Dec 31, 2010

2011 is Coming! Quick, Look Busy!

Well, let's not be shy about it: 2010 sucked. I think every person I know went through some kind of major life change this year, including myself, and even though many of those changes were for the better, they still hurt when they happened, and many of them continue to sting now. 2010 was one of those years that won't just fade into the background of memory so that some time from now you'll be sitting around reminiscing and go, "Remember that time that we did this thing? Wait, when was that? How long ago was that?" I think everything that happened this year was cataclysmic enough that it'll be a benchmark for everything that comes after.

I had a great and terrible year all at once. It started out fantastic, with my first-ever trip to the AVN awards and AEE porn expo on my first-ever trip to Las Vegas, where I met a bunch of my porn idols and set up some networking that has taken me very far. I'm going back next week! But on that trip my cowriter had a panic attack, we lost one of our party into some guy's room at the Flamingo for a whole day (he had drugs), we spent way too much money, I lost my wallet, and we missed our plane back to NYC.

Shortly thereafter, my girlfriend broke up with me with absolutely no notice or reason, then ceased speaking to me for months. Then we started talking again and now we're together again.

Right after that, I got the best news of my life: my McSweeney's column had gotten some attention from publishers and TV people, who made all kinds of grand gestures and flew me to LA to meet producers and agents and lawyers, who I agreed to work with... Then spent the rest of the year sitting around waiting for something to happen. I'm still waiting. It's an awesome opportunity, but DAMN is it a long time coming.

I quit my full-time job and became a full-time writer, then proceeded to get anxious about starving to death.

My boyfriend moved out to start a PhD program 3 hours away. I love living alone but I can't afford it.

I tried to write a book and failed. Now I have a blog.

Things have been weird all around.

I think the tumult of 2010 has given me a good perspective on what I really WANT out of 2011. The past few years just showed up, whether I was ready for them or not, but this time I feel pretty solid about where I'm going. It's nowhere special, particularly, but it involves me actively pursuing happiness instead of book or TV deals. It means more painting and creative writing and positive energy and good sex. Lots of good sex on the menu. I'm ready for it, and the revolution. I'm pretty sure the revolution is coming, if zombies don't happen first. Dan Savage, who makes me happy just by virtue of existing, is out there stirring up trouble for monogamists, and I'm totally behind him. Remember that "girlfriend broke up with me, boyfriend moved out" thing? I had both at once, and I've never been happier. Monogamy is for doobs. Or people who are really good at it. But not me From Kinsey Confidential:

AC: When I told people I was interviewing you, they all said ask, “Him his thoughts on monogamy,” because that is something that comes up every now and again in your podcast. It makes visits fairly often.

Dan Savage: Well, it’s usually the problem. I don’t think everyone should be in a non-monogamous relationship. I’m not prescriptive about it. I’m in a non-monogamous relationship and that’s dangerous for a gay male couple with kids to say out loud, right? Because people assume a level of promiscuity that appalls even me. I’ve been here in Bloomington for eight weeks and I haven’t touched anybody. Not that I didn’t want to! A lot of really cute guys here in Bloomington, but that’s not the way I roll.

The problem with monogamy is we’re not any good at it. How many Elliot Spitzers, David Bitters, Bill Clintons, John Edwards… How many times do we have to watch the same story, watch the same play before we realize that it’s in the script?

Everyone, even if you’re going to be monogamous, needs to acknowledge that monogamy is not natural and it’s not easy. Love doesn’t mean that you don’t want to sleep with other people. Love means, if you make a monogamous commitment, means you will refrain from sleeping with other people. You will still wannna – and you will wanna bad – and you will both wanna. Women get away with pretending they never wanna.

We have put a lie at the heart of all of our long-term romantic relationships and then we wonder why they fall apart. Two people are looking at each other and lying to each other every day about something very important, and they both know that the other is lying every day. Then they don’t trust each other, oddly enough, after all that lying back and forth. It’s so much healthier just to acknowledge, even if you are going to make a monogamous commitment, that that is going to be an effort and there will be consequences to that. There are consequences to non-monogamy.

When the non-monogamous relationship falls apart, everyone blames non-monogamy. When a monogamous relationship falls apart, nobody blames monogamy. I have observed so many relationships that were otherwise decent that could have survived for the long haul if people had just been allowed to be off leash every once in a while – which does not mean anything goes. “You say you’re not monogamous. Oh, so that means you can sleep with anybody, anytime, anywhere?” No. No. “You’re monogamous. Do you sleep with each other anytime, anywhere that you want?” No.

Monogamy is stupid and people are bad at it. That’s what I think. It doesn’t work. We have the divorce rate to prove it. We have David Arquette and Courtney Cox now. You can’t open a magazine, you can’t leave the house without hearing about people cheating on each other. If we continue to define cheating on each other as a divorce-level, breakup-level offense, we are packing our relationships with dynamite and blowing them up over and over and over again. I think a relationship should be able to survive a routine infidelity, because infidelity is routine. We need to reconceive how we regard it. The problem is – now I’m going to rant.

AC: Go for it!

DS: For most of recorded human history, men weren’t supposed to be monogamous. It was required. They had concubines. They had whores. They had mistresses. They had more than one wife. Monogamy was really for women and all about paternal anxiety and assuaging that – enslaving women, really. It was about control. To the credit of our species, it took us however many tens of thousands of years before we realized that wasn’t egalitarian, and about 60 years ago we decided to make it fairzies.

But we made a big mistake. Rather than giving women the same latitude and freedom that men had enjoyed, we said men had to now hew to the monogamous ideal that had been imposed on women. It has been a disaster for straight people and straight relationships, and the children of straight people. Disaster.


Amen, brotha.

Dec 30, 2010

Emotional Remove and Porn Fantasy, Part II

Most of our cultural experience, through media in general and porn in particular, does little to dispel the difficulty of incorporating emotion into our sexual lives. Particularly since we all know that porn is supposed to be bad and that we're not supposed to be watching it, that remove we impose upon ourselves early on to avoid awkwardness remains in full force. Here are these bodies doing these things, and it's hot and it's sexual, but it's not something we need to get fully invested in. The repeated practice of emotional removal from our private sexual practices can carry over into our shared practices, where there's actually someone else there to see our weird faces and judge our inadequacies. We end up stilting ourselves on purpose to avoid looking like an ass in front of our partner or partners. As such we expose ourselves to a much more perfidious danger than that posed by awkward social situations: the impossibility or at least mountainous difficulty of combined emotional and sexual experience.Do something often enough and it becomes very difficult to learn how to do it another way; experience sexual pleasure without emotion at home alone, then do it with a partner. It can become incredibly difficult to learn to incorporate the two.

I'm making generalizations here, and I know I am. But I'm speaking from personal experience, too. I was raised, in all my privilege, in an incredibly straight-laced environment where sex was never spoken of and emotions were looked down upon. My family never yelled or cried in front of one another, and I grew increasingly angry as I grew up that any display of emotion was seen as an unnecessary outburst. My anger translated into willful sexuality; I picked the most controversial topic in my environment and I became obsessed with. I dated boys I knew my parents would hate. I experimented with them. I flaunted it. But even as I began to embrace my sexuality, and even though I knew that much of this was done as a "fuck you" to the parents, I still found myself holding my emotional connections and my sex life far apart. I dated a lot of different people during high school and college, but looking back I can see a very distinct pattern: I didn't let the ones I cared about touch me. I fooled around with and fucked a few guys here and there, but the ones I truly fell in love with were never given the go-ahead. Sex became an act of rebellion for me, but the fires of passion were nothing compared to the powers of emotion, and I never let the two get mixed up for fear of falling headlong into a pit I couldn't crawl out of. I wanted to piss off my parents, but they'd taught me well that sex was bad and emotion was dangerous; I was only ready to play with one at a time. The boys I loved deeply, wildly, passionately, with the utter abandon that only the young can muster... I felt like I was jumping off a cliff when I looked into their eyes, and had we been entwined bodily as well as emotionally, I had no idea where I'd land.

As years went on and I was no longer concerned with making my parents angry with my sexual activities, I found that I'd formed such a habit of only connecting physically with men I didn't care much about that it took me two months of dating to permit my new boyfriend, for whom I'd fallen very hard and with whom I was deeply in love, to get past my pants. And when I did that, I cried. I couldn't even finish having sex with him. The emotional build-up I'd put myself through, which by this point involved sexual trauma at the hands of one of the men I'd held at an arm's length emotionally and who got frustrated with my remove, crashed down along with all the barriers I'd set up in my own head, and the combination of physical pleasure and unbarred emotions was too much. I was overwhelmed. Years of work and trying and even theorizing about sex and porn later, and it's still a difficult thing to allow myself to feel anything during sex. It's easier to just go through the motions without the emotions. (That was cheesy, I know. But there it is.)

