Posts Tagged ‘porn’

Back in 2008 Mark Simpson asked a simple question: How gay is MMA?  And the simple answer was: VERY! His steamy description of a live fight he attended sounded (deliberately of course) like a review of the latest homo porno:

‘Mac Danzig is still on his back; his sweaty, pumped, almost translu­cently white torso is flushed with the auburn heat that auburn skin pro­duces when it is aroused. His pant­ing, fetch­ing head has been pushed up against the cage by red­head Marc Bocek’s ener­getic pound­ing, as if the cage were in fact a head­board. Bocek isn’t mak­ing love, how­ever, or at least not the vanilla kind. He’s ham­mer­ing the liv­ing day­lights out of Danzig, stok­ing the crowd into ever-higher waves of frenzy. Although the Octa­gon is right in front of me, I’m watch­ing all of this on one of the giant screens over­head: MMA is mostly a hor­i­zon­tal sport — one that requires mul­ti­ple zoom lenses and a big TV to enjoy properly.’

But it is in 2012 that the ‘gayness’ of MMA has really come home to roost. One of the finalists in the competition to become a contestant in The Ultimate Fighter, a reality TV show featuring MMA fighters, has admitted to once starring in gay porn.

Whilst this information could affect his chances of getting on the show, the general reaction is not as shocked or disapproving as you might expect.  In fact he seems to be winning over hearts and minds with his ‘honest’ confessional of his ‘sleazy’ past. The fact he has two kids and is about to marry his long-term girlfriend (who encouraged him to ditch the porn career) probably helps keep his reputation as a good old american boy almost intact.

This is a very different story from one Mark Simpson told us in 2006. He conducted an exclusive ‘investigation’ into a US army scandal involving young soldiers being disciplined for appearing in gay porn movies. Simpson presented them as sexual outlaws, but commented that their activities were not uncommon, either amongst army personnel or amongst ‘straight’ men in general.

Fast-forward to 2012, when the Metrosexy youtube is in full flow. And we watch our favourite, heterosexual, ‘masculine’ heroes such as David Beckham in hardcore Sporno all the time without batting an eye. This latest porn revelation, rather than seeming like a terrible blow for red-blooded, uber-‘straight’ MMA, actually just goes some way towards ‘outing’ it as  what it is: gay for pay sporno. And that seems normal.                                                                                                                                                                    
I think gay blogs such as Queerty who have reported this story in their usual giggling OOh Matron tone, are behind the Metrosexy times. Everyone knows that fit young men love nothing more than to display their bodies on film. And the line between porn, sport and personal showing off has been well and truly blurred. Not to mention the line between ‘gay’ and ‘straight’.

h/t @Parclyfe

I never thought I’d be saying this, but I want to defend Johann Hari today. Not for his confessed plagiarism, or for the fact he is terrible at writing. His prose gives me what I can only describe as abjection, which I suppose is a sort of achievement. Not for his politics, especially his gayism, which I have criticised for example at Graunwatch.

No, I want to defend Hari based on the way he has been described by a detractor as a suspected pornographer. Suspected pornographer? It sounds like ‘suspected murderer’ put like that. For all his crimes against ethics, morals and well crafted sentences, Hari’s dabblings in written porn are to me his one saving grace!

I write pornography. I watch pornography. I think porn is a healthy aspect of our sexual culture, or at least a widespread ‘normal’ one. To try and link porn to Hari’s supposed ‘bad character’ which as far as I am concerned is nothing more than bad, very bad, journalism, seems like a cheap shot to me.

The person  ( @nero on twitter) who did this assured me he is ‘gay’ and so therefore I presume qualified to shame his brothers for their sexual proclivities?

I dislike the behaviour of Johann The Librarian* as much as anyone and I am glad I won’t be forced to read his drivel in the national press anymore. But I won’t stand by idle while he is ‘brought down’ as a ‘pervert’ and suspected pornographer, when those are things I hold dear.

So there.

 

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/libertycentral/2012/jan/06/michael-peacock-obscenity-trial?newsfeed=true

In an unusual move, the Guardian, the ‘liberal voice’ of Britain, which is normally the feminist voice, and the puritanical voice, has come out in favour of a man who sells hardcore S and M m/m porn. Why this strange turnaround?

Well, if we look a bit more closely at their discourse, we can see it is not a turnaround at all, but business as usual for the Graun.

Nichi Hodgson, the author of the article, was present at the trial of Michael Peacock. He was being accused of selling and distributing ‘obscene’ material under the Obscene Publications Act (1959). It also related to the famous trial over the ‘obscenity’ of Lady Chatterley’s Lover in 1960. Hodgson wrote:
‘Why is that so important? For one, Peacock is the only person to have pleaded not guilty to a charge under the Obscene Publications Act 1959(OPA 1959) and won . He is the first person to have challenged the notion of obscenity in law, a law that was last updated in 1964, and has stood since. A law that is expressly designed to tell us what is “deprave and corrupt” – defined by Justice Byrne in 1960 as “to render morally unsound or rotten, to destroy the moral purity or chastity; to pervert or ruin a good quality.”‘

I agree that this is an important case. I am glad the Guardian covered it. But this is the paper that spends a lot of time and energy promoting the idea that pornography ‘depraves and corrupts’ people, especially men. And that it exploits and demeans people, especially women.

