Notes from the Porn Set

Repost from old blog, 8/7/2007
So I’m back from vacation on the west coast, the highlight of which was visiting, for one day, the set of Joe Gage’s latest porn film. It was a really positive experience. I stuck with the crew, which were filming five performers doing an anal scene and a watersports scene.

So there was the porn set, with hot sex for sure, but also camera angle changes and dead camera batteries and airplanes occasionally ruining the sound overhead. After filming was over I was asked – had the fantasy of porn been ruined for me? The illusion shattered? To which I honestly replied “no.” I mean, I’ve seen “Boogie Nights.” Watching any porn, I’m always aware of the glimpses of reality I can catch beyond the frame.

Maybe it’s just me, but I find it hard to believe anybody holds illusions about porn at this point. Which isn’t to say I don’t enjoy it – quite the contrary. It’s just that the will of fantasy is powerful, and will easily squelch anything that gets in the way of its enjoyment. I mean, just cause Mel Gibson is a homophobic asshole doesn’t make his “Lethal Weapon”-era ass any less hot, right? Even though you have no chance of ever meeting the guy (and if you did manage to proposition him he’d probably beat you up), the exuberance of your fantasy life still, somehow, gets your face between his buttcheeks.

But anyway.

The set was homey and everyone was friendly and welcoming. On breaks we ate cherries and Nutella sandwiches and watched “South Park.” I didn’t get an erection, except for chubbing up a little when I sat down and read the script. Shows where my interests lie. I got a certain frisson from tiny details – the way a performer slapped the sides of someone’s shaved head, for instance. But, ultimately, the proceedings were stripped of any fantasy element for me to latch on to (they’d filmed the dialogue the day before).

So why didn’t I get a charge from simply seeing real, live people have sex with each other right in front of me? After all, the experience presented me with my first view, since entering a monogamous relationship, of a real live naked man standing in front of me with an erection (who wasn’t my boyfriend). But still – it was real yet unreal.

Beforehand, I assumed I’d be more interested in watching the actual performers than viewing them on the monitors, but as the scene progressed I found myself watching the monitors more, becoming more interested in the fantasy that they represented than the actuality of the work that was taking place. I was looking at it as a writer, as if the scene was a story, focusing in on elements that worked for me, positioning the performers as characters in my mind, props.

Joe was nice enough to even entertain one of my suggestions (you can read about it on Joe’s new, improved blog). Will it work to the scene’s advantage in the end? Who the fuck knows. Certainly not me. At any rate, I sort of like the idea of manipulating people to my own perverted ends – and I only make that sound diabolical in jest. Directing seems like another side to what I’m already doing (albeit a side that I have no experience with whatsoever). I think that’s the biggest revelation I took away from the experience.