tagReviews & EssaysA Philosophy of Porn

A Philosophy of Porn

byChristian Black©

I love sex, but for the most part, I hate pornography. As a cinematic and literary genre, porno is to sex as the romance genre is to love. That is to say, each takes an amazingly complex subject and reduces it to a series of simple-minded cliches. Worse than this, pornography robs sex not only of its complexities, but also of its beauty. Porn is ugly. It reflects the worst, most base aspects of an exclusively male mind-set. It's often said that pornography degrades women, but I believe that it degrades men even more. By reducing male sexuality to a commodity, and limiting male sexual fantasy to endless repetitions of the "Conquest of the Whore" pattern, I take pornography as an insult.

That being said, I do appreciate certain aspects of pornography. There is an undeniable, if primitive, charge in explicit penetration. The knowledge that the people on-screen are actually fucking and not just acting. However, this invariably evolves into twenty minutes of extreme close-up genital pumping which, after a while, is every bit as erotic as watching pistons fire. There's also a strange fascination in witnessing male ejaculation, but of course porn's beloved "cum shot" all too often involves an aspect of humiliation, of "marking" the woman.

Then there's the genre called "erotica." Better, but I've still had a hard time finding erotica which does what I believe it's supposed to do. That is, turn me on. Sometimes the very "artistic" nature of the piece serves to distance me from the sexual charge it should carry. Sometimes erotica over-compensates for the sins of pornography by being too staid, too implicit. And then sometimes, what passes for erotica is just "porno-lite," the same hoary cliches dressed up and toned down.

So, is there a balance to do be found? Can there be sexually explicit literature that does justice to the beauty and complexity of the human sexual experience? Is there such a thing as "erotic pornography?"

Part of the problem is in the subjective nature of sex. What turns me on may not turn you on, and vice-versa. I've heard the difference between erotica and porn described as "Erotica turns me on, pornography turns other people on." For a long time, I have suspected that in order to find a satisfying balance between the two, I would have to write my own.

I was introduced to the "Literotica" web-site two years ago by a friend who thought I might be interested in reading the wide variety of amateur erotica and pornography that's out there on the internet. I soon found, though, I was more interested in writing erotica and porn than in reading it. Assuming the pseudonym "Christian Black," I set out to do just that.

My first attempt at posting an erotic porno on this site was a story called "Ding Dong the Bitch is Dead," about a woman returning home for her mother's funeral, who discovers an unusual channel for her grief through a sexual encounter with her hapless step-father. I thought, and still think, that it was a good story. I captured the voice of the heroine (Emma, a recurring character) fairly well and I liked the balance of humor, pathos and sex. But on the good old Literotica "feedback-o-meter" the story only rated a 3.62. And, to my dismay, the good and wise editors of the web-site had labeled it an "Incest" story. (But they're not "blood" relations!)

Ah, well. The experience was educational for me. I think part of the reason for the mediocre reception was the fact that the sex doesn't happen until halfway through the 4,000 word story. I spent too much time setting up Emma's relationship with her dead Mom, as if that matters to someone surfing the net for wanking material. Personally, I've always been more interested in "why" people fuck than in the specifics of "how," but again, balance is the key. In the two years since, I've submitted sixteen more stories, trying to find this balance between what interests me about the genre, and what an audience will actually want to read. Sometimes successfully, sometimes not.

Here are a few thoughts and observations I have on writing erotic pornography:

TOWARDS A PORNOTOPIA: All my stories are set in a sexually ideal fantasy realm which I call "Pornotopia." (I don't know where I got this term. I'm sure I didn't coin it myself, but I can't remember where I stole it from.) Pornotopia is just like the real world, except sex is even more central to human existence than it is here, more important than either religion or money. The characters in Pornotopia don't have to worry about sexually transmitted diseases or unwanted pregnancies, those things don't even exist. There is no sexual guilt, and appearances count less than a willingness to please. The only crime in Pornotopia is being a selfish lover, refusing to put your partner's pleasure above your own. I think that every writer of erotica and/ or pornography has their own version of Pornotopia.. It's a great place to visit, isn't it? Especially when promiscuous sex in the real world is fraught with physical and emotional danger. In the real world, I'm a happily married man in a monogamous relationship with my wife. My Pornotopia alter ego, Christian Black, is however a wandering carouser, with many sex partners of both genders. And when I get tired of screwing around in his skin, I have several other characters (most of them women) through whom I can explore this fictional world.

THE FEMALE P.O.V. : Almost all of my stories are written in the first person. This gives them an intimate, confessional feel, and is also easier to write. Once you find the character's voice, they will pretty much tell the story for you. Many of them are from the female P.O.V., and this presents some challenges for the male writer.

