March 21, 2013

Harry Reems "fetched up in Los Angeles, begging on the streets and sleeping in Dumpsters."

"He contemplated suicide, he said, but could not summon the nerve. In 1989 Mr. Reems, then living in Park City, Utah, stopped drinking with the help of a 12-step program. He converted to Christianity, obtained his real estate license and married Jeanne Sterret in 1990... [He] led a life of contented small-town obscurity in Midway, Utah, golfing, attending church and collecting Brooklyn Dodgers memorabilia. He retained the name Harry Reems, he said in interviews, as a proud emblem of an odyssey he did not regret."

Harry Reems, the original male porn star, is dead at age 65.

***

Side questions: Have you ever seen "fetched up" used as it appears above? Is "Dumpster" a proper noun?

72 comments:

YoungHegelian said...

This, ladies & gentlemen, was a man, about whom, one could truly say:

What a prick!

Chip S. said...

Wiki says...

The word "dumpster", first used commercially in 1936,[1] came from the Dempster-Dumpster system
of mechanically loading the contents of standardized containers onto garbage trucks, which was patented by Dempster Brothers in 1937.[2][3] The containers were called Dumpsters, a portmanteau of the company's name with the word dump. However, it took the Dempster Dumpmaster, the first successful front-loading garbage truck (which used this system), to popularize the word.
The word dumpster has had at least 3 trademarks associated with it by Dempster Brothers,[4][5][6] but today it is often used as a genericized trademark.

Henry said...

I've been to Midway. Small town.

Chip S. said...

fetch up

In this case, it's a sly allusion to a bone.

Kensington said...

I get why someone might turn to pornography.

I get why someone might convert to Christianity, especially after turning to pornography.

I don't get how someone converts to Christianity but still continues to embrace their legacy as an icon of pornography.

Kensington said...

Maybe he was an Episcopalian.

Chip S. said...

Unit-arian.

Sam L. said...

Yes to both.

Midwest up-bringin'.

traditionalguy said...

So Reems was down and out until he met Jeanne Sterret who was able to give him a Christian life for the last 23 years. Good woman.

Her name Sterret ( also spelled Sterritt) is a Scots Irish name from county Armagh, Ireland. It was called bloody Armagh during the border wars with the Catholics in the 1600s. Only the strong survived. The name Sterritt translates, Strong One.

Revenant said...

I don't get how someone converts to Christianity but still continues to embrace their legacy as an icon of pornography.

He didn't "embrace" it; it isn't like he was attending conventions or signing autographs for money (which he obviously could have done).

The "did not regret" bit refers to his life as a whole, not to his work in porn. The whole thing sounds 12-steppy to me; "serenity to accept the things I cannot change" and all that.

ricpic said...

In 1989 Reems contemplated suicide as a homeless dumpster diver and in one year, one year! he had gone the whole hog to marriage, Christianity and a real estate license. That's a dude who can get it up hard and get it up fast!

Amartel said...

"fetched up" - yes, heard that phrase before. Kind of an old-timey way of saying a person "ended up" or "washed up" or "landed" at a particular location, with the implication that it had been a storied life journey getting to that location.

m stone said...

"Mr. Reems’s Schwab’s drugstore moment came after Mr. Damiano hired him to be the lighting director on “Deep Throat.”"

Clearly a phrase peculiar to the Left Coast.

Surfed said...

It appeared he died of...organ failure.

Amartel said...

Dumpster=not a proper noun. Maybe in the future if I fetch up in one I'll reconsider the propriety of the dumpster.

traditionalguy said...

Revenant...He was born again. What more is there to say?

Chip S. said...

It's nice that he's being sent away w/ one last fluff job.

Kensington said...

"He didn't "embrace" it"

He kept his fake porn name.

Chip Ahoy said...

Dumpster is a totally proper noun. I'm surprised to see it questioned.

