I am not a huge fan of porn. Given the choice between porn and reruns of Charles in Charge, I'd probably opt for the latter. Most adult films appear to rely on a predictable L.A. formula: Barbie gets banged by Ken while both recite trite banter referencing either the size of Ken's manhood or the tightness of Barbie's holes. All of that happens on a shoddily art-directed set with no plot and bad makeup. Either that, or it's too softcore, like watching a Lifetime original movie with exposed nipples.
But I'm guessing porn directors aren't looking to satisfy my tastes. When it comes to porn, my fave is probably the big-budget costume epic Caligula, and I'm not sure that counts by today's standards. Rather than critiquing modern-day porn, maybe I can get involved in its production and improve the genre. And if that doesn't work, maybe I can learn to love porn for what it is.
Please list all the materials required for this experiment (including, if applicable, how they were obtained).
– Porn shoot (two)
In this portion of your report, you must describe, step-by-step, what you did in your lab. It should be specific enough that someone who has not seen the lab can follow the directions and recreate the same lab.
Trying to find a porn director in New York is like looking for a scuba instructor in Kansas. Most porn comes out of L.A., a city that attracts actors who want to fuck on film. New York attracts performers who want to sing Billy Joel songs on Broadway or star in off-off Broadway productions about their vaginas. Hence the pickings are slim.
Luckily, a friend who'd just returned from the AVN Awards referred me to Joe Gallant, the founder of Black Mirror Productions. I sent Joe an e-mail requesting clothed work on one of his films.
"No problem, Jen, baby. Call my cell," he responded.
I called Joe and we chatted. Turns out we both make cable access TV. The Adventures of Electra Elf is a superhero action show. Joe's Screw Show focuses on the
Viagra is to porn what the cotton gin was to the textile industry.
adult entertainment industry. Given my TV production experience and my writing credit on Lord of the Cockrings (a fantasy film that received two stars on IMDB), I was hired.
The shoot for Black Mirror's latest production, Anal NYC, was to begin the following day at LIT, an East Village dive bar. Joe invited me to a party at LIT that evening for the cast and crew.
If you recall the pool-party in Boogie Nights, then try to imagine its opposite, you'll have some idea of what this party was like. LIT was dark. Everyone was clothed and the hardest drug anyone was doing was Budweiser. I found Joe and introduced myself.
"You're adorable, Rev. Why don't you do porn?" Joe asked.
"Because I still believe I'm going to be America's sweetheart and that someday I'll win an Emmy."
"Well, you could always fluff," he suggested.
"I've been warned not to fluff. Plus I don't have the focus."
"Honestly, since Viagra came along, fluffers aren't really used so much."
Apparently, Viagra is to porn what the cotton gin was to the textile industry.
"Well, we should collaborate on something," he added. "Maybe you can help think of the setup for tomorrow's shoot."
I looked around LIT. Without either a million-dollar budget, a team of art directors or Thom Filicia from Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, there was no disguising the fact that LIT was a grungy bar. One of the challenges with filming any movie in New York City is finding decent places to shoot. Real estate is so hard to come by here that residents have taken to living in storage units. When it comes to locations, you have to take what you can get.
"Well, there's no way we can make this place look like anything but a bar, so all of the action will have to take place in a bar," I noted. Having spent half of my adult life in East Village bars, I was the perfect script supervisor.
"Who are the stars?" I asked.
"Tyla Wynn, who just won an AVN award for best performance in a three-way — she's flying in from L.A. tonight."
"How hardcore is this movie?" I asked.
"Well, Tyla's prepared to take a good, hard pounding, but it's pretty mainstream compared to a lot of my stuff."
Maybe the real reason I've never done porn is that I'm not prepared to take a "good, hard pounding."
Joe explained that Anal NYC is a series of vignettes, which only requires a simple setup.
"Maybe she could be auditioning him for a band. He could be a drummer," I suggested.
Joe liked that.
I blurted out a list of scenarios. One involved a slumming socialite who loses a contact lens on the street.
"How does she lose a contact?" Joe asked.
"Maybe a tumbleweed hits her in the face. We could show footage of a tumbleweed blowing across the desert. Then we could cut to her saying, 'A tumbleweed just hit me in my face!' We could jump on the Brokeback Mountain craze by showing two cowboys blowing each other on the prairie. That's what sets the tumbleweed in motion. The socialite then wanders into the bar with blurred vision, where the barback seduces her."
This idea was scrapped. In porn, directors like to keep it simple. I'd developed ten minutes of exposition before the main characters started fucking.
"Maybe I can just be the official lube girl?" I offered. "I'll make sure everyone's got enough lube."
As we discussed further plot ideas, a blonde porn star named Heather Pink arrived escorted by her boyfriend. Heather wore heels and a fur-trimmed coat. Her boyfriend wore a turtleneck and jaunty scarf, like Alexander Cabot III from Josie and the Pussycats.They looked like real porn people. Shortly thereafter I left, satisfied that I'd met at least one porn star.
