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Peter Bart Suspended By Variety

Peter Benton Bart was born in 1932 and raised on Manhattan's Upper West side by two public school teachers who immigrated from Austria to the United States.

Bart doesn't like to admit that he's Jewish but the September 2001 issue of Los Angeles magazine revealed that his mother's maiden name was Clara Ginsberg. She came through Ellis Island in 1914 and her passenger record reads: "Ethnicity: Austria (Hebrew)."

"I don't want to talk about it," Bart says of his religious heritage, to LA magazine. "I resent people's militancy on these issues. Everyone wants to peg everyone else because everyone is predictable. And I'm not."

Bart told LA mag he's never dated a Jewish girl, never attended a seder, and only attended synagogue once, for the bar mitzvah of then-agent Michael Ovitz's son. ("I wanted to see what one was like.")

"Listen, I got berated by the vice president in charge of business affairs at Paramount," he says, "because I did not take off Jewish holidays. And I was affronted. I basically told him to mind his own damned business." (LA Magazine 9/01)

Bart compared himself to his longtime assistant, a light-skinned black woman: "She struggles with this, too. She feels she's a black person. But she's about as black as Felix [Bart's Siamese cat]. I feel she is a bit victimized by, again, that need to identify with some subculture that will help you.

"You talk to a lot of the better-educated, wealthy black people. You know, they're not very black. The big distinction is between the people they call 'niggers'--who are the ghetto blacks, who can't even speak, can't get a job, and bury themselves in black-itude--and those people who are better looking, better educated, smarter, and who own the world: the black middle class," he says. "A lot of people in Hollywood--let's say if they happen to be Jewish people who come from Brooklyn--they are most comfortable with those people. Which is fine. It just doesn't happen to describe me."

A few minutes later he asks LA magazine's Amy Wallace, "Can you and I make a deal about this whole thing about religion? I would love it if we could dodge it in some way that you don't think is dishonest." He will repeat this request to Wallace several times.

From 1990-2001, Bart was the most influential writer on Hollywood (and described as "the most hated man in Hollywood"). Though he's largely unknown by those outside of the entertainment industry, Bart dominated TV and movie journalism by virtue of his bully pulpit at Variety where he served as editor and chief columnist of Daily Variety and Weekly Variety. Variety is the most read and most influential trade magazine of the entertainment industry (its one competitor is the Hollywood Reporter).

Trade journalism is not really journalism, as trade papers inevitably serve their constituencies more than cover them. More than 90% of advertising in trade papers like Variety come from the industry they purport to cover.

Peter also wrote bimonthly pieces for GQ. In an industry filled with lies and flattery, Bart's writing is unusually frank. He's willing to diss the big boys like Barry Diller, Paul Newman and Warren Beatty.

Bart's lived in Los Angeles since the 1960s, serving as a reporter for the New York Times, an executive at three movie studios, an author of novels and nonfiction as well as an independent film producer and screenwriter.

In her devastating September 2001 profile of Bart, Los Angeles magazine's reporter Amy Wallace notes there are "two keys to success in Hollywood: relationships and information. Bart traffics in both. He lunches almost every day with a studio chief, a marketing executive, a top manager or talent agency head, an entertainment lawyer or lobbyist."

Los Angeles magazine's cover story on Bart had the industry talking when it became public Friday, August 17th. Wallace's story noted:

* Bart claimed he fired reporter Anita Busch and Dave Robb from Variety. In fact, Variety's personnel department confirmed they both quit.

* Bart said on the TV show "Politically Incorrect" in May, 2001 that "I'm the only Republican here." Bart's been a registered Democrat since 1994.

* Bart can speak disparagingly about many groups: the French, Germans, blacks, Jews, lawyers, agents, actors, publicists, feminists, fat people. He uses terms like "fags, bitches, cunts, Nips" in staff meetings.

* Bart's non-existent note taking which doesn't prevent him from quoting his with Hollywood figures. Bart dictates these quotes off the top of his head and inserts them into reporters' stories. They often sound like they've been invented by Peter.

* In a letter to the LA Times, Bart claimed, "I have covered . . . wars." He hasn't.

* A publicist recalls Bart yelling at her, "I ran three studios and I will not be dictated to by a fucking flack!" Bart has run no studios.

* Colleagues told LA magazine that Bart makes things up. "His relationship to the truth is very plastic. I'd go on interviews with him and he'd write something and I'd think, 'Were we in the same room?' He's just a storyteller. The narrative needs are more immediate to his imagination than what actually happened."

* In the pages of Variety, Bart praises friends, associates, and even his own movies without acknowledging his involvement. The way Bart practices journalism would get him fired from any legitimate journalistic publication.

* Amy Wallace caught Bart in numerous consequential lies. When Variety reviewer Joe McBride ripped Paramount's movie Patriots Games, Bart wrote the studio's then CEO Martin S. Davis: "I know that you and Stanley [Jaffe] feel that Variety has developed an anti-Paramount tilt in its coverage. This distresses me--we go back together many years and I personally feel a keen sense of camaraderie. Clearly you feel, however, that the 'old comrades' aren't taking care of each other. If that's your feeling, you and Stanley deserve better and I intend to take personal charge of this situation to set it right." Bart told Wallace he'd written no such note.

* Wallace established that Peter Bart sold scripts on the side to persons he purportedly covers. Wallace caught Bart in numerous lies over this. In 1998, Michelle Manning at Paramount bought the purported Bart novel Power Play, which only runs 86 pages and looks like it was put together from Peter Bart's script of the same story - Crossroaders.

Bart succeeded Victor Navasky, now the publisher of The Nation, as editor of the college newspaper at Swarthmore. After majoring in politics, Bart briefly worked as a copyboy at The New York Times, and then had a fellowship at the London School of Economics. In 1956, the Wall Street Journal hired him. Around 1960, he went back to the New York Times to cover advertising and the media. He married publicist Dorothy Callman in 1961. They had their first daughter, Colby, in 1962.

