I must admit that when I found Logan’s picture it confused me. It actually took me a moment to realize that it was his new jerk-off aid. The animal heads on human bodies, the cartoony drawing style; it all went so far away from anything I had considered sexual that I just stared at it in bewilderment. Eventually I noticed the penetration and I finally got it. Then, I was repulsed.
I had, to that point, considered myself well experienced in the realm of porn-exposure. I honestly felt, both with pornography and life in general, that I had seen more than most and couldn’t be taken by surprise. My naiveté was a combination of long being jaded by porn and by, quite simply, an inability to imagine what I was looking at.
My personal porn history goes back almost to birth. When you live in a small house with many older brothers and sisters, you lose your innocence very early. For some people that means the first-born doesn’t get to watch G.I. Joe until he’s five. But then, of course, the three-year-old sitting next to him has a two year head start. In my house, where the ages –at the time- went from 16 to four, it meant I consumed as many R-rated movies as I could.
My oldest sibling, a brother fully 25 years my senior, had a delightful habit of taping everything off of premium cable every single day. Banks of VCRs, programmed so that when VCR 1 ran out of the first six hours of Cinemax, VCR 2 would kick in. After work, he’d come home and put a fresh tape into VCR 1, etc. Repeat this for HBO and Showtime. He would then stop by on Fridays with paper grocery bags full of unlabeled tapes, with no clue what was on them or where anyone could find The Fox & The Hound or Bachelor Party. It was then the awesome job of Peter, Paul and I to view the tapes and label them. (Incidentally, those two films shared a tape.)
So from my earliest memories, I had already learned to get excited by the “The following film contains… NUDITY!” that preceded the movies. We became connoisseurs, we knew which flicks earned the R for a brief shot of buttock-thrust and which had tits-aplenty. I went into the first grade an experienced man. I was the know-it-all who told the rest of you things like, “A girl can’t get pregnant unless you pee in her pussy,” “Fucking is when you stick your thing in her pussy, screwing is when you stick it in her butthole,” and, because we went to a Lutheran school, “A cock is just a dick, but a prick is the tip of a pastor’s penis.” I believed it all, too.
The first clue that there might be more to sex than what I could see on Cinemax came in the Spring of my 1st grade year. Our school held a paper drive and my brother Peter had discovered the mother-lode. Someone felt it wise to donate four large boxes of hardcore porno mags. HUSTLER being the tamest of the bunch. Being reasonably smart, Peter stashed the boxes off to the side of the school and waited for the day to end. We three brothers carried the boxes home, where we knew no one else would be. The only time I was ever safe with Peter was when he had no choice but to include me in his crimes, lest I serve as a witness against him. These are the greatest moments of my childhood. His plan for these magazines was inspired.
Most boys would either dive into the boxes and each grab one and flip through it. Others, perhaps less experienced than we were, might cluster around one issue as a group, discussing and pondering the images and what they meant. Peter decided to sell tickets.
He took the boxes into his room and forbid Paul and I to see them. He promised we would get our chance, but we might as well make some money, too. He closed his doors and Paul and I started discussing how we could both get the magazines from him and not get him to tell on us. A moment later Peter came back out –to be fair to him, it really was only a moment- and he had three clippings cut from a magazine, one for each of us. He told us to go out into the neighborhood and round up every boy we were friends with. Each kid was to be shown a clipping (in each case, the clipping was a headless, bodiless pair of breasts) and told if he wished to see more he had to pay a dollar. We went out, gathered about a dozen kids, and Peter brought them into our house. He led them to our stairway, which was fully enclosed in a room all by itself -a doorway at the base of the stairs, a doorway at the top -and told us all to sit on the stairs like at a stadium, facing the blank wall. He turned out the lights and used this:
Not only did Peter create a porno theatre –complete with images bigger than any TV set could offer, but with top-grade porn. None of this, my-legs-are-crossed-with-my-hand-over-my-bush bullshit. We had clinical photos. Not only were the legs spread, so was the labia. I was seven years old and had more sexual experience than most men twice my age. To be honest, it frightened me. I had seen a woman’s pubic hair before and just kind of assumed that’s that. I knew there was a hole, but I didn’t realize it could resemble the Predator (which is what it totally looked like to me as I had just seen that movie on tape). It was only the joyous enthusiasm of the other gawkers that kept me from running away. Eventually the show ended and the older boys all had to get home for some reason, so Peter sent everyone away. Like so many things, the magazines quickly became familiar and therefore uninteresting. Peter eventually sold them off to various kids, always keeping a page or two for himself. I had become comfortable with the sight of a vagina, but was too young to be excited by it.
