Debbie Doesn't Do It Anymore: A Novel by Walter Mosley | Paperback | Barnes & Noble
Debbie Doesn't Do It Anymore

Debbie Doesn't Do It Anymore

3.8 16
by Walter Mosley

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In this scorching, mournful, often explicit, and never less than moving literary novel by the famed creator of the Easy Rawlins series, Debbie Dare, a black porn queen, has to come to terms with her sordid life in the adult entertainment industry after her tomcatting husband dies in a hot tub. Electrocuted. With another woman in there with him. Debbie decides


In this scorching, mournful, often explicit, and never less than moving literary novel by the famed creator of the Easy Rawlins series, Debbie Dare, a black porn queen, has to come to terms with her sordid life in the adult entertainment industry after her tomcatting husband dies in a hot tub. Electrocuted. With another woman in there with him. Debbie decides she just isn't going to "do it anymore." But executing her exit strategy from the porn world is a wrenching and far from simple process.

Millions of men (and no doubt many women) have watched famed black porn queen Debbie Dare—she of the blond wig and blue contacts-"do it" on television and computer screens every which way with every combination of partners the mind of man can imagine. But one day an unexpected and thunderous on-set orgasm catches Debbie unawares, and when she returns to the mansion she shares with her husband, insatiable former porn star and "film producer" Theon Pinkney, she discovers that he's died in a case of hot tub electrocution, "auditioning" an aspiring "starlet." Burdened with massive debts that her husband incurred, and which various L.A. heavies want to collect on, Debbie must reckon with a life spent in the peculiar subculture of the pornography industry and her estrangement from her family and the child she had to give up. She's done with porn, but her options for what might come next include the possibility of suicide. Debbie . . . is a portrait of a ransacked but resilient soul in search of salvation and a cure for grief.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A pornographic actress, Debbie Dare, comes to terms with her past after her husband’s death, in Mosely’s shocking but ultimately flat 43rd book. Here, the author forgoes the well-plotted mystery genre he’s staked his name on; his latest novel finds its intrigue in the profession of its well-developed main character. Fully realized and sympathetic, Debbie is among Mosely’s best creations to date, due to a well-wrought first-person perspective and snap-tight dialogue. She navigates an L.A. landscape fleshed out with bizarre characters, from porn producers and a mafia hit man to the mother of her deceased husband, who help her distinguish her identity from her on-screen persona. While Debbie is an elemental creation in Mosely’s canon, a strong female character with an impeccable voice, the book itself is slow paced, with an unsatisfying climax. Perhaps in a sequel, the author will find the right book in which to place his new heroine. (May)
From the Publisher

"In most of his 42 books, the much-admired Mosley has given us desperate characters constantly tested by circumstances and fate. Until now, none of his other series or stand-alones have come close to matching the kudos that have been showered on the Rawlins series. But Debbie's on stage now, and her brutally elegant story and its shocking conclusion will stun you."
Chicago Tribune

"This could be the best thing Mosley has written in years, a deeply affecting story of a woman whose determination to pull herself out of one life and into another is tested almost to its limits by things she can't control—until she finds a way to control them...[Mosley is] back at the top of his game here."
Booklist, starred review

"The premise is jarring, yet Mosley is able to pain a picture of ordinary people. He shows the humanity of the characters despite their flaws."
Library Journal

"Prolific novelist Mosley (Little Green, 2013, etc.) fielded his fair share of criticism for his X-rated one-two punch of Killing Johnny Fry (2006) and Diablerie (2007), and readers attracted to the equally explicit nature of this novel might be expecting more of the same. In truth, readers are likely to be more surprised by the depth of protagonist Sandra Peel, whom the author treats with tremendous compassion... A well-told redemption song about the most unlikely of heroines."

