The Accidental Voyeur: 50 Shades of Anal Queen

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There’s a porn concept I’ve always loved, one a lot of anti-sex feminists get worked up over simply because it’s just too outrageous for their feeble brains. Yes, I’m talking about “consensual degradation,” which now gets a fresh public approach with 50 Shades of Grey, the newly-released film version of a book I’ve already successfully avoided (so rest assured I’m avoiding the movie, too). Why? Well, mainly because I think BDSM is much too complex to be so neatly packaged into an “archetypal love story” (as co-producer Michael De Luca has described his film). And, also, because I’ve just finished reading anal queen Asa Akira’s autobiography.

When it first came out, I winced at the book’s title, Insatiable: Porn — A Love Story. How dare she, I thought, steal the title of my favorite Marilyn Chambers movie from the 1970’s? (But Asa Akira, I then remembered, was born in 1986!) As I kept reading, I found it far more compelling than expected. Interestingly, on the same day that I finished it, I came across a statement by the poet W.H. Auden: “The proof that pornography has no literary value is that, if one attempts to read it in any other way than as a sexual stimulus, to read it, say, as a psychological case history of the author’s sexual fantasies, one is bored to tears.” (And where did I find it? In film critic A.O. Scott’s review in The New York Times of, what else but, 50 Shades of Grey!)

Asa Akira’s book subverts that very claim and, even for a jaded porn scribe like me, there wasn’t much room for boredom. I laughed out loud at the section where she discloses how she packs for shoots, which showed just how truly Japanese she is: “Some girls throw everything in the suitcase in a tangled mess, with no order whatsoever, the bottoms of their dirty high heels touching the part of their panties that covers the pussy lips . . . Personally, I have a lingerie/bikini-only suitcase, which stays permanently in the trunk of my car. I stuff every lingerie/bikini set in its own individual Ziploc bag, so that I don’t misplace anything. I keep a separate duffel bag for shoes only, which stays in my car permanently as well.” Then, she writes about the night of the 2013 AVN Awards where, just before taking the stage to accept six awards including the coveted “Performer of the Year,” she and her porn star husband Toni Ribas engaged in some rough foreplay in their hotel room.

He shoves his cock into her mouth, pinching her nose so she can’t breathe while blowing him. He grabs her hair and makes her lick his toes while her head is mashed down on the carpet, his other bare foot stepping on her head so her face is lodged sideways between his foot and the floor. He finger-fucks her until she squirts all over the floor and then orders her to lick it up off the cigarette ash-strewn carpet (“I hate the taste of squirt,” she writes. “As I licked it up, I told myself I deserved this.”) Elsewhere, she recounts her two abortions, doesn’t shirk from admitting she’s contracted chlamydia six times, and says she’s mighty proud of her “award-winning asshole” and her many nasty gangbangs (Really, a five-foot-two Asian girl being passed around to service eleven big, hunky guys – does that not epitomize “consensual degradation”?)

Moreover, clearly eschewing political correctness, she actually starts the book talking about her experiences doing actual prostitution (first excepted last May in Salon as: “I was a horrible hooker: Schoolgirl outfits, wealthy execs and Hawaii – Asa Akira remembers her two escort experiences”) and, this book aside, she’s held her ground promoting gender equality (Check out her essay, “Asa Akira: Just Because I Do Porn Doesn’t Mean I’m Not a Feminist,” published last September in Playboy) and has also used her Twitter feed to send out her tongue-in-cheek, pithy self-reflections. My recent favorites are: “After almost 9 years of sex work, my scientific calculations include: All guys dicks hang to the left. I’m like Einstein. But whorish.” “I keep my mouth shut figuratively, and open wide literally. I am the perfect woman. And I am for sale.” “Why do I have three Instagram accounts? Because I have three holes.” “How can anyone be offended by what I say? I suck dicks for a living! Come on, people!” “Slut! Whore! Cum-dumpster! Worthless shithead! Stupid cunt! Just don’t call me fat.”

The book also includes her journal entries (“February 26: Real whores work on Sunday. Off to my shoot”) and, for the porn newbies, she explains basic things like the “airtight” position (cock in her mouth, another in her vagina, another in her asshole, all at the same time) but in all seriousness I persist in asking: Aren’t there many kinds of “consensual degradation”? Who can say who’s being degraded if or when they want to be so? This even happens in real life, and I can cite two examples to prove this.

One: A friend of mine, Gabrielle, recently got married and she told me about her bachelorette party held in Bangkok, Thailand. A bunch of her girlfriends hired a male stripper to perform for them. The dude was Belgian but had an accent that was “so French and sexy” to the girls, and the evening finished with all the girls seated in a circle around him as he went around and had them tilt up their faces while he cock-slapped each of them in turn. Yes, he had a massive member, and so each of them got slapped with his schlong on each cheek, and they even took photos with their iPhones to commemorate it!

Two: Years ago, I attended a bachelor party in Los Angeles, in which two female strippers performed girl-girl while we, the guys, sat in a circle around them. At one point, I saw the vibrator they’d just used, lying on the floor near the foot of the blonde, who had her ass in the air while doing cunnilingus on the brunette below. Spontaneously, I got up and grabbed it and, positioning myself doggy-style behind the blonde, I parted her wet vulval lips with my left hand and with my right hand slid the vibrator inside her vagina, gently twisting and turning, thrusting in and out. The blonde didn’t protest – still rug-munching the brunette, she moved a free hand under herself and felt between her own legs, her fingers probing the shaft; once she was certain it was just the vibe (and not my real penis), she let go and allowed me to continue. Not once did she ever turn her head back to see my face, so for her it really was anonymous sex, and the memory still thrills me.

But was that consensual degradation? Were Gabrielle’s girlfriends crossing a line by literally turning the other cheek? Was the blonde stripper playing submissive by letting me vibe-fuck her in full view? Are there not 50 shades of submission and not a single definition?

In my new paperback edition of Asa Akira’s book, we get to see her many shades and dimensions, case in point being a priceless new “Afterword” chapter in which she writes about being a “chronic masturbator” who’s always late going somewhere or doing something because her hand on her clit somehow gets in the way. She even makes up a new word – “If procrasturbating were an Olympic sport, I’d be a fucking gold medalist.” Wow, how can you not worship the girl for that alone? The “love story” in her book’s subtitle is as perversely different as Anastasia Steele’s is in 50 Shades of Grey, so heed my advice. Submit to your curiosity, but stay home and read this book instead. Happy Valentine’s Day.

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Drew McKenzie was previously the "Cinema Blue" columnist for Penthouse Variations and also wrote for AVN Online, Fox (from Montcalm Publishing, New York) and Guld Rapport (from Stockholm, Sweden). He is also the author of seven books -- three on porn stars, all done under his real name.