A plodding memoir of life in 1970s smutland.
What do you do when your father decides to ditch a successful career in investment banking to go into the pornography business, cutting his teeth on the likes of Linda Lovelace? Well, if you’re a kid, you go out and play in the street, eat saltwater taffy at the beach, commune with family and only much later learn about the sordidness of the whole business, courtesy of a helpfully judgmental elder. Battista-Frazee’s father emerges from these pages as a fellow who, like so many of us, is always game to chase after the ever elusive dollar, his ethical sense always situationally located; he also comes off as a bit foolish when it came to his business, wondering why he lost his license in Philadelphia over an obscenity charge in Tennessee, puzzled about why he should have to obtain a liquor license in order to sell booze at the strip club into which he diversified. What’s clear from the outset is that he wasn't a First Amendment champion in the way of Larry Flynt or someone with a desire to shock the bourgeoisie along the lines of Al Goldstein, but instead an unimaginative fellow out to make money. His daughter’s account is similarly unimaginative: If the pornographer in question comes off as a touch hapless, the mother as the definition of long-suffering and the players a collection of Italian-American stereotypes—“I sat at the table complaining about how I didn’t want to eat. (I was an Italian mother’s worst nightmare”)—then the memoirist herself reads as merely ordinary.
Barely serviceable. Readers will learn a bit about the porn business of the pre-Internet age, but they might as well be reading about farm equipment or lumber.