Porn School Was a Disaster
How much money do you spend on porn? Unless you really, really like masturbating, it’s likely that the answer will be nothing. Free video sites have forced those in the business to get more inventive in their quest to keep turning sex into money. Steve Steele, porn director and the creator of Porn Weekender, is one such person.
Porn Weekender is an interactive model of porn consumption that offers customers the chance to come down to the set to watch, direct, and perform in the action themselves. Some of the people who show up are aspiring porn-industry professionals; others are simply people for whom the experience of sitting at home watching porn is too lonely, remote, or unfulfilling.
The weekends are usually held in Prague, where $1600 will get you a place on set and accommodation for the weekend. But given that around 80 percent of Steve’s clientele are flying out from the UK, he thought he may as well set up in his home country and decrease both the journey and the price tag (which drops to $240 for a single Saturday afternoon). A few weeks ago, I went along to the inaugural UK edition of the Porn Weekender to see what watching porn IRL with a bunch of other human beings is like.
Kids Have It Way Too Easy When It Comes to Porn
In seventh grade, my friend Brian found his dad’s porn stash.
It was in the underwear drawer, a classic hiding spot for suburban fathers to keep their dog-eared fantasies. We breathlessly flipped through his dad’s three or four issues ofPlayboy—not knowing exactly what to “do” with the porn we had unearthed, we just looked at it, marveled and had to rearrange ourselves on account of our tiny boners. Then we heard a car door slam. Brian’s dad had come home early from work.
My friend hustled up the stairs to his parents’ bedroom, with me right behind carrying the precious contraband magazine we’d been poring over. (I remember Jenny McCarthy was on the cover.) As I bounded up the steps, I felt something seize my ankle—Brian’s dog had been spooked by our sudden frantic movements and lunged at what his stupid dog mind thought was a new intruder. As I fell back down the stairs, I frisbee’d the magazine to Brian, who avoided the fluttering pages and caught it by the spine. He placed the stash back in its proper place and stacked the underwear on top, just moments before his dad walked in. “What are you guys up to?” he asked.
“Nothing!” was the only appropriate reply.
I was in a mall bookstore’s magazine section, trying to be casual. This meant picking up an issue of Spin and flipping through it absentmindedly to give anyone watching the impression I was just another music-obsessed kid. In reality, my eyes were scanning the rack in front of me in search of a rare phenomenon. While most “adult” magazines were wrapped in cellophane—and are therefore impossible to secretly unwrap—every now and then some brave soul “stuck it to the Man” by ripping one open. That’s what I was after.
Dir: Nicholas Steele
In a past life I was Jacques Cousteau, traveling the globe in search of adventure. Just a short baker’s dozen years ago, I spent no less than 28 days a month abroad on skateboarding tours. I was home so infrequently that I opted to no longer rent an apartment, but rather slept in any stranger’s bed for a night or under my desk at the legendary, defunct skate mag Big Brother. At some point I met my wife, moved back to New Jersey, had two sons, and settled into a peaceful life of domesticity in the suburbs.
Yet not one day passes that I don’t crave the open air of a strange and new place, wanting to find myself in inexplicable predicaments on foreign soil and barely escaping with my life. To try and spice things up, I’ve gotten myself into three car chases in the past two years, and on several occasions have just gotten in my car and driven for hours with no destination in mind. I try my best to take the family on the road a few times a year, but those adventures are different. The adrenaline rush tends to center around if the kids are going to break something or if we can pull over fast enough to avoid one of them shitting his pants.
In the immortal words of Clark W. Griswold: “I wanna paint, I wanna sculpt something massive… I want to… God, I just have a creative urge.” One that only a road trip can quench. Lucky for me I work for Vans, the greatest skate-shoe company on earth, and they’ve been kind enough to take me on a three-week European vacation. I’m writing this on the eve of my departure, and as excited as I am to mix it up overseas, I am beginning to stress out.
This will be the longest I’ve ever been away from my sons. I’m missing my firstborn’s first day of school and his fourth birthday. Worst yet, what really has me sick to my stomach is that I won’t be getting laid for 21 days. I haven’t gone that long since I first discovered the fuzzy britches of a woman. I don’t know that I’ll be able to handle it. So, I sat my wife down and discussed my options. I told her the tour had a one-night stay scheduled in Amsterdam and that I needed closure. She understood, gave me her consent, but feared for my safety.
