View from the Fourteenth Floor

I’m working on several different blog pieces now, none of which is finished yet. So tonight you get a dirty story from the archives. Note: This is a very nasty story, and family members and others who don’t want to read my porn or know too much about my fantasies may want to stop now. FYI, while I usually illustrate my blog posts with lots of pictures, I’m not going to do that here, since I want you to be able to picture the characters and the scenario on your own. Enjoy!

Continue reading “View from the Fourteenth Floor”

View from the Fourteenth Floor

The New “Zoo” Review

This piece originally appeared on the Blowfish Blog.

The movie is about bestiality.

I want to tell you that right up front, since it takes a while for the movie to get around to it. A little more specifically, “Zoo” is a documentary about a 2005 incident in which a man died of a perforated colon after engaging in sexual activity with — read “getting fucked in the ass by” — a horse. And it’s about the small group of people — other zoophiles, or “zoos” — who shared these sexual activities and interests as a community: talking about it on the Internet, engaging in it at small gatherings, and sometimes photographing or filming it.

Continue reading “The New “Zoo” Review”

The New “Zoo” Review

Only Losers Dine At Le Cirque: The Stigma on Sex Work Customers: The Blowfish Blog

A recent letter to the Savage Love sex advice column reminded me of a rant I’ve been wanting to make for a while; ever since I put together Paying For It, really. It has to do with the stigma on sex work customers, and the idea that “having to pay for it” makes you a pathetic loser. Oddly enough, even in the sex-positive community that embraces and celebrates sex workers, this scornful attitude towards sex work customers often persists.

So I’ve ranted about it over at the Blowfish Blog, in a piece called Only Losers Dine At Le Cirque: The Stigma on Sex Work Customers. Here’s the teaser:

Does paying a restaurant to feed you a meal make you a loser? Whether you eat out every night or only do it as an occasional treat; whether you’re looking for a special meal you can’t get elsewhere or simply want the convenience of getting dinner without any hassle… does it make you a loser? A pathetic nobody who can only get fed if he pays someone to do it?

For more, read the rest of the piece. Enjoy!

Only Losers Dine At Le Cirque: The Stigma on Sex Work Customers: The Blowfish Blog

“A magnetism that will not let go”: The Drooling Homophobe Series, Part 764

Do these people listen to what they say?

Don’t they know how obvious this “lady doth protest too much” thing is starting to get?

Pandagon has the story of right-wing Christian extremist Dave Daubenmire of Pass the Salt Ministries, who, with his flock, has been on a crusade to disrupt the church services of gay-friendly churches. But that’s not even the best part of the story. As is so often the case, the best part of the story is in an almost offhand remark.

In a Bible-spewing homophobic rant earlier this year about a visit to the Gay Pride Parade, Daubenmire had this to say:

“The ‘meat’ on display will forever change the way you view homosexuality. Sin has no boundaries, no clutch, and no emergency brake. Once you dip your toe into the pool of sin, especially sexual sin, there is a magnetism that will not let go.” (emphasis mine)


Let me put it this way. The straight guys I know who visit the Gay Pride Parade do not describe the event as having “a magnetism that will not let go.” Their reaction is more along the lines of, “Nice dress, dude.” They describe it as interesting, entertaining, touching, hilarious, kind of tedious when the “polo-shirted employees of boring corporations” contingents go by, etc. But they do not describe it as a pool of sin with a magnetism that will not let go. The straight guys I know are not forever changed by the sight of gay male “meat on display,” and they are quite capable of resisting the magnetism of homosexuality. They find the magnetic pull of homosexuality pretty gosh-darned unmagnetic. That’s kind of what makes them, you know — straight.

So I just have to ask: Do Dave Daubenmire, and Ted Haggard, and all the rest of the right-wing Christian leering brigade, really not know what they sound like? Do they really not see that frothing at the mouth closely resembles drooling?

“A magnetism that will not let go”: The Drooling Homophobe Series, Part 764

Perfect Porn and Other Myths: The Blowfish Blog

Please note: This piece, and the piece it links to, includes references to my personal sex life, specifically my taste in porn. Family members and others who don’t want to read about that… um, don’t.

