IN-PRESS

 
 

Contemporary Gay Male Pornography

 
"... when a dozen handsome young college guys arrive at the Kingsley Institute, the first thing they do is have a big pillow-fight, get incredibly horny, take their clothes off and have an all-in jerk off. After that, things get increasingly out of hand. All the young men are exceedingly cute and built like young gods, so they can link up in any combination they care to and make a very handsome couple. And they do care to. The viewer soon loses track of who's doing what with who, or indeed of who is who, but it doesn't really matter. These boys fit together like parts of a well-lubricated machine. They appear to have been selected for something more than their writing skills, then waxed and polished till they glow." (My underline)

 

Rod Pounder

 

Anon. "Untitled." 1998
Anonymous.
"Untitled."
Image from 'The Big Thrill'.
Pornography video.
n.d.
Cover of Champions Video of Australia catalogue. Issue 46.
1998

 

 

In the above quotation we can see how the bodies in contemporary male pornography have become interchangeable, replaceable one with another. The image above is also a good example of the phenomenon of the homogenised body stamped out of the same mould, or 'template man'. I believe that in contemporary gay male erotica it is not so much the sex that matters but the display of the body for admiration. There is a certain stiffness (pardon the pun) of performance now. The frenzied sexual passion of early gay pornography has disappeared replaced by the positioning of the body for the benefit of the camera, the landscape of body architecture. It's all quiet formulaic. Big cocks have become even more important and stars now have their dicks cast in rubber so the viewer at home can purchase and enjoy the satisfaction of taking his heroes cock (or a 'simulation' of it) whilst watching the video at the same time.

 

Anon. "Untitled." 1999
 
Left: Anonymous.
"Untitled."
n.d.
Image from a commercial
pornography website.
1999
 
 
Right: Anonymous.
"Untitled."
n.d.
Image from a commercial
pornography website.
1999
  Anon. "Untitled." 1999

 

Gay pornography depicts gay sex as 'manly' because gay men want to see themselves that way even though one man is fucking another man, supposedly queering 'normal' heterosexual masculinity. I believe this is not gay men ironically challenging traditional masculinity but the confirmation it's power over them. The body becomes a phallus - hard as granite and as tough as steel - signifying and embodying a mythological power. These bodies are built 'tough' despite the fact that you could probably drive a semi-trailer up their rear end & they probably wouldn't feel a thing! Now, in contemporary male pornography, the range of body types is much narrower. Of course there are still specialist videos catering to the leather subculture, shaving fetishists, young men or 'twink' fantasies (mainly videos from Germany), wrestling, hairy men, toys, black men, etc., ... but these form a small specialist minority group of the video market. In the main the videos that fill the Champions catalogue, for example, feature models that are constructed of smooth, prime white beef.

 

John Travis. "Untitled." 1999
 
 

 

John Travis.
"Untitled."
Cover image from 'Billy 2000: Billy Goes to Hollywood'.
Pornography video.
Studio 2000.
1999

 

 

Recently I watched a video called 'Billy 2000: Billy Goes to Hollywood', directed by John Travis. The video features 4 couples and one solo performance. The story, as far as it goes, is that gay men go into a shop and see the Billy doll (discussed earlier) and starts fantasising about meeting a man who looks exactly like the doll, including having his large 'anatomically correct penis'. The video then fades out into dream sex scenes between different men and different versions of the doll that has now come to life as a huaman being, wearing exactly the same clothes as the doll does. What follows are, I think, four of the most boring gay sex scenes I have ever seen. There is no passion in the sex and all four couples copy exactly the same sexual positions as each other, (deliberately?) by rote: man sucks dolls dick, man sits on dolls dick, man gets fucked from behind by dolls dick, doll ejaculates all over mans back. This is trite, formulaic sex. As we can see in the above image the muscular male body is now simulating the muscular mesomorphic 'ideal' embodied in a doll, creating a great marketing opportunity, linking the sale of the doll and the video together.

As Peter Jordaan has observed,

"There is a desperate need for more gay romance. A video like 1992's Matt Sterling effort 'Scorcher' stands out simply because one of the couples in it actually look with pleasure into each other's eyes while they are fucking ... dick-tugging videos which also tug at the heart remain rare delights indeed."

 

As Michel Foucault suggests, what gay men need to do is to not invent new desire but too invent new pleasures, and then desire will follow. And these new pleasures may be found in the pleasure of looking into each other's eyes.