Lynsey G. writes for porn rags. She didn’t plan it, just kind of fell into it. Since last year, she’s been writing a column at McSweeny’s about her conflicted experience as a woman and feminist in the madness of one of the biggest industries in the world.
This, dear readers of Sex and the 405, is the kind of skill required of a porn reviewer:
I learned to watch the first few minutes of each sex scene, taking notes on “plot” or “witty” banter, then fast forward through the remainder at 10x speed, slowing down to note the frequency of position changes, athleticism of maneuvers, and standout dirty talk. The trick was to watch the 2- to 6-hour-long DVDs as fast as possible and then spend under an hour writing dirty, overly alliterative jokes about what I’d seen. Easy, if a bit monotonous.
For easy reference, I made up lists of alternative names for breasts, penises and vaginas, and supplementary lists later on for buttholes, as that trend gained popularity. I developed rating criteria for length, girth, cup size, amount of cellulite, and gag reflex (or the lack thereof). Things got ugly, fast.
She also gets into the occupational hazards: desensitization, boredom, higher tolerance to hardcore sexual acts, and the ever-pressing questions presented by being up to her eyeballs in an industry where everyone is a product:
After a few months of reviewing, the constant humping was wearing on my retinas and getting tedious. My personal sex drive, initially amped up by the bouncing boobs and facials, was declining in the face of overexposure. I was getting paranoid that I’d never be adequate in bed, or that I’d start thinking really kinky things were normal and scare off my boyfriend. I was finding it easier to come up with derogatory slurs about the performers’ bodies and actions. And, I realized, I was coming to understand the bitterness that edged the voices of my editors and co-writers, the disgust with humanity that drove their daily routines. I told myself I wouldn’t let it happen to me; I’d keep my life and my work separate.
[... ] the longer I keep my tenuous toehold in the jizz rag biz, the more the realities of the porn industry stare me in the face, and it’s not just the faces covered in jizz that bother me. There are a lot of really upsetting things going on both inside and outside the studio, both on the industry and consumer sides, which are disturbing and decidedly unfriendly to women. The language used to describe them in industry terminology and in social contexts, the attitudes about their worth as human beings, the aesthetics with which they are presented to the world, and the acts they perform raise a lot of questions. I mean, what’s with the fake boobs and nails and eyelashes and tans and hair? Why the no-body-hair rule? And who came up with the idea that ejaculate is the new trend in facial moisturizers? On that note, where is the line between pleasure and degradation drawn, and by whom? Why have the past few years seen such an abrupt switch from full-length feature films to half-hour-long frenzies of manic semen spewing? Is anybody overseeing this whole operation, and if so, can we arrange to have a private sit-down chat?
Follow her tangents over at McSweeney’s.
Thanks to Laura Roberts for the tip.