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Original Essays | September 30, 2014 0 comments
Brandon Bartlett, the fictional mayor of Portland in my novel Sherwood Nation, is addicted to playing video games. In a city he's all but lost... Continue »
Have You Ever Boinked a Porn Star?: And Other Burning Questions about Fast Forward: Confessions of a Porn Screenwriterby Eric Spitznagel
But more often than not, the people who came to my readings were just curious. They had questions, so many questions, about the dank underbelly of porn. And perhaps not surprisingly, most of their questions were pretty much the same. "How long does it take to write a porno?" "Have you ever boinked a porn star?" "How much money can you make as a porn writer?" I was happy to tell them everything. (The answers, coincidentally, are: one hour; no; and around $500 a script.) But I'll be honest; I'm exhausted. I've coughed up the same answers so many times, shared what insights I have with countless porn enthusiasts, and I just don't think I have the energy to do it anymore. So, for those of you who never made it to one of my readings (or live in a city that wasn't scientifically determined to be "porn friendly"), I offer these answers to the most frequently asked questions about Fast Forward and the filthy business of writing porn.
Is anything in this book true, or did you just make the whole thing up?
Some of it is true, and some of it is not so true. Everything in Fast Forward was at least based on real events. I did spend a year as a screenwriter for adult films, and I did convince myself that I could write the Great American Porno. But it didn't always happen exactly as I described it. Most of the major players in this book are composites of several different people, and none of the porn titles are real. Some chapters have been mildly embellished to make the details a little funnier or more colorful, and some chapters have been wildly exaggerated. For instance, I didn't really wander through the desert, tripping balls on a mystery drug and talking with a hallucination of Permanent Midnight author (and former porn scribe) Jerry Stahl. But you probably could've figured that out on your own. In the end, Fast Forward is a memoir in much the same way that Hunter S. Thompson's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is a memoir. I'm sure that Hunter really took a road trip to Vegas, did a frightening array of drugs and committed any number of felonies. But I think most people assume that Hunter isn't the most reliable narrator.
Wait a minute; all the porn titles you mentioned in your book are fake? Does that mean you didn't write a script called Butt Crazy?
Not exactly. I was hired to write a script about butts, and it did have the word "Butt" in the title. But it wasn't called Butt Crazy. I opted not to use the real title because I wanted to discourage readers from tracking down the film. But more importantly, I wanted to protect the director's identity. He wasn't exactly portrayed in the most flattering light, and there's always a chance that he'll read this book and have my legs broken. Some of the porn directors I worked with were how can I put this politely? out of their fucking minds. The Butt Crazy director in particular was a madman, prone to screaming fits and swinging a golf club at anybody who disagreed with him. He repeatedly told me, in frightening detail, just how he'd have me disemboweled if I ever betrayed him. So I wasn't eager to make a mockery of him in print. I've seen that documentary about John Holmes and the Wonderland murders. I don't want to be another porn casualty.
The front cover of Fast Forward is a little disturbing. That pencil eraser looks suspiciously like a penis. Am I just imagining things?
You're not. It is a penis. Your powers of perception are awesome. We tried to be as subtle as possible with the cover, if only because a family-friendly bookseller like Wal-Mart probably wouldn't carry a book that featured a full-color picture of a semi-erect male member. It's actually toned down considerably from the original version, which included a hefty pair of balls. My publisher and I did a lot of nervous hand wringing about whether the scrotum was necessary, and we ultimately decided to go with a less obvious image. I don't think you've really experienced the surreal joy of working on a book about porn until you've received an email from your editor with a subject line that reads: "Testicles?"
So listen, I've written a porn script about a group of sorority girls who go to Mexico and get transformed into sex-crazed zombies. Would you like to read it? And do you think you could help me get it produced?
No, I would not like to read it. And even if I did, I would not be able to assist you in getting it made. I've cut off all ties with the porn industry, and I no longer have any contact with the directors or producers working in adult films. Sorry. But I wish you the best of luck with your zombie-sorority script. It sounds like a winner.
I also have some funny ideas for porn titles. Would you like to hear them?
I most certainly would not. But I'm not surprised that you feel like you have a special talent in this genre. And you're far from alone. Many people just like you have wasted entire weekends cooking up clever porn titles. Let me guess; is one of them Shaving Ryan's Privates?
Uh, yeah. How did you?
That is very, very funny. And rest assured that I have never heard it before.
Does your mom know that you've written porn?
Well, she does now. Actually, I told both of my parents shortly after I got into the business. I wanted them to hear about it from me. I'm not sure how they would've found out otherwise, but I didn't want to take any chances. You don't want to learn the hard way that your parents have been watching a lot of porn. They were both strangely supportive, though my mom was a little concerned that I might end up performing in porn. She thought that after writing a few scripts, the directors would convince me to drop my pants and join the action. It's the pot-leads-to-heroin theory applied to porn. I tried to assure her that she had nothing to worry about, but there's just no nice way of telling your mom that you have a small penis.
Is Eric Spitznagel your real name or your porn name?
It's my real name, but you wouldn't be the first to make that mistake. For one of my films, the director assumed that Spitznagel was a pseudonym and used it for the closing credits. I was mortified, naturally, but I suppose his confusion was justified. During my reading in San Francisco, I was informed by a helpful German reader that Spitznagel is roughly translated as "I am horny and I want to have sex." With this in mind, I suppose it's no surprise that I ended up writing smut for a living.
Would you be willing to sign my breasts?
Uh, okay. Wow. Listen, I wasn't really serious about that. I thought that since you were a porn writer, asking you to sign my boobs would be a funny way to break the ice. I didn't really expect you to say yes. This is awkward. I actually don't even want you to touch me at all, if that's okay. No offense, but you did write porn and, well, uh...
I understand. I'll just sign your book and we'll never speak of this again.