By Lainie Speiser
Last week I was given the honor of being a guest on a podcast hosted by renowned broadcaster, publisher and professor Karen Hunter called The Hub. Karen Hunter is one of those superwomen I am always in awe of. She’s not only a big success at everything she does but she’s always so poised, calm and collected, someone who knows what she likes and doesn’t like and has no problem showing it, in the most classy way. She would be 100% intimidating to me if she wasn’t always so nice and gracious. Karen Hunter runs her own SiriusXM channel, Urban View, a channel I started booking on with her show for “Foolishness Friday,” as well as the iconic comedian Godfrey’s show, Godfrey Complex, and it’s always been great. These are great mainstream shows that elevate the status of my client’s, but I also like to think my clients bring something to the table to, expose a life the audience may have heard of but know nothing about, and it’s been quite nice. Every time I’d bring a new client to Karen Hunter’s show, she would see me in the background and say, “You’re back again!” or “I should have known you were behind this.” When you’re a publicist, you’re someone who is not only comfortable operating from behind the curtain, but you prefer it that way, yet admittedly it’s always appreciated to be acknowledged. And then when Karen invited me on as a guest for her new podcast, The Hub, I was beyond flattered.

I don’t do interviews often, or as often as other people think I should. I feel like an idiot most of the time I’m in front of the microphone, to be honest. I don’t believe a publicist makes for great radio, except for the one time I had a screaming match with my client Maryjean the morning after she opened a major can of whoop ass on another client of mine at a comedy club. I won’t go into it, but you can YouTube and listen. Two hot-blooded women of Spanish and North African descent in a very loud, verbal wrestling match does make for great radio, plus I’m happy to say we kissed and made up a few months later and we are the best of friends. But when I’m asked to get on the mic, it’s usually to elaborate on a porn issue or answer a porn question, basic expert stuff. I don’t feel uncomfortable doing it, but there’s no way I’ve ever had a desire to listen to myself afterward. That’s rough. I have a thick Jersey accent, and I have a weird voice that goes from deep to high in a single sentence. I’m not the most eloquent of talkers, I pepper my conversation with hundreds of, “ya knows,” and I laugh too loud at everything while maniacally chomping on gum. Cringe-worthy to say the least.

Even when I was promoting my books, as much as I could I used talent to go on the mic instead of myself. Keep in mind the lion’s share of my published books have high-end photos of various sex acts, for “Threesomes: For Couples Who Want to Know More”, for “Hot Games”, my role-play book and when “Confessions of the Hundred Hottest Porn Stars” was published, I booked three of the porn stars I interviewed on the Howard Stern Show for the now-legendary, World’s Strongest Naked Woman contest (Stoya won). I know my strengths and weaknesses, and while I’m fun to have at a cocktail party, I don’t necessarily think it translates to entertaining the general public. Not that The Howard Stern Show would ever think of booking the likes of me, but if the King of All Media did request it, I’m sure I would be either a stiff or a blathering idiot. I have thought of hiring my own publicist and allowing myself to be groomed by a higher professional, but I’m also a control freak. In other words, I would never want to have me as a client.

But I was looking forward to doing The Hub with Karen Hunter, because I love talking to her, and at the end of the day, interviews, the best ones, are about the art of conversation. I’ve been able to be a working publicist all of these years because I love to talk and listen to what other people have to say, it’s just odd for me to be the topic. And we had a lovely chat, minus me using the word fag (I worked so hard not to cuss, and then this flew out), getting emotional when asked if I believe in god (my mother was in the hospital that week, and I guess I was more upset about it than I let on to myself) and finally when asked, “What’s the wildest thing you’ve ever seen in your business?” I know I did not satisfy in my answers, I never do.

What is “Wild?” Because I work in the porn industry, because I’ve written books on blowjobs and threesomes, because I write this column, it’s only natural to be asked what’s the wildest thing you’ve ever seen, what’s the wildest thing you’ve ever done. Of course, I’m sure if I was conducting the interview, I’d ask the same thing, and you’d think a seasoned professional such as myself would have a ready answer, but I do not.

Less than a month before I did Karen Hunter’s podcast interview, I flew out to Las Vegas for the Adult Entertainment Expo/AVN Awards, which 20 years earlier used to be pretty damn wild. Ironically, much wilder when this infamous porn convention was part of the Consumer Electronics Show. We porn people would have our own floor, and there were no rules, and there was a bar on the show floor, and the booze would flow freely, sometimes too freely where porn stars kept accidentally spilling their wine on a pile of white promotional shirts. I’d walk around the show floor and see adult stars sitting on fan’s faces for a fee, or I’d take a break behind the show floor and while munching on a sandwich witness two adult stars fucking on a chair less than ten feet away from me. It was a free-for-all, and yet I don’t remember anyone complaining about anything or anyone getting arrested or having an accidental OD as happens now. It was a dirtier time, but a more innocent time, too, because with this freedom was also a strong sense of mutual respect. And yet when I told Karen a few of these stories, she did not seem shocked in the least bit. “I don’t think you even know what’s wild to you anymore,” Karen said. And that’s probably true.