Gail Dines in the Guardian in December 2011, very aware of the charges against feminism and its puritanical approach to pornography wrote:

‘But feminists who organise against pornification are not arguing that sexualised images of women cause moral decay; rather that they perpetuate myths of women’s unconditional sexual availability and object status, and thus undermine women’s rights to sexual autonomy, physical safety and economic and social equality.’

Hmm. Me thinks the lady did protest too much.

In another Graun article in 2011, about a porn industry conference where feminists protested, Gail Dines was quoted as saying:

“You cannot have a massive industry built on the sexual torture and dehumanisation and debasement of women. If you want any gender equality in a society you cannot have this industry steam-rollering into men’s psyches, sexuality and identity,”

So why is the Guardian now supporting pornographers?

The only way I can see that this case has received positive attention in the Guardian is because it relates to ‘gay’ porn. If no women are involved, the Graun does not care so much about its crusade against the ‘degrading’ effects of pornography. Hodgson wrote:

‘Throughout the trial, the court had carefully warned the jury against sentencing out of any impulse of homophobic disgust. So it was disturbing to hear the prosecution lawyer invoke towards the end of his address the following example of the likely audience for the “obscene” material: “a man, in his 40s, married, with a wife who doesn’t know of his secret sexual tastes”, especially considering the defendant’s testimony that his customers were mostly gay men.’

As [redacted] has written, incidentally in a blogpost that got threatened with censorship by his webhost company, straight men enjoy watching men’s cocks in pornography. They may not be the main clientele for hardcore m/m s and m porn, but this divide between ‘gay’ and ‘straight’ porn is false. Also, many women watch ‘gay’ pornography. Again as Simpson has told us, Manlove for the Ladies is a big market and getting bigger.

Hodgson placed this case as a victory for ‘gay rights campaigners’ and ‘everyone who believes in social and sexual liberty’.

‘How ironic that the defence had begun his closing by trying to distance this case from the R v Penguin Books (1961) trial (commonly known as the Chatterley trial), which the recorder had already referenced to as precedent. That trial, in which the infamous test of the book’s obscenity was whether you would let your wife or servants read it, exposed everything that was wrong about the way those who held power and privileged pronounced on the sexual tastes and liberties of the population. Here was that same example of the white middle-class, privileged patriarch, no longer guarding against the sullying of his goods and chattel, wife and servants, but fearing for his own depravity.

Thankfully, the jury did not fall for it as a tenable argument. For gay rights campaigners and for everyone of us that believes in social and sexual liberty, it’s a day to make a five-digit victory sign.’

However, during the trial I did not see any ‘gay rights campaigners’ speaking up for Peacock (with the single exception of  Chris Ashford of Law and Sexuality Blog).  Maybe this was because ‘gay rights’ activists are often puritanical themselves, as they try (and succeed) to separate the ‘gay’ identity from ‘homosexual’ sex, and to make it respectable and almost ‘heterosexual’.

I wrote previously at Graunwatch about how gay activists such as [redacted] have taken a dim view of men demonstrating their homosexuality in public. I am not surprised this case was not taken up by ‘Teh Gayz’.

I am also disappointed that Hodgson used this damning phrase to describe the the hypothetical man who this case is suggesting is the focus of the law:

‘white middle-class, privileged patriarch’.

Patriarchy is always the ‘enemy’ in the Guardian (an imaginary one in my opinion). And this word enables the paper to come across as ‘liberal’ and caring in a case such as this, whilst maintaining its crusade against ‘patriarchal’ pornography and the ‘pornification’ of culture that feminists claim demeans and exploits women.

I rarely identify my own sexual orientation. I take the view summed up so eloquently by Steven Zeeland, that ‘sexual identity is a joke’.

But I do identify with and even practice ‘sadomasochism’. And, whilst I welcome this verdict, I do not think it represents a big shift,  in our culture which still separates ‘good sex’ from ‘bad sex’, ‘normal’ people from ‘perverts’, or in the Guardian,which remains puritanical, misandrist, and conservative.

———————————————-

Photo by Robert Mapplethorpe

Belle de Jour, now known as Dr Brooke Magnanti, is writing a book called Sexonomics.

She is blogging about the topics that will be covered in the book: mainly pornography, sex work and the sex industry. It is a critical look at the media, research and feminist analyses of these areas. It sounds great, but I have had quite a few problems with what I have read so far on her blog.

