Biting the Whore that Fed Me: My Self-Imposed Exile from Pornland

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BITING THE WHORE THAT FED ME




Portland, Oregon.
An emerald paradise tucked ’tween snowcapped mountains and roaring ocean.
Icy rain and steamin’ coffee. The world’s fattest junkies, hairiest
dykes and most passive-aggressive liberals. Plus more strippers, call girls
and self-described “sex workers” than any place should rightfully have.



Everything you need to know about the city is
distilled in the fact that it has only one daily paper, two free weeklies and
three free strip-club magazines.


Those who make their living in the city’s
sex industry–an estimated 2000 strippers alone–call the town “Pornland.”
Legend has it, there are more titty bars here than anywhere on Earth. When I
first moved to P-Town nearly 10 years ago, it seemed as if there was a strip
bar on each corner. It’s almost as if Rudy Giuliani had used a giant broom
to sweep all the sex shops out of 42nd St., and they all landed way out here
in Bigfoot Country.


Nowhere on Earth, with the possible exception
of Annie Sprinkle’s dungeon, does pornography struggle so boldly to paint
itself in redemptive, artistic, community-building, “sex-positive” strokes.
Pornland’s porn apologists go one step further than trying to make it respectable.
They make it cutting-edge… empowering, even. No other city on Earth more
aggressively nurtures the idea that taking off one’s clothes in a dark
smoky bar filled with swollen prostates automatically qualifies one as an artist,
or at least a “sex worker,” rather than a stripper or, Goddess forbid, a whore.


Obviously, taking off your clothes doesn’t
make you an artist any more than taking a shit does. Sure, I realize that even
a sanitation worker is capable of performing his job with some measure of grace
and nobility…but he’s still a trashman. One can pick their nose with
a certain degree of finesse, too…but they’re still picking their nose.


If there’s one thing more retarded than
pornography, it’s the attempted intellectualization of pornography. Porn
is theorized to death up here. Most of the “literature” that attends Portland’s
sex industry is glutted with fatuous, transparent, misguided screeds about our
“rights” and “free speech” and “pro-sex attitudes,” and “educating society,”
as if leaving a trail of Twat Slime up and down a brass pole was not only the
ultimate act of artistic expression, but also of political commentary. Whores
magically become goddesses, proving that the only thing more ridiculous than
arguing that pornography objectifies women is trying to argue that it doesn’t.


Not to mention the starkly ironic fact that
pornography and “sex-positivity” are natural enemies. Pornography actually depends
on the partial suppression of sexuality, or nude chicks wouldn’t be so
special that people would pay to see them. The most farcical thing about this
whole “sex-positive” crusade among sex workers is that if people were truly
sex-positive, meaning sexually healthy and functional, the industry would disappear.
Fat, flaccid old men with cockeyed toupees wouldn’t be throwing dollars
at 18-year-old meth-addicted runaways with snare-drum-tight skin and shaved-bald
beavers.


Still, to fend off the fundamentalists and the
local DA, this amorphous mass of pimps, hoze and johns that calls itself “the
industry” has to justify itself. To survive, it must struggle to appear “classy”
in the same way the habitual sinner strains to appear righteous. Therefore,
it must pretend it’s something that it isn’t. Flipping through these
free strip-club magazines, it’s astonishing how often the word “classy”
pops up in the ads for strip clubs, lingerie-modeling emporia (known affectionately
as “jack shacks”) and call girls. One escort service calls itself “Classy Ass,”
and if ever two words didn’t belong together, it is these two. But that
epitomizes the industry–it sells ass, but with a thick, phony lacquer of
“class.”


The industry floats atop a fluffy pillow of
fantasy. Chief among these fantasies:


The strippers have to pretend they like the
johns.


The johns have to pretend the strippers like
them, too.


Sorry, but I just can’t pretend. Strippers
don’t create anything that lasts. There is no message in their performances
besides “Guys like to look at my crotch.” And I’m supposed to respect them?
To view them as goddesses? As artists? How many of them could draw a stick figure
or write a sentence? How many of their brains could burp up one…just one…original
idea? Their entire job is to prey upon men’s lonely vulnerability and suck
money from their pockets.


