Porn-again Christian
May 22, 2005 7:10 AM   Subscribe

Though the film casts him as a tragic hero, Harry isn't the least bit sucked in. 'Nobody under the age of 50,' he says with great joviality, 'even knows who I am.'
I do, I saw the documentary.
posted by kika at 10:30 AM on May 22, 2005

"It is easy to see the ghost of a cocksure rake, the role he played in silly skin flicks with such brio three decades ago, when Harry Reems was one of many noms de porn that stuck.

Was this article written by a clown?
posted by Baby_Balrog at 10:48 AM on May 22, 2005

My introduction to pornography(around age 10), aside from magazines stumbled upon in the woods was courtesy of a neighbor's older brother who kept his Playboys, penthouses and Hustlers under a couch in the same room as their Apple II (this was the neighborhood's "forward-looking" family, they meditated and had vegetarian meals half the time, my folks thought they were kinda strange). We'd ogle boobies between games of a Space Invaders knockoff.

I remember in one mag there was an splashy ad for Society Affairs. I remember being blown away that it looked just like an ad for some regular movie. A couple years later me and a few freinds tried to watch the same movie on scrambled cable and probably damaged our retinas. So Harry's been around to help develop my fledgling libido, I guess, Kind of sad what happened to him all those years.

Plenty of people have argued that porn exploits and damages the women in it, and looking at the stories of Linda Lovelace and Savannah, they may have a point. But when you look at Harry's story, to say nothing of John Holmes, the male stars seem to get chewed up and spit out quite a bit, as well.
posted by jonmc at 11:48 AM on May 22, 2005

Baby_Balrog : "Was this article written by a clown?"

I belive the term is pun whore.
posted by graventy at 11:58 AM on May 22, 2005

Deep Ascii (nsfw).
posted by grimcity at 12:37 PM on May 22, 2005

pun whore.

"to survive Deep Throat" isn't bad either
posted by matteo at 12:45 PM on May 22, 2005

If you find this topic interesting you might want to read The Other Hollywood by Legs McNeil. I'm half way thru it right now and it's an interesting read.
posted by dobbs at 1:20 PM on May 22, 2005

jonmc has a point... the men in porn don't seem to get much more out of the industry than the women do.
posted by clevershark at 1:26 PM on May 22, 2005

Dobbs, lilboo actually loaned me her copy of that book. Legs McNeill is one of my favorite writers, and I'm enjoying it immensley.

the men in porn don't seem to get much more out of the industry than the women do.

Well, they tend to be drawn from the same demographic as the women (runaways, addicts, lost souls in general), which makes me have mixed feelings about gay porn.

Now, I'm definitely pro-gay and pro-porn, and I'd be the last person to deny gayfolk the right to get off to porn, but why should we assume that the people running the gay porn industry are any different than the straight one? Often they're the same companies and the "churn-it-out" grindhouse mentality seems to be in effect if quantity seems to be any indication., so I imagine that in many ways, the more things change, the more they stay the same.
posted by jonmc at 2:57 PM on May 22, 2005

Gay porn is very similar, jonmc. Get 'em in, use 'em up, spit 'em out. It's sad.

That said... there are some people in gay porn who aren't broken, who really do enjoy what they do. They're largely in the minority, though; I only personally know one.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 4:04 PM on May 22, 2005

I've no experience with gay porn myself, but I've always assumed that the business dynamics would be the same for both straight and gay porn.

That being said, I have to wonder if some of the nastier trends in straight amateur porn -- mostly those which involve the explicit or implicit humiliation of the women involved -- actually have an equivalent in gay porn.
posted by clevershark at 4:08 PM on May 22, 2005

Yep, clevershark. Subsitute 'bottom' for 'woman' and you have it.


