C.J. Laing was born Wendy Williams in 1953. She was originally from a traditional Jewish family in New York, but moved to San Francisco when she was nineteen. “I was from New York, so I was confused in San Francisco. When you’re twenty and you’re hungry and the rent’s due, you’re really just an idealistic youth; you’re not a whore. Even though you are.”
In order to support herself she did a number of dead-end jobs. “I started working North Beach, started hustling, rolling drunks. They’d come into the Nude Encounter, a massage parlour where I was working. There was ‘nude wrestling’ and ‘nude encounter’, you know, in different rooms. I don’t know if there could be actual physical contact, but they could look at you naked. Maybe there were hand-jobs – you know, look at my titties, and get a hand-job. While they were doing that, I was lifting money out of their wallets, say, a hundred bucks, I don’t know how much I could make because I was just so sloppy. I guess I didn’t have a sense of pride in my work.”
Apart from needing to pay the rent though, C.J. Laing also had an appetite for pills and rock groups. “Whatever I was making was never enough because I needed money to go to Texas to fuck Sam Cutler, the road manager of the Grateful Dead. He was the English guy responsible for hiring the Hell’s Angels at Altamont. I was Sam’s little slut. I wanted the glamour; I needed to be somebody. I wanted to belong to a rock group. But I needed Quaaludes and Clark bars to give head.”
The solution to her financial problems came in 1972. “One night I was in my communal sleeping room, at a house owned by the ‘Angels of Light’ cult, and this gorgeous girl Tina came home with a hundred dollars. I said, ‘Where’d you get it?’ She said, ‘The Mitchell brothers.’ So I did one film for the Mitchell brothers. Period. One little loop, part of a series of films called ‘Juke Joint’. I do recall giving head and everybody going, ‘Oh!’ That’s how I got the money to go to Texas and fuck Sam Cutler.”
Before she left though, the Mitchell brothers made the classic adult film, ‘Behind The Green Door’, with Marilyn Chambers. “I was totally jealous that I wasn’t in ‘Behind The Green door. Completely. I wasn’t pissed at the Mitchell brothers, more dejected. But I didn’t complain to Jim and Artie – and what, risk them saying they turned me down because I’m a little scrawny kid from nowhere?”
In 1973 C.J. Laing left California and porn behind, and set off for Texas. Within a year, though, she was back in New York. “I went back to New York from Texas… and the Mitchell brothers had just come to New York. And we got together and partied, and they introduced me to the Buckleys, who had done Screw with Al Goldstein and were making their first movie. So that’s how I did my first movie with Jamie Gillis.”
Jamie Gillis was renowned as being one of the most extreme libertarians within the adult industry, and his relationship with porn star Serena in the mid-1970’s was legendary for its excesses. Fellow actor Richard Pachenco would later comment: “Anyone kinkier than Jamie shouldn't be allowed to walk the streets!” Before Gillis and Serena became a couple though, he began a relationship with C.J. Laing, which, according to friend and adult actress Sharon Mitchell, was just as unrestrained.
“One night I got a call from Jamie Gillis… and he says, ‘Uh, Mitch, can you come up? I need some help.’ I said ‘Sure’, because Jamie was one of the big brother guys that watched over me. Him and John Leslie and Eric Edwards – all those guys really flanked me and took care of me… So I got in a cab and went to Jamie’s filthy apartment, and he and C.J. Laing were having some kind of weird sexual session. He had her head in the toilet – and he needed both hands to, like, keep her breathing and the toilet flushing. He needed another hand to help get her head out of the toilet – so she wouldn’t drown.”
