The Golden Age of Adult Cinema Live On Stage

Above (left to right): Host Nick Santa Maria, Riley Reid, Christy Canyon, Porsche Lynn, Seka and Nina Hartley

by Jeff Booth

 

Currently running in Los Angeles is a live stage show, The Golden Age of Adult Cinema, that also provides a once in a lifetime opportunity to meet and talk with some of the greatest adult starts of the Golden Age of Porn. It runs for two more Sundays at the Cupcake Theater in North Hollywood, and each night has a different round-up of stars.

Over the years I have had the opportunity to interview a lot of adult stars. Some of the most interesting interviews have been with performers from the Golden Age of Porn, people like Georgina Spelvin and Mike Horner. They have great stories to tell, and I thought on many occasions that it would be great if these interviews could be done in front of a live audience.

Producer David Bertolino had the same idea, and he actually made it happen. We went and saw it last night, and had a terrific time with a very entertaining show.

I knew of David Bertolino from The Deep Throat Sex Scandal, a live show he wrote and produced in L.A in 2013. It was a very popular show about the most famous adult movie of all time. It was through this show that he met a number of Golden Age stars and that experience helped inspire the current production.

The format is simple. Host and interviewer Nick Santa Maria introduced each star, he asked them questions about their life and work in the adult industry, then they moved to an on-stage couch as the next star was introduced. First up was Nina Hartley.

I’ve met Nina on several occasions and even got to hang out with her around the pool with a group of people at the Lifestyles Convention. It is my personal belief that she is one of the smartest people in porn. Some of you may be thinking that is a pretty low bar, but that is because you have bought into the negative porn stereotypes promoted by people who don’t like porn. Sure, some barely out of their teens performers might still have some personal and intellectual growth to do, as is true with most people that age. Beyond that, though, I have met a lot of extremely smart people in the adult industry, both in front of the camera and behind the camera.

Here are a few of the things I learned about Nina from the show. Her father was a popular radio show host who was taken down in the McCarthy era. He took his case all the way to the Supreme Court and won, but the controversy ended his radio career. He became a stay at home dad for awhile after that.

She was a loner as a child, but a voracious reader of books. She babysat one family that had a collection of the classics of adult literature, which she devoured. As a high school student, she walked past the famous Mitchell Brothers theater on her way to school. A 17 year old virgin, she saw that the theater was playing Autobiography of a Flea, one of the favorite books she had read. She got in without them carding her, and that was her very first introduction to filmed pornography.

My favorite quote from her was that “porn is living cartoons.” As I have often said, you don’t learn how to have sex from porn anymore than you learn how to drive from the Fast and Furious series.

Nina Hartley

Next up was Seka. I first met her at the Los Angeles Adult Film Festival. She has reached a certain age where she just speaks her mind. She is a bit crotchety and quite funny.

She started out doing loops. Her first big movie was Dracula Sucks, with John Holmes. He sat her down with this bit of advice: “Don’t do anything you don’t want to do.”

She dated comedian Sam Kinison for awhile. She was very attracted to his humor and said that he could make her scream, but not the same way he did. When he was scheduled to appear on Saturday Night Live with Dana Carvey’s Church Lady, he insisted that Seka be in the segment with him.

She met her husband as a fan, who showed up at her events over the course of several years. He was a cop, and eventually things clicked, and they got married. Her life had started to get a little wild and he got her to slow down.

The humor turned to pathos as Porsche Lynn came out and discussed her childhood. Her father shot her mother and then himself. She bounced around orphanages and foster homes, until she was adopted by her father’s sister and her husband. That is when things got worse. Her uncle physically and sexually abused her.

That might help explain why she may be one of the most well defended women you will ever meet. She has been in martial arts for 30 years and teaches numerous disciplines. She is also an award winning sharpshooter. You don’t mess with Texas or Porche Lynn.

Many of you may be thinking, well, there it is, women get into porn because they were abused. So have a shocking number of women, including many women I have met who lead sexually alternative lives. It is still not the majority though. My theory is that if you have suffered abuse, at some point you need to deal with sexual issues and work them out. It leads you to figure out what you want, and while being abused is horrible, many people come through it stronger, and more determined to control their sexuality and make their own choices.

