racist porn and the recession: this week’s SF Chronicle column

by Violet Blue on February 12, 2009

Sinnamon Love comments on my column
One of friend (and favorite nerd porn star) Sinnamon Love‘s Twitter responses after reading this week’s column.

I don’t know how to preface this week’s column, Racist Porn and the Recession – Violet Blue: Nothing is recession proof, especially not your tired old racist porn. The topic is so upsetting that I had sleepless nights and even a night of nightmares and no sleep before bringing it all together and writing it. To write this, I attempted to contact and confront porn makers and performers in and around the US porn industry about their views — and direct participation in — racist porn. I was shocked that certain outwardly black-positive porn people (people of color in the industry) wouldn’t comment out of fear. I was surprised to discover what porn companies talked the talk of racial equality but wouldn’t comment on the record; notably one large company, out of fear of upsetting AVN. Pussies.

It was also really hard to approach my friends who are porn performers/makers of color and shove the links in their face — that in and of itself was painful — and then ask them to go on the record. It wrecked me to send the links to Madison Young, including links to her performances in “interracial” titles that have been marketed in fucked up racial ways, and ask her for a statement. I figured she’d either say something incredible, or never speak to me again. She came out swinging, like a warrior. Her act of courage to face my confrontation was what made me find the steel to “go there” when I could barely stand what I’d read, and all the shit I’ve seen. What she said in my column — her and others — well, it’s about fucking time someone says it.

So here you have it. Look for the arrows in my back by the weekend. Snip:

(…) When you look at the whole picture, the U.S. porn industry was once seen as being at the forefront of things like technology and free expression, but it’s never been more clear that it has yet to start dragging itself into the 21st century. The recession is one thing; technology has crushed mainstream porn’s business models, period. With an industry still clinging to DVD sales as its steak and potatoes, the self-induced recession was inevitable.

And then there’s the interracial porn genre, which remains a vehicle for outmoded and offensive racial, ethnic, and gender stereotypes. Last Thursday TheSword.com’s headline brayed, “‘Negro’ Porn Recession Proof, Claims AVN” (link NSFW). The blog posted about the “Black Humor” issue, where AVN magazine explains how marketing to America’s toxic preoccupation with race differences is the answer to mainstream porn’s declining sales — while framing this “marketing distinction” from run-of-the-mill porn, as funny.

On closer inspection, there’s something more than a little disingenuous about AVN’s sense of humor. We all know that porn is built to part you with your hard-earned cash and proffer fantasies; sometimes certain kinds of fantasy or roleplaying can be sexy: taboos, whether actual or perceived, are always hot, right? The positive ability of porn is that is can show partnering that is charged because it crosses racial boundaries; I believe that damage is not done by the FACT of crossing those taboos, but in the WAY those taboos are crossed. But ultimately, most of us just want to watch different kinds of people coming together without the racist baggage. TheSword.com followed its headline with:

Adult industry trade magazine Adult Video News has the answer to porn producers faced with declining sales: more use of the word Negro! In this month’s ‘Black Humor’ issue of AVN, the notoriously enlightened porn-producing community claims that only a Communist would keep the public from quality product like ‘Oh No! There’s A Negro in My Mom!’

‘Whatever stereotypes are out there … should be depicted on camera in order for the projects to feel realistic,’ says Julius Ceazher, star of Black Cocks, Tiny Teens. ‘Someone who puts out a racially insensitive title could be viewed as a capitalist.’ The public gets what it wants, say the producers: interracial titles are one of the few bright spots in an industry faced with falling DVD sales, competition from tube sites and a terrible economy. Besides: black jokes are just a form of humor, says Ceazar, not racism. ‘If someone tells a funny black joke, I’m gonna laugh.’

AVN says that in the past few years, more porn companies have been picking up on the potent mixture of cinema verité and cold hard cash, producing increasingly “funny” interracial titles with un-sly references to rapists and gorillas, causing retail stores to stop carrying some of the “funnier” titles. (…) Shane Diesel, female star of ‘My Daughter is Fucking a Nigga,’ tells AVN that some of her biggest fans are neo-Nazis and racist Southerners. “They love it!” she says. (…)(…read more, sfgate.com)


Image of the beautiful and fierce Sinnamon Love (on Twitter) by Christine Kessler, whose work graces the cover of my recent book.

