WORDS | Alice Maher
With the advent of the internet, porn has become a cheap and accessible alternative to the imagination. However, the catch-22 is that you and your partner might have developed a few misconceptions about the human body’s limits. Those positions that look effortless when performed by James Deen and Lexi Belle can put a mere mortal in hospital. So before you leap right into The Plough (girls turn into sexy wheelbarrows), The Butter Churn (guess what the stick is?), or the Crouching Tiger (Google it), slow down and consider the sheer amount of preparation that goes into commercial sex.
Let’s start with anal (don’t actually start with anal). If you have not experienced the surprising sensations of giving or receiving butt-sex, please be advised that if you think things just magically slide into anuses like hotdogs in a well-buttered bun, you and your partner are both going to have a bad time. Porn-stars stretch their sphincters off-screen before their shoot, as well as using enemas, and even numbing chemicals to make the scene look effortless and sensual, with minimal lubrication and foreplay to detract from the good stuff. However, for you and your partner, you might find half a bottle of lube and a whole lot of patience the only way to properly enjoy your night (and ruin your sheets, but that’s why you chose a water-based lubricant). The key is baby steps. Mere mortals usually start with a finger and then communicate about what’s working and what isn’t. And communicating means actual sentences, not the porn-star staples of, “Oh yeah,” and, “Do me harder.”
Moving back to more general positions, if you’re still staring at your copy of the Karma Sutra like it’s an Ikea instruction manual with several pages missing, watching the ‘real thing’ in porn won’t necessarily fill in the blanks. Porn is designed to be appealing for the audience, not satisfying for the actors. Everything is awkwardly angled to face many cameras, meaning any intimacy and comfort is pretty much lost. It is choreographed in a rigid structure of ‘sit there, say this, suck that,’ and so on, whereas real-life sex is full of surprises; most good, some awkward. And, as previously mentioned, some positions are not for the faint-hearted or weak-bodied. You will often see male porn-stars picking up females in an effortless show of masculine strength, then throwing them onto the bed, or simply going at it in mid-air. True, there are mortal men and women who can probably get into this position, but chances are, once you’re clinging to each other like horny koalas, the actual in-out-in-out part might require more upper-body strength than either of you have left.
Another skill that porn-stars are pretty-much obligated to have is flexibility. Unless it’s some kind of fetish genre, you’ll rarely hear a female actor complaining about how trying to bend her legs back towards her head while her co-star does his thing is actually super painful. That’s because she’s probably done yoga and pilates for about a thousand hours each week to stay limber. If you’ve got the time to hit the gym, good for you. I’m sure your love life appreciates it, but if not, such positions where someone’s legs are required to bend in unnatural ways, or even hold one position for a long time, they tend to suck if you approach them with the expectation that neither of you are going to be phased. By the way, the position where the woman’s legs go all the way up over her partner’s shoulders is called The Snail, and while it’s good for deep penetration, it’s very easy for that penetration to become painfully intense if people are overly enthusiastic.
Yes, it’s fairly obvious that porn is meant to be a fantasy for the viewer; beautiful people doing the stuff that you find titillating in theory, but terrifying in practice. In mainstream professional porn you’re not likely to find two people making love while still wearing their around-the-house sweaters (because it’s too damn cold to go the full monty), sticking to low-effort positions like the Hound (doggy-style propped up on knees and elbows instead of all-fours), the Close-up (spooning whilst forking) and the Try-to-keep-it-in-while-I-reach-over-for-more-lube (self-explanatory), as Frozen plays on a laptop in the background. In porn, things are shinier and sexier, the lighting optimal and the performers are excessively enthusiastic at the prospect of bukkake (Google it).
The budgeting priorities in porn are also different from your own (I assume). Actors can wear crotchless panties and gimp suits, use penis pumps, and a variety of vibrating toys, and have pretty much anything else at their disposal; sex-related or otherwise. On the other hand, the average university student generally makes do with what little they have. Just as a box of frozen chicken nuggets and a bottle of tomato sauce can become chicken parmigiana with a little imagination, dressing-gown cords and scarves can suffice for shackles and blindfolds when you’re spicing things up with a bit of bondage play. As long as you or your partner aren’t too tightly bound, and whatever knot you use can be swiftly untied if need be, you may surprise yourself with your outside-the-box thinking. Your way might not be flashy, but it is functional.
And that’s all it boils down to. Does it work for you? As long as you’re both getting your needs fulfilled, it doesn’t really matter if that need is intimacy, comfort, excitement, or just good old-fashioned satisfaction. That’s why mankind has created a seemingly endless supply of positions to cater to these needs. Some are for display purposes only, but there are plenty that should be attempted with an open mind, in the spirit of romance and endeavour. So get out there and have fun. It’s not like anyone’s going to see you guys anyway.