Hank entered the adult industry in 1988–just before California vs. Freeman made porn production safe from pandering laws; and exited towards the end of the 90s.
Most fascinating are his personal insights about the industry during a time little covered when people reflect upon American porn eras. Hank’s fell right after porn’s golden film age and just before its internet age.
“The video age spouted a breed of high octane sex starlet embodied by a hard yet feminine too-pretty-to-be-a-porn-star persona. When porn was a byproduct of the tail end of the sexual revolution, the charm of innocence was the rage.
But because video wasn’t larger than life, the raw sexual imagery of wet, wild and willing women had to make up for it.
Films like New Wave Hookers and starlets like Ginger and Amber Lynn saluted a new age domination of video with an in-your-face, no-holds-barred sexuality. Last of the great flicks heralding a carnal changing of the guard, it was shot in a music video style for shock effect for an MTV generation of punk rockers, while lesser films with soft plots were labeled “couples tapes”.”
More than anything, though, Hank’s is a human story. It’s a sensitive, textual picture of his broken home beginnings; motherless and running from one coast to the other with his gambling father. By 1988 he’s writing for The Hollywood Press, performing in loops and features, and living an adult industry fan’s dream; never realizing what he was really searching for until he meets the love of his life, marries and then quietly exits the adult stage.
Lydia Lee: First of all, thank you for taking the time here to share yourself and answer some quesitons.
Through your book I understand that you performed in adult films while also writing for The Hollywood Press. During that time did you work and hang out with costars simultaneously, or did you make a special effort to separate work and everyday life?
Hank Rose: My professional and personal lives were a bit intertwined because I was young and prepped for adult adventure. I had a full plate with the Press in that I also worked as a film critic. And I had a friend who worked at a dance and mud wrestling nightclub known back then as the Tropicana. Plus there was always some X-rated event to attend. So I socially enjoyed my heyday in the limelight.
LL: Yet it doesn’t sound as if you fell into heavy partying (drugs and alcohol) the way some single performers do. Was recreational drug use just something that didn’t particularly interest you?
HR: I am sensitive with allergies. And so recreational substance use was never a safe option. I was a satyric raw talent. Never took performance enhancements for sexual arousal. I was all natural. At my peek, I could get off 3 times the output of average men. That was my stock in trade or calling card. So the biz itself was my drug. Addictive in the sense that sex on a stage was my reality show with home love life intermittent between shoots.
LL: I must preface this next question by stating that so many anti-porn advocates believe all male performers really deep down don’t like women at all. Minus a female role model growing up, was there one value constant in your relationships with women–sexual or otherwise?
HR: In order to get inside the head of anyone from a broken home who reached maturity in sexual showbiz, one must consider what it’s like to grow up without a parent of the opposite sex for unconditional love. There is a void that often leads to sexual addiction and this deep need to be with any and all women. Having grown up without a mom, I idolized free sexuality and put females on pedestals. And I never moralized the debate of love vs. sex since I grew up starved for female intimacy and developed a world class libido in which porn became my outlet refuge to express and celebrate my need to be loved.
LL: I think I understand what you’re saying. One other performer I’m aware of has talked about growing up without a father and becoming a sex addict.
You write about being good at just about everything you tried–sports, in particular–yet not knowing what one thing to settle on. I find that with entertainers in general. Yet some try to segregate adult performers from other types of performers.
Would you agree that all entertainers, regardless of performance pursuit, are insecure and want attention and generally prefer to live a carefree life, or are adult performers really that different from say, mainstream movie actors, theatre performers, writers, etc.?
HR: This is an alpha Q&A pop psychologists write books about. Whether one’s idea of a showbiz odyssey is G, R or X-rated, it is still triggered by the same restless youth inspirations of leaving home and discovering the world outside the safe predictable confines of routine real life. While many adult performers are often segregated as entertainment rogues without a moral compass, what we are is live-and-let-live care free wild flowers of blank slate social conditioning who are no different than anyone who thought or felt different and grew up with stars in their eyes to take roads less traveled.
