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Tue, Nov. 2nd, 2004, 02:12 pm
recycling: disciplinegrid: AFTER DARK



And now the time has come for all of us to either blame or thank christianneil for my hearty upgrade to Disciplinegrid-columnist extraordinaire. Chris always believed in me, even back in the days when we first met through the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program so many years ago. I was just another wayward youth prowling the streets, vandalizing anything and everything and huffing WD-40, and he found it in his heart to take me under his wing. He taught me that being a man doesn't have to include validating one's machismo at any given occasion or murdering my classmates for $200 basketball shoes. In turn, I taught him that loving someone doesn't have to include elaborate booby-traps and Vaseline. We need to face the facts Chris, THE BRUISES DON'T LIE.

But that was then, and this is now. I must admit that I encountered a certain amount of trepidation in search of finding my voice within this community. You see, I'm not one who has ever been very much enthralled with technology or any of the sciences, so a picture of myself should be painted as someone confounded by the modern world in general, at least as far as the context of disciplinegrid should be concerned. To all enthusiasts, I apologize, and the only consellation I can give you is to humor me, and perhaps the subjects of my various essays might be the evidence you need for my longevity here.

Case in point: I was inspired to write a little piece about something my girlfriend and I were watching for the first time ever the other day, the triumph of American cinema that is 1978's brilliant epic Debbie Does Dallas. Hope y'all enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed researching it. No, really, it was all to grasp a better understanding of the multi-faceted world of adult entertainment. Shut up.



I. WHAT DEBBIE DID FOR DALLAS THEN


Above: Another MS Painter who obviously missed the point.


The most common misconception about Debbie Does Dallas is that the story is in Dallas. In fact, it actually wasn't even filmed in Texas. That dubious honor goes to the SUNY campus in Stony Brook, New York, who gave the crew permission to film without being informed of their plans to end up with an X-rating. Appalled, the University of New York didn't find out until it was way too late and subsequently made damn sure the movie was banned all the way from Buffalo to the Bronx. I would think it would be obvious pretty much around the first time they discovered the actors screwing up against bookshelves in the university library, so perhaps this information should be taken with a grain of salt. Debbie Does Dallas tends to have a mystique all its own, and with that comes conflicting information or certain facts blown out of proportion.

Regardless, the city of Dallas only serves as a destination for the main character "Debbie" (played expertly by Bambi Woods), a high-school cheerleader from an anonymous small town in Texas with aspirations of cheering on the Dallas Cowboys football team, as (obviously) a "Dallas Cowgirl." Since the idea of holding a car wash or a bake sale apparently never crossed anyone's mind, Debbie and her friends in the cheerleading squad (who also wanted to go to Dallas to see Debbie get her shot at the big time) decide to find odd jobs around town to raise the funds to get there. Falling in line with the X-rating, the girls soon realize with a little bit of prodding from their bosses that money can be raised faster doing other stuff.

The rest of the plot is, of course, irrelevant. Everybody winds up having sex, and not the most inspired sex that's ever been featured, to say the least. Oral here and menage a trois there, tenuous lesbian-esque experiences notwithstanding..it's nothing none of us hasn't done before with the help of several dozen jello shots on a rented pontoon boat. The finale has Debbie losing her virginity to an older shopkeeper dressed as a football player, and it's assumed from there the girls' ultimate goal is fulfilled and they go on to "do" Dallas, as it were. Like in most pornography, the girls somewhat pass for attractive (a few tract marks can still be seen here and there). As for the men? Like just about every porn movie ever made, not-so-much, being that the only criteria for a male porn star happens to be whether or not you make Mr. Happy be able to service a complete stranger in front of a camera crew. Ron Jeremy's success in this field is all the evidence one needs (who regrettably is not in Debbie Does Dallas).


Above: Ron Jeremy, also known as the luckiest bastard who ever lived.


