LOS ANGELES—The last time AVN attended the Dr. Susan Block Show, a Saturday night staple for more than 15 years, it was cablecast (yes, on cable TV) from her Hollywood home, and featured as guests a good cross-section of L.A.'s sexual mid-ground and underground, which generally made for lively conversation that pulled no sexual punches.
So it was with fond memories that we accepted an invitation to attend the 2011 version of the show, now seen and heard by subscribers throughout the world via the internet from its (and her) new home, a loft in a nondescript building just north of the 10 freeway. What also intrigued us was the scheduled line-up of guests: Performance artist Bobby Gordon and his dad, the "Ghost of Richard Pacheco"—better known to most these days simply as Howie Gordon; adult movie stars Nina Hartley and April Flores, and April's husband, director Carlos Batts.
Howie Gordon set the mood early on by noting that he'd been a guest of "Dr. Suzy" (as she likes to be called) "about a hundred and ten years ago," and the doctor responded that she still had a dildo that he'd signed for her during his last visit, and also possibly a pair of his underwear.
"I go back with Howie to 1984," Nina added, "and I remember being on the set and him telling me he and his wife were expecting their third child."
"Actually, we met a little earlier," the elder Gordon contradicted. "I was at the top of my game, a big-shot performer; I get a phone call one day, and the voice says, 'Hello, my name is Nina Hartley. You don't know me but we're scheduled to do an anal intercourse scene next week, and I want to know if we could get together and rehearse the scene?' So I put down the phone and I said to my wife, 'Dear, there's a starlet on the phone who wants me to fuck her in the ass; do you mind?' And back in those days, my wife actually didn't mind. And so I arranged to do this rehearsal with Nina and it dawned on me that the rehearsal was going to be a hundred times better than the movie. The movie was Anal Annie and the Willing Husbands, written by a chipmunk, all right? But there were two porn stars getting together to rehearse, so I convinced the director to shoot this rehearsal we were doing, which wound up in a primer on how to do anal intercourse back in 1984."
Indeed, Howie was full of stories this evening, and it quickly became clear that his interesting life both in and out of porn provided much of the material the younger Gordon has put into his one-man show, "Debbie Does My Dad," which will make its Los Angeles area debut at the Highway Performance Space in Santa Monica this weekend.
As Bobby Gordon tells it, however, growing up with a dad famous for fucking beautiful women on camera wasn't a bed of roses, for some very strange reasons.
"I made a rule very early on," he said as the show began, "once I discovered what sex was, that if someone was naked at any point between 1978 and 1984 [the years his dad was most active in porn], that I pretty much avoided them at all costs. But tonight, I'm seeing a lot of people who I'm assuming were naked at some point during that time, so here we go."
"One of the points that you make in your piece, Bobby," Dr. Suzy commented, "is that ... as long as we put down our pornographers and our porn stars, then the best and the brightest might not go into the field, and that's why it's kind of schlocky, but ..."
"The problem is, we arrest them," added her husband Max Lobkowicz.
Much of the evening was spent discussing society's attempts to deal with sex and sexual material, and it led to some rather interesting revelations.
"The thing that surprises most of my friends that I've talked to about it is that I don't remember finding out that my dad was a porn star," Bobby later stated. "I have no recollection of that memory whatsoever, and I attribute that to the fact that it was normal in my house. It was normal and accepted."
But another aspect of that openness came out when Gordon, at Dr. Suzy's request, performed one of the pieces from his show, about some of his earliest memories of interacting with his father.
"What do you say when your eight-year-old son comes into your room in the middle of the night, scared of the dark, scared of his shadow?" Bobby asked. "What words of comfort would come to mind? What can you say to soothe, ease, bring peace to a young mind fixated on fear. My dad had the solution: 'Grab your dick... You heard me: Grab your dick.' 'No bedtime story?' 'Nope; grab your dick... Son, a dick can be a man's rudder to steer himself through the universe. Grab it!'"
"I tried it," he continued. "I'm eight. My dick isn't doing a hell of a lot for me. But it turns out, 'grab your dick' is the solution for lots of things. 'Dad, I have a headache.' 'Grab your dick.' 'Dad, I struck out in Little League.' 'Grab your dick.' 'Dad, I can't find my favorite stuffed animal'; 'I got shampoo in my eyes'; 'I don't want to do my homework.' 'Grab your dick—then do your homework.' ... 'Grab you dick' doesn't solve anything. It doesn't make school easier, bullies nicer, or the world less scary, but it does do something. For an instant, I can't think about anything else."
The piece ends by suggesting that many of the world's conflicts could be peacefuly resolved if more people would just "grab their dicks."
"Take one of the ironic anomalies of life," Howie added. "If you want to make sex really red fucking hot crazy, then you should forbid it, because when you teach your children that sex is a normal part of life, and you don't villify or deny it, in some ways, you normalize sex and it becomes just a part of life. But when you denigrate it, scare 'em with God and the Devil, and forbid it, it's red hot fucking nuts."
"That's why most of the hottest porn stars are like from the Bible belt," Dr. Suzy observed... which led to further discussion that included Howie Gordon's recollections of an interview he did with Screw magazine about why most porn stars are Jewish (to which Nina, herself Jewish, readily agreed) and then to the guests' thoughts about why people get into porn performing in the first place, and why they leave it.
Sandwiched into the mix was a discussion of April's and Carlos' latest project, Artcore, a performance piece on DVD and VOD that "combines hard sex with technology," Carlos explained, with April adding that, "It's kind of these visual vignettes that are kind of, you create this atmosphere, and it's a very unusual atmosphere, and I'm very proud of it."
A report of the Artcore release party can be found here.
It was a fun evening for all, to be followed by the usual after-party at "Dr. Suzy's Speakeasy," a room adjacent to the TV studio with a full bar.
A schedule of guests and topics for future Dr. Susan Block Shows can be found here.
(Pictured, l-r: Carlos Batts, Nina Hartley, April Flores, Bobby Gordon, Dr. Suzy, Howie Gordon, unknown)