March 4, 2012
Remember that whole thing about “porn names” in Tom Junod’s Lana Del Rey piece for Esquire?

I’ll quote from it, in case you forgot (don’t worry, I’ll be brief):

Beyoncé and Gaga, Rihanna and Ke$ha: They share little but an ability to impart an awareness that whatever their music pretends to be about, it’s really about becoming Beyoncé, Gaga, Rihanna, and Ke$ha — about living up to their porn or (in Stephani Germanotta’s case) their drag names. Florence Welch doesn’t have a porn name; she’s resolutely Florence, though she’s got herself a Machine.

There’s more, but that’s the essence of it.

Well, anyway, today I was reading David Moore’s eulogy for Leslie Carter, who sadly passed away last month at the tragically young age of 25, and was led by it to an article about Gregory Dark, the former pornographer who directed a ton of teen-pop videos in the early part of the last decade. The article, The Devil In Greg Dark, was published in Esquire in 2001, and was also written by Tom Junod. I probably wouldn’t have even noticed that if it weren’t for the LDR piece—I used to subscribe to Esquire, and Junod writes feature stories for them in almost every issue. But that LDR article really pissed me off. Anyway, so I had that in the back of my mind, but I wasn’t really thinking about it. Then, 3/4 of the way through the article, I found this:

But that’s the thing with all the video work he’s been getting. It, like, comes to him. He was a pornographer, sure, maybe even the worst pornographer … but it’s not like he sits around plotting to direct Britney Spears, Mandy Moore, and Leslie Carter so that he can corrupt them and the little girls who idolize them. And it’s not like he has to worry about making them pornographic, either—about straying over the boundaries of taste, about eroticizing them, about fetishizing them, about doing all the things he used to do as a pornographer. They’ve already been eroticized and fetishized by the culture itself. In 1985, he directed Traci Lords and he was very nearly a criminal … but now the entire culture is besotted with the erotic promise of teenage girls, and so by the time they come to Gregory Dark, the girls have already been, well, pornographied. Britney Spears? That’s a porn name if there ever was one, no matter if it’s her real name or not. That Rolling Stone cover of Christina Aguilera with her shorts unzipped and her athletic tongue licking her lascivious lips? That’s a porn box cover, though without the usual accoutrement of bodily fluids. The lure of jailbait now supplies the erotic energy to a popular culture desperate for what’s new, what’s young, what’s alive; and the pornographication of the American girl has proceeded at such a pace that, as curious as the phenomenon of Gregory Dark directing a girl like Leslie Carter in a music video seems even to Gregory Dark himself, it also makes perfect sense. It seems almost inevitable…

[NOTE: the bolding in the blockquoted passage was added by me]

Clearly that whole “porn name” thing is a bit of an obsession for Junod, especially in light of the fact that this article predates the Lana Del Rey article by nearly 11 years. And I can’t decide whether it’s less distasteful in this context, because he is describing a real process that the capitalist music industry did and does engage in… or whether he’s a little too lascivious about the whole thing to avoid complicity.

Either way, the recurrence of the less-than-savory conceit in an article from over a decade ago definitely gave me pause, and I thought it was worth noting.

  1. mootpoint reblogged this from isabelthespy and added:
    "That’s a porn name if there ever was one, no matter if it’s her real name or not" is one of the most chilling sentences...
  2. realmikkipedia reblogged this from isabelthespy
  3. isabelthespy reblogged this from andrewtsks and added:
    i need a gif to adequately convey the feeling of lolbarf.
  4. susanelizabeths reblogged this from andrewtsks and added:
    Junod, being creepy for over a decade!
  5. indefensible said: I think Junod is probably a terrible person. Certainly he’s astoundingly self centred.
  6. printedinternet said: Man, I feel like you only Tumblr at absurdly late hours. Which I guess is a good thing—a late night treat.
  7. andrewtsks posted this