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Isenberg on a Roll

WWW- In her book’s jacket photograph, Lynn Isenberg- looks every inch of her 44 years. Wearing a spaghetti-strap top and revealing a tantalizing hint of cleavage, Isenberg looms larger than life – staring semi-seductively down at the camera lens, attempting a “come-hither” look; her straight brown hair blow-dried to within an inch of its life.

As the author of the recently released novel by Red Dress Ink, My Life Uncovered – based loosely on her three years as a scriptwriter for the adult film industry over 10 years ago – the publicity shot makes sense. But in reality, nothing could be further from the truth.

Dressed casually in faded jeans, a cuddly sweater and sensible hiking boots, Isenberg looks at least 10 years younger. Tucked away in her three-story condo in Marina Del Rey, Los Angeles she plays affectionately with her two-year-old border collie/retriever – Tao. (“I got her from the pound to get over a broken relationship.”)

Her hair is wild and tousled, and there’s not a red talon in sight. In fact, her fingernails are cut back to the quick. And she is incredibly tiny. She looks like the kind of woman Hollywood moguls chew up and spit out before they’ve had their morning coffee.

However, Isenberg is nothing if not tenacious (her choice of word). And it’s that tenacity that saw this nice Jewish girl from Michigan up sticks and trek out to Hollywood to become a scriptwriter after graduating from the University of Michigan in 1982.

That she found herself writing scripts for adult movies is just one aspect of her extraordinary life which she has chosen to share in her debut novel.

So how exactly does a nice Jewish girl land up writing pornography? By accident, says Isenberg.

Upon moving to Hollywood, Isenberg did enjoy some success early on, collaborating as both a writer and a producer on mainstream films such as I love you to Death with Keanu Reeves and Kevin Kline, and Youngblood with Rob Lowe and Cynthia Gibb. But when money and work began to dry up she touched base with a friend in the business who was working for the Playboy channel, and he asked her to send a few scripts.

“I had no idea I’d written an adult movie,” she says. “I had been hired to write a movie for the Playboy channel – soft porn. I didn’t know that Playboy had co-financed it with an adult film company, and suddenly there were many different versions of my film. I didn’t know until a year later, when the head of Playboy called me up and said, ‘Congratulations on your nomination for best screenplay,’ and I said ‘What are you talking about?'”

Isenberg says it’s no coincidence that her first adult movie Things Change (the only real name she keeps in the novel) was such a hit.

“I’d never seen a porn movie before, and I just thought I’m going to do the best job I can and I’m going to deal with issues that are relevant and I’m going to write a real plot, a real storyline, and develop these characters as best as I can. And I did.”

As a result, Isenberg actually received a mention in the Wall Street Journal for Things Change because it became one of the highest-selling adult films of all time.

In the novel, the protagonist, Laura Taylor, grapples with the moral implications of her work, and finds inspiration in attending her local synagogue and listening to the rabbi’s sermons. And Isenberg is no different. Raised in a conservative household in Michigan, she attended Hebrew school through 12th grade and attended Sha’are Zedek Temple.

So how does she feel about the caveat that “nice Jewish girls don’t write porn,” and how has the Jewish community reacted to her novel?

“I have no idea how the Jewish community has reacted, but I’d like to know,” she says. “But Jewish/non-Jewish,” she adds, “when I was writing for the adult movie industry, I had to be open-minded and tolerant. And because Jews have always been discriminated against, I think being Jewish helped me to not be judgmental.”

And as to the charge that her novel glorifies and promotes pornography – “Pornography and prostitution have been around for ages,” she says. “They’re not going to go away. I think pornography helps reduce sexual abuse, rape and violence. I believe it’s an outlet. I’m not condoning certain forms of pornography which are extremely violent and that even the adult industry is denouncing. But what about the men out there who have no social skills and are uncomfortable around women?

“When I went to a strip club for the first time, I saw men lining up to have their photos taken with a porn star. Initially, I thought, ‘Oh my god, is this what they aspire to?’ And then I thought ‘Thank god they have something like this to aspire to.’ Because where would they be otherwise? They could be out running the streets looking for women to rape. This way they can go to a strip club, have a community of friends, and have this outlet – blind men, handicapped men. I saw all kinds of men there. When I saw that side of it, it really opened me up to looking at it in a different way. And had I not gone through this life experience, I don’t know that I would be as open-minded.”

Whatever her views, Isenberg’s funny debut novel about a porn writer with a heart, a conscience, and a soul is finally bringing her some much-deserved success. She has a two-book deal with Red Dress Ink, and is halfway through her second novel, about a female entrepreneur.

She is currently in discussions to turn My Life Uncovered into a film or a television series, and there is talk of finally producing her own script, Disturbances in the Field, proving that old Hollywood adage that life can indeed imitate art – even if it takes 20 years to get there.



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