We look back

To help us figure out

Where we want to go.


by Howie Gordon,
…aka the ghost of Richard Pacheco…
Berkeley, 2012




I have lived across the street from Howie for about twenty-five years.  We have been friends for even longer.  He told me he was hesitant about asking me to write a foreword because he wasn't sure that I was comfortable having people know that we are friends.  Now, I found out early on who Howie was and told him that I had his Playgirl centerfold on my wall for a long time before I met him and told him that both my mom and I were fans of that picture, I did have a hard time looking Mr. November in the eye, but I got over that. I was there when the kids were born, he was there when I became a grandmother early.  He's been thru my breakups and hookups.  He has been part of my family way before anyone cared about Whoopi Goldberg.
When I was in Berkeley both he and his wife Carly became my family, and when my mom and my brother Clyde moved to Berkeley, the same thing happened.  His family became their family, too. And in terms of my mom, their friendship ended with her death whose loss they felt as deeply as my brother and I.

...which brings me back to the idea that he was trying to protect me from the public knowing our family bond.  I'm proud that we are connected.  (He's taken out ninety-nine percent of any reference to me in this book so don't bother looking...I already looked.)

Truth is I don't think I knew Richard Pacheco the way I know Howie Gordon.  There was no reason really and I don't want to freak you out, reader, wondering if I had ever seen any of his films. The answer is, yes, I have.  And I've been to the Adult Awards ceremonies, too. 


- Gordon Archive

Howie and Whoopi at the X-Rated "Oscars."

We as a nation pay a lot of money to see what we profess to find dirty.  Think of it like this, if everyone really felt like that, who's keeping the adult industry alive and well?   Someone is buying.  I know a lot of folk feel that its destructive to young women and all the other things people speak about, and it may be true, but as you read this book, remember, it was a different time.  It was the time of story telling with an X Rating, and there's no one better to tell this story than my friend Howie Gordon.

So, sit back and prepare to laugh and gasp and if you get moved to say, make yourself even happier, well go for it.       

- Gordon Archive

Whoopi Goldberg
New York City



DESPERATE CUPCAKES                                 

It was late in my sleep, the last of the darkness before the dawn.  My dream tapes had all been concluded and consciousness was busily rewinding and putting its seatback and tray table into the upright position in preparation for the coming waking up.
She appeared suddenly and without much fanfare.  She looked to be a harried clerk like one might find in any Department of Motor Vehicles. “Muse” was the name written on the nameplate at her desk, “Harriet Muse.” 
Wasting no time, she grabbed my attention with a pointed question:  “Tell me, sir, why do you persist on putting word to page to tell a story that most people of the world will think of as a crude braggadocio or else a hideous groan of underachievement?”
Whoa, I was stunned.  I mean, slap my balls and send me back to Pittsburgh for a redo.  She was talking about my attempt to see my X-Rated memoirs into print.
Caught off guard, I burbled some stuff that pretty much doesn't even bear repeating here.
"You know," she said, "once we edit out all the parts that scream 'I am not a stereotype and I didn't really waste my life,' you've got some fairly interesting reading here, but it’s a tough sell.  You see, you must not be so eager to volunteer your indiscretions.”  She said it as if she were dispensing the most rudimentary kind of knowledge.  "The world wants to rip off the covers and discover these kinds of things for itself.
In short, you must learn to hide better if you seek to be found.  Next!”

- Gordon Archive


Am I a defender of porn?  Well, that's a tough question.  Sure I am, but sometimes the domination of male rage in the industry just gets to me.  It comes off as so nasty and mean-spirited that it's like a sex without humanity.  Who but a werewolf could defend that?  Yes, men are entitled to their anger and so are women, too, for that matter, but sex is so much bigger than that narrow band of human experience.  We deserve better than just the forbidden fruit of the dark side.
There is more to sex than conquest and vengeance. I want to see that portrayed, too.  We are in there.  We are having all those experiences, from the awkward, mundane and embarrassing to the frightening, ecstatic and sublime.  Sex provides some of the best stuff offered to us as human beings.  And in the end, it is spectacularly, the smiling, cunning ruse of Nature to pay us with pleasure for the biological act of reproducing ourselves.


Am I a defender of pornography?  Sure I am.  To say that sex is not worthy of the public discussion, or is not worthy of artistic interpretation is a madness, a stupidity and often a hypocrisy of the highest order.

And if I've learned anything of import at all while walking on this path, it's this:
When sex is accepted and celebrated for the goodie that it is and can be in this life, it takes on a much less obsessive place than when it is denied, vilified, or repressed.

