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Wonder Bread & Ecstasy: The Life and Death of Joey Stefano

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Though it was ruled accidental, the drug-related death of 26-year-old gay porn star Joey Stefano (Nicholas Iacona) garnered attention from the tabloid press and prompted a television talk-show host to ask whether the sex industry was to blame. Isherwood examines the porn industry, and as a partial response to the accusations, traces Stefano's life through a stereotypically troubled upbringing in Pennsylvania that culminated in his sporadically successful careers in dancing, prostitution and Los Angeles's pornographic film industry. This last achievement was unheard of at the time, specifically because the young superstar was a "bottom" - defined by the author as "the passive performer in anal sex, the active one in oral" -and it was believed that gay audiences preferred "tops," or more "masculine" performers.

Stefano's career peaked when he won the Best Actor AVN, the industry's equivalent to the Oscar, for his performance in the iconic film  More of a Man, but then his popularity faded. Coupled with this was his knowledge that he was HIV positive, and Stefano increasingly numbed himself with a variety of drugs including Ecstasy and Special K (ketamine).  Featuring interviews with personal friends and industry insiders like famed director Chi Chi LaRue, Isherwood's biography of the industry's first 'power bottom' superstar is a sympathetic portrait of a young man whose desire for attention and fame was equaled only by his inability to say no.

Paperback, 220 Pages, Published 1996

Author: Charles Isherwood

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