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Post Porn PoIitics

Intro
07 Tn Sgen
EjacuIatory Punctuation:
The Cum Shot as Period, EIIipsis, and Question Mark
MUra ~,oenr 13
Erotic]Eotic
Race and CIass in French Gay "Ethnic" Pornography
Maxne Cer.Ue 19
FizzIe Out in White
Postporn poIitics and the deconstruction of fetishism
la[a Leenbacn 25
Unbecoming:
Pornography and the Queer Event.
ee Foenan 33
The Luck of the DispIaced FeeIing.
The InvisibIe Hand, Penis Surrogates and Se.
Se;nan Ceene 47
Soft ArousaI Late Party:
Web ArousaI and Porno Ehaustion.
laren .acobs ano Cnana Za|ar 53
LibidinaI Parasites and the Machinic Ecess:
On the Dystopian Biosphere of Networks
Maeo PasUne 59
The Architecture of Porn.
museum waIIs, urban detritus and stag rooms for porn-prosthetic eyes
Eear. Precaoo 7
Viva Mc GIam.
Is Transgenderism a Critique of or CaptuIation to OpuIence-driven GIamour ModeIs?
Terre Tnaen. 75
LibidinaI Parasites and the Machinic Ecess:
On the Dystopian Biosphere of Networks
Mcnaea \nscn 87
Bubu de Ia MadeIeine 103
Bruce La Bruce 117
Shu Lea Cheang 131
Werner Hirsch 139
Maria LLopis
Crsvno|e;orno 145
EIizabeth Stephens, Annie SprinkIe and Cosey Fanni Tutti
Pos Porn ErUncn 151
Todd Verow 11
Tobaron Waman 19
WiIIiam WheeIer 177
181 Outro
Tn Sgen
187 Impressum
Conens
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Post Porn PoIitics
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macropolitics. As Foucault has written, no local center, no pattern of transformation could
function if, through a series of sequences, it did not eventually enter into an over-all strategy.
And inversely, no strategy could achieve comprehensive effects if it did not gain support from
precise and tenuous relations serving, not as its point of application or nal outcome, but as
its prop and anchor point.
2

Thus the political is determined by a type of relationality of its practices, the power
of which lies in the connections, and by a series of unsolvable tensions, including the ten-
sion embedded in a concatenation of practices that gets actualised by a non-calculable event
that paradoxically calls for an active passivity, for actively awaiting that which could not be
produced either by strategic guidance or subjective decisiveness, the tension between the idea
of fragile, non-substantialisable politics as a momentary rupture and the idea of the necessity
of giving this rupture continuity by instituting it. In positive terms, through the dismissal of
the concept of a pure, once-and-for-all break implying a distancing from a certain tradition
of messianic time, from the foundation of politics in an essence, a subjective potentiality or
a primary contradiction radical politics become possible. The purpose of struggle is not
the end of history or the transparency of freedom, because freedom is not a state that can be
achieved but a mode of acting that it is yet to be produced. The political is a name for these
strategic tensions.
3
The past of postpornographic poIitics
In this sense Ondines hymn to a delirious 1965 testies to a specic political concatenation
characterised by a striking collection of pro-fetishistic subcultural strategies which subse-
quently vanished. The lifestyles, club nights, performances and movies of this pre-Stonewall,
part homosexual, part dissident sexual subculture, loosely connected to the emerging minori-
tarian struggles as well as to the anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist approaches of the New
Left, were pro-pornographic, pro-fetishistic, attracted by and attracting through the glamour
of commodities, playing with the sex appeal of things, owers, clothes, their inscrutability,
their seductive passivity, their namelessness, fetishistically devoted to beauty, stardom, Hol-
lywood, insisting on and simultaneously displacing and reappropriating the capitalist promise
of a happy life rather than being disgusted by the alienation that a commodity-based society
supposedly produces. In early queer subculture the showing of beauty was not seen as an act
of delusion, the shredding of a veil that had to be torn up to reveal the antagonistic truth be-
hind. As evidenced by the lms of Kenneth Anger, Jack Smith or John Waters, or as a late
echo by Fassbinders CUeree, beauty was directly combined with experiences and images
of despair, violence, decay and fragility. These connections between beauty and dirtiness, or,
in the tradition of the Theatre of the Ridiculous, between porn and scenes of failing, silly sex,
are not made in order to provoke the guardians of normality, to shock the middle classes who
are to demonstrate their appreciation through negative attention, or to ridicule the showing of
sex. They are made to produce an immanent pleasure of non-naturalised, non-nurturing, non-
love-dedicated, non-reproductive sex. In this sense postporn politics had already entered the
present a long time ago, but due to the Marx-inspired anti-fetishism of the New Left and the
essentialist threads in the feminism of the 1970s and 80s, it has been partly forgotten.
In the following text I want to trace a specic line of the theory of fetishism that
stretches from Marxs critical concept of the commodity fetish as a phantasmatic but actual
17
GoIden years
Ondine (Robert Olivo), who appeared in several movies directed by Warhol and Morrissey in the mid
60s, said about the year 1965, At that point in my life, in everybodys life, that was the culmination of
the 1960s. What a year. Oh, it was splendid. Everything was gold, everything. Every color was gold.
It was just fabulous. [...] Any time I went to the Factory, it was the right time. Any time I went home,
it was right. Everybody was together, it was the end of an era. That was the end of the amphetamine
scene, it was the last time amphetamine really was good. And we used it. We really played it.
1
Of
course, Ondine is exaggerating; 1965 was not the last time amphetamine was good. What made this
time so splendid was a special political concatenation which had almost reached its peak: a combination
of, rstly, new forms of militant political activism that had broken with the Leninist model; secondly,
new forms of cohabitation, spending time in a non-calculated and unmeasured way, dwelling in com-
munes, not working, taking drugs, experimenting with unknown ways of doing things together; and
thirdly, early queer politics decades before the term was used for nonidentitarian gender politics, drag,
the dismantling of gender dualism, demonstrating ones feminist dissidence or homosexuality. Ondines
magic encounter with this rare concatenation, which was only actualised in special moments of a time
that is remembered as 1968, hints at the problematic status of the political, which is important to take
into consideration when discussing what a postpornographic politics might mean.
The name of the poIiticaI
My thesis is that the political presupposes the contingent advent of an event that allows for the com-
ing together of different dissident practices, increasing their mutual connections, whereby the normal
distributions of places and functions are interrupted and the chance of exceeding the existing order
emerges. Through these connections a militant element is produced in the subject, while the latter is
displaced by the event traversing it. That is to say, there is no preexisting subject of politics; the po-
litical cannot be substantialised in something subjective, human, or living, nor can it be objectively
founded in the advancing contradictions of capitalist valorisation, wherein its tendential breakdown is
supposed to be inscribed. Instead, the political is nothing other than the historically specic effective-
ness of a complex of connections between heterogeneous radical practices that affect and, in the best
case, intensify each other. The potential for a rupture depends on the composition of these connections
and the non-authoritarian perspective of the struggles, or rather on a vigilant sensibility and prepared-
ness to oppose authoritarian pragmatics. The political has to contain multiple social differences the
force of 1968 derives from the extreme multiplicity of the positions involved while combining a
micropolitical with a macropolitical dimension. In the microdimension, the political is located in the
everyday as self-organised struggle against unbearable features of capitalist and governed life and as
momentary intensity of an already transformed situation that allows the evasion of those features as
well as the experience of brief moments of minoritarian happiness. The macropolitical dimension deals
with the question of organisation and self-management in the tradition of council communism in order
to bring continuity to a struggle or to a sudden transformative moment by constructing and instituting
basic democratic organs, giving militants the chance to distance themselves from the political act so as
to avoid the burden of constant self-mobilisation. Both dimensions are combined with specic dangers:
the rst, especially today, being a transformation to identitarian politics and commercialised life forms;
the second being the development of bureaucracy or if there is no way of distancing oneself from the
political the reemergence of cadre subjectivity. Both political dimensions face power strategies that
mark and anticipate them, strategies which are also characterised by a mutual conditioning of micro and
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Post Porn PoIitics
point of view Preciado elaborates a queer and ironic version of what Bersani, in his reading of
Genet, has called the gay outlaw. Preciados dildo techniques double Bersanis concept of
homosexuality as an act of betrayal and desocialisation. The gay outlaw rejects the concept of
a familiar triangularity in which the disruptive effect of a third agent guarantees the intimacy
of a couple, allowing for the expression of a desire that will not be satised. Here, it is decisive
that the idea of an ethical necessity of betrayal, which Bersani borrows from Genet, cannot
be reduced to a merely transgressive relation to loyalty. The thing at stake is betrayal, not as
a crime against socially dened good, but [] [as] a turning away from the entire theater of
the good, that is, a kind of meta-transgressive oe;assenen of the eld of transgressive pos-
sibility itself.
5
The aspect that Bersani is particularly interested in is Genets dedication to the
intensity of the unsocial, irrelative homo-ness of one man fucking the ass of another, blessing
a sexual pleasure that repudiates intimacy and interrupts all conventionalities of the social: a
luminous desubjectivation. While Genets and Bersanis version of the homosexual outlaw is
heavily bound to gay exclusivity and the absence of women, Preciado invents a butch version
of a universal outlaw practice that is in excess to heterosexual sociality. She shows how, in the
space of homosexuality and S/M, the rst practices that deviate from heterosexual intimacy
emerged by making contracts, using dildos, eroticising the ass. In a kind of magic seriousness,
ranging from an explicit radicality to sometimes almost childlike simplicity, Preciado calls for
the universal use of dildos in order to denaturalise sexuality, to infect it with a thing that is not
a copy of a penis but an object that is both a way to appropriate the ass as the universal passive
and non-reproductive organ that all people have and a way to multiply sexual acts, distribut-
ing them throughout the whole body. The ConrasexUa Maneso formulates several exercises
for quoting a dildo: by rubbing a forearm, by rubbing a head whose mouth contains 75 ml of
red coloured water ready to be spit, etc. The dildo thereby becomes a type of fetish that is no
longer a substitute, which does not conceal the abject, which is not affected by a logic of lack,
which instead introduces one to the intensities of becoming an interpassive, nameless thing
that fucks and is fucked. In this way the dildo not only betrays distribution into living subjects
and dead things; it also betrays the socially codied exchange relation between the one who
desires and the one who is desired, therefore incorporating desire.
In order to discuss the fetishs potential as a thing that embodies affects, passing
through a subject and decentring it, I will turn to Marxs concept of the commodity fetish as
real-imaginary expression of the impersonal and abstract type of domination in capitalism.
The spectre of the commodity form
As Derrida was kind enough to tell us,
6
Marx, in the rst chapter of Ca;a, wrote a spectral
theory of the commodity-form as social relation, according to which the social appears to man
as phantasmatic while it is actually a set of material relations between persons and social
relations between things
7
. Here we have an interesting form of real insanity which inhabits
things without being at home in them. This insanity is not a natural feature of these things.
It appears at the moment of exchange and expresses labours social character. A social form
is embodied in the commodity value, which expresses a relation of substitution, abstraction
and reication. Later Sohn-Rethel will call this real abstraction as actual as it is fantastic;
for Marx it is a spectre that must be driven out. Thus, in the commodities value something
that is otherwise untouchable can almost be touched: capitalisms mode of production. In this
sense commodities are sensuously supersensible things, social crystals. This is their secret,
19
expression of the abstract form of capitalist domination to Beatrice Preciados afrmative concept of
dildo politics as proto-communist queer act. My point of departure is the question of the problematic
state of the thing and the relation between the dead and the living in Marxs theory of the fetish and
Preciados deconstruction of fetishism. In the latter the use of dildos provides a privileged access to the
beautiful experience of becoming a sensitive, inter-passive thing that exceeds the heterosexual dualism
of activity and passivity, intellect and sensibility, the distribution into the one who fucks and the one
who is fucked.
Becoming at Ieast a thing
If one ignores the conventionality of an assumed post and the falseness of the temporal split into then
and now that the use of post terms implies, postpornography could, in a strategic sense, stand for having
and showing sex while insisting that it is not the real thing, the hidden truth or living energy of ones life.
Postporn politics presuppose the knowledge that bodies have been educated and capacitated, through
centuries of disciplining techniques, toward becoming a mobilised entity that is ready to work and in
a tricky double movement of repression and production have been gendered and sexualised along a
dualistic male-female, active-passive axis. Mistakenly, the modern subjects living in these bodies as-
sume that their sexuality expresses a singular vital force that has to be freed from repression, releasing
them from the realm of labour, rationality and repetition. In the eld of Marxism this sexual utopianism
extends from Reichs orgasm theory to the entire Freudo-Marxist discourse, as well as to concepts of
emancipatory sensuousness in Herbert Marcuse or Alfred Schmidt; it has also left traces in the feminist
myths of amazons or matriarchal naturalness and in a sophisticated, non-naturalised variant still
resonates in the queer over-afrmation of sex performances. At the end of the rst volume of Tne Hs
or, o SexUa, Foucault wrote, And we have to dream that perhaps one day in another economy of
bodies and pleasures nobody will really understand anymore how the ruses of sexuality, and of power
which supports its dispositives, have succeeded in subjecting us to this austere monarchy of sex, to the
point of devoting us to the indenite task of forcing its secret and extorting from this shadow the truest
confession. The irony of this dispositive: it makes us believe that here lies our liberation.
4
At its best, Postpornography would be this non-utopian movement to another economy of bod-
ies and pleasure, neither believing in sexual liberation nor in the existence of a constituent law that gen-
erates desire by introducing it to an unstable symbolic order, nor rejecting porn because of the existence
of a straight or gay or emerging lesbian porn industry, which, especially in its straight version, produces
an imagery of humiliation that draws on the historical enclosure, passivisation and hysterisation of
women. In addition postporn politics reject the reduction of subcultural practices to the dimension
in which normativity is simply subverted, as they insist on the non-measurable intensity of a practice
whileremaining aware of its fragility and openness for recuperation.
From this postpornographic perspective the body is desexualised and intensied at the same
time. On the one hand, postporn detaches itself from practices centred around the reproductive organs
and the primacy of the orgasm; on the other hand, it invents new ways of using various parts of the body
for having sex. In her ConrasexUa Maneso Beatrice Preciado has analysed how S/M communities
appropriated instruments that were invented and used during campaigns against childrens masturbation
since the beginning of the 17th century. She proposes the decentring of the heterosexual system with-
out giving queer sexuality a purely oppositional status. Her point of departure is the question of how
S/M practices have made power-pleasure relations visible, played on them, reappropriated them and
transferred them to contractual relations that are voluntary, momentary and potentially reversible. S/M
shows how sexuality can become an unsocial act that decentres and desubjectivates the body. From this
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Post Porn PoIitics
into the value-form, it becomes its own spectre. As a good disciple of Hegel, Marx claims that
use value becomes the form of the appearance of its opposite. As this unit of the contradiction
of matter-object and value-form, the commodity is abounding in metaphysical subtleties and
theological niceties,
14
and becomes a bodiless body. In this sense Marx conceptualises the
form of value as a contradictory law, immanent to the social relations of forces and expressive
of their composition and dynamics. Thus contradiction wins the status of a para-individual-
ity that has interiorised the different relation of forces: one abstract law of form that explains
the social. In PoUr Marx and re e ca;a, Althusser concentrates his entire methodological
effort on giving the Marxian notion of contradiction the greatest possible complexity, which
presupposes the rejection of the central logical position of value theory in the rst chapter of
Ca;a. In contrast Althusser points out that capitalism, as a complex system of reproduction
with relatively autonomous instances (whether political, juridical, cultural, or ideological),
cannot be reduced to either the immediate production process or the sphere of exchange, nor
can its structure be summarised by the difference between surplus value and wage or by the
abstraction of concrete labour and use value in commodity exchange. By developing the con-
cept of overdetermination, he shows that the Hegelian notion of contradiction no longer has a
theoretical function in Marx. While Hegels idea of contradiction is dependent on the presup-
position of a simple original unity which develops within itself by virtue of its negativity, and
throughout its development only ever restores the original simplicity and unity in an ever more
concrete totality,
15
Marx would turn to the idea of a complex set of contradictory relations
structured by the dominance of economic contradictions over all others. In other words, the set
of principal contradictions is not the essence, and the secondary ones are not its phenomena.
Instead, they coexist and mutually condition each other, while the economic ones dominate the
others. This idea of the primacy of principal contradictions (economics), which, in a process of
translation and displacement, transfer their principality to the other contradictions of the social
eld, guarantees the existence of a unity in Althussers thinking. Regulation theory replaced
this concept of structured unity perceived as formal scholasticism with the idea that the
contradictions themselves are unstable tensions in which a transformative subjectivity plays a
strategic role,
16
while Foucault replaced it with the concept of an ensemble of different strate-
gies of discipline, governmentality, valorisation, and practices that resist or evade their given
order. From a poststructuralist point of view, the multitude of social relations does not con-
ceal a law of contradiction that determines their limits. Contradiction is an exceptional form
that the social relation of forces can assume. In this sense the materialism of an antagonistic
relational form is replaced by the materialism of an irreducible variation of heterogeneous
practices that discipline bodies, regulate populations, valorise labour. The historicity of one
dominant contradiction is substituted by the idea of a contingent historical event conceived as
an improbable effect of strategies of power that anticipate the dissidences evading them.
17
This
reformulation of the connection between contradiction and social relations, which was carried
out by the New Left of the 1960s, non-dogmatic Marxism and poststructuralist theory, allowed
for a new thinking of the fetish.
Ghost things and enjoying diIdos
For a deconstruction of fetishism and a consideration of the status of the dead thing, the spec-
tacular element of Marxs comments on the character of the commodity lies in his strategy
of shifting the form of the social into the form of the commodity in the moment of exchange,
21
which is shown by not showing, a mysterious mirror that prevents people from coming to grips with
the mysticism of the commodity; it is seen as quite normal that things have a value and are exchanged.
