Once Upon a Time in the West

So maybe you aren't interested in the inner workings of the porn industry. But all the same, it exists. If we deny that, we deny how sexual human beings are, and we deny what will happen when you live in a claimed free market society, in which people do things that make money. So there it is.

And while there have been many articles detailing the horrible/degrading/un-feminist/sexy/mysterious/glamorous things that happen in the porn industry, I found this one especially interesting, just because it depicts it in a way that shows just how truly surreal it is. We live in a society that pushes everything as far as it will go in terms of being made a product. And when you commodify sex, a distinctly human act which almost every human ostensibly claims is at least personal in some way, besides being a rooted element of the psyche, well, things just get weird.

I can think of at least two important and interesting conversations to have about every page of this article, evoking emotions from amused to self-righteous to defensive to disgusted, but I thought this passage was the best. This is america, ladies and gentlemen. Intellectual property, mass production, recessions, fear/excitement for the future, labor relations, and... robotic phalluses.

The recession has forced us into making this,” Powers states flatly, the quiet machine at his feet. According to him, the “Fuck Machines” series isn’t a product of some sick mind—say, his. It’s a consequence of the recession.

The day of reckoning has arrived in the Valley. Online content pirating, increased competition, a flooded market, the economic crisis, and a series of federal obscenity indictments have completely transformed the business of making adult movies. Consumers are no longer interested in paying for what they can get online for free. Across the board, those I spoke to reported profits have fallen by an estimated 30 to 50 percent.

Three years ago, Powers shot four to five movies a week. Nowadays, he’s lucky if he shoots two a week. Like many other businessmen, he’s been forced to cut corners. Ergo, the “life support system for a penis” of yesteryear has been replaced by the lower maintenance RoboCock.

“We got rid of the male talent!” Powers crows, triumphant. He enumerates the benefits of working with an animatronic phallus on one hand. “They don’t complain as much. They’re always hard. You don’t have to feed them.” Of course, the 21st century woodsman does have one drawback. “They’ve always got bolts falling off,” Powers admits with a shrug.

“The market is saturated with porn, the Internet is pirating porn left and right, and the economy is in the shitter,” Powers laments after Hunter’s shoot, staring out the sliding glass doors at a fountain trickling pleasantly in the sun-dappled backyard. He looks like a spurned lover—heartbroken. “Porn destroyed itself,” he mutters. “2005 was the peak of shit.” He shakes his head. “Now, we’re just living in piles of shit.” He is crestfallen. “It completely destroyed everything.” He looks at the floor.

A redhead appears in the doorway. Powers will shoot a total of five scenes today, and hers is next. It’s time for Jim to get back to work. On the sidelines, another machine is waiting for its turn in the spotlight. This one is double-headed.

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