"The cornerstones of my life," he counted off on four thick fingers, "are friendship, loyalty, truth and honor. You notice that love is not in there because love is too flimsy and transitory. I prefer to say I like you rather than I love you. I don't think I ever told Holliday that I loved him. But I did love him. Watching him die was not fun. The last couple of weeks when he would lay in his own piss was not fun. [He was] 380 pounds, diabetic and incoherent. He wanted to die, and that scared the hell out of me."
Ghosts permeate Margold's words. The ghost of Viper, the former porn star who was without a doubt the love of his self-possessed life, is always at the forefront of his mind. Margold believes that "implant schizophrenia" was responsible for the tattooed and pierced performer's 1991 mental breakdown.
"Do the research," he prodded. "You'll find that most women who have breast implants go crazy within a year. I call it implant schizophrenia. I experienced it up close and personal with Viper."
When Viper (nee Stephanie Green) fled L.A. in 1991, Margold said, "she got as far as Texas and then that miserable little black car blew up. She kept on going and left all of her identification on a tombstone in Arkansas and was never seen again by anybody."
Margold believes that Viper is in a sanitarium. He also firmly believes that "she is mythic now... she has her own cult."
The Plimpton of Porn
Implant schizophrenia and dubious mythic status afforded to a B-grade adult actress who has been missing for 14 years, the 62-year old adult performer, writer, director, agent and activist who dubbed himself "the George Plimpton of pornography" is no stranger to outlandish commentary. When he gets his mind around an idea, he embraces it tight, like the teddy bears he encourages crestfallen performers to hug for comfort in the offices of PAW (Protecting Adult Welfare), the peer counseling organization he founded in 1994 as a response to the suicide of porn icon Savannah.
"PAW, tragically, is doomed," he said. "We're out of money. There's nothing left. There's no more money left to do it."
One story that Margold proudly related suggests that the methods he employs in his altruistic endeavors through PAW may be less than sound. The incident involved a former porn starlet who was entrenched in a heated custody battle with her soon-to-be ex-husband.
"What I did in this one case... [He breaks in mid-sentence to ensure that the tape recorder is running. It is.] ...I was so mad that I figured out a way of breaking the law essentially to win her [custody] case," he said.
"The husband was a real asshole and was telling the kid all the time about how his mother was a whore and had done all these horrible movies. I said, 'I want the husband to show the kid one of your movies. I want you to make sure that your kid sees one of your movies, a hardcore film.' And she said, 'What're you talking about?' And I said, 'Do it.' It was done. And I said, 'Tell your lawyer about that and bring it up in court.' When it was brought up in court, the husband was prosecuted for contributing to the delinquency of a minor and the mother got her kid back, and there were no more problems. I used the law to break the law to win her back her kid. But I've done that a lot."
For a man who has spent 33 years in the sex trade, Bill Margold is indifferent about sex and has been his entire life. He describes his early sexual experiences as awkward and fumbling. "I'm an extremely clumsy sexual animal," he confessed. "I'm way too big, and I don't know what I'm doing."
Masturbation, he says, has been his best friend since he was 13. Indeed, Margold's conversation is frequently peppered with talk about masturbation. He claims there is an acidic quality to his ejaculate that can been known to heal scrapes, abrasions and scar tissue.
He grew up as "a gawky, dopey-looking child, totally introverted" who blossomed through writing.
"The minute I saw my first byline, I knew I had a weapon," he said. "The minute I had that weapon I had power. And the minute I had power..." (Margold bites down on the sentence, unable to finish, issuing instead a defense of his journalistic poison pen.) "I don't think I've misused it as much as people think I have. I think people that got hurt deserved to be hurt."
It is no wonder then that Margold places himself above gossip maven Luke Ford as "the person most hated in this business."
"People just despise me because I will not compromise my beliefs," he said.
In part two we'll look at Margold's concept of a tax on adult products and notion of imposing a 21-year-old minimum on adult performers.