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The limit of infinity

New Post at the Kōan of Silence:

The range of body-types and sexual practices depicted expanded dramatically because the economies of scale changed. But the underlying essence of pornography remained unchanged; there was only “something for everyone” if what you wanted was a videotape of people paid to have sex having sex, videotaped in a way that was dictated by the financial constraints of the business (i.e. not very well).

[Click here to read the rest]

This is not new information for this blog’s longtime readers. What is new is who I said it to, and the context. But you’re going to have to enter the Kōan of Silence to find out more about that. Steel yourself!

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Obscenity, Fighting Words, and the story of King Canute on the Seashore.

Please join me at The Kōan of Silence for Obscenity, Fighting Words, and the story of King Canute on the Seashore.

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Audacia Ray says you can’t understand pornography without understanding the business of pornography

From Audacia Ray’s WakingVixen.com:

Both sides [pro-porn and anti-porn] are all over the sexuality and representation aspects of the conversation, but are missing a critique of the business of sex and the working conditions under which porn performers do their jobs. To me, good and bad porn is not so much about what it looks like, but the business transactions and pressures happening behind the scenes.

This approach is appeals to me because it offer the hope of delivering hard data; i.e. defining what pornography is is hard enough (there is no legal definition,) and without a substantive definition based on content and aesthetics, measuring the effect on viewers seems like a fools errand.

But other aspects can be measured: production budgets, performer wages, distribution outlets, STI infection rates, union membership rolls, etc. And if direct comparisons to statistics in other forms of media, other professions, or other ways of life are imperfect, at least the numbers might provide a starting point for a stab at some measure of objectivity.

And whatever case one is trying to make – pro, anti, or other – that’s got to be better starting point than “this is bad because looking at it makes me angry” or “you can’t prove that watching this is hurting anyone.”

(Cross-posted to The Kōan of Silence)

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Introducing Climax Ecology: My column is up at TheAtlantic.com

Okay, the post title is a lie. I don’t have a column up at TheAtlantic.com. Here’s the truth.

Last Friday I saw this video on James Fallows’ blog, wherein James Fallows moderates a panel discusing internet freedom with Eric Schmidt of Google, Alec Ross of the State Department, and Timothy Wu of Columbia Law School and Slate:

I was pretty excited by Fallows’ and Wu’s take on things, so I wrote short notes to both of them.

James Fallows wrote back and said, “I don’t get it,” so on Saturday, between breaking up our old kitchen, I composed and sent back a 1000 word diatribe invoking Tom Atzet and the theory of Climax Ecology to explain my take on how and why the internet’s gatekeepers function the way they do.

Well today James Fallows posted my entire note on his blog, complete with links to both Comstock Films and The Intent to Arouse. (I am personally tickled that he put the warning about the post “not being intended for children” next to his mention of stormfront.)

What does and doesn’t get linked to, filtering and blocking software, and other aspects of this new SafeForWork ethos are all things I see as part of the ongoing rationalization of the internet; and is something we’ve been struggling with for several years now.

Some of you may remember back in January 2007 when Marc Glasor covered the pre-Christmas 2006 Google sex bug, PBS wouldn’t link to Comstock Films or to Pretty Dumb Things. In late 2008, when Violet Blue named my [clitoris] vs [penis] Google SafeSearch research as one of the “top 5 underreported sex stories of the year” , the San Francisco Chronicle wouldn’t give us a link. And of course last Summer, when Violet’s O article was up on CNN, the evangelical sleep away camp for “porn addiction” got a link, but we did not.

Even just this morning an internet friend from TheAmericanScene.com (unpinch your face, he’s a raving Berkely-educated lib.) has written me to say he saw the Fallows piece, but wants to know if I’m back from my sea voyage. ”Don’t you read my blog?” I ask. This is his response:

Tony, it in no way reflects what I think ought to be the case, but XoX blocks the hell out of anything resembling sexy content. I can play games to get around XoX blocks (in fact that’s how I’m using gmail right now) but the sexy-content thing would probably get me fired, which I suppose is reasonable given that apparently you have government employees in other agencies spending a lot of work time viewing online porn, and there’s a Ceasar’s-wife phenomenon at work where even if the site’s OK you want to look cleaner than clean. So following your blog is possible but difficult.