In 1964 Bart became a national correspondent in Los Angeles. In 1966 his second daughter, Dilys, was born. Around the same time, he wrote a flattering profile of producer Robert Evans. Charles Bluhdorn, the new owner of Paramount, read the article and hired Evans, before he ever made one movie, as vice-president.

In 1967, Evans became Paramount's youngest-ever production chief. He hired Bart as his number two. Together they decided what movies would get made, writes Wallace in LA magazine. During their reign, Paramount produced such hits as Harold and Maude, Rosemary's Baby; Goodbye, Columbus; Love Story; The Godfather; Don't Look Now; Chinatown; The Godfather II; The Conversation.

When Barry Diller came in as Paramount's new studio chief in 1974, he forced Bart out, according to speculation. Bart has jabbed at Diller eversince, repeatedly claiming that Bluhdorn tried to marry off Diller so nobody would believe the persistent rumor that he was gay. Evans and Diller deny the veracity of the story.

Many people in Hollywood would agree with the following comment about Diller by Bart, but few persons would have the courage to say it: "He treats everyone like shit."

According to Amy Wallace, Variety paid Bart about $500,000 a year including bonuses, a green BMW convertible and a lavish expense account.

Peter took over Weekly Variety out of New York in 1989. At the time it was losing $3 million a year and circulation had dropped from 52,000 in 1980 to less than 29,000. Bart turned the ship around, upgraded from newsprint to glossy paper, and assembled a new staff. In 1991, he took over Daily Variety, merged the staffs and returned to Los Angeles.

Bart has a hard time with those parts of reality he doesn't like. For instance, he won't admit that he's Jewish. And he won't admit that Variety is a trade paper. Trade publications aren't regarded as serious journalism by serious journalists and those who crave serious journalism.

"Bart has made Variety more global, more sophisticated, more fun to read," writes Wallace. "Staffers praise him for hating all the right things: lawyers, committees, focus groups--anything that obstructs Variety's (and his own) ability to act quickly, on instinct."

Wallace writes that "Taking care of each other" is Bart's defining editorial principle vis-a-vis the Hollywood oligopoly. "He may be editor-in-chief of Variety, but he is still one of them."

Bart routinely calls his favorite sources--Guber, Ovitz, Weinstein, Evans, producer Arnon Milchan--to vet stories and make adjustments.

At a gala tribute to Bart at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in 1997, Guber began the roast with this joke: "Will everyone here who owes Peter a favor for having killed a negative story please remain seated?" The room--filled with Hollywood's heaviest hitters--erupted in laughter. Everybody stayed in their seats. (LA magazine 9/01)

The media seized on Bart's alleged slurs as his reason for suspension from Variety following the Los Angeles magazine piece.

From the 8/18/01 LA Times: "Peter Bart, long one of the most powerful and controversial figures in Hollywood, was suspended Friday from his job as editor in chief of Variety, the dominant trade paper in the entertainment industry, pending an investigation of charges that he has behaved unethically and frequently used racist, sexist and anti-gay language."

Bernard Weinraub writes in the 8/18/01 New York Times: "HOLLYWOOD, Aug. 17 — Peter Bart, the editor in chief of Variety and one of the most powerful journalists in Hollywood, was suspended today because of derogatory comments about blacks, Jews and gays that were attributed to him in a magazine article.

"The article, in the September issue of Los Angeles Magazine, said that, according to more than a half-dozen people, Mr. Bart uses derogatory terms about other minorities, gays and women at meetings. It also quotes him using disparaging language about some blacks."

Is Israel A Death Trap For Jews?

Chaim Amalek writes: Politically, isn't zionism a 19th century solution to a problem that peaked in the first half of the 20th century? Jews are far safer in the Golden Medina of America than they are in Israel. In fact, where else are so many jews at such great risk of physical annihilation as Israel? If the point of Israel was to provide a refuge, has it not failed?

Lynne replies: What use is the physical without the spiritual? America preserves Jewish flesh as it flattens Jewish souls. Here in America, Jews lose their identity and fail to reproduce their identity as a people whereas, in Israel, a few Jews sacrifice their lives in the here and now so that prophecies may be fulfilled, the temple rebuilt and a new era of peace and harmony reborn around the world. Here in America Jews grow fat, fatter and fattest, and also complacent. Israel keeps Jews lean, mean and prepared for Armageddon. Put down your bagel, Fat Boy! Fight for your heritage!

It Won't Work

Chaim Amalek writes: Comment on the triumphalism amongst the orthodox. Luke, every reform and conservative jew can trace his line of descent back to an orthodox jew. Clearly over the centuries, uncounted millions of jews have found orthodoxy to be wanting, and have chosen assimilation over that world. And that's why there seems to be so much agreement amongst them - the dissenters have had to leave. (True of every fanatic organization, including the communist parties that jews founded in the 19th - 20th centuries. There too, was found great confidence and a triumphalist sense of being on the vanguard of morality/history.) Yes, the orthodox have high birth rates, but they obtain this by blinding their children to the wider world and, in increasing numbers of cases, even going so far as to keep them nearly ignorant of english. Thanks to their stand-offish ways they have few friends in this country, and when things go bad for them, they will go bad in a hurry.

In the end, your own sense of intellectual curiosity and skepticism is going to drive you away from the haredim. Intellectual honesty and jewish orthodoxy (such as it is today) cannot coexist.

Lynne writes: Every Reform and Conservative Jew can trace his or her line of descent back to a salamander as well, according to Darwin... Over the last couple of centuries, millions of Jews have given in to the secular, chosen pork fried rice and other heresy over orthodoxy. That doesn't make them more spiritually endowed. My grandfather, Max L-patin, was a proud Jewish Trotskyite who left the Czar's Russia because he didn't want to serve in the military, so I am familiar with the scenario you describe there. I don't care about vanguard. I don't care about assimilation, nor disagreement. I tried conservative and reform synagogues over the past year and found both to be standoffish and unwelcoming. Chabad invited me in and, like a vampire, I took advantage of the opportunity and am making myself at home.

