• Wed, Oct 6 2010

Highbrow Porn: Gag Me With a Sweater Set

Those wily hipsters! First they reinvent the mustache, and now they’re the first people to inject pseudo-intellectualism into porn.

The New York Times recently profiled Jonathan Leder, the male half of a married couple that runs Jacques, a porn magazine that claims to be different than any other porn magazine because it has class:

“Mr. Leder shoots on 35-millimeter film, uses only existing light and never retouches or digitally manipulates a photo — blemishes and body fat be damned. “A lot of quote-unquote porn is just simply disgusting,” Mr. Leder said, offering his view of the adult entertainment industry. “It’s so cheap and so vulgar, it just turns everybody off.”

Oh, the pretension! The hypocrisy! I’m gagging on my classy candy corn. See, there are a few problems with making porn and then looking down your nose at other people who make porn. 1. That makes you an asshole. 2. When you say that porn is vulgar and disgusting, you’re basically saying that the way some people fuck is vulgar and disgusting, which makes you closed-minded. But, 3. you’re making porn yourself, and you think that makes you open-minded…which makes you a total hypocrite.

Anyway, apparently not everyone agrees with my take on this, least of all New York Times writer Matt Haber, who rubbed one out over Mr. Leder and ejaculated directly onto the pages of the NYT in the form of a fully written article:

Mr. Leder continued snapping Ms. Nola — raising her head, facing the sun, lifting a leg — until his camera suddenly stopped clicking. He looked at his 1965 Canon Pellix and spotted the problem. “I’ve got to get some film,” he said.

Film?

Mr. Leder is no ordinary pornographer. Along with his wife and editor, Danielle, the bearded, flannel-wearing Mr. Leder is the creator of Jacques, an upstart adult magazine in Brooklyn that reinterprets vintage Playboy in the age of 3-D porn and GPS hookups.

One more time for the cheap seats: “the bearded, flannel-wearing Mr. Leder is the creator of Jacques, an upstart adult magazine in Brooklyn.” Oh, I get it! See, I didn’t realize that he had a beard and wore flannel. Everybody knows that beards and flannel house magic reserves of creativity and detached subjectivity, and that those reserves are activated once the beard-wearer enters the borders of Brooklyn.

BUT SERIOUSLY. Here’s my theory: Haber, once on the set of Leder’s porn shoot, got so caught up in fancying himself some kind of James Bond, the type of man who can stand in front of a naked woman and not be at all sexually flustered, that he wound up instead directing his stifled erection towards Leder. To my point:

Begun in May 2009, Jacques dishes out nudity with a knowing wink that speaks to the kind of man who prefers his meat grass fed and his denim raw. The models are bigger, curvier and silicone free. The settings evoke a wistful vision of middle-class America — a playground in Chicago, a swimming pool in Villanova, Pa. The resulting images look more like vacation snapshots than studio portraits.

“The kind of man who prefers his meat grass fed and his denim raw (whatever the fuck that means…wasn’t that in an ad for Diesel?)”: a.k.a., the kind of man Leder and Haber both like to think they are – a man whose superior aesthetic and sexual preferences course all the way to his dick. This despite the fact that Leder’s wife, 24-year-old former model Danielle Leder, claims that featuring curvy women was her idea, because as a high fashion model she was often told that her hips were too big (which is a whole separate post, but regardless…).

Anyway, Hader would like you to know that fancy porn is now a total trend, and that other important, artsy men are also taking pictures of naked women and congratulating themselves for it:

Joined by a small but influential roster of new pinup magazines — published in places like Amsterdam and the Lower East Side — Jacques is offering a self-conscious throwback to the magazines of the late 1960s and early 1970s, before the days of silicone implants, Photoshop and streaming HD video.

You know where else you can get porn with no silicone and no Photoshop? Amateur videos from the Midwest. But I guess it’s not being made in Amsterdam or New York, so it has no societal value.

The bottom line is that Leder is no different from any other sweaty, horny pornographer out there, except that he happens to have access to good vintage stores. And that’s not a bad thing. See, porn — whether it’s shot on expensive, pretentious film or good old digital — is about sex. And sex is fun! I mean, shit — I love porn. I’ve seen it being made, I watch it, I’m grateful that some men and women want to do that for their careers.

And you know what? I have nothing against artsy porn. Go ahead and do it! Do a ton of it. But don’t act like you’re better than people fucking in their living rooms in Minnesota and uploading it to YouPorn.

P.S.: Jacques is so forward-thinking and original that their September issue will be Asian-themed porn (NSFW).

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  • Eileen

    I agree with every word of this article.

    (Yours, not the NYT’s. NYT kind of sucks.)

  • Ellie

    High brow stuff made in Amsterdam? The city with the red light district synonomous with tacky bachelor parties? Hmm…

  • Nicole

    “See, there are a few problems with making porn and then looking down your nose at other people who make porn… ”

    My dissent:

    1) Calling some, even “a lot of” types of porn cheap and/or vulgar isn’t anything close to “looking down your nose at other people who make porn”.
    2) The way that some people fuck IS vulgar and disgusting, at least to some OTHER people, and it’s generally ok to have an opinion on such matters – even though Leder didn’t actually offer one.
    3) While Leder presumably does think he’s open-minded, it likely has more to do with the fact that he IS doing something slightly different – but even if it was just because he’s doing porn, he never called anyone else doing porn closed minded – so he’s not a hypocrite.

    I don’t know why this NYT article got under your skin so much, but I’m hoping it’s not becuase you really think Minnesota-based YouPorn isn’t getting credit where credit’s due. I have a feeling that all lighting being equal, the general consensus would still be in Leder’s favor.

  • Emily

    I agree with you. This is the kind of stuff that I’d be actually interested in, but the smug self-congratulation really turns me off.

    This has always been a problem with books I read and music I listen to, and now porn too? Is nothing safe?

  • Leah

    No comment about how he equates love of women to his love of grass-fed meat? Ew.