Thursday, September 12, 2013


How Many Words Could You Read Aloud While Climaxing?

"In his latest project, Hysterical Literature, photographer Clayton Cubitt takes a beautiful woman, places her at a table in front of a black backdrop and gets her to read from her favorite book while an unseen accomplice below the table attempts to bring the woman to orgasm with a vibrator." NSFW! Stoya, girl. [Criminal Wisdom]

44 Comments / Post A Comment


Sorry, I just think this sounds really gross. I don't know that it's exploitative, I'm sure the woman consented or whatever but yeah. It just makes my skin crawl.


@iceberg I hate it! I hate it so much.

Blackwatch Plaid

@iceberg For what it's worth, Stoya is a professional porn star who has written extensively on her feelings about consent in porn. If anyone is prepared to agree to this, it's her.


@Blackwatch Plaid Yes, I have less problem with her doing it than someone who hasn't done that type of stuff before. Are all of the women professional porn actresses?


@iceberg No, they're not. You can find all of them on www.hystericalliterature.com - It also includes essays written by the women who have done videos as well as other writers about the project and Clayton's thoughts on the project entirely.

Disclosure - I've filmed one of these videos with him, though mine is not released yet. I'm not a porn actress, just an artist who believed in the project and thought it'd be fun and a thought-provoking experience (which it was). Also, friend of Clayton, fwiw.


What an absolute great post@v

Heat Signature

Oh, of course he's using a "beautiful woman". So gross.


@Heat Signature Agreed.


@Heat Signature actually, he's done it with a number of women, the latest being Margaret Cho (who I think is beautiful but is probably not considered conventionally attractive by most). Stoya is a friend of his, and in "the industry," so I suspect it's not surprising he tapped her for the project.


Wait, y'all don't have orgasms while reading your favorite books? Then y'all are doing it wrong.


@peculiarity On further reflection, I can figure out what bothers me. It's the "unseen accomplice below the table attempts to bring the woman to orgasm". That is weird. That to me feels exploitative. If she was on a Sybian or something I would have less an issue. The idea that there's some dude under there trying to get her off is creepy.

Let's play alternate universe: If this was a woman artist recording the same subject, how would we feel?


@peculiarity apparently it's the photographer's female assistant. I would have less problem with a male photographer recording a lady being "affected" by someone she usually has sex with, than I would with this same thing and a female photographer, but it does not surprise me that a man came up with this idea. Also I had less problem with someone who's a porn lady anyway doing it rather than a real person - Stoya is used to performing sex on camera and divorcing her mind/heart from sex acts. I just can't imagine wanting to be one of the women.


@iceberg WOAH "a real person" huh?


@tales As opposed to a fallen woman.


@tales Oops, shit! Not what I meant at all. I think I meant to type "regular", not that that is much better, but I should have said, a person who doesn't do sex acts as a job.

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

I'm of two minds about this. One, I think the more female orgasms happening in this world, the better off we are. Two, it borders on sacrilege when those female orgasms are induced solely to appease the male gaze. I don't know what the intent of this video series is, but I've got a sneaking suspicion about it since there are no men being brought to orgasm while reading....

runner in the garden

@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose - dunno about "male gaze" as I know a lot of people who love this series and almost all of them are female.


All I can think about is Brett Easton Ellis's reaction when he find out about Session 4.
I'm almost tempted to start hate-reading his Twitter again. Almost.


@[sic] I clicked through to the others but got turned off by the choice of reading material.

lucy snowe

Well, Stoya is a successful porn star. This is a different kind of porn. She seems to be enjoying herself. And when I say seems, I'm saying I don't think she's faking (that's my sense both as audience for this film and based on my sense of her from interviews I've read, etc.)

I like that this style of porn, focused on the face of a woman who keeps her clothes on, seems to be trying to capture an aspect of the experience of an orgasm that other dirty movies ignore. I like that her orgasm is the central event.

I'm not much of a fan of the book she chose, though.


@lucy snowe I like the things you like about this too.

But I'm not sure how to tease out the subtext of the whole reading a book thing. If it's ironic, then I think it's gross.* But if it's sincere, I think it's cool. Even if, as mentioned above, I don't find the book choices particularly interesting.

*Unless someone gets really ironic and picks a Dickens novel or something.

Briony Fields

@lucy snowe I agree completely.


Hmm, there are more ... pearl-clutching reactions to this than I expected.


@Lucienne really, pearl-clutching? I don't think it's prudishness that makes this feel gross.

To be honest it reminded me of the worst movie of all time, The Ugly Truth, where Gerard Butler basically sexually assaults Katherine Heigl with vibrating panties and then allows an unwitting child to do the same.


