Porno For Biros

I was making a rare public appearance the other night, at the star-studded 60th birthday ‘do’ of a well-known Liverpool producer, who had been generous enough to invite me and 299 other guests to eat, drink and be merry in the stunning surroundings of the Isla Gladstone Conservatory in Stanley Park. Everything was paid for, and there would even be entertainment, courtesy of as many of the Scouse Mafia as you could fit in that tiny space between Anfield and Goodison Park. Pete Price also showed up, whose presence at anything like this is required by  some kind of by-law.

Laydee: This is what I look like in a dress

Even the daunting “and please try and dress like a lady” addendum, attached to my particular invitation, could not dampen my utter excitement at the prospect of being let out of my cold, damp garret, here in the Collegiate Debtors Prison, where I’d been holed up for five weeks, on a daily diet of Special K and cup-a-soup, waging a daily battle with my pre-pay electricity meter, which kept insisting on deducting a million pounds every time I wanted to boil a kettle. Even the knowledge that I’d have to wear a skirt-type item and – dipso facto – shoes of a non-trainer variety, did nothing to spoil my mood, as I prepared to wholeheartedly celebrate my benefactor’s birthday by drinking the bar dry, and hoping the beer coat would be warm enough to take me through the rest of the weekend. My hysteria was only slightly tempered by a polite warning from my friend (and evil twin), the actor James Spofforth, who suggested that it “might not be a good idea to get too hammered”, seeing as I had another ‘do’ to go to the next day, at St George’s Hall, where the wondrous Arthur & Margi were finally getting hitched after 23 years of dating (Arthur doesn’t like to rush into things). It was at the reception later that Saturday, where James had reliably informed me he intended to be “on it”, and he needed a drinking partner capable of staying the course. That would be me, then. Having been off the ale for so long (2 weeks, at least), I reasoned that my liver had now regenerated back to the one I had when I was 11, so I was good to go, but still planned on being home before midnight. My foolproof plan for ensuring this, hinged on the fact that the bride and groom were also attending this party, and I’d simply follow their lead and leave when they did, as there was no way they’d even be drinking the night before the most important day of their lives, never mind staying out late. Wrong on both counts.

Zeitgeist: What my book didn’t have

For British writers, the landscape is pretty bleak right now. Commissioning editors are reluctant to spend what little money they have on original programming, when its more lucrative to give you, the great British Viewing Public, shite like Strictly X Voice Dancing In Jungles, which pays not only for itself, but also the jacuzzi in Simon Cowell’s dressing room. But whether it’s TV, features, the stage or even the previously-easy-to-get-into radio, there are fewer openings now than there have ever been, not least because there are simply a zillion times more really, really good writers out there now, than there were 20 years ago. So, despite being delighted to find myself on a table with some fellow scribes I’d not had chance to catch up with since Christmas, most of our stories were depressingly familiar. Sure, we were writing, writing, writing, all the time, but we just weren’t getting commissioned. Then someone asked me what I “was working on right now”, and I so wanted to wax lyrical about the pilot I’m working on for a 4-part drama, which I’m convinced is what the telly is waiting for and could even (and these are the magic words) “sell to the U.S.”. Or the three feature treatments that just need a tiny bit of development money to help write the actual scripts. Ditto the seven radio plays. And the book! I’ve written my book, but in the two years I’ve spent trying to get anyone to read it, the ‘zeitgeist’ has well and truly zeitgeisted out of it. Then I realised that he didn’t want to know what I was working on for love, but what I was doing to pay the mortgage. He knew I’d been freelancing in the two years since my last TV commission, writing articles here and there, proofreading, editing, popping up on the odd quiz show (but only when I was absolutely desperate…), but he also knew things had been really tough the last few months and he wanted to know how I’d “got through Christmas”. As it was, I didn’t have a chance to reply, as one of my companions answered for me. “Oh, didn’t you know? Sarah writes porn.” And because the words were uttered at the precise moment the audience finished applauding another Scouse legend from the stage, there was near silence all around. At least twelve heads, all male, turned to look and see which harlot on the ‘Writer’s Table’ had just been outed as a purveyor of filth, and it was all I could do not to turn the same shade of scarlet as my ill-fitting lady-skirt. Not that I’m embarrassed at what I do, and have been doing intermittently for the last six months. All my friends know (my parents don’t though, so please don’t tell them, I’m working up to that one….), and I don’t feel any sense of awkwardness, nor have any moral dilemmas about writing dirty stories, mainly because I have few morals. I’m just trying to survive. And, in truth, I’m bloody good at it, and it’s by far the easiest gig I’ve ever had. To date, I have written ‘material’ for an adult internet subscription site, a compendium of print erotica, and am currently ghostwriting the ‘Confessional Sexcapades’ of a Santa Monica burlesque dancer for her pay-as-you-play website.

