I continue to be fascinated and inspired by the San Francisco based porn company Treasure Island Media but their latest move has me stumped. In contrast to their usual antics, it’s lazy, un-original and lacks authenticity.
Their New York based pornographer, Max Sohl, posted on his blog yesterday a short post and a video lasting just under six minutes. He wrote:
‘sometimes we work on scenes that are deleted from a video in the final stages before the movie comes out and they go into the TIM abyss never to be heard from again. until now. here’s some free porn from the cutting room floor. at one time this little scene was an entrée act to UP THE GUT, but we killed it (for reasons that hopefully will be obvious). merry fucking christmas.’
Up the Gut – which the scene is taken from – was released earlier this year and is a very Sohl film – if such a thing can exist – in that it contains scenes that have a lot of energy and expressions of ‘raw’ desire. It’s this depiction of men, almost lost in their ‘true’ desire that – for me – seems to characterise his work. Part of the whole ethos of the company is to present men in their ‘natural’ state, an authentic sexual experience which features bareback sex. A porn nature reserve if you will.
At the start of the year TIM tried to ratchet up the controversy stakes, declaring 2011 the year of living positively, and announcing porn featuring openly HIV positive performers. That strand – which I thought would become more high profile – seems to have fizzled out and now we have this sorry clip.
It features a man walking into an apartment, a man awaiting, dressed in a thong, positioned on his bed, arse in air. A scene documented on many an anonymous ‘cumdumspter’ blog. So far, so scripted – and slightly un-TIM. Then we get -shock – a man penetrating the guy with a condom. No conversation takes place indicating that he would wear a condom, and the bottom does not feel the guys dick to see if he is wearing a condom (as might often happen – and is common in dark sex clubs where people might be conscious of such things). Soon after, the guy slips the condom off and continues to fuck bareback. Eventually he says he is going to cum, and asks where he should cum, the other guy says, if you’re still wearing the condom, in his arse. He comes, and leaves. No relaxed authentic exchanges at the end of the scene, just a fake departure. I also think it typical for the bottom to feel back, to check that a condom was used.
The whole scene is typical of the mainstream porn fakery which TIM normally stays clear of. Although TIM has shot previous scenes using condom – they’ve used it to indicate a trade off -where ultimately the penetrators/tops couldn’t resist fucking bareback and remove the condoms (thus enhancing the erotic context – and in line with the true desire discourse of TIM films). Here, we don’t even have that, we have someone apparently getting fucked unknowingly bareback – filmed by a bareback porn company. This sort of ‘OMG, you did what?’ scene has been common in straight porn for years, such as in the Don’t Cum Inside Me series. We don’t have the outrage bit (often cringe in straight porn) but otherwise it’s straight out of the old straight porn book. Yawn.
Of course, the twist – and the video was subsequently sent out to TIM fans via email – is the heading for the video: ‘Stealth Breeding’, deliberately evoking HIV ‘stealthing’. This the practice whereby an HIV+ partner deliberately seeks to transmit HIV to another through deception. It’s a far more straight forward scenario than say the issues around recklessness in English law and is the one area that even defenders of barebacking – such as myself – say “hang on folks”. A tiny minority defend the practice (which I find abhorrent) and even indicate they engage in it. Sohl is desperately trying to play into that controversy but in a year that TIM failed to really shake things up with an HIV+ series, it seems desperate.
Like watching your Dad dance at a disco, this is just plain wrong. This isn’t about being bad boys, it’s being bad at being bad boys. So sure, the scene was cut. Not because it was shocking and controversial but because it didn’t deserve to be in a TIM film. You can view the NSFW video for yourself here.
*UPDATE* The latest ‘Island’ email update from TIM features a link to Max’s blog and a response he made to these comments (in an indirect sort of way) on 21 December. He also tweeted it to me but put a space between the ‘@’ and ‘lawandsexuality’ so I never saw it in my mentions (and hence have only noticed it now). Anyhow…Max seems to have gone on a whole Silence of the Lambs thing which I don’t really get. A screenshot of the video is captioned ‘he feels for the condom at 1.30 Chris’ so I’m guessing that’s aimed that me. I re-watched and yes he does touch the condom at the point and maybe he was feeling it, but it looked as if what he was actually doing was pushing the dick in and thus in the course of that felt the condom – so whether he intentionally sought to feel for a condom or not remains a moot point (at least for me). However, lawyerly hair-splitting aside, he did obviously know at that point that the guy was wearing a condom – and my original point was he might not (so that’s me told). The comments from TIM fans seems to match my own impression about the ‘fakery’ and TIM must have – in some way – agreed that the scene wasn’t up to snuff because they cut it. The key points about ‘steal thing’ and controversy remain unaddressed but it’s likely that TIM have something up their sleeve for the new year.