Martin Amis: “A rough trade” (explicit)

Guardian Unlimited, 2001: Martin Amis reports from the high-risk, increasingly violent world of the pornography industry…

“Answer me something…” I said to John Stagliano.”How do you account for the emphasis, not just in your…work but in the industry in general, how do you account for the truly incredible emphasis on anal sex?”

After a minimal shrug and a minimal pause Stagliano said, “Pussies are bullshit.”

…With vaginal, Stagliano elaborated–well, here you have some chick chirruping away. And the genuinely discerning viewer (jack-knifed over his flying fist) has got to be thinking: Is this for real? Or is it just bullshit?

With anal, on the other hand, the actress is obliged to produce a different order of response: more guttural, more animal….

The name of Rocco Siffredi, again and again, was wistfully and reverently conjured. Rocco, the big-dorked Italian, and porno’s premier buttbanger or assbuster (to use the dialect of this tribe).

“Rocco has far more power in this industry than any actress,” said Stagliano, pleased to be pulling one back for the boys (generally speaking, men are the also-rans of porno). “I was the first to shoot Rocco. Together we evolved toward rougher stuff. He started to spit on girls. A strong male-dominant thing, with women being pushed to their limit. It looks like violence but it’s not. I mean, pleasure and pain are the same thing, right? Rocco is driven by the market. What makes it in today’s market place is reality.”

…After a while you begin to think that porno stars, despite being very bad at acting, are very good at acting in one particular only: they can keep a straight face. But then humourlessness, universal and institutionalised humourlessness, is the lifeblood of porno….

Gonzo porno is also known as “wall-to-wall”. It shows you people fucking without concerning itself with why they’re fucking…. Features porno [the more narrative genre of porn] is much, much dirtier than it used to be, but Gonzo porno is gonzo: way out there. The new element is violence….

“I don’t have relationships any more [says porn actress Temptress, 21]. They make life unstable. The only sex I have is the sex on screen.”

…Temptress is one of the lucky ones. She’s a star….

“Some girls are used in nine months or a year [says performer turned director Jonathan Morgan]. An 18-year-old, sweet young thing, signs with an agency, makes five films in her first week. Five directors, five actors, five times five: she gets phone calls. A hundred movies in four months. She’s not a fresh face any more. Her price slips and she stops getting phone calls. Then it’s, ‘Okay, will you do anal? Will you do gangbangs?’ Then they’re used up. They can’t even get a phone call. The market forces of this industry use them up.”

…A single issue of Adult Video News (April 2000) yields the following. Last October porno star Vivian Valentine attended the XXX-Treme Adults Only vacation in Mexico sporting the black eye she copped from Jon Dough on Rough Sex (Anabolic Video).

“I have no regrets or bad feelings about it,” she said. Regan Starr who worked on the second film in this “line”, Rough Sex 2, had a different take. “I got the shit kicked out of me,” she said. “I was told before the video–and they said this very proudly, mind you–that in this line most of the girls start crying because they’re hurting so bad…. I couldn’t breathe. I was being hit and choked. I was really upset, and they didn’t stop. They kept filming. You can hear me say, ‘Turn the fucking camera off’, and they kept going.”

…AVN’s regular “On the Set” column carries a cheerfully scandalised account of the making of Hollywood Hardcore 13. In this scene, actor-director Hardcore is having rough sex with Cloey Adams, who is pretending to be under age. “If you’re a good girl, I’ll take you to McDonald’s later and get you a Happy Meal.” Hardcore then “proceeds to piss in her mouth”. Addressing the camera, Cloey Adams says, “What do you think of your little princess now Daddy?” Nor is Hardcore through with her. “Turning to the crew, he calmly says, ‘I’ll need a speculum and a hose’…. One of Max’s favourite tricks is to stretch a girl’s asshole with a speculum, then piss into her open gape and make her suck out his own piss with a hose. Ain’t that romantic?”

…In 1975 the total retail value of all the hard-core porno in America was estimated at $5-10 million. Last year Americans spent $8 billion on mediated sex….

“I have herpes,” said [porn actress] Chloe as she drove me to a smoker-friendly bar. “After you’ve been in this business for a while, you have herpes. Everyone has herpes…. My movies are all-condom, but condoms won’t protect you from herpes. They don’t cover the base. Sometimes when you’re doing girl-girl you’ll say, ‘Honey, I think you should go and see someone.’ It can be a very stinky scene down there….”

For a while Chloe talked about her love life. She is torn, at present, between the neglectful Chris, a rock musician (bass), and the attentive Artie, a fellow performer.

“…with Artie, he comes over and I’m horny as hell and he says, ‘I can’t, I have to do two scenes tomorrow.'”

“With private sex, is there a crossover in your head?”

“Oh yeah. I find myself thinking, ‘Fuck. I should be being paid for this.’ Or ‘Fuck. I wish I had a camera.'”

“I’d better not write about Chris and Artie.”

“Go ahead. They’ll both be over anyway. Here, it doesn’t last.”

…Chloe was unforgettable. I won’t forget the way she said this (she said it with sorrowful resolve): “We’re prostitutes…. There are differences. You can choose your partners, and they’re tested for Aids–you won’t get your john to do that. But we’re prostitutes: we exchange sex for money.”

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