Table of Contents
How should I know what movies to rent?
What kind of movies should I watch with my partner?
Are there "couples" directors to watch out for?
Myths of Couples Porn
What is all this I keep hearing about "The Golden Age?"
How Not To get Screwed
Unfortunately, there is no easy solution, and the phrase "your mileage may vary" really comes into play when discussing porn viewing, and even *more* when discussing porn viewing on a budget.
The percentage of wheat to chaff in the current market is very small, so you have to rely upon a few things to get you through the night. Unfortunately, these things come with a lot of porn viewing, so it may not fly if you're on a budget.
1) Get to know the names of your favorite stars.
2) Get to know the names of your favorite directors
You'll find a guy you like and you should stick with him. The better directors don't push out the product like Ford pushes out cars... the better ones take some time between films and it shows.
3) Find a reviewer you agree with (or disagree with)
The why can be found out by reading reviews. From the reviews you can see whether or not you agree with the reviewer, and base your judgments accordingly. I tend to agree with Roger Ebert so if he gives something a good mark, I'll trust him. I do not trust someone like Clive Barnes (of the NY Post, known to sleep through shows he is reviewing) and won't take his word on anything.
The Adult Movie Review Index is a great place to find reviews and reviewers. The AMRI is an index of reviews archived at the major non-commercial review sites. There are pointers to well over 4,500 reviews there, grouped both alphabeticially and by reviewer. The URL is http://amri.iafd.com
4) Find a label you like
Within each of these labels are good and bad directors. From Evil Angel, I would faster rent a John Stagliano film than one by Bionca. From VCA I would a rent a Wesley Emerson flicker faster than I would a Bud Lee (actually, I NEVER pick up Bud Lee...)
So, all are factors in finding successful films.
I strongly recommend you take the time and explore the Internet Adult Film Database at http://www.iafd.com. You can search for stars and directors and get lists of films they did, to help you in your selection.
Failing that, the blokes on r.a.m.e. should be a great help, so don't be afraid to ask!
Ones that you like that don't make each other feel uncomfortable. However, everyone's opinion on this will vary.
Others may recommend some older films, from "The Golden Age." Back in the late 70s and early 80s, before the video revolution, adult films were shot on film. As such, with film being an expensive medium, and adult films being available in theatres only, people generally took their time and made interesting stories. "The Opening of Misty Beethoven", "7 into Snowy", "Devil in Miss Jones 2", "8 to 4", and "High School Memories" are all great movies.
In the modern age, you'll be looking toward Vivid or VCA for the more couples friendly fare. Initially, stay away from Extreme and Zane until you can gauge how well your partner takes to porn.
Gay viewers often find the late 1970 film THE IDOL as well as more recent films such as HOLD ME AGAIN, ROMEO AND JULIAN, MORE OF A MAN, and SONGS IN THE KEY OF SEX romantic, heavy on the plot, and good in terms of characterization.
As with any visual medium, the director is the person held responsible (or given credit for) the overall film -- even though the producer picks up the awards... ah, but what the heck... no sour grapes here...
Anyway, adult movies have their own set of Welleses (and I don't mean Tori!), Hawks, and Scorseses.
I cannot emphasize enough that your milage may vary with these suggestions. The suggestions were made making an assumption that part of your duo may not be familiar with adult videos and will not be interested in gangbangs the first time out of the gate.
Anyway, an overview of the more well rounded directors (in non-partisan alphabetical order):
Andrew Blake makes movies that are very "artistic." Lots of slow moving camera, beautifully lit and photographed, super attractive performers. His movies are a good starting place with an unprepared partner. One caveat: some may find these films unbelievably boring and without passion. It is true that Blake is more concerned with the "look" than the "feel." Check out "Night Trips" if you can find it. That was his first, and IMHO, his best. Secrets is also thought of being "volcanic" by Blake's standards.
Blake brought movie making back into porn and can be credited with the success of filmmakers like Cameron Grant and Michael Ninn. He ushered in the style over substance that (Ninn especially) seems to be pervading high budget porn these days. While his movies are overwhelming beautiful, they are equally sterile and many feel without heat.
John Leslie, who directs for his own production company (under the E/Angel umbrella) has made a good deal of movies aimed at the discerning porn consumer. He started directing at VCA where he made such films as "Curse of the Catwoman", "The Chameleon" and "Chameleons: Not the Sequel". Most of these VCA-era films carry a strong a plot, professional production and mucho sexual heat. They were mostly shot by Jack Remy, one of the best cinematographers in the business. Of his latter films, it could be said that they are a little too dark and brooding for some taste, but to each his (or her) own. Leslie, also to his credit, has perhaps the best soundtracks in the history of porn -- jazzy saxophone tunes and funk blues numbers that put Kenny G to shame ;-) His more recent films can be moved into two categories: those he does for money and those he does for "art." Happily, neither category is each other's lesser. In the former category are John's "Buttman" ripoffs called "The Voyeur." Here, John runs around "spying" on newcomers to the business. It is a good series as these things go, but not as satisfying as his "art" films. "Dog Walker" is one of his projects where a dark mood pervades everyone and everything. Filmed with a lot of smoke and haze, Dog Walker is much more than your average fuck-a-thon. Reviews are available at the AMRI.
