Altporn exhumed, examined, respectfully reburied in gallery show

One of the most impressive things art can do is be assimilated into mainstream culture. ALT to the ALT, a gallery show featuring works by Eon McKai, Kimberly Kane, Bob Coulter, Steak MTN., Carlos Batts, and Courtney Trouble, continuing through (at least) April 16 at Eagle Rock’s Show Cave, proves that, though Altporn is as dead as the dinosaurs, we can still see its vestiges in lizards and certain birds.

If mainstream porn’s function is to make the viewer want to ejaculate alone or with a partner, the term “Altporn” was always problematic, as it suggested something deliberately unsexy. And Altporn didn’t make the unsexy sexy—you’re either sexy or you’re not—but it did shine a light on a different kind of sexy.

But the ALT to the ALT show is simply a collection of well-composed erotica that already has a home in the accepted works of Trouble, Coulter, Kane, and Batts; and there are just as many people walking around who look like their models as there are in the pages of Hustler. In other words, it’s just intriguing work, it’s not “Alt.”

McKai’s work proves the exception, and to describe it I must also describe the rest of the evening, as all art is contextual.

The gallery show was advertised to start at 7. I arrived at the gallery at 7:30, increasing the population inside by 33 percent. There was a man hanging art upstairs, and the gallery’s proprietor was still setting up downstairs. I talked with the proprietor, who told me it would be better if I came back at 10. Not in fifteen minutes, but in nearly three hours.

I decided I’d go to a bar and drink. As I left, I looked up to the loft, where Eon McKai was still hanging his show.

“That’s ALT,” I said, in abject admiration. “Hooker doesn’t care about the audience at all.”

I came back at 10:30, drunk and jowly [see video] and was immediately handed a styrofoam cup full of vodka with some cranberry juice sprinkled on top. In other words, not a Cape Codder but a Patrick Kennedy. Anyway, I learned that I’d missed Carlos Batts, Bobbi Starr, Kimberly Kane, Dana DeArmond, and McKai, among the rest of the attendees. This grieved me, but I again had the gallery mostly to myself to view the work.

As most of the artists represented have been making movies for years, the images on the walls were representative of what could be found in their films. Erotic, vivid, dramatic. Courtney Trouble’s work was all high-contrast closeups, which meant the most to me, and Kane’s had what seems to be her signature distance and femininity. Bob Coulter’s were the most lurid; I like his work because he seems to capture models in their most me-friendly poses.

I think for any porn to be effective, the models must have a relationship with the camera, even if they are looking away from it. The model must express an opinion about the camera and however many people are behind it, otherwise it might as well be an autopsy photo.

When I finally got to McKai’s half-wall, it was pasted with dozens of Polaroids of models, or parts of models, who were naked but indifferent. It had the asexuality that characterizes McKai’s recent work, as if the viewer might admire the parts but be unimpressed with the person who possesses them. In the strictest sense, then, McKai is still the king of the one-man kingdom of Altporn, if the point of porn is to inspire warm feelings.

ALT to the ALT is curated by Rae Threat, who maintained she is not a pornographer, though she did exhibit one small photograph of Drew Deveaux that looked porny enough for me.

“I wanted to bring these people together because I admire their work,” she said, “though I’m still not any closer to a definition of what Alt is, or was.”

I was really impressed with this show, and with the space that showcased the work.

UPDATE: There will be a closing party on Saturday, April 16 (make sure you get there after 9:30) and there is a chance the exhibit will be extended after that. In addition, there will be a special performance at the gallery on Thursday, April 14 at which both Rae and McKai will be present. /update

Just before leaving I bumped into Octavio “Winkytiki” Arizala, an excellent photographer. He left for Chile the next day. On the wall was a photograph of Lorelei Lee, whom I haven’t seen in a few years. Everything is fleeting.

WARNING: While I take responsibility for my actions, I don’t remember making much of this video. Still, you get a good idea of the art on display at the ALT to the ALT show, even if I appear incoherent and lacking basic motor skills. It was good I had a ride home, is all I’m saying.

[hdplay id=15 ]

Previously on Porn Valley Observed: What is Alt again?
See also: ALT to the ALT

About Gram the Man 4399 Articles
Gram Ponante is America's Beloved Porn Journalist


  1. “Lorelei Lee, where have you gone? I miss you.” I feel you, Gram. That girl is smoking hot, will do just about anything on camera, and convincingly looks and sounds as though she’s near-constantly on the verge of not merely orgasming but having some kind of pleasure-induced nervous breakdown.

  2. Wow, let’s hear it for my/your favorite adult recreational beverage!
    I think you made that show more interesting than it was otherwise.
    You were dead on the money with the myspace comment.

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