Clearly nonsense

Back at the party, and word was spreading pretty quickly. The women were fascinated, but the men were looking at me in a way most girls don’t really want to be looked at (but hey, at least they were looking…). Even someone I thought I knew quite well threw me a wink (spellcheck that…) and said “I always knew there was something about you”, before slinking away with a wicked glint in his eye. For the next two hours, I was The Porn Writer, not the scriptwriter, or quiz writer, or just plain old ‘writer’, but The Porn Writer. The only people in that room who didn’t bat an eyelid, or attempt to ‘help’ me with their hilarious collection of double entendres, were other writers, which made me think that maybe I wasn’t the only Dirty Gertie in the room.

She wrote naughty stories too, you know

The thing is, writing smut actually stimulates my brain (and only my brain). I’m finding it easier to write my other, proper stuff, after a good old filth session on the laptop, and I haven’t had writer’s block for six whole months. If there are any other straws I can gleefully grasp at, they would include the fact that successful authors such as Anne Rice, Rupert Smith and Lawrence Block all wrote porn in the early stages of their careers, precisely for the same reason as I’m doing it – to stay afloat, so obviously I’m destined for greatness.

Gatecrasher

As it happened, having my dirty little secret out in the big wide open at last, proved to be a great leveller and, true to form, I was the last one kicked out of the Isla Gladstone Conservatory sometime around 2am Saturday morning. I made it to the wedding, sans hangover, and matched my evil twin vodka-for-vodka, all the way to 4am Sunday (“I’m never drinking with you again, Deano…”). So, you see, porn has an upside, so to speak, and maybe I’ve found my niche. At worst, it’s one more chapter for the autobiography that no-one will want to publish, but at least people now speak to me at parties. Just one more question about ‘that’ party, though – who let Kerry Katona in?

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6 responses to “Porno For Biros

  1. I enjoyed reading that Sarah and had a few chuckles. I can just imagine some of it – not least because I’ve been a drinking companion of yours too ;-).

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  2. It’s good to read that you’re making the most of each and every one of the 24 hours in a day Sarah! you have an enviable drinking stamina-I can only drink 2 glasses of wine these days, it’s pitiful, I seem to go straight to the hangover part without any of the fun part beforehand. You’re an ace writer whatever you turn your hand to (!) xxJo xx

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  3. I love reading your stuff, but it always leaves me pining for home. I really am overdue a visit to the Mirky Pool. It’ll give us a chance to discuss your writing and my research (currently Wallace Murder – Menlove Gardens & Moses – Ramses). You’ll have to promise me tho, NO PORN and NO ‘KIN FROCKS I’m too brittle for shocks like that xxx KWJB xxx

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    • Ah, the Wallace ‘moider’ – another of my Top 5, Karl. I think the smart money is on Richard Gordon Parry? The evidence seems way, way stronger than anything against W.H..

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      • there was a lot said about Wallace not having enough time to commit murder…. load of TOSH ! I’ve put in the two postcodes on aa routefinder it would only have taken him 25 minutes to go by bike. I got interested because I lived just off Menlove Ave for years. I’m researching the name “Qualtrough” at the mo in BMD & Census. There are births in Liverpool 1928-32. I think when he phoned and left a message for himself he used an Insurance Clients name. ho ho he he Dont let this take you away from work like last time xxx

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      • But Parry also worked at the same firm, so any link you find could equally apply to him, as well as Wallace.

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