I Went to Porn School and It Was a Disaster

Some of the people who show up to Porn Weekender are aspiring porn-industry professionals; others are simply people for whom the experience of sitting at home watching porn is too lonely, remote, or unfulfilling.

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Nov 4 2013, 2:25pm

Angel Wicky, the female performer at the Leicester Porn Weekender.

All photos by Isabelle Andarakis

How much money do you spend on porn? Unless you really, really like masturbating, it's likely that the answer will be nothing. Free video sites have forced those in the business to get more inventive in their quest to keep turning sex into money. Steve Steele, porn director and the creator of Porn Weekender, is one such person.

Porn Weekender is an interactive model of porn consumption that offers customers the chance to come down to the set to watch, direct, and perform in the action themselves. Some of the people who show up are aspiring porn-industry professionals; others are simply people for whom the experience of sitting at home watching porn is too lonely, remote, or unfulfilling.

The weekends are usually held in Prague, where $1600 will get you a place on set and accommodation for the weekend. But given that around 80 percent of Steve's clientele are flying out from the UK, he thought he may as well set up in his home country and decrease both the journey and the price tag (which drops to $240 for a single Saturday afternoon). A few weeks ago, I went along to the inaugural UK edition of the Porn Weekender to see what watching porn IRL with a bunch of other human beings is like.

Steve Steele on set.

I met Steve in a nondescript photo studio in dreary suburban Leicester, England, and he introduced me to two aspiring Welsh porn directors (incidentally, they were also both named Steve). I also met one of the two scheduled starlets, Czech porn star Angel Wicky.

As we waited for the other guests to arrive, Steele talked me through his backstory. "I got into the industry by accident," he recalled. "I was fitting CCTV cameras in the Czech Republic and one of the companies I was working for went bankrupt and couldn’t pay me. To settle the debt, they offered me a share in an ailing porn studio. When I told people in the UK about it, their main question was, 'Any chance of meeting these birds?'"

What followed was a short-lived venture called "I Party with Pornstars"—where, like Porn Weekender, Steve brought together Czech models and paying fans to pop bottles in limos like celibate extras in a Juicy J video. Predictably, most of his customers were hoping to break into the industry themselves. But because most of his customers were presumably also aging men from British satellite towns without any connections, their hopes were more or less impossible to achieve. Out of those democratizing principles, Porn Weekender was born.

A Welsh Steve, stepdad Steve, a naked man, "the Chairman" and his friend.

By noon, the guests had slowly started filtering in. First through the doors were Leicester-based step-father-and-son duo, Steve and Rick. Stepdad Steve was an aspiring stud, describing a career in porn as "every man's dream." A fifth Steve made his way in soon after, followed by local duo, "the Chairman"—his self-appointed pornonym, presumably because he gets around in a wheelchair—and a friend of the Chairman's who didn’t want to be named.

The common motivator for everybody was the desire to see what porn is like behind the scenes—whether the glamor of scripted intercourse and compulsory STD screenings translates from celluloid to reality. Unfortunately, the day began its descent into farcical disaster pretty early on; the other model—a sharpie-browed actress called Chantelle Fox—was running late because she couldn't find a babysitter. It didn't help matters that the back-up girl had canceled that morning, stepdad Steve—who'd initially volunteered to perform—had disappeared, and our other stud for the day was nowhere to be seen.

While we were waiting, Steele suggested that Angel kick things off with a solo masturbation scene to chill everyone out a bit. After covering pre-shoot logistics—like checking recent health certificates and photographing the performer's photo ID—we were given the opportunity to shape the impending scene step by step. The bigger of the two Welsh Steves, meanwhile, was sent to coax our aspiring porno stepdad out of whatever non-erect turmoil he'd found himself trapped in.

Angel with stepdad Steve.

