Rhonda Perky pays homage to the website that aims to please by bringing you the look of being pleased… for real.
Tired of seeing porn stars who look as though they’d rather be hanging out the washing, watching test cricket, or repeatedly stabbing their eyeballs with a fork?
A couple of weeks back a girlfriend and I spent a drunken evening bemoaning the pitiful artificiality – and lack of interest – displayed by your average porn actors: no real build-up, no natural lubrication (didn’t your mother tell you not to spit?), and a sea of faces that look as though they’d rather be anywhere else.
Not particularly panty-dampening, let alone earth-moving.
The following week the same friend sent me a link to Beautiful Agony (for which I owe her a drink or three). Nominated at the Australian Adult Industry Awards as the Best Adult Website (source: Pop Matters), Beautiful Agony’s claim to fame is as a website ‘dedicated to the beauty of human orgasm.’
What I discovered there was a catalogue of ‘money-shots’, only the shots aren’t of some over-endowed dude shooting a load over some girl’s tits or arse, but the face of each contributor (known as ‘Agonees’) captured during their moment of climax. There is no nudity, no fluids, and no visible interaction, but every single orgasm, we are assured, is genuine.
The site boasts that the videos (all taken from the neck up) ‘were made in private by the contributor (and sometimes their partner). We don’t know what they’re doing, or how they are doing it, we just know it’s real and it’s sexy as hell.’
‘Make your ears blush,’ the site suggests, ‘by putting on your headphones and turning the sound to eleven.’
Well, that’s what I did, and I can assure you, my ears are bright pink.
Beautiful Agony seems to house a curious kind of voyeurism. It’s about what you don’t see as much as what you do. In some ways it reminds me of one of the few truly erotic photographs my father ever produced: a view through a keyhole of a naked woman, only she was a jigsaw puzzle and all of the ‘good bits’ were missing.
Justin Dimos on Pop Matters, writes that what we see on Beautiful Agony is ‘real nudity’, which he believes ‘comes when a person drops the act, wipes the makeup from their face, doesn’t force a smile, and sure as hell doesn’t dress in disguises, be them emotional or fashionable.’
I’m not sure I found it quite as wow-worthy as Dimos seemed to (the bulk of his review read like a promo), but I do agree ‘the best part about watching the Beautiful Agony videos is the lack of bullshit.’
In an interview with Cherry Trifle for SEXIS what you want it to be, site creator Richard Lawrence was quoted as saying, ‘We get a lot of subscribers who’ve run the whole porn circuit—from softcore to X to hardcore—and wind up at Agony telling us it’s the first time they’ve actually been turned on for years. Most people reach the point where it all gets filed away with Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny.’
It was also evident from this interview that Lawrence is completely jaded by modern porn. ‘I recently met a woman in her late 20s who told me she didn’t like anal sex, but had been doing it for years because she thought it was expected of all women, just as she’d seen in all the porn DVDs. And isn’t it incredible that not all women like to have five guys come in their face at once?’
And maybe this is where Dimos was coming from in his OTT review. Certainly Lawrence and his partner Lauren Olney (who vets the videos) have found a niche among users tired of navigating the same-same ennui of colour-by-numbers porn. People who are prepared to pay when so much porn these days is free.
Lawrence also argues it isn’t about profit. You won’t find pop-ups luring you to dodgy pay-per-views or Russian teens waiting to talk to you, though there is a ‘shop‘ page for merchandise and tools-of-the-trade. The fee, he says, is to pay contributors and cover the costs associated with running the site.
And you’re not just getting access to the ‘money-shots’ you’re also paying to hear real-life ‘Confessions‘, where Agonees (all ordinary people rather than porn stars) share their most intimate sex stories. Educational and enlightening, though you may never see your dentist, mortgage broker or local butcher in the same way again!
Don’t want to pay? Send in your own ‘Agony’. As my friend informed me, Agonees ‘get $200 and free access for a month!’ Now, where did I put my camera?
I also discovered that if you follow Beautiful Agony on Twitter, you'll receive regular excerpts from Agony Confessions.