The Corner

Porn Nation

A reminder: In addition to this lively web site, National Review also publishes a fortnightly magazine, the contents of which are not always available at NRO. My story in the current edition is an update from the annual “Porn Oscars” held each year in Las Vegas, and a report on the role of pornography in our society:

The awards show itself is almost an afterthought on the agenda of this multi-day pornopalooza, which is one part serious insider trade show for the nation’s increasingly specialized pornographers and sex-toy peddlers — Doctor Clockwork’s Home for Electrical and Medical Oddities draws a curious crowd, as do the live product demonstrations — and one part fan-fest for the world’s most dedicated consumers of smut, men who travel great distances and shell out hundreds of dollars in order to pack sweatily into crowded rooms and wait in line for autographs from their favorite performers, while manufacturers of sundry sexual devices hawk their latest wares and potions at cheery display booths. It is raw consumerism, and there’s a kind of eerie symmetry at work: sex toys laid out in glass cases like jewelry at Tiffany’s, women displayed like flank steaks at Safeway. 

Of interest: Pornography’s money trails are sometimes hard to track accurately, but it is a far larger business in the United States than is music, and its revenues significantly exceed the box office from every mainstream movie combined. It is an industry with very specific challenges — fractured revenue streams, looming FDA intervention — which from the business end is a surprisingly straightforward operation. “People think we’re all doing coke and having sex in the bathroom,” says one producer, “because they’re looking at the industry through the lens of Boogie Nights, rather than through the lens of making money.”

I also snoop around some of Nevada’s legal brothels and consider other aspects of the sex trade.

Instant-gratification types can subscribe to NR Digital here and read the story.

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