How can the orthodox have high birth rates by "blinding their CHILDREN to the outside world?" The Chabad girls I met, by the way, are every bit as savvy about culture and style as their secular counterparts. They're just smart enough to know the difference between "meaningful" and "going along with the crowd." They all speak excellent English, and they vie over who will bring me my supper. Luke thinks they are "innocent" because they are untainted by the secular world. I think that, given a choice, most people would prefer not to bring their kids up in the sewers.

Intellectual honesty and Jewish orthodoxy cannot co-exist? I don't know if intellectual honesty and spirituality of any kind can co-exist, but I know for sure that intellectual honesty and pornography CANNOT co-exist (which would explain why men who prefer porn over spirituality are stupid enough to lie to themselves..."

The Bifurcation Point

Chaim Amalek writes: Fred, you're just saying that because you still fantasize about leaving the male geek worlds of engineering/patent law and moving from Silicon Valley to Silicone Valley, where you hope Luke will introduce you to the world of hot porno chicks who are in porn only because they have not met a nice jewish lawyer like you to rescue them from porn just as Luke will rescue you from patent law. It will never happen, Fred. Move to LA, and at most Luke will introduce you to the world of Torah women and the study of the talmud. And all the hotties among them (?) will try to fix you up with their Maiden Aunts - at best. Sorry, but the window of opportunity that Luke presented to you has now CLOSED. (Even Lynne L-patin is going orthodox on us, as she moves away from the world of breeders to a new phase in her life.)

I think your best bet is that hot young boy-goy whom we know as Quasarman. He still has lots of contacts in the business, and knows a great many fully disfunctional young blonde shiksa goddesses who would lunge at the chance to meet a nice jewish lawyer/accountant/dentist. Plus, he has promised to pimp for me if I can bring over all of Luke's old kehilla (that means religious community). So let's all acknowledge that lukeford.com is dead and lukeford.net is for serious discussions of torah - not to be soiled with empty gossip and certainly not pornography. We will have to entertain ourselves elsewhere as Luke rises above us.

Fred writes: Chaim, I fear you are correct. I have to figure out some way of ingratiating myself with Quasarman. I don't suppose he needs any patent applications written, eh? Maybe he's looking for a larger advisory committee to provide him with free editorial content.

Actually, figuring out how to ingratiate myself with Rob Black would probably be one hell of a trip. However, I am reminded of a remark by Otto von Bismark about the similarity between laws and sausages: it's best if you not watch while they're being made. I have the feeling that the same is true of Mr. Black's work product.

What Fred Should Do before he dies of old age

Chaim Amalek writes: Fred, I propose that if you go into this, you go ALL the way - as a producer of product yourself. After all, it won't cost much money, you know how, you are smarter than the average successful porner, and you have all the contacts that come from knowing the old Luke. This will give you a new career, and the chance at the sort of female flesh you can only dream about as a mere patent lawyer. You only live once, you are not encumbered by any weird Schneerson fetish (Lynne HAS gone nuts - such is the fate of the single woman going through the change), and there is really no reason NOT to do this, especially since you would be leaving the patent geek world behind. I say you go for it. YOU CAN DO IT!

Luke Gets Mail

Michel writes: I've been reading your new site quite intensely the last week and I can't purge myself of the feeling that this new website and it contents are probably making more and more sense to you but less and less sense to your readers.

The combination between your porn journalism and your quircky spiritual life you were trying to live was fun, vibrant and sometimes addictive. Here is this guy that is himself on the road to being an orthodox jew, which is for most european norms on the extreme right of the social spectrum and he is covering a subject that only extreme leftwingers would dare to touch with a bargepole.

It's this contradiction in the terms that made you who you are. You are popular because of this. This religious life you are living is bringing you ever closer to your own happiness, or so you think ... What would Luke/Levy be without his internal contradictions, he wouldn't be the Luke we all love and admire, he would become Norm, the normal jew. And be sure not many people would read http://www.normford.com/ .

Lynne writes: Last week in shul we discussed false prophets; why we have them and what to do about them. Hashem gave us both good and evil, so that we would have a way to evaluate and do good, rather than evil. Your "advisory committee," especially when it calls itself "sacred," is clearly not on the side of Hashem. It would have you worship false gods for a "novel spiritual experience." Torah is quite clear on what to do with false prophets, and I shall start collecting stones and practicing my aim so that I may protect your honor and your virtue.

Palestinians follow a false prophet. If we truly followed a literal interpretation of Torah, we would wipe all Arabs and Christians from the planet, kill their cattle and salt their fields. That we don't is primarily a matter of maintaining good public relations with the rest of the world, but Hashem Himself encourages self-defense by the Jewish people. I think we've seen what happens when we don't defend ourselves -- Arabs have declared Jihad against us, Christians persecuted us for centuries and devised a "Final Solution." Enemies of Hashem are enemies of the Jews.

We must never forget that. Luke, in one morning I am faced with those who would have you run backwards as quickly as possible to a life that led you nowhere (except to me, for which I am grateful.) You do have violent polarities in your nature, which will only be overcome with dedication to really living Torah. This time perhaps you will pay more than lip service to what you are hearing, and put it into practice in your life on a daily basis.

My goal is to learn enough Jewish theology so that I can remind you of what and where to find the references you need to modulate your interaction. Rabbi Schneerson and I are so much in harmony in our thinking that I know he did most of the work for me -- I need only find it. I don't mind your extremes -- remember what I said to you a few weeks ago about risk? He who never risks going too far will never know how far he can go. You are young and strong and brilliant, and I would rather watch your excesses and say, "Yes, dear" than worry about extremes. Not that I will encourage them, but unless you endanger yourself, I won't worry. You are like a pendulum...and eventually will balance in the middle.