Marx reveals this as a mystery; he is a decipherer who shows that the phantasmatic will not vanish by
being interpreted. It only dissipates once another mode of production is reached. In a passage in the rst
chapter of Ca;a, which is, regarding the rationality of the revolution, as beautiful in its clarity as it is
mystical, Marx points out that the whole mystery of commodities, all the magic and necromancy that
surrounds the products of labour as long as they take the form of commodities, vanishes therefore, so
soon as we come to other forms of production.
8
This lesson on spectres is held in the fourth section of the rst chapter of Ca;a, The Fetish-
ism of Commodities and the Secret Thereof. Conjuring up the magic of the commodity, Marx writes,
using a vocabulary inected by the religious and fantastic, Here it is a denite social relation between
men, that assumes, in their eyes, the fantastic form of a relation between things. In order, therefore, to
nd an analogy, we must have recourse to the mist-enveloped regions of the religious world.
9
Marxs
pathos of truth is that of a critic of religion whose critique is still dominated by a religious spell that
he aims to demystify he forgets to determine whether the distinction between a rationality of use and
an irrationality of exchange is in itself spectral and idealist. In Vacillation of Ideology I, an essay on
the problematic status of Marxs concept of ideology, Balibar has shown that the theory of value is an
attempt to cope with a series of theoretical and practical difculties that Marx was forced to confront
following the disastrous experiences of the failed class struggles of 1848-50 and his more detailed read-
ing of political economy.
10
Marx had conceptualised the proletariat as a universal class whose produc-
tive formation immediately precedes the dissolution of all classes and primes the revolutionary process.
This position presupposes a strict analogy between materialist being and praxis, whereby the proletariat
becomes the real movement which abolishes the present state of things,
11
that is to say, a class of
civil society which is not a class of civil society,
12
as he wrote in the introduction to the CrUe o
Hege's Pnoso;n, o Fgn. In this respect class stops being a formation that makes particular political
demands and becomes a mass that is the practical negation of all ideology, immediately exceeding the
existing order by unfurling its forces. After the defeats of the workers struggles in France in the mid
19th century, Marx realised how far his vision of the real movement of the proletariat was from what
had actually happened. Furthermore, his study of political economy had forced him to see production
as a process of separation and exchange that could not be integrated into the idea of a pure proletarian
act. Hence Marx substituted the opposition of the reality of proletarian practice versus the illusion of
bourgeois ideology for the concept of the real in the imaginary. He no longer opposed the contradictions
in the categories of political economy to the revolutionary praxis of the proletariat, but to the praxis of
capital and its advancing inner contradictions.
13
Contradiction and power reIations
What is new in Marxs critique is that the commodity form displays the form of capitalist society itself,
which is a form of a contradictory relation between abstraction and exchange. Marx starts from the
elementary exchange of products so that x amount of commodity A is exchanged for y of commodity B;
for example, 20 yards of linen are worth 1 coat. He does so in order to show that the social form does
not hide in the money-form, but in the elementary value-form, in the exchange of one commodity for
another.
This form is determined by substitution and a double abstraction of use and of concrete labour.
When linen is exchanged for a coat, the coat acts as a mirror of the linens value; its material purity
vanishes together with its potential use. As soon as the commodity enters the market and is transformed
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Post Porn PoIitics
alongside labour, catalysing labours effectivity.
22
In this theoretical context Beatrice Preciado has analysed the paradoxical production
of the female orgasm. The 17th century saw the beginning of a number of medical campaigns
against masturbation, then considered a dangerous and abnormal exposure. These campaigns
reached a peak in the 19th century when a vast number of instruments were invented to pre-
vent the spread of the masturbation disease. These instruments, ranging from chastity belts,
cock rings and bondage systems to electroshock apparatuses, marked the body with regions
of pleasure and pain, isolating them in order to medically determine where sex is located.
Through a play of repression and permission, these anti-masturbation devices show that sex
lies in the genitals and that the orgasm is the corresponding bodily reaction. At the same time,
medicine developed a method for treating female hysteria using genital massages to stimulate
orgasm both as a symptom of and a cure for a hysterical t. For Preciado the female orgasm
was produced at the intersection of these two reverse strategies of repression and production.
This is why she suggests that the dildo is the truth of heterosexuality that will betray its logic
because it is the bad copy of the penis that denaturalises the sexual eld and its dual distribu-
tion of positions. In its most strategic sense, the dildo disrupts the distinction between living
subjects and dead things: The dildo is detachable and therefore resists the force with which
the body reappropriates pleasure, as if pleasure were something that emerged from the body.
The pleasure produced by the body belongs to it only to the extent that it is reappropriation.
() The enjoying dildo knows that pleasure is never given or taken, that it is never there, that
it is never real but always embodiment and reappropriation.
For Preciado the dildo, as subversive quotation of the penis, reveals the inconsistency
of the heterosexual regime. By a mere act of multiplication, it exceeds the sovereignty of the
single signier and rejects the separations that the latter has instituted. It is what Derrida has
called the dangerous supplement that destroys what it completes. Replacing the one with the
multiple, this instrument demonstrates that the pleasure produced by sex can neither be attrib-
uted to a bodily region nor declared as subjective property: The dildo shows that the signier
that generates sexual difference falls outside of its own game. The logic that it establishes is
the logic that will betray it.
23
With this line of argument Preciado uncannily returns to the
idea of a whole that is structured by one dominant relation that can be reversed into its point
of inconsistency and, consequently, of collapse. Hence, with serious irony, she universalises
one specic lesbian dildo practice as a protocommunist queer act; that is to say, she copies, in
a surprising move, Marxs early idea of a universal class which is no longer a class, vanishing
the very moment it actualises itself, and dissolves the order by a mere unfurling of its forces.
The butch, Preciado writes, is not simply one sexual identity among others, or a simple
declination of masculine codes within a female body, it is the last possible sexual identity.
24
This, however, resonates with the idea of the concrete universal
25
, where the metapolitical
idea of the class as non-class is substituted by an anomalous subject whose particular prac-
tice ceases to be a partial claim as soon as it questions the entire structure of a situation. This
denition, in turn, logically re-attributes universality to one act (as momentary stand-in for
universality) instead of showing how universality can only be the effect of a concatenation of
acts that neither measure difference nor link difference with access to social rights and pos-
sibilities, acts that remain open for a militant diversication of their connections.

23
whereby the gure of a mysterious embodiment emerges, a real abstraction, a real within the imaginary.
The secret is not hidden behind the object, it is n the object. This shift begs the question of the state of
the thing. In a striking way, Marx makes the commodity autonomous, transforming it into a contradic-
tory individuality about which he writes, [as] soon as [a trivial table] steps forth as a commodity, it is
changed into something transcendent [...] and evolves out of its wooden brain grotesque ideas, far more
wonderful than table-turning ever was.
18
Ignoring the question of what will later be called biopolitics (i.e. the production of a subject that
is ready to work, the regulation of populations, the reproduction of conditions that guarantee the expan-
sion of chains of valorisation), Marx, in the rst chapter of Ca;a, gives the commodity a fetishistic
force. To the both phantasmatic and real value-objectivity that commodities crystallise in order to allow
for exchangeability, Marx opposes the material, actual, present objectivity of a simple thing in use. Of
course this is phantasmatic in itself even if it points towards something irreplaceable, a jewel of social
theory: capitalism is not a natural necessity. However, the theoretical side effect of Marxs concept of
value is a critical ontology of presence as actual reality, which idealises the reality of things, the ratio-
nality of use and the self-transparency of production organised by a free association of workers that is
to come. This idealism of the simple state of things characterises the romantic anti-capitalist mourning
of things that have lost their original state and is echoed in the new social movements rejection of con-
sumerism, the disgust for fake things and their abundance, the trumpery and glitter of the commodity
world, etc. In Marxist aesthetic theory the female body became a privileged site for the metaphorising
of the fetishistic force of dead things, demonstrating Marxisms analytical lack in relation to the consti-
tution of bodies, sexuality and affects. Walter Benjamin is a master of this strange metier of the female
embodiment of capitalism. For him fashion and prostitution show the living bodys coupling with the
inorganic world, explaining its fetishistic sex appeal. For Benjamin the whore is in addition to the
neur and the gambler the newly emergent type that expresses the human-becoming-commodity and
the triumph of exchange over use value, of death over life, of things over bodies.
19
Perhaps, precisely against this line of argument, it is necessary to ask how it is possible to become
at least a thing, not through a process of valorisation but through a dehumanisation and desubjectivation
that opens subjectivity to an impersonal intensity. Deleuze and Guattari have called this opening this-
ness, a concept that even leaves behind the status of the thing and refers to the pure immanence of an
impersonal life, a paradoxical duration in which personal individuality fades and becomes singular.
20
Critically referring to the status of the woman as metaphorical body of power, the anti-fetish-
ist impulse of the structuralist, Marx-oriented and feminist movie tradition of the 60s and 70s led to
a permanent gesture of deciphering and showing combined with a deep suspicion of the gaze and the
superciality of the image. Instead of glamorous visualisations of women in advertising or mainstream
movies, the complex set of social relations behind the simple image should be shown, the working con-
ditions, the everyday situations and the difculties and troubles experienced by women; analytical and
critical depth was set against supercial appearances.
21
Though psychoanalysis has heavily hindered any easy reading of the real by developing the
concept of disavowal, which constitutes the unspeakable in the space of the unconscious, the analysis
of fetishism becomes materialist and historical when it stops separating an imaginary eld from a eld
of actual reality in order to allow the series of stratications that constitute the female body of con-
sumption to be reconstructed. Froc \eare by Linda Singer, for example, examines how the ensemble
of bodily strategies and consumer practices transfers a fetishistic effect onto the commodity that is
simultaneously reinscribed in the body, producing affective dependency on consumerist activities. This
systematics permanently displaces the boundaries between labour and non-labour, free time and plea-
sure, whereby the latter is assumed to be in excess of the former; while in fact it emerged and developed
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Reconsidering the strategy of becoming a thing, the concept of thisness or naecceas
that Deleuze and Guattari developed in reference to the medieval conceptualisations of Duns
Scotus offers an alternative that leaves the subject-object dualism behind. With this concept
Deleuze and Guattari point beyond the paradoxical appropriation of unreality. They outline
the possibility of an impersonal intensity in which pieces of things, parts of subjects, are con-
nected with one another and are altered through a certain practice in a certain situation. This
thisness is more individual than a subject or an object. That is what Deleuze alludes to when he
quotes Lewis Carrolls grin without a cat.
28
In the conceptual manual at the end of ~ TnoU
sano PaeaUs, Deleuze and Guattari dene thisness as the media of Becoming that happens
on a virtual eld without substance and form, which consists only of the modes of individu-
ation itself.
29
What is problematic here is the presupposition of a forceful inorganic life that
constitutes this eld, an idea that though the force of this inorganic life is conceptualised
as an effect of the connections it makes contains traces of a vitalist originality. In the ninth
chapter of ~ TnoUsano PaeaUs Deleuze and Guattari explain that the political takes place in
a zone where these virtual movements encounter the structured solidications of the societal.
Between the two exists an area of transduction , the micropolitical area where connections
are established, severed and re-established. It is here that things are going to happen.
30
These
concepts of thisness and nonsubjective micropolitics could be nice tools for a theory of post-
pornographic politics that deals with an economy of pleasure withdrawn from the axis of fuck-
ing subjects and fucked objects. To avoid being transformed into a denaturalised version of
sexual liberation, a call for a mere combination of body parts, sex toys, drugs and hormones,
or a metapolitical universal porn practice that is assumed to dissolve the heterosexual regime,
postporn politics must become aware of the fact that politics is nothing but another name for
militant connectionism.
Transaeo b, Een[ann Carer
25
On this side of things
Analysing the fading fashions of the 19th century, Walter Benjamin insisted on the pasts actuality in the
present, the presence of what is not present. He refers to Marxs chapter, The Fetishism of Commodi-
ties and the Secret Thereof, in which Marx presents the opposite position of the actuality of what is
present, displacing the question that is posed there. Detecting another promising aspect of commodities
that are not merely reduced to crystallised forms of privately expended, abstract labour, Benjamin does
not want to exorcise the spectral and to return to elementary use, because he does not identify truth with
rational production. Abolition of hunger and poverty, communality of production forces, just distribu-
tion, etc., are the preconditions for another society. However, as a revolutionary spiritualist Benjamin
is searching for the promise of what a life could be in the tiniest details, brief moments of bliss, fragile
beauty, the plaything of a child.
Benjamin recognised in the commodity the sign of a standstill in what is happening. In the
oerner cr of yesterday, in the most recent commodity crystal Benjamin nds the irredeemable of an
epoch, its dark deception. He claimed that the surrealist, Andr Breton, was the rst to perceive the
revolutionary energies that appear in the outmoded, in the rst iron constructions, the rst factory
buildings, the earliest photos, the objects that have begun to be extinct, the grand pianos, the dresses of
ve years ago, fashionable restaurants, when the vogue has begun to ebb from them.
26
According to Benjamins messianic understanding of revolution as something sudden that hap-
pens now, like a shot at the clock tower, the possibility of something that has not yet been actualised
trembles in the commodities glitter of distraction. Concerning our question of the magic thing or the
thing-like thisness without a thing, what is to be done with Benjamins mixture of messianism, romanti-
cism and materialism? Although it provides us with a way of perceiving the thing as the embodiment of
a promise, his methodological gure of a dialectics at a standstill is too close to the idealist opposi-
tion between matter of use and form of exchange, where utopia and cynicism take up their respective
positions, facing each other in the commodity. In his book San.as Giorgio Agamben criticises Marxs
opposition of the enjoyment of use value as something natural and the accumulation of exchange values
as something aberrant. In this way he takes the articiality of the commodity-thing, the will to fashion,
the distinguished gesture of the dandy who is a connoisseur of the commodity world, as the starting
point for another relation to things. He looks for a way to redeem things from the imperative of use, for
the possibility of an impossible movement: the appropriation of unreality. But by neglecting the multi-
plicity of practices devoted to interpassivity and impersonal desubjectivated bliss, Agambens consid-
erations remain deconstructive poetry. Agamben takes Baudelaire as an early witness of the struggle
against utility, and the dandy Beau Brummell as a positive mode of becoming a living corpse, a thing
and absolute commodity. By focussing his examination of how to become a thing on the aristocratic
distinction between the last dandies and the coming world of salaried employees, he overlooks the
blockages in their practices of coolness and beautiful emptiness, openness to impressions drawn from
commodied things, that paradigmatically became visible in Baudelaires self-representations, which
Benjamin partly revealed in his Baudelaire study: his pressure to subjectivate, his outdoing himself, his
anti-bourgeois excess which establishes a negative relationship with what it transcends, the reduction
of sex to a desire for transgression, and the de-socialisation and loneliness of his gesture of revolt.
27
The
de-socialisation of Genets gesture differs from Baudelaires in two ways: rstly, in the production of
blissful moments in which transgression consumes itself and secondly, through dissociation from that
which is to be transcended, a move which Bersani has called a meta-transgressive oe;assenen.
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17
C. Fenne Eabar, "FoUcaU ano
Marx n Mcne FoUcaU. Pnoso;ner,
eo. Francos Fvao (Herorosnre: Har
.eser \neasnea, 99'), es;eca,
a ne eno o ns arce vnere Eabar
con;ares Marx's ano FoUcaU's Un
oersanong o ne reaon beveen
conraocon ano soca reaons, ;;.
' 'o.
18
lar Marx, Ca;a. Vo. , ;. '0.
19
C. \aer Een[ann, Tne ~rcaoes
Pro[ec (Canbroge, Mass.: Har.aro
n.ers, Press, 999), ;;. 490 ''.
20
C. or ns conce; o an n;ersona
no.oUa, Ces LeeU.e, PUre n
nanence: Fssa,s on ~ e (ev Yor|:
Zone Eoo|s, '00).
21
C. aUra MU.e, n ne nrooUcon o
ner boo|, Fesnsn ano CUros, (on
oon: Ersn Fn nsUe, 99o).
22
C. noa Snger Froc \eare: SexUa
Tneor, ano Pocs n ne ~ge o F;
oenc (onoon, ev Yor|: FoUeoge,
99o).
23
Eearce Precaoo, lonrasexUees
Manes (Eern: b_boo|s, '00o), ;. o'
(ransaon b, ne aUnor).
24
bo., ;. oo (ransaon b, ne aUnor).
25
C. or a ;araognac ornUaon o
concree Un.ersa, see ne Magre
ToU Coec.e's "Maneso".
2
\aer Een[ann, "SUrreasn: Tne
as Sna;sno o ne FUro;ean ne
gensa n Feecons (ev Yor|:
Scnoc|en Eoo|s, 9o), ;. o.
27
C. \aer Een[ann, "Cn Sone Mo
s n EaUoeare n Unnaons eo
eo ano nrooUceo b, Hannan ~reno
(ev Yor|: Scnoc|en, 9oo).
28
C. Ces LeeU.e, Lerence ano Fe;
eon (ev Yor|: CoUnba n.ers,
Press, 994), vnere ne s reerrng o
~ce's ~o.enUres n \onoerano:
"'\e '.e oen seen a ca vnoU a
grn', noUgn ~ce: 'bU a grn vnoU
a ca 's ne nos cUroUs nng e.er
sav n n, e'
29
C. Ces LeeU.e, Fex CUaar, ~
TnoUsano PaeaUs (Mnnea;os: n
.ers, o Mnnesoa Press, 9o), ;;.
''o''9.
30
C. bo., ;;. ''9'''.
1
Ceo as noo ano nenac oeoca
on on one o ne rs ;ages o Cooen
Years. Maeraen Uno Posonen .U
Ueerer SUb|UUr Uno ~.angaroe,
eo. Leorcn Leoercnsen e.a. (Cra.:
Foon Canera ~Usra, '00o). Crg
na, ron Se;nen locn, Sarga.er:
Tne e, \oro o Fns o ~no, \arno
(ev Yor|: Maron Eo,ars PUbsners,
99).
2
Mcne FoUcaU, Tne Hsor, o SexUa
,. ~n nrooUcon (onoon, ev Yor|:
Tne PengUn Press, 990), ;. 99.
