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barbara nitke

american ecstasy


What Stanislavski ended up with is called the method of physical action. What would I do if I were this character in these circumstances? Not what would I feel, or what would I think, but what would I do? The right action would induce the right feeling, because actions are controllable, emotions aren’t. An erection is an emotional state. You can’t just will yourself to have one. It’s the autonomic nervous system like emotions are. So if you sit there and worry about getting erection—but what struck me when I was starting—I thought what can I do to have an erection? You can’t think about erections, but what can you think about? “Oh, look at this naked girl in front of me, and she has to do it with me. Slut!” Or whatever gets you in front of all these people. “She has to fuck me! Ha!” That’s like the Woody Allen Syndrome—if you’re feeling intimidated with yourself, use it. Or, “They want me to cum on this girl’s face, and she told me she likes it!” So you’re thinking about that. It’s different each day. An erection is—the softest kiss can do it. The most intimate, softest kiss. Sometimes I think, “Gee, we’ve talked and she really likes me.” Or I like her. In the beginning we never kissed anybody. Then they decided we could go down on them. I thought, if you like somebody—if the director saw sometimes I didn’t get an erection without any kissing, without any fondling—but lo and behold, all the warmth and activity of that produced the desired effect without going to it directly. Because you won’t get it directly. It’s like getting your heart to beat faster by directing it. Worse comes to worse, sometimes you just can’t. You aren’t into it, your fantasies aren’t working. I can always jerk off. I call that a field goal. Can’t score a touchdown, but what producer do you know who wouldn’t rather have three points? But then first of all, you have to be willing to do all of this private stuff in front of people. Jerking off—I mean, you think fucking in front of somebody is hard, try masturbating in front of a whole group of men. Once you can do that, it’s almost like a Zen thing. You’ve conquered the whole thing. If you can to that, you can do anything. R. Bolla, actor


A murderous summer night, and we’re out in the suburbs working on Piggies, which is a ripoff of a teenage Hollywood hit called Porkies. We’re on the last scene of the last day. As soon as this scene’s over, they’ll break out the beer and start packing up. It’s a threesome—two girls and a guy in the back of a Volkswagen van—with blue moonlight pouring in through the windows. It looks pretty, but nobody cares. It’s too late and we’re all exhausted. Everybody is circled around the van, ready to rush in with paper towels, lipstick, big magazines of fresh film that they’ll pop onto the camera and thread through all the little gears as fast as they can. They’re talking about how much money we’d be making if we were on a union shoot with overtime pay and meal penalties, and no sex. “Actually it’s double time from 12 to 16 hours, then it’s triple time.” “And a hot meal every six hours! A hot, catered meal—no cold cuts. Or else they get extra money. That’s in their contract for every shoot. Can you believe it?” Six of us cram into the front end of the van. I find a spot on the floor, wedged in between the cameraman and a lighting guy, who’s standing by with the crotch-light in case they need closeups. The sound guy holds a boom out over my head. The director is kneeling backwards in the driver’s seat with a sour look on his face, the script girl next to him. The scene starts out with Jeannie and Dick fucking doggie style in the backseat, and the second girl passed out on the mat in front of them. They’re going at it, banging away, making noise. The director calls for a cut, then looks over at the script. The cameraman turns off, leans back and pulls his hat down over his eyes.

“All right, so now we’ll—guys I said cut! CUT!!” Jeannie and Dick keep right on going, making noise like there’s no tomorrow. “STOP!!!” “Oh, oh, ooooooooohhhhhh!!!!” “Hey, what is this? I told you two to stop! Cut! We’re making a movie here. You’re not supposed to be doing it for real!” He’s leaning out over the top of the driver’s seat, his face beet red, his head about to bang on the ceiling. Jeannie cums. She throws her head back, moaning louder and louder. “Oh yeah! Yeaaaaahhhhhh, yeaaaaaaahhhhhhhh!!!” Blue moonlight bounces off her hair and her back sways like a wolf. Dick’s grinning like a little kid. I don’t know where to look, what to do with my hands. I could put the camera in front of my face, but that would look silly, after the fact. I stare off into space. I can’t believe nobody shot that. It was probably the only genuine, spontaneous event that happened in the entire shoot. The only moment that would have had an impact on anybody. And not one of us recorded it. “Jesus Christ! Now, can we get on with the scene?” Oh well, we’re pros. We only shoot girls faking it. The cameraman sighs, pushes his hat back and settles the camera back on his shoulder. “Ready when you are,” he says.