Since gay porn appeals to much more clearly specified target markets than straight porn does, there are certain roles and behaviours that are expected, which tends to lessen the degradation aspect. Add in to that the idea that most gay porn producers are looking to appeal to both tops and bottoms (and those in-between), and you tend to find less of the whole degradation-of-the-penetrated. Or if there is any, those doing the penetrating are equally degraded, except in certain, shall we say, specialized films. Of which I have no experience whatsoever. None. At all. Ever. ;)

This is part of* why I tend to prefer the porn from Bel Ami (NSFW, clearly) over any others. Their whole schtick, for the most part, is just improbably gorgeous boys having incredible sex with each other. There's no degradation (even though that can, consensually, be hotlikwhoa), nothing like that at all. Just beautiful bodies doing lovely things. And from what I understand of their business practices, they're very careful about only having boys on-screen who really want to be there, not ones who are there out of various sorts of damage.

*That, and the fact that they're all gorgeous eastern European boys with big fat uncut cocks and perfect bodies.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 4:39 PM on May 22, 2005

Harry Reems' life, oddly enough, seems to be sa real success story - much more interesting than the life of contemporary John Holmes, IMO.
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:46 PM on May 22, 2005

dirtynumbangelboy : It's not so much the top/bottom dynamic (although that's definitely a perspective that hadn't occured to my str8 guy mind), since Holmes and Reems were "tops" in straight porn and it didn't seem to help them much.

I just figure that the bottom level participants in gay porn are probably pulled from a similar pool as those in straight porn (addicts, runaways, naive kids, prostitutes) and that I doubt that the people making the films treat them very well, since it's a business after all.

But then again, I look at porn all the time so I'm not innocent.

This is part of* why I tend to prefer the porn from Bel Ami

I see where you're coming from on that. I prefer voyeurweb and i shot myself (both NSFW, obviously) because Jane Average expressing her sexuality with a new digicam is far less degrading than Gang Bang Cream Pies 22 churned out in some warehouse in the San Fernando Valley, IMHO.

They're largely in the minority, though;

We have our Danni Ashes and Nina Hartleys and Annie Sprinkles, too, but again they seem to be in the minority. Sex and commerce don't usually mix too well, and I say that as someone who's far from guiltless in the equation. But if I'm honest, it's the only answer I can come up with.
posted by jonmc at 5:19 PM on May 22, 2005

Oh, yes, certainly. The cheap, churn-out-five-movies-a-week level of gay porn is very much akin to the lower rungs of the straight porn world. Many of the boys involved are hustlers on the side; the men involved are those who can't make it inbig-league porn anymore, and that's what they're left with, because they don't know how to do anything else. The boys don't know how to do anything other than be pretty, which is sad.

Of course, that leaves aside the whole genre of masturbation videos, and solo photo shoots, such as those done by, and Boyfun (both very NSFW). While there's an element of the damaged, broken boys in those, it's much less. Largely it's boys who need an extra infusion of cash, or those doing it for kicks. There's less stigma in the gay (so-called)community about having done porn than in the straight. Admittedly, those two sites are towards the higher end of the ladder in their fields; I know of, and am very personally acquainted with a few, many boys who were, much like many girls in str8 porn, down on their luck, and di solo photo shoots. Almost universally, they regret it very deeply now. And those are the ones who didn't get seduced by the lure of fast, easy cash... just use your body, worry about the psychological consequences later.

I'm equally guilty when it comes to porn consumption, lest anyone think I'm preaching or moralizing.

It's a very difficult thing to think about. If you take the time, it's easy to realize that many people involved in the porn industry are victims in one way or another. The issue gets stickier when you start wondering how much of the victimization is chosen, and how much is inflicted. On some level, everyone in porn has made a conscious decision to be there. And on some level, many people in porn have been led there by their own feeling of having no other alternative.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 6:22 PM on May 22, 2005

Is this different in other cultures? I don't know of anyplace in the world where being a porn star, or a prostitute, of either sex is considered just a job, like being a receptionist. [I didn't see the pun until a nanosecond after I typed it but I like it so much I can't delete it.]
posted by vetiver at 6:22 PM on May 22, 2005

I've read Ordeal and the sequel, Out of Bondage. In the second book, LL describes how Gloria Steinem took her under her wing. I'm curious to find out what happened to cause the rift between them, because it's not discussed in the documentary.
posted by brujita at 9:49 PM on May 22, 2005

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