Pornography for Couples by Violet Blue

Originally published: XXX Files July 2002

As someone who has been reviewing porn for years, it’s amusing to hear the SoCal porn industry begin to change its tune about porn made “for couples”. Until recently, the at-large attitude of the industry for fare directed at heterosexual couples who want to watch films together has been, er, somewhat impolite. Still, even in the industry magazines you’ll hear filmmakers and writers referring to couples’ fare as though it were lighter, weaker, for wussies. Or, more appropriately, for pussies.

That’s because it is. Made for the owners of pussies — women — and also for guys who are watching it with them. I don’t think the assumption on the part of the porn industry is that the guys are weaker for wanting to watch it with their gals, I think that they believe couples’ tastes to be weaker and need to be more watered-down because of the addition of a woman to the viewership.

How insulting.

These assumptions miss the mark entirely. Women get off watching explicit imagery just as much as their male counterparts. It doesn’t need to be any less powerful — or dirty — to do the job. But it does need to be different in one concrete way, different than the stuff that’s been churned out for the masses of male viewers: it needs to be believable. If you bother with a plot, make it a real one. And make the sex hot, real, with women really getting off, and people who genuinely want to have intense, no-holds-barred passionate sex with each other. And this isn’t to say that men don’t want these things in their porn — they do. They’ve just had to settle for less.

Couples have been buying and watching porn at least since the Cannes and big-screen debut of Deep Throat in 1972. So why has this market been largely ignored? Good question — and the skyrocketing sales of porn purchased and watched by couples only underscores confusion around the issue. I can only guess that the reasons are similar to the sexist sentiments from the industry echoed above, but I am just as equally baffled by the situation as I am excited to see better films being made — films that are made by people who realize that they’re making films. And when I say excited, well, you know what I mean.

Certain directors have set a delicious pace for high-quality porn that is great for couples to watch together. Films by Tristan Taormino (like her Chemistry series) and Eon McKai always top my list for couples to watch together, but especially when one of you is new to porn. Before you watch an adult movie for the first time, read the article, “I Was a Porn Virgin: A First-Timer’s Guide to Watching Porn.” Candida Royalle‘s films have high production values — meaning good writing, excellent cinematography, great acting and hot sex. She brings a unique edge to porn with her strong emphasis on woman-centered sexual encounters and her own personal experience as a former actress from porn’s golden age. Her films are complete films, with narrative and girl-powered storyline, sometimes plot-driven and sometimes character-driven.

For almost a decade, Good Vibrations’ number-one selling film for couples is Eyes of Desire 2, directed by Candida Royalle. Made in 1999, the film has proven enduring, due largely to the fact that the two main characters (Missy and Mickey G) were married at the time, and their heat onscreen is palpable. Plus, again, people want to believe the sex they’re seeing is for real, and with a married couple you can’t miss. And with this film, the chemistry is all there. The pacing is slow and the film drags in sections, but almost all of the sex scenes are volcanic. In it, Missy is a woman who winds up in a relationship with a man who is voyeuristically fixated on her, and as she falls in love with him she allows him to dominate her sexually. For him, she’ll try anything, including anal sex, threesomes, and sex with strangers. Royalle hasn’t made a film in almost four years, but in March began production on Stud Hunting, with a release date yet to be set.

Paul Thomas is another director (though a bit more “classic”) to look for when selecting high-quality porn that packs in good filmmaking, great acting, interesting plots and good sex. The appeal of his films tend to be more in watching porn stars have sex. His films can be hard and gritty in terms of storytelling, and have conventional porn sex scenes in them — though sometimes with a twist. His films often depict strong women who call all the shots in and out of bed. A Thomas winner is Looking In (which received many awards). Especially good for first-time couples, however, are the also award-winning Justine (blending a complex character-driven plot with sexual freshness between the actors), and customer favorite Bobby Sox, full of fantasy enactment.

The “classics” (pre-1980) are a great place to find porn that doesn’t play by the industry’s current standards of surgical enhancements, medical-grade closeups, or going-through-the-motions sex. But then again, there’s all the hair, and the big earrings and the mustaches. Still, films from porn’s golden age have a refreshing sense of fun about them, are filmed well (for low budget movies), and were written with a wry intelligence difficult to find even in modern mainstream movies. Two great examples with really great sex are The Opening of Misty Beethoven and Outlaw Ladies. Misty Beethoven is a smart and funny take on My Fair Lady, in which an author working on a novel about a reluctant prostitute finds one in a Paris brothel and, with the help of his decadent friends, educates her in the arts of sexual passion and enthusiasm. The film culminates in a fantastic male anal penetration scene with two women — a “love sandwich.” Outlaw Ladies gets a five-star rating in every one of my categories, following the exploits of sexually rapacious housewives who make every man crossing their path into their own personal sex toy. This film is also infamous for showing Veronica Hart’s first anal penetration (ever!) — the scene is riveting, to say the least.

Don’t care about plot? Pick up one of John Leslie’s Voyeur films. They have no plot, just the premise that the viewer (camera) is the voyeur, watching through windows, sneaking into houses, or watching in rearview mirrors. Sometimes Leslie breaks the spell by directing during the action, but the sex is so incendiary (and Leslie recognizes that a starlet’s authentic orgasmic shudders are just as arousing as an in-out close-up) that you won’t care. The cinematography is fantastic, the lighting and sound are all natural, and so are all the actors — lots of beautiful women and men, all free of surgical enhancement. There’s lots of hot sex, never a dull moment in a Leslie film. My pick to get you started is Voyeur 13.

And if one of you has never seen an adult video before — or you simply want to watch a passionate, gorgeous couple tastefully and explicitly making love in a high-quality production — pick up Marie and Jack: A Hardcore Love Story by Comstock Films.

Enjoy watching porn with your sweetie — it’s a terrific sex toy. But I’ll bet that once you put the tape in, you won’t be watching the screen for long. Porn comes in many forms, and the definition lies in the eye of the beholder. Finding good adult fare is tough, and a satisfying experience can only happen when you know what you’re looking for. Read more about how to find what you both want to see in my book, The Smart Girl’s Guide to Porn (it’s not just for girls, after all).

Violet Blue

The London Times named Violet Blue "One of the 40 bloggers who really count" and Self Magazine named TinyNibbles one of the “Best Sex Resources for Women.” Blue is an autodidact and pundit on sex and technology, hacking and security, porn for women, privacy and bleeding-edge tech culture. She is a journalist for ZDNet, CBS News, CNET; she's an educator, speaker, crisis counselor, volunteer NGO trainer, and the author and editor of over 40 award-winning books.

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