MAY 9, 2012 8:02AM

My Days in Porn

Rate: 1 Flag
LA Days 2

I’m not out to offend the pure of heart. Really, I’m not. But it is the not-ordinary that tends to make life most interesting, and I’ve had quite a few not-ordinaries in mine. Here’s a look at one of them.


When my mom died shortly after moving to California to be near me in the early 1970s, I quit my job, bought a Winnebago motor home and just took off on an open-ended attempt to run away from life…which of course never works, but is indicative of my mental state at the time. I’ll be talking more about the trip in future entries, and it is mentioned here merely as a brief lead-in to how I ended up working several years for probably the largest porn mill on the West Coast.


When I finally returned home I was forced to face the reality of getting another job. I saw an ad in the paper for an editor for a “men’s magazine” and sent in my resume. Shortly thereafter I got a call from the company for an interview.


The company was located in Chatsworth, one of L.A.’s innumerable suburbs, about half an hour’s drive from my home, and I arrived, as always, early. The building was truly impressive…a huge, sprawling, modern concrete-slab structure that bespoke success.


My appointment was with the chief editor of one of the company’s several divisions. Keith was in his late 40s, stocky, glasses, a crew-cut, and friendly. As he explained the job, I quickly caught on to the fact that when the ad said “men’s magazine” it meant it, literally. The job involved editing several “sex education” magazines with explicit photographs—which, of course, are what sold the publications.


This was at the time when the phrase “redeeming social value” was vital to the success of what a few years earlier had come to be known as “the sexual revolution.” Every magazine put out by the company was comprised of very carefully-researched-and-written articles which did, indeed, provide basic and, I learned from experience, badly needed information on human sexuality—strictly, totally, and exclusively heterosexual, of course. The legal line between “sex education” and “smut”--I love that word—was a razor-thin line which the company took extreme care to walk. Each article was, as I say, carefully researched and had to be footnoted with references to no fewer than five, I believe, published works by noted authorities in the field of human sexuality.


Popular idioms for sex acts and body parts were forbidden. Clinical terms only. Every explicit photograph…and here there were no holds barred…had to have a caption specifically relating it to the subject of the article and using exact physical terminology. Not easy to do, I can tell you.


Anyway, after we’d talked quite a while, Keith called in his wife, Iris, who was also an editor there. Iris, too, was in her late 40s; she wore no makeup, and her long blond hair was pulled back in a pony tail. I liked her right away. After a few more minutes, Keith offered me the job...and here comes the part of the story I love best. I had never before told a prospective employer that I was gay, but in this case, I saw no way around it. So I said: “Well, there is only one problem: since I’m gay, I don’t have the foggiest idea what men and women do in bed together.”


Without batting an eye, Keith said: “Well, then you’ll have a different outlook on things.” It was a truly liberating moment, and I decided in that instant that if they could have that kind of attitude, I wanted to work for them.


I was with the company for five years, through many turbulent free-speech confrontations and the diligent efforts of the police to shut us down. At one time, they found an excuse to lock the building to keep workers out (we shifted operations to several smaller locations). Another time, on a Friday afternoon—when they knew no judge could be contacted to free them—Keith and Iris were arrested. These were only a few of the various forms of legal harassment taken in an attempt to rid the world—or at least Chatsworth—of the scourge of smut. The police would arrive with a search warrant and a judge sitting in a squad car. If, during their search, they found something of interest not covered in the warrant, they would simply go out to the squad car and have the judge amend it.


But we all survived, and I’m delighted to say that I have counted Keith and Iris among my best friends for some 40 years. Iris died this past year, and I truly miss her.


There are several more stories from my porn days, which may well fuel future entries if you'd like to hear them.


But enough for now.


Dorien's blogs are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Please take a moment to check out his website (http://www.doriengrey.com) and, if you enjoy these blogs, you might want to check out Short Circuits: a Life in Blogs (http://bit.ly/m8CSO1 ).


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Comments

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Interesting twist that life takes D. I bet it was good though. :D
is this company still around? you might as well name it, I dont see why not. sounds interesting & I dont really know why you call it porn except maybe as a joke. it doesnt really sound like porn to me. maybe you left that part out. it sounds kind of clinical & I doubt porn hounds would be that interested in your product from what you describe.
The company is long gone...the explosion of the sexual revolution blew it away. Today, explicit sex photos are everywhere on the internet. But it was a very different time, hard to imagine now; the I'm rather pleased that had the opportunity to be there at the beginning.