Lately, for every entry I’ve posted to this blog, I’ve got one that I’ve archived. These shelved posts are all of the “angry man, why are they all so stupid” variety. I haven’t posted them because they don’t really reflect how I’m feeling these days (which is mostly very optimistic), but I didn’t throw them away because they had some solid observation or ideas about the current state of affairs in pornland.
Then yesterday Violet Blue posted a Hooray for Independent Porn writeup to her Web site and between that and some good instant message chats and a phone call with El, it felt like something broke free. Maybe it was just getting the chance to laugh so much with El that I thought I might piss myself, or maybe it’s just that the days are longer and warmer, but suddenly a side of my creative self long dormant bubbled back up to the surface – humor.
Believe it or not, people who know me well regard me as a fellow with a pretty good sense of humor. It has, in the long distant past, even found a place in my work. I hope that it might again find a place there soon. (Ask El about the romantic comedy we’re working on.)
In the meantime, I posted the below to the Modern Gonzo is Rehashed, Boring and Unimaginative thead on ADT this morning, but I think you, dear reader, might enjoy it more:
LIVING IN THE ASHES
What Will Follow Gonzo Gold Rush?
Pioneered by John Stagliano, and then fueled by the sudden availablity of cheap digital cameras and even cheaper talent, gonzo quickly rose to prominence in the porn world, virtually displacing features from the minds of dedicated hardcore porn consumers.
“It was fantastic,” said Stephen Dollhair recalling the sudden flood of gonzo titles “There were dozens, even hundreds of titles featuring the beautiful young girls doing the nastiest things!”
And what was good for Dollhair and other masturbators was even better for pornographers. Gone were the days of scripts, locations, and other trapping of filmmaking.
“When you get down to it, making money in porn is about showing girls that you can’t have doing things your wife thinks are disgusting.” said Spike Gonzar, a director who made the transition from feature-style porn to gonzo in the mid-nineties “It turns out that all feature stuff did was slow us down and cost us money. Our core consumer didn’t give a shit about it all, and it turns out most of them don’t care much about framing, focus, or color-balance either.”
But what started as a bonanza for a small group of pornographers quickly turned to a land rush, as hundreds of would-be pornographers, wielding Sony VX-1000 cameras and catchy domain names rushed in to stake their claim.
“It was a crazy time,” remembers Daniel Andrew Clerk, “suddenly girls were cheap, cameras were cheap, and the fans couldn’t get enough. I was cranking out two titles a week, and driving an lowered a F-250 crewcab with spinners.”
But like day-trading internet stocks, or flipping condos in Florida, the boom is almost always followed by a bust, and gonzo porn was no exception.
“Two things caused the gonzo meltdown,” says Tiny Cumstick, industry gadfly and remarkably slow-working pornographer. “The first was that they ran out of nasty – after double anal creampie ass to mouth throat fucking, where do you go? You’ve run out of nasty. I remember when I saw a blowjob video being sold as having the ‘nastiest bitches’. I mean sucking a guy off and making him blow in your mouth hasn’t been nasty since about 1973. It’s 2005, brother, eating cum is soccermom stuff now! That’s when I knew the end was in sight.
“But more importantly were the simple economics. You can’t make a lot of money doing something that anyone can do, and let’s face it, the basics of gonzo porn are not rocket surgery. Getting started doesn’t take great creative genius or a daunting amount of capital. Sure, there were the masters of the genre, and they did well right up until the end. But with virtually no barriers to entry, more and more the work-a-day gonzo directors were getting squeezed by the glut.”
When the meltdown came it wasn’t pretty. Almost overnight a $40B/year economic powerhouse became a $1.2B cottage industry. When the bottom fell out, prices for spinner hubcaps and frankenhooker shoes couldn’t help but follow – there just weren’t enough hip-hop videos being produced to make up the lost ground. And without porn’s weight to decide the issue, the HD-DVD vs. Blue Laser question remains unanswered to this day.
Says Wango Chic, once fabled gonzo ringmaster, “I remember when RLD announced they were going to start producing a feature a month – that was a warning, but I couldn’t hear it. Then almost overnight gonzo porn went from being an easy way to make a good living to being a hard way to make an okay living.
“One day I realized my buddy was making more money as the assistant manager of an OutBack Steakhouse in Culver City, and getting better quality trim too. All those young Hollywood hopefuls eat there, and you’d be amazed what they’ll do for an Awesome Blossom Ring.”
What will be the next wave in porn is anyone’s guess. Some are looking to the women’s market for salvation, but whether or not women will buy porn with the same regularity or enthusiasm remains an unanswered question.
“As in real life, women are just too demanding,” says Loraine Shallow, a noted expert on women and porn. “We want good lighting, handsome men, credible set-ups, tasteful window treatments, and most of all – believable connection and passion between the players. But even with multi-million dollar budgets, Hollywood struggles to deliver real connection. How are you going to do it on a porn budget? I don’t hold out much hope for porn, I might even have to go back to fucking my husband.”
Others feel such hand-wringing is unwarranted. Says Mindi Smurke “Porn is like the cockroach, it’s here to stay. It may not be much to look at, but it’s here to stay.”
Still others feel gonzo will rise again. Says Cumstick, “I still think the gonzo approach is still the most sensible way to produce sexually explicit material. Gonzo elegantly solves problems of budget, context, and craft that are part and parcel of working in what is, and likely will always be, fringe genre. Gonzo will rise again. It may have a new name, but gonzo will rise again.”
Aside from rediscovering my sense of humor, I’m also doing work on Matt and Khym.
We’ll have something to show you very soon!