For what it’s worth, I (still more depressingly) can’t read _The Onion_
either…. But, hell, Tony, I need the sexy web sites because the damn house I might end up in [my friend is buying a house] has a hot tub outside. I’m not a hot-tub-in-the-suburbs kind of guy, and I’m already scared about how the fuck I maintain the thing. But I have a hunch the websites I’ll get to searching “outdoor hot tub” aren’t going to be real XoX-friendly.

This is the simple reality of today’s internet. As I said last Summer on a post at TheIntentToArouse.com, “Do you want to be put in the same category as Alfred Kinsey, Max Hardcore, or Catherine Briellat?”: The limits of sexual expression in an algorithmic world.

I regularly have important, non-erotic correspondences sucked into my spam folder (the last was from an eminent constitutional scholar on the history of blasphemy laws and symbolic speech in the US.) Without resorting to words like “vajayjay” and other coded language, even scholarly correspendence free from slang is frequently algorithmically indistinguishable from porn-spam.

This is the sort of stuff I ruminated on while I was away on my boat last Winter, and the more I thought about it, the more I came to the conclusion that if I want to keep making films about sex and keep writing about my films, that I have to find a way to do it that doesn’t depend on the way the internet worked in 2003. From the post on James Fallows’ blog:

[O]ne of the primary reasons I am looking to shift my work to an academic environment is that I see the world moving increasingly towards parsing images and ideas mechanically, and if I can, I want to carve out a place for myself where images and ideas are still parsed by actual human beings.

This other thing I realized is that I have to create a “Safe for Work” home for myself on the internet.

I’m of course I’m thrilled that Fallows has posted my writing, complete with links and even abscent the NSFW scarlet-letter, but Fallows is in a rare position of journalistic freedom. Most people — whether it’s Violet Blue writing at the Chronicle, my government-employed friend, or the editors at CNN — have to either knuckle under the NSFW regime, or probably more often simply accept it without considering the marginal effects. So whatever the reason, if I want to continue to be heard, in have to give people a place they can link to, read, and I’m going to have to figure out how to express my ideas without the colorful language and florid imagery I use here on this website. So with that in mind I’d like to point you to:

Tony Comstock’s Kōan of Silence
A Safe Place to Think About Dangerous Ideas

Of course links to the Kōan of Silence with the anchor text [tony comstock] are very much appreciated. They’ll help Kōan of Silence become the number one, SafeSearchable, autofilling return for Tony Comstock!

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I sailed away, and then I sailed back home.


In the cockpit of INTEMPERANCE somewhere between New York and Bermuda.

In the late afternoon of Sunday, May 9th S/V Intemperance slipped her mooring in Gallows Bay, St. Croix USVI. In the early morning of  Monday, May 24, after sailing nonstop for some two weeks she made landfall at first light at Montauk Pt., NY. By 7AM, Intemperance was back on her mooring in Lake Montauk, and by 8:30 I was back in my own house, surrounded by my wife, children, pets and the life I left behind nearly seven months earlier.

While I was away I did some serious thinking about what I want to do with myself – creatively, professionally, personally – in the years to come. Those of you who follow me on Titter (http://twitter.com/TonyComstock) already have some inkling of what I’ve been thinking about.

The most profound feeling I have upon my return is how lucky I am. I have a wonderful family; a smart, gorgeous, generous wife and two wonderful daughters. We live in a nice house, surrounded by a lovely garden, and situated in a beautiful, peaceful place.  A couple of days a go I started calling universities to begin exploring the possibilty of continuing theintenttoarouse.com as a PhD thesis and my next film as an MFA project, and people kept asking “are those birds?”

Yes, those are birds. I’m sitting in the garden that my wife designed, planted and tends; talking to you on the phone while song birds twitter in the background. It does not suck to be me.