We were instructed to pick out Angel's sex toy from an assortment of standard-issue rubber cocks and a power drill with a dildo fastened to the end. Shockingly, the group opted for the power drill with a dildo fastened to the end. We also got to specify whether the scene would be no-frills gonzo or involve some trite storyline where Angel happens to find a surprise dildo under her pillow and decides to make an evening of it. The group went with gonzo.

Until this point, the mood had been pretty light and sociable, but as soon as Steele shouted action, a very uncomfortable smog of sexual tension descended upon the room. Despite the lubrication and inventive use of power tools, it was impossible not to come to the crushing realization that, actually, standing among strangers while a woman masturbates in front of you isn't all that enjoyable.   

After about 15 minutes of avoiding eye contact, the scene was over and we were invited to enjoy some sad-looking sandwiches, before being told that Chantelle had to stay at home with her kid and couldn't make it after all.

Steele apologized profusely and even promised refunds to anyone who felt short-changed, before ranting about English models. "This is why I avoid working with the English girls—they're totally unprofessional," he said. "We've got a very good standard of living compared to other countries, so there's no real need for girls to go into porn. They’re either very dirty girls—which is fine—or they’re damaged. In Eastern Europe, there isn’t the same stigma, so girls look at the bottom line and see it as a financial move. In Britain, the best girls go out to America, so what we're left with is the dregs of the barrel."

About three hours after kick-off, our stud—"Eddie Sharpe"—finally arrived. Stepdad Steve had officially dropped out, so all our hopes were invested in the strength and tenacity of Eddie's erection. He stepped aside to pop some Cialis, before being handcuffed to the headboard. Unfortunately for Eddie, while drugs might help combat the physical element of erectile dysfunction, they don't seem to override the psychological pressure that stems from having ten pairs of eyes staring directly at your genitals, waiting for you to smash them into someone else's.

As he skulked off to the back of the room, the mood on set became somber. The day was taking its toll on all of us. As we winced in solidarity with Eddie, the Welsh Steves fumbled through the shoot and Steele paced around the room, massaging his temples, stopping only to glance at the heavens to check whether God was done pissing all over his day.

In an attempt to salvage the scene, I was tasked with providing a compassionate shoulder for Angel to cry on, before whipping out my phone and giving Steve a call, begging him to come out of retirement for one last starring role. After a brief moment of soul searching, Steele burst through the door, "drill-do" in hand. That's when he ushered Eddie over to the bed, pulled his head level with Angel's vagina and demonstrated how to properly use the power tool phallus, like a father teaching his son how to thread a needle. It was very unsettling.

One fake orgasm later, we had our Hollywood ending, but many of us would be leaving that set changed men. "Seeing it behind the scenes doesn’t get you sexually aroused, as such," said stepdad Steve, dejected at the bitter realities of a porn set. "I’m quite surprised how they can just switch it off on tap, then make out that they’re sexually aroused. It’s stripped away at the fantasy, slightly. If I look at porn at home now, I’ll reflect on what I’ve seen today."

Rick, his stepson, on the other hand had something verging on a third-wave experience: "Before, I thought porn was a bit denigrating—for girls without much self-esteem. But not any more," he said, enthralled. "Big respect to the girl here today. She's an actress doing a job, and she’s very good at it."

Overall, it was a weird day—there's something uniquely depressing about a group of grown men sighing because the girl they'd been expecting to watch masturbate has to stay home to look after her kid. And Steele would be the first to admit that the day was a disaster. I saw videos from his Prague weekenders and everything seems to make a lot more sense when it's 900 miles away from suburban Leicester.

That said, I can't help but feel live porn is kind of a self-defeating concept. Everyone knows it's fake, so why "strip away" at that myth? If there's one thing to say for my Porn Weekender, it's that it certainly made me realize how much fun real sex can be.

Follow Aleks on Twitter: @slandr

More stuff about porn:

So You Want to Perform in Porn

I Tattooed Porn Websites On My Face So My Kids Wouldn't Starve

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