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A Music and Porn Alliance

A Music and Porn Alliance

March 1, 2008
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" in the late 2000s embracing the adult industry is something that a lot of rock and rap stars are downright proud of "

For many years, one of the music industry's favorite subjects has been the primary subject of the adult entertainment industry: sex. Rock 'n' roll has been promoting sex (sometimes overtly, sometimes subliminally) for half a century, going back to the rise of pioneers like Little Richard, Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry and Jerry Lee Lewis in the mid-1950s. Before that, sex was the subject of countless blues recordings in the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s.

Given the music and adult industries' mutual interest in sex, it isn't surprising that major recording artists like rapper Snoop Dogg and guitarist Dave Navarro (formerly of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Jane's Addiction) are creating adult entertainment. But the alliance of the two industries — although arguably inevitable — did not come about overnight, and it is only in recent years that the alliance has become extremely visible.

Back in the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, adult entertainment was hardly something that the majority of record company execs went out of their way to publicly associate themselves with. Nonetheless, there were celebrities who enjoyed varying degrees of success in both industries.

Playboy Enterprises founder Hugh Hefner held his first Playboy Jazz Festival in Chicago in 1959 before making it an annual event in Los Angeles beginning in 1979. Adult star Andrea True enjoyed a major disco smash in 1976 with the sexy "More, More, More" (which alluded to her adult film career with its lyrics "Get the camera rolling/Get the action going"). Hefner and True are examples of people who crossed over to music from erotica, but in the 1970s and 1980s, one didn't find a lot of music industry people who wanted to openly and publicly ally themselves with the adult industry in a major way (even if they admired it from afar).

Times have changed, however, and in the late 2000s embracing the adult industry is something that a lot of rock and rap stars are downright proud of. Kid Rock has dated an abundance of adult stars and included them in his videos; singer/bassist Evan Seinfeld, a celebrity in both rock and porn, is famous for his contributions to the alternative metal band Biohazard as well as for appearing in erotica with his adult star wife Tera Patrick.

Snoop, Lil Jon, Luther Campbell, Ice-T and DJ Yella, aka Tha Kidd (formerly of NWA), are among the rappers who have created or helped to create erotica, and Eminem included Jenna Jameson in his "Without Me" video in 2002. Fetish/neo-burlesque model Dita Von Teese, meanwhile, has appeared in videos by Green Day and her ex-husband Marilyn Manson.

It is no exaggeration to say that music and adult entertainment are influencing each other more than ever. Numerous alternative porn websites have been influenced by the imagery of punk rock, goth-rock and alternative rock, and hip-hop-themed adult websites (both gay and straight) are plentiful. The Miami-based Flava Works' ThugBoy.com, for example, is a popular gay site that was inspired by the popularity of gangsta rap. Meanwhile, mainstream music videos have — according to veteran music critic Steve Ivory — become increasingly mindful of porn's imagery even if they don't actually include any porn stars.

"The pop music community seems to have a fascination with porn," said the 52-year-old Ivory, who has written books on Tina Turner and Prince and served as editor of Black Beat Magazine for more than a decade. "Music and porn are melding together. A lot of the images in pop music videos — whether they are rock 'n' roll or hip-hop — look like soft porn. A lot of those soft porn images of 20 years ago are the same images that are seen in pop music videos now, and no one says anything about it because it's mainstream now."

The Los Angeles-based Ivory has been a porn enthusiast since the mid-1970s, when he first saw Marilyn Chambers in "Behind the Green Door" at a Pussycat theater — and he is glad to see adult stars being openly acknowledged in today's music industry.

"For years, the porn starlet was looked upon as a scarlet woman," Ivory said. "But now, porn stars are appearing in mainstream music videos, and many of the pop stars are looking like porn stars. The porn starlet was vilified for so long, but now you have pop stars who want to look just like her. So in the end, it looks like the porn starlet gets the last laugh."

It was during the mid- to late- 1990s that the adult and music industries began to grow much closer. There were a number of factors, including the explosion of the adult Internet (which gave alternative rock, R&B and hip-hop fans much easier access to erotica) and the fact that President Bill Clinton's attorney general Janet Reno had no interest in federal obscenity prosecutions, and her hands-off approach did a lot to help the adult industry grow and flourish.

An important figure in the music/porn alliance has been Matt Zane, who is both a well known adult director (he is the son of adult industry veteran Charles Zicari, aka Chuck Zane, and a cousin of Extreme Associates' Robert D. Zicari, aka Rob Black) and the founder/leader of the alternative metal band Society 1. It was during Clinton's second term that Matt Zane launched his groundbreaking series "Backstage Sluts," which brought together the rock and porn worlds in a big way.

"If you look at the 1970s and 1980s," Zane said, "you could make the argument that music was involved in adult to a certain extent. But that being said, there was really no outward association between the two; it was more underground. Even though people in music were very aware of the porn industry and perhaps people in music mixed with people in porn on a social level, there wasn't anything in the public forum that you could really put your finger on. It wasn't until the 1990s that things started to cross over in a new way and on a new level that led to where we are today. And I can tell you with all confidence that the beginning of that was a series that I released called 'Backstage Sluts.' It was the very first time — and you can quote me on this — that platinum-selling rock acts and gold-selling rock acts and rock legends crossed over from their mainstream success and came into pornography."