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Tools, Sounds, Images, and Dissent (Sexual and Otherwise)


Deli Spoon, my home away from home in Marigot, SXM

My family has flown back home, which leaves me free to hang out at the cafe, nursing a drink for hours french-style and checking out what’s new on the internet.

And what do I get for my trouble? Yesterday I saw that someone is marketing vulva dye, which promises to “restore women’s sexual confidence” by pinking up their pussies. Naturally this dye is available in a variety of colors with names reminiscent of famous porn stars.

I can’t quite figure out why this bothers me so much. After all, I rather like lipstick and other affectations and artifices of femininity, so why should pussy make-up get my panties in a bunch?

But as I look to my draft of unfinished essays, I see there’s a rather long one about Betty Dodson, her online “this is what vulvas actually look like project” and the effect of 2257 on people’s ability to express themselves anonymously.

The right and ability to dissent anonymously is fundamental. Thomas Paine’s Common Sense was published anonymously. The Federalist Papers were publish anonymously.

But if Betty can’t put up annonymously offered (but clearly “of age”) pictures of women’s vulvas without running afoul of the law, that means that the images that most people see most of the time are going to be commercially produced images; which for a variety of reasons are going to fall into a very narrow range. So while everyone knows perfectly well what the lips on a woman’s face look like sans cosmetics or cosmetic surgery, our vision of what the lips between a woman’s legs should and do look like is informed by images that are fantastically constrained by the laws and economics that dictate what can and cannot have free, unfettered access to the market.

I’ve explored some of these issues over at TheIntentToArouse.com, but they might best be summed up by the OFLC’s dictum that if a photograph of a woman shows “excessive genital detail” then a magazine with such photos must be wrapped in plastic and kept behind the counter.

Of course this isn’t good for sales, so people who want to make money in Australia selling magazines with pictures of sexy ladies photoshop “excessive genital detail” out of their magazines; and leave trading on “excessive genital detail” to those who are satisfied with the more meager returns of being relegated to the ‘porn ghetto’.

And then the whole thing feeds on itself. Making beautiful images of vulvas is like making beautiful images of food; whether it’s a big bowl of steamed fruti di mar, or a vulva, wet and plump and in full bloom, rendering a photograph that does justice to the subject is hard work; and if you don’t pull it off, the photo stands a good chance of actually look revolting.

But while there’s good money to be made in food photography (I used to do a little, and 20 years ago I assisted one of the best food photographers in New York) the returns on specializing in “excessive genital detail” are meager.

Which turns the whole thing further back on itself. What does a beautiful sexy pussy look like? Trim and pink. The OFLC says so. The DA in Utah says so. And so does any company with a “no pornography” clause in their TOS. And no matter what Alison Croggon thinks, or what Violet Blue thinks, is where the rubber hits the road on the Art vs. Porn or Erotic vs. Porn question. Period. Paragraph. Page.

Meanwhile, one of the reasons I decided to make this trip was to try and figure out what’s next for me. My “Real People, Real Life, Real Sex” films are produced with keen awareness of what the limits of the market are, which has meant either transcending the limits in cunning ways (shooting film for example) or accepting those limits in cunning ways (for example, developing a format that works without music.)

But in a very similar way to how shooting on consumer photo/video gear has a profound impact on the sort of images you can make, or like making the desciiion whether or not to show “excessive genital detail” has a profound impact on where and how you can market your films (thereby limiting the the sorts of films you can make) the decsssion to “go naked” (sans music) influences creative decssions in a fundemental way.

Let’s loop it out a little more.

One of the reasons I moved from making films like A Generation of Hope or Fair Winds/Uncertain Future or Sudden Shock to making a full-time commitment to my erotic work was because taking on and trading other people’s pain was simply taking too big a toll on my mental health and even my physical health. Back in 2003,  when I got back from Kenya I had terrible stomach problems, and figured it was a bug I picked up in the bush.

Nope.