A dead give-away is when the female narrator inserts her bra size in the first paragraph. Women just don't do that. Most women I know never even mention their bra size unless they think you're going shopping for them. Also, while a real female narrator might casually mention her lover's penis size, only a man will take a ruler to it. If an actual inch measurement crops up, it's clear that you're reading a man's story. Also, women generally do not use "throbbing" as an adjective.

The trick is to make the female character as three-dimensional as you would a male character. I have written several stories from the point of view of Emma, a sexually adventurous and somewhat domineering woman. Emma has a real history (a conflicted relationship with her mother) and a real voice (somewhat sarcastic.) She has definite sexual preferences (bisexual, with a taste for gay men) and can be a real bitch. I hope she's convincing as a character, and that her sexual experiences are realistically motivated. Maybe not. Read the stories and let me know. I'd love to hear some feedback.

"WHAT ELSE CAN I SAY? / EVERYONE IS GAY." - Nirvana, "All Apologies"

Or, for the purposes of my personal Pornotopia, maybe that should be amended to "Why would I lie? / Everyone is bi." (OK, so I'm not a songwriter.) Almost all of my characters, male and female, are bisexual. I believe that we all have male and female aspects to our psyche and it only makes sense that these aspects would respond sexually to their opposites.

Of course, "hot girl/ girl action" is a cornerstone of pornography, but all too often it seems obvious that the woman are only performing for the benefit of a male audience. When the women seem to be motivated by actual desire for one another, this comes through in the portrayal and, for me, nothing is sexier. Most men are aroused by watching (or reading about) two women having sex, and most can't really say why. For me, I think it's an example of the old quote that "I would never belong to club that would have me as a member." There is something inherently distasteful about male sexuality, whereas female sexuality is somehow pure. Therefor, woman-to-woman sex is "clean" and perfect. Almost every woman I personally know has experimented with another girl at some point, and there is none of the weird social stigma that's attached to male homosexual experimentation. The best lesbian scenes in my stories can be found in "Third Person," "Emma and Ginger," and "Cassandra and Carolyn."

So what of gay male sex? In reality, it sort of grosses me out. You might say, "don't knock it 'till you've tried it." I won't go into detail, but I have tried it. My one-time experiment with another man left me feeling shamed and a little disgusted. In theory, I had no problem with gay sex and even for a time considered myself bisexual. Then I tried it and found it not to my taste at all. In Pornotopia, though, it's an entirely different story. My alter ego, Christian Black, has occasional sex with men (see the "Four-Play" series) and "Bizarre Love Triangle" contains a very detailed description of a man-to-man blowjob and is one of my favorite stories contained here.

THE ORAL MAJORITY: God, oral sex is cool, isn't it? Both in reality and from the point of view of the writer. You can get much more descriptive about fellatio and cunnilingus than you can about "regular" intercourse. Not only is there the added sense of taste, but it's more visual. When one character goes down on another, you have an eye-level view of their genitals. Penises and vaginas are as varied in appearance as people's faces and only in an oral sex scene can they be adequately described.

I've written it from just about every angle. Male and female characters giving and receiving head from characters of both the same and the opposite sex. The challenge is keeping it fresh every time, keeping in mind that no two people taste alike, and no two people suck alike.

On a symbolic level, oral sex is analogous to both the Communion ritual ("Take, eat. This is my body.") and to the practice of cannibalism among certain primitive tribes. All three involve ingesting part of another person and making it part of yourself. That's why swallowing semen has such a dramatic effect. It's like a black magic ritual.

Almost all of my stories involve at least some oral sex, but my favorite descriptions are in "Bizarre Love Triangle" (a man sucks off his blindfolded room-mate, who believes that it's his girlfriend,) "Third Person" (a woman goes down on both a strange woman and her husband,) and "Biomechasexual" (sexual robots are custom designed for an orally-fixated space traveler.)

Sigmund Freud would no doubt say that I am locked in an infantile stage of oral fixation, but to Freud I would say: "Suck my dick."

A PERSONAL KINK: This is something I became aware of while secretly perusing my Dad's copy of "The Joy of Sex" as a teen-ager. That book, if you'll recall, is copiously illustrated with pencil drawings of two hippies doing it in every position imaginable. The woman has very hairy armpits and pubic hair. Under the heading "Armpits," the book advises "They should by no accounts be shaved."

Something about that really struck a nerve with me and since then I have been really turned on by women who don't shave. I'm not sure why, but the all-natural earth-mama hippie-chick archetype is my sexual ideal. I love it.

