Thorne in Your Side
Tera Patrick Sinner Takes All Book Review
It was at a party for Playboy over eight years ago that I first met Tera Patrick, she had recently signed with Digital Playground and was on the arm of Digital Playground's publicist Adella Curry. I was blown away. Tera was by far one of the most stunning women I had ever met in person and as I spoke to her I was amazed at the spunk and personality behind the beauty. It was after meeting Tera that I decided to start adding adult reviews to DVD Talk and ultimate it was the seed that helped inspire XCritic (my first ever porn review I wrote was for Tera Patrick's Forbidden Tales.
Flash forward eight years and I'm reading the Afterward on Tear's book Sinner Takes All: A Memoir of Love and Porn
where Tera announces her retirement from the adult industry and the divorce from her epic love Evan Seinfeld. In some ways this time has passed in a blink of an eye, but in others it feels like it's been an eternity.
So many porn stars come and go in the industry, I can't say that I often invest the time and energy to be a full blown fan of many. It's the exceptional starlet that crosses that line for me from someone I'm aware of to someone I am a fan of. Tera is one of those few performers. Maybe that's why it's so painful to read "Sinner Takes All", which at it's heart is a fairly tragic story of a captivating woman who finds success but nearly looses everything to booze and anxiety.
Sinner Takes All is a blend of many things. On one hand it's a nice biography which covers the youth, professional career and key points of Tera Patrick's life. It's also epic love story about the woman who met the man of her dreams and carved out a happy and romantic life with him. The book is also a tragedy, from sexual experiences with men far older than they should be at times far earlier than it should to Valuim and alcohol addiction, suicide attempts and mental illness. Mixed in are a spattering of Q & A's, porn tips, erotic pictures and sex advice. Individually these things would all make interesting books, but together it's a bit of a hodge podge.
As full a book as Sinner is, the coverage of the time she was with Digital Playground feels too light. Her time at Digital Playground played such a large role in Tera's life (arguably almost leading to her ending it) and to her career, but we get just a small spattering of coverage of some of the projects she did while working there. It would have been nice to have had more.
On the upside Tera does cover a number of really interesting aspects of her career. She sets the record straight about why she got her breasts enlarged, who she has and hasn't slept with, her actual religious background and more. Tara's retelling of her first photo shoot with Suze Randall and first porn shoot with Andrew Blake are charming and her descriptions of her sexual escapades with Evan are fun.
But the biggest hurdle of Sinner Takes all is what happens to the epic love story that it tells. The middle of the book covers Tera and Evan's romance, the way he helped her find her way through hell and how they built a company together to represent what she really wanted for herself. I absolutely love the "he said, she said" section of the book where both Tera and Evan give their perspective about how they met, her mental break downs and working in porn together. At the end of the book, Tera throws a hand grenade to this, announcing her divorce from Evan and accusing him of using her to get into porn.
The Afterward is clearly a mistake, and one which co-author Carrie Borzillo should have helped stopped. It honestly doesn't matter how things turned out after the story has been told. The story really ends at the 2009 AVN Awards with Tera getting inducted into the hall of fame and deciding to quit performing. For her to revise the ground already covered in the book from a much different and much more negative perspective just doesn't work, it's like telling the story of Sleeping Beauty and then saying that the prince who gave her the kiss that awoke her from her slumber only did it to fuck her and have her as his trophy wife. Even if Evan didn't turn out to be Tera's Prince Charming in the end, the fairytale romance is so compelling that we don't really want to hear a revision of it at the end of the book.
At times in Sinner Takes All Tera can be an incredibly sympathetic person. You feel for her as she struggles as a too young model on her own in Japan. You pull for her as she literally loses it after her Digital Playground contract goes awry and you feel a sense of triumph when she finally gets her guy. But the book ends up painting her as a bitter, insecure and jealous and ultimately sympathetic. It's a tough thing both narratively and as a fan of hers. Both her co-author Carrie Borzillo and her editor Patrick Mulligan should have identified this and either re-worked the book (given the messy divorce) or simply refined the ending so it fit tonally with the rest of the book.
Issues aside, Sinner Takes All
is a captivating read (and with over 100 pictures and 286 pages it's a fairly quick read). I don't know if Tera Patrick's tale here is a cautionary tale or one of a woman triumphing against the odds. Perhaps this dichotomy is what best sums her up and in the end we are left hoping that somehow she'll find happiness and a life that she now dreams of.