And I realized just how much I'd been compartmentalizing these two parts of my life, which I'd been taught are supposed to go together. Aren't we all told that? And yet we end up finding sex without emotion for the majority of our lives, experiencing other people's sex in pornography without even looking for an emotional connection between them, because it's easier than incorporating two such powerful forces into our experiences of pleasure. And, you know, it's not all bad. I'm not a real big advocate for the "sex should only happen between a Mommy and a Daddy who love each other very, very much" line. Casual sex is great, and important for many of us. Not every orgasm needs to come along with deep and meaningful connection to the other person, or with difficult reflection on our feelings. But certainly the idea that sex can be a powerful instigator, catalyst, or realization of strong emotions comes from somewhere, and surely those of us who have experienced a transformative fuck will agree that the best sex involves the locking of eyes, the loss of conscious thought, the unfettered experience of the act, along with all the yelling and thrashing and whatever else. Certainly those rare porn scenes in which the performers truly seem to care about each other's pleasure and to have a deeper connection than that of their bodies, are the ones we go back to again and again because they carry such intensity we can't look away.

But those scenes, as I said, are rare. And for good reason: most of us aren't looking for that in our porn, and much less than we're looking for it in our sex lives. I think most of us have a dream that someday we'll meet/fuck someone we can feel completely comfortable with and who can help us experience sex and emotion simultaneously. But until we find that person we build up a very strongly-ingrained habit of keeping the two things at opposite ends of very short but very definitive spectrum. At the one end is sex, at the other is emotion, and maybe somewhere in the middle, for many of us, is porn.

Dec 29, 2010

Neck Massagers Are Deadly

This just in: electric "neck massagers" can kill your if you use them "properly." According to MSNBC, a Florida physician was using her "massager" to "massage" her "neck" when it "became ensnared on her necklace and strangled her." Two things:

1) That sucks in several ways. Obviously it's tragic that she died, but beyond that, it's a damn travesty that a physician didn't know how to properly utilize a neck massager. I mean, it just vibrates. What the hell do you have to be doing with a vibrating wand to have it become that entangled in your necklace? You'd have to be performing some very creative neck massaging... wait...

2) I bet you a whole lot of money she was properly utilizing her vibrator! Sometimes when I'm about to have a big huge orgasm, I suddenly find myself gasping for breath because I get so focused on getting that climax that I actually forget to breathe. My survival instinct usually kicks in just in time, but I wonder if I videotaped myself if I'd be blue in the face. Maybe this lady was using her massager to massage her private-r parts and felt such a huge cum coming that she kept holding off for just another second, and another, to breathe, and she ended up suffocating herself. Or maybe I'm just weird and nobody else holds their breath before orgasm... Anybody?

Dec 28, 2010

Emotional Remove and Porn Fantasy, Part I

This is part one of a two- or three-part series of musings about porn, sex, and emotion. The series isn't finished yet, so I'm publishing it in parts to keep the length down. Comments and feedback would be much appreciated.

I believe above most other things in the necessity of fantasy. Whether because of the cultural subversion of our humanity by the denigration of our basic drives (as one friend of mine or through the absolute lack of worth actually existent in ourselves, this world as it stands holds little for most of us that’s worth our time. People are mean, they are ugly, and they are selfish. They push each other out of the way, go after exclusively their own ends, ignore each other’s desires and needs in their quests for self-aggrandizement. They create unpleasant situations and enforce arbitrary rules and morality on each other. The world and relationships they create can be beautiful but are more often, at least to me, a constant disappointment. It is a sad and disgusting thing to watch, but as a member of humanity I am forced to watch it daily, and not even in its worst embodiments.

Merely walking down a crowded city street and watching the utter lack of is enough to convince me that people are capable of the most inhuman acts, and I have never even seen a war zone or labor camp or even the throes of poverty. I am lucky enough to be able to say that the position, race, and intelligence to which I was born put me among the highest percentile of privilege in the world. I have a bank account. I can read and write. I attended a private university in one of the most expensive and sophisticated cities in the world. I have never witnessed human ugliness beyond its abstractions: the poverty-stricken neighborhoods and people I have lived amongst (my birth and upbringing have not brought me, as an adult, riches or privilege, as I choose the life of a poor-ass writer) are the long shadows of the ugliness of the powerful, and the rudeness with which people down here treat each other is a first-come-first-serve reaction to being trampled. But I have been lucky to live in a part of the world where real human hideousness is largely hidden, and I have lived a life of particular immunity. My parents are still together. They support me insofar as their conservative habits allow them to. My friends are some of the most amazing, least ugly people alive. I am lucky in every way to have led such an enchanted existence, and yet, for all the beauty and charm in which I exist daily, I cannot escape the basic tenet that has underpinned the way I see the world for my entire life: people are shitty. The way we treat each other—the very fact that I can live such a lovely existence comes at the expense of other people around the world who produce cheap labor and goods and that the world itself is being plundered for the resources I use up, almost unknowingly, daily—is shit. The way we ignore our natural world in favor of our own ends is shit. The way we further ignore what we are doing to future generations of our species, our greatest treasure, is shit. The power plants we build, the pavement we pour over the earth, the excrement we trail behind us… All shit. I’ve never had more than a moments’ abstraction in which I found humanity to be anything other than the very most brutal kind of ape.

And as such, I find fantasy necessary. I might not so much if I were one of those who lived in the country, in the mountains or by a lake or by the sea, surrounded every day by the breathtaking beauty of some spot that hasn’t yet been destroyed by our clawing need for everything. But I am a writer, and I am ever hungry for mortification of the soul. I live in New York. New York, where the wonders mankind has created almost as numerous than the men who walk its streets. Where to look up is to gasp in wonder at the feats they have achieved. Where to look down is to be trampled. I am awed by the grandeur to which men are driven to cover up their own inadequacy and inhumanity. Rockefeller Center is a grand feat, but at whose expense? Nearly everybody’s, when you really get down to the story behind it, and the stories behind those. You see what I mean.

In other words, my everyday existence is swarming with the vermin I have abhorred since my childhood. It is overrun with the very craziest of humanity’s lunacy. It is packed to the gills with disgust. And all I can do is put in an animated movie, turn on an album that rings of beauty, crack a book that opens onto a less-ruined—or more deliciously, satirically devastated—landscape. Escapism is my only way out. The handy parables of Orwell, the despair of Dostoyevsky, the fantastic ironies of Dahl, the grotesqueness of Kafka… All these offer a respite from the fatally dull, utterly ridiculous and yet not even redeemably comical flapping about of reality. In them I can see the reflections of my own petty moods, the mirror images of my egotistical posturing, the absurdity of the fact that in the face of the crushing depression that the human race’s insanity inspires in me, I still take myself and my endeavors entirely too seriously. But it is only in these reflections, in which colors are sumptuously richer and more thickly painted, or satisfyingly, depressingly less vivid as the rain of the author’s pain washes them away, that I can find solace. Anything to dull the constant headache of reality. Anything to pretend that there’s a more succinct, more ordered world in somebody’s head, and maybe, therefore, in my own.

As such I appreciate every form of fantasy, whether it fits my own utopian ideals or not. Everything from the imperialist and ultimately depressing, yet still bright and sparkly and edifying landscapes of Disney to the terrifyingly dark vistas of any nameable Russian writer to the overwrought bizarreness of pornography. And of course, as of now, my greatest body of work lies in the examination of pornography, so its thither we fly.

Porn is fantasy. While there are a growing number of image-makers out there who are seeking to modify or transform it into a reflection of reality, the fact remains that by and large the idea of pornography—the point of pornography—for most of us is fantasy. An escape from the bodies we live in. An escape from the less-than-satisfying sex lives we lead. An escape from our inabilities to get or stay aroused by the flesh-and-blood world that surrounds us. A flight from the failings of our selves and into the spectacularly successful pleasures of others who exist largely in a world where sex is always great, orgasms are always mind-blowing, and breasts are always perky can be just the thing to brighten our views of the world we live in. It sometimes works for me, although I’ll admit that my general distaste for reality often leaves the end of a movie, whether adult or not, bittersweet for me. But a good romp through an imagined reality where things are better in whatever way can do wonders for the psyche, especially one as bleak as mine.

