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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The murky world of porn
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The authors begin by exploring the LA porn scene, and meet some fascinating people. We meet Bill Margold, an aging Buckshot Bill of the porn world. He explains to them that there aren't many men in porn, because few men can meet the physical demands of porn. Even though he is a porn Godfather, having spent decades at the top in the...
Published on 16 July 2004

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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Wildly uneven
The premise of the book is quite interesting and potentially amusing. Two journalists who also happen to have a sideline reviewing porn films decide that they could do a better job and set out to make a porn film that has integrity, plot and soul. They are incredibly English, one the daughter of a renowned English journalist and the other the son of a vicar. There is...
Published on 13 Mar 2008 by Mrs. K. A. Wheatley


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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The murky world of porn, 16 July 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Once More, With Feeling: How we tried to make the greatest porn film ever (Paperback)
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The authors begin by exploring the LA porn scene, and meet some fascinating people. We meet Bill Margold, an aging Buckshot Bill of the porn world. He explains to them that there aren't many men in porn, because few men can meet the physical demands of porn. Even though he is a porn Godfather, having spent decades at the top in the industry, he lives in a seedy dump of an apartment in an undesirable district. He is a complex character who genuinely cares about the girls who work in porn, but who seens to have no feelings for his own children. We also meet Sharon Mitchell, a Florence Nightingale type who runs a health clinic for porn actresses. Her friend and fellow ex-porn-godess Nina Hartley flirts with Charlie Skelton (the co-author), and poor Charlie is probably still recovering. In general the people we meet are perfectly happy with their lives. One actress, Julie Meadows, memorably tells the authors that she doesn't make love to her husband if she has been working that day, "because I don't want him to have sloppy seconds." Besides her working day, she lives a pefectly normal, well-adjusted life. And she is stunningly beautiful. We also meet the spectacularly-named Dale Da Bone, which presumably is not how he appears on his birth certificate. Again, he seems to be perfectly hapy to work in an industry where his physical abilities are in demand.
The second half of the book, where they move to Amsterdam to shoot the film, I found less interesting, though again the cast of characters is fascinating. One of their actors is described as being "an old-fashioned romantic. Not old-fashioned romantic for a bisexual Yugoslavian rent-boy, just old-fashioned romantic." Martina, the main protagonist in the film's oral sex scene, is an ex-junkie nurse who spends Christmas with dying AIDS patients. She has plans to get out of the sex industry altogether, and you would be inclined to wish her well after reading about her.
The film itself, quite frankly, sounds like a load of you-know-what. But this is a fine book, well written, funny (not laugh-out-loud hilarious, just genuinely funny), interesting, revealing and well worth reading.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Wildly uneven, 13 Mar 2008
By 
Mrs. K. A. Wheatley "katywheatley" (Leicester, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Once More, With Feeling: How we tried to make the greatest porn film ever (Paperback)
The premise of the book is quite interesting and potentially amusing. Two journalists who also happen to have a sideline reviewing porn films decide that they could do a better job and set out to make a porn film that has integrity, plot and soul. They are incredibly English, one the daughter of a renowned English journalist and the other the son of a vicar. There is real potential here as different cultures and political and moral persuasions meet head on.

Books written by two people are often uneven in tone and this is no exception. The writing styles whiz back and forth as do the comments on each others writing and ideas, which although supposed to be funny I found a little distracting and a bit too luvvie.

The narrative is quite picaresque, whisking between locations, ideas, scenes and cutaways to random pieces which I think are meant to add colour, humour and humanity, but which don't always work. The emotional tone also veers between the farcical quality of a production of 'whoops there go my bloomers', to discussions of fisting and then on to the moral dilemmas of whether hiring an asylum seeking victim of political violence who is wanted by the authorities and has no warrant card, who is forced to work in the sex industry just to eat is a good thing or a bad thing.

