The Emotions Issue certainly wouldn’t be complete without a few words from a porn star. Sure, we could have picked any old porn star, but our dear contributor Jesse Finkelstein thought it would be fun to interview Teddy Prince: porn star poet extraordinaire.
Jerome Kantor started life like most good Jewish boys – he attended private school in upstate New York, went to an Ivy League School, and received his MFA in Creative Writing. But between college and graduate school, however, things took an unexpected, decidedly untraditional turn. Jerome Kantor became Teddy Prince, underground gay porn-star, or as the gay porn press dubbed him “Lord Teddy, the Porn-Poet”. Finkelstein had a chance to sit down with Teddy while he was taking time off from shooting his latest film, So That’s Where That Goes.
Read the results, after the jump
(There’s been some confusion about this interview. We though it self-evident, but if you can’t figure it out, it’s fake. Teddy Prince doesn’t exist. Finkelstein’s nuttier than a fool in love.)
Jesse Finkelstein: So, Queerty’s next issue is all about love and sex, and I thought who better to give an experienced and scholarly opinion on the subject than one who is both a porn-star and a poet.
Teddy Prince: Well, I don’t know how scholarly, but I’ll do my best.
JF: Before we begin speaking strictly about sex, I was hoping you could talk a bit about what got you into the porn industry.
TP: It’s less exciting than it sounds. During my junior year of college there was a small gay bar near campus. It was this sort of poorly renovated dive, which played loud techno remixes of pop-songs–your traditional college-townie gay bar. One night I went over there with a group of friends and the manager came up to me and asked if I wanted a job handing out shots. Well, I started doing that and about a few months later a guy came up and asked if I had ever done porn before. Of course I was incredulous, but he offered me four times as much as was making at the bar for solo clips. From the solo clips it was a short leap to the doing feature length work that I’m doing now.
JF: Was it difficult switching gears from going to school, receiving your MFA, and then doing porn?
TP: Yes and no. While working on my MFA, I obviously had less time to do porn, but I would get a couple of jobs in here and there to help pay for school. I never advertised the fact that I was doing porn, but a few of the other students and some of the professors knew, which was odd at first.
JF: How did they react?
TP: Well, their reaction sort of foreshadowed my current experience. Some of the students and professors were really interested, and for them, my work in porn somehow added depth or gravity to my poetry. This is often how my peers view my work to date. Somehow, being in porn, doing what they see as this messy work, makes my writing ripe with emotional drama and depth. I don’t really agree, but I’m not going to turn away readers.
JF: But you must experience your share of detractors? I imagine poetry attracts a fairly staid audience?
TP: Well I certainly wouldn’t call poets or readers of poetry staid. There have been many poets who have led sexually voracious lives and lived to tell of them. But I’ve certainly encountered less progressive minded individuals.
JF: And what’s their complaint?
TP: Well I think their most pointed argument is that I’m using porn as some sort of gimmick: that I’m selling my self as the porn-poet.
JF: To be honest, it does sound a bit gimmicky.
TP: Sure, but who doesn’t have a gimmick? I want people to access my poetry, and if the fact that I do porn makes them a bit more interested, that’s fine by me.
JF: But don’t you worry that by using your work in porn to attract an audience, you may distract people from the quality of the work? You yourself said that some people found depth in your work simply because you did porn.
TP: I think I may have oversimplified things a bit. I don’t really use porn to attract poetry readers–it’s not like I’m holding up Ass-Eaters From Mars [Teddy’s last film] at every poetry event I attend. But it can get frustrating at times when people in poetry are more interested in my [porn] work than in my writing. But hopefully, at a point, the writing speaks for itself.
JF: Porn or no porn, you obviously have a gift for writing. How do the people in the porn industry respond to your poetry?
TP: Most people in porn have other hobbies and jobs, so it’s not so surprising that I have this other life writing poetry. In some respects it’s like most jobs–I have my work life and then when I leave I have my personal life.
JF: But unlike most jobs, I imagine what you do has a clear impact on what you write. So much of your poetry refers to sex, and here you are having a lot of sex. The two must intertwine.
TP: It’s not like I’m working on iambic pentameter while some guy is eating my ass out. [both laugh] No, no. I understand what you mean–but I think it’s a flawed question.
JF: How so?
TP: I got into porn because I enjoy having sex and it paid well–simple as that. People presume that everyone in porn goes into the business because they’re reliving or acting out some childhood trauma. So when people presume that there is some deep connection between my porn and my poetry, I tend either to ignore them or take issue with the assumption.
JF: So you don’t believe there is any connection between your porn and your poetry?
TP: If there is, I don’t care to know what it is.
JF: But sex plays such a large role in our lives and the way we relate to others–how can you say that your poetry doesn’t reflect of any of that?
TP: It’s not that I’m saying sex doesn’t play a large role in our lives–of course it does, and in my case, it plays an especially large role. And sex certainly affects my work. But I take issue with the assumption that our experience with sex must be coupled with either some sort of trauma or revelation.
JF: Are you suggesting that sex should take on less importance, or be understood more casually?
TP: Possibly. But I think, more importantly, sex should be seen without all the heavy psychological baggage that we relate to it. After I started going into porn my parents really freaked out. They basically forced me to go into intensive therapy and also have weekly conversations with their Rabbi. I was really repulsed by how these two figures of authority tried to make out like I was this damaged soul–and then proceeded to tell me how I was trying to seek solace or safety in sex.
It was all this religious and psychological mumbo-jumbo. You know, I may have had so-called traumas, I may be spiritual bereft, but I don’t want to “work” through it. I’m not arguing for being a tortured artist, because I’m certainly not that. All I’m saying is that we need a bit of perspective, and we shouldn’t lend every event in our lives, most of all sex, some metaphysical weight–nor should we try to relieve every event of our lives of its magic through therapy.
JF: As a child of therapy, I know what you’re talking about. Sex seems to be at the bottom of everything.
TP: Exactly. And you know what? Maybe it is! But leave it alone! I don’t want to know what lies at the bottom of everything. Sometimes we need to retain a little magic, a little mystery. We live with fantasy everyday–whether it’s watching T.V., seeing a movie, looking at advertisements–yet when those fantasies are our own, we must disengage–we must analyze to the point of nothingness. I guess, in some way, I feel that our fantasies have been stolen from us and then sold right back.
JF: But aren’t you, a porn-star, implicated in that process. Aren’t you selling back people’s fantasies?
TP: On the contrary–I think I’m filling in for what they forgot to do. People don’t have time to fantasize today, and if they do, they have to spend as much time analyzing those fantasies as having them. So I figure, why not just give people a little fantasy–give them something that they can escape into without feeling burdened by psychological melodrama. And yeah they have to pay some cash for it–but I think it’s far worthier of their dime than paying for a shrink.
JF: You know, it’s sobering hearing this from you, a poet-porn star. Sex is not something that we should not ignore, but it is something that we should allow to retain mystery. And, if perhaps, we experience quote-unquote trauma, maybe it’s best if we just live with it. I’m not sure if I agree with all of this, but I’m sure it makes for some good poetry. Thanks again Teddy for sitting down with Queerty.
TP: My pleasure.
Some samples of Teddy Prince’s poetic stylings:
You’ve got the stuff bitch.
Working through some rape bitch
Keep me away bitch
Cause I’m finished tellin’
Motherfuckas always want to know why when there ain’t no reason.
Shrink rapped my dick with her tongue
You claim cause it’s my stifling mom
You couldn’t even lick the sweat of my clit
But I have to sit back and take it, because you say it’s just a reenactment
Can you dig it?