And so I love porn, even the most baldly unrealistic, for its total willingness to indulge me in my need to fly away to something I hate less than reality. Especially the most baldly unrealistic, although from a philosophical perspective I can find all manner of things wrong with it, makes me happy. But then again, if I were to enumerate the things I find wrong with porn, it’d be a list of the things I find wrong with human sexuality, and that is an area so un-policeable and so politically incorrect I could drown in it while thrashing about in a muck of judgment I have no right to approach. Human sexuality must be left unjudged insofar as it can. And that’s as it should be, insofar as I have any power to change it; while altering the ideology of our culture in relation to sex, would be a great life’s work, I do believe it’s a bit beyond me, nihilist or no. And it couldn't help but to hurt some people somewhere, no matter how hard I tried. So as far as my power to change things in this essay goes, I can deal with the political and power dynamics in pornography, at least generally speaking. But what I’m concerned with here isn’t how the world of power relations is focused by the lens of pornography. I’m concerned with our fantastical relationship to it. My own relationship with fantasy is deeply ingrained. Escapism is good. Therapeutic. Necessary. But it’s not always healthy. And here’s why:

Numbers are thrown out daily about how many hours of television an American child has watched by the age of three, or whatever. The number is always astoundingly and worryingly high—usually in the thousands. The images shown to them, even inadvertently by cartoons that may not try to establish any type of sexual imagery but which cannot fail to propagate some despite themselves, become embedded in their brains. As they grow up and are exposed to more overtly sexual materials in their everyday lives, the more blatant images and situations are covered up by harrumphs and guffaws, quickly changed channels and awkward family viewing situations. In movie theaters and in classrooms, the tension level in the room rises when anything sexual comes up. The impulse, which makes sense, is to distance oneself emotionally from the sexy goings-on so as not to end up embarrassed by an erection or a gasp of pleasure. The impulse is to pretend not to be affected by the physical reactions such scenes and ideas naturally give rise to, and in order to keep a level of appropriateness about oneself in a public setting. The imagery of sexuality, we feel we must remind ourselves, is not the same as real sexuality. We have to hold ourselves aloof from it to avoid looking foolishly affected by sexual imagery. And, of course, this makes sense. I wouldn’t want to be in a theater full of people allowing themselves to completely immerse themselves in a sex scene, even if it is Black Swan and Natalie Portman is that beautiful. It would be uncomfortable. And as it’s ideal not to get carried away by sex in movies and books and so on physically, it’s also ideal to hold oneself at an emotional arm’s length to keep the physicality of feeling sexy at bay. All of this makes sense. It’s just fantasy, after all, so we don’t want to get too deep into it or risk making asses of ourselves.

But the thing is that, even when we’re alone with pornography, I think for many of us, the physical and emotional remove stays in place. And everybody seems to understand that, from the producers to the performers to the consumers who look at porn as a commodity. The fantasy is part of the game, but it’s just a fantasy and no more. In order to get adequate physical bang for our buck, there’s no need, we think, for the performers to show any emotional connection the acts they’re performing. Sure, it’s a nice bonus, but if we see a performer getting too deeply involved in an act—say, a woman breaking down into tears as she’s transported by unbearable pleasure during orgasm—it can be a bit disconcerting. We’re here for the physical connection between our hands and our genitals, after all, not for the connection between emotions and sex. And as consumers, we're aware that we're not supposed to be transported, either. Porn isn't something to get deeply into, even when alone, without risking looking like an ass in front of ourselves. We get in, get off, and get out with as little emotional connection as necessary.

Ah, there's the rub. (I think I say that too much when I write, particularly about masturbation. Ah, Freud, you'd have loved to be here for that realization, eh, you coke-snorting perv?) In many ways I think our culture, the product of public discomfort in the face of ever-present, evocative erotic imagery, familial expectations that sex as a subject be avoided in company, and thousands of years of Judeo-Christian ideology teaching us that sex is basically bad, has produced in many of us an unwillingness to let sex and emotion really collide, except on the rare occasion when it happens between two parties deeply in love and in complete privacy. Of course there are abundant exceptions to these rules both in fantasy and in practice--there are people who get off mainly during sex in public. There are people transported by erotic emotion during sex with strangers. There are people who can only experience the full cataclysm of sex and joy during masturbation, or asphyxiation, or humiliation, or what have you. But I think that for a majority of us--particularly, and obviously, myself--raised in a generally WASP-y environment in which emotional remove and physical control are not only encouraged but outright expected in every situation, combining the physical act of sex, even sex with oneself, with the terrifying experience of emotional loosening and physical abandon can be difficult at the best of times, impossible at most others.

...to be continued...

Dec 27, 2010

I'm Officially COOL

Whoooo! I am awesome! Seriously, this time I am not tooting my own horn (still at the parents, where that's not allowed). I am officially a published writer on a website by Madison Young, the queen of sex-positive porn, the empress of awesome, the coolest of queer-friendly, the most amazing woman pretty much ever. Read my review of "The Crash Pad Series, Episode 76" on TheWomansPOV, and worship my kicking of ass. This is the best late Christmas present EVAR!
Also, read it to hear about the beautiful banging and bodacious bodies that Dylan Ryder and Dia Zerva serve up in the scene, then go watch it once your minds and muffs have both been moistened... Lovely, lovely boobies...

Dec 25, 2010

Remembering the Rest of the World

I'm in not-allowed-to-talk-about-porn land, aka my parents' house in the country. Yesterday was awkward as I tried to work my conversation around all things relating to sex and pornography and maintain interest in less-sexy topics, but it's getting easier as time goes by. And, you know, it's kind of refreshing to remember that, much as I dearly love smut, not everybody thinks about it all the time. But, then, I did spend a while in the bathroom by myself... well, just me and the massaging shower-head... Guess I can't leave myself behind. ;)

Vacation, indeed. Back tomorrow with a Dr. Lags, Sexpert, column! Merry merry, everybody!

Dec 24, 2010

Christmas Travel Blog

A few MORE notes:

1) The Red Dwarf set did not enter into last night's peace-vibe-making. My own living room, however, is quite hot to have all manner of crazy sex in.

2) I'm now on a train. I've been working on several longer blog entries for you all to read over your long post-Christmas recuperation periods (I'm sure you'll be delighted by them, as they encompass how to become a male porn star and how much I hate humanity... as it relates to porn), and in so doing, I've been reading up on some of my other favorite porn- and sex-related blogs, like Violet Blue's excellent "Open Source Sex." I recommend that you do the same. But, be warned, DO NOT DO IT ON A TRAIN where the people walking by can SEE your computer screen. I'm pretty sure the images of boobs and tied-up, gagged ladies with boobs parading across my laptop screen did not make me any friends among the ranks of those debarking the train at Paoli, PA.

3) It's supposed to snow tomorrow! On CHRISTMAS! Aaaaaack childhood Christmas nostalgia head-explody!

Dec 23, 2010

The Not-Doctor Is In: How to Become a Male Porn Star

Once again, Twitter has provided a question for Dr. Lags, Sexpert, to answer. I've done the best I can, but I'm sure the guy can use advice from those who know more than lil' ol' me in the comments section!

Dear Dr. Lags: Any advice on how to start in the industry as a male performer


Dear Would-Be-Porn-Star:

As far as specific people to contact or places to go, I'll admit I'm not much help. I'm more of a commentator on porn and porn culture than an actual take-part-in-it type. But I can tell you that porn people are, in general, far more approachable than you might think. Attend any event where porn performers, producers, and general industry types are congregated, and you'll probably have much less trouble slipping a business card into their hands than you'd imagined. Of course, whether they'll choose to get back to you is a matter of their whims, and your presentation.

And that's the rub. Depending on who you approach and what level of the business you're looking to get into (for instance, are you looking to take part in the occasional gang-bang, or do you want to be working every day with the likes of jessica drake and Teagan Presley, or are you interested in doing more indie, artistic work less frequently?), what the people involved will be looking for in male talent will vary. But the truth of the matter is, finding good male porn performers is not easy, and that's why there are so few of them at the top of the business. Truth be told, being a male porn performer is, according to all my sources, incredibly difficult. Most men, no matter how virile or well-hung they are, simply cannot get it up or keep it up in front of a camera.

As Nina Hartley pointed out in one of her outstanding Sexwise.tv episodes, there are very, very, very few men in this world who can withstand the rigors of being a male porn star. Nina's advice: get together ten or fifteen of your closest male friends and ask them to stand in a circle around you while you get naked, get yourself hard, and jerk off to completion while all of them stand around and watch, point, and laugh. If you can do this and enjoy it, you might be a great male performer. She's got a point: at any time when you're watching porn and it looks like there's just this guy in a room with a girl or several girls, there are in fact at least three other people on the other side of a camera and a set of hot lights, watching, critiquing, directing, and so on. It's not just a matter of having sex; it's a matter of having sex in front of an often-large group of seasoned professionals, a wall of cameras, and lights so bright you can hardly look at them. If you can do these things in front of your friends, you're on the right path to being able to do it in front of a room of near-strangers, with a stranger.

