Here is an edited version of my review of Luke’s memoir XXX-Communicated: A Rebel Without a Shul. Some material had to be deleted so as not to offend the delicate sensibilities of 15 year old girls who love both Luke Ford and Doris Day.
The published version of XXX-Communicated features multiple blurbs (the best being by hot intellectual babe Heather MacDonald: “A fable for our time. Heart-breaking yet uplifting. You’ll cry, you’ll laugh, you’ll study your Torah!”), three forewords, one epilogue, and a revised final chapter, all of which I did not have the opportunity to read in an earlier draft of the manuscript.
The first foreword is by Cathy (not Catherine) Seipp. By using her non-professional name, Miss Seipp is obviously trying to distance herself from Luke, or at least his past. She makes this clear in her opening sentence: “The story you are about to read took place years before Luke Ford met me …” In other words, “don’t confuse me with any of Luke’s XXX-rated girlfriends who appear throughout the book.”
How could a sensible observer make such a mistake? Oh, I don’t know. How about because Cathy tells us that Luke is “handsome,” “beautiful,” “stylish,” and “goo-goo eye[able].” Her lusty infatuation apparently explains why she calls Luke’s appalling p___ video What Women What, “a small masterpiece.” She also calls Luke’s blog “Pinteresque.” I don’t know what this means, but I suspect it is another hormone-induced, over-the-top compliment.
If Luke Ford looked like Ted Kaczynski (and let’s face it, there are more than a few similarities between the two, especially if Luke ever stops using Grecian Formula) there would be a heck of a lot less of this female gushing going on.
Cathy continues: “Some readers (always women …) read his memoir and are moved to tears.” Why? Are these tears of laughter because the book is so disjointed, and they can’t believe that Luke thought it was ready for publication? Or perhaps these are the tears of ex-girlfriends who find that Luke has no sense of privacy and is writing about them and their odd sexual proclivities?
We do find out how Luke and Cathy meet: it was on the way to an orgy. Luke Ford was disguised as a moral leader and Cathy, a Hittite priestess. Cool!
Foreword II is from Dave Deutsch, the world’s worst Jewish comedian, which features more lavish praise. This time with a disturbing homo-erotic vibe.
Foreword III is from the great Mike Albo. (I love that guy!) For a fat, bald, three-pack-a-day smoker, heroin addict, and rageaholic, the ol’ boy sure can write.
Luke has also re-written the final chapter. It is quite touching. If I was a girl, I probably would have cried upon reading that one of Luke’s rabbis called him “the most evil man he ever met.” But I’m not a girl, so I laughed.
Luke goes on: “I want to believe that I have written a good book. I want to believe my story has a point … I want to believe that my story will inspire the reader …”
Hey, I’m just one person but I’ve been inspired. For one thing, I’m going to start using Grecian Formula in the hope that a sexy Hittite priestess will gush all over me. I know it is a long shot. I do not even know where the Hittite part of town is. I’m looking at a map right now. Let’s see, there is Chinatown, Little Italy, Little India, but no friggin’ Little Hittitetown. Where does a nice non-orgy going boy meet a hot Hittite girl these days. I’m not picky. She doesn’t even have to be a princess.
I’ve also been inspired to study religion, a topic I didn’t take seriously until six months ago. I’m not about to convert to Judaism (I see myself more as a neo-Platonist: spirituality for the sophisticated set) but through my study of Christianity and Judaism, I have come to a sincere appreciation of the moral profundity and intellectual depth of these two great traditions — the received wisdom of thousands of years of learning by trial and error, and rational and mystical thought. Western Civilisation turns its back on this moral and intellectual heritage at its peril.
