Review: ‘Portrait: 40 Years in Porn’ by David Christopher

Portrait: 40 Years In Porn, by David Christopher with Matthew Klane; Volossal Publishing; 216 pgs; paperback, $19.95; Kindle, $9.99. Even at age 70, David Christopher, better known to many as “Pussyman,” has plenty to say about the adult industry—or at least he did in 2015 and ’16, when the vast majority of this book was dictated, apparently to his nephew Matthew Klane, and we’re guessing it took the past four years for Klane (or someone) to transcribe the tapes and assemble Christopher’s thoughts into book form. However, we’re warned on the very last page of Portrait: 40 Years in Porn: “The contents of this book … are in no way meant to be a historical accounting. The thoughts, opinions and recollections in no way reflect the opinions of Matthew Klane or the publisher. [Translation: Don’t sue us; it’s all Dave.] This book is intended purely for entertainment purposes.” How do we know it was dictated, and when? Oh, little clues like, “Seven years ago, the year before Obama, I was set up with a writer,” and “Today is the 1st of June … And I’ll be 65 years old this month,” not to mention the opening sentences of Chapter 6, “How do you want to start? What year are we in? Do you want to ask me a question or should we just roll?” (Most editors probably would have taken out such references, but the editing of this book is, how shall we say, a bit freeform.) If one thing is clear from Portrait, it’s that Christopher has been in XXX for more than 45 years, and along the way, he’s developed a few opinions. For instance, in the first paragraph on the first page of Chapter 1, he states, “They call the ’70s ‘The Golden Age of Porn.’ I don’t think so … the filmmaking was not good. The cameramen didn’t know how to shoot sex. They got all the wrong angles. Seriously. They didn’t know anything.” Seriously, that’s not calculated to make Dave any friends from Back in the Day. And then there’s L.A., which he termed “Plastic City U.S.A.”—and where he has lived for about the past 30 years. There’s also a section about how Christopher lived in former AVN publisher Paul Fishbein’s house for a time, and Christopher seems to have developed a real “hard-on” (for want of a better term) for Fishbein. He castigates Fish for yelling at Christopher’s then wife for smoking in the house, but he saves his real vitriol for the AVN Awards. “Pussyman 3-5 were all nominated by AVN, running against each other,” Christopher writes on pgs. 132-133. “Best Video. Best New Series. Paul, my good friend, you know, I thought he put this new category in just for us. Because we got incredible reviews. Five stars across the board. We were the hottest thing—#1—right to the top! Like most award shows, however, the AVN Awards were all basically decided by payoffs. Whoever does the most campaigning gets the award. And that year, Paul, he made a business deal, right in the middle of the show, and really waxed me good.” There’s more in that vein, and this reviewer was there for it all—and none of what Christopher writes here is factual. See the response by Paul Fishbein below for more detail. Christopher also claims that once the adult internet got going (which would have been in the late ’90s), “[t]hat’s when we went from like 115 porn companies down to 12.” Um, no. And we won’t dignify Christopher’s racist comments about Black actors by reprinting them here; readers will just have to search them out themselves. Christopher also incorrectly credits former AVN editor-in-chief Gene Ross with bringing the term “gonzo” into porn as a genre. In fact, it was this reviewer, a long-time Hunter Thompson fan, who did so in late 1991. But in-between the opinions, readers will learn a lot about Christopher’s early life, like that he was born in Sharon, Massachusetts, located south-southeast of Boston along I-95 (which barely existed when Christopher was born); that he called his mother “the Mars,” a nickname only explained several pages later; worked for quite a while at his father’s meat-packing plant, State Beef, during breaks from his college and grad school classes at a pair of universities on Long Island; that he came up with his stage name while driving home from class one night; that he was in a band, The Boston Tea Party; that he hitchhiked around the country in the early ’70s and really liked San Francisco; that he did one, count ’em, one live sex show at Manhattan’s Show World after having been invited to do so by its then-manager, Joey Silvera(!); and that he started in porn as a production assistant until one day, on the set of Gerard Damiano’s Portrait, one of the actors didn’t show and Christopher got his first on-screen blowjob from the movie’s star, Jody Maxwell. According to the Internet Adult Film Database, Christopher has appeared in 341 original productions (including web scenes), and directed 325 features, the most recent having been released in 2015. And that’s not the half of it. Readers will learn that Christopher has been married a few times, all ending in divorce; that he used to like to wear women’s panties; that he got to like being dominated by women thanks