- Gordon Archive



“Pornography...” wrote film critic James Wolcott, “won’t tap into our deepest feelings (rage, jealousy, obsessive desire) until it’s made by artists, but until then it can splash happily in the shallows.”
The article, titled "Deep Thought On Porno", appeared in the October, 1980 issue of Esquire magazine where Wolcott had some good things to say about the film Talk Dirty To Me, the movie that literally made my name in the business:

“...Porno may be crude and misogynistic; it may be filled with gynecological close-ups and with dialogue as monotonously coarse as the chattering of a parrot taught to swear; but it doesn’t have to be.  Pornography needs an emotional rescue, and a recent film entitled Talk Dirty To Me suggests new paths, new possibilities...”

Anthony Spinelli directed Talk Dirty To Me, and no one but Anthony Spinelli would have dared to conceive of a porno film wherein a lonely, almost retarded, young man gets to have the first sexual experience of his life.  I got to play that guy.  And I got to play a whole bunch of other guys while working for Spinelli, or Sam, as he was known to his intimates in the business.  The films of Anthony Spinelli, or Sam Weston, became the backbone of my career.  Working alongside actor John Leslie, they made us some of the earlier stars of the industry.

As a filmmaker, Sam Weston was a storyteller first.  An actor turned director, he became a pornographer only as a means of last resort to feed his family while trying to make it in the cinematic jungles of Hollywood.  The “new paths” or “new possibilities” alluded to by the film critic Wolcott were largely the efforts of Sam and a few other adult directors to “scoop” the Hollywood studios by making “real” movies that just happened to have full-bodied sex in them.

The X-Rated industry of that era, the Seventies and early Eighties, is now being touted as “The Golden Age of Pornography” mostly for that very reason.  Of course, this all happened at what seemed to have been the very climax of the sexual revolution before the plague of A.I.D.S. had people of common sense everywhere zipping it all back up and running for cover.

To borrow from baseball, we were like the Negro Leagues of show business.  We labored with certainly no less passion (and even occasionally no less skill) making movies at a tiny fraction of what our uptown, mega-financed, Hollywood counterparts had to spend, but we were doomed to wear the scarlet letter.

Despite the mainstream doors that have closed in my face, I still count myself as one of the lucky ones who have been involved with pornography.  To begin with, I got out with my life.

Beyond that, the word “pornography” itself, now used to embrace virtually all sexual media, is derogatory.  I think it reflects our own sexual self-hatred, our great spiritual and psychological difficulty of trying to cope with our bodies’ capacity for giving and receiving pleasure.

In other times, in other places, I might have been burned at the stake, pilloried, or made to rot in a dungeon.  Like I said, I count myself lucky.  I have a wife and children and am able to walk God’s green earth freely.  Though I may have had to muzzle myself at a PTA meeting, I have never felt the handcuffs or been dragged into the jails and courts as so many others have.  We owe those folks a debt of gratitude.

It’s funny how the world works.  Few have ever become “sex workers” for any reason vaguely resembling something noble, though that term itself is newish and bespeaks a certain political activism and sophistication.   The old saw is that men got involved in “the business” for the sex and the women for the money.  My experience confirmed that to be largely true.

Scratch any centerfold and more often than not you’ll hear a tale of too fat, too thin, too short, too tall, my tits were on backward, or the devil made me do it.  You dig into the background of strippers and sex stars, especially the ones willing to reveal themselves, so to speak, in public, and you may hear stories of dysfunctional families, drugs, child abuse, alcohol, poverty, low self-esteem, sexual repression, parental neglect, or religious madness.

That out of this gallery of the broken, the curious, the rogues and the desperate may be born defenders of freedom and sexual pioneers is truly the unfathomable sense of humor of our Creator at work.  But on occasion, lust, chaos, and greed have alchemically mingled to produce both beauty and nobility, in addition to all the stereotypical and wretched excesses that one would also expect.

The fact that I can string together two coherent sentences, or that I could act a part without overly embarrassing myself, has led many an interviewer to ask, “What were you doing in porn?”  The real question of significance in my mind was:
“Why weren’t you there with me?” 

- Gordon Archive


I foolishly expected the heirs to the Sixties sexual revolution to be there en masse. They weren’t.  And it remained sadly unconscionable that the sexual media for the entire culture of that time was largely relegated to an underclass of amateurs and criminals who mostly created a pornographic world of sexual looting and moral midgetry.   I thought sex far too important for such an ignominious fate.

