Rodger aka Martin Brimmmer emails this open letter to the industry:
In a few days I will most likely be living on the streets. It’s a daunting reality, tempered by the fact that in San Francisco, where I have been residing for the last nine months, many of the bars close at 2:00 AM and re-open at six in the morning, meaning I only have to brave the elements for four hours every night.
I already possess many of the requisite qualities for homelessness: I collect Social Security Disability (since 2002), I have multiple illnesses, including bi-polar disorder, a common ailment shared by many of those “crazy” people you see living on the cracked asphalt, and my ability to tread treacherous waters may have finally overtaken me. Maybe, then, this is a role I was tailor-made to play, perhaps a far better one than my fifteen-year career as a screenwriter and journalist for the adult entertainment industry.
Fifteen years is quite an investment of time and talent. I’ve written extensively for every major publication (Hustler, X Biz World, AVN, Swank, Adam Film World), wrote God-knows-how-much ad copy and box copy, and I penned hundreds of screenplays for almost all of the major studios, including some of Wicked’s most critically applauded movies in 1999-01. Along the way I picked up two AVN awards for Best Screenplay and shared a Best Comedy Award with Jonathan Morgan…
Over time, there was a shift in the market for story-driven adult films and videos. The cable industry bent to market demand and began accepting more gonzo and wall-to-wall product. Gone was the need for well-crafted 30-40 page screenplays — forgetting the maddeningly limited capacity of the performers to effectively carry off such heavy scenarios, but that’s another story we’re all familiar with. At my peak in 2001, I was earning $1500 per screenplay. Today, when I’m able to work, I’m lucky to receive $200-350 for a fifteen-pager with all of the plot convolutions of a Bazooka Joe comic strip. And it’s not like I’m writing ten of these a month.
So in late 2005 I went to work as a features writer for X Biz World, after a brief stint at AVN under Tim Connelly. I wrote 27 features for X Biz until I finally hit a wall, a worsening of my bi-polar disorder coupled with, well, let’s not call it writer’s block as I don’t actually believe in that, but maybe I was just really, really burned out. Journalistically speaking, porn and the politics of porn can be a fairly limited subject, a canvas with definitely discernable borders.
By March of 2006, while writing a wet T-shirt show for a cable network, I caught myself self-medicating one morning before heading out to the shoot that I had no desire to supervise. It was 6:00 AM and I was doing a shot of rum and a hit off the joint before chasing it all down with my anti-anxiety drug of choice, Ativan. Before coffee. My manic depression, I then knew, was clearly out of hand.
Cut to the chase: The doctors put me on a series of anti-psychotic and anti-depressant meds and I became a zombie that used to know how to write. I was unable to scribble another word for X Biz. I simply had no will power and no enthusiasm. My other illnesses — severe psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis, and high blood pressure — were worsening. In September I was on the verge of eviction from my apartment in Glendale. All I was earning was my $900.00 per month from Social Security. Not a livable wage.
I moved into a friend’s residential hotel room in San Francisco’s North Beach. And then that ball that was already rolling downhill took on devilish speed. My Social Security was accidentally cut off due to a clerical error and I was left peniless for five months until the malfunction was reversed. I still had a roof over my head due to my friend’s full-time employment but eventually all of that went south as well.
And you know what’s funny here? I’ve only given you a thumbnail sketch of just how hellish, how deserving of a Heirnoymous Bosch painting, my life has been for the last year-and-half.
But it’s more than the last eighteen months or so that’s the problem. It’s that aforementioned fifteen years I gave to the industry.
Fifteen years. I, and many, many more who have gone before me in this industry, have absolutely nothing to show for our creativity and effort and support. No car. No home. Savings account? Nope. Stocks and bonds? Get real. For many who work behind the cameras, the adult business pays a barely sustainable wage and 90% of the work force are treated as independent contractors and “residuals” is the name of a popular bar in Studio City. Sure, we have AIM and Bill Margold brewing their own brand of philanthropy whenever possible but we need a little more flavor in the punch. Where are the organizations or even the individuals to catch some of us industry veterans (Did I hear someone mention Al Goldstein?) when we fall?
I know, I know. I should have surveyed the landscape before getting into the business. That’s the argument Luke Ford and the other cynics would make.
Fifteen years. As I write this, I am three weeks behind in my rent at the run-down residential hotel I live in. Inadequate heat, no cooking facilities, and the bathroom and shower is a community affair down the hall. They’re asking me to leave. I have nowhere to go, no assets to liquidate, and no cash on hand. Some people call the adult industry a gutter. Well, in the next few days I may be able to give you a literal view of the gutter. I’ll let you know how it stacks up to the business.
LUKE SAYS: Rodger’s Pay Pal ID for any much appreciated donations is [email protected]. His personal email addy is [email protected].