10 October, 2002
curious lack of lame porn soundtracks
the music and adult industries have
j i m m y n e w l i n
Anyone who is as much of an insomniac as I am has seen VH1's late night specials about porn stars trying to break into the music business. They're normally pretty sad accounts; apparently a decade of cock-gargling affects your singing voice.
More interesting, or perhaps just more successful, is the amount of pop-musicians who have broken into the porn business, particularly through hip-hop. Luther Campbell, formerly known as Luke Skywalker from 2 Live Crew, produces a series of videos called Luke's Freakshow. Snoop Dogg lent his name and likeness to Hustler Productions' Doggystyle last year, making it the bestselling adult video of the year (150,000 units worldwide). DJ Yella, the only member of N.W.A. to neither prosper in the music industry nor die of AIDS, has been making porno for Lo-Key Productions. According to the Adult Video News, Yella feels that he is "bringing porn to the mainstream," and he may be right: local record stores have started carrying his videos, thus eliminating the stigma of walking into an adult video shop.
Of course, all of these artists have previously been criticized for the sexual content of their lyrics. Should their audience be surprised to see Snoop Dogg cavorting with Larry Flynt now that he finally has the opportunity? Tupac Shakur and the Notorious B.I.G. rapped about street violence and then redecorated their limos' interiors with brain; isn't it only natural that Luther Cambell get a hummer from Jenna Jameson?
More unanticipated is the way independent rock, specifically, the "emo" genre, has embraced pornography. Emo is a kind of low-energy punk rock filled with lots of angsty lyrics. At its best, it's Sunny Day Real Estate or Fugazi. At its worst, it sounds like a Third Eye Blind cover band filled with kids wearing Buddy Holly glasses and too-tight-tee shirts from Salvation Army.
A number of adult websites courting the emo fanbase have appeared on the web, trying to profit from the hormones of young rock fans. Supercult.com refers to itself as a home for "all subcultures," providing "home made and home grown porn" for punks. Suicidegirls.com captures models with gobs of tattoos and dyed hair, asks them what their favorite bands and books are (Dashboard Confessional and Anaïs Nin are popular faves). Suicidegirls also features online journal entries by the models describing their emotional states, a popular activity of the emo subculture.
The one with the best name, Emoporn.com, is regrettably off its server now, but they promise to return soon and are, apparently, starting a record label. Frictionusa.com advertises on the influential indie-music webzine Pitchforkmedia.com, and its main photographer apparently tours with a band called Minus the Bear (there's a note on their homepage asking for wannabe-models to be photographed for the site at Minus shows).
Maybe the roots of this trend lay in Sonic Youth's decision to employ Richard Kern to direct their "Death Valley Œ69" video in 1986. Kern is a quasi-pornographer/artist who has made a handful of aggressive films (the most famous being Fingered), and whose photographs include naked girls spreading their legs and picking their noses. Kern's influence is seen all over these websites (particularly Frictionusa), as well as the music and culture magazines The Face and Fader, which also show copious nudity.
Rock and Roll is nothing without its inherent sexuality, but it doesn't seem as much fun when it's so blatant. Still, these videos and websites are testament to the self-representation that makes alternative music like hip-hop and indie rock so exciting. If you don't like what's on the radio, you grab a guitar; if you don't like what's in Hustler, you grab a camera and a pretty friend.