I finished this book a week ago. I'm finally getting around to this entry now. Sorry and all that.
How to Make Love Like a Porn Star by Jenna Jameson with Neil Strauss
Autobiography (2004 - 592 pp.)
As with any book with a ghostwriter, it can be hard to tell where Jenna ends and Neil begins. The book is well written, especially as far as the quite interesting plot goes. The ups and downs of fame and abuse recounted in sometimes graphic detail are interesting regardless of Jenna's occupation. The pacing feels a little odd at times, with adulthood and childhood mashed together even when it does not seem topical, but there are enough consistent parts to stop the book from suffering.
Much of the book concerns Jenna's internal strife while her world spun around her. Her childhood diary is dutifully preserved and scanned so you can read her writing. Her various firsts come out in detail, as do topics ranging from her insecurity about her body ("Time's Scythe", Chapter 42) to her need "for someone to love me for myself, not for my looks or body." (Time's Scythe", Chapter 46) One of the more sobering moments, albeit there are many, comes when she reflects upon all that has occurred in the first three decades of her life: "When I look back at the people who had to deal with me, I feel terrible." ("Trophies of Lovers Gone", Chapter 9) Throughout, she refers to then-husband Jay Grdina with nothing but praise; their 2006 divorce would be an interesting subject for a second-edition preface, should she chose to be as open about that as about seemingly everything else.
Life in the porn industry certainly does not look appealing, which is presumably the impetus for the subtitle "A Cautionary Tale". From the human side, there are all ranges of experiences one may encounter, which are told far more effectively than I could venture here. From the business side, there are numerous examples of porn contracts, many with restrictive terms and moderate salaries in the $40,000-$70,000 range. Strippers often make far more, to the point that a 19-year old Jenna earned $1000+ per night - before her big break in porn. Post-break, she mentions buying $3,800 and $5,000 dresses. Make of all this what you will.
The celebrity stories are among the more interesting anecdotes. Want to know what it was like to party with Marilyn Manson in the late '90s? Or to dance for Nicolas Cage? This book can tell you. I was especially touched by her description of dancing at a strip club in Toronto; she was apparently pelted with coins while onstage and then arrested for obscenity. ("The Gentle Closure of My Breast", Chapter 5) My distaste for strip clubs aside, I always fall for when my hometown receives famous visitors.
My favourite line in the whole book is one her father says in reference to the time he spent with her mother: "Even if I had the worst life in the world afterward, I knew I’d always have that." ("Time's Scythe", Chapter 1) That's what memories are for. It really puts the rest of the book into perspective.
Ease of Reading: 10
Educational Content: 2