Daily Buzzkills: The decline of porn spells disaster for us all

Daily Buzzkills: The decline of porn spells disaster for us all

Whatever the vicissitudes of the economy—and long before there was such a notion as a “recession”—our great nation has always been able to steady itself by keeping its one free hand on the tiller of the sex industry. We survived the gold bust by burying our heads in the petticoats of brothel girls, outlasted the Depression plugging nickelodeons to watch naughty frolicking French flappers, and we waited out Ronald Reagan fast-forwarding through our Marilyn Chambers cassettes. The old saw used to be, “As General Motors goes, so goes the nation,” but really it should have been, “As long as they don’t find a way to tax orgasms, we’re gonna perv our way through this.”

But much as GM recently took a tumble for years of failing to produce a lighter, more economical machine, the old, reliable adult movie business is also beginning to falter, undone by the fleeter, faster model of Internet porn—and the result stands as a loss leader for the entire entertainment industry according to this sad little profile from the Los Angeles Times. Thanks to customers who now get all of their wanking material for free via short clips downloaded from places like YouPorn and RedTube, the revenue for most adult companies has fallen off a staggering 30 to 50 percent in the last couple of years, the worst dip of its kind in the history of the trade. "Professionally" lensed films involving sorority house lesbian experimentation scenarios and parodies of blockbuster movies with the word “penis” cleverly substituted in the title are dropping off at an alarming rate, replaced by shaky digital video footage of thirtysomething women putting their hair up in pigtails and posing as “amateur teens” and bored couples grimly humping away in their apartments while According To Jim plays in the background.

Yes, the art of porn is dying, and unsurprisingly, those hardest hit are the stars themselves. It used to be that young rubes fresh off the bus from South Carolina could fend off starvation while waiting for their big break by doing porn, just to pay the bills until their acting careers took off—you know, like Sylvester Stallone and, uh, Rhea Perlman. Some of these prettyish young things even found that their sidetrack was actually a shortcut to international superstardom, and way more profitable than some shitty sitcom. But those days appear to be rapidly disappearing, as no longer is allowing yourself to be violently penetrated on camera the license to print money it used to be. Take the sad story of Savannah Stern, once the slightly-burnt-around-the-edges toast of the town with an annual income of $150,000 and a brand new Mercedes to her made-up name. Two years after she hit her artistic peak, she’s now pulling in less than $50,000, rattling around in her parents’ old Chevy Trailblazer, and trying to scare up extra income on the side by dancing in strip clubs and making “$300 to hang out for seven hours at a party in Santa Monica wearing nothing but a feather boa.” While it would be easy to blame her rapid downfall on the fact that Stern is now 23, and thus all old and gross to everyone except MILF fetishists and useful only for doing the disgusting things that 18-year-olds are too scared to do, it turns out that it’s really all because of necessary changes to the revised pricing structure for unholy acts:

As economic pressures increase, many performers have also changed their minds about what they are willing do on-screen. Previously, women earned hefty bonuses for unusual sex scenes. That's often no longer the case.

"A few years ago the girls we got were OK, but not stellar models, and we were sometimes paying $2,500," said porn director Matt Morningwood, referring to a website he shoots for that features one woman and multiple male partners.

"Nowadays some of the top-tier models will do that scene for us and you're looking at maybe $1,800. I'm happy for the production, but I feel bad for exploiting the girls' situation."

Aw, don’t feel bad, Matt Morningwood! (P.S. How serendipitous is it that a man named “Morningwood” found his way into porn? It’s like something out of Dickens—who, strangely enough, did not work in porn.) It’s not your fault that you’re being forced to exploit the girls by only paying them the bare minimum to have several men run a train on them—that’s just the inevitable fluctuation of the market! You’re obviously a victim yourself here. Ho ho. But such Jezebel-kowtowing, feminist baiting aside, how sad is it that the sex industry—that long-fabled “last resort” before utter destitution—is now in such a state of deterioration that established stars like Savannah Stern are seriously considering going to work in the family real estate business and making blackly comic, totally unaware statements like, “It’s really hard to cut back and realize this may not be forever”? (She may not even make her pension!) After all, if the porn industry can’t keep it together, what chance do the rest of us have? And once again, just like the music industry, it’s all your fault—and here you thought the act of masturbation couldn’t possibly get more selfish.