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Book Review: Sinner Takes All
I don’t know a lot about the porn industry; my knowledge is limited to the movie Boogie Nights, but there are questions that have always lingered on my mind. How do people end up in that industry? What does it do to them mentally? Is there ever a way for them to get out of it? If you’re at all like me, your perception of the porn industry is like that of a seedier Hollywood, with even more sex, drugs and rock and roll. However Sinner Takes All presents itself as a success story, which gave me pause when I read the synopsis. Are there people in that industry that didn’t get their lives ruined? That might sound like a harsh generalization. I don’t know anyone in the industry and my knowledge of it is based off of one movie and one book, but I want to believe that not everyone who enters into that world is destroyed because of it. After having read this book, I don’t believe that Tera Patrick is as happy as she says she is, but she isn’t in a bad spot either.
The book starts us off in her early childhood and the struggles she had with her parents. She wasn’t abused, as some might think, but she was at odds with her mother when her parents divorced. She doesn’t spend much time as a gangly little girl, and blossoms early as a young teenager. She finds herself idolizing pin-ups like Marilyn Monroe; wanting to experience the high status of beauty and have people looking at her with the same level of adoration. She enters into the modeling world at a young age but squanders the opportunity with an addiction to pills and a lack of drive to keep going. She returns home and doesn’t re-enter the world until shooting a spread for penthouse magazine when she needs the money. As someone with a hefty sexual appetite, she inevitably finds herself shooting porn movies and signing a contract with one of the leading companies in the business.
It is this contract that leads to the largest portion of the book. Overworked and overstressed, Tera tries to break away from her agreement, leading to a long legal battle that sends her into a mental breakdown. She’s helped along the way by her husband, Evan Seinfeld, and we see first hand how she battles her way through her problems in the mental ward of a hospital. Out of all of her struggles comes her re-emergence into the adult film industry and how her face and name are commodities that no company can every take away from her. Throughout we’re also given her philosophies about how to safely navigate the porn world with both helpful terms and sound advice.
At first I found myself fascinated by this book. Her road to adult films was an interesting one, as well as her rebirth which helped her survive through the court battles and her breakdowns. However the most frustrating thing for me was her relationship with Evan Seinfeld. The descriptions of what he did for her and the evolution of their relationship isn’t necessarily the problem. The problem was that her perception of the relationship reveals to the reader that perhaps she shouldn’t be writing a memoir at this point in her life. Their romantic romps remind me of teenage relationships when they first start out. How both people are wearing ‘love goggles’ and aren’t necessarily seeing everything as it really is. This is only confirmed in the afterward of the book that gives more current information about the state of her life.
To some people this might not be as frustrating, but to me it called into question the validity of everything in the book. Not that I think she was lying, but I think this book would be much more powerful coming from someone older and more experienced, rather than someone who still has a majority of their life ahead of them. I know that thirty is an old age for the porn industry, but for life experience she still has a lot to go through. Therefore a life event that seemed big for her a few years ago, might be a small blip in the course of her whole life. So when I finished I felt like large parts of the book were extended ‘love-goggle’ notes written by a teenager about to leave high school. They might think they’ve experienced a lot, but anyone older will know that they’ve barely just begun in their lives. I’m not older than Tera Patrick, but if I were to write a memoir of my life today, it would be a completely different book than the one I would write twenty five years from now. When you think of a memoir you tend to think of it as a much older person reflecting on their life experiences. But if Tera Patrick’s afterward is any indication, everything can change at the drop of a hat when you’re still young.
So I’m not sure if I would recommend this book or not. It’s graphic, so you definitely shouldn’t let anyone under eighteen read it, but I’m not sure if you’ll get anything out of it other than what you would get out of a porno; some scandalous scenes that might arouse, but not a whole lot of substance. I don’t like saying that because the book teeters on being great, but I just feel like she wrote a memoir before she was really ready to write one.