September 2008


No uprising here

For some reason, Friday night I was reminded of the time I was paid $60 to watch porn for an hour.

And with that warning, I might suggest that the body of this entry is NSFW, so be cautious clicking through.

It was back in spring 2000 at Indiana University’s Kinsey Institute—they were paying men to watch porn as a part of a study into why men took sexual risks 15 or so years into the era of HIV and AIDS. Honestly I never figured out how paying me to watch porn helped them with figuring this out, but it does make for a good story.

It was my second visit to the Kinsey Institute—before my first visit I’d answered a questionnaire about risk-taking (I remember filling it out on my first-ever transatlantic flight, and then mailing once I got back to the states). There wasn’t anything odd about the initial questionnaire, nor anything odd during the interview, except at the end when the interviewer asked if I was interested in getting paid to watch porn.

What red-blooded male isn’t?

A few days later, I was in a room, sitting down on a high-backed leather chair, having electrodes attached to my left fingers and my forehead. At the same time I was given a clipboard, a pen, and a buzzer on a long cord. A stool was placed under my feet, thus giving me the impression I was at home, lying back on my imitation Lay-Z-Boy—complete with a television a few feet in front of me.

After all of this was arranged, the man handed me a ring with a long cord trailing off of it and asked me to stick it around my… er… thingamajig; I mean penis. There was a towel provided to cover myself so that the researcher wouldn’t be able to see.

There were some additional instructions given, like “don’t move because you might disturb the electrodes” and “pay attention to the video”. There were some conflicting instructions as well, like “during some of the videos there will be addition problems, please right down the answers on the clipboard”. Another instruction concerned the videos without math problems: I was to press the buzzer whenever I saw a white dot on the screen.

Needless to say, I was trying to keep all of this in mind when he put headphones on me so that he could talk to me while he was sitting in the room behind me recording data and controlling the porn. He was somewhat apologetic, “There’s a problem with the equipment, please ignore the bursts of static.”

He left the room.

I was alone with instructions to not move, do math, press the button, pay attention to the video, ignore static, do not move, do math, press the button… it was, as you might guess a bit much. The television was on and I was watching the beginning of an older National Geographic Special about domestic cats—I’d remembered watching it on PBS several years before—I could hear it, and the researcher told me that the special would be playing between video clips and to just relax.

Now some of the specific details get lost here. I haven’t forgotten the specifics of being seated in the room with electrodes attached to my fingers and face and a wired ring attached to my penis—those parts I remember clearly.

It’s the specifics of the porn—honestly, you’ve seen one porn, you’ve seen them all—I can’t honestly remember the last time I saw an innovative porn featuring something I hadn’t seen or thought of before. I do remember that the porn segments were about three minutes each and that I watched seven or eight of them.

The total amount of time I had an erection, or something resembling an erection?

Zero Minutes, Zero Seconds, Zero Nanoseconds.

Zip, zilch, nada, nil, nothing.

Now in the weeks after sitting in the chair, I told a couple of my friends the story and all of them had the exact same question, probably the same question going through your mind right now, so I will answer it.

It was man-on-man action. There were no women in any of the porn video segments that I watched.

At the end of the hour, after I had removed the cock measuring device, zipped up my pants, had the other electrodes removed, and able to move about, the researcher asked me a question: “I noticed you never had an erection, is there any reason why?”

Gosh—I thought it was obvious that not being able to move because it might disturb the electrodes, doing math problems or pressing a button, and ignoring the defective equipment’s bursts of static, might actually affect one’s ability to get an erection while watching porn. I don’t recall if I said as much—nor was I that surprised when the researcher told me that they’d lied to me about the defective audio equipment.

In the rush of the moment I couldn’t explain to him what the fundamental problem with the study was—he’d admitted that practically nobody was getting an erection. A few days later, after having time to think about it, I’d realized that three minute segments of porn were not long enough. The one thing that porn does well, besides showing two (or more) people doing the nasty, is have a plot aimed at getting to people naked. In the porn that I’ve seen, there’s two (or more) people walking into a room—they see each other, the camera roves up and down their bodies, they wink, they kiss, they take each other’s clothes off, they do a little bit of sucking and nibbling, and then there’s more.

In the three minute clips they showed, the guys would walk into the room and then they would kiss and then they would be naked, fucking. The time from fully dressed to fully naked was probably less than a minute—and no matter what we say about men, most need to see more than just the penetration to get excited. To go from watching domestic cats in a small village in Scotland (or wherever) to watching two guys doing the nasty in thirty seconds didn’t work for me.

11 comments to No uprising here

  • Oh come on…. we all know the only thing that gets you excited is Grannies trannies.

  • I liked how you told this one live, Adam – but too bad you never mentioned the Scottish pussy.

  • This sort of reminds me of the time my husband and I went in for fertility testing. My husband got ushered into a little room to watch porn, while I got taken to have my blood drawn. But even though he had the better deal of the two of us,he couldn’t manage to get his part of the job done and provide a specimen in the cup. The reason?? The acting in the porno was terrible. I mean, really, who watches oprn for the acting?

  • Ed

    The fact that you were told not to move made having an erection next to impossible. They should have had a “fluffer” there getting paid $60 for doing a good job.

  • koko

    bahahaha. how fantastic! the boy did one that was if he though photos of people were posing in a way he thought they were coming on to him…drunk versus sober. then he got taxied home. not sure which was better yours or his 😉

  • […] Well, there you have it. No nuclear launch codes, I’m afraid – not even free passwords to stuff white people like, especially if you’re a queer expatriate living in Weimar. […]

  • Did they ever tell you the point or results of the study? Maybe they DIDN’T want you to get it up?

  • Alice

    Adam – This is SUCH a great story. I guess I didn’t get the whole “ring thing” on Friday evening – Bob’s blocks might have gotten in the way.

    Interesting study though … and I’d have to agree with your reasoning behind its failure. 🙂

  • Claire

    At the beginning of the story all I could think was, “How can someone get it up with all of that nonsence?” Remember, you get what you pay for. Just say no to discount porn.

  • @cq: you know a lot about yourself, eh?

    @ian: I think this story works better live, which is why I’ve been pretty reluctant to try and write it down…

    @Diane: Confession Time: when I watch porn, I rarely watch it for the sex, rather I love watching the actors “act” as they work their way towards getting naked. The set-up plots are awesome. The rest of the time I hit fast forward.

    @Ed: I would still not have responded… but I bet you want that job!

    @koko: hahahahaha… Wow, that must have been an interesting experience!

    @CN: I actually wrote to them a couple years ago and they sent me one study that was based on the data, but I wasn’t that impressed. It’s certainly not my area of expertise, but I’ve pondered quite a bit how what they measured (or in my case, didn’t measure) helped them with their larger study… (and given Human Research Subjects rules, they had to be honest about the larger topic…)

    @Alice: Thanks… and I really enjoyed playing with the blocks! They were way excellent…

    @Claire: Are you saying that I’m a cheap bad whore?! 🙂 I wonder what I did with that $60…

  • Absolutely priceless! I am going to bed on that story…hopefully no scottish cats or porn in my dreams. But I will let you know if there is. Too bad I don’t get $60 for that!