Scandal’s Messiah? . . . hardly, but I’ve got a story and I’m gonna tell it.  I don’t purport to have all of the answers, but I did ask a few of the questions, a few of the questions that many others of my generation, those heirs to the sexual revolution, perhaps wanted to ask, but when the time came, well, they just didn’t raise their hands.

There are, of course, reasons for how a guy like me could end up in the sex industry and I think their revelation pertinent, but please, do me the favor of not taking my “reasons” as “excuses.”  I’ve read way too many books where reformed sinners or “born agains” cast blame, make excuses, and try to squirm their way into some kind of newfound respectability while simultaneously cashing in on their scandalous past.  No thanks.

You see, when we slime balls account for ourselves publicly, the world seems to want, to require those good ol’ excuses like we are filling out an application for a license to have sinned.
Well, fuck all that.  I never thought it was sinning to begin with, and frankly, I was there for the pussy.   That makes me sound tougher than I am, but it’s essentially true...

The money was good, too.  I was breaking up concrete for five bucks an hour when I got my first movie offer of $200 for getting a blowjob.  And I had far more compelling personal reasons that I’ll get into, but the point is, I make no apologies for my dancing with the devil.  I was where I wanted to be.  I got into pornography with my eyes relatively open.

Could be that I’ll get to the Pearly Gates one day and St. Peter will say, “Yo, Doofus, what were you thinking?”   But I don’t think so.

The American icon Will Rogers once mused that, “Everyone is ignorant -- only on different subjects.”  As far as sex is concerned, we are right to respect its power, but we do not need to fear it so.  Quality information and education remain critical in the unending struggle of our pleasure versus its denial as championed by the twisted forces of ignorance and superstition, especially when they come boisterously down the road belching the word of God and masquerading as religion.

It was this controversial nature of a career in adult films that led me to believe I would one day be held accountable for my actions, if not in a court of law, then certainly within my own conscience or before my maker.  As a result, far from indulging in the pornographic, the baser of my human emotions, I sought to be a mensch in the X-Rated business.  I sought to be informed, entertaining, and decent on the public stages of the erotic.  And many could argue that put me in the running for what the Sufi’s would call “being the wisest man in the kingdom of the fools.”

In any case, here comes my tale, told to amuse.   If it instructs, if it inflames, if it engorges, take from it what you will.  This is a history, and yet, this is personal.  This is philosophy, this is psychology, and this is a victory for perseverance and the mystery of common sense. This is my order, made of my chaos, with all the enormously mixed feelings I have had about the world of pornography and my immersion in it. 
For while this is a story of struggle and success-against-the-odds, it is also a chronicle of underachievement, irony, and the ultimate surrender to the world as it is.


“If you’re going to read only one book about pornography
in your whole life, this one should be it!”
- US $100 Biill

     - Benjamin Franklin,
   Electrician and Founding Father


Q.  What's the difference between a porn star and a whore?
A.  A camera

Q.  That's getting a little harsh, isn't it?
A.   Yeah, well, that's all part of it, too."

Q.  Does the world need another book about pornography?
A.  Probably not.

Q.  So how did you get to be Richard Pacheco?    
A.  I put together the conscience of Dr. Jekyll and the lust of Mr. Hyde and we had a go at it.  It was the best of me and the beast of me.”

Q.  Yes, but why?  Why did you do it?
A.  Because for years I spent more time thinking about my dick than I did thinking about almost anything else.  I don’t know if I’m abnormal in that I did that or only in that I’m just willing to talk about it.

Q.  Are you interviewing yourself?
A   Yes, I am.

Q.  Why?
A.  Because I ask the best questions.

Q.  Do I need to write this book?
A.  Yes, I do because I'm turning in my homework. 

“It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.”

                                  -  Jiddu Krishnamurti,
                                      Author, Philosopher

“There you go again!”
“What?  Marty?  Is that you?” Marty Kaufman was a literary agent who was trying to help me get published.
“What do you want to go and be quoting Krishnamurti for?  Nobody’s ever fucking heard of Krishnamurti.  People are gonna think you’re weird."
"I am weird."
“Yeah, well, lose the quote.  Stop trying to prove that you’re not an idiot by quoting esoteric famous people.”


- Gordon Archive


 “Here world, I pass thee like an orange to a child.
                   I can with thee no more.  Do what you will.”

                                  - Edgar Lee Masters,
                                         Spoon River Anthology


- Gordon Archive
  Lecturing at USC with Nina Hartley.


  “If there be any great pleasure in life without a woman
                at it, let others look to it.”

                                                                    - Desiderius Erasmus,
                                                                  In Praise of Folly