I'll be honest and admit that I don't know much about the sexploitation films of the 1960s (or 1970s, for that matter), but if this is novel is any indication of the fun I may be missing, it may be time to start looking up some titles.
Permanent Obscurity is a fake memoir or sorts, inspired (so the back cover information says) "by the underground sexploitation films of 1960s ...." Dolores Santana, our narrator, tells the tale of friendship, love, and betrayal to her confessor, Richard (or is that "Dick"?) Perez. And the story Dolores has to tell is ... well, on the kinky side.
This is a book that dips into the subculture of BDSM or more precisely (as it's referred to by Dolores and Serena in the book) "femdom." But don't worry -- it's not as alienating as you may think. This is not like the "true life" memoir of Melissa Febos (Whip Smart), which recounts her grim experiences a dominatrix and a drug addict; the tone in Permanent Obscurity is comic. Archly comic and sardonic.
Dolores, our pot-smoking Puerto Rican narrator, and her best friend, Serena, stumble into the underground culture of fetish photography and film-making and soon find themselves trying to assemble a project of their own: a movie with Serena as star. One catastrophe follows another as these two cobble up the means: a script, supporting actors, appropriate media, lights, and a camera.
Permanent Obscurity is really a spoof on film-making and the pretensions of art and ego and all the insanity involved. It's a hilarious book if you can stand satire. And the author has created a ridiculous larger-than-life character in Dolores, who can hardly open her mouth without spitting out one f-bomb, c-word, b-word after another.
It would be accurate to call this novel a trip, with enough vulgar reversals and shocks to fill a mini-series. The ending is especially hair-raising and effective. The author attempts (and succeeds) at shoving us out of our safety zone.
Highly recommended (for adults only).
A Review of Permanent Obscurity: Or a Cautionary Tale of Two Girls & Their Misadventures with Drugs, Pornography and Death by Dolores Santana (as told to Richard Perez).
Website for Permanent Obscurity (so you'll know what to expect): PermanentObscurity.Com
[Book review by Yolanda Cross]