Monday, July 30, 2007

The Graduate of Porn Star High


What if your girlfriend was a porn star? Not, like, she was in a few pornos a long time ago, and now she’s your girlfriend. What if she was one of the most famous porn stars in the world? And what if she was such an extreme porn star that she was like a barometer for all porn stars, the porn star by which other porn stars measured their own porn star cache? And what if that was because in one single day, not long before you met her, your girlfriend had sex with over 500 men for the sake of pornography? And what if--and take the time to really think here--what if this porn star was your girlfriend—and you were eighteen years old? Could you handle it? Could you dig it? I mean, would you want to take her to the prom?

I wasn’t the kid who didn’t have girlfriends, who just sat home and watched porn, if that’s what you’re thinking. You know, I’m not like this big obsessive porn person, where I go out and buy porn. I mean, every guy watches porn.

Brad Parascandolo can dig it. Because, today, Brad is best known for having taken a porn star to his prom. And the prom, in terms of American teen traditions, is at the pinnacle. For the close of the high school tenure, it is the teenagers’ last chance to dress up, go to the year’s biggest party, get drunk, and maybe get laid. But, these days, Brad is a nervous young man. When he talks about how it all happened, he fidgets, moving his feet, quivering in direct correlation to how much attention he is being paid. He still has the zits of his adolescence scattered across his face; he comes across as torn between wanting to be cool and stumbling a few feet short. All this is, in part, because Brad is just nineteen-years old. But, it’s also because a lot of people are paying too much attention to Brad quite often these days. And that’s because the porn star he took to the prom is now his girlfriend.

I’ve always really been around porn. I had a friend where he always had all the pornos from his father. So, he’d always, you know, like, pass them on to me. Right around when I came into manhood is when I started to take advantage of porn.

Brad was born in 1981 in Brooklyn. When he was two, his parents, both city employees, moved Brad and his younger sister to Staten Island. Staten Island itself is sort of a floating, middle-class suburbia, an island off the island of Manhattan best known for being home to one of the world’s biggest dumps. For this reason, and others, when asked to describe his hometown, the word Brad uses is “disgusting.” Growing up there, he says he felt a frustration growing inside of him. You have to get out of here, you have to get out of here, went the refrain in his head. Today, with his thick Staten Island Italian accent, Brad declares of the place, “Kids are so mixed up there.” Of course, this is where it all began.

I was actually at a Billy Joel concert in April of ‘99, with my uncle and his friends. And, I don’t know why I was thinking of it, but I was just thinking, like, “How could I make my prom so great?” You know? I want to make my prom the best prom ever, like everyone’s gonna remember it. I told my uncle in the parking lot, “I’m gonna take a stripper or something to the prom.” He laughed at me and said, “What are you talking about? You’re retarded.”

Brad was raised mostly by his mother after his parents’ divorce, didn’t see much of his father after that, and eventually began to fancy himself something of a bad seed. He was always cracking jokes, vying for attention. Brad’s such a funny guy! other kids would say. I love to do crazy things! Brad would think. In junior high school, Brad realized he would probably never win “Best Looking” or “Best Dressed” in his class, but, he realized, “Class Clown”--now, that was attainable. As a senior, he won the title. So, in the Spring of 1999, for the Class Clown, the only thing before him, as his last hurrah, was the prom. He had had girlfriends before--”It started early, it started real early,” says Brad, regarding the opposite sex--but, right then, Brad happened to not have a date for his prom.

It never really came up again until a couple weeks before the prom, where I didn’t have a date. And, my mother knew of the idea, and she’s like, “Why don’t you call Howard Stern?” Once it came down to it, when I called Howard Stern, it went to porn star. I just thought of a porn star.

Brad’s idol, growing up, had long been Howard Stern. The New York City shock-jock, whose morning talk-radio show relentlessly obsesses upon the provocatively politically incorrect, had served as a sort of surrogate father for Brad. Since his mother turned him on to Stern at 11, he had listened to the radio show religiously, and also tuned into the TV-version on cable. As a disciple, Brad had been raised on the art of shock, well-versed in the extreme. So, why not make a spectacle of the ultimate teen tradition? And, what better match for the teen male-libido than the sex-engine of a porn star? When “The Howard Stern Show” called Brad back, he was almost in tears of thankfulness.

I was watching her on the show, and I was like, “Oh my gosh, she’s a great girl!” I kept saying, “Why can’t I have a girlfriend like that?” I said, “Where are those type of girls? I need to find myself a girlfriend like that and be very happy.” So I said, “Houston.” And he said he was going to see if he could arrange that.

