By Alexa Day
I’ve seen a little more porn than usual in the news this week, and while I don’t write porn myself, I often find that porn professionals offer interesting perspectives on my own work. For instance, reading about a California measure that would require the use of condoms in porn made me think about my position on my characters’ use of condoms in my own work. (That measure, if you’re curious, is on its way to the California Senate appropriations committee. And if you’re curious, my characters use condoms where it makes sense to do so, which is all the time, for the headstrong women in my contemporaries.)
Yesterday, I read this article from former porn star Aurora Snow about what we’re willing to do for an orgasm, a moment of ecstasy that might last ten seconds if we’re lucky. Hugh Grant went to great risk for an orgasm, she writes. Charlie Sheen and Tiger Woods went to great expense for them, she says.
Well, my thought was this: Do people really have sex just for the orgasm? Certainly, sex with the climax is preferable to sex without, under most circumstances. But I suspect that even sex without climax is preferable to no sex at all.
As an erotica writer (I use this phrase so often that it’s turning into my version of “You see, Jimmy …”), writing up to the orgasm gives me far more pleasure (as a writer, you nasty person) than the orgasm itself. Lingering in foreplay is fun. Exploring the intercourse is fun, too. But the orgasm itself, as Aurora notes, doesn’t take up much space. I don’t know how much orgasm readers want to hear about, honestly. I think they want to know more about the things he says or what she’s thinking or what their respective motivations are or how all that must feel. The arrival of the orgasm says we’re almost finished with all that wonderful wickedness, doesn’t it?
I recognize and celebrate the fact that porn is a completely different art form from erotic fiction and erotic romance. I know that much of porn condenses the emotional buildup that precedes the money shot. But porn does include the sex acts leading to orgasm. I mean, somewhere out there I’m sure there exists a porno that’s wall-to-wall money shots, but it cannot be selling very well. And if porn isn’t driven by those ten seconds (if you’re lucky), then is it so unreasonable to think that the rest of us aren’t driven by the orgasm, either?
The reason this might not be true for Aurora is in the Salon story’s headline: “Performative sex is utterly different.” Porn sex is, after all, work sex. It’s part of the job. It’s not like whatever Hugh and Charlie and Tiger were doing, which I suspect had little to do with the orgasm. It’s not like what all of us, including porn stars, off set, off the clock, and on their personal beds, are doing, either. That also has little to do with the orgasm, most of the time.
It’s easy for me to say that my focus is on the journey and not the destination when I am only on the journey recreationally. Sure, I’m writing the sex professionally, but I’m not at all under the same type of performance pressure as a porn star. I can afford to take my time and not worry about the climax.
In the wide, wonderful world off the page and off the screen, I imagine there are folks out there whose only consensual sexual goal is the ten-second orgasm. I would never dream of telling those folks that they’re doing something wrong. But things can be sooooo much righter in the hours before arrival.
If you’re not following Lady Smut, now’s the time. We go on and on and on.