Dirty Vegas

Talking Henry Miller and ATMs at the 21st Annual Porn Awards

No such danger is in evidence at the trade show, although other stars of tasteless hardcore approximate it. Punk princess Rachel Rotten wears a black bikini with a skull-and-crossbones over each breast; Jenna Haze signs "Lick my pussy!" on the poster in which she holds a mace; and Nautica Thorn, almost disappointingly thin in person, gets down on her knees and throws open her mouth to pose by unfashionably clad crotches. The awards, on the other hand, seem as if they're being shaped for prime time. They pass, by all accounts, more smoothly, more quickly, more professionally than ever before. A curly-wigged Jenna Jameson hosts with the combative, genuinely funny comedian Jim Norton ("The first time I saw a Max Hardcore film, I didn't know whether to jerk off or call the cops!"). Better yet, the dirty South's dirtiest, Lil Jon and the Ying Yang Twins, rip into guttural dance-fuck joint "Get Low," and Ashley wins Female Performer of the Year.

The "quote-unquote talent" who share Ashley's current station in life do not impress her. But even if it is a whine, I wouldn't call her complaints sour grapes—she's reacting to the celebrity clichés engulfing porn as it enters the mainstream. "People in porn get all fucked up. 'I'm an adult film star.' Big fucking deal. This event is like a really weird [high school] trip. I go to parties, see people I know, and turn to one side and go, 'I can't stand that fucking whore!' "

"I've learned a lot," Ashley admits quietly, mindful of her own sacrifices to stardom. "I'll never think of an ATM machine the same way again." (Referring to either ass-to-mouth, or a bank scene in a movie I've never watched.) "Eventually I wanna have a life, like a real life—get married or something—and that will never happen as long as I fuck for a living." She brings up Trent again: "If he went out and fucked some girl, I would've gone crazy—isn't that awful?" But if she feels any shame, Ashley knows better than to spoil her fun by harping on it. "I don't wanna be too much in love," she asserts, not entirely without regret. "It'll hold me back." Henry Miller himself wrote, "There is no salvation in becoming adapted to a world which is crazy." But what about adapting that world to one's self?

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