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Skin City- The Documentary

Posted on vegasblog.latimes.com: The CineVegas film festival is happening at the Palms. On Saturday night I went to see a screening of a rough cut of “Skin City,” a documentary about adult entertainment in Las Vegas.

The documentary is based on the book by Jack Sheehan, which I reviewed for the Las Vegas Weekly. In general, I liked Sheehan’s book but noted that on a certain level it did not tell the full story. For example, there was a very positive profile of porn star Ashlyn Gere of which I argued:

“Gere is typical of the people Sheehan looks at in ‘Skin City,’ in that she is successful, with a highly developed entrepreneurial streak and no moral qualms about her work. Similarly he finds happy hookers, fulfilled swingers and, as for the strippers, one notes, ‘I am going to dance as long as I possibly can. Where else can I make this kind of money and feel like a star?’

“So entertaining and satisfied with their lot are the characters in ‘Skin City’ that the fact that these people are not typical of the industry barely comes through. In a chapter profiling Metro’s vice unit, an officer reflects on crack whores and the reasons why pimps prefer 15-year-old girls. None of the adult entertainers Sheehan profiles apparently have drug problems or pimps. In fact, one high-end escort actually – without irony – supports a crackdown on street prostitution.”

This darker side of the adult business in Vegas also gets short shrift in the documentary. But this movie is still a work-in-progress with much footage yet to be added.

Final self-aggrandizing note. In the question and answer session afterward, Sheehan was asked how he had managed to avoid commentary from the ubiquitous Mayor Oscar Goodman in the documentary. He replied that an interview with Oscar Goodman was in fact one of the things yet to be added to the final cut of “Skin City.” He then reminded the audience that the “most dangerous place to stand in Vegas is between Oscar and a TV camera.” The line got a good laugh from the audience. And while it is an old joke applied to many a politician before Goodman, it is also a quote used in my review of Sheehan’s book to tweak him a bit:

“Every local knows, ‘that the ‘most dangerous place to stand in Vegas is between Oscar and a TV camera.” So, it is hard to be impressed when Jack Sheehan brags in his intro that he got the mayor for ‘an exclusive interview for this book.’ Wow.”

Glad to see Sheehan agrees with me now.

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