Luke Learns For Ukrainian Jews

So I spent all day Sunday learning. There was a Torathon at a local orthodox shul to raise money to send the best assimilated Ukrainian jewish kids to Israel to learn torah. We had nonstop classes from 9am-7pm.

The sad pathetic truth is that the only thing that brings Luke satisfaction anymore is Torah. Even though Luke/Levi may be an unworthy vessel for Torah, that truth remains. Everything else seems such foolishness to me. I can't get excited anymore by worldliness.

A famous rabbi gave the second talk tpdau - on the Power of Repentance. He didn't mention anything specific about what former porn journalists can do to get back into their shul but the whole lecture spoke to me. I was scared to death I'd get thrown out, but by keeping my eyes averted and my body tucked away in the back row, I lasted the day.

The event attracted about 70 yeshiva girls and about six yeshiva guys...and me and a few other older men. I am happiest when I am hanging with yeshiva guys studying text...and my favorite people in the world are rabbis and torah scholars. I want to cast my lot in with them.

Chaim writes: Maybe the final solution to your problem is for you to find a nice jewish girl with a wealthy father who is willing to support his son inlaw in endless hours of talmudic study.

Rumdar writes: Levi..You are easily satisfied in life. You know what makes you happy. Keep at it. On the other hand, life is boring for the former advisory committee now that we don't receive too many of your E mails anymore. And E like today's are rather zzzzzzzzzzzz!

Helpful writes: Perhaps the sacred work of the Advisory Committee is done? We have guided him out of the quagmire of porn and into civilized society. Is it time for a new subject? I think Jenna Bush needs us far more than Luke does now.

Khunrum writes: And we need Jenna to replace Luke now that he has become ultra boring. First thing I suggest we advise Jenna to do is: Continue being the obnoxious pampered, drunken little guttersnipe we know you are. Keep on...getting shit faced and causing scandals. Give us a big one to enjoy. Get caught in a Dallas motel with Michael Irving and a bunch of coke. The country is counting on you Jenna (and your corpulent sister Barbara) to supply us with a huge boost and take our minds off how your father is running the country into the ground. We lost all our money in the market Jenna. Come on, make us feel happy again. Do something really nasty and get caught. Do you guys think this is valid advice?

Fred writes: I think the advisory committe needs to guide Levi back into porn.

Helpful writes: I predict in good time our Luke will return to porn once he gets a bitter taste of "civilized society."

Luke's mom writes: It's hard to be you, Luke, because you have such opposite polarities in your nature--which is exhausting without having the additional physical problem. For instance, your statement re: the killing of Palestinians. You side with Israel because you're one of them.

When you are in black and white mode, you are so on the right extreme (more so than your dad). No wonder you burst out on the left. Trying to hold both ends of your personality in must take all you have in energy. Couldn't you moderate it and find an inbetween personality? Call him Norm.

I don't think reading Penthouse, etc. at age 16, 17 was such a terrible thing. You were just a typical male, no outlet for sex and at the height of sexual prowess. You seem to think it was such a big deal, but I think 99 percent of males would think it pretty normal.

On the books I have sent, choice isn't everything as our new cat is hyperactive and the vet says he's mentally ill. It can't be "Purr, purr, I think I'll be crazy today." Jasper didn't choose it; it has to be physical in a cat. But I guess with humans, choice gives you a chance to somewhat overcome the physiology. I think you have more capacity to choose than most.

But I feel for you. Your current situation is hard. You want to do the right thing, but your health is against you. It's a thing to admire that you are trying.

Let Us Treasure Diversity

Chaim Amalek writes: Luke, where were YOU when Crown Heights erupted in a violent pogrom ten years ago? What are YOU doing to increase "shalom bais" between jews and shvartzes?

Luke says: I was living in my parents home in lily white redneck Norther California, in the foothills above Sacramento. To increase peace between Jews and blacks, I am studying Torah, because as the good [Jewish prayer] book says, Torah scholars increase peace in the world.

Also, I regularly spend my Sundays going door to door in South Central Los Angeles, handing out tracts on ethical monotheism and inviting the darker skinned people to my synagogue for kiddish on shabbos.

Wandering Luke

I wandered around my neighborhood on long walks this shabbos seeking my new home. I seek a religious/spiritual/jewish home to replace the one I was ejected from two months ago and I seek a new profession that will enable me to earn a living with dignity and be a blessing to the world.

I spent my shabbos totally among the orthodox and marvelled at their strength and vitality. I thought about the sacrifices I am making to live my life fully in consonance with Orthodox Judaism. I feel a part of a 3200-year Jewish process - the triumph of the rigorists. As Christian author Paul Johnson pointed out, in the history of Israel, the rigorists win out. Thirty two hundred years ago, Moses imposed his teachings on a group of rebellious ex-slaves. Five hundred years later, it was uncompromising Judah that survived while the compromising Northern Kingdom, the Ten Tribes, disappeared from history. Five hundred years later, it was the uncompromising and zealous Maccabees who triumphed over the assimilating Hellenic Jews in the Chanukkah triumph. In the first century of the Common Era, Pharisaic Judaism expelled the followers of Jesus from Jewish life. Over the next thousand years, rabbinic Judaism triumphed over the Karaites. Now Orthodoxy is triumphing over the compromising Reform and Conservative movements. And within Orthodoxy, Right-wing Orthodoxy is beating Modern Orthodoxy.

I also feel that I am replaying my father's moment in 1980 when he was asked to recant his heretical views. See chapter two of my autobiography. My father refused to recant and was thrown out of his community. I am recanting and hope to work my way back into mine. I also feel like I am coming full circle from the character arcs in Chaim Potok's novels which sees them embracing modernity and self over tradition and community.

