Fast Forward Review
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It seems as though pornography is no longer considered underground, deviant entertainment. Our culture has mainstreamed “smut.” Biographies of notable porn stars like Traci Lords, Ron Jeremy, and Jenna Jameson have been huge sellers—and not simply among the dirty raincoat crowd. With this new cultural acceptance of porn and its purveyors (those actors and producers who put it out there, so to speak), it’s refreshing to come across a memoir written by a porn movie screenwriter—mainly because I never realized these movies actually had writers.

Eric Spitznagel’s Fast Forward: Confessions of a Porn Screenwriter is the autobiographical account of the humorist’s attempt to make it in Hollywood. Arriving from Chicago with his wife, Spitznagel sets about trying to find work in the entertainment industry. His wife is the first to score an income: she ends up making a little bit of money working the game show circuit. Not exactly an illustrious start. Soon, the author takes the advice of a friend and—while waiting for his agent to find him a writing gig—starts seeking employment as a writer in the Hollywood porn industry. The pay isn’t bad, and a good writer can knock out a 20-page manuscript in less than a day and make $500.

Spitznagel eventually decides that he wants to write the best porno parody movie ever. His grandiose goal is to elevate porn’s status to something hip and fashionable. Unfortunately, as a humorist and a writer, Spitznagel gets too attached to the irony of his language and witty banter—all of which are lost on the “actors” and “actresses” on the set. “Fast forward,” incidentally, refers to those moments in the movie that have viewers reaching for the remote—in other words, the dialogue.

Throughout the book, Spitznagel wrestles with his moral reservations about what he does as he attempts to justify “selling his soul” for the sake of making a living within the machine of Hollywood’s darker sibling.

What works in Spitznagel’s favor is the fact that he doesn’t resort to lewd descriptions of what happens on the sets of these movies. Instead, he exposes the absurdity and humor of the porno business. At one stage, Spitznagel is asked by a producer, who has the use of a mansion in the Malibu hills for a day, if he could write a movie based around these sets: gazebo, master bedroom, lighthouse, and two pools. Oh…and the lead actress has a prosthetic leg, he’s told—so work that into the story, too.

Spitznagel’s tone comes across as too satiric and self-deprecating to be considered offensive. The book is adult in content, but it doesn’t shock simply for the sake of shocking. We’re talking R-rated rather than triple-X.

As a fan of Kevin Smith’s style of Hollywood satire, I couldn’t put this book down. If Fast Forward has a flaw, it’s that it’s all over much too soon. So if you’re looking for a fast read that takes a humorous glimpse at Hollywood’s seamy underbelly, I highly recommend this book.

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