Quantify the effects of the experiment.
The next day I arrived on set wearing a purple, dragon-emblazoned mini-dress, just in case an art-star cameo was called for (like the time Warhol appeared on The Love Boat.) Joe stood outside with Tyla, a bubbly blonde with an ass you could play Jenga on. Her hip-hugger jeans revealed a sliver of crack. It was hard for me, and the rest of Second Avenue, not to stare.
"We need to get enemas," Joe pronounced. "Wanna come?"
Already I was faced with a gritty reality of porn. A Canadian TV crew doing a story on Joe followed us to the nearest pharmacy.
"I'm taking no chances. I'm getting a six-pack," Joe declared, holding up the economy pack of enemas. From there he hit the lube aisle. "Astroglide — second only to nature," he stated, procuring a bottle.
I'm sure that in L.A. directors have production assistants who buy lube and enemas for them, but New York isn't quite so highbrow. Also in L.A. you'd have to drive three miles to find a pharmacy. I was reminded of why I love New York — you can get a bottle of lube, a slice of pizza and a psychic reading all on one block.
On the way back, Joe explained the scene's setup. Tyla would play a DJ and Johnny Castle a prospective employee arriving for a DJ audition. When Johnny finds the position has been taken, he must prove he's talented in other fields like "putting it in."
Spoiler alert: she gave him a blowjob.
Back at LIT, Tyla was trying to decide what to wear.
"You could wear one of my t-shirts," Joe said, handing her a shirt promoting his movie "Potty Mouth." Tyla suggested it be cut in a more risqué manner.
"Can you run to the store and get some scissors?" Joe asked me. "You'll get wardrobe credit."
"Really?" I was excited, though it wasn't like I'd be getting a wardrobe credit in a Merchant-Ivory period piece. I'd be getting a credit in a movie where the actors are naked ninety-eight percent of the time.
At the deli next door all I could find was an "emergency sewing kit" that contained the tiniest pair of scissors ever produced. I doubted they could even cut through paper, but it was an emergency and at ninety-nine cents it wouldn't break the production's bank. Back on set, everyone got a kick out of watching Joe try to saw through fabric with the ridiculous scissors before giving up. I was sent back outside where I finally found a decent pair of scissors.
Once Tyla was in her now teensy shirt and jeans, Johnny Castle arrived. He looked like a jock. Together he and Tyla looked like type of people who called me an art fag in high school. Actually, Tyla looked like she was still in high school.
The stars asked for beer. Joe handed me some money and instructed me to get water and beer and to make copies of release forms. I couldn't believe I was being entrusted with another task after the scissors fiasco. This time I didn't fail.
Joe filmed the opening sequence in three takes and the crew moved into the bar's greenroom to shoot the sex scenes. Suddenly a dozen people materialized. There were two photographers, a couple of random dudes, a woman named Simone, the Canadian TV crew and Keith, who was videotaping Joe.
"Should I get the lube?" I asked Joe.
"The lube's already in her butt."
The camera rolled and Tyla sauntered in, leading Johnny to a ripped pleather couch. Spoiler alert: she gave him a blowjob. He then performed cunnilingus. Here, she ad-libbed some dialogue. Grabbing his hand, she licked his fingers. "Let me taste that fucking pussy. Let me taste it right off your fucking hand."
Joe held a light in one hand and the camera in the other, zooming in close for the beaver shot.
Johnny and Tyla then wasted no time putting the anal in Anal NYC. I felt a little uncomfortable watching two strangers have anal sex only a few feet away. I thought if they looked over I should give them the thumbs up or show some sign of encouragement. But they never looked at me. In fact, they didn't really look at each other. I wondered if the dudes in the room were sporting wood. I tried to peek, but didn't notice any pitched tents.
The two were fucking so vigorously that the pleather couch banged against the wall. From the looks of the couch, it wasn't its first time. If their fucking were music it would have been a drum solo. I wanted to suggest they try it "slow and low," but Joe had other ideas. He had Johnny take one of the bottles of water I'd procured and pump a little water into Tyla's anus before boning it.
Johnny did this, whereupon both stars realized the water was really cold. Tyla and Johnny soon needed a break and Joe asked me to retrieve the lube. In the other room, the lube wasn't where I'd left it. I was the official lube girl, we were shooting an anal scene and I'd lost the lube!
Finally I uncovered the lube, but inside the action had recommenced. I couldn't cut in without ruining the shot so I stood outside listening for fifteen minutes before Joe called "cut."
When I returned, the two engaged in a piledrive position, which is not unlike the pro-wrestling move sans neon leotards. I wondered how close Johnny was to shooting his load and what kind of range his comeshot might have. Would I get hit? Yet every time it seemed he might come they switched positions for the camera.
This went on for hours. Checking my watch, I realized I had a show to do in half an hour. Sadly, I excused myself before the finale.
