Truth be told, you may learn some interesting things from this graphic novel, but you will not learn how to make money like a porn star. While this may immediately dissolve any interest in this tale, be reassured: it is still a fascinating story to experience.
In the midst of enjoying her fifteen minutes of fame in the pornographic film industry, Claudia Corvette had everything: a suitcase full of money, an award-winning director for a boyfriend, and a body to kill for. She was, indeed, the typical rags-to-riches Playboy covergirl. But when her boyfriend, Mick Piston, decides to move on to another girl, he abandons Claudia, leaving her with nothing but bruises and shattered dreams. On the brink of suicide, Claudia finds inspiration and decides revenge is a more proper route. But when she steps into the taxicab of Tiny Erlinger, her plans take a drastic detour.
Erlinger maybe not be her biggest fan physically, but mentally, he’s been preparing for his pornographic debut with her since he first laid eyes on her in college. The epitome of the obsessed fan, Erlinger has of course seen all of Corvette’s films and constantly fantasizes about her. When she enters his cab, he sees this as his opportunity to create his own pornographic website with Corvette as the star attraction. The ensuing antics spiral as Corvette’s past is revealed and others who would do her harm discover her whereabouts.
On the surface, this graphic novel is a humorous, albeit over-the-top, romp through the porn industry, highlighting certain trends and clichéd personalities one might find throughout the business. Writer Neil Strauss authored How to Make Love Like a Porn Star: A Cautionary Tale<.cite>, a biography of Jenna Jameson, one of the most famous celebrities to breach the divide between pornography and mainstream. Strauss’s research and exposure to the porn industry while working on Jameson’s book gave him inspiration for this quasi-fictional story. Hints of condemnation for both the industry itself (with its annual income of $57 billion) and its consumers can be found through the tale, and the overall violence and nastiness of the book further implies Strauss’s disdain for the industry.
Artist Bernard Chang makes some interesting choices in this graphic novel. While the main narrative is realistically depicted, he often resorts to a manga style of drawing flashbacks or childhood memories that are much more iconic than realistic. This interesting and applauded gimmick emphasizes the difference between innocence and immorality.
It is also to be expected that a graphic novel about a porn star will in fact have nudity, which this does. The first page of the book emphasizes the adult nature of this tale with its cautionary warning: “All Illustrations Were Drawn by Artists 18 Years or Older.” But Chang makes the nudity and sex so matter-of-fact that it is not that provocative. The nudity becomes part of the setting, in a sense. To be honest in portrayal, nudity must be presented as such; otherwise, it does take on a much more pornographic vibe to the story, like bad horror movies from the 1980s. The unnecessary and excessive nudity is part of what makes the films so cheesy, whereas the nudity within this graphic novel is not nearly as deliberate or without cause.
The funniest parts of this graphic novel are the asides and interludes dispersed throughout the tale. Advertisements for plastic surgery and Corvette’s videos, comic strips, and other snippets provide ample humor for all. The asides make up close to a quarter of the book and are worth every panel.
Obviously, How to Make Money Like a Porn Star! is not for everyone. However, those who do venture to peruse the pages of this graphic novels may find themselves pleasantly entertained despite their own personal feelings about pornography and sexuality. Certainly now an award-winner by any means, but definitely enjoyable in its own right.