3
For ne corres;onong oea o resrceo
;oca acon, c. Magre ToU Coec
.e, "Maneso
n;:;;vvv.grabs.org;nooe;0o
4
Mcne FoUcaU, Hsor, o SexUa,.
~n nrooUcon, ;. '9.
5
eo Eersan, Honos (Canbroge,
Mass.: Har.aro n.ers, Press, 99'),
;. oo.

.acUes Lerroa, S;ecers o Marx:


Tne Sae o ne Leb, ne \or| o
MoUrnng ano ne ev nernaona,
rans. Pegg, lanU (onoon ano ev
Yor|: FoUeoge, 994).
7
Freorcn Fnges, lar Marx, Cernan
oeoog, n MFC\, Vo. ' (ev Yor|: n
ernaona PUbsners, 9'), ;. 49.
8
bo., ;. '9.
9
bo., ;. 'o.
10
C. Fenne Eabar, "Vacaon o oe
oog, n Marxsn n Masses, Casses,
oeas (onoon ano ev Yor|: FoU
eoge, 99o), ;;. 9'9'.
11
Freorcn Fnges, lar Marx, Cernan
oeoog, n MFC\, Vo. ' (ev Yor|:
nernaona PUbsners, 9'),
;. 49.
12
lar Marx, CrUe o Hege's 'Pnoso
;n, o Fgn', n MFC\. Vo. o, ;. o'.
13
C. Fenne Eabar, Pnoso;n, o Marx
(onoon: Verso, 99'), ;;. '4'o.
14
lar Marx, Ca;a. Vo , ;. '0.
15
oUs ~nUsser, For Marx (onoon: ev
Yor|: PengUn Press, 9o9), ;;.99o.
1
C. ~an ;e., "Fron ~nUsseran
sn o FegUaon Tneor, n Tne ~
nUsseran egac,, eo. F. ~nn la;an,
Mcnae S;rn|er (onoon ano ev
Yor|: Verso, 99o).
n;:;;;e..cUb.r;MFT;MFT_~
nUsserF.nn
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thought as identity, queerness occurs as the limit point that enables conceptual closure by ma-
terializing the unassimilability against which totality takes shape. Fluid, contextual, resistant
to every attempted substantialization, queerness is situational but never positivized as an attri-
bute, never xed, that is, as a stable term that results in a coherent perspective. Such perspec-
tive could only repeat the exclusionary logic of conceptualization from which, because always
excluded, queerness would once again disappear. As permanent eruption of a nonrelation, of
an unintelligibility, as the signier of social non-closure, the empty signier of that founding
exclusion through which the social posits itself, queerness denotes the set of those things that
stymie categorization, that impossible set of elements always external to any set, the paradox
of particularity in the absence of specication. Queerness, to frame this differently, and to bor-
row the language of Alain Badiou, refers to the site of a truth event around and against which a
given situation attains its dening shape. As a locus of radical particularity where universality
ultimately encounters itself by way of its own negation and where value as such is lacking, at
least from the perspective of the situation, queerness becomes an evental site by attesting to
what that situation necessarily fails to count within it: what Peter Hallward valuably describes
as the nothingness, the void, of the situation as it relates to beings multiplicity, to being as
what can never be counted or conceptualized as a unity, an identity, a one.
4
Queerness, instead, obtrudes the structuring presence in each situation of an empty set,
a void, an internal gap or excessive elementor better still, a gap that is se the excessive el-
ementthat multiplies identity and opens a radical non-identity whose manifestation is noth-
ing less than an eruption of the Real. Such an inconceivable eruption, dissolving, for those who
bear it witness, the situations apparent reality, permits no verication through logics given
by the situation as such. Far from the realization of something latent but nonetheless possible
within the terms of the situation, such an event is always npossible, even unthinkable within
the concepts, the structuring reality, of the situation. But its truth is a universal truth, like the
Real of the situations void or the pressure of nonidentity that nds expression in the drive.
Hence the queer event proclaims the truth of a universal queerness that displaces the ;arcUar
universal enshrined in the concept of the human. With this in mind I want to amend Samuel
Webers important suggestion that The challenge to the Humanities . . . from this perspective,
is to rethink the human in terms of iterability; which is to say, as an effect that is necessarily
multiple, divided, and never reducible to a single, self-same essence (245). The challenge,
instead, is to afrm, beyond the iterations of the human, the queer annunciation of something
other than the human as aesthetic totality, to afrm what will have markedbut marked, we
must dare to ask, for whom?the advent of the posthuman. The consequence of such a queer
event, whenever it will have taken place, might be glimpsed, proleptically, in what I call here
pornographic posthumanism: an unsublatable encounter with the universal solvent of identity,
the drive that betrays the endless friction of a structural antagonism whose tension betrays the
internal limit of social order as sucha limit whose manifestations appear as pornographic or
obscene because incompatible with Symbolic mastery of the representational eld.
II.
I begin, therefore, with a simple assertion: pornography humbles intelligence. One might even
say that the decisive event to which pornography contributes is nonng bU such a humbling.
Like queerness, pornography, of whatever stripe, denies the subjects intellectual, political, or
31
I.
Conceiving itself in terms of a distinctive capacity for conceptualization, the human animal, at least
since Descartes, has dened its relation to the world in terms of abstraction and separation, establishing
its position of mastery through the value-laden, value-producing differentiation of contingency and es-
sence. Genealogies of the human as traced by thinkers from Nietzsche to Heidegger, Foucault, Derrida,
and, more recently, Giorgio Agamben, recur to this thinking of essence, this conceptual foundation of
the human, to explore how the human, in Agambens phrase, rst constitutes itself through . . .exclu-
sion (7). Such exclusions produce the metaphysics of the human and with it the metaphysics of human-
ism, generating, on the one hand, the distinction between .oe and bos that Agamben makes much of
and, on the other, the Roman nUnanas for which Greek civilization, as Arendt points out, possessed
no comparable term. According to Arendt both the human and the humanities descend to us through
Rome by way of the Roman invention of culture as a practice of care and preservation, one allied to the
Roman sense of tradition, of devotion to the maintenance of a heritage, in this case a heritage taken from
the Greeks, to whom the notion of
culture was foreign.
1
The metaphysical exclu-
sions by which were made hu-
man are thus, in their origins,
conservative. And what they
conserve is not simply the human
identity they produce; its also the
identity, as separation or abstrac-
tion, thats inseparable from con-
ceptualization. The appearance
of identity is inherent in thought
itself, Adorno remarks. But be-
cause, as he notes, the concept
does not exhaust the thing con-
ceived, the excluded part, the
remainder, returns as antagonism
to conceptual unity.
2
Hence Adorno aspires,
in ega.e Laeccs, to change the direction of conceptuality, to give it a turn toward non-iden-
tity, asserting that such an insight into the constitutive character of the nonconceptual in the concept
would end the compulsive identication which the concept brings unless halted by such reection
(12). This nonconceptual element, this determining locus of nonidentity, occasions the Cartesian search
for freedom, where freedom signies mastery through abstraction from all that is doubtful, unreliable,
inessential. And if the essence of the human as concept is found in the concept of essence itselfsuch
that Heidegger can write, in what does the humanity of man consist? It lies in his essencethen the
essentiality of the inessential, the constitutive character of the nonconceptual, the nonidentity internal
to the metaphysical unity that humanism afrms, calls into question the human that it calls into being
nonetheless.
3
In this nonidentity whose foundational exclusion is constitutive of essence, I propose that we
nd the function, trace, and destiny of the queer, where queerness refuses the conceptual norms that at-
tempt its discursive containment. Debarred as it is from essence, from the thought o identity and from
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bling block on which every conceptual identity always trips, never nds itself in the human.
Estranged and excluded from the collectivization of parts into conceptual wholes, queerness
establishes the limit-point that enables conceptual closure by materializing the unassimilability
against which totalities take shape. But it also marks the internal disturbance that undermines
any such closure. Distinct from those critical discourses that call on the latent deconstructive
potential inherent in borders, parergons, or frames to assert the structuring centrality of a
marginalized identity, queerness makes no bid for a place in the normalizing economy of
the human. Wherever the concept of the human holds sway, the queer must emerge as its
enemy. Not because queerness necessarily repudiates a universal essence, but rather because
queerness naera.es that essence precisely as conceptual antagonism, afrming a universal
queerness that doesnt allow for totalization since it names the excess unaccounted for by
conceptual identity.
As the materialization of the unassimilable or, better, as the very concretion that is the
unassimilable itself, queerness evinces the negativity, the internal contradiction or structuring
antagonism, that simultaneously undermines and constitutes universality. Queerness, in other
words, effects the universal desublimation of universality against which universality rst es-
tablishes itself. In order to approach this desublimation that is, as I argue, the common labor of
pornography and the queer, let me pause at the outset on a passage from Hegel through which,
unpromising as it might rst seem, we may gain insight into the impossible event to which
queerness and pornography both speak: the event of dehumanization that, in the second part
of this essay, I will broach in relation to barebacking porn that documents acts of sex between
men who get off on exchanging the seminal uids theyve been taught, for more than two
decades now, to avoid, as it were, like the plague.
In Pnenonenoog, o S;r, Hegel addresses the dialectic of the Spirits participation in
the material world. He writes: when beng as such, or thinghood, is predicated of Spirit, the
true expression of this is that Spirit is, therefore, the same kind of being that a bone s.
7
Hegel proceeds to call this an innite or self-suspending judgment, one that achieves
no resolution in stable and comprehensible terms, but persists instead in the mediating move-
ment he denes as negativity (209). To lose sight of this negativity and to take as a xed
proposition that Spirit is identical to the bone, afrming, in the process, that Spirit and bone
each possesses a given meaning while each is also simultaneously determined by its identity
with the other, betrays, Hegel tells us, the crudeness of what he refers to as picture-think-
ing. This, he warns, can lead to false or irrational understandings when the terms of a self-
suspending judgment are thought to be conceptually distinct, xed in what he refers to as the
moment of this asunderness. This is the context within which he writes: The oe;n which
Spirit brings forth from withinbut only as far as its picture-thinking consciousness where it
lets it remainand the gnorance of this consciousness about what it really is saying, are the
same conjunction of the high and the low which, in the living being, Nature naively expresses
when it combines the organ of its highest fulllment, the organ of generation, with the organ
of urination (210).
The depth of Spirit thus abides for Hegel not vn an ignorance, but n it. He afrms
a conjunction of high and low not dependent on xed antitheses, a conjunction distinct from
the logic of coupling by means of which heteronormativity responds to the impasse of sexual
difference, the impossibility of sexual relation. He speaks, instead, to the difference between
the fantasmatics of procreation, with its faith in the Spirits transcendent truth, and the recog-
nition of Spirit in the matter that such fantasy scorns as waste. One need not identify Hegel
33
sentimental self-totalization. As a genre insistently focused on parts, it exposes, along with the private
parts, the parts of ourselves incompatible with the sovereignty of the whole and so with belief in the
private self as the property of the subject. It exposes, moreover, epistemological mastery and the
forms of its compulsory pursuit as the subjects self-constituting effort to sublimate something deeply
offensive, even intolerable, to human dignity: the Real that erupts as the death drive at the core of
Symbolic reality, evincing a machine-like automatism that mocks the subjects claim to agency and an-
nounces, instead, the insistence of something at odds with the regime of the human. But this otherness
to the human that na|es us human makes clear the ideological mystications that the discourse of the
human intends. The effect of the anti-humanist position articulated by philosophers since Nietzsche,
however, has not been to announce the achievement of some authentic condition dened as posthu-
manism, but to foreground the non-contingent bad faith of our relation to the idea of the human. We
nd ourselves not posthuman but rather, I want to suggest, posthumanous.
Like the God who survives the fact of his death by virtue of his ignorance, we, the posthu-
manous, linger on in the aftermath of the human, afrming, all the more passionately as its subject
disappears, our outrage at threats
to human rights, at crimes against
humanity. The human, which was
never more than an aesthetic con-
struct to begin with, one useful
in pushing the democratization
that has morphed into neo-lib-
eralism, functions as little more
than the kitsch of aesthetic ideol-
ogy, which, as described by Paul
de Man, names a vulgarization
of philosophy that denies it all
critical rigor as thought and turns
it, instead, into works of art ap-
pealing directly to the masses as
natural expressions of their cul-
turea culture adroitly con-
solidated in its illusion of organic
coherence precisely by such po-
litical manipulations of the aesthetic.
5
These totalizations of culture, which produce ethnicity, nation, race, and other categories of
collective identication, both mirror and confound the totalization effected by the concept of the hu-
man, which locates our universal essence in the putative transcendence of contingent particularitya
transcendence made possible precisely by the ability to conceptualize and generate universals. As a
normative concept, the human, that is, depends on the logic of abstraction said to distinguish the hu-
man itself.
But this logic allows no place for whatever obtrudes in its specicity, failing or refusing sub-
sumption within this abstract universality. It has no place for the nonidentity that Adorno describes as
the utopian particular buried underneath the universal (318); it has no place, in short, for the queer.
This isnt to say that liberal democracies explicitly think queers as inhuman, though every day were
reminded how close to the surface that current still runs.
6
But the queer as such, as the structural embodiment of resistance to normativity, as the stum-
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sence of the human, the spiritual quickening of the conceptual connection between conception
and conceptualization, to the status of excremental matter, the murderous letter or literality of
representation itselfa materiality that cannot, in consequence, be represented as such.
Rather than object to moralizing assaults on pornographys dehumanizing tendencies,
mightnt we insist on the truth event of a queer dehumanization? By appropriating, not without
violence, Badious understanding of a truth event, I mean to claim that pornography, to the
extent that its faithful to the porneme, to the anti-social transgression that properly motivates
the genre, attests to what were always unable to cognize or to recognize: the end of the
era of the human. The truth event, in its radical disruptiveness for those whom it makes its
apostles, evacuates collective reality by means of an encounter with the void whose inclusion
determines that reality while remaining unaccounted for within it. This Real is the structuring
negativity or non-self-identity expressed in the death drive. Every afrmation of a truth event
both evinces the negative force of that drive and also, in the process of afrming the event,
of proclaiming its unthinkable identity, denies the drive as well. Pornography, as the inherent
limit point of Symbolic representation, as the antisocial inscription of the death drive produced
by symbolization itself, participates in the queer event, which is nothing less than the afrma-
tion of a universal queerness exceeding and confounding the abstract and normalizing identity
of the human. Testifying to the truth that would usher in a general dehumanization, however,
has nothing to do with promoting what we might construe as the inhumane. How could it,
when inhumanity is merely humanitys specular double, the image, not even inverted, of its
narcissistic aggressions?
11
Such narcissism is categorical, attached, that is, to the categories of
identitarian coherence. But dehumanization would abolish the human and the inhuman in one
fell swoop by dismissing the normative coherence presumed by the logic of abstract identity.
Like all conservative catchwords, though, the human enjoys the inestimable advan-
tage of afrming what we think we know: the universal value of subjecting ourselves to the
value of abstract universals, a value endangered by the solicitations of the local, the transient,
the queer. Constantly proclaiming the imminence of this danger, the human survives by
gorging itself on the pathos of its purported fragility. Any attempt to question it, let alone to
deconstruct it, has the force of a deliberate assault upon its categorical integrity, eliciting, in
turn, the pathos by which the human afrms itself. Paradoxically, then, the human be-
comes, in the process, almost invulnerable, drawing new strength as it does from the prospect
of its possible dissolution. Thus its categorical undoing necessarily exceeds our grasp. And the
posthumous survival of the human turns us, the posthumanous, into its specters, aesthetic
ideologys afterimages, ghosts who endlessly haunt ourselves by clinging to the abstraction
of coherent identity with a ruthless sentimentality. In the spirit, therefore, of Hegels analysis
of Spirit as a bone, I propose here a parallel formula: the Spirit is the drive, where the drive
performs the work of negativity expressed in the reanimation of the human by the queer-
ness that also undoes it. The queer event, in other words, remains, like every authentic event,
impossible at the very moment its actually taking place. And if, in Hegels formulation, the
negativity of innite judgment demands a union of high and low like that by which Nature
makes the organs of generation and urination coincide, then the truth event of the queer de-
sublimates the conception of the human by identifying insemination itself with the matter of
waste and death.
The direct choice of insemination, therefore, to return to _i_eks phrase, may found
our social logic by establishing the substitutive relations of exchange among meaning, repro-
duction, and cultural value, but the queering or devaluation that always attends afrmations of
35
as a queer theorist a.an a ere to see that his invocation of the dick, or the organ of generation, is a
challenge to what Ive elsewhere described as reproductive futurism: the ideologization of the social
order as the temporal unfolding of meaning in a syntax that requires the addition of the future as its
always unrealized supplement.
8
Such a future, according to Ernesto LaClau, serves to naturalize as the horizon of political
discourse an endless hegemonic contestation over which gure will manage, at a given moment, to em-
body for the social order the empty signier of universality.
9
But the future as the uncontested ground of
such political contestation establishes the future itself as the structurally necessary formal supplement
to every hegemonic assertion, a supplement that nds its privileged form in the gure of the Child. This
appeal to the future as the assurance of meaning that sustains reproductive futurism would deny, there-
fore, that the sublimity of generation as Natures highest fulllment merely sublimates and euphe-
mizes fucking when it celebrates procreation. The Child, who must otherwise function as the material
evidence of fucking as such, emerges instead as its spiritualization, transcending fucking and negating
it. But the dick, which Hegel perceives as the organ of generation and urination both, doesnt gener-
ate, properly speaking, at all: it
comes, unleashing its seminal u-
id as readily as it would a stream
of urine and scattering, whether
to germinate or not, the cum that
always contains something more
than the co-called germ of life.
Thats why Slavoj _i_ek
glosses the passage from the Pne
nonenoog, as follows: Hegels
point is not that, in contrast to
the vulgar empiricist mind which
sees only urination, the proper
speculative attitude has to choose
insemination. The paradox is that
the direct choice of insemination
is the infallible way of missing
it: it is not possible to choose the
true meaning directly, one has to
begin by making the wrong choice (of urination)the true speculative meaning emerges only through
the repeated reading, as the after-effect (or by-product) of the rst, wrong reading.
