The Accidental Voyeur: Happy Birthday, Tori Black!

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I’m writing this to pay homage to a porn star whose birthday falls a few days from mine, because whenever I see her image now, she reminds me of something some wise dude once said: “Life is not only about the breath you take but about what takes your breath away.”

Because I’ll always remember the day I met her in person, simply because she took my breath away. It was September 17, 2008, at Remmet Studios in Canoga Park (the very place and day I wrote about in this column last month), though she wasn’t there for the same reason I was; she was there to pose for the photographer Charles Lightfoot, for the box cover of another movie, not the one I there to witness — not an uncommon coincidence, since Remmet is 10,000 square feet and all the big companies shoot there.

I hadn’t known that because I had just arrived and hadn’t yet seen the day’s call sheet, but I certainly remember the moment when she walked into the room. Yes, suddenly there she was, just turned 20 (on August 26) and standing there, five-feet-nine and totally naked, the one and only Tori Black.

Still a rookie at the time, she was just finishing her first year in porn and would only gain real acclaim a few months later as the Penthouse Pet for December 2008 (and eventually the first girl ever to win two consecutive AVN “Performer of the Year” Awards, in 2010 and 2011). Somehow, I had vaguely heard of her and told her so. She was pleased about that and we ended up having a very nice chat — me standing there fully clothed, her literally in her birthday suit.

I’d done that on sets before with other girls, as they strolled around wearing nothing at all, but Tori looked so exceptionally stunning and exuded such a quiet confidence, a kind of natural sexiness for which no words exist, and so my only meeting so far with Tori Black remains memorable because of what was NOT said. She did allow me to examine her very striking pentagram tattoo below her right navel (so yes, I’ve met her lovely vulva in person too) but otherwise I can’t remember a damn thing we actually talked about, and that pretty much says it all. Sometimes, the best times you remember are the ones when the cameras aren’t rolling.

Later, Tori herself recounted one such filmless incident (alas, not to me but to another writer): “I once walked in on a boyfriend jerking off. He closed the computer, ran to the kitchen, opened the fridge and squatted behind the door. I said, ‘I don’t care that you’re watching porn — just tell me who it was!” He finally showed me — and it was ME! I thought that was so hot! I was like, ‘Awesome! Let’s fuck now!’”

There was another occasion, also not filmed but personally pivotal in my life, which occurred before I professionally chronicled the sex industry. It was, in hindsight, my inflection point — the very juncture when things changed and, though I didn’t know it then, working with porn would become my destiny.

It happened in Los Angeles circa 1987, when I was a rock critic at the LA Weekly. I’d met Karen (her real name) at a music industry event, where she told me she sang and played bass in a local band and was inspired by the Ramones. Three hours later when I walked her to her car, she said goodbye by kissing me full on the mouth, her tongue darting and then dancing halfway down my throat. I hadn’t expected that, and thus began my first-ever experience with the concept of adultery: Yes, she was married, and we would meet for another six months, fucking in secret, and she also indoctrinated me into porn.

Her favorite thing to do on weekends was to smoke a bag of pot and watch porn while stoned, and she also added me to her “new friends” request form on the Adam & Eve mailing list — for those mail-order print catalogs, in the days before the Internet, which then came via snail-mail and gradually catalyzed for me a lifelong interest. Years later, I was on an Adam & Eve movie set and told that to Mary Deane and Katy Zvolerin from the company and we had a good laugh. This true-blue backstory has appeared in print elsewhere before but remains worth retelling, so short and sweet and very much to the point:

One sunny afternoon, in a public parking lot, Karen was giving me a blowjob in my car. She was an exquisite deep-throater and I could actually feel the very back of her throat, a mildly strange but not unpleasant sensation which aroused me even more. So I was a bit perturbed when she suddenly stopped.

“There’s a security guard watching us,” she whispered, looking out the window of my car, a sporty Volkswagen Scirocco painted gold with a handsome maroon trim – a likely target for parking-lot voyeurs on any given day but, surely, more so with a blonde inside visibly bobbing her head up and down.

She looked at me and I looked at her, and we both burst into giggles. “Why not?” she shrugged. “Let him watch.” And with that, she immediately put my cock back in her mouth.

Thanks to this moment of telepathy, leading to sheer spontaneity, we were performing in our very own porn movie, sans camera. We did have one viewer, so I guess that counted.

That’s why, when people ask me about writing porn reportage, I always tell them you can’t ever capture the exhibitionistic elements, much less empathize with the girls, if you haven’t been there yourself — at least metaphysically. The lack of a camera doesn’t matter, as long as someone’s out there watching.

And, moreover, it also applies if you don’t care who’s actually watching, even if it’s something as simple as walking naked into a room full of strangers. Yes, we didn’t need a camera either so many happy returns to you, Tori Black.

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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.