All week Luke Ford thought about moving to Jerusalem. Nothing outside of the Holy City had meaning for him. It was Jerusalem or bust, terrorists be damned!
Almost two months since his expulsion from his shul, he still felt disoriented. He'd yet to buy his own pair of tefillin, yearning instead for some daddy figure to adopt him and give him teffilin as a sign of love. He'd yet to return to the House of Learning, where the serious black-robed rabbis resided with their Talmudic volumes.
On Sunday, August 5, he sold lukeford.com and made his last update Monday morning. Tuesday he set up www.lukeford.net. The rest of his week he read books, walked around the Pico Robertson community and sought meaning. In his dreams, it resided only in Jerusalem.
Luke spent two weeks in the Holy Land in July of 2000 with a Jewish singles group. When he was four years old, he and his family spent a week in Israel, retracing the footsteps of Jesus Christ.
Luke gave his first interview (to Wired.com) Thursday night about the sale of www.lukeford.com and his plans for the future. In the aftermath of the latest suicide bombing, he predicted war for Jerusalem and said he wanted to be there to cover it.
Full of Zionist ardor, Luke stepped into therapy Friday morning and confronted reality. He said all he wanted was a tiny cheap place in Jerusalem where he could be warm in the winter and write his heart out. According to Luke's therapist, such a request was not easily met. Few buildings there, particularly not the inexpensive kind, had central heating. Luke can brave many things, including community expulsion, but he can't handle the cold. And with that blast of chilling reality, Luke shelved his plans to move to Israel and decided instead to write on Hollywood. One day, when Luke is healthier and richer, he might move to Israel.
Friday night Luke went to Friday Night Live, a massive service for about 1500 Jewish singles aged 20-40. He clutched his latest book, "Turbulent Souls: A Catholic Son's Return To His Jewish Family," like a security blanket. Conservative synagogues now disturbed him. The people seemed overwhelmingly secular and the microphone, musical instruments and mixed seating disturbed his increasingly orthodox sensibilities. But Temple Sinai was where the people where, and he felt a deep need to bury himself and his sorrows among Amkha, the Jewish people. But even here he found no peace though he was impressed as always by the clarity of Rabbi Wolpe's sermon.
After services, he wandered among the teeming singles, wondering where the truly cool people hung out and could he join them. All his life, he'd sought to belong to the really cool group, but he'd only ever achieved this distinction fleetingly. He told himself that the main reason he was at this conservative synagogue was to meet a woman but he lacked the inner strength to approach any. His first few times at this service, over two years ago, he picked up several girls' phone numbers, leading to dates. But now he'd grown old and timid. It wasn't so much that he was striking out as much as he was never stepping up to the plate.
Then he ran into his secular friend Bob, who almost never sets foot in a shul, and only came tonight to pick up chicks (as opposed to Luke who sought a Jewish wife, an aishet chayil). Bob wears a perpetual smirk with laughing eyes. He's 27 and handsome with a receding hairline and an East Coaster's superior social sophistication.
Bob drags Luke outside to meet his friend Chris, who Bob's renamed John for the night, so as to not jar Jewish sensibilities. Bob pulls out a cell phone and lights up a cigarette, desecrating the Jewish Sabbath and making Luke's nerves jump and his orthodox soul scream that he should never set foot in Conservative and Reform synagogues. After stamping out Bob's sins, Luke leads the two lawyers inside to cruise for women (that Luke would otherwise not have the fortitude to approach).
Luke gets them into conversations with women not up to Bob's standards. Bob moves the the three guys along until he finds young blonde hotties. Luke makes the initial advance, then introduces the hotties to Bob and John who finish them off and occasionally get phone numbers.
Luke runs into a friend from last year's Israel trip who's talking to two women. Luke feels awkward and fights an inner compulsion to flee. He forces himself to make conversation with the two female strangers. After five seconds of looking at the tall one, he finds her attractive. Ten minutes of trivial conversation later, he gets her business card "so that I can notify you when the Messiah comes." It makes the whole evening worthwhile. Luke can now sleep content.
Saturday morning begins with an hour's reading before shul. Then instead of davening (Jewish ritualized prayer), Luke sits in on a class giving a psychological and spiritual interpretation of the week's Torah portion.
At 11AM, Luke walks to shul and talks to a new friend for hours. She's religious and she knows that in this community, reputation is everything. And she doesn't understand why guys like me, who purport to be religious, blow their reputations for little return. She also doesn't understand why we only seek religious girls when most Orthodox girls, when they hear about our reputations, will flee from us. Luke explains that he and his peers often use religion as a shield from emotional intimacy and lasting relationships.
The last prayer group left in the shul is now on to Mussaf, the final part of the Sabbath morning service. While his new friend chats with her friends, Luke sits down on the floor next to Mr. Singer, a well known member of the Orthodox community who's befriended Luke over the years. Luke explains that he's sold lukeford.com and is turning over a new leaf. Mr. Singer congratulates him. Mr. Singer has heard all about Luke's self-imposed troubles and he knows how Luke has hurt himself in the community. Mr. Singer invites Luke to a Sabbath lunch after services.
Just eight days ago, Luke's therapist gave him a list of four people he should reconnect with after ridding himself of Lukeford.com. Mr. Singer was the last person left on that list.