And so things went until my seventh grade year, when my friend Jimmy got a modem. The internet was still a niche interest and not remotely mainstream so that Jimmy’s parents probably didn’t even realize it could be used for porn. All they ever saw was colorful text on a blank screen while Jimmy hopped from bulletin-board-system to bulletin-board-system. Jimmy had discovered that if you posted “Show me some tit pics” someone would, every single time, send one. The image would take forever to load, and each moment waiting was an adrenaline rush of fear: what if his mom came in and the picture popped up? I, completely unfazed by bosoms, raised the stakes by suggesting the request “Show me the sickest porn you got.” It was by this method that I first saw bottle-penetration (meaning both bottles-in-orifices and genitals-in-bottles in one amazing collage). That alone was enough for Jimmy to refuse to ever ask that question again. He figured his mom could handle her 13-year-old seeing some tits, but not recyclable-rape.
It wasn’t too much later that we both got our first taste of hardcore porn on film. A mutual friend invited us to his house to see something. He had found his dad’s porno tape and had perfected the art of the VHS rewind: using the counter on the VCR to ensure that the tape, when ejected, was exactly where his father had left it. Jimmy and I felt fully prepared for the bounty we were about to receive –this friend had a big TV, and with my history and Jimmy’s recent exposure to bottle-porn, we both assumed we were prepared to witness what really ought to be no big deal: two people fucking, just like each of our parents must’ve done. “Play” was pressed and a little bit more of my innocence was lost.
The clip was simple enough: two people, a man and a woman, fucking doggy style. The camera slowly moved in, getting closer to the genitals and at one point the cameraman’s hand even reached out to move the gentleman’s arm from blocking the shot. My years of experience with graphic stills and Hollywood sex scenes didn’t prepare me for the violence of thrusts, grunts, sweat, cellulite, and bodily fluid. I fell prostrate before the 50-inch screen, mouth agape in horror.
Jimmy had a total nervous breakdown: Not three seconds into the video, he ran out of the room and began sprinting in a circle throughout the house yelling, “”Bitch! Bitch! Bitch!” over and over. I don’t know how long we went on like this -seconds or minutes- but all of a sudden, the doorbell rang.
Ryan, our host, hissed, “Shut it off! I’ll get the door.” In my panic, my finger found the smallest button on the VCR: "Pause." As Ryan slowly opened the door, which was perpendicular to the TV screen so that the image wasn’t immediately visible to those outside, I stared at the frozen image of a giant 50-inch ejaculating cock and fell backwards onto the floor, sure I was having a heart attack.
The doorbell ringers were a couple Jehovah’s Witnesses, whom Ryan quickly dismissed. I got back to my knees and Ryan hit “Play” again. The ejaculating cock turned to face the camera, and the image smeared out of focus as the lens coated with semen. The screen faded to black and I thought I had passed out. The only reason I knew I hadn’t was that, through all of this, Jimmy was still running around yelling, “Bitch! Bitch! Bitch!”
By the time I got to college I was supremely confident that nothing more could shock me like that video did. While on a band trip in high school, someone had mistakenly unloaded the tour bus driver’s suitcase with ours. All the men in the band were getting our tuxedos on, wondering whose suitcase it might be as none of the girls had knocked at the door asking about it, when finally one brave soul, Amos, decided to open it. It was immediately obvious that it was the driver’s -a complete stranger beyond knowing that his sweater vest said "Bill"- but Amos peeked around in the pockets and pouches anyhow. He reached into one and pulled out a VHS tape with the labels torn off. Being horny high school boys, we all realized what this meant. When we were out at the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk playing a medley of themes from Jurassic Park this guy was using the VCR on the bus to beat off. It was immediately decided that we were taking his tape. We played the odds that he wouldn’t dare report his porno missing and even if he did, they couldn’t punish all of us. The bigger debate was in deciding who should smuggle it back to Milwaukee. Amos eventually took the tape across the hall and knocked on the ladies’ dressing room door. He asked for Sarah, who was known for her trusting nature. He asked her to put this tape in her stuff and give it back when we were back at school the next week. She did so without a moment’s thought.
