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Of Femdoms & Feminists: Part Two Of The Vintage Smut Writer Interview With Irv O. Neil

Continuing my interview with author Irv O. Neil, a man with 40 years in the smut-writing industry…

Author Irv O. Neil

How did a “nice Jewish boy” — even one with a degree in communications — break into freelance smut writing?

Irv: In mid-1974, I answered an ad in the Village Voice looking for writers for smut novels. I wrote a ten-page sample, brought it over, and they said, “Okay, $150 for a 160 page book.” It was “S&M week” and they gave me some drawings to write a novel. I entitled it The Screaming Virgins.

But I didn’t look for, or apply for, this gig until after my college girlfriend and I had broken up and I was a single man again. She was a feminist and porn was a no-no. I started about five months after we broke up. (I didn’t break up with her to write porn, though — I don’t mean to give that impression. Just giving the timeline.)

I wrote four novels and some stories for anthologies in about a two-month period before I decided that if I kept writing 40 pages of hardcore sex every day, I would ruin myself as a writer. Picked up writing in ’75 again but for magazines, which paid better ($100 for a 10 page story).

You mentioned having a feminist girlfriend which made porn a no-no. Most of us know the history of feminism and pornography — which most people prefer to describe in terms of “feminists say porn bad”. There were actually various distinctions (between porn and erotica, and between feminist thinkers as well), but in your case, you had a feminist girlfriend who actually said porn was a no-no?

Irv: I don’t want to overemphasize this. When I said I had a “feminist” girlfriend, I should have been more clear. She wasn’t like a crusader, but she cast a wary eye upon male chauvinism, which seemed to pop up everywhere in her consciousness, as well as women’s consciousness in general, at that time (1973-1974).

If I recall correctly (this was 40 years ago), I came upon the Village Voice ad when I was still with her, and broached the possibility of doing that kind of work; but she was negative about it and, since we already had problems in our relationship from just being young and inexperienced and immature, I didn’t do it while we were together. The porn gig didn’t matter that much to me anyway. It just seemed better than selling shoes or doing temp work to make the rent, which were the kinds of jobs I had to take to make money after I got out of school.

A few months after we split up, though, I tired of doing temp work and decided to try porn. I did it for two months, then quit because I was afraid I would burn out and become a hack. Writing 40 pages of sex scenes per day quickly became a drag (that was the quota you had to meet for the deadlines). But several months later I ran into the editor of the novels, who was now working at a magazine, and he offered me a better financial deal to write short stories–so after thinking about it a little, I decided to write porn again.

I don’t want to belabor the issue, really I don’t. But as a woman I naturally am dying to know… Just how did that “porn as a no-no” thing play out in your relationships as a single man who worked in porn?

Irv: From the 70s through the early 90s, I would say, many women were indoctrinated with a prevalent cultural bias against porn, that it was evil and destructive, and I had a hard time meeting women in social situations who were not judgmental. They were often rude about it, too. I even got lectured by a dominatrix I was seeing that what I did for a living was “not right” — and lectured not in the context of a role-play scene (which might have been funny and arousing), but just in a non-session conversation when we hung out together! And she was in the erotic business herself! I did meet women who were simpatico, but it wasn’t easy and they were few and far between. Mostly IN the porn biz.

It seems that not much has changed in that direction between then and now… Adult work of any kind continues to be a confusing space for women — for most adults in the USA, really.

Were there any women writing, editing, or producing back in the 1970s; or was it all men?

Irv: There was a female editor I worked for in the late 70s at High Society magazine for awhile, but I didn’t really know many other women writers or editors then. It changed in the 80s after I became an editor myself, when I met a couple more female editors and writers, as well as an art director and a photographer. In fact, I learned how to be a porn mag editor working under a woman; first as her staff writer and then, when she moved on, taking over her magazine.

We’ll take a little break here while I do my best to resist all the possible jokes about Irv, the self-professed seeker of “femdom buzz”, working under a female boss. *wink* Until the next installment, check out Irv’s blog and his regular “Notes Of A Rebel Subbie” column at Domme Dose.

Posted in Authors, Beefcake, Sex History, Sexism.

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4 Responses

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  1. Irv O. Neil says

    This second part looks good, SPS…lotta memories…I can still hear the rat-a-tat-tat of the IBM Selectric under my fingers as I wrote some of my novels in the porn packager’s office (the first one I wrote on an Olivetti portable at home, though)…the office was located about a block from the cafeteria on Park Avenue South where Travis Bickle used to hang out in the 70s movie Taxi Driver…just fillin’ ya all in on the geography! ;)

Continuing the Discussion

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