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      This Is the Porn You Get at a Sperm Bank This Is the Porn You Get at a Sperm Bank
      All photos by the author.

      This Is the Porn You Get at a Sperm Bank

      By Zachary Schwartz

      October 18, 2015

      Back when I was a college freshman, eager to profit off my seed, I applied to be a sperm donor. There's about a dozen or so sperm banks in New York City, all with similar-sounding names: New York Cryo, Cryos New York, Cryos International... Being tall, biracial, and "smart" (as determined by my university), I was asked to come in and provide a sample.

      The banks that I visited were located on the mid-levels of skyscrapers downtown. They were calm, sterile places that reminded me of my childhood pediatrician's office. They featured abstract flower paintings on the walls and white with diminutive doodle patterns on the floor. After filling out a questionnaire and interacting with an all-female staff, I would get escorted to a small donation room, given a small plastic tube, and be expected to bust a nut.

      Although clinics don't have to provide pornographic materials, to ease the transmission process, all the banks I've been to have their own selection of smut. Usually, it took the form of a pile of magazines or, if I was lucky, a small screen mounted on the wall with a bevy of DVDs on an adjacent table. Growing up in the age of internet porn, I was intrigued by these relics. I had never seen porn DVDs before I started providing a sample of my semen to sperm banks. Some of the discs almost looked as old as me, artifacts from the mid-90s, with names like Anal Frenzy 5 and Cumshot Chronicles 3. I've always wondered which researcher in a lab coat made these selections, and what was the thought process behind their choice.


      A donation room at Manhattan Cryobank.

      Teresa Randolph, the cheery owner of New York Fertility Services—which is not a sperm bank, but has a sperm collection room for their fertility procedures—told me about the grey legalities involved in procuring pornography for a sperm bank.

      "Obviously, you have to stock the collection room with pornographic material, because men need inspiration," she said. "So you have to go to a porn shop to buy these materials. [We don't ask] employees to buy porn, because that might be considered sexual harassment. My husband and I own the practice, so we do it ourselves."

      At most of the sperm banks and fertility clinics I talked to, this was the norm. Ty Kaliski, the CEO of Manhattan Cryobank, used to work at another bank, which only provided magazines in its donation rooms. Ty would purchase the magazines from a distributor he found online, stocking the rooms with around 15 at a time.


      The porn offered at Mahattan Cryobank.

      Ty left that practice a year-and-a-half ago for Manhattan Cryobank, which provides a TV for its patients. I visited him in his office and he showed me the two collection rooms his practice had. Ty's an exception to the rule, because he doesn't choose the pornography at his practice. But he introduced me to the male researcher who did.

      I asked the researcher about his selection process. "Well, [another employee] and I had a conversation about two years ago," the researcher, who wished to remain anonymous, said. "We discussed over the course of a week what would be appropriate for the people here."

      He turned on the TV and handed me the remote. I scrolled through the roughly two dozen videos and noticed that virtually every one had "creampie" (creampie is an internal cum shot) in its title. I inquired about the psychological impetus for selecting such videos. "Well, we want to put them in the mood," He said. "But we also don't want them to take too long."

      The researcher explained that the selection process went beyond visual cues. "Before, most of [our DVDs] had featured Caucasian individuals engaged in straight sex, so it was not much diversity. We wanted to get variety: Caucasians, African-Americans, Asians... by giving out multiple pornos with characters from different racial categories, we're able to give [our patients] what they want to see," he said.


      Some of the gay porn at New York Fertility Services.

      Manhattan Cryobank doesn't currently offer gay pornography, but they've received requests to stock them. "Now that we have more people from different sexual orientations, we have to provide something that gets them in the mood. That's important to us," said the researcher.

      The New York Fertility Bank has services explicitly for gay couples, so providing the proper materials is instrumental. "When we started our practice, we didn't have a lot of gay porn," said Teresa. "But then we started seeing a lot of same-sex couples [who need sperm to conceive], especially internationally, because it's illegal for them to have babies in other countries."

      "We have a sign in our room that says if you don't find something that you need, ask us and we'll try and oblige," she said. "Some gay couples started asking if we could put in something they could relate to more. And so of course we listened."

      Nowadays, when Teresa visits the porn shop with her husband, which they do roughly every two years, about 25 percent of what they purchase is gay porn. Neither have a explicit taste for gay porn, so their selection comes from a cursory scan of the covers.

