[Angela and Stanley, researchers, have been invited to a celebratory porn industry banquet marking the launch of a new porn film, Toys in Babeland]
There was a red carpet, and Angela felt more than a little self-conscious…. They started down the carpet past the phalanx of cameras and microphons with logos from Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, VH1, Bravo, and the Playboy Channel. She shaded her eyes from the glare of the lights.
“If anyone asks,” Stanley turned and whispered back. “I’m Long Dong Silver, scourge of Pleasure Island.” Two more steps and they slipped into the refuge of the studio lobby where they were met by a beaming man in a tuxedo. [He said] “I’ve seated you with Layla Di Bona and Kristy Page.” He gave them both a quick smile of dismissal and turned to face two beautiful women in sequinned gowns who had just finished running the gauntlet of reporters…
They were the last couple to arrive at the table…Kristy, a petite brunette in a low cut dress, nodded and passed them a bottle of white wine.
Angela began to relax as she noticed many other couples dressed as conventionally as herself and her mate. There were some, however, who flaunted the attributes that made them top earners. A gorgeous blond wore a toga-like outfit that exposed one breast covered only by a small sequinned fabric flower.
commentary: This one is to make Col of Col’s Criminal Library happy. He dutifully visits my blog in the hope of seeing entries on the kind of books he likes (noir and heavy-duty crime fiction) and just occasionally he finds them – but lately it has been very slim pickings, there’s not been much for him. But this one should be to his taste.
I always like books that tell you something about a different world: a geographical place or an unfamiliar trade or profession. There are many murder stories based on this premise, often cozies, and there are endless themed crime series – with settings as varied as catering, bookstores, teashops, teddybears and vicars.
Well you might file this book along with them, but the theme is the porn industry in California, and very informative it was too.
Stanley is an academic sociology researcher: he needs to study a world with a high proportion of female employees, and an old college friend running an adult film studio gives him the perfect in. He turns up with his wife Angela, and gets caught up in a murder case.
The book is an odd, but on the whole enjoyable, mixture of academia, porn and murder. You don’t find this kind of consideration in most books:
The professor was a comparativist by nature… he realized with a start that he was more of a relativist that the pornographer, who at least purported to have a single reference point against which to weigh the value of his occupation.And there are several light-hearted moments – Stanley realizes that he has met very unpleasant people in other areas of his research:
At least two of the carnival workers and one termite exterminator had struck him as sociopaths, if not psychopaths.And there’s a great exchange with one of the actresses:
“Do you still want to help me out [with the investigation]?”The book is something of a mish-mash, with some unnecessary sex scenes (yes honestly) and a weird Hardy Boys note to the investigation, and a most unlikely ending. But I did enjoy it, and found the long interviews with the women from the film industry absolutely fascinating – I am guessing that they were only lightly fictionalized, and Heald implies they were real research documents, though not, I think, his own work. I would like to have read more of them.
“Absolutely,” she exclaimed, “I haven’t had this much excitement in years.”
This was something he had never expected to hear from a porn star.
So I am sure that Col will like this one – no, no, not because of a personal interest in the porn industry but because he introduced me to the book. You can see his review here, and his Q and A with the author here. Thank you Col.
The picture was taken on the Adult Film Industry Awards red carpet in 2011, and features Jaded Dawn and Shay Lynn. It comes from Wikimedia Commons, and I can’t tell you how glad I was to find it quickly, as the idea of searching for illustrations for this particular book was quite worrying for me.