“I’ve definitely griped about porn because it either didn’t push all my erotic buttons just right, or because it grated on some of my squicks. I’ve griped when it hasn’t fallen into my perfect window: the perfect amount of artistry without sacrificing spontaneity, the perfect amount of teasing and buildup to get me worked up without getting me frustrated and bored, the perfect degree of roughness or kink to be convincingly real without being terrifyingly brutal.

“And I — along with every other porn consumer and porn critic — have to acknowledge that this really isn’t fair.”

That’s the teaser from my latest piece on the Blowfish Blog, Perfect Porn and Other Myths. In it, I meditate on an observation from spanking model Adele Haze: “To get a video that pushes all your buttons and doesn’t grate on any squicks, you have to win the lottery and produce it yourself.” To find out why I think this is important — not only for porn consumers and critics, but for porn creators as well — read the rest of the piece. Enjoy!

Perfect Porn and Other Myths: The Blowfish Blog

Showtime’s “Californication”: Well, There’s Promiscuous and There’s Promiscuous

You’d think I’d be irritated by it.

You’d think that Little Miss Sex-Positive Culture Critic would be foaming at the mouth. Another goddamn pop-culture depiction of promiscuity and casual sex as a sign of immaturity and instability and low self-esteem. You’d think I’d have my boilerplate rant all ready to go.

But I’m not. I don’t. I’ve only seen one episode of “Californication” so far — but so far I love it. And I’m dying to see more.

Quick precis, for those who haven’t seen it: “Californication” is a new series on Showtime, starring David Duchovny as Hank, a messed-up writer in Los Angeles with writer’s block, a divorce he’s unhappy about, a whole passel of emotional problems, and a good book that got turned into a lousy movie. He has a passive, bemused, almost happy-go-lucky attitude about the life that’s going down the toilet  and he deals with, or doesn’t deal with, his despair and fucked-up-edness with casual, wildly promiscuous sex.

Now, I’ve definitely had a bellyful of the “casual promiscuous sex as sign of emotional problems” trope. I’ve seen it dozens, maybe even hundreds of times, and a big part of me never wants to see it again.

But I’m cutting “Californication” a whole lot of slack. It’s smart, and it’s funny… and most importantly, it’s obviously trying to be true. And it’s obviously trying to be true, not just about life in general, but about sex in particular.

I was pretty much sold in the first five minutes. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a TV show that featured, in the first five minutes of the first scene of the premiere episode, a conversation about the clit. Where it is; where it isn’t, how to find it; what to do about men who can’t find it. That sort of thing. (Oh, they probably talked about it on “Sex in the City.” I’m guessing: I never made it through more than two episodes of that damn show. But “Californication” makes the glib, smirking fakitude of “Sex in the City” look like… well, glib, smirking fakitude. It puts it to shame.)

And I’ve definitely never seen a TV show with a conversation about the clit that was anywhere near this funny. I love the moment where Hank and the woman he’s going down on are about to be caught by her lousy-lover husband, and he says, “Well, maybe I should hide under your clit. He’ll never find me there.” (And I love even more the scene where he gives the enraged husband a lesson on female sexual anatomy.)

It just gets better from there. I’m tempted to tell you all the good bits, all the funny and freaky and trenchant sexual moments. I’m tempted to describe all the scenes where Hank’s sexual passivity, sexual vengefulness, and honest desire for sexual pleasure and connection, come crashing together in a snarky, detached emotional mosh pit. I’m tempted to describe how he uses both his fame and his self-deprecation about his fame to get women to tumble into bed with him. I’m tempted to describe his defensive unease about his daughter’s emerging sexuality, and thus her emergence into a world full of asshole men like him.

But I don’t want to spoil it for you. I’ll leave it at this so I can move on: This is a TV show that is intelligent about sex, funny about sex, perceptive about sex… and, as far as I can tell, trying really hard to be true about sex.

Which brings me back to the whole sex-positive thing.

I’m not an idiot. I get that drama requires conflict, and a TV show about a casually promiscuous guy who’s overall pretty happy with his life and doesn’t have any real problems would make for some profoundly boring drama. And I’m not an idiot, Part 2: I get that sex is complicated and messy and irrational, and that people don’t always handle it very well. As much as I hate the narrow, luridly moralistic vision of sex that pop culture usually hands us, I’m not looking for sex-positive propaganda either.

