Kenneth W. Starr: A Pornographer for Our Times

Photograph Source: Rebecca Roth – Public Domain

Last week, Ken Starr went off to the Great Starr Chamber in the Sky, or most likely the one in Hell. Starr was a star in the ruthless Republican galaxy known as the “Vast Right Wing Conspiracy” that Hillary Clinton (no Lefty herself) warned us about just before the turn of the 21st century, a conspiracy that’s only gotten vaster and even more extremely and destructively “right wing.”

“Independent Counsel” Kenneth W. Starr’s main claim to fame was that he got a U.S. President impeached when he stumbled upon the Commander-in-Chief’s somewhat shadowy, private sex life and forced it into the harsh light of a 24/7 media feeding frenzy, with a virtue-signaling twinkle in his twofaced blue eyes.

I wasn’t a fan of Bill Clinton‘s neoliberal policies or his draconian sanctioning of Iraq, but he wasn’t the worst U.S. President (this was before he bombed Belgrade). I felt that Starr’s “investigation,” which took him from a failed 1970s real estate deal right into the President’s pants, was a nakedly partisan power-grab dressed up in the pious trappings of a Moral Crusade.

Moreover, as a sex-positive sexologist, I didn’t think a U.S. President should lose his day job just because he got a consensual blowjob.

Ken Porn Starr

In September of 1998, U.S. Inquisitor Kenneth W. Starr, along with his little well-paid team of arch-conservative, highly ambitious legal ninjas (including a young, sexy and nasty Ann Coulter and a fresh-out-of-Yale Law School, Brett Kavanaugh), released The Starr Report—like a hot money shot that lands in your eye or perhaps up your nose.

A very official and somewhat officious document dripping with details of intern thongs, U.S. Presidential ejaculations, furtive phone sex, cigars in vaginas and much more, the Starr Report stepped like a stripper onto the stage of this relatively new medium called the Internet and proceeded strut it’s stuff to one and all of us.

The Starr Report read like a porn script. But no porn script ever made it to the front page of The New York Times and countless local newspapers around the world. This was the most widely read piece of pornography of the year—maybe of all time!

In an effort to expose naughty Billy Jeff’s privates, prissy old Kenny wound up exposing himself to be quite the erotic artiste.

He was far bolder and more intrusive than most low-budget, ethical porn producers (yes, most porn producers are ethical!), even orchestrating a sting operation, wiring Monica Lewinsky’s “friend,” the arch-conservative Linda Tripp, to record the juiciest parts of their private chats, giving a soap operatic edge to his unprecedented taxpayer-funded porn production.

The Report itself was breathless, badly written schlock (a predecessor to the equally uninspired 50 Shades of Grey), but most porn scripts are not exactly Shakespeare.

At the time, my friend porn star-turned-artist, Annie Sprinkle, along with the late great Betty Dodson and Candida Royalle, invited me to speak at the World Pornography ConferencePornocopia,” which happened to fall on the same day that Monica Lewinsky was bullied into testifying before a Grand Jury about her affair with the President. In my eroto-political mind, the timing was more than coincidental.

Here was the first official gathering of career academics and pornographic filmmakers in sunny LA, while in steamy DC, the star of the nation’s biggest pornography production ever was spilling the delectable details of Oval Orifice lust, presidential phone sex, love gifts, heavy fondling and a dress that must have smelled like a skunk, having gone four years without cleaning. This performance was ostensibly for the Grand Jury, but its real purpose (for Starr the auteur of it all) was to engage, excite and enrage an audience that encompassed the whole country and most of the world.

Supposedly, Monica wasn’t a willing star in this X-rated soap that titillated the populace at the expense of the nation—although the mom-daughter team maintenance of the dress, stains and all, made that supposition rather suspect. More than anything, she seemed dazed and confused, yet unwavering in her defense of her ex-lover’s privacy. And yes, the #MeToo movement has since reminded us of the unfair imbalance of power between an intern and a President. Still, this intern was over 21, an experienced philanderer with older men and the more admitted pursuer in their Oval Orificeaffair.

Whether Monica was victim or vixen or both, there was no doubt that hymn-singing Independent Counsel Kenneth W. Starr relished bullying the poor woman and was a more-than-willing, down-right passionate producer of this piece of common porn that would find its place in history books. One can imagine Ken, Brett, Ann and rest of the porn writing team wondering how “semen stains” might best be referenced… as “dried body fluids”? DNA material? Bubba love droppings? A seminal moment in history?

And the Boobie Award Winner was…

Thus, the World Pornography Conference Opening Night Pornocopia seemed the perfect venue to present the 1998 Boobie Award for Best Pornography Production to that Peeping Tom point man of Richard Mellon Scaife, Big Tobacco and the Religious Right:  Kenneth W. Starr for “The Intern & the President: America Held Hostage to Ken Starr’s Perverted Peeping Tom Sense of Justice,” partially financed with over 30 million of your tax dollars—brought to you by the GOP, party of frugal government spending.

It was the perfect live audience to present this award: some 500 pornographers, professors, lawyers and smut-hungry reporters.  As I tore open the envelope, the pornographers held their breath in anticipation as the professors looked around and the reporters muttered amongst themselves, wondering whom the winner could be. Many had done much to further the cause of pornography, but none came close to GOP’s own enterprising independent counsel who cucked the Constitution and forced a consensual blowjob down the entire nation’s throat.

Accepting the award for Mr. Starr was my friend, Ken Starr lookalike, Keith James. Keith was so convincing; after the show, I overheard a couple of porn stars ask a professor, “How did she get Ken Starr to come here?”

As he accepted his Boobie Prize (designed by the artist Heilman-C) and handed me a subpoena, I congratulated Mr. Starr—via Mr. James—on making a sticky, internationally embarrassing mess of the US government, for getting Congress to be his porn distributors and for being the only pornographer that forced his work on other people. Is that even legal?

