Our Dinner With Jenna
My friend Bill (not his real name) and I wanted to write a story about Jenna Jameson, the adult-film star. So one afternoon we telephoned Ms. Jameson’s publicist, who suggested that we meet her client and screen Jenna’s latest film, Dream Quest . That sounded like a pretty good idea. But a screening room wasn’t immediately available, so Ms. Jameson’s publicist suggested that Jenna could come over to one of our apartments. That sounded like a really good idea.
Then we began to worry. How does one host an adult-film star?
We chose Bill’s apartment in Brooklyn, since it is bigger than mine. The night before Ms. Jameson was to come over, Bill had his place professionally cleaned. Bill is married, and he doesn’t even do that for his in-laws.
Then we had to decide what to wear. I wanted to look cool for Ms. Jameson, but I didn’t want to look as if I were auditioning for a part in her next film. I picked a pair of tight green suede pants, black boots and a sleeveless black turtleneck. (When I’m nervous I always wear a sleeveless top, in case I sweat.) My friend Louisa, whom I invited to join us, decided to wear pleather pants and a red blouse. Bill picked out a pair of ties and asked us to help him select the most appropriate one.
Food was another concern. Part of me wanted to serve nothing but cream-filled foods: Twinkies, Ding-Dongs, ravioli. That was too cute. I also considered bananas, cucumbers and Popsicles. Too obvious. We decided to just stock the fridge with beer and wine and order take-out when Jenna arrived. I also brought a bunch of biscotti made by my 93-year-old grandmother.
On the big night, we hired two cars to bring us to Bill’s place. We picked Ms. Jameson up at her hotel in midtown. Like a lot of stars, she is much shorter in person and much skinnier, too. She was wearing tight black jeans, a “Playboy 55” T-shirt and a red jean jacket. She was with her assistant, Traci. Traci, a former masseuse, refers to herself as “Jenna’s bitch.”
We arrived at Bill’s apartment 20 minutes later. Once inside, Ms. Jameson lit a Capri cigarette and slouched on the couch alongside Traci. She took out two cell phones and a BlackBerry pager and put them on Bill’s coffee table. One of the cell phones was for business, Ms. Jameson explained, and the other was for “booty calls.”
I took a seat next to Jenna and offered her one of my grandmother’s biscotti. She took one. Then we all started talking. The conversation quickly turned into frank girl talk: We talked about menstruation, about penis size, about embarrassing noises during sex. It felt both naughty and strangely comfortable. Ms. Jameson talked about her technique for oral sex. Her secret is lots of saliva. In fact, Ms. Jameson said she was thinking of bottling and selling her saliva.
Then the phone rang. Bill picked it up. It was his pregnant wife, Natalie, calling from an airport in Seattle. “I hope you’re having fun at your porn party,” Natalie said before she slammed down the phone.
We decided to order dinner. We ordered sushi, which triggered some snickering. “Ohhhh yeah, sushi! Sushi girls, uh-huh,” Ms. Jameson sang.
Then we popped Dream Quest into Bill’s VCR. There was a lot of nervous laughing and giggling. Every time a sex scene would come up, Ms. Jameson would shriek, “Ohhhh, yeah! Wa-waw, bomp chicka bomp bomp, wa-waw.” She also kept up a running commentary through the film, telling us who wasn’t nice on the set and who wasn’t particularly well-endowed.
For a while it was exciting, and definitely surreal. Then I got kind of bored. Having an adult-film star at your house was like visiting Amsterdam for the first time. At first you’re giddy and you can’t believe it. Then it gets to be too much and you long for something safe and warm, like bunny slippers.
At the end of the movie, we had Jenna sign our copies of Dream Quest . We posed for photos. Then we called Jenna and Traci a cab, walked them to the door and said goodnight.
Chelsea’s R.V. Cowboy
James Chrystie drives a 1982 AirStream 310 that he bought off an old lady in upstate New York for $20,000 four years ago. It’s your classic R.V.: gas range, queen-sized bed, couch, toilet, satellite TV, shower, auto-leveler, hydraulic jacks, CB radio, eight-foot awning. Thirty-one feet long, it’s the same rig that NASA uses to shuttle astronauts to the launch pad.
