Food Porn 101
Once upon a time good food and pornography were as disassociated from one another as they could possibly get. There had always been the Julia Childs and Martha Stewart versions of cooking shows which are a far cry from the multitudes of the whoring of food and cooking that goes on in today’s TV listings. Oh, and remember those great Red Lobster commercials from the 80s with their seductive presentations of enormous Scampi and steaming lobster with corn on the cobb that looked so fucking good it gave you a big hunger boner? But then the blue balls you were given when you got there, the scampi were tiny and swimming in a shitty garlic butter sauce that came from a 5 gallon bucket and the lobsters were soggy and limp and not nearly as big and succulent looking as they were on the commercial.
And let’s not give Burger King a pass either on their marketing-research-driven ads with those awesome Whopper commercials that showed actual charcoal fire flames licking the Grade A beef patties before it was so delicately placed atop a pile of glistening lettuce and plump beefsteak tomatoes as well as a perfectly sliced onion with that big beautiful sesame seed bun. To top if off a 20 year old perky little idiot presented it to the smiling customer like a piece of art. But in reality the meat is flame broiled in a machine that spins around a gas burner and then slopped on to a pile of beat up vegetables and a slice of over-processed American cheese and looks absolutely nothing like that gorgeous burger on the TV ad.
But then along came the sex-in-the-kitchen scene in 9 1/2 weeks in front of the refrigerator that involved a young, blindfolded Kim Bassinger having honey and chocolate and a variety of goodies fed to her waiting lips and licked off of her trembling body by a young and not yet surgery-addicted Mickey Rourke. Couples all over the world were fucking on the kitchen floor in front of their refrigerators and bringing berries and honey and whipped cream into the bedroom for the first time.
How about the Carl’s Jr. ads with toothpick skinny uber skank Paris Hilton taking bites of that gigantic Six Dollar burger of theirs, which was of course at the height of her “One night in Paris” sex tape fame which seems to get swept under the rug.
Food and sex have been thrust together in many films and the premise that food can be used seductively seems to be a popular one. And just the same, great chefs were rarely seen and only heard about, but today they are full-blown celebrities. For cooking? Really? Fuck yes for cooking. Competition-cooking television is one of the most watched genres to rise from the stink of realty TV and as much as I hate watching it, I cannot deny its ratings and relevance in informing the masses about the art of cooking and teaching even the most timid to try to venture out with a new recipe. If a celebrity chef’s name is on a restaurant it has much higher hopes of surviving based purely on the name it is associated with.
It wasn’t even ten years ago that housewives were limited to trading recipe cards for meatloaf and rosemary chicken but today they can watch a huge variety of channels and make things like olive oil braised red onions or a soufflé or truffle potatoes or get really ambitious and try something like chicken breasts en Papillotes with celery, bay leaf and tomato as well as some really creative reduction sauces. (I’m just trying to sound like a chef here obviously!)
The same can be said for porn. In the old days it was only available on a projector which must have made the viewer feel like a really filthy perv. Imagine it…. in the darkness of his house, curtains drawn and the clicking and clacking of a film projector as it beams the video onto the smudged dirty wall next to the TV. A bottle of lotion and a fresh box of Kleenex on the table next to his lazy-boy while he watches silent out of shape people with pubic hair that we only thought possible on 50 year old middle eastern men hump and pump. The projectors were never at quite the right speed as the “actors” speed fucked and sucked in double time or faster! Maybe it added to the viewer’s rythm as he had to speed wank to keep up?
COMING OF AGE
In the 1970s the art houses opened and porn became a spectator sport. You had to sit in a dingy theater surrounded by other perverts wanking and watching you wank…the entire sordid thing is just so creepy to me. But just as competition cooking shows brought creative culinary artistry into millions of kitchens so to the advancement of the VHS and then the DVD made porn starlets like myself household names. I was recognized everywhere and I was just barely 18 years old. I had guys ask for autographs when I was with my mom for fuck’s sake! Then the internet just exploded and now every taboo and fetish is abundantly available and there’s no longer any need to visit the video store with the peep booths and the embarrassment of being seen by a friend or neighbor going through the curtain at the back of your local Hollywood Video. Porn became private and anonymous, but the actors became huge stars making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. Male porn stars who always made fractions of what the girls made are now paid more than the girls! Celebrities and athletes are openly having affairs and relationships with porn stars and Ron Jeremy is listed in the top 100 most recognized people in the world! It can’t be that different for the famous chefs these days. Imagine what it must be like for someone who wanted nothing more than to make a living creating new dishes and run their own kitchen to not be able to sit in a restaurant without someone asking for photos and autographs. Always behind the scenes making sure eveything ran smoothly now became celebrities! I would be willing to bet that in 5 years all of the new chefs will look like models and be hired based on their marketability and their realty TV persona for the restaurant owners who are hopeful to have the goings on of their kitchens beamed into a million living rooms a week on the Food Network.
