Friday, May 29, 2009

PART 5: THE FANTASY


Whether or not you are aware of it, porn is cinema. It’s that part of cinema that Hollywood leaves out. While the big Hollywood studios are making donuts, pornographers make donut holes. The industry of explicit gay porn began underground through the creation of little stories that were loaded up with sex to fill the void that the Hayes Code forced the motion picture industry to create. Some of those stories were borrowed from Hollywood in the form of gay-themed parodies. The practice still exists today, though mostly in the form of lampooned titles if not the actual content.

I believe porn is a unique form of motion picture art. Not only can it tell a story, it can also tap into people’s most secret fantasies and fulfill the viewer in a way no regular motion picture can. Porn also gives us a look at life as it is, as it was, and as it could be. Right now, however, our industry is making documentaries – or more accurately, "dickumentaries". We’re simply videotaping pieces of our sex lives and showing them to the public. And by doing so we’ve allowed the fantasy to wither out of the fantasy business.

Fantasy is as important to successful porn as milk is to cheese. Portrayals of fantasies personalize the sex and create richer sexual scenarios for the viewer to enjoy. It’s not enough to show just the sex act. People enjoy watching how we get there. It’s what we as humans do every waking moment. When we see a person we think is sexually attractive, we begin building a fantasy in our heads about how we will meet him and how we will seduce him into our beds. Or in a public bathroom. Or by the pool side. Or in the bottom of a submarine. Or in the back of a semi… Our minds are always creating rich scenarios. The traditional role of porn has been to inspire the viewer; to enrich his portfolio of fantasies, and to present creative ways in which a seduction can occur. But dickumentaries only serve to portray the act of sex itself, making the only aspect of fantasy in the mind of the viewer the fantasy of being with the performers he sees onscreen. If someone can come up with richer and more complete fantasies in his head, why the hell would he want to buy the fantasy-bereft porn that’s currently out on the market?

I also believe porn allows us to diffuse stress and anger in a non-violent manner. Just as we substitute ourselves for players in a porn scene to heighten our fantasies and get us off, so can we also substitute someone we are angry with and mentally put them into the video. In our minds we can give them the fucking they deserve, and receive satisfaction in return without having to act on it in real life. But if the actors are already naked or fucking when the scene begins the viewer has to fill in the fantasy that we left out. Some people just aren’t that inherently creative. And we shouldn’t be making our audiences work that hard.

If a person can connect with something in a fantasy video, it has a deeper significance to him. If he can’t, he’s just an outsider watching people have sex. Porn can allow people to experience fantasies they don’t even know they have. It can inspire, teach, and entertain. It has all of these potential ingredients that we could explore, but instead we give our audiences junk food.

At some level I think pornographers are filmmakers at heart or we would never pick up a camera. We have stories we want to tell; rich fantasies we want to share. So why are we collectively not doing that? Why are we cheapening our medium with an endless supply of throw-away porn? I dare say the answer is because many in our field are more interested in turning a quick buck than creating something that contains meaning, substance, and the fine art of fantasy. Certainly it is easier to point a camera at men who are already naked and on the verge of engaging in sex. But just as all cats are gray in the dark, these types of porn scenarios are barely identifiable from one studio to the next, aside from the general choice of models that each studio specializes in.

In the beginning of bareback video, the audience was largely composed of gay men over 30 who identified as barebackers. That is no longer true. Today’s audience is broad and includes adult gay and bisexual men of all ages and types, closeted or openly gay, some who engage in unprotected sex, and some who do not. Of course, with such a wide audience there is a correspondingly wide range of fantasies just waiting to be tapped (and capitalized on). I am interested in seeing who will make the move to restore fantasy into the business of making bareback porn. Any takers?

Next up: New Directions

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