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What Would Dirk Diggler Think?

April 26, 1998|IRENE LACHER

We are swimming in a sea of humanity, which is heavy on men who are eyeing a sprinkling of women. The math looks good on paper. We aren't at the Citadel, and this isn't Tailhook. So what's wrong with this picture?

We're one of the only women who isn't wearing rubber.

Normally, we wouldn't count on that to make us feel special, but today we're exploring a rarefied corner of Southern California commerce, one that tends to have a dress code. B.Y.O. leather garter belts.

This is Erotica L.A., which is like a wedding fair, only it's for the adult entertainment and accessories industry. Oh, yes. And no one seems to be getting married.

At long last, the fringe has joined the fold. Erotica engineers are coming out of the closet, and for the first time, they're offering their wares in the belly of the mainstream beast--the L.A. Convention Center.

And that can only mean one thing--Candy Apples, meet CNN. After-hours is hitting prime time. And high time it did, says adult-film late bloomer Dave Cummings: "I think we're just normal everyday businesspeople."

Who get naked at work.

But, hey, this is the town for stargazing, and fans are dutifully fanning out to be photographed with the objects of their affection. They are cruising 100 vendors of erotic videos, erotic furniture (one word: bungee), X-rated holograms, faux body parts and photography studios where les artistes can shoot "All Nudes All the Time."

At one end of last week's carnal carnival is the newborn Erotic Entertainers Guild, which is hawking interesting T-shirt possibilities for casual Fridays. The guild's handful of porn pros are also lending new meaning to the term sexual politics--they're campaigning for safe sex on the set.

Cummings, who bills himself as the Oldest Living Man in Porn, is one of them because he wants to see more oldest living men in porn. In Cummings' field, 58 qualifies for burial insurance. But the balding, graying San Diegan is undaunted.

"I brag about being 58. Where else can someone my age be lucky enough to have sex with both these young ladies?" Cummings says, pointing in the direction of two comely engineers, Candy Apples and Chandler. "They did a shoot with me in San Diego. They were both on time. Notwithstanding traffic."

Cummings calls over to Chandler. "I was telling her how dependable you are."

Duly noted.

Cummings may be pushing the envelope age-wise, but he's also a bellwether of trends. There's the boomer and boomer-adjacent trend of switching career gears in midlife. A former college economics major, Cummings still moonlights as a mortgage loan officer for savvy porn stars. And until in 1988, he was a lieutenant colonel in the Army.

Cummings took the path to porn after his divorce 12 years ago. "My ex ran off with some good-looking guy with hair. I got into swinging 10 years ago and met Nina Hartley, who is a major mega star. All your readers will know her."


"We were having sex, and I mentioned that I'd seen her in a movie with a guy playing a judge, and the guy was younger looking than she was, and I said, 'Can't you at least put some gray in his hair?' And she said, 'Why don't you try getting into it?' "

Cummings says he never thought he'd be the lucky one out of 5,000 guys who try to break into the business every week. But it turned out he had something that 4,999 of them didn't--stamina.

"A couple of months later, I'm in 'The Devil in Miss Jones, Part 5.' And now I've been in 130 movies in the last 3 1/2 years." And not just in bit roles.

Cummings' career development points to one of the weirder subgroups among adult entertainers--recovering military personnel. Indeed, he's standing before a poster hailing the prolific "XXX-U.S. Army Captain" Johnni Black, who served during Desert Storm. Cummings ticks off other examples.

"In the military, we do what we're told because it's for the mission. Maybe we're breaking out of that and doing what we want instead."

Hmmmmm. Let's chew on that one.

Cummings is still a man with a mission. He's just aiming at a different target these days.

"I want people to know that sex is normal, natural, healthy and OK."

Fa-la-la. Cummings points again to exhibitionists A--Candy and Chandler.

"Here's one thing that's interesting. Those two girls, I'll do anything for them. They'll do anything for me. All the people in the industry, we're like a big, extended family."

Jerry Springer calling.


One Artist's Handiwork: What's the price of genius?

Oh, about $100,000, give or take.

Take Robert Wilson's hand, for example. We mean the severed one that floats toward you in "Monsters of Grace," his new 3-D animated opera collaboration with Philip Glass, which ends today at UCLA's Royce Hall.

If you follow the hand, you might get a peek into the head of the noted theater iconoclast. The image started out as an alchemist's laboratory with bubbling bottles. And a leg (don't ask). But the combo didn't survive a design session with computer animators Jeff Kleiser and Diana Walczak at a Berlin hotel in October.

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