I’m new to porn. I come from a world where photographers consider themselves “auteurs” and are (generally) more comfortable using the word “erotica” than “pornography” when referring to their work, even if it involved me sticking my fingers in my snatch.
I’m frequently coming up against my own pretensions when I find myself disheartened over images of me with my pussy spread for the world to see with no attention paid to the zit that no one bothered to stamp out on my ass or the stray hair that’s raised defiantly from the coif on my head. Some part of me is insistent on what I would call the female gaze: I ultimately want something to look beautiful, no matter how intense it is.
The divide is clearest to me now that I’m on various forums that cater to the porn connoisseur. First off, I have to say that I don’t think that gaze is something necessarily determined by gender. Director and “Queen of Romance Porn” Nica Noelle would say she doesn’t cater to men or women, but rather to a specific sensibility. That may be true, but she seems to have more vocal female fans than what I see for directors of more “intense” or “explicit” straight pornography.
I do agree with her though. I make lesbian pornography. I have found that for the most part, the type of men and women who consume this kind of pornography have very different tastes than those that consume straight porn. This was clearest to me when on a thread dedicated to me on the Viv Thomas forum, the images that they participants were posting were all my art modeling soft core nudes from when I was working in Manhattan the last two years. People were very clear in their preferences:
“Beautiful photos. And exactly the type of softcore artistic nudes I prefer as opposed to the sex still shots I’d much rather see in moving form in a video.”
The photos most likely to get attention on the “straight” forums and blogs tend to be the more explicit and glamorous Holly Randall photos. Once more of my movies come out, I’m sure they’ll be the “pretty girls” from my scenes…
I can say I don’t really mind the more explicit stuff. I just appreciate the editing that is done by a photographer that isn’t bogged down by a deadline and isn’t trying to feed in insatiable machine. I think it has to do with perspective, people on lesbian boards, and women in adult in general tend to use the word erotica (Holly Randall and Skin Diamond are two women who come to mind, both describe themselves as “erotic photographer” and “erotic model” respectively) more than men do.
George Pitts once described porn to me as “Explicit sexual depictions without sufficient compassion for their subject.” I tend to like it as a definition. I think of porn and erotica as points on a circle, like masturbation and sex…they kind of beget and destroy each other, like the Ouroboros. I think its like trying to debate what is more fundamental, the head or the tail.