Porn and Yale At Columbia

A year and a half ago, some smart-aleck Yale University students got a lot of media attention for starting an underground pornography club, Porn n’ Chicken-so named for the alleged parties where participants would watch adult films and eat fried chicken-and announcing their intention to film the Ivy League’s first porno, The StaXXX , in the school’s library. That most of the thing was a big prank- The StaXXX was never made-didn’t dissuade eager showbiz executives. Comedy Central swooped down and bought the rights to the story, and filming on the network’s first original movie, Porn n’ Chicken , began in late June, with a premiere slated for this fall.

Porn n’ Chicken ‘s cast includes a stable of young, on-the-rise actors as well as two authentic porn stars, Ron Jeremy and Jenna Jameson. Playing the part of Yale, so to speak-the university isn’t mentioned by name in the script-is New York’s Columbia University, where the Porn n’ Chicken crew was filming on Tuesday, June 25.

“The film takes place at any Ivy League college in the U.S.A.,” Patty Newburger, Comedy Central’s vice president of films, said during a break in shooting in front of the Butler Library in Morningside Heights. “We wanted the story to speak to a large audience. We felt that, by not setting it at a specific Ivy League school, it would have broader appeal.”

Columbia’s cooperation had its limits, Ms. Newberger said. “We can’t do a nude scene at Columbia,” she said. Instead, she said Porn n’ Chicken ‘s skin scenes will be filmed down the street at- urk! -the Union Theological Seminary campus.

Still, said Ms. Newberger, Porn n’ Chicken is “not a movie about porn or nudity. It’s a coming-of-age film about college kids who were just about to graduate, did a prank and got in over their heads.”

One of those college kids was James Ponsoldt, Yale ’01, who was on the set this morning. Mr. Ponsoldt, who has brown hair and is of medium build, penned a treatment of the original Porn n’ Chicken screenplay, and was serving as an intern adviser on the movie. Despite Ms. Newberger’s contention that the club was a “prank,” Mr. Ponsoldt insisted much of Porn n’ Chicken was authentic.

“The appeal of the Porn n’ Chicken club was that it was purely non-academic and not pre-professional,” he said, sounding almost wistful. “It had nothing to do with classes or any other Yale-related activities. It was something fun that had nothing to do with polishing your résumé.”

After four years in New Haven, in fact, Mr. Ponsoldt had become something of a porn connoisseur. “My favorite porn is probably Debbie Does Dallas, as clichéd as that sounds,” he said. “There’s something good-natured about it as opposed to porns that are made now that have more of a malicious, misogynistic slant. Most porn now is just fulfilling a rape/gang-bang fantasy. A Stallone or Schwarzenegger film is really close to porn, in a way. Porn is about violence and exploitation.”

Given his affection for porn’s more innocent, flabby past, Mr. Ponsoldt was thrilled about Mr. Jeremy’s participation in Porn n’ Chicken. “My favorite porn star is Ron Jeremy,” Mr. Ponsoldt said affectionately, as if he were talking about Harrison Ford. “There’s an appeal to a guy who’s fat, hairy and ugly but, by virtue of pure charisma and serious girth, has created quite an empire for himself.”

And as the crew set up to film on, Mr. Ponsoldt scoffed at the suggestion that Yalies should be embarrassed by Porn n’ Chicken .

“I think there’s a lot of alumni that Yale should be quick to disassociate itself from,” Mr. Ponsoldt said. “I think a lot of assholes have come out of Yale and acquire very high political positions because of Yale. I think what they do is more harmful and offensive than anything that goes on here. Porn and its association with Yale is the least of Yale’s worries.”

-Noelle Hancock

The Unworking Life

I have worked full-time less than 10 months of my life (and I started working in 1973). Originally I was called a “hippie”; now I’m termed a “writer.” With the unemployment rate currently the highest in eight years, millions require advice on non-working. Here is my guidance for the newly emancipated:

1) Most Americans have too much money, and no time. You are now the opposite, with a superfluity of time and zero money. How will you spend your time? Luckily, mere existence requires effort: One must cook, wash dishes, bathe, eat, launder. Rather than rush through these tasks while half-asleep, like most workers, you may now linger over their execution. You finally have time to stop and smell the dishwashing liquid while listening to La Traviata (as I actually did last night).

2) Beyond that, you need a schedule. If you are literary, read Robinson Crusoe or Walden -or The Man Without a Country . Learn how solitary men improve their solitude.

Here is my schedule:

9 a.m.-12 p.m.: Write, cook

12 p.m.: Yoga, other exercises

12:40 p.m.: Toothbrushing, flossing

12:50 p.m.: Meditation

1:20 p.m.: Lunch

1:50 p.m.: Reading

2:20 p.m.: Correspondence

3:30 p.m.: Pick up my daughter from school bus, make her snack, talk

5:00 p.m.: Daily walk

5:20 p.m.: Correspondence

6:30 p.m.: Bath

7:00 p.m.: Dinner

7:30 p.m.: Family games

8:00 p.m.: Reading.

I have a profusion of time, and I am generous with it. If my friend Mark from L.A. calls, I may talk an hour and a half. When I meet Dave C. at the Phoenicia Market, I’ll joke with him for 20 minutes. A schedule exists so that one may depart from it.

3) Most human skills may be mastered with continual effort. A few minutes a day is enough to learn carpentry, physics, embroidery, the piano. Now you have no excuses: reserve four minutes per day for study. (I read one Ezra Pound poem daily, then practice my French. Also, I recently added a page of Francis Bacon’s essays.)

Warning: You will “forget” your four daily minutes soon after you begin. Don’t despair! Recommence the following day. You always have more time!

4) Now you may go anywhere, as long as it’s free! (I’m not counting carfare.) I became an art lover (and eventually an art critic) because art galleries charge no fee. If ballet had no admission charge, I would be an expert in that.

5) The biggest drawback of not working is loneliness. The answer: have lunch with friends. Your worker pals need someone to eat with (and perhaps an excuse to take a longer break). Don’t fret about the price: Either they will pay, or you will order soup. Afterward, you may visit the local library.

6) Give money away to panhandlers and street musicians (just nickels and quarters). You’ll feel wealthy, and they will effusively thank you. (Somehow they instinctively know who is broke.) The blessings of the homeless, the saxophone players, are influential in heaven.

7) Once in a while, wear a nice outfit and sit in a hotel lobby. Read the paper, or Plato. Think: “I actually have more free time than Bill Gates!”

8) Take a daily nap.

Not everyone enjoys idle poverty. You may choose, ultimately, to re-enter the work force. This is your decision. But in the meantime, experiment with leisure. It’s like being an English lord, but without the money. (Come to think of it, numerous English lords are penniless.) It’s a contemplative, friendly life. Your biggest problem will be the absence of stress.

-Sparrow