About 20 people came for lunch. Luke felt at home, accepted among his people. It was a burden off his back to be rid of lukeford.com. Each person around the table took a turn of sharing something good that had happened that week. Luke thought about telling the truth and letting everyone know about his repentance but he feared that the news would be too intense. So instead he mentioned two invigorating Jewish books he'd just read. That's typical Luke - avoiding intimacy by talking about books.
Saturday night, Luke attended a benefit concert for Israel. It was filled with teenagers and members of his old shul. He feared to approach them. He saw his old rabbi. Their eyes never met. He saw a pretty blonde girl. Their eyes met. He feared to approach her. She looked like she was in highschool.
At midnight, he walked outside and saw the pretty blonde talking with an aggressive Israeli man. Luke walked over, and where he could, joined the conversation. The blonde had just graduated college in another country and had moved to Los Angeles to work behind the scenes in the entertainment industry. Luke lacked the Israeli's chutzpah and did not get her email address.
Luke filled his Sunday talking with friends on the phone. And he met one friend for a long walk and a drink and a talk mainly centered on Torah. It cheered Luke up and pulled him out of his depression and life seemed exciting and meaningful again.
Luke spent six hours around the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica and then drove to a nearby Conservative synagogue for a 6:30PM play. He arrived 20 minutes early. The front door was closed. He walked around the building and saw an old friend who got taken away by an important call from New York.
Luke walked inside and was told the play was really a cabaret and was not starting until at least 7PM. Luke felt that the people looked at him strangely for coming - it seemed to be mainly shul members who were there. Luke felt out of place. He'd failed yet again to connect to the cool crowd. Luke fled from the building, and breaking his word to the old friend that they'd talk later that night, he drove home to his computer where he could experience and share his feelings with safety.
Chaim Amalek writes: For a "lonely" guy, you sure do meet lots of hot chicks by going to jewish events. I think your personum is all a ruse to get your readers to feel sorry for you.
Lynne L-patin: Funny, but I always found a passionate discussion of a mutually-read book to be terribly intimate! Watching the yeshiva boys lay tefillin on secular Jews was...like watching sparklers on the 4th of July
Lynne L-patin writes: Why would any secular American Jew, or for that matter ANY American Jew, care about Israel at all? Apparently it is a country with no central heating, and probably no central air conditioning, either. Here in America Jews have found a home where they can assimilate completely, if they wish. No pogroms, no Cossacks raping and pillaging, no Jewish ghettos. They don't need Israel as a safe place in which to practice religion (if that still matters), and they could care less about rebuilding a Temple and awaiting Moshiach. Even Israelis come to America (land of economic opportunity, fancy cars and blonde chicks with augmented hooters). Perhaps Jews should renounce Israel completely as an obsolete concept, give it back to the Arabs and build a Jerusalem-themed resort in Las Vegas, with replicas of religious landmarks complete with Temple?
Luke has obviously never heard of a "space heater." He will never be healthier than he is now, in the prime of his life, since he does not eat properly. At least he gets regular exercise, walking about his neighborhood.
Every year, just prior to High Holidays, the fighting escalates in the Middle East. A cease fire is called for everyone's religious observances and all the politicians look good. A letter in the Portland "Jewish Review" points out that six million Jews in Israel are going about their daily lives with little or no interruption, wondering why Americans are so quick to believe the media.
Friday night Lynne went to shul with Chabad of Oregon. The yeshiva boys were celebrating their last Shabbat in Portland, and were hopelessly raucous, full of joyous enthusiasm. She sat quietly with the other four women behind her partition, enjoying the sounds of healthy young lungs and silently praying for Hashem's continued love and protection. She thought of Luke participating in services, wishing he could lose himself in love of G-d with the happy crew on the other side of the screen. Then she walked to the rabbi's house to share a meal. The thirty boys could hardly contain themselves. It was their last Friday night together, and several times during dinner they broke into song and dance, arms around one another, inspiring Lynne to happy laughter at their enthusiasm She thought often of Luke, thinking of good the male cameradrie would be for him. She was happy to be in a place where she could talk with other women, not worrying about men cruising her or rejecting her, listening to bits of wisdom and enjoying homemade Challah and gefilte fish.
Lynne spent Sunday attending the Third Annual Portland Jewish Festival for four hours. She dressed modestly, as she does whenever she is around Jews, in a long flowered skirt and a long sleeved blouse. It was hot, in the upper eighties, and those Jews who were not Orthodox wore shorts and tank tops. The first table she came upon was the Chabad yeshiva boys and their tefillin. Lynne had never seen tefillin except as presented on lukeford.com one day when Luke was short of material for the site. The yeshiva boys had spent every Friday during the summer accosting men in downtown Portland's Pioneer Square and asking them if they were Jewish. An affirmative answer was met with, "Would you like to lay on tefillin?" The boys would then guide the prodigal Jews through a basic prayer and help them with the tefillin, getting quite a bit of media notice for this highly visible demonstration of aggressive Judaic reclaimation effort.
