I appreciate that writing ‘porn stars’ in a blog post title could be seen as a cheap way of upping my stats, but this really is a post about a pitch I sent (ages ago) about porn stars. Porn stars. Porn. Big tits.

Back in March 2009 I sent the following pitch to Charlotte Northedge, who at the time was acting features editor at Guardian Weekend. It had been a good day: I’d just been asked by the editor of Square Mile magazine if he could sell one of my features on, I’d been asked by my boss if she could add an extra five hundred pounds onto my invoice to help her ‘sleep at night’, I wasn’t bald and mad and nearly always broke as I am now, and I was a day or so away from flying home to see my wife, because then I had a wife. Oh, and I was in Singapore. Jesus, this is tough. Writing this, I mean. For reasons both too boring and too complicated to go into, I can only really see about eight out of every ten words I write. Anyway, here’s the pitch.

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To: Charlotte Northedge

From: Pitching the World

Subject: Where have all the porn stars gone?

Date: 12/03/09

Hi Charlotte,
Where indeed. I’m out in Singapore at the moment working for [redacted] but have to go to California at the end of this month. I’ve already been commissioned to write a couple of fluffy travel articles, but would ideally like to do something with a bit more substance.
Here is what I’m thinking. Over the last year or so, there have been problems within the porn industry: the rise of amateur sites, free sites, economic vagaries and so on have all left the industry in a pretty sorry state. “So what?”, you might be thinking. Well, my idea would be to visit San Fernando Valley (the porn capital of the world, apparently) and the surrounding areas to track down ex-porn actors and actresses to see what they’re up to now. What are they doing to make a living? How do they feel about their previous careers? What (prostitution?) have they done or considered doing to pay the rent? Are they taking drugs? Alcohol? And so on. I’d aim to interview 8-10 people.
Legs? I’ve got quite a few contacts within the industry from previous work I’ve done for men’s magazines, including the head of one of the biggest porn companies in the world and one of the most well-regarded directors. Both their numbers are in my phone.
Hope everything’s going well there.
Best wishes,
Steve
Oh, incidentally, about 3 months ago I nearly pitched you the exact same article appearing by Tanya Gold in today’s (well at least over here) Guardian. Bummer.

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Rubbish, isn’t it? It’s okay, you don’t have to be kind, I know it’s rubbish. It’s one of the worst pitches I’ve ever sent. Here’s why, in red.

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To: Charlotte Northedge

From: Pitching the World

Subject: Where have all the porn stars gone? [Don’t know. Nowhere?]

Date: 12/03/09

Hi Charlotte,
Where indeed [I sound like a right 1930s prick here]. I’m out in Singapore at the moment working for [redacted] [Who cares? Why am I showing off about working in Singapore?]but have to go to California at the end of this month [Not true]. I’ve already been commissioned to write a couple of fluffy travel articles [Not true], but would ideally like to do something with a bit more substance [Possibly true].
Here is what I’m thinking. Over the last year or so, there have been problems within the porn industry [Have there?]: the rise of amateur sites, free sites, economic vagaries and so on have all left the industry in a pretty sorry state [Possibly untrue]. “So what?”, you might be thinking. Well, my idea would be to visit San Fernando Valley (the porn capital of the world, apparently) and the surrounding areas to track down ex-porn actors and actresses to see what they’re up to now [Dreadful – and dreadfully boring – sentence].What are they doing to make a living [repetitive]? How do they feel about their previous careers? What (prostitution?) have they done or considered doing to pay the rent [Yeah, brilliant; they’re definitely all prostitutes]?Are they taking drugs? [Probably – isn’t everyone?] Alcohol? [What? Are they ‘taking’ alcohol? What is this – the 1930s? Am I my Great Aunt?] And so on [Clearly beyond taking drugs and ‘taking’ alcohol, I couldn’t imagine what else these people might be doing.]. I’d aim to interview 8-10 people [Would you? Well done].
Legs? [I actually liked that bit] I’ve got quite a few contacts within the industry from previous work I’ve done for men’s magazines, including the head of one of the biggest porn companies in the world and one of the most well-regarded directors [Pretty accurate, but I sound like such a dick]. Both their numbers are in my phone [Still sounding like a dick].
Hope everything’s going well there.
Best wishes,
Steve
Oh [Oh, look how casual I am. I’d actually been planning that ‘Oh’ for about four months], incidentally, about 3 [Should be ‘three’] months ago I nearly pitched you the exact same article [Not true, probably. I certainly can’t remember anything about this] appearing by Tanya Gold in today’s (well at least over here) [Yeah, I’m still in Singapore. Look at me, I’m so fucking international I don’t even know what time zone I’m operating in] Guardian. Bummer [Bummer? Far out, we’ve gone from the 1930s to the 1960s].