10
In the analogy
by which Hegel elaborates the conjunction of high and low, Spirit stands in relation to bone as genera-
tion does to pissing. The idealization of reproduction as the movement toward universal essence ignores
the actualized universality of urination, excretion, waste. It ignores the non-identity, the negativity by
which we are riven, made incoherent, particular, queer. But this very idealization produces the discourse
on the human, a discourse that makes, in _i_eks phrase, the direct choice of insemination, by as-
signing to the register of spirit the humans abstract and universal truth. The queer, from such a perspec-
tive, by virtue of repudiating that direct choice, must be seen, therefore, as promoting, indeed as per-
forming, dehumanizationthe very dehumanization for which pornography is similarly reviled. Like
queerness, that is, pornography attends to the unassimilable remainder, the material excess that reects
the negativity by whichand even as whichwe experience universality. Thus the minimal unit of
pornography, lets call it here the porneme, would consist of an act of representation that reduces the es-
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cally endorses practices that result in the sero-conversion of HIV negative individuals, but it
does mean that he recognizes pornographys function as a challenge to the totalization of the
subject under the aegis of intellectual self-mastery.
This logic, everywhere repeated throughout the general text of our culture, shapes the
values relentlessly promulgated by aesthetic education, which is also to say, the values pro-
mulgated by education as such. Imprisoned by the principle of meaning-making in a pedagogi-
cal universe where everything colludes to further the normative project of becoming-human,
were compelled, like the Duke in ~s YoU |e , to nd tongues in trees, books in the running
brooks,/ Sermons in stones and good in everything. What, indeed, is culture but acculturation
to the universal value of meaning where meaning means abstracting valuea generalized,
exchangeable valuefrom a queer particularity? Nor is porn, not even gay porn, exempt from
the injunction to share in this cultural labor of normative humanization. The representational
regime of safe sex, especially in gay male porn, has become, as Morris cannily notes, a sort
of restraining caricature that serves what he calls the function of directed education as it
undertakes to discipline what it claims to represent. True to the project of aesthetic education,
where every appeal to affect must teach, where every sensory encounter must instruct, the gay
porn denounced by Morris attempts a sanitization of sex by acceding to the normalizing im-
perative to congure sex as continuous with safety . Like aesthetic education in general, such
porn proves anesthetic. It images a universe whose so-called safety comes at the expense of
the expense of spirit, a universe purged of sexual liveness, to borrow a concept from Lauren
Berlant, purged of the disruptions of jouissance, and purged, therefore, of queerness as Ive
been characterizing it here.
14
Queerness remains, in Morriss work, the unsublatable remainder of every transcen-
dent spiritualization. And he condenses that queerness in the particular stuff that futurism sub-
limates: the cum, the ejaculate thats idealized within a heterogenerative framework as human
essence, as spirit, as vitalizing seed. If the logic of reproductive futurism conceptualizes cum
as the cause of conception, bestowing upon it a meaning derived from its place in a narrative
sequence that exchanges what it is for what, under certain conditions, it enables, Morris di-
rects our attention instead to its status as material substance, as the viscous uid jetting from
all the cocks onscreen that provides the documentary evidence that we are watching the
thing itself. That invocation of the thing itself, though, leads us back to Hegel and to the
negativity involved in the designation of Spirit as a thing. In Morriss case, the simultaneous
depiction of cum as thing or substance and as sgn or noex of the thing itself marks a ver-
sion of the split between bone and Spirit, between particularity and universality, that his work
resolves through its afrmation of a materialized universala universal materialized in the
particularity that marks every subjects access to the experience of the jouisssance that Lacan,
in Seminar 20, explicitly describes as enjoying substance . . . the substance of the body, on
the condition that it is dened only as that which enjoys itself.
15
Not transcending the viscous
uid, nor afrming its sublimation, but nding, paradoxically, within it the index of pure
materialization, Morriss pornography immerses itself in celebrations of contact with cum as
a gure of the enjoying substance that makes jouissance the substance of the body. Cum
for him is the condensate of the subject in the Real, not as it might be for others, what Lacan
refers to as agalma, the fantasmatic treasure that denes a secret, internal essence, a precious,
unique, and compelling attribute that generates desire. To the contrary, cum attains its privi-
lege for Morris as the messy excrescence of a jouissance whose very particularity effects the
subjects universalization, reducing the subject as ego, as conscious agent, as imaginary self,
37
value disavows through projection the fatality of meanings meaningless material ground. Perhaps that
can go some way toward explaining why Badiou, in Lacan and the Pre-Socratics, calls attention to a
passage where Lacan refers to the aphorisms of Heraclitus: Among these aphorisms, Badiou declares,
the most useful is the one which states the correlation of the Phallus and death, in the following, strik-
ing form: Hades and Dionysus are one and the same.
12
This is the dehumanizing truth that queer-
ness, like pornography, embodies, a truth implicit in the English usage of spirit in the early modern
period to designate not only to the transcendent immateriality of being, but also cum or ejaculate, as in
the well-known words with which Shakespeares sonnet 129 begins: Th expense of spirit in a waste
of shame/ Is lust in action. As the work of the contemporary pornographer, Paul Morris, may help us
to understand, the queer event transvalues such waste by similarly locating spirit in the messy stuff of
materiality and by refusing to deny or to sublimate the negativity inherent in the link between urination
and generation, Hades and Dionysus, death and the phallus.
III.
So lets turn our gaze to the waste
of shame and the prodigious ex-
pense of spirit in Paul Morriss
pornographic workwork that
will give us a better sense of how
dehumanization operates and why
I say we can embody or gure it
but never succeed in achieving it.
Morris, as the founder and mov-
ing force behind Treasure Island
Media, has earned a signicant
reputation by producing and di-
recting barebacking porn that not
only breaks the taboo on fucking
without condoms in mainstream
gay pornography, but also depicts,
or, more properly, celebrates, the
anal absorption of seminal uids
against which condoms defend. For Morris, a strikingly intelligent, aesthetically self-conscious, and
politically sophisticated pornographer, depicting what looks like, or may even be, what our discursive
regime has taught us to classify as unsafe sex reects not only his investment in the documentary
impulse that subtends pornography, but also his Foucauldian resistance to the aesthetic conformity and
sexual conservatism embedded in the representational politics of the mainstream studios producing
gay porn. Porn depicts sexual practice, he writes, and a uniformity of sex in porn is indicative of
submission of the subculture to larger power. The careful porn of the gay mainstream allows a strictly
policed repertory of acts and styles that represents not who we are, but what we seem to believe we
should be. . . . Danger, accident and specicity in porn insofar as they are honestly depicted (i.e., docu-
mentary) enhance the possibility of a more complex, demanding and therefore productive relationship
with power.
13
Danger, accident and specicity: this triad denes the insistent particularity of the
queer commitment to a jouissance unconstrained by the normalizing logic of abstraction that promises,
instead, the safety and shelter of a humanizing universality. This does not mean that Morris simplisti-
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division that disaggregates the identity it models. We can see that division enacted as Lacan,
paradoxically, posits turgidity as the image of the vital ow, or more precisely, as the
image of the vital ow as it is transmitted in generation. Heteronormative ideology congeals
the emulsion of this vital ow, with its uidity, mobility, and mess, in the turgidity as which
it conceives the phallus and also, by extension, itself. In the rigid dick the vital ow succumbs
to rigor mortis, to a sort of mortication, to the solidity of what Deleuze evokes as the wall of
representation or the statue of the father, which immures the material ow he describes as
a formless, nonhuman life.
17
By documenting sexual encounters that defy the protocols for depicting anal sex in
mainstream gay male porn, Morris attempts to reverse this norm of phallic, erotic, social,
and nally political mortication.
18
His porn tapes replace the value of the dick encased in its
phallic armor with the value of pure expenditure, with the quantication of cum, and with the
heroic stupidity of the anus hungry to receive, to absorb, to secrete it. Dont misunderstand
what I mean by this epithet, heroic stupidity. It has nothing to do with a condemnation of
unprotected anal sex and everything to do with acknowledging the drive, characteristic of
pornography, beyond epistemological mastery, beyond intellectual comprehension, beyond
reason, sociality, identity, and so beyond the human too. The asshole, as the locus of cultural
taboo, as the place made to signify nothing but waste and the absence of value or meaning, dis-
places the phallus, in Morriss work, as the privileged site of pornography. And that privilege
derives from its exemplary relation to nullity and inexpressivity. Removed from everything
socially productive, it gures the absence of personhood, the hollow core, the structuring
emptiness, that demands, in heteronormative culture, sublation into the human, demands the
positivization of its zero into the one of phallic identity. For Morris, though, this void has the
force of the oracle at Delphi. But where the latter presented its wisdom beneath the inscription,
Know Thyself, the asshole initiates, in Morriss work, a radical Unknowing of selfhood. As
the site of evacuation, involuntarity, and penetrability, it localizes the evacuation or dethron-
ing of the social subject itself. Like the rocking waves of Walt Whitmans sea that whisper the
single word, death, the lips of the asshole in Morriss tapes speak the death of the human that
conceives itself on the model of phallic form.
Perhaps thats why the cock in his porn is reduced to mere instrumentality, subordi-
nated to the vital ow of the cum that it conveys. In essence the cock becomes essence itself,
its value, the waste of spirit, where waste or expense is prized as a good and sexual hunger
consists in the will to consume this waste as value, as the union of Hades and Dionysus, as the
material dissolution of the phalluss claim to abstract universality. And nothing conveys this
more clearly than the sequence, for many no doubt unappetizing, from the chapter of Morriss
Ereeong Season (Treasure Island Media, 2006) called Making the Devils Dick.
This segment begins with a prologue that features a montage of images traversing the screen
in a series of visual overlays. In each case the camera directs our attention to an act of ejacula-
tion, largely focused on the hands and the cock of the man who is shooting his load. But the
spirit expended in this waste of shame will not itself go to waste. Whether shot into a glass
container directly or spat into one after having been ejaculated into someones mouth, the cum
is gathered and preserved as attentively as the sperm in Mob, Lc|. Numbers periodically cross
the screen, though not in chronological order, reducing the ejaculations of these free-oating
cocks to so many loads of cum. Shown onscreen in black and white as the background on
which the sexual climaxes appear, by contrast, in color, a hand slowly pours the ejaculate into
39
to nothing but the largely indifferent, if necessary, adjunct to its production.
Our status as embodiments of this substancefor which cum is one particular, and particularly
masculinized, cultural gure, but by no means the only onemakes the subject universally queer, by
which I mean radically particular in relation to the Real of jouissance. But such a particularization af-
rms no identity, neither personal nor sexual identity, nor does it speak to the queerness of a subject
position, nor to the queerness of a given subject. It marks, instead, the queerness that effectively undoes
the subject itself through an encounter with what exceeds the identity we acquire through subjectiviza-
tion. This queerness, therefore, must not be confused with pleasure, liberation, or desire. Beyond the
eld of such categories, because beyond the eld of the human itself, queerness pertains instead to the
drive that refutes our fantasies of sovereignty and survival, confounding, in the process, the idealizing
illusion of epistemological mastery. Like pornography, queerness occupies the space of what resists
the advances of knowledge, what conceptualization cant domesticate by way of its will-to-identity. As
such it never coincides with itself, never quickens into form.
In Morriss work, the cum that is and that gures the thing itself preserves its signifying link
to heteronormative procreation,
but his tapes subject that asso-
ciation to the rigors of an innite
judgment. Though his titles will
frequently borrow the traditional
language of reproductioncon-
sider, for example, Ereeo Me,
Ereeong Season, Ereeong
M|e C'e, Pann' Seeo, and
lnoc|eo ;the gures of in-
semination are stripped of spiritu-
alizing promise and refer instead
to an absorption of cum that oc-
casions an access to vitality only
insofar as it overcomes the con-
straints of what we call safety and
opens onto the jouissance of an
encounter with the Real that ne-
gates whatever we think we are
and whatever we think we know. Referring to the originary moment of life, to the moment of human
conception, these titles discover within that moment the germ that utterly undoes itthe germ, that is,
of the impossibility inherent in the sexual relation. Breeding the jouissance of the drive instead of the
Child that would signify life, the inseminations of Morriss tapes mock the privilege of human concep-
tion by calling into question the universal value of the human as a concept.
That concept itself is determined by the structuring fantasy of the phallus, the fantasy through
which the phallus as necessary supplement to the material body provides the template for the sover-
eignty and coherence of the subject, who is thereby at once allowed and compelled to enter the order
of meaning. Enshrouded in the veil of fantasy that alone enables it to function, the phallus stands as the
gure for the solidication of the ego that nds its long-term guarantee in reproductive futurism. Thats
why Lacan can remark with regard to this fantasmatic phallus that: by virtue of its turgidity, it is the
image of the vital ow as it is transmitted in generation.
16
But throughout his career Lacan attempts
a disruption of that fantasy by insisting on viewing the phallus itself as the rupture, the difference, the
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read breeding in the title of Morris tape as a trope for sero-conversion or impregnation
with HIV, the emphasis, quite to the contrary, falls on the liveness that sex as such can breed:
not life in the future, not life in the Child, but life in the grip of the drive itself, the liveness
of uncongealing, of melting from meaning as if into matter, of escaping the mortication of
a condomized and frozen imitation of life. The hunger for cum throughout Morriss work is
the hunger for such aliveness, for such a radically materialized essence, where life is not the
refusal of death, but aliveness to the constant implication of death in and as ourselves. As the
site of an innite judgment where presence and absence, sign and substance, life and death are
held in suspension, cum, for Morris, to venture a deliberately provocative formulation, posi-
tivizes negativity, risking, as does Morris himself, the multiple meanings that phrase might
have in the context of bareback sex. Materializing a drive-like refusal of life thats no more
than resistance to death, bareback sex in Morriss work attempts to approach the Real, the
impossibility, informing sex as such. His reference to breeding thus ironizes the reproductive
imperative whose alibi translates cum into seed, fucking into trying to get pregnant. Against
these sublimations, Morris camera insistently returns to assholes and mouths that are avid
for cum, heroically receptive, endlessly absorptive, drinking it in like intoxicating spirit, but a
spirit that springs from material connections to piss and shit and sweat, to the surplus bespeak-
ing the subject itself as desublimated ideality, as an orgnar, desublimation, as the desublima-
tion that posits the generative sublime only retroactively.
But porn here encounters a limit. Serving as it does to document something in excess
of representation, the remainder that constitutes its inevitable surplus, it can seem to re;re
sen that surplus, and so to appeal to the conceptual logic that the porneme seeks to undo. No
sooner does cum start to signify the Real thats inherently excluded from meaning than it starts
to allegorize the Real instead, effectively turning, like culture itself, a prot of meaning on
waste. It thus returns to the innite judgment by means of which Spirit and bone are conjoined
much like pissing and reproduction. As sign and index of the thing itself, cum remains in the
orbit of fantasy, obedient to the desire that would tame the drive by fantasizing an object. The
queer event toward which porn points remains, therefore, impossible; our very will to escape
the human insistently reinscribes it, keeping the pure porn moment at bay even as its arriv-
ing, as if the encounter with porn meant no more than the endlessness of postponementthe
very postponement and dependency on a temporal supplement of the still to come by which
reproductive futurism attempts to balance its books. Maintained in such a suspension, like
virus or sperm in seminal uid, we, the posthumanous, trapped in the thought of the human
whose time has passed, live for the moment of the queer event when something like life could
occur. For the event as such is a queer event in its drive-like annulling of the framework that
secures our identity within the Symbolic. The Child may embody the compulsory sublimation
that is reproductive futurism, but its mewling and puking covertly acknowledge what cannot
be sublimed, as if, in its very spittle and drool, the Child symptomatically sought to cough up
Hegels bone in Spirits throat.
True to the queer event that throws out the baby for its gural bathwater, or at any rate
for the piss and cum that designate a zone of vitality always in excess of any Child, Morriss
work risks everything on the risk of encountering life, a risk that exchanges the phallussov-
ereign, veiled, and perpetually turgidfor the sloppy semi-fredo of what he calls the devils
dick. Hades and Dionysus are one and the same, claims the Heraclitean aphorism that Lacan
describes as referring to the correlation of the Phallus and death. But the death that the
Phallus installs is itself the sublimation enforced by the Child. And the life that the devils
41
the mouth of an open condom, taking care to preserve each drop of the precious uid thus gathered.
nage 0 0o Page 8
The prologue ends with the men and their cocks evicted from the screen, leaving us, instead, with the
swollen condom lled with 73 loads of cum. nage 4 Page 8
After a brief fade to black we see the condom again, shown in color and swaying back and forth until
Morris, using a lter of red, superimposes upon it a shot of this cum, frozen and removed from the con-
dom now, congealed in a solid mass. The camera, tracking back, then shows us this object being held in
the hands of naked man who smears it all over his cock and chest for his sexual partner to lap up before
using whats left in solid form to fuck the other mans ass. nage 0' 09 Page 8

The montage of ejaculations in the prologue, then, serves merely to frame a depiction of the making
and unveiling of the Devils Dicka dick that isnt a dick at all, but that literalizes phallic harden-
ing as the freezing or congealing
into object-form of Deleuzes
formless, nonhuman life. The
opening kaleidoscope of images
privileges cum, not the dick thats
coming. Reduced to an ancillary
feature in a series that doesnt
defer to chronology and could,
theoretically, go on forever, the
dick here loses its standing as
general stand-in for the phallus.
Over and against the integrity of
the phallus, over and against the
unity of the subject supplied by
the concept of the human, Mor-
ris adduces the loads of cum we
see milked from anonymous
donors and combined to produce,
in the Devils Dick, the phallus
under negation. Formed by the freezing of cum in the phallic mold that a condom provides, the Devils
Dick unpacks the connection between the phallus and the condom itself. It reads the condom as a meta-
phor for the operation of the Lacanian veil through which the phallus performs its role. The condoms
association with safety, therefore, is in one sense purely formal: it defends the rigid identity of the
phallus with the abstraction of identity itself. As ;reser.a the condom preserves the mastery of the
human subject, warding off the messy exchanges of sex and the encounter with the bodily substance
of jouissance and its trace at once.