In April of 1999, the porn star Houston had recently appeared on “The Howard Stern Show” and entered into Brad’s faithfully watching existence. As a porn star, Houston single-handedly embodied the most profound trend in American adult movies of the last decade--extreme sex. Having found itself a rival in the uncensored world of online porn, the adult movie industry realized it had to do something drastic to keep its share of the market. Increasingly ever since, X-rated movies have become something of a spectacle located half-way between stunt sex and erotic extreme sports. Hence, we have “The World’s Biggest Gangbang” series, wherein a porn star has sex with a group of men numbering in the triple digits. That Spring, Houston, a busty blonde in her thirties on her own hunt for fame, decided to take on the title challenge for Gangbang Queen in “The World’s Biggest Gangbang 3: The Houston 500.” In capturing the XXX-crown, Houston catapulted herself onto Stern’s show, into celebrity, and landed right in front of Brad Parascandolo on his TV-screen.

My eyes were just like, “Wow, look at this girl,” you know? I’d never seen any of her movies before that. I was in amazement. I was just, like, right then and there, I was like, “No way could this be the girl I’m going to the prom with.”

Brad was booked on “The Howard Stern Show.” He met Houston for the first time live on-camera. He answered five questions to “test” if the two were a good match. Stern, for his part, then promptly sanctioned this new X-rated odd couple. Soon, the spectacle turned to sensation. Brad’s high-school teachers declared that he was “bringing down society.” His female peers wondered why he couldn’t just find a “regular girl.” The story was in the newspapers. The public ate it up. After all, Brad was manifesting the American-Male Dream. Houston was like an erotic entity hatched out of a masturbatory reverie, situated right in a young man’s lap.

She came to my house, met my mom, met my grandmother. They loved her. They were like, “What a sweet girl!” My mom was so happy. We have pictures where my mother was smiling in the background like it was my wedding day or something.

For some following the story, it was a bit enigmatic as to why Brad’s own mother was not only allowing but served as catalyst for her son to go to the school dance with a woman who had sex with men for a living. Nevertheless, Brad’s mom reportedly loved the porn star when she showed up at the house on Prom Night. Brad’s female peers were concerned Houston’s big personality, and bigger breasts, would overshadow their night in the spotlight. By the time everyone got to the prom itself, what with the camera crew following and the groups of people staring, everyone was interested in little else but the teenager and the porn star.

I wasn’t, like, looking for sex or anything, even though a lot of people said, “You know, you’re gonna get laid.” I wasn’t looking for that at all. I was looking to have a good time at my prom. And, create a buzz, of course.

Brad was impressed with the commotion he’d stirred up. Houston was nervous, even though she had previous experience with crowds. When the Prom Date from Porn Valley entered the dance hall by glass elevator, the two found themselves standing in the middle of a circle of spectators. As they danced, people took photographs. When they went outside, camera crews followed. But, when they sat down to talk, Brad says, “We got to know each other really well.” Eventually, Brad found himself alone with Houston in their rented limo. And, “I just spoke to her like the lady that she was.” In other words, there was no sex. For some reason, Brad wanted to prove to the porn star that he wasn’t a slut. For some reason, this profoundly impressed the porn star. At the end of the night, the two went home. Separately. The following Monday, on Stern’s show, Houston was back in California, on the screen next to Brad via satellite. Yet, she had already started phoning him.

I wasn’t intimidated so much about what she does as far as, you know, the gangbang and whatever. I was intimidated because she was older. She was a porn star. She knew what she was doing, as far as sex-wise.

Houston was in Brad’s life. Earning her income on the road as a feature dancer in strip clubs, she soon was back in New York City to dance. Brad attended her show. Afterwards, Brad says, Houston didn’t want him to leave. He stayed with her for two days, during which time they did not have sex. Not once. Brad will tell you earnestly, even now, that he did not want to give Houston the wrong impression. At long last, on the third day, after a tandem trip to the tanning salon, Houston took it upon herself to declare, after her shower, she was going to “get” Brad. She sat next to him. She put her hand on his leg. Brad started shaking. He thought, “This is not happening.” Then, it happened. They had sex.

It was good, but I was nervous. Maybe in other people’s fraction of time, it was brief. My moment was like a lifetime. It felt like a year. Maybe it was a minute, but it felt like a year, I swear.

That was how Brad ended up with a porn star who wasn’t just a prom date, but his girlfriend to boot. They walked through Central Park. They gave each other Christmas presents. They took a trip to Las Vegas. They went to the Bahamas. He would watch her strip at nightclubs. He rubbed her back when she was tired. For periods of time, he would come live with her in Los Angeles. Once, she came and slept over at his mother’s house on Staten Island. Brad enrolled in Staten Island College, the local two-year community college; then, he lost interest. Houston continued to work in porn; she was making about a movie a month. Sometimes, they got in fights. Sometimes, they broke up. Ultimately, they fell in love.

I would watch her movies after I started getting real intimate with her. If she wasn’t around, I’d watch them. It’s different. It’s like we have a bond. I know how she is with me. I can tell, you know, if she’s acting or really into it.

The life they had together, when they actually shared it, though, was different than what Brad expected. It was, to a certain degree, normal. He thought it would perhaps be the Porn Star Life--parties, drugs, people such as himself having sex every minute of every day. But, it ended up being about errands, doing business, normalcy. That was, in fact, why, Brad says, Houston liked to have Brad as her boyfriend. He was, in his own weird way, the closest thing to normal in her abnormal world. Perhaps, as a porn-struck teenager, he was more supportive than other men would have been with a woman who considered herself to be a professional sexual extremist. Perhaps, it served them both.

