The sunny side of smut

Sex makes the world go 'round in Without Wax: A Documentary Novel
By BILL RODRIGUEZ  |  August 5, 2008

Late in Without Wax: A Documentary Novel, an incidental character jokes that her left breast has hypnotic powers. “But only at a low level,” she says. “I can’t rule the world with it.”

The teenage flasher has hit upon the dynamic that keeps alive and thriving the porn industry that William Walsh is examining, sometimes with head-scratching curiosity, in this novel. Sex — whether as an obsession or sublimated into a reason for getting out of bed in the morning, as well as getting back in at night — makes the world go ’round. If that can’t also make for a turbocharged business plan, nothing can.

The “documentary” aspect of this fiction consists of simulating talking heads: name, colon, quote, for whole chapters, of industry participants and consumers, interspersed with lengthier points-of-views of main characters. The structure works pretty well. The assumption, after all, is that everybody likes to watch.

The principal object of fascination is Wax Williams, a porn superstar who at age 24 is retiring from the business, hence the book’s title. He’s a freak of nature — well, of a quack doctor, actually, who experimented on the pubescent Wax to cure him of bedwetting and underdeveloped genitalia. A concoction of everything from steroids and ground rhino horn to freeze-dried bull semen and cement worked wonders. Eighteen inches of wonderment. While off duty. It was inconvenient when Wax was on the school baseball team, because he’d frequently be thrown off balance.

Wax is a gentle sort, although not raised by caring parents. His mother was so self-centered that she didn’t give him new pencils for school, only stubs too short for her to use. The best advice his father ever gave him was to punch out the biggest guy first. Six weeks before Wax’s 18th birthday, they indentured him for five years to a seedy entrepreneur named Lyle Mammon for $10,000.

That was Mammon’s life savings, but he invested it wisely. His outsized investment performs quite well, as do their adult films. One of the first, called The Vault, could have gotten a grant as conceptual art. In it, Wax is president of a small-town bank and accidentally gets locked in the walk-in vault after hours with three beautiful tellers. This becomes a metaphor for life, as they do what comes naturally before the oxygen supply runs out.

But that concept isn’t as entertaining as the premise of Naked Escape, in which two female prison escapees come across Wax as a camper in the woods. As a Boy Scout, he got lost there 15 years before, and he’s naked because he had long since burst out of his uniform.

Despite the raw subject matter, Without Wax can be charming when humanizing its subjects. Porn film producer Mammon is an unabashed capitalist, but he ends up with less than half the profits for their im-mensely popular $19.95 videos. He says of himself: “I am like Henry Higgins in reverse. I discover proper fair ladies and teach them how to be sluts.” Cute.

Wax doesn’t have a mean bone in his body, so we stay sympathetic to his boyishness. It’s easy to believe that he falls for frequent co-star Renee Salmon, a real crass act. Her raison d’être? “My mother always used to say, ‘Have your fun, but don’t be a whore about it.’ ” Technically, she has complied.

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Related: Porn again, By the horns, Sound words, More more >
  Topics: Books , Entertainment, Movies, Boy Scouts of America,  More more >
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