Or, as Evan Stone put it in a speech last year at the AEE Expo in Vegas, "If you don't mind someone, probably a guy, telling you when to get hard, how long to stay hard, which way to fuck, who to fuck, and when to cum on command; if you're ok with your genitals touching the genitals of another man; if you're ok with very likely getting another man's bodily fluids on you... then you could be a male porn star."

Add to these considerations the fact that in order to even think about getting into the biz, you need an acceptable musculature, a large schlong, and an almost-unnatural ability to stay hard for-frickin-ever. Of course, there are often fluffers, and Viagra isn't exactly absent from the set of most porn movies. But, still, there's a whole hell of a lot of work a man's got to do on his own to discipline his body to be able to not only last as long as necessary, but to be able to again and again if necessary, and only cum when requested. Mr. Marcus has written extensively about how he's disciplined himself for years to get the level of professional penis-mastery you can see in any one of his thousands of videos. It ain't easy.

All that being said, if you're convinced you've got what it takes, then by jove, hop into the fray! The porn biz is always hoping for a new woodsman, and if you can make the grade, you deserve the job. Most men in the biz have wildly varying stories about how they got into the business, so there's no tried-and-true way to go about getting that rare talent audition, but because most porn studios don't have contract positions available for male talent like they often do for females, you're kind of on your own about how to approach it.

My most pertinent advice would be to practice your craft at home, and take photos and videos to get used to the idea of being watched. A body of amateur work that you can show any prospective employers as a portfolio could be incredibly helpful: maybe your own channel on YouPorn showcasing your prowess with the boys or girls, and a healthy dose of self-abuse to show off the size and shape of your apparatus, could be a great way to get into the biz before trying to make money at it. A private website with photos of your rock-hard abs and other parts could be a great way to show off what you've got before actually getting an appointment with a prospective studio. If you've done any professional modeling, your portfolio would help enormously. A ModelMayhem or other similar networking site can be very useful for this. A pre-existing Twitter where you tout your abilities and projects to the world, a MySpace or Facebook account, and anything else you can develop on your own to show that you're serious about your career as a male performer or model is also a plus. Just like in every other business these days, self-promotion and legwork is 90% of the battle. Nobody wants to work with someone who's brand new, so it's your job to make it look like you have tons of experience.

Because there's a less-strict contract hierarchy for male talent, there's also a less-strict set of rules about where to look for work. In some cases, you can approach female talent, who can either vet you themselves or direct you to someone who does it professionally. In others, you can probably contact studio heads, directors, and producers directly. But the most important thing is to have something besides just your cock to show them when you make contact: a business card that denotes professionalism and can direct them to your website or portfolio is brilliant for face-to-face contacts at conventions, signings, and cold visits to studio headquarters. E-mail being the easier and more standard way to go about communications these days, a professionally-written email (nobody, no matter what business they're in, wants to do business with some guy who can't spell, use punctuation, or who communicates mainly through emoticons), filled with links to your sites, can be a godsend.

Of course, there's also the world of straight-to-the-point auditions and casting calls, which happen relatively frequently in the adult world. There are tons of ways to keep up on when auditions are happening and where, and depending on what type of work specifically you're looking to get into, you can pick what works for you. If you have a specific company or niche you'd like to audition for, your best bet is to frequent the websites of those companies--when they have auditions coming up, they're not shy about broadcasting it. Keeping up with industry sites like AVN.com, WHACK! Magazine, LukeIsBack.com, XBiz, AINews, and others often run press releases for casting calls, if you're casting a somewhat broader net. And of course there are companies that cater directly to managing and agenting for adult stars: AdultCastingCall.com, AdultCastingCalls.com (with an "s," see?), and AdultFreelance.com are good places to start.

All in all, my friend, good luck to you! It's not an easy business to get into as a dude, but it's a great gig if you can make the cut!

Yours,
Dr. Lags, Sexpert

Red Dwarf is Unexpectedly Sexy

Are your panties wet? Mine are.

Well, readers, I'm very happy to report that my day-late contribution to Global Orgasm for Peace Day was a doozie. I may have come to the party late, but when I came, I came, again and again. So I feel like not chipping in on the big day was ok in the end, because I provided the world with a plethora of orgasms the day after to make up for it. Of course, I'm not sure if I came through on the whole "concentrating on peace" during said orgasms. I may have instead been thinking about various incredibly dirty things I'd have liked to do on the set of Red Dwarf. Yes, Red Dwarf, the weird 80's-tastic British comedy. And no, not because I'm attracted to a single member of the cast, cause I'm not. Rather, because Red Dwarf was playing in the background when my man and I got down to business and I kept getting glimpses of the set when I opened my eyes, and suddenly I thought, "How fucking awesomely fun would it be to go onto a television set and have sex ALL over the place after hours?" For some odd reason, this struck me as a particularly sexy thought--maybe because my lover's face was planted firmly between my legs at that point--and the orgasms just started parading through my body at that point, as I let a series of different positions I could assume parade through my brain... on the control panels in the Drive Room, on Lister's cool little motorbike thing, in the small movie theater, in the testing room (Holly's unsmiling face on the monitor be damned) and so on.

So, while I may not have been focusing so much on world peace, I think the amount of positive feelings and pleasure I released into the quantum energy field, particularly the geektastic British comedy quantum energy field, or whatever, was quite sufficient to make everyone's day just a tad better. It made mine WAY better. I'll try again today, with less geeky Britcom and more peace, to improve the world's vibes, but if it turns out that BlackAdder is playing in the background this time, well... I guess Rowan Atkinson's day will be fantastic.

Anyway, that was a good beginning to a very merry few-days-of-Christmas in my apartment, and today I'm still going strong with a holiday bottle of Macallan, some chocolates from the boy, and some ponderings I've started on my next Sexpert column! I believe that by the let-down after Christmas I'll have a new Dr. Lags segment up and running for you to be amazed at.

I'm also pondering a longer piece on emotional remove in porn, but there's just no time for that today. Back to orgasming for world peace! I think this could maybe become an issue in a week or two when I have to go back to life as usual...

Oh well! In the meantime, I'm working on a few articles and reviews for Madison Young's TheWomansPOV.com, WHACK! Magazine, and some new reviews for this very blog, due out next week sometime. The following week will be difficult for blogging, but I assume also for reading, since everyone will be driven mad by family get-togethers, meals, and drinking, but hey, that's why they call it "merry," right?

Dec 22, 2010

The Christmas Spirit in DADT Legislation and World Orgasms for Peace

2 More Things:

1) President Obama signed the repeal of DADT this morning, thundering that, "We are not a nation that says, 'Don't ask, don't tell.' We're a nation that says, 'Out of many we are one.'" Damn skippy! The cynical part of my brain wants to make a quip about how it's great that the people putting their lives on the line over wars we can't possibly win against unseeable, unknowable enemies who have more oil than us can now be open about their sexualities. Good that we can all be sure that the soldiers fighting for no good reason in countries we didn't even know existed ten years ago are now able to fully express themselves in their daily lives in whatever terrorist-ridden region we've sent them to.
But then, I think of what John McCain's too-pale, overly-make-up-ed, puffy face must look like right now. The Grinch of All Things Gay must be pouting like a champ at this very moment. I'm imagining a lumpy, bright-red tomato with steam coming out its ears. And that makes me happy. Also, it makes me happy that SOME kind of legislation that favors the rights of gay people in our country has finally passed at the Federal level. We're not nearly as far along as we should be in giving gay and queer and trans people the equal rights they deserve, but we're inching closer at a high level. And that makes me feel good, too.
I'm happy that this happened right before Christmas. It's putting me into a slightly more giving spirit, which has been slow in coming for the past few weeks. I've felt very un-Christmas-y as my 3-months-at-a-time birth control reaches an end and PMS has plagued me for the past THREE WEEKS as my hormones gleefully announce that they're ready for bleedy holiday fun. The stress of trying to host out of town visitors who always show up this time of year, maintain my blog and other projects, and finish Christmas shopping and shipping, and wondering where the hell all the presents I ordered online are (cause they're damn well not here yet)... It's been a lot. But knowing that President Obama and Congress just gave gays in the military their first open recognition EVER makes me feel all gooey inside! I think I hear sleigh bells...