Turns out it was just stress. The stress of wallowing in other people’s misery and trying to make good films and a good living out of it. Ironically, I realized this because shortly after I got back we went on a family vacation to the Canadian Maritimes and ended up in Peggy’s Cove on the 5th anniversary of the Swiss Air Crash, and CBC Radio had a radio-doc on the lasting effects of the crash on the community, including (wait for it) a big up tick in “unexplained” stomach problems. (It all came clear as our overloaded Volvo wagon hit yet another chuckhole in Nova Scotia’s not so well maintained roads, pressing the lap-belt against my stress-cramped guts.)

And the feeling I get when I read about labiaplasty and vulva dye is about the same. My stomach tightens. I lose my appetite and I want to make somebody pay.

This is no way to live a life. Nor is missing fine surf or a day of good clamming (fruti de mar indeed!) because Google has over-tweeked their anti-spam algorythms and dissapeared your company.

Neither is making films without music anyway to make films. Before “Real People, Real Life, Real Sex” my productions were known (in my little NGO world) for using music well.

I could do this because when you have $25K, $50K, $150K to make a film that might only be 5 or 10 minutes long, you have the money to pay real composers and real musicians to make real music. I could do this because when you make films about people showing that even under the most terrible conditions, our better nature will out, you can negotiate good rates to use well-known musics

So where as I once got rights for 8 different Ennio Morricone tracks from The Mission for only $4,000; pennies on the dollar for the “going rate,” I had zero success trying to get rights to use even small portions of any of the artists that Damon and Hunter referenced in telling the story of how they fell in love. (I thought it might be nice over the closing credits.)

So anyway, I promised tools, right?

Previously on this blog I’ve gone on (at some considerable length) that the tools used to make sexual images have a huge effect on what we think sex looks like. I see this as hand in glove with the way “excessive genital detail” and “no pornography” TOS, and obscenity laws effect what we see. (In fact, the second, yet to be written half of TheIntentToArouse.com is concerned with film theory and filmcraft, and how differently most of the explicit erotic images we see are made and in turn how they effect us differently.)

One of the  things I promised myself I would do with my free time down South was dig into digital music making tools. Back when dinosaurs walked the earth, I was a promising music theory  and composition student. But I didn’t (and still don’t) have keyboard skills, an that was a huge handicap in studying traditional four-part harmony based composition and arranging.

But right about the time I was deciding that photography was a better path for me, the very first of the Macintosh/MIDI based music composition, arrangement and transcription tools were coming online. I’ve always wondered how things might have been different if those tools had been available to me just a little sooner.

Which is all a long winded way of saying I’ve been fooling around with GarageBand, and in sort of the same way that a Canon Elf will make all your erotic photographs look more or less like IShotMyself.com, GarageBand is making everything I try to do come out more or less like Trent Reznor:

NtheSludgeWithU.m4a

Anyway, tools, sounds, images and dissent. A friend who masters records for artist like Carlos Santa and Aretha Franklin says these days people prefer the sound of compressed audio; that since the advent of the iPod, people think that’s the way music is supposed to sound and they don’t like it as much when they hear uncompressed versions of the same song.

I guess whether that’s more or less panty-twisting than designer-vagina labiaplasty and cunt-blush depends on what you care about; and I guess it’s just my bad luck that I care about both…

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Brett and Melanie: Boi Meets Girl, Locked


From the love scene in BRETT AND MELANIE: BOI MEETS GIRL

You would think that after 15 years, a dozen studies and half a dozen well-liked films that it would get easier, that I would start to feel like I know what I’m doing.

And in some ways it has.

When I get stuck, I can remind myself that in many ways, whatever the current couple might be, the approach has proven to be artistically and commercially successful, and there stands ever good chance that whatever I’m stuck on will give way, and ultimately I will find myself with another entertaining and erotic film.

But there is a flip side.

The approach is so very spare, so unaffected, that there’s precious little place to hide. In answering their own self-posed question “Why did we do this?” Brett and Melanie answered almost unison, “Fucking is easy, this (meaning the interview and the overall intimacy) is the hard part.”

Indeed.

With every successive film I become more and more aware how laid bare I am in this work. Maybe not to viewers, whom I hope are caught up in the words and bodies of the films’ subjects, but to myself.