Back at school everyone wanted to see the tape but didn’t want to take it. I took it on the grounds that I was the one of us with the best chance of not getting in trouble. I probably could've watched it in our living room, but not knowing exactly what would be on the tape, I took it up to my bedroom instead. I popped it into my VCR and spent the next five hours watching a video called Asian Animals, an anthology video comprised of clips from hundreds of porno flicks –each one featuring Asian women. Or blondes in kimonos, but you get the idea. Five hours is more than time enough to desensitize you to hard-core fucking. The dialogue, however, will always make you laugh.
So, going into college, I didn’t necessarily think that I had seen it all, but I did think nothing could phase me like that first giant vagina did. The space monkeys wasted no time in trying to out gross us all, the bathroom stall being the usual spot. I didn’t search for porn myself –I, oddly enough, didn’t want to deal with Logan getting into it, and so I was limited in my exposure to what images they printed and hung in the toilet stalls. I saw shit, vomit, bondage, fisting, cutting, the whole enchilada. Except, evidently, furry porn.
I had to assess the situation and decide: was this cartoon manimal porn an acceptable substitute to actual photos of himself with goats, or would I tell Logan to keep searching? Yes, it was animal-based, but clearly rooted in a realm of fantasy where, this image at least, couldn’t be recreated with a real animal. But then again, it was still zoological in nature.
Ultimately, as the cocks, tits, and twats were human-like (if covered in fur) I decided that I would allow it in the hopes to never address the issue again. I placed the picture back on his bed (yes, in my confusion I picked it up), and went about my day.
I avoided returning to our room for as long as possible, hoping he would not realize I had seen it and put it away. When I did return, Logan was back, and the picture was tacked to his bulletin board. Fuck.
I decided to play dumb, but Logan wouldn’t allow it. He asked me point blank if I had noticed it. I told him I had and he asked me if I thought it was really sexy.
Logan: Why not? Is it the animal stuff?
M: Dude, you gotta understand…yes, it’s the animal stuff, but has it occurred to you that you’ll never meet a girl with a dog’s head? If this is what gets you off, how are you ever going to be happy with a regular person?
L: When I look at the internet, it doesn’t seem like there is such a thing as a regular person. This is what excites me, and I guess, cause I didn’t draw it, it excites others, too.
He had and still has a point. The internet has destroyed a rite-of-passage for the American male: The Quest for Boobies. I’d spent countless hours over the course of my childhood years looking for boobs, pussy shots, etc. Watching hours of movies –hoping to simply see some breasts. Lugging a box equal to my body weight an entire city block because it had porno magazines in it. Waiting patiently as the modem played Russian Roulette with a friend’s mother. Perfecting the art of VHS manipulation out of a desperate urge to see sex. Losing years of my life in heart failure in fear that the Jehovah’s Witnesses would see that, indeed, we’d found someone, but it wasn’t Jesus. Smuggling a tape across the country on the expectation that it was porn. It used to be hard work to pursue pornography. As a result, more of the simple things held power; to see a girl’s cleavage as she bent down by her locker was thrilling. A hint of panty when her shirt rides up: breath-taking. The first time a girl actually lets you get to first base, second base, etc.: a lifelong memory.
Logan was an early example of what I fear is now all too common. Largely shielded from sexuality (with one majorly bizarre exception) he didn’t take baby steps. The progression from seeing pubic hair to seeing labia to seeing insertion simply didn’t exist. Pornography should be meted out like a good strip-tease, not fully clothed to gaping assholes in one single step. It is easier to see “2 Girls, 1 Cup” for most 12-year-olds than it is to sneak into an R-rated movie. It isn’t so much a sadness that kids are being corrupted, it is a sadness that they are missing out on the journey of discovery. If nothing is perceived as off-limits, what is there to rebel against? What is there to search out on the expectation that you aren't supposed to see it? If your first exposure to sex is shit-eating, won’t that inevitably become familiar. Where do you go from there? And can you ever get aroused by simple sex, let alone a pair of tits?
But as I said, Logan’s assertion that, obviously, he wasn’t alone, was correct. I had decided to not fight this battle anyhow, so I said to him, “You know what? You’re right. I don’t get it, but who am I to judge? It seems legal enough, so have fun Logan. Just don’t have fun if I’m around."
To this he replied, “Oh yeah, don’t call me Logan anymore. I'm Tiger'ish now.”