2) As I already mentioned, my stress level has been keeping me from getting into the holiday spirit. The DADT repeal has helped, but I've been a little miffed by all these photo sets I see of beautiful porn stars in Christmas outfits, on bear-skin rugs in front of warm fireplaces, being all sexy. I feel the opposite of sexy when I'm stressed, and I don't have a bear rug or a fireplace, OR a porn star, so how am I supposed to work off all this tension?
Well.
I just found an answer, and it's giving me the warm holiday gooey feeling like crazy. Although I missed it by a day, I just learned that the 21st of December, the Winter Solstice, was also Global Orgasm Day for Peace! What a GREAT idea! According to their website, you should participate because: "To effect positive change in the energy field of the earth through conscious dedication of orgasmic energy to the vibration of Peace. Our minds and our biology influence Matter and Quantum Energy fields, so by concentrating our thoughts before, during, and after orgasm on peace and loving-kindness, the synergy of high orgasmic physical energy combined with the power of positive visualization could help reduce global levels of violence, hatred and fear. Orgasm is the largest possible instantaneous surge of human biological and spiritual energies. It is a biological gift! What better way to achieve your resolution for Peace?"
Well, hot damn, I can agree with that! I don't know exactly how our minds and biology influence quantum energy fields, cause I'm not very science-y, but if you really think about it, how could they NOT? And how could a whole day full of joyful, peaceful, proactive orgasms all over the world NOT be a good thing, whether it actually affects world peace in a meaningful way or not? And really, it seems like it's GOT to affect it. How could a bunch of people who might otherwise be busy thinking about and doing other, less positive, things turning their thoughts and energies to something that is specifically NOT hurting anyone, be anything but a way to affect peace?
I like it. I may have missed The Big Day--and yes, I did; I was so busy yesterday and so PMS-y that I didn't have ANY orgasms at all, alas--but I think I can make it a day late. Hey, one orgasm for peace a day late can't hurt anything, right? Oh man, I feel so giving right now, so filled with the spirit of peace and holiday cheer... I think I'll go turn on some CrashPadSeries.com and give Orgasms for Peace a go.

Merry merry!

Dec 21, 2010

Assange Looks Like a Douche, and Anti-Gays Want to Look Gay

I don't know who put this together, but I'm in love with it...

2 things:

1) Julian Assange is a douche. I don't really know enough about the whole Swedish rape vs. CIA-"honey-trap" issue to write anything intelligent about this topic, because for all I know maybe those women really are being pressured to pursue charges against him so that Sweden can get him into custody and proceed to pressure him about WikiLeaks. It's entirely possible. But the point is that the charges are still there because the women were assaulted, and whether the regular legal processes are being gone above and beyond to get a legal paw on Assange, the fact remains that he's a slimy turd-ball for doing what he did in the first place. And also for this piece of "gentleman"-like behavior on the BBC with John Humphreys, in which he says things like, "These women may be victims in this process" of trying to get to him; calls Sweden a "bit more of a banana republic"; says he's been "martyred without dying"; asserts that the women involved "got into a tizzy about whether there was a possibility of sexually transmitted diseases," which is a "ridiculous thing to go to the police about"; and maintains that he's "never had a problem before with women. Women have been extremely helpful and generous."
Dude, if you want the international community to rally behind your rights as a journalist, being a supercilious douche-nozzle about what a "gentleman" and a "capable, generous man" you are, while treating other journalists who are asking (mostly) pertinent questions like they're third-graders, and dismissing RAPE allegations as "ridiculous" with absolutely no regard for their seriousness... yeah, that's not the best way to go about it. That's not the best way to go about ANYTHING. Neither is sexually assaulting women and belittling their level of upset over being assaulted by calling it a "tizzy." What an ass-hat. I hope he gets extradited and grilled, just for that.

2) In more pleasantly ridiculous news closer to home, however, "Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, the founder and head of the Ruth Institute, which describes itself as 'a project of the National Organization for Marriage,' told the right-wing American Family News Network’s OneNewsNow that the rainbow should be the symbol of Prop 8 supporters and Religious Right activists because 'the rainbow is a sign of God's covenant with man.'" She wore a rainbow scarf to an gay-bashing event the other day and made the announcement that because of the RAINBOW's religious affiliations, it will be "taken back" from the gay community to be touted by Christians and Jews and anti-gay activists around the world.
Ummm... taking something back... from the gay community? That's like taking a morsel of bread out of the mouth of a starving child!
But still, I'm all for it. As Jezebel pointed out, if anti-gay protesters and activists want to be mistaken for gays and gay-rights activists because they're wearing rainbows, then more power to them! But by the way, anti-gay jackasses, the whole idea of the rainbow is UNITY. The unity of all the colors in one beautiful arc is symbolically relevant because it shows the beauty in the possibility of peaceful cooperation when people put aside their differences after the storm to come together in a "rainbow coalition" of love. I mean, God may have meant something slightly different back in the Bible, but that's how the rainbow applies to human interaction these days, no matter how much you might try to Biblify it. That's just how a symbol like that works. So trying to take it AWAY from other people who are using to show their support of unity and love... Yeah, not so much. It just kind of highlights what a bunch of intolerant jerk-offs you are.

Sigh. Merry Christmas, everyone.

Dec 20, 2010

Have Not Been Blogging, But Have Been Thinking

So I've been mondo busy with out-of-town visitors and general holiday preparations (by which I mean I'm completely unprepared but trying really hard to be prepared) and... cookie baking. You heard me! That's right, this seasoned smut scribe is also a damn fine baker, and last night I made around five dozen cookies to prove it! Too bad you suckas will never have the pleasure of eating them! But you WILL, if you stick with me, have the pleasure of picking my big, delicious BRAINS.

See, I've been thinking late at night about the implications of some of my favorite porn. With a friend in from out of town who doesn't know much about what I do, I've been spending a lot of time explaining the world of porn and how I relate to it. I was telling her on Saturday about how there are a lot of people out there making porn who aren't just doing it to have sex and get paid, but who really believe in expressing themselves sexually as an artistic and even political statement. People who are trying to move forward out of the "nipple ghetto" as Nina Hartley once called it in an interview for WHACK! People who believe that sex is a beautiful and powerful thing and that it should be celebrated and understood are out there filming it so the world can see its beauty. People who are forging ahead into unexplored or still-misunderstood sexual territory in the worlds of fetish and queerness and more are showing the world how incredible being different sexually can be. They are seeking understanding and acceptance by showing, rather than telling, the rest of us what their experience is like. Porn, for them, isn't just (thanks, Madison Young, for pointing this out to me) the commodification of the human body for everyone who makes porn: it's the truest expression of self and sensuality, and it's not just a job--it's vitally important.

And these are the people I find fascinating. They make it worth my while to get up in the morning and sit down at this computer before I'm fully rested to read, review, explore, e-mail, and watch more porn than I ever thought I would. I am amazed by the energy and beauty and their willingness to lay themselves out, bare and brave, to show the world how much they believe in what they're doing. They are inspirations.

These are people whose self-exploration takes thousands of viewers along for the ride. They aren't just pretending to have great sex on film because they hope someone will pay to jerk off to it. They are honestly making love on camera, to themselves, to each other, to the idea of making artistic pornography in general. And what they make is a beautiful testament to the white-hot passion of the human connection. The difference between big-studio or low-budget gonzo porn that throws two performers into a scene and lets their bodies do the work, and many of the scenes made by these companies I'm lauding in which two or more people, carefully chosen for their off-screen chemistry and passion for their work, is astounding. When what you're watching has in it a genuine human connection, rather than a pair of perfect anatomies operating in robotic, pre-approved routines, the results are intensely erotic. The viewer can feel the passion and connection between the performers, and it's a challenge to review these movies instead of just masturbating furiously (though I've found a nice middle ground exists between the two).

But here's the thing. I've been thinking, while lying awake at night waiting for sleep to find me... If the best porn out there is the porn in which the human connection between performers is the centerpiece... If chemistry and authentic sexual expression are the holy grails of indie and artistic porn... If the stripped-down sexiness of the performers and their need for each other is what makes a scene, instead of the set or the lighting or the costume or the soundtrack... And if the goal is to turn the porn industry from a bunch of automatons boning mindlessly into a storehouse of real human eroticism (and I think it is, because I think the ever-more-aware porn consumer is getting sick of the tried-and-true formulas and seeking more these days, and will continue to do so)... Then where will the line eventually be drawn between porn made by earnest artists trying to make realistic but beautiful pornography... and amateur porn?

I don't mean to demean amateur porn. In fact, by equating it with exemplary porn film-making, I'm exemplifying it. Just like with anything else, there's a lot of it out there that's terrible (perhaps more of it, relatively speaking, since the oceanic depths of amateur porn are simply getting deeper every day), but there's also a lot of it that's fantastic. People making porn with the cameras they've got at home, doing the things they like to do, simply and unabashedly, with perhaps even more authentic passion than many performers can muster because they are with their real-life partner... It goes beyond the eroticized realism of the new porn, because it IS real. There aren't lighting crews or elaborate sets or makeup artists hanging around watching. There aren't breaks for coffee or time for editing between positions. It's just sex. Real, honest, relatable sex.