Candida Royalle, a performer turned producer/director, now releases films through her company, Femme Productions. Her films tend to have a more romantic slant than most pornographic movies, and are generally less graphic in their depictions (cumshot not guaranteed).
For those who do not look for serious plotlines and acting in porn but rather for light, sexy premises, a more appropriate choice would be the work of Svetlana. Though some of "her" oeuvre definitely belong to the Golden Age ("800 Fantasy Lane", "F", "Bad Girls"), Svetlana continued to make wonderfully cute, fluffy romps well into the 80s. Alone among porn creators, Svetlana managed to unite the silly and carefree air of erotic B-films with the sexual heat of hardcore. Arguably the best examples of these qualities are "her" Hawaiian batch "A Bit of Hanky Panky", "Pink Lagoon" and "Panty Raid", that are also notable for being the debuts of 80s mega-cuties Ginger Lynn and Stacey Donovan. So, if you and your SO appreciate seeing a host of scantily clad gorgeous lads and lasses romping amidst delightful scenery, then perhaps Svetlana is your answer. Her later 80s work also include the passable action series "Miami Spice I and II"Thanks to Imperator for this section...
A word of warning though: some of Svetlana's best work is sadly now unavailable in the US, either for featuring an underage Traci Lords (e.g. "Bad Girls 3") or for including some "taboo" material (e.g. the bondage parts of "Bad Girls")."
Paul Thomas, who directs for Vivid almost exclusively, can make a movie with good production values, though he sometimes forgets the heat of sex due to his focus on plot. However, his films are geared towards a "couples" market, which makes them a reliable choice for first-timers.
A lurker known as Cinemaniac offers this for your consideration:
Before you begin, though, there are a few "myths of couples porn" that I'd like to dispel:
MYTH #1: Women like different things than men do.
The more we watch, the more we find this to be nonsense. We both like well- shot images of good-looking people enjoying themselves while having hot sex. Sure, your individual tastes might differ in some respects, but that's because tastes differ, even among guys (monster facials leave me unmoved, for example). Still, your first film as a couple probably shouldn't be "Depraved Fantasies." Think of porn as Chinese food; if you haven't had it before, it's probably best to start with Cantonese, see if you like it, and then work your way up to Szechuan. Candida Royalle is the Cantonese chef extraordinaire of porn: mighty good, but not too spicy or unfamiliar.
MYTH #2: A good story matters.
We don't find this to be so, I'm afraid, for two reasons. First, when watching as a couple, we're rarely paying all that much attention to the story anyway; lately, we haven't even been watching with the sound on. Second, if you really love a good story, porn will inevitably disappoint. Let's face it: the very best porn film ever made is only a mediocre movie. Don't believe me? Then try this experiment. Name the best porn film you've ever seen. Now pick three other types of film you like, and name your favorite film of each type. Does that look like a list of four equally good movies to you? The point is, you're not watching "Up 'n' Coming" for the same reasons you'd watch "GoodFellas," and you're only going to be disappointed if you use the same criteria to evaluate both. Porn has its own rewards, and they're mostly non-narrative; if you're paying enough attention to a porn movie to actually follow the story, let alone care about it, then porn is probably hindering your sex life rather than enhancing it.
MYTH #3: If it only turns one of you on, you shouldn't watch it together.
It is true that you shouldn't make your partner sit through something that actively disgusts her/him. Beyond that, though -- hey, you're a couple! You're not always completely in sync. I'll bet you compromise on regular videos all the time; she sat through "Demolition Man" for you, you sat through "Sleepless in Seattle" for her (or, if you're a less stereotypical couple, vice versa). Why not with porn? Besides, we've found that no film ever turns us on as much as seeing the other person turned on does; when we rented gay male porn, the film didn't do much for me, but her reaction to it sure did! And that was enough.So what does matter? We've made a little list. In order of importance:
1) The illusion of pleasure.Nothing casts a pall over the sex you're having than the image of other people having sex while looking bored out of their skulls. This is actually one of the big selling points, for us, of Candida Royalle's stuff: however vanilla it is, the actors look like they're having a good time. On the other hand, this is the single biggest problem with Andrew Blake videos ("Secrets" is an exception), though they have other redeeming features. Actors who seem "into it" can even make a lot of supposedly "non-couples" stuff a turn on for us; we've watched Bruce Seven girl-girl films together with great pleasure, for example, just because of the heat on the screen. And a convincing performer in one place is generally a convincing performer, period -- so learn their names.
We go out of our way to look for stuff with Nina Hartley or Tianna, and avoid stuff with the late Savannah, for just this reason.
