Even though I have a very public blog, I consider myself a pretty private person. I post only the details on here that I am comfortable with sharing, adding to and subtracting from reality as I see fit. When it comes to the weight loss stuff, I’m pretty open and don’t really care who knows what. And even the private stuff isn’t THAT private….I just tend to forget what I’ve included, and before way more strangers started reading my posts I assumed that it was just my friends stopping by here and that they had no problem piecing together the scattered details of my personal history that pop up from time to time. Obviously, I have a connection with evangelical culture because I was an AG minister when I was younger. Less obvious is the porn connection. Both pieces of my background are absolutely true, and I forget how strange it sounds to people, so I don’t really try explaining it. I wasn’t all pissed at God one day and decided to go and run a porno store…..it’s way, way more boring than that. A simple matter of working one job instead of two in order to pay the rent. So anyway, I’ve got some buddies out east, one of whom has a friend of a friend who writes for a pop culture periodical that will remain nameless until the issue comes out later this summer or whenever (and this isn’t Rolling Stone or anything, I only think it’s cool because the thing is actually in print instead of being an ezine or something). Bariatric surgery has become as common as lasik these days, and it has hit a point of saturation that makes the entire topic boring as shit to talk about. THAT is kind of the angle of the spoofy article, and not all of my stuff will be printed, I’m sure. At least that’s what I was told…it will be like one of those TV interviews on the news where they talk to someone for five minutes and use about fifteen seconds. So although surgery was my initial “in” when it comes to the interview, the thing that is obviously more interesting from a pop culture perspective is the pastor/porn angle. I have very good friends out on the coast, brothers from different mothers actually, and I tip my hat to them for managing to pull a schtick of this magnitude for my fame and benefit. Anyway, here are the guts of my wine-soaked chat (re-edited and formatted for fluidity from a .txt file) with a pop-culture reporter whom I would be more than happy to sleep and/or drink with…..
Everyone has a blog and everyone has had bariatric surgery, so is there anything you’d like to address about either of those things before we move on to question number two?
Ummm, not really. The blog is a tool for me to use up time that would have been spent eating. I can get weepy or heartfelt here if you want, and take a picture of me in my fat clothes. Or I can joke about how you know you’re really fat when you take off nearly 130 pounds and still need to lose weight. Your call though, I was informed that you talked to a couple of my friends so I’m pretty sure I know where this is heading.
So you’re comfortable with all of that, right?
Yeah, some would say too comfortable.
It’s just a funny combination, not a lot of people have your background.
True. Nobody else that I’m aware of. All of the tired Sam Kinison references aside, if there is a group of people with whom I share this bond we should probably make it a point to meet up in Branson every year or something and swap stories.
So for the record, born in Kansas on Independence Day, licensed minister with the Assemblies of God, and general manager of an adult bookstore.
Well, not at the same time. I wasn’t running a clandestine ministry for perverts or anything.
But we got the order correct, right?
Yeah, definitely. First I was born, and after my first year of wild college life I decided to turn things around and go into ministry, did that for several years, went to Bible College where I started having a big problem with the AG, went back to a state school, moved back home after a breakup and shortly after that got a job offer to manage a store for a company where I worked part-time.
So you didn’t just jump right into porn after quitting the church?
No, nothing that interesting. I was working one full time job at a regular video store, and picked up some hours at an adult store right down the street just to make some extra money. Once they saw I could count to ten, didn’t have a drug problem, kept the Friday night gawkers in line, and didn’t let my friends hang out in the store all night, they offered me my own store.
Okay, so let’s go back to ministry and Bible College. What prompted your disillusionment with the Assemblies of God and subsequent flight back to a secular school?
Long story, but basically when you grow up believing the most literal translation of the Bible, and you are so convinced that there is no other interpretation, end up alienating everyone who doesn’t think like you do, and then you truly study scripture for the first time…it causes a problem.
Quite a paradigm shift.
To put it midly.
But was there any tension with your family as your religious beliefs have changed?
My parents have always been cool, we’re good friends. My mom grew up in the same church where I worked and my dad started attending when they were married. Even though THEY were never overly religious, I have a lot of people in my family who are still AG and work in ministry to some degree. I think my parents were happy for me to find a “real” job instead of ministry, but I know the majority of my family took it harder when I quit…..and when I went to sell porn….well, my family doesn’t argue or fight too much, but I know they suffered in silence with THAT one, and my ears burned a lot.
So you’re okay with your family now?
Oh hell yes, judging from the families of friends and girlfriends I hit the lottery. They are all great. And seriously, nobody in my family was really on my ass to BE a pastor or to REMAIN a pastor.
From what little I’ve read of your stuff, not just your blog, and from what your friends have said, you really do hate evangelical culture.