Removed from the freezer, unwrapped from its condom, unveiled in its status as object, the
Devils Dick immediately starts to melt once again into cum. In doing so it effectively allegorizes the
dissolution of form, including the form imposed upon the subject as se. Where the condom preserves
the integrity of form, the porneme here denies it, which accounts for the mordant irony with which
Morris pointedly infuses this sequence: the condom appears in this barebacking tape only as the tem-
plate for a dick of pure cum to ll the bottoms ass. However much this may tempt us, in response, to
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43
dick signies is that of Dionysian abandon. The event, however, as Ueer event requires a particular
abandonment: the abandonment of whatever is for something unknown and foreclosed from being, the
abandonment of what we think we are for the Real that remains unthinkable. As the mad Ophelia tells
Claudius after Hamlet has killed her father, We know what we are, but know not what we may be-
come. More precisely: we nn| we know what we are, but that knowledge denies the drive within that
pursues our unbecoming. Thats closer to the truth of the queer event evoked in Morriss porn, which
gures these various abandonments by literalizing yet one more: the abandonment of the condoms
protective veil, the prophylactic container that freezes the human in phallic form. Such abandonment
marks the abandoning, the melting away of our beng human, as if, by thus dissolving, we might, like
the devils dick, be cum and so, in consequence, Unbecone the beings we think we know.
42
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44
09
10
Sa.o[ __e|, Tne Paraax Vev (Can
broge, M~: Tne MT Press, '00o), ;.
oo.
11
c| Toscnes ne;s o sneo gn on ns
;on, noUgn vnoU an, neoreca
seconscoUsness, vnen ne vres ne
oovng senence aboU Honer's e;c
n a re.ev o ~essanoro Earcco's ~n
ao: "Tna ns oUnanneao o \es
ern eraUre begns, exUse,, vn
ne voro "vran, [Us as ne ;oen se
s one o "osna oean ano "cor;se
re, o "nen |ng ano nen |eo, o
".e nngs ano ".e oesn,, snovs
na, |e oner e;c ves;rngs, sUcn
as ne Co Tesanen, nos o vncn
;osoaes Honer, s nore |novng n
s avareness o nUnan,'s nos os
ngUsnng ra nnUnan, nan
eraUre o aer ages. "Cn Earcco's
Honer, ev Yor| Tnes Eoo| Fe.ev,
~UgUs o, '00o.
12
~an EaooU, "acan ano ne PreSo
cracs, n acan: Tne Sen Parners,
eo. Sa.o[ __e| (ev Yor|: Verson,
'0o), ;. o.
13
PaU Morrs, "o ns: ecessar,
Langer n Mae Porn, 99o, n;:;;
vvv.reasUresanoneoa.con;nor
rs;xsrean.nn. ~ sUbseUen Uo
aons ron Morrs's vrngs reer o
ns ex.
14
For ne conce; o sexUa .eness see
aUren Eeran, Tne CUeen o ~nerca
Coes o \asnngon C, (LUrnan:
LU|e n.ers, Press, 99).
15
.acUes acan, Tne Sennar o
.acUes acan, Eoo| XX: Fncore 9'
o: Cn Fennne SexUa,: Tne ns
o o.e ano lnoveoge, rans. ErUce
Fn| (ev Yor|: oron, 99o), ;. 'o.
1
.acUes acan, "Tne Sgncaon o
ne PnaUs, n Fcrs: ~ Seecon,
rans. ErUce Fn| (ev Yor| :oron,
'00'), ;. '.
17
Ces LeeU.e, "Eareb,: or, Tne For
nUa, Fssa,s Crca ano Cnca,
rans. Lane \. Snn ano Mcnae ~.
Creco (Mnnea;os: n.ers, o Mn
nesoa Press, 99), ;. .
18
Morrs' .oeos e.o|e, vnener or no
ne, acUa, oe;c, vna s |novn as
"Unsae sex. ~ cenra o;os s ne oe
;con o ne "o; ener conng n ne
"boon's ass or conng on beore
1
See Hannan ~reno, "Tne Crss n CU
Ure, n Eeveen Pas ano FUUre (ev
Yor| :PengUn, '00o), es;. secon .,
;;. '0o'''.
2
Tneooor ~oorno, ega.e Laeccs,
rans. F.E. ~snon (ev Yor|: Conn
UUn, 94), ;. '. SUbseUen ;age reer
ences o ns eoon v be nocaeo n
;arenneses n ne ex.
3
Marn Heoegger, "eer on HUnan
sn, ceo n .acUes Lerroa, Tne
Margns o Pnoso;n,, eo. ano rans.
~an Eass (Cncago: n.ers, o Cn
cago Press), ;. '9.
4
Peer Havaro, EaooU: ~ SUb[ec o
TrUn (Mnnea;os: n.ers, o Mn
nesoa Press, '00o), ;. o'.
5
PaU oe Man, ~esnec oeoog, (Mn
nea;os: n.ers, o Mnnesoa
Press, 99o), ;. '4.

en: n an arce on ne vebse ga,.,


Fvan McCregor s Uoeo as na.ng re
s;onoeo as oovs o Uesons aboU
ns ;erornance as a ga, nan n Fo
varo EUn's n "Scenes o a SexUa
aUre: on sono na sao sooao
na no recao a ;are o Un sooao
na oeo McCregor, no ;ersonag
go, E,, e Un essere Unano. Cne sa
ga, o eero non a acUna oeren.a.
~onrab, bera as na saenen na,
be, ne neeo o na|e a a sUggess
na nan, ngn no o be UnrUe.
"Cnena: Fvan McCregor n co;;a
ga,, .nevs.,anoo.con;0o'00o;o';
cnenaevanncgregornco;;aga,.
nn, ~UgUs , '00o.
7
C. \. F. Hege, Pnenonenoog, o
S;r, rans. ~. V. Mer (ev Yor|:
Cxoro n.ers, Press, 9), ;. '0o.
~ sUbseUen ;age reerences o ns
eoon v be nocaeo n ;arenneses
n ne ex.
8
See ee Foenan, o FUUre: CUeer
Tneor, ano ne Lean Lr.e (LUrnan:
LU|e n.ers, Press, '004).
9
See Frneso aCaU, "oen, ano He
genon,: Tne Foe o n.ersa, n
ne ConsUon o Poca ogcs, n
Conngenc,, Hegenon,, n.ersa,:
Conen;orar, LaogUes on ne e
(ev Yor|: Verso, '000), ;;. 44o9.
reenerng ne anUs o n[ec ns cUn
vnn. TnoUgn ns .oaes ne ;rac
ce o nansrean ga, ;orn, vnere
concerns o.er HV ransnsson na.e
esabsneo as a norna.e ;rooco
na oe;cons o ana sex ne ;res
ence o a conoon, one snoUo no as
sUne na Morrs's acors are engagng
n "Unsae sex. Tna, o coUrse, voUo
oe;eno on ne HVsaUs o ne acors
n reaon o eacn oner. M, argUnen,
nove.er, s na b, conang Un;ro
eceo sex vn vna regsers as "Un
sae sex n oonnan noUsr, ;rac
ce, Morrs' ;orn nenos o sUgges
na "Unsaeness s enoenc o sex
na exceeos nere, ;nac [oUssance.
~no na Unsaeness, or vncn ne
Ueer vas excoraeo e.en beore ne
e;oenc o HV osease, ex;resses ne
nonoenca ano ne noncogn.abe
vnn Us a, ne sU;o, o ne or.e
na v no be oeerreo b, ne rUses o
oesre. an graeU o La.o Ha;ern
or ns generoUs ano ncs.e sUgges
ons na ne;eo ne o srengnen ano
car, ns as;ec o n, argUnen, bU
ne bears no res;onsb, or ne nan,
va,s n vncn s argUnen, ano ;s,
cnoana,c necon, cear, oer
ron ns ovn.
Post Porn PoIitics
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as ephemeral data could it be leading us towards loss of desire or more rened articula-
tions of arousal?
II. Show-n-teII and Madame Remedy
Show-n-teII:
Madame Remedy, I just started going to chat rooms. I fell in love with the energy. Most of the
people there are in the adult rooms. nage 0 Page 8
Its full of live video, chat and sex. I nd the space so compelling, the variety of images
that are broadcast and the way people communicate both in words and picture.
nage 0' 0' Page 8
At rst I decided to show only the top of my head. I want to hide my identity in case
someone would recognize me. Hiding part of my face feels comforting, but in a funny way it
makes me look younger and more exotic. It also emphasizes that I am there to watch.
nage 0o Page 8
I watch naked men waiting in front of their computers. I watch their naked bodies jux-
taposed with the keyboard, the screen and all the cables. Like a tourist in a foreign land, I make
screen shots of my desktop. I capture images of people, naked, sometimes headless, watching
the screen, waiting for something to happen. nage 0 Page 8
Like a street photographer I move in this new kind of space, and I document all that I
see. Unlike a street photographer, I often nd myself in ofce spaces, living rooms and even
bedrooms. The street and the home have blended together.
But you know, my curiosity is irresistible. I want to see how virtual sex works. I have a
vague idea that it is about mutual masturbation; and even though I am pretty sure I wont go
all the way, I still want to see how men react once a woman goes beyond simply irting.
nage 0o Page 8
I own two skirts and choose to wear the shorter one. I walk into a room. My camera
is pointed at my thighs. I am wearing black stockings, I am fully dressed. No esh showing, I
start caressing my thighs. nage 09 Page 8
I say nothing. I watch men sending me messages, getting undressed and masturbating.
My moves are repetitive, almost boring. I perform slowly because I know the connection is not
good today and I want to make sure that I produce a moving image. I keep caressing myself
with one hand and moving the mouse around with the other hand, clicking, opening video
windows, copying chat text, grabbing images to document this event. I am very busy. In my
little notebook I write the names of the men who reach orgasm. The longer I caress my legs,
the longer the list gets. This is the most exciting and bizarre thing I have ever done!
nage 0 Page 8
Men who reach orgasm leave the room, opening space for new men to come in. There
are so many horny men all waiting to get into the room. What I do feels like social service.
Most men thank me after they ejaculate. nage , ' Page 8
Ejaculation looks really impressive on video. Under the right lighting conditions, it
shines. I really like watching these ejaculations happen right on my own monitor, in my own
studio. No mess for me. People that I have never met, that I will probably never meet, perform
their most private acts in response to my image of touch. nage o Page 8
59
I. OnIine Se Chat: A Post-Human Cure?
A conversation unfolds in a disembodied space where nocturnal explorations and seductions
crash into the rigid value systems and testing methods of the behaviorial sex sciences. Show-n-tell
is a euphoric chatter who easily grabs your attention. Madame Remedy brags about innovative
technological tools to measure sexual arousal and dysfunctions. Show-n-tell has a supersonic en-
gagement with ephemeral data and modes of sensuality that can hardly be measured by Madame
Remedy.
The goal of dialogue between Show-n-tell and Madame Remedy is to playfully reexamine
the climate of overexposure to sexual data in digital media networks. First of all, it pays tribute
to Sylvere Lotringers account and critique of behavorial sex sciences. In C.erex;osUre: Per.er
ng Per.ersons Lotringer explains that sex scientists search for sex zones and perversions as a
mechanic checks an engine, they merely search for the mental dysfunction, hoping to remove it
painlessly, with the appropriate tools. (204) Lotringer works out of a tradition of radical critique
of psychoanalysis and wants to propose a Nietzschean post-humanism, as he detects in science an
unending pulse towards quantication and aestheticization of sickness. Lotringers study is also
a cynical recognition of the undergrowth of our condition of the unending party as he raises the
question if too much partying and wallowing in sexual data is leading us to cultural death.
Lotringer observes how, in the lab of Dr. Seymour Sachs, Penile Plethysmography (an in-
strument strapped around the penis to measure erection) is used on male sex offenders to quantify
and modify their positive reactions to awkward or socially unacceptable desires. He explains in
detail that Sachs is not a moralistic person but a pragmatic and cost-effective therapist who tries
to locate and cure the patients exact arousal/deviation zone. For instance, one fetishist tells Sachs
that he is turned on by the sight of female sandals, but Sachs repetitive physio-assessment shows
that he is actually climaxing on toes and feet. Sachs discards the tale of the sandal and tries to
narrow down and dene the patients exact deviation from the norm.
These kinds of methods can be called a post-human cure in that they go beyond a patients
self-reported knowledge of sexual identity and uctuating desires. It doesnt matter whether a
patient has some type of sophisticated knowledge about sex, what matters is how to accurately
measure and modulate his/her patterns of excitement. One of the treatments described in detail
by Sachs is that of overexposing or satiating patients by telling stories of their exact and
empirically tested perversions with such frequency that they lose erection or interest and are
able to move on. The repetitive enactment of the perversions rst leads to a quick erection, but
then the patient reaches a state of lethargy: New sexual therapy turns boredom inside out into a
weapon to extinguish every desire. (19) The behavioral therapist tries to replace this emptiness
with stories of healthy sexual communication and domesticated desires that may slowly revive
the patient.
However, the post-humanist philosopher closes the book and argues that we have become
entirely dissolved in processes of communication while they announce a perennial exhaustion or
perhaps a disappearance of the sex drive. So what happens when people are constantly using por-
nography-aided seduction methods on each other? Are we fed up with it or adequately nurtured
through acts of mutual sharing? There are of course many novel pleasures that emanate from
online chat, even if they are problematic categories for the encyclopedia of sex scientists. These
acts of innovation have been criminalized throughout history precisely because they introduce
sexual energy in the face of a cultural nihilism that runs through the sex sciences. But the thrust
of scientic fanaticism is appealing too, as Lotringer has pointed out. A constant exposure to sex
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Madame Remedy:
Let me point you to the study from 2004, A Sex Difference in the Specicity of Sexual
Arousal, in which researchers have posited a rigorous sex difference, showing that sex arous-
al is category-specic in men. This means that women are more responsive to a variety of
seductions and porn genres and even identify with varied sexual orientations and sexual tastes,
but men have more limited responses to shifting categories and data.
But how do scientists come up with concrete evidence about arousal? Male genital
arousal is assessed with the penile photoplethysmograph (PPG), using a mercury-in-rubber
strain gauge to measure changes in the circumference of the penis as erection develops. A
stretchable band with mercury in it is tted around the subjects penis. The band is connected
to a machine with a video screen and data recorder. Any changes in penis size, even those not
felt by the subject, are recorded while the subject views sexually suggestive or pornographic
pictures, slides or movies or listens to audio tapes with descriptions of sex scenes. Computer
software is used to develop graphs showing the degree of arousal to each stimulus. The ma-
chine costs about $8,000 and was actually rst developed in Czechoslovakia to prevent draft
dodgers from claiming they were gay just to avoid military duty. I couldnt get Hong Kong
Tribute Universitys labs permission to make a picture of our PPG, but it resembles the 1020
EC model currently used for a variety of other medical tests. We do make the subjects feel as
comfortable as possible as we measure those subtle changes in the blood ow.
1020 EC Plethysmograph model nage 'o Page 8
In the 2004 study males were tested with penile plethysmography, while females and
male-to-female transsexuals were assessed with vaginal photoplethysmography, which mea-
sures vaginal pulse amplitude (VPA). In addition, subjective arousal or lack of arousal was
assessed continuously through self-reporting by using a lever that moves through a 180 degree
arc. The vaginal photoplethysmograph (VPG) is a small, tampon-shaped device which is self-
inserted into the vagina and measures Vaginal Blood Volume, Vaginal Pulse Amplitude, and
heart rate in response to an erotic stimulus. The vaginal photoplethysmograph is completely
safe and is sterilized in Cydex-activated glutaraldehyde. This sterilizing procedure is com-
monly used with hospital instruments and is known to prevent both viral and bacterial trans-
mission of infection.
Vaginal Photoplethysmography nage '4, '' Page 8
Show-n-teII
The other day I met a French guy. He calls himself FrankSud and is into online SM. He tells
me that online sex is easy. The real trick is virtual SM its very cerebral, he says. I told him
I would try, so he emailed me a shopping list, not a very long one, but quite a lot of things I
dont usually have at home, like handcuffs, a whip, candles, various leather clothes, high heel
shoes you get the picture?
Anyway, next time I saw him I told him I didnt like the list. The handcuffs and the
whip were a bit intimidating. He tells me a whip can hurt, but it can also caress. I dont know,
I think these objects are too symbolic. I trashed my high heel shoes, because they were not
comfortable. I like the idea of the leather bustier. But candles? Hot wax dripping on my skin?
Thats painful! Apparently I am missing the point.
3
Madame Remedy:
Thank you very much, Show-n-Tell. It has been a while since I have received such a compelling case to
think about and respond to. I am not sure if you are aware of this, but I received a grant to do research
at the Clinical Division of the Sexual Psychophysiology Laboratory at Hong Kong Tribute University.
I was invited to clinically test the physical and mental responses people have to pornographic images. I
was so pleased when I arrived there to check out the facilities and nd out what kind of equipment they
are using, as this branch of the behavorial sciences is often ignored by us theoreticians and scholars of
digital media. So before I comment on your experiences in the adult chatrooms, I would like to give you
some background information about our lab. For decades sexologists trained in the behavioral sciences
have tried to measure arousal as phychophysiological responses to images using advanced technologi-
cal methods, either by recording changing brainwave responses or by asking subjects to write down
reactions in different kind of surveys, such as the Sexual Opinion Survey (SOS), the Video Reaction
Questionnaire(VRQ) and the Sexual Fantasy Questionnaire(SFQ). These experiments are carried out in
labs that simulate an intimate home environment and expose subjects to various types of pornography
in order to test responses.