Lynne writes: I see the similarity between your current position and your father's at the time of his "heresy," but what are you recanting, Luke? In your dad's case, after much thought and in the Name of G-d, he disagreed with a fundamental principle of his church, challenged it, and was forced to leave. In your case, you knew what you were doing was wrong (both the involvement with pornography via the website and your personal conduct in shul, especially with women) and you hid it until you were forced out, more than once. But in the back of your mind you ALWAYS "knew" you were wrong, hence your personal angst over trying to combine your Orthodox Judaism and porn. You made up many secular excuses as to why you should continue with the site.

Hashem called you to be a Jew. Hashem also allowed you to delve into pornography until it consumed your entire life, even interfering with your worship of Him. Yes, you have free will, but your strength tends to be used in opposition to change and instigating trouble rather than instigating change and forging ahead.

From my perspective, I see both your calling to Judaism and your study of pornography as essential parts of who you are. It is specifically the combination of the two that attracted me to you. I had spent ten loving years with a man who despised spirituality; obviously, especially following his death, I was ready for the answers that could only come from the soul. My soul is and will always be Jewish.

Without your expertise in adult entertainment, I could not have thought of you as a peer, nor would you have been in a position to reach out to me spiritually despite my profession.

What we now have in common is that we both are highly intelligent, well-read writers and deeply spiritual Jews. We share a common past that we are leaving behind for an uncertain future.

I am enjoying the book I am reading on the philosophy of the Rebbe, and in the chapter on marriage I find the following: "Even though a husband and wife are constantly teaching each other, they are not each other's teacher or authority figure. They are each other's closest friends--equal friends." We have always been fortunate in our friendship.

If you get past the "naughty bits [of D.H. Lawrence]," his message is that characters fight modernity in vain, withing to return or cling to traditions and experiences which prove ephemeral and transient. We can hide from the world, or we can fight to maintain our values and standards in the face of a changing world. The latter is far more difficult, but is of ultimately more benefit to society. In isolation, we have little impact on others. When we demonstrate to others through our own example that living in the modern world does not automatically mean we must compromise our mores and values, we give them hope that, in time, with our support and their efforts, they also will be able to maintain their personal morality in these discouraging times.

Fred writes: L-- Just curious. Since "seeing the light", have you a) monitored RAME, quasarmanrants, generossextreme, lukeford.com, or any of your own cyberhaunts? Or have you gone cold turkey? Also, have you chatted with Brandy, Kendra or any of your other female porn buddies? Any sneaking over to sleazy web sites to trawl through the sewers?

By the way--if I recall correctly, Lynn L-patin has a slew of tattoos, no? If she does connect with some orthodox guy to the point of intimacy, I think this guy will be somewhat surprised, don't you think?

Levi says: I check QuasarmanRants.com and lukeford.com once in a while and I do stay in touch with Brandy and Kendra. But no sneaking over to the sleazy web sites to trawl through the sewers.

Lynne writes: Should the time comes that I find myself ready to remarry, I would think that the proper time and place to disclose my tattooing to my future husband would be during a premarital counseling session with our rabbi. I would also think that the right man would be titillated knowing he has something unique that can never be shared with anyone else in the community...

Skeptical Fred writes: I was surprised when Luke ditched lukeford.com. I wasn't willing to bet against it, but I didn't think it would happen, and I was surprised when it did.

My first inclination concerning Lynne joining the Lubovitchers was, well, she's trying to keep something in common with Luke. Or maybe she's lonely and seeking some sort of sense of community.

Now she sends stuff to lukeford.net about "Hashem," Rav Schneerson, etc. and this time around my jaw dropped. This does not look like an attempt at irony (or some other form of humor) on Lynne's part.

Chaim Amalek writes: AND she seems to be justifying the most bloodthirsty parts of the bible, too. That's the trouble with baal teshuva or whatever she/he are/is. Lacking in the theological "seasoning" that being reared in a faith provides, they just don't know what to accept and what is insane. The real question is how long can this last?

Lynne writes: I was a Jew long before Luke was born. I told Luke I'd found the Lubovitchers (or rather that they'd found me) and the next thing I knew, Luke announced he was selling his site (and I don't see it as coincidence but you'd have to ask Luke about that.) My husband (definitely NOT coincidentally my best friend) died and I left the porn community, with which I'd been associated for over twenty years -- I'll admit to being very lonely and wanting a new community. And I have no sense of humor whatsoever. Bloodthirsty? Not any more than I ever have been. Hurt my Jew Boy, threaten to hurt my Jew Boy, even fantasize about hurting my Jew Boy and I'll gladly tear you from limb to limb and scatter the pieces in the nearest desert. A whole race of people who want to do my Lukey harm? Genocide waiting for an opportunity!

Lynne L-patin: Have you noticed that, whatever position I take, I am always "nuts?" I enjoy that "woman of valor" rhetoric a lot more than your friends' half-baked bullshit, but at least they are hardening me for my suicide-bombing mission against the Palestinians who would make Eretz Israel unsafe for my darling Lukey-kins...

Lynne L-patin Celebrates Shabbos With Chabad

Lynne L-patin writes: Dear Luke: I had a delightful Shabbos; hope you did as well. Meeting the yeshiva girls was so wonderful.

Earlier I'd gotten a book from the library called "Living a Jewish Life" that was recommended to me by a woman at Shabbos dinner a couple weeks ago, and was reading it Friday evening before welcoming in Shabbat. Basic stuff, but do I ever need it. It talks a lot about the family Shabbat, and about husband/wife stuff. Clearly Jewish men who have "issues" with women are doomed to be secular and miserable because, according to this book, to be an observant Jew means to praise and honor one's wife every week, first in words and then with lovemaking. I couldn't help but compare "eshet chayil" with the way you encourage your "friends" to speak of women. I shall have to ask the rabbi some day if Torah and Talmud have anything to say about men who dishonor women...

Time to light the candles. I light two, because I was married. Not that Bruce would really understand why I would be lighting candles in a Jewish religious ceremony for him. Then I realized that, because you are unmarried and a convert, no woman lights a candle for you. I felt sad for you... I started crying. So until there's another woman who is doing that for you, consider it done.

