The 2011 Ropey Volley Awards: Movies of the Year

Each year I recognize the people, movies, and events that made a difference to me in the porn world. These are the 2011 Ropey Volley Awards for Movies of the Year.

Next month, AVN and XBiz will dole out upwards of 500 awards and, while I understand that their business model demands this, I still remember a time when one porn movie (to be fair, it was a 6-hour compilation) would last me five years.

After all, let’s be reasonable; all porn isn’t the same, but it’s not all that different, either. So the following are movies that tell a story beyond the insertion of Tab A into Slot B, and Tab A’s coming all over Slot B’s face.

Movies You Can Give to People Who Don’t Normally Like Porn (tie)

  • “Portrait of A Call Girl” (Elegant Angel, directed by Graham Travis)
  • “Horizon” (Wicked Pictures, directed by Sam Hain)
  • “Here Cum the Presidents” (CEA Agency, directed by Ronald Raygun)

I’ve yet to see that Holy Grail porn flick, the one that seamlessly blends sex and story, but these three movies are on the very short list of the kind I recommend to people who either 1.) Don’t watch too much porn but aren’t dismissive of it or 2.) Secretly watch a lot of porn and need to be more discriminating.

Portrait of A Call Girl” breaks with tradition by resting the whole movie on the slight back of Jessie Andrews who, at 19, captures the self-doubt and (relative) wholesomeness of a damaged girl from the high desert who comes to the big city to escort.

Andrews is not only in every scene, but she is also the only female performer. Through her travels we learn about the business of escorting and the character of the johns she services.

Maybe it’s not a stretch for a porn performer to play a prostitute, but it’s that too many movies ignore the warning signs and expect high school dropouts to memorize lines and act that makes so many scripted porn movies so disappointing. Writer/director Graham Travis, on the other hand, crafts a story that plays to Andrews’ natural charm, vulnerability, and awkwardness to deliver a porn movie that is touching in more ways than the obvious.

Horizon” is director Sam Hain’s most ambitious work in a short porn career that is full of ambitious work. But unlike a movie that is simply trying too hard (that’s never sexy), “Horizon” dreams up novel and compelling reasons to have sex, such as Sex with An Extraterrestrial and Sex Because You Think You Might Die Soon.

“Horizon” is also Hain’s first non-parody work. I’m hoping that the fact my three top films of 2011 aren’t parodies might make producers ease up on the parody machine.

Here Cum the Presidents” is joyous, loopy, and smart. Not only does it give us a legitimate history lesson on (alleged) presidential mistresses at seven different points in the Republic, but those mistresses are also full-figured and possessed of child-bearing hips, the way powerful men like them.

See, it’s not enough that a movie have a good idea behind it—there’s plenty of clever would-be pornographers who find their lofty ambitions thwarted by budget, available talent, and chlamydia—it must also deliver on the promise. I’d recommend these three movies to anyone.

Movies That Take A Snapshot of the Porn World

  • “Wasted” (Harmony Films, directed by Gazzman)
  • “Dropping Loads” (Sin City/Nick Manning, various directors)
  • “Shut Up And Fuck” (Evil Angel, directed by Bobbi Starr)
  • “Young Mouth Club” (Madness Pictures, directed by Mo)

Wasted” is the rare example of  a gimmick—a mock-documentary of the porn industry—that doesn’t get in the way of a viