Straight Sausagefests: The Slutty, Passive Pleasure of Porn

‘What do women want?’, is the title of a long feature by Amanda Hess at Good Magazine, based around a 25 year-old male (straight) porn star called ‘James Deen’, illustrated with some long-shot snaps of him fully-clothed, lounging around his ‘porn mansion’, looking like a young Roman Abramovich. 

Despite ‘Deen’ turning out to be somewhat less interesting than he’s billed as being (he likes burritos, apparently), the piece nevertheless throws up some interesting questions about what women want from porn. And also, along the way, what men might want too.

Essentially, Deen is a nerdy twink. (A ‘twerd’, if you will.) It seems this is big news in straight porn.

‘Deen has carved out a niche in the porn industry by looking like the one guy who doesn’t belong there. Scroll through L.A.’s top porn agency sites and you’ll find hundreds of pouty women ready to drop to their knees, but just a few dozen men available to have sex with them. These guys all have a familiar look—neck chains, frosted tips, unreasonable biceps, tribal tattoos. Deen looks like he was plucked from a particularly intellectual frat house.’

In other words: Deen doesn’t look vulgar and low-class and thus is worthy of Ms Hess’ and Good magazine’s interest.

‘It’s not that more normal-looking guys don’t want to be in porn, it’s that the industry isn’t exactly looking for them. Within the major porn talent agencies, female performers outnumber male ones almost 5-to-1. The directors and producers hiring them are mostly men. They’re staffing porn’s workforce with an eternally refreshed slate of female bodies, and a handful of guys who look like what men think women want: Big arms. Big abs. Big dicks.’

Hang on. The reason the directors and producers hiring them are mostly men is because the audience for porn as you have admitted is – overwhelmingly – men. And so it follows that the men who become porn actors are not chosen because it’s thought they will appeal to women (though this may be the ‘no-homo’ rationalisation that goes through some men’s heads).

They’re chosen because – in addition to being able to maintain a large erection for hours in front of a camera and crew, something which most mortal men can’t manage – they appeal to men. Most men like and admire big arms. Big abs. And big dicks. Men are so low-class.

‘The porn machine churns out performers to satisfy every fantasy, be it MILF, dwarf, fat, granny, or gang bang. But if you’re interested in watching a young, heterosexual, nonrepulsive man engage in sex, James Deen is basically it.’

So every male porn model doing straight porn, apart from your twinky, slightly dull, and frankly rather homely-looking Deen, is repulsive? Fine. More for me then….

Once upon an 80s time, in the early days of hardcore straight videoporn, when men were first negotiating their anxieties about masturbating over another man’s penis, it was often the case that male porn actors tended to be deliberately ‘repulsive’ – or at least, their appearance was heavily signalled to be ‘completely unimportant’.

But in recent years the appearance of male porn actors is no longer unimportant. It’s expected by the men that consume porn who have themselves become more image and body-conscious that male porn models will take care of themselves. They are not always just a self-propelled penis. More of their body and even their face appears on camera, and hence the body is usually worked on to make it ‘worthy’ of display.

At the very least, the guys watching porn today expect to see male performers who reflect their own metrosexual preoccupations. More than that, I think many young men expect that male porn actor’s bodies should give them visual pleasure. (Deen complains that he gets hate mail from men – who frequently tell him he ‘needs to work out’.) Though it’s true that at the moment there isn’t exactly much variety in that visual pleasure.

You can of course though watch lots of ‘young, heterosexual non-repulsive men’ engaging in sex – but gay-for-pay sex. While the same kind of worked out, tattooed male bodies Hess finds repulsive dominate in gay porn too, because it’s catering mostly to men who have a preference for their own sex it naturally has a much larger range of ‘niche’ ‘types’ available. Which is perhaps part of the reason why some women like it. And I’ll wager there’s at least a dozen gay websites specialising in Deen-ish ‘intellectual frathouse’ twerdy types. (And as this article states further down, they’ll be paid up to ten times as much for it as they would for doing straight porn.)

Then again, I know lots of gay men who only watch straight porn – because they say they prefer the guys in it. And because of course, no matter what kind of male models are used, or however you disembody them, or try to disavow it, hardcore straight porn is by voyeuristic definition bisexual. Gay porn on the other hand is determindedly monosexual. Sexual difference simply does not exist. You never, ever see a vagina in a gay porn flick. Unless it’s in an arthouse movie made by Bruce LaBruce (whom I suspect only puts them in to piss off The Gays).

Anyway, I’m not terribly convinced by Hess’ idea of ‘normal’. She talks a lot in the Good piece about how ‘normal looking’ and ‘naturally-muscled’ Deen is, and how unlike other male porn performers he is. But then mentions, almost as an afterthought, ‘His penis is 9 inches long.’

Assuming this has been, er, fact-checked, statistically this makes Deen literally a fucking freak. Only 0.1% of white males have a penis that ‘normal’.