The girls that lived outside Crown Heights and New York said that they themselves had never been in such a large group of Lubavitch women their own age. They davened separately on Friday afternoon and were so friendly and helpful teaching me basic things, helping with blessings and candles and such. After some other women from the neighborhood showed up, we walked together from the campus to the shul to catch the end of the men's services.

At dinner, because there were over fifty women and only a handful of men, the men had to sit way over in "Siberia," on the side of the building where they couldn't see us to eat their Shabbat dinner. It was funny to see the tables turned in this way, and gave us cause for a little laughter (but just a little, and no disrespect meant).

This morning I attended my first Shabbat morning service with Chabad. It felt so much better than the services I'd previously attended in the other Portland synagogues. Toward the end the yeshiva girls came in and helped me follow along. It will take a while to be able to figure things out, but I don't mind. The sound of the Hebrew was very comforting, and reminded me of my early childhood. As I sat there I felt envy sad at how lucky these young women were to be brought up in security and religion, rather than the way I had to fend for myself, even though fending for myself is what made me so very strong. The girls are young and many of them are very beautiful, and I became envious of how it seems that you find all women desirable other than me. Then Hashem spoke clearly to me: "I think you are beautiful," He said. "You came to me of your own accord, not because you were led to me by your family." Of course, that made me cry. (I do a lot of crying around spirituality, if you haven't noticed.)

In honor of the visiting girls, the rabbi spoke about women, and how they are the jewels in the crown of man, and that without women there would be no Jewish homes. He reminded us that men have over 600 mitzvohs but that women have only eight, and suggested we think of how great our eight must be if they equal all the little things men must remember. This theme was continued during lunch, when several speakers discussed how, without women giving up their jewelry, sanctuaries would not be built, and how women's jewelry honored them symbolically, and so forth.

Wouldn't it be possible that, if you spend more time with men who share these beliefs about women's and have put them into action in their lives and less with those who denigrate women and who don't have quality relationships with them, you will come closer to achieving a loving Jewish home? Women are not "potties" for the consumption of men -- women are the heart and the hearth of all that is good in family life, and to disrespect women is to disrespect G-d. Forgive me -- I feel as though I am stating the obvious, but jokes denigrating women seem a step in the wrong direction.

Dear Luke: I love reading your autobiography -- it puts your present into perspective, and lets me filter out any effect pornography had on your behavior, which was always, to put it gently, odd.

During my high school years, I was so much the opposite of you. I went to four high schools in three years (the first, Mission Viejo High in Orange County, for only six weeks). The other three (Mira Costa High in Manhattan Beach for the rest of my freshman year and one semester of my sophomore year), Earl Warren High in Downey (for the second semester of my sophomore year) and Hamilton High (not far from you in West Los Angeles) for my junior and final year. (I never graduated, but we'll get to that in a few paragraphs.)

Mostly what I did in high school was to get good grades, have as much sex as possible with older men from the community and occasionally fight off my father's attempts at molestation. My only friends were teachers -- mostly I read books in and out of class. During the first six weeks at Mission Viejo High, I lived with my mother in Irvine which, at the time, was still primarily undeveloped farmland surrounding the University of California, Irvine and a housing development called University Park. I'd just turned fourteen.

I met Gary, my first boyfriend and sexual partner (not counting Dad, who had introduced me to the concept of "blow jobs" when I was five or six) through some of the older high school students on the bus. They suggested I hang out with them at their usual spot on the greenbelt, where they would smoke cigarettes (mostly) and pot (occasionally).

At first I refused, as I had a long list of chores posted on the refrigerator that were to be done before my mother and her boyfriend came home from work. (I had another long list that was to be done in the morning before I left for school, including doing their breakfast dishes -- most days I had no time either for my own breakfast or for packing a lunch). My new friends found my life absurd, and encouraged my active rebellion. "It is not your job," they said, "to keep house for your mother. It is your job to enjoy high school and being a kid."

What I enjoyed was Gary's hands on me and his tongue in my mouth, with no idea that there was more to lovemaking than that. Gary was a bad boy all the way -- high school drop out and juvenile hall alumni, the odor of Marlboro cigarettes clinging to his skin. It was common knowledge that his last girlfriend had broken up with him following an abortion. Gary's attention in the afternoons before I raced home before my mother's arrival made up for having to be perfectly obedient all the time she was home and for spending my entire weekend doing housework.

As far as I was concerned, if I was adult enough to be responsible for the house, I was adult enough to have a boyfriend (against my mother's rules, of course.) After a few weeks of equally passionate necking and complaining, I told Gary one Friday that I was determined to run away -- I had no desire to continue as a household slave, ordered to eat in the kitchen (because I held my fork improperly, in the American manner rather than the European) and waiting on my mother and her boyfriend at the dinner table before I did their dishes as they relaxed in front of the television.

Gary suggested that I bring my things to the home of one of our friends. He knew the mother would be away for the weekend, and he would give me a ride from there. We spent the day in her bed, where I had my first sexual experience (not counting Daddy's introduction to blow jobs when I was five or so). It was incomprehensible to me. It felt like he was having an epileptic fit on top of me, and that I had to pee, really, really badly. I was not impressed, but I loved him, so if this was something he wanted, for his sake, we would do it. At the end of the day, he told me he'd decided that I would return home and he would come by in a few days to talk with my mother about normalizing my life.

Not What I Hoped For

Chaim Amalek writes: Rather than post the parsha Pierce this week, I thought it best to have your new internet kehilla discuss what this poor woman should do. (Taken from the inestimable Jewish Press)

By Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

Dear Rebbetzin: I am 26 years old and married for seven years, with two small children, a boy of five and a girl of two, who are both, Baruch Hashem, adorable and give me a lot of nachas. After high school, when I started to date for a shidduch, I felt it would be best if I would marry a boy who worked and, at the same time, was kovea itim (learning on a regular basis).