For those of you who have been reading this blog for a while, perhaps you’ve noticed a shift in the tenor in the past year or so. An uncertainty has replaced gumption. Too often generosity has given way to bitterness. 10 years after all the promise the internet seemed to offer for a real change in how sexuality and image-making might be understood, I look around and to me it looks like meet the new boss/same as the old boss; and I find myself making vows that I won’t get fooled again.

Then while I was in Bermuda, this:

Dear Mr. Comstock,

I’m just writing to you to thank you for changing my life. Okay, so that’s a bit effusive, but also true. In addition to simply growing up in our sexually insane society, I’m an abuse survivor. For all of my life, sexuality has been a harsh contrast between what I’ve secretly imagined it could and ought to be, and what a profound source of trauma it’s actually been. You make films that dare to show the former; that say “yes, this truly exists in the world, it is not just a fairy tale, and ordinary mortals can aspire to achieve it.”

Your artistic courage and conviction have deeply inspired me, and I hope in some small way I can inspire you in return. You’ve blogged about your frustrations with the porn industry, Google, and… well, just about everyone, in a culture that doesn’t understand what you’re doing. Please don’t forget that you aren’t doing this for them. I don’t know how many others actually write to you to say this but I feel certain that I’m not the only one for whom your vision of sexuality has been, or will be, desperately needed in today’s world.

Keep fighting the good fight.

S.W.

I read S.W.’s words tucked in the v-berth of INTEMPERANCE and was shaken to my core. I wrapped my arms around myself, holding on tight as I sobbed great heaving sobs and tears and snot streamed down my face. Six weeks earlier, at NYU Film School I compared myself to that immortalized Korean War Marine corporal, out of ammunition and options and shedding brave and and frustrated tears, still willing to fight, if only he had the means.

But that was not me in Bermuda. Means gone. Will gone. Nothing left but anguish that S.W.’s life had been so deeply wounded, that it fell to my meager little films to provide comfort, and shame that after all my good fortune, I didn’t know if I had the strength to “keep fighting the good fight.”

—-

BRETT AND MELANIE is locked. I am now working on getting a good encode, and from there making the DVD. Serendipitously, just a couple of days ago I received an e-mail from the Cultural Affairs Officer at the New York LGBT Center (where earlier this year Ashley and Kisha had two very successful screenings) asking if they could hold the World Premiere. I happily agreed. It’s nice to have my work acknowledged. It’s nice to know that the film will have an opportunity to play in front of an appreciative audience. It’s nice to know that at least sometimes, the film’s the thing, not who made the film, or why they made the film; but whether or not the audience will feel their time’s been well spend watching the film. I think I still have the will to fight that fight – to make films people enjoy seeing.

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More thoughts on the hazards of expertise.

Last Friday I did an interview with Yacht Blast’s Gary Brown in the cockpit of INTEMPERANCE whilst anchored in Simpson Bay on the dutch side of St. Maarten. Gary wanted to ask me what it was like to be a first time skipper on the non-trivial passage from New York to the Caribbean via Bermuda, and I was glad to share my experience with Gary and his listeners; not because I’m an expert offshore sailor (far from it!), but because I’m an expert on what I did.

Through out my (so called) career as a documentary filmmaker, that’s always been my philosophy in how I tell stories. Yes, occasionally I talk to experts, (mostly for context and exposition) but I am primarily interested people who are actually living the story. In 2000, when I went to Zimbabwe to make a film about the phenomenom of child-headed households in the wake of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, I talked to a few experts, but mostly I talked to the children, some as young as 10 years of age, who were left to look after their younger brothers and sisters after their parents died. Not so many facts and figures, but a lot more humanity; at least thats’ the way I see it, and that’s what interests me; not facts and figures, but real human stories.

