Today I found myself wriggling my hands into my panties while watching one of of Penn Jilette’s videocasts. The first time I found myself in this condition I brushed it off as as meaningless because it isn’t at all unusual for me to surf the web at home while holding my own cunt. Then it happened again, but there was the unmistakable scent of arousal hanging in the air incriminating me. I had also been feeling increasingly frustrated by the editing choices of the “Penn Point” team strictly because the quick cuts between camera 1 and camera 2 every six seconds were disrupting the kind of gaze I wanted to hold. Pornography has it’s own style of cinematography that allows the viewer to maintain a fixed gaze on the subject or object in a video but it isn’t exactly logical to feel frustrated that a political video isn’t make using of a pornographic lens. It’s not a fair criticism to make because it does not fit with the intent of the project. The third time I realized that I was masturbating to Penn Jilette while he was talking about something as unsexy as Harry Reid, I had to stop and ask myself a few questions about what was going on. There was no doubt about it at this point: I was definitely sexually objectifying this man.
I’m not going to apologize for it because there is nothing to apologize for at all.
I am articulating this here because one of the first things that people opposed to my career like to tell me is that there is absolutely no way anyone could appreciate me as a person after seeing me sexually objectified in porn because ‘sexual objectification is inherently dehumanizing.’ At some point this turns into a paniced and emotional description of how my willingness to perform in porn contributes to the overall treatment of women as ‘sex objects’ devoid of humanity and men won’t be able to distinguish between times when it is appropriate to be sexual and when it isn’t. It’s really what I would like to call “fertilizer feminism” because it’s bagged bullshit packaged for sale to the public. These claims come overwhelmingly from self-identified feminist women. It is a dangerously simplistic view of sex that treats lust as separate from humanity. It assumes that a sexual gaze is solely in the domain of men and moreover that it is bad for us. The word “objectification” is used as a de facto synonym for “attraction.” Sexual attraction between human animals can not be untangled from anything that we have ever produced. Sexual attraction is why we have fashion, hair salons, and tenured positions at elite universities. We are socially sexual creatures and whether or not we have a hanky hanging out of our back pocket, we’re always flagging our sexual preferences. Some are just more popular than others.
I’m going to do a magic trick. I am going to be a 5’2 woman who has turned sexual “objectification” into a career and I am going to “objectify” the fuck out of 6’6 white, wealthy, presumably heterosexual man and I am going to do so in a way that demonstrates the fact that my sexual gaze emerged from an overall appreciation of his humanity. It is important to understand that I’m not kidding; watching these videos makes me want to fuck and they make me want to fuck dirty. I am listening to what is being said. I actually go and look up things he references that I find interesting. This isn’t the way that everyone experiences their own brand of sexuality but this is a part of mine and it is real.
Despite whatever you may have heard from a fertilizer feminist I do not despise my fans and clients and I think it is patently absurd to believe that I would hold the people who value my sexuality enough to pay for it with such a low regard. It frustrates me that I can’t always respond to all of the emails and tweets sent my way because I do read and value every single one. I’ve gotten multi-page missives from people describing exactly how they were masturbating to footage of me getting fucked and I love reading those letters. It is so amazing to share an experience as complicated as sex with a complete stranger thousands of miles away from me. I think it is incredibly telling that someone would want to reach out and share their sexual experience of watching me with me. The reason that I perform in porn is because I enjoy facilitating a human emotional experience that is beyond the control of my audience. I love to get on stage and make people laugh. I love speaking seriously about my politics and my beliefs and making people cry. I love performing sex and making people come. I think it is fascinating that I spend more time on web cam getting paid by men who want me to be present for their sexual performance of masturbation rather than my own. The human desire for connection knows no bounds. Sexuality is a form of a human connection that is incredibly devalued by our culture, especially the sexuality of men. When I feel like being an exhibitionist I can get paid for my time but there are people out there craving that same experience but lack anyone in their life who genuinely wants to be present and appreciate their sexuality. There is nothing feminist at all about limiting my rights as an individual for what appears to be, at the core, an attempt to demonize the lust that it can inspire in men. Lust has no gender. Lust is not evil. These are two truths that are ignored in every single argument against pornography.
