books · porn · television/film · The Smart Girl's Guide to Porn · Violet Blue

Why does porn suck?

(conversations and thoughts surrounding chapters 4 and 5 The Smart Girl’s Guide to Porn)

Hmmmm…answers to this question are varied and numerous.

The actors, the lighting, the sound, the film quality, the shoddy sets, the camera angles, the music, the formulaic story lines, the absence of plot, a stupid plot, ugly men, skinny women, fake boobs, bored expressions…you name it.

And…for all this suck….there’s a very high price.

I personally don’t rent or buy porn very often.  I’m too likely to be disappointed, not only with the film, but also with the lightness of my wallet after buying/renting it.

Violet Blue suggests that we look for films that have won awards (seriously, I had no idea that the porn industry had awards, so I’m learning something here) from Adult Video Network, Hot d’Or (celebrating European porn), Adam Film World, or X-Rated Critics Organizations (XRCO Choice).  Some sites offer reviews, like Adult DVD Talk,

I have yet to rent or buy a DVD I was actually happy with.

My husband has one VHS tape that I don’t hate.  In fact, it’s the one I turn to most out of our small collection.  It’s one of those videos that tries to please everyone, with short episodes in different settings with different actors.  They don’t last long (just long enough to get the job done).  They’re like porn quickies.  The guys aren’t hideous.  The girls vary in size, age, look, and seem to be enjoying themselves for the most part.  I don’t hate it, but I don’t love it.

I know that better porn exists, but its high cost prohibits much experimentation.  We have two places in town where you can rent porn.  One is a creepy trailer that has “Adult Books” spray painted on a piece of wood outside the front door.  The other is a decent little place that tries to accommodate a wide audience (toys, jewelry, lingerie, books, posters, shoes, gag gifts, games…  And while they have quite a few videos to choose from, I find their selection to be less than stellar.  Granted, I don’t go there often, and I haven’t spent a ton of time perusing their stacks.  But, the few times my husband and I have rented there, we have been disappointed with our choices.

So, what to do?  I don’t have time to find the “better” porn.  I don’t have the money to engage in an endless search for the perfect films.  I can’t afford to and don’t want to make my own.

Well…you can check out Adult DVD Talk.

Try an online DVD rental company like Bush DVD, XRentDVD, or Wanted List, or Sugar DVD.  These sites work something like Netflix…with a set price, a particular number of videos sent to you at one time, discretion in packaging, and comfort in browsing.  It’s probably the cheapest way to try out different genres, directors, and actors.  (A few other websites mentioned in the book:  Adult DVD Empire, Amazon…really, Blue Door, Flick Smart, and For the Girls, Babeland, Blowefish, Come As You Are, Good Vibes, and Libida.)

I personally haven’t joined one of these sites, but I know people who have and say that it works for them.

I can only imagine that it must be less intimidating than walking into an adult video store.

Of course, just widening your rental possibilities doesn’t ensure that the porn you rent/buy won’t suck.  In fact, it probably just means you’ll have access to and will be watching more sucky porn for your money.  However, the more you watch, the more likely you’ll find something that sucks less than the other stuff.

Right now, that’s all I expect of porn.  Something that sucks less.

If any one is aware of porn that doesn’t suck, please do tell.  I’m all ears.  Or hands…if that’s sexier.  😉

books · porn · The Smart Girl's Guide to Porn · Violet Blue · writing

Book Club: The Smart Girl’s Guide to Porn ch. 3

“I was a porn virgin”

I remember the first time I saw actual porn.  I was rooting around in the linen closet for a beach towel.  Since they were the biggest ones, used the least, they were on the bottom.  So, I pulled from the bottom of the stack, trying hard to avoid knocking the whole terry cloth tower over when, lo and behold, a collection of magazines fell at my feet.

I must’ve been around 9 or 10.  Of course, I knew they belonged to my father.  And I wondered briefly, even at that young age, why on earth he was stupid enough to keep them in a place so easy to find.

Anyhow, I glanced through them, mouth agape, eyes wide in curiosity, and placed them back where I found them.  I may have gone back to them a time or two…but at some point, they mysteriously disappeared…forever.

I also remember the first time I watched porn on film…not the racy, erotic thrillers I have come to love, nor the romantic types of film that have some steamy sex scenes.  Actual porn.  I was in college…my first year.  I’d had a conversation with my then boyfriend about the fact that I’d never actually watched a real porn film.  I wanted to, just to see what the buzz was all about, but I was too chicken to go into the video store, behind the red curtain (why are they always red?) in the back.  I didn’t want to be seen.  It made me feel like some sort of perverted creeper, hiding in the shadows, lurking.  So, I sent him.  Which, while it may have saved me the embarrassment of purchasing the film, it meant I was at the mercy of his selection.

