By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
This is where punk porn gets ugly: if punk (supposedly) doesn't draw its politics from the mainstream, and punk doesn't borrow its look and sound from the mainstream, then why do all these hot punk girls look like they just fell out of Cosmo Girl and into a back-alley tattoo parlor? It's evidence—at least by weight, race and even style—that all these rebel rockers who never fit in still want to fuck the prom queen. And all these rebel girls still want to be her.
Almost every webmaster we talked to will tell you what a confidence boost it is to be featured on their sites. "Girls have said to us, 'For the first time in my life, I feel like I'm beautiful,'" says Spooky. "And when a lot of girls apply to the site, and we ask why they want to be a Suicide Girl, they say, 'For the first time, I've come where people feel girls like me are the epitome of beauty.'"
But you have to wonder: Suicide Girls puts up one or two girls per week out of sometimes 300 applications. What kind of confidence boost do those other 298 girls get? "The only complaint I'd consider legitimate is that we're furthering certain beauty stereotypes," says Spooky. "There aren't women that weigh 300 pounds on the site, and I'm not saying there never will be, but at this point, most of the girls would probably be considered beautiful in most circles. There is an idea of beauty that is just Western media, and it permeates how we choose girls as well. And that's where we may be failing."
But it's not where everybody in alt.-porn is failing. You can find websites dedicated to every degree of every physical attribute of the human body; you can easily find print zines catering to similarly niche tastes. And it's not even all the punk sites. Jack Sordid's Porn for Punks includes transgendered people pissing on one another, for instance ("I think we're the only site out there that doesn't exclusively shoot girls and just a little bit of hardcore," he says). But it is a lot of them.
"It's like if you dressed up REO Speedwagon in bondage pants and Mohawks—they'd still be REO," says Punk Erotic's Cordner. He made his name as a fashion photographer a few years back, and when he started Punk Erotic last year in Long Beach, he did it as something of an artistic experiment.
"What I was doing was pretty much straight out of what so many of us used to do when I first started out as a punk rocker—tweaking the form, fucking things up," he says. "I don't think [other sites] are doing anything to push the envelop in porn—they're doing the same old fucking stuff with a different looking girl. To define a standard of punk beauty is antithetical to punk—or antithetical to punk as I define punk. You can be into punk and you can be into porn—it doesn't mean the porn you're into is punk."
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"You could go on for years about, 'What does a punk girl look like? What does a punk girl mean?' But people just want to get to the boobs," says Becky Goldberg, a documentarian behind a film called Hot and Bothered: Feminist Porn. "If you get too tied up in 'Is it punk? Is it punk enough?' then you've completely missed the point. It's meant to be enjoyed. Making up definitions is just defeating the purpose. There should be a little more unity in things like this."
Okay, fine: save the political debates about punk for the kids buying Crass shirts at Hot Topic. There's another question that demands to be asked: Why punk porn?
The webmasters agree: girls. And they'll all explain that they're simply selling images people can't get anywhere else, so their audience is willing to pay. Elementary capitalism—except it can't be completely true.
The Internet exists to drown the world in porn. And a lot of that porn is free. And in between the blondes-with-big-boobs that used to clog up Cinemax are girls of every size, shape, ethnicity and aesthetic. Even comparatively outrť tastes—transsexuals, interracial gangbangs, girls straddling automobile gear shifts—are easy to find; zooming in on girls that share a look with the models on punk porn sites would take only a few seconds. There's something that punk porn sites are pushing besides pictures, and it's what really makes the kids sign on: like any other porn, they're selling fantasy. And in this case, it's the fantasy of reality.
"It is real girls, girls you'd find at the coffeeshop, and they're so much hotter than someone who is just made to be fucked," says Suicide Girls' Missy. "They're real girls with real bodies and real interests. I guess it is punk rock in the same way you can go up to a band after the show and talk to them."
But is it community that's attracting these paying members? Or something else?
"I think they're attractive to me specifically because these are the kind of girls you see at a show, girls you could meet when shopping for clothes—people you could literally meet, instead of an unattainable plastic-y fake chick," says Jake, co-webmaster for Seattle's Friction USA. "When the fantasy can become reality in a way, it's somehow more erotic."