"... Debbie is an elemental creation in Mosely’s canon, a strong female character with an impeccable voice."
Publishers Weekly

Library Journal
Winner of PEN America's Lifetime Achievement Award and famous for his best-selling historical mysteries starring hard-boiled detective Easy Rawlins, Mosley returns with an ambitious and intriguing novel about how we act in challenging situations. Black porn star Debbie Dare, who typically wears a blonde wig and blue contacts, arrives home to find the electrocuted body of husband Theon in the hot tub with an underage girl who is just a little older than Debbie was when she met him. In the following days, she takes care of her husband's affairs, connects with his mother, and chooses a different profession. The premise is jarring, yet Mosley is able to paint a picture of ordinary people. He shows the humanity of the characters despite their flaws: "I loved Theon in my sleep that night," says Debbie. "He was an ideal husband, a man who took care of so many people and things that he didn't have time for children—or even a proper job." VERDICT Like Eric Jerome Dickey's Genevieve, this book will appeal to readers who like their erotic fiction with a little depth. [See Prepub Alert, 12/7/13.]—Ashanti White, Yelm, WA
Kirkus Reviews
A porn star experiences an epiphany of sorts in the wake of her husband's death. Prolific novelist Mosley (Little Green, 2013, etc.) fielded his fair share of criticism for his X-rated one-two punch of Killing Johnny Fry (2006) and Diablerie (2007), and readers attracted to the equally explicit nature of this novel might be expecting more of the same. In truth, readers are likely to be more surprised by the depth of protagonist Sandra Peel, whom the author treats with tremendous compassion. Of course, when we first meet Sandra, she's in the guise of Debbie Dare, an ivory-haired, black pornographic film star who, in the midst of a typical scene, experiences a rare and revelatory orgasm, causing her to pass out. She returns home to find that her husband, fellow porn-film actor and part-time pimp Theon Pinkney, has accidentally electrocuted himself and a 16-year-old runaway in a hot tub during a sex act. The book then follows the well-read and resolute woman through the next week or so as she tries to sort out her husband's funeral, avoid the mobsters who want her to pay her dead husband's debts, figure out a way to quit the business, reconnect with friends and family, and listen to the whisper of suicide sailing behind her cold eyes. Except for flashbacks and the novel's opening scene, there's not even any sex for the determined exile-to-be. "Thousands of us boys and girls had run screaming from the same filth and stink of poverty," she says. "Black and white and brown and yellow and red had put out their thumbs and pulled down their pants, used lubricants and drugs and alcohol to escape these decaying ancestors and others just like them." Mosley's characteristically well-crafted cast also includes a kind police detective, a nonjudgmental shrink and a shy young architect with a crush on the non-glammed-out Sandra. A well-told redemption song about the most unlikely of heroines.

Product Details

Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.14(w) x 7.94(h) x 0.61(d)

Read an Excerpt

Excerpted from the hardcover edition

I was reclining on my backside, thighs spread wide open. The smell of flower-scented lubricant filled the air, and hot lights burned down on my sweat-slick black skin. Blubbery and pink-skinned Myron “Big Dick” Palmer was slamming his thing into me, saying, “Oh, baby. Yeah, baby. Daddy’s comin’ home. He’s almost there, almost there.” There were two high-def video cameramen working us: one moving from face to face while the other focused on our genitals. The still photographer was Carmen Alia from Brazil. The recycling hum of her digital camera buzzed around us like a hungry horsefly circling an open wound.

“More passion!” Linda Love, the director, yelled.

She was talking to me. Myron always had the same passion in any sex scene because he closed his eyes and imagined that he was with Nora Brathwait, his high school sweetheart. She had never let him go all the way and every sex scene he ever did was dedicated to wiping that humiliation from his heart.

Luckily for me Myron’s size pushed his thing against a sore spot deep inside. So when Linda called for more feeling I stopped thinking about the details of the shoot and began to concentrate on how much he was hurting me with his attempt to penetrate all the way back to adolescence.

I allowed the pain to show in my face with each stabbing lunge.

“That’s better,” Linda said.

