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Dan's review of "My Life as a Pornographer"

"My Life as a Pornographer & Other Indecent Acts", John Preston. Richard Kasak/Masquerade Books, 1993. ISBN 1-56333-135-7

In the political climate of victims being protected from themselves, Preston is a breath of fresh air. This is a collection of essays by a man who wrote mainstream fiction (under various pseudonyms) to survive, and gay porn (not erotica) to feed his soul.

The essays took me to places I'd never been before. Not that that's saying a whole lot, but he managed to do it without offending my sensibilities and yet not glossing over the details.

I laughed out loud when he talked about getting VIP treatment on an American Airlines red-eye because flight crew, who happened to all be young gay men, recognized his name, thereby bewildering all the straight middle-aged bankers who comprised the rest of the passengers.

I appreciated his excursion into the sweaty sticky "Mineshaft", a place where I'd be most uncomfortable, but that I'd otherwise never even imagine existed. And not only was he able to give a good description of the experience of going there, he managed to give a reasonable background on how and why it came about, what the management did to make it the experience it was, and all without making it seem horribly commercial.

I enjoyed his essays on his struggles with the anti-pornography crowd, at first finding allies in the feminist movement and the struggle to get society to tolerate his sexuality, and then finding his allies had turned on him when they tried to take down his gay pornography, classifying it with the other things they termed "demeaning to women".

He did a better job than Pat Califia at explaining why he feels that the passion has passed from the core of the S/M community.

He presented a joyous view of people who are sex workers, pornographers, hustlers, hookers, first, and who find it necessary to take straight jobs in order to survive, and his donations to the Museum of Fine Arts because the men he sought assumed he was hustling for the money, and he couldn't explain to his parents why as a high-schooler he kept bringing home piles of cash.

And he even tackles the grimness of AIDS without sinking to despair, leaving a positive light on his, and his community's, condition.

The one place he fell down was his his excursion into professional dominatrices. This was the one place I felt he was writing as a tourist, not as a part of the community.