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February 13, 2017

Golden Age Stars Feted In New Theatrical Show

NORTH HOLLYWOOD, Calif.—The Cupcake Theatre on Magnolia Blvd. was packed last night as fans of classic adult movies got to hear some of their favorite performers talk about their lives and work, in the first of three shows dubbed The Golden Age of Adult Cinema. Created by David Bertolino, of The Deep Throat Sex Scandal fame, the mini-series, which will continue for the next two Sunday evenings, brings together four stars from adult cinema's golden age—which last night included Nina Hartley, Seka, Porsche Lynn and Christy Canyon—and one millennial performer, a slot ably filled by multi-award winner Riley Reid. The event opened with a brief introduction from veteran star Herschel Savage, who then turned the mic over to moderator/host Nick Santa Maria, a mainstream actor best known for a series of humorous short films and his role as an accountant in the 2005 remake of The Producers. His first guest was Nina Hartley, but before she took the stage, Santa Maria showed a brief series of clips from some of Hartley's classic movies to get the audience in the mood to hear the star's memories. Hartley revealed that she'd been a "red diaper baby," meaning that her "seeker" parents had been Communist Party members in the 1950s, and that in fact her father had been fired from a radio hosting gig because of it. "He was blacklisted," she stated. "He had an amazing show; 100,000-plus listeners a week in San Francisco, and he and my mother went out to clubs and did cool stuff because you had to have something to write about. One day at work, a guy came in and said, 'Are you Jim Grady?' And my father said, 'Yes.' And the guy said, 'My wife and I like your show; we never miss it'—and served him [with a subpoena]... He went to court; was carried out on the shoulders of his supporters. He did lose, but took it to the Supreme Court and won on First Amendment grounds." Though an atheist, she considers herself to be "spiritual," defining the distinction as the difference between feeling, "Wow! That starry night really is awesome ... but religion is cultural." A bookish child, Hartley became involved early on in theater and the then-popular Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA), whose members dress in medieval clothes, which gave rise to the various Renaissance Faires that take place around the country—which only spurred her love of performance even more. "The thing to realize about pornography is, consider it live-action cartoons," she assessed, "and so I'm into broad comedy acting because I really like it ... and because until digital media came along, people in porn were the only people besides soap opera performers who got as much time in front of the camera as we did." As a teen, she walked by the Mitchell Brothers theater in Berkeley every day, and when she saw that they were showing Autobiography of a Flea, she had to see how one of her favorite erotic novels had been brought to life—"and it was directed by a woman," which for Hartley was the cherry on top. "I went into the theater, and it was four o'clock in the afternoon, so there were like 12 guys, and I'm thinking, 'Please, no one sit near me. Please, no one sit near me!'" She recounted. "It turns out that a single female in an adult theater is sort of like soap and greasy water, so I sat in the middle of the theater, and immediately, all the men just vroomed to the side, so I was alone in the middle of this theater—and the first time I saw people fucking on stage, my inner Cookie Monster reared up and said, 'Me want do that!' I was a virgin; I'd barely kissed a boy, but I knew I was bisexual, knew I was exhibitionistic and voyeuristic." Hartley said that her off-screen sex life is not that much different from her on-screen persona, but noted, "Married sex can be difficult if you're trying to keep monogamous; you need support from porn." She also described Boogie Nights, in which she had a major role, as, "It's a Hollywood movie about something that people are really squeamish about, so it got some of the details correct, but it's a movie." "I'm a nurse, and in our culture, sexuality is sick, and sick people need a nurse's care, so I am here for life," she concluded. Hartley's quip-filled commentary was a tough act to follow, but next guest Seka's brusque attitude quickly captured the audience's attention. "You look dumber than a post right there," she said after Santa Maria failed to pick up on the meaning of VPI: Virginia Polytechnic Institute, the famous university near where the actress was born. But Santa Maria nonetheless paid her the compliment of saying that when he worked in a video store as a youth, "Inside Seka was probably the biggest renter; it went out all the time." Seka revealed that when she was in her teens, she'd won a couple of beauty pageants—Miss Southside Virginia, and Miss Hopewell High School, where she went to school—and that the week after she turned 18, she got married for the first time. She noted that early on, she owned seven adult bookstores in Virginia and Maryland, all close to military bases, and that it was when she was in Baltimore buying tapes and toys for her stores that she found herself on a nearby adult movie set. "I went over to the location. It was a ratty-ass little apartment—let's call it nostalgic," she offered. "And I got paid 200 bucks. Nice? My ass that's nice!" But though originally put off by '70s adult actresses' lack of makeup, greasy, dirty hair and feet and "pimples on their butts," "I said, 'I think I can do this and do it better.'" But it was at a Consumer Electronics Show in Chicago when she realized she really had it made in adult: "I was working for Swedish Erotica, because I was doing a lot of Swedish Erotica movies at the time, and they had ordered 500 pictures for three days. We ran out of pictures in an hour and a half—and I went, 'Hmm... methinks me is not getting paid enough. So that's when I figured I was supposedly a big deal. I don't personally feel that way about it. I'm just really happy that I have a lot of fans and like me and like the ladies from my generation, but I've never thought of myself that way." "But we do!" came a cry from the audience, followed by lots of applause. Seka then discussed her relationship with legendary actor John Holmes. "I always liked working with John; John and I were really good friends," she said. "We clicked immediately; it was on Dracula Sucks, of all things, because he took me aside, we went and sat on two tree stumps somewhere out in the Valley or out somewhere where God left his shoes, in an old castle, and he says ... 