Thoughts Over a Cinco De Mayo Margarita: If I Couldn’t Trust AVN, and I worked for Them, Can You Trust Them Now?

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I was all set to post my AVN Men of Action who are full of shit story for Sunday, but, figuring that it was Cinco De Mayo, why waste a good yarn on a bunch of Margarita-sucking drunks in the porn business.

Instead, I’ll give you this one as a consolation prize.

I was a caller-in to Rob Black’s Internet show Friday afternoon and judging by how it went I’ll be a regular feature. On the show I was also talking about the circumstances in which I left AVN and went over to Extreme Associates.

Paul Fishbein [pictured] actually referred to me as a “cancer that left the building” at one of the AVN Awards show. Forget the fact that I pulled Fishbein out of an imminent bankruptcy and that he screwed me in a business deal. This is how the story went down as I related it on the Black show.

Black was talking about various people he brought into the business and how they went on to screw him. I said I could relate. The same thing happened to me. I told one story about the AVN Saturday Mutiny involving the Arizona Mafia [I’ll get to that one this week].

It was that mutiny that prompted me to make the break from AVN realizing that I had let some devils in the door.

“It was totally out of control, but I had to blame myself.”

“But cancer? You cocksucker. You motherfucking cocksucker. This was a guy who looked me in the face on an April morning in 1991 when we were still in Philadelphia and said ‘Hey, Gene, come and take a drive with me.’ We go outside.

“Fishbein’s saying I don’t want anybody to hear this and he’s outlining his plan to move to California. We’re driving up and down West Chester Pike and he’s saying we’re moving to California but only with my say-so.

“He’s putting it to me in a way do you want to stay in Philadelphia or move out to California and hang out by swimming pools and hot chicks all year. That wasn’t a hard decision to make.”

“To sweeten the deal, Fishbein said, ‘I’m going to make you partners in AVN. An owner. I’m going to get my lawyer Steve Levin to write up papers and make you a partner in AVN.’

Fishbein in that car ride brought up how my efforts put AVN in solvency and how we could now afford to move out to California and be among the players in the business. I took him at his word.

“We move out to California, September, 1991. I’m not one of these guys where as soon as we walked in the front door it was, ‘Hey, Paul, how about that deal?’ I waited until we got situated a little bit. Maybe we there four or five months.

“We needed to get an art director. We needed to change logos. There was a lot of things we needed to do plus add new staff.

“One morning I go into Paul’s office and I said, “Hey, listen, I think maybe it’s time to talk.”

“About what?”

“Well, about that conversation we had in Philadelphia, about the ownership and all that. He looks me straight in the face and goes, ‘I don’t recall ever having had that conversation.’ And he said it in such a tone, it was, like, go fuck yourself.

“And that was already in 1992, and I’m saying, motherfucker. I stayed until the year 2000 so for eight years I just sat there and let this thing burn in my guts that I let this guy tell me to go fuck myself.

“It’s like going out on a date, wooing a girl and saying hey listen I promise to marry you if you let me just stick it in a little bit. You go, okay. Then you realize you’ve just been welcomed to the world of I’ve just been fucked.

“But I got painted as the bad guy, the cancer who left the building.”

Black made an interesting point.

“When you talk about this story of ownership, here’s to me proof,” said Black.

“AVN was a pamphlet, a newsletter that started in Philadelphia. It doesn’t matter who the players were, like Paul’s friends. When somebody hears a Gene Ross story and goes, “Oh, that’s bullshit, here’s the proof- in a court of law. Just the fact that you and Paul Fishbein, that AVN started in Philadelphia with a couple of guys that moved out to California and one of those guys was Gene Ross is proof that Gene Ross not only knew where all the bodies were buried and knew the workings.

“Paul Fishbein, everybody knows to look at him is not a writer [to be fair, Fishbein won some kind of Hearst Journalism award while in college].

“He’s not a magazine guy. You look at Gene Ross and say, okay, here’s the dynamic. You are educated enough to write stuff and you like porn like I do. I’m just generalizing, but, at the end of the day, this guy [Fishbein] said I got money and you got the writing skills.

“You moved out to LA with him. To say that you were nothing more than a flunky is bullshit because somebody doesn’t pack up their entire life regardless if the guy says swimming pools and hot chicks.

“You moved out here with Fishbein when you were 44. A 44 year old-man who is set in every aspect of his ways doesn’t pack up his entire life and move to Los Angeles at the behest of a guy who says we’re going to open this company and create this entity. You’re not a janitor who was following him out to California. Anybody in a jury stand would say, ‘This is like a marriage.’

[As a side note, over the course of several years, Fishbein had to pay out on several multi-million dollar lawsuits that were served on him by ex employees.]

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