1) Just The Facts

The first problem I have had is her attachment to ‘science’ and ‘facts’. Sex and the sex industry are a very complex area, and we all bring our own subjectivities to the table. Brooke is someone who made a name for herself writing about being a ‘high class’ sex worker. This identity is never far from her analyses. She seems most concerned with ‘women’ in the sex industry, and also with media and social attitudes to sex/sex work/porn, from a white, middle class perspective, which is her own perspective. But Brooke is also a scientist by trade, and so she presents herself as able to critique ‘science’ of sex, and offer the ‘true’ factual version of events as a scientific researcher. For me, as you know from some of my previous writings, ‘science’ is one of the most problematic areas in sex and sex research. I do not rate it above social studies or personal accounts, that is for sure.

When I did challenge Brooke on her use of one particular study by J Michael Bailey:

http://quietgirlriot.wordpress.com/2011/04/08/the-appliance-of-science-1-sexing-the-brain/

http://quietgirlriot.wordpress.com/2011/04/09/the-appliance-of-science-2-chicks-dicks-flicks/

she blocked me on twitter, sent me a rude email and basically told me I didn’t know what I was talking about, because I am not a scientist. I do have a PHD though, as does she. But just in social science. And, as she does not allow comments on her blog, her version of the ‘facts’, her ‘truth’ will always be what takes precedent. She is not allowing other voices to even attempt to enter into her writing process. How lonely it must be, being a true scientist.

2) No, seriously, what about teh menz?

I just had this great blog brought to my attention: http://noseriouslywhatabouttehmenz.wordpress.com/

It is a question I should like to pose to Brooke: what about men in porn, in sex work , in sex itself? Her focus, for example in this set of posts about porn, is all on women. As porn actresses, as potential ‘victims’ of porn, as the people most qualified to comment about the role of porn in people’s lives. The newsnight debate she took part in recently that she refers to, included only women guest speakers, but she does not comment on this. I expect she would if it had have been all men! Brooke distances herself from ‘feminism’ as a dogma, but her analysis is ‘feminist’ in that it is women-centric. This, for a forthcoming book aimed to be a serious study of sex in the economy, is a huge oversight in my view. When she does mention men, e.g in the post ‘does porn make men see women differently?’ it is always in relation to women, and nearly always (with one brief exception)  with men cast as consumers of porn, women as subjects/objects. And again, in these posts she seems to be aiming to reveal the ‘truth’ about pornography as opposed to the ‘myths’ put about by the media. But I do not think there is one truth. It is a very complex area. One which includes men!

http://sexonomics-uk.blogspot.com/2011/06/porn-by-numbers-1-does-porn-objectify.html#more

http://sexonomics-uk.blogspot.com/2011/06/porn-by-numbers-2-is-pornography.html

http://sexonomics-uk.blogspot.com/2011/06/porn-by-numbers-3-does-porn-make-men.html

http://sexonomics-uk.blogspot.com/2011/06/porn-by-numbers-4-is-porn-taking-over.html

http://sexonomics-uk.blogspot.com/2011/06/porn-by-numbers-5-on-feminist-porn.html

3) You so heteronormative, girl!

Brooke Magnanti is not stupid. In fact, she is very, very clever. Much cleverer than me. She is actually making money out of writing about sex. I am the stupid one in many ways.  She is also clever in that in her current writing about the sex economy, she is using a lot of the ‘right’ words, that make people think she is a good, liberal critic of draconian attitudes to porn and sex.

For example, in her recent posts about pornography debates above, she mentions ‘queer’ porn, and how a lot of the discussions are very ‘heteronormative’ in approach. She also discusses ‘feminist’ pornography and mentions some big names in the field like Anna Span and Jiz Lee. These people have currency not just in the industry but in the ‘critical’ industry of how we talk about pornography. She gives them a nod. They will think she is covering their interests and their work.

But is she? I have found all Brooke’s essays so far completely and utterly heteronormative in themselves. In her post on whether or not porn ‘makes men see women differently’ for example, she does not once refer to gay porn, or the fact some men are either not heterosexual or do not watch exclusively heterosexual pornography. Or, the big, bulging pink elephant in the room that I like to bring up every now and again, that when ‘straight’ men watch ‘straight’ porn they are not just looking at women but also at naked big-cocked men and their naked big ejaculating cocks.
The studies she refers to in this piece also fail to mention that not all men are heterosexual.

http://sexonomics-uk.blogspot.com/2011/06/porn-by-numbers-3-does-porn-make-men.html

So, to summarise, I am very impressed by Brooke Magnanti. She is convincing a lot of people whom I respect, that she has a balanced, ‘scientific’ and politically sound approach to critiquing pornography, sex work and the sex economy.  She is doing this despite (or because of?) her unquestioning acceptance of the value of ‘science’ in the study of sexualities, her complete focus on women in the sex economy, and her heteronormative perspective.

I am sure she will sell lots of books.

But will she bust the ‘myths’ about sex in consumer capitalism? I don’t think so. She is reinforcing them.