You can paint a turd all you want, but you’re
still selling gash for cash.



I’m a man of strange tastes. I
generally find that there’s nothing less funny than a comedian and nothing
less arousing than pornography.
.

Porn held a fascination for me when I was 12 and had never seen a live, breathing
vagina, but once I actually started having sex, pornography seemed degrading.
And not to the girls…to me. Why should I pay for something I can get for
free? I’ve never paid a dollar for sex in my life. I’ve never even
bought a porno mag.



To me, sex is instantly corrupted when money
enters the equation. I’m not sex-negative, but it might be fair to call
me cash-negative. As I see it, sex is cheapened and distorted and, most important,
rendered dishonest by money. That’s what money does to everything.


I don’t object to porn for prudish reasons,
nor would I argue that sex without cash is necessarily uplifting. I hate pornography
for overwhelmingly esthetic reasons. I’m not saying it’s immoral.
But it is artificial, and that’s much, much worse. It isn’t
bad and evil. It’s silly and tacky. Strippers and the men who ogle them
shouldn’t feel guilty; they should feel foolish.


By and large, porn is stupid. Bad shitrock and
bad haircuts and bad childhoods and bad, bad, bad taste. It’s all
a joke, told at its own expense. Pornography is little more than “Reality TV”
without clothes.



So I was only 10 days free after a two-and-a-half-year
prison stretch for domestic violence against a Portland girl who was more violent
than me.
.

She was a stripper when I met her.



Before I got out, a friend had told me that
ex-cons, no matter how much time they had spent locked down, almost immediately
sense upon their release that their prison experience happened a thousand years
ago and a million miles away.


He was right. The prison world, so alien to
me when I entered it, became instantly foreign again upon my exit.


A writer friend had directed me to a local publisher
of a free sex-industry magazine distributed in the billions of nude bars, jack
shacks and dildo huts that blemish Portland’s visage like so many Kaposi’s
sarcoma dots. There is at least one of these sort of rags in every major city.
Their ads-to-editorial ratio is typically, oh, about 90-to-1, and what meager
editorial content exists is pure industry-promoting Cool Whip designed to make
you patronize the advertisers.


The free Portland sex mag in question was a
notch above the competition, mainly because the publisher is a gracious and
noble man, and his essential decency somehow leached into the magazine’s
pages. He was also a fan of my writing and created a job for me because he knew
full-time employment was a condition of my parole. Unfortunately, the editorial
situation I inherited was awash with insufferably righteous “sex-positive” folderol
cranked out by writers who, if their homeliness was any indication, spent a
lot more time writing about sex than actually having it.


The magazine’s office was located on Burnside
St., downtown near the river in the sleaziest part of Portland, a three- or
four-square-block chunk that is the city’s only remotely urban sector.
Homeless alcoholics with snot and blood encrusted in their gray beards. Black
whores in stretch pants picking at scabs on their exposed bellies. A jack shack
was located on the floor above us, and a nightclub that sometimes featured topless
dancers was right below us.


A constant flow of drugs and thong-wearing 18-year-old
call girls coursed through the office. Tattooed strippers would excuse themselves
in the middle of photo shoots to go hit the meth pipe in the bathroom. And there
was so much dried DNA on the backroom couch you could start a new civilization
with it.


Despite the steady stream of naked cunt that
swirled around me at this job, I had no desire to fuck any of these girls, or,
saints preserve us, to shovel down under their makeup and silicone to see if
anything human lay beneath it all. The only interesting thing about most of
them was that they were fucked up enough to get naked for cash…beyond that,
they were as subnormally unexceptional as your average prison convict. Most
of them displayed a hatred for men that can only come from constant exposure
to how low and desperate and sweaty most men can be when nature has left them
no other option but to pay for sex.


Almost all female “sex workers” seemed to hate
the men for whom they were paid to preen and smile…and this was never considered
“biting the hand that feeds them.” The more these miserable shlubs worshipped
and idealized the strippers, the more the strippers mocked them. One busy lady
who worked as a stripper, jack-shack model and call girl told me in confidence
that she enjoys the power she feels over these poor tricks. She enjoyed humiliating
them and made no mention that her job might be degrading to her. She thought,
like I do, that it’s much more degrading for the tricks.


