Friday, January 23, 2009

Waitin' for the porn to change

If there was anything that 15-year-old Dustin knew well, it was the many resplendent joys of pornography.

I couldn’t get a girlfriend to save my natural life, I wasn’t involved in sports and video games didn’t have that six-hours-a-day appeal that they did when I was an adolescent. So I spent my formative teen years chasing after and amassing a collection of hardcore, softcore and HBO-late-night-programming videotapes that ultimately filled a military footlocker so heavy that I needed another hand to help me carry it – often at the cost of loaning out some of the material inside.

In high school, I was all about collecting black porn: the massive-titted bleached-blonde white women most conventionally associated with porn, while nice, became far too quotidian to keep my interest. Thanks to a very open-minded dad and friends in high school who were actually old enough to procure the stuff for me, I got my ample share of chocolate booty on film.

I was an early (read: underage) loyalist of Video Team’s Afro-Centric material -- namely the “Sista” and “My Baby Got Back” series. Fellow connoisseurs will recall the days of black porn laureates like Janet Jacme, Ron Hightower and Dominique Simone, on whose breasts you could balance three dwarves holding meal trays.

I knew all these porn folks more intimately than I probably should have. I knew Midori was singer Jody Watley’s sister. I knew that Crystal Knight actually performed when she was pregnant for a while. I thought that Mr. Marcus was the luckiest motherfucker on two-and-a-half legs. Hell, I still do.

As the years have elapsed, however, I’ve found that my attitude toward black porn has been tangential with my attitude toward hip-hop: the halcyon days have long fallen away, and now we have to dig a bit deeper for quality where there once was an abundance.

Back in the day, black porn starlets looked like they actually took into consideration that the world would see every bit of their creation and thus stayed in the gym. They were beautiful, diminutive and relatively innocent-looking, which made it delightfully shocking when they took penises the size of baby arms in their back doors like it was just another day on the job.

The black women in contemporary porn have devolved significantly. Honestly, these dames look like they’re smooth out of a strip club on the east side of Detroit. Broken press-on nails, belly folds, foot-long stretch marks and faces so buttery you’d think the beautiful women actually developed a collective sense of self-worth and left the porn to their busted brethren.

I think black porn reached its apogee around 1998, when Dee – one of my favorite “black” porn stars who’s actually Puerto Rican – was in her prime. Back then, you could pick up a title like “United Colors of Ass” or “Booty Talk” and know you would get at least three scenes with slammin’ women you’d actually consider taking home to mom if it weren’t for the whole porn thing. Now, I just assume that the sisters are gonna be all grody-looking and I will examine a DVD box much more closely before checking it out.

I can’t even tell you who the hot black actresses are today. It may be a result of a generally decreased interest in porn, as I can’t really rattle off the names of new porn starlets of any race (actually having a sex life drastically alters one’s overall interest in licentious viewing material, I’ve learned), but I pay enough attention to know that the “My Baby Got Back” series fell the hell off after, like, volume 25, and that that’s a reflection of the overall black subgenre.

Since the porn industry is in no real danger of suffering from the recession anytime soon (two things Americans will always need: health care and orgasms), I’m thinking we can get some of these beautiful sisters graduating college to a depressed job market to consider jumping into adult and increase the tone of black porn while netting six figures in the process.

I’m sure Mr. Marcus would be pleased to go back to the days of old. I know I would.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

"Notorious" film review

It would be an understatement to say that my expectations of the Notorious movie were abysmally low: The trailer was cornball, the folks responsible for the movie include P. Diddy as a producer and the guy who wrote Biker Boys, and (speaking of Biker Boyz) Derek Luke hasn't been in anything watchable since Antwone Fisher.

And yet, the film wasn't exactly a terrible piece of tripe.

Maybe it's that I see so many movies of a myriad genre and range that my expectations are low, but as far as biopics go, I think this could have been executed much worse...a sentiment not exactly shared by all.

The acting overall was not as bad as it could have been; newcomer Jamal Woolard did a pretty good job filling the titular character's sausagey shoes. He appropriately captured the presumed swagger of Christopher Wallace, as well as the emotional depth of his more reflective moments with his mother and his children. One of the most resonant scenes was Biggie's response to finding out his mother had breast cancer, as I could envision many young men responding the exact same way he did.

This Woolard guy is actually a real-life rapper with the stage name "Gravy." Is it wrong that I just blindly assume that this dude can't rap? How negative I've gotten toward my beloved genre...

But I digress. The story lines involving Lil' Kim and Faith Evans were interesting, if for no other reason than that I was curious how two relatively attractive women gravitated toward the fattest, nastiest, blackest motherfucker I've ever seen get famous. Kim's character did spend about 72 percent of the movie with her knockers out and pissed off at Big, so I guess I can see why the real-life Lil' Kim might be ticked at that. Not that I don't believe for a second that shit actually did go down grimy between the two of them.

The film would have us believe that 2Pac, Suge Knight and other devious West Coast rap personalities waged a one-sided war on the East Coast during the infamous mid-90s coastal strife. Was 'Pac the asshole they made him out to be and Biggie completely devoid of any wrongdoing? Perhaps, but I take into account that Notorious is a film basically made by the folks that loved him the most, so I'm going to assume some level of creative bias.

Things I didn't like? The movie deferred to the saccharine quite often; especially near the end when Big supposedly made peace with everyone in his life right before he was killed, as if he knew for sure it would happen. I didn't like that Angela Bassett used a fraction of her ass to execute Violetta Wallace's Jamaican accent. In fact, I'm mad that she's typecast period as the maternal figure of trouble famous figures.

This movie is no Ray, and it sure as hell is no Walk the Line. It isn't even quite as enjoyable as 8 Mile (though I may be biased). But if you do what I do and buy the "child" movie tickets with your debit card from the Fandango machines, you shouldn't consider this a waste of your $7.50.

Also, any hip-hop nonfiction piece that's set in the early- to mid-1990s (a la 8 Mile) is likely to have a very dope soundtrack. Notorious is no exception.