For instance, the womens division of our lab was started in the late 1980s. Researchers in this
division conduct applied clinical research on womens sexual arousal in order to develop a better un-
derstanding of the effects of various pharmacological, biological, and cultural variables on sexual func-
tioning, behavior and attitudes. This research utilizes in-depth interviews, self-report questionnaires and
the vaginal photoplethysmograph to assess womens subjective and physiological arousal. Given the
highly sensitive nature of this research, condentiality and an atmosphere of respect are critical. Each
of the female researchers has undergone extensive training in research protocols with female sexuality.
Additionally, our instruments undergo a thorough disinfection between uses and are completely safe.
nage 4 Page 8
Show-n-teII:
Taking about images that arouse us, I have an example that might interest you. My best friend in
virtual space is Stephanie. When we are in a room together we acknowledge each other. We respect
each others interest for guys, we mock ght over the same guy, we embarrass rude guys and we often
compliment each other. There is no competition, as the room is big enough for the two of us. Stephanie
is any mans virtual fantasy. She types fast and has a great sense of humor. She is bilingual and can
accommodate both a French and an English speaking audience. She claims to be a sexually liberated
young French woman living in NY. She chats with guys for hours, gets them excited, promises to show
herself nude and delivers!
Her video window usually shows her ngers typing on the keyboard. This makes all the men
in the room ask to see her body. She doesnt immediately expose herself. Its her chat that keeps them
interested for a long time. Her writing is expressive and dramatic.
nage ' Page 8
Rumor has it that Stephanie plays pre-recorded videos, and, in fact, is not really a woman. Some
men get angry and feel cheated after they discover that the images that excited them were not live video.
It makes me wonder whether it matters if Stephanie is a woman or not. After all, isnt the woman who
originally posed for the video real? And the image is all we have.
nage o '' Page 8
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'o ' 'o
'9 o0 o
o' oo o4
Then I ask him what he would be wearing: it sounded like we were spending too much time
discussing my outt. He tells me, Nothing special. He will be wearing his regular, everyday shirt.
Thats not fair, I said. Why isnt he wearing something a bit more special, too? He politely reminds me
that SM is never about equality. I think he was amused.
Finally, maybe because he is giving up on me, he tells me I can wear anything I want as long
as I dont show it on camera. He explains that virtual SM is a game, a game of trust. For example, if I
was wearing a bustier right now, and I told him so, he doesnt even have to see it. Only seeing my bare
shoulders would complete the illusion for him. You see, its all about mutual trust. You cant cheat,
he tells me ... nage 'o, ' Page 8
Madame Remedy:
VPG and PPG are also frequently used by sex therapists in the USA to accurately diagnose, evaluate
and treat sexual disorders and deviant behaviors. For instance, when sex offenders refuse to admit that
they enjoy sex with minors, the PPG/VPG are used to measure psycho-physiological reactions that
can lead to confessions. The studies we are concerned with here try to measure and quantify various
categories of deviancy. The 2003 study, EEG Responses to Visual Erotic Stimuli in Men with Normal
and Paraphilic Interests was keen on measuring different arousal levels in different types of males.
The study used EEG or Electroencephalography to capture neurophysiologic measurements of the
electrical activity of the brain. These measurements were recorded from electrodes placed on the scalp
and/or on the cortex. As the researchers write, the rst EEG study was carried by Lifshitz in 1966, who
measured the effects on males of artistic depictions of nude women, compared with pictures of ulcer-
ated legs.
Simulation of images used in EEG study by Lifshitz in 1966
nage 'o o Page 8
The subjects in the 2003 EEG study were sixty-two white right-handed heterosexual males who
were divided into two categories: normal subjects and paraphilic subjects. Paraphilic subjects were
dened as those interested in scenes of transvestism, fetishism and sadomasochism and were found
in special interest clubs and through announcements in niche magazines. The study worked with EEG
analysis because it was based on the hypothesis that normal and paraphilic subjects get stimuli from
different hemispheres of the brain. Though the right hemisphere initiates emotionality, aggression and
sexual arousal, it does so under regulatory control of the left hemisphere, which includes sexual triggers
in the format of verbal cues, rituals and scenarios. The researchers believed that left hemisphere activity
could indicate an underlying deviation from normal arousal pattern activity and wanted to test the pres-
ence of paraphilic tendencies in subjects.
The right-handed males were asked to ll out a SFQ (Sexual Fantasy Questionnaire) and were
then seated in a comfortable chair. They were wired with 1 cm diameter electrodes on their scalp and
around their right eye to measure the EEG responses. They were exposed to slides (projected with a Ko-
dak Carousel) that showed a mixture of 57 heteronormative slides, 57 paraphilic slides, and 57 neutral
slides (for instance landscapes and street scenes).
Simulation of images of 2003 EEG paraphilia study nage o' o4 Page 8
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Show-n-teII:
For some, group action nights are whats arousing. For example, last night I was in Jadeds
Utopia. Everone participated, but the grand show was Tom and Jaded.
nage o' oo Page 8
I fade into the background and become part of the group. Images of our esh are
transmitted digitally through all the electronic accessories we own. Our keyboards become
an extension of our tongues. Eyes of strangers have been extended over the internet through a
series of wire connections all the way into my studio. Now everything on my table relates to
the body. When I move my webcam around, its as if I am moving their eyes. Our bodies dont
stop at the three dimensional anymore; they have expanded and now reside in virtual space.
nage o9 Page 8
Tnan|s o Terre Tnaen. or eeobac| on ns ex.
Post Porn PoIitics Texes
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71 70
Chanla Zakar s an ars vno vas
raneo as a gra;nc oesgner. Sne nas
been oesgnng n,;er narra.es or ne
\eb ;racca, snce s nce;on n
ne ear, 90s. ,.L." vas ;Ubsneo on
ne veb n 994. Sne aso coaboraeo
on a veb [oUrna, Tne TUr| ano Tne
.ev, vn ner nUsbano, M|e Manoe,
vne ne .eo n PUnan, \asnngon,
ano sne n Cncago, nos. n 99o ne,
;Ubsneo ne vor| as an arss' boo|.
n '00 Unoer ne ;seUoon,n ,Snovn
e" sne began a 4,ear ;erornance
ano oocUnenaon o a vebcan con
nUn, vnere ;eo;e nee o na.e
.rUa sex. Her boo|, veb~ars, a
;noo;ex narra.e na sne oesgneo
ano aUnoreo, vas ;Ubsneo n '00'.
Za|ar s a U ne acU, nenber a
ne Scnoo o ne MUseUn o Fne ~rs
n Eoson vnere sne cnars ne Tex
o nage ~rs area. Sne nas rece.eo
nan, grans ano eovsn;s, ncUo
ng a FF gran, C, o Cncago gran,
an noe;enoen PUbsner Eoo| ~varo
ano a MacLove eovsn;. Her vor|
s n ne coecon o ne Eroo|,n MU
seUn o ~r brar,, Ce, Fesearcn n
sUe brar,, lnse, nsUe brar,
ano nan, arss' boo|s coecons.
Sne nas nao soo snovs n ne .S. ano
FUro;e.
Kalren uacobs s a scnoar, cUraor
ano ars n ne eo o nev neoa ano
sexUa, ano vor|s as asssan ;ro
essor a C, n.ers, o Hong long.
Sne vas born n EegUn ano rece.eo
ner Pn.L. n con;ara.e eraUre ano
neoa ron ne n.ers, o Mar,ano
vn a ness on osnenbernen n,ns
ano rUas n 9o0s;90s boo, ar ano
;erornance neoa. Sne nas orga
n.eo ne;orn conerences n recen
,ears vn ne nsUe o evor| CU
Ures n;::;;vvv.nevor|cUUres.
con. Sne ;Ubsneo b_ooc: .oUr
ne,s n ne Perornance o Sex ~r.
('00', Mas|a PUbcaons). Her nev
boo|, e;orn: LY \eb CUUre ano
SexUa Pocs, (annan: Fovnano
ano eeo, '00), ana,.es ;orn on
ne nerne. Her vor| can be oUno on
n;:;;vvv.|aren[acobs.con.
III. ReIerences
Snovne, vebaars, vn an essa,
b, ~UcUere Fosanne Sone (Fgn
een PUbcaons: Eoson, M~) '00'.
laren .acobs, b_ooc: .oUrne,s n
ne Perornance o Sex ~r ([Ub[ana:
Mas|a) '00'.
laren .acobs, e;orn: LY \eb CU
Ure ano SexUa Pocs (CC: Fovnan
ano eeo) '00.
S,.ere ornger, C.erex;oseo. Per
.erng Per.ersons (~: Senoexe)
'00. Crgna, ;Ubsneo n 99o.
.on Mclen.e, "Perorn or Fse, Fron
Lsc;ne o Perornance. (ev Yor|:
FoUeoge) '00.
Mar| Ler,, "Sex Crgans S;roU F.er,
vnere: Tne SUbne ano CroesUe n
\eb Porn, le,noe ecUre oe.ereo
a ~r ano Pocs o e;orn, ~nser
oan, Ccober, '00'. ~bbre.aeo .er
son o ne ecUre a.aabe on Ler,'s
vebse n;:;;vvv.nar|oer,.con.
Frc| .anssen, Leanna Car;ener ano
C,nna ~. Cranan, "Seecng Fns
or Sex Fesearcn: Cenoer Lerences
n Froc Fn Preerence, ~rcn.es o
SexUa Eena.or, .o. o'. o.o. (.Une
'00o): '4o''.
Fogera \asnann, Peer E.C. Fenvc|,
Cenn. L. \son, Terr, L. Heve, .onn
Unsoen e a., "FFC res;onses o V
sUa Froc SnU n Men vn orna
ano Para;nc neress, ~rcn.es o
SexUa Eena.or, .o o', no.', (~;r
'00o): o'44
~ngea Carer, Tne Saoean \onan
~no ne oeoog, o Pornogra;n, (ev
Yor|: PengUn Eoo|s) 99.
Post Porn PoIitics
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6
ner.evs
Pas| Parr Br|rc|
Post Porn PoIitics
slream esban Ior lhal maller. We osl
orn modernsls are exolc unconvenlona
crealures.
EMS A ol oI my work was n conversalon
wlh Iemnsm, wlh Iemnsm's nably
lo accel sexualy as vabe Ior orno-
gracalon. Il wasn'l reay orn lhal I was
nleresled n bul lhese daogues, debales,
and concels.
TS One diaIogue you had with "The
Dinner Party" (1974-1979), a cIassic
feminist work by Judy Chicago.
EMS Yes, uudy Chcago's ece was aboul
nvlng a lhese mylhc women lo a dnner
arly. I wanled lo do anolher knd oI dnner
arly and nvle some more radca knds
oI women. So my ece, "Dnner Ior Two
(1997), s bolh a homage lo and a crlque
oI uudy Chcago's cassc. I nvled eoe
lhal uudy woud never nvle, ke Luce
Ba, a comedan who was backsled Irom
Hoywood moves durng lhe McCarlhy
era. She had marred a Cuban man, and
lhs ed lo her nol havng access lo lhe
Hoywood slarel syslem. I nvled Vaere
Soanas who wrole lhe Scum ManIeslo,
Emma Godman, lhe radca anarchsl and
Lzze Bordon. Whereas uudy Chcago
worked wlh abslracl Iowery genlaa
aeslhelcs, I made some slraghl u cunl
shols wlh bograhca lexl scrong over
lhem. So I you ook under lhe gass on lhe
labe you can see lhese bg bushy cunls
on TV monlors, reresenlng my guesls.
There are lwo chars vslors can sl down
on al lhe labe. The char seals have vbra-
lors embedded n lhem. So whe you ook
al lhese usses on lhe vdeo monlors you
are beng vbraled. Il's a very hol ece.
TS One major difference in the major
discussion between cIassic feminist
art and something Iike this work Iies, I
think, in deaIing differentIy with fetish-
ism. I think your work "No Regrets,
ner.evs
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ImeIda" (1997) is aIso very fetishistic.
EMS Yes, l's argey aboul Iool Ielshes and a shoe-
worsh ece. There s a edesla wlh lwo bronze
hgh hees slandng on l. You w aso nd lwo
eehoes n lhe edesla lseI. Behnd lhe ee-
hoes lhere are monlors wlh varous mages oI hgh
hees and grs n hgh hees, ke Dorolhy Irom The
\.aro o C.. II you move lowards lhe hees on lhe
edesla, lhey la reay oud, n a conslanl rhylhm.
Il's mela on mela. In lhe m you see aso conlra-
dclory mages, one oI yourseI wakng lowards lhe
ece, and on lhe olher are cs Irom somebody
gellng oII on neon hees worn by slrers.
TS Since 2005 the two of you coIIaborate on a
muIti-faceted processuaI work caIIed the "o.e
~r aboraor,. The project is supposed to run
for seven years, which means that now, 2009 is
your hfth year aIready. It's partiaIIy inspired by
the work of the highIy respected performance
artist and Iife-ist, Linda M. Montano.
AMS Yes, Lnda was my erIormance arljIe men-
lor. Her ece 4 Years o .ng ~r was somelhng
I was very connecled lo and enjoyed mmensey.
Rghl when Belh and I Ie n ove, lhe US war n AI-
ghanslan was ragng. There was so much voence.
Our nalura ncnalon was lo do arl lhal woud
generale ove, and we decded lhal's whal we woud
do. Then a coue weeks aler Lnda ul oul a ca Ior
arlsls lhal woud ke lo use her seven-year slruc-
lure, wlh each year based on lhe lheme and coor oI
a chakra. We decded lo lake her u on her nvla-
lon. Aboul len olher arlsls are usng her slruclure
loo. Il's a greal exerence. We made a comml-
menl lo do arl exorng ove Ior seven years. Thal
ncudes sex loo, oI course. Each year woud have a
dIIerenl lheme and coor. So Ior nslance, 2008 was
our green year, whch was connecled lo lhe hearl,
and comasson. We decded lo make l aboul eco-
ogy and lakng lhe Earlh as our over. So we came
oul as ecosexuas. We marred lhe Earlh. We're hav-
ng a menage a los. Our work may be aboul ove, bul
ls sexy loo. Al easl I lhnk l's sexy. Love s lhe new
sex! Our new lhealre ece we are workng on now s
caed Lr, Sexecoog,.
97
Tim Stttgen We are sitting around the kitchen tabIe in London. You, Annie
SprinkIe and EIizabeth Stephens, are in town doing your theatre piece, Fx;oseo:
Fx;ernens n o.e, Sex, Lean ano ~r. You've invited artist Cosey Fanni Tutti, whom
you have Iong admired but never met, for brunch and she wiII arrive shortIy.
Thanks for incIuding me today.
Anne M. Srnke Our easure, Tm. As lhey say n hgh schoo lhese days . you're lhe
bas! Thal's a bg commenl. Yeah, we're suer excled lo meel Cosey Fann Tull. I've
aways wanled lo meel her. She was a huge nsralon n my Ie and work.
TS EIizabeth, the story goes that you were aIways fascinated by pinup modeIs
and porn stars. Your work "Tne Porn Sar ~caoenc Eron.eo Pan, Coecon (2004) is
addressing that. In this work, you take the actuaI worn panties of porn stars and of
academics and cast them in bronze. You say in an artist statement that porn stars
and academics are "heroes" for you, "compeIIing, powerfuI and sey. And both
are fetishised in their worIds." In what situation did you become interested in porn
stars - an interest that aIso made you admire Annie? And were you into poIyseuaI
reIationships as you started becoming an artist?
Ezabelh M. Slehens I grew u n Wesl Vrgna. My dad had a machne sho and lhere
were lhese nu caendars on lhe was lhal were adverlsng loos. When I woud vsl my
dad, I ked lo ook al lhe exolc ades who hed lhe loos. Bul lhe guys who worked Ior my
dad aways lred lo bock my vew, so I knd oI knew I shoudn'l be ookng al lhe clures.
Bul lhal eaked my nleresl n nus and sex symbos a lhe more.
Laler on, my Boslon years (1980-1990) were greal. We were a bunch oI whal you woud now
ca queer Irends. We had ols oI sex logelher. Il was mosly women, bul we woud aso see
wlh men I we ked lhem. I eIl Boslon lo go lo graduale schoo al Rulgers Unversly where
Marlha Roser was a roIessor. The schoo had a huge Iemnsl olc and aeslhelc. I was
nleresled n ayng wlh lhal and knd oI lurnng l on ls head. I was nleresled n orn slars
when I was n schoo, and lhey were knd oI anl-orn-slar. So my aler work, lhe Bronzed
Panly Coeclon, s an nsder joke on Iemnsm. I acluay reay do ove Iemnsl work.
I mel Anne n 1991 when I curaled her ll rnls nlo an arl show al Rulgers Unversly. I
wenl lo her aarlmenl n Manhallan lo ck u lhe rnls and I ked her rghl away. There
was a sark belween us. Bul she wasn'l a esban al lhe lme, and I had a grIrend. So we
became casua Irends and slayed n louch Ior many years. Evenluay she became nler-
esled n women, and when she Iound oul I was snge she caed me Ior a dale. (2002) We
Ie n ove durng our rsl kss. I slarled meelng her Irends n lhe sex nduslry and I reay
ked lhem. I lhoughl lhey were reay hol. Anne mel my academc Irends and lhoughl lhey
were hol loo. Our Irends mxed reay we wlh each olher.
AMS Beng wlh Belh Ior seven years now has been an ncredbe exerence. I had no
dea lhal a ong lerm commlled realonsh coud be so exclng! Il's so 'radcay lrad-
lona.' Lucky Belh had a oslve lake on sex workers. She aso has lhs wonderIu qualy
oI nol carng whal eoe lhnk aboul her. Lols oI eoe woud be nlmdaled or lurned
oII by a woman who has had sex wlh lhousands oI eoe. Belh wasn'l nlmdaled by my
reulalon al a. I was more nlmdaled by my own reulalon lhan she was. Belh s a lrue
osl orn modernsl al hearl. She's a concelua arlsl. She underslands lhal beng wlh a
osl orn modernsl s qule dIIerenl lhan beng wlh a manslream orn slar, or man-
9
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EMS II osl orn reay has a olca
dmenson l shoud ncude any age, race
and gender. Today you can see orn mag-
ery oI every knd oI body on lhe Inlernel.