      Teresa showed me around the collection room of the practice. Three drawers, each labeled "Visual Aids" had additional labels indicating their contents. Two of them read "Male/Female" and one read "Male/Male." "We don't want to offend anyone by someone opening the wrong drawer," she said, rifling through the DVDs as I took pictures. "That's why we label."


      The collection room at The Sperm & Embryo Bank of New York, Inc.

      Providing X-rated materials in any context is a thin line to walk on. Some practices, like the Sperm & Embryo Bank of New York (SEBNY), have to tread lightly because they do more than just sperm donation. They also preserve the sperm of adolescents getting ready to undergo chemotherapy. I visited and talked to Albert Anouna, the CEO of SEBNY, about those cases.

      "You don't want to put someone in an embarrassing situation," Albert said. "Because we also get young men [who are cancer patients] at the age of 11, 13, 14, and I have to ask their parents permission if it's OK. Sometimes the parents will say it's not OK. 'Please don't put anything in my son's path.' So we make sure the room has nothing."

      Albert ushered me into the collection room of his practice. He walked around, explaining the significance of each object. He pointed to the barstool in front of the TV. "Some places have a couch, I like to have a barstool," he said. "I find that it's more dynamic, and it's easier for a male to ejaculate standing up than sitting down." He walked over to a framed picture of a nude Madonna on the wall. "That's her when she was 18, 19," he said. "Isn't that beautiful?"

      I leafed through the Playboys he had on the table. Some of them were old, from the early 2010s and late 2000s. "The date isn't as important as what it does," he said, "and we don't use as many magazines anymore. Nowadays it's mostly DVDs."

      We're vanilla ice-cream. Men on men, women on women, two on one—it's all fine. But don't come here asking us to bring you tapes of animals. –Dr. Joel Batzofin

      As the owner, Albert takes responsibility for getting the materials, but doesn't pay as much attention to the content when he buys it. He'll usually buy a variety, then review later. "I have female staff, and they understand what men are looking for in terms of comfort zone," he said. "It's not something they have to do, it's not part of their job, but if they want to, they'll review the materials and give me their opinion."

      "You have to watch, you have to see," he said. "Once we had a tape that was using an animal and a human. I got that from the store, but I didn't know what it was. We watched it and didn't think it was appropriate at all."

      Similarly, all the clinics interviewed made sure to emphasize that although both racial and sexual-orientation diversity is sought after, nothing really goes past that. Theresa Randolph's husband, Dr. Joel Batzofin, the doctor and co-owner at New York Fertility Services, was adamant about this.

      "What are we?" He asked rhetorically. "We're vanilla ice-cream. Men on men, women on women, two on one—it's all fine. But don't come here asking us to bring you tapes of animals. And all this crap like scat or whatever you call that. Sorry, we're not going to do that!" His face took on an expression of disbelief. "Why must we put that in there? If that's what it takes to get you to produce, go somewhere else, get your sample and bring it here and we'll analyze it for you."


      Hentai porn in a donation room.

      The most extreme porn I witnessed was Japanese hentai (animated porn) at the Manhattan Cryobank. They had a couple videos in their archive. I clicked on one, and we stood in silence for several seconds, watching as an animated schoolgirl gave a blow job an older man.

      I asked the researcher standing beside me about the motivation for including hentai. "I don't get into that, I'm not from that generation," he said. "But [the other researcher] thought it'd be a good thing to have. I don't think there's any part of the animation that includes any kind of bestiality or different fetishes. It's still pretty straightforward heterosexual sex."

      Manhattan Cryobank is unique in that they pull their porn from the internet, which explains the ease in which the other researcher was able to get hentai. Most places are still using DVDs. At Manhattan Cryobank, the switch was for two reasons: The DVDs were getting scratched and people were actually stealing the DVDs. "We would just watch the pile slowly dwindle throughout the year," he said, chuckling.

      New York Fertility Services has the same problem. "It's fairly regular. DVDs are easy to put in your pocket," Teresa said. "But I guess if we get really good stuff, then it's a compliment when it's stolen."

      You can receive a fertility test and semen analysis at New York Fertility Services, and you can apply to be a sperm donor at Manhattan Cryobank and The Sperm & Embryo Bank of New York, Inc.

      Follow Zach on Twitter.

      Topics: porn, sex, Zach Schwartz, sperm donation, sperm donors, semen, come, éjaculation

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