She is an extremist, and this is who she is. You don’t see many extremists in the industry. And if there are, they’re following her. So, I like the fact that she sets the standards, and then people follow her. It’s cool.

As an example of Houston the Extremist during the period Bad was with her, consider her labia reduction surgery. Having decided that her labia could use some trimming via plastic surgery, in addition to feeling that her breast implants were due to be renewed, Houston, being Houston, had the videotaped procedure aired live on the internet. The excess skin removed during surgery and the one remaining extracted breast implant that hadn’t burst were auctioned off on an online auction site, Eroticbid.com. For it, Houston had her leftover bits of vaginal skin mounted it in glass, and set it on a stand. The bidding went into the thousands of dollars. Brad, for his part, applied the post-surgical medical ointment to Houston’s genitalia. That was his role, really, in it all, on a literal and a metaphorical level.

What I say is, “Who would buy this?” I want to know! What are you thinking? It’s like, “Ooooh, she’s Houston! I have to have her labia lips!” I mean, I wouldn’t buy something like that! I would love to take a piece of skin off any part of my body and sell it. “Have my pubic hairs! Here, $20!”

Brad says of the fact that his girlfriend was having sex with other people as a career was something he never really minded. He posits that since it was something that came before him, he accepted it. He asserts that since he couldn’t bring in enough income to support them both, he couldn’t very well ask her to stop. Brad believes that he is so open-minded, he did not have a problem with the thought of his girlfriend giving blow-jobs at her day-job. But, you also get the impression, talking to Brad, it was hard. That it would be very hard, if not near impossible, to believe many men could watch his girlfriend in her starring role in a gangbang, and say, as Brad does, “I get a kick out of it.” If you thought that perhaps he didn’t have quite as much enthusiasm as he claimed, you would probably be right.

I separate myself from her industry, for the same reason as anyone else in a relationship. You don’t want to go to her job, and get involved with her job. That’s her job. I don’t want to throw myself around at her place of work.

Brad, at this point, had his own notoriety. Recognizing him on the street, guys would come up to him say, “Can I shake your hand?” Or, they would tell him, “I would have loved to have done that!” Of course, sometimes guys would come up to him and ask, “Does she give good blowjobs?” Some people thought he was ruining his life, giving up his childhood. But Brad didn’t want to live the life of an average guy, the one who goes to college and gets drunk at keggers. He wanted this life. He was getting phone calls from producers trying to by the rights to his life story. He must be doing something right, right? So, he sold his rights.

Movie people were approaching me, and that’s when I had to start really thinking, what am I going to do? I started to think for myself I could really start to market myself, I could do something with this. Why not? I mean, she does. So why not do it for myself?

They talked about marriage. They broke up. They got back together. Brad moved in. Brad moved out. Houston told him to come back. Houston told him to leave. It couldn’t have been very easy. After about a year of this, “Reality set in.” What Brad wanted was to become an actor. If he was a good enough actor, maybe people would forget about the prom thing. If he made enough money, Houston could retire from her position as porn star. He had a friend of a friend who worked on a TV show who was going to talk to someone about him being on the program. He didn’t really have a job. He didn’t have a car. When he wasn’t with Houston, he lived at home with his mother. It was like he was in the porn star twilight zone.

Houston and my mother are the same exact people. I always said when I was younger, “Ma, I hope I never meet anyone like you.” And here, sure enough--just like her. It’s like, “Oh! You sound like my mother!”

Finally, a year and a half after the teenager went to the prom with a porn star, they broke up. Now, Brad says he will have to go back to school, even though, he says, “I hate school.” He will have to live with his mother, even though, he says, “I don’t think I could go back to living with my mother.” He will have to go back to Staten Island where he came from, even though, he says, “It’s a horrible place.” Sometimes he talks about writing his memoirs. He says of the project thus far, “I wrote down some stories and stuff.” If you ask him what he would change about everything that’s happened, if anything, he says, “My hairstyle.”

I would say we are friends. It was mutual.

It was a wild ride, Brad probably tells himself. He was and will always be the guy who went to the prom with a porn star. And you can’t beat that, right? He had a porn star girlfriend when he wasn’t even old enough to get a drink in a bar. That must count for something, you’d think. These days, Brad believes Jason Biggs, who had sex with a desert in “American Pie,” should play him in the movie of his life. Probably, the movie they are making of his life will be a comedy, Brad thinks, but he’s not exactly sure. It is unclear whether or not Brad knows the film based on his life is currently entitled, “Prom Queen,” not “Prom King.” Still, to this day, Brad would want you to understand more than anything that this story, the story about the teenager and the porn star, is the biggest thing ever to come out of Staten Island. So, can you dig it?

I feel like I graduated porn star college or something.
"Porn Star High" was published in the January 2001 issue of Arena.