Needless to say, the film sucked.  We didn’t even make it through 20 minutes.  And it did nothing for my libido.

Things have changed a lot.  For me.  But not much for the industry.  I like this particular quote from chapter 3: “When visiting stores in person, it takes a conscious effort to enter the porn section for the first time, and as a woman be prepared that most men who are browsing before you came in will flee….If you decide to go into an adults-only store where you’ll have a better selection, men may not flee, but you might be the only woman in sight, and it can feel…conspicuous.Then again, you could be surprised to see other women and couples shopping for porn and sex toys: it’s happening more and more every year.”

It is.  Here in my small corner of the world, I don’t see it as much, though the people who work in our local “adults-only” store are usually female.  Even so, I rarely see women in the store shopping.  On the other hand, in the bigger cities, I notice a healthy number of couples perusing the dildos and dirty DVDs.  Maybe the stigma is less in a bigger city because the likelihood of running into someone you know is so much smaller.  I know that I feel much more comfortable shopping for adult items in a place where I don’t think I might run into to someone I’ve seen at work or have a connection with through small town networks.

Another quote that caught my attention was: “Our culture is so packed with sexual shame that whenever I walk into a jack shack to find a DVD, the men run for cover, leaving me free to take my sweet time shopping for my next rental.”  Jack shack.  Now that makes me laugh.

Adult DVD Talk
Check this site out for information, reviews, and discussion of adult film.

I personally tend to prefer soft-core, NC-17 type films.  Things that involve an element of heavy sexuality without being clinical or close-up.  Something with real story, emotion, and depth.  I like to escape into the sex AND the story.  But then, intellect turns me on.  (Take, for example, The Reader)

Related Tangent:  I went to a night club once.  I was single at the time, and hanging out with some friends, drinking beer.  A guy walked by who caught my eye.  I up-and-downed him once or twice.  And later that night he approached me with some sort of line like, “I saw you check me out.”  I decided to run with it, because he was delicious.  I ended up making out with him in the parking lot, exchanging numbers, and then engaging in a “booty call” type of “relationship”.  He was darling, but empty-headed.  It would never have lasted, because without the brains, the sex can only go so far in satisfying my deeper cravings.

Porn is a lot like delicious man.  Simple, redundant, unexceptional in all areas except for the sex, formulaic, and much less impressive inside than the package leads you to expect.

Some soft-core, main stream films suggested by the author:  Basic Instinct, Bound, Body of Evidence, Better than Chocolate, Caligula, Crash, The Fluffer, The Hunger, A History of Violence, Holy Smoke, Jade, Kama Sutra, Last Tango in Paris, 9 1/2 Weeks, Secretary, Belle de Jour, Betty Blue, Emmanuelle, Fanny Hill, The Pillow Book, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Sex and Lucia, Tokyo Decadence

Happy viewing!

The Lustful Literate
books · The Smart Girl's Guide to Porn · Violet Blue

Book Club: The Smart Girl’s Guide…ch.2

Favorite quotes from this chapter:

“Like Hollywood stars, porn stars are overblown caricatures of contemporary culture’s ideals and inhabit a tiny end of the gene pool.  The actors are all very limber, and can withstand extended periods of sex in difficult positions under hot lights.  They shave their balls, wax their asses, and sometimes wear makeup on virtually every inch of their bodies…and still perform.”

“…I think that precisely because it’s so far away from reality, most of the industry’s purported “ideal” that stars embody isn’t what actually turns most of us on.”  (Maybe this is why so many women have so much trouble finding porn we like; I think most women want to see real people having real sex in real places with real expectations.)

The point of this chapter?  The concern over viewer self-esteem as a result of watching porn.

I guess I can see how some people might have body issues while watching porn.  I don’t.  I watch porn for a particular reason…as an arousal aide.  I like to look at attractive people.  I like to watch attractive people fuck.  I like to have sex while I watch them.  I’m not worrying about how I look while I’m doing this.  I’m completely aware that the people in porn are chosen for their bodily features.  Duh.  That’s why the girls have big boobs and skinny waists and the guys have big cocks.  The only faces that matter are the womens’, because they’ll be the focus of the cum shots and the orgasm close-ups.  Most directors don’t seem real concerned with what’s going on with the guys (funny double-standard there).  It usually appears that the females are the ones being objectified, but I’d say it’s just as apparent for the males.  All they seem good for in porn is having a big dick.  But wait…isn’t that what porn is about…objectification of others?  So, I guess that makes me unconcerned about sexism in porn.  Hmm…

The second point of this chapter – the concern that a viewer might see something offensive.