And there's TONS of it out there. It's burying the old, less-exciting porn market. YouPorn, PornTube, RedTube, and others have millions of clips, with thousands more uploaded daily. They are free, they are simple, and they are WILDLY successful. Of course, a lot of the "amateur" porn you see on these sites is anything but amateur, but the point remains: if the goal of good porn is to capture that human, unaffected connection between performers, then where does the art stop and the amateur begin?

I think the answer, from the consumer's perspective, might be, "Who cares?" If the same wad can be blown from watching both, and if the same authentic peek into the sexualities of new and varied people can be gotten from both, then it hardly matters if the lighting is good or the sound levels are balanced. The bodies in amateur porn might be less agreeable to look at, but that can be a turn-on by itself for people who've gotten tired of looking at Barbie-doll bodies.

But it makes me worry to think such things because, well, I think the porn community is important. I want the industry to continue, in a more grass-roots way than it has, to operate and make money and provide people with sexual options and ideas. I think that most of the indie and art porn studios are fascinating and the people who work for them are amazing. I want these people to continue what they're doing and to keep making important statements about human sexuality. But even though their statements are important, even though their performers are beautiful, even though they can make cinematic films that look beautiful while offering important looks into fringe sexualities... Someone out there can do it cheaper and offer it for free.

I don't think this will necessarily happen right now, or that amateur porn will necessarily flood out professional fare. There will always be a crowd of us out here with an interest in the quality products put out by artists and impassioned sex workers. And I may just be blathering unnecessarily. But it's food for thought. Where is the line between excellent pro and excellent am, and is it going to be able to stay afloat, or sink beneath the waves of amateur fare the world at large will never stop producing?

Dec 16, 2010

An Overthought Personal Dissection of Fetishes

So I've been doing a lot of research on some fetish performers, and last night I had a kind of epiphany. The ideas behind many fetishes make sense to me on some level, but many more do not. I mean, sure having your toes sucked on can feel nice, but why would you want to suck ON someone else's toes? It just doesn't do it for me. Same with pies in the face, stepping on fruit, and sitting on glass-topped tables while smooshing food with your butt. These acts just don't scream "sexy" to me. Leather and whips and chains? Ok, I can see how those work, but popping balloons? Not so much.

Since I've been more confused by a lot of these fetishes than excited, I've more or less stayed away from them. I don't want to offend their enthusiasts or make an inaccurate statement about them in my writing, and since I don't predict them getting me off in any way, I had no need to delve deeply into the worlds of furry lovers or hentai tentacle rape fetishists. But in researching a performer in a recent queer lesbian scene I enjoyed and reviewed, I learned that this performer has been involved in filming for almost all of the aforementioned fetishes. This performer (Dia Zerva, if I'm being specific), is a balls-to-the-wall performer who holds nothing back, either in her performances or in her interviews, and the more I read about her, the more I began to realize that at least for her, experimenting with fetishes and somewhat bizarre sexualized experiences isn't a matter of needing a latex glove on a mannequin hand wielded by a gagged submissive puppy to get to orgasm. It's a matter of the ride itself, the sensual experience itself.

Whereas for many people in this world, myself sometimes included, sexuality comprises a fairly narrow set of behaviors (making out, foreplay, sex, aaaaand done), for performers in the adult industry, other sex workers, and most fetishists, I think that sex and sexuality are simply composed of a broader range of sensations and ideas. While there might be nothing in watching a woman sit on a cake that can really get me off, I can certainly imagine the feeling of frosting between my butt cheeks, and you know... it's something I've never experienced, but I bet it feels pretty cool. As for having my toes sucked on, as I mentioned before, it does feel good. It might not exactly get an orgasm out of me, but that's the thing: sensual and sexual experiences don't always have to. It's the experience, the new sensation, the willingness to apply an erotic frame of mind to an otherwise not-erotic act, that can make fetishes work. (Sometimes, anyway. I realize that there's a LOT more to it, but I'm new to this, so bear with me.)

Instead of looking at people who participate in foot worship and pie-throwing movies with confusion and disdain, I'm starting to look at them with respect. I don't think I'm brave enough, or liberated enough with how I experience my sensuality, to masturbate while squishing raspberries with my toes and letting someone watch. I don't think my brain is yet ready to incorporate the smell of latex glove powder into a sexual context. But just the idea that, if I were ready for these things, there would be a whole community full of people who bring more than just making out, foreplay, and sex into the equation of how to be sensual... that makes me feel good. There's more to being a sexual creature than just getting boned or munching carpet, and the more I learn about the people who aren't afraid to cross over into new sensations and let those sensations be a part of the turn-on, the more excited I am that maybe someday I'll understand the breadth of their experiences.

So, Dia Zerva, I salute you. Let's talk.

Dec 14, 2010

AIM is Shuttered, and I'm Confused

People, I just don't know what to do with myself about AIM Healthcare being shut down. I'm confused and I'm kind of heartbroken and I'm scared. I haven't written about it yet because I don't really know what to think about any of it. One never does in these situations. For a while I was pretty convinced that condoms should be mandatory in porn and someone should be enforcing this rule. Then I did more research and learned that condoms aren't necessarily the best answer and could, in many ways, cause more harm than good in the porn industry (if testing was phased out in favor of condoms in the straight industry, you'd have HIV-positive performers more able to perform, and then if the condom broke or a cumshot went awry, you could have more transmission, etc, etc). So then I felt pretty strongly that condoms shouldn't be mandatory.

But then Patient Zeta tested positive in October and everyone went batshit because he was a gay and straight performer, and the idea was that the gay side of the industry doesn't test enough and he'd gotten infected over there and brought into the straight side of the industry, and then everyone was all down on crossover performers, which I found upsetting, because, Christ, don't men who have sex with men and women (and, Wolf Hudson, wink wink, other genders, too) already get enough crap from our society? The last thing a gay-and-straight porn performer needs is more people heaping criticism on his behavior.

And then, of course, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, who have been clamoring for the AIM clinic to be shut down for, like, ever, got all up in arms again and started freaking out that condoms must be mandatory for everyone all the time and the whole debate started up again about whether mandatory testing is good enough, and I got all confused again. I mean, frankly, I just want porn performers, and sex workers of all stripes, to have some kind of protection. Yes, they work in a high-risk industry. Yes, some of the things they do cross lines between legality and illegality. Yes, it's a fraught issue. But, also, yes, the sex industry will never go away and it will never cease to cater to a greater demand than almost any other industry on the planet, except perhaps for food and medicine. So can't we please just calm down about it and, rather than bickering and pumping our fists about whether this or that is better for who or what, start with a basic tenant of respect for the people who work in this industry? These people who work very hard and risk very much to make the rest of us happy? Can we just agree that what these people are doing is not only unavoidable but actually important, and start up a new dialogue with that as the basis for discussions?

...and then, oh, then! Last week, Patient Zeta, aka Derrick Burts, aka the straight "Cameron Reid" and the gay "Derek Chambers," who'd been anonymously bickered over for months, revealed his identity, and the fact that he had sided with AHF and their anti-testing, pro-condom agenda. He spoke out to the press, recorded and interview with the LA Times, pissed off a lot of people, and drew the concern of many others. His story was heartbreaking: he'd apparently contracted HIV on the set of a porn shoot but was not given any information about which set or which performer; his life and career were basically ruined in one fell swoop; AIM didn't follow up with him or fulfill their promises to find him treatment; and then they announced to the world that he'd contracted the infection from someone in his private life rather than on set, as they'd told him he had. He was disillusioned, confused, and infected with HIV. He'd been assured the testing system was safe, he says, but he'd contracted chlamydia, gonorrhea, and herpes in the past and was now convinced that condoms were the only way to go. The poor guy! He made a case for the education of adult performers about the risks they take, and for condom mandatory shoots. I couldn't really argue with his point of view, but I wasn't sure if he was right, either.

Once again, my brain was thrown into a series of ever-more-confused spasms. Maybe AIM testing isn't the answer after all! But then, if he really did contract HIV from a porn performer, then that performer had to be over on the gay side of the industry because test results would have prevented him (ostensibly, him) from performing on the straight side, so condom use in preference over testing can't always protect people, either. (Let it be known that I'm aware most gay porn performers are also tested regularly; it's just that, from everything I've heard, they're not required to show their test results before performing in a gay scene like they'd be in a straight scene.) (Also, I'm once again reminded that the whole queer sector of the porn community is being left out, but they just don't have the numbers yet to enter into this discussion as a separate entity.) Oh, god, it's such a risky business, maybe we should just shut it down! Well, no. Not at all. But my brain allowed itself to have a few seconds of pondering that hypothesis before realizing it was A) absurd and B) totally against everything I stand for.

