Insider industry view combines the obvious with whitewash
Paul Thomas cagily satirizes the corrupt Adult industry rag AVN with this story of fictional "AVG" (Adult Video Guide) magazine, poking fun at the hand that partially feeds him while glorifying it to a dimwitted porn public. Result: innumerable awards from AVN for the picture, all part of the symbiotic game wherein one hand washes the other.
Film (shot on 35mm as a big-deal PT production) promotes and stars Brianna Banks, but PT's story actually spotlights Penny Flame and Kylie Ireland instead. Banks is the usual Jenna Jameson wannabe superstar (an idiotic "where are they now?" postscript posits her character as becoming the most successful Adult actress of all time building a multi-million dollar production empire), while Penny is cast as the junior editor of AVG, working for boss Tom Byron and drunken owner Tyce Bune. Kylie Ireland is appropriately cast as a big star making a comeback, and her sex scenes are certainly the highlights of the lengthy film's XXX content.
Central soap opera story is a total drag, as an actor PT has foolishly sponsored (he ruined the otherwise fine feature "Cry Wolf") Marcos Leon wanders dully through the role of a reporter for the magazine who takes his work seriously. He's duly informed by all and sundry that the rag is merely a handmaiden to the pornographers, writing glowing reviews of their crappiest videos and giving out phony awards, all keyed to who is paying for the advertising. The fact that this is undoubtedly true is glossed over as the film demonstrates AVG's (and implicitly AVN's in real life) powerful influence in the marketplace, where companies and talent alike kowtow to the institution for promotion of their product. I recall circa 1984 getting the dumb newsletter as an industry insider and never took it the least bit seriously, then or now.
So there is no bite whatsoever to the scenes of porn films being shot or an idiotic premiere of a dumb feature starring Evan Stone "The Three Muskatits" with the screening room in one of Southern California's castle styled mansions, replete with moat, or the phony scenes about working & "news" gathering for AVG. A rotund crew member (none of the numerous NonSex players are afforded a screen credit) playing Mark the mag's layout man (hence the title) supposedly takes over the company after the story ends, and other future histories of the characters are all lame.
So we're left with hot sex scenes, in which Banks does her uninhibited thing, Penny is delightfully kinky as a dominant in several BDSM lite stagings, and Ireland is terrific in d.p. action. Key character is an actress (stage name: "Rossetta Devine") played by Joey Valentine whose arc is somewhat interesting though given short shrift by the time of the anticlimactic finale in which guest star Byron (billed as a "legend") gets his rocks off with Penny.
Even technically the film is poor, with several scenes featuring extremely grainy footage, either poorly developed (looking like a defective blow-up) or caused by bad lighting, as well as clumsy editing that repeats scenes (notably the opening that portrays Bune as a drunken lout) or creates unintentional flash-forwards (the dull romance of Kylie & Leon). Too bad PT didn't have the guts to do a real expose rather than propaganda for an institution that has helped hold back the industry rather than advance it -similar to the equally phony mainstream organization Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. and its ludicrous Golden Globe awards (I remember when it was a similar laughing stock back in the Pia Zadora days, before turning into a lucrative TV show).
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