Of course I’d like to see more genuinely positive images of sex in popular culture. But much more importantly, I’d like to see more sexual truth in popular culture. Sex-positivity isn’t about being a cheerleader for sex, all sex, all the time. Sex-positivity is about seeing sex as an essential part of human life: as diverse as the human race, as ecstatic and sad and absurd as the people who are doing it.

And that’s exactly what “Californication” does.

At least in the first episode. I can’t wait to see more.

Showtime’s “Californication”: Well, There’s Promiscuous and There’s Promiscuous

Blog Carnivals: Feminists, Liberals, and Humanists

It’s blog carnival time!

Carnival of the Liberals #45 is up at The Greenbelt. They included my piece on the Blowfish Blog, Right Wing Hypocrisy, or Why Sex Guilt Fucks Things Up For Everyone, which makes me really happy since I think that’s one of the better pieces I’ve written of late. Carnival of the Liberals is a very selective carnival: they only include ten posts per issue, so I’m always extra-happy and honored to be included. And they illustrated the posts with cute pictures of dogs in birthday hats, so that’s a good time right there.

Carnival of the Feminists #43 is up at Femtique. They included my feminist rant on The Devil Wears Prada and its fucked-up view of professionalism in women, so thanks for that.

And The Humanist Symposium #6 is up at A Load of Bright, with its usual excellent collection of positive atheist blogging. I didn’t get a piece in this time — I’ve been Miss Negative Cranky-Pants lately when it comes to the atheist blogging — but if you want written proof that atheists have more to say about atheism than just complaining about religion, be sure to check it out. Ta!

Blog Carnivals: Feminists, Liberals, and Humanists

Ticky-Tacky, or Why Most Mainstream Het Porn Bores The Pants On To Me

This piece was originally written for Fishnet about ten years ago. A few of the details of the porn industry formulas have changed since then, but it’s somewhat unnerving to realize how apt this piece still is. FYI, the videos here used to illustrate ticky-tacky porn here are not necessarily ones that I’ve seen. If I’m mistaken and one or more of them is actually an exception to the ticky-tacky standard, please accept my apologies. (The videos illustrating concepts of good porn are all ones that I’ve seen.)

*Little boxes, on the hillside
Little boxes, made of ticky-tacky
And they’re all made out of ticky-tacky
And they all look just the same…*
-Malvina Reynolds, “Little Boxes”

No, don’t worry. This isn’t a rant about why porn is sexist and oppressive and demeaning and generally a Bad Thing For Our Society. I like porn quite a bit. I whack off to it all the time. And I have a very squishy soft spot in my heart for video porn. Real actual people having real actual sex, right there in real life videotape in the privacy of your own living room — what could be bad?

But Lordy, Lordy, am I ever tired of the formula. I am so tired of flat stomachs and big fake boobs and long ratty bleached-and-permed hair. I am super-tired of pussies shaved into the Hitler moustache. And Christ on a crutch, I am so far beyond tired of cum shots that I could just plotz.

It’s not that I could never find any of these things arousing. I’m just tired of the repetition. I’m tired of seeing the same types of bodies and the same hairstyles and the same four or five sex acts over and over and over again. And I’m tired of what this repetition, this sameness, says to me about the porn industry.

You see, it seems to me as if the folks in the mainstream het porn industry are not really trying very hard to turn people on. They seem instead to be trying desperately hard not to turn people off. The decisions about what body types and hairstyles and sexual variations get put on video seem to be based, not on creating images that customers might find arousing, but on avoiding images that customers might not want to see. The very narrowness of the erotic vision speaks to me of marketing meetings, and lowest common denominators, and fear.

Continue reading “Ticky-Tacky, or Why Most Mainstream Het Porn Bores The Pants On To Me”

Ticky-Tacky, or Why Most Mainstream Het Porn Bores The Pants On To Me

Right Wing Hypocrisy Part Two: The Scary Black Men Made Me Do It! The Blowfish Blog

So the latest right-wing hypocritical sex scandal has gone from predictably boilerplate to ridiculous verging on surreal. You may have heard about it: Bob Allen, the Florida state representative/ McCain presidential campaign co-chair who got busted for offering a male cop $20 to blow him in a public bathroom, is now claiming that he did what he did because he was intimidated by the big scary black man.

