Pornographic Math and Magic If

By Molly Karr

I do not understand why people watch porn. It is different than acting, the superior art. Porn is actual. It is concrete—it is, like, really happening. There are insides and outsides and absolute touches on skin and little flakes of saliva. There is payment and dye jobs and oopsie daddy issues and steroids under tanned skin and contractual safe words.

In acting, you know, the kind performed on waxed wooden floors in black box theatres in exchange for seven years of MFA’s and overdrawn

Chrissy Pornographic Math (final).png
Art by Chrissy Chen

 credit, there is this thing called the magic if. So whatever emotion you have when on stage, whatever you need to be, there’s an emotional key to access it. You don’t need to exhaust memories and eat them till they dry up in the corners so that you can make tears on command for Ophelia. That’s stupid. That’s what people think acting is.

The if takes you anywhere—I’m not a queen, but what if I was suckled at the breast of one and grew up in rubies? I’m not a male cat that’s died and come back to haunt his owner and then falls in love with his owner’s ex girlfriend, but what if I had four paws? How would it feel to walk on them? (That’s a ten-minute college troupe production, no doubt). I’m not these things. I am an actor with an additional if in the equation—and some debt, I suppose.

But porn. Ew! It’s just filthy subtraction. Right? It is the minus of the ifs and multiplied by stress and sweat. Figuring out how many seconds of time we can get focused on you in your contract, how much you can physically take before industry calls cut. It’s the fourteen year olds finding sliding softs and lubricants and things that are impossible behind red velvets and sugar lips. Mothers who want their husbands to lose their bellies watch worlds through glazed glass of police officers and find that their hearts still beat to the rhythm of fingers on skin. And that one couple that likes to watch it together and eat dark chocolate and red wine. Sharing a secret that pushed most away.

Do they go on auditions too? Good thing we are just actors with ifs.

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