It is precisely for this reason that the label “educational” chafes a little. Yes, I understand the role that our films can and do play in educational and theraputic situation. It’s unbelievable that after more than 100 years of cinema, it falls to yours truly to provide a simple, normalized view of sexuality; and I’m told that my films are found to be useful in situations as divergent as the rehabitation of sexual criminals to providing reassurance and encouragement to couples experiencing intimacy problems, to a simple “visual/emotional aphrodisiac” for couples how are already experiencing a robust and satisfying sex life. But my films are decidedly not “how to’s”, and more than that, I think there’s a real danger in how-to’s

Bill (of Bill and Desiree) touch on this in this passage from near the end of Love is Timeless.

And I had some further thoughts about education vs inspiration and the surfing concept of “stoke” in my post from last year titled “Not Everything Is Mt. Everest (Selling Sexual Dysfunction)”

As I related this to Gary, he told me about backing his way into telling the story of how he and his wife survived being capsized in the Bay of Biscay, and how important it was that his experience not be contextualized as expertise.

“The sea is different for everyone, and what worked for us in that situation might be the exact opposite of what would work in another situation. ” said Gary, and my mind flashed on the woman with whom I had a serious relationship while I was just out of collage, particular how different how she enjoyed cunnelingus was from how my wife enjoys it.

“Laura” liked it hard. I mean really hard. I mean I had a callous on the inside of my lower lip from using it as a pad to keep my teeth from cutting into her. She liked my chin pushed into her. I’d contrive ways to cantalever myself so I could bring the weight of my body to bear on the task.

By contrast, the woman I dated seriously after I moved to New York City liked such a light touch, I nearly had to make a game of *not* touching her. Save the fact that it’s my mouth and a women’s vulva, I’d scarcely call two undertaking by the same name. Against these divergent realities, what constitutes expertise? Like Gary and his wife, fighting for their lives in the Bay of Biscay, and ultimately surviving, what more is their to say beyond, “This worked for me in this situation, but mostly you have to listen, mostly you have to pay attention.” Like the sea, sex is different for every person.

Once I made the decision to make the trip from New York to the Caribbean, I scoured the internet looking for material that would give me an idea of what it might be like to be “out there”, but mostly I was disappointed. The stuff written by experts was laden with, well, expertise. The stuff on YouTube, while convincing in its authencity, was under produced (for all the promiss of this new DIY media age, making a good video still requires more investment in time than most amateur efforts can afford to invest.)

Before we left for our passage, I had had the thought I might shoot some footage along the way and produce a video, something along the lines of “Bluewater Sailing: I did it and so can you!” but I spent most of the trip either hanging on for dear life (New York to Bermuda) or simply soaking in the experience (Bermuda to St. Maarten.) I don’t think I took more than 10 minutes of footage the whole trip, and what footage I did take is decidedly unprofessional looking. Some more rumination is in order on whether I have anything to offer the sailing world in the form of a film…

In the mean time, here’s a photo of where I am now — Marigot Bay, working on Brett and Melanie, and anxiously awaiting the arrival of my wife and daughters.


INTEMPERANCE lying at anchor in Marigot Bay, SXM

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Aloha from St. Maarten


A 12 pound mahi mahi on it’s way to becoming the best lunch I’ve ever had.

Nine days.

That’s how long it took us to sail from St. George’s Harbour in Bermuda to Simpson Bay in St. Maarteen. Some highlights:

    I beat a fish to death with a winch handle and ate it for lunch.

    I swam in 15,000 ft of water in conditions so calm that at night I could see the reflection of individual stars in the ocean.

    I got sea sick for only the second time in my life. (The first being
    Montauk to Bermuda)

    I sailed for four days with a light wind on our port quarter and hardly touched the tiller once.

    I (finally) satisfied 30 years of curiosity and longing to find out “What
    is it like out there?”

In total the trip from Montauk to St Maarten was 16 days at sea and 10 days waiting in Bermuda for weather. We sailed about 1800 nautical miles covering a point to point distance of about 1500 miles. I saw things I’ve never seen before, including things I hope to never see again (my mainsail triple reefed being one of them.)

I feel changed. I’m not sure exactly how, but I feel changed. It’s something about covering a great distance at five knots, but also about the vastness. Writing to our trip’s godfather, I said it was “magically mundane” and he seemed to think that was as good a description as he’s heard in all his voyages, but we both agreed it doesn’t do the experience justice.