Bul does lhal mean lhal raca or sexua
herarches jusl dmnsh? OI course I
have an anl-censorsh oslon, and I am
lolay suorlve oI grous reresenlng
lhemseves n lhe Inlernel. Bul somelmes
reresenlalon lseI shoud be lhe onl
Ior crlque n osl orn agan.
I remember a erIormance ece we dd
caed "Sex n a Bag (San Francsco,
2003). Il was al some erIormance sace
where a whoe bunch oI arlsls were
erIormng, and a were sex-radca-arlsl
lyes. Hardcore sex erIormance arl s sl
relly radca n mosl arls oI lhe word,
bul somelmes n San Francsco l can
become redundanl. So we Iel ke we were
havng radca sex because we were hdden
nsde lhe bag. I ke lurnng resumlons
on lher head.
AMS I adore San Francsco, and I am
deey connecled lo ls sex communly.
I ca San Francsco lhe clors oI lhe
USA. Some oI lhe erIormances were
greal, ke lhe "Porn Cown Posse, where
aboul len cowns were runnng around n
a crce wlh lher alex goved ngers u
each olher's bulls. Il was oulrageous and
Iun. Bul somelmes lhese erIormance
evenls end u beng ke a comellon
n sorls. How wd can everyone be? So
we decded lo be more myslerous and
chaenge lhe conlexl a bl. We made lhs
bg sver bag, ul l n lhe mdde oI lhe
room and gol nsde l. Then we look oII
our colhes and had sex Ior aboul an hour
nsde lhe bag. Then we gol dressed and
came oul oI lhe bag. Peoe coud le we
were havng sex n lhe bag, and lhe bag was
movng around and we were makng sex
sounds. Bul no one coud see lhe delas.
A ol oI eoe Iound l uzzng, whch
was greal. A good osl orn exermenl.
ner.evs
6
Exermenlng s lhe name oI lhe game Ior me.
Learnng and leachng loo.
TS Are Ionger durations seier for you? And
stuff which is not so hardcore as weII? The
French theorist FIi Guattari coined the term
"soft technoIogies", which I thought of as you
started doing workshops and performances
about cuddIing and kissing.
AMS Belh and I jusl hed a Iour-hour Exlreme Kss
worksho here n London. Aboul 50 eoe came
some came as coues, and olhers ared u. Frsl
we reed lhe grou, slalng our nlenlons, lhen
we a wenl onlo lhe slreel and sal n chars Iacng a
arlner and slarled a lwo-hour kss. Kssng s aclu-
ay n some ways a laboo. For exame, rosllules
and orn slars oIlen don'l kss whe workng. Or a
erson mghl have sex wlh someone bul nol kss
lhem because l woud seem loo nlmale.
EMS We, our ksses roved lo be very laboo,
because a whoe gang oI molhers Irom lhe negh-
bourhood came wlh lher kds and lher husbands
who were carryng baseba bals and lhey lod us
lo gel oII lhe slreel. Because we are overs nslead
oI ghlers, we wenl nsde lhe obby oI lhe Chesea
Thealre and conlnued lhe kssng lhere. Maybe
l was because some oI lhe arlners kssng were
same gender. Il jusl became arl oI lhe ece. We a
gol reay hgh Irom kssng lwo hours slraghllhe
hard arl s nol gong Iurlher lhan lhe kss. Then we
sloed and decomressed and shared our exer-
ences. So I guess I am nlo sow soIl-lechnooges.
(Laughs)
AMS I denley am. We have done lhree-hour
ksses al gaery oenngs. Bul don'l gel me wrong;
hard-core sex sl has ls ace n erIormance and
meda, oI course. And I have nolhng agansl quck-
es.
EMS We were nvled lo erIorm al lhe Museum
Kunsl Paasl n DussedorIlhs huge word-cass
museum. We dd a naked one-hour kss n a gaery
oI elchngs by lhe maslers: Pcasso, Keml, Beuys
. Il was very eeganl. Then we dd a one-hour
naked soonng ece n lhe obby as eoe eIl lhe
museum.
99
EMS We've aso done a seres oI very sexy ubc wakng lours Ior overs. We dd some
duralon kss eces, cuddng as erIormance arl, lhe Chemolheray Fashon show, lons
oI eclures and workshos. We dd a seance where we nvoked lhe srl oI Marce Du-
cham and made ove wlh hs srl aong wlh aboul 100 French arl overs. Fuxus arlsl
Wem DeRdder was our medum. Thal was very Posl Porn!
AMS We are very busy bees sreadng oen a over lhe ace.
EMS One oI lhe bgger rojecls we do s a seres oI weddngs, workng wlh varous
communles n varous counlres. The day beIore we were gong lo gel egay marred n
San Francsco, lhe Sureme Courl sad we coudn'l. Thal ssed us oII. So we decded lo
have a weddng every year. OI course we are nol uncrlca aboul marrage and excusve
realonshs, bul we wanl lo have lhe same cv rghls as helerosexuas. We've done ve
weddngs so Iar and have lwo comng u lhs summer. They're sle-secc. We aways le
eoe no malera gIls, bul we wecome coaboralon on lhe crealon oI lhe weddngs.
Lasl summer Ior our green weddng we had 150 eoe coaborale on makng lhe wed-
dng and Iour hundred eoe allended. Il was oen lo lhe ubc and Iree. In lhe mdde
oI a seclacuar redwood grove, we made vows lo lhe Earlh. A Iew monlhs aler, we dd
anolher green weddng n Zagreb, Croala, wlh aboul 50 coaboralors and 200 eoe
boughl a lckel lo come walch lhe weddng. As Iar as anyone coud ascerlan, l was lhe
rsl queer weddng n lhe enlre Bakans. There was ony one lle dealh lhreal drecled al
our roducer.
Il's amazng lhal rojecls aboul ove can become conlroversa. In Slavanger, Norway we
dd one oI our Free Soeva| Sex Cnc evenls where we smy sel u labes and chars and
gve lhe ubc Iree advce. We were rolesled by a grou oI anl-orn Iemnsls because
we were dong l near a orn sho, and lhen a neo-Naz n a back sk mask sray anled a
bood red uewsh slar and lhe word uUDE on lhe wndow. Il was knd oI scary.
AMS I am roud oI my oysexuay erverse herslory, and Belh has one loo, bul whal's
nexl? Change haens. o.e ~r ab s on a greal lrajeclory rghl now. Our work s Iu oI
humor and Iun, and we ove l. Bul dong work aboul sex was easy comared lo dong work
lhal addresses ove. Love s much more chaengng. Peoe lhnk lhe loc oI ove s "New
Age or "Hamark-y. Bul lhen lhey come lo one oI our weddng erIormances, and lhey
Iee so good, ke lhey jusl had reay sweel sex. Love Iees decous.
TS I remember how puzzIed some peopIe in the audience at the PPP-symposium
were when they heard the titIe of your presentation "Post Porn Love!" But taIking
to eperienced se workers and post porn artists Iike Bubu de Ia MadeIeine and
Virginie Despentes made cIear to me that reproduction, intimacy and reIationship
might be something rare and important after aII these years of muItipIe seuaI
partners and totaI seuaI eposure.
AMS Yes, rghl. Age robaby has somelhng lo do wlh l, bul ls nol jusl age. Il's wanlng
lo go lo lhe nexl sle, lo exore new lerrlory. Wd, romscuous sexua advenlures are Iun
Ior lwo or lhree decades bul lhen l gels somewhal redclabe. Il becomes lhe norm, and
even borng. I wanled somelhng ese al a cerlan onl. I was a lle embarrassed lo become
so excusve, bul I ove l. However, we are whal I ca 'advenlurous monogamsls', because
we have a ol oI erolc advenlures wlh olher eoe n varous ways. I ke lo buy Belh a
dances al slr cubs, I sel u erolc massages wlh our 'husband' uoseh Kramer, and nexl
week I'm surrsng her wlh a bondassage sesson wlh a domnalrx Irend.
98
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AMS I'd say lhal lhe door cosed on Iem-
nsm n genera. When I seak al coeges,
I see lhal mosl young coege sludenls w
nol ca lhemseves Iemnsls even lhough
lhey wanl lhe same lhngs Iemnsls wanl
olcay and socay. They aso lhnk lhal
sex s nol a Iemnsl ssue! Rae s. Brlh
conlro s. Bul nol sex. Sorl oI lhe same od
argumenl, bul n a dIIerenl Irame.
In my book Pos Porn Mooerns I had a
chaler caed "Posl Porn Polcs. Il was
aboul lhe aclvsm I dd Irom 1975 lo 1990
wlh my sex worker Irends around sex work
and whal came lo be caed "sex oslve
Iemnsm. Sex oslve Iemnsm was a
lerm lhal was crealed n resonse lo lhe
anl-orn Iemnsls. Il ddn'l exsl beIore
lhal.
TS It's funny; when I did the sympo-
sium I didn't know that the term Post
Porn PoIitics aIready eisted in your
work. What I wanted to do was to reac-
tuaIize the interface between repre-
sentation and seuaI activism again
in reIation to queer poIitics, which
reIy strongIy on questioning seuaI
representation. The work of Beatriz
Preciado and DeI La grace VoIcano
inBuenced me a Iot.
AMS Tm, I was lhred when I heard you
were dong a conIerence caed Posl Porn
Polcs. Il's so greal lo see eoe ke
Vrgne Desenles, Bealrz Precado, De
La Grace Vocano, Bubu De La Madeene,
Grs Who Lke Porno, Madson Young
and olhers lake u lhe lerm. Whal I oved
aboul lhe symosum n Bern was lhal l
connecled lhe od wlh lhe new and wove
logelher severa generalons. Il was a Ian-
laslc conIerence, and I oved every mnule.
TS You wrote at the end of your book
Pos Porn Mooerns, "I have a vision for
the future where aII the necessary se
education wiII be avaiIabIe for every-
ner.evs
6
one; there wiII be no more need for abortion,
no more seuaIIy transmitted diseases. No
one wiII ever go hungry for se because there
wiII be se kitchens aII over town serving se
instead of soup. Se is a powerfuI heaIing tooI,
which wiII be appIied reguIarIy in hospitaIs and
psychiatric cIinics. We wiII Iearn how to use
orgasm to prevent and cure disease as some of
the ancient Tantrics and Taoists did. Se work-
ers wiII be highIy respected for the important
work they do, and desire wiII be decriminaIized.
Men wiII be abIe to have muItipIe orgasms with-
out ejacuIating so they can maintain erections
for as Iong as they want. Women wiII know
how to ejacuIate. No one wiII care what gender
peopIe have se with. In the future, everybody
wiII be seuaIIy satished, and there wiII be an
end to vioIence, rape and war." Do you think
these Iines inBuenced Beatriz Preciado's "Con-
traseuaI Manifesto?"
AMS UnIorlunaley, I haven'l read l yel. Bul I adore
Bealrz, lhe way she lhnks and lhe lhngs she s do-
ng. Il's so nce lo be acknowedged by her. Bealrz
jusl connecled us lo a curalor al lhe Vence Ben-
nae, so we' be dong our EUe \eoong o ne Sea
lhere. We're havng an arlgasm, we're so excled.
Maybe "sex oslvly s asse now. The eghleen
lo lwenly-ve-year-od women are elher workng n
lhe orn nduslry, or lhey aren'l nleresled n orn
al a. They grow u wlh orn on lher comulers,
and l's jusl an rrlanl. Whereas beIore lhe 1970s,
women vrluay weren'l aowed lo see orn, so oI
course we reay wanled lo see l. We ro-orn Iem-
nsls have done our jobs so we lhal Ior many young
women loday, seeng or walchng orn s a non-s-
sue. When I slarled makng orn n 1973, my cohorls
and I were rskng ja lme.
EMS Hey, lhe doorbe s rngng. Thal's Cosey
Fann Tull!
AMS Cosey, lhank you so much Ior comng loday. I
am so hay lo meel you. You've been a nUge nIu-
ence on me. I've Ioowed your work Ior years.
There are some lhngs I sl don'l know aboul you.
Lke how and why dd you slarl workng n lhe sex
nduslry?
103
AMS Il was an nlereslng exerence lo be so mnma. And so chubby, and so naked.
TS Annie, how did you feeI about performing, at the symposium, your "PubIic
Cervi Announcement" piece where you show your audience your cervi with a
specuIum and a Bash Iight. Is it something you are tired of doing?
AMS I had relred lhe ece Ior aboul lweve years. Bul l was reay Iun lo do l agan. In
Bern al your conIerence l was aboul showng l lo a new generalon. Aso, I udaled lhe
Pubc Cervx Announcemenl by havng Belh ul lhe secuum nI used lo ul l n my-
seIand lhen by lakng my wg oII al lhe end oI l. Reveang my cervx, lhen reveang my
naked bad head. I had jusl nshed chemolheray Ior breasl cancer. So lhal was nleresl-
ng. I hed a mcrohone belween my egs so eoe coud commenl on whal lhey saw. Ils
Iun lo show one's cervx wlh severa hundreds, ke al lhe Voksbuhne lhealre where your
conIerence was, whch was, ke, 800 seals! Such a huge lhealre Ior such a lny cervx. Bul
lhen, lhe cervx s lhe doorway lo Ie as we know l, and a greal myslery.
Your Posl Porn conIerence n Bern was wonderIu. I was lhred lhal you look lhe Posl
Porn lheme u.
TS Both your oId and your new work made cIear to me that for you se is a vehicIe
for both poIiticaI change and aIso for questioning and reworking narrations of
your identity.
AMS True. Il's aso somelhng I jusl enjoy dongl's amusng. And l's good Ior one's
healh. You shoud know lhal lhe lerm "Porn Modernsm was orgnay crealed by Dulch
arlsl Wnk van Kemen Ior a holograhy show he was havng. Hs lle resonaled wlh
me, so I asked I I coud rework l Ior lhe lle oI my rsl one-woman show. I named my
show Posl Porn Modernsl. Laler I slarled cang lhe orn I was roducng and dreclng
Posl Porn, nlendng lo descrbe orn lhal wasn'l manslream orn; l was more olca,
exermenla, Iemnsl, humorous, concelua. and nol necessary Iocused on beng
erolc. In lhe 70s and 80s I jusl reay wanled lo lurn eoe on. Bul lhen around 1988 I
sloed carng I eoe gol hol and jusl dd whalever lhe he I wanled.
I shoud add lhal I owe a ol lo Fuxus arlsl Wem De Rdder, who was my boyIrend n
my md lwenles. Once we were makng ll rnls and I sad lo hm, "lhs can'l ossby be
arl, because l's so sy. And he sad, "lhal's why arl s so greal. He encouraged me lo
exermenl wlh arl and orn.
TS WouId you say that "pro-se-feminism" or "se-positive-feminism" was aIso
an intervention into a certain inteIIectuaIism of academic feminism? I am ask-
ing this onIy because its history in many academic contets I see today is mereIy
forgotten, or at Ieast not represented. Do you think there was a time when peopIe
cIosed the door again on se-positive feminists?
EMS The door was never reay lhal oen, I have lo say. OI course lhere were eoe ke
Gaye Rubn, Pal Caa and lhe grou Samos, and sex-educalors ke Belly Dodson,
Caro Queen, and Suse Brghl. And Iemnsl sex workers, who were a Irends oI An-
ne, ke Veronca Harl, Nna Harley and Scarol Harol. Some eoe were abe lo move
nlo more nsllulona areas, whch mghl have been a resonse lo lhe Reagan era oI lhe
eghles. Bul l was ony Ior a shorl lme lhal lhese eoe woud reay be acceled n lhe
manslream, I lhey ever were.
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oI exresson, al besl bolh Ior lhe audence
and lhe erIormers lhemseves. A ol oI lhe
lhngs we dd lhen, even I lhey seem more
common now, woud nol be ossbe n lhe
arlscene. Besdes some guys who make
lons oI money Ior rovocalon or n dong
sexsl arl Irom a mae arlsls onl oI vew,
I have lhe mresson lhe cmale n mosl
arl conlexls became very slII and rgd
agan. I remember when we erIormed
ana sex ve durng an arl erIormance
wlh an objecl made oul oI wood wlh
mela skes a round l and ddos on each
end. We coud use l Ior every hoe oI lhe
body and many arlcanls. So l was ana
and vagna sex n a way you don'l see l n
conlemorary orn or conlemorary arl
now. Il was very rluaslc and lrba, bolh
n a dark and an auralc way, whch had
nolhng lo do wlh lyca ways oI arousng
lhe vewer. Il seemed more ke an nla-
lon ceremony. I have lo say, n an age oI
rovocalons Ior arl saes, lhal a lhs was
very nalura Ior us n a way, lhal l came oul
oI rogressons our movemenls and Ior-
mer erIormances woud have. We ddn'l
Iorce anylhng. The ony lhng we asked
ourseves somelmes was lhs: whch la-
boos do we have, and n whch way can we
work lhrough lhem n our erIormances?
Anolher lhng oI course was sayng "Iuck
you lo lhe conlemorary arl scene, bolh
n Iorm and conlenl. We haled lhe gaery-
slruclure, and we wanled lo make cear lhal
lhese raclces come Irom somewhere ese
lhan arl schoos. Il was a work agansl a
syslem oI degrees and slars.
TS A highIight in this working phase
of yours was the ProsUon show at the
I.C.A. in London. I have the impres-
sion that this brought a Iot of the ideas
together that you were working on for
years and pushed it to its highest point.
CFT Yes. The show was aready a knd oI
goodbye lo lhe arlscene. Il was ke a vng
ner.evs
6
archve, ncudng a wakng Tamax slck and a
lhese seazy mags wlh orn mages oI us lhal we
woud roduce ourseves, ncudng a ol oI SjM m-
agery, whch we dd Ior our own easure. Everyday
we woud brng more lhngs. We aso nvled a slr-
er, who seemed somehow ess enlhusaslc lhan
even arls oI lhe ress aboul lhe show. 197 was an
nlereslng hase, a hase where l became cear
lhal musc woud become our nexl lhng and nol
jusl anolher Cuom rojecl. Thal's how Throbbng
Grsle slarled and ul a symboc end lo Cuom. Bul
yeah, ProsUon broughl a ol oI lhngs logelher.