2) Good looking people.This may be the hardest thing to find, unfortunately, and guys are often unaware of that. Straight male porn stars, with a some exceptions (Rocco Siffredi [sp?], Peter North), tend to be pretty unappealing; would you be turned on by the female equivalent of Joey Silvera? It's easier with the women, but you still have to deal with the boob job question (it's a good bet that she'll be no more turned on by grotesquely artificial breasts than you would be by a grotesquely artificial cock). The presence of good-looking people is for us the big selling point of Andrew Blake videos.
3) Variety.Here's a cautionary tale: recently we wanted to see a bi film and brought home the only one the store had ("Bi Madness" -- a must to avoid); we found ourselves watching the exact same scene staged four different times with four different sets of actors, right down to which positions were used when. We've never been so bored. It rarely gets that bad, but the more varied the sex is in every way, the better. For us, this means varied positions, varied settings, varied combinations of partners, etc. It also means (and we can't state this strongly enough) varied shots, ranging from long shots of the action to the typical gyno-closeups. Far more than their stories, the variety of shots is for us the selling point of "golden age" porn.
4) A high sex-to-story ratio.This is the corollary of myth #2: if the story doesn't matter, then it shouldn't get in the way of the sex. This is not to say our favorite films ar things like "1000 Cum Shots"; far from it. But a little set-up leading to a lot of sex is highly preferable to a lot of set-up leading to a little sex (a/k/a The Paul Thomas Syndrome, though "Things Change" and "Passages" 1-4 are partial exceptions). You wouldn't think that Candida Royalle's "Urban Heat" had anything in common with the "Sodomania" series, but we like them both because they set up scenarios quickly and then cut to the chase.
5) Production Values/Competent Film-making.As a general rule, we find that stuff that bears a passing stylistic resemblance to something you'd see at a multiplex is more stimulating than stuff that bears a strong stylistic resemblance to the video of your nephew's bar mitzvah.
Unfortunately, the only way to get a sense of which directors, performers, and companies will deliver the goods is to actually watch the stuff. So what should you watch as a couple? Well, the usual advice on places to start is pretty good: Candida Royalle, Andrew Blake, some Golden Age stuff, some Paul Thomas. But beyond that, our advice is: try everything. And try it all at once. Once we decided we liked watching porn together, we'd generally get two or three different kinds of films at a time and sample them all; on a typical evening, we might take a look at parts of "Hidden Obsessions," "The Opening of Misty Beethoven," and "Sodomania 3," and talk about what we did and didn't like about each. Then we'd try to gauge the patterns. Was it a particular director we liked? An actor or actress? A series? Were there whole companies which should just be avoided (like Penguin)? We got a clearer sense of our tastes, we learned about each other, and we did it all naked! What more could you ask?
These are, of course, just our opinions, and, as always, YMMV. But whatever your mileage is, we've found that the essence of watching porn as a couple is the essence of being a couple, period: be open, be generous, be honest, and communicate, communicate, communicate.
The following comes from Peter van Aarle's excellent web page (mirrored at http://www.rame.net/aarle/golden_age.html) regarding the "Golden Age" of porn films.
Ah, the good old days, when the words "shot on video" were unheard of, and they actually had budgets to shoot an adult movie <sigh>
When the plot of a porno movie wasn't limited to "Gee, I don't seem to have the money to pay for the pizza! Now what do we do?" and the talent actually were sent the script in advance to learn their lines. Heck they even were known to have occasional rehearsals :-)
Oh well, no use crying over things that once were. With the present glut of cheap product (over 2500 pornos were released in the US in 1994!) a good movie is difficult to make. That is to say, you can still make a good movie if you invest time and money in it, but a 4 times higher budget is unfortunately no guarantee for a 4 times higher return.
In fact, the only people who can change things are we the consumers. If we make sure that cheap one-day-wonders don't make their producers much money then (and only then) is the general quality likely to improve. After all, why should Joe Producer invest a lot of time and effort in making a good product when producing crap lets him rake in the bucks anyway...
So we have the choice: either scour the shelves for hours to try and find the few pearls among today's dreck or go back to those classics of yesteryear.
If you want to try your luck with today's product (which isn't all bad, really), I would suggest reading some of the reviews posted to the alt.sex.movies newsgroup to help distinguish between the good and the bad. Many of these reviews are archived at several sites. (Check out http://www.rame.net/amri for a jumping off point)
"Ok", you say "but what if I want some of those classics? How do I know what to look for?" Well fear no more, here for your browsing pleasure is a list of many of the best porno movies ever made. Many of them are from the so-called Golden Age which is generally considered to have been from about 1977 to 1982.
Which isn't to say that there have not been some good movies made before or since that time, nor that there weren't some awful ones produced during the period, it's just that so many of the classics were made during that period...
A poster to a.s.m. complained about paying high prices for video tapes. CMovieman, our resident video store owner, had this to say:
Well you didn't say what country you're from so I would assume that if you're paying $60.00 for any tape, you don't live in the United States. If you do, then you're really getting ripped off by somebody. Here's some suggestions:
Anyway, good luck on your future adult movie purchases.