“Almost there,” Myron moaned for what seemed like the hundredth time. “Uh‑uh.”

The grunting meant that he was about to orgasm. I knew it, Myron knew it, and, worst of all, Linda was aware of what was coming—so to speak.

Within the next six seconds she’d cry, “On your knees, Debbie,” and I’d have to jump down while looking up into the bright lights as Myron Big Dick ejaculated on my face and breasts.

That was the money shot, the reason I woke up at five a.m., spent hours doing makeup and hair, toes and fingers; it was the reason I’d capped my front teeth, had breast implants, worked out two hours a day five days a week with trainer-to-the-stars Efron Fuentes, and shaved my pussy more often than my husband shaved his chin.

The money shot was not only my paycheck but the salary of every grip, cameraman, makeup artist, and gofer in the room. Our reason for living would spout from Myron Palmer’s big pink dick.

This was no revelation. I had experienced thousands of ejaculations from men of every color, size, and nationality. I had been spouted upon in Moscow, Kingston, Paris, and Johannesburg. This was my job, and the only thing I worried about was keeping the acrid stuff out of my eyes.

I was preparing to slide down from the sofa onto my knees when something amazing happened.

Myron grunted and Carmen switched to a double flash setting, Linda cried, “Debbie . . .” and Myron plunged up against the one spot in my entire sex that still had sensation. I could feel a blast from the air conditioner and the crusty fabric of the sofa where we teetered, me on my back wearing only leopard-print high-high heels and Myron on his knees thrusting, thrusting. And then, completely unbidden, I imagined a tall, olive-skinned man with intense eyes standing in the corner of the crowded room. I knew this man but could not name him. I was moving toward him and at the same time I was being stalked by the most powerful orgasm that I’d ever experienced. The faster I moved the closer the feeling came until suddenly I was bucking and screaming, begging for more.

“. . . on your knees!” Linda shouted, but I was way beyond taking orders from her. I could feel my nipples getting so tight that they seemed to be pinching themselves, and I felt the full weight of the experience of every one of my thirty-one years.

Myron pushed me off the red sofa and onto the floor. Then he stood up, drizzling his semen on me while I jerked around like a mackerel just landed on the deck of a day boat off San Pedro.

I wanted to stop but the orgasm was relentless, like a series of storm-driven waves crashing down on the shore. The only option open to me was to let go of consciousness while Linda and her producers tried to figure a way to save the shot and all our paychecks.

I woke up in what was once the nursery of the Bel-Air mansion. The owner of the house had been a movie producer for one of the big studios until his star waned. He foolishly mortgaged his house to finance his girlfriend’s film, Fun for Fauna. The movie didn’t even make it to DVD and now the owner, Sherman Pettigrew, rented his place for porno shoots whenever he could. Sherman lived in a trailer behind his ex-girlfriend’s new beau’s house in Topanga Canyon.

Anyway . . . I came awake on a daybed in the barren nursery of the failed movie producer’s house, stillborn into wakefulness after wasting what seemed like the last iota of passion in my life.

“You okay?” a soft voice asked.

I raised my head and saw Lana Leer sitting on a pink wicker chair. She was very petite, very white, with hair as short as a new recruit’s buzz cut.

“I passed out,” I said.


“It’s so embarrassing.”

Lana giggled. Then she laughed.

“What’s so funny?” I asked even though I knew the answer.

“I don’t mean to make fun, Deb, but it is kinda silly for a woman who’s had sex with five men at once to be shy about an orgasm.”

“Where is everybody?”

“They left. Linda asked me to stay and make sure you were all right but I would have anyway.”

I realized that it was dark outside. When I shifted in the bed I felt the long-lasting slick lubricant between my thighs.

“How long was I out?”

“A long time.”

“Was Linda mad?”

“No. Myron really saved the day. You looked good with him standing over you like that. It looked real.”

“I have to get home, Lana,” I said, trying to gather the strength to sit upright. “Has anybody heard from my husband?”