I have a piece about it over at the Blowfish Blog: a follow-up to last week’s thoughtful spew on right-wing sexual hypocrisy, this one titled Right Wing Hypocrisy Part Two: The Scary Black Men Made Me Do It! Here’s an excerpt:

Right. Every guy I know, when he’s in a public place in a situation where he feels threatened, tries to get out of it by offering the purported threatener $20 to suck his cock. I mean, that’s just self-preservation. It’s not like he actually wanted to suck the guy’s cock. He was simply trying to defuse a potentially dangerous situation.

Really. You’ve done that, guys… right? You’re in an alley or a deserted park at night, you see a guy you think might be a mugger… you offer him $20 to give him a blowjob. It’s in all the police brochures on urban safety. It’s just plain common sense.

I said it about Ted Haggard, and I’ll say it again now:

Just how stupid does he think we are?

So here’s what I think is really going on.

To find out what I think is really going on, read the rest of the piece. Enjoy!

Right Wing Hypocrisy Part Two: The Scary Black Men Made Me Do It! The Blowfish Blog

Playing the Race Card: Candida Royalle’s “Caribbean Heat”

This piece was originally published by Adult FriendFinder magazine in 2005.

Playing the Race Card:
Caribbean Heat

Produced by Candida Royalle. Directed by Manuela Sabrosa. Starring Felinia, Nicole, Susan, Paola, Yinna, Sol, Max, Spider, Bruce, Danny Boy, Red Phoenix, and Adrian. 84 minutes. Femme Productions.

First, let me ask you this: Have you seen any of Candida Royalle’s movies before?

If you haven’t, let me explain real quick. Candida Royalle was the first smut producer to make movies specifically for women, and she pretty much single-handedly invented the “couples” video. Her company, Femme Productions, makes videos aimed at what women want to see in dirty movies: compared to most mainstream pornos, they feature more foreplay, a slower and more sensual pace, less focus on genitals and insertion shots, more full-body sensuality, better production values, greater variety in body types, more plot and character development, an emphasis on sex in the context of relationships and romance, greater attention to the woman’s experience and pleasure, fewer money shots, and better-looking men. Much, much better-looking men. Candida’s work has been hugely influential on the porno industry: her success made other producers realize, not only that straight couples liked to rent dirty movies, but that both women and men were hungry for passionate, labor-of-love porn with good production values and not-completely-stupid writing and acting.

Although I usually prefer my pornos to have lots of raunchy sex and not much plot, I’ve always been fond of Candida’s movies. She does a great job of conveying the unique pleasure of sex with someone you actually love and care about, something most dirty movies don’t even get close to. And even if the sex in her videos isn’t usually my favorite type to watch, her work does a beautiful job of expressing passion and enthusiasm, getting across what the characters are feeling and why they’re enjoying it… which automatically makes it hot. (That’s often true in porn, video or written or whatever — if you get a good strong sense of the characters’ excitement, it doesn’t necessarily matter whether the kink they’re enjoying is your personal fave.) I’m always happy to watch Candida’s videos, and I’m always curious to see what she’ll do next.

So anyway. Candida Royalle has a new-ish video out, “Caribbean Heat.” Now, this one Candida didn’t actually direct. She produced it, and supervised the direction; but unlike every other movie Femme has made, this one was directed by someone else: a new female director, Manuela Sabrosa.

And Candida’s absence does show. I liked “Caribbean Heat” a fair amount, but I didn’t wildly adore it, and I don’t think it’s one of Femme’s stronger efforts. It does have many of the company’s usual good points: a patient pace, a relative dearth of cum shots, attention to female pleasure in general and foreplay in particular, women who don’t look like Barbie dolls, and some seriously fine-looking men. But it has some weaknesses that are unusual for a Femme production. The editing is often awkward and choppy, with oddly abrupt jumps that skip over some nice bits and generally interrupt the erotic flow. There’s an odd lack of focus and direction; there’s no clear sense of mounting excitement and passion, and while the performers’ pleasure is visible, it’s not particularly infectious. And the format (five separate, unconnected vignettes) means that one of the things I like best about Femme videos — namely, a reasonably well-written story sustained long enough to get me caring about the characters and their sex lives — is completely absent from this one.