The table was overflowing with tefillin, yarmulkes and prayer books. Lynne thought of Luke and his lack of tefillin, and of how badly she wished she could simply say, "My friend needs tefillin...may I send him an extra pair?" But of course the gesture would be meaningless -- Lynne is not a Gay Hollywood Daddy, and Luke has the money to buy tefillin any time he wants over the Internet. She greeted the rabbi's oldest son, who is off to further schooling in a few weeks, and asked if she could watch. "But of course!" Another Orthodox Jewish male ritual revealed! As the boys convinced the men to lay on the tefillin, Lynne realized that this was one more reason why the men must daven alone if they are to wear tefillin -- no woman could fail to break out in laughter watching the men bobbing up and down with little boxes strapped to their heads like unicorns with malformed horns! One would forever look at one's man and snicker, and men could never be part of the "cool" group! The actions of these forward young Jewish men, thrusting their religion in the faces of onlookers, regardless of the potential for anti-Semitic reaction, brought tears to Lynne's eyes. These boys were the future of Judaism. They had guts. She could see them holding Uzis in Israel, or fighting in Warsaw. Most of them, she was told, would grow up to be rabbis. Lynne vowed to be supportive in any way possible of these boys, who fight on the front lines in the battle to preserve Orthodox Judaism as a way of life.
Lynne saw a couple of the men she had met at an event of the 50+ Jewish singles a few months ago, and was afraid. One of them had been particularly aggressive toward her, and had made her very uncomfortable at the time, as she does not trust the intentions of single men of any age. She was grateful for the protection of her Orthodox friends. No man thinking lustful thoughts would come near a table full of tefillin, surrounded by black hatted, black suited Chassidic boys wanting to pray in public. She was introduced to the head of the local Jewish Federation, where she'd interviewed for a job last week, who is a member of her shul, and met representatives from local Jewish organizations. After a lunch of Kosher salad, she called her mother. Her mother was having trouble with her cast and her mother's dog was having trouble with his ear, so Lynne drove the forty-five minutes to her mother's house for the second time in three days. "Hashem, protect me," she prayed, because her car has no brake lights or seat belts, and because her mother tends to be abusive and Lynne did not want to ruin a perfect day. Her mother needed to be taken to the emergency room, so off they went for a new cast. When they got home, Lynne looked at the dog's ear, which had become infected from an untreated bite received during the dog fight that had shattered her mother's arm. At first she was afraid, because this dog is the one who had bitten her mother, but the dog gentled under her touch and she was able to clean and treat the wound.
She finally drove home to her computer, which keeps her linked to Luke, to share the events of the day and to attempt a conversation. She was chastised for mentioning that Luke will discuss Torah with everyone but her, even though she is desperate for Torah study, and wonders what Hashem means by this. It occurs to her now that Hashem does not want her to learn Torah as filtered by Luke Ford, for then she could not trust her accurate understanding. Only when she has learned independently of Luke and can argue her position with clear knowledge and insight will she be ready to discuss Torah with Luke. Lynne adores Luke, but seriously questions his ability to apply Torah Law to daily life.
Do you think they took this jew's tefillin away?
Rabbi Moshe Millstein of Borough Park, who was sentenced last week to four years in prison, had sold $4.1 million worth of contaminated drugs to pharmacies throughout the city and the nation in a monstrous scheme to get rich quick.
Lynne writes Luke: Hon, the only reason the rabbi took the tefillin back is because he paid for them. What Jew is gonna waste a perfectly good pair of $300 tefillin on a heathen?
What Do Do About Israel?
Chaim Amalek writes: What effect do you suppose the destruction of the Jewish State of Israel would have on the jewish community of Hollywood/Los Angeles? I think Israel took a giant step towards her own destruction when Itzhak Rabin foolishly mistook Chairman Arafat as a friend of the Jewish State, and allowed the PLO to massively arm itself throughout Palestine, from the Jordan river to the Mediteranian Sea. And now there is talk of Egypt sending in armored devisions into Sinai, with Syria and Iraq joining in as well.
How are these events effecting the Juden you know? My guess is that they all have their heads so far up their good liberal mulitculti asses that they are oblivious to the broader strategic currents flowing against Zionism. It will be interesting, if painful, to observe how these ostentatiously proud jews comport themselves once the primary base for their sense of self-worth is consigned to the dustbin of history.
The choices that I see are:
1. submit, ala Rhodesia/South Africa
What would our gedolim do if Israel were destroyed:
Does Anyone Remember the Fate that Befell the Sudetan Germans After WWII?
Chaim Amalek writes: Amalek hates to say "I told you so" (OK, so the truth is he LOVES to utter those words) to all the liberal Juden who hailed the Rabin/Arafat peace accords as the dawning of the Age of Aquarius, but I TOLD YOU DUMB LIBERAL JEWS IT WOULD NOT WORK. Rarely do dissimilar tribes cohabit successfully with each other, and then, only when their numbers are so lop-sided that the minority does not dream of power for itself and the majority is secure that it will not lose power. The more evenly balanced the groups, the greater their differences, the greater the amount of bloodshed that cohabitation entails. Wait and see, what is happening in Israel/Palestine will happen to Europe and America, too. Rivers of Blood indeed!
Luke writes: So I met with my therapist this morning and told her about my dream of moving to Jerusalem. I wanted a simple place, just a bed and a computer, just so long as I was warm, I didn't much care. Turns out that staying warm is a big problem in Jerusalem in the winter. There are almost no apartments with central heating, in fact it is bone chillingly miserable, even the malls aren't heated.
When I thought about living in the other areas of Israel, they didn't inspire me like Jerusalem did. So after an hour, I decided to scrap moving to Israel. I learned to appreciate what I have here in Los Angeles. So, I will turn my focus to Hollywood and write about that, try to meet people, find a job connected to Hollywood.