Linda reached out and took my hands. She remained steady and I was able to pull myself up.

“No. I called the house but only got the service.”

“Thanks for staying with me. I remember once in Jamaica that dickhead Lester Foley got me high and left me in a hut on the beach without any clothes.”

“Let’s get you cleaned up,” the diminutive personal assistant said.

There were three police cars, their red and blue lights flashing angrily, parked on the sidewalk, the lawn, and up in the driveway of our home on South Elm in Pasadena.

Lana and I were walking up the slight incline of the lawn headed for the front door when someone said, “Excuse me, ladies; this is a possible crime scene and we’re not allowing anyone in.”

He was a small man in a black uniform with blue eyes and pink skin. He recognized me from his porno collection; I could see it in those startled eyes. There aren’t many black-skinned women with long white hair and deep blue contact lenses. Debbie Dare was almost unique in the capital of a cliched profession.

“Aren’t you—” he began to ask.

“The owner of this house,” I said. “What crime has possibly been committed?”

“Wait here, ma’am,” he said, and I knew the news had to be bad.

Lana put a hand on my shoulder. It felt so heavy that I almost fell down. My legs were still weak from the unwanted orgasm and now this.

The uniform called into the front door of my house. A few seconds later a slender man in a cheap dark green suit came out. He traded a few words with the cop, looked in our direction, and, hesitantly I thought, walked toward us.

“Mrs. Pinkney?” he asked, looking at Lana.

“Yes,” Lana said, “this is Mrs. Pinkney.”

“Your husband, ma’am,” he said, shifting his gaze to me.

He had passive, maybe even kind eyes and if he recognized me that fact was hidden behind an honest attempt at sympathy.

“What about him?”

The plainclothes cop tilted his head to the side and I couldn’t help but think that that was the way he spoke to his mother when he’d been bad and had to come to her to confess the breaking of a water glass or leaving a door open, allowing the family pet to escape.

“He expired,” the policeman said.

“Expired?” Lana asked.


“Oh my God,” Lana said, and then she began to cry.

“I’m so sorry,” he said.

The news hit me like a bucket of cold water. Finally the intensity of my session with Myron was flushed away.

“I want to see him,” I said.

The electricity was out in the house. Yellow metal stalks with powerful incandescent lamps, brought in by the police, eerily illuminated the sunken all-white living room and the double-wide hall that went past Theon’s bedroom and mine. There was an even stronger light coming from the master bathroom. I could see the shadows of people moving around in there, mumbling words that I couldn’t quite make out.

“Maybe you shouldn’t see him like this,” the plainclothes cop said at the door.

“What’s your name?” I asked him.

“Lieutenant Mendelson.”

“Your first name.”


“Is that short for something?”

“I was named after Perry Como. My mother loved his voice.”

“Are you married, Perry?”

“Yes. Of, of course.” He said these last three words showing me the wedding band on his left hand.

“If it was your wife in there would you walk away because some stranger told you to?”

The policeman looked down and I instantly liked him. He took a step back and I walked into the huge bathroom.

There were three men and two women in there, all of them wearing blue hairnets and thin rubber gloves. One man was vacuuming the floor with a handheld device while another, a black woman, was taking photographs with a digital camera—bringing Carmen Alia to my mind.

I was further reminded of a porno shoot when I saw the inhabitants of our wide, baby blue circular bathtub.

My husband, Theon Pinkney, was naked on his back with his big belly up above the waterline. His left arm was around Jolie Wins, a sixteen-year-old wanna be adult cinema star.

Jolie was my polar opposite with her black hair and pale white skin. She didn’t look dead.

There was a high-end video camera submerged at the far side of the tub. It was plugged into a wall and had tumbled into the impromptu sex scene that they were filming.

Theon had been a major star in the porn world before he was my husband. He called himself Axel Rod. After he got fat he became a somewhat successful manager before the stars and directors wrested their careers from producers, agents, and managers. Theon probably told Jolie that this was an audition, and he plugged in the camera because the battery had gone dead while he fucked her for hours.

