[warning: most of these links go to porn sites]
I figured it was about time to feature another star of Porn's Golden Age here, and the choice of Mai Lin was an easy one to make.
A digression by way of introduction:
When I was just a kid, maybe 10 or so, I used to play in a forest near my house. This was the north-west corner of Rossland and Ritson in Oshawa (Ontario, Canada), and there is now a big church there (although the once-forest is mainly church parking lot).
It was in this boyhood forest circa 1983 that I first discovered pornographic photographs of naked women and sex - left there through shame, disgust, absentmindedness, benevolence or blind luck, I did not know or care; the mystery of its origins was more than eclipsed by the mystery and wonder of its very (pre-internet) existence.
This was like fire from the gods. This was knowledge and power and adulthood and sex and it was completely overwhelming to my friends and I.
The first piece of porn in the woods I remember finding was an underwater scene involving a leggy woman and a guy in a frogman outfit, I think. Literally pages from a magazine blowing around near a creek.
Later there was a photograph of a naked woman with three breasts, which made for some interesting conversation. But the second or third piece of porn in the woods was an actual magazine (or most of a magazine) - warped and decaying true, but none the worse for it really.
This magazine (Adult Cinema Review?) had an interview with - you guessed it - Mai Lin, and I still remember my shock as the interviewer went on and on about how sleazy this Mai Lin was, and how she'd do anything, and how this guy was going to get her to give him a two dollar blowjob under their restaurant table during the interview. And Mai Lin would do it too because, and I'm para-phrasing here, that's the kind of crazy lady she was.
Once I had seen this stuff, I didn't want to let it out of my sight, lest it disappear. At the same time, I was afraid to bring any of it inside my house in case my parents found it. My brilliant solution was to commandere a large thick cardboard tube and use it as porn in the woods storage - sticking the magazine and stray bits inside the tube, sticking the tube itself under our back porch - when I wasn't looking at it myself or showing my collection to a friend.
Eventually my Dad found the tube and asked me about it before he threw it out. I played it cool and denied all knowledge thereof (kids are so dumb). My porn stash was gone to the trash, lost to time and the four winds. But I never forgot Mai Lin.
Perhaps the very first porn star I ever encountered, Mai Lin was a lady all about firsts: the first Asian porn star being one standard title bestowed upon her (with apologies to Linda Wong). Some even call her probably the most popular Asian woman ever in adult films.
She was also one of the first porn stars to 'go extreme' (adding then-taboo anal, DP and gangbangs to her repertoire) and she had a general reputation as someone more than willing to try the boundaries of sex fun. Mai Lin was also the first of many Mai Lins to do porn, or more likely to adopt Mai Lin as their porn name.
I would suggest Mai Lin was also one of the first female stars - along with Annie Sprinkle and, to a lesser extent, Serena and Vanessa Del Rio - to convey an overall sense of fun, a sense of humour onscreen. Most female porn stars, let's be honest, were and continue to be deadly po-faced; they preen and posture and pout, they are physical and perhaps vocal, but rarely is any evidence of wit or even real thought expected or delivered (and men are generally just as bad here, don't get me wrong).
Onscreen sex is necessarily directed at the eye. In an effort to appeal to the eye, actors may become too much their bodies and forget the levity of the moment. They may not be comfortable cracking wise, as to jest is to assume a position of power, even in defense. In any case, somehow sexy got serious and then got stuck like that. Perhaps it is the innate absurdity of much of sex that makes this attitude desirable; no one wants to be laughed at, so it might be best if there were no laughing at all.
For Mai Lin, a smile, a joke, a wry approach - these never get in the way of being, at the same time, sexy or sultry. It's a combination that increases each quality; for being funny and sexy, Mai Lin is all the sexier and funnier still. Not to ignite the messageboard here or anything *cough* but I'd venture that this became more common in actresses in the 1990s, and further that Mai Lin has a natural flow in this area that has rarely been equalled. Gianna Michaels comes to mind as the rare exception.
Tied to her good humour is Mai Lin's overwhelming enthusiasm, her boundless joy in what she is doing and what is being done to her. She always seems to be enjoying sex more than everybody else around her. I've seen a foursome scene in which she positively embarrasses the other couple with her happiness; they seem sad and petty by contrast. This obvious thrill at being sexual was instantly contagious for me back in the woods so long ago, and it's something I always associate with Mai Lin. As David Wade put it, "Mai Lin understood that at any time she could take over a scene and in many of her scenes she did".
