Penn Jillette: Carrie Fisher and me at the porn awards

Published 1:54 PM EST, Wed December 28, 2016

Story highlights

Penn Jillette met Carrie Fisher at a porn awards ceremony where she won his heart with a racy question

She was smart, funny, sophisticated, brave and honest enough to live outside the law, he says

Editor’s Note: Penn Jillette, a writer, television host and frequent guest on a wide range of shows, is half of the Emmy Award-winning magic act duo Penn & Teller. His most recent book is “Presto.” The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

(CNN) —  

“I want it reported that I drowned in moonlight, strangled by my own bra.”

–from “Wishful Drinking,” by Carrie Fisher


I met Carrie Fisher in 1990. The crazy freedom fighter and pornographer, Al Goldstein, had invited me as his date to the Adult Video Awards – the porn awards. They were held in Santa Monica in a circus tent. Al and I were led to a table with Buck Henry and Buck’s date, Carrie Fisher. I was star struck.

Penn Jillette
Courtesy Penn Jillette
Penn Jillette

I never gave two space figs about “Star Wars” but I am nuts for funny writers and Buck and Carrie are two of the funniest. There was no place on Earth I would have rather been that night than at Buck and Carrie’s table at the porn awards.

I didn’t know what to say to Carrie to get a conversation started, but before I even sat down, Nina Hartley came over to say hi. Nina is a porn actor friend of mine, and she had just gotten new breast implants and she wanted to show them off to me. Nina wanted to show them off to everyone and I was so happy to be a subset of her everyone. Nina asked me how her new breasts looked and I told her, honestly, that they looked great.

Nina then invited me to give them a feel. As Carrie Fisher’s ex-husband, Paul Simon, once sang, “Who am I to blow against the wind?” We were in public … but a very special kind of public. We were in porn public. I reached up under Nina’s shirt, checked out the surgery, and praised Nina’s after-market rack.

Penn Jillette and Carrie Fisher in 1990 at the Adult Video Awards in Santa Monica.
Courtesy of Penn Jillette
Penn Jillette and Carrie Fisher in 1990 at the Adult Video Awards in Santa Monica.

Before Nina even left our table, Carrie said the first words she would ever say to me. “Penn, would you like to feel my breasts? I’ve been in legitimate features.”

Wow. I fell in love. I was in awe. It wasn’t just the sexy, self-assured stunt of inviting a stranger to reach under her shirt that killed me; it was mostly the use of the phrase “legitimate features.” That’s perfect comedy writing.

The rest of the evening was sitting with Carrie, Buck, and Al and having the time of my life. I couldn’t keep up, but I sure could listen and learn and laugh.

Carrie and I stayed friends. Several years later when she was telling her version of “The Aristocrats” joke for our movie of that name, she kept asking me – while we were rolling – who had done the dirtiest, most disgusting, depraved, version of the joke we’d recorded so far. She wanted to know whom she had to beat.

The dirtiest up to that point had been Gilbert Gottfried and Bob Saget. But Carrie beat them fists up. She won and stole our movie.

When Carrie introduced me to her mom, Debbie Reynolds, in Las Vegas, the introduction included how we had met at the porn awards. Carrie couldn’t resist pointing out that her mom was also stacked and reminding me that Ms. Reynolds had also been in legitimate features.

Carrie Fisher was what it meant to be in showbiz. She was smart, funny, sophisticated, brave and honest enough to live outside the law. I loved her. I will miss her.