For some people, sex comes as naturally as blinking or swallowing and remains throughout life a banquet to be savored -- sugar and spice and no remorse or indigestion afterwards.. For others, it is a minefield with bombs going off all the time or a trek through a bleak forest full of imaginary thorns and with the claws of demons hovering behind dark bushes. Of course, there is an in-between, a middle-of-the-road set-up, where sexual matters are measured out in terms of moderation. But I am fascinated by the extremes.
The subject of this blog -- pornography -- seems to be an emotive issue with regard to such extremes.
I was raised by my grandparents in a time and place where sex was strictly in the closet. It was invisible. That doesn't mean that people weren't doing it; but, as the old song goes, they were 'dancing in the dark.". Top Secret. In my home, besides the occasional, almost grudging peck on the cheek when going out the door, I never saw my grandfather (he was 49 when I went there to live, and so hardly ancient) show the slightest sign of affection, much less passion, for my 45-year-old grandmother. Now and then, he would hoist up one of his shanks and blister the air with the loudest farts I have ever heard, and then he would cry out triumphantly, "There's a kiss for you, Pork!: ("Pork" was the nickname he had given his wife) And that was about it for romance in my house. The only real kissing that went on was when I kissed my dog, which I did rather often.
On the other hand, my real (or "biological" -- as they say nowadays) father, who was nowhere to be seen during most of my youth, was -- while completely tobacco and alcohol-free) -- then, as now-- a true sexual hellcat, a proper Lothario, a slobbering paramour of the most ardent breed . This guy would do anything for sex. And he wasn't choosy. He even tried to seduce one of my girlfriends after I became a teenager and had one..
Does this mean that Grandpa was a "good guy" and Dad was a "bad guy" ?
I don't think so. My grandfather hated women, my dad adored them. Throughout his life and at the end, my grandfather lived and died a bitter man; my father, at age 90, and now terminally ill, eventually matured into an amazing guy with a very positive view of the world. But his lust never wavered until maybe the last couple of years.
My grandfather taught me "the facts of the life." I mean the part about the "birds and the bees." This always took place during one of our journeys between the West Virginia towns of Martinsburg and Morgantown, which called for a marathon and sometimes treacherous ride of nine hours over twisting two-lane mountain blacktop. Grandpa didn't attempt to give me an anatomy lesson. There were no references to "inserting the male sexual organ into that of the female", no allusions to "intercourse", and -- Thank God -- no biblical mumbo jumbo about "procreation carried out under auspices of holy matrimony." Nope. Grampa's pedagogy consisted of ribald tales of maulings and gropings done in the backseat of cars parked in country lanes. He pulled no punches, spared no language, and, I used to laugh like hell. My gramps was a different man along the late night mountain roads. Except that with him, sex never seemed beautiful. Something in me enjoyed the lusty part, but I also wanted it to be beautiful, But by then was a grandfather was too eaten away by bitterness to see anything as really beautiful.
I really learned about sex the old-fashioned way: sneaking glances at a Playboy magazine when I could find one laying about (never at our house), listening to the other boys in the neighborhood bragging about their alleged conquests...and playing with myself. I was green, clumsy, and in no way promiscuous. I knew nothing. Sex was what went on in some other world into which I had not been invited or initiated..
At one point, the state government started to introduce sex education into our Junior High School Health classes. Of course, there was outrage on part of the parents, whose God-inspired view was that the immoral State now wanted to teach their little darlings how to F---. The real reason, of course, was that many of these blushing babes already knew how to F---, and the State knew it and was trying to teach them ways to avoid unwanted pregnancies and venereal diseases -- both of which were on the upswing.
So there was a Battle Royal which the State of course won, much to the horror of the parishioners, many of whom had been busy instructing their tots that sex was filthy and disgusting but became, OK once the marriage vows had been exchanged and the sacred union of husband and wife officially confirmed, a suddenly blessed event -- a good thing, as long as it was not TOO good. Women, in particular, were not supposed to go wild and scream "More, More!" during this solemn procreative event.