I'd probably be remiss if I didn't mention Mai Lin's signature sex noise here too, a sort of whoop/hee that translates clearly as *THIS FEELS REALLY GOOD*. While even a deaf person could appreciate Mai's onscreen encouragement of the proceedings, this characteristic sex cry seals the deal for the rest of us and may have you turning down the volume if you don't want the neighbours knowing you've got a blue movie on. I can think of no other porn queen who is quite so vocal.
"On the set, I tell guys not to fuck me so hard because I have to concentrate - because if I come, I won't be able to hear the director. I try to think of something else instead of sex; otherwise I'll be making too much noise and then I can't hear anything."
Hustler Erotic Video Guide: "With her long silky hair, squeezable titties and Siamese cat looks, Lin embodied all the traits that draw men to asian women: that mix of subservience and sexual wantoness, of femininity and sluttiness; the porcelain doll, rice-bowl woman and dragon lady all wrapped up into one."
For me, it was never about Mai Lin being Asian. I don't think so anyways.
I thought she was sexy and funny, but she really wasn't 'my type' at all (Uschi is more my type, a big girl with an hourglass physique). But body types and bra size and hair colour and all the rest - none of that mattered really.
As soon as I saw her smile, I was smitten. Sometimes the fever is hottest for a person who is utterly not your usual type. And so it was here. Personally, I think the charisma Mai exudes in giant bucketfuls transcends her body altogether, including its ethnicity.
My own good intentions aside, it has to be said that Mai Lin came up in an age which, however sexually liberated, was still one in which 'other races' were marginalized and fetishised; in the case of an Asian woman, this tended to mean you were playing either a servant or a concubine. Mai Lin played more than her share of each, but in my opinion she rarely came off as a stereotype.
When she did, it was because the real performance was being concealed, as in the case of American Desire where Mai Lin's sunny California voice is dubbed all low and Sino serious by another actress. This, combined with a particularly subservient role, stands as uncharacteristic-ly cliché (it's still pretty hot though).
Mai Lin herself was born in Oakland, USA. Hers was not a foreign background but a conventional, if not cosmopolitan, one. Simply put, to me this comes through loud and clear - when she is playing FOB, it's so obviously not the case that I'm tempted to say she puts a meta-portrayal forward: the American-Chinese girl's Chinese girl.
Celine Parrenas Shimizu, in The Hypersexuality of Race writes:
Porn stars like Mai Lin did not fulfill more typical standards of white beauty. In her use of Oriental accoutrements, Mai Lin asserted a different form of racialized beauty and sexuality. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, a set of films starring Mai Lin continued themes from the Vietnam War and other scenes of inequality wherein race comprises part of the sexual enjoyment. Mai Lin, also known as Maile and Miki Moto, started her career in the mid-1970s and frequently featured extra long dagger-like nails in the style of Anna May Wong, who was said to bear the "longest nails in Hollywood". Having starred in over one hundred movies, Mai Lin deployed Oriental self-decoration in a form of racialized sexuality. Her roles as the maid, the prostitute with a heart of gold, the sex expert, the mysterious, forever foreign Chinatown girl, the masseuse, and the dragon lady in a Bond girl type of situation are all racialized as different from white sexuality.
If you know anything about her, you likely know that Mai Lin is supposed to be sexually insatiable. Her performances convey a unique pleasure in sex and this impression is backed up by her co-stars and directors and by Mai herself. The wrinkle with this, if you want to think of it that way, is that this very insatiability is itself a trope of racist caricature. And certainly some of the stuff Mai Lin has done was presented in this light - the dragon lady who eats men alive and so on. So which is it?
In considering what has been written about her over the years, this is one of the frustrating conundrums one runs into. The press of the time were part of a society that wanted to imagine endless capacity, racial myth of the other, a bottomless pit of sex drive and sex need, particularly in the instance of an Asian porno queen. Everything one reads about Mai Lin suggests she was someone who could not get enough, "a self-admitted nymphomaniac". How much of that is true and how much is fantasy? Image? Projection? Racism? PR?
She certainly seemed to be enjoying herself.
If ever there was a girl born to be in the fuck business, it was Mai Lin. An intelligent, poised and surprisingly relaxed person, Lin has always maintained that the sole reason she got involved in X-rated films was because she loved to fuck.
Mai has a dazzling smile that can change to a lewd leer when she's on the boil. She is said to be so insatiable that she sometimes keeps right on rolling long after the camera stops. In her long and illustrious career, she has created countless magic moments in more than 100 feature roles.
A highly regarded pornstar, her sensuality and lusty hunger is genuine, and it always shows. She works mostly behind the camera these days, but occasionally ventures out in front to provoke and enthrall her many fans-but only for safe-sex scenes. There still is an air of danger about her; apparently her safe-sex approach doesn't keep her from taking a hefty load of dick splat square on her kisser.