Judging from the applause, there was no doubt that Ken’s Boobie Prize was well-deserved.

In fact, “The Intern & the President” won six more Big Boobies that night, including, “Most Leaky Storyline,” “Best Hot Talk Taping,” “Best Unseen Oral Sex Scene,” “Best Cum Shot (on a Dress),” “Best Marketing Campaign,” “Most Expensive Porn Production in History—with a $40+ million budget,” and a special Boobie also went to Ms. Linda Tripp for “Most Underhanded Technical Support.”

With the eager assistance of the leaks-lapping, ratings-hungry hookers of the mainstream media—some of whom were in the Pornocopia press section—this dimple-cheeked son of a preacher man had taken blowjobs out of the shadows and put them right onto the front pages of family newspapers and into primetime TV for every child to see. How many pornographers had accomplished as much for the cause of spreading—or leaking—the word about the power of sex?  This was the powerful weapon Crusader Starr wielded, the power to capture our erotic attention, the power to stripdown, torture and humiliate individuals without consent, and perhaps even the power to overthrow democracy itself by orchestrating the downfall of a twice-elected President.

Not that I was defending the President’s private behavior.  Personally, I agreed with our ex-Surgeon General Dr. Joycelyn Elders. Instead of firing her for discussing masturbation as a safe way to relieve sexual tension, Billdo should have taken her advice.

Of course, cheating on a spouse to whom you’ve made a monogamous commitment is wrong, as Clinton admitted. Or maybe it was just being careless and getting caught that was “wrong” for Bill and Hill. After all, we still don’t know what kind of private relationship, “lifestyle” or “arrangement” the Clintons actually had or have. In any case, marital cheating wasn’t illegal or unconstitutional; it was a matter of personal morality.

President Clinton was widely known not to be the monogamous type yet despite that, the majority voted him into office twice. Clinton’s approval ratings were consistently high, but the Religious Right minority cared more about their moral code than they did the well-being of the country; at least they pretended they did for the chance to grab political power. They pressed their case beyond credulity and against the popular sentiment for the ostensible cause of moral codes. What a farce. After all, where was this moral code when the same Religious Right championed Donald Trump?

Kenneth Starr was a Holy War Pornographer, using a powerful mix of sex and sanctimony to attempt a coup d’état—or as National Memo editor Joe Conason called it in the old New York Observer (before it was purchased and destroyed by one Jared Kushner), a “Coup de Twat”—to incite the people and the press against a progressive, hedonistic, fellatio-lovin’ Prez that he and his supporters despised.  Starr didn’t use bombs in his Holy War, but he did assassinate Clinton’s and Lewinsky’s reputations with the smoking gun of sex. Thanks to Starr, a rabid right-wing minority almost overthrew the vote of the people over a sloppy blowjob.

The GOP all lined up behind their shining Starr. I will never forget that huddle of hoary-haired, pasty-faced Republicans who couldn’t get it up with a case of Viagra, deciding the country’s fate based on their judgment of their adversary’s sexuality. Meanwhile, most of the Democrats fumbled and feinted, filled with shame and worry that their sex lives could be investigated next. Starr’s coup was effectively thwarted by one thing: the American people. Luckily, the great majority of the populace would not be fooled by a pompous Neo-Puritan Pornographer into dumping a democratically elected president.  Not that we didn’t like porn (of course, we did and still do); we just wouldn’t be fooled by it.

That was then, of course. Now, I’m not so sure.

The Future of Sex

Back then, Mr. Ken Porn Starr never achieved his goal of axing that President—Clinton was impeached, but not convicted—but he did weaken him, and in a way, the entire nation. Now we have not just a Ken Starr, but a whole QAnon cult of moralizing, misogynistic maniacs and a powerful majority on the Supreme Court (including lying, crying Kavanaugh) literally forcing their Neo-Puritanical ways on a far more sexually tolerant general populace.

Almost a quarter century ago, when Kenneth W. Starr did his dirty work (with considerable help, it should be added, from a young Impeachment House Manager named Lindsey Graham), we seemed to be on our way to becoming a more sexually tolerant, understanding, forgiving, sophisticated, sex-educated society. Now, due to various forces—one of which was the weaponized pornography of Kenneth W. Starr—the pendulum now seems to be swinging back to sexual intolerance, misogyny, police brutality, censorship and a willful lack of sex education.

Ken Starr certainly wasn’t the first sexual witch hunter, but he was one of the worst. After he lost his epic battle with Bill, he turned out to be less of the pious crusader for sexual propriety than he presented himself to be. A lot less. In typical hypocritical GOP fashion, he used his “experience” in sex-related legal matters to defend the likes of Jeffrey Epstein. Later he resigned in disgrace as president of Baylor University, a Baptist religious college, after it was found that he’d covered up several sexual assault cases. As one 1998 Pornocopia audience member shouted when I gave Ken Starr his Boobie Prize, “What a douche.”

Nevertheless, many leading Republicans still respected this douche. One of Starr’s bigger claims to infamy was joining the defense team for the Trumpus (who had called Starr “a lunatic” when he was hounding Clinton) for his first impeachment. The hypocrisy came full circle for both self-aggrandizing men who shared a contempt for truth, a scorn for ethics, and a lust for using sexuality as a political weapon.

The Moral of the Inquisitor’s Story is: Don’t be a pornographer bully like Ken Starr. Be an ethical pornographer.

Susan Block, Ph.D., a.k.a. “Dr. Suzy,” is a world renowned LA sex therapist, author of The Bonobo Way: The Evolution of Peace through Pleasure and horny housewife, occasionally seen on HBO and other channels. For information and speaking engagements, call 626-461-5950. Email her at