April 1998
s m u g
bumping uglies
by Todd Levin


Sissy Porn and the Single Man

I am not, generally, known to be much of a liar. In fact, there are exactly three things in whole world about which I will regularly lie - my age, the amount of change in my pocket, and the full extent of my role in that diaper-duty weekend at Carol Channing's Laguna celebrity crash pad. For the most part, lying isn't worth the trouble. It isn't valuable or strategic enough to build the elaborate web of subordinate lies needed to comfortably support the initial lie. Nor is it usually worth the intense nosebleeds and "underpants problem" I experience as dead-giveaway reflex reactions every time I lie. Makes for a very messy poker game. Which is why, with complete poker-faced (and dry nosed and clean underpants) sincerity I want you to know that I have never "officially" rented a pornographic film. Don't get me wrong; I loves the porno. But I feel like such a phony for never buying one, for never renting one. Truth be told, I am terribly porn-shy.

Oh, I've seen porno. In fact, I have seen about as much pornography as one can see at my age without being employed in the pornography industry or state legislature. I have seen more pornography than you can shake a stick at, and I have a tremendously shaky stick. But I have never once rented or purchased any of the stuff. Which is, I suppose, akin to being a dedicated pot smoker but subsisting solely off the closest, most convenient bong circle. I bring nothing to the party, save for a pair of greedy little eyes and maybe some Scotties if you're lucky. I love the stuff, as much as I love my own mother. And I love the stuff even more when my own mother is in it, even for a bit role or walk-on. But when it comes to taking charge for myself, I turn all sissy.

It's not that I don't know what I want. I know damn well what I want. I want the shared all women's prison cell-secretary's day-do I get the part-husband's on holiday-naked phone call-let's send Debbie to Texas and get rogered roundly in the process full-on greasy porno experience. And when the moment strikes, I usually march my butt straight to the most geographically convenient (preferably only marginally filthy) video rental establishment on a personal Semen Safari (not to be confused with the film of the same name). I breeze in with the authority of a well-groomed pervert, schooled in the ways of procuring an evening of adult entertainment. I amble (that's right; I amble. I am partial to ambling, and have been ambling confidently ever since that cantering accident several years ago) right up to the edge of the adult section and take my sweet time, lingering by the cheap curtain (beads or scumcloth; your pick), as I finger empty video tape boxes in the periphery of that sweet arch beyond which every possible combination of poking, prodding, tweaking, squeaking, splashing, spanking, shaking, stroking, choking, groping, teabagging, slagging, and 3-input shagging exists, pumping pink lifeblood. A means to a foul, methodically planned end in a shiny black capsule (the tape, not me), ready to consume (me, not the tape).

But then I inevitably find myself ambling around (still ambling. honestly, nothing stops me when I get to ambling, I swear!), putting greater distance between myself and what I know I want, a fail-safe copy of "Personal Best" clutched as an innocent decoy in my hungry hands. This is a form of consumer foreplay, teasing my own itch.

I actually make it into the adult section about 1 out of every 20 times I intend to make it there. And even then I get unhinged the minute my eyes pass over titles like, "Men in Black Men" or "Not Without My Daughter (Special Swedish Edition)". Or, worse yet, I make eye contact with someone else visually groping the glossy pink boxes - someone who always looks significantly creepier than I could possibly look in the adult section of my neighborhood video store. Complicity is the kiss of death. I never quite understood why people even spend the time poring over the various titles, as if one could possibly be more engaging than others. I think there are probably only a couple of hard, fast rules one can apply in better adult video shopping:

1. Don't rent a video that has rendered drawings on box in place of photographs.
2. Definitely don't rent a video that has stick drawings on the box in place of rendered drawings.
3. Absolutely, unquestionably don't rent a video with a sticker on the box indicating that has been recommended by the state coroner.

And that's pretty much it. Other than that, grab the closest box and run to the front of the store as if your life depended on it.

If it were only that easy. Something tells me that every social construct that surrounds us is designed to prevent people from comfortably renting pornography. For one thing, the fact that it is tucked away behind a whore's curtain, like some steamy boudoir kitty-corner to Sports Documentaries creates an clear moral separation. If the section were a little less private - I have always wished I could simply approach the counter and the look in my eyes would tell the clerk to matter-of-factly hand me a pornographic movie and perhaps some gummy worms - or if curtain were a little more pristine, it might be close to approachable. But even if I can get the nerve to approach or, I dare say, even enter the adult section, I sure as hell cannot leave it with one of those boxes.

Pornographic video boxes are 400 times the size of normal video boxes. They are exaggerated Hollywood stage props. Heavy manacles. Giant Mardi Gras floats that you are forced to lug on your back like an eroticized mule. I am not kidding at all. One can barely wrap one's hands around these behemoths. It's as if, by renting a pornographic film, part of the inherent responsibility is possessing the physical endurance and willpower to carry the video boxes all the way to the cash register back from the Land of Embarrassingly Oversized Video Display Units. More than once I have seen small, feeble children -- children that I have personally paid in candy and fake plastic Dracula teeth to rent pornos for me on their parents' membership cards - pass out from sheer exhaustion when attempting to drag 3 or 4 of these video boxes on their tiny little backs. It breaks my heart.

Which is why I often resort to straight-up sissy porn. Listen: I'm sure there are many good reasons to watch a movie like "Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me". However, there is only one reason to rent it seventeen times in the course of a year, before eventually cutting a side deal with the video store management to purchase a slightly battered, often viewed copy of the tape. And that reason is Moira Kelly and whatever other bland but attractive actresses David Lynch lured into getting dirty and naked in his movie under the false pretense of working with a man who might still have has artistic faculties intact. God bless your dirty soul, Mister Lynch. I would be ashamed to rent "The Pelican Brief", so what makes me think I am going to get over my own self-consciousness and a personal party tape like "The Pelican in My Briefs". So I cop out and pool from the vast resource of art-house and foreign films available that were probably not designed to accompany me on my pantsless couch adventures but do nicely. And I say Bravo to Cinematic Touchstones like "After Dark, My Sweet" and "In the Realm of the Senses" which have championed the independent spirit of filmmaking and taken me to the shores of The Pathetic Sea of Sneaky Masturbation.

Don't judge me. If you pull my files at my favorite video store, you will see a customer record that would bring even the staunchest film connoisseur to proud, salty tears. Auteurs like Bunuel, Polanski, and other European perverts are liberally sprinkled across my rental history, marred only by the occasional Zalman King classic or Tiny "Zeus" Lister straight-to-video actioneer (guilty pleasure as charged, but that Lister is one straight-from-the-hip character if you ask me). I'm terribly sorry, but as much as I love the hard stuff, when it comes to taking matters into my own hands I have only enough nerve to rent Global-arthouse instead of the Global-outhouse I crave so badly. Leave the big boxes for everyone else; I'll get my kicks in style - in Cantonese with English and Mandarin subtitles.


write todd at: letigre@smug.com


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