“We can be heroes
just for one day.
We can be us
just for one day.”

Updates: At least one SFGate commenter wonders “what gutter” I’ll “die in.” AVN responds with an incoherent personal attack on myself and Madison, and in defense of… well, I’ve cut and pasted the whole thing after the jump so you can see the quality of both the arguments and the reporting. Highlights include the term sex workers in quotes, attacking the white women, stating that TheSword’s misquote is my own factual statement, and lazily, uncreatively rehashing my lawsuit with Noname Jane, who they do not even mention by name or link to — nor the fact that she and I settled amicably last year. Or that she agrees with my column.

Editorial: Self-Righteous, ‘Sex-Positive’ Violet Blue Can’t Get Her Facts Straight
02/12/2009
By David Sullivan
[category: NEWS]

SAN FRANCISCO – Did you know that former Blackzilla star Shane Diesel is actually a woman?

That’s just one of the things you’ll learn if you read the blathering of self-righteous sex columnist Violet Blue in today’s San Francisco Chronicle.

Quoting from the gay website The Sword, which in turn misquoted AVN’s February cover story about the interracial porn market, Blue didn’t bother to check her facts. So, according to Blue’s column, well-known male performer Shane Diesel is “the female star of My Daughter is Fucking a Nigga”.

There’s no room for research on Violet Blue’s soapbox; this is, after all, THEE Violet Blue, who took a porn actress to court in order to protect her sacred nom de porn. Treading the PC party line, Violet is all for the empowerment of “sex workers” and free expression…unless that sex worker infringes on Violet’s own capitalist “brand” by associating her name with the sort of sexual speech she doesn’t like.

But this isn’t about Violet’s litigious bullying of a porn chick. It’s about the Plight of the Modern Negro.

Listen up, Porn Incorporated: Violet Blue is tired of your race-baiting tropes and tricks! She’s had it with the horrors of the racist patriarchy, and her pale, delicate white skin is burning red with rage!

Such “disturbing” titles as Chatsworth Pictures’ Oh No! There’s a Negro in My Mom! are keeping women like Shane Diesel down, Violet says, and the sell-outs at AVN are promoting the oppression by pointing out that such videos sell even during a recession…and framing a discussion of the market trend as funny.

Titled “Black Humor”, the AVN story examined the popularity of videos that combine big black dicks and little white chicks. Editor Nelson X spoke to performers and producers (both black and white), questioning whether the use of stereotypes is acceptable for the sake of marketing.

“There’s something more than a little disingenuous about AVN’s sense of humor,” Violet wrote. “The positive ability of porn is that is [sic] can show partnering that is charged because it crosses racial boundaries. I believe that damage is not done by the FACT of crossing those taboos, but in the WAY those taboos are crossed.”

In short, don’t get your freak on in a manner that violates Violet Blue’s political sensibility. And STOP LAUGHING!

Violet believes that titles such as I Can’t Believe You Sucked A Negro! and My Daughter is Fucking Blackzilla push the wrong buttons, exploiting ugly myths and stereotypes about black male potency. Spreading racism like a porno pathogen, these movies bank on the insecurities of the Caucasian male and damage the sexual health of the viewer – because, Blue seems to think, the people who watch porn can’t make the high-brow distinction between reality and a stupid porn flick.

Her tender, sex-positive heart inflamed by the AVN article she skimmed, Violet sought solace from a porn star who agrees with her agenda. You think porn actresses are bimbos? Well, sit down, Mister: some of us are ARTICULATE, EDUCATED, QUEER and SEX-POSITIVE!

“I find AVN’s comments on interracial porn to be highly offensive and serves [sic] as a discredit to the entire industry,” said Bay Area BDSM performer Madison Young, bonding with Violet in a “white girl-to-white girl” chat. “AVN is the leading trade magazine for the adult industry, and for them to make statements like ‘Negro Porn Recession-Proof’ gives the anti-porn community further fodder for their arguments as opposed to spotlighting sex-positive productions.”