It’s also true that there’s a misconception of what us porn folk get up to on our free time. To quote US Magazine, “Porn Stars, They’re Just Like Us!” This year at AEE I spent most of my free time with one of my longest and dearest client’s, Mia Isabella. And on our off time, we got stoned in our hotel rooms, sometimes on our own and sometimes with fellow performers, just telling stories and having a laugh. We went to The Comedy Cellar to see Rich Vos; we got delicious fast food at Checkers, we had cocktails and sushi with my old boss and former owner of Penthouse Magazine, Marc Bell and his wife Jennifer, and some of their friends. Mia and the rest of my clients went to industry parties in between, of course, while I elected to stay in my hotel room and catch up with work on my mainstream clients. My most mainstream client, Roger Stone had been arrested that Friday morning in Florida, and my hands were plenty full. The truth is, we take care of business first, then play later, and that may disappoint people, but sorry, not sorry.

After I left Penthouse Magazine and started working for myself, an attractive, middle-aged, wealthy man I met through a few Penthouse Pets, took a shine to me and would take me out for martinis at expensive hotel bars, picking my brain about what kind of person can lead a group of gorgeous, young women. I, in turn, would pick his brain on business. Peter was a cool guy, he wasn’t trying to get into my pants as much as the idea of what I did for a living excited him, and he loved to hear what my take was on these centerfolds and adult stars, and sometimes he showed his gratitude in luxury gifts like an orange-rust Chanel bag or the first printing of In Cold Blood, signed by Truman Capote. One afternoon over cocktails at The Plaza, Peter and I decided that I should have a dinner party at my apartment, invite all my local female talent—at that time there were a handful of them—and himself for an evening of drunken, debauched fun. Peter graciously offered to get limousines for the ladies to and from my place, and I said I would have my Mom’s careworker Monica, who is a fantastic cook, cater the event by making her best dishes from her homeland of Ecuador. You can imagine how excited this man was. Imagine being the only man at a small dinner party of centerfolds and porn stars at a private residence where we could do whatever we wanted? The mind races with the sexy and, yes, wild, possibilities.

The dinner party had a bevy of beautiful Penthouse Pets, because I told Peter what I loved the most and missed the most since leaving my job at the magazine was the camaraderie between the girls and me. Present were Alexis Ford, Krista Ayne, Ryan Keely, Anju McIntyre, Valentina Vaughn, Victoria Zdrok, Jade Vixen and my equally beautiful civilian friend, Robin, who lives in my neighborhood. I can’t imagine what my neighbors thought when they caught sight of six or seven different limos clogging up our block. Everybody, including Peter, came at once, and we were all very giddy to spend time with each other as a group again, perhaps a bit too excited. What happens when a group like this gets together, you may wonder with your mouth watering at the prospect? I’ll tell you what happens, a whole lot of loud talking and laughing and shouting with joy. Porn ladies, they’re just like us, and when they get together for a girl’s night of food, booze, cigarettes and weed, it’s going to get loud, very loud. Peter, the only man, fast became overwhelmed by the sounds of these hens clucking. I watched Peter, sitting on the couch in the middle of all these women, literally shrinking in the cushions. It got loud and overwhelming and a bit scary, he had no idea it would turn out like this. We were making loud jokes, busting each other for stupid things we’ve done on those Penthouse tours, talking about men as if there wasn’t a man in the room, gossiping about people Peter didn’t know and at some point, he leaned over and asked me if I had a Tylenol for his headache.

Us ladies were not acting like ladies. We were eating like pigs, smoking our brains out, getting hammered, burping, snorting with heavy laughter over impersonations of each other and acting the fool with dorky, not-dirty dancing. The only article of clothing that came off were our shoes, and we kept passing joints around that made Peter paranoid and quieter. When I brought Victoria Zdrok upstairs to check out the skyline, he followed, hoping, I imagine, to catch us in some illicit moment, but all he got was a discussion on if the space’s natural light would make for a good photo shoot and how clever I was to convert a linen closet into a shoe closet. But I did show Victoria the generous gifts Peter had bestowed on me, and that made him feel good, good enough to remember that he had brought gifts for all of us on this momentous occasion. When we went back downstairs, Peter pulled out a black, velvet bag and told us how he admired us as strong, individual-minded women who lived by our own rules and marched to the beat of our own drummer. We were fearless, he said. Peter then presented us each with a Hunger Games brooch that held a single diamond. “When I saw this pin, I thought of you ladies immediately,” he said.

Always the good hostess, I immediately exclaimed how thoughtful and lovely it was, while scanning the girl’s faces for recognition of what this gift was. You see, the movie, The Hunger Games, had not come out yet, and I had never read the book. I got the same searching look back, not one of us understood why Peter had purchased these gifts for us. “I brought the brooches to my jeweler and had the diamonds put in,” he went on to say. We nodded and said, it was pretty. “Thanks so much,” I said again. “Really lovely of you to bring us a present.” The ladies echoed my sentiment, examining the brooch. “It’s from The Hunger Games,” Peter said, “You know that’s right, like the women of the Hunger Games?” The only thing to get past this awkwardness was to ask who was ready for dessert, and little by little the party got smaller and smaller until it was just me, Ryan Keely, Valentina Vaughn and Peter, who was trying to keep up and not fall asleep. I went out for air on the terrace and thought to myself, I’m never going to see this man after this, and I was right. He didn’t ghost me, but the meetings at swanky hotels turned into text messaging late at night and discussions turned to him telling me that the centerfolds of today are too accessible to the general public, to not hearing from Peter anymore. Every so often I will ask one of the ladies who introduced me to him if he has resurfaced, but as mysteriously as he came into our lives, he vanished into thin air. We think either his business went belly up or his wife finally got wise to his unusual hobby of hanging out with centerfolds, porn stars and that one publicist in New York City.