QRG has been getting into a spot of bother-again-about the ‘female gaze’ again! This time by arguing with Kitty Stryker, who has recently set up the Andro Aperture Project.

http://androaperture.wordpress.com/

This is what she says about the project (emphasis mine):

‘Andro-Aperture is a mini-crusade for the appreciation of male beauty in all its forms- sexy men,sexy male, and sexy trans-masculine bodies of all kinds. There aren’t enough images shot for female appreciation, so I want to explore and discuss what defines (and defies) a female gaze.

I want to celebrate the diversity of the erotic male body- encouraging more sexy photos of male-identified people of different ethnicities, body sizes, ages, hairiness, and abilities.

I want to challenge the knee jerk reaction that “female bodies are just more attractive”.

And really, I just want hot porn to jerk off to.’

I have said before I don’t think there is such a thing as a female or male gaze. I have said it in relation to my problems with distinguishing between ‘female’ and ‘male’ in the first place  here:

http://quietgirlriot.wordpress.com/2011/02/20/human-impersonators/

and here:

http://quietgirlriot.wordpress.com/2011/04/21/crushed-women-no-longer-centre-of-attention-shocker/

and I have agreed with Mark Simpson when he has said it (in not so many words. He takes it as a given, that the main ‘gaze’ in contemporary visual culture, is ‘metrosexual’ or maybe seen another way, ‘Transexy’) here:

 

and here:

 

But to take Kitty’s own words on the subject:

There aren’t enough images shot for female appreciation, so I want to explore and discuss what defines (and defies) a female gaze.

I do not agree with this statement. I think it involves a number of reductionist positions. The first is that ‘men’ and ‘women’ are two distinct groups in a gender binary. The second is that those two distinct groups like to look at different things for pleasure. The third is not articulated but it is that the ‘female gaze’ in this context is ‘heterosexual’ – men being looked at by women for the women’s heterosexual pleasure.

Kitty says she wants to discuss and explore what ‘defines’ the female gaze but when I have tried to do this, she and her readers have suggested I am disrupting their project. But she has not discussed, explored or defined it. She has just said it exists and needs catering for by commercial pornography. I do not even know what defines a ‘female’ so how can I know what defines a ‘female gaze’?

She also says

I want to challenge the knee jerk reaction that “female bodies are just more attractive”.

I do not know who has this reaction. Wherever I look I am surrounded by images of male bodies. In The Times newspaper, on Wimbledon TV coverage, on buses, in magazines, on adverts, in the park. The world I see before my very eyes is saying to me that ‘male bodies are as attractive if not more than female bodies’. And that men demand to be looked at, by anyone, and that we notice them looking at us, looking at them, looking at themselves!

So I think Kitty’s project is based on a number of false premises.

I will write more soon I  just wanted to kick off my side of the debate in my own ‘space’ as I am not getting very far in her side of town. This person has summed up my objections very well indeed:

http://soccerdomme.tumblr.com/post/6979855779/the-andro-aperture-project-my-gut-reaction

One reason I don’t get as wound up about the ‘lack’ of decent pornography that features men’s bodies, as some, is that I find plenty of very hot images in realms that are not officially classed as ‘porn’. AND they are free or cheaper than the vast majority of porn.

How many M/M/m S and M porn scenes have you seen that contain as much tension, power dynamics, violence and beautiful bodies as this photo from a MMA fight for example?

None? Thought not.

I found the photo on this article by Kevin Arnold on Guyism. The article is not very good but the picture is just fine!

http://guyism.com/lifestyle/on-masculinity-male-violence-and-aggression.html

And I found the erotic charge of MMA, via, of course, the Daddy of pornography that is not categorised as ‘porn’- Mark Simpson. He asked, ‘How Gay is MMA?’ and the answer of course, is very.

 

Can you have beautiful buff boy fatigue?

Beautiful, buff, hairless chest, pretty young white boy fatigue?

Beautiful, buff, hairless chest, a hint of sensitivity in the expression, pretty young white boy fatigue?

Beautiful buff, hairless chest, a hint of sensitivity in the expression, homogenous homoerotics pretty young white boy fatigue?

Beautiful buff, hairless chest, a hint of sensitivity in the expression, homogenous homoerotics, perfectly coiffed, designer stubble, pretty young white boy fatigue?

Because I do.

h/t @homo_superior http://bigbutchmuscle.com/post/5049552865/cigar

Tube Crush   seems so inevitable, I am kind of surprised it didn’t happen sooner. The website, http://www.tubecrush.net/ set up recently by a group of friends (men and women), is a new online hit. People are asked to send in photos of hot men they have spotted on London’s Underground system, that they have taken surreptitiously on their mobiles. The sexy specimens are then uploaded onto the site and rated by visitors. It is a graphic reminder of a fact all urban dwellers have known since the dawn of time: people check each other out on public transport!

