There are a few subjects that are difficult to write about, but impossible to ignore. Within mainstream America, we are blessed to be able to, at best, be oblivious to things that bother us, and at our worst, immerse ourselves in those things to the point of obsession. Genocide, war, rape, violence, racism, preventable disease, infant mortality, starvation, veganism – we can all choose to be oblivious to these problems with humanity (ok, the veganism thing was a joke, so calm down) or we can become so engrossed and ingrained with them that we see evil in the face of every stranger. I think that may be the greatest danger in organized religion is the tendency to group ourselves in the fear of the possibility of the perception of evil.
Today, this morning, I don’t want to write about any of that. What I do want to write about is porn. According to the Washington Post, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, teen pregnancy (at least among white people) is on a very steep decline, teen sexual activity is following the trend and the porn industry is suffering the worst financial straits in nearly a decade. The prediction that the internet would move pornography into mainstream America never materialized. In fact, the increase in pornography on the internet resulted in the unthinkable – sex has become gross.
When I was a kid, a naked picture of someone of the opposite sex was something very rare, and more often than not, very hard to come by. The swimsuit issue of Sports Illustrated literally flew off the shelves, or didn’t, based on whether or not you were helping your Mom with grocery shopping. The fact that you were in the grocery store with your Mom in February was more than likely due to the existence of a seashell clad supermodel beside an issue of Redbook than it was out of a real desire to help Mom with groceries.
I became legend in 1987 within a very small circle of friends when I marched into a service station that sold Hustler magazines behind black pieces of plastic behind the counter and purchased said magazine. Much to my dismay, the clerk manning the station that day was also a Sunday School assistant at a church that my Dad occasionally volunteered “End of Times” talks to those that were interested in such things. Most likely due to derelict teenagers buying Hustler magazines, these sessions were very popular and I was very well versed in the prophesies that foretold blood running as high as the hair on a prostitute, or something like that.
All I was really interested in that day was the prostitute, and I was astonished to see that she did have hair, down there. Maybe the Bible was on to something. The poor Sunday School assistant was flaming red as she sold me the forbidden document, and my friends applauded as I left the store. Luckily for me, she was too embarrassed to say anything to anyone and resigned from her post soon after.
My victory soon became a dilemma, as I had no idea what to do with the magazine after I had bought it, after the obvious, of course. I tried to burn it, but as I was to learn many years later in Microscopic Crystal Mineralogy, the pages of such magazines are coated in Kaolinite, a relative of the mineral known as Muscovite, which gives them their glossy finish. It is also what the Romans used in their armor for fire prevention against the Scottish warriors, a small fact you’d think would be passed on within a family with a strong Scottish heritage.
After nearly blowing myself up and catching the kitchen on fire, I realized that I could sell, or flip, the magazines for nearly double what I actually paid for them. Other teenagers were not quite brave enough to risk being recognized by someone they went to church with to march into a convenience market and buy porn. How lucky for me. I found a ready outlet for illegally purchased magazines and learned a valuable lesson in defending myself from fire attack from the Romans.
Many years later, all this added to my ability to recognize two very well known porn actresses in their non-native element at a wine tasting in Los Angeles. I found them to be quite nice, very personable, and nothing like I imagined two people who had such intimate knowledge of one another to be like. They were very polite to me and very articulate, without the least sign of embarrassment over the fact that I had very likely seen them very naked. I, on the other hand, was very embarrassed and made quite the stammering fool of myself, as, really, what do you say in that situation? I think we talked about the tannins and how that 1987 was a very good year for grapes.
A situation, that, thanks to the internet, will likely never happen to my son. The very thing that we feared would cause sexual congress to become as prolific as breathing had the opposite effect. The net inundation of pornography in our society has demeaned the act to the point that it has actually become frightening once again. Guys think they are supposed to have a twelve-inch object of congress that behaves upon command and girls are afraid they will. Sexually transmitted diseases in most countries are on the decline and teenage pregnancies are plummeting in most states in the U.S.
In what I think is the greatest of ironies, the Food Network has supplanted Vivid Entertainment as the most popular base for the male demographic that is most coveted by media, ages sixteen to thirty-five. Following the trend, one of the very actresses that I met in L.A., who used to have the stage name Taylor Rain, has started and hosts a very popular cooking show in the United Kingdom. Her favorite recipe? Pineapple Upside Down Cake.