LOS ANGELES - Christa Faust's new novel "Money Shot" is a modern-day noir thriller set in the porn industry. Hailed by Rolling Stone as "an instant pulp classic," the book tells the story of Angel Dare, an ex-porn star turned talent agent who survives a murder attempt to track down the creeps who set her up.
"Money Shot" is published by Hard Case Crime, which has reissued lost classics by Lawrence Block, Donald E. Westlake, David Goodis, Charles Williams and other hardboiled greats. The book is noteworthy not only for its bullet pace and tough writing in the best pulp tradition, but also for its even-handed and well-realized portrayal of Porn Valley.
AVN caught up with Christa for an exclusive interview about the book, her background in the sex industry, her thoughts on 2257 and her appreciation for the work of Rob Rotten.
Tell us about the genesis of this project. What sparked
the idea of a crime novel set in the porn business?
One of the things I really love about storytelling is pulling the average reader into an exotic and unfamiliar world. I've worked in the fetish end of the adult video business for years and knew enough about the vanilla end to know that most of what was being written was pretty far off base.
When I started "Money Shot," I knew I wanted to write about an older woman in the porn biz who is successful and happy with the career she has created for herself. Crime fiction tends to demonize the porn business and use it mostly as a plot device to show how low a female character has fallen. Men in the biz are usually portrayed as predatory scumbags, users and losers who exist first to lure nice flyover country girls into debauchery and then to be beaten up by the rock-jawed hero. Sure there are plenty of bad guys in the industry, but there are also a lot of unsung heroes. It's a mixed bag full of all kinds of real, three-dimensional people, just like any other business. Those were the people I wanted to write about.
How did you get into making fetish videos?
I worked as a pro Domme for years, which led to a job working both behind the scenes and in front of the camera for HOM/Lyndon, rigging rope bondage and Domming on camera. I shot a ton of foot fetish titles and also shot some fun stuff for Darla Crane. I was usually billed under my real name or just Mistress Christa, and occasionally under the name Velda Fatale. I'm not sure where or even if any of my titles are still available but my pulp bondage serial Dita in Distress is available through her website www.dita.net. I really enjoyed working with the now legendary Dita Von Teese on that project. We made everything out of spit and string but it sure was a blast. It was the only project I wrote, directed and produced, a real labor of love. I'll tell you what though, I sure would like to get behind the camera again and direct other types of fetish or adult features. What can I say, I like telling everybody what to do.
What kind of research did you do for the novel?
Did you draw on any real-life porn stars in creating the characters in the
As I said above, I've worked in the fetish end of the business and a lot of the women and men I worked with also crossed over into the more "normal" videos. The best kind of research any writer can do is to listen. When you are interested, respectful and willing to listen, you can get almost anyone to open up.
I can't say I based Angel or any other character on anyone specific. I mostly Frankensteined together bits and pieces of people I had met to create realistic characters I figured anyone in the biz would recognize and relate to. However, I did have a photo of Aria Giovanni as my wallpaper while I was writing "Money Shot." I pictured Angel physically looking a lot like her.
You used 2257 as a plot device. What are your thoughts on this
Like Angel says in the book, it's pretty much just another way of making life more difficult for godless smut peddlers. Don't get me wrong, I totally support the idea that everyone who participates in the making of adult content should be over 18. That's a no-brainer. It's just that I remember how annoyed I was when I made my bondage adventure serial Dita in Distress and found out I had to put the real physical address where the records were kept at the beginning of every episode. It wasn't enough that I had all my drivers' licenses and releases, I had to tell everyone on earth exactly where they were. It's a good thing my partner was willing to keep the releases on file at his place because we didn't have any kind of office and there was no way in hell I was going to put my private home address on a public video. I don't even get any regular mail delivered to my house. That's what my P.O. box is for.
Truth is, it's probably adult websites that have the toughest time with 2257, especially those "secondary producers" that have no idea where the content they've copied from other sites that copied it from other sites originally came from. But I still can't help but feel that this is yet another example of individual privacy taking a back seat to the uptight right's desire to punish dirty pornographers. Personally, I never felt comfortable making the real names and addresses of my talent available to the public. In "Money Shot," they use the 2257 info to find and kill an adult performer. What steps are being taken to make sure that could never happen in real life?
What are your thoughts on the proliferation of generic gonzo movies vs. the golden age of smut?
