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 con­tinuüm 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