Inspired by their commission to critique porn for the Erotic Review, Charlie and Victoria decide to try their hands at making a film of their own. They draw up list of things that should definitely be included (spanking, barns and ‘something medicinal’), and an accompanying list of things that definitely shouldn’t be included (eels, pregnancy and tickling), and then proceed to cobble together a film with very little money and even less experience.
It doesn’t take long for them to abandon their high artistic ideals; the script they create sounds more like a pantomime with added sex than anything that would get my pulse racing. But then, the pair are forced to make a series of compromises from the outset; sourcing actors who look the part, are willing to take an HIV test, will wear a condom, AND are able to actually turn up on the day proves impossible.
Although I wasn’t convinced book’s conceit of pretending to be written by both Charlie and Vicky at the same time, I found it a completely engrossing read. Their initial aim of being ethical pornographers soon becomes mired in the muddle of need, desire, identity and hard business that makes up the sex industry. What ensues is a picture of sheer complexity, from which is it difficult to pick out who is being exploited when, and by whom. Anyone who believes that porn is a simple matter of right or wrong will find their assumptions challenged over and over again.
I’m not sure if I entirely fancy watching the film they ended up making (although I confess I’m more than a little bit curious), but I thoroughly enjoyed the journey that produced it. And what stuck with me is this: sex is a neutral act in itself; morality emerges from how you behave around it.