This debate starts, as many debates do, with your humble narrator taking a poop. Our usual bathroom reading fair is Lovecraft, the Fountainhead by Ayn Rand, and our own Liisa Ladoucuer's Encyclopedia Gothica. No book is better for suited for a quick, random flip-through than her exhaustive list of all things goth related, and it was once such episode that led us to the entry for Liz Vicious. We'll let her explain;
VICIOUS, LIZ: An American porn actress of goth persuasion. If you're into that just Google her.
Far be it from us to not follow the instructions of a lady, so we did just that and found dozens of videos of the fairly goth young lady performing many naughty acts. Further searching netted a few other actresses that make up the small, but very hot genre of goth pornography, and it got us thinking.
Is pornography a legitimate goth art, like music, painting, and tattooing are, or is it just something that you can do to make some money? We decided to ask the Gothic Council. Joining us this week is dollmaker Ugly Shyla, fashio designer Batty, DJ Martin Oldgoth, Jvstin Whitney of the Church of Melkarth, living historian Morrighanne Burns, artist Darla Teagarden, and Toby Rider of Ending the Vicious Cycle.
Ugly Shyla: Regardless if it's "porn" goths, punks and general weirdoes all have jobs. And it's a job so I don't see anything weird about it. And of course they will express their fashion style while doing it because they are getting their pic taken or filmed. So you will dress up in the outfit that makes you feel the best.
Batty: I know many consider their jobs a form of art because it is a lot of people's way of expressing themselves. I for one can't disagree with that as I consider fashion (my job) art. So if I use that logic than yes I can see that people who are into porn because they really love it and do it in an artsy way (not just for quick cash) could be considered artists.
Ugly Shyla: I'm with Batty. Doll making, before everybody jumped on the bandwagon with magic markers and cheap acrylic paint, wasn't event considered a cool alt-person's job.
Gothtopia: We don't usually weigh in in the middle here, but we have a follow up question for Batty. Is it wrong to make art for a quick buck?
Batty: No, I think if you are making a quick buck and love what you do, it's great. I love money. I'll sell out for a buck sure thing, but I won't cross moral boundaries, even if mine are pretty lax. Long as they are cool with what they are doing, let the cash roll in.
Martin Oldgoth: Don't see why not, I mean, the old "What is goth?" argument is bad enough. I'd imagine the "What is art?" one is far worse. There is so much "art" that I Personally don't like, or understand, but who am I to say its not art?
Ugly Shyla: I'm a total snob about my art dolls. I wouldn't care if I never sold another one in my life. That isn't the point of them. Yes, people buy them and I'm able to pay large bills when that happens which I am thankful for, but that isn't what it's about. But my jewelry which I love doing it's much easier than the dolls to make so more fun. And when I'm in a bind and need say the light bill paid and big things aren't selling I know if I make a bunch of necklaces they will sell and it's quick money. So no I don't think it's a prob.
Martin Oldgoth: This is why its art and not a hobby. That passion for it
Ugly Shyla: I call it art OCD. I will go without food to get things to make stuff because if I don't make it I will go insane!
Batty: Sounds like the same reason me and Toby create things, him his music, and me my clothing. We'd be intolerably insane without it as an outlet.
Martin Oldgoth: Like me with DJing, its an addiction.Yeah, I go nuts when I cant do it. That's why I started the radio show, so I always had something to do.
Gothtopia: But here's the question, then. Do you think that that same artistic passion that tends to inhabit goths applies to the people performing in pornography?
Batty: I do think people that are sex addicts and feel the need to have to express themselves sexually or go totally nuts. I know a lot of those people are drawn to pornography careers.
Jvstin Whitney: 1) I think this would eventually go in to what we would consider obscene/pornography as opposed to what is or isn't art, with the end being what would be considered porn would attest to whether it had creative merit. I've also seen novel-lengths flame wars on some of Shyla's posts in the last year about this exact subject.
2) I'd sell out in a second: Only cash is real. Doing something for a quick buck (I'm assuming a lax of passion and optimum effort to this extent) is creating a product instead of art, whether or not it is perceived that way, I'm absolutely fine with it because it can be used to fund your own great works. The ends justify the means, but I probably wouldn't put my name on it. I don't want Behemoth fans trying to talk to me, so I'd wear a mask if I decided to churn out a big label non-threatening album.
3) I think it would. Again, we're at a subjective point on what we would and wouldn't call art.
Gothtopia: That's what we're trying to define. From the research we've done, and just a moment here to say, yes, we're am being paid peruse pornography right now, you've got people like Vicous who just fuck on camera, then you've got people like Mandy Morbid who apparently did some kind of bizarre mental hospital epic involving dreams and blowjobs. Is one art and the other not?
Batty: I think anything you put your blood sweat tears passion and effort into (or um in this case your genitalia into) is art in some form so I guess either one would be art. In the eye of the beholder again.
Jvstin Whitney: I'd need to watch them to tell you, but that's just my subjective opinion. I think if involved a bizarre plot and/or grandiose setting, it could be art, but run-of-the-mill porn featuring an actress with a pentagram tramp stamp instead of a butterfly doesn't change the way I'm viewing it.
Morrighanne Burns: If the model/actor is in full control of their product and not being taken advantage of by the big buck industry to satisfy a niche market of guys who fantasize about banging a goth/fetish chick then yes, I think it can be an art form. There is absolutely nothing wrong with expressing your sexuality and making a living as long as you are doing what you are comfortable with and not being pimped out for anoraks.
Jvstin Whitney: I guess I should also point out I've purchased porn for entertainment value and skipped all the sex scenes for plots. Then Michael O'dwyer stole it and traded me run of the mill porn, and I was disappointed. I thought Edward Penishands was worth $10.
Gothtopia: ... Whitney, God damnit.
Darla Teagarden: I have a question that I've often thought about - Is goth innately sexual or asexual?
In any case, my personal opinion based on what we generally know about porn and its end result is that porn is a job. Porn is not something one has deliberate creative theme/conceptual control over, but more, it's intent is different than art... having sex for the purpose of making money, paying rent, buying a car (even in special costumes and props) is more of a hostess position of sorts. It is a public service
If a goth were making sexually explicit film or photos which had a different intent than porn, it would then be art even if it did make money. My old friend Charles is an award winning internationally known, ex-Rolling Stone photographer who now makes explicit art. I would not outright call it porn. His intent is different.
But to answer, a goth can certainly be a goth porn star, just like she/he could be a gothic writer or a goth chef. You can be what you want in any job. Disneyland now sells that Mickey Joy Division t-shirt. This means, a goth went to school, grew up and got a job in the real world. Goths have jobs, all kinds, even ones where you have to fuck with penishands.
Purpose and Intent defines art in my view.
Toby Rider: My opinion is that anything that someone spends many years working on, practicing and refining is an art, regardless of whether they are paid for it or not. Casting jewelry, writing traditional characters with the brush, empty-handed or combat with swords and spears, and cooking are arts, when they are developed and refined by a dedicated practitioner.
Jvstin Whitney: Are sluts artists then?
Toby Rider: Vatsyayana Mallanaga, the author of the Kama Sutra could probably be argued to be an artist.