Of course, ‘Negro Porn Recession-Proof’ is the headline from The Sword blog, and not a statement from AVN. But why split pubes over such details?

“Porn is a widely consumed medium and can act as a powerful tool to educate, create connection and communication between couples, and archive our sexual culture while providing a reflection of our desires on film,” Madison recited. “This can be a positive and sexually validating experience for women and men and persons of all genders.”

We’ve seen that brochure, too. But thankfully, Madison is here to enlighten the ignorant; the model, activist and director goes on to reveal that she reluctantly performs scenes for “mainstream” porn producers in order to fund her Femina Potens art gallery in Frisco.

“I prefer to perform in productions that are sex-positive or queer-produced, but it takes a lot of anal scenes to run a feminist art space,” she said.

Surely, such a fiercely intelligent and empowered woman could earn the necessary bucks by finding a job that doesn’t involve taking it up the ass for some greaseball caveman producer in Van Nuys. But that’s not the point; Madison is here to Subvert From Within!

“I recall in one of the interracial films in which I was featured, I actually got the director to allow me to teach a bit of a tantric lesson in the scene,” she said.

Madison Young: changing the way you jerk off, one tantric lesson at a time. (Submit written/illustrated interpretations of Madison’s tantric lesson to racistsexistpigs@avn.com.)

Violet Blue has a valid point about race-baiting porn titles – one which AVN addressed. If her knowledge of porn history 101 extended beyond the boundaries of Wikipedia, she might have pointed to the decade-old backlash against performer Jon Dough, who made the mistake of placing a tasteless Jew joke on one of his box covers. The First Amendment crusaders of Porn Valley suddenly developed an aversion to such humor, and the video box was swiftly recalled.

Blue might also have remembered the outcry over a mercifully short-lived trend of porn vids that combined hunting and animal killings with sex. The libertines of greater San Fernando didn’t much care for that “marketing trend,” either.

But Blue’s arguments are even more obvious than the cliches she targets in her ongoing, heavy-handed campaign against mainstream porn. (What else to expect from a woman who raved about Snuff, the crap-tastic literary flop from grossly overrated post-mod hack Chuck Palahniuk? Full disclosure: Palahniuk mentioned Blue by name in the book, a brutally stupid treatment of the Porn Valley gang-bang craze as metaphor for the American Wasteland.)

In the end, Blue herself is a walking, yapping, self-promoting stereotype of sorts, as director David Aaron Clark pointed out in an online response to her lawsuit against the porn actress of the same name.

Clark wrote in his post for LukeisBack.com: “The ‘author’ Violet Blue is the typical example of that San Francisco ‘sex-positive’ counterculture faker who blathers on about the ‘community’ and their own highly evolved sexuality, how all us sexual outlaws have to look out for each other, but is really nothing but a self-promoting, narcissistic wannabe capitalist who, if you get in the way of their quest for power and prominence, will swiftly resort to the very sort of behavior they decry in others outside their ‘tribe.’

“The best part of it all is that ‘Violet Blue’ is not exactly a unique or original turn of the phrase in the first place.”

{ 13 comments }

1 an ex-wn February 25, 2012 at 9:26 pm

One thing i will tell candidly however is this interracial porn boom of the last 10 years(?) has in fact done nothing but create gazillions of new racists,white nationalists,antisemites etc that the society is eventually going to have to deal with …ya see those guys aren’t fans of that crap and all it does is fuel their hatred towards blacks and jews.You and your reprobate porno fiends are just pouring gasoline on fire.You being an advocate for that industry ties you in with it…with ALL of it like it or not.Speaking out against it can help i suppose yet you seem to be preoccupied on how it affects minorities when you’d be better served as to worry about how it negetively affects alot of wm out there.Im speaking as a former white nationalist here…i know the mindset.All that those genres/films do is attempt to emmasculate the white guy and when those guys come across that refuse it only fuels heinz 57 varities of hate times 10.Ive even known guys who have developed a severe hatred towards white women due to it.Didn’t mean to dig up an old blog but it had to be said.My former hatred is like being an alcoholic the temptation to return is always there and present.