XXX-Communicated: A Rebel Without a Shul
Luke Ford (2004)
Self-published by Horrid Boy Press, Beverly Hills, California, 90210
From the Luke Ford Fan Blog:
Luke Ford’s memoir of his time as a XXX journalist begins with an attack upon our moral leader by a troglodyte named Mike Albo. Luke’s head is smashed “repeatedly” against a light pole causing severe brain damage. Thank goodness Luke survived, otherwise there would be no autobiography for his fans and followers to study and savor. At least that’s what I thought before I actually started reading “XXX-Communicated: A Rebel Without a Shul.” After plowing through all 67,000+ words (consisting mostly of cut and pasted emails, transcribed phone conversations and IM sessions with various pornographers, adult film stars, and Orthodox rabbis) my view is somewhat less enthusiastic. But first a little background.
I would be lying if I said that I had no knowledge of Luke’s “old” life before I started my fan blog late last year. My earliest memory of Luke Ford was an appearance with sexologist Bob Berkowitz on eYada.com, a defunct Internet radio station, back in 2001. Luke, speaking in the soft voice of a very naughty boy caught in the act, was in full self-flagellation mode over his dual existence as a XXX reporter/critic and deeply religious orthodox Jewish convert. Although Luke’s version of this conversation differs from mine (I don’t recall Berkowitz being nearly as judgmental as Luke suggests in his memoir), his appearance left an impression on me. I recall checking out LF.com, but not being particularly interested in how the porn sausage is made, I soon drifted away and almost completely forgot about Luke Ford.
A couple of years ago I became interested in the writings of James C. Bennett, a UPI columnist and theorist of the Anglosphere. Looking around UPI’s website I found another columnist, Cathy Seipp, who wrote mostly about cultural matters from a centre-right perspective. There aren’t many conservative female commentators and I was intrigued. When UPI stopped offering its content online for free, I searched Cathy Seipp’s name to see if there was another way to read her weekly column. I discovered that she had a blog and through Cathy’s World I was reacquainted, much to my surprise, with Luke. I wondered, why would a highly-respected journalist like Cathy Seipp be carrying on with an enfant terrible like Luke Ford?
Unfortunately there is no answer to this question in Luke’s new autobiography “XXX-Communicated.” (I assume that the explanation behind their tempestuous on-again, off-again romance lies in the power of love — or at least good sex — to overwhelm a woman’s commonsense.) Instead the reader is treated to a steady stream of disjointed anecdotes about some of the most revolting human beings on the planet. It makes for a rather depressing study of what the human male is capable of when freed from divinely-inspired moral guidance, at least that is what Luke Ford would have his readers believe.
Luke defined the aim of his research in highminded terms: “I’ll penetrate the most religiously-challenged corner of modernity with my newly-acquired Jewish conscience and come out the other side with insights into the human condition.” This sounds reasonable. What is less reasonable is how Luke goes about doing this: i.e., by making and acting in his own adult film titled, quite inappropriately, “What Women Want.”
I’m no expert, of course, but one has to wonder about the sanity of a man who thinks that consumers want to watch a video featuring the director prattling on about Dennis Prager’s (a conservative Jewish theologian) views on male-female relations. Talk about a mood killer. And indeed, the market for a Prager-informed group sex (one woman and five men) video failed to materialize, much to Luke’s surprise and disappointment: “[D]istributors return the movie by the case … I end up giving away copies to my friends at my Reform temple.” The rest of Luke’s autobiography confirms his otherworldly mental state.
In chapter 3 we are introduced to the bizarro world of XXX journalism. It’s not a happy place. Luke feuds with his fellow writers, people he apparently finds compelling but most readers, I suspect, will find merely stupid and boring. Mark Kernes, of the Adult Video News, is described as “old and ugly … he looks out at the world with beady, suspicious, pig-like eyes, squinting between jowels [sic] of fat.” Luke wasn’t very popular with his colleagues.
Even at this early point, Luke’s memoir is largely a cut and paste affair. Unable to shape his material into a coherent whole made up of persuasively argued parts, Luke relies instead on recycling passages from his diary. For example, as part of his “research” Luke visits fifty-something queen Kitten Natividad…
Scholars, like Luke, call this field work, I think….