The story goes that 11 years ago, in the early stages of our courtship, I found myself in the red-light district of Amsterdam. Not wanting to cheat on my new lady, I instead opted to buy a bag full of oblong vegetables for a prostitute to use as sex toys while I masturbated: no touching involved, and I’d gladly pay full freight. Turns out girls over there don’t care much for veggies. Every gal scoffed at the proposition; one sex worker got so angry that she called the enormous Moroccan security guards and nearly had me beaten senseless.
Stoya on Ovarian Cysts and Dressing for Porn Awards
I spent most of August and September bleeding in a menstrual kind of way. I’d bleed for a while, get two or three days off, and then bleed for another nine or ten. It sucked, but I’d been taking hormonal birth control pills since January and my body tends to react to them by bleeding profusely so I wasn’t particularly surprised. I also felt like I had an angry badger living in my uterus that was stabbing me with a very sharp fork somewhere in the vicinity of my left ovary. Naturally, I went to a gynecologist.
After asking for detailed vaginal records, the gynecologist ran some tests. My pap smear came back perfect, I was completely free of sexually transmitted infections, my thyroid was functioning as it should, and my liver and kidneys were perfectly healthy, but I did have a four-inch cyst on my left ovary and a bunch of little ones on my right ovary. That wasn’t my first painful cyst experience, but it was the first one I had seen on ultrasound before it burst. To make matters worse, medical protocol in this situation is to just wait and see what happens. I like to avoid cutting things out of my body whenever possible, but I hoped that there’d be some kind of non-surgical option I could pursue while waiting.
Fap for Freedom
For a usually private act, masturbation has been receiving a lot of public attention lately. First there was that thing in Sweden where public masturbation was sort of legalized. Shortly after, a Cosmo writer secretly masturbated on a New York subway, which was, of course, followed up by the requisite mediocre backlash. Channel 4 released yet another flimsy “neuroscience” rehash of how jerking off to porn somehow hurts your brain, and a California punk band filmed one of their members masturbating on the lawn of the infamous Westboro Baptist Church. Governments, media, feminists, scientists, musicians. Why is fucking ourselves showing up in public conversation now?
It is, at least in part, because right now, masturbation is deeply linked to internet freedom, and threats of internet censorship.
Internet censorship is usually carted out to “defend” us from one of two things: pornography or piracy. The phony battle against piracy, including the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), was hugely unpopular, but pornography and its companion, masturbation, have proved an easier target, because rather than incite well-reasoned and thoughtful discourse, they tend to elicit strong emotional responses.
Testing Seattle’s Porn-Friendly Public Libraries
Like many people on this deadly, dying sphere, pornography is often the only thing that keeps me going—I’m probably watching it as you read this. I’m also a frequent library patron, but before this week, these two interests rarely overlapped (except for that time I thumbed through The Story of the Eye in the stacks, an activity I highly recommend).
I live in Seattle, and this past January, a local mother named Julia Howe was at the Lake City library with her 10-year-old daughter when they came across a man publicly viewing hard-core porn. When Howe asked a librarian to move him to a more discreet location, the librarian refused. Howe ended up taking her complaint to local radio stations and newspapers, and started a small tempest around the issue, with pissed-off parents on one side and librarians on the other. The librarians stuck to their guns, and now any of us can walk into the computer room and view some hot, raw, constitutionally protected porno.
There are a whole host of reasons why parents don’t want their kids watching porn, and all of them are valid. However, libraries don’t censor what patrons check out off the shelves, and they don’t tell their patrons what to view on computers. They’re committed to an ethic of facilitating—not monitoring—access to information, and if you’re anything like me, you see this as an ethical win for us all.
So sure, librarians are absolutely on the front lines of the fight for the first amendment… But that’s a different article. This one is about how last week I went to the library to look at some nasty shit.
