• Golden Goddesses: 25 Legendary Women of Classic Erotic Cinema, 1968-1985



    Author: Jill Nelson
    Released by: Bear Manor Media
    Released on: October 31, 2012.
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    Author Jill Nelson follows up the seminal John Holmes: A Life Measured In Inches (which she co-wrote with Jennifer Sugar, who provides an introduction to this latest book) with a massive 950 page tome entitled Golden Goddesses: 25 Legendary Women of Classic Erotic Cinema, 1968-1985. Once again published by Bear Manor Media, this latest effort from Nelson casts a wider net and rather than focus on one single subject, instead covers the life and times of twenty five of the greatest female performers to make a name for themselves during the golden age of adult cinema. The end result is a fascinating mix of biographical insight and, dare we say it, a distinctly feminist slant on an industry often reviled as sexist and misogynist. It’s this mix that makes the book so fascinating and infinitely readable as it provides us not only with the dirty details on who did what, what, when and why but it also provides a unique snapshot into the porno chic movement of the day that, like it or not, had a profound cultural impact on North American society.

    Interviewed here are the following actresses, pretty much every one of whom should be familiar to regular readers of this site:

    Ann Perry / Jody Maxwell / Barbara Mills / Candida Royale / Marilyn Chambers / Annie Sprinkle / Georgina Spelvin / Sharon Mitchell / Serena / Rhonda Jo Petty / Gloria Leonard / Juliet Anderson / Kitten Natividad / Kay Parker / Julia St. Vincent / Kelly Nichols / Seka / Veronica Hart / Laurie Holmes / Amber Lynn / Ginger Lynn / Nina Hartley / Christy Canyon / Roberta Findlay / Raven Touchstone

    That list gives you a pretty good idea of the sort of broad cross section of the industry that the book covers, but it hardly does justice to the material itself. Never before has anyone seem to have had access to the type of personal and in-depth content that Nelson’s subjects offer up here. Whatever her secret is the woman has a serious knack for drawing out details that few others before her have been able to provide and while quite a few of the ladies showcased in the book have done plenty of interviews prior, just as many have not.

    Roberta Findlay makes a great example. A fairly reclusive woman by nature, Nelson interviewed her by telephone and snail mail – no email or chat here, it was all done the old fashioned way. Her efforts paid off though, as through this correspondence, which must have been pretty time consuming, Nelson is able to paint a much more detailed portrait of Findlay than anyone before her. We get to know her not just as a filmmaker but first and foremost as a human being. We learn about her relationships with Michael Findlay and with her second husband, we learn of her work in the recording industry and about her thoughts on the various movies she made and throughout all of this we get a good feel for her attitude towards her life and towards her work.

    Nelson also interviews a few actresses who are no longer with us, Juliet Anderson and Marilyn Chambers. This gives their stories some historical importance as they are not only likely some of the last interviews they give before their untimely passing but also the most detailed. Chambers’ accounts of her rise to superstardom and crossing over, however briefly, into the mainstream are a fascinating document of a bygone era while Anderson’s discussion of her infamous ‘Aunt Peg’ character are completely charming and shed some interesting light on why those movies were and remain so popular.

    Thought it would have been easier and perfectly interesting in its own right to have simply asked questions of these women about their career highlights, Nelson instead takes an obvious personal interest in each of her subjects. This allows for Georgina Spelvin to open up about her battles with alcohol and Rhonda Jo Petty to discuss the abuse she suffered as a girl at the hands of her father. If you want to know Gloria Leonard’s thoughts on the difficulties of getting by once a porn star hits her golden years, you’ll get that too along with insight from the continually sex positive Annie Sprinkle, who spends as much time talking about her work outside of the film industry as in it. Serena reveals intimate details about her infamous relationship with the late Jamie Gillis while Seka reminisces not just about her exploits on camera but on her adventures at New York City’s long gone swingers club, Plato’s Retreat.

    If there’s one complaint to levy against the book, it’s that the three hundred or so photographs used to compliment the text didn’t replicate so well on the printed page. They often look soft, harshly compressed or both. The plus side is that if you want images of any of the ladies featured here, a Google search is only seconds away from anyone reading this. Golden Goddesses isn’t a book you’re going to buy for pretty pictures of pretty ladies, it’s a book you’re going to buy for some seriously fascinating and revealing stories from a collection of unsung heroines of the adult film industry.

    The amount of detail here, the layers which Nelson manages to peel back in order to expose the people behind the personas, is outstanding. Anyone with a serious interest not just in the history of adult film but in the very definition of celebrity and the rise and fall that goes along with it should consider this a must read. Never before has a book tackled its subject with the grace and care which Nelson shows here – let’s hope she’s able to tackle a second volume, or even make a series out of this as once fans make it through the mammoth tome, they will most certainly be left wanting more.

    Want more information on this book? Check out the official website by clicking here!
    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Robin Bougie's Avatar
      Robin Bougie -
      Great review, Ian!