Often some early life event or trauma precipitated an instinctive need to aspire to be larger than life. In my case the pain of motherlessness had me idolizing pro love and the cinema sex act as a spotlight to make up for the loneliness I’d experienced as a child. It also helped that I was sexually built for it in my mind and physicality. Not all human beings are wired to pedestrian normalcy. Some are destined by biology and genes to be wayward adventurers in the game of life.
LL: I agree. It’s interesting to note that some people become actors, writers, etc. because they have a family lineage in the arts. A ‘logical choice’ process rather than something they felt they had to do to break away from fear of routine. I identify, though, because I attribute my restlessness to my dad not settling on one thing until fairly late in life, and my mother being good at anything creative she tried.
Do you keep in touch with anyone from your days in adult? Anyone even from The Hollywood Press side?
HR: All performers got a restless streak. And I still suffer from the same artistic wanderlust that drove me to do porn. The multi-talented side of me I get from my long lost mom. It’s a legacy she left me to be a soulful savant. I’m a spiritual eccentric who needs to be creative to thrive. You only settle for domesticity after you realize that like F. S. Fitzgerald once said, there are no second acts in American life.
Yet if I have performance art in my persona it may be due to some weird reincarnation and not a trend in my family tree. Had my adult libido not defined my identity, I may have gotten into music or sports. I can attest to being the first porn personality to sing at Sardos karaoke before it became an industry hangout. I only wish the biz itself would cross over to multimedia.
As for being in touch with my past, I’ve burnt a lot of bridges. Mainly for two reasons. For one, I lack the energy to get involved in the daily politics of the modern porn scene. The feuds and the drama take too much away from your sex trade life force. Second, there’s too much temptation to come back to a genre where old friends are not pushing the creative envelop with better content and are instead shooting the same loops they did 25 years ago.
To evolve in the new age, porn needs two things—love stories and hit music.
LL: I found an article that talked about you directing a Part II to your movie The Raunchy Porno Picture Show. What happened with that?
HR: That was a porn beat travelog or tongue-in-cheek grinder for the raincoat crowd that featured a humble B talent cast and wall to wall sex. I always believed it deserved a sequel. I had so much fun and the time of my life making that cute movie. Although it was cheap and campy and not me at my best, it made a splash in porn pop culture despite unforgiving critics.
There is so much temptation for me to come back. Even at almost 50 I still have the libido of an 18 year old minus the mojo. I fight it all the time. There are ways of shooting having to deal with B&W mood and sound that I would like to explore that only I could pull off and the rest of the talent would have to be hand picked. Yet at heart I’m still a performer and not a boss.
For years I insulated or isolated myself from the biz to preserve my home life. And it may have been a mistake to have been out of the loop for so long. Only now I’m in a catch 22 scenario. My financial situation may require a comeback. However, I always found directing to be like trafficking a voyeur dinner banquet—an event it would be hard to host without eating. LOL!
In my heyday, I was a sensitive type who fell for co-stars and was even stalked on at least two occasions. The vibe of the industry was different back then. It was more adventure to me than work. I was living my sex life in front of a camera at a time when the erotic realm was more exclusive or close knit. It’s why my career scrapbook is thicker than any family photo album.
Through it all, my old lady has been my rock. She wed me for love and has a good heart and an open mind. I never saw adult showbiz as a life long attraction. I just want to tell my story to close that chapter of my life. But even if old school stardom is dated for modern scrutiny, your taking the time to read and publicize my book is affirmation enough. And it means a lot.
LL: I think it’s encouraging that ex-sex workers like yourself are coming forward to talk about life experiences through books [and blogging!]. There are more than enough fanatics ready to speak for us. I thank you for your contribution to the conversation!
HR: No, thank you! You’ve been a sweetheart and you’re a fine journalist!
Download: Hank Rose’s fascinating memoir, Lust Life: The Hard Times of a Dirty Movie Star at eBookMall.
Extended bio and film credits: ExcaliburFilms.com (NSFW).
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