According to Hess, ‘nonrepulsive’ and affectionate Deen is helping to inflate young women’s interest in porn. Maybe. But then again, young women’s interest in Deen as presented in the piece is often about anything other than the fact that he fucks women on film for a living. They treat him more like a boy-band star who happens to be working as a porn model while waiting for Simon Cowell to notice him.

“I think he is really cute (not in a sexual way),” one woman writes. “I want to talk to him and tell him why I like him,” another says. “It’s not only cause of his amazing talent, it’s because of his personality.” One woman shares a video that “doesn’t have James fucking her but he is there and he is being sweet so I think it’s cute to watch anyway.”

With their animated gifs and collages and focus on the way he gazes into the eyes of his female partners, or holds their hand, you get the impression his women fans are making a kind of fan-fic out of his back catalogue.

Perhaps Deen really does signal the beginning of a sea-change in hardcore porn consumption and production – involving women much more as consumers not just (well-paid) performers.

But probably not with porn producers like Joshua Lehman in charge:

“I get 300 dick pictures sent to my phone every day. I don’t want to see your penis. That’s not how you get into porn.” He advises straight men to “get the hottest bitch you can and make her your girlfriend,” then “go into a producer’s office and have her tell him that you’re the only guy she’ll fuck.”

So if you look like shit and you have a four inch penis you’ll have a career in porn because your girlfriend is a ‘hot bitch’? Yeah, right.

I think the guys sending Mr Lehman pictures of their cocks may have a better idea – or a more honest one – of what straight porn is about than the chap making it. After all, if you watch ‘straight’ online hardcore porn today you will probably see at least 300 (very large) penises in the space of an hour or so’s browsing. And considerably fewer vaginas. I know some working class straight guys who like to send one another pics and vids of especially large penises they’ve found in straight porn to each other’s phones. Which is sweet.

And of course, in the typical porn viewing scenario we have to always add at least one more, very, very important penis to however many there are on screen. The one in the hand of the chap watching it.

But the female porn models are undoubtedly the stars of straight porn – and get paid handsomely, compared the small change thrown at the male models. Partly because loads of gents would do porn for nothing. Partly because straight (and bisexual) fellas are, of course, very keen on the ladies. And partly because the ‘hot chicks’ are what keeps all this penis from being… GAY. Which would, ironically, spoil the virile pleasure of the penises for many of the men watching it (including my gay friends).

‘All of this changes, of course, when there are no girls involved at all. Gay porn stars make “a ridiculous amount more,” Lehman says. “The best male performers make $1,000 a scene on average. Some of the male performers in gay porn make up to $10,000 a scene. That’s why guys do it.” According to Lehman, “some of the guys who do gay for pay would rather be in straight porn,” but if you turn up in gay porn, “we don’t really want you on the straight side,” Lehman says.’

No, because that would let the cat right out of the bag, wouldn’t it? It would suggest some kind of well-lubed continuum between gay and straight porn – both of which are sausagefests. Lehman sounds like his job is keeping straight porn… straight. Less of a porn producer than a porn policeman.

‘Lehman tells me he was recently approached by “two well-known male performers” floating a DVD of their sexual exploits with women. “The box is basically them. Huge pictures of them. In the background, there’s a couple of hot chicks, but it’s real small,” he says. “I looked at it and said, ‘Is it gay porn? Because that’s what it looks like.’” Lehman cannot imagine a future in which this rule does not hold. “Even James Deen. You may see him in every movie, but do you see him at the center of a box? I don’t think so,” Lehman says. “If you put a man in the foreground on a box cover, male and female customers are going to assume it’s gay porn.”

This anxiety is, Hess suggests, part of the reason why (straight) porn doesn’t appeal to women very much.

‘The straight male performer must be attractive enough to serve as a prop, but not so attractive that he becomes the object of desire. As Curry puts it, “No one wants to alienate the male audience.”’

Of course, despite all this careful policing and presentation of hardcore male/female porn as rigidly, conventionally ‘hot chick’ heterosexual, male viewers, just like the female James Deen fans, are very capable of reading it their own kinky way.

I’ve lost count of the number of bi-curious straight men who have told me they were turned on to the joys of sucking or riding penis by watching straight porn. Never ever underestimate the greediness of male voyeurism. In the privacy of their own filthy minds men don’t conscientiously restrict themselves to identifying with the male ‘stud’. They also identify with the ‘slut’ who is ‘getting it’ – from all directions. Particularly since in straight porn she’s the one who is actually allowed to enjoy herself.

Whilst the men have to busy themselves with their ‘work’, like naked gymnastic car mechanics in a hurry to finish their ‘service’, in the centre of all this activity the female porn actress enacts and vocalises – very loudly – the slutty, passive pleasure of sex.

And judging by the number of men they’ve turned into sluts they’re doing a very good job of it.

Tip: Tobias

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8 thoughts on “Straight Sausagefests: The Slutty, Passive Pleasure of Porn

  1. To porn execs: Good luck with getting women interested in watching hetero porn. Most women–lesbian, bi and hetero–who watch porn for its own sake, for the pleasure of it, prefer gay male porn.