I am from a Sicilian family who came from Italy to Brooklyn a few generations ago. When my grandparents started their family and my dad was born they moved from Brooklyn to Los Angeles for warmer weather and the abundance of work in the construction side of the film industry. My grandfather was a scenic, or painter, on movie sets. But they didn’t just move to Los Angeles, they moved to “The Valley”. And if you aren’t familiar with the porn industry, “the Valley” is the San Fernando Valley, which to this day is the only legal place to shoot porn in the USA. Didn’t everyone see “Boogie Nights?” That is “The Valley” pretty well depicted. Almost every major porn production company is located in “the Valley” although the current climate of the industry and the horrible California economy is pushing it to places like Miami and Las Vegas. I lived within a mile of every major porn company my entire childhood and honestly didn’t even know it existed until my first day on a movie set. My first scene was shot in a house 2 blocks from where I lived for Christ’s sake! I was as naive as any 18 year old should be, and totally clueless to what was going on in the houses in my neighborhood on a daily basis and being sold to millions of people around the world.
I grew up Italian. That means I spent every Sunday at grandma’s house as is typical of Italian families. Pasta and lamb chops or veal with loud conversations and an occasional argument, but the food was always amazing. I never really learned to cook as well as I’d like because I have no patience, but I have always respected great food and the craft that it takes to make it. I used to watch my grandma make her sauce and the smell of good marinara still brings back great memories. I have always been very vocal when I enjoy my food. I swear sometimes and make lewd comparisons to what I would like to do with a delicious chicken leg and I cannot argue that the stimulation from great food is very similar to other types of physical stimulation. There is certainly a shared cluster of nerve endings.
FOOD PORN FILMS
I am a big fan of food themed films like the Big Night, which to me was just fantastic. The best scene by far was when Stanley Tucci so elegantly made the omelet. So simple yet so graceful and perfect. One of my favorite scenes in cinema. I also loved in Goodfellas when Henry Hill was describing how to slice the garlic paper thin so it dissolves in the olive oil. I never thought of that and I live by that to this day when I slice garlic.
I have watched people make things that take hours of preparation and such diligence and am always amazed at the intensity and focus that they have. The labor and time and love and heart that goes into making the meal says all that there needs to be said. The plate of food can signify the history that the eater has with such meals, like a BLT does for me. My grandma used to make them for me and to this day the thought of a BLT makes me feel so much love for her. I believe that the soul of the cook goes into a meal if they wish it, and that actual love can be put into well-prepared food.
So I am sure you are asking what the hell does this have to do with porn? Even more so, how do I dare say that food and porn could be infused? That is probably so offensive to so many people on a variety of levels. Imagine what Rachel Ray or Giada or Paula Dean would have to say if confronted with such a declaration!
It’s very simple. Television and film has used food in a very seductive way. They have made it sexy. They have presented food in the same manner that a porn director presents a pouty-lipped teenager about to have her ass fucked by an enormous porno cock. They assume you could not possibly create a plate of food so delicious looking and they lure you to fantasize that you could, just as they con you into imagining that the pouty-lipped teenager is about to take YOUR throbbing 11 inches in her anus, when in reality you have a semi-hard 5 1/2 incher that hasn’t throbbed in years. They aim for the eyes and the mind and the heart and the dick and the stomach because it’s all the same. We are a visual society. We want what we see. We covet, even though the good book says we shouldn’t, which to me is all the more reason to covet my fucking brains out. I read a quote once by a famous porn director who was asked why he shoots so much anal sex. He said so eloquently, “When a girl has vaginal sex it can so easily be faked and therefore it looks fake to the viewer. The viewer will always question the authenticity of her moaning and screaming. But you put a huge cock into a girl’s ass and there isn’t that question about the look on her face and the noises that she makes. There are very, very few who could pull off faking an anal scene. I give them what their wives won’t even consider doing for them. I give them authentic reaction to sex that they can count on being real.” Not relevant to the article but interesting nonetheless, no? 🙂
– Mariah Milano