Recently Susannah Breslin, who has often written about the San Fernando Valley adult movie industry for boingboing and other publications, published a photo essay in the form of a website, “They Shoot Porn Stars, Don’t They?”, which looks at the current state of the adult entertainment biz as it exists in the so-called “Porn Valley.” In particular, she interviewed adult movie performers, visited porn movie sets, and had discussions with other adult movie professionals about how the current state of the economy has affected their industry and thus, their livelihood.
At once fascinating and deeply disturbing, Breslin’s point of view eschews the easy distancing that irony provides in favor of an empathetic and at times grimly humorous take on the subject, particularly when it comes to the industry’s female workers, who are most definitely not portrayed as empowered.
In the essay’s first half, Breslin looks at one development that arose from the industry’s economic decline: suddenly, the flesh and blood male appendage is looking slightly more expendable. Why? The invention of Robocock, a mechanical phallus aka low-maintenance “fuck machine” used by adult film director (of kooky shock-sex films like “Whore of the Rings” and “Texas Dildo Masquerade”) Jim Powers. From Breslin’s essay:
â€œWe got rid of the male talent!â€ Powers crows, triumphant. He enumerates the benefits of working with an animatronic phallus on one hand. â€œThey donâ€™t complain as much. Theyâ€™re always hard. You donâ€™t have to feed them.â€ Of course, the 21st century woodsman does have one drawback. â€œTheyâ€™ve always got bolts falling off,â€ Powers admits with a shrug.
â€œThe market is saturated with porn, the Internet is pirating porn left and right, and the economy is in the shitter,â€ Powers laments after Hunterâ€™s shoot, staring out the sliding glass doors at a fountain trickling pleasantly in the sun-dappled backyard. He looks like a spurned loverâ€”heartbroken. â€œPorn destroyed itself,â€ he mutters. â€œ2005 was the peak of shit.â€ He shakes his head. â€œNow, weâ€™re just living in piles of shit.â€ He is crestfallen. â€œIt completely destroyed everything.â€ He looks at the floor.
A redhead appears in the doorway. Powers will shoot a total of five scenes today, and hers is next. Itâ€™s time for Jim to get back to work. On the sidelines, another machine is waiting for its turn in the spotlight. This one is double-headed.”
Read Breslin’s full essay here. It ‘aint pretty,Â it ‘aint for the easily grossed out, and the large color photographs taken by Breslin that accompany the essay make it definitely NSFW either.Â Note: Photographer Larry Sultan also has a well-known series of photographs on this same subject, titled The Valley, which you can read more about here and here.
Morning Glories ‘aint so f-cking Glorious when they’re crawling all over your backyard, swallowing everything else up in their huge pink maws. Part of this afternoon’s checklist of things to do involves going into my backyard and peeling those tenacious pieces of shite off of all the other plants that are trying to gain a tiny foothold on our postage-stamp sized plot of land. On a related note, check out an incredible photo series by James D. Griffioen titled Feral Houses (via things magazine). Here’s what else I’ve been reading about this week (with a bit leftover from last week).
*A chair inspired by obesity, designed by Charlotte Kingsnorth. Whoah. And, ick. (Dezeen).
*Art Institute of Chicago now adding content to ArtBabble (New Curator).
*Cindy Sherman poses for Vogue’s “Age Issue” (via AO Art Observed), numerous pics of Sherman’s home are featured too. Somehow I always imagined her place would be messier.
*Most Unfortunate Headline Ever (but interesting article nonetheless): Stroke of Genius: 10 artists with abilities borne of brain damage.
*An Art Escort Service. This is a seriously good idea. Someone in Chicago should start up a company that tours out-of-town art lovers through our “underground” apartment gallery scene. Kissing on the lips verboten, of course. (via C-monster).
*Jen Graves discusses the overweening vulva that is “The Dinner Party.”
*Cloud-seeding as art (we make money not art).
*Is the University of Chicago a secret portal to Harry Potter’s Hogwarts? Oh, if only it were so! (Culture Monster).
*What it was like to grow up in Pierre Koenig’s Case Study House.
*Props to my industrious little hometown: Valley Porn (boing boing).