Right now there’s an interesting conversation about sex and religious guilt developing in the comments on this post over at Bondage Blog:

Ropes And Ball Gags In Heaven?

The Bondage Blog post is about one of those “magazine writer sets out to write about porn but is derailed by his own sexual guilt and fails to get his head out of his own navel” articles that go by from time to time. I found the article chiefly interesting because it’s billed as including a bit of a prison interview with sexual political prisoner and pornographer Max Hardcore/Paul Little … but when you read the interview portion, you may want to scream in frustration. The interview is utterly banal because the interviewer cares only about his inner spiritual drama, and thus fails to ask any interesting questions. Narcissistic fucker spent two hours with our society’s current designated archetypal Beast/Pornographer (a position formerly held by Larry Flynt in a more innocent age) and this is the best he came up with?

When I arrive at the prison early the next morning, Max meets me in the prison’s busy visitation room. He is of medium height, with silver hair and an easy smile; with his cowboy hat off and his pants on, he looks like a dentist, like a salesman, like he’d be more interested in putting me in a Toyota than a porn film. He shakes my hand firmly (too firmly; did he hurt those girls, I wonder, did he squeeze them that hard?) and says, “Thanks for coming.” I can’t help cringing and wishing that the first sentence Max Hardcore said to me hadn’t contained the word “coming.” And that he hadn’t said it quite so loudly.

We find an empty bench and sit down. Max tells me to call him Paul. Paul tells me he’s glad I enjoyed his movie. I tell Paul that I feel like I jerked off to a crime.

“They know what they’re getting into,” says Paul.

“Do you ever feel guilty?” I ask.

I expect him to say no. I want him to say no. I want the guilt to myself. My guilt, at least, makes me better than him.

Paul shrugs and sighs.

“Sure,” he says.

“Really?”

He nods.

“But they know what they’re getting into,” he quickly adds. “It’s like boxing. You don’t feel bad for the guy who loses; you don’t wonder why they’re in the ring.”

“I don’t watch boxing.”

“Why not?”

“I feel bad for the loser,” I say. “I wonder why they’re in the ring.”

“I have this board,” Paul explains, “in my office. There are twenty Polaroids on it, each one showing what we’re going to do in the scene. I tell the girl, ‘See this? This is what we’re going to do. First we’re going to deep throat, then we’ll do some puking. Are you okay with puking? Good. Then we’re going to do some anal, then I’m going to fist you. Oh, you’ve never been fisted? Don’t worry, we’ll show you how. Then

I’m going to piss on you, then we’ll do the pop shot.’ ”

I ask him if he ever shows them the twenty-first Polaroid, the one where they crawl into the corner, suck their thumbs, and think about how to kill themselves.

“It’s not like that,” he says. “I’m not Khan Tusion.”

Khan Tusion is the notorious porno director of a series of films called Meatholes and Rough Sex. They are extraordinarily violent. There is choking. There is hitting. There is crying. In the videos, Khan masks his voice and obscures his face.

“Khan wants the girls to feel like shit,” says Paul. “With Khan it’s real. Khan hates women.”

Paul is soft-spoken and often laughs at himself. I know it’s all bullshit—he’s in prison, he’s on his best behavior. I try to picture him violating someone I love.

“I’m playing a character,” says Paul. “I’m playing this average guy who can get these babes to do all this stuff. That’s Max. But the minute the scene is over, I’m Paul. Ask anyone. Talk to Layla. Go see Layla. Ask Layla if you should feel bad.”

It was time to go. Paul walked me to the door.

“I don’t want people watching my films to feel lousy,” said Paul. “I guess I just want them to be more like guilty pleasures, like eating chocolate. Is that the way you felt?”

“Kind of,” I said. “Like eating chocolate made from babies.”

It had been over two hours. I didn’t hate him nearly enough. And it made me hate myself even more.

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