But... THEN! Dear god, it just won't end. The day after most of the media picked up on Derrick Burts's defense of AHF and condom-mandatory shooting, AIM Healthcare's clinic in Sherman Oaks was shuttered due to an issue "with their paperwork" that just happened to be brought to light at that particular time. County health officials say the closing has nothing to do with Burts's speaking out against the clinic, but... I mean. Come on. AHF has been screeching at the authorities for years that something needs to be done, despite numerous defeats in courts that show utter disdain for the topic and a healthy appreciation for the industry's ability to police its own disease rates. Cal-OSHA has, it seems, been getting more and more interested in the topic, unlike the court system, as AHF's continued efforts to shut down the AIM clinic on every imaginable pretense have brought more media attention to the lax enforcement of health and safety regulations on porn sets. And suddenly, the day after the most recent mainstream straight porn performer in history to contract HIV sides, publicly and with much media coverage, with AHF, the industry's most-trusted and most-comprehensive testing center gets shut down?

Could this possibly be a coincidence? Public health director for Los Angeles County, Jonathan Fielding, told reporters, with a typical paucity of concern, that performers could get their testing done at county clinics, which should be safe and confidential enough for their needs. Obviously, he has no interest or insight into the safety and confidentiality that sex workers, who get treated with scorn and contempt by the likes of him and most of the rest of the country, not to mention county health practitioners at publicly-funded clinics, require. And as far as what's to be done about the database that AIM maintains to help broadcast people's STD status for easy access before shoots, Fielding says, "You'll have to ask them. Our feeling has been that that is not sufficient to fully protect the performers. They need to use condoms so that these workers will not be put in a position where they are exposed to potentially life-threatening diseases." Very insightful, Mr. Fielding. With the emotion and depth of understanding your preceding comment belies, it's easy to tell you care deeply about the health of the people your office is there to protect. Christ.

So now here we are. I still don't know what to think, but I do think that AIM being shut down "because of paperwork" is bullshit. According to Burts, and other performers I've spoken to, AIM isn't always the most competent or professional clinic in the whole world, but as it's one of very few in America that caters specifically to the needs of the often condescended to and trampled underfoot--the visible and invisible sex workers of America--it's got to be one of the most friendly and understanding. As far as I can tell, this whole hullabaloo over condoms vs. no-condoms, testing vs. not-testing, paperwork vs. bad press, is nothing but confusion and puffed-up windbaggery being tossed around by a bunch of people who have no understanding of the sex industry, and even less respect for the people involved. (From the ridiculous catfights that have been going between AHF and AIM for a while now, I frankly think that the AHF people have a personal grudge against Sharon Mitchell at AIM and are willing to do whatever it takes to take her out.) This is a structure of logic and reasoning and litigation and maybe-legislation based upon a foundation of sniffling condescension and raised eyebrows, not a concern for the safety of an industry that will, no matter how much you test it or shrink-wrap it or legislate against it or punish it or ignore it, never go away. And it shouldn't. What should go away is the way that so many people think they're entitled to look down on sex workers, then slink off into their basements to masturbate to free porn they haven't even paid anyone for making. What should go away is the culture of "we'll report on it because it has the words 'porn' and 'HIV' in it, but not because anyone gives a shit about the people involved" that the media has nurtured. What should go away is the prudery so many of us aspire to while grabbing the "porn/HIV" headlines off the newsstands to tut-tut over.

How will we ever know what's good for a group of people until we stop tut-tutting and head-shaking and eyebrow-raising, and start listening to them? There is a vast sea of sex workers out there who want a fair shake at a career that doesn't get sniffled at. They want their health, and they want a healthcare system that doesn't look down on them for their "risky behavior"; after all, how many times do you think teamsters get told by their doctors that they should really leave the union to pursue a less "risky" line of work when they break their fingers in machinery? Sex workers are out there and they need representation, health care, and respect. Not this bullshit "paperwork" issue, not county health clinics that can't communicate their test results quickly and efficiently to studios, and certainly not the rest of us arguing about "what's best for them," as if they're a bunch of five year olds. The one thing that this country is proud of in its sex trade is that sex workers aren't a bunch of five year olds. They're not, and they're actually a pretty interesting, intelligent, outspoken, and beautiful bunch of people. Maybe we should start asking them what works and go from there.

And so what now? Will porn production be shut down temporarily? Will the AIM clinic reopen? According to their website, draw stations and result pickups are still operational, and the main clinic in Sherman Oaks will be back up and running shortly, but I can't imagine there won't be another blow waiting in the wing to be dealt them. I guess we'll just wait and see...

Dec 11, 2010

Syd Blakovich is the Damn Coolest



Photo by Metzgerei, courtesy of SydBlakovich.com

A few nights ago, as I was watching "Justine Joli: Lost" for review, I became suddenly aware that I am totally in love/lust with, and amazed by, Syd Blakovich. The woman is amazing, and has a power and presence on screen that captivate me... I took the plunge and e-mailed her, hoping for an interview, with fingers crossed and breath held... And holy crap she got right back to me! So not only is she beautiful, talented, intelligent, and ice-cold cool, but she's also accessible! How did I get so lucky? Anyway, here's what we talked about...


Miss Lagsalot: First of all, let’s talk about the letter “y.” I’m assuming that your name is a stage name… Why’d you go with the “y” instead of an “i”? Are you a fan of “y” as a vowel rather than a consonant. Are you an anti-consonant activist?

Syd Blakovich: It's actually a lot simpler... my father wanted to name me Sydney but my mom ended up picking my name (Shawn) instead. So it's a little bit biographical and a little bit of fiction.

Lag: On a more serious note, you are a powerhouse performer with a background in fine art. Do you apply your art background to your performance?

Syd: I believe so. I have my degree in photography and digital media, which paved the way to many of my early jobs in the adult industry doing PR and marketing-related things. However, I did a lot of self-portraiture when I was in college and I feel like that was a real gateway for eventually getting in front of other people's cameras. There was also a 4-year period where Jiz Lee and I formed a performance art duo called twincest based on our relationship at the time which blended porn, art, performance and drama. I would certainly agree that the art education I received influences my career in porn and the fabrication of performed personality.

Lag: Do you plan to start your own production or other kind of company in the future?

You’ve worked in many areas of the queer community, from magazines to production studios. What companies do you work with right now, and in what capacities?

Syd: I am lumping these two questions together since I am heavily involved with Pink & White Productions and have been since the beginning. I initially came on board as a PR person and talent, then briefly as a web manager, but I have always been a co-producer. Their first project, The Crash Pad, was my first DVD I performed in and has received international acclaim, screening at various film festivals. It was also the recipient of the first Feminist Porn Awards "Best Dyke Sex Scene". I am still involved with Pink & White and really look forward to assisting in their upcoming projects: Heavenlyspire.com which is the new gay site and Point of Contact which is a more intimate collection of videos created by the people who perform in them. I helped set up the CrashPadSeries.com site which is currently up for an AVN nomination this year for "Best Alternative Web Site".

Lag: You talk a lot about how queerness is a way to crack open culturally-accepted ideas about sexuality and move around in that space. I love this analogy, and I think that in the past few years more and more space has been created as the big industry behemoths break down under economic pressure. Do you see a greater future for queer porn and other, new, less easy-to-digest porn will rise up?

Syd: It is very interesting indeed seeing what the economic climate and technological developments have brought to the world of porn in the last few years. Financially, the industry as a whole was really put through the wringer and the number of companies operating pretty much was cut in half in a matter of a year. There just isn't the same amount of money being thrown around and consequently a lot of the dime-a- dozen companies went under. Add in piracy and file sharing to the mix and companies are seeing way less profits. What remains are the big blockbuster companies with huge budgets that stick to their tried and true formulas that people have grown to expect and make steady revenue, and pockets of indie companies with shoe-string budgets taking creative risks and squeaking by with some fiscal ingenuity. Overall, I am not sure what the future holds for the industry as a whole. During the Great Depression despite economic hardships, motion pictures did very well because they provided a means of escapism. Will porn see a similar financial success in the face of economic crisis? It's possible. However, I do not think money is the only means to measure success. You have things like cultural currency and impact that cannot be quantified but merely talked about in retrospect. Queer porn is such a new genre, I doubt we will truly be able to assess its impact or prospective future until we are far beyond it.

Lag: Do you think there’s a space being created in the larger society for these ideas, which porn is helping to create? Or do you think the conservative backlash going on right now in the form of politics and Tea Parties and the like will keep it down?