My decision was based on the fact that my parents were not wealthy people and I knew that they couldn`t offer any substantial support. I was teaching in a girl`s yeshiva, and while I enjoyed my work, the financial remuneration was certainly not adequate to support a family. I was introduced to my husband by a very close friend, and I was told that he had all the qualifications that I was looking for. I knew that I didn`t marry a masmid, but he was learning with a chavrusa, and he was going to minyan every day, so I was satisfied. I guess that in my heart I may have harbored some doubts, because I remember telling him before we got married that I was not interested in being a mother to him — that I wanted him to go to minyan and shurium for his sake, not because I demanded it. He assured me on every count, and I was given positive information by respected people who knew him, and that encouraged me.

Soon after the chasuna, disillusionment set in. First, he gave up going to minyan, then slowly, he gave up his chavrusa. Still, I thought of myself as Rachel, wife of Rabbi Akiva, and I was determined to give him chizuk, and tried to think of ways to inspire him so that he would continue to learn and daven with a minyan, but all my efforts were wasted. When I would try to awaken him in the morning for minyan, he would turn on me with anger and resentment and accuse me of not being sensitive to his needs — his requirement for sleep and rest. Now it`s not that he cannot get up in the morning... it`s only when it comes to davening that he is ``too tired``.

There have been other negative changes as well. He watches TV (he bought a set without my consent); he walks around the house dressed immodestly and speaks to me immodestly, even though he knows that I am mortified by that type of language. Rebbetzin, it has become so bad that I don`t even have a Shabbos anymore. More often than not, he comes home late, showers in the last 18 minutes, and hardly ever goes to Kabbalas Shabbos (It`s just too late to go to shul by the time he`s finished all his preparations.) On Shabbos morning, he regularly sleeps late. If he does go to shul, he arrives for mussaf, or sometimes, he doesn`t go at all.

On many occasions (and I emphasize, on many occasions) I tried to speak to him specifically about Shabbos. Of all my heartaches, it is Shabbos that concerns me the most. My children are getting older. They understand more and more, and they need a father to take them to shul, to preside over a Shabbos tish. On a few occasions, when he allowed me to talk my heart out and things got really tense, he promised to change, but his promises were empty, hollow words. He never came through on any of them.

Not only is he lax Jewishly, but he is totally inconsiderate of any of my needs. He never helps me with housework, he never helps me with the children, and he just assumes that I will take care of everything. Before we got married, we used to be able to talk about things for hours, and now he barely wants to talk to me.

To be totally fair, I must also tell you that my husband is not a bad person, but he has no ``zitsfleish`` for learning. He`s also lax with things like paying bills (which I offered to take care of, but he refuses, and so we always pay interest on credit card bills) and taking care of responsibilities like getting new or fixing old appliances, and myriad other things. I believe that shirking responsibilities is more a part of his personality than, chas v`shalom, disregard for Torah. I feel that my predicament is a challenge to the entire yeshiva system which teaches the boys that there is only a place for them in yiddishkeit if they can learn all day, and if they cannot live up to that, it`s out. What happens is that boys who may be bright and therefore should be able to learn Torah, but don`t have ``zitsfleish``, are lost, and many become much worse than just frum boys who don`t learn — they totally go off the derech.

Please help me sort out my difficulties so I can figure out what that part is. Where do I go from here?

Israel Uses Nude Women To Seduce Palestinian Protesters

From JPost.com:

JERUSALEM (August 15) - The Palestinian Authority daily Al-Hayat al-Jadedah reported on its front page yesterday that "the occupation [Israeli Defense Force] is using naked women to hunt down intifada youth."

The article said that last Friday, during a clash at the Karni Junction, a woman soldier suddenly appeared on top of a tank. "She started to take off her clothes in front of the demonstrators until she was [nearly] naked. Some of the protesters said they were disgusted by it, while others said the Zionist soldier made rude gestures at them," the Palestinian paper reported.

"When they approached to throw stones at her, the female soldier whipped out a pistol from her underwear and shot at their heads," the paper said, adding that two were killed and nine wounded.

The Logic Of Assassination

I always enjoy David Plotz's assessments. But I hated his article today. Re: "Israeli murders." When Israel assassinates Palestinian terrorists, it is it not killing innocent people. That is the definition of murder - killing innocents.

You are so morally warped on this, that you can't tell the moral gulf between Israel and its enemies. Terrorists intentionally murder - innocents, women, children. Israeli in retaliation kills terrorists. Just like capital punishment kills murderers but does not murder them.

JRob writes: The problem is that Israel is not allowing due process (a civil right in the United States) to identify and prove their targets guilty. Other than that, there really isn't a problem with what Israel does with the Palestinians.

The Israelis are a chosen people, who require more living space, and who have identified a particular group of people as the cause of all their problems. So, in order to more easily take their rightful place in the middle east, the Israelis employ the just methods of mass arrests, summary executions, confiscation of property, and deportation to special areas set aside just for the "lower people" without due process.

Hey, it almost worked before in the 30's and 40's.

Luke says: The Jews in Europe would've chopped off their right hands to receive the treatment that Palestinians get from Israel. Israel does not blame the Palestinians for their problems. Israel does object to Palestinian terrorists murdering innocent people.

Luke's mom writes: Did you hear this morning about the attacked on a car that killed a Palestinian activist and his two children? Not quite as clear cut as your viewpoint portrays it.

Luke says: There is still a clearcut difference between terrorists who intentionally target and murder innocent people, and those fighting terrorists who in the course of such fighting, accidentally kill innocents.

JRob writes: Which legal court of law proved that the Palestinians killed were the ones who actually committed acts of terrorism and murder? When were they lawfully arrested, tried, and allowed the opportunity to face their accusers? Or, is it Israel's view that because the dead were Palestinian, they must have done something?