What comes next, I don’t know. Some very nice people helped me make this trip by pre-ordering Brett and Melanie: Boi Meets Girl, so I’d guess I’d better get it finished up. I got it more or less finalized while waiting on weather in Bermuda. Now just a little polishing and it’ll be done. It is a *very* sweet story, real lump in my throat tear in your eye stuff, which is not something you hear about films that feature giant black strap-on dildos.

Anyway, I can check my e-mail once or twice a day, so I guess I am now officially back in contact. Many thanks to all who sent well-wish or kept us in your thoughts. It was much needed and much appreciated!


Swimming next to INTEMPERANCE on a calm day, in thousands of feet of water and hundreds of miles from the nearest land.

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Walking the walk. (Even if she won’t talk the talk.)


Peggy Comstock, on the set of DAMON AND HUNTER, burning through her first 1000 feet of Kodak 16mm filmstock.

Peggy and I met on the old  NYC cyberpunky BBS and ISP Mindvox about six months before they started offering IP service, so the first poking around the internet we did was on programs like gopher and telnet.

One day a new program appeared in the applications list: lynx. I tabbed down and the next thing I knew I was poking around the website of the National Wildlife Forencit Lab in my hometown of Ashland OR. (One of the thing they do at the lab is certify bald eagles as roadkill, which then allow Native Americans to use the feathers without violating the endangered species act. If you hang around the Ashland post office you’ll see little bald eagle sized cardboard coffins coming and going from the lab.)

Anyway, that was my first experience with the World Wide Web, and I sent a note to Peggy saying, “Hey, have you checked out this links thing? It’s pretty cool.” and she did, and within a few of months Mosaic came out, Peggy had taught herself HTML, put up a couple of award winning personal websites, and gone from being an administrative assistant to a producer/designer in her company’s new online division.

Of course it wasn’t long before basic format tags weren’t enough to get the job done, so as needed Peggy taught herself some java script, and PERL and CGI.

Then she dug into Photoshop and Illustrator and all the other tools and skills that an interactive designer needed in pocket to keep up with the times. She learned how to wrangle WP blogs and Zencart e-commerce; all while developing her own design aesthetic (which are house and garden benefit from as well!) She knows how to manage servers.

When I realized that the way I wanted to shoot sex was build on sports and sit-com style cinematography, Peggy learned how be a camera operator; first on video and then on Super16. “Women love real sex.” is Peggy’s line. So is “Learn through love.” Peggy designed our trade show booth and the show sponsors always ask if they can take a photo to show other small businesses that you can make a really nice booth without spending thousands and thousands of dollars.

And of course while this was all going on, Peggy carried, birthed and has been a mother to our two children. And oh yeah, somewhere in there she found the time to write a book that was published by Barron’s. And the three months of being first mate boat with a neophyte time skipper, two children, a dog and a cat; even though before that she had never spent more than four hours straight on a boat.

I’d reckon if you took the above criteria — knows designing, building and running websites inside and out, shoots award-winning erotic films on both video and film, published author, mother, and all the rest– you’d end up with a venn diagram describing a region with exactly one inhabitant – my wife. I don’t reckon there’s anyone who’s done as many different things and done them as well as my wife has.

She’s a great cook and a hell of a bargain hunter too. Most years we manage to put at least a little in savings, which let’s me do crazy things like make my movies the way I want to make them, or sail across oceans, or tell HBO to go to hell.

Earlier this year Peggy got interested in on open-source coding project centered around fan-fic/fair-use issues, the only problem was to be involved she need to know how to code in Ruby. So she started downloading tutorials and teaching herself Ruby. Now she’s a lead programer on the project and taking online courses from MIT. And learning Python. (I don’t know that that is but it sounds scarier than Ruby!)

I’m telling you this because she won’t; it’s not her way. She’s shy. She doesn’t like to talk about herself. And besides, she’s too busy walking the walk to talk the talk.

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