Tuesday, October 11, 2005

inside deep throat

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I was three years old when Deep Throat was released in the US, triggering a profound shift in how pornography was viewed. I would not see it until I was around ten years old, along with Behind the Green Door and The Devil in Ms. Jones (courtesy of my Uncle Meroy who brought the Betamax tapes to share with my mother, and, unknown to him, his very curious young nephew). They held a private screening for a small group of friends and I remember wondering what all the fuss was about, wondering just what exactly it was that the adults were watching in the locked room. That night, when everyone had gone home or slept, I snuck down to the den, popped in the tape and was blown away.

I had my own secret stash of men’s magazines, but it was the first time I saw sex in motion, and it was as if a veil was lifted from my eyes – blurred by inchoate imaginings – and I was inducted into one of life’s hidden mysteries. I remember my impossibly hard erection and the savage sense of guilt that accompanied it, the feeling that I was not supposed to be where I was, not supposed to see what I was seeing. I fast forwarded the tape to get to the best parts, patiently skimming to see what else I did not know, wanting to devour all the illicit information I could before I rushed back quietly to room to explode in carnal delight. Since then, I have collected porn, becoming quite open about it as I grew older, with magazines and books as staples, then starting my own video collection, altering formats as time passed and technology evolved: betamax, VHS, VCD, DVD, digital formats via internet to my laptop and PDA - while I never need anything more than spit, palm and fantasy to enjoy myself, I like the visual stimulus of porn.

Which brings me to Inside Deep Throat, a documentary by filmmakers Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato (the same team that presented the story of Michael Alig and the decadent 80s club scene in Party Monster), that brings to light the production and effects, both personal and societal, of the most profitable blue film of all time. Shot in 6 days and produced for only $25,000, Deep Throat went on to gross over $600 million, debuting in New York’s Times Square and leaping past the big screen into the (then) new home video format. With commentary from the likes of Gore Vidal, Normal Mailer, Wes Craven, Camille Paglia, Hugh Hefner and more, the docu shows how America divided into two camps over what was considered obscene.

For me, it always boils down to a personal choice. As an intelligent human being in full possession of my critical and moral faculties, I do not need anyone to tell me what is appropriate for me to view. I have never considered sex as something to be hidden or lied about; on the contrary, it is something to be enjoyed in appropriate circumstances and contexts – again, all by personal choice. Porn, for me, is a combination of many things, going beyond the merely prurient. Watching it is an act of liberation, simply exercising my freedom to amuse myself privately; it is a raised middle finger against those people who insist on forcing their own mostly Christian self-righteousness on me and other people, as if their convictions were the only proper worldview, as if there was such as thing as a single “correct” perspective to all things; it is a celebration of the sexuality that is a deeply ingrained part of my psyche and character - because life, for me, is incomplete if lived only on purely mental, creative, familial and business planes; and it is a barometer of the changing times: the evolution of sex play in pornography and society’s reactions to it trace provide much insight into who we are and how we think – from the time that vanilla blow jobs were considered the be-all end-all of porn (as in Deep Throat’s conceit of Linda Lovelace’s needing oral sex to tickle the clitoris in her throat – yes, you read it right) to the increasing complicated contortions and conceits of present day porn (right now, there’s a lot of ass play) and the entry of the concept of responsible sex in the light of AIDS (men wear condoms except in those “barebottom” films that rebel against safety).

Oh, and it’s educational too, as my wife will tell you after I learned from my porn sensei, the Helicopter Man. LOL

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