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As pornography becomes more accepted, I can't help but think of the earlier days of porn

A few weeks ago, my friend asked me if my husband uses porn. My first question was, uses it for what? Making money? Masturbating? Is she calling my old man a wanker?

But that wasn't it at all. Her boyfriend is younger than she is--early 30s--and "uses it all the time." It's no big deal, she insisted. Porn's not sleazy like it was back in the old days when the only people into it were greasy degenerates drooling over stacks of black-and-white photos with a bottle of Thunderbird in one hand and a wad of soiled napkins in the other. Young, white-collar movers and shakers are all over it now, she said, sharing files at work, forwarding e-mails and generally having a good old time anticipating the lap dances they'll spring for down at the local strip club come the bonus check. "Porn's everywhere," she said.

In answer to her question, I told her no, I don't believe my mate's a porn kind of guy.

She was really disappointed. She wants to be OK with her beau's Internet habits but, like me, was indoctrinated at an early age and finds it extremely difficult. Once upon a time, our pretty little heads were loaded up with all kinds of radical ideas, like objectifying women is bad, as is their exploitation; or the peculiar notion that women should be valued for who they are and what they do instead of big tits and crotch tricks.

Hell, back in those days, there were loads of people called "feminists" saying outrageous things about young women being encouraged to use their minds, their creativity, their analytic skills and powers of mental penetration instead of their tits and twats. Blimey! What were they thinkin'?

This conversation got me wondering about this casual acceptance of pornography. Back in the old days, partakers were nearly always drooling degenerates in trench coats, or at the very least, Christian ministers from Orange County married to Tammy Faye. What happened?

I actually knew a pornographer once upon a time. I was living in Chatsworth, Calif., currently the porn capital of the United States, and he lived next door. Fat Jerry collected lunchboxes (he had everything from an original Godzilla with Japanese lettering to Barbie), drank tequila and made pornographic films. I sat through one of them once, just to be neighborly. It was a riveting epic meticulously produced, if you could ignore the cigarette holes and beer splatters along the edges of the film. It was about a buxom blonde who enjoyed both vaginal and oral penetration with several different fellows in the back of an empty semi truck. There wasn't any anal sex; but then, anal sex wasn't trendy back then. Oh, how times change.

Later on, I got to meet the "actress," a junkie who talked about nothing except all the things she was going to do after she was out of the porn business (it was only a business then, not yet an industry). Now that I think about it, not one of the actresses or strippers I ever met around Fat Jerry's house ever talked about anything except what they were going to do after they got out of "the biz." Maybe there are all kinds of trendy, wondrously hip "sex workers" these days, but back then, they were mostly drunks and junkies whose self-esteem lived permanently and persistently in the toilet.

I trace the popular acceptance of pornography back to early Howard Stern. Ever since that big dope started interviewing strippers and yakking on and on about what he never got before he was a well-known radio jock (i.e., laid), every 30-year-old up-and-comer (no pun intended) thinks jumping on the porn bandwagon is simply a part of just being a guy. Have you ever noticed that in the last few years, every town with a population more than 50,000 seems to have its own Stern clones doing the same shtick on the radio? I'm not advocating censorship, but doesn't the concept "boring" come into it at some point? When I hear these so-called shock jocks nowadays, what comes to mind is an autistic kid playing in his own poo. Enough already! Stop doing that and act like a person.

I dunno. I'm a hopeless primitive I suppose, but to me pornography will always be Fat Jerry's house, the sad actresses and the cool lunchbox collection. He had an original Mighty Mouse. Did I mention that? True story. Also a perennial herpes lesion on the rise of his upper lip.

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