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  Date: April 27, 2003   |  Local time: 12:53AM   |  Weather
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All That Glitters: Apres Me, Young Sluts

How I launched a friend’s porno career


By Richard Abowitz

Kat, right, gives good direction.
Kat Slater, the director of Hustler’s successful series Young Sluts Inc., remembers the night almost two years ago when she stayed at my barren apartment, and I inspired her to embark on a career in porn:

“I did an independent movie for MGM in 1999, and it wasn’t released in any form until last year. That was quite a lag time. In Hollywood, no one is banging down your door until you are already busy. I was hanging around Hollywood waiting for people to call me back. I decided to go on a road trip back home to Wisconsin. Leaving L.A. in my car, I stopped the first night in Vegas to see my old friend from college, Richard Abowitz.”

I remember the night well. Kat (weird, still, for me to use her porn name) had always been the most driven person I knew. She arrived in L.A. with nothing but a bachelor’s degree; I know from experience how useless that is. But, while working as a temp, she managed to write her film and then, even more impressive, succeeded in getting the funding to direct it herself.

Kat’s life dream may have gone direct to video, but that is further than most of us get, and I was proud of her each time I walked past its box at Hollywood Video. But this modest success had taken her years of relentless effort, and during this visit she was tired, depressed and, worst of all, not sure what to do next.

I wanted to encourage her. I didn’t know how, since, in truth, I had strong doubts about her chances. It’s not that I didn’t believe in her talents; it’s that Kat’s sensibility seemed all wrong for Hollywood. Her movie, set at a school, was packed with scenes of teenagers doing drugs and engaging in sexual violence. In fact, considering the graphic subject matter, it seemed a tribute to her abilities as well as to her powers of persuasion that the film was made at all. The script for her next film was, if anything, more extreme. I couldn’t imagine that it would ever be made.

So I changed the subject and told Kat a few things I’d learned about that other Hollywood—the adult film industry—while reporting a story. “Did you ever think about writing and directing adult films?” I asked. Since porn is cheap to make, I said, it would be easier to get her projects funded. Since it was not for a mainstream audience, the genre might oddly provide her with more artistic freedom. I also suggested that as a woman, she might be able to escape the stigma that male porn directors claim they face when trying to crossover into making regular movies.

I don’t watch porn and have no knowledge of how that business works. Still, I blustered on about how excited an adult company would be to work with someone who had already achieved respectability by doing a conventional film. The next morning, Kat headed off to Wisconsin, and I forgot about our conversation. Kat, however, did not. “I had about 1,700 miles driving to think about it. When I got home, I decided that I could do it if I didn’t lie to my parents. So, I told my dad and, surprisingly enough, he said, ‘Go for it.’”

I fell out of contact with her not long after that, until she called last week to say she was coming to Las Vegas. Kat’s series was up for an AVN Award, the porno equivalent of an Oscar. No longer sleeping on my floor, this time she was staying at the Mirage.

When I visited her there, she was surrounded by six aspiring sluts kissing up to her. Wearing a designer dress and making them hang on her every word, Kat clearly enjoyed being the center of attention. After she sent the girls off, she caught me up on her transformation.

“I owe it all to you,” she said. “When I got back to L.A. from Wisconsin, I met Jimmy Flynt Jr. at Hustler. He said, ‘Come back when you’ve made a porn film.’ At this point, I was still in what I call the ‘waiting period’: waiting, waiting and waiting for people to call me back. I was so broke, I was about to go get a job at a video store. So, I said, ‘I’m not coming back.’ I showed them the trailer for my film. It had young girls in it and it was sensuous and stylish. Hustler took a chance on me. To make a long story short, I did two trial vignettes for the Barely Legal series. Then they gave me my series, Young Sluts Inc., and now I’m making No. 11.”

Kat took me to a party at the Venetian, where I met the host, Simon Wolf, a major player in adult cable and an early supporter of Kat’s work. “She is just so much more creative than other directors. I loved her mainstream film. She told me about a scene she wanted to do and it sounded great, so I decided to pay for it.”

Of course, Kat had never quite got around to mentioning she had almost no knowledge of how porn was made. “When I shot my mainstream movie, I whispered during the sex scenes. I tried to be delicate and set the mood. On my first porn, I was doing the same thing. The stud just yelled, ‘I can’t hear you when you talk like that!’ Now, I’m like, ‘Go on, stick it in there.’”

They can laugh about it now, but Wolf remembers with a shudder that day on the set when Kat came over with a question: “She goes, ‘What’s a DP?’” A DP, meaning double-penetration shot, is a very basic term of art in adult films. “I thought, ‘My God, I just wrote this girl a check for something like $15,000.’” Of course, Kat figured things out quickly. “She hasn’t been at it long,” Wolf says, “and she is already one of the best directors in the industry.”

I was happy for Kat’s success. Still, I felt that the credit she was giving me was a bit of a dubious honor. Having convinced someone to make porn makes me feel less inspiring and more like the anti-muse. But Kat assured me that the past year has been the happiest and most fulfilling in her life.

“I feel very secure now. I can pay my rent, and I can buy strawberries out of season. I’ve learned how to produce, do budgets and put a crew together. I learned it all through porn. I know I am good at what I do and that people enjoy it. The funny thing is that my mainstream career has never been better. Mainstream producers are now coming to me because they are interested in the porn business. They need my help now, and I’ll call them back as soon as I have a chance.”

So there it is, the story of my tiny role in the creation of Kat Slater. Of course, I must note without bitterness that I still live in the same apartment without furniture, and I am still waiting for the calls to come in. So, Kat, maybe send some script-doctor work to your old friend. Say, a few thousand bucks to change “grunt” to “squeal.” I’ll be waiting by the phone.

Contributing editor Richard Abowitz covers entertainment for the Weekly.

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