WE DID PORN by Zak Smith
Kirkus Star

WE DID PORN

Memoir and Drawings

KIRKUS REVIEW

Intelligent, frank and often hilarious meditation on the author’s dual career as an artist and actor in adult videos.

The two career tracks are not unrelated for Smith (Pictures Showing What Happens on Each Page of Thomas Pynchon’s Novel Gravity’s Rainbow, 2006, etc.). Known in the art world for his visually complex drawings of strippers and other women in the sex industry, many of which are reproduced here, Smith attracted the attention of makers of a subgenre of adult films known as alt porn. Though Smith refrains from giving a fixed definition, alt porn might be described as the work of would-be auteurs whose films are artistically ambitious and thematically personal, while maintaining the standard sex-to-story ratio that enables them to be distributed as commercially viable pornography. Its filmmakers tend to shun surgically enhanced bodies in favor of other body modifications like dyed hair, piercings and tattoos. While chatting with a director who wanted to use one of his works in a movie, Smith semi-seriously suggested a trade—use of his art for a role in the film. Suddenly he was exchanging the New York art scene for the adult-video playground of Los Angeles, using the name Zak Sabbath. But not all was well in the alt-porn kingdom. Contrary to conventional wisdom, Smith saw that most of the problems with the industry were the result of the hypocrisy and moral confusion of the convention-arbiters themselves. In particular, Smith points a finger at the Republican Party, which he says is confused about porn because the two wings pulling on it—the God wing and the money wing—have entirely different agendas and attitudes about human freedom. But Smith also lambasts porn critics like Tyra Banks, who want to end the discussion of who makes porn and why, in order to keep it—and prostitution—separate from, and beneath, the kind of body selling that fashion models like Banks make their living from.

The pleasure in this book comes not from living through the author’s atypical experience, but in being taken deeper into areas of thought commonly perceived as taboo—a wild, entirely worthwhile ride.

Pub Date: July 1st, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-9802436-8-0
Page count: 488pp
Publisher: Tin House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 2009




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