Body to Job, by Christopher Zeischegg

“There was a momentum in the way we worked, fucked, and saw ourselves consumed by the world.”

Body to Job begins with the disclaimer: “The following stories were written between 2010 and 2016, and closely resemble my memoirs. They are also works of fiction.” Since reading Reality Hunger last year, I’ve been increasingly interested in the shrinking difference between memoir and fiction. I see it as this: To work in the adult film industry is to exist partially within the shared cultural fantasies of the populace. When your life has, to some extent, revolved around the fulfillment of fantasies for others, I would imagine it seems only natural to tell your story in the form of fiction. But fiction often carries within it a seed of truth.

These are brutal stories, and very well written. They are often heartbreaking, and deal primarily with Christopher’s experience working in the adult film industry, and the difficulties involved with that work. They also occasionally dip into the surreal, which is a nice reminder that there’s a dose of fiction present.

What most struck me about this collection, is the way in which Zeischegg presents everything with little commentary. The stories are raw and straightforward. As the narrative unfolds, things happen that are quite intense, and it’s up to us to interpret these events. People approach pieces of art with bias and preconception. Zeischegg seems aware that the reader will bring their own commentary, so he keeps his sparse. I think it was a wonderful creative choice, and added to the occasionally disturbing content of these stories.

“You know how every urban, twenty-something community is made up of broke-ass DJs, models, photographers, musicians, filmmakers, and writers? Add ‘porn star’ to that list. It’s become just as boring and pointless. And you’re always a stone’s throw away from someone unremarkable who will do the job for nothing.”

The book really starts to hit its stride when it begins dealing with the mundanity of the pornography business. The boring details, the ins and out of the creation of something made to entice and fulfill fantasies, were my favorite part of the book. It also deals heavily with the unique alienation and ostracization experienced by adult performers who work in both the “straight” and “gay” camps of pornography.

It’s a fascinating read, and I highly recommend it.

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