Penthouse Badass: Paul Rieckhoff

Penthouse just published a really great piece I wrote about Tricare, in which I quote Paul Rieckhoff. Of everything I’ve written over the years, the articles where I’ve quoted Paul are the ones I’m most proud of. Coincidence? Probably. But I’m beginning to think he’s my good-luck interview.

You can read the Tricare article in the May issue of Penthouse, now on stands, or wait until I share it here. Until then, however, check out this tidbit I wrote about Paul a few years back.

Every year Penthouse publishes its annual Badass List. The editors choose the most badass folks from various walks of life, from entertainment to activism, politics to porn. And by “badass,” what they really mean is “kick-ass.” These are the coolest, smartest, most incredible people they’ve come across in the past year. For the 2009 issue, I got to write about Paul Rieckhoff, the founder and executive director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA). It was hard to get all of his awesome qualities into a hundred words, but it was definitely an interesting challenge. Plus, Paul is the biggest badass I know, so I was honored to be asked to write about him for the magazine.

The Torch: That Time I Got a Ludacris Concert Cancelled

Rabble-rousing was quite possibly my No. 1 hobby in college. As an aspiring journalist, I wanted to dig deeper into every story. A simple feel-good fluff piece, in my hands, could become a conspiracy being covered up from the highest authorities within the university. I was determined to write only “real” news, hard news. The fluff was for the features editor.

One of the controversies I covered involved the university inviting Ludacris to perform. I went to a Catholic university, one that was so focused on its religious mission that it refused to allow a student production of The Vagina Monologues. Yet they were willing to invite a misogynistic rapper. (Note: I have no problems with Ludacris or his music. It was the fact that their policy made no sense, turning down an educational program because it could offend, but inviting a rapper who was potentially more offensive.) So I wrote about it. And not only did I write the news article about Ludacris’s invitation to the university, I wrote the official editorial as well.

While I was researching and interviewing, I had to look up Ludacris’s lyrics. I then read the lyrics to “P-Poppin’” to a university official. I was already working in porn at that point, so I took extreme delight in reading the very dirty lyrics to the dean; I had no shame, but he wasn’t so unfazed. It was an exceptional form of entertainment.

After that issue ran, with our editor in chief’s column also blasting the university’s slightly baffling decision, Ludacris’s concert was mysteriously canceled. I forget the reason they gave, but everyone knew it had to do with our articles. To say I became unpopular that week would be understatement, but oh the fun I had in the process!

Shirts & Skin

Once in a while I write wacky features for Penthouse that don’t necessarily involve porn or sex, but do involve sexy ladies. One of my favorites was “Shirts & Skin,” about a strip beer pong game played between members of Howard Stern’s production team and the ladies from Rick’s Cabaret. It was a hilarious match, full of ridiculous antics and nearly naked babes. What’s not to love? My favorite thing about this article, however, is that a copy of it has been mounted and hung inside Rick’s Cabaret in NYC. A friend and I discovered my strip-club fame when we went to Rick’s for another friend’s birthday, and I posed for numerous photos next to the plaque. I’m pretty sure the other partygoers thought I was a little nuts, but I’d never seen any of my work so prominently displayed by someone who wasn’t a close friend. I love looking at the photos of me with my article and wondering how many people have stopped to read it or check out the byline. If you’ve ever been to Rick’s and seen my work hanging up, please tell me. I’m dying to find out how famous I am among the titty-bar aficionados.

Excerpt: Smooth

A lot of the erotica/smut I write has a theme. I like it that way. The focus of a particular topic (oral sex, S&M, kink, MILFs, etc.) always makes it easier to reign in my inner rambler and bang out a sexy story. Sometimes, though, the theme is open to interpretation. Such was the case with Rachel Kramer Bussel’s Smooth. The call asked for stories from a woman’s perspective, and the only theme we were given was “naked.” Since I tend to make my characters strip at least a little before they get it on, that left it pretty vague. I chose to define “naked” as “vulnerable,” and I wrote about a young woman who feels most vulnerable when she’s showing off her tattoos.

A friend of mine has an intense tattoo fetish, and when I told him what I was working on, he was excited. I’d asked him for advice when writing tattoo fetish pieces in the past, but I decided to tackle this one solo. When it was done, I asked him to give it a once-over for me, tell me if it worked for him. His response? “HOT!!!” (I have the saved text message to prove it.) An excerpt from my story, “Ink,” is below. Tell me if you agree with his assessment:

The drive to my house was a blur, and I honestly don’t remember the ride. Maybe he sped all the way there, or maybe it just felt that way, but one minute I was sliding into the cramped seat of the small black coupe and in what felt like seconds his hand was reaching into the open door to pull me back out. For the first time, I got the key into the lock and swung the door wide without fumbling, and the stairs to my second-floor apartment went by in a flash. We weren’t running; Jason was politely taking his time, looking around and saying ridiculously mundane things about my decorating. Then he turned back to me, standing in the doorway to the living room, pushed me back against the door frame and started to ravage me. He took control of this kiss the way I had our earlier lip-lock against his car, and I moaned into his mouth, loving his sudden show of sexual aggression.

Hands and lips wandered as we kissed, and I waited for the inevitable clothing removal. It took longer than expected—-such a gentleman, he was—-but eventually his fingers were under my cardigan, my skin tingling with the first gentle touches.

Jason pushed my sweater off my shoulders, leaving me in only a tank top—-and baring my arms for the first time. He didn’t notice my tattoos at first, my three-quarter sleeves hard to make out in the dim light. It wasn’t until he moved to kiss the now-bare skin at the base of my neck that he caught sight of the ink inching up my shoulder. He stilled, his lips pausing only millimeters above my skin, his warm breath tickling me. He lifted the hand that was gripping my forearm and lightly trailed his fingertips along the designs decorating my flesh.

“Beautiful,” he mumbled, his lips brushing my shoulder. “Absolutely beautiful.”