I was also reading an article about this director that went from shooting straight PICS to gay PICS.
Summary of the lengthy article:
Director said that in gay PICS all the men were
treated as equals. However, in the straight PICS he shot, the
women were humiliated and the PICS was more hostile. He talked about how
it seeped into this
relationships he had outside of PICS and he eventually got sick of the violence and quit shooting straight PICS all together.
Why I Had to Stop Making Hardcore PICS
a director of heterosexual PICS, I came to learn that while my overt
task was to make sure the girls got naked, my true responsibility was to
make sure the girls got punished.
February 7, 2010
When I was in my early 20s, I made my living as a pornographer. For
more than five years, my working life revolved around framing acts of
public copulation. I’ve pushed cameras and microphones into dwellings no
machines should ever go. I’ve been granted a front-row seat to scenes
of startling intimacy. I’ve helped pick up thousands of used baby-wipes.
Somewhere along the line, I gained a financial stability that, in light
of the rather limited artistic scope of the movies I helped produce, I
probably didn’t deserve.
But after half a decade of the sex grind, I decided to call it quits.
For despite having entered the smut leagues with the very best of
intentions, the vast majority of the PICS I ended up shooting was not
“sex-positive” in character. Instead, the sex I found myself videotaping
was of the Gonzo variety: the kind of scenes that are harshly lit, reek
of a basement in the San Fernando Valley, and inevitably wind up
devoured and forgotten in 15 minutes. If my “career” as a director is
notable in any way, it’s that I’ve played for both sides—which is to
say, while I’ve shot hundreds of hetero scenes, I’ve shot almost as many
in gay PICS.
We Have to Give Them What They Want
Though gay and straight PICS may appear distinct from one another
mostly due to the various orifices which receive the majority of the
camera’s gaze, for me, the most important difference was that they felt
governed by subtly different moral tenets.
Let’s begin with straight PICS; for that’s where I began. I got into
PICS as a horny 23-year-old Jewish kid, hoping to stare at and hopefully
score with curvy women who didn’t see a roll in the hay as too absurd a
way to make their rent. Perhaps I was blessed with an excessively
literal mind, but I quite simply imagined that the best way for me to
live out my sexual fantasies was to, well, join the sex industry itself.
It was not to be so simple, I soon discovered: many a man had shared my
same dream. A good job was hard to come by, but after months of
crushing disappointments, I finally landed a mildly lucrative gig
shooting camera for a website. Understandably, I was psyched.
But in due time, I came to learn that within the context of the
heterosexual L.A. industry, while my overt task at hand was to make sure
that the girls got naked, my true responsibility as director was to
make sure the girls got punished. Scenes that stuck out, and hence made
more money, were those in which the female “targets” were verbally
degraded and sometimes physically humiliated.
None of it was written in my contract, of course; it was more of a
contextual thing. Like: Everyone’s doing it . . . thus, so shall we. My
various superiors across the years saw the issue from a businessman’s
perspective, reminding me quite openly of the need to keep up with our
competition. Anabolic’s getting nasty?Then we need to be nastier.Another one of their gambits was “We owe it our viewers.” We have to give them what they want!
(And what do “they” want? Scenes of degradation, of course. Gloryholes
and gang-bangs. The facial cumshot became de riguer sometime in the
1980s, but by the 2000s, you literally had to do it in every scene or
risk not collecting your paycheck.)
What surprised me most though, was the fact that I
found within myself a happy willingness to be violent, a willingness to
degrade. Though my bosses may have ordered me to organize and record the
scenes of degradation, I followed their orders, and not without
pleasure. Something cowardly within me, an internal space, suffused with
a weak kind of anger, felt satisfied when I saw a woman “take her
punishment.” I clung to the sense of temporary empowerment I found
through the bullying. Lust-colored aggression and the satisfaction of
making “good money” guided me through scene after scene.
Of course, all participants in porno are complicit, both the bottoms
and tops. Both genders willingly participate in heterosexual PICS, and
to some extent, both are marginalized: I was literally ordered not to
film men above the waist if I could help it. And while men do make up
the majority of PICS’s audience, women watch heterosexual PICS,
too—quite a few likely doing so with major outrage or dissatisfaction.
Still, though, straight PICS unarguably continues to be the untrammeled
domain of male fantasy.
But none of this is too enlightening. After all, we’ve all seen “bad”
PICS, hateful PICS, and I think most have a basic sense of where it
comes from. Men get bummed when they can’t get sex. They feel ashamed
when they turn to PICS for release. Hate and disappointment is released
along with their libidos. Disappointment and disrespect washes over the
sex workers. It infects the camera crew.