So my two favorite shuls in my community have banned me, I will move on to the other shuls and eventually hope to get back in at those two. I told her that nothing seems to have meaning and excitement to me at the moment except Jerusalem, and she said I seemed to have a classic case of depression. Then I felt better. I purchased a book of Hollywood producers contact info, $52, and off I go to make new business cards for me.
Rumdar writes: Wise move Levi. Let's face it. The reason our forefathers came to this great land was so they and we could live the good life. They escaped repression and hovels with no central heating so we could grow up to be spoiled Americans (and Canadians, for Master Weissblott). Why would you ever want to go retro? I lived in Japan for several months some years ago. No central heat. It was bloody cold outside and it was colder inside. Everyone sat around a coffee table with a heating coil underneath. Half your body was napalmed and the other half was an icicle. The only thing medium done was the genitalia. It was miserable in the winter. You made a good decision. Buck Up, take your meds and get to work.
Chaim writes: Wow, so all it took was the fear of a bit of chill to get you to change your mind? Luke, your therapist's advice is the best fifty dollars I ever spent.
Luke says: Do you recommend any particular writing camps where I can hone my fiction and become the novelist we all want me to be?
Rumdar writes: A waste of time and money. You don't need that crap. You have been writing for years. Pick a subject and get going. Remember though you must have a subject, experiences if you will, to write about. Hemingway, War and Bullfighting, Fitzgerald, The Jazz Age, Roth, The Jewish Experience, LUKE ??? BTW Henry Miller suggested a good way to get started in the morning. If you are suffering a block start writing anything. A letter, E mail, poems, after ten minutes or so the brain warms up and off you go on the Great American Novel.
Bomba By Momma
Luke's mom writes: Dear Luke: You could die anywhere. But does it have to be in Jerusalem? Soon? You tend to think later rather than sooner about things. Why go now when Israel is even more at war than usual? No need to answer. Just think.
Mom, mum, mummy, momma Š we all agree.
Rumdar writes: Listen to your mother buddy. There is not enough Torahism in LA? In Boca Raton? In New York? You gotta go to a war zone where some guy with a turban is going "Allah iz vonderful" BA BOOOOOOM! Try and relax. Mellow out. Why not give the Jewish shtick a rest. No one doubts your commitment. Take a month or so off and study a new religion? You could become an authority on religions. Instead of porno, the newspapers will call you concerning your take on the various religions of the world. "Call that Ford guy to check out this item about Shintoism" How about a short course on Buddhism? They got gold temples, offerings, reincarnation, incense and Tiny Heiny Asian chicks. Above all, get a grip. Please!
Chaim Amalek writes: I dunno. You only live once, and you only die once, too. The question is what will Levy/Luke do, in Israel, that would be sufficiently productive to justify the personal upheaval and (still not too bad) personal risk? On the one hand, a stint in Israel amongst all those nervous jews might be just what you need to get you back into the Christian/rationalist fold. On the other hand, you might end up another Baruch Goldstein, or whoever that guy was who shot up that mosque.
Helpful writes: Does anyone know if there even is a Kinkos in Tel Aviv?
Cindi writes: Luke, I hope you are doing well and adjusting to your new life. I also hope for all of "our" sakes, you don't like it and go back and take over your site. Or maybe we can just turn Luke ford.net into an "anti-porn" religion site where we all talk about how "bad" we are because we practice porn.
We are all praying that this is a publicity stunt as you have pulled before, and will come back and rescue us. Also the new dude [at lukeford.com], whoever he is, doesn't answer back to his e-mail received which is really going to cause him problems with us folks who expect at least a reply when we take the time to bother e-mailing, especially when we have been spoiled by you who ALWAYS writes back promptly. Although I am wondering if you are going to answer this e-mail, because I am a part of your old life, and I don't know if you are going to keep porners as friends in your new life. But I hope so.
Chaim Amalek writes: I will play devil's advocate (AMALEK is good at that). I am not quite the cynic most take me for. Certainly moving to Israel would be a swift kick in your rear, but let's talk some practical stuff first.
First of all, I am a big believer in preparation, preparation, preparation. It is not a good idea for you to move to Israel if only to be a leach. You will need to support yourself somehow. Have you got a plan? For how long will you live there?
Second, it is possible (OK, I think probable) that you will react to living there in one of two ways:
I guess where I come out is you only live once - and you only die once. Go if you want, but FIRST figure out how to support yourself there. Israel does NOT need more haredi parasites.
Luke replies: Is making bets on how long I will last in Israel a valid way of making a living? How about taking donations from loyal readers of lukeford.net who want to support my study of Torah in the Holy Land?
Rumdar writes: "Guess suicide bombers gotta eat too. Do they fax their Mom and Dad (and Mullahs) farewell from Kinkos before they trip the switch. Maybe we should put our heads together and think of 8 or 10 safe jobs for Levi in Israel. Right now I can't think of any."
Chaim replies: He should establish a social laboratory, funded by good decent liberal Hollywood Jews, in which the ability of Jew and Palestinian to live side by side can be proven. Sort of a version of "Real People" or that sealed dome thingy in the dessert.
Took another look at the old internet homestead, now under new ownership. One of the lamest, most unctuous, servile websites I have ever clicked on to. I also note the very recent odd coincidence that other gossip sites for porn have fallen and cannot get up (eg Q-man ) of late. Coincidence or conspiracy?
Amalek18: Do you have the energy to make it in Israel? Doing what?