Excruciating details follow. Luke’s telling of his encounter with Kitten Natividad has the fingerprints of his editor, Cathy Seipp, all over it. One can easily imagine the bawdy Miss Seipp, sitting next to Luke as they go over his manuscript, saying “don’t forget the bum reference. That’s the kind of writing readers expect these days. I give it too them and you should, too.”
Luke cuts quite a path through the XXX community, having sex with stars while moralizing about the evils of promiscuity. Not surprisingly, enemies are made all over the San Fernando Valley. Luke’s biggest foe is a gentleman named Mike Albo of Hustler magazine’s “Erotic Video Guide”:
You are a total moron. You are an idiot. You are a loser. I’ve been hearing about all your Internet activities. You’re a goofball. You just better hope that we don’t meet up because it’s not going to be a pretty situation. Judging from the yarmulke you wear on your pointy little pinhead, you must be a religious man. If I were you, I would pray that you don’t run into me.
You faggot, I just want to let you know that I’m going to kill you. You’re a real dickhead. I don’t know how you think that there’s going to be no consequences for the s— that you do. But there is, big time. And I’m going to love being one of the people that delivers it to you, pal.
Luke’s research not only angers the XXX community, it also causes his religious friends to shake their heads in disbelief. Even Dennis Prager, Luke’s Jewish father figure, abandons him:
Since I have allegedly played such a positive role in your life, I would assume good works would flow — especially toward me — from you. Apparently my influence has been nil except in the most superficial sense. I truly am curious — does it bother you how you have alienated me?
But Luke carries on undeterred, convinced that by exposing the porn industry’s negligence over AIDS he is saving lives.
Page after page follows of Luke’s relentless anti-porn muckraking and the widespread animosity that results. It’s depressing fare, but the occasional amusing anecdote breaks the tedium. For instance, one day at the drug store:
A middle-aged woman approaches me. “I’m getting a special feeling about you,” she says and hands me her card. She’s a psychic. “You should come see me soon. I’ll give you a special rate.”
Coupon-clipper Luke isn’t one to pass up a bargain:
I have my tarot cards read ($30) and they seem to unveil my life. Moved, I pour out my problems.
A believer, I now visit the gypsy regularly. On her instructions, I buy candles from her for $100 each and exotic spices ($200) that I mix with water and pour over myself in the shower before leaving for synagogue Sabbath morning.
I buy crystals ($150) from her that I grasp in my hand every day when I dream about what I want. I buy a charm ($100) to put in my pillow.
After spending $1200, receiving no further improvements in my lot, I give up on the psychic.
What a shame. At least Luke, unlike all the psychic’s other customers, got the “special rate.”
Mostly though the book chronicles Luke’s immersion in the world of XXX and his rapid moral, physical, and psychological decline. As a sign of his deterioration, Chaim Amalek, one of Luke’s many “personalities,” appears. As the book becomes more introspective it also becomes more interesting (and creepy).
Near the end of his memoir, Luke visits Israel in an attempt to find himself. Just as he begins to experience a measure of healing and happiness the book abruptly stops. The reader is left with more questions than answers.
I hope I’m not leaving the impression that “XXX-Communicated” is more coherent than it really is. In truth, it’s a bit of an organizational mess. Although the memoir develops mostly along chronological lines, every so often Luke throws in a thematic chapter. For example, chapter seven is purportedly about race. But Luke doesn’t do essays. And it shows. The chapter is a hodgepodge of personal reflections (on his sexual conquests of black women), intemperate observations about race and pornography, and relentless questioning of black male actors about their penises (size, blood flow, etc.), a topic about which Luke is oddly fascinated. For all his scholarly pretensions, Luke obviously hasn’t spent nearly as much time in the stacks as he has out in the field. The seminal work on this subject is the late Calvin Hernton’s 1965 book “Sex and Racism in America,” which is still strikingly relevant today. But Luke isn’t interested. In fact, he quickly loses interest in the topic altogether and instead offers off-topic profiles of white performers, including “good friend” Kendra Jade.