By Ido was lhere, and lhere was Suzy and lhe
Banshees, Macom McLaren, ress eoe, nude
modes, Iamous arlsls and hslers. Il was a bl our
erverse verson oI Warho's Iaclory. Bul l was aso
a reay exosve cockla. Geness gol hs nger
broken n a ghl over beng accused oI exolng
me. The dreclor al lhe lme, Ted Llle, was kcked
so bady lhal he had lo be laken lo hosla. There
was a seven-Iool back drag queen caed uava
who was lhe bouncer lhal nghl. Then lhere was a
scare lhal someone had sl lher wrsls n lhe men's
loels. Ths lle od man n a unIorm came runnng
n causng havoc. The ony lhng lhal had haened
was lhal Gen had lhrown lhe Iake bood he'd been
usng durng lhe TG erIormance down lhe loel.
The whoe evenng was ke lhal. Tola chaos on ev-
ery eve. Thal's how Throbbng Grsle gol Iamous
and Cuom became hslory.
TS How do you see the reIation of porn and
epIoitation today? Some peopIe say it's aII e-
pIoitation, and some say that se workers have
much more agency than peopIe think.
CFT I Iel very beraled n whal I dd and haled eo-
e lryng lo make me nlo a vclm. Bul I aso have
lo say lhal lhere were qule a ol oI asshoes n lhe
busness. Al lhe end, ke aways, l has lo do wlh
who s n ower oI lhe means oI roduclon. Il was
greal lo see lhal eoe ke Anne Srnke and Ve-
ronca Harl n lhe U.S. became erolc m dreclors
lhemseves. Even eoe who now have lhe mage
oI beng Iamous and radca arlsls, ke Erc Kro or
Rchard Kern, woud abuse lher modes, shool lhem
as lhey were on heron or any Iuck lhem.
105
Cosey Fann Tull By accdenl, as oIlen haens when women seem lo be good objecls
Ior lhe mae gaze (aughs). When I moved lo London I ved n lhs slrange area al lhe
Whlechae Road, whch was bascay uack The Rer lerrlory. The Kray-brolhers, who
were lwns and eaders n organsed crme n lhe London oI lhe 0s and 70s, hung oul n
lhe Bnd Beggar ub, whch was jusl on lhe corner oI lhs camera sho where I worked.
There was a room above lhe sho where eoe coud lake clures oI a mode whch was
me!
AMS So dd you do l oul oI curosly and advenlure, or dd you need or jusl wanl lhe
cash?
CFT A oI lhs. I was lod I woud gel used Ior osng and I coud become a mode. The
usua bushl (aughs). Somelmes l was borng or even dsguslng, bul I was hay
lo gel more jobs and ose al holograhy cubs. OI course, I woudn'l meel greal arl-
sl holograhers al lhese cubs. They lled more lo lhe sad-bul-lrue cches oI swealy
men and lran sollers. Bul I lhnk l was good lo know lhe sex-scene Irom lhe ground. So
soon I had a mode agency and slarled dong work Ior magaznes, sex ads- or underwear-
calaogues. Il slarled lo become more Iun and more money. Then ms became a arl,
car-shows and slrlease.
AMS So how dd you connecl wlh lhe arl-scene lhen?
CFT Geness, who woud aler become lhe Ironl erson oI our band, Throbbng Grsle,
was very morlanl. I mel Geness way beIore I moved lo London, whch musl have been
around 199. Acluay, l was al an acd-arly al Hu Unversly. Then we moved lo London
n 1972.
TS Did you take part in the Iegendary performance coIIective Cuom Transmis-
sions since the beginning, aIso marking the start of your IifeIong coIIaboration
with Genesis P. Orridge?
No. Al lhe begnnng Cuom was very sound-cenlred and was aboul acouslc mrovsa-
lons. I woud do ros and coslumes bul nol erIorm wlh lhem. Then Cuom became
more abslracl and erIormalve. We deveoed abslracl scenaros and envronmenls lo
gve lhe whoe rojecl a much deeer dmenson and joy. We woud have dIIerenl lexlures
and ghls n every slualon, bul ess slysh and osh lhan l s done loday. Peoe had lo
craw lhrough a oylhene lunne lo gel nlo lhe concerl sace, and lhese knds oI lhngs.
We were very much nlo dsguslng and crude lhngs, whch was greal, as ong as eoe
woud resond roduclvey. Bul somehow, lhs changed one day and l gol deslruclve. Il
was al lhs onl lhal we became nleresled n more exermenla lhealre or erIormance
raclces, lhngs whch al easl nvoved a bl oI dslance Irom lhe audence.
TS Did peopIe aIready caII it performance art at that point in time?
No. There was no casscalon Ior l.
TS And how did seuaIity and nudity become a part of Cuom? I remember hrst
that Cuom's work was very strange and absurd, Iike FIuus or Duchamp.
Yes. Our rsl work, as l became more erIormalve, was reay nlo anl-meanng and
deslroyng lhe vaue oI arl. We haled lhe arl-scene! As I became a nude-mode, my exer-
ences became a lheme n our work loo. We wanled lo ush our boundares and work oul
our nhblons. PerIormng nude was one way lo do lhal, and bodes are beaulIu objecls
104
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~nne S;rn|e ;erornance a PPP n Eern
Pnoos Marea lesng
AMS Inlereslng lhal you say lhal Cosey. Maybe a good arl oI whal Posl Porn s aboul
has somelhng lo do wlh lhe knd oI realonsh lhe ornograher has wlh hsjher er-
Iormers and audence. Whal are lhe nlenlons behnd lhe orn? Makng Posl Porn comes
Irom our desres lo do somelhng unquey ours. Il comes Irom our sexua urges, Irom
wanlng lo exress our seves, and lo share our nlmale deas wlh olher eoe. Whelher
we resecl, or don'l resecl, our modes, and our audence . and ourseves, s an nlegra
arl oI lhe na crealon.
Vs ne .rUa none o ne o.e ~r aboraor, a n;:;;o.earab.org
Ce Cose, Fann TU's nUsc a n;:;;vvv.cose,annU.con;
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vdeo camera lhen so I coud have recorded
lhem. I remember one where I had a boody
nose and used lhe bood lo cover myseI
and my enlre balhroom and lhen melcu-
ousy cean l beIore my molher gol home.
When I slarled makng moves n arl schoo
(Rhode Isand Schoo oI Desgn) I woud
aways be bolh n Ironl oI and behnd lhe
camera. I dd a erIormancejvdeo ece
caed ,10" n whch I made an hour ong
lwo channe vdeo lhal ncuded mages oI
me usng ma ns lo mark lhe vens n my
body, swaowng len yards oI colh, elc.
Then Ior lhe erIormance I susended my-
seI naked belween lhe lwo monlors usng
ony my head and Ieel lo suorl myseI.
I was n lhe darkness, and lhe audence
coud nol see me as I hed my body slII Ior
lhe hour lhe laes ayedhen when lhe
laes were nshed lhe ghl came u and
lhe audence saw me and reazed I had
been lhere lhe whoe lme. For my rsl m,
,V s Ior Voel" I was one oI lhe man char-
aclers, osng Ior musce moves n lhe
,50s, lhen a ealher cad husler n lhe ,0s
lhen a swnger n lhe ,70s and nay a bus-
nessman n lhe ,80s. In anolher memorabe
shorl exermenla m durng lhose years,
,Bul Ior Endurance" I shove a coke bolle
u my ass. I have aways seen my body as a
ro, a canvas, lo be used Ior my ms.
There are peopIe who produce porn
but never watch porn, and there are
peopIe who enjoy both. Regarding the
way I eperienced you at the Porn FiIm
FestivaI in BerIin in 2006, where you
aIso sat in the jury, it seemed that you
are more of the second kind, enjoying
the aIternative porn cuIture which is
reemerging at the moment. Can you
teII me a bit how you eperience the
hype surrounding porn and where you
situate your practice in it - porn hc-
tions, aIternative porn, gay porn, or just
part of the porn famiIy? AIso, I want to
ner.evs
7
know what porns you, after aII these years of
shooting yourseIf, stiII enjoy watching and hnd
inspiring and]or hot.
I do enjoy bolh roducng and walchng orn,
lhough I musl say I lhnk I enjoy makng orn more
lhese days. I can undersland how some roducers
never walch orn; Ior me l s ke walchng moves.
I have lo be n lhe rghl mndsel olherwse l s ke
work. I have lo shul oII my crlca mnd. The lhng
I nd so exclng aboul lhe alernalve orn culure
lhal s reemergng s how mxed l s. Slraghl, gay,
esban, lrans, elc., a comng logelher. Thal s
somelhng you never reay saw n gay and esban
m. Il's nol jusl a ole accelance oI each olher's
work; lhere s a genune nleresl n each olher's ms
and melhods oI workng.
My work s vared, some woud say schzohrenc,
bul lo me lhey are a realed. My work n more
manslream gay orn, my alernalve orn (or sexy
arl ms) and my exermenla sex moves and my
narralve work a nIorm each olher. I oIlen work on
severa rojecls al lhe same lme so one scene Ior
a orn move woud gve me an dea Ior a narralve
scene and vce versa. My slyes may vary, bul lhere
s a dslncl qualy lo my moves lhal runs lhrough-
oul lhem a.
Do you feeI you ht in the pornworId? Do you
enjoy contemporary porn? I say this because
its easy to see that your hIms go beyond the
typicaI cIichs of (gay) porn.
I have never Iel ke I l n. Nol n lhe arl word, nol
n lhe m word or lhe gay word, cerlany nol n
lhe slrghl word or lhe ,ndeendenl" m word,
or even lhe underground m word, bul lhal s okay.
I am ne wlh nol llng n. I have aways been an
oulsder and have grown lo nol jusl accel lhal bul
resh l. So I don'l Iee ke a arl oI lhe alernalve,
gay or orn word.
I enjoy orn lhal s nol so sck, I aways lhnk lhere
are loo many ghls on! I enjoy od orn, nol jusl lhe
moves lhemseves bul lhe Iacl lhal lhey had lo be
seen n lhealers; so lhey were reay jusl backdros
Ior lhe aclon haenng n lhe lhealer. Thal lo me s
exclng. UnIorlunaley you can'l gel lhal anymore.
I wanled lo be n lhal word. I hale lhe Iacl lhal m-
113
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I remember you doing your presentation at the very beginning of the PPP-sym-
posium. After a very theoreticaI Iecture on Derrida and Mar you came to the
podium, took off your cIothes and started your speech, caIIed ,how to shoot se
scenes and become a porn star".. the moment was both very to the point and
entertaining. What were you taIking about in your presentation and how directIy
or indirectIy did you touch on your presentation's titIe? of course i aIso ask this
as you are an independant gay hImmaker who doesn't aIways stay dressed and
behind the camera whiIe shooting your porn-hctions.
I have never underslood when eoe say lhey Iee vunerabe when lhey are naked. I have
aways Iel lhe oosle. There s no more owerIu a Ieeng lhan beng naked n a room
Iu oI colhed eoe. Peoe are Iorced lo reacl lo you, whelher lhey ook al you or ook
away, whelher lhey Iee dsgusl or are lurned on, whelher lhey are embarrassed Ior you or
ready lo jon you. As an arlsl l s my job lo rovoke and gel a reaclon. As someone who s
n lhe enlerlanmenl nduslry l s my job lo enlerlan, and as a comedan l s my job lo gel
eoe lo augh. Whelher lhey are aughng al me or wlh me doesn'l maller as ong as lhey
are aughng.
Is it easy for you to taIk about your work?
I am nol an nleeclua or a schoar or a crlc, Iar Irom l. I am an arlsl, I work on an emo-
lona, gul, sub-conscous eve. II I even allemled lo lheorze aboul my work I woud be
osl, I eave lhal lo lhe roIessonas. Il s dIcul Ior me lo lak aboul my work. I reIer lo
el l seak Ior lseI, lhal s why I make my ms, so lhey can seak Ior me. So when I am
asked lo seak aboul my work l s aways besl Ior me lo lhnk oI lhe seakng as anolher
ece oI work lseI. So whal am I dong now? Wrlng aboul l? Is lhs anolher ayer oI er-
Iormance? Can you ever reach lhe core? Or s l jusl ke an onon? Layer aIler ayer. We,
no, acluay. Go back lo lhe ms, ke I sad beIore l s a lhere.
But you did do a performance about your hIms.
For my resenlalon or as I woud reIer lo ca l my erIormance ,how lo shool sex
scenes and become a orn slar", my basc dea was lo smy break lhe ce by sayng how
nervous I was and how much more comIorlabe I woud be naked. So I slred down lo
nolhng and sal lhere wlh a mcrohone n hand and walched and commenled on my m
Anonymous n whch I am lhe ead characler. In lhe m my characler engages n anony-
mous sexua encounlers whe lryng lo manlan a modern gay Ie n a monogamous
realonsh. For lhs erIormance, I am lakng aboul shoolng myseI whe I am naked
on screen whe lhe audence s walchng me naked. I wanled lo jusl be n lhal momenl,
reaclng lo myseI onscreen and reaclng lo lhe audence. I woud be nleresled n hearng
whalever lheores lhe audence had aboul my erIormance.
Like I said at the beginning, you are aIso a performer in your own hIms. Did this
come out of a shortage of money and time or out of not hnding the right perform-
ers, or was ,becoming a pornstar" something you reaIIy wanted to do?
I have aways been bolh n Ironl oI and behnd lhe camera, bolh guralvey and raclcay.
As a chd I was aways dong lle erIormances. I was oIlen home sck Irom schoo and
woud do eaborale roduclons Ior an audence oI sluIIed anmas. I wshed I had had a
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Post Porn PoIitics
pIeasurefuI situations, not onIy having
the story in your head, but aIso differ-
ent actors and audiences in mind.
I reay enjoy makng orn ms. Il s ke
we a become a bg Iamy. The dIcul-
es come Irom lhe slgmas lhal are sl
allached lo orn. Ths eads lo aclors nol
showng u, eoe ony beng nleresled
n money. There aso can be ogslca
robems ke aclors nol beng lurned on
or nol kng lher arlner. Those are easer
lo dea wlh; you jusl have lo have an oen
mnd and alence. I reIuse lo shool orn
under a ,orn name". I'm roud oI my orn
work.
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ner.evs
7
gong n genera has become so sck and assve. I ove lhe dea oI a move jusl beng a
backdro, an melus Ior sexness. I lhnk lhs has been reaced by amaleur m ke lhe
cs you can see on xlube and ornlube, lhese cs made by men and woman oI lhem-
seves and lher sexua exols lhal lhey lhen ul onne.
I woud ove a relurn lo more abslracl, obscure orn (nol so overy l) combned wlh a new
a-encomassng sexualy. I am workng on a esban move rghl now caed The Fna
Gr lhal I am very excled aboul, and I woud ove lo do somelhng wlh lranne boys and
grs.
Can you teII me more about Bangor hIms, its contet and history?
My crealve arlner uames Derek Dwyer and I Iormed BANGORFILMS shorly aIler my
rsl Iealure m Frsk n 1995. We were Iruslraled wlh how moves were made, wlh bg
crews oI eoe slandng around and mmakers havng lo wal years lo gel lhere vson on
m. We wanled lo make moves whenever we Iel ke l, wlh jusl me and lhe aclors n rea
ocalons shoolng wlh avaabe ghl. Our rsl move was Llle Shols oI Haness and
aIler lhe sucess oI lhal one n 199 we vowed lo make 10 Iealures by 2000, mosly lo rove
lhal we coud do l and because we had a bunch oI deas we wanled lo do. AIler makng
lhose len moves we camed down a lny bl, and snce lhen we make aboul 2 moves a year.
For nIos check: www.bangorms.com(somewhere ese?)
How is your reIation to narrative? In porn, narrative is either referred to as a bad
vehicIe for se scenes or as something which makes the se scenes secondary.
I lhnk you can do a narralve m wlh orn wlhoul l beng cheesy or cam by roolng
l n a characlor andjor characlors lhal are rea, and lhe sex s a arl oI lhal reaness. In
narralve m, sex s ke voence; l s beller I you can gel nsde lhe audence's head and
suggesl lhe scene, use lhe audence's mgnalon, lo make lhe sex rea. My move Anony-
mous s narralve, bul l s a move aboul sex. The key s lo make lhe sex as rea as ossbe.
For my orn move I lend lo kee lhe ,slory" lo a mnmum, lhere s very lle sel-u lo lhe
sex. Il s somelhng lo walch lo gel oII on (nol lhal you can'l gel oII lo lhe narralve ms,
bul lhal s nol lher man goa.)
Can you teII me a bit about the narrative of BuIIdog in the Whitehouse...
Budog n lhe Whle House came aboul because oI lhs scanda n lhe Bush Whle House
where lhs mae rosllule was al a lhese ress brengs and gven ress credenlas
lhal he was nol quaed Ior. He was n lhe Whle House on hundreds oI occaslons so
obvousy he was Iuckng someone and mosl key l was Bush. I was so angry because
here was lhs jucy sex scanda and lhe ress was gnorng l. Il gol me lhnkng aboul
haw craIly lhe Bush admnslralon was al snnng lhe lrulh, and lhal remnded me oI
Dangerous Lasons. I read lhe book, and l remnded me so much oI lhe Bushes lhal I
mmedaley slarled adalng l. I new I had lo make lhs chea and Iasl, so I decded lhal l
needed lo be ke a sma communly lhealer roduclon. We were ayng rea characlers,
bul we were a aclors who barey knew our nes. Il was Iun and calharlc, and I was abe lo
squeeze n jusl aboul a lhe Bush scandas. So l s an educalona m.
You aIso did a documentary about shooting porn - shooting your own. How dif-
hcuIt is it making porn and staying reBective about the difhcuIties of producing
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