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Are We Over Porn Stars?

Adult movies have become predictable, leaving the door open for amateur auteurs to fill the market with reality-based fare many viewers say they can't get enough of.

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The O Face Realized

La petite mort is a French metaphor for orgasm. Its translation, “the little death,” conjures the moment one lies lost in an afterglow dusted with a hint of sadness—as though with each climax, we lose a small trace of life’s very essence.

Both Ravi and Thomas referenced their attraction to the faces of women in the throes of rapture; both joked (with a detectable level of swagger) that they thought they were pretty good at sorting authentic from ersatz. But probably not as practiced as Richard Lawrence, co-founder of, a site dedicated entirely to the beauty and raw, erotic power of the human orgasm.

You won’t see any hardcore action here. Each video is made privately by the contributor and shows the “Agonee,” as they are called, from about the neck up. Some are masturbating, some pleasured in other ways, but mostly you won’t know how. And you won’t mind. The sounds, movements, facial expressions—the incredibly intimacy—is both mesmeric and overwhelming. (I kept feeling like I shouldn’t be watching, but of course, I did.)

“I was talking to my friend about porn several years ago,” says Lawrence. “She had some informed opinions which complemented my collected years’ experience as an occasional consumer. I would have been a more frequent consumer had I been finding any porn that actually turned me on … everything seemed so fake, contrived, and totally devoid of any humanity.”

The pair began to deconstruct the porn paradigm and came to an opinion that echoes what Ravi, Thomas, and more than a few others said. “Not only was the face the real key to it all,” Lawrence explains, “but in fact, the face was all you needed, if it was experiencing genuine sexual pleasure.”

They began with four submissions. Today, they upload new Agonies several times each week. The site’s “Confessions” section delves deeper, with interviews or self-filmed revelations of participants that give viewers a candid peek inside their motivations and even their actual sex lives.

One such woman is Contributor #329. She is 26. “I thought it was conceptually the most exciting erotica I had seen … and was immediately drawn to the idea of being a part of it. It was also somewhat of a personal challenge to share something so intimate in a public space. It’s cliché, but it’s really so liberating.”

She found the prospect of masturbating before the camera something of a buffer to climax. “I thought I was taking ages and ages,” she admits, “but when I’d finished and looked at the time code, I’d only taken seven minutes.” (She averages three or four minutes, sans camera.)

Porn classic, of course, will endure, but our Web-fed cravings have evolved. Or devolved. Or something. For what it’s worth, Lawrence doesn’t see traditional porn auteur as competitors. “They seem to have reacted the same way they reacted to the alt-porn thing—they fake it. It’s not terribly successful, and it’s not a threat to the real amateur porn out there.”

And so, while we all love scoffing at those dated scenarios from decades past in which the TV repairman saunters in, shirt open, medallion glinting amid a soft prairie of Hasselhoffian chest hair and queries the housewife with a knowing smirk as to what she’d like him to do about all the fuzz on her box (cue funky bass-driven soundtrack), they have taken on a corny, almost Norman Rockwell quality. Something akin to when your Nana speaks fondly of the days when she could get two chocolate bars and see a movie for 10 cents… Only with anal.

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