If you enjoy cooking now and then, you probably have some novelty cookbooks lying around. Maybe a book on how to make cake pops, or a “down home” cookbook that focuses on everything you can effectively slather with barbecue sauce. If you consider yourself an expert chef, chances are you own Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Let’s say, instead, that you are a wine dabbler and know the basics because you bought The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Wine. If you lean more towards sommelier–a tried and true oenophile–you probably have Jancis Robinson’s The Oxford Companion to Wine at home on your shelf. Similarly, it’s safe to say that if you are a porn enthusiast, you have a memoir here and there, but if you fancy yourself a porn connoisseur, you own Jill C. Nelson’s Golden Goddesses.
One brilliant aspect of this book is the way that walking us through the lives of twenty-five notable women during porn’s golden era also affords us a gradual history of the adult industry. Get to know Ann Perry, for instance, and you also come to see the 60s and 70s through a natural progression of cultural sexual expression–from “Nudie Cuties”, to Russ Meyer films, to more explicit “loops”; before the explosive crossover success of plot-driven films like Deep Throat and Behind the Green Door. Meet Marilyn Chambers and you also meet The Mitchell Brothers. Rhonda Jo Petty introduces us to agent, Jim South, who would become a mainstay in the adult industry for years to come.
More intriguing than just a chronology of adult movies and its stars, though, is author Jill C. Nelson’s literary perspective. Each story is carefully cultivated, highlighting each woman in intimate ways particular to her basic personality traits and sensibilities. It’s a refreshing perspective because she isn’t put off by their vulnerabilities and doesn’t shy away from their brass. These stories are simple, unapologetic, respectful and presented in whole; accompanied by childhood snapshots, as well as career photographs. This is all just a long way of saying this book isn’t just cleverly titled. Jill C. Nelson’s skilled pen invokes each goddess with kindness, poise, reverie, and above all, real and touching humanity.
From the Introduction:
“Occasionally, family and friends have been puzzled and queried as to why I have chosen to dedicate much time and energy developing two books centering on this unusual group often misunderstood and even persecuted by society. I smile and answer, “I’m not interested in writing a book about Julia Roberts.” These eccentric, imperfect women, who dared to walk on the wild side, are also some of the most gorgeous, vivacious, resilient, intelligent, and ethical people anyone would ever want to meet. I don’t profess to have familiarity with today’s trends in pornographic movie productions, but I have been made well aware there is a vast difference between the caliber of performer and content available today and yesteryear. Without question, my expedition has been incredible, and I believe it has reaffirmed for me that I am bolder than I might have been had I chosen a safer sojourn. It is my hope that I have presented each woman’s story respectfully, with dignity, and without agenda.”
There is definitely an element of moxie and class evident in early adult actresses that seems lost today. Not that today’s actresses don’t embody admirable elements particular to their own rebellious female generation, but women like Seka, Veronica, Nina and Marilyn embody a softness and compassion that marries well with my own ideas about womanhood. I am personally grateful to all the women brave enough to share their experiences for the benefit of younger generations. Some of us are a bit more rough around the edges, so it’s inspiring to see what a clear and fuller picture of the robust, sensuous, full-spectrum female looks like.
This is a dazzling read, and Jill has more than accomplished her goal. Golden Goddesses is a touching and deeply respectful tribute to an iconic group of ladies. It’s a real treasure I find myself reading over and over again. The most rewarding revelation is Jill, herself, as the gift-giving purveyor of otherworldly beauty; the twenty-sixth goddess. After all, it takes one to know one.
I have been agonizing over this review with tons of excerpts bookmarked to highlight, but it’s not worth giving away. If you’re going to own a book about the adult industry, this is it!
Visit Jill C. Nelson’s website for Golden Goddesses here! [Lots of link options for purchasing GG. *wink, wink*]
Follow her on Twitter: https://twitter.com/holmesinches
And read a wonderful interview with Adam of XXXWasteLand.com here!!
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