The Accidental Voyeur: Melancholy Baby

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Pardon me while I wax literary here, for a change. (You porn fans are big readers, right?) Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who died last week at age 87, is best known for One Hundred Years of Solitude, which won him the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982 and is still in my opinion the greatest novel ever written, yet it’s always his 2004 novella that people ask me about – the very evocatively titled Memories of My Melancholy Whores, first published in Spain as Memoria de mis putas tristes, a story about human obsession told from the viewpoint of an old man who gives himself a birthday treat by procuring the services of a young prostitute.

Garcia Marquez was diagnosed with cancer back in 1999, after which he declared that he was done with novels and would focus instead on writing his memoirs. He made only one exception — this one slim 115-page volume, which has an interesting wellspring harnessed from his own past. When he was 13, he lost his virginity to a prostitute, arranged by his own father, and then back when he was a young journalist scheming to become a novelist, he once lived for a whole year in a brothel in Barranquilla, Colombia, where he served as a scribe for the girls of the cathouse. He would ghostwrite their letters home, particularly for the ones who were illiterate, for which he would receive payment in kind (and no prizes for guessing what kind). Wow, I remember thinking, he scored a pretty nice gig there!

There is a parallel to my own life, of course, in that I entered the realm of adult entertainment by serving as a scribe too, but as a ghostwriter for porn stars. I wasn’t writing their letters home for them but had done one better, giving these girls voice and feeding the curiosity of their rabid fans. To me, I was keeping the flame alive because the fabled temple prostitutes of pre-Christian times are merely reincarnated today in our modern-age porn stars, themselves objects of obsessive worship. I really like that idea, and I admire those who moonlight as escorts too and don’t mind the notoriety. Sunny Lane and Sunset Thomas, for example, have parlayed their talents well at the Moonlite Bunnyranch in Nevada, as did Britney Amber (who worked at the Bunnyranch before she became a porn star, when it’s usually the other way around!), and I have to commend the sultry Brazilian sweetheart Olivia Del Rio (photo above) who had no objections when I printed my interview with her in AVN Online, which included the link to her escorting website and mentioned her “private session” fees.

In my own life, I’ve openly admitted to a past relationship of sorts — meaning “dating” that didn’t involve monetary transaction, ironically — with a stripper who had also been a New York call girl, and my actual first sexual experience was in a massage parlor during my late teens, which tainted me for life since (to spare you the details) it was a highly positive experience that no doubt made me think well of these girls, as I still do today. (And no, in case you’re already wondering, unlike Garcia Marquez my father did not arrange that one.)

Hence my delight in quoting the now-retired Lauren Phoenix back in 2005 when she was the reigning AVN and XRCO “Performer of the Year,” in response to some dialogue in her Evil Angel film Hellcats 2, in which she declared during one scene: “I am a raging whore!” Was that her merely reading from the script or a true-life proclamation? The latter, she confirmed: “Thanks. I AM a raging whore. Yeah, I am! My sex drive is massive. I don’t know where it came from but I’ve always been incredible sexual. It’s pretty normal for me.” But I concede the relevance of context, as noted by Hannah Harper in one of her “Harper’s Bizarre” columns in AVN Insider where she stated that she loves being called a whore when she’s fucking on film but feels disrespected if someone does that to her off-camera.

Other girls, on the other hand, don’t much care – like Chloe, she of those great VCA movies of the late 90’s that made her an “anal queen,” who told the esteemed novelist Martin Amis in a piece on porn stars (“To millions of American men, these women are movie stars,” Talk magazine, February 2001) that whoredom is what she unapologetically does. “We’re prostitutes,” she point-blank told Amis. “There are differences. You can choose your partners and they’re tested for AIDS – you won’t get your john to do that. But we’re prostitutes. We exchange sex for money. I looked it up in the dictionary and that’s what it says.”

And, to me, that’s basically what Tera Patrick meant when she once quipped that “we’re all ‘hos on this bus” — meaning it didn’t really matter how you did it but that you did it, since we’re all variations on a theme. You can be a topless dancer, phone-sex operator, girl/girl-only porn star, or boy/girl vaginal-anal-anything porn star, and it even applies to a humble scribe like me. Regardless of respective methodology, we are providers of pleasure.

Case in point: I once wrote a script for a girl who wanted me to write her dialogue for a custom video she was about to shoot. This was in the innocent days before webcamming took flight, and she was from Eastern Europe and felt insecure “doing self-pleasure while talking dirty in English” rather than in her native Slavic tongue (like the fan who requested it really cared about her English, you know) so was I not helping her exchange sex for money there? The guy gets to see her privates very privately and sure was willing to pay for the video, and I was helping her achieve that.

But two funny things happened. She read my script and loved it, so much so she offered me a “sales commission” — her panties, offering to whip them off right there and then to give me. (And I probably disappointed her with my response: “That’s okay, I don’t collect used panties, I know that sounds weird but it’s really not my thing.”) In retrospect, I should have accepted her generosity –because she then fell out with her website producer and parted ways with his company, and that custom video was never shot in the end.

Meaning, hot damn, I would’ve still owned those panties today. I missed her sweet smell of near success, and that’s my favorite porn star melancholy memory.

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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.