A Great Ride
Fred Buccolini writes: Luke, I think I speak for a lot of people when I say I am feeling numb with the loss of lukeford.com. It was the guilty pleasure of many, many people. Hope you regroup soon. It was a great ride!
Here are some domain name ideas for when you go back online.
1) Bipolar porn.com
Liberty writes: Luke, I have been waiting a while before I contacted you. I cannot believe that you have left your website behind. Every morning I would wake up, have some tea, rub my sleepy eyes, and head for the computer to look at your comments. I have lost count of the number of people I have sent your way. They have been calling me to find out if you really sold lukeford.com. I have no answer for them. In the six years that I have been on the internet, there have been several losses which have broken my heart.
1. Napster shutting down
Luke, I don't think you realize how important you have been to so many internet users. I discovered you by accident about two years ago. I had done a search for sex.com, and your website came up. I started to come back now and then to see what you were discussing. Pretty soon, I found myself coming every day, then several times a day. Because of you, I discovered many talented people and many crazy people who are in the porn industry. Lee Noga and JimmyD are two of my favorite people. I thought you and Bob Berkowitz were fantastic together. Bob said he didn't agree with you on 50% of what the two of you discussed, but he really *liked you*! I could tell he liked you when I listened to his show. He often mentioned you. I should have added Berkowitz to my list above. He is gone, too, after eyada.com shut their doors.
I cannot handle another loss. All the fun is being torn away from me by lack of money issues. You, Berkowitz, Napster, Webvan, and Netscape needed money to continue to exist on the internet. Even my friend, Steve, would be alive if he had money. He neglected his health and spent every hour of the day on the internet designing adultsites, trying to be a contender. The stress and the struggle to survive killed him.
Whether the sale of your website is a hoax or the real thing, I want you to know, Luke Ford, that you are the best. You will go on to bigger and better things. I can see you producing movies, writing, having a high-profile radio/TV position...and I don't mean porn! Your work in porn has been an aberration along your path in life. If not now, then very soon...you will be making some wonderful changes, and you will find some happiness in your life. Do you hear me Luke? You will be happy!
Kevin Blatt writes: Luke, I am writing this melancholy letter because I feel it needs to be written for official "closure" of your tenure in Porn.
I can say that the last two and a half years of knowing you has been to say the least "different". As you may recall we met while I was working at YNOT under the great leadership of Rick Muenyong. I believe I found your site one day after listening to a radio debate on 97.1FM in LA with First Amendment attorney Paul Cambria, and AVN Publisher, Paul Fishbein. You were being assaulted on air for your unfounded statements on Porn's elite. I found the show to be particularly funny. I thought to myself, " how can one man provoke so much hatred?" How can one man be so feared that the likes of Larry Flynt, Steve Hirsch, and many other powerful men would cringe at the mention of their names being mentioned on your "faux" gossip site? So I bit, I checked out your site the next day at the office.
I recall seeing an Ethics rating on your site regarding companies to do business within the adult business. This information was solely based on the opinions of your contacts, and not yourself. I recall seeing YNOT as only having two stars next to the name, indicating we were not a good business.
Being the Marketing Director for YNOT, I felt compelled to write you and set you straight about who YNOT was and how we are the "Better Business Bureau" of the adult web. You heard me out completely, you apologized for being misinformed, and more importantly you retracted your ratings. I for one salute you for that. If you recall, I told you I would give you real information on web companies if you chose to write about them. I expressed at the time my concern for the adult web if you chose to infiltrate our nasty business secrets, and hoped to steer you in the right direction.
At times, you were very cordial and charming. I wondered why all the hatred from the Video world existed. Then it happened. You bit me in the ass, and turned a quote around on me that got my ass in some trouble. Once again, I confronted you, warned you, and you did the right thing. Having been a former Journalism major at The Ohio Sate University, I knew the key to being a great writer was having great contacts. That you did have. I know many people that reported to you daily from various organizations what kind nepotism existed, casting couch stories, and flat out collusion in some cases. I always wondered if your contacts were smart enough to cover their own tracks. Some were, and some were not so lucky.
Luke, I did not respect a lot of the hatred you spewed toward some of the forefathers of the industry. I must say that many of these successful business people's lineage went back to porns' beginnings. I have worked alongside of and even for some of these people. I was told in many cases not to talk with you, and honored these people's wishes. While I can't say altogether that you have never burned me on a story, I CAN say that you haven't hurt my career at all. At times, you served as a free PR firm for me and my exploits. The mileage I got promoting Houston, coupled with some of my notorious bouts with Flying Crocodile's Andy Edmond, etc....all helped to create the web persona I now have. While many have feared talking to me and sharing information because of my relationship with you, you know more than anyone just how discretionary I was when it came to leaking anything.
Levi, AKA Luke. I wish you the absolute best of luck in your future endeavors. I know how dedicated you are to becoming an Orthodox Jew. While I think in many cases that is crazier than anything you have ever printed, I salute you for your willingness to embrace a culture that is so opposite from the way you were raised in Australia. Mazel Tov!