Syd: I believe porn is a very subversive medium to work in, for one because it is already so outside the space of social acceptability. I think this actually allows it to speak about many ideas that are contrary to conservative censorship agendas and can be potentially radical. It brings them right into the home in a very intimate setting which can be more effective than any pulpit or soap box. This is why the internet is so interesting and dangerous, because it has the potential to create a democratic means of generating media that is not controlled by a select group of media moguls, and can be used as an avenue of public dissent. I have called queer porn the great queer Trojan Horse because of this. Obviously, this form of media is not perfect because there are still limitations to access ruled by class, amongst other things.

Lag: So what’s your private love life like? Do you practice polyamory? Monogamy? Open relationships? None of the above?

Syd: I am kind of a love and let live person and believe that people should follow their hearts and be open in communication. I have been in monogamous relationships and polyamorous ones as well. I believe that every relationship is unique and it's about navigating within it. I am a generally open-minded person and I try to be true to the moment. During the beginning of my porn career, I was very out about the fact that I worked with my real life lovers, but over the years I think I have grown more private. I give a 110% when I am performing, so when I go home I like to have a little something special just for me which I think is why I have become more private, reserving a piece of time and space that I don't share with the rest of the world. I love working in front of the camera, but it can be very energetically draining, which is why it is so important to do self-care.

Lag: You are genderqueer, and you identify as female, yourself. But you have two different on-screen personas, “Syd” and “Shawn.” Are they different in their orientations, personalities, or ideologies?

Syd: I used Shawn in the beginning when I started doing queer porn because I felt that I was creating work that reflected who I really was. Syd was created around the same time when I was working more BDSM / fetish work. Syd became a highly fabricated personality that was 98% total fiction down to the bad fake accent I used (on request of one of the directors I worked with). When Champion came around, I decided to merge both characters since Syd had a pretty good following that enjoyed sexual athleticism and Shawn had a good presence in the queer porn scene. At this point I only go by Syd, who is this hybrid of fiction and biography and incredibly cliche at times, which I enjoy. Shawn is no longer a performer, which helps me delineate between professional and personal life.

Lag: You’ve said that it’s vital to make images of people exploring their sexuality: why is that? Is it that “if there are no pictures it never happened” idea? Or something much deeper? Or both?

Syd: I think there is some truth about creating a document to provide testament to sexualities and I also think that it's better to speak for yourself than to let other people do it for you. This is one of the problems with media monopolies. When a select group of people control media, they control the message that is being told through it, which often is used to keep that group of people in the upper echolons of society and maintain their privileges they have... ie. in religion and politics we can see this at play and take note of who the dominant groups are. I believe it is absolutely important for people to take media making up in their own hands in order to provide dialogues of support that benefit the communities which they represent rather than creating and reinforcing stereotypes which are used against them.

Lag: You are an incredibly physical person, trained in martial arts and involved in pornography, but you’re also highly intelligent. A lot of your discussions about porn, art, and sexuality are really fascinating because they take these concepts to high levels at which many people never think about these things. But at the same time, I worry that some people might not understand them. Do you think queerness and exploration of sexuality and gender, and the art made around those topics, might be in a way an elitist area of thought? Or, rather, do you think it’s only challenging to think about these topics because as a society, we’re not there yet?

Syd: These discussions are completely elitist and ruled by the tyrrany of academic jargon. Admittedly, I went small liberal arts college where I learned about these things. Had I not had access to this level of education, I would probably not be doing what I am doing now. This is where I learned about queer and art theory. This is where I came out. I also think this is one of the most challenging things about these topics because the language around them is not accessible so how are we suppose to talk about them in inclusive ways? One of the beauties of porn as opposed to art, is that it is incredibly accessible. Some people watch it for academic purposes, cultural studies etc... and some people watch it to jerk off to... sometimes both. One of my favorite quotes is by Larry Flynt who said, "The newsstand is the poor man's art gallery." I absolutely believe this, and this is why I have a romance with the "low-brow" and pop culture to some extent. Because it is inclusive and isn't that the point we are trying to make?

Lag: What do you read? I can see you being into high philosophy, or maybe a news junkie.

Syd: Funny, but I didn't really start reading (for fun not for work or school) all that much until this year. Since I have been traveling, I have a lot more free time and enjoying Murakami very much. I also admit that I love Pema Chondron too. Typically though, I like reading tech manuals, function over form I guess.

Lag: You are heavily into visual and performance art inside and outside porn. Who are some artists, performative and nonperformative, that you like?

Syd: You know I've been out of the art "scene" for several years however I do occasionally do a little work for Aorta Magazine which is a queer/feminist art magazine featuring some pretty amazing artists. I just interviewed NYC based artist Lynne Chan for it. I do have art mentors, such as Erica Cho and Keith Hennessy and several peers who are making art work around sex work like Jiz Lee, Madison Young and Sadie Lune. I am sure I will think of more artists later as it is 4 AM now and I am a bit tired.

Lag: Would you say that you break boundaries, or ignore them?

Syd: I like making them then breaking them, but I usually trip and fall on my face in the process.

Lag: Also, what’s your favorite type of cuisine? Cause when you’re in NYC next, we are SO going to dinner to talk about this stuff.

Syd: Well since I have been living in Thailand and Japan, I've been getting some pretty amazing food, but I do miss burritos. I go off and on this ridiculous diet due to my strict martial arts training and competing, so usually I eat veggies and meat, simple stuff. I like to eat healthy but can enjoy some good junk food too.

Check Syd out on her own turf: http://SydBlakovich.com

Dec 10, 2010

The Cumshot: A Discussion

As you may be aware, I watch a lot of porn. I see a lot of people having a lot of orgasms, and even though I'll admit that never really gets old, I've gotten to a point where I can honestly say I have certain amount of emotional detachment from it. Orgasms are fantastic, but I see so many of them that rather than getting all gooey in the pants every time I see one, I can think a little more critically about them. I'm sure many people in the porn industry can understand this perspective.

And I've been thinking critically about those orgasms. Specifically the men's. The ubiquitous cumshot, pop-shot, etc. It's such a standby of almost all porn that it hardly even makes a blip on my radar anymore. It does little more for me these days than signal the end of the scene, with maybe a few minutes afterward spent focusing on the woman as she greedily slurps up whatever the man, who almost always disappears after leaving his contribution, has deposited on or near her. He's finished; he's gone. Probably off to shower or get a sandwich, now that he's done and so is the scene.

But, let's think for a moment. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm keeping in mind that porn is meant as a fantasy and is most often intended for a male audience, and I realize that for many men, fantasy is finishing, walking away, and getting a sandwich. I can't blame them. I also crave sandwiches after sex. Who knows why. Particularly ham. But the point is that, while it's not a stretch to figure out why the cumshot is almost always the end of scene, it's kind of boring. Even though it's kind of the climax of the scene, and ostensibly signals the climax of the viewer as well, it's just a little too easy sometimes. Kind of misleading, even. Of course, in fantasy land, the woman who's been pleasured before the cumshot has reached at least five orgasms herself by the time she's showered with her partner's appreciation. And that might even be true on a lot of porn sets; those guys know what they're doing. They're professionals.

But for most of us, who are dealing with non-professional partners and who might have more trouble getting to orgasm, or who are maybe just not as much into the mood sometimes, the cumshot-and-done construction can be a frustrating reminder of how final a man's orgasm often is for the sex being had. I'm not always finished when he is, goddammit, and I don't appreciate it that almost very straight porn scene ever has signaled to its male viewers that when they're done, I'm necessarily done, too, and it's tuna melt time! It's not tuna melt time until you've sufficiently melted my tuna!

...ok, that analogy was all wrong. It does NOT smell or taste like tuna down there, people, I swear.

But still, the point remains. It's kind of unfair that nature constructed our bodies so differently, that women can take forever to come sometimes and then be able to come again and again in quick succession, while men are more once-and-done, at least for a while, creatures. But it's also unfair that we women are so often expected, via bodily differences and societally/pornographically-reinforced ideas, to be done the moment the jizz has stopped flowing. Sometimes we're not done, and though many of us don't hesitate to point that out and make the mister get back down there and finish us off, it's a pretty standard concept that most the time, we're already finished for he is. It's a shame for both parties, really. The idea that it's snack time immediately after the guy has shot his wad leads to a lot more once-off sex sessions than all-night sensual feasts of flesh, and who wouldn't rather have those more often?

Not that we always need to keep going when the man is done, but sometimes it'd be nice to see my not-there-yet-ness represented in a movie. I'd like to see a woman demand more gratification, or--I might be dreaming here--a man give it without being asked! I'm calling for more post-cumshot porn! Show me more guys going down on ladies after they've left their love batter elsewhere! Show me women getting off after their men are done! Show me men getting turned on again after pleasing and re-pleasing women, and going back in for round two! Show me more, in general! More thoughtful post-cumshot choreography, more pleasure, more willingness to think outside, or after, the pop-shot! Let's go again, and again, and again...