I guess I have more animosity against the pastors I grew up under more than anything else. When you’re ten years old and get freaked out thinking “the rapture” happened whenever your parents arrive home late…I think you can conservatively say you’ve been sold a boatload of bullshit by people who should have known better. Not all denominations, or all AG pastors for that matter, are freakish literalists. I can’t remember how the saying goes, but it’s something about how people will continue to believe a lie if it means they can hold onto their power or their paycheck. And the whole evangelical thing is about power and guilt based on lies and scripture taken out of context. I’ve said this a million times, but fat Christians will burn in the same hell with homosexuals because a sin is a sin. If you’re going to pervert the Bible for your own prejudices, at least get it right. I think you can be fat or gay or a big fat gay and still be a Christian, and truly ignorant people with no concept of scriptural context have a problem with that.
So you consider yourself a Christian?
My worldview is the hand I was dealt, and after years of being angry and bitter about my experience I really do believe that the simplest application of the gospel and the intent with which it was written really is a great thing. I’m not going to preach at you, try to persuade you or pretend I’m a shining example, but at the end of the day I really do want to believe in something bigger than all of us. Evangelicals annoy the shit out of me, but so do former Catholics who take up paganism to be fashionable….without understanding the irony behind following a self-styled hodgepodge of dead religions that even the ancient Greeks abandoned. And Feng Shui…biggest marketing scam in the history of yuppie beliefs.
Do you ever miss working as a pastor?
I miss the part of me that had to exercise compassion on a regular basis, but I don’t really miss the role or the weird level of respect you get from church members. If I ever started going to church again, the last thing I’d let them know about me is that I was a pastor…especially an Assemblies of God pastor. People make things more complicated than they need to be already, so don’t go looking to me for answers.
Did you have to wear that collar thingy?
No, fundamentalist denominations generally consider that to be a Catholics-only thing, and Catholics are Satan to them. Seriously.
Good stuff. And funny how there really is no logical segue from ministry to porn at this point.
You’re telling me. (laughs)
Okay, reading back through some of your writing you said once that it’s weird for girls to like porn? You said something to that effect, right?”
I should probably qualify any of my statements about women and porn. I don’t think it’s weird for women to like porn, because I know a ton of them that dig it. I do think it’s weird for women to like a lot of the same kind of porn that men like, and unfortunately there isn’t a lot of porn for ladies out there beyond the Red Shoe Diaries or Candida Royale mild hardcore, romantic variety. I’m not saying women can’t get into hardcore, because I truly, 100% believe that women are WAY kinkier, stranger and more adventurous than men when it comes to sex. It’s not a contest….it’s not even the same sport. You just don’t see that side of the coin very often because the industry is 99.9999% geared towards what men want…..and outside of some of the more involved fetish genres, men just want something utilitarian. Women just make a mental connection to sex and romance that most men do not…….and if you’re running a porno production company you can literally make millions of dollars off of a video that cost you five grand to make because it’s easy to get men off…..so why would you spend hundreds of thousands to produce something for women? They aren’t even on the radar in overall sales compared to men.
I’m not going to disagree with you on the female kink comments, it’s a valid point. With that in mind, did you have strange, female, porn obsessed regulars at your store?
No, my greatest customers were women, specifically, lesbians. You don’t spend a few years in an industry based on what men THINK their women want as far as sex toys go, without learning which toys rule the earth when it comes (no pun intended) to what women ACTUALLY like. The most annoying customers were the guys who were obviously ashamed and uncomfortable being there, and the worst of the worst were the ones who would come up chuckling nervously and go “hey, I’m supposed to find some movies for a bachelor party tonight, oh geez, I’m not even sure what to get….they make movies of naked women’s?”.
HA! A bachelor party? Are you serious?
Yeah, I mean if you want to call you and a box of Kleenex a bachelor party, it’s your world.
That’s funny. Also kind of hard to believe that kind of behavior was common among male adults though.
The sexual repression in the Midwest is a phenomenon that cannot be overstated. So the moral of the story is, whenever you go into one of these shops, you’re only annoying the employees when you act ashamed about it. Go in there proudly, like a lesbian. The lesbians would come right up to the counter and ask questions like “what do you have that vibrates the hardest?” and “which ones plug into the wall?”, or my favorite, “do you have any strap-on harnesses that are made from one piece of leather instead of the leather and nylon? They break.”. And I’d be like THANK YOU! Thank you for saying exactly what you are looking for without even thinking there are people out there who may think those questions are strange! Then I’d go into the backroom, put on my top-hat, grab my cane and put on the ritz as I broke down our selection in detail for them. Those moments were few and far between, but they were so refreshing.
Now I am familiar with the chain of stores you worked for. It’s more of a couples type store than one of those peep booth places. And I bring that up mainly because your friends have said you eventually left the business for a much lower paying job because it was so depressing.
Annoying and depressing.
I can picture the scenario, but tell me what was so annoying.
