Porn has played a starring role in my relationship (but not how you'd expect).
I've been reviewing adult films for more than a decade. Over the course of those 10 years I've watched more than 500 porn movies, for fun and profit.
OK, mostly for profit.
My porn writing career began when, while looking for a new publishing job, I answered an ad in the New York Times and landed a position as Associate Editor of Penthouse Forum. I had experience writing "semi-smut" for friends' zines (this was the '90s, after all) but hadn't watched an adult film besides a Deep Throat viewing with friends in college; I had been always been a porn supporter but never a viewer.
I've never been much of a prude and have always believed in freedom of speech. As such, my conscience about the porn industry always was—and still is—clear. Frankly, I felt more degraded working as a secretary than I ever did as a porn reviewer. Granted, there are women who wind up in the industry because they're drug addicts or runaways and have troubled lives. But there are plenty of women go into porn as smart, savvy businesswomen and manage to build their own empires.
Plus, watching flicks of all varieties exposes the viewer to bodies and sexual preferences in all shapes and sizes. This exposure, in turn, leads to greater acceptance of diversity rather than an expectation of "perfect" bodies or fantasies.
While it certainly occurred to me that I could mix business with (self) pleasure, watching porn was just a job.
The first time vocation finally converged with entertainment was after I'd separated from my husband and found myself on a ski trip with my to-be boyfriend, Jim. I was down to the wire on my deadline and had to watch a film called Airgazmic. "Why not give it a whirl with company?" I mused.
There were a few moments when I sat with my back to the TV so I could observe Jim and our other male friend watching. This was, I must admit, considerably more stimulating than Airgazmic turned out to be. In Penthouse Forum the evening's story might've ended with the three of us in a tangle on the bearskin rug.
The reality wasn't quite as clichéd—but that night I learned the power of porn from Jim's post-film enthusiasm for me.
Assisting me when I had to work became an integral part of our courtship.
When I reviewed Lady Scarface, a big-budget Adam & Eve production with the darling Carmen Luvana in the lead role, we watched it together. The box cover indicated that the video would clock in at over three hours. That's a lot of fake breasts for one night. But my adventurous boyfriend seemed interested in sharing every second with me, even if we didn't fast-forward to the sex scenes.
When the two of us felt sufficiently inspired by the on-screen shenanigans, we pressed pause and started a little sex scene of our own.
Over time, our relationship—and our smut-consuming habits—became more established and his tastes became more refined.
It seemed Jim had an aversion to the typical bleached blonde LA porn stars. He'd developed a predilection for female masturbation as well, so when I shuffled through my supply of screening possibilities, asking for his input on which to review, he eagerly selected an Abby Winters flick. Her stuff is, as I affectionately refer to the genre, "penisless porn." Not ordinarily my thing. But in the interest of pleasing my partner—and ultimately myself—I conceded.
As I wrote in the review, "If I'd been watching this alone I would've been asleep within the first few minutes." Fortunately, I wasn't watching it alone.
"It's educational," Jim cooed, his eyes transfixed by the on-screen antics. "I'm noting their pressure and speed."
Further potential benefit for me!
"Those boobs are great!" he enthused over one particularly voluptuous pair. I had to agree. Watching porn gave us the opportunity to communicate about sex, and our preferences and desires without having to force a conversation.
It also served as motivation for me to "put on a show" for him. It was, surprisingly, the first time I'd ever incorporated something I'd seen on-screen into off-screen sex. It was not, however, the last, as every two weeks we took the opportunity to meet my deadline and discover something new.
When the profusion of online bloggers reviewing porn eliminated my ability to be paid for it, our film-viewing habits ceased. After so many hours of smut I'm not really all that interested in watching it.
As for my relationship, now that the limerence is over we may need to watch some porn for the same reasons regular people do: to put the zing back into our sex life.
Hmm, perhaps I need to hit the local rental joint and pick up Carmen Luvana's latest!