Alternaporn is on the increase. I’m not talking here about the mainstream adult entertainment industry cashing-in on the current trend for goth, punk or raver porn, but small-scale porn sites intent on portraying real people and real sexuality in a positive way, refuting stereotypes and providing an alternative to the mainstream.
Where, when and why Alternaporn started
To find out about the origins of alternaporn, I turned to Lux Nightmare, former New York college student and the woman in charge of That Strange Girl - a successful alternaporn site. But first I asked her what had interested her in alternaporn in the first place:
“I was always interested in sexual imagery and media, but for a long time I felt that much, if not all, of the pornography that was being produced was poorly done and questionable in many ways. When I discovered alternaporn, I was floored: here was pornography done right, here was something I was actually interested in.
“Because I’ve always been someone who prefers to do things rather than just talk about them, I knew that this was something I wanted to be involved in. So I applied to be a model for NakkidNerds, and was accepted… and that, as they say, is that.”
And so, the origins of alternaporn?
“To my knowledge, most of the early sites (such as NakkidNerds n and EroticBPM - formerly RaverPorn) came about because the owners felt frustrated by the lack of ‘people like them’ in mainstream pornography.
“And, to be fair, I owe a great deal to these sites, as they were the inspiration for my work. Before I discovered NakkidNerds (where I worked as a model for one year prior to starting my own site) I had no idea that pornography could be anything different than the tasteless photos adorning countless mainstream sites.”
Lux sums up her preference of alternaporn, saying she likes it because…
“…it’s generally more artfully done, the people tend to be more diverse in look and body, and it tends to be geared more towards ‘people like me’ as it were - people interested in intelligent porn, people interested in more than just dirty pictures (the majority of alternaporn sites have a community aspect in addition to the photo galleries).”
We Sing the Body Politic
Instantly I start seeing a political or ethical angle to this whole phenomenon—I think maybe it’s just the way I work—but Lux is more cautious of politicising the entire alternaporn genre:
“Some alternaporn sites, such as NoFauxxx, are explicitly political. My site, on the other hand, is not. However, I feel that the act of creating porn that is different, that portrays a diverse array of body types, that treats its models fairly, is, in and of itself, a political act - which would suggest that, yes, much of what can be classified as alternaporn is indeed political.”
But she adds a note of caution at the generalisation:
“I’m wary of saying that all alternaporn is intrinsically political, and even more wary of saying that all alternaporn is intrinsically ethical. While most of the sites I’m familiar with are run in a fair and ethical manner, and treat their models well, that is hardly universal.”
Vegan porn entrepeneur Furry Girl has gone further and on her LiveJournal site has written a proto-definition of alternaporn:
- models are invited to express themselves and have a say in how they are presented.
- does not necessarily feature people with coloured hair and body mods. It defies convention not through subculture, but by embracing all types of beauty and showing off people and styles ignored or fetish-ised by mainstream porn.
- portrays sexuality in a positive way and stays true to the idea of safe, sane, and consensual sex play.
- models are not required/coerced to do unpaid work like answering viewer email, socializing on the site, or meeting people in public. The level of person involvement is up to the model.
- does not perpetuate stereotypes and negative attitudes about race, size, gender, and sexual orientation.
- is generally run on the smaller scale by real-life friends, lovers, and people who are a part of each other’s lives outside of porn.
- is not content thrown together by large adult companies in attempt to cater to the trend of “punk” or “goth” porn. It is creative and unique, an expression of the people who make it.
- models are portrayed as multidimensional beings, with interests other than sex.
- sometimes works to foster community on the site by forums, journals, and chat rooms where models, webmasters, and viewers can interact.
- webmasters network and make connections with others in the “niche”, and help one another out.
- has the confidence to be proud of being different without attacking other mainstream sites/models as “dumb blondes” or “bimbos”. Intellect and personal worth can not be judged by a person’s choice of appearance and how they decide to represent themselves in the adult industry.
This being the internet and all, it seems that there is no one-true-way, no all encompassing dogma, just individuals doing what they want to do, in the way they want to do it. And it just so happens that some of them work in roughly the same way.