Sunday, July 29, 2007
Move over, Alice Walker!
Tomorrow night, I stop being a hater. Some background: St. Martins Press is the home of our newest Black literary heroine--porn star Heather Hunter. Giving folks what they want, no matter how base, is no crime at least on a philosophical level, eh? And as HL Mencken once said, "No one ever went broke underestimating the stupidity of the American public."
Nuff said on that. Back in the day I was a big fan in (the early 90s) and I still have my old Royce's Video Club Card, Georgia Ave NW DC (yeah boy!!!) in a drawer somewhere safe from my wife. While girls like Jeannie Pepper and Mauvais De Noire (upon whom Nicole Ari Parker's character in "Boogie Nights" was loosely based) were the Rosa Parks of porn, Heather was like "Julia" and "The Cosby Show" bringing black entertainment up to the par and glamor of the mainstream.
I'm going to Karibu, a successful black bookstore in the DC area to pay homage to HH at the publication of her new book, Insatiable. To remain successful, black bookstores--even those run by conscientious brothers and sisters--have to make payroll, pay rent, buy stock. You don't sustain that selling by reprints of James Baldwin novels or cheesey stuff from Christopher Chambers (hell often you even don't it by selling just books, really, but that's another rant). Am I, Mr. Elitist, Mr. Fanboy of Cora Daniels and mega-Curmudgeon Stanley Crouch a hypocrite?
Hell no. I am honest about what I want and why. Again my beef has been with those publishing folk, well-meaning bookstore owners, rappers and BET execs (good to see the "Hot Ghetto Mess" debate spread nationwide) make unsoliticited, lame-to-downright offensive justifications and characterizations for what they've wrought on black culture and ethos at a time when we need every molecule of "lift" we can craft. I love it when I hear some honesty about dispensing brain candy and escapism from these folks; St. Martin's editor Monique Patterson ws such a person, eschewing the usual contrived defense of the state of black literature and merely saying HH's book's a hot and sexy read. Nothing more, nothing less. Prurience. And I can dig prurience. Look, an analogy (loose) can be made to what Stephen King once said: "I am a salami writer. I try to write GOOD salami, but salami is salami."
I read Shannon Holmes and Relentless and a lot of other crap for the same reason I eat too much cake, watch re-runs of "Blind Date"...or worship HH. I am honest about that. I just lament the wat that stuff, including Heather, is now the bar, the norm, the spotlit gleaming centerpiece! Lord, when I took my wife's copy of Fruit of the Lemon by Andrea Levy to read, it was almost as if I hoped she would leave town on business so I could lock all the doors, close the vertical blinds and...well, you know. But if I'm not reading a a Relentless Aaron/Fiddy Cent "novel" on the Metro I'm a miscreant. If it's Upton Sinclair's The Jungle...day-um I'd be a downright pervert scumbag!!! Where's Chris Hanson from NBC?!
So all I wanna know is--how can I get a gig ghostwriting a Jeannie Pepper or Spontaneous Exstacy novel (hint hint Monique)? Hell I'd even help Peter North write one (he'd have to explain how he gets such velocity and volume in the money shots after 30 years in porn). Of course no one wants a book on the exploitative treatment of black images by many white publishing houses, by VividVideo, by VIACOM and of course by inference the private equity firms etc that own stock in all without a hint of regulation, but screw that. Can you hook a brother up some ghostwriting?