Why I wrote a play about a porn actress

In the waning days of myspace in 2008, Georgina Spelvin  (actually her assistant) sent me a friend request. A couple days prior I’d sent a request to Ron Jeremy on a lark after seeing him on a reality show. I did this because my grad school buddy, Jason Kehler, was Mr. Jeremy’s stunt double in a horror action film shot in Florida. Jason did a body burn and ran from an exploding car.

So I got Georgina’s request, with the profile picture you see here on the left, and did a search on her. The name was familiar but didn’t ring a bell. After reading a few pages on her, I immediately sent a request to adapt her upcoming memoir into a play. Her story is amazing.

I didn’t think she’d respond. But she did (well, her assistant) and then after a few exchanges, I wound up talking with her on the phone. Never would have thought that would happen. She was so great. So funny and cool and down to earth. She’s one of my tribe. She’s been through so much and although life didn’t really go as planned, she wound up making the best of it.

I’m being a little vague about the details of what’s in her memoir, The Devil Made Me Do It, because, well, you should read it. Or see the adaptation I wrote of it at the Living Theatre tomorrow night. It’s gone through many changes since my first draft in 2009. For the reading, we have 10 actors playing 60 characters. I promise it won’t be performed like Nicholas Nickleby. We have some incredible actors. Wait, this is turning into a plug.

Anyway…

I guess I should take a second and say I’m no more or less into porn than any other average non-Mormon. It’s not so much about the porn, it’s about the shape of her life story.

This is my first adaptation and I learned a few things along the way. You know the old maxim “show, don’t tell”? I don’t think I really understood that until I worked on this. Boy oh boy is it difficult not to have characters tell you things they did, etc. If you do have one of those, it helps to have something else going on in the immediate moment to cause it. Also, there are so many interesting things one could include but there’s a point where it has to stop or the story dies like a plant with too much water.

The adaptation takes a lot of stuff from the book but I rearranged a lot of the sequence of the events and go back and forth in time. I also have 3 different actresses playing the title role in different stages in her life. There are so many facets to Georgina that I couldn’t have one actress play her from beginning to end. I also added some characters and a couple minor subplots to round out things and give people who may not have lived during that time an idea of what was going on.

To me, it’s less about someone going into porn and more about an artist veering off her path. I see it happen to so many talented people. It ain’t easy trying to make as an artist in this country. I think anyone who has tried will appreciate this story. People who wind up as teachers, waiters, life coaches, real estate agents, tour guides, or any number of things besides what they really want to be will get it. Not that there’s anything wrong with being any of these things. God knows, I’d be a wreck without my Clark Kent job.

What’s been nice is how supportive, considerate, and kind she has been through this process. I emailed her a copy of the latest draft and she gave me 20 or so line suggestions. But she never said not to do this or that with it.

When last I left the rehearsal room, there wasn’t any nudity in the show. But it’s been a few days since I’ve seen what they are doing. No telling what Aimee’s done with this. I may live tweet the reading to keep Georgie posted on how it goes.

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