But TubeCrush (which is a nice play on words, as you often get quite literally crushed on London’s tube) has received some criticism. Mainly it seems, from, you guessed it, the liberal and feminist media.

Sunny Hundal , writing in The Guardian, said:

‘Erm, is it just me or if this site was about women, would people be getting arrested right about now?’

He goes on to point out how TubeCrush involves men having their photos taken without their permission (or indeed their knowledge), with the sole purpose of providing randoms on the internet with material to ‘perve’ over as he terms it. Commenters on twitter and on the cif thread in question referred to TubeCrush as ‘an invasion of privacy’, a form of ‘harassment’ and even ‘stalking’. Some questioned its legality, citing the  DataProtectionAct 1998.

The main feminist argument against TubeCrush can be summed up by this blogger, My Crippled Eagle:

‘If a woman takes a picture of a man on a train and he sees her, one or both will be embarassed but very few men would feel threatened by such behaviour.

If, however, a man takes a picture of a woman on a train and she sees him, immediately she has to think about the possible dangers of the situation. Is this guy a creep? Is he a potential rapist? Is he going to follow up the action with some verbal or physical harassment?

The odds are that this guy isn’t a rapist, but if you’re in a room with 100 glasses of water, 1 of which is poisoned, the odds don’t really hold much comfort. The risk that the worst-case will happen is still scary, however slim the possibility’.

Sidestepping for a moment that old chestnut ‘all men are potential rapists” meme from feminism of old, I think the feminists are protesting too much. I don’t think they really care that these photos may contravene the Data Protection Act, or that men may feel harassed. I never heard a feminist stand up for men as a group before. I don’t think they have been galvanised into action by TubeCrush. No, I think the real reason this has pissed off feminists, is they feel left out.


It has taken an honest male blogger to allude to this sense of disappointment that may come, not from having your photo taken on the tube journey to work, but from not having your photo taken on the tube journey to work:

‘The thing that hurt most of all about TubeCrush -that made me want to hurl my laptop across the room in self-righteous fury- was that I wasn’t on it!

http://uk.lifestyle.yahoo.com/love-sex/the-sexy-tube-website-that-leaves-men-crushed-blog-33-dan-juan.html

And he predicts a depressing future for the no-hopers who don’t make the TubeCrush grade:

‘the longer this website exists, the worse it will become for these unsexy saps. Each day, more and more buff geezers will adorn the page of Tubecrush while the same losers will be continually overlooked.  They will endure a daily routine of slumping glumly into their seats while cameras flash all around them- but never at them’.

I think this blogger gets to the nub of the reasons for TubeCrush’s popularity – and controversy. It is about ‘metrosexual’ men’s desire to be desired.  Despite how some articles have presented the site as ‘by and for women’ looking at men, the homo-erotics of TubeCrush cannot be ignored. The captions that go with the uploaded photos show that men as well as women take the pics and send them in:

‘Is it me or is it getting hot in here? Watch out because Jon2198 came down with a highly infectious bout of yellow fever after encountering this handsome chap on his way to work…’

‘Thanks for sending us the latest up and coming talent from the pole -dancing scene, Gareth’.

As you all must know by now, our resident gayzer on the male form, Mark Simpson, has been telling us, repeatedly, that men are enjoying their relatively newfound place infront of the world’s cameras. And they don’t want to lose it. David Beckham and other footballers have competed for attention from gay ‘sporno’ fans, for example, French rugby players queue up to feature on the Dieu de Stade calendars, and Mikey The Situation Sorrentino generously offers his GTL tits and abs for everyone’s visual pleasure.

Women have long expressed their ambivalence or downright hostility to the ways they are objectified in visual culture. Forty years of feminism has left women feeling it is somehow wrong to enjoy being the subjects of men’s oppressive ‘gaze’. And yet, now that we are surrounded by images of men’s bodies, in sporno, in advertising, in ‘gay’ pornography, in sites such as tumblr’s ‘hot guys reading books’  http://hotguysreadingbooks.tumblr.com/ and ‘fuckyeahbeards’ http://fuckyeahbeards.tumblr.com/page/32, women seem a little bit resentful that they are no longer the centre of everyone’s attention.

I can’t prove it. But I get the distinct impression that there is some kind of weird correlation, between the increased feminist campaigns against ‘street harassment’ and ‘objectification’ of women, and the ‘pornification’ of culture, and the fact that actually, it is men, not women, who are the chief objectified commodities these days. If feminism were a woman, I think she’d be a slightly dowdy lady in her middle age, complaining, as some older women do, of how she has now been rendered ‘invisible’ in society.