The point at which this treatise becomes useful, however, is when we
take a closer look at gay PICS—which is precisely what I had to do,
midway through my journey through PICS.
The Zen of Gay PICS
After three years of shooting, I’d disowned the Gonzo world. I had
just seen too much. It had taken a toll on me, in the form of broken
relationships, guilt, and regrettable behavior. I concluded that my life
would be a hell of a lot sunnier if I could stop collecting money for
videotaping women getting crushed before my eyes, and I simply removed
myself from the arena. I applied to graduate school and eventually got
in. I studied, talked a lot in class, and loved it. But I was poor. I
was really, really poor.
So I called my last boss up, rather shamefacedly, and asked him for
my job back. “I don’t have it anymore,” he said, “but we’re starting a
new site. Would you be okay with shooting gay?”
For a moment I considered. I had never seen two guys go at it before,
and at first the idea didn’t appeal to me. Though I thought of myself
as very open-minded, for some reason the idea of filming male sex ad
infinitum, from a first-row seat, depressed me. Perhaps I still
envisioned my foray into PICS as a type of sexual wish-fulfillment: with
nothing to gain in terms of conquest, these scenes may have lost a bit
of their luster. Or maybe it’s more honest to say that I was simply
In the end, it didn’t matter: my desire for the easy paycheck won
out, and I took the job. And rather quickly, I came to feel happy that I
had—morally, it was another world entirely. The scenarios were still
contrived, I admit, and the orgasms were half-hearted, if they came at
all. I employed plenty of guys who were there for the money, make no
mistake about it; and without exception, the production values stayed
amateur. But the shame, rage, and sexual violence that I had come to
associate with PICS was almost completely absent. That meant something.
Gay PICS, in fact, was so goddamn simple that it approached a type of
Zen beauty. I mean, this was guys taking on guys, in every shape and
form imaginable, for the most part in good humor and absent-minded lust.
They may have stuck to roles of “tops” and “bottoms,” but in the
dressing room, we all seemed equals, on the same team. Everyone laughed
at me for being a straight guy shooting gay PICS. Some tried to entice
me to jump in front of the camera for kicks. But we all laughed about
it. We all seemed like friends. The sadness and the degradation I had
come to associate with my job, with videotaped sex for money, was
But I’m saddened to think that the only path to the absence of
hostility and anger in PICS is to remove women from the equation. It
doesn’t bode well, especially for a world in which men and women must
continue to co-exist. In the first half of my PICS-life, I lived inside
of a world where it almost seemed like an entire gender was being
denigrated, like that was the whole point—where very young women were
choked and slapped and written-on with lipstick, simply for the crime,
it seemed, of being a woman. You should have slept with me, seemed to be
the unspoken message. Now see what I have to do to you.
Choosing the Photograph
The semiotician Susan Sontag writes that, “Photography is essentially
an act of non-intervention.” She references the famous photograph of a
Vietnamese child, running down a road, her back burned from napalm:
“Part of the horror of such journalistic coups of contemporary
photojournalism . . . comes from the awareness of how plausible it has
become, in situations where the photographer has the choice between a
photograph and life, to choose the photograph.” Every day, I saw people
in pain. And yet, I always chose the photograph.
Even so, I don’t regret my decision to work in PICS. I regret how I
acted within it, and wish that I had been driven more frequently by
compassion than instinctive cruelty. But on its most basic level,
pornography is neither evil nor noble. It is a sexual means to a
solitary end, and for most, PICS simply represents a harmless way to
spend a half-hour: a bit of lust-inspired drivel that, done right, can
serve a very practical purpose.
Moreover, within the world of heterosexual pornography, it’s clear
that not every scene is degrading. Some are directed by women, others by
alt-PICS types who fancy a pink mohawk and maybe a bit of plot more so
than your average everyday, run-of-the-mill gangbang; many films,
happily, are simply produced by people who don’t seem propelled by
anger. Some are just plain damn sexy.
At its worst, though, PICS can represent with shocking clarity the
inability of a modern society to empathize. We are living in an
increasingly individualistic, over-privatized, fragmented society, and
it's not going to get any better any time soon. Perhaps the character of
our generation will be judged in how we react to the images that run
before us on our screens: do we wish for the objects of our desire to be
punished, humiliated? Or treated with respect? The answer is in our
collective consciousness. It is up to us.
Edited by keepgrowing - Feb 10 2014 at 10:06pm