in part to his fifth grade teacher who “disciplined” him quite a bit; that he’s a big sports fan; that he spent several years as the manager of Marty Rothstein’s Manhattan-based Coast to Coast Video; that he considers himself a feminist (not to mention an aficionado of large tits and face-sitting) and wanted to become a college lecturer so he could talk about female sexuality; that he taught high school history for a while on Long Island; that he adopted the moniker “Pussyman” because he was so enamored of female sexuality, and made female-centric videos under that name well into the early 2000s, with that Pussyman series becoming, in his view, “one of the most popular series in porn history.” And that only scratches the surface of what—and who—readers will find in this slim volume. We can say it’s a fun read that shouldn’t be taken too seriously, as there are plenty of other autobiographies that hew a bit closer to the facts than does Portrait. Still, as a peek into David Christopher’s brain, it can’t be beat. ** The following text was sent to AVN by its co-founder Paul Fishbein, and at his request is being published in its entirety. Note that the references to “you” refer to this writer: “I was surprised as anyone about David Christopher’s fictional account of the AVN Awards, circa early ’90s. He’s been a friend for more than 35 years, and he warned me that he ‘took a shot’ before sending me an autographed copy of his book. I should put ‘friend’ in quotations because his claims are not only completely wrong, they are libelous. “In the early 1990s, after Clinton took office and the internal restrictions on adult content were lifted, the industry was flooded with new companies, new lines, new directors and new talent. Many of these filmmakers, David included, made interesting porn and with no obscenity unit in the Justice Department waiting to pounce, some of the stuff pushed the boundaries. But many of them also had an inflated sense of self. Many were self-declared geniuses. And you are well aware, because you lived it, how treacherous dealing with egos became. David, however, while having an inflated sense of his talent (I mean he made good stuff but so did a lot of people) never struck me as someone who was delusional, as many of his peers were. But now as he has decided to create a world that didn’t exist, I have to say he was delusional then and even moreso now. “Everything he said [about the AVN Awards] is incorrect. David and his partner claim that the award the night in question was theirs to win, but they never bothered to even watch the other nominations. What made them think winning was a shoo-in? Was it because they advertised a lot? In his book, David says that sometimes the best movie wins. Yes, true, and sometimes not. How did he know his was the best? Some objective standard? People vote, people have opinions and that’s how awards shows work.  “Even though from 1991 until the time I sold the company in 2010, we made the ballots available for inspection after the awards shows, David never chose to look at the ballots. Why look for facts when it’s easier to claim sour grapes? I suggested he come in and read and count ballots and he told me to shove it. First time I ever considered David and Trump to have the same characteristics. Ignore facts, place blame. Sound familiar? “His story about me signing some deal with Private at the show is pure fiction. I never made any deals with Private and besides, what the hell is he talking about when he says I got up, announced some deal and someone’s birthday? I know David is stoned 100% of the time, but he must also be hallucinating. “Bottom line is that I am very hurt by these accusations from David, because I personally pride myself on the integrity that the AVN Awards always had, in spite of extreme pressure from those who would have liked to buy the awards. Whatever legacy I have, he just took a giant shit on it. Supposedly he was my friend. Friends don’t write lies in a book and if they do have a long-harboring issue that they want to put into the public sphere, anyone with integrity would allow a rebuttal. “I expected and accepted accusations from lesser losers over the years. We lost tens of thousands of dollars in advertising because people thought they would win awards simply by advertising. I can take that. What I can’t take is a friend who doesn’t believe you when you say that the awards were always honestly and fairly voted on by a group of writers… especially when there are other witnesses and transparency in the voting procedure. “Patrick Collins once said to me, ‘I know your awards are honest.’ And I asked how he knew. He said, ‘Because I’m one of your biggest advertisers and I haven’t won shit.’ He wasn’t actually happy when he said it, but he respected me. And I respected him. Even though David was a personal friend, I also had a lot of respect for him. I thought he had integrity. It’s amazing that it takes three and a half decades to find out I never knew him.”

written by: Mark Kernes

source: Review: ‘Portrait: 40 Years in Porn’ by David Christopher | AVN

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