When Robert Rosen came to international awareness with NOWHERE MAN, his critically acclaimed portrait of Lennon's last days, few knew that the author had spent two decades toiling as a publisher, copywriter, editor and photographer in the pornography industry. As a jobbing writer looking to make ends meet, he stumbled into porn at the moment his new employers, publishers of the 'adult' magazine HIGH SOCIETY, invented phone sex. Initiating the latest phase in the historical alliance of sex, money and technology, the culmination of 'dial-a-porn' would begat the internet 'free' pornography boom and ultimately condemn the entire industry to commercial extinction.
The intervening years are the most tumultuous, and lucrative in the history of smut, and Rosen was present at the dead centre of its darkest hour: the infamous TRACI LORDS scandal, and the ensuing moral and legal crusades of the left and right, which would see him and hundreds of colleagues staring prison in the face. In BEAVER STREET, however, this former pornographer bites back.
On the one hand BEAVER STREET is a portrait of an exceptional American workplace, full of tyrants, cynics, perverts and drug addicts, the owners getting filthy rich while Rosen and his colleagues sweat blood to fulfil the demanding and squalid responsibility of ensuring millions have something new to masturbate to every other week.
On the other hand (and this is why the author has christened his work an investigative memoir), Rosen's intellect, curiosity, insight and penmanship hoists BEAVER STREET high above the average porn memoir, with Rosen not only unveiling the mechanics of the porn profiteers, but fixing the unbelievable events that rocked his entire sordid career in their fascinating political, technological and cultural contexts.
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About the Author
Read an Excerpt
How I Became a Pornographer.
Even now, thirty -five years later, I can
see myself sitting in the Mini Cinema, on Forty-Ninth Street and Seventh Avenue,
just off Times Square. I was a twenty-one-year-old college senior-a veritable
innocent-transfixed by grainy images on a movie screen. I was watching
a chubby, though not unattractive, young woman, a "Danish farm girl,” as she'd
been described, being fucked by her dog, a collie named Lassie. It was only my
third porn flick, but it was definitely the most interesting one yet. Unlike Deep
Throat, which I'd seen a few months earlier and found shocking and bizarre,
though hardly erotic, or It Happened in Hollywood, which featured a sex scene
with Al Goldstein, the obese, barely functioning publisher of Screw magazine,
Animal Lover was real and intimate… too real. The dog and the woman were
hot for each other, familiar lovers, fucking with passion, as if there were no camera present. The woman would go on to make love, somewhat less successfully,
to her pig and her horse.
An alternative City College newspaper called Observation Post, or OP, had
sent me to the Mini Cinema to review Animal Lover; the editors felt that the
film was a work of artistic transgression worthy of critical attention. And based
upon the merits of the dogfuck alone-"the most erotic scene in any of the
porn movies I've seen”-my critique was positive. Reading it today, however,
I'm struck only by my naïveté and the fact that I didn't even come close to capturing
the deranged essence of what was really happening in the film. But that
didn't matter at the time.
Soon after my Animal Lover review was published in OP, the staff anointed
me editor-in-chief-because they believed, in those waning days of the Vietnam
War and Richard Nixon, that, based on this callow bit of critical writing,
I was well qualified to carry out the paper's newest mission. Though OP was
founded in 1947 by World War II veterans and evolved in the sixties into a
radical journal of antiwar politics-the voice of the SDS and Weather Underground-
by the time I enrolled at City College, the paper had mutated into a
blunt instrument primarily used to test the limits of the First Amendment. OP
had become a student-funded incubator for an emerging punk sensibility soon
to burst into full flower; it was an anarchist commune whose members performed
improvisational experiments with potent images and symbol
Table of Contents
Authors Note ix
Prologue A Kid in a Candy Store 1
Chapter 1 How I Became a Pornographer 5
2 The Invention of Phone Sex 11
3 I Found My Job in The New York Times 17
4 High Society 21
5 The House of Swank 43
6 The Secret History 67
7 Natural-Born Pornographers 85
8 The Accidental Porn Star 103
9 Divas with Beavers 117
10 So You Want to Talk About Traci Lords? 129
The D-Cup Aesthetic 165
Epilogue The Skin Mag in Cyberspace 173
Final Words The Naked and the Dead 185
Appendix A Prelude to Modern Pornography 195
About the Author/Acknowledgments 205
About this book 214
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Although reading a book on pornography is not something I'd normally do, once I started Beaver Street, I couldn’t put it down. It’s an autobiographical adventure, and it carried me along on a tantalizing ride into an industry that I knew little about. It’s also an historical account and an important source of information for what is now an online empire without any standards and which nobody has any control over. Yes, there always has been and always will be pornography. But 20 years ago, before the internet, it was not as exploitative or violent, and it didn’t have the negative impact on society that it has today. I discovered so many intriguing layers of players, each one with a unique take on the subject. There are executives trying to legitimize a raw industry. There are critics and government officials trying to sanction and control an uncontrollable business, often with comical results. There are the mechanics of a porn shoot and so much more. In summary, read Beaver Street, but don't judge it anymore than you would any other honest, historically significant work. It's about where we were and what we've become.
Mr. Rosen tells his personal history which was primarily inside the porn magazine world. There is very little insight into the people who worked in the trade beyond the editors and publishers of the various magazines. If you are interested in the backstory of the actors and actresses, find another source.