Nathan Abrams on Jews in the American porn industry

Skip to first unread message

Piltdown Man

Jul 15, 2009, 9:04:37 AM7/15/09

Abraham H. Foxman, National Director of the ADL, commented, 'Those Jews
who enter the pornography industry have done so as individuals pursuing
the American dream"

"Al" Goldstein founded the pornographic magazine Screw in 1968

Goldstein traveled to the most tasteless extremes he could conceive of,
with the raunchiest, filthiest photographs, stories, and cartoons

Triple Exthnics. Nathan Abrams on Jews in the American porn industry,
Jewish Quarterly (UK), [print edition] 2005, p. 27-30

"A story little told is that of Jews in Hollywood's seedier cousin, the
adult film industry. Perhaps we'd prefer that the 'triple exthnics'
didn't exist, but there's no getting away from the fact that secular Jews
played (and still continue to play) a disproportionate role throughout
the adult film industry in America. Jewish involvement in pornography has
a long history in the United States, as Jews have helped transform a
fringe subculture into what has become a primary constituent of
Americana. These are the 'true blue' Jews. Smut peddlers Jewish activity
in the porn industry divides into two (sometimes overlapping) genres:
pornographers and performers. Though Jews make up only two percent of the
American population, they have been prominent in pornography. Many
erotica dealers in the book trade between 1890 and 1940 were immigrant
Jews of German origin ... In the postwar era, America's most notorious
pornographer was Reuben Sturman, the 'Walt Disney of porn.' According to
the US Department of Justice, throughout the 1970s Sturman controlled
most of the pornography circulating in the country ... [B]y the mid-80s
he owned over 200 adult bookstores ... It was said that Sturman did not
simply control the adult-entertainment industry, he was the industry.
Eventually he was convicted of tax evasion and other crimes and died,
disgraced, in prison in 1997. His son, David, continued running the
family business. The contemporary incarnation of Sturman is Steven
Hirsch, a 43-year-old Jewish Clevelander who has been described as the
'Donald Trump of porno.' The link between the two is Steve's father,
Fred, who was a stockholder-cum-lieutenant to Sturman. Today Hirsch runs
the Vivid Entertainment Group, which has been called the Microsoft of the
porn world, the top producer of 'adult' films in the US. His specialty
was to import mainstream marketing techniques into the porn business.
Indeed, Vivid parallels the Hollywood studio system of the 1930s and
1940s, particularly in its exclusive contracts to porn stars who are
hired and moulded by Hirsch ... Jews accounted for most of the leading
male performers as well as a sizeable number of female stars in porn
movies of the 1970s and '80s. The doyen of the Hebrew studs is Ron Jeremy
... [H]e's the nebischy, fat, hairy, ugly guy (an image from his web site
opens this article) who gets to bed dozens of beautiful women. He
presents an image of a modern-day King David, a Jewish superstud who
supersedes the traditional heroes of Jewish lore ... As probably the most
famous Jewish male porn star, Jeremy has done wonders for the psyche of
Jewish men in America ... Seymore Butts, aka Adam Glasser, is everything
that Jeremy is not: young, handsome, and toned ... Within a few years,
'Seymore Butts' -- his nom de porn which is simultaneously his sales
pitch -- became one of the largest franchises in the adult-film business
... [H]e is today probably the most famous Jewish porn mogul ... Glasser
employs 12 people, including his mother and cousin ... Gertzman [Jay
Gertzman, author of Bookleggers and Smuthounds: The Trade in Erotica,
1920-1940] explains that 'Jews, when they found themselves excluded from
a field of endeavor, turned to a profession in which they sensed they
could eventually thrive by cooperating with colleagues in a community of
effort' ... The adult entertainment business required something that Jews
possessed in abundance: chutzpah .. Of course, the large number of Jews
in porn were mainly motivated by the desire to make profits ... As
Abraham H. Foxman, National Director of the ADL, commented, 'Those Jews
who enter the pornography industry have done so as individuals pursuing
the American dream" ... Sturman ... identified as a Jew -- was a generous
donator to Jewish charities -- and the performer Richard Pacheco was once
interviewed to be a rabbinical student ... Is there a deeper reason,
beyond the mere financial, as to why Jews in particular have become
involved in porn? There is surely an element of rebellion in Jewish X-
rated participation. Its [sic] very taboo and [its] forbidden nature
serves to make it attractive. As I have written in these pages before,
treyf signifies 'the whole world of forbidden sexuality, the sexuality of
the goyim, and there all the delights are imagined to lie ..." (Reel
Kashrut, Jewish food in film, JQ 189, Spring 2003) According to one
anonymous industry insider quoted by E. Michael Jones in the magazine
Culture Wars (May 2003), 'the leading male performers through the 1980s
came from secular Jewish upbringings and the females from Roman Catholic
day schools.' The standard porn scenario became as a result a Jewish
fantasy of schtupping the Catholic shiksa ... Extending the subversive
thesis, Jewish involvement in the X-rated industry can be seen as a
proverbial two fingers to the entire WASP establishment. Some porn stars
viewed themselves as frontline fighters in the spiritual battle between
Christian America and secular humanism. According to [Luke] Ford, Jewish
X-rated actors often brag about their 'joy in being anarchic, sexual
gadflies to the puritanical beast'. Jewish involvement in porn, by this
argument, is the result of an atavistic hatred of Christian authority:
they are trying to weaken the dominant culture in America by moral
subversion ... Al Goldstein, the publisher of Screw magazine, said (on, 'The only reason that Jews are in pornography is that we
think that Christ sucks. Catholicism sucks. We don't believe in
authoritarianism." Pornography thus becomes a way of defiling Christian
culture and, as it penetrates to the very heart of the American
mainstream (and is no doubt consumed by those very same WASPs), its
subversive character becomes more charged ... It is a case of the
traditional revolutionary/radical drive of immigrant Jews in America
being channeled into sexual rather than leftist politics. Just as Jews
have been disproportionately represented in radical movements over the
years, so they are disproportionately represented in the porn industry.
Jews in America have been sexual revolutionaries. A large amount of the
material on sexual liberation was written by Jews. Those at the forefront
of the movement that forced America to adopt a more liberal view of sex
were Jewish ... Overall, then, porn performers are a group of people who
praise rebellion, self-fulfilment, and promiscuity. What are we ashamed
of? This brief overview and analysis of the role and motivations behind
pornographers and performers is intended to shed light on a neglected
topic in American Jewish popular culture. Little has been written about

[Nathan Abrams is a Lecturer in Modern American History at the
University of Aberdeen. He has just completed a book on neo-conservatism
in the United States.]

Reply all
Reply to author
0 new messages