Houston: An Intimate Portrait

Houston: An Intimate Portrait

On the evening of Aug. 12, Houston the porn star was getting ready to go on stage in the basement dressing room of Legz Diamond’s Burlesque Theatre, an all-nude, no-alcohol strip club on West 54th Street, across from the Ed Sullivan Theater.

There was only half an hour before show time Houston was sitting naked in a chair applying her makeup. Her blond hair was pulled back. She was drinking a cherry wine cooler and smoking a Marlboro Ultra Light. In some ways it was just like the sexy interrogation scene in Basic Instinct . But in other ways, it really wasn’t. Marc Medoff, Houston’s personal photographer and business partner, was taking pictures.

“I want to do some shots with the labia,” Houston said, picking up what appeared to be a sculpture. It was three surgically removed pieces of her labia encased in Lucite on a marble stand.

“I wanted smaller pussy lips,” Houston explained of her two-hour operation earlier this year. She figures she’ll get $100,000 for the labia sculpture. “Sky’s the limit,” she said.

“Yeah, we definitely think there’s some schmuck out there,” Mr. Medoff said. “Houston’s probably the most popular, most notorious porn star of all time.”

Houston started doing porn at age 27. She’s been in over 200 films and she travels the world making appearances most of the year. She’d been in Manhattan for a week, performing at Legz and promoting her most famous movie, The World’s Biggest Gang Bang III: The Houston 500 , in which she had sex with 620 men in one day. She’s also famous in New York for attending the prom of an 18-year-old Staten Island high school senior as part of a contest on the Howard Stern show. This was her last night at Legz Diamond.

Mr. Medoff was now shooting her with the labia sculpture. “Closer, close to your face,” he instructed. “Close to your tongue, like you’re licking your own pussy. How’s it taste? Good. Good. Good. Now hold it up to your cheek like you did before. Good. Excellent. O.K., hold it down by your pussy so we can compare the two. But squat up on top of it–yeah, excellent. Awww, perfect, perfect. Hold it. Camera’s having trouble focusing. Good. Good. Good. One more. It hurts?”

“It’s so hot in here,” Houston said.

“O.K., just squat back on top of it. Look at me,” he said. “That’s it!”

A lot of people know the public side of Houston the porn star, but very few know the real Houston. It’s a side she keeps hidden from her public.

“I travel all over the world greeting people. I brought, what, $1,000 worth of dog food to an animal shelter in Poland. I put flowers on the Unknown Soldier’s grave in Poland. I want to run an idea past the porn companies to have all the top players in the adult industry do a movie, have it called United We Lay and give all the money to the Free Speech Coalition. If I don’t have them, I don’t have a career.”

She said she’s supporting Al Gore for President: “I don’t think we’ve done wrong with Clinton, and he preaches pretty much the same thing. I think as far as the adult industry goes, we need Gore.”

What about Mayor Giuliani?

“He’s closed down a lot of clubs I like. Like Wiggles.”

She put on a black thong. She was getting ready to go on stage.

Mr. Medoff said he’d known Houston for five years. “A lot of the girls in the business are real fucking wack jobs,” he said. “She’s just a pleasure to be with.”

Houston, do you ever think you’re going to Hell?

“No. I have a big faith in the Lord and I pray and I’ve actually got this tattoo of an angel on the back of my neck, before I did the gang bang, as a sort of forgiveness to the Lord. My parents are very religious. My father is so religious and he basically prays for me every day. I’ve been blessed! I really have. My career is my career and somehow I differentiate the two. I mean, I’m so Kim and I’m so Houston. That’s my real name but I don’t want people to know.”

She turned to Mr. Medoff. “Remember in Poland they called me the Antichrist? And it’s so far from that. I have a tattoo of an angel on my neck! I did that to show the Lord that I love Him and that, you know, I’m sorry for this. I did it right before the gang bang. ‘Sorry for doing the gang bang!’ But I had to go there.”

Houston, a gang bang. Why?

“I was able to be with my fans and have the same personality all day long for ten hours and get fucked . You know, that was an accomplishment … everyone came on me, it was amazing.”

The best day of your life–what was it?

“The best day of my life was when Dallas came around.”

The TV show?

“My daughter.”

Houston put on a skimpy orange construction outfit and a work belt. Upstairs the club was packed and the crowd was going nuts.

“So once again, Houston!” the emcee was saying.

–George Gurley

Theories of Air Conditioning

“The universe began like an empty refrigerator,” said refrigerator and air conditioner repairman Nelson Cabezas recently over coffee at Big Cup Tea and Coffee in Chelsea. Mr. Cabezas is the owner of Aleph Air Inc., a repair company that he runs out of his black Ford van. He was at Big Cup to fix a refrigerator that had broken a few days earlier. “First [God] creates a vacuum,” Mr. Cabezas continued. “Then he shoots energy through it. The energy has DNA in it. The energy explodes, and it starts to create the walls of ten different universes–and in the center, that’s the material universe.”

Mr. Cabezas, 52, the son of the Nicaraguan Ambassador to the United Nations, got into the refrigeration repair business in 1995, first with his brother and later, after they stopped getting along, by himself.

Mr. Cabezas has a theory of the universe.

“It’s all about vibration of energy. I’ll tell you what it’s like. Con Ed’s got thousands and thousands of volts of energy in the big transformers. And those little plugs, they break it down to 115 [volts] so that you could use it. Step-down transformers step down the power. That’s what the universe is like. God is so potent that it takes 10 universes–10 transformers–to create Earth. Energy converts to matter. The universe consists of the balance. When you’re balanced, you throw your energy circuit-breaker on. As soon as you throw yourself off balance, the circuit breaker stops. The positive energy stops coming into you, and only the negative energy keeps going.”

What do you think about when you fix refrigerators?

“It’s too dangerous for me to concentrate on anything else than what I’m doing,” he said. “I work with live voltage. You can’t take chances. What I do find, though, is that I get very lucky with things when I go to work. Sometimes things don’t work. There’ll be something wrong with a refrigerator that won’t allow, say, the electric compressor to go on. And then it just starts to work all of a sudden. But I won’t even do anything to it, I’ll just come to it, just turn it on. There’s a lot of positive vibration that I pass on.”

Mr. Cabezas had an explanation for that, too.

“I guess these are all low-voltage controls. Some of them probably aren’t damaged enough that a good charge of positive energy can’t get ‘em going again.”

He went outside to his van. On one side was a diagram of the universe with lots of stars and figures. “This is like the idea of electrical energy,” he said, pointing to it. “It kind of looks like the grill in the back of a refrigerator–the condensing coils that cool the gas back there.” Painted on the other side of the van were various Hebrew names for God.

Sometimes Orthodox Jews bother Mr. Cabezas about his van. “They’ll say, ‘You can’t drive around on the Sabbath with this.’ I’ll say, ‘I’m not Jewish, don’t come up to me. I got my own philosophy. With Jews, all they think is you die and that’s that. To me, that is absurd. What the Cabala teaches is to live forever. I’m going to live forever. This isn’t a religion. This is a science.”

–Ian Blecher