THE BLOG
05/04/2006 01:27 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

I Have a Dream: Porn, Race, and Reality

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When I last talked to sister sex radical Tristan Taormino, she was fresh off her arduous job as the sex consultant on a Spike Lee joint, trying her level best to convince her director that women do indeed have this special thing called a clitoris.

But Tristan's new movie is her own, a runway inspiration titled House of Ass. She decided to to make a porn movie-cum-reality show, where as she put it, "people stop being polite and start getting naked."

The actors do get emotionally naked, in addition to the usual displays. Each of the performers are interviewed for their candid opinions throughout the course of  a weekend together in a mountain getaway, far from the Madding Crowd.

The spontaneous and blunt opinions Tristan elicits are what makes the DVD quite extraordinary. I know some will find my behavior bizarre, but I rushed through the sex parts to listen to what the next person had to say.

As an example, one of the young women, Joanna Angel, reviews her decision-making when she auditioned for the shoot. Would she do girl/girl? Sure. Anal? But of course! Double penetration? Not to worry.

But the next question was different: Will you do interracial?

Now this is a most peculiar industry standard question. It is only asked of fair-skinned women, and it only means one thing: will Miss Anne fuck a black guy? Men are not asked this question. Black women are not asked this question. Asian, Polynesian, Chicano, and biracial actors are not given a rag to bite down on. This is the  Mandingo-cliche of the film biz, a throwback  to the notion of "the flower of white womanhood." To see it on casting interviews still makes my eyes cross. It's part of mainstream movies too--  it's just baldfaced in porn casting, for obvious reasons.

Joanna demurs when she gets her interracial challenge. She explains, "I said no! I wouldn't want to do anything I hadn't done already in my personal life."

But afterward, her decision gnaws at her. "Am I racist?" she asks herself, goth eyebrows raised. She considers that it's unfair that she would stick any strange white guy's cock in her mouth, but that a black lover would be beyond the pale.  Her rational mind starts mocking her fears.

Now Joanna is young... her frame of historical reference is still her high school years. So are all the women on the shoot. The men tend to be a little older, in their 20s, or like Mr. Marcus, the 30-something black actor that Joanna eventually makes hay with.

I had the oddest feeling watching this movie, and it's because I haven't sat down to watch a two and a half hour porn movie from front to back in quite some time. I used to review porn for a living, from the time when there wasn't a disclaimer on ever X-rated movie warning you to be monogamous. Ha! Time has passed, and it hit me I have gone from identifying with the girl ON camera, to wondering what her mom is like.

The actresses on House of Ass, like all porn, are my daughter's peers.  A few years older, but the same emotional temperature. They live in that world where agony is whether you're popular or not. Insecurity about your looks is paramount, and adolescent bravado and determination is what pushes you through. 

So many of them are just crawling out of their egg. Joanna hasn't simply foregone a black lover in her history-- I doubt she's had COFFEE with a black person before this shoot. You can tell that her life is segregated, like most suburban teens.  It occurred to me that that entering a porn career might be many people's first social encounter of any kind outside their demographic. Hello Amerikka!

Later Tristan interviews Marcus about his experience with racism in the porn business. He's frank, articulate, and a little weary, as you might imagine. This was my favorite interview of all!  After he talked, I wished I could see him get it on with someone his own age who has been around the block, but I guess that's a fetish of another kind.

The only movies I've ever seen where black men played the consorts of middle-aged women are the so-called "fat videos"-- where a white woman's "voracious" appetite is further illustrated by her penchant for black men, all young muscular types.

It's as if when you're fat, you finally can go wild and have everything you ever wanted, every taboo wish-- without apology. Finally, a relief from White Propriety. More pie? More orgasms? Dig in, Miss Anne!