    Women who watch hetero porn are, I think, watching it with their boyfriend, hoping it will be something they can both enjoy.

    Yes, this is just anecdotal, what I’ve heard from other women.

    Why would the writer so misrepresent Deen’s appeal? Does she watch porn? Or read any (assuming there is written porn anymore)? Speaking as a non-viewer but occasional reader (“Gladiator School,” great gay porn story of a few years back) I can attest that a “nerdy” or “average” looking guy doing convincing dom BDSM is way more interesting than a big cock with no personality.

    Did you follow the Anthony Weiner (real name) cock shot scandal? A congressman from New York City who sent smartphone cock shots of himself to several women. Most women’s reaction was “Why would he think I (we) want to see that?” It’s not prudery or hypocrisy–it’s genuine uninterest.

    As the Hymn to Him (“My Fair Lady”) says: Why can’t a woman be more like a man? My answer: because we’re not men.

  2. I’ve looked at some of those links and can’t quite believe the way that the Good article misrepresented women’s interest in Deen, which is anything but cute clean fun….

    Much worse though is the misreporting of the size of his membrum virile.

    I’m sorry, but there’s no way it’s ‘nine inches long’.

    It’s certainly girthy, but it looks more like 8-8.25 inches. But since only 1% of men have an 8 incher and 0.3 have a 8.25 incher, he’s still pretty freaky.

    Of course, like most men, gay or straight, I’m just being a size queen.

    One of the things that struck me about the clips I saw of him in action is how little focus there is on his penis. And no facial money-shot. Perhaps the lack of ‘phallocentricty’ is part of his appeal to some women.

    I doubt that my gay chums who are fans of straight porn will have much time for him.

  3. Tu, he’s actually doing a lot of stuff that you don’t see much of at all in straight porn and it is all kind of subtle gestures. Even in the bondage and rough fucking videos, he’s frequently holding the girl’s hand(s) or clasping an arm.

    He does a lot of dirty talk whispered low enough that only the actress can actually make out what he’s saying. He eats pussy with his entire mouth and not just the tip of his tongue flicking rapidly back and forth. And there’s lot of kissing. These gestures all give a pretty strong impression of intimacy that isn’t normally there.

    I’m probably overselling him as much as Good was and I just discovered the guy today, but fuck it 🙂

    There’s one scene of his in particular that is just ridiculously sexy and the attention isn’t completely shifted to the girl in the scene so you can really get a feel for him (which is pretty surprising). Just google James Deen and Nicole Ray. It is much more like amateur porn by a hot couple than the typical porn studio bullshit.

  4. This post was excellent, really spot-on, but I still don’t understand why James Deen has been anointed as the exemplar of hip, female-friendly male porn stars. I find him attractive, but there’s nothing about him that strikes me as a “star.” His only outstanding attribute is one that cliche in the porn industry: a large penis. Otherwise, he’s unique for being an average joe.

    His success solidifies my belief that most women, especially feminist women, hate metrosexuality, and James is probably the least metrosexual male porn actor out there. Women have far more to gain from traditional gender roles than men and metrosexuality is a threat to the statue quo that makes women feel special and the center of attention.

  5. Gayle: Thanks for looking at those Tumblr pages I should have researched myself.

    I would probably have done my homework if that profile had made more of the fact that he dommed in BDSM porn, or even managed to mention it. As you say, THAT would be an actual angle for someone as Simon & Garfunkel as him.

    Just going to have a little peek now….

  6. I’ve never seen him before, but thanks to you I’ve just scrolled through like 50 tumbler pages full of gifs. Damn it!

    I kinda love that nerdy looking guy with a Jew-fro is doing BDSM porn as the dominant. Nerdy and geeky guys who turn out to be unexpectedly aggressive in bed are extremely hot. I think this is a key to a lot of his appeal to the Tumblr teen brigade. If he were just doing basic vanilla straight porn, he’d be of little interest. I think the original article you linked to overlooks this point entirely.

  7. Oh, I didn’t say Mr Deen wasn’t pleasant enough. But pleasant isn’t quite the same thing as interesting.

    Though I’ll admit he isn’t unkind on the eye. When I called him ‘homely’ I was probably just reacting bitchily to the over-sell of the Good piece….

    He still looks like Roman Ambramovich, though.

  8. I don’t know James seems like a pleasant chap to me at least. I think that’s one of the reasons women find him so appealing he actually has presence.

    As you say in your peace in the world of straight porn women are the stars of the show they have actual personality and presence that’s why I enjoy it, as it gives me something to admire both physically and also mentally as well.

    The guys on the other hand are just expected to show up get hard and do their thing without causing to much of a fuss (witch if you think about it is the script men are expected to follow in every day life apart from the getting hard bit)

    They barley qualify as performers some of them and seeing as people can’t really fully enjoy themselves unless they have something to connect with beyond the physical I can understand that women find porn marketed towards a heterosexual mindset to be quite an alienating place.

    If James’s easy going nature makes women more comfortable indulging in porn then I consider that a huge step forward.

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