"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 2 December 1997. Updated every WEEKDAY.
Shut Up and Kiss Me


[how do you go about retrieving money owed you?]

It's been at least a decade

since lap-dancing replaced

bar-hopping as the writer's

moonlight gig of choice, and

there's no disputing the daily

grind has worn out much of its

welcome. The hyperventilation

surrounding the women-

writing-erotica fad has

given way to shallow breathing.

Anka has become just another of

many forgotten details. But

somehow, after all those years,

and in spite of the "literate

smut" genre's mounting

flaccidity, neither the thrill

nor the throb are gone. You'd

think the novelty of grrls

talking openly about sex would

have long ago lost its cherry,

but in perhaps the ultimate

example of uncommon-sense, it's

simply become less "in your



The Web's own Reader's Digest

beefs up its circulation by

pimping a harem of salty women

writers, and while we're jealous

of both their contributors'

blanket obedience and their

engorged pageviews (mainly the

pageviews), you won't hear us

making late-trend complaints. If

only because men have

monopolized the conversation

since, well, forever, Naomi Wolf

expostulating on the history of

the slut or Mary Gaitskill's

explanation of stripping as a

journey through new personae

just doesn't seem to grow stale.

Indeed, chatterotica is really

just a continuation of the

venerable tradition that began

with the Kinsey Report -

laborious technical writing as

middlebrow stroke book.


[of course the majority of it is owed you by friends, friends of friends and other undesirables that exploit your giving and friendly nature]

Of course, the Kinsey Report in

its day was saying something

new. The 55th article on penis

size (turns out bigger's

better), condoms (a good idea,

but damned uncomfortable), or

orgasms (women often fake them,

and sometimes men do, too) seems

more like a late hit, with flags

on the foreplay. You might

justify this as an assault on

our national morality - which as

we all know is insanely

puritanical (though oddly

enough, in those unmediated

areas where a large portion of

life still takes place,

Americans apparently do more

screwing than anybody but the

French - who have a natural

advantage in this sort of

contest). But when you read Lisa

Carver on the new fad for B&D,

or Susie Bright and Camille

Paglia condemning Boogie Nights

(for failing to depict porn

workers as subversive

Eisensteins rather than the

lubricious simpletons their

biographies would indicate),

sexual frankness begins to seem

as mundane as law-enforcement

product news.


Of course, mundanity is the

whole point. In an age in which

everybody knows everything, what

else is there to do but repeat

the beginning? Putting the

boredom back in sex may actually

make it more exciting. A

storefront hooker in Amsterdam

gets more attention by sitting

on a stool doing her nails than

she would by grinding for the

masses. QuickCam peeping-Tom

princess Jenni Ringley, who

forces her fans to endure

countless humdrum hours as the

price for the occasional boob

shot, grasps this principle

better than anybody - her

followers are as fascinated by

the nose-picking, in-between

pictures as they are by the nude

scenes. There is a vast audience

out there that wants to see life

with all the boring parts left

in. (It's worth noting that

Ringley's many imitators

uniformly promise not to stage

shows - while the teasers for

Amateurcam offer an unusually

high percentage of T&A pics, the

marketing hook is still that you

get a glimpse of a lived-in



[i thought, honesty is the best policy right?  even just blatantly asked for it back up front and personal ]

It's not hard to see why this

audience exists. Porn may be hip

these days, but for a US$8

billion industry, it's showing a

few gray hairs and the paunch of

structural oversupply. With a

million budding Mitchell

Brothers out there, it's getting

harder and harder to make a

Mitchell Brothers-sized fortune,

and in the furious competition

to (figuratively) outdo the

other guy, the plot-driven ("How

can we save grandfather's

mortgage?") vehicles of the '70s

have given way to uninterrupted

hydraulics. The next step is to

step out of the contest.

Chatterotica may seem like

pandering, but it's really just

an honest value-add.


You can apply this principle

across the board, of course. The

inspired banality of Quentin

Tarantino's gabfests and the

purgatorial perambulations of

Cops caught the public

imagination just as that other

paragon of public smut - the

action blockbuster - has become

its own incessant parade of wet

scenes. The can-you-top-this

shrillness of talk radio

provided the perfect incubator

for the windowsill preciousness

of This American Life. A few

years ago, Kieslowski's Three

Colors trilogy depicted a united

Europe attaining peace through

non-stop, pointless surveillance

- quotidian as both tease and

reward. In the 500-channel

future, whole programs will be

devoted to showing cops eating

doughnuts and filling out forms,

lawyers writing contracts, Web

designers waiting for Photoshop

documents to redraw.


[still have not got it back.  this truly sucks ... ]

But it's porn that provides all

the real innovation.

Chatterotica is the foreplay

that real porn has been missing

for years. Indeed, is it too

much to ask for a little give

and take, where your reward for

reading three pages of Courtney

Weaver's General-Foods-

International-Coffees dialog

would be a nude shot? Well,

maybe that's not such a good

idea, but we should note that

Nerve, which surrounds its dirty

pictures with millions of words,

is already halfway there. And we

salute the innovators. Sex still

sells, it's just become a bit

harder to get it up.

courtesy of Bartel D'Arcy