According to C.J., “There was some little talent agency in Times Square that represented me. This old woman ran it, and she was a cunt! So I started doing a lot of porn.” After using a number of pseudonyms such as Lisa Collins, Jessie Savage and Jessy Lang, she eventually settled on C.J. Laing. Unlike peers such as Annette Haven, Leslie Bovee or Candida Royalle, she was not a stunning beauty, but she was willing to participate in practically any sex act. “I started becoming like a circus-act girl. I was the girl that did farm boys that were coming in with eighteen-inch cocks. These guys that couldn’t speak but had… anomalies, right? I’m the girl that deep-throated John Holmes, and I’m the girl that double fisted with this one and that one – and did all these very intense sex scenes.”
C.J. was also extremely cynical about the adult industry and the pretensions of some of her fellow porn stars. “I purposely would not act. I despised the people in these films that said they were actors. I was like, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me! This is about fucking and sucking!”
While in New York, C.J. Laing not only pushed her sexual limits onscreen, but also indulged her promiscuous tendencies off-screen. “I was going to swing clubs. And I’m amazed that everybody wants to fuck me! But there was also a club on Seventh Avenue in the Twenties, where people met and then went to people’s houses. Someone had this amazing town house in Gramercy Park with a swimming pool on the ground floor. On the basement floor was this amazing play space. And I used to go to party there all the time. It was a bunch of fucking suburban schnooks in some fancy town house fucking around. But, I don’t know, they liked me. For some reason it made me feel good. I wasn’t doing stuff for drugs, and I wasn’t doing it for money; I was doing it for the attention and the sex.”
In 1977, porn actor and star of ‘Deep Throat’ (1972), Harry Reems, was put on trial as part of an anti-pornography case that was targeting the cast in order to get to the distributors. C.J. later recalled: “I went to Harry Reems legal defence fund raiser at Elaine’s. I donated money, and Harry was shocked that I did that. We had this conversation about our comings and goings and attractions, you know, what was going on. And I guess I had matured a little bit, become a little bit more of a woman. So I went home with Harry that night… It was Jamie Gillis, Harry, and myself. You know, we just sort of had these sexual romps. I wasn’t into threesomes, but with Jamie and Harry it was just us.”
Harry and C.J. began a relationship, but the publicity gained as a result of the court case strained matters. According to fellow actor Fred Lincoln, “Harry Reems started to believe his own press. He was better than this, better than that. He was drinking, he was doing coke – I mean he was drinking a lot!” C.J. began to feel alienated: “Harry got an invitation to the Playboy mansion… and he’s hanging with Hef, and I don’t like that. I didn’t like hanging at the Playboy mansion. It was very intimidating for me. I felt sort of thrown to the wolves. I didn’t feel very protected as this girl. I felt like prey. And not very attractive prey, with all these blonde androids around – all these rubbery, fantastic women. I just felt awkward.”
Events reached crisis point later in the year. “In Malibu, Harry was drinking vodka, and one day he put a gun to my head. We were on the deck of his house, and he said to me, ‘Suck my cock. Where’s the cunt? Suck my cock. Where’s the cunt?’” Nevertheless, C.J. appears to have been obsessed with him. “I always had a bottle of his sperm with me at all times, you know, so that I could reproduce our children at a moments notice.” The relationship did not last.
In 1978 C.J. Laing quit porn and slowly disappeared into anonymity. She was not one of the most attractive girls working in the industry at the time, and was rarely cast in a main role. She was sexually adventurous though, and willing to do things many of her peers would not. As a result she is humiliated and dominated in films such as ‘Oriental Blue’ (1975) and ‘Maraschismo Cherry’ (1978), and can be seen urinating in public in ‘Barbara Broadcast’ (1977). In fact, many of the films she appeared in, such as ‘Sex Wish’ (1976), ‘Water Power’ (1977) and ‘Barbara Broadcast’ (1977), are now considered classics of their time. She was never an idealist like Annette Haven, nor a particularly good actress, like Georgina Spelvin. She entered the industry for the money, for the attention and because she enjoyed the sex. Despite never being one of the major players, C.J. Laing was part of the early U.S. porn establishment, and one of it’s pioneers. Today she resides in the San Francisco Bay Area and works as a consultant.
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