“It’s white trash,” Mr. Chrystie said over a buffalo burger on a recent afternoon at Heartland Brewery on Union Square. “But it’s the best of white trash–a beautiful monstrosity.”
What’s more impressive than the AirStream’s accoutrements, however, is the fact that Mr. Chrystie always manages to find a free parking space–or rather, three free parking spaces–for his beautiful monstrosity on West 16th Street and Eighth Avenue, where he keeps an apartment.
“I always get a space,” Mr. Chrystie said blithely. “The secret is to read the signs and, when they have street cleaning, be poised and ready to move in on the space once they’ve cleaned the streets. You’ve got maybe 15 or 20 minutes before the street starts to fill back up. Anywhere in the city you can do that. I mean, theoretically, I could leave it across from the Plaza if I wanted to.” Mr. Chrystie claimed he can parallel park the AirStream, too.
Mr. Chrystie, who is brown-haired, clean-cut and still baby-faced at 36 years, is a kind of modern cowboy. He sells wild buffalo meat to restaurants in Manhattan, and he regularly travels to Montana to pick out animals for slaughter. While he’s there, he lives in the AirStream.
But Mr. Chrystie won’t rough it, R.V. style, in Manhattan. “The problem is that you got street noise, and you also got people all night knocking on it because they want to touch it.” Not that he hasn’t considered it. “I’ve thought about it. As a bachelor in the city, the chance to live in a party bus….”
Lately, however, Mr. Chrystie’s party bus has been causing a fair amount of trouble. His AirStream, it seems, has become Chelsea’s trailer non grata. Someone planted an angry fistprint on the RV’s back panel. Irate neighbors have complained to the police so many times that the 10th Precinct doesn’t return calls about him any more, he boasted. ( The Observer checked, and indeed, it’s perfectly legal to take up three parking spaces with a single vehicle.)
“People have knocked on my window and yelled at me,” Mr. Chrystie said. “Like, ‘What the hell do you think you’re doing parking in the street?'”
Mr. Chrystie scoffed at that criticism. “I’m like, ‘I have an apartment here, too.’ It’s basically people being jealous that I have that rig. The fact that people think they own this street–it’s absurd.
“I mean, it’s a dog-eat-dog world, especially in New York. You know, the fact that I could get the spot, kudos to me. “
On a recent afternoon in Brooklyn, the author and Paris Review editor George Plimpton stood in the lobby of Brooklyn Family Court, right beside the metal detectors. Earlier that morning, a woman with a large gold chain around her waist had set off the detectors repeatedly; told to remove the chain, she began removing all her clothes, stripping almost to the waist before she was removed by a court officer. Now the elegant Mr. Plimpton was standing in roughly the same spot. He and nearly 20 others were in Brooklyn for “Day in Family Court,” a principal-for-a-day type of affair sponsored by the group Legal Information for Families Today, in which outsiders are shown how the chaotic court works–or, in some cases, doesn’t work.
Perching himself behind the family court judge, Mr. Plimpton sat in the courtroom and observed one of that day’s sessions. He watched as a couple argued over visitation. He listened as a woman told the judge how her ex-husband smacked her, choked her and shoved her into a metal gate outside her doctor’s office, causing her to miscarry.
When the session was over, Mr. Plimpton stood up painfully and walked slowly out into a waiting room packed with shouting, sulking, angry, miserable people and then stood there, swaying slightly, looking sternly left and right like an old raptor.
Afterward, Mr. Plimpton and his fellow participants packed into a van to head back to Manhattan. Most of the passengers sat silently, a little stunned. Turning sidewise, Mr. Plimpton regarded a reporter for a moment and offered: “Well, there’s certainly no love lost between these people, is there?”
Mr. Plimpton nodded at Liberty Aldrich, the domestic-violence lawyer (and daughter of Paris Review contributing editor Nelson Aldrich) who had convinced him to come that day. He frowned. “I don’t know what she expects me to do about all this,” he confided.