Little did I realize when I covered Penthouse’s 35th-anniversary party in my first Almost Infamous column (Jan. ‘05 HT) what a debaucherous doorway I’d stepped through. You see, that fateful evening I not only met 2004 Pet of the Year Victoria Zdrok and cranky comedian Gilbert Gottfried, I also became fast friends with Penthouse promotions director Lainie Speiser, who handed me the keys to the kingdom (so to speak) by adding my name to her permanent VIP list. Since then, I’ve been to every single party that Penthouse has thrown—and they throw a lot of parties. The girl at the velvet rope doesn’t even bother to look up my name anymore—she just says, “Good evening, Mr. Black,” and stamps my hand. Now that’s what I call BBD.
It was at the party celebrating the release of Dr. Zdrok’s latest book, The Anatomy of Pleasure: The Head to Toe Guide to Better Sex, that I first met Natalia Cruze, the sultry Miss November 2002. Natalia, it turns out, is an avid toker and was therefore thrilled about the idea of getting together for a smoke and an interview in HIGH TIMES. She was flying back to Los Angeles the morning after the party, but she took my card and promised to get in touch the next time she made it back to New York.
Up next: the Pet of the Year 2005 coronation at the Penthouse Executive Club, hosted by my old pal Gottfried and attended by not only a calendar’s worth of Penthouse Pets, but also a small army of erotic dancers and—best of all—my absolute favorite porn star and one of the hottest women on Earth, Tera Patrick, with husband Evan Seinfeld (Biohazard singer and one of the stars of HBO’s Oz) in tow.
My buddy Chad from JVC had hooked me up with one of the best seats in the house, at his VIP table directly to the right of the main stage, so we had the perfect vantage point for when Martina Warren—a voluptuous young blonde of Dutch descent—was crowned the new Pet of the Year. When the ceremony concluded, the dancers spilled out onto the stages and Martina began making her rounds through the crowd. I pounded back vodka and Red Bulls and flirted a bit with the strippers that came by our table, some of whom got fairly worked up over the copies of HIGH TIMES I had “accidentally” left out after showing Chad my original “Penthouse Pothead” column.
Hey, it doesn’t hurt to advertise.
Then, as if in some amazing dream, I turned around, and who should be standing directly behind me but the beautiful Ms. Warren herself. Her eyes lit up when they caught a glimpse of the HIGH TIMES copies, and she made a beeline for our table. I said hello and introduced myself—and then almost lost my mind as she sat down next to me and started telling me what a stoner and fan of the magazine she was, and how, being Dutch, she’d spent a lot of time in Amsterdam. She was so sweet and down-to-earth, it was hard to believe that she’d just been anointed as a major sex starlet. After almost 20 minutes of blissful conversation, she said sadly that if she stayed any longer, her manager would get pissed, but she promised to come back later. True to her word, she returned after half an hour to sign my copy of Penthouse, pick up a HIGH TIMES for herself and kiss me goodnight.
But wait—it gets better...