@iceberg Oh, sorry, I wasn't clear. I totally get and support the critical reaction to this, but there is also a separate sort of reactionary . . . I'm not sure of the exact word - heteronormativity? But in a macro-macro-macro way. Some of the comments are giving me the same feeling I get when I read an article about the dangers of hookup culture.


@Lucienne Thanks for replying! I'm not really sure what you mean by "reactionary heteronormativity" or the thing about hookup culture; could you expand a little more on that?


@iceberg A kind of shock/horror at the idea that women might want to have sex [orgasms] outside a committed monogamous relationship and/or absent significant emotional connections and/or where other people can see them. Like, how dare they make their sexual pleasure public?

Like I said, I am cool with critiquing this! It doesn't get as far away from the male gaze or commodifying-objectifying women's sexualities and bodies as I'd like, and I'm wary of the role literature is supposed to play (I think it is a rich but potentially troubling choice). And the "beautiful woman" thing is, as noted above, indeed gross, even if it looks like the subjects are more diverse than "beautiful woman" suggests conventionally. I think we can have that conversation without slipping into the other one, though.


@Lucienne Oh that's fair. I think I reacted so strongly to it because of how I imagined I would feel if I was the woman trying to read, which is: gross and violated. But you're quite right, obviously that's not going to be everyone's reaction.

I sort of thought it might be an emotionally damaging experience for a woman who *isn't* used to divorcing sex from emotions? Sort of like how FOR EXAMPLE a lady might be mortified and try to hide their body in the locker room at the gym, until they've had a kid or three and so many people have looked up her hoo-ha what's one more *coughcough*


@iceberg Probably if you feel that way you wouldn't sign up for this though? I guess you're framing this very differently from the way I'm framing it. They're not "trying to read" they're "reading while getting masturbated."

Obviously it's not for everyone, let a thousand sexy consensual flowers bloom, and so on.


@Lucienne all very good points. yay Hairpin discussion!


Look, this is porn. So the same structural objections anyone ever has to porn apply here. But it was porn I enjoyed watching when I first saw it last year, and I put aside those objections like you have to if you're going to enjoy porn.The only difference here is a novel (haha) thematic subject.


@sophia_h I don't love the porn/erotica distinction, but this is one instance where I'd be interested to see it explored.


@Lucienne Heh, as an erotica writer I tend to describe erotica as "stuff I like" versus porn being "stuff dudes like." But I just meant that this was a depiction of a sex act on film, so all the usual criticisms of porn (which I was seeing here) of course apply, regardless of the subject matter being classier.

Briony Fields

I...really loved this, actually. Reading through the comments, I can agree with some of the criticisms. However, seeing a woman have an orgasm in this way totally blew my mind, in a good way. Women! Having real orgasms! I'm not well versed in porn, but what I've seen up until now left me feeling really squicked out, this however, does not.


I can see Still Life with Woodpecker, but American Psycho? Really, lady?


Wow this is super hot. And cute and funny. I love it!!!! I honestly cannot understand (not just being deliberately obtuse, I actually cannot understand) why anyone would have a problem with it, that is separate from a problem with porn in general.

Briony Fields

@Ellie I found it suuuper hot, too! Then I read the comments and thought, shit, am I a male-gazing perv? Anyway, as I said above, I totally get some of the criticisms and they are valid but overall, I thought this was wonderful. And SEXY, damn!

you're a kitty!

I've only seen Stoya's so far, but I'm really surprised to find that some folks object so strongly to the concept. It's not like these are random women who just wanted to read a book and are being assaulted — they're folks who very consciously chose to come in and record themselves to film as they have an orgasm. Why on earth would they feel violated? It's porn-as-art rather than porn-as-porn, but it's definitely porn. Happy porn. Plus books.

you're a kitty!

FWIW here are Stoya's thoughts on the project.


I loved it as well. I found it exciting and more of a solo experience, rather than a creepy manipulation. Porn, sure, but with real pleasure.


I think my issue with this project is really just my general state of disbelief!

I cannot help but put myself in these ladies shoes and I know for a FACT it would take me waaaaay longer than 8 minutes to have an orgasm sitting at a table with people "watching" me (even if they was no one around -- just knowing eventually I would be watched) AND trying to concentrate on something.

I mean granted I am not a lady who has sex in the public eye ever and who has shy orgasms but still! PRESSURE!


@trembles Yeah, there is NO WAY I would be able to come under these circumstances. I need to concentrate!


I really don't get all the negative comments. I'm a woman, and I enjoy these videos. I enjoy seeing women have real orgasms, and I would enjoy doing something like this in my own sex life. I think it's a bit reductive to just label this "male gazing," when so many women are turned on by the videos as well, for a variety of personal reasons. These women are making the choice to do these videos, no one is forcing them. I think there is a lot of joy in these videos.

Megan McClure@facebook

I could do this a lot better than these weak-willed girls! I can talk and act almost completely normal thru an orgasm.

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