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POTC: Porn as you've (probably) never seen it before

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POTC: Porn as you've (probably) never seen it before

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"Pick of the Clicks looks at the most clicked story of the week on our website and how it is being treated elsewhere on the net. This week: 3D porn

Adult entertainment, erotic cinema, porn, smut. Call it what you want but that is what you, the readers of our English-language website, have been most keen to read about over the last week.
 
Your Hispanic counterparts have been more interested in events in Libya, the Germans in Croatian war criminals, the Italians in Japanese nuclear fall-out. The French-speakers have been reading up on the political upheaval in Burkina Faso while smoking their filterless Gauloises and sipping their expressos.
 
But you, followers of the language of Shakespeare and Wordsworth, have had your curiosity and who knows what else aroused by the future of adult entertainment. You’re not alone. The Turks, the Russians, the Arabic and Persian speakers, they too have been drawn by porn. And in a way, who can blame you? After all, the words 3D: box office viagra for porn industry? are there to be clicked. Like sophisticated spam. So spammish in fact that our facebook page was dis-activated soon after the title was posted on our wall.
 
So here I am, trawling through the internet looking at adult entertainment sites in the name of research, conscious of the disgusted looks of colleagues cast in my direction and terrified of the digital trace that I must be leaving that will surely lead to some awkward explanations in the editor’s office. The things I do for you.
 
Anyway, enough groping around the issue, let’s get down to it.
 
Hong Kong film-makers Christopher Sun and Stephen Shiu have come up with what has been billed as the world’s first 3D porn movie, 3D Sex and Zen: Extreme Ecstasy

Firstly it is not the first 3D porn movie ever made; such films have already been produced in America and South Korea. But Sex and Zen is certainly the first of its kind to have met with such mainstream success. In that sense it has broken ground.
 
Secondly, some would argue it is not porn. It contains plenty of nudity and graphic sex scenes involving plenty of participants. I’m not going to detail all the ins and outs of it, but then apparently neither does the film. 
 
Whatever. One man’s porn is another man’s erotica. Did Eyes Wide Shut make Stanley Kubrick a pornographer? Did Basic Instinct make Sharon Stone a porn star? Like I said earlier, call it what you want. The trailer makes Sex and Zen look like a raunchy Last Samurai but its Category III rating in Hong Kong (forbidden for anyone under 18) suggests there’s more to it than that.
 
In a nutshell the story, told in Cantonese, is set in the kinky court of the Ming dynasty and eventually comes to the conclusion that love is better than sex, which as far as I know has to be a first for a porn film.
 
And the film has proven to be massively successful.
 
Made at a cost of somewhere in the region of 2.5 million euros, it was close to profit after just a week. It broke Hong Kong’s opening day box office takings record held by James Cameron’s Avatar. It has done well in Taiwan and by all accounts Australia. It opens in South Korea in May then in India, France and Italy in June.
 
A large chunk of its success in Hong Kong has been due to strict censorship in China. Starved of porn, mainland Chinese have flocked to Hong Kong and Taiwan to see the film. Porn tourism. Who’d have thought it?
 
Now porn actors and directors across the world are getting excited.
 
The internet has done to the porn industry what it did to libraries and newspapers. You no longer need to go into town to pick up a ‘book’ or a ‘newspaper’ if you can ‘read’ it for free on the net without having to leave your ‘living room’.
 
And from a production point of view, why bother spending lots of time and money filming a porno when some randy college couple are doing it themselves for the price of a digital camera?
 
The porn industry has been waiting for something to happen and is hoping that 3D is it. In terms of voyeurism, 3D porn is a happy compromise between watching the aforementioned college couple online and a going to a peep show. As Sex and Zen’s producer Stephen Shiu put it “It will leave audiences feeling like they are sitting right there at the edge of the bed.” Make of that what you will.
 
But is 3D the answer to the porn industry’s drooping profit curve? Is it really porn’s viagra?
 
According to the porn grapevine (not words I ever thought I’d say), a 3D version of Tinto Brass’s Caligula and a 3D spoof of Avatar are in the pipeline. The Sex and Zen team are already talking of a sequel.
 
But what exactly is the target audience? Those going to see Sex and Zen in Hong Kong are a mix of old and young, men and women, manual workers and middle managers. They are there to see a film with sex in it rather than see a film of people having sex. They are having a movie night out rather than a quiet night in.
 
Porn has been around ever since cavemen started carving rude pictures into rocks and while there is demand there will always be supply.
 
Perhaps in a few years every screen we see will be in 3D and we’ll all be walking round with red and green-lensed glasses on. Perhaps we’ll all have our eyes surgically removed and replaced with 3D eyes. In which case all porn will be in 3D and the porn industry will find itself in the state it is in now: cheap and available.
 
Or perhaps the novelty will have worn off and we’ll all have realised that 3D was just a fad. Again, professional pornographers will find themselves back at the homepage and competing with unpaid but willing amateurs for market share.
 
In any case, 3D Sex and Zen is something of an experiment, and has already achieved one of its aims: it has got people interested.