Well, like I said, the lesbians were the most awesome of all customers, but they were not in the store regularly enough to make a big difference. The rest of the clientele could be broken down into categories like……guys who were waiting in the parking lot EVERY GODDAMN MORNING as you drove up, so they could trade in the movies they got from you YESTERDAY for FIVE MORE. Of course there were the identical bachelorette party shoppers who laughed at the identical same penis keychains and penis water bottles in the identical way five or fifty times a week. Oh and creepy, CREEPY guys who would literally ask you if there were legal beastiality movies. Rednecks who would buy devices and lingerie as anniversary gifts for their wives and I would weep for whatever poor woman was about to be abused by such a lack of taste or insight. Guys who would peruse the magazine racks FOREVER and then ask to use the bathroom…..meth-head strippers who would come in and destroy the lingerie section looking for danceware and argue with me about the prices…..shoplifters…..the list goes on but you get the idea.
No argument here, I can see where that atmosphere could become surreal, like a bad 70’s movie. Where did it cross the line from annoying to depressing? Retail work is the bottom of the barrel in general.
Agreed, people are morons whether they are buying vibrators or cough syrup. I could have lived with the annoyances, but there were levels of things that made it all depressing enough to flee. The first thing that comes to mind is the overall desensitization that happens to you when your entire job revolves around the sex industry….you learn WAY too much about total strangers, and you have to gauge sales and inventory based on the latest trends and fetishes.
I’m picturing the cast of My Name Is Earl asking you whether the latest swinger-mags have arrived.
Thanks for that….I forgot all about that one. Scarily accurate…why can’t swingers be even remotely attractive? See? You’d be a natural running the store! (laughs) Seriously, I’m a guy, guys like porn, but by the time I left I was so sick of ALL of it that the only thing I’d partake in myself was Playboy…and that was just to do the ultimate cliché of reading it for the articles. Then there is the lifestyle….when you’re the “porno guy” going to all of the local hipster watering holes six nights per week , and you rub shoulders with the types of fellas that run the industry, and part of your job is to do PR at stripclubs in order to drum up more business, you are officially through the looking glass. To top it off, I was in a band for a while at the same time I was running the shop, so the partying and fair-weather bar friends become the lifestyle outside of work …..but the work that you do isn’t far enough removed from the lifestyle, so there is the tendency to get lost in it.
I know a lot of guys will read this and go BOO-HOO! It sounds like some world’s smallest violin shit.
Fair enough, and fuck those morons. It is such a lame industry that people try to make sound legitimate, and it caters to the types of guys who are bored with their wives and girlfriends. They are the addicts, and I’m sure an addict would love running that kind of asylum. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think screaming fire in a crowded theatre crosses the free-speech line, I’ll defend some demented porno genres because of that, but at some point you become a character straight out of central casting to anyone who knows you. I’m a total John Hughes eighties movie dork at heart, and it scared the shit out of me when I thought I had completely lost that part of myself. I’m sure there are people out there who can do the job and raise a perfectly normal family, I just wasn’t one of them. So I give any classless douchebag who cries crocodile tears for me the permission to state the obvious……I must be gay.
That was all, what? Ten or twelve years ago?
Yeah, about that.
So now that you are older and wiser, do you find that women your age find it intriguing, a turnoff, strange…..that you could go from one extreme to the other?
Not sure, I don’t really know any women my age.
You’re not dating at all these days, no post-surgery exploration?
Sure, I just don’t date women my age.
And why is that?
Because I don’t have to. (laughs) Sorry, I just had to throw that in there to sound like a bastard. It’s kind of true, I mean I don’t date twenty-five year olds because we wouldn’t have anything to talk about, they are generally at least in their thirties.
You should have just stuck with your statement that you don’t have to. Good material to work from.
Or said I don’t have to……because I own a Sybian. (laughs)
I forget, I’m talking to a huge Stern fan.
Absolutely. But I knew about the Sybian way before I listened to Howard, real lost weekend product. You have to remember, I learned from the lesbians. None of that yuppie poser tickle and spank shit there, not even close. The girls with the warm vibratey feelings all through their guttyworks.
And the movie quotes begin.
Right, right, right. (laughs)
You know they actually have or did have at one point, a Korova Milkbar in New York City.
Sure, totally cheesy but a nice try. Not sure if it’s even still there. A real tourist and bridge and tunnel mecca. My guys you talked to earlier keep me away from all of that shit when I’m out there. Best city in the world.
So lastly, going back to what we were talking about before it got derailed.
I do what I can to derail.
All kidding aside, I don’t imagine that surgery changed your personality or attitude very much, but it has better enabled you to express yourself. True?
For better or worse, I’m the same guy I’ve always been but the volume is turned way, way up.
And that is a good thing?
Good for me, entertaining for the people who are close to me, at least most of the time. Seriously, I’ve got a pretty great life right now. I’m pretty happy.
You said you’re dating, just not women your age…were you being funny or are you reaping the benefits of being in better shape?
Well, I was trying to be funny, but yes, I have a situation.
What kind of situation?
Too early to say, I don’t want to curse it by saying too much. But of course, keep an eye on the blog and I’m sure it will come up at some point whether it ends in joy or tears.