Theon had lost his physical appeal but he could keep up an erection longer than any man I’d ever met.

“Mrs. Pinkney?” Lieutenant Perry Mendelson said.


There was the sound of a grunting moan in the background. Again I was reminded of my work.

“Are you all right?” the policeman asked.

“Why are the police here, Perry?”

“People have died.”

“But it looks like an accident. Do you think he was murdered?”

“No,” he said. “The way we see it the girl’s foot got tangled in the wire and, and, and when she . . .”

“When she moved to get on top of him the camera fell in,” I said.


“Then why is half the Pasadena police department in my home?”

“Your housekeeper, Mrs. Julia Slatkin, came in and found them. She called nine-one-one and said that it was murder. When someone claims foul play we are legally obligated to do an initial investigation.”

“I see.”

“Is this your husband?”

“Yes, it is.”

“The housekeeper already ID’d him but I’m required to ask.”

“Where is Julia?”

“She was distraught. I had one of my men drive her home. Do you know the girl, Mrs. Pinkney?”

“No,” I lied. “No, I don’t. Who is she?”

“We didn’t find any identification in her purse.”

“She looks like a child. My husband was having sex with a child.”

Perry Mendelson looked into my eyes and saw a blank slate. I turned away and went to Lana. She was on the floor in the hall, grunting and moaning, crying with an abandon I rarely felt.

I went to her and hunkered down. It was a familiar movement, a sex position without a partner.

I smiled.

“It’s okay, baby,” I said. And then to Perry, who was standing above us, “How long is this investigation going to last?”

“We can wrap it up in a couple of hours. I’ll have some questions but they can wait until tomorrow if you don’t feel up to it right now.”

“That would be great. I’m an early riser. And, Perry?”


“If you don’t think it’s a crime you can have them take Theon’s body to Threadley Brothers Mortuary. There’s somebody there all night.”

That night Lana and I lay side by side on white satin sheets under black cashmere blankets. I didn’t really need the company, but Lana was a delicate girl and too upset to drive herself home.

She snored softly and pressed against me. I didn’t sleep much but that wasn’t unusual. I hadn’t had a full night’s rest in many years. It wasn’t that I was sad or even insomniac. I just didn’t seem to need that much sleep. Usually when Theon and I were both home he’d have sex with me and then drop off. For most of the night I’d read books at random, napping at odd times between chapters or sections; sometimes I’d even nod off in the middle of a sentence.

Over the years I read Tolstoy and Tennyson, Mary Higgins Clark and John Updike, Roger Zelazny and Octavia Butler in the early, early hours of the morning. I didn’t finish as many books as some because I usually put down a story I didn’t like and reread, many times over, those that I enjoyed.

If Theon woke up and found me reading he’d usually fuck me again. That was his talent—he could have sex anytime with anyone. If he didn’t like burritos and cheesecake so much he could have been a porn star up into his seventies.

But the reason he had sex didn’t have to do with love or the physical passion I’d felt that afternoon with Myron. Sex for Theon always had a definite purpose, like when he’d drowsily awake and see me reading. I was a herd mare and he was an aging stallion running with all his might to keep up.

Meet the Author

WALTER MOSLEY is the author of forty-two books, most notably eleven Easy Rawlins mysteries, the first of which, Devil in a Blue Dress, was made into an acclaimed film starring Denzel Washington. Always Outnumbered was an HBO film starring Laurence Fishburne, adapted from his first Socrates Fortlow novel. A native of Los Angeles and a graduate of Goddard College, he holds an MFA from CCNY and lives in Brooklyn, New York. He is the winner of numerous awards, including an O. Henry Award, a Grammy Award, and PEN America's Lifetime Achievement Award.

Brief Biography

New York, New York
Date of Birth:
January 12, 1952
Place of Birth:
Los Angeles, California
B.A., Johnson State College

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