I also want to wish the new owners of the site the best of luck. Net Video Girls is smart enough to understand the power of launching a great marketing campaign. For the price they bought the site for, that is exactly what it is... A Marketing Campaign......Net Video Girls, I wish you much success as well. If all the girls on your site are as ugly as the one's on the pop up console, you are going to be needing my help soon :-))
I am available for consulting at firstname.lastname@example.org. Luke, I had to get one last final plug for myself on your site.....it just will not be the same without you. That is, unless they hire me :-))
A New Hope
Jeremy Steele writes: The transfer of ownership of lukeford.com to new hands should cause us to pause and ponder the new cyberhorizons which stand before us, and what directions we want to take. It affords us an opportunity to reflect about the past, in the hopes of creating a brighter future.
Luke Ford managed to make quite a name for himself, and now he has handed the mantle over. Despite how some may have felt about the man, many eyes follow the scrolled lines of luke on a daily basis. But, now will lukeford.com endure? What have been the beneficial aspects of this site? What did lukeford offer that other sites do not? What things about the site could most of us do without? How may this site best serve the industry, itself, and lest we forget, those who work in it?
These are questions I think we should ask. One of the most positive aspects of lukeford.com has been that it has served as a podium; a forum to express one's mind, or lack of if. The chance for a performer to share a story, express sentiments, engage in debate or arguement, makes this business more aware of goings on and establishes more of a sense of community, friendly, or otherwise. And once it is engaged as a community, then things can gradually be improved for everyone within it. A chance for evolution. Who objects to this?
As we all well know, there is no union in this business, and argueably, there never will be. So, how can we all work together to make improved conditions for all workers? By finding or setting up the best, least political, and most democratic forum in the industry that exists. A good case in point, would be taking advantage of the opporunity to speak of a company which abuses talent or bounces checks on workers. By publically stating one's complaint and experience, it serves all, and protects others from falling into the same potholes. It turns a negative into a positive. And there still many negatives in this business..
So there is the opportunity to make many positives.. And I'm not meaning HIV +'s. We can use our easy touch button access to our best advantage, to get involved. And, at the same time, those who want to survey dirt should, assuming our new proprieter takes charge the way ol' Lukey did, should manage to keep themselves non-bored or even entertained. Dirt is fine, and, in fact, basically necessary. As long as it is nothing but dirt. One needs dirt or soil to plant seeds, from which many beneficial things can grow. From the dirt the seeds of truth can emerge, and in grand form. And at the same time, how harshly should we judge.. ASSUMING we already know the facts. Especially if a person owns up to being less than a perfect person at times. That takes bravery in an industry that loves to swirl large hurricanes out of small dust.
What we need to guard against, not only on this site, but collectively, within and even beyond this industry, is wanton, irresponsibly sourceless hear-says. It's funny with Luke Ford having been a religious man that the phrase "Hear-Say" sounds alot like "Heresy". But Luke Ford hardly was ever the originator of this sad reflection of human weakness. I think most of us want to know the truth about people and things.. Perhaps not some absolute truth, but at least a general idea.
The problem is the tendency to never let the truth get in the way of a good story. Anyone who says "Rumour has it that..." needs to know ACCORDING TO WHOM OR WHAT SOURCE? And whoever is told the rumour needs to ask the same thing. Otherwise, it is but a story, and unsubstantial, and not worth the noise pollution. If someone can not authenticate, then it should pass by one's ears like some madman's religious beliefs. You might as well believe everything you read or see on t.v. as fact, whether it is so-called "news", a sit-com or shit-com, Saturday morning cartoons or the WWF. Just about everyone who has been in this business for any substantial amount of time or jobs has had stories about them. That's actually a good gauge of whether you are really a porn star, or not; that you have at least a few good infamous tales told about you.
Have you heard or played the game "telephone" as a kid, and hear how stories change? Are you aware of the biases and embellishments, and the oftentimes need to add something to what one has already heard? The truth is like a fragile vase that if it is going to be passed around, needs to be done so...carefully. More often, however, it is thrown around, and more akin to a china shop of cows and bulls, and all you get are broken and jaged fragments of truth.
If someone has a genuine grievance against someone else, then, if not settled, in private, between the two, this site is a good place to speak. And with that, the other party has the full opportunity to answer, retort, and counter. The less the site is or seems dominated by mental cases, the more it will be taken seriously, too. And by more people getting involved, we can, perhaps, help ensure that. Of course, mental cases are often fun to listen to. I know I've been accused of being one, myself.
News about events and Information about trends in the business is also of benefit. Shameless self-promotion is certainly another opportunity this site affords; one that the new owner has already, as we have seen, capitalized on. But these days, there is way too much of a need to try to put others down. We should, collectively, instead, focus on ways to bring this business, as a whole, up, to a higher plane. This industry makes way too much fucking money and has the attention of too many people outside of it, to continue such an unconscious level of existence.
At the same time, I hope that lukeford.com doesn't entire dull it's crazy edge. It's unorthodox style in the face of it's originator's orthodox religious sentiments made it a place unlike any other. Everyone has some kind of zealous feeling.. Some faith or hope, more-often hidden or buried.. and others have little or none. It's cool, though, to be able to just express oneself, in the name of self-expression. That's what life truly is. The expression of one's most inner being. And that's what I think will continue to make the site enriching, entertaining and unique, as well.
Dennis Prager writes in today's LATimes.com:
Americans would do well to ponder the human and social costs of so much litigation. The legal profession and the party that protects it have helped destroy a lot of goodness. The practice of players throwing the last-out-of-the-inning ball to fans is a kind little gesture. But why would any player now do it, and why should any team allow it?
The legal war against goodness is ubiquitous. Friendly lawyers have warned my wife and me not to allow children who visit our home to jump on our large trampoline. Given the number of children injured each year falling off trampolines, we are setting ourselves up for financial ruin.