There is a difference between abusive, predatory behavior and sexual lust. They are not one and the same and we cannot treat them as though they were. Although the nuances can be so subtle it’s impossible to compile a checklist, you can always smell the odor of malicious intent. The young man I pass who looks me up and down and gives me a sincere smile and eye contact does not have the same intentions as the car filled with young men matching my pace and shouting at me as I walk down the street. Respect is not indicated by abstaining from a sexual gaze. Respect is recognizing the fact that it might not be mutual and being alright with that and not acting in a way that imposes it on another human being against their own desire and autonomy. To say that you shouldn’t ever look at a stranger across the room and get turned on is to say that you shouldn’t ever fall in love at first sight. That’s fascist if you ask me.
Without further ago, these are the reasons why I would thoroughly enjoy a carnal interaction with Penn Jilette preferably in a coffee house bathroom bent over a sink.
- Penn is an outspoken supporter of the decriminalization of prostitution. Where many other people hint or beat around the bush about their beliefs, Penn has articulated in no uncertain terms that stigmatizing sex work is bullshit. I don’t offer quid pro quo offers to celebrities for these kinds of endorsements but the way that Penn addresses this issue gets me positively wet. There is a political barrier to my pussy: you must not believe that I’m less of a person for creating my own standards for who can gain admission. My career is so controversial that I do have to have a discussion about how I make my living with any recreational sex partner. Some people believe that it is my ethical obligation to “disclose my status” as a sex worker but I’m open about this from the get-go because the last place I want to find out that someone thinks ho’s are worthless is when we’re alone and I’m naked and unarmed. When someone is unabashedly open about the fact they will not marginalize me as a victim of myself for asserting the terms of my own sexual engagement it generates a lot of positive energy and it gives me extra time to think about their pretty eyes or the sweet melody of their voice. For the record- just because someone says something on TV doesn’t make it true but neither does saying something to your face. It turns me on to hear people going on the record to say that my job is legitimate. What’s the other option? Settling for someone who thinks that I’m dumb, hopeless, pathetic, addicted, or damaged? I don’t think so. Shameless sex worker supporters and allies move to the front of the pussy line.
- Atheism is always a turn on for me because that means that there will be no surprise threesomes with an invisible friend recording our fuck fest in a golden book rather than attending to the prayers born out of pain and suffering occurring in abundance all over the world. This kind of a situation always kills my boner. I am an atheist who really enjoys fucking other atheists because I find it easier to communicate with someone who shares a logical process that is similar to mine. Although I have had some amazing sex with theists and Christians in the past, it is really difficult to be uninhibited in my pursuit of mutual pleasure with someone who believes in arbitrary boundaries about what is moral and what is immoral rather than what is consensual and non-consensual. I cannot be myself and create sexual pleasure between devastating invisible borders.I am unwilling to accept the responsibility of someone believing that I have condemned them to hell for an eternity because I gave them a rim job and they liked it. Atheism or sex-positive spirituality is not a cure-all antidote for internalized shame around sex because shame is prevalent in most aspects of our culture but it does offer a framework for processing it and acknowledges that we set our own boundaries for what we want and don’t want.
- The way that Penn talks about his as ideas as a whole is the way that I like to fuck. I really like to be incredibly direct and explicit about what I want and how I want it and it turns me on when I encounter someone who can be equally direct and explicit about their wants and needs as well. I’m always impressed by the ‘balls out’ way that he talks about his beliefs but I am equally impressed by the fact that he solicits feedback and constantly references his influences. A dedication to good faith communication is a key ingredient to a successful recreational sexual encounter. More importantly than that, I love it when people can use dirty words with style and purpose. There is a craftsmanship to effective obscenity and it excites me to hear it. The pace, intellect, and aggression to his rhetoric is such that I could enjoy it sitting naked on top of a speaker. I think that one of my vibrators has a setting that matches his cadence. A quick wit is verbal jazz and I dig that scene in all the right ways. An obscene oration composed on-the-spot just for me leads to fireworks on the 4th of July in my vagina. I am a very verbal person and dirty talk is like getting fucked in my head. There are times when I do need someone to narrate out loud all of the filthy things that we’re doing and how much I like it in order for me to get off. In short form, the way that Penn commands the word “fuck” gets me hot and bothered.
