For sixteen years Robert Rosen worked behind the X-rated scenes of such porn magazines as High Society, Stag, and D-Cup. In Beaver Street: A History of Modern Pornography, Rosen blows the lid off the lucrative and politically hounded adult industry, providing a darkly engaging account of its tumultuous decades—from the defining Traci Lords scandal and the conception of ‘free’ phone sex to the burgeoning success of smut in cyberspace in the twenty-first century.
When Robert Rosen came to international awareness with Nowhere Man, his critically acclaimed portrait of Lennon’s last days, few knew that the author had spent two decades toiling as a publisher, copywriter, editor and photographer in the pornography industry. As a jobbing writer looking to make ends meet, he stumbled into porn at the moment his new employers, publishers of the ‘adult’ magazine High Society, invented phone sex. Initiating the latest phase in the historical alliance of sex, money and technology, the culmination of ‘dial-a-porn’ would begat the internet ‘free’ pornography boom and ultimately condemn the entire industry to commercial extinction.
The intervening years are the most tumultuous, and lucrative in the history of smut, and Rosen was present at the dead centre of its darkest hour: the infamous Traci Lords scandal, and the ensuing moral and legal crusades of the left and right, which would see him and hundreds of colleagues staring prison in the face. In Beaver Street, however, this former pornographer bites back.
On the one hand Beaver Street is a portrait of an exceptional American workplace, full of tyrants, cynics, perverts and drug addicts, the owners getting filthy rich while Rosen and his colleagues sweat blood to fulfil the demanding and squalid responsibility of ensuring millions have something new to masturbate to every other week.
On the other hand (and this is why the author has christened his work an investigative memoir), Rosen’s intellect, curiosity, insight and penmanship hoists Beaver Street high above the average porn memoir, with Rosen not only unveiling the mechanics of the porn profiteers, but fixing the unbelievable events that rocked his entire sordid career in their fascinating political, technological and cultural contexts.