RuPaul Meets The Adult Movie Superstars

The drag queen legend meets Kylie Ireland, Chasey Lain, Janine, Jon Dough, Tom Chase and Chi Chi LaRue in the 1990s.

In the 1990s, adult movies were experiencing a second Golden Age, not just in terms of production quality and creative talent but also in the revival of what was called in the 1970s ‘Porno Chic’ and in the 1990s was seen as ‘Porno Pop’ – a widespread acceptance of adult entertainment as not just legitimate but actually cool. The moralisers were in retreat and sexual entertainment – not just porn but striptease, erotic writing, fetish culture and sexual freedom all around – were being celebrated. The old arguments about the dangers of porn were being laughed at by all but the most hardline RadFems and conservatives, women were openly enjoying sexual entertainment as much as men and even the British defences against smut – which had kept the porn that the rest of the civilised world enjoyed out for so long – were rapidly crumbling, leading to the unimaginable – full legalisation of porn in 2000.

Part of the Nineties sexual liberation was just how many TV shows were embracing porn – partly as a ratings grabber but also because it was no longer seen as disgraceful to show adult entertainment in a positive light. From shows like Sex and Shopping and Eurotrash to daytime talk shows and serious news programmes, porn seemed cool and those who objected to it seemed increasingly like stick-in-the-mud fuddy-duddies. Of course, it couldn’t last. For every action is a reaction, and the po-faced, the reactionary and the finger-waggers would regain the upper hand by the end of the first decade of the 21st century and have stayed in control since. TV shows about porn are once again hand-wringing studies in moral outrage and the censorial are doing everything that they can to roll back any advances we might have made.

In 1996, legendary drag queen RuPaul had his (or, if we stick to the character being performed, her) own chat show on VH1 in America, also shown on Channel 4 in the UK. A dayglo, high-camp version of a regular talk show, the guests ranged from mainstream celebs to gay icons and pop culture figures. On two separate episodes, the guests included porn stars, who were treated as being bonafide celebrities, which they clearly loved (and who could blame them?). At no point were they demonised or made to excuse themselves – instead, RuPaul expressed a love for porn and an admiration for the guests. Sure, he might have been faking it but damn, this was refreshing nevertheless. I can’t imagine Wogan or Parkinson having a porn star on their shows – and even Jonathan Ross backed off from having Russ Meyer on his chat show once he’d finished using incredibly strange films to further his career and was now respectably mainstream.

Jon Dough in Latex

The first show featured gay porn star Tom Chase and straight porn legend Jon Dough, then the leading man of choice in the industry thanks to his intense acting performances and sexual prowess, starring in classic movies like Michael Ninn’s Latex. In 2006, struggling with drugs and alcohol and seeing his career affected by the rise of tube sites and the decline of production quality, he took his own life. Chase was active until 2009 and is seen as a classic example of the new generation of gay porn stars that emerged in the late 1990s as the industry expanded and production values rose. Among his directors was Chi Chi LaRue, the drag queen porn director who was also a guest on this show. LaRue’s connection with RuPaul continued for years – in 2012, he directed a music video for a contestant on RuPaul’s Drag Race.

The second show featured a trio of the adult industry’s biggest female stars. Kylie Ireland (who I interviewed around this time and was absolutely lovely), Janine and Chasey Lain. Kylie would continue in the adult industry for many years, not just as a performer and director but in more recent years as an art director – it’s down to her efforts that the sets and props in films like Star Wars XXX look so incredibly authentic. Janine Lindemulder was one of porn’s most glamorous figures and – in a sign of the times – appeared on the cover of Blink-182’s album Enema of the State. She served six months in prison on tax evasion charges (owing $300,000, which seems small potatoes compared to what some other people have gotten away with owing without facing jail time) and remains active in the industry. Chasey Lain, one of porn’s most strikingly beautiful performers, also had a connection with the pop-punk acts of the era – The Bloodhound Gang’s dubious tribute song The Ballad of Chasey Lain was the sort of global hit (number 15 in the UK charts) that is entirely unthinkable now. Chasey had a long adult career – from 1993 to 2007, followed by a few comeback stints.

Chasey Lain

As ever, this old VHS recording is what it is – don’t expect high definition and prepare for a few visual dropouts.

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