Well, I'm probably going to get in trouble for this, but I have to admit, I kinda like simple gonzo movies. I'll be totally honest, when I'm … ahem… utilizing porn for its intended purpose, I really have no interest in plot, production value or any kind of frills whatsoever. I want to get right to what I want to see, which is hot people fucking. I want real chemistry out of the performers and I want to see the type of girls I like (not generic, vastly implanted blonde blow-up dolls and not skanky 88-pound junkies) but when I'm in the mood for porn, I want just that, not a "real movie" with hardcore sex.
Don't get me wrong, I love the old golden age flicks too, mostly because of the happy enthusiasm and genuine fun everyone seems to be having and, of course the wonderful lack of those laughable fake clown boobs. I also enjoy watching erotic mainstream movies, real actual stories that happen to contain hot sex scenes. I love that more and more mainstream directors are pushing the boundaries by including explicit sex in their films, but I still don't want to jack off to Baise-Moi or In the Cut. If I want to spend a little quality time with myself (or a friend) I prefer simple, uninterrupted smut that holds on what I want to see long enough for me to get my rocks off.
Of course, I understand that I'm far from an average female and that most women tend to prefer some story to go with their porn. Just because I prefer a more streamlined style of smut doesn't mean the more plot-heavy type should be stricken from the earth. I'm a big believer in the concept of something for everybody.
What was the first adult movie you saw? Are you a fan of porn,
and if so, any favorite directors/movies?
Probably the first I ever saw would have been on "Midnight Blue," Screw Magazine's New York public access cable show. The first director I remember specifically seeking out was John "Buttman" Stagliano, because we share a similar fixation on the female posterior. Lately I've been really enjoying the rowdy punk rock porn of Rob Rotten because I like his choice of quirky, alternative-looking girls. I also tend to look for specific girls that I think are hot, like Mika Tan or Roxy DeVille. Girls with spunk and attitude who don't just lay there and pay their bills.
Your novel "Control Freak" deals in explicit sex. Tell us about this book and how it was received.
"Control Freak" was my first novel. It's a kind of unclassifiable story, not really horror, (the genre I was mostly involved in at the time) but not classic crime fiction either. It dealt with a young woman's exploration of her awakening Dominant sexuality against the backdrop of a brutal murder and mutilation in New York's underground fetish scene. Needless to say, there is a lot of explicitly described sex and kink. There were some people who were put off by that, but mostly because the heroine of the novel was so into it. According to mainstream logic, your villain can be into kinky sex but not your hero. Especially not if she is female. People are much more comfortable with the kind of Chick Comics mentality where a nice girl is sucked into "evil" perversion and her life is ruined. They had no idea what to make of a story where the heroine is empowered by perversion and lives kinkily ever after.
Let's talk hardboiled authors. Give us your top five crime classics… and some current practitioners of the tradition who are worth checking out. I'd put Jim Thompson, Charles Willeford, David Goodis, Charles Williams and William Lindsay Gresham's 'Nightmare Alley' at the top of my list - and Jason Starr as a current fave.
First of all, hell yeah to Willeford. I loved his novel 'Pick Up' and am
currently reading 'The Burnt Orange Heresy.' For me the top of the old-school
list would have to be Richard S. Prather. His Shell Scott series is a personal
fave and also pretty underappreciated in my not-so-humble opinion. Close second
would be Westlake/Stark's Parker novels. I also love Day Keene. Boy, is that
guy hung up on bad, slutty, nymphomanical women. Good stuff. I'll tell you what
though, I've never been all that good at top-five or top-ten lists, because I
can never seem to narrow down the list. Each time I think of one, I think of
two or three others.
Modern, I gotta give props to Megan Abbott. Her Queenpin is undoubtedly one of the top ten of all time, if not in the top five. I'm also a fan of Hard Man Allan Guthrie, Ray Banks and Vicki Hendricks. Hendricks writes the best, hottest and most unforgettable sex scenes in the genre.
You once performed in a Times Square peepshow. What was this experience like for you?
It was wild and fun and gave me a lifetime worth of story material, that's for sure, but it was also pretty boring when you had to sit around on slow nights waiting for customers. I did get a lot of reading done between sessions. In fact, I even had a guy who paid me to ignore him and read or do my nails while he jacked off. You'd think a guy like that could find a girl willing to ignore him for free.
At the time I had no idea that I was participating in this dying piece of history. Back then it seemed like the Deuce would never change. I worked next to a woman who was in her 50s and had performed in the old Burlesque houses. I really believed that some hot young thing would be there showing her stuff when I was in my 50s. Now there's probably a Starbucks where that peep joint used to be.
Will there be further adventures for Angel?
The ending of "Money Shot" certainly leaves her open for more and people do seem interested in further adventures, so I'm definitely considering it. We'll see if anyone is interested in buying them.