coming, apparently. For now, the players are setting the scene. I'm curious to see where it goes. I try and remain optimistic.
Someone sent me a link to this podcast that covers how the porn industry has been reshaped by technology. I listened to one episode and didn't think much of it. For the most part, men struggle when it comes to covering porn. Example 1. Example 2. Exception 1. Exception 2. I'll give the rest of "The Butterfly Effect" a listen.