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Anyway, it received a positive reply which I’ll pop down below. After a week of toing and froing I very, very, very nearly flew out to California to spend a week or two with ex-porn stars, but I ended up screwing it all up. Bummer. But it’s made me think that it might be worth revisiting my archives to dredge up some old pitches and re-pitch them. Laters, potatoes.

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To: Pitching the World

From: Charlotte Northedge

Subject: Where have all the porn stars gone

Date: 12/03/09

Hi Steve,
Good to hear from you. I’m actually not working on G2 any more, I’ve moved to Weekend magazine, but I think the porn stars idea could work for Weekend. My only concern would be how varied their stories would be. If they were doing quite different things – eg. window cleaner, estate agent, pimp – then that could work really well, but if they’re all struggling actors or working for internet porn companies, then it’s not such an interesting story.
So I’d be interested in principle, but it would be great if you could get in touch once you’re there and have more of an idea of who you might be able to speak to. 
Hope all is well with you.
All the best,
Charlotte

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10 responses to “I appreciate that writing ‘porn stars’ in a blog post title could be seen as a cheap way of upping my stats, but this really is a post about a pitch I sent (ages ago) about porn stars. Porn stars. Porn. Big tits.

  1. Apologies for crummy formatting at the end. In fact, apologies for everything.

  2. Chin up – you got her to take the bait, so to speak, and that was while you were going through a 1930s-prick-meets-so-fucking-international-phase.

  3. I’m still very much in that phase, unfortunately. It’s a bugger (see?) to get out of.

  4. I am reading a book at the mo (it does happen) and I read a line in it and I thought of you, here it is ‘And they say that good writing is like a good man: it needs no protection as it makes its way through a wicked world’ so then I read your blog and it strikes me how coincidental it is that that quote stood out to me and meanwhile you are thinking and writing about the ‘wicked’ (could be read in two ways) world of Porn. You are nothing like a 1930’s prick, although I can imagine you looking very dapper indeed in a cravat…x

  5. Actually the book is shite and so is that quote. I can think of loads of good people I know that needed protection and didn’t get it. I reckon it was written by a 1980’s Fo’.

    You could write about travelling the world in search of utter filth. Japan may be a good place to start. By day an Economist, by night, a dirty knicker sniffer. Charming.

  6. I read that quote Marge and thought, ‘That’s very true’, and then read it again and thought, ‘Hold on. Is it true?’ and then read it a third time and thought. ‘Not only is it not true at all, it doesn’t even make sense. How does writing make its way through the (wicked) world? What does that even mean?’ Quotes, eh. They’re bastards.
    I very much like your idea of travelling the world in search of utter filth, though. Watch this space. Or, rather, don’t as this post is being temporarily taken down for a few days.
    What book were you reading?

  7. Pitchy, I am just too ashamed to say what book it was. I panic bought it at the airport (Oh, I am so fucking international) – I should have known when the Daily Mail said ‘A terrific read!’ and some 1930’s prick from the Financial times said it was ‘Fascinating’. Oh and I hate the word terrific I have just decided.

  8. Love that ‘Oh’ that you had probably been planning for four months Marge. Wow, what an alliterative sentence. And wow, what a prick for saying ‘Wow, what an alliterative sentence.’
    I really want to know what that book is now. Please tell me. Us.

  9. I think I’ve said this before but I like it a lot when you ask, ‘Legs?’, in one of your pitches. I’d like to wander around asking ‘Legs?’ of anyone who looks capable of responding to an enquiry – shopkeepers, people at the train station, my coworkers etc – in the hope that one day I will learn the answer.

    • I think you have said that before. I rather like it too. In fact, I wish all my pitches from now on solely consisted of ‘Legs?’ but I’m afraid that’s nonsensical and wouldn’t get me anywhere. Would certainly speed the whole process up though.

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