Two for the Road

In which our man in Dallas joins Sofia Staks, Kayla Kleevage and other noted First Amendment activists on a mission to rescue Houston from the pashas of prudery. Or something like that.

We've been hurtling down the highway for two hours now, and it's time for a potty break.mmmmmmmmmmm Our driver turns her plush 50-seat bus into the Conoco Travel Plaza somewhere south of Dallas, and a bevy of nationally known celebrities pours out. Most of them are young women, dressed casually in sweats and T-shirts. They've been recruited from across the country and dispatched to Houston for an urgent mission: to rouse a complacent citizenry against a dire and imminent threat to its constitutional right to have a good time.

The ramifications of this adventure are immense, the legal and moral issues complex and intertwined.

A fellow passenger, sitting in the seat in front of me, cuts to the heart of the matter.

"Okay," she says. "Let's talk about my tits."
Sofia Staks, star of Boobwatch and Attack of the Killer Dildo, pops the last bite of a pecan pie slice into her cheerful, high-cheekboned face and grips the headrest of the cushy seat as we wait for the other passengers to return. It's a Thursday in early December, and night has fallen on the first day of our Dallas-to-Houston journey.

"For a long time as a teenager, I felt insecure and shy," she confesses, chalking it up to being a mere 32-A in a padded bra. "Then, when I was 21, I had my first surgery. The implants contained 185 cc's of silicone. I went to a large B or C. Now, three surgeries later, I'm a 44-H."

I hadn't known that bra sizes went that far into the alphabet. But Sofia Staks clearly is not exaggerating -- her massive breasts, each about the size of a medicine ball, are covered in a dark green hooded jacket. Her arms, her waist, her bottom and her legs are all very twiglike. I ask the most obvious question:

"Haven't you had back problems?"
"Oh, I would have, if I didn't work out so much," she says in a chirpy voice. She raises her tiny arms above her head, fists clenched like a preening body builder, and reveals small but well-defined biceps.

"I work out to strengthen my back," she says, then after a brief pause inquires, "Wanna see a trick?"

With a sly grin, and with arms still upraised, she proceeds to move her gigantic breasts up and down inside her cotton jacket. The rest of her body never moves a millimeter. She can move them one at a time, too, each breast bouncing like some animatronic creation in a Spielberg film.

Sofia Staks is just one of the adult film stars traveling on this bus. There are also photographers from national adult magazines, high-paid club dancers and various staff members from Metroplex Sundown, a Dallas-based weekly that has expanded circulation into Houston, San Antonio, Austin, Abilene and several other Texas cities. The paper consists mostly of ads for gentlemen's clubs, escort services, private models, adult book and video stores and nude modeling studios.

Founded in April 1994, the Sundown advertises itself as "the fastest-growing adult newspaper in America," and for this, its first overtly political event, the Sundown has called in heavy artillery from the national porn biz. The stars, mostly from Los Angeles, have come out in force for this excursion to Houston, where a City Council committee headed by Jew Don Boney and prospective mayoral aspirant Helen Huey has drafted more than 100 pages of amendments to the city's ordinance regulating sexually oriented businesses -- changes that the owners of many SOBs claim will force them to shut their doors.

Chances are, you will never see so many strippers and porn actresses gathered in one place to talk about constitutional law.

Rivalry among strip clubs, adult bookstores, nude modeling salons and other adult businesses ranks among the most cutthroat in American capitalism.

At the same time, the different facets of the adult entertainment industry benefit from symbiotic relationships. While one topless bar might be uncomfortable cooperating with another topless bar, they're thrilled to piggyback on the film and magazine industry, whose national scope is responsible for the ragtag "star system" that exists in mainstream pornography. Here's how it works: A woman who performs a boy-girl scene in an adult film will receive about $500 for her efforts, and quite a bit more if she's featured on the box cover of a video at your local porn shop. When she starts to appear in gentlemen's clubs, she can be advertised in newspapers to much greater effect because of her film credits. A featured actress can earn up to $15,000 per gig (not including tips) at a strip bar. Video, live performance and the burgeoning practice of bookstore signings all fuel each other's profits.

All of these enterprises are targets of zealous district attorneys and campaigning councilmembers, who tend to prosecute sexually oriented businesses in election years. During the last decade, as conservatives have gained power in many municipalities, adult-oriented business owners have been forced to pay larger legal expenses (and, in a few cases, serve longer prison sentences) just to keep their doors open.

These threats explain why Metroplex Sundown could pick up the phone and enlist the aid of Ron Jeremy, a 27-year porn veteran who has recently concentrated on producing, directing (he helmed that hard-core publicity coup known as John Wayne Bobbitt Uncut) and making nonsexual cameos in mainstream movies; Christi Lake, a veteran of dozens of films who was arrested in Corpus Christi just a few days before her Houston appearance; Sunset Thomas, the platinum-blond dynamo who autographs my program "Fuck Me All Night Long! Sincerely, Sunset"; and Kayla Kleevage, the charming, freckled star of Sperm Target and Gazongas #6, among a host of other relative newcomers to the industry.

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