2 Anthony Kennerson February 22, 2009 at 2:27 pm

Excellent smackdown of AVN and of the porn industry’s racial blind spot, Violet.

Incidently, AVN seems to have deleted the original article from their site…gee, I wonder why??

Anthony

3 Nathan February 15, 2009 at 9:09 pm

I am also reminded what Tavis Smiley said on his program about all the criticism he has received because of the views he espouses. He said that he takes his big boy pill every morning so he can take the criticism. I am heartened that you have taken your big girl pill and can respond in a civil way to the criticisms that are lobbed at you. Remember, some people are just miserable and want to make everyone else feel miserable as well. David Sullivan is clearly one of these people. I know it’s a cliche, but don’t let the jerks get to you.

4 Nathan February 15, 2009 at 12:03 pm

I feel I must agree with Ken. The Adult Industry know it is losing its audience and most likely feels as though it needs to be controversial for the sake of being controversial. I’m not saying that their aren’t elements of bigotry in the adult film world, but the fact is that I have read articles where DVD sales of adult films are down dramatically and that the studios who are releasing the reprehensible, bigoted films are trying to boost sales and create publicity for their products. I think it also important that we vote with our wallets and only buy the films that we see as being inclusive rather than exclusive and sex-positive as well. Of course, this is just my humble opinion.

5 Toygirl February 13, 2009 at 7:27 am

Hi,
I found the link to your article and the AVN response through Twitter, and I have to say that I’m appalled at the AVN’s response. Your article was wonderful: you said things that needed to be said. There is no excuse for ANYONE to be perpetuating tired old racist and sexist stereotypes. Your article was thoughtful, well-written, and nuanced. AVN’s overly defensive response? Not so much.

6 Dustin Lacina February 13, 2009 at 3:14 am

I mean really, the only mainstream porn that isn’t blatantly racist is going to be the “we’re all happy white people” porn.

African Americans get it. Asians get it. Let’s not forget latinos either.

I think the only thing I haven’t seen is Native porn. But I bet that’s just because I haven’t looked hard enough. Though if I ever do, and I see someone in a slutty buckskin saying “Ooh White Man lick with forked tongue!” Or an instance of “But I’m just a poor christian settler making my way west across the frontier, red man, please don’t take my virginity and make me your heathen bride.” Then I’ll probably just have to go live on an island somewhere with no one else on it.

Oh wait. I forgot that Ghetto Gaggers already makes me want to do that.

7 Postmodern Sexgeek February 12, 2009 at 9:05 pm

YES YES YES YES! So right on in so many ways. As a woman whoose ethnicity is often stupidly fetishized, this kind of bullshit makesme livid. As for that column…let me guess. Is David Sullivan a straight white guy who just got pissed for being called on the carpet for his straight, white male privilege? Something obviously put a bee in his comfy little porn bonnet.

8 narrationbyd February 12, 2009 at 8:18 pm

I will be brief on the ‘reply’ of AVN. It shows no class and epitomizes the low class image that porn seems tainted with. Sadly in this case, it appears to be well deserved. On the racism found in porn, I wish there were less racism in porn. I am a white male, and am attracted to the Asian/Indian porn actresses. Not very original, but whatever turns your crank. It seems that no matter what, the only porn that features predominantly asian or indian actresses are the lowest form of racist video. It seems only the other niche markets, such as kink.com, shows minority actresses without the requisite racist caricatures. I am glad that I am not the only who wishes for porn that doesn’t feel that it has to be racist if it features predominantly non-white actors/actresses. The fact that AVN endorses this sad practice speaks much of the mindset of the owners of these franchises. I applaud your stand on this issue, and wish you would expand your article and interview many of the minority actresses and actors regarding these issues.

