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Wonder Bread and Ecstasy: Life and Death of Joey Stefano Paperback – 11 Jun 1996


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Product details

  • Paperback: 209 pages
  • Publisher: Alyson Publications Inc (11 Jun. 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1555833837
  • ISBN-13: 978-1555833831
  • Product Dimensions: 13.7 x 1.3 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 90,019 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 28 April 1997
Format: Paperback
I haven't yet finished this one (I'm about halfway through), but I'm already haunted. While I don't mind admitting publicly that I'm addicted to porn, I will certainly be looking at the movies differently from now on, especially those starring poor Nick, or Joey as we've come to know him. What has struck me the most about the book is that it strays from the tabloid style that you might expect, considering the subject is a younger gay porn star who died of a drug overdose. The book also tries to avoid placing the blame for Joey's death simply on the industry that made him famous. That would have been the easy way out and perhaps would have sold Joey short. The book does give us a brief glimpse into the way the movies are made (behind the scenes) and the stars themselves, again forcing us to examine our own mindsets when watching our favorite stars frolicking on the screen.
While this is hard terrain to traverse, since we know the inevitable conclusion, it's a fascinating ride. I recommend it to anyone who has popped a quarter into a peep show booth and been mesmerized by Joey Stefano. Maybe, you'll be able to see him and his peers as more than just a set of genitalia (as I am now beginning to do).
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 22 July 1997
Format: Paperback
Isherwood begins with the famous words of Dr. Samuel Johnson, "All excellence has a right to be recorded", and while this is solid enough justification for the biography, his execution of the task is far from excellent. This is not for lack of trying, it appears that I. has employed all of his talent and training as a journalist to their fullest degree. He has found those who knew Joey when he was still Nick from South Philly and has collected revealing statements about Stefano's own take on his life from rare interviews, usually from studio-backed skin mags and old issues of AVN. He fleshed these out with reminiscences from the auteurs who gave him his start (notably ChiChi LaRue, the corpulent granddiva of gay porn, and bisexual transsexual Karen Dior, who starred with Stefano in his first adult film), the stars whom Stefano worked with, old roommates and friends. These form the heart of I.'s writing, but his account lacks any sort of soul.

If there were a phrase which would best describe I.'s book it would be artificially compassionate. Rather than letting Joey's truly lamentable decline into depression and heavy substance abuse create genuine sympathy with the reader, I. never gets over the journalist's need to offer an interpretation, no matter how superficial or obvious. The title of the book comes from two staples of Stefano's existence, the peanut butter sandwiches made on fluffy white bread he ordered from the gay-owned grocery store near his apartment in W. Hollywood and the popular designer drug he became increasingly dependent upon towards the end of his short life. But instead of making us more sorry for the blue-collar kid who had a rough life, wound up with HIV dying in a vicious industry, it makes Stefano sound like the gay Elvis.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 28 Sept. 1997
Format: Paperback
in fact i don't really like the book, but there is something which is really make me feel sorry with this guy. that is the part when stefeno was asked to write down all his problems, and he simply wrote down: No job No money No self-esteem No confidence All I have is my look and my body and there's not working anymore i feel washed-up Drug problem Hate life HIV-positive! Very sad, isn't it. Now i understand how is a porn star feel behind the charm.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By reviewsrevues on 20 Mar. 2008
Format: Paperback
This is a gripping book. Nick Iacona was a disaffected Catholic youth from Philadelphia who saw his entry into the world of gay porn as a way of being accepted and being loved. Initially, he found this in a unique rise to fame which saw this openly gay man unprecedently making it big (the big gay porn stars before him had always maintained they were "straight"- I think it must be an American thing!. This is, however, not a tale of exploitation, the only real exploitation was that Nick, as Joey Stefano, became over-exposed, so his career was short-lived. Added to that was an addiction to drugs (which he had battled with before turning to porn) and the ending of him being found dead at 26 in a seedy motel is as inevitable for the reader as it is for those around him. Apart from the odd clunky turn of phrase and definite heavy-handedness in the psychology department looking for reasons for Joey's behaviour the book is well-written. I think the journalistic bias which Isherwood gives this book stops it being a salacious read and imbues the short life of Joey Stefano with a greater deal of respect than he found in life.
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