Despite my all-around incompetence, Joe invited me to the next shoot two days later, which was for The Screw Movie to be shot at the Screw Magazine offices. Joe described The Screw Movie as being much wackier than other porn, like the porn equivalent of the Monkees' Head.
The Screw offices are the New York equivalent of the Playboy mansion. When I arrived I was greeted by a goateed guy in a baseball cap named Kenny Law.
"So, where do you think we should shoot?" Joe asked me.
"I like that office with the red carpet. Ooh, and I like that mint-blue chair."
"The leg is broken," Kenny cautioned.
"A Xerox machine. They could copy their 'parts' in the movie and then you could sell the copies on eBay," I offered.
"That's not a copier. It's a scanner," Kenny said.
Joe opted to shoot the first scene in the red-carpeted office and the second scene in the hallway. Keith had festooned the hallway walls with a festive duct-tape mural that spelled S.E.X.
Shortly thereafter, Heather Pink, the scene's starlet, arrived. She opened her suitcase full of clothes.
"I like that polka dotted thing," I observed.
"Oh, that's a bikini I bought in Miami when I was drunk."
"It's got a belt like Ursula Andress' bikini in Dr. No. I love it, but it wouldn't make sense that you're wearing a bikini indoors."
The neighbors pointed and waved until Kenny traipsed through with his sausage dangling about and they grew shy.
"It's a porn. It doesn't have to make sense," Heather said. ©2006 Rev. Jen Miller and Nerve.com
"You choose the outfit, Jen," Joe said.
"Really? Then totally, the bikini!"
"I'm really pale," Heather said.
"That's good. It's natural."
I don't know who decided all porn actors must be the same shade of orange as oompa loompas.
Kenny, Heather's costar, arrived, whereupon Joe explained his role to him.
"Keith is playing the Screw editor. You walk into his office and you're pissed because Heather is getting more publicity than you. You slam the magazine down on his desk. 'Something is going on here!' you say. Just then, Heather pokes her head up and it's revealed that she's been giving Keith a blowjob! That's when we insert the laugh track. It's the first of many sight gags."
Joe suggested we get a shot of everyone hanging in the office. I suggested we get a shot of everyone go-go dancing in the office.
"Perfect!" he exclaimed. He panned from the wacky blowjob scene to the office where the crew danced like virginal teens on Hullabaloo. I did "the swim" atop a desk while reading a copy of Screw.
After a few takes Joe called cut, and it was time to shoot Kenny and Heather doing it on a leopard-print blanket in the hallway.
"Joe, I know it's my one duty and I failed the last time, but where's the lube? I'll make sure I don't lose it."
"Heather doesn't need it. She's very wet. She'll drown us all."
"We should cut to a shot of the crew wearing emergency ponchos like we're at a Gallagher show," I suggested.
While Joe set up the lights, I talked with Heather, who's done around sixty movies, lives on the Upper East Side and is working on her own film titled Trust Fund Sluts.
Moments later Heather and Kenny stripped naked and boned. From the sound of things, Joe hadn't lied about Heather not needing lube. I leaned in close to the action, but jumped back as she squirted clear liquid from her vagina.
After the two engaged in vaginal intercourse from every conceivable angle, they took a break to prepare for an anal scene. During the break, we noticed our antics in the Screw office had caught the attention of a neighboring office with large windows. The neighbors pointed and waved until Kenny traipsed through with his sausage dangling about and they grew shy.
The break was taking forever and I'd been there for four hours already. I had to leave before the money shot, which I was told might take a while. I'd been so caught up in the action; I'd barely taken pictures.
"Kenny, before I go, can I take a picture with you?" I asked.
"Sure. What's it for?"
"Nerve — it's a web site."
"You can put it on a billboard for all I care. Do you want to hold my cock?"
I considered holding Kenny's cock. If Kenny got a boner, that would make me an unofficial fluffer. And if he didn't get a boner that would mean I failed as a fluffer. It was too much pressure. Finally I posed with Kenny like we were prom dates.
Summarize your findings. Don't forget to attempt to identify possible variables that could result in different findings for others trying to recreate your test results.
At one point, I asked Heather if porn ever got exhausting. "Yeah, after about three hours," she told me. Watching porn happen in real time, I realized how much work it is. Successful porn helps viewers forget that what they are watching is acting. Through the magic of editing, viewers are spared the anal douching and lube. It's like watching Star Trek and forgetting that Spock spent three hours in makeup.
On some sets, the crew is made to feel like slaves to the director, but Joe was open to suggestions. I only wish I'd had more time to prepare, especially for The Screw Movie, which might end up being something most porn films aren't — wacky. Maybe my tiny contributions only made a ripple in the film's aesthetic, but I'm proud of my work. In fact, I've been invited back to work on The Screw Movie, just not as the lube girl. I Did It for Science appears monthly.