The film, they admit, turns out to be a bit of a mess, neither fish nor fowl, and clearly put together by rank amateurs. The book comes across in much the same light, which is a shame. I understand that in many ways this was a 'fun thing to do', which turned into an emotional journey and took them to places they never expected to be. This much is clear from the narrative. It doesn't excuse the fact that the book could have done with some serious editing and a bit more thought to bring out what are some excellent ideas and in parts some really good stuff, which as it is are lost in a melee of random stuff just thrown onto the page.
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Its no Catch 22, but.........., 28 Aug 2002
The book, in essense, is a Story of two late 20 something, middle England (dare i say "nottinghillesqe?) writers who - after a stint of reviewing porn films for an erotic magazine - decide that they could do better and decide to embark on a journey to make the "greatest porn film ever". The book spans the period of coming up with the idea in London, to venturing on a fact finding mission in the Porn Mecca of LA, and finally the casting and filming in Amsterdam.
The description of this book by some critics a "rip roaring, thigh slapping comedy" falls a little short. It is more than that. It is also a moving, dark and often sad self discovery process for the authors and also the reader as they explore the 'darker' side of humanity...in the form of rent boys and whores with no money, no prospect and no passports just trying to get by in the city of sin - of people taking advantage of others - and of people seeing and living this dark side and then trying to make a difference. There are some witty, profound, sexy and occasionally downright weird characters that Vicky and Charlie (the authors) pick up along the way, but all are given a chance to explain themselves and their industry, and i think the authors give them a very open minded (if not slightly tongue in cheek) hearing before handing down judgement. The authors also seem to maintain an almost psychotic sense of optimism even in the most dire circumstance (actors walking off set...refusing to do certain backdoor scenes etc) which only adds to the affection you feel for them by the end of the book!!
The only thing that slightly bogged the book down (i think) were the slightly lengthy asides the authors were prone to on the morality of making such a film...they obviously discovered it wasn't going to be the pg swashbuckling adventure they had imagined and it starts to take its toll on their conscience.
Anyway - in a nutshell - a great, funny, poigniant novel with a dark, shaddy and rather sexy underside. Its no catch 22 but give it a read just the same.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read!!, 31 Dec 2012
By 
Jeff Miller (South-West England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Once More, With Feeling: How we tried to make the greatest porn film ever (Paperback)
Great product, different yet brilliant. Just as described, would recommend it to others. Good purchase and swift delivery. Would buy similar again. Very amusing and well written.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars cuddly and wholesome, 20 Nov 2012
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This review is from: Once More, With Feeling: How we tried to make the greatest porn film ever (Paperback)
All the blurbs on the cover of this book were about how 'surprisingly heartwarming' it was, so I shouldn't have been surprised at how heartwarming it turned out to be. But I was pleasantly surprised. As someone who has always believed in the potential for porn to be cuddly and wholesome, this was a nice affirmation. If you have ever spent any time enjoying the ridiculous aspects of porn, then you will probably enjoy this book, and might even find it surprisingly heartwarming yourself.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Blue and Black, 21 Aug 2002
By A Customer
I think this is one of the funniest, sexiest and most touching books I've read in ages. True, the cover does make you think you're about to enter a sleazy world of porn and moral debauchery, but you come out of this oddly refreshed about humanity - and a lot more knowledgable about the porn industry.
Coren and Skelton are two likeable, attractive, bright young writers who land a job reviewing porn films for the Erotic Review and then, when they've had enough of applying their witty and critical skills to every variety of porn imaginable, decide to make their own film and write this book about it.
Some porn is just funny to start with - the titles, the actors' stage names, the plots (where they have them), so you'd expect two writers who are pretty funny themselves to make the most of it as they try to realise their bizarre and often hilarious script with a memorable assortment of naked Europeans in various locations around Amsterdam.
Those who are a bit frightened of porn should probably stick to cooking and gardening books, but I think that the script for the film itself is worth the price of the book and as an intelligent, sometimes painfully honest tour of the porn world it's a cracking good read. As a cleverly layered account of friendship, sex, love, loss, art, artifice and more sex, it's equally engrossing and would delight the likes of David Lodge readers with it's subtle plays on structure. The pictures are pretty good, too.
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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad, 15 May 2003