There are suggestions that TubeCrush may become a dating site. Or at least have the option for people to hook up with men in the photos if they agree. But I hope this doesn’t happen. The thing I like about the site at the moment, is the way it occupies that undefined space between gay ‘porn’ or gay websites, totty for women, and the increasing number of ways in which men take pleasure at looking at each other, and themselves.  This is another reason why it is causing some people anxiety I believe. I have written before about just how resistant feminist women in particular are, to the idea that there is no clear boundary between ‘gay’ porn and ‘porn for women’.  That there is no ‘male gaze’ or ‘female gaze’. And that, if only they would open their eyes, they would see that men are crying out to be looked upon by anyone and everyone.  If TubeCrush was a dating site, the ‘gaze’ and the subjects would be split into defined categories: ‘gay men’, ‘straight men’ ‘women’…which would spoil all our fun and inhibit people I think. As Mark Simpson has suggested, ‘homo-erotics’ can be most exciting, when they are not classed as ‘gay’. Especially for non-gay men!

I am fascinated by how a small website set up by friends has caused or at least represented so clearly, this collision between conflicting interests and perspectives over ‘objectification’.
TubeCrush has crushed a few myths and dented a few egos. Long may it continue to do so!

‘Life, friends, is boring. We must not say so’. Nick often recalls that line from a John Berryman poem (is it one of the Dream Songs?) on a midweek evening like this. Dinner has been consumed, half a bottle of Sauvignon stares back at him from the coffee table, whispering, silently, ‘finish me’. The TV is on but he is not watching. The images flicker and blur before his eyes. Soon his wife will be home and he will be forced out of his reverie to recount his day, or , more likely, to listen to her recounting hers. The secret of the ‘success’ of Nick and Annabelle’s ten year (ten years) marriage, lies partly in Nick’s ability to look as if he is listening, and even to ask questions and make noises in the appropriate places, when really, ever since the beginning probably, he has been a thousand miles away.

The key in the lock jolts him to attention. Annabelle bustles in, awash with colour, movement, bags, kisses, words. Sometimes Nick thinks she is the only animated thing in his other wise still-frame life. She is talking and is obviously excited about something, because the tell tale sign has appeared: a pink blotch in the middle of each cheek. They appear on her otherwise pale complexion when she is drunk, or angry, or hormonal or all three. But tonight the little roses of colour just indicate enthusiasm and passion. Nick waits for her to sit down then pours his wife a glass of wine.  He zones in to her monologue, tries to pick out the words as if he is an old radio transmitter, crackling and buzzing and finally tuning in.

‘…and so Sandra said…’ she stops for breath and sips her wine, looking at her husband quizzically.

‘You know Sandra don’t you Nick? You know, Sandra and Jim’.

‘Oh yeah, the one whose husband had an affair with the babysitter’.

‘Yes. Anyway she was telling me how they got over their difficulties and became polyamorous’.

‘Poly-what-amous?’

‘Polyamorous. They have an open relationship’.

‘So you mean he’s still banging the babysitter? Lucky Jim. If that had have been me I’d have been out on my ear’.

‘Nick! Don’t be silly. We don’t even have…’

Annabelle trails off. Their childlessness wears them like a dark, winter coat. They very rarely refer to it. But it stifles them. And also, in a way they do not understand or ever speak about, binds them together. It is their only shared secret. Their song.

‘No. The babysitter is out of the picture. Sandra and Jim have both got secondary partners now’.

‘Secondary partners? What are they? A firm of solicitors?’

Annabelle ignores him and carries on unabated.

‘They just sat down and worked it all out one day. They went onto some swinging and dating sites and now they both have girlfriends. They all know each other. Sometimes they go to parties as a foursome’.

‘Like key swap parties? Sounds very 1973′.

‘No. Swinger parties. At clubs. It’s actually a very modern arrangement’.

‘Anyway. They are all meeting tomorrow in town its a polyamory group. And… I said we’d go’.

‘You what? I’m not going to a polyamory group. I’m not a fucking hippie’.

‘It’s just for drinks and socialising’.

‘Oh right so we don’t have to have a gang bang in All Bar One? Glad to hear it.’

Nick has raised his voice. He doesn’t know why but this whole ‘polyamory’ idea is starting to annoy him. He gulps his wine and tries to calm down.

‘Ok I’ll go on my own. But I am serious about this. You know our marriage is in trouble. We have to do something.’

Neither of them had acknowledged this plain fact before. It hangs in the air, not knowing where to land.

‘Sandra lent me this’. She takes a book out of her bag and hands it to Nick.

‘The Ethical Slut’ he reads, sceptically. ‘Jesus’.

Annabelle looks at Nick and her eyes do that thing they do, where they seem to grow in size, and get darker in colour, a deeper blue, and then, as if she is manipulating her own tear ducts with a hidden pump, tears start to flow. She’s good. He has to admit it, she’s damned good.

‘I don’t know about this’ he says. He must be mad. His wife is basically offering him a ‘get out of jail free card’- the chance for  sex with other women, no strings attached. But there are always strings. This is a marriage. A marriage that is based on conditional as opposed to the unconditional love that they originally agreed to.Then something occurs to him.

‘Are you seeing someone else?’ he asks, his eyes narrowing into a frown.