Who came up with the insane idea that it’s
more degrading to be paid for sex than to pay for it?


For all the fuzzy postmodern cunt-positive rhetoric
about how hazardous this business is for women, none of these girls ever seemed
to face remotely the same sort of legal hassles and prison time that their employers
did. Oregon’s legal system tends to overprotect females, even predatory
ones. In the two years I worked there, I never saw one girl get busted for prostitution,
but their bosses kept getting slapped with one sex-crime charge after the next.


I witnessed one case where a willful, oversexed,
violent 16-year-old who wanted to be a “sex worker” so badly that she provided
false ID to a jack-shack owner wound up being considered the victim, and the
owner, even though he was acting in good faith, went to jail for promoting child
prostitution.


So I developed a hearty contempt for all these
goddess-artists. I despised the johns, too, but my loathing was tempered with
some bemused pity. I didn’t pity the girls. I didn’t see how sex workers
were any more exploited than any other worker. And I sure as fuck couldn’t
feel sorry for girls who earned in a five-hour shift what I made in a week.


So I’ll be the first to admit that I was
inappropriate for the job. The magazine became a Trojan horse inside which I
crouched, ready to pillage the industry. I was paid a living wage to bite the
whore that fed me. I was allowed an almost unconscionable amount of editorial
leeway, and I stretched it every time. It was as if a monkey had taken over
the controls and was pushing all the red buttons. Like a tomcat playing with
cockroaches, I systematically fired one sex-positive columnist after the next,
then made a public mockery of them in the following issue.


I replaced them with writers whose abilities
I admired, but I still wound up writing more than half of every issue myself.
I called my monthly column “The Industry” and designed a logo for it that featured
a toxin-belching smokestack. I ended my first column with a joke:



Q: What were “sex workers” called 30 years ago?


A: Whores.



I’m not sure how Webster’s defines
it, but for me, the word “whore” has two meanings:


Someone who trades their sexuality for cash.


Someone who does something they don’t want
to do for cash.


I was writing exactly what I wanted to write,
so I didn’t consider myself a whore. I couldn’t write about the sex
industry with any degree of honest respect, so I relentlessly lampooned it.
The magazine’s non-ad content became a weird hybrid of Hustler and
The Onion.


Titles of some of my feature articles:


“Adult Films Made by Children”


“What’s With All the Lesbians?”


“Man Uses Photoshop to Give Himself a Bigger
Penis–And it WORKS!”


“Ex-Slaves Sue Dominatrix for Reparations”


“Home Breast-Implant Kits”


“Penis Sizes of World Religious Figures”


“Virgin Mary’s Face Appears in Wet Spot”


“A Night at Stinky’s–The Strip Club
Where Women Are PAID to Get DRESSED”


“What About Us?–A Support Group Forms to
Address the Unique Emotional Needs of Strippers Who Were Never Abused as Children”


“The Herbal Date-Rape Drug”


“Priest Turns Confession Booth into ‘Erotic
Lingerie Modeling Booth for Boys’”


I also wrote the story line for a serial comic
strip called “Trucker Fags in Denial.”


The writers I hired weren’t much kinder
to the industry. “I Hate Sex” and “The Cum-Hungry Genius” were columns written
by females who routinely took potshots at pimps, johns and hoze. The author
of the latter column called one of her monthly installments “Female Castration
is Where it’s At.”


The magazine created an understandable buzz.
People were reading it, but their demographic barely overlapped with those who
patronized our sponsors. The readership and the target advertising audience
were not the same group and may even have been at odds with each other. People
in the industry didn’t know what to make of it all, and most of them, dumb
bricks that they are, took it at face value. We received countless phone calls
requesting directions to Stinky’s nightclub.


Our competitors tried to use the editorial content
against us, wooing advertisers with the notion that these articles, rather than
all the jack-shack ads that surrounded them, were unforgivably sleazy.


