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“I was an altar boy, a spokesperson for the Virgin Mary, I was a choir boy but then, at the age of 14, I discovered masturbation and all that went out the window.”    

Guillermo Del Toro, Oscar-nominated director of Pan’s Labyrinth.    

      

Pie shagging - crossing the line or innovative?

Ask a teenage boy what his plans are for this weekend and he will politely utter something about football, computer games, and perhaps – if hankering for cash – his homework. When replying, it is likely that his gaze will drift towards the floor, while he sweeps his left foot in a slow, circular motion; his voice may sound drained, his frame uncertain, the eyes hooded and the face bearing the gaunt, haunted look of a serial wrist-twister, a young recruit trying to manage his joyful shame and protect the dark arts of male adolescence from entering the public arena. Just like his father, grandfather and every other man in his family, he is at once the shareholder, director, bastion and patron of a time-honoured institution whose origins date back to the Victorian era, an equal opportunities employer that doesn’t care what you did during your gap year, won’t judge you for watching Fearne Cotton Meets Peaches Geldof and doesn’t require you to get dressed before seeking its counsel; I am, of course, talking about pornography.    

Me Tarzan, You Porn     

Changed a bit since my day

Porn as we know it is undergoing a radical change, with lewd content accessible at the click of a button through imaginatively named sites such as You Porn, Free Porn and Porn Hub. Combine this with the seemingly limitless potential for developing interactive technology, and it is clear that we are about to lose one of the key stages in male development: the purchase of a pornographic publication.    

Prior to the modern age of mass internet usage, tangible collections of porn were accumulated and stored safely at the back of a wardrobe, or –more comically – in a locked briefcase (more on this later). Despite being the ubiquitous face of shameful flesh-pressing, you wouldn’t find arty wank-fodder such as Playboy in these collections – no, this was the land of Knave, Razzle, the occasional Club International (if you had some of last week’s pocket money left over) and foreign publications accumulated from French exchange trips, publications that shunned political comment, art reviews and commercial endorsements in favour of cover-to-cover indecency, wildly imaginative ghost-writing and value for money; Ronseal porn, as I like to think of it.    

Top shelf, ten silver Lambert & Butler, a lighter and a bottle of Doctor Pepper please    

I would be lying if I said I remembered my first and only purchase of top-shelf literature as if it were yesterday, however the memory is fresh enough to paint a reasonably faithful picture.    

What will it be old chap?

The scene was a tawdry newsagents’ not far from my old school gates, the kind of ramshackle outfit you’d feel uncomfortable entering for a cartoon of semi-skimmed milk and a loaf of bread, and therefore perfect for underage purchases. I remember being on edge, pacing outside for several minutes, while my friend Barry (a porn veteran whose name I have changed to protect his identity) convinced me that the aged shopkeeper wouldn’t so much as flinch when conducting the exchange; however his words washed over me, my mind already analyzing the stigma of rejection. I remember my voice quivering as I asked for a copy of Razzle and a can of Iron-Bru, a crisp five-pound note glistening in my sweaty paw. To be fair to the bloke, he could have played up, stalling the transaction with banal questions designed to watch me squirm, but instead he acted as if I was any other punter, turning a blind eye to my boyish looks, and handing over the merchandise without delay. As I left clutching my sinful cargo, I felt confused. On the one hand, I was ashamed of being complicit in an illegal activity, while on the other, the sense of rapture about joining the elite club of porn owners could not be underestimated.    

An unlikely role model

On this sole foray into pornographic ownership, I had expected to be quizzed about my age but mercifully I was spared the humiliation of having to remember my fake date of birth. Barry, however, wasn’t one to take chances and went so far as to wear a wig when buying smokes, porn or booze. The wig itself was a ghastly mess of black synthetics, probably put together lovingly in an Asian sweatshop, complete with pointy sideburns – think the hairpiece lovechild of Noel Gallagher and Vernon Kay and you’re on the right track. When worn, the individual looked utterly ridiculous. Barry had offered it to me for my purchase, but the itching was too much, and my vanity wouldn’t allow it.    

Over the years that followed, my friends and I amassed a significant collection of varied porn, much of it first-hand purchases, with the remainder comprising cast away offerings found in parks, woods and other unexpected locations. To a female unversed in the murky underworld of male progression, the acquisition of scraps of boob found in public places will seem unfathomable, beastly and unhygienic, which of course it is. I can perhaps only rationalise it as an animal instinct, a pull of nature justifiable only inside the horn-riddled mind of a fledging stag.    

The collection was safely stored in a green A4 pouch, affectionately referred to as “The Folder”, and was a communal document, liberally passed between acquaintances, free of charge. Most of the time, however, The Folder could be found at one particular residence (the individual concerned affectionately referred to as the Porn Baron), safely hidden inside a briefcase, and protected by a numerical code – possibly the most extreme example of parental evasion I have ever come across. As the months went by, The Folder became malnourished; pages disappeared, and what had started as a prized bounty became a shambolic heap of loose sheets, including the adventures of a scantily clad lion tamer, and the summer picnic adventures of Sarah and Geoff. The Folder also endured its fair share of mockery with one friend, who had recently entered a relationship, deeming it surplus to requirements. It took less than a week for him to repent and put in a verbal request for its return. As recently as last year, my friend was clearing out his old bedroom when his girlfriend uncovered The Folder, hiding masterfully at the back of his wardrobe, undetected for countless years, yet ever a stoical presence, like the waiting wife of a serviceman.    

While I am able to look back on these times with a nostalgic fondness, today’s generation will have only web links and databases as memories, unaware of the adversity their elders had to overcome to enjoy a night’s self-abuse. I think it is time we stood up as a nation and took a stance: fuck global warming, the war on terror and the recession, they can wait. In the meantime, let’s get our kids back to where they belong – on the streets buying porn.    

Porn to the People:   

Every little helps...

 1. “Porn for Schools Vouchers” – an innovative spin on the successful supermarket sport in schools campaign. When shopping in the leading supermarkets, parents will be able to collect vouchers which schools can then exchange for porn. Weekly classes would be held where teachers and pupils would discuss the finer points of top-shelf entertainment, with compulsory homework including the purchase of a jazz mag.    

2. “Top Humps” – special print of the favourite card game, with each card bearing a front-page image of a timeless skin mag. Each card has points allocated in respect of price, number of boobs, creative writing, quality and number of pages.    

3. “Porn for Life” – removal of the current range of re-usable bags from circulation and replacement with highly provocative alternatives, including sexual imagery and slogans.    

4. “The Ass-prentice” – reality TV show hosted by Larry Flint, in which the country’s brightest young journalists compete against one another to land a top publishing job at Hustler magazine. Guest panelists Ron Jeremy and Jenna Jameson are on hand to offer Flint guidance as he eliminates participants on a weekly basis with his catchphrase, “You need stamina in this business, and you ain’t got it – You’re Tired.”

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