On a recent afternoon at the San Francisco headquarters of the porn company Kink.com, a director by the name of Tomcat readied a motorized sex toy. It consisted of a large motor attached to a thick metal pole with a pink dildo on one end. The dungeon-like set, hidden in the bowels of the building, a former military armory in the heart of the Mission district, was decorated with chains and a dilapidated bed that looked like it had seen a great many occupants.
Before starting filming, Tomcat added one last touch: a GoPro, just below the dildo.
Usually, you think of a GoPro attached to the nose of a surfboard or the handlebars of a BMX bike. After all, the palm-size camera is specifically designed for professional and amateur athletes alike to capture the thrill of a pipeline or front-flip. But increasingly, the GoPro, and similar compact cameras, are being used for another extreme sport, one it’s safe to say the company doesn’t have in mind as an ideal use case, namely pornography.
GoPro declined to comment for this story.
There are countless porn clips advertised online of women performing blow jobs on dildos with a GoPro attached on the end. Often, porn films shot on more traditional cameras will incorporate GoPro footage here and there for variety. Sometimes, one GoPro isn’t enough: In a shoot I came across on the porn site RealityKings.com, a male porn star was equipped with one strapped to his head and one slung low around his waist.
If anything, amateur porn-makers have been even more enthusiastic in adopting the GoPro. Men tend to go the head-mounted route, offering an even more realistic version of the porn genre’s ever-popular point-of-view shoots. Some canny homemade porn creators have exploited the GoPro’s slow-mo capability to share excruciatingly detailed ejaculation shots. Many videos, with titles like, “Multiple uses for a GoPro…,” take obvious delight in appropriating this mainstream technology for naughty purposes. And, indeed, why else explicitly advertise the name of the camera?
Some clips aren’t even X-rated, although they are clearly meant to arouse: Take for example, a four-minute long video taken from a GoPro mounted on the back of a motorcycle showing a female rider wearing only a hot-pink thong. There’s even a busty woman known for uploading videos of herself working out with a head-mounted GoPro pointed at her jiggling breasts.
But constructing professional porn with a GoPro takes more than just strapping a camera on to a sex act. With some work, innovative shots could be created.
At the shoot that I attended, a naked model positioned herself on the bed with the small camera hovering between her splayed legs. In his hands, Tomcat held an iPhone displaying the camera’s view: an extreme-closeup of the toy entering the woman’s body. “Really look in there,” he instructed the performer. “Peer down in there at the camera.” On Tomcat’s display screen, you could see the young brunette lustily eye the GoPro–although, as a viewer, it felt like she was looking right at you.
This particular shoot was for a Kink.com site by the name of FuckingMachines.com, which occasionally uses these miniature gadgets to go where regular cameras can’t. “We usually do something like attach it to the dong for ‘dong cam’ or mount it in a spot that our regular camera cannot access for a unique view,” explained Tomcat.
Across Kink’s various specialized sites, GoPros are used to capture everything from foot-worship (they’re great for unusual angles) to squirting (they’re waterproof). The company even allows subscribing members to “rent” a dominatrix from afar: They can watch along, and even interact with, a performer equipped with a GoPro Hero. These magnificently compact and lightweight cameras can be especially useful in BDSM shoots to convey the perspective of a submissive in a cage or other cramped spaces.
That isn’t to say that the gadget is perfect for all porn uses. Danarama, a director at the X-rated education site KinkUniversity.com, says the GoPro’s fish-eye effect tends to make things appear bigger than they really are. “At some point, it just looks comical that a penis is that large,” he said. Yes, even in porn.
But there is something about GoPros that make them especially useful for porn right now. As free online adult material has proliferated, viewers have begun to expect much more from their smut. It isn’t enough just to witness the carnal act anymore. Now, they want to see every bead of sweat, every twitching muscle–to be as close to the action as humanly, or technologically, possible. And that’s what small, point-of-view cameras like the GoPro allow: They bring viewer’s fantasies closer to reality than ever before. As Tomcat put it, “You no longer have to wish you could see what the dong sees–you now can see all the wetness and excitement of a female orgasm from close up.”
After the shoot wrapped, Tomcat waxed about the mischievous appeal of the GoPro, which can get up-close while remaining hidden. “It’s sneaky and has that inherit feeling of being naughty, forbidden,” he said. Also, it can make for a better experience on the part of on-camera talent: “It allows our models to feel like a less intrusive video is being filmed,” he explained.
Of course, there is a familiar, and much simpler, explanation for all of this: Rule 34. At some point, all technology is harnessed for human sex.