‘No. Of course not!’ And he does realise it was probably a long shot. Annabelle finds it difficult to hide anything from Nick, except for the things she hides from herself. And she couldn’t have an affair without knowing it could she? So what is it? Where did this come from? He goes to get more wine from the kitchen. He needs it.

‘Sandra said it has saved her marriage’.

‘Is Sandra planning on joining in with our marriage to try and save that too?’ He’s angry. He isn’t sure why but it feels right.

Annabelle knows when Nick is not playing anymore. She pours herself a large glass of wine, and just walks out the room to bed, leaving Nick to finish the bottle, The Ethical Slut poised on the coffee table infront of him like a threat. He opens it despite himself on a random page  and begins to read:

‘To us, a slut is a person of any gender who has the courage to lead life according to the radical proposition that sex is nice and pleasure is good for you. A slut may choose to have sex with herself only, or with the Fifth Fleet. He may be heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual, a radical activist or a peaceful suburbanite.’

‘We believe that it is fundamentally a radical political act to deprivatize sex. So much oppression in our culture is based on shame about sex: the oppression of women, of cultural minorities, oppression in the name of the (presumably asexual) family, oppression of sexual minorities. We are all oppressed. We have all been taught, one way or another, that our desires, our bodies, our sexualities, are shameful. What better way to defeat oppression than to get together in communities and celebrate the wonders of sex?’

Nick puts the book down. It makes sex sound rather academic and political. He always thought of sex as a primal thing. Something he did when he wasn’t thinking, something he did without thinking, something he did to stop himself thinking. All this analysis is highly unsexy. He drains the wine from his glass and wanders up to bed, slipping in next to his sleeping wife.  Maybe she will forget about this whole Ethical Slut idea in the morning, and just go back to nagging him and having hairbrained ideas about moving to France to set up a small holding.

She doesn’t forget. In fact it is almost as if the book and the idea took hold of her in the night, and filled her dreams. Because she wakes up talking about it. She talks about it over breakfast. She talks about it while they go out to do the weekly shop, and in the cafe where they stop for coffee. By the time she is actually ready to go to Polyamory Group, Nick never wants to hear about sex and relationships ever again.

‘For the last time no. I’m not going to Balamory club. I am going to watch the match in the pub’.

Annabelle knows she has lost this particular battle. But the war is not over yet.

‘Ok well I will come back with more information and we can talk about it later. I’ll be back about seven if you want to wait for dinner.’

‘Bye then’. They kiss each other lightly on the cheek. They have said goodbye thousands of times before. But this time, unbenownst to either of them. This time it is different.

——————————-

The Crown is Nick’s favourite pub. It is actually one of his favourite places.  As soon as he walks through the doors a sense of calm descends upon him. He feels almost invincible, and he hasn’t even ordered a drink. It is something about the dim lighting, the dark red wallpaper, the comfy seats. Now he comes to think of it, The Crown is not unlike a womb to Nick. He wonders what Freud would make of that.

‘Pint of the usual, Nick?’ asks Jo, his favourite barmaid.

‘Yes, why change now eh?’

‘You are a man of habit’, she says, smiling approvingly.

‘And one for yourself of course Jo’.

‘Thanks. I am off duty soon I will have it then’.

Nick goes to sit down in ‘his corner’. He can’t see the TVs from there, but he didn’t really want to watch the match. He just said that because he knew it would annoy Annabelle. He would have liked to have chatted to Jo more, but he doesn’t want to become one of those men that props up the bar and leers at the barmaid. He gets out his John Berryman book and sips his pint.

‘Life, friends, is boring. We must not say so.
After all, the sky flashes, the great sea yearns,
we ourselves flash and yearn,
and moreover my mother told me as a boy
(repeatingly) “Ever to confess you’re bored
means you have no Inner Resources.” I conclude now I have no
inner resources, because I am heavy bored.’

Nick nods in agreement with this dead poet.

‘I didn’t know you read poetry’. It’s Jo. She is clearing the glasses from his table.

‘I have hidden shallows’ quips Nick.

Jo laughs. She must be half his age. Not quite half. Twenty two, twenty three? She is slightly built, cropped bleached blonde hair, kind of androgyne in her style and demeanour.

‘I’m finishing in a minute’ she says, ‘I’ll come and join you for that pint if that is ok’.

‘Sure’.

Something unexpected flicks across Nick’s mind. A flash of light. A momentary sudden sense of things opening up, of possibility, of change.

Jo sits down beside him and takes a swig of her pint. She is all limbs- arms and legs and elbows. Annabelle in comparison is so fleshy. Nick feels bad about comparing them, but he finds the contrast beguiling. Jo interrupts his appraisal.

‘So what’s new?’

‘Oh, nothing much’. Should he tell her? About Polyamory Club? About The Ethical Slut? No. It would sound like a terrible attempt at a come-on. It probably would be. They sit and drink in companiable silence.

