Not even Sharon Mitchell's new-wave coif can get me to the Museum of Sex's book release party for Legs McNeil and Jennifer Osborne's The Other Hollywood. There's nothing to celebrate about this Please Kill Me-style oral history of adult filmmaking-unless it's the last sad gasp of Legs establishing himself as a gullible hipster who believes anything he's told.
Word quickly got out about Legs once he started making the porn rounds. It was already common for skin merchants to con gullible cretins like the New York Times' Frank Rich or reporters from 60 Minutes. Legs, however, settled in for the long grift. He's now spent several years spouting revisionist history on places like the E! Channel for his new masters, and no one's sure if he's bright enough to realize he's a bitch.
As an experiment, I've randomly flipped open The Other Hollywood to see how long it would take to find a painfully obvious cover story. Got one on the third try, and I'm no kind of porn insider. That's not to say that the book is a whitewash. Just keep in mind that nearly everyone in its pages is sleazier than they already seem.
Anyway, I wasn't missing much at the Museum of Sex. "The top tier of my bookshelf is a better museum of sex," says Gary Balaban, occasional DJ at the Tainted Lady and survivor of the Other Hollywood book party-and now at the Brooklyn bar to celebrate the return of Screw magazine. Or, more accurately, the first recent issue of Screw that wasn't released just to satisfy some legal requirement of ownership.
I'm such a porn outsider that I've never edited Screw. That revolving door is back in action, and perhaps finally stilled in the wake of Al Goldstein's recent public meltdown. The new Screw is employee-owned, salvaged by the drones who suffered for years under the idiocies of their old employer. Goldstein probably feels like he's been overthrown by the Oompa Loompas.
That same spirit is apparent tonight. After glossy book parties and glossier events for Inside Deep Throat, it's nice to see a porn gathering that's full of the long-struggling little people. The only porn stars in attendance are the local gals of BurningAngel.com-who, not so coincidentally, are also featured on the new Screw cover. The gushy accompanying article is worthy of Entertainment Weekly and is certainly a lame start to what's otherwise an impressive return.
Hopefully, I don't know the author. I already know way too many people at what's essentially a class reunion for lowlifes. I can't bother trying to get quotes from anybody, since everyone's smart enough to keep insisting that everything's off the record.
That's no surprise. I'm more weirded out by how people who've spent years associated with Screw are now requesting to be identified through pseudonyms. To be fair, that humble anonymity is sort of refreshing. Pornography is the new punk in that there are plenty of old guys desperately trying to cash in on what they started up decades ago. A lot of those types double as old punks, too-as seen by how Screw skips the pseudonym for a book review by John Holmstrom.
Actually, it's more like a book report, starting with this mind-numbing opening paragraph: "This is one of the most entertaining books I've ever read in a long time. Once I started reading it I couldn't put it down." They would've included John's age under his byline, except it would've been too depressing.
Sadly, Holmstrom was paid for his work. That's the one thing all the new Screw crew are desperate to be quoted on: "Everyone was paid! On time!" They're less eager to be quoted on the figures for which people didn't get paid. "Just say that we couldn't afford Al Goldstein," says art director "Bobby Kodiak"-who, you know, should certainly not be presumed to be the same art director who's been associated with SCREW for practically his entire goddamn career.
Actually, it's amazing that the bankrupt and destitute Goldstein turned down any dollar amount to be given a token column in the new Screw. "I think that's his plan now," muses Kodiak. "He's gotten a little cocky ever since Penn Jillette put him up in an apartment for a few months. Al probably thinks he can get something going from that whole rags-to-riches-to-rags angle."
Well, there's certainly no better rag. The film review of Lindsay Lohan in Mean Girls is kind of disturbing, and they could stand to quit filling pages with giant pics of smeary porn. New York Press will continue to swipe their market in transvestite escorts, too. That said, there's got to be a market for a dirty magazine that's willing to goof on the biggest names in porn-and their suitcase pimps. While I can't confirm if former Biohazard frontman Evan Seinfeld is a "former slumlord from Staten Island," I feel compelled to correct that his Oz character wasn't really a gay Nazi skinhead. At least, no more gay than any Oz character.
You've paid more than $3.95 for fanzines that weren't nearly as interesting as Robin Bougie's "Cinema Sewer" page. It's also good to see a variation on the old High Times Pot 40 with the Screw Shit List. Weekly World News has been ruined by media liberal bias, but the Shit List is nicely bipartisan. We'd be more flattered about Russ "The Mugger" Smith making the countdown if we didn't get the feeling it was a coin-toss between him and John Strausbaugh.
Oh, well. It's not like anybody's working full-time at putting this thing out twice a month. "All we do is get together and have a party," says industry veteran and new editor "Charlie Mordecai"-who's actually got his goddamn picture in the new issue so I don't know why I'm bothering with his alias, either.