Even judged by the standards of her colleagues, Mai Lin appeared voracious in appetite. Her single most acclaimed film might be Mai Lin Vs. Serena, an early gangbang freakshow in which the two porn stars compete for the crown. For her part Serena was nearly killed making the film. In his book Skinflicks, David Jennings writes:
Serena's retirement came after a shoot that nearly led to her death. In 'Mai Lin Versus Serena', a filmed contest to see which actress could take on the most men, the compliant masochist was penetrated not only by forty or more studs but by the microbes they carried. "My doctor said the germs ganged up", Serena told me. "My belly swelled up like I was pregnant". Delirious from septic shock, she spent months hospitalized with severe pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) - epidemic in the wake of the libertine 70s. The filmmaker didn't even send a get-well card.
According to Serena herself:
“I ended up in hospital for two months...basically, what it was, was a lot of infections throughout the years and cases of VD that go around the business. It was pretty scary. Physically, I can’t really do films anymore.”
Mai Lin's own recollections of the shoot are not known. Incidentally, most coverage has the actual number of men involved at closer to twenty. Gangbangs really seemed to appeal to Mai.
One of my favorite Mai Lin stories took place at the Playboy Mansion, in Los Angeles, in the late 1970s or early 1980s. Mai took on a couple of dozen guys without ever standing-up or getting out of the water. When she did, a huge, and I mean huge cum-ball plopped out into the water and just floated there. Everyone cracked including Mai who laughed and went to shower. Not surprised that you report that she's so nice, she's had that reputation as long as she's been around. A very great lady.
In another instance of possible sex gluttony, Mai Lin was said to have had none other than John Holmes in her backdoor, a formidable undertaking if ever there was one. Quoting again from Skinflicks, Mai Lin, "said it took her three years to fully recuperate from a rectal injury ('Even now, it hurts when I get fucked in the ass')".
"A scene that was really hot to me was in Sexual Heights with John Holmes. It wasn't necessarily what the camera picked up, it was the feeling we had for each other at the time. It was like falling in love with somebody, but on the set it's only for that one instant, you don't continue it."
Born June 22 1953 in Oakland, California, Mai Lin was precocious to say the least. She told Viviene Maricevic:
"I used to masturbate with a teddy bear when I was four years old and I didn't know it was masturbation until I was nineteen years old. I was a late bloomer because my parents never talked about sex. I didn't understand it was sexual until I got older.
I first had sexual intercourse when I was eighteen or nineteen and I didn't really care for it because I really wasn't sure what was going on. I wasn't even sure how babies were made. Then I started to talk to more and more people about sex. I had this need to find out that sex was okay. When I got into a more serious relationship it was a lot more fun. After I had it the second time, I didn't stop. If I got it ten times a day, it wasn't enough.
One day, I was at my brother's house and we watched people fucking in porn movies and I thought, This is the way one talks about sex: you just show them pictures. So I wanted a copy of myself getting it on with someone, and that's where it started.
As far as biographical details go, let me be candid - there is hardly anything available online. Most of what there is is 'fave Asian ever' threads, retro porn commercial sites, and the odd crazy story to keep you hunting.
I recall visiting Mai Lin's own website many years ago, and reading her recollections of growing up, etc. - the site is long gone, and the Internet Archive has been little help here. The same biographical snippets get repeated ad infinitum in the cheapskate world of online porn sites, and there are no helpful Mai Lin Yahoo groups or even Youtube clips to be found.
I was kind of stunned with just how many torrent sites I found with the old films available, but I have a dial-up connection myself so those are useful to me only in as much as they have pics or comment boards available. In any case, there's no torrent links here. I do have some goodies available though, I'm not totally mean.
Of Mai Lin herself, what do we know? Precious little.
Mai Lin was reputedly operating a tropical fish shop when we was 'discovered'. She is a Cancer. She began appearing in porno movies in the mid-70s but made the bulk of her films in the first half of the 1980s, that contentious period when film gave way to videotape.
Many of her appearances are brief, lasting only one scene, but there are several films in which Mai Lin is a more prominent fixture - of which I would recommend Mai Lin Vs. Serena (1982), All The Way In! (1984), and Oriental Hawaii (1982) in particular. She also appeared in one of the original John Holmes Wadd films. Mai also went by various aliases, as is standard industry practise; some of these names include Miko Moto, Miki Moto, Lily Wong, Mai Tai, May Lin, Mai Lynn and Mailin.
She was reported to have signed a deal with Carnal Comics but sadly there is to date no Mai Lin comic book, just an appearance in a Triple X Cinema. There's an old address for reaching her c/o a place called Raffaelli's Studio in McFarland, California. She is said to live in the Easy Bay area of San Francisco.