She did her first movie for the legendary Ruben Sturman in December of 1985. It was up from there. Her legs were insured for $1 million as a publicity stunt. She is very happy she never had to cash in on that policy, and she showed off a pair of pretty terrific legs. As she said, they go all the way up to heaven.

For the past 14 years she has run the Den of Indomitus in Phoenix, Arizona, where she continues to be head mistress. This dungeon caters primarily to those seeking a submissive experience.

She wrote an autobiography in 2015, The Girl with the Million-Dollar Legs: My Life in Burlesque, Porn and Kink. She also appears in David Sawyer’s photo book Classic American Mistress: Porsche Lynn.

Next up was Christy Canyon. I had a little history with her, which you can read about in our Best Foot Forward article. Christy made AVN’s list of the top 20 porn stars of all time (and so did Seka and Nina Hartley).

She had a great childhood, although she was rebellious. In the 80s she lived right below my old stomping ground, the Magic Castle in Hollywood. She initially worked for legendary adult agent Jim South, who she called a “great guy.”

Her first on camera appearance was in a loop with Ron Jeremy when she was barely 18. This led to some back and forth between the other adult stars on stage, as Ron was supposed to be there that night and he was a no show. Seka said, “That’s because he found out there was no food.”

Christy worked a lot with Ron, but she points out that at the time there were only about six guys working in porn, so you would work with the same handful of guys over and over. They’d bring in new guys every so often, but most would wash out.

In 1985 she needed a break and went to work with her father. Among other activities, he owned a Christmas Tree Farm and sold trees locally. She worked the Christmas tree lot dressed as an elf wearing a very tight leotard. There was an audience Q and A at the end but nobody asked if she was recognized on the lot.

After four years she returned to the adult industry, where she stayed for 30 years. She did get a Marketing degree, and danced on the weekends to pay the bills while going to college.

She also wrote an autobiography, Lights, Camera, Sex. Not long after that she was brought in to co-host with Ginger Lynn on Playboy Radio, which is where I met her.

Christy Canyon

The last star presented was a surprise guest, popular contemporary porn star Riley Reid. She said she has been told by her family that she is of Cherokee, Chickasaw, Dominican, Dutch, German, Irish, and Puerto Rican descent. To find out for sure, she sent her DNA to Ancestry.com, but the results have not come back yet.

Reid won the XBIZ Awards for Best New Starlet in 2013 and Female Performer of the Year in 2014 (You can read about this year”s X-Biz Awards in our Award Seasons feature). She is the only one to have ever gone from winning Best New Starlet to becoming the most popular female performer in a single year.

In 2013, LA Weekly ranked her eighth on their list of “10 Porn Stars Who Could Be the Next Jenna Jameson.” Personally, I think she will be the first Riley Reid, and the conditions that made Jenna Jameson such a huge star don’t exist anymore.

After the Q and A it was out to the lobby where all of the stars from the show made themselves available for photos and to answer questions. In the lobby, I ran into Herschel Savage, another Golden Age star whose acting chops I admire. He was also in Bertolino’s The Deep Throat Sex Scandal. Amazingly, he appeared in more than 1,000 adult films.

Herschel Savage

The owner of the Westgate Gallery was there with some of his impeccably restored movie posters from adult films. They were hanging all over the lobby. I am a big fan of posters from this era, and if you are too, this is a top notch source for collectors.

Dr. Susan Block was also there doing the Dr. Susan Block Show. I have been on her show and thought I’d get a chance to say hello, but she was busy interviewing people.

Dr. Susan Block

Penny Antine, known in the industry as Raven Touchstone, had some of her photos on display. She shot the type of photo I really like, where you capture that moment of spark and intensity between two people. In her adult career she wrote nearly 400 screenplays in a career spanning 25 years.

This show is a rare opportunity for fans of Golden Age Porn. I talked with one woman who was completely unfamiliar with the genre, and she found the evening fascinating and enlightening, and she saw things from a new perspective. I’d put it on my don’t miss list.

 

You can read more about the show on our Behind the Scenes blog on the Center for Sexual Expression and Education site.