- I really like sex with performers because fucking is just private theater. In improv comedy you take whatever is going on in your environment, be it material object, a fellow performer, something that someone said, or the overall sentiment in the air- and you use it to facilitate the pleasurable experience called laughter. Sex is much like improvisational comedy except that rather than attempting to provoke laughter you’re attempting to provoke orgasms. When I really start to think about it, a belly laugh that leaves you in stitches is not dissimilar to coming. Performing for large groups has changed the way that I approach sex. I get a lot of pleasure out of guiding someone’s sexual experience and I certainly enjoy spending time with someone competent enough to guide me through mine. When it comes to people who can read my experience during a sexual encounter, performers have outranked the therapists every single time.
The more stage time I get performing my own original ideas for a live audience, the more I can appreciate how much skill it takes to assess and respond to the nuanced fluctuations in the energy and attention of the people watching. A good performer knows how to grab your attention, hold it, and make you feel something beyond your control. A top-notch performer knows how to grab your attention in the worst of circumstances, is flexible enough to meet the needs of the audience, recovers when something external interrupts the show, can make everything happening in the environment appear to be deliberate, and makes you feel something beyond your control.
I enjoy sex the most when I think of it as a collaborative creative process. When ever I am receiving someone’s creativity in the bedroom, at a comedy club, in an art gallery, at a juke joint, a strip club or any other venue showcasing original ideas I am deeply invested in the success of the artist because I am invested in my own pleasure. After having gotten up on stage in front of a room full of stone-faced people with their arms across their chests challenging me to impress them I made the decision to be as present and receptive as I possibly could for anyone with the guts to share their creativity with me. It’s intimidating to walk into a room and realize that you must single-handedly change the entire emotional climate of a room full of hostile people before they can even begin to start enjoying what you are bringing into the world. When I succeed at this task I feel like a rockstar but it is still disheartening to walk into a room full of people who are all highlighting their lack of investment in your success before you’ve even begun. I want to give all performers as much positive energy as I possibly can because that’s the only way I know how to facilitate the experience I came to have. To be invested in the success of an artist is to be invested in your own pleasure. When it comes to sexual creativity, I want to fuck people who want to get fucked and I want to get fucked by people who want to fuck me. Performers are in a position where they have to learn the power of this reciprocal exchange in order to experience even the smallest amount of triumph and that strategy tends to spills over into the bedroom.
- I cheer for the success of weirdo anti-authoritarian intellectual types of all stripes and sizes. A growing amount of our entertainment media is generated based on how well it is predicted to sell after conducting market research on people playing Farmville on Facebook. Given that Facebook has deemed me and my interest groups obscene, for better or for worse, I don’t get a vote in what kind of entertainment “people” enjoy. Perhaps that makes me feel more compelled to “like” something in greater detail on my own forum. Years into my own little quest to better understand myself and my relationship to my culture, my world, and my universe I’m just now starting to realize how genuinely difficult it is to carve out a vessel for your ideas. I genuinely value people who have a sincere dedication to their own truth and are willing to wrestle with that publicly because it teaches me so much about how to wrestle with my own. I sure as hell don’t agree with everything that he says but I admire his commitment to his own truth.
Everywhere I have ever gone in my life there has been someone telling me that the only way to achieve success is to be anything else but myself. The only way I could “succeed” at school was to write the papers that people wanted me to write, the only way to I could be “employee of the month” was to drop my own convictions and tow the party line, the only way I could be concerned about women’s rights is if I stopped being so damn sexual, and that I should be myself but not too much. I was 24 years old when another model looked at me and said I could get rid of the lines on my face with Juvederm(TM) and that this would help me be more successful. There is nothing wrong about changing your body to make it look the way you want it to look, but I had never before in my life been bothered by the fact that I smile so much I have deep lines that give me chipmunk cheeks when I’m happy. I had never considered this to be a problem and it was only after that conversation that I started to look in the mirror and wonder what was wrong with me that I never even noticed this defect before.