II. WHAT DEBBIE DOES FOR DALLAS NOW

Objectively speaking, Debbie Does Dallas is by no means remarkable on the surface. To the untrained viewer it's just another example of the "California happy porn" school from twenty-five years ago, fated to languish in relative obscurity. However, it becomes apparent that this movie is way more than the sum of its parts. Whether one looks at it as a companion piece to the Dallas Cowboys craze in the seventies, then known as "America's Team" (with help of several Super Bowl wins, the non-pornographic movie North Dallas Forty, and the aforementioned Dallas Cowgirls), or as a coming-of-age tale about a young woman's grasp of the power of her gender, or as a parallel to the arrival of the Sexual Revolution in small-town America, or even as just a masturbatory aide, Debbie Does Dallas truly has something for everyone. With the transformation and arrival of this story into an off-Broadway show a generation later, this movie has done something that no other adult movie has ever managed to do: it's engrained itself into the American storytelling tradition.

And although I personally haven't really seen a lot of these movies (no seriously), it seems as though the adult entertainment industry really haven't been able to get their act together ever since. More so than perhaps any other medium, porn has undergone the most rapid and violent metamorphasis. Whereas in the time of Debbie Does Dallas, screenings were limited to a handful of adult theatres in the seedy parts of town. With the arrival of the '80s everything immediately switched over to VHS, and then in the late '90s over to the privacy of our own homes via the Internet. Now, porn is all about the bottom line. Directors need not worry about plots or gimmicks in order to bring people into the moviehouses, all they have to do is find some people willing to "work" for peanuts, lay down a synth track that barely passes for "music" (would you run out and buy the soundtrack to Barely Legal Dental Assistants #23?), and let the spiders do their indexing and the pop-ups do their thing. If you build it, they will come.

Not only that, the women in these "films" anymore are too perfect looking, thanks to nose jobs, lipo, makeup, expert lighting, computer graphics and breast augmentation. Unless you happen to be a voice-cracking teenager who's too young and too inexperienced to be discriminating, this quest for perfection only serves to backfire. I mean, I'm no psychologist, but the potential of imagination aside, fantasy is worth its weight in accessibility and in the end someone who's real ends up being more sexy than a surgically-enhanced Barbie Doll. The Barbie Doll has no flaws to learn to fall in love with, no imperfections to appreciate, and is forgettable immediately after the moment has passed. The Barbie Doll whitewashes our nuanced sexuality into nothing more than uniformity where true feelings are deleted from the equation altogether, leaving her audience feeling pathetic and somewhat depressed.


Above: Where's the fun?


The makers of Debbie Does Dallas didn't understand that as much as they simply had to play the hand they were dealt. The '70s were a thin sliver of time after the Sexual Revolution but before the advent of modern technology and Reagan-era greed, where sex was definitely for sale but not yet heavily discounted and imported from third-world countries. Bambi Woods aka "Debbie" is by no means perfect-looking, which makes her all the more adorable as she stumbles through one situation after another, usually with an expression of wide-eyed surprise. Clearly unprofessional, she's afraid but at the same time not afraid, unlike the modern-day Barbie Doll which never knows trepedation or fear. Whereas Barbie always knows what to do, Debbie isn't so certain..but she's willing to figure it out. And in real life, who isn't like that concerning their first time, not just ever, but with anyone new in their lives?

Somehow, someway, porn needs to be fun again, although in this age of Neo-Puritanism I doubt a reawakening of this magnitude will be around the corner anytime soon. But when we're ready, Debbie Does Dallas will be there to help guide the way.

III. DEBBIE IS DONE

Okay, I'm finished talking about this. I don't need porn anyway, because it's Election Day. If Frankenkerry wins, Ashley (who's also from Massachusettes) is bound to begin celebrating in certain ways I probably won't be writing about in my journal anytime soon (I will never forget the night the Sox won the Series). Other than that, I could give a damn who wins, really.

Tue, Nov. 2nd, 2004 10:01 pm (UTC)
loo

From mainstream "Barbie Doll" porn to amputee beastiality and everything in between, pornography today is less of a product and more of a dark, distant underworld that exists in our universe solely via a television or computer screen that serves as a portal for their world to be seen in ours.