One simple thing changed all that blah-blah for me. My hormones woke up. They had been sluggish, dithering about in my bloodstream, glands, or wherever they were hiding. Suddenly, they came roaring awake. Then I discovered alcohol and the orgy was on, all inhibitions removed. I had never seen a porn film in my life. But once sex entered my world, I never looked back. And, like my dad, I didn't possess what are called "morals". I wanted what I wanted. Nature, in the form of an exotic, erotic jungle, opened its serpentine and wild, winding thoroughfares. I guess I took after my dad after all.
The very first time I saw a porn film was in New York City in 1968 or '69. Times Square in those days was populated by nervous tourists, and a perpetual, trashy, slimy crowd of junkies, very aggressive fags, and totally insane screwballs. (The black female prostitutes worked uptown, the ritzy white ones downtown where the big money was.) Times Square was strictly for freaks. One day I was passing through, probably heading for Greenwich Village, when on impulse (big thing in my life), I decided to check out the sex shops and go see a porn film. That was easy to do because these places were everywhere; you couldn't miss them. The sex shops probably were not as technologically advanced as they are now (no 'pocket pussy', etc), but there certainly was some eye-popping gear. Some of it I couldn't even imagine what it could be used for. On the porn theater.
I went in imagining some smoky, ratty place (you could smoke everywhere in those days), with about 20 seats half-filled with drunken perverts, squirming beneath the fog-stream of the projector as it blew its disgusting images onto a cramped rectangular screen. Wrong. The place was a palace -- not exactly the Bolshoi, but not far off. And the place was almost full at two o'clock in the afternoon. Outside, New York City fought the glare of the summer sun; inside, the huge throng watched the big screen with silent lust.
Truth be told, I was half drunk too, which is probably why I went there. And I liked what I saw. I had never seen attractive, totally confident sex-studs and goddesses putting on a demo of myriad positions, apparently producing the ultimate ecstasy. When I finally left, I felt I had earned myself a Ph.D. in the School of Sex.
Did it corrupt me? Did it spoil me for the virgin my upbringing had instructed me to marry? Did I become a jaded, immoral slum-bunny afterwards?
No. It merely confirmed who I, at age 18, already was. For better or for worse, I had the heart of a whore. I didn't care then, and I don't care now.
Since then, I have come to see the porn industry as a kind of burlesque, sort of like professional wrestling. Both of these Showtime extravaganzas display acrobatic maneuvers that you should NEVER try at home. If you do, you might end up being hospitalized or at least needing a chiropractor. And if you really want to know what the porn industry is like, try watching a film called "Boogie Nights." After that, porn will lose its luster.
Governments everywhere, and the more autocratic they are the worse they become, forever try to equate sex with evil, and the Church is a willing accomplice. It is all part of the politics of what I will call 'misdirection.' While ranting and raving about the certain road to hell that fornication leads to, they are busy picking your pockets in other ways.
Look, face it, we are all voyeurs to some degree. In the old world, public executions were grand entertainment, though purportedly designed to act as a deterrent. The crowds shrieked with delight while bodies were dismembered. Today, a fight in the street will get our attention, and a man poised to jump of the top of a building will attract a mob crying "Jump! Jump !" If in your apartment you hear people having loud sex overhead, you will turn off your video game and listen. And fantasize.
We are voyeurs, but we are also Secret Agents. In a real dark night of the soul, we dream of a demon goddess, the wild man/woman lover. For those who are lucky, he.she is there in the bed beside us. For those who are not, porn is one of the ways to dream and blow off steam.
For lonely men, especially, in dark hotels, a porn film, while not exactly the same as a visit to the Louvre, serves a certain purpose. And nobody gets killed.
So the Government and the Church should just stick to robbing us in their usual way, the one with money and the other with hypocrisy, and just stay the F--- out of our private and sometimes lonely offices..
Finally, just to make a point, I am a happily married man with a marvelous wife. But when she goes to sleep while I am still up drinking beer, sometimes I will find a film and watch. And enjoy. No guilt. Neither Big Government nor Christianity has succeeded in making me ashamed of my sexuality, both as an active participant and a willing observer. It's all good. God Squad, just F--- off.
===Eric Richard Le Roy===