You see, it started as part of the Dewey-Dumpster System where large square metal trash bins with lids are arranged for pick up alphabetically by street name. It was a terrible system and failed immediately. It turned out the whole thing was easier and a lot cheaper just doing the next street over no matter the name.

Hagar said...

Yes and yes.
Also fantastical, democratical, etc.

Nomennovum said...

He fetched up in Los Angeles, begging on the streets and sleeping in Dumpsters.

Oddest sentence in any otherwise decent obit. I think the author got a liitle carried away. Saying, "He ended up in Los Angeles," sounds as dull and dreary as ... the NY Times usually is. I've never seen the d in dumpster capitalized either.

Maybe he wasn't sleeping in garbage dumpsters. Maybe "Dumpster" was a nickname for a friend, as in, "He ended up in LA, begging in the streets, and sleeping in Dumpster's [apartment]."

"Dumpster's" being the home of Linda Lovelace, Cum Dumpster extraordinaire, of course.

MadisonMan said...

I saw yesterday an interview with him, somewhere on the 'net, from the CBC in the 80s, in which he talked about the Govt charges against him, and I was impressed by how articulate he was in describing how foolish the Govt case was.

virgil xenophon said...

An ex-Marine, it seems, who died in a VA Hosp. And some college too..

"Truth is stranger than fiction"--an old saying proved yet again..

SteveR said...

I always thought the Dumpster was the invention of Humpster Dumpster who had to get into another line of work after having suffered a great fall.

MadisonMan said...

Aah...Here.

Fandor said...

Delivered out of Satan's hands and into God's.

bpm4532 said...

Is it Kleenex or kleenex?

It seems Dumpter was a brand name that was genericized over time.

Fandor said...

Delivered out of Satan's hands and into God's.

Rod McFadden said...

fetched up is a nautical expression too: "She (a ship) fetched up on a lee shore."

Mitchell the Bat said...

Harry Reems?

Hairy Reams!

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!!!

Now I get it.

Nomennovum said...

Interesting link, MM. He spoke better that 99% of people out there today. Lengthy sentences, delivered coherently, and no pauses are filled with ahhs, umms or likes. Wish I could do as well.

Rob said...

I have to believe "fetched up" was either a knowingly sly or unconscious allusion to "felching."

Rabel said...

Margalit Fox "fetched up"

Ms Fox has a masters in linguistics. There's your set-up if anyone wants to make the easy joke.

Christy said...

Growing up in Knoxville, Dempster Dumpster was as much a part of language as Kleenex.

"Fetch up" is familiar. Maybe from mid-century 2nd tier literature?

Chip S. said...

Analytical linguistics?

Chip Ahoy said...

You know who else died? This gets me. One of the two brothers whose family fetched up on the Louisiana Swamp and was featured on Swamp People. Presumably hunting alligators but I never saw these two brothers actually catch one of those.

Mitchell Guist fell on his boat and died.

Fans of the show express their sympathy and shared grief on his Facebook page.

That show freaks me out because I forget there actually are people out there living very differently.

They show a big round fat guy that I didn't much care for who wears a star spangled stripped bandana on his head and overalls flap wrapping his extended belly.

They landed on his old duck hunting camp and the place was torn up from a storm that destroyed everything and tossed things like trash, sinking everything.

He reminisced about his grand pa and the things they did there. But I felt no sympathy. None. It's just a swamp.It's just a hunting camp.

Then they showed the pictures of the life that was there once. And it was a real and full life, more than a camp, with a regular house and regular tables and chairs and regular people doing usual things, and you see more fully what was forfeited and that round guy was so broken up, he suddenly became a real person and not just a character in a show.

And the never do show who did the poaching. They catch the guys on camera and show the result boat # "159" is all you see, and apparently two boats, and they leave it to the authorities. So the resolution to the poaching thing is unsatisfactory.

Chip S. said...

I wonder if Margalit Fox has ever said that some took a wrong step and fetched up in a sad place.

tomaig said...

From "Huckleberry Finn"...