For other "hairy pit" fans out there, I recommend seeing Juliette Lewis in "Natural Born Killers," Kate Winslet in "Holy Smoke," and Lisa Bonet in "Angel Heart." Also great album cover photographs by Patti Smith, P.J. Harvey and Ani Difranco. All of them have done time in my fantasies, that's for sure.

I try not to push the armpit thing too much in my fiction. Only about half the women in my stories shave. I don't want it to turn into a personal cliche, and I know it doesn't suit everyone's taste. "Armpit Politics" was the only story to delve fully into the fetish, but it sucks big time and I would steer clear unless you're truly obsessed.

Speaking of obsessed, there is a person on this site with the screen name of "Belab," supposedly a woman (although you can never really be sure) from India with a lot of time on her hands. Belab has written literally dozens of stories, all of them with hirsute women as the focus. Belab, if you read this, I'd like to say you are one fucked-up individual, and I love that about you.

CATEGORIES/ SCHMATEGORIES: I have made a challenge to myself to write at least one story in each of the many categories on the site, even the ones that aren't really "my thing." Like "Incest." It's almost disturbing how prevalent and popular incest stories are on Literotica. Either there are a lot of sick fuckers out there, or (as I prefer to believe) it's part of the Pornotopia thing. Those stories are set in a word where the realization of sex fantasies concerning family members doesn't have the inevitably destructive consequences of fulfilling them in real life. And there is always an erotic charge in the taboo. My attempt at an incest story, "Cassandra's Secret," is about a woman telling her boyfriend about her sexual relationship with her brother. It is a dark and intense story, which may put some people off. I think that if you hope to honestly explore the subject of incest, though, it is necessary to deal with feelings of guilt and shame.

The series entitled "The Education of Lisa" is an attempt to write an ongoing story in which each chapter is in a different category. Even more difficult, I plan to cover every category in alphabetical order. So far, I've done "Anal" and "BDSM." "Celebrities" is next, and so on. The only one I don't know how I'm going to handle is "Non-Consensual." For me, there is nothing in the least bit erotic about rape. But I won't puss out, either (if I ever get that far.)

ABOUT THAT FEEDBACK-O-METER: I still haven't figured out how to please that thing. You know what a thrill it is to get a rating over 4.5, and getting that sexy red "H" by your story, telling the whole world that it is officially "HOT?" Well, for me that hasn't lasted very long. Most of my stories balance out at around 4.4. Not bad, but not "H," either.

Plus, some of my favorite stories don't even crack the 4 mark, whereas my highest rated story, "Awakening Amelia's Malomar" (4.49 [so close!]) is one that I'm personally disappointed in. Who knows?

More illuminating for me are the encouraging words of personal feedback that I receive via e-mail. I love that. Keep it coming.

The numbers of readers I get are gratifying, too. My more popular stories have more than 35,000 people who have at least opened the stories and looked at them. I write "straight" fiction under my real name, and I'm damn sure I haven't had 35,000 people read any of that stuff.

God, to think I might have been responsible for thousands of boners. That's like a standing ovation.

YEAH, BUT SOME OF YOUR STORIES SUCK: Yes, I admit that some of the stories posted on this site are not up to my own standards and should be avoided at all costs. "Armpit Politics" fails as both fiction and as porn, and is essentially worthless. I'm not fully satisfied with "Awakening Amelia's Malomar," though it is my highest-rated story, so maybe that's just a matter of taste. "Danny and Michelle Come Over" is just lame, and "Erica" is as ripe with cliches as any installment of "Penthouse Forum." There is no way, to my knowledge, to remove a story once it's been posted on the site. If anyone reading this knows how to take a story off, let me know, and I can remove these eye-sores from the face of the internet.

For those interested, these are my personal favorites among the stories I've posted here:

1. "Biomechasexual"- My stab at erotic sci-fi, kind of a mind-bender about custom-designed sex robots and why such a thing might be a bad idea.

2. "Third Person" / "Bizarre Love Triangle"- Both are sex scenes lifted from otherwise "straight" novels I'm working on and, as a consequence, slightly better written than most of my other selections.

3. "Four-Play"- The first two parts of a projected four-part story (I'll finish it someday.) A four-way bisexual quadrangle told "Rashoman"- style by each of the four participants, who include Christian Black and Emma.

4. The "Cassandra" stories.- A remembrance of Christian Black's first girlfriend, kind of a crazy chick.

5. "Ding Dong the Bitch is Dead"/ "Emma and Ginger"- Two more "Emma" stories.

If you're still reading this, I'd love to hear from you. No matter if you agree or disagree with my philosophy of porn or if you love or hate my writing.

Keep writing! Smut is good!

Christian Black.

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