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xmag.com : December 2004: Another Lonely Night

Heidi Fleiss knows how to capitalize on her notoriety. The infamous "Hollywood Madam," whose black book was filled with the names of Tinseltown's stars, producers and high rollers, got busted in 1993 and did 21 months in the slammer on tax evasion charges.

After getting out of prison Heidi opened up a store with her own line of clothing and wrote a book, Pandering, about her escort service. Well, "wrote a book" isn't quite right. The tome is a collection of to-do lists, phone numbers, day planner pages, post-it notes, pictures (mostly snapshots of Heidi and her friends), and crumpled scraps of paper retrieved from the waste basket all pasted down in a running collage that looks like a tweaker's guide to Nothingness. The USA Network also ran a movie, Call Me: The Rise and Fall of Heidi Fleiss, with Jamie-Lynn DiScala in the title role.

Heidi has now jumped into pornlandia with SECRETS OF THE HOLLYWOOD MADAM from Phoenix Releasing (phoenixreleasing.com). Aptly described by the company's PR man as a "hardcore documentary," the DVD features Heidi as a hostess gabbing about the ins and outs of her escort service. Using quick MTV-style cutaways, Heidi talks for a minute or two followed by long sex scenes. She's on screen for about 10 or 15 minutes in this two-hour escapade. And this is only the first installment of an eight-part series that will be released over the next two years.

In an AVN interview last month, Heidi said she was pleased with the DVD but thought the director filmed her "way too tight, like if you put a magnifying glass so close to your skin it looks like you're on Mars." Over the years many porn companies have approached her with deals. "For me to come around to porn is to come full circle," she said. I suppose, but the porn/strip/escort biz strikes me more as the circle remaining unbroken.

Some old habits die hard and for Heidi that includes her insatiable spending habit. She made millions on her escort service and blew it all. But I do like her attitude about money. The AVN interviewer asked her if she would consider performing in a porn film. Sure, she said, "It doesn't matter if I make two million one month, I spend three. If I make ten dollars one month I'll spend twenty, so if you catch me at the right time I could star in the world's biggest gangbang." Given the way money runs through her hands, that may

be forthcoming in the Heidi series.

With Christmas upon us I don't think Heidi's adventures or any other porn DVD would make a good present. To each his own here, but wrapping a ribbon around COME IN MY MOUTH AND I'LL SPIT IT BACK IN YOURS from Devil's Film or BIG BUTT SMASHDOWN from Evasive Angels is not so Santa-friendly. For a stocking stuffer, instead of a stake-in-the-ass DVD, I'd suggest a book. And for Exotic readers the perfect gift is Portland Confidential: Sex, Crime and Corruption in the Rose City by Tribune columnist Phil Stanford.

Judging by Portland Confidential, our fair city was deep into iniquity in the 1950's. This fast, crisp read has the goods on the jukebox gangsters, pinball operators, smut peddlers snaking across town in push-button Plymouths, dope dealers on Burnside (still there!), and women from Umatilla shanghaied as call girls upon arrival in this city of vice and sin. City officials either turned their eyes away or--more likely--were up to their necks in graft.

The whole deal came apart in the spring of 1956 with the indictment of the chief of police, the district attorney and mayor Terry Schrunk. A showdown the following year before the U.S. Senate Rackets Committee put the entire spectacle on national TV. At one point Portland D.A. William Langley, who'd been caught on a hidden tape recorder talking about how to divvy up the Portland rackets, took the Fifth Amendment to all questions before the committee except for his name and address. One of the senators, Karl Mundt of North Dakota, was so taken aback by the D.A. refusing to answer questions he growled that city officials in Portland should "pull the flags down at half-mast in public shame."

In the end Langley, who was indicted on six counts including conspiracy and accepting a bribe, was convicted on a minor charge of malfeasance for being present at a charity event where slot machines were the favored entertainment. He was fined $200 and dismissed from office. Mayor Terry Schrunk, who had been accused of picking up a $500 bribe at an after hour joint owned by a crime boss, was acquitted. Stanford notes "the jury couldn't believe that a public official of his stature would be dumb enough to pick up his own payoffs, especially one that small. They were probably right."

Stanford does an excellent job showing how the whole racketeering scheme unraveled when a reporter from the Oregonian, Wally Turner, started peeking through keyholes in Chinatown. Strippers who read Exotic will especially like the stories of Tempest Storm flashing her (covered) hooters at the Capitol burlesque house on Fourth and Morrison while her rival, Candy Renee, held forth at the Star on Sixth and Burnside. (The Oregon Journal, Portland's other daily newspaper in those days, called it "the Battle of the G-strings.")

Candy Renee was on exceedingly friendly terms with Chief of Police "Diamond" Jim Purcell. When the heat was on Purcell, who avoided prosecution for shakedowns by resigning from office, Candy split to Seattle. There she tried a turn at politics, running as a candidate for Republican Committeewoman on the "fair shake" platform. Wearing a plunging V-neck dress ("with nothing under it" she noted) Candy announced her candidacy pointing out that "any man who can find fault with my platform is plainly closing his eyes to the facts."

A great burst of red and yellow type over a black-and-white photo montage on the cover give the little book the proper sense of pulp, as do the Speed Graphic flashbulb-in-the-face news photos scattered throughout the text. Portland Confidential is the perfect gift for anyone in the sex industry or on the wrong side of the law.







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