VALLEY STREAM, N.Y.—Just about every adult performer has had the experience of being recognized by fans when he or she shops at local markets, heads for the gym and/or just walks along the streets of Los Angeles and elsewhere. And plenty of women—and, we're guessing, even a few men—have been surprised by porn fans, sure they've recognized one of their favorite XXX performers, asking for autographs or to pose for a quick photo.
But until now, we hadn't realized that the internet has the capability of making that problem even worse—though hopefully, the 'Rose Agree' situation will lead to fruitful discussions of what a porn star's proper place in society should be.
Porn has long had a soft spot for the strange and sometimes outrageous, and some companies even made it their specialty. So for instance, Totally Tasteless Video based an entire series around such activities as sex with pregnant women, sex with "little people," sex with lactating women, sex with menstruating women... and sex with older people.
One of those "older people," it turned out, was then-87-year-old Rose Agree, who starred, along with the much younger Anna Lisa and Kathy Jones, in TTV's 1997 movie Century Sex, and whose scene was later comped into the 2003 feature Wizzard of Odds 2, whose box depicts TTV owner Loretta Sterling as a magician, holding court over "midgets," "baldies," "tattoos," "fatties and "oldies."
The Internet Adult Film Database (iafd.com) doesn't have much information about Rose. It gives her birth date as sometime in 1910 and that she's Caucasian, and includes the following comment: "At 87 years of age, Rose Agree, a swinger, was one of the oldest females ever to have sex on camera. Dave Hardman was scheduled to work with Rose first on 87 And Still Banging but declined upon meeting her. Ron Jeremy agreed to work with her but on the condition that she wasn't senile. Upon meeting her, he was satisfied that she wasn't and the scene went ahead as scheduled. Dick Nasty also worked with Rose on Century Of Sex [sic] but, in 2005, during a KSEX radio interview, he admitted that he regretted doing the scene."
Nonetheless, as many who were formerly in the adult industry have discovered, once a porn star, always a porn star... which brings us to the other Rose Agree, formerly a librarian at a Valley Stream, Long Island elementary school for about 20 years, who died in Florida in 2001 at the age of 87—and whose Wikipedia page, until recently and to the great dismay of her son and daughter-in-law, was an amalgam of events in the lives of both Rose Agrees.
According to a New York Times story, the son, Peter Agree, who's the editor-in-chief of the University of Pennsylvania Press, first learned of his mom's supposed porn past when searching for information about her on the internet.
"The references I turned up were to 'Rose Agree, geriatric porn star,'" Agree said. "Wikipedia had a biographical entry for this person, and to my horror it fused elements of my mother's biography, including her having been a librarian on Long Island."
His wife, Kathy Peiss, also a U of P professor, contacted Wikipedia and had the page taken down. However, as the Times story notes, "it was too late. The Long Island librarian and the geriatric porn star had been irreversibly conflated. The librarian turned pornographic movie star took on a life of her own."
That "life" included one of Rose's former students composing a song about her—or, at least, the woman he thought was his former librarian—and a Columbia University undergraduate who noticed that Peiss had dedicated one of her books, "Major Problems in the History of American Sexuality," to Rose.
"I saw the name 'Rose Agree' and immediately flashed a reference to 'the oldest woman in porn'," wrote Benjamin Feibleman. "I am neither proud nor ashamed of knowing such a fact, but I must know, given that the subject matter of the book is about the evolution/devolution of American perspectives on sexuality, is that indeed the Rose Agree to which you dedicated your book?"
In her response to the student, Peiss explained that the dedication was, in part, because the woman had been "active in progressive causes, including the birth control movement in the 1930s... as well as civil rights in the 1950s."
Part of the problem, according to the Times, was that on the box cover of 87 and Still Banging, Rose stated that she was "born in 1910 and used to be a 'taxi dancer' for a dime a dance at Manhattan's Roseland"; was married and raised three children, and got into porn "after taking out a personal ad seeking a man." The mainstream Rose only had two kids, and apparently had never even considered dancing at Roseland, much less seeing what it would be like to have sex on camera.
Still, according to the Times, at least one person still has fond memories of porn's Rose.
"She was a doll, very sweet," recalled Ron Jeremy of his 87 and Still Banging co-star. "I had her dance around the room."