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Premiere Magazine: Audacia Ray Reviews ‘Zack and Miri’

Of Waking Vixen Productions, Audacia Ray’s porno directorial debut, The Bi Apple, won the Feminist Porn Award for Hottest Bisexual Scene in 2007 and was nominated for the Gay Video News’ Best Bisexual Title. Dacia’s Love Machine, her comedic short co-directed with Rob Daly, just premiered at the Berlin Porn Film Festival.

[I’m, for one, amused at Ray’s reference in her review to craft services. What shoots has she been on lately?]

This is what Ray has to say:

“As someone who has undertaken the daunting and somewhat ridiculous task of making porno in New York City, a city that was once this country’s smut capital but now trails behind the well-oiled porno production companies of Chatsworth, CA, I have a soft spot in my heart for a film about people off the porno grid attempting to make smut. Pittsburgh in the winter, the setting for Zack and Miri Make a Porno, is about as unsexy and hostile as you can get if you’re thinking about getting naked for money. Though I’d like to pretend that I’m somehow above this conceit, the truth is that if you don’t think too hard about it, getting involved with porno can seem like a pretty good idea — money for sex? Yes, please! And if, like Seth Rogen’s and Elizabeth Banks’ characters, you self-identify as desperate and dignity-free, porno starts to look pretty damn appealing. Mix that up with the notion that porno is the lowest form of art, and therefore the easiest to make piles of cash on — and blammo, a good idea in the making.

But pornos are like sausages — if you want to keep enjoying them, you don’t really want to see them put together. If you’re a scrappy and somewhat clueless outsider, the harsh realities of the jizz biz will fwap you in the face pretty quickly — and we’re not just talking about the romantic confusion of screwing your best friend for money on camera. So in the spirit of porno, sausages, and ruining your lunch, I couldn’t resist the urge to dissect some pieces of Zack and Miri’s Fantasy Porno World.

The casting couch: In Zack and Miri, producer Delaney (Craig Robinson) goes cross-eyed when a potential lady star strips off her clothing in her audition. However, it’s pretty common for performers to take it off in an audition and pose for a few Polaroids — though in a way that negates pretty much all sexiness from the scenario. But line reading? Yeah, that’s acting that’s quite beyond the call of duty. When I was in my early days of casting for porno, before I knew that I should just ask to see the goods, I auditioned a guy who fancied himself an actor. When he asked me “What’s my character’s motivation?” I think I blinked at him and stammered out something about hard-ons.

Katie Morgan and Jason Mewes in Zack and Miri Make a Porno
Courtesy of The Weinstein Company

Hard-on woes: Speaking of hard-ons, they sure are abundant and unproblematic in Zack and Miri. Sure, Viagra has helped lots of porno star wannabes obtain reliable wood, but it’s important to note that the little blue pill doesn’t make erection magic; it just helps to keep a hard dick harder.

Like on any shoot, crews on porno sets spend a lot of time waiting around, and often they’re waiting for the male performers to get wood. Lots of dudes think that performing in porno would be the ultimate actualized fantasy, but in reality most guys wouldn’t be able to get it up in a room full of disinterested male PAs who are thinking about what craft services will be serving up for lunch. And guys, get ready to clutch your goods in horror: some male porno performers administer injections directly into the penis to keep them hard.

Strap-ons: The most surprising misrepresentation of porno norms in Zack and Miri is the incorporation of a strap-on wielding lady (none other than Traci Lords) having her way with a twinkie (Ricky Mabe).

Girl on guy strap-on sex is viewed within the industry as a specialty, and though it is starting to make its way into more films they’re usually clearly labeled as either femme domme or as bisexual, like the film I directed and produced. The fact is that although the porno industry is built on sex, it is pretty conservative sexually and there are hard and fast lines drawn between the different kinds of content. At the end of the day, not all sex is created equal in the eyes of pornographers.

This isn’t to say that Zack and Miri gets it all wrong — the depiction of lovemaking as boring as shit to watch in a pornographic context is hilarious and spot-on.

As haphazard as it seems, the moment when the characters all get together and toss out ridiculous porno movie titles is pretty true to life. I know of more than one porno company that keeps a white board in the halls of its office where people write down titles for potential porno flicks. The porno business is ridiculous in a lot of ways, but at least the people who work in it are aware of how absurd it is.

And you know, as sappy as it sometimes comes across in Zack and Miri Make a Porno, making porn with your friends can get just plain weird. Highly sexualized interactions and media (porn or otherwise) are becoming increasingly passé, but that doesn’t change the fact that it is kind of strange to stand around a porno set and watch your friends do it or get down and dirty and do it yourself. Of course, this doesn’t mean that people should stop subjecting themselves to this awkwardness, just that it makes a hilarious premise for a movie.”

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