Skip to Content
 
 
 
Find:
Advanced Search

Porn stars are Authors

 

Wyatt, E. “Sex, Sex, Sex: Up Front in Bookstores Near You,” The New York Times

 

Overview

Wyatt reports on the wave of confessionals and self-help guides now landing on bookstore shelves. Their distinguishing feature? Many are written by current or former stars of pornographic films. And if that were not enough, there is also a new crop of erotic novels, histories of sexual particulars, and photographic treatments of the world of pornography. Display tables aren’t what they used to be.

 

Sexual imagery in advertising, entertainment, and the Internet is nothing new. But this recent glut, and the staunch defense publishers give it, signals a shift of considerable proportion. What does it tell us about the publishing industry? About ourselves as consumers?

 

Take, for example, the recent memoir by porn-star Jenna Jameson (co-authored with Neill Strauss): How to Make Love Like a Porn Star: A Cautionary Tale. The book runs to 579 pages, and provides graphic sexual descriptions as well as colorful, racy photos. Judith Regan, the publisher, defends the book as “one of the smart books about sex” she and the people of HarperCollins are committed to publishing. Then there is How to Have a XXX Sex Life, by the Vivid Girls, porn stars with Vivid Entertainment. Or, Star (Atria Books), a novel by Pamela Anderson that comes with a free nude pinup of the author.

 

“Sex is what is selling these days,” says Judith Curr, Anderson’s publisher. And, according to Regan and others, it is not just base erotica, but sophisticated, honest, intelligent sex. Erotica literature has surged since the success of The Sexual Life of Catherine M, published two years ago and authored by Catherine Millet, a French art critic. Malaiko Adero, senior editor at Atria, believes such books “express their sexuality with a humor and a confidence that is reflective of today’s woman. That is a cultural change that I don’t think is going to reverse itself.”

 

Jameson’s memoir has appeared in the top-20 best-seller list on Amazon.com, and was at No. 27 on the extended best-seller list of The New York Times. In Italy a memoir of sexual awakening, 100 Strokes of the Brush Before Bed, by teenager Melissa Panarello, sold more than 500,000 copies in that country alone. Harlequin romances, even more sexed-up than before, are flying off the shelves of Wal-Mart.

 

The reason for this multi-faceted boom seems to stem from a combination of two things: 1) the perennial currency of sex in the marketplace, and 2) the manner in which increasingly explicit, ‘honest’, confessional works (often by celebrities) are thought to be more respectable than mere porn. Books that take readers into “the shadowy side of sex” are lauded as erotic adventure tales which consumers should feel no shame in buying.

 

 

Questions for Reflection and Discussion:

 

1.      Have you noticed this boom in ‘sex’ literature in bookstores near you?

 

2.      Are teenagers drawn to such books?

 

3.      What does the appeal of such books tell us about consumer interests and lifestyles today?

 

4.      Should such books be readily promoted in family bookstores?

 

 

Implications:

 

The rise in erotic literature and pop-icon sex confessionals indicates that consumers are more willing to nurse their sexual curiosity. But it also indicates that publishers and book retailers are readily willing to promote the detachment of sexuality from every day life and relationships, and package it as a voyeuristic read.   

 

Christopher S. Yates cCYS