Athena Starr in Piggies, 1983

It’s not a secret. I sat down with my mom and my step dad, and I told them straight out—this is what I’m doing, and that’s it. They may not like it, but they know they have to let me live my own life. I’m twenty-one, and I’ve been on my own for years. My step dad said, “Look, what if you just quit now? What if you just said, ‘okay so I’ve done a couple of films, now I’m quitting?’” But see, I can’t. If I quit now, I’ll have nothing to show for it, and this is going to follow me around for the rest of my life. I’ve already done it—I can’t go back and erase it. Now I’ve got to stay with it so I can make the money, and then I’ll use that for the next thing I do. Then it’ll mean something. If I quit now, it won’t mean anything. So then he said to my mom, “Okay, tell her that you love her.” And I said, “No. She doesn’t have to tell me. I know she loves me. She shows me every day, in everything she does, that she loves me. She doesn’t have to say it.” I don’t like it when people tell you all the time they love you. You know if guys are constantly saying, “I love you, I love you…” it doesn’t mean anything to me. It just sounds weird, it sounds phony. It means more to me if they just say it once in a while. Then it’s special. So my mom just looked at me, and she said, “Well kid, you’ve got more balls than I ever had.” Jeanna Fine, actress

< Jeanna Fine’s First Sex Scene, 1986

American Ecstasy

We’re in the van, riding back into the city after yet another exhausting sixteen-hour day. Henri is slumped down in his seat, sipping what he calls ice water, which is straight vodka on ice in a Styrofoam cup. He looks empty, tapped out. The crew guys are quiet, drinking beers out of a cooler in the back seat. We’ve been shooting backto-back videos for days with Brooke, one of those typical gorgeous, star-of-the-moment, California Valley girls. Everybody’s fried. She spends all day slowing us down in every possible way. She can’t come to the set now because she lost a fingernail. Then she doesn’t like her makeup, then her hair is all wrong. She whines constantly in a highpitched scratchy voice. And we have to be nice to her. She’s in front of the camera. We can’t upset her because she can make the day even longer for all of us. She can drag every scene out forever, refuse to go on the set, stall for hours—and she knows it. I can’t imagine anybody less sexy, and I can’t figure out what she’s doing in this business, tormenting the rest of us.

“Of course she doesn’t want to show up on the set and have sex,” Henri says. “She’s not interested in sex. She doesn’t even like sex. She thinks sex is bad, and she doesn’t want to do something that’s bad. She’s a child trapped in the body of an adult. She’s a four-year-old using her genitals to express her incoherent rage. That’s the conflict in her—how to do something bad.” “Sure I’ll show them,” he mimics her whiney voice. “I’ll let these porno actors do all kinds of nasty filthy unspeakable things to my body. I’ll go down on them and gag on their big cocks. I’ll let them fuck me and get it recorded on video tape so everybody can see it. We’ll see how Daddy likes that!” Not so long ago he would have gotten a huge thrill out of figuring out her motivations. He would have dominated her with his superior knowledge of her psyche, teased her constantly on the set, relishing every moment. He would have made us laugh all day, her included. But now he doesn’t seem to care. It makes me sad to see him this way.

> Brooke in Pussycat Galore, 1984

< She’s So Fine, 1984

> Danielle at Platoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Retreat, 1985

American Ecstasy