Her last name may be Roberson. There's a whole chapter about her in Louis Marvin's 1987 book The New Goddesses but good luck finding a copy of that. She may or may not be or have been married; a story by the late Milton Ingley casually mentions a husband:
Mai Lin spent one summer in Walnut Creek in the San Francisco Bay Area. "She saw this cute guy," remembers Ingley. "He had on his shorts and his muscle shirt and he would come down twice a week and empty her garbage. So Mai Lin put on her negligee and hid outside in the bushes and her husband hid inside and watched out the window. The guy came up the driveway to pick up the garbage cans. Mai Lin nailed him in the middle of the driveway. You can just picture the garbage truck going farther and farther away with nobody on the back, and the guy finally catches up and he explains that this little Oriental girl f---ed his brains out in the middle of the driveway. So all summer they gave him s---. The end of the summer, when he was ready to go back to college, he brought his supervisor over, and he said, "Look, they've given me s--- all summer. Would you tell him that you f---ed me in the middle of the driveway. So Mai Lin gave him a blowjob."
Mai Lin got out of porn around the mid-80s and then returned to make some more films in the late-80s and early-90s. Her last films were made in 1992 (or was it 1999?). After that, she sort of falls off the map for quite awhile. Was she at any time a sex-sharing priestess in an Isis cult?
Luke Ford would have you believe she worked as a prostitute out of San Francisco in the late-90s under the name Christine. But as the saying goes, politicians, public buildings and whores all gain respectability if they just last long enough; in the present decade Mai Lin has been honoured with many hall of famer-type awards recognizing her (however belatedly) as a true porno great.
As I say, I remember visiting a Mai Lin site myself (which I felt at the time was legitimate) and I believe that was sometime in the 1990s. In the 2000s, Lin went in on an arrangement whereby four classic porn stars (Mai Lin herself, Rhonda Jo Petty, Janette Littledove, Johnnie Keyes and/or Lynn LeMay) shared the Classic Exotic Stars site with their own respective sites hosted there.
Mai's site was called mailin4u.com and, according to the Wayback Machine, its first update was June 2004 (around the same time a fan reports hearing her interviewed on Ginger Lynn's radio show).
Mai's own greeting for the first update of mailin4u is as follows:
Hello and welcome to the official Mai Lin website.
Yes, you heard right!! It really is me!!! I am back, and hotter than ever.
I am so thrilled to know that you are all, still out there and remember me. I was on the Internet not so long ago and just for the fun of it I typed in my name and there you were, still hitting on me.
I was shocked to see so many websites claiming to be the real Mai Lin website, so I am in the process of shutting them down. I now have a trademark on my name, to protect you, my loyal fans from being taken advantage of by imposters.
I would love for you to work with me to bring back the good old days of the 70's and 80's. As you know I fucked almost every porn star during that time.
I'm depending on my very loving and gracious fans to help me locate past material of my adult film career. It has been 10 years since I've been actively involved, but my dear friend Rhonda has pointed out to me that there has been a great wave of interest in the classic film stars of yesteryear. And, once again, I want to thank those who have helped me previously and today and in the future. I don't recall everything that I was involved in back then. My plate was so overflowing that I couldn't even keep up with myself. Remember it is you who can help this website become a popular vehicle to bring back the classic ladies of the 70's and 80's.
I have a lot of irons in the fire right now with the website. I want to be able to offer all the stars to you, via email, all their movies with autographs and lots and lots of toys, that of course, I will try out! It goes without saying they will have to pass my personal test, and if they do I will personally autograph them for you.
First and foremost, however, I want to know what YOU WANT? Only my personal assistant and myself will be handling my emails. Privacy of my fans is of the utmost importance to me.
I will be writing an article every month, it will be telling you about events that I will be attending. It will include my present life and what I am all about.
Please CUM share this journey with me, bring back the good old days when sex and drugs were so exciting. I do miss it all. WHAT GREAT TIMES. Lets make it happen again.
The site's last update was only just last year I am sorry to say, in May 2007. And now it is gone.
Speaking of the recent past, I found a couple of shots of the lady herself at Erotica L.A. Expo 2004, and as CougarXR7 (who was there) posts, "even after all the years that have passed, Mai Lin is still very attractive and is in great shape".
Wherever you are, whatever you're doing, best wishes to Mai Lin.
Thanks for all the smiles.
***BONUS: My old band The Starkweather Fix's ode to "Mai Lin"***
COMMENTERS, PLEASE NOTE: At the request of the lady herself, any reference to Mai Lin's current life should be kept discreet. This is understandable and I have no wish to cause her headaches, so I will henceforth be removing any comments which may 'identify' her present name or location.