How does one recommend a book that includes Screw magazine publisher Al Goldstein confessing that when it came to well-endowed porn star John Holmes, "I could see myself blowing him and swallowing his sperm -- and being better for it." How does one casually recommend that a friend read a contradictory four-party eyewitness account of Linda Lovelace's infamous bestiality film? How can anyone recommend that any human being, regardless of sexual morals or beliefs, immerse themselves in the sleazy and tawdry world depicted by co-authors Legs McNeil (pictured) and Jennifer Osbourne in The Other Hollywood: The Uncensored Oral History of the Porn Industry?
The answer quite simply is, because this world is so sleazy and tawdry compared to the normal lives most of us lead. McNeil and Osbourne pull no punches, allowing the filmmakers, producers, FBI agents, convicted mobsters and, of course, the stars and starlets to tell their own stories. Laid out chronologically from the Times Square peep shows of the '60s to the 2004 AIDS outbreak in Simi Valley's biggest industry, The Other Hollywood follows the major and minor players of this nighttime world, pulling back the sheets on a demimonde that has recently gained more mainstream acceptance than at any other time.
Many of the stories end badly; murder, suicide, bankruptcy, addictions to anything and everything under the sun are common. Few of the people who begin the story end it, and of those survivors, none are unscathed. But there are occasional reprieves that are all the more tender because of the callousness that preceded them, such as when Jim Mitchell, the porn auteur imprisoned for shooting his drug-addled partner and brother Artie, refuses to sell the rights to his sensational story because "I will not have anybody capitalizing on my family's tragedy." In a business where every action comes with a price, these little moments of humanity shine brightly, before being eclipsed by the next sensation.
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