Korn, Motörhead, Sugar Ray, Limp Bizkit, Orgy and the Insane Clown Posse were among the well-known rockers who appeared in "Backstage Sluts." In the late 1990s, some wondered if Zane's music/porn fusion would be an anomaly but in fact the interaction of the adult entertainment and music worlds has continued to increase since then Joy King, vice president of special products for Wicked Pictures, has been in the adult industry since 1984 (when she accepted a position in the accounting department of Caballero Video) and has found the music industry to be increasingly porn-friendly in recent years. King, who played a major role in the rise of Jenna Jameson, started to see some progress in the 1990s when Rolling Stone interviewed Jameson. These days, King said, rock and hip-hop artists who are hoping to work with the company frequently approach Wicked. Wicked star Stormy Daniels appeared in Maroon 5's "Wake-Up Call" video and in June 2007 another Wicked performer, Kirsten Price, hosted a webcast for pop-metal veterans Poison (who record for Capitol/EMI Records).

"It isn't just the independent labels that are willing to be associated with people in the adult industry — I worked on that Poison campaign with Capitol/EMI Records," King SAID. "It doesn't get a lot bigger than that. Capitol/EMI Records was more than willing to work with us, and they had no problem with letting one of our girls host the Poison webcast — which was seen by millions and millions of people."

King attributes various factors to the music industry's increasingly porn-friendly outlook, including the Internet, the popularity of Howard Stern (who has interviewed many adult stars on his show) and the pop-icon status that Jameson has enjoyed since the 1990s.

"I just think there are certain parallels between the music industry and the adult industry," King said. "In both industries you have a lot of rebels, if you will, who don't necessarily follow the normal guidelines of business and society. So I think that we are seeing a tendency to embrace each other because of that sort of similarity."

No discussion of the music/porn alliance would be complete without some mention of the popular SuicideGirls.com website, which has been uniting erotica with the imagery of punk, goth and alternative rock since its arrival in 2001. SuicideGirls, although not as sexually explicit as the work of alt-porn icon Joanna Angel, has been instrumental in the growth of alt porn and is as respected by music fans as it is by porn fans. Zane noted that some of the women he included in "Backstage Sluts" in the late 1990s had tattoos or piercings, which was groundbreaking for the pre- SuicideGirls era.

Asked what genres of music she has found to be the most porn-friendly, King responded that alternative rock, metal and hip-hop have been at the top of the list but noted, "I haven't been approached by anybody in country." And Zane said, "I don't think country music is very porn-friendly. Country music has stayed away from porn; you haven't seen any crossover there yet."

Ivory observed that while the Nashville establishment seems to be in no hurry to associate itself with the adult industry, certain modern country stars — especially Shania Twain and Carrie Underwood — have much sexier images than country stars of the 1960s and 1970s.

"Shania Twain and Carrie Underwood are mighty sexy for country," Ivory said. "The way they dress isn't pornographic, but it is sexy for Nashville. Country is not porn-friendly, but a lot of their artists are looking increasingly sexy."

If a country artist does interact with the adult industry in a major way, it will probably be someone in alternative country—not someone who is controlled by the Nashville establishment. L.A.-based 1st Amendment attorney Greg Piccionelli (who has represented many adult-industry clients as a partner in the firm Piccionelli & Sarno) said that because the Nashville establishment has been less porn-friendly than people in alternative rock and hip-hop, a porn-friendly country artist is bound to stand out.

"I don't think this current generation of Nashville country stars is going to do something sexually explicit," Piccionelli said, "but my prediction is that eventually, you are going to see something sexually explicit come out of country — something that you can't believe came out of country. I don't think there is going to be any genre of music in America that is not going to be touched in some way by this coalescing of music, mainstream motion pictures and adult."

Piccionelli stressed that all of the adult/music interaction that has occurred in the 2000s is nothing compared to what is to come. It is only a matter of time, he said, before the entertainment world has a major music star who is also a major porn star — someone who is all over the pop charts and enjoys Jenna Jameson-type status in adult entertainment. And Piccionelli said that the "cross-pollination" he foresees will not only involve the music and adult industries, but mainstream Hollywood as well. Economics will be a major factor, Piccionelli said; the need to make money will inevitably bring adult and mainstream entertainment together more and more.

"Music and sex go hand in hand," Piccionelli said. "They always have and always will. And when all this cross-pollination happens, people who are in mainstream entertainment will seek out adult companies."

Piccionelli added that if the U.S.' next presidential administration is more socially moderate — which he thinks is likely — and does not go out of its way to attack the adult industry, erotica will become more and more acceptable throughout the music industry.

"I think the next sexual awakening will come when we get the next presidential administration," Piccionelli said. "When people say that we have gone as far as we can go sexually in the U.S., I say no way — we have so much further that this country can go in terms of sexuality." Ivory also believes that the music industry's interaction with the adult industry will continue to increase in the future.

"Rock 'n' roll has always been about sex," Ivory said. "Elvis Presley was censored from the waste down on Ed Sullivan's show. Prince built his career on sexuality. Michael Jackson got a lot of attention when he started holding his crotch, and Madonna has always flirted with pornographic imagery, including S&M. So sex and music have always collided, and I think that we're going to see even more people in pop music becoming involved in the porn business. The times dictate it."


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