9 libby February 12, 2009 at 6:37 pm

david sullivan’s article is actually on the high end of AVN’s content history. AVN has become a bizarre and pointless boss hog, sitting on a slowly burning pile of hay and calling out for reuben sturman in its sleep. it’s surreal to watch it die so slowly, and sad that someone won’t just shoot it between its skull fuckholes :).

10 SF AlternaSister February 12, 2009 at 2:08 pm

Violet, your article was a good read. As an African-American, a feminist, a woman who has dated “outside my race”, and a lover of kink & porn, I’ve often struggled with the porn industry’s increasing offensive racial & ethnic stereotypes. The industry does enough harm to it’s image in an increasingly conservative America that the need to put another toe (or a penis) over the line with blatant racism is overkill, unnecessary, and sadly, harmful.

I’m not oblivious that for some, sexual taboos are a turn on. But the marketing of interracial porn is not, in my opinion, done in a way to rake in more money. Instead it’s marketed in a way that continues to devalue minorities. It’s no secret that minorities adult actors are already being paid less. But along with smaller salaries is the indignity of being called a “Nigga” in the tile and during the actual movie necessary? Shock value? Yes. More sales? I can only hope not.

Why do some adult actors choose to work under those conditions, one might ask. It may be as simple as it doesn’t bother them. However, it bothers me – to the point where when looking for porn (I rarely search for one specific porn genre) I’m often so turned off by the imagery and titles of this type of porn I close my computer, not having beat off, feeling disgusted. It makes me sad and that the exact opposite affect I want from porn.

Thank you for the article. In all my 30 some odd years I’ve never felt compelled to write a letter or post a comment on any website but the issue is more important than people know so I ended up here. I live in San Francisco in a neighborhood that is full of hipsters who love to pretend that racism doesn’t exist and think that my skin color is non-issue so I’m a little touchy these days. Thanks again – it opens the door for a long overdue conversation. One in which I’m willing to have regardless of how difficult.

Happy Black History Month, folks!

11 Dizz February 12, 2009 at 1:41 pm

With all respect, Ms. Blue, your focus needs to be wider on this issue. Racism in porn is aimed not only at blacks, but Asians as well. It’s rather narrow to look only at black-related porn as the most offensive subset of the field, when the “oriental,” and “me so horny” stereotypes have been mainstays of the porn industry for decades longer than “interracial” black/white movies have even been acceptable to wide audiences. Browse the titles of Asian-related adult features for the last 20+ years, and you’ll find more than enough to disgust you there as well.

12 Dustin Lacina February 12, 2009 at 12:41 pm

Great article, Violet.

My friend Robbie (who happens to be black) has been on a mission for years to gather a collection of the ultimate in interracial porn. I asked him about it once and he said “Nah, I don’t care about black dudes fucking white girls, or white dudes fucking black girls–it’s like black people and Minstrel art man. It’s the same thing. Some people collect Sambo paintings. I collect interracial flicks.”

I remember one movie Robbie had where the director can be heard off screen shouting “Say ‘This is for slavery!’” at the two performers. And how they looked off camera and blinked and resignedly said “This is for Slavery. Yeaaah.”

13 Ken February 12, 2009 at 5:37 am

Very good article, Violet – but the whole issue kind of makes me think of this from The Onion:

Marilyn Manson Now Going Door-To-Door Trying To Shock People
http://www.theonion.com/content/node/28771

Like Manson, morning radio, reality TV, and professional wrestling, many porn producers rely on shock value to call attention to their products – and I guess I just suspect that the stuff you’re talking about is based less on racism, and more on the porn industry’s latest (and probably lamest) attempt to shock an increasingly jaded audience.

20+ years ago, an anal scene was a pretty big deal. Since then we’ve gone through all the variations of rough sex, degradation, gangbangs, ass-to-mouth, you name it. If it’s there to be arousing (Kink.com being a good example) I’m cool with it, but more often it’s obvious they’re simply tacking this stuff in there for marketing purposes. Hopefully it’s obvious that I’m not defending the racist angle in all of this – I just think we’re making too big of a deal out of what is really just an industry losing customers and running out of ideas.

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