Stoya on Condoms in Porn
Harm reduction strategies are meant to reduce the harm associated with certain activities through education, illness prevention, and treatment. The adult industry’s system of regular STI testing and exposure tracking protocol is one such method of harm reduction. I would argue that the laws and rules associated with driving are also a kind of harm reduction. In the case of roads, two-ton vehicles are rocketing around at speeds faster than the most exceptional horse could ever hope to reach. Requiring drivers to follow speed limits, stick to established traffic patterns, and communicate with each other using turn signals and brake lights reduces the likelihood of one crashing into another. However, as long as human and mechanical error exist, the roads will never be completely safe.
In the case of adult films, people are engaging in exhibitionistic sex for public viewing pleasure. These sex acts are generally longer in duration and more theatrical in content than the average sex act. Recreational sex and professional sex in front of cameras both involve a certain level of risk, and those of us who engage in professional sex in front of cameras take precautions to lessen the potential for harm at work. Every time that a hole in our precautions is exposed, we look for ways to further lessen the risk. As with cars, as long as human and mechanical error exist, sex will never be completely safe.
The Perversions of Chuck Berry
The super special September issue of VICE was exclusively culled from the archives of Bob Guccione Sr.—the legendary magazine publisher who built a media empire that started with Penthouse.
This portion of the issue features some accounts of a very naughty Chuck Berry.
Resurrecting the Man Behind the Penthouse Empire
It was a dark February evening. Jeremy Frommer, a former Wall Street trader turned entrepreneur and financier, had spent the day overseeing a successful storage-locker auction with his daughter, a fan of the show “Storage Wars.” They’d bought every unit except for one. Now, he was driving to a sketchy warehouse on Long Island—alone—to meet a Russian contractor who’d outbid him for that final unit.
When Jeremy arrived at the warehouse, he saw the contents of the storage unit the Russian had bought spread out: household stuff, junk, and pottery. For a moment he was disappointed. He’d hoped the contents of this unit might hold something of immense value: the rest of a unique collection Jeremy had discovered in the neighboring unit. But it wasn’t there.
Then he spotted the boxes, piled up near the trashcans. The boxes were filled with slides. The Russian contractor “thought the slides were garbage and didn’t give a shit about them,” Jeremy told me. In a hasty negotiation, he bought the entire storage unit for $2,000 cash, loaded the contents into his SUV, and drove breathlessly to the nearest gas station to dig through the boxes. It was the treasure he had been hoping for: the personal photographs of Bob Guccione, publishing magnate and kingpin of the Penthouse empire.
The combined total of Jeremy’s purchases that day amounted to a substantial portion of Guccione’s abandoned stuff: hundreds of slides, photographs, and personal letters. Rarities from the annals of Penthouse. A Japanese film reel of Caligula, the bloated Dionysian-porno-biopic Guccione produced against great odds in 1976. The final piece was the phone numbers, which led Jeremy to the real jackpot lingering with a creditor in Phoenix: the entire Guccione estate.
In time, Jeremy bought that too.
Stoya on HIV Transmission in Pornography
Last year, when the AIDS Healthcare Federation (AHF) poked their heads into pornography and started the initial push for Measure B, a rarely enforced law that requires condoms to be used in pornography produced in Los Angeles County, high-minded reformers like AHF president Michael Weinstein seemed to have an obvious misunderstanding of how porn works. Like Marie Antoinette’s debunked “Let them eat cake” quip, Weinstein’s “Make them wear condoms” solution to the potential spread of STIs in the business was misguided at best. Weinstein—who I like to imagine wearing an intricate ball gown and a towering wig—doesn’t understand the comparative rigor that professionally produced sex scenes entail. The risk of sexually transmitted infections can’t be neatly solved by a few pieces of latex, in pornography or out of it.
Last week’s news that an adult performer named Cameron Bay tested positive for HIV has brought concern over porn practices back to mainstream attention, but you know what no one is talking about? The heterosexual end of the adult industry has not had a single case of performer-to-performer HIV transmission since 2004. In the few cases since 2004 where an adult performer has tested positive for HIV, porn performers’ self-imposed screening process overseen by the Free Speech Coalition, a nonprofit trade organization, has worked. While incredibly frequent testing has not prevented the rare occasion when a performer has acquired HIV offset, it has successfully prevented them from continuing to perform in sex scenes for long enough to pass HIV on to other performers.