By Marco Vassi
The Traveller's Companion Series, 1970
Reading great pornography for aesthetic satisfaction is like getting laid when you want to dance--the desired consummation is available in the material, but unless you're very lucky it will distract you from the point. Which is why I hadn't ever read this book from cover to cover until now, even though I damn near know it by heart. For unlike all that airless French crap, Story of the Eye to Story of 0, Mind Blower is designed to be used first and appreciated later. Published by French porn king Maurice Girodias during his American sojourn, Marco Vassi's first novel is about death, self-transcendence, and so forth, but most of all it relishes the facts of sucking and fucking. And in this supposedly sex-obsessed culture--in this world--there's nobody who always sucks and fucks with the relish those sacred, difficult, absurdly finite acts deserve.
Although Vassi's language and ideas tend toward purple, always a pitfall in ambitious porn, his structure and tone are at bottom comic. Set in Doctor Isador Tocco's Institute for Sexual Metatheatre, which like a Sade castle serves Vassi as a hermetic environment in which his ecstatic scenarios are safe from social and economic contingencies, Mind Blower is as '60s as its title. For Doctor Tocco, the immolation in pleasure that so fascinates pornographers suggests a Gurdjieffian mysticism; he prescribes discarding the concept of personality (hence romantic love, not to mention jealousy) so that it can be reclaimed at a more comprehensive level of consciousness. After the narrator, Michael, abandons his quest for a shared "image orgasm" (mere physical simultaneity is of course a snap), he joins three fellow metaphysicians in a climactic four-way that's one of the most intense and emotionally credible accounts of group sex in erotic literature. But then the joint is raided, and Michael is reduced once again to consorting with swingers in pickup bars. These are "not serious people," he muses disconsolately, and as he lies back to facilitate a blow job vows that he will begin his "search for Tocco . . . tomorrow." Ellipsis in original. The End.
It's Vassi's willingness to take his orgiastic vision as seriously as its comedy permits that charges his descriptive writing. But it's his sense of detail that turns on a faithful earthling like myself. One of the few genuinely bisexual pornographers (which is hardly to imply that he's free of male bias), Vassi loves the little ridged cavern where scrotum becomes asshole as much as the pink pout of engorged labia, and explodes the philistine cliché that sexual organs (and acts) are all essentially alike. Not that there's anything but fear or prudery to prevent the reader from bringing the erotic energy he generates back home. But if necessary you can take it out to a pickup bar, or into your own hands.
Voice Literary Supplement, Nov. 1981