"Well, I seemed to be in the open river again by and by, but I couldn't hear no sign of a whoop nowheres. I reckoned Jim had fetched up on a snag, maybe, and it was all up with him."

EMD said...

No and no. Next post!

Nomennovum said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
William said...

He sure took an unusual path on his journey to God. Well, Buddha said that sensuality is a step towards divinity. Seems a little extreme, but I'm glad his life had a happy ending....The bet here is that John Holmes remains the iconic porn star--the one Hollywood chooses for its cautionary tales. We like to think that debauchery ends in depravity and early death rather than a real estate license and Christian renewal. This is not a narrative that the people who make movies can understand. The vagaries of life are beyond all comprehension.

edutcher said...

The Wages of Sin, as they say.

He was very lucky.

traditionalguy said...

Her name Sterret ( also spelled Sterritt) is a Scots Irish name from county Armagh, Ireland.

Scotch-Irish.

John Burgess said...

"Fetched up": Yes. It may be Sothron or Mid-Western, but it's not all that rare.

"Dumpster": Yes. It's still under trademark. Lawyers for Dempster-Dumpster send friendly letters to reporters who forget to capitalize the name. The lawyers are protecting the name from becoming genericized.

Cedarford said...

While jokes can be made, this was still a "fallen man" that had many problems...and through effort..picked himself up and made his later years something to be proud of.

Redemption. What tens of millions of others with problems hope will happen to them as well. And many, like Reems, will get there after ending drugs, sobriety, getting out of prison.
That is no joke.
That is core to our life's quest. More so with some than others.

edutcher said...

"Fetched up" is sometimes used in paperback Westerns.

traditionalguy said...

Edutcher...Scotch is a whiskey brewed by the Scots. Scots that colonized Northern Ireland may drink scotch but call themselves Scots. If an intentional slur mispronunciation happened in American history made by those afraid of them and jealous of them, so what.

James Graham said...

Here's a suggestion: write Dumpster without the capital D on your site every day and eventually you will get a 'cease and desist' letter from the owner of the trademark.

Another: try it with Coke and Band-Aid and you'll get letters from their legal departments also.

Reason: if the lower case version becomes popular the company can lose its trademark.

(Heck, I forgot you're a Law Professor! Why are you asking us?)

Chip S. said...

tradguy, Stephen Thernstrom disagrees w/ you.

edutcher said...

traditionalguy said...

Edutcher...Scotch is a whiskey brewed by the Scots. Scots that colonized Northern Ireland may drink scotch but call themselves Scots. If an intentional slur mispronunciation happened in American history made by those afraid of them and jealous of them, so what.

Hate to tell you, but that "intentional slur mispronunciation" IS American history.

And I never heard anyone of Scotch-Irish ancestry (and I went to school with plenty of them) ever object until James Webb started having pretensions.

Wood Duck said...

Fetched up is a term used very often in southern NJ, it refers to someone or something being stuck or frozen. "the truck didn't go much further after the motor fetched up"

ironrailsironweights said...

Some vestiges of his old lifestyle remain. They had trouble closing the coffin.

Peter

Lydia said...

Isn't "fetched up" mainly a British usage?

Same way as "gone missing"?

Subtle incursions into American hegemony.

William R. Hamblen said...

When a ship, out of control, washes up on the shore, it has fetched up.

Molly said...

Yes, fetch up is an anglicism or briticism, perhaps more prevalent in 19th century novels than currently.

Revenant said...

Revenant...He was born again. What more is there to say?

He left that church, if I recall correctly.

The Godfather said...

My recollection is that Linda Lovelace also left the porn business and actually campaigned against it. She and Harry are reasons that those of us who are inclined to "let everyone do their own thing" should at least think twice. There are prices to be paid, which we aren't the ones who pay.

