Thought it would have been easier and perfectly interesting in its own right to have simply asked questions of these women about their career highlights, Nelson instead takes an obvious personal interest in each of her subjects. This allows for Georgina Spelvin to open up about her battles with alcohol and Rhonda Jo Petty to discuss the abuse she suffered as a girl at the hands of her father. If you want to know Gloria Leonard’s thoughts on the difficulties of getting by once a porn star hits her golden years, you’ll get that too along with insight from the continually sex positive Annie Sprinkle, who spends as much time talking about her work outside of the film industry as in it. Serena reveals intimate details about her infamous relationship with the late Jamie Gillis while Seka reminisces not just about her exploits on camera but on her adventures at New York City’s long gone swingers club, Plato’s Retreat.
If there’s one complaint to levy against the book, it’s that the three hundred or so photographs used to compliment the text didn’t replicate so well on the printed page. They often look soft, harshly compressed or both. The plus side is that if you want images of any of the ladies featured here, a Google search is only seconds away from anyone reading this. Golden Goddesses isn’t a book you’re going to buy for pretty pictures of pretty ladies, it’s a book you’re going to buy for some seriously fascinating and revealing stories from a collection of unsung heroines of the adult film industry.
The amount of detail here, the layers which Nelson manages to peel back in order to expose the people behind the personas, is outstanding. Anyone with a serious interest not just in the history of adult film but in the very definition of celebrity and the rise and fall that goes along with it should consider this a must read. Never before has a book tackled its subject with the grace and care which Nelson shows here – let’s hope she’s able to tackle a second volume, or even make a series out of this as once fans make it through the mammoth tome, they will most certainly be left wanting more."