This book is readable and compelling enough, but nowhere as exciting as the jacket and commentary here would suggest. First of all, I suspect non-UK readers will not find it all that funny, as it is an intimate account of two very British subjects coping with the world outside the Isles ... from within the realm of their Isles mentality. Second, most Dutch readers will soon get tired of hearing yet another account of the same British / American clichés about Amsterdam all over again (FYI: Smokey's pre-rolled joints are a tourist scam and DO NOT - I repeat: DO NOT - get you high. The very British, very charming and very gay bartender does exist, though).
What keeps the book going is that the two writers do sound honest, and who isn't interested in a story about two outsiders that get themselves in way over their heads and react by ploughing on with all their might and meagre resources ... out of sheer desperation.
Which gets me back to the original point. Either I am missing a huge joke here, or I'm going to have to claim that the book presentation is extremely misleading. It is pretty clear from early on that this pair is not out to make "the greatest porn film ever". In fact, from the scarce yet alarming technical details that once in a very long while show up throughout the book, they never had a chance ... or really tried. Sure, modern DV cameras are excellent tools by themselves. But the same could be said of English - and if you do not know how to spell or use grammar properly, you'll never write anything "great". Likewise, you cannot make a great movie if you do not know anything about cinematography, light, sound ("we discovered that our cameras had no input jacks for external mikes" - pleeeeease) , etc.
In summary, this is a book written by people who do know how to write about their experiences trying to make a movie that, far from being "the greatest porn ever", sounds a lot more like a high-school class movie project. The key words here are "highly amateurish approach to filmmaking". Thus, the book does not really teach you anything new about porn that you couldn't find in the many articles written in the mainstream press about the subject - but it does dissect extremely well the reactions of a pair of well-educated Western liberals to the world surrounding blue movies. In that sense, it reminded me quite a bit of "Patpong Sisters", in which an American woman dives into the Thai sex industry and tells yet another intimate account of a liberal Westerner confronting the sexual taboos of the times - looking to write her PhD dissertation about it. Intriguing in both cases, but don't expect to be blown away.
Note to the authors - next time, consider giving some explanation about the budget. Where did the final figure come from? Where did the money come from? At the end of the day, the only reason porn movies are made is to make a profit. Discussing the finer points of the script is good, but the script is not the movie, like the shoot is not the movie and the editing is not the movie. The movie is a combination of it all, and there are large gaps in this portrayal.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Exceptionally Funny, 12 Jan 2003
By A Customer
This book is absolutely hysterical. These young writers go into the world of porn and report back on it without judgment or negativity. They bring humor to some very dark lives and some outrageous moments. I can't tell you how many times I laughed out loud while reading it and was asked what I was reading.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not your average pornography, 27 Sep 2003
By 
Julie Constable (Stoke on Trent, Staffordshire United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Once More, With Feeling: How we tried to make the greatest porn film ever (Paperback)
This was a book which I bought without fully understanding what it was about. What a delight it turned out to be! A book about porn could have turned into an embarrasment which I would have hidden away under the bed, but this was funny from start to finish. Vicky and Charlie are the most unlikely porn film makers on the planet. There is nothing hardcore about this epic just a very funny mix of characters that couldn't offend if they tried. Even the rude bits are hilarious. Give the Naughty Twins a try,you won't be dissapointed
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Laugh out loud again and again and again......., 19 Oct 2002
By 
Having read a brief extract in the Observer, I was more than a little intrigued by this book. Having bought it (and already being mid-way through another deeply gripping novel) I thought I'd just read the prologue. Truly unputdownable, the book proved; so much so that I read it flat in two days and everything else went forgotten. Vicky & Charlie take you into their odd sojourn and make you care deeply about themselves and the characters they meet. Touchingly written, it's moving, sad, but above all, funny. Helen Fielding and Bill Bryson are the only writers who can make me laugh out loud consustently. Skelton & Coren have done the same. Genuinely hilarious, it's the sort of book you'll want to press on anyone. Not exactly high literature, but so brilliantly written with a knack for economic, snappy prose, it's a genuine must-read. Make sure you do. Although you may have to withstand the odd glances from people on buses/trains given the 80s neon-lit look cover.
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