The world of porn is something that doesn't really exist in this world - the cute, open-minded secretary with the killer rack that wants nothing more than for you to plow her on the copy machine - the redheaded co-ed you meet at the laudromat right at closing time that thinks fellacio on a folding table in a public facility is nothing less than wonderous...the stories that develop in their world exist only there, and in the minds of the horny folks that watch, on the edge of their seats, hoping that the money shot doesn't come too soon.

Sex in the real world is complicated - pregnancy, STDs, commitments, ex-lovers, performance - whereas sex in the virtual world is easy. The DVD stays quietly stored in a drawer somewhere until you feel the tingle...you get the DVD out, use it at will, and place it back in the drawer for use next time...you know...you get the urge. Once you're done you go right back to what you were doing prior, no anxiety, no worries.

Fantasize in their world, live in ours. It's not a bad way to go, really.

Wed, Nov. 3rd, 2004 04:36 am (UTC)
recycling

I just think I'm kind of holding out for the eventual rise of Virtual Reality porn, where you can put on a helmet and body suit and fuck whoever you want, whenever. After about ten years of using my imagination, I think I just ran out of everything that wasn't illegal in 49 states.

I agree with what you say though about the complications of sex in the real world. About roughly the same time I swear to myself up and down that it isn't worth it anymore, that's when another good time tends to fall out of the sky to blow my perceptions all to hell again. I feel like a hamster running on a wheel.

Tue, Nov. 2nd, 2004 10:24 pm (UTC)
christianneil

A thoughtful and lucid reflection on the spank industry, who can no longer afford lavish production value, or any element of storytelling anymore. I look back with great longing when skin flicks were a game full of titans...everyone was a pro, and you could always count on a familiar face.

Unfortunately, with trends in the entertainment industries revisiting the oft-forgotten medium of Cinema Verité with the rather disturbing trend known as "reality tv", by analogy we can see that this would eventually encompass all aspects of the entertainment industry.

I have some *cough cough* friends that have been known to stop in periodically to a conglomeration of websites that make captainstabbin.com, milfhunter.com, bignaturals.com and a few others their flagships, and each week, they add a few more clips featuring their small stable of talent who manage to seduce endless streams of women in south Florida to perform on Mini-DV for bargain basement prices. This is apparently a lean cottage industry that can put a glut of cheap porn clips out there for a very reasonable price ($4.95 for a three day trial, and when you go to cancel your $30 automatically renewable monthly menbership, they offer it to you for $15 a month...you can feed a hungry child in Biafra, or you can enjoy a limitless supply of fresh material to satisfy your carnal appetite.

That being said, these clips are to porn what Ramen noodles are to food. Not too great, but they will keep you alive. I kind of miss the day when we used to covet videotapes.

Anyway, my friend, you have done well. The recent resurgence of posting activity here warms my heart, and restores my faith in the world.

Wed, Nov. 3rd, 2004 04:28 am (UTC)
recycling

What I miss the most are the horrible soft-porn flicks from the '70s and early '80s that you used to be able to catch on Cinemax. With titles like Lady Chatterley's Lover (starring Adam West!), Emmanuelle and my very personal favorite from West Germany, 2069: A Sex Odyssey. They weren't so much arousing as humorous to me, which might go a long way towards explaining my entire psyche in general.

I don't know man, contrary to this post I'm not too big on porn. It leaves me feeling depressed and lonely, and I'd rather save what I got on the inside to give to somebody else on the inside. Again, that repression I have might go a long way towards explaining my entire psyche in general.

Still, I'm fascinated by the world of porn itself, at least. What motivates these people, why are they doing it in the first place, the ins and outs of the seedy underbelly that lies behind the surface of everybody's normal lives, etc.

But in any event, I'm glad you like it. :) You might want to wait on restoring your faith in the world until the election is over, though..

Wed, Nov. 3rd, 2004 02:30 am (UTC)
andreamarie

I find this amusing, because I came this close to going to college at SUNY Stony Brook.

Wed, Nov. 3rd, 2004 04:21 am (UTC)
recycling

You could've been a porn starlet, Andrea Marie!

Wed, Nov. 3rd, 2004 10:51 am (UTC)
andreamarie

Yeah, because, really, that's just my ultimate dream. ;)