Sex & Relationships

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.

My lover purrs, low and breathy. He is spent—eyes closed and flat on his back, arms limp, legs slack, rotated outward just slightly. His abdomen rises and falls hypnotically. In yoga, they call this “corpse pose”—or savasana. Done correctly, it can stimulate blood circulation and relieve conditions including nervousness and insomnia. Not unlike the toe-curling orgasm that brought him here in under four-and-a-half minutes—and without all those grueling sun salutations.

“You should be in movies,” he says dreamily, half-smiling.

Riiiiiight. You get the camera. I’ll dig out my clear heels, call a girlfriend and hop on the Sybian with a riding crop.

Except he’s not wrong. I could be in movies. And I’m not basing this entirely on my mind-blowing skills, either. The days of the glossy box-cover porn goddess may not be gone, but as media has evolved, so, too, has the material the world jacks to. And guess what? It turns out the world really likes to watch itself fuck—despite the fact that most of it doesn’t look at all like Tera Patrick.

Evolution in Brief

Human nature being what it is, porno flicks were invented about 3.7 seconds after the actual movie camera. The adult entertainment industry has always been at the forefront of technology, and with the advent of video and affordable hand-held cameras, the amateur category was born. Like every other X-rated niche—from instructional soft-core to the 27-inmate conjugal gang-bang—amateur porn flourished in the balmy waters of the World Wide Web.

So why, precisely, is it so hot to watch a zaftig everygirl enthusiastically fellating her boyfriend (still wearing the shirt from his UPS uniform) on the tatty futon in her apartment when you could be watching one (or even three) AVN award winners cavorting on a big, round satin-covered bed?

“The most simple explanation of amateur’s appeal is that most porn consumers are men and the idea that they can have sex with actual women is more believable with less-than-perfect girls as opposed to popular porn stars,” says Bill, a former executive producer for Playboy’s Spice Studios.

Makes sense, but perceived accessibility notwithstanding, there’s gotta be something more to it, right?

Armchair Psych & The Elusive O Face

Ravi, 41, has been watching porn for more than 30 years. His current favorite among the pro starlets is Tori Black. “But a friend of mine wouldn’t shut up about ‘the naturalness’ of amateur, so I checked it out. The more I watched, the more I saw women really getting into it, which was a very big turn-on.”


“Men like to believe it’s more real, that the women aren’t just doing it for a paycheck. And so many of them seem like they’re married—which for some married guys, like me—is very hot.”

Thomas doesn’t necessarily prefer amateur to professional porn, “but I find myself gravitating more toward it because my predilection tends to center on watching women climax. I don’t like the fake, ‘Do me, Baby!!!’ orgasms you find in mainstream videos.”

While Thomas appreciates beautiful women, watching a woman experience genuine, unbridled pleasure is far more important. “A woman who’s only a ‘5,’ but uninhibited enough to have an orgasm on camera is far sexier than a ‘10’ who’s obviously faking.”

Thomas and Ravi share this inclination. In fact, the topic of whether a performer looks into it came up again and again. Is she really coming? Can you see it in her face? Does she look spent when it’s over? This, for me, brought the very essence of the pro-am juxtaposition up for serious debate. Should we really be calling the actors—the ones following a script—“professionals” while the genuine articles, be they hairy gay bears, art-school lesbians or horny cuckolded husbands and their promiscuous wives, are relegated to the amateur bin?

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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