About six months ago, I hired someone whose
pen name was “Office Partridge” to write a column called “Hard Justice.” He’s
the son of a fairly well-known feminist author, and maybe he’s still rebelling
against Mom a little bit. It was less than a month ago that he handed me a column
whose lede was, “Strippers are garbage.” He continued:



Uh, excuse me, ma’am? Could you get your
fucking life out of my way? I’m trying to look up your asshole. Thanks.
I can look at the place on your body that shit comes out of. Anytime I want.
For a dollar. And you have feelings? I can see your pooper! Is this a joke?



Youch. Truer words were never spoken in the
magazine, but the context couldn’t have been less appropriate. “It’s
as if we did a magazine with ads for coffee machines,” said one of our designers,
“and every article was about how much coffee machines suck.” I grimaced, knowing
the article would cause trouble. Then I ran it.


It caused more trouble than I anticipated. I
was unaware that many of these strippers were able to read, but apparently they
can. All the whores responded with the sort of outrage peculiar to those who’ve
been hurt by the truth, the oddly familiar shock that comes when the obvious
is articulated clearly for the first time. If you aren’t really whores…if
we didn’t really hit a nerve…if you weren’t really ashamed deep
down of what you were doing…then why are you freaking the fuck out?


Fanning the fire, our competitors trotted the
article around to our advertisers, who began threatening to pull their ads.
Without consulting me, our publisher yanked the offending article from the magazine’s
online version, replacing it with a bent-over-backwards apology, now also gone.
He wrote that we’d convened an emergency editorial meeting in which the
staff expressed shock and dismay that this article, which was supposedly handed
in at the last minute, flew in under our radar and somehow got published. He
wrote that Officer Partridge would never write for us again. He wrote that we’d
never publish anything like it again. He wrote that the next issue would be
chock-full of apologies and sundry expressions of our bottomless remorse for
ever suggesting that women who trade sex for cash are whores.


There were several problems with what the publisher
wrote. First among them was the fact that this “meeting” had never occurred.
Another was that the article was handed in way before deadline. By foisting
all the blame onto Officer Partridge, the publisher was offering me an easy
way out. If I, too, pretended to be shocked and outraged, my job was secure.


But I couldn’t do it. The problem, by and
large, was that I agreed with the article. I wouldn’t apologize for all
the money in the world.


That’s because I ain’t a ho.



So I quit. .

As I was clearing out my desk, two whores from the jack shack upstairs came
down to “confront” me, only to be further outraged when they realized I wouldn’t
apologize. No, honey, you aren’t a whore. You stand in a cubicle sticking
dildos up your ass for cash while some schmuck watches you and beats off, but
you’re not a whore.



The magazine’s staff is still scrambling
to repair the damage. They’ve hand-delivered written apologies to all the
clubs and jack shacks and have hired three Mexicans armed with box cutters to
remove the offending article from all remaining copies. They hired a sex-positive
stripper to replace me.


I never got to write that advice column for
Islamic sex workers. Nor the feature about “Sharkey’s,” the mythical strip
club on Oahu’s north end that features nothing but strippers who are victims
of shark bites.


Funny–no one said we were “biting the hand
that feeds us” when we repeatedly made sport of johns, whose money greases the
entire industry. One female columnist routinely wrote fantasies about murdering
men who she felt had inappropriately drooled over her. In the same issue as
the offending “Hard Justice” column, she gleefully and remorselessly wrote about
a real incident where she’d punched some guy so hard she had pieces of
his flesh stuck to her hands. And no one was offended by that. Nor did anyone
object to the same issue’s “I Hate Sex” column, which was an extended murder
fantasy regarding a man who had committed the murder-worthy crime of stealing
the author’s panties. Without a hint of irony, both of these articles openly
advocated violence toward johns, while “Hard Justice” merely made unflattering
comments about strippers.


Such are the dangers of goddess culture–the
girls get away with murder, while brimstone rains down upon males who do nothing
worse than infer that girls are less than sacred.


It’s all further proof that one can never
tell the truth in a medium driven by advertising.


I spent almost as much time in the porn industry
as I did in the Big House. It’s been less than a week since I left, but
it already feels like 1000 years ago.


Just like prison.


..