#12: The eclec­tic ap­peal of pornog­ra­phy

GA Voice - - A & E -

Choos­ing to dine at a new restau­rant is al­ways an iffy propo­si­tion. That’s es­pe­cially true when the restau­rant has re­placed a fa­vorite. Robert looked around the pa­tio din­ing room at the new Eclec­tic Bistro Bar, then took his seat with other mem­bers of the At­lanta Food Porn Sup­per Club.

“The last restau­rant here, Tierra, was one of the best in the city,” he said. “We’ll see how this goes. It’s cer­tainly in­ex­pen­sive.”

The Sup­per Club, now in its third month, was at­tract­ing about 25 din­ers. It had not yet met Robert’s half-se­ri­ous orig­i­nal pur­pose to find a hus­band be­fore he turned 50 next year.

But he had got­ten a few dates with “im­per­fect men,” as his good friend Janet called them sar­cas­ti­cally. Robert was in­fa­mous for find­ing flaws in ev­ery man who was at­tracted to him more than sex­u­ally.

Janet dinged her water glass with a spoon to get ev­ery­one’s at­ten­tion. Most of the din­ers came early for cock­tails at the star­tlingly long bar the new restau­rant added to the din­ing room. So, con­ver­sa­tion was al­ready run­ning freely. But Janet had sug­gested to Robert that the din­ners fea­ture a con­ver­sa­tion theme to get things started.

“As you know,” Janet be­gan, “we thought it might be in­ter­est­ing to talk a lit­tle about pornog­ra­phy this month. I know a lot of peo­ple re­main con­fused about the term ‘food porn.’ It’s a com­mon phrase foodies use to de­scribe in­tensely sen­sual rep­re­sen­ta­tion of food. But we were in­ter­ested in a more gen­eral dis­cus­sion.”

Robert ex­plained that as a pro­fes­sor at Ge­or­gia State, spe­cial­iz­ing in queer the­ory, he had writ­ten a good bit about gay porn.

“What I find most in­ter­est­ing,” he said, “is the way gay men of­ten watch het­ero­sex­ual porn and straight men watch gay porn.”

A woman with close-cropped blonde hair, Beth, spoke up.

“Ain’t that the truth? Les­bian porn has his­tor­i­cally been more di­rected to men than les­bians, so it can feel yuck­ily ex­ploita­tive. And, weirdly, some les­bians get off watch­ing gay male porn, I guess be­cause it’s not made for straight men. I have no idea.”

“And then gay men of­ten en­joy straight porn,” Robert replied.

“I know I do,” a young guy about 30 blurted. “I don’t like twinks and over-mus­cled pretty boys and I think it’s hot to watch the way the man takes con­trol of the woman. I guess that’s ex­actly what Beth doesn’t like about it. Sorry, Beth.”

“It’s all about power re­la­tions and gen­der,”

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