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San Francisco Chronicle

San Francisco Chronicle

Michael Grecco’s gigantic, glossy, full-color photo book (NSFW) Naked Ambition: An R-Rated Look At An X-Rated Industry is not hot. It’s chock-full of porn performers, from the famous to the never-arrived, and their various tools of the trade, from sex dolls and glass dildos to stripper heels, and it shows acres of flesh. And it’s about sex. But arousing, no. It’s wholly unerotic. It’s also utterly compelling, impossible to stop looking at, and difficult to put down.

It’s the bubble within the sex bubble, and Grecco had a backstage pass. The event represents the porn mainstream: You won’t find dyke porn companies like Pink and White Productions (pinkwhite.biz), well-known indie porn directors like Tony Comstock (comstockfilms.com), Maria Beatty (bleuproductions.com), or even lucrative independents like Kink.com. Naked Ambition captures all the bright pink everything, Lucite heels, trashy stripperwear, the stereotypes and big-boobed blondes that seem fresh from a trip through a 1990s frat-boy time machine. It's DVD culture (far, far from Internet culture) and dated sexuality, preserved like a pornified Twinkie in its format and distribution channels. Glimmers of event horizon seep through in the text: Vivid Video’s Steve Hirsch smartly remarks, “If you are a producer and the majority of your income comes from DVD sales, you are in trouble.