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Eon McKai’s Altporn Liberation Army – campign to get Vivid Alt into Mom & Pop Stores

Porn Valley- Violet Blue writes: Almost every time I watch porn, the same thoughts go through my head: “Wow, you really can get pimples all over.” “Can she sleep on her stomach?” “Will the neighbors think my cat is injured?” “Was all porn made in 1980 and they’re just releasing it now?”

But mostly when reviewing porn, or finding new porn to blog about, I wonder when I’m going to see some onscreen sex with performers who reflect my culture and my generation. Porn, it seems, is for (and stocked with) people who still think Playboy magazine is hot — and it’s not. That’s why when the online “altporn” phenom crossed over to become incorporated into mainstream porn production companies, I actually got excited about porn again. Because for better or for worse, things like American Apparel ads had become more of a turn-on for people in my generation than anything corporations like Wicked Pictures could seem to churn out.

Before it was even called altporn, the tide for what people wanted to see in porn was turning online — it had been even before the 2003 launch of Gawker’s, where we’ve blogged every non-mainstream porn happening we can find because we’re desperate to see ourselves reflected in porn, too. There was a huge hunger to see people like the girls you’d see in a coffee shop and boys at the record store posing and sexing on porn sites that featured models with tattoos, Goth sensibilities, punk attitudes — Suicide Girls, but “going all the way.”

Soon enough, like corporate rock and alternative rock in the 1990s, corporate porn smelled a cash cow in the making and was eager to milk it, snapping up directors like L.A.-based Eon McKai ( and alterna-hottie starlets willing to sign contracts to do formula porn but decorated with hip tattoos, music from MySpace and a hint more style. But now big porn studios slap striped socks on a starlet and title the videos “punk rock” or make a shopping trip to Hot Topic and call their starlets Goth.

McKai is a clear-eyed participant in all this, and while he’s directing porn films for the biggest corporate porn studios around (right now he’s with behemoth Vivid, under his own label, Vivid Alt), he’s doing so decidedly without a map and on his own terms. When McKai sent me a text message Friday night trying to lure me to the Mission District’s Beauty Bar for cocktails with a gaggle of altporn stars in town for promotional signings, I balked. A bunch of hipster pornsters in a hipster bar seemed like a recipe for irony overload and way more white belts and emo haircuts than I could take. My Sunday coffee option was no better: I suggested hacker hookup coffee shop Ritual on Valencia, but when we met out front, we realized it was all wrong. Tall, pale, nerdy glasses, soft-voiced and self-conscious, McKai looked inside and said, “I have enough of that already.”

Down the street, we found comfort in an empty, unhip cafe with broken, squeaky overstuffed chairs and a server who rolled her eyes at us no matter what we ordered. I’d met McKai a couple years ago in Las Vegas during the Adult Video News porn convention, amid the circus of porn stereotypes, when a small group of us younger, paler, decidedly less straight porn intellectuals, directors, performers and bloggers found each other and clustered at crappy hotel bars and in dank casino hotel rooms, marveling at being outsiders within what we realized was a corporate porn bubble. Shy, he wouldn’t let me take his picture.

At the time, McKai (and several others we drank and made fun of corporate porn with) made porn that was going unrecognized by the mainstream porn machine, and they really could have cared less as long as they had their Web sites. After that AVN convention, McKai went on to become mainstream porn’s reigning (and reluctant) king of the altporn genre.

The more we chatted over cold soy lattes about the future of porn and the clueless nature of porn companies in the deserted Valencia Cafe, I understood why McKai still sends me his videos himself, instead of having his company do it for him. As we discussed back and forth about how, for us, a porn scene seems over and done once the penetration begins, I understood why his videos, unlike those of his altporn contemporaries, don’t look like formula porn.

As he told me stories about working with performers who he’d coach to have sex in a scene as if they’d never had opposite-gender sex, it made me happy he was doing promo in San Francisco. McKai is in the rare position of having corporate porn resources, while refusing their tired marketing machines and insistence on churning out throwaway culture, and instead has fun with Web 2.0 viral marketing and makes projects that will outlast him.

Don’t get me wrong — we also talked plenty of trash about people we know. He insisted that I get a television show, and I insisted that he get a life. When we chatted about his new project “The Doll Underground” (, released so far online only in bits of Patty Hearst- or Weatherman-style communiques from Gothic Lolita/Cosplay characters, I had to bug him to answer a few questions for the class.

Violet Blue: Um, like, what’s altporn? Or what makes your work considered altporn?

Eon McKai: Altporn comes from the Web: sites like,, Suicide Girls, raver porn and on and on. To break it down more, let’s just say that altporn features performers that are a part of a subculture or a “scene.” As a part of that, they dress a certain way. It’s Goth, punk, emo, raver, shoegazer — and so its permutations are endless. Throw in some bitter hipsters, heat that up until you get some Internet drama … and you have altporn.

VB: Why are you here in San Francisco?

EMK: I’m on a big campaign to get the Vivid Alt DVDs into more mom-and-pop adult video stores and other non-adult retail, like record shops and bookstores. The stuff I’m putting out through the Vivid Alt imprint looks tasteful and hip enough leave out on the coffee table and not be embarrassed to have, or worry about offending your guests. It’s an icebreaker, actually. Dana DeArmond ( just did a signing at a shop called Galleri (, which is right in line with who Vivid Alt wants to do biz with.

VB: You were very anal about the way your first feature, “Art School Sluts,” was packaged. Why?

EMK: It was absolutely required to me that the message I was working on with Alaska Graphic Design ( reaches the customer unfiltered. When someone picks up one of my movies, I want them to feel that it’s from — and for — someone who is a part of their subculture or scene. To me, it’s important that you don’t smell a suit on this stuff.

VB: Were you making fun of anything in “Art School Sluts”?

EMK: Porn acting, porn conventions, art school, hipsters, me, you. … For me, it’s all up for grabs. Just don’t get hurt, because I only pick on my friends.

VB: Do you think the sex you portray in your porn is different than standard porn?

EMK: Some of the creepy stuff I shoot or more situational stuff I think is different — but the difference is more foreplay. I’m trying more and more to shoot porn like we are not just doing “a scene.” What I mean is that I’m trying to erase the inevitable moment in porn where the movie ends and the sex starts.

VB: You’ve been working on a new feature, “The Doll Underground,” and you’ve made some unconventional choices around the creation of the film, especially with the mysterious online viral marketing. Does this have anything to do with the film, or is it a publicity stunt?

EMK: I didn’t intend to start as a viral site, it just worked out like that. I made the first communique (a video clip promoting the Doll Underground movement) on a blank Web page. At first, I was being lazy. But then it just worked, and people kept passing the link around. … And now it has a weird life of its own.

VB: Now you’re turning it into a film. What’s going to be in the movie, “The Doll Underground”?

EMK: A state-side interpretation of the Japanese Goth scene, Los Angeles theory, the issue of decentralizing our city, urban planning and urban control, conspiracy theory and the overall feeling that the planned communities of our time inevitably lead to the downfall of society. As an example, the girls in the movie do screen printing, and at one point one says, “Look where you live: Tract homes stamped out in alternating orientations camouflage the repetition.”

VB: Who are your film heroes?

EMK: Jon Jost, Steven Hanft, Richard Linklater, Harmony Korine and Todd Solondz.

VB: Any favorite places or restaurants in San Francisco?

EMK: All You Knead (it’s still OK — all right, it was in, like, 1992).


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