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Pussy Grabbers and Ball Busters


There’s one thing in my past that I am ashamed of vis-a-vis women. That was while serving my country as a 19-year-old soldier in an army that invaded, occupied and ultimately abused millions of Vietnamese people. Sure, many of them were trying to kill us. But we started it; the Vietnamese had never done anything to us, except be our ally in WWII. Metaphorically, the war was like a sexual assault; at least that’s the metaphor I tried to pull off in my Penthouse story, which was called “Polyorifice Enterprises.” I was in thrall to Joseph Heller’s Catch 22 at the time, so I employed his creative amalgam: he mixed the absurdness of his post-war experiences in Madison Avenue advertising with the politics of a bomber base in Sicily during WWII. In my case, it was a job interview that turned out to be a man standing in front of a roomful of applicants selling the wonders of vacuum cleaner sales and the epidemic of prostitution in Vietnam. I replaced the vacuum cleaner guy with a Vietnamese female pimp who recruited the youth of Vietnam to service American soldiers. The tone was comic absurdity.

While “in country”, I participated in the epidemic of prostitution that took over that war-zone like a plague. Prostitution in an imperial warzone goes back to Caesar’s army and before. Think of the Japanese and their "comfort women" throughout Asia, including in Vietnam. I may have exploited and compounded my sins by writing and publishing that short story in Penthouse Magazine in January 1975; but, as I see it, that absurd piece of writing was the birth of my disgust for the war itself, which was then on its last immoral legs. In 1985, I became a full-fledged antiwar activist and never looked back. In 2004, I worked as a cameraman with an Academy Award-winning filmmaker on a documentary about the US military and prostitution; we made a crazy 12-hour trip via SUV from Amman, Jordan, into Baghdad, where we were, frankly, so scared of losing our heads we never could get out enough to locate the meager reported examples of prostitution in that strict Muslim country. There were rumors of gypsies who tolerated it and vague reports of homosexual prostitution -- but nothing like the incredible epidemic in Vietnam. I'll never forget looking through the viewfinder as I filmed the patriarch of a homeless family living in a bombed out Air Force base and my colleague asking, through an interpreter, a final question: "What would you do if a woman in your family sold her body?" He did not even blink: "We would kill her." From accounts I’ve read of our young horny warriors on deployment and with the aid of my imagination, having been a horny young man once myself, I imagine there's a lot of masturbation going on with mobile i-pads and other devices. As for the film my friend has put together, he’s wrapped up in prohibitive licensing issues: commercial branding and capitalism as an instrument of censorship.

story | by Dr. Radut