Hi there. My name is Dale Cooper, and I was very kindly asked by the lovely Madam Curator, Miss Sarah, to jot down some of my thoughts on sex and cameras. I am a performer in gay pornography by occupation, and recently became a contributor to MakeLoveNotPorn.tv — my first video was released on June 5th. Sarah asked me to share my thoughts on #realworldsex and #pornsex, and I am happy to oblige, as I do both with some regularity and think about them often enough.
I fairly recently got through Denis Diderot’s Les bijoux indiscrets (The Indiscreet Jewels), a fable first published in 1748. In it, the male protagonist, the sultan Mangogul, is given a ring by a genie which compels tales of sexual misadventure to be spoken. The women of Mangogul’s court would not speak through their mouths, however, but, through the power of the magic ring. Their “jewels” are what speak “the part which is most frank in them, and the most knowledgeable about the things you wish to know.”
We are, thankfully, living in an age where some degree of an ability to speak sex is allowable, and more and more permissible for women. Yet the discussion is still remarkably circumscribed. To a great extent, despite all of us being sexed creatures by virtue of our biologies, we rely on the the invention of all sorts of “magic rings” that make speaking about sex possible through innuendo, hushed voices, and mere hints of visible sexual display: Hollywood, advertising, sexual mores relating to propriety or monogamy or marriage, structural homophobia within our institutions, etc. Meanwhile, we still restrict as improbable the larger, open, inclusive discussion that sex deserves.
Sex is incredibly important to a great deal of us. To some of us it is more important than others, and to some it is not important at all. To still some others it does not occur to them that sex might be crucially important, that it might be redolent with meanings and connections to other parts of their lives.
This is the problem with relying upon our society’s version of Diderot’s device to speak about sex. The most potent magic ring we currently have is the pornographic video — none other can claim to so nakedly portray sex as it does. While Mangogul had to turn the setting on his ring to get women to speak their sex, those of us with access to the internet nowadays can compel all manners of strangers to speak their sex by pressing play on a video we find on a porn website. Cindy Gallop has spoken of how online porn has became the de facto sex education for young people in a country that absolutely refuses to grow a pair and speak sex to its youth. If you let one type of discussion about sex, in this case, conventional and readily accessible online porn, completely take over the public discourse on what sex is, you have a problem. We live in an age with a very big problem when it comes to talking about sex. We invest it with all of the illicitness that encourages us to keep our sexual lives and proclivities secret from one another, and only safely whip them out when we’re at home in front of our screens.
Seeing as I introduced myself as performer for conventional gay male pornography studios, you may be imagining me as quite the hypocrite right now. Let me at least say in my defense, and in defense of my industry that a) porn is awfully important (economically, socially, libidinally), b) we thankfully live in a society that allows for the free expression of its production, and c) there is nothing at all wrong with some people finding conventional porn and its tropes hot. I think that’s great. It is certainly not my job (and should be no one else’s for that matter) to dictate to others what is hot and what is not.
The problem is not that porn exists. The problem is that we have let the word “porn” come to mean just one thing: the kind of aggressive, affected erotic display that predominates the market currently. Again: that can be hot! If you like that, no problem! But there is so much more, so much variety, so many ways of being and so many ways of interacting with others that are not represented within them.
To some those displays can also be very not hot. They can be misogynist. They can be overly focused on the penetrative. They can be a bit stale. The problem is that we, collectively, have so readily given over any desire to construct alternative dialogues, alternative erotic displays, that we have let porn imagine itself to be monolithic, to be the only type of sex that people could want. Which it is definitely not.
That is the importance, to me, of a project such as MakeLoveNotPorn.tv. It can act as an antidote to the folly of Mangogul’s ring, which construed sexual pleasure as something private and unknowable unless one was a voyeur. The are multiple paths to the the erotic, and there is no more destabilizing a force on the hegemony of contemporary porn representations than to democratize this medium. MAKE YOUR OWN #REALWORLDSEX VIDEO. Make your own porn. Call it whatever you want. Call it erotica. Call it a smut film. Call it a home movie. Call it making love. Call it fucking in an alley with a video camera in your hand. MLNP.tv offers several different, individuated pathways to #realworldsex videos for you to choose from. I would certainly encourage you to submit some of your own and add even more. Throw in as many different voices into this discussion as possible. Speak your sex. Or if that’s not your thing (which is fine), encourage us folk who do if you like what we do.
There you have it, folks! Speak your sex by sharing #realworldsex on MLNP.tv.