We learn an awful lot about journalists like Mike Albo in Luke’s memoir, so much so it almost reads like the unauthorized Mike Albo story, but nothing about the people who are important in Luke’s life today, most especially real journalist Cathy Seipp. How did Luke meet Cathy? What was her initial impression of him? Was it love at first sight? How many dates did it take before she got lucky and intimately experienced the self-proclaimed “Deon Sanders Of Lovers” in action? On average how many times per day did they have sex? Five times? Ten? More? Perhaps this more recent phase of Luke Ford’s life will be explored in volume two of “XXX-Communicated: When Luke Met Cathy.” In the meantime, I can’t recommend volume one of our moral leader’s life story to any but Luke’s most dedicated fans and friends.
Overall Grade: B+
Strengthens: Amusing in places; some psychological insight into what makes Horrid Boy tick
Weaknesses: Choppy writing; poor organization; general incoherence
Cindi Loftus writes:
“Luke struggles to live in the two opposite worlds; that of Orthodox Jew and gossip columist, makes this a truly interesting read from start to finish. I couldn’t put it down.”
From a review on Amazon.com:
“This is not a lurid tale about the —-industry, which really is more of the backdrop here. It’s an honest, candid story of a man facing many issues of faith that are ignored by most people today. Mr. Ford presents his story honestly and candidly. My only fault with the book is that the writer of autobiography should involve the reader more; here, however, Mr. Ford writes about himself with considerable detachment, so we don’t get a sense of what he was feeling or thinking at some pivotal moments. He often uses dry reportage about private moments when a more personal recollection seemed necessary. I look forward to more of Mr. Ford’s writing.”
Al writes on Barnesandnoble.com:
“An honest, candid, often touching and moving story of a deeply thoughtful man caught between two worlds while searching for an identity.”
Come on, feel the blasphemy!
Luke Makes Great Reading
I found a great book over the weekend – The Rule of Four. I predict that it’ll be this year’s The DaVinci Code. I couldn’t put it down until, that is, I started reading Luke Ford’s XXX-Communicated: A Rebel Without a Shul – about a gossip monger’s spiritual journey through the Valley. Put it this way. When you got four naked girls running around a house – such as it was on Mitch Spinelli’s shoot – and you’re rather turn to the next page for amusement, you know you got a book to grab your… by.
Luke, the Internet guy who did it before any of us, certainly knows how to push buttons, and I found myself drooling over sentences that I never expected to see printed in a legitimate format. Yeah, Luke even whacks me on a couple of occasions. And, truth be told, I busted his balls when I was over at AVN, so why not. But I would feel safe to say that he and I have come to a mutual accord regarding specific industry sacred cows and see the filet for what it truly is.
And Luke’s book, which even does the gotcha on himself, swings the verbal machete without compromise. My only criticism – and I’ve already told this to Luke – is that the book should have been twice the size. Three times the size. Not only because he has the material for it, but the exhilaration of reading about familiar names and faces described in a context they deserve is revenge best served cold…and calculating. Okay. Let’s get into it.
Mark Kernes who he describes as prone to falling asleep at any moment. “Which is why he was removed as managing editor [at AVN],” writes Ford. And I should know because I did the removing.
“Mark’s old and ugly,” Ford continues. “He loves porn and hates its critics. Fond of wearing suspenders and thinking of himself as a lawyer [he was once a court reporter], he looks at the world through beady, suspicious, pig-like eyes, squinting between jowls of fat.”
And this is just for openers. Jenna, move aside. A whole new batch of soundbites are in town.
FORD’S REBELLIOUS “XXX” CAREER A FASCINATING READ
Jason Sechrest writes:
I never realized how fascinating fellow journalist Luke Ford was…