Blue reports, “It’s unsettling to feel aroused by images we find offensive on one level or another.  If you’re ashamed of sex, you’re likely to feel embarrassed by the explicit imagery in porn.  Sexual surprise, offense, and shock manifest in several guises: embarrassment, shame, anger, depression, self-hatred–and confusingly, arousal.”  Sex is one of those things that, because we have so little control over it, can be scary.  Our genitals respond, sometimes without our permission, to all kinds of things.  For example, maybe you notice a twinge when a hot chick walks by, but you aren’t gay and don’t consider yourself bi-sexual.  Will this confuse you?  Embarrass you?  Interest you?  Our bodies and brains are not always “moral” or “ethical”.  They run on auto-pilot and are controlled by our pleasure centers.  The body’s goal is to feel good.  Adrenaline, dopamine, chemical electricity.  Our bodies, especially our sexual hot spots, are not at all concerned with our values.  They just want.  I think for people who have no clue what they want or fantasize about, oftentimes women, porn can be a gateway to understanding.  Even if you find it offensive, if your body reacts to it, there’s a learning experience available.  What is it about the visual imagery that gets your motor running?

The third point of this chapter – the concern that porn degrades women.

I’ve heard this argument before.  And I think it’s silly.  Porn is a job.  The people in these films, magazines, and photos choose to be there.  They are paid for it; sometimes quite well.  And just because they are put in situations that might be degrading in the opinion of the viewer does not mean that the actors feel the same way.  There are all kinds of people and all kinds of sex.  As long as the participants are consenting adults who aren’t hurting anybody else with their activities, there’s nothing wrong with it.  Women who take pride in their bodies, sexuality, and sexual abilities are not weak.  I’d venture to say they are strong.  They don’t perpetuate sexism, either.  Besides, as I said above…men are treated similarly in porn – as objects…or better yet, carriers for big penises.

The fourth point of this chapter – the concern that porn has certain features that are unpalatable to some.

The facial cum shot (one of my pet peeves), anal sex, girl/girl action, fake orgasms, genital close-ups, unsafe sex.  All I (or Blue) can say is…get your remote.  Fast forward through the stuff you don’t like to get to the stuff you do.

In fact, I think I’ll get my remote ready right now.

books · The Smart Girl's Guide to Porn · Violet Blue

Book Club: The Smart Girls Guide to Porn…

Chapter One:  “What a Smart Girl Wants”

Okay, a few days ago, I did a post inspired by the introduction of this book by Violet Blue (see my links for her site).  Then, I promptly read the 1st chapter and began to mull over the issues and ideas she presents.

I will first say that the book itself does not hold much “new” information for me yet.  Nor is it written with any particularly astounding style or craft, but I did appreciate a few points that have been made so far:

1)  Women watch, enjoy, and want more from their porn.
2)  Desire, for women, is NOT all in our heads:  meaning we CAN and ARE stimulated simply by the visual representation of a sexual act sans emotion or seduction of our senses – though we often prefer the two to come intertwined.

The section entitled “Why Does a Smart Girl Watch Porn?” was disappointing.  Not so much because it was weak or wrong…but because I’m sad that so many women are deprived enough that porn would be a viable stand-in for the lack of a stimulating sex life with their partner.  Porn can be a quick and easy aide for “getting off”.  I’m not going to say I’ve never used it in that way, or that my husband and I haven’t used it as a “starter” or “background noise”.  But, I don’t satisfy my sexual curiosity through porn (in fact, I find porn to be fairly formulaic and unimaginative).

I did appreciate her idea of using porn to experience things you’d never try yourself – and the short discussion on “fantasy” being just that, and not necessarily something you WANT to play out in real life.  Porn can let you “experience” a gang bang…a forceful sex act…humiliation…power over another…even things less savory or socially unacceptable.  Things you might think about, things that might even turn you on, but things you wouldn’t actually want to play out in real life (and I’m not making any statement here on what makes “acceptable” or “unacceptable” sex….it’s really whatever makes consenting adults happy).  And even if you wouldn’t really want to do some of the things you enjoy watching on screen…it doesn’t mean you can’t learn something about yourself in the process.  Watching porn can help you develop a working list of what leads to arousal for you.  That can carry over to your own sex life.  It can inform the decisions you make about who and where and how you have sex…what toys you purchase…and where you need to have your “head” to make sex as satisfying as possible – for everyone involved.

(And just an FYI…this is a first of a series of “book club” entries for this book.  And I plan to do others in the future….just look for the “Book Club” label.  And if you have fiction or non-fiction suggestions, please fess up.  Also, if you want to join in the discussion…grab a copy yourself, read along, and comment at will.  I love a good book talk!)