A profile: Online Pornography - Kink.com - Peter Acworth
It has long been noted that the San Fernando Valley is increasingly populated by strait-laced corporate managers and not by the oily, medallion-wearing men we once assumed. But succeeding on the Web, or simply surviving its escalating demands, has required more sophisticated entrepreneurial types. With the Internet pushing porn discreetly into the homes of conventional consumers, making it more a part of everyday life and less seedy-seeming, the industry has been better able than ever to attract that sort of employee. That is, as pornography becomes a more mainstream product, it becomes an equally mainstream career. If anything, Kink may be an exaggerated example of just how ordinary pornographers will get, despite the wince-inducing grisliness of its content, which even by porn-industry standards is morbidly eccentric.
[...] According to the United States Supreme Court, one measure of obscenity is whether an average adult in the community would deem it obscene. In the Reagan era, federal attorneys often had a video from a Southern California porn studio sent to places like Tulsa or Birmingham and prosecuted the company when it arrived. Thus they could lock in a far-more-conservative community standard than that of Los Angeles. But it has always been unclear what community standard applies to the Web. Moreover, while the Reagan administration fervidly prosecuted pornographers, the Internet sprung up smack in the middle of the Clinton years, a relatively tranquil time for legitimate adult businesses.
Nevertheless, Levine says, the Web masters who first challenged the industryâ€™s reticence about S-and-M werenâ€™t seasoned pornographers accustomed to calculating such risks in the first place. They were â€œlifestylersâ€ like Acworth and his directors, merely recreating what they saw all the time in underground clubs. â€œThey set out to do what is natural to them,â€ Levine says, â€œand the roof didnâ€™t fall in.â€
Acworth, in fact, seems to police his content simply by the values of the B.D.S.M. community, laboring to make its playful, consensual spirit transparent. Given the ultimate subjectivity of obscenity law, he told me, he can only rely on his own comfort level. [...]