'Let me tell you something: Don't do anything in this business that you do not want to do. Say no. You have the right to.' ... He was the guy I did my first sex scene with in a big movie." The subject then turned to drug use in the industry, and while Seka said she didn't do any "in those days," she admitted that she got into cocaine in the '90s and early 2000s—until she met her husband, an ex-cop, who set her straight. Seka also recounted her brief romance with the late comedian Sam Kinison, who brought her along when he hosted Saturday Night Live in 1986 and insisted that she join him on-stage. "He could throw down in the bedroom," she assured. American Garter (1993) was Seka's last movie, though she'd semi-officially retired in 1987 when she became concerned that the industry wasn't testing sufficiently for HIV. "I said, 'I'm not doing it unless the guys wear condoms,'" she said of her role. "My life is worth more than that. I don't care if they paid me $200 million, I would not have done another movie." Next up was Porsche Lynn, looking much the same as she did when she retired in 2008, though most of her roles for the previous 15 years had been non-sex/BDSM—a fetish she's still into, and in fact has made a business out of. Michigan-born, Lynn lost her parents to a murder/suicide when she was 5, eventually winding up living with an aunt whose husband abused Lynn both physically and sexually. "I went through a lot of healing, a lot of self-growth, a lot of self-exploration," she said. "I had therapy when I was a child. It didn't work very well. In those days, it was kind of like, 'Give her some Thorazine and some lithium and let's shut her up because she's kind of a whackjob,' but the best therapy I had was just getting in touch with spirit and the shamans that I know, the medicine men and medicine women that have worked with me, that's probably been the best therapy." The audience was probably surprised to learn that Lynn had studies sports medicine in college, became a licensed practical nurse, studied martial arts, earning several black belts in different disciplines, and is an internationally award-winning sharpshooter and instructor for the National Rifle Association. Lynn's first adult performance was in December of 1985, after leaving Michigan and driving to L.A. in her 280Z Datsun, meeting Bill Margold, Reuben Sturman and others—and got her legs insured for a million dollars as a publicity stunt. Lynn currently owns a dungeon in Phoenix, the Den of Undomatus, where she's worked as a Dominatrix for 14 years. "People ... are looking for a way to surrender power," Lynn explained about her business, "and typically, all of us, whether we own our own company or not, you're running a life; you have things you have to do, have to control, and then often, when it comes to sex, vanilla sex ... so there is a time when people just want to surrender, and they just want somebody to take them and they want to experience being vulnerable, they want to experience the sensation of impact play whether it's spanking or flogging, so they're desiring something different in their sexuality, or something they can add into their vanilla sexuality, and also the power exchange." The final Golden Ager of the evening was Christy Canyon, one of AVN's Top 20 Adult Film Stars of All Time, who began performing in 1984 after being something of a tomboy in high school. She left home at 17 "because I was very rebellious for some reason; I was just ready to be on my own ... It was the '80s and it was trashy but I was safe, and when you're young, you know nothing's ever going to happen to you—and thank God it didn't. But I was never fearful." Canyon eventually found agent Jim South, who spent three months shooting for adult magazines, then one day found herself on the set of a Swedish Erotica loop, where she did her first scene with Ron Jeremy. "It was in the Hollywood hills, where they had these great locations back in the day, and the house ended up being, a few years later, Billy Idol's house," she recalled. "It was pretty low-key because it was just a loop, which is I guess what gonzo is today without donkey punching and baseball bats, but it was just a quick scene; no script; just make up some dialog." Canyon left adult for four years in 1986 to help her dad run a Christmas tree farm, but returned in 1990 to form her own production company, Canyon Video, a subsidiary of Video Exclusives, then went to Vivid Video, where she remains till today, though as a radio DJ rather than porn star. Between all that, she got a marketing degree from the Fashion Institute, and had a thriving dance career on the weekends for ten years. "It was great; I really loved it," she said. "Sometimes somebody would grab a boob and I'd sock 'em and hide behind my bodyguard, but I never had too much trouble." The evening's final guest was Riley Reid, "here to represent the modern era." She told the crowd that she'd been born in Miami Beach, and spent several months as a stripper before a fellow dancer convinced her to try porn. "I'd never even really considered it; I didn't even really know what porn was, I was so naïve," she said. "What I thought porn was, was a couple like you and I would shoot our own movie and send it to Bang Bros and they would like mail us a check or something. Because I always watched super-amateur porn; I never really watched the ones with dialog and shit." Eventually, she appeared as an extra in an adult video, which she found exciting, eventually graduating to hardcore in 2012—and winning Female Performer of the Year in 2016. Santa Maria asked her if she'd ever dated her leading men, and she admitted she'd dated Jules Jordan. "We had an amazing relationship," she said. "There was never anything weird like, 'I don't like her so you can't work with her.' It was like, 'I don't care; shoot with her, make money and we'll go to dinner.' We never had any weird relationship drama. I was happy to see him fucking all these hot girls." Santa Maria then opened the floor up for questions, during it was revealed that Seka's husband had been a fan of hers before he married her; that all the performers agreed that sex on camera is very different from sex in "real life"; and that they all like sex now than Back In The Day. All in al, the audience was clearly very pleased with what they heard—and they'll have a chance to do it two more times in the coming weeks. Pictured, l-r: Riley Reid, Christy Canyon, Porsche Lynn, Seka, Nina Hartley.

 
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