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Like many women, I watch porn. It can be a super-fun way to learn new sex moves and realize that hey, amputee sex is totally a turn-on. I am obsessive about this fantasy (sometimes) until I change websites and get really into butch German lesbians erotically shaving their heads while masturbating, which I then try to recreate in my living room (this had led to crying because I am barely androgynous and definitely not butch). The limits of my attraction transcend logic, and they are both boundless and finite in that I can quickly find anything attractive but rarely remember it for more than an hour.
I also really like reality TV.
If those two things seem unrelated, I assure you they are not because from the bowels of the internet comes the reality porn competition you never knew you desperately wanted. It's called The Sex Factor and I want it to spawn as many seasons ("cycles" in ANTM terms) as America's Next Top Model and as many iterations as the Real Housewives franchise.
It is a beautiful, swirling mess of awkward genitals trying and failing to fuck for the camera, and I cannot possibly get enough.
In this show, 16 people who have never shot porn before do so in a competition to win $1 million and their own full-length movie. Will the winner be considered a porn star, or is that designation too pure? Will they become reality stars who later have a show on VH1 about their problems with their mothers? I hope they will not, for their sake, but I hope for my sake that they will.
This show is ostensibly pornography without anything attractive or sexually arousing in it. It shows the behind-the-scenes of an end-product that looks pretty much the same in front of and behind the camera. There are hints of glamour, but less than your average modeling competition. And yet, it's actually one of the more pleasant shows to watch when it comes to judging.
It's pretty straightforward: the best performers tend to win and no one can be accused of sleeping his or her way to the top because they all did. It is a reality show, though, just as America's Next Top Model was a reality show, and sometimes it casts for "character" more than talent.
Sometimes, you will stop paying attention as a starlet explains her love of face-fucking only to return to the camera gazing gently on the visage of former Beauty and the Geek competitor "The Colonel." He serves as a better warning against the evils of reality TV than the evils of pornography, and judge Keiran Lee even makes a point to say that he would get on most girls' "No" list, but he is definitely present for way more episodes than a just universe would allow.
Really the take-away from this program is that porn stars must be the nicest girls in the world. While the lone male judge Keiran Lee believes himself to be the Simon Cowell of porn, Remy LaCroix, Lexi Belle, Asa Akira, and Tori Black seem to be the cutest, sweetest chicks ever. Even if it's just a character and they are all actually normal human beings, I will still forgive them. Tori Black even offers up the best description of how a porn star differs from the girl next door she is playing when she says that a porn star will fuck anyone if the cameras are rolling: "If you're being picky, you're not a porn star... you're just a girl."
This is true, and sad. Of course, she also pretends to be baffled that anyone would not want to fuck a lisping man with no discernible chin and a crippling lack of self-awareness, but she is a professional. And for that I commend her.
It will come as no surprise to anyone who has taken a high school psychology class that desensitization is a real thing in this universe. At first, the hot-tub blow jobs and cum-stained faces are surprising and a little off-putting to the average viewer who would rather watch their porn without thinking about the people behind it. This show is not for them. It is for hardcore reality TV fans who are interested in the sex industry. Luckily that includes me! I have read dozens of books about porn stars, escorts, and dominatrices. I have been looking for a copy of Inside Seka for over a year, but it has not dropped below $25 on Amazon, which is a bit too much of a financial commitment for me at this time.
Basically, I am the target demographic for this program, and if you are the kind of person who can watch the Sex Factor without getting really emotionally heated about whether Blair's performance is over-the-top and distracting or whether it is necessary to the integrity of the scene, then you and I cannot relate on any level. I know that I am watching hardcore penetration.
I love Blair's insane over-the-top performance, but I also love lube, and she clearly needed it. Plus, my loyalty is already with Allie Eve Knox, the other projected front-runner, because she has a masters degree in anthropology and is from Dallas. I also have a degree in anthropology and am from Texas, and her winning this competition would finally answer the question, "What do you do with an anthropology degree?" I need an answer to this question.
The narrative of consent is one that this show does pretty well. Crossing boundaries is NOT OK on the Sex Factor. If you play nice, you will get laid in due time. When one dude decides to sit in the corner and masturbate, oblivious to everyone in the house asking him to stop, he is swiftly eliminated and we all cheer. When a female pushes her partner's boundaries in an attempt to get a better scene out of him, the judges are not having it. Her elimination results in a racist tirade that confirms what we all suspected: that we are in a new frontier for pornography,and the performers are not having your conservative southern 1950s racial bullshit. For a moment, there is justice in the world.
Is this show heteronormative? Most definitely. When the men can't get it up, they blame the women for not turning them on enough. The female front-runners are conventionally beautiful and virginal by porn standards. One of them is even a nursery school teacher, and you can see that by the way she talks to her scene partner after a particularly average scene. She had the exact cadence of someone congratulating a four-year-old on his finger painting, but he seems to appreciate it.
Honestly, as the viewer, I did, too. I am way more comfortable with my reality TV when everyone seems to be enjoying themselves. So I can't really commend this show for breaking boundaries, or even introducing us to any particularly interesting characters. Of particular annoyance to me, there has yet to be a lesbian challenge, which a tragedy because all the women are hotter than the men, but this is typical of porn, reality TV, and every other aspect of life, so I can't even fault them too much. (Actually, that's a lie. I fault them heavily.)
Basically, this is the best show ever if you have super-niche interests in crappy pop culture, and everyone should check it out.