This post is dedicated to the memory of Mae West, on her 120th birthday. Mae paved the way for rest of us who would be glamorous. Her humor and intelligence have been an inspiration to me and I continue to do my part to keep her spirit alive. Mae was also the subject of scandal, rejection, and censorship and she was smart enough to make all of it work for her. She once said, “I’m all for censorship. I’ve made a fortune from it.” Happy birthday, Mae. Sleep well.
You may have noticed that guys like to look at porn. This is a unique feature of the human mind: using the imagination to titillate and encourage sex. Other members of the animal kingdom do it in a more direct manner: see or smell female in heat—chase down female—have sex with female—go to sleep. Simple, direct, and to the point. I never met a man that didn’t want it that way too.
But man is a strange animal. He is not only, as Mark Twain said, the only animal that blushes or needs to, he is also the only animal that will have sex with no one else in the room. No doubt this dates back to the dawn of our species. One imagines cavemen drawing pictures of nude cavewomen on their walls and jerking off by the fire in the corner. Centuries ago some of the world’s most artful pornography was created in Asia in the form of beautiful silk paintings of people having sex. The ancient Chinese and Japanese accepted this quirk of the male psyche and were early believers in the power of pictures to crank up a nice stiffy. Magazines like Playboy and Hustler are the heirs to this grand tradition. And, of course, the Internet opened up all sorts of new porn possibilities.
I never paid much attention to erotic pictures or literature. Most of the time I was too busy living it. But I have a unique view of erotica, having been the occasional object of it. I have been photographed nude, semi-nude, and fully clothed more often than any other actress, I think. And, according to the fan mail I get, my pictures and movies do the trick. I have been told soooo many times by male fans that I was their first fantasy, or that I, by way of one of my movies at a drive-in theater, was responsible for a couple’s shotgun wedding or love child. An awesome responsibility.
The advent of the Internet, even more than the invention of the VCR, brought porn into the home where it belongs. (The VCR at least got people out of those damp seats in the Pussycat Theater.) Because Dad or older brother didn’t need to hide a magazine in a sock drawer anymore, porn quietly slithered in through the Internet connection, grabbed a box of Kleenex, and made itself comfortable. And a populist movement was created in pornography. For better or worse, not only could anyone look at porn, but anyone with a cheap camera, computer, and a streak of exhibitionism could make porn.
Some religious folks think that all this looking at pictures is wrong, and that somehow if children get a look at those bared breasts, bottoms, and beavers it would mean eternal damnation for all concerned. If it really was wrong, you would think that they could have managed to stamp it out a long time ago, what with God on their side and all. Like the comedian Brother Dave Gardner said back in the 1960s (you can Google him; he was way, WAY ahead of his time comedically): “Let those that don’t want none have memories of not getting’ any. Let that not be their punishment but their reward!”
Men are more likely to enjoy pornography than women. Your brains are wired up in a fashion that transmits the emotion of a picture directly to your sex organ, often bypassing all notions of propriety or common sense. Women like sexy pictures too, make no mistake, but for the most part, we don’t make a hobby of it.
Mind you, I’m not saying that this is bad. I consider myself a feminist, but, unlike many others flying those colors, I don’t think that a girl getting paid for posing naked is necessarily being exploited. It happens, of course, but often the girls are the ones doing the exploiting, understanding that men will pay and pay for just one glimpse of whatever their particular fetish happens to be. Still, girls, like guys, allow themselves to be exploited for a variety of reasons from needing money for a drug habit to medicine for a sick baby to paying for college tuition to just for the fun of it. Shit happens.
Outright pornography has always been out of the question for me, but I love being photographed nude. There’s an attitude, a feeling that I get when I am photographed naked. I construct a kind of instant fantasy of my own for the camera, not unlike, I imagine, the fantasy that you boys construct when looking at pictures. Of course, if my fantasy is successful, the result is a photograph that transmits that fantasy to you. If yours is successful, the result is, well, sticky.