Before the self-loathing really set in I realized that I don’t want to fucking perform for people who don’t like the fact that I am frequently happy. I really don’t. I’m not interested in erasing evidence of my joy and I was not interested at creating a barrier to recording that kind of information in my mid-twenties because I know that there is still so much joy out there in the world for me to experience and I want it to be evident on my face. If this meant that I was never going to be successful, then so be it. Maybe someday I’ll be pissed off that I have wrinkles and I’ll do something about it because we do have those tools but right now I do not think there is anything wrong with the grooves in my face surrounding my mouth. I am in possession of a very strong kneejerk response to anyone who tells me that I can’t be the person I want to be in this world because it’s too weird but it is frequently hard and I am desperate for evidence that proves that all of those people are wrong and that you can be successful without surrendering who you are and who you want to be.
I do not believe that profiting from the fact that many other people like you makes you a sellout, I think that forfeiture of the self is selling out. That is what most people do to get through life. There are a lot of people who are forced into hiding themselves for their own safety and I do not begrudge anything that someone does to protect themselves from the threat of harm or to help them acquire a fundamental life resource that would be otherwise denied but those are not the instances of personal dishonesty that I’m talking about. As a culture, we put an immense amount of time upholding the false notion that the value of a human being is determined by how well they are received by the most privileged people in society and that they are worthless if who they are doesn’t match what’s trendy in that crowd. When I notice the sheer number of commercials that air in front of the cultural and political musings of a giant, eccentric Las Vegas casino magician who simply will not shut up about what he believes in and I know that he’s getting paid to look into a camera and talk about why he likes a particular track on a particular album by the Beatles, I experience pleasure at having my faith rewarded.
Bill Hicks summarized this best in his sketch about playing from your fucking heart. I don’t just approach art, or sex, or performance with the “play from your fucking heart” attitude, I try to approach every interaction I have with other people from my heart and I want them to do the same. If we could all stop being so willing to lie about ourselves as often as we do at least we we would know where we stand and there is no telling what we might accomplish from playing from our fucking hearts together. The fool speaks truth and so does the whore. Behind the razzle dazzle is the inescapable conclusion that we all are all seeking some form of human connection and that the overwhelming majority of the barriers to those connections are completely contrived. As far as I am concerned, the sexiest thing in the world is someone being 100% honest and true about who they are and what they have come to find.
Sometimes I am burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night and sometimes I am looking for the best orgasm I can possibly have in the company of another person and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that desire. It would be wrong to impose that on someone, but there is nothing wrong with watching something you like and jerking yourself off into a sweaty and contented mess of wanting. That said, if this entire blog post bothers and offends its subject I would take it down in a heart beat. (If you’re Penn and you’re reading this and you don’t want to see it up on the internet any more tell me and it will be gone ASAP.) I don’t think that Penn Jilette is any worse for wear because a small time queer porn performer in Oakland, CA is beating off to his videocasts in the privacy of her own home but maybe he is and I respect that.
The greatest magic trick that any human has ever performed has been to transform something we take for granted into a source of sexual pleasure. Nothing materially or visually has changed but an act of alchemy or transubstantiation has occurred. The fact that we have this gift is fucking awesome. Right now someone is jerking off to a shoe catalog, someone else is popping balloons and coming all over the place, and some else is masturbating to something I can’t even imagine. I think it’s so fucking cool that our species is capable of focusing our attention on anything in our environment and turn it into a lightning rod for pleasure.
We think of niche fetishists as being weird or separate from the rest of humanity but they aren’t. It is no more rational that someone looks at a balloon and feels horny than it is for the rest of us to look at a balloon and feel happy. Balloons are just sheets of thin rubber filled with air and yet for some weird reason we have collectively decided to assign the meaning of “party” to them. Our genitals don’t look any different when they’re bare in front of a medical doctor than they do in front of a sexual partner lapping away at them with enthusiasm and yet we all know that they are somehow completely different in these two contexts. The fact that we can do that is so powerful it scares us sometimes and we try to shut it away like we’re superheroes trying to hide our sexual superpowers. Obviously there is a time and a place for laser vision but that’s the whole point- there is a time and a place for it and it is exciting to try it out in the company of people who appreciate it.
So there you have it; those are the reasons I sometimes turn Penn Jilette’s videocasts into my own personal pornography. I am a woman, I am a voluntary sex object, and I think dirty thought about videos that were not made with prurient intent. I don’t fantasize about being romantically whisked away, I don’t fantasize about him telling me that he loves me, I fantasize about him calling me a dirty slut for liking his cock in my ass because that’s how I roll. Your mileage may vary.