Now, if you are viewing Israel's actions as acts of war, then so too are the acts of the Palestinians. In that case, Israeli citizens killed in the fighting have the same legitimacy as targets as the citizens of Dresden. They lived in the wrong country at the wrong time. The Palestinians are fighting to regain their own country, wrongfully taken from them in a spasm of misplaced world-wide guilt, and they do not have the resources or capability to take on the IDF in a stand up fight. They choose the targets of opportunity available. Perhaps if the Israelis gave back the land they stole, they wouldn't have as many problems.

Luke says: No court of law proved the Palestinians killed were the ones who committed the terrorism. But Israel is not targeting Palestinians indiscriminately. It is targetting Palestinians thought to be behind terrorism. In the battle Israel is facing, it is too costly in Israeli lives to try to arrest and try these Palestinian terrorists.

So yes, I view Israel's actions as acts of a limited battle, perhaps of a war. The bombing of Dresden did not deliberately target innocents, it targeted the city of a belligerent country that launched an evil war. There's no moral equivalence between Germany seeking to take over Europe and commit genocide against the Jews, and the struggle of Jews and Palestinians for the same land. You say Israel stole the land. For Israel to steal something, it must've been owned. Who owned it? There never was an independent Palestinian state there before Israel ruled over the territory. The only independent states in this part of the world over the past 3000 years have been Jewish states.

JRob writes: I believe that is incorrect. The same UN resolution, which created the state of Israel, simultaneously created a Palestinian state. Israel defended itself from Arab states who did not recognize the UN resolution, and did very well (with international support). The problem is, Israel then annexed all of the Palestinian land. This goes beyond defense. Furthermore, the jews (most at least), via the diaspora, left the middle east. The Palestinians remained making a greater claim. Recent occupation (albeit under colonialism) is a better claim than the 2,000 year old claim (under Roman occupation). And before you bring it up, I want to see the Quit Claim Deed (signed by god) transferring ownership of the property to the Israelites.

Wandering Jews Unite On QuasarmanRants.com

I check the website QuasarmanRants.com several times a week and I envy that Q gets to write about all the whacky adventures of porn stars, once my bailiwick. Q, I had that story on Houston's divorce a few weeks ago but I didn't publish it due to my tender sensibilities (and the violent insistence of my source).

Still, the spiritual rewards of turning my back on pornography for the higher things of the Torah more than compensate for my now humorless existence. At least now I get shabbos invitations to the homes of decent people in my neighborhood.

Q writes: Now that Luke Ford.com is owned and operated by a filthy gentile instead of a thoughtful, mentally ill Jewish convert, millions of orthodox porn-loving chosen people are now wandering through the cyber-desert without a Moses. Let me just say right here and now – allow me to be that Moses. I know that I am but feculent goyum but I’ve lived amongst the Jews. I’ve broken bread with the rabbis and I have often questioned the wisdom of paying retail. Please won’t you join me and together we can ruminate on the more philosophical aspects of pornography as well as some of the goofier tenets of a religion where women are forbidden to sing and operating a moped on a Saturday results in eternal damnation.

For three years I lived in an orthodox Jewish community. I would carelessly and thoughtlessly drive my car past throngs of orthodox people making their way to temple with devil music blaring out of my convertible top. Dressed all in black and trudging on aching feet the Jews made their way to their house of worship resentful of my presence. Neighbors seldom waved and neighborhood gatherings proceeded without invite to myself and to my family. I was dismayed.

Then something wonderful happened. I put my house up for sale and miraculously my orthodox neighbors emerged from their collective shunning of me and began waving and stopping to say hello. One kid even gave me a "thumbs up" as I drove past his family with 80’s hair metal blaring from my vehicle. Each and every open house would bring droves of orthodox people into my home. They would comment on my wife’s tasteful interior design and marvel at the many opportune spots on which to hang a Mazzuzah. The rabbi from across the street came by one afternoon to extend an invitation to break bread with his family and the wife of the rabbi two doors down offered to cook us a meal after all of our utensils and cookware had been packed. We accepted these invitations with glee and very much looked forward to a feast of Kosher items, the likes of which had never shadowed our Christian tongues before.

Finally the day came. An orthodox family and their orthodox real estate agent made us an offer on our home that flew in the face of every Jewish stereotype. "You want to pay us HOW much for this house?…. Welcome home my friends!!!"

The moral of the story? I’m not sure that there is one. Perhaps this has been just a veiled attempt at establishing credibility. At any rate, welcome aboard my Hebrew friends!!!

The Fall Of A Journalist

I just read two damning indictments of famous journalists with some eery parallels to characters in my own journey. Ruth Shalit, poster girl for plagiarism. Peter Bart, editor of Daily Variety.

Chaim Amalek writes: Just what did he say that was so controversial? (By the way - NOW is the time to write him a slobbering letter of support)

What's Going On In Luke's Head

Khunrum writes: Luke.. Can you give us some insight now that you are no longer involved with your site? It has been a few weeks. Are you suffering from nervous exhaustion? Are you having second thoughts about selling LukeFord.com? How do you feel that Luke Ford.com is no longer you? That some other guy is calling himself Luke Ford. Do you miss the power and leverage you had as porn's premier gossip monger? What is exactly going through your head? Reading some of your recent E mails makes me think you may be foundering.

Luke replies: I am foundering in that I no longer have a clearly defined mission, role, job. I have to carve out a new niche, and that usually takes me more time than normal. I've floundered many times in my life, for months at a time.

Overall, I feel good about my decision and feel that a burden has been lifted from my shoulders. I feel more secure about walking into Jewish life and meeting Jewish women.

I'm frustrated that today I did not seem to get anything accomplished until the sun was about to go down. I don't think I have nervous exhaustion. I have no second thoughts about selling lukeford.com. What do I think about is where I am going now... Perhaps a literary oriented website... I'm not spending as much time online and writing for lukeford.net as I did for lukeford.com. And I'm afraid that I don't laugh as much and I don't as yet turn out as amusing material. But I think that will change.

Eureka, I've got it! LukeFord.net will become the premiere guide to what it means to be alive at the beginning of the 21st Century.