Pornography gets a bad rap these days by parents and politicos alike. But they don’t see the upside to porn. They don’t focus on porn’s positive effects on society. And they don’t realize just how porn brought a father and his six-year-old son that much closer together.
Back in the early to mid-70’s, porn was enjoying a cultural resurgence, thanks in large part to such travelogues as Last Tango in Paris, Debbie Does Dallas and The Wild World of Spurts.
During that time my dad was a graphic package designer best known for designing the logos for Pepsi, American Airlines, Folgers and Winston Chewing Tobacco, a product that once had as its working tagline—“Put a Little Winston in Your Mouth.”
But my dad longed for bigger things. All his life he wanted more than anything to be a cartoonist. Every Saturday morning he and I would sit on the sofa and watch Hong Kong Phooey, Charlie Chan and the Chan Clan and a whole host of Hanna-Barbera cartoons that inexplicably traded on Asian stereotypes, all leading up to our very favorite cartoon…
Every night my dad would work on his cartoon and comic art submissions, hoping for that day he would be struck by that one grand idea, that one unequivocal moment of creative brilliance.
That moment finally arrived when he drew this…
The Original Orgy Shirt—151 naked people, six dogs and what I thought until the age of 11 was sponge cake at the very top, all engaged in gleeful sexual congress.
Sensing he had hit upon the right drawing for the right decade (and still smarting from the fact that Milton Bradley had refused to buy his party game Pick-a-Dick)…
Dad pulled together the funds and ran an ad (copy written by Screw Magazine and Channel J founder Al Goldstein) for his new shirt in Playboy, Penthouse, Hustler, Oui, Cheri, Cherry Popper, Beaver Park and New York Magazine.
The Original Orgy Shirt proved an instant hit and soon dad and I were making weekly drop-offs at such “alternative clothing” places as the Pleasure Chest. There dad conducted business while I wandered the store, checking out the zipper masks and ball gags, because when it came to leaving your six-year-old child unattended in a car in Lower Manhattan circa 1974 or bringing him into an establishment that sold actual pee soup, the latter was by far the wiser choice.
The Original Orgy shirt was such a hit that my dad started to draw and sell others, including Tits, Up Yours, FootsieBall, ASL “Fuck You,” and, of course, Cockamania. But it was the Orgy shirt that got the most attention. It won several international design awards, led to three Penthouse models doing a photo shoot on the glass table we still eat Christmas dinner on and inadvertently resulted in me being verbally accosted at age seven…
...by actor Sam Elliot over a bowl of mood rings when my family spent our spring-break vacation at the 1975 Daytona Adult Film and Entertainment Expo (where Mr. Elliot was promoting his film Lifeguard).
Over the next few years my dad started receiving countless orders from U.S. Ambassadors, Bank Presidents, Newspaper magnates…
...and Malcolm Forbes, seen here ordering two Orgy shirts on News Years, 1975…And paying for it on the company dime.
But perhaps the single most important order arrived on July, 1974, which read (click on image to make larger):
Now for those of you who had the sheer gall to be born after 1985, Mel Blanc was the voice--if not the soul--of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Sylvester the Cat, Tweety Bird, Foghorn Leghorn, Yosemite Sam, Wile E. Coyote, Barney Rubble, Mr. Spacely, and literally hundreds of other cartoon characters that my Dad watched and discussed throughout my childhood. So when dad opened this letter he quickly knew it was more than a simple T-shirt order. It was a chance to provide his son with a keepsake he knew would mean all the world to him. So he immediately mailed several T-shirts, politely asking that in return the man who gave so much joy to him and his son on those Saturday mornings give them one more thing. Less than three months later I received this autograph:
And the following response (click on image to make larger):
And that, my friends, is why pornography works.