How to Make Love Like A Porn Star: A Cautionary Tale
by Jenna Jameson with Neil Strauss
Published by Regan Books
579 pages, 2004
Reviewed by Adrian Marks
The title is meant to intrigue rather than illuminate. How to Make Love Like A Porn Star. Incautious readers who buy the book based on the title or the illustration of the hard-boiled honey that graces the cover are in for a surprise.
How to Make Love Like A Porn Star isn't a how-to manual for wannabe adult movie starlets though -- truth be told -- readers from that camp would learn a thing or two.
The job of a porn star is not a calling -- or even an option -- for most women. However, if you make the right decisions and set the right boundaries for yourself, it can be a great living, because you'll make a lot of money while doing very little work. And you'll get more experience in front of the camera than a Hollywood actress. Though watching porn may seem degrading to some women, the fact is that it's one of the few jobs for women where you can get to a certain level, look around, and feel so powerful, not just in the work environment but as a sexual being. So fuck Gloria Steinem.
Jenna Jameson is a porn star. Perhaps even the porn star. And despite the title and the occasional pointed advice, How to Make Love Like A Porn Star is not a manual, it's an autobiography. Co-authored with rock writer extraordinaire Neil Strauss (The Dirt with Motley Crüe and The Long Hard Road Out of Hell with Marilyn Manson) Jameson's book is stylishly executed and well paced, a fascinating look at the Jennasis of a beautiful teenager from Las Vegas into the woman with perhaps the most famous breasts -- and other bits -- in the world.
It is not always a comfortable journey. Not surprisingly, Jenna's world has had some rough edges. Raped by the uncle of an early boyfriend, on her return home eight hours after curfew, Jenna didn't tell her father what had happened. Thinking he was losing control of his daughter, her father ousted Jameson from the family home. In desperation, Jameson moved in with the boyfriend -- Jack -- a tattoo artist with connections to biker gangs and other factions of the dark side of Las Vegas.
Though she was too short for the front line, Jameson wanted desperately to be a showgirl, just like her late mother. The schedule was "brutal: eight hours of rehearsal a day and then two shows a night. It was a lot of work and the money was terrible." Jameson didn't last long in part because "Jack knew a way I could make much more money."
Jameson became a stripper. It was what, she said, tattoo artist's girlfriends did. Just 17 when she started, she worked hard to understand the delicate social structure that exists behind the scenes at a strip club and to work the system diligently for the return of cash.
Strippers can be vicious. The mentality is that if these guys are going to victimize us, we're going to totally victimize them right back. It seemed like a fair exchange. And it was character building: I was finally learning to take control of people instead of being so passive in social situations.
While still stripping, a woman approached Jameson and said she might be able to get her into Penthouse.
Suddenly the whole club seemed to fall silent. A blinding white light filled the room and a chorus of angels began to sing somewhere in the background.
And, before long, Jameson was on to phase two in her career: modeling for adult magazines. The transition from magazines to film didn't come as effortlessly. The deadbeat boyfriend Jack -- then still in the picture -- had at least one affair that Jameson could verify. Jameson tried to forgive him but couldn't find it in her.
In the biker and tattoo-artist community, the worst stigma a man can have is if his old lady is sleeping with someone else -- and everyone knows it but him. And the best way for me to do that was on camera.
Though initially fueled by revenge, it was as an adult film star that Jenna Jameson really found her niche. In some circles, she is legendary. New York magazine has called her a cultural icon and Adult Video News says she is the leading adult film star of all time. Jameson writes regular columns for the British, German and American editions of FHM, a magazine that consistently ranks her as one of the 100 most beautiful and sexy women in the world. Now CEO of her own video production, licensing, Internet development and management firm, ClubJenna Inc. Jameson is 30, recently wed and contemplating motherhood.
How to Make Love Like A Porn Star is not for everyone. Certainly some will be flummoxed by Jameson's frank admissions -- the numberless sexual encounters, the drug abuse, the darkness of her youth. But those who leave behind the weight of judgment are in for an entertaining -- and sometimes even enlightening -- read. Some of the book's high readability must, of course, be attributable to Neil Strauss, who has shown many times that he knows the best way to marshal whatever material he's working with. But one can't help but think that Jameson's own light -- and occasionally her early confusion and pain -- shines through here. She emerges as a bright, ambitious and ultimately likable woman who has the good sense not to waste a lot of time on regret. "All the wrong choices I had made," she writes at one point, "served only to ferry me to the right place." | September 2004
Adrian Marks is a January Magazine contributing editor.