‘Let’s get out of here’. Says Jo, suddenly.’I’ve got some beer at home. I am sick of these four walls it’s my night off’.

So Nick follows her out, as if on a string that she is pulling, and he finds himself in her flat.

Jo’s appartment is not unlike Jo herself- sparse, efficient, kind of genderless but also sexy. Modern. she puts on some trip hop and passes him a bottle of lager. That Spanish stuff.

‘Estrella’ says Jo. Rolling her ‘r’. ‘It means star’.

Nick sits back on the sofa and relaxes, for the first time in…for the first time in a long time. Jo is dancing, well, kind of dancing in a lazy, easy way. She swigs from her bottle and moves her hips to the beat of the bass. Sunlight streams into the room and bounces off her hair. She looks like an angel. Oh God. What the hell am I doing?

But before Nick has time to answer his own question, Jo has stopped dancing and has moved over to the sofa. She puts down her beer and kneels infront of him. He doesn’t know what to do. But the joyful fact is, he doesn’t have to do anything. The whole point of this elfin, confident, easy going young woman, is that she is the one in control. Nick just has to sit back and enjoy the ride. Jo takes his beer out of his hand and puts it next to hers on the side table. She undoes the belt of his jeans, holding his gaze as she does so. Then she undoes his flies, and she finds the bulge of his cock under the cotton of his boxers and strokes it gently, still looking up at him. She tells him to undress and so he does. She tells him to sit back down and so he does. And then, still fully clothed herself, kneeling at his feet, she gives Nick, forty one year old, balding, slightly dishevelled, jaded unhappily married Nick, the blowjob of his life.

When she is done, and has wiped off the cum that she aimed deliberately over her face, all he can think of to say is

‘Thank you.’

‘It’s a pleasure mate. I thought you looked like you needed that’. And then she goes to fetch two more beers while Nick gets dressed. They drink and listen to music like before. There is no tension, no awkwardness. it is almost as if they are just two friends, kicking back on a Saturday evening. Maybe they are? Is this what friends do? But the calm is broken by Nick’s sudden memory. By his sudden memory of his wife.

‘Shit! What time is it?’ He jumps up spilling beer on the floor. ‘Shit sorry’.

‘It’s only seven’ says Jo, unfazed.

‘Oh, I have to go. I said I’d cook dinner for…’

‘Annabelle. Yeah, I know. Ok then’ and she jumps up, goes to the front door, plants a kiss on his lips, hands him her phone number.

‘Call me’ . With that she shuts the door and leaves Nick to deal with reality by himself.

———————————————–

The walk home is long. The sun goes in. Everything that just happened feels like a dream, as if it might not have happened at all. Nick slows down when he approaches his house. He’s armed with a take-away and some wine, but he doesn’t know how to act normal. To make everything ok.

Annabelle is there already, and those pink blotches are showing up on her cheeks. He assumes it is anger but it’s excitement again.

‘Oh there you are!’

He goes into the kitchen to serve the meal and she follows him in talking fast as usual. She tells him about polyamory group, and how lovely everyone was, and how its really an ‘inclusive’ atmosphere, and how positive she feels about the future, and how they gave her advice about using the internet to meet people, OK Cupid or something, about how she doesn’t want to rush things, because of course they both have to agree that it’s a good idea and…

Nick let’s her voice wash over him. He pours the wine, hands her a plate of food, sits down on the sofa beside his wife the way he has done night after night for the last ten years. He takes a sip of wine and considers telling her. He feels Jo’s phone number burning a hole in his pocket. He looks at The Ethical Slut, still open face down on the table where he left it last night. He doesn’t want to be a member of polyamory club. It makes everything seem so respectable.  So suburban. So unappealing. Nick makes a decision. He doesn’t say a word. He smiles. There are no rules.

Geek Porn

Posted: March 15, 2011 in Masculinities, Porn, Uncategorized
Tags: ,

Looks like The Black Spark has taken all but two of his videos offline. I told you he may spoil the fun soon…

Black Spark And The Clouds, the recently discovered ‘New Gay Art Film’ sensation really really is asking to be analysed within an inch of his life. But I don’t want to spoil his fun. Not just yet, anyway. I have a feeling he may spoil it for himself, all of his own accord quite soon anyway. But whatever it all means, and whether or not you care if it is ‘art’ or ‘porn’ or good or rubbish or experimental or just more of the same, it is I am afraid, interesting. Maybe only in the sense that Dan Savage is interesting, or Mr. Fuck Theory, or even the maestro Mikey Sorrentino, or any other macho fag I could think of. But interesting nonetheless.

Someone or something is fucking with us. I don’t know if it is The Black Spark himself, or the relentless homo-geniety of internet pornography, or Apple Corporation, or just our own jaded libidos.  But when I watch The Black Spark, I feel this overwhelming sense of ‘we’re fucked’. And I need to share that feeling of impending doom my friends. I don’t want to endure it alone.

http://blackspark.tumblr.com/