Yes, I've also heard/read "fetched up" used that way. My recollection has it connected with nautical usage, as someone suggested, and the use in Huckleberry Finn, although riverine, is consistent with that. (Ann, you ought to consider following up your Fitzgerald/Gatsby sentences with Twain/H. Finn sentences.)

I first heard the word "Dumpster" in 1969 in Army Basic Training ("take that garbage out and put it in the Dumpster, troop!"), but the mess sergeant didn't specify whether it was a proper name or not, and I didn't ask.

Kirby Olson said...

In Grauman's Chinese Theater they have 200 handprints of famous stars... In the Nike Museum in Portland they have a copy of Shaq's size 28 sneaker.... Is it too late to get an impression of it for the Yellow Movie Hall of Fame?

ampersand said...

All these comments and & it finally takes me to describe Margalit Fox as a cunning linguist.

Titus said...

For Your Eyes Only-LOL.

Love porn titles.

I never saw Deep Throat.

Titus said...

I am not attracted to him-hate facial hair.

Just curious though, was his cock really big? How big? I am sure there is a statistic somewhere.

I wonder what the largest recorded cock size is?

Mines 8 1/2 cut-large, mushroom head, nice stalk, shaved bush. Balls hang low with left lower than right, natch.

Thanks,
tits.

David R. Graham said...

""fetched up" - yes, heard that phrase before. Kind of an old-timey way of saying a person "ended up" or "washed up" or "landed" at a particular location, with the implication that it had been a storied life journey getting to that location."

Yes. I've heard it over the years in nautical/beach connection especially, older literature/usage, along the lines of "a bottle or a shark carcass fetched up on the beach."

Don't remember its use there, but the overall sense of Tennyson's Enoch Arden is about a person fetched up from the sea into his home.

Surprised Althouse is unfamiliar with the expression, and seems Chip Ahoy is as well.

bagoh20 said...

I would choose his life over one limited to just one of those two parts, but I'm eclectic. I can't say if living sober and Christian is satisfying, but I think that if you throw in a few years of partying and screwing lots of young beautiful women and getting paid for it, then it's hard to say he didn't live a life of having it all.

It's the male version of feminists who want to have a satisfying career, and be a stay-at-home mom, and he pulled it off.

Darrell said...

Spent time in Scotland and the people I met said they were Scotch. Go figure. They laugh at those that make a distinction. Figure they are Irish posing.

kentuckyliz said...

Why wouldn't he keep his fake porn name? It would be good for business. Those who know what it is wouldn't mind, and the prudes would likely not know...or be primed for the salvation story. Either way, the name recognition benefitted him.

Synova said...

"Fetched up" sounds like a Louis L'Amour turn of phrase.

madAsHell said...

Mines 8 1/2 cut-large, mushroom head, nice stalk, shaved bush. Balls hang low with left lower than right, natch.

Yeah...me too!!
Butt you should have seen the one that got away!!

traditionalguy said...

The Scottish people call themselves Scot or Scottish in Scotland. Calling them Scotch is an old anglo-scottish perjorative denoting English hatred of the ugly brutes living north of Hadrian's wall.

Glen Wishard said...

"Fetch up" is UK slang for ending up somewhere unintentionally. "So we fetched up in Croydon, didn't we just?"

The story of Reems' federal prosecution for pornographic conspiracy, or something like that, is worth reading ("The Best Defense" by Alan Dershowitz).

Kirby Olson said...

Isnt 2.5 gallons of whisky per day rather a lot?

Robt C said...

Sorry, I have nothing to add. I just couldn't stand this post having 69 comments.

furious_a said...

"Fetch up" has nautical provenance, as in flot-/jet-sam carried by currents until it fetches up against a pier or a shore or ship's hull.

So it seems Mr. Reems was adrift until he met Ms. Sterritt. Well played by the writer.

furious_a said...

I don't get how someone converts to Christianity but still continues to embrace their legacy as an icon of pornography.

An extreme case of holding two irreconcilable ideas at the same time, but still...

...he "fetched up" alot happier at the end than did John Holmes.