Book > FilmSkin trade
Jerry Butler — the porn actor, not the soul great — published a book about his life in the porn business, Raw Talent, back in 1990. It told the various ins and outs of the industry, which often wasn't all that sexy. But the best parts of the book were the catty moments that dissed or commented on assorted co-stars — the ones who enjoyed film sex, the ones who eventually found religion, even a comment about one female performer's, um, peculiar odor.
That's always struck me as what most readers probably want from a memoir about a life in porn. Granted, Tera Patrick is one of the most famous porn stars in the world right now. But even taking that into consideration, her autobiography is a pretty narcissistic affair, perhaps best experienced by those who've spent a lot of time thinking about Tera Patrick's life without a box of Kleenex nearby. And ultimately, that's probably who it is intended for — the numerous photos, so many of them solely of Tera in states of PG-13 undress, including a dust cover that serves as a poster when reversed, attests it's written for those obsessed fans who wait in line for hours to meet her, a few of whom frighten and even revile her, according to the book. But the only mild dissing here is reserved for her first famous boyfriend, rock-rap star Everlast, and perhaps just a smidgen for fellow superstar, Jenna Jameson (whose books, I must confess, I've never read). Maybe Digital Playground, her first contract studio, since a large portion of the book is boringly about her legal problems with them.
The bio commits a big sin for any book about porn, however — and that's that it's just not very sexy. Patrick spends an entire chapter on a stolen dog, for crissakes, and while I'm a dog lover, it's just not interesting and not what one is looking for in a book of this nature. Steinbeck, it ain't. It's the story of Linda Ann Hopkins, an introverted Montana-born, Fresno, Calif.-raised girl from a broken family whose life was changed by three things — a black-and-white photo of Marilyn Monroe (that she claims she saw in the '80s?), finding her dad's Playboy collection (most notably an issue featuring a model married to a rock star) and watching videos of other rock stars, including a shirtless Led Zeppelin, with her father. Through a series of circumstances, including a brief stint as a 14-year-old aspiring model in Japan, she ends up a porn superstar, one of her life ambitions. Later, she will become one of the industry's most financially successful entrepreneurs.
But there's a lot the book leaves out — nothing about her alleged relationship with actor TT Boy (which he later tried to capitalize on) or the time she spent as one of radio shock jock Tom Leykis' Lekette girls; I saw her at several functions when writing a story on Leykis in 1999. Her perspective might've been interesting. Not that there aren't morsels of info about the industry in this book, which manages to kill off very-much-still-alive Penthouse publisher Bob Guccione. As a bit of advice to aspiring porn actresses, she writes: "Don't agree to 'air tight,'" which means, in her words, "a dick in your mouth, pussy and ass at the same time," although I could have lived the rest of my life without that information.
If Sinner works at all — at least a psychotherapist might have a heyday with it — it's possibly in her description of her marriage to Evan Seinfeld, leader of hardcore rock band Biohazard and former HBO Oz star, who's ... well, quite a character, to say the least. Here's a partial description, by Seinfeld, of their first date after weeks of phone flirtation: "I was trying to take a POV picture of myself peeing on her. Some people don't understand what peeing is all about. Peeing on each other isn't about the pee. It's about domination and submission. It's when she lays down on the floor of the shower and gives herself fully and says, 'Go ahead and do whatever you want. I'm yours' ... I made her my cock puppet." Catherine and Heathcliff, this wasn't.
But Tera's in love: "He wasn't the one marrying me because I was a porn star. I was marrying him because he was a rock star." Later, following a nervous breakdown that never seems satisfyingly explained, she writes of Seinfeld's reaction when she kisses a man in her first scene after returning to porn at her husband's urging, even insistence: "He grabbed me forcibly and fucked the hell out of me [to] mark his territory."
What makes this one of the weirdest books of all time, though, is that it ends with an afterword in which Patrick confesses that she has divorced Seinfeld, stating she now believes he married her to be his trophy and simply used her to get into porn himself. To her credit, co-writer Carrie Borzillo urged her to rewrite the book because, in effect, Patrick basically negates the entire love story that takes up most of the rest of the thing. And this after she wrote earlier in the book about their wedding: "There's a long history of guys getting into the business through their porn-star girlfriends." OK, then ... In the afterword, she again admits "I wanted to marry a rock star and live happily ever after" but concludes: "Evan is a domineering alpha male." Well, no shit, Tera! The rest of us discovered that chapters ago! "I still believe in love and will marry again," she writes, "but I want ... a traditional marriage. That doesn't mean I won't marry another rock star." Calling Dr. Phil.
The book's main problem is that Patrick seems confused as to why she has the mainstream success she crows about throughout her book — almost all of it came about because she was a porn star and/or married to a rock star. As with Sasha Grey, people are going to always be most interested in the porn aspect of her life. ("It's weird to think that Kanye West has seen my pussy," she writes of meeting the rap superstar, "but I can't see his dick. In a way, that's not fair.") And that's why this one's a bit of a wasted opportunity.
Bill Holdship is the music editor of Metro Times Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.