We long ago decided to allow children who visit us to use the trampoline. But we know that many parents with trampolines have gone the other way.
The number of acts of joy and kindness the legal profession quashes is growing.
The cost to society from trial lawyers, judges and Americans who look to courts as better bets than lotteries is profound. But the cost to the souls of lawyers may be greater.
Many people who graduate from law school are worse human beings than they were prior to enrolling. Why? Because law school teaches students to stop thinking in moral terms and to start thinking in legal terms--to ask, "Is it legal?" rather than, "Is it right?"
Dennis Prager, 8/8, recalled reading a description of Bill Clinton as our first "white trash" president.
Clinton apparently had brought a guitar with the words "F--- Fascism" to a White House dinner with rocker John Mellancamp.
"I know that a significant portion of our secular elite believe it is no big deal to appear at such a function with the F--- word on your guitar. Particularly when the sentiment is so beautiful."
Dennis lamented the decline of all male institutions such as the Rotary Club, to which he belonged for three years in the early 1980s in Simi Valley. "Where it was macho to do good work."
DP says that men prefer to hang out with men, and women prefer to hang out with men. Sexually, it is probably the other way around. But when it comes to social life outside of marriage, men want to be with men. And generally, women also want to be with men. That's why feminists push so hard to get into every male club. Why don't these feminists just make their own clubs?
Guys prefer to have their own conversations and to be without the inevitable sexual tension that comes with including women.
Now that Rotary Clubs accept women, it is women who are largely running the show. Men drop out rather than compete with women. When men don't have specific duties that they are indispensable for, they will allow women to do the work.
When there were no women in Rotary Clubs, men took on the charity tasks.
Chaim Amalek writes: Would you be willing to do Real World Tel Aviv/Jerusalem in a cool house with lots of hot cool jews and arabs of all genders, getting in each other's faces, trying to prove the many benefits of multiculturalism?
Laconic Luke answers: Yes
Dismayed At Your Departure From LukeFord.com
Catherine writes: Luke, I feel strange and a little invasive directing e-mails regarding what you or anyone should do with their lives, and who am I to know what's best for anyone or what's in their heart...but...Ok, let me begin this a different way. I know you as Luke Ford, an extremely talented man who runs a unique adult site. I've been learning bits about you as a person along the way and there's no doubt that your personality and brilliance are what makes this site so addictive. To me you should be as popular as Howard Stern or as revered as an investigative journalist that breaks important stories. So what if you get it on with porn stars or have any and all the flaws that we all posses? I don't put you on a pedestal as a perfect human being per say, but you are perfectly talented and funny. You embody all the good and bad qualities of men but you're so honest about yourself. I think a lot of the BS you put in your stories is for comic effect and I see right through it. I loved it when I went to look at a picture of Marc Wallice and saw you sitting at your computer instead. I thought "Who's this guy?" then I realized it was you and it was funny to me.
By the way, I had seen Marc Wallice in a few movies and noticed that gaunt, thin skinned look so many people with HIV get and I remember thinking to myself "That guy's got AIDS". So while trolling the Web one night I saw an article about porners with HIV. The name Marc Wallice was mentioned but I didn't put the name and the face together. On a further search on the Web I was led to your site where I discovered that it was the same man I had suspicions about. That's how I began my interest in you and your site. The reason for this e-mail is because I read that your site has been sold. I'm not selfish enough to say that because you entertain me you should sacrifice your own dreams and desires. You have your reasons for moving on and I respect that. But I have to say that you are an important person in our culture. You are too talented not to be doing something that gets you recognition and I want you to be happy. Having said that I am damn disappointed. I envisioned myself having years of fun being a fan of yours. No doubt whatever you do you will be a success. Please know that you were the best and only person that could do what you did. I hope that your health is well and I will continue to follow your career. I got into your bio a little today and I know you're a funny guy so I'm not sure how much of it's true but I'm such a fan I found myself disbelieving anything negative anyone had to say about you. That woman "Lana" that criticized you for being the center of your own universe is ridiculous. We all have one life to live and you should live yours according to what rocks your world. Anyway, after this rambling e-mail I feel a bit ridiculous myself and I know I'm all over the place. I'm stopping short of begging you not to go
Lynne writes: Levi, please adhere to Orthodox tradition and keep me separated from the men on lukeford.net. Their viewpoints on the changes in your life are alien to me. They seem to see this new adventure of yours in terms of what's in it for them, or rather, what's NOT in it for them. They are not bonded over their love of G-d or their desire to see Luke make a transition from adult entertainment journalism. Rather, they seem bonded over "hotties."
"Curious" (a pseudonym for a fellow with a great sense of humor who regularly feels the need to be so cruel and exploitative he must do it anonymously lest he lose his job) wants to know the point of lukeford.net.
People who participate in illicit activities adopt pseudonyms that they may preserve some semblance of their original identity separate from that which elicits disapproval. Lukeford.net SHOULD be a place where one can post under one's real name; where nothing that would embarass a moral person (i.e., Luke's mother) will be posted.
That doesn't mean we should shy away from controversial topics, only that we discuss them rationally as adults rather than as slavering adolescents. But I forget -- most men never mature, or at least one can't count on it. That's why women must be protected against them -- slaves to their raging hormones 365 days a year, it's almost impossible for men to think rationally with testosterone coursing through their systems.
