The Accidental Voyeur: 50 Shades of Jenna (and Seka)

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“Wake me up when September ends,” as the Green Day song goes, for the past month has seen not one but two new books, each by porn’s two most famous stars, each representing a different generation. Behold then, Jenna Jameson’s fiction debut, the novel Sugar — about a porn star trying to escape her past (Sounds familiar, anyone?) — and Seka’s long-awaited memoir, Inside Seka: The Platinum Princess of Porn (which has already, to nobody’s surprise, elicted a mixture of cheers and jeers).

Admittedly, I loved Jenna’s 2004 bestselling memoir How to Make Love Like a Porn Star: A Cautionary Tale, so I can only view this brave foray into fiction as yet another extension of her celebrity branding.  One of her most oft-quoted lines to the media was something she herself said to me, back when I interviewed her in 2001 (and then re-quoted countless times elsewhere, not least in the text for her Penthouse Pet spread of 2004): “I made it one of my missions to get this industry accepted by the public. And I think I have been pretty successful in doing that, especially in getting it accepted by women.”

So, still true to that aspiration, she now goes explicitly for the female audience, teaming up with romance novelist Hope Tarr to fashion a thinly-disguised personal fantasy. Her new publisher (Skyhorse Publishing in New York) prepares you for this racy 288-page tome with this summary: “Fleeing Los Angeles and her scarlet past, a former porn star returns to her New York roots, hoping to lose herself in the crowded city streets, protected from the paparazzi’s reach . . . or so she thinks. A chance encounter with a returned war hero – now prominent investment CEO – is the very last thing she wants or needs, or is it? When the handsome and deliciously kinky CEO shows her that there are other ways to satisfy her needs (and he knows all of them), she finds herself in the middle of a sexual awakening, a true romance and a happily ever after.”

Hmm. shouldn’t this one have been titled 50 Shades of Jenna? (And since when do been-there, done-that porn stars need “sexual awakening”?) The last novel by a celebrity that I read was downright awful — Swan by supermodel Naomi Campbell, also ghostwritten and best forgotten — though, my skepticism aside, I know that Jenna’s a marketing genius so poo-pooh her at your own peril. I came to that conclusion during my own interview with her; we were discussing her then newly-released movie My Plaything: Jenna Jameson (an “interactive sex” DVD, shot POV-style) and she gave me one of the most priceless quotes ever. “It’s totally interactive, so it’s like you’re having sex with me,” she quipped, ever so casually. “I watch it and I know that if I were a guy, it would be the ultimate jack-off. Every man watching this is going to want to fuck me!”

She knew I was going to quote her, of course, so how can you improve on that kind of savvy? That’s the real stuff of porn star legend and the kind that poor Seka might well dream of matching, and I wish her good luck. When I mentioned her book’s release to an industry colleague (a director/producer who used to work with Seka), he reacted incredulously: “How can Seka have a book? She doesn’t remember anything!” He once had an argument with her about a scene she had once shot with Nina Hartley. “Seka swore they’d never worked together, so I sent her a copy of the scene,” he told me. “She called me to say she had no memory of doing it and most of those years were a blur!”

Well, that’s what we need ghostwriters for — Seka’s memoir is co-written by Kerry Zukus and published by BearManor Media — but shouldn’t some things remain best unspoken? Many of Seka’s fans assumed she’s European  (or at least Swedish, since she was in so many Swedish Erotica movies) and many a bubble was sadly burst when it was eventually revealed that she was really all-American, born and raised in Virginia.  (“She told me she was from Cleveland!” my friend noted. “I don’t recall Seka speaking much in the movies I saw her in, or I probably would have figured it out sooner!”)

Seka’s fame occurred during the so-called Golden Age of Porn and this is the very book to stoke those baby-boomer home fires, since she got her mojo going back in 1977 (and then “retired” at least three times since 1982) whereas Jenna started in 1994 (and quit porn for good in 2008), so we’re talking a colossal time gap, really eons in porn years. The lack of dialogue in Seka’s films was actually fine and dandy – after all, the often less-than-stellar production values of the time demanded that the viewer focus on the sex rather than the story! – and her book recollects her on-set theatrics (in her 200-plus movies) and real life romances (Matt Dillon and the late comedian Sam Kinison)  and other less dramatic meetings in the “real” Hollywood from Woody (Allen) to Whoopi (Goldberg).

But I’m betting my bottom dollar none of these anecdotes can ever hold a candle to Jenna’s own admission in her earlier memoir of her off-camera, anal-sex encounters with Marilyn Manson. (Hmm, was that why Dita Von Teese divorced him later, in 2006? The mind, not to mention the ass, surely boggles.)  Seka, however, managed to get the most intriguing endorsement from director Candida Royalle, herself no wilting wallflower back in the day.  She was “calling the shots in a film genre in the days when it was completely controlled by men,” and so “Seka shatters the myth of the poor little victim who lost her way. Don’t expect excuses and apologies. This is one blonde bombshell who lives by her own rules.”

That notion brought me right back to Jenna’s new novel, the story of a porn star who needed to escape her past, which begs the metaphysical question: Does one then renege on the dream by running away? Or is one entitled to seek salvation by all means necessary, even if that means walking away from the cameras? Both Jenna and Seka have now walked away, and we in the industry already know there are no easy answers — since all porn stars somehow lose their way, simply as a matter of course or an actual rite of passage, before staging a “comeback.”

Here then, is their latest resurrection: Seka chooses to reminisce darkly and Jenna prefers to yadda-yadda a yarn of romance and longing, and who am I to insist one road to redemption is better? You gotta sin to get saved, as they say, so tread your path wisely. The books are out, the choice is yours.

 

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Drew McKenzie was previously the "Cinema Blue" columnist for Penthouse Variations and also wrote for AVN Online, Fox (from Montcalm Publishing, New York) and Guld Rapport (from Stockholm, Sweden). He is also the author of seven books -- three on porn stars, all done under his real name.