Carolinian – Campus News
Issue: 7/4/02

By John Russell

Neurotica: An Ode to Porn
John Russell
Senior Writer

Pornography. It’s an American institution. However few people are willing to admit they look at porn or even to talk about it. Maybe they fear being branded perverts, or losers who can’t get laid in real life. The word itself carries all sorts of negative connotations. When you hear “porn” you think stupid women, sleazy men, drug addiction, silicon everything. You think tragedy a la Boogey Nights.

This is the image of the porn industry that mainstream culture promotes. It’s a way of shaming us perverts into submission. Sex is dirty so porn is dirty so if you like porn something must be wrong with you. All that negative BS.

But taboo or no taboo, people still buy porn. According to New York Times columnist Frank Rich, “the porn business is estimated to total between $10 billion and $14 billion annually in the United States.” That’s more than Americans spend on Major League Baseball. Maybe we should think about changing our national pastime.
Still, porn remains closeted, stigmatized. Not many people will say, “I love porn!”

I love porn. I’ve loved porn since I was 13 and found a copy of Playgirl circa 1978 in my grandmother’s nightstand. A younger, more mobile Christopher Reeve stared out from the cover in his Superman costume. Sigh. Since then I’ve become a kind of a connoisseur of porn. My tastes are very discriminating. Just any old random boinkfest won’t do for me. I have standards.

I’m a big fan of realism. That may account for my fondness of vintage 70’s porn. I can’t stand the artificiality of most porn these days. Everyone is waxed and airbrushed and made of silicone. It’s like watching anatomically correct Ken and Barbie dolls go at it. Porn stars in the 70’s were real. They didn’t spend hours in the tanning bed or with Helga the hot waxer. Their sex appeal was more animal, more attainable. It was something organic as opposed to the manufactured porn that floods the market today.

Thinking about my own standards makes me wonder if everyone is as picky about porn as I am. What is it that makes good porn good? What is it about your favorite film, photo, or website that sets it apart from all the rest? What makes it more than just porn?

The worst thing about most porn, according to my friend James, “is the lighting, the atmosphere. It’s shot on video in some fluorescent-lit hotel room, and as true to life as that may be, it’s depressing. Nobody looks good bonking under fluorescents. I don’t want to watch that.”
James is looking for spontaneity. “We all know they’re going to f***,” he says. “That’s a given. I want them to take it slow, work up the suspense, the tension. I want to be unsure of what’s going to happen and then be surprised when it does. Like in real life.”

Jessica, 20, a psychology major, likes porn in which the girls seem to be enjoying themselves. “Especially with stuff like S&M; and fisting,” she says, “stuff most people might not particularly enjoy. You can tell some girls are just in it for the money. They’re like ‘Is it over yet?’ I like it when you can tell that everyone involved is into what they’re doing.”
She also prefers porn stars that look “natural.”

“I don’t like it when the girls have on pounds of makeup. Or when you can tell their boobs are fake. They look funny; they don’t move the way real breasts move.”

So is it realism that makes good porn? If so, why are there so many Pamela Lee-Andersons and Anna Nichole Smiths in the industry? And why is it that Falcon Studios has traded in its more natural guys for blond muscle bound pretty boys like Matthew Rush?

Perfect bodies sell. I guess that’s the bottom line. Most people out there are paying for the fantasy, not reality. But for me, good porn will always be porn that captures the act of making love. I like to see something happening between the actors other than screwing. It’s more than chemistry. It’s passion. They don’t have to be lovers in real life, but it’s nice to think they are. It’s nice to imagine that this act was a genuinely spontaneous, passionate event. I would like to see the day come when all porn is like that. But then, how many of us really watch romantic porn?