I’m not out to offend the pure of heart. Really, I’m not. But it is the not-ordinary that tends to make life most interesting, and I’ve had quite a few not-ordinaries in mine. Here’s a look at one of them.
When my mom died in September of 1971, I quit my job, bought a Winnebago motor home and just took off on an open-ended attempt to run away from life…which of course never works, but is indicative of my mental state at the time. I’ll be talking more about the trip in future entries, and it is mentioned here merely as a brief lead-in to how I ended up working several years for probably the largest porn mill on the West Coast.
When I finally returned home I was forced to face the reality of getting another job. I saw an ad in the paper for an editor for a “men’s magazine” and sent in my resume. Shortly thereafter I got a call from the company for an interview.
The company was located in Chatsworth, one of L.A.’s innumerable suburbs, and probably about half an hour’s drive from my home, and I arrived, as always, early. The building was truly impressive…a huge, sprawling, modern concrete-slab structure that bespoke success.
My appointment was with the chief editor of one of the company’s several divisions. Keith was in his late 40s, stocky, glasses, a crew-cut, and friendly, and took me into his office where he explained the job. When the ad said “men’s magazine” it meant it, literally. The job involved editing several “sex education” magazines with explicit photographs—which, of course, are what sold the publications.
This was at the time when the phrase “redeeming social value” was vital to the success of what a few years earlier had come to be known as “the sexual revolution.” Every magazine put out by the company was comprised of very carefully-researched-and-
written articles which did, indeed, serve the purpose of providing basic information on human sexuality—strictly, totally, and exclusively heterosexual, of course. Each article, as I say, was carefully researched and had to be footnoted with references to no fewer than five, I believe, published works by noted authorities and published works in the field of human sexuality.
Popular idioms for sex acts and body parts were forbidden. Clinical terms only. Every explicit photograph…and here there were no holds barred…had to have a caption specifically relating it to the subject of the article and using exact physical terminology. Not easy to do, I can tell you.
Anyway, after we’d talked quite a while, Keith called in his wife, Iris, who was also an editor there. Iris, too, was in her late 40s; she wore no makeup, and her long blond hair was pulled back in a pony tail. I liked her right away. After a few more minutes, Keith offered me the job...and here comes the part of the story I love best. I had never before told a prospective employer that I was gay, but in this case, I saw no way around it. So I said: “Well, there is only one problem: since I’m gay, I don’t have the foggiest idea what men and women do in bed together.”
Without batting an eye, Keith said: “Well, then you’ll have a different outlook on things.” It was a truly liberating moment, and I decided in that instant that if they could have that kind of attitude, I wanted to work for them.
I was with the company for four or five years, through many turbulent free-speech confrontations including the local police locking the building to keep workers out (we shifted operations to several smaller locations), one over-a-weekend (so no judge could be contacted to free them) arrest of Keith and Iris, and various forms of legal harassment. (The police would arrive with a search warrant and a judge sitting in a squad car. If, during their search, they found something of interest not covered in the warrant, they would simply go out to the squad car and have the warrant amended.)
But we all survived, and I’m delighted to say that I count Keith and Iris among my best friends, after some 38 years.
There are several more stories from my porn days, which may well fuel future entries.
But for now…
This blog is from Dorien's ebook of blogs, Short Circuits, available from UntreedReads.com and Amazon.com; it's also available as an audio book from Amazon/Audible.com: