Long before I did porn, I watched it. Sometimes it was out of pure curiosity. My jaw dropped at images of stretched orifices. I watched in wonder at the full potential of the human body. There are those among us who can process complex mathematical processes in the blink of an eye, there are those among us who can pull a big rig with their teeth, there are those among us who can swim the English Channel and arrive on the shore in time for tea, there are those among us who can sexually consume everything in sight and be hungry for more. I am always humbled by our diversity. I honor our potential and insatiable appetite to continue going further.
In my porn collection I have pornographic clips from the dawn of motion pictures. I watch them repeatedly not for their erotic value but for their very serious contributions to understanding the culture of a time and place. I studied anthropology in my undergrad and I never kicked the habit. Vintage pornography is more than just the thrill of peeking into our grandparents’ and great-grandparents’ secret stash of dirty thoughts. Old dirty films are artifacts and it is a devastating loss to our understanding of the times and the places of humanity that so much of what has been produced has been destroyed.
Porn is fantasy but we get the ideas somewhere. For the most part, porn is just reality on steroids. The advertising industry has relied on erotic tropes for far, far, far longer than any kind of commercial pornography has been available to the masses. When you have a lot of money you pay fine artists to hand paint your porno in oils and then put it in a million dollar frame but it’s always been the most cost-effective methods of producing porn that are trashy. Some of it is but you can paint trash with a brush and oils, too and it has been done on more than a few occasions throughout the course of history. The biggest complaint about porn is that everyone can see it. It is no longer a luxury item.
Porn has its own set of problematic politics but it’s very fucking honest about the politics belonging to everyone else. A chick blowing a ridiculous man with a stupendous mustache will drop a quick but scathing one-liner about a politician. The free speech isn’t just about showing people genitals. It’s also about the ability to criticize public leaders and putting a magnifying glass on cultural norms and then jizzing all over them. Porn isn’t populism so much as it’s, “here’s your fucking populism.” It’s a subtle like difference between fuck me shoes and fuck you shoes. Even before she did porn, no one was looking at the Ivory Soap girl and thinking about the relative cleaning merits that Ivory had to offer. Even if all you thought was, “what a pretty picture,” you were not thinking about soap and it’s already fairly pornographic that dewy virginal white girls are the utter symbol of clean. Porn did not make that image dirty, it reminded you of why it was dirty all along.
One of my favorite adult flicks is The Erotic Adventures Of Zorro. Parody has always been a major device of pornography and I’ve been delighted by its current renaissance. On one hand, it’s just a kitschy excuse to fuck. On the other hand, it is a softcore film with some positively brilliant cinematography, a very fun script, actors with chemistry and comedic timing, a sense of self-awareness and humility, and an examination of politics, gender, and religion.
The Erotic Adventures Of Zorro does not forget the theme of government corruption and exploitation of the poor and directly parallels it to its own immediate context. The twist is that Zorro plans his attack by masquerading by day as a pansy-ass queer and then fighting for justice as Zorro by night. There are bad gay jokes aplenty the premise is a fascinating study of gender. In this story, it is masculinity that is closeted. Under his full name and with total understanding that his behavior would be reported back to his father in Spain, Zorro immediately comes up with the plan to feign queerness and he steps into character immediately without any worry or fear about the implications to his reputation whatsoever. The man in the mask with the sword is a secret identity. Flirtation is his primary weapon in destabilizing the power structure.
At the time, “nudie cuties” like Zorro were street legal so long as all of the sex was simulated. The blowjob scene in the field is real, however. It slipped by the censors with an act of very creative film making. The scene is predominantly shot from just behind a pair of horses that the characters had been riding who are watching the scene just in front of the camera perfectly framing the shot. Other shots come through a veil and other visual barriers that obscure the scene just enough to let you know that you’re a voyeur. There are also entire scenes dedicated entirely to political humor. In one scene, a guard runs into the shot announcing that Zorro has left a note but that he needs someone to read it to him because he cannot. In one scene, an obviously poor peasant-hyperbole picks up the note and reads it aloud only to have the guard denounce him as “ignorant,” rather than thank him.
One sex scene is introduced by immediately calling out just how ridiculous Zorro looks when he walks around naked in his mask and sock garters. This kind of good-natured self-deprecating humor has not been lost to the ages as screening The Rocki Whore Picture Show with Kitty Stryker reminded me. I like the broad notion of adult entertainment. Preservation of our erotic heritage is so very vital to understanding our cultural heritage. Porn is made by people who throw a saddle on the Id and go for the ride.
Long before I ever set a toe on camera I disagreed with the notion that pornographic images were the source of sexual violence because rape was with us before recorded images so something newer cannot be an origin. The efforts to eradicate pornography is that of a kitten’s pathetic brawl with its reflection in the mirror. In order to change our images, we have to work towards progress in our day-to-day lives. That’s where our fantasies begin. It is also why I want to see more diversity in the people picking up the camera. For the most part, we have so many images captured by white heterosexual men that we think the way they see the world is natural and the rest of us are different. Porn flicks just might give us the clearest picture we can get of the worlds we live in and at least we all know that there’s a happy ending.