For example, could someone please define "hottie" (without deliberately insulting me)? Aren't you people using "hottie" as one more perjorative synonym for "woman?" Doesn't "hottie" refer to inappropriate, non-sacramental lusting after strangers? If I describe Luke as a "hottie," am I implying I want to attend a Torah lecture with him followed by intellectual discussion? Or do I mean that I want to take him to bed for non-committal premarital sex? How disrespectful!
Oh, How The Mighty Have Fallen
Levi Ben Avraham, a former 15-month Daf Yomi stalwart (a page a day of Talmud study) now banned from his shul and from Lithuanian-influenced polite company in his community, is now reduced to hanging with the Chasidim (ecstatic Orthodox sect) and taking beginner's classes with Jewish dilettantes at institutions officially dedicated to tolerance.
This week I've taken two beginners classes where the rabbi shows exotic slides in the background to dramatize portions of sacred texts translated into English. We all take turns reading a paragraph of English text and then sharing our feelings. Meanwhile, the real learning is going on next door, in the House of Study (Beit Midrash) where most everyone wears black and Levi Ben Avraham fears to tread.
The nice young rabbi called me Luke, even though I introduced myself to everyone in the class as Levi. He must see through my frum (religious) disguise.
I take other beginner Jewish classes which play excerpts from TV shows and movies as stimuluses to discussions of ethics which weave in Jewish themes tangentially. And when I see people connected to authentic Jewish life, they ask what's happened to me...and wonder how a Torah Jew could get involved with the dark side...and then they understand, because I'm not a real Jew anyway.
I stepped into a Jewish bookstore Wednesday afternoon to buy tefillin and they said I had to come back when the rabbi was there. The most rigorous Jewish bookstores won't sell tefillin to just anybody, you have to prove yourself before they will sell you these sacred objects.
It's only that I've lost community and my tefillin that I now truly value what I had. And won't have again for a long time.
So I must prove my Jewish bonafides and move to Jerusalem in the next two months.
Rumdar writes: Why don't you move to Boca Ratan? I hear the place is loaded with Jews fleeing the Cuban invasion of Miami. My buddy Mel calls it Kosher Ratan. Cheaper airfare to get there too.
Luke Gets Mail
Fred writes: Luke-- I hereby encourage you to find out what pictures Bob's future wife [Cassie] has been in... If you could e-mail photographs to the advisory group so that we can render appropriate comments, that would also be appreciated. After all, I think we owe a collective responsibility to Mr. Jones, to ensure that he's getting involved with a young lady of proper character. BTW, what is the name of the future Mrs. Jones?
BTW, I'm sorry I'm not in the LA area. I would have liked to check out that [Schwarznaeger owned] bar, but then again, I suppose I'm the sort of person who is always trying to keep up with the Joneses.
Rumdar writes: I don't believe a no answer will be forthcoming from this young actress should Mr. Jones supply enough "green energy" to win her heart. Shekels are a girl's best friend.
Bob Jones writes: You're a very cynical person. One thing I've found living in LA is that the quality of the the LA-raised young man (referred to locally as "scum") is quite poor regardless of income. Many girls like a gent who buys them floors, opens the door for them, and lies to them with such a sincere expression on his face that they can't tell. Locally, this is referred to as treating a woman with "respect." In all seriousness, I've dated a couple of hotties since I've been here, and I keep being told that I'm the best boyfriend they ever had.
Rumdar replies: I plead guilty to being a cynic. I agree with you that LA women are starving for affection from someone (anyone) with East Coast manners. I never thought we had good manners on the EC until I heard the California guys operate. Keep opening those door and draping your sports coat over puddles of water and you should do well.
Curious writes: Well, I went to lukeford.net and zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz .... I mean where is the beef .... er .... tofu ..... er .... point?
Chatting With John Douglas
Ultraindy: Hiya Lukey, It's me, John Douglas. So you're gone for good, eh? What I was wondering is what are you doing with your time now? Clearly you have some dough from the sale of the site and are not rushing out to get a job (not that I think you would had you not gotten a payday from your site). And I can't imagine that your temple has just immediately thrown its arms open to take you back yet. So how have you been spending your week so far?
Ultraindy: I figured you would burn out or do something worse if you kept going.
Luzdedos1: I've completely walked away
Ultraindy: I find the last part the most unbelievable of the three. You have always struck me as being too narcisistic to just look away when someone is talking about you.
From the VillageVoice.com: In the short-lived CBS sitcom Some of My Best Friends, a straight bridge-and-tunnel guy mistakes "GWM" for Guy With Money in a roommate ad and unwittingly moves in with a gay man. When the straight guy realizes that the Barbra poster on the wall doesn't mean his roommate is Jewish, he goes into shock. But by the second episode, he's learned to play gay, laugh out loud at the femme friend's campy jokes, and even prance around in silky, butt-hugging workout pants.
Although it's hardly realistic about the homo savvy of Italian guys from Brooklyn, this new sitcom demonstrates that the gay makeover of the straight American male has reached prime time. But this process has been evident for years in big cities where gay men are rewriting the rules of what it takes to be the ideal man. Glossy magazines have noticed that straight men are looking more gay, but the influence is more than a matter of working out, waxing, and wearing Prada. It involves a profound change in consciousness, reflected in everything from greeting gay buddies with a kiss to treating women the way other women—and most gay men—do.