Notes On The Celebrity Backdoor Porn Industry

Dec 24, 2013
Celebrities
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We were watching the first minutes of a pornographic film: the part where the actors both begin to do and yet coyly dance around the reason we’re all here. “We” was me and someone in another borough that I’d conscripted into helping me make sense of what’s about to happen.

Something is off. The male performer is listless and having trouble staying aroused. His female costar’s ministrations are halfhearted and her eyes are vacant and she insists on calling him “baby” in a high-pitched squeak and he can barely hide his contempt at her convoluted story about underwear shopping when she abruptly announces that the anal portion of the show will begin before they’ve even properly kissed.

“This isn’t arousing at all,” my friend said.

“It’s not supposed to be arousing,” I said.

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Farrah Abraham’s storylines on MTV’s “Teen Mom” were always surprisingly devoid of sex for a show ostensibly about the repercussions of that act. The father of her child died in an accident during her pregnancy (a harrowing fact kept largely hidden from the cameras until the show’s later seasons). On her episode of “16 & Pregnant,” she apologized to her gynecologist for “having to look at this,” this being her vagina, which she cannot bring herself to name. She only dated a handful of men during “Teen Mom”‘s four seasons, none of them ever serious enough to merit the title boyfriend or the all-important show-filmed birth control conversation. She spoke of loneliness but didn’t seem to talk much about romantic love. Her first, after all, had been cruelly taken from her; how quickly can an 18-year-old with a child be expected to both process and progress, alone or in front of a camera crew?

Imagine my surprise, then, when a breaking news alert from TMZ told me that in a matter of days, I’d be able to watch each and every one of Farrah’s orifices be penetrated by none other than James Deen, a porn star so likable he was profiled in a “Nightline” segment about teens and adult films (teens watching them, not teens in them) and turned a role in the Bret Easton Ellis/Lindsay Lohan vehicle The Canyons into legitimate mainstream success.

Farrah Superstar: Backdoor Teen Mom’s origin story is murky. Were she and Deen dating? They were not. Was the tape stolen? It was not. Was this, as she told Dr. Phil, a private video made for her own enjoyment, to celebrate her young, nubile body and eroticism co-opted by pornographers looking to make a quick buck? Does that even make sense?

Farrah was rumored to have been paid $100,000 before the tape was filmed (It’s not unlikely that Deen’s base rate was no higher than his standard, which, as of a year ago, was roughly $800 to $1000 a scene), plus a cut of the profits. It’s still unknown whether she approached Vivid or they suggested the idea to her, though paparazzi photographers did spot Farrah and her father entering the company’s San Fernando Valley offices a few times in the lead-up to the release.

And what a release it was! Backdoor Teen Mom crashed the Vivid servers—it was downloaded more than 2 million times during the first six hours of its availability, crushing the record set by Kim Kardashian: Superstar (all of Vivid’s “celebrity” videos add the dubious “superstar” designation to their titles), but by whom? Who wanted to watch a young mother be sodomized by a bona fide sex professional? Who wanted to see Farrah’s breasts in all their immovable (seriously, they don’t move) glory? Who wanted to watch her be pressed up against the wall, Deen’s hands between her legs manipulating her until—oh, I can’t even say it!

Which brings us to the point, I suppose: Farrah Superstar: Backdoor Teen Mom is the only piece of cultural detritus released in 2013 that really, truly shocked me, not because of the acts (while graphic, Farrah and James go through the standard hardcore script familiar to anyone with an Internet connection), but because of who it’s really for, why it exists. It’s not an arousal product. It’s a public stoning.

Farrah takes off her dress (there’s nothing underneath) in order to put on a matching bra-and-panties set. She tugs at Deen’s waistband, telling him she wants “that” as she flicks his general crotch area with her fingers.

A minute later he’s pantsless and she’s performing oral sex whilst trying to maintain eye contact with the camera and highlight her best angles. Neither of them appears to be having an especially good time, and when she asks him how he’d like her to do it it sounds less like a question from a considerate lover and more like she’s asking: no, really. How do you do this?

While Deen is barely tumescent, she leaps off the bed and disappears in search of lubricant. He sounds incredulous when she tells him what it’s for, but upon her return dutifully sodomizes her while she moans and seems unsure of what to do with her hands, her face, her hair. Anyone familiar with Deen’s work knows he’s a talker, engaging in banter meant for the audience at home and whispers directed only at his costar. Here, though, he’s noticeably reluctant to say anything beyond a basic set of “yeah, babys.”

I wonder about this until I realize: he probably senses Farrah wouldn’t know how to respond.

They go through the standard routine, he having to take short breaks to maintain arousal, her looking directly back at the viewer with an expression best described as vacant. Deen is a veteran of these scenes (it’s tame for him, really) but Farrah is not, and it shows. In trying to look like a seasoned sexual performer, she reveals her own vulnerability—being watched engaging in intimate acts does not come naturally to her, nor can she seems to make the fans believe she’s actually having a good time.

That’s why it’s startling when she has what appears to be a real orgasm. Much has been written on the subject of orgasm and the gaze of the Internet, but it’s safe to assert that if you are not starring in pornography, it’s a moment most people you know won’t ever see. And would you want them to? Your nakedest, truest face? The point at which the mind is wholly overruled by the body is exquisite and exquisitely private and to see it on the expression of someone like Farrah, someone who hasn’t already constructed an identity centered around sharing this sort of thing with the world, is jarring until you remember that she has constructed a public face centered around her body and what goes in and out of it. We decided that this moment would happen, had to happen, the first time we saw her having an ultrasound in her high school cheerleading uniform.

I guess I just didn’t think she’d actually go through with it.

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