More to the point, the sex didn’t really wind me up that much — although to be fair, that’s largely a matter of taste rather than actual artistic failure. The sex in “Caribbean Heat” is sweet rather than fierce, gentle rather than intense, romantic rather than passionate. This is often the case with Candida’s movies, but it’s even more so in this one. Even the “casual sex with strangers” fantasies are more romantic than they are nasty. And even the supposedly kinky scene — the master and maid one, with the leash and the cage and the riding crop — is quite gentle overall, with the actual kinky elements getting very minimal play. The pacing adds to this quality as well: instead of insistently building a driving tension towards an intense release, the sex scenes feel more like rolling hills of sensuality, with arousal rising and falling in gentle waves. I suppose that’s not necessarily a bad thing; for porn viewers who are sick of being pounded like a jackhammer by conventional smut videos, it may be a positive blessing. It’s just not my style. (As anyone who’s been regularly reading this column knows, it’s really, really not my style.)

But “Caribbean Heat” does have something good going for it: something very special, almost unique, a trump card that all by itself makes the video worth checking out.

That trump card is race.

Here’s the thing. Virtually all contemporary porn videos fall into one of two categories. The vast majority of them are white as the driven snow: their performers are 100% lily white, with not even a single person of color onscreen to upset the delicate sensibilities of the porn-watching public. And the ones that aren’t all-white tend to be racial fetish videos: nasty black women with big booties, fiery Latina tamales, mysterious and submissive Asian ladies, hugely hung black studs fucking dainty white women, that sort of thing. Adult videos starring people of color that treat their performers like regular people instead of stereotypes and that don’t descend into creepy fetishization of their race… those are rarer than hen’s teeth. There are some exceptions (the interracial Romeo-and-Juliet movie “West Side” leaps to mind), but there are damn few.

“Caribbean Heat” is one of them. With a vengeance.

“Caribbean Heat” was filmed on location in Central America, and features an all-Latino cast. But unlike most adult videos with a non-white cast, this movie treats its Latino characters like… well, like characters. Like people, with their own sexual feelings and desires and experiences. They’re depicted as the subjects of their own sex lives, not the exotic hot-tamale objects of white lust; the sex is seen from their perspective, not the perspective of white people who are hot for them. To add even more to the authentic “this is how we see ourselves, not how others see us” quality, the dialogue is almost entirely in Spanish. (Subtitles are added when they’re really necessary; but of course this is porn, and not particularly chatty or plot-driven porn at that, so subtitles mostly aren’t needed. If you don’t speak Spanish, you can still get the gist.)

The video was directed by a Latina woman, which almost certainly makes a huge difference. The box cover says that director Manuela Sabrosa “shows you what lovers in her corner of the world do,” and for once, the box cover does not lie. Sabrosa is revealing her own erotic world in this video, and she’s clearly seeing the skin and flesh of her performers, not from the outside, but from within.

And this quality alone makes me give “Caribbean Heat” a solid thumbs-up. Racism in porn is one of the largest and most active bees in my porn-critic bonnet. And it’s not just about politics, either — it’s about pure, selfish pleasure. All-white casts don’t just seem racist to me; they seem freakishly artificial, and they add hugely to the ticky-tacky “they all look just the same” look of so many dirty movies. And the racial fetish videos just make me queasy. But “Caribbean Heat” is a delight. It’s such a sweet and rare pleasure to see a beautifully wide range of naked skin colors in a porno, without those skin colors being framed as exotic, alien, slightly bizarre fetish-objects. It’s so much fun to see non-white porn performers revel in the pleasure of their bodies, without those bodies getting slotted into someone else’s kinky pigeonholes. To some extent, all pornos display their performers as objects of other people’s lust, and I don’t usually have a huge problem with that. But when it comes to race in porn, the objectification thing gets grotesquely out of hand, to the point where it’s impossible for me to enjoy it at all. It’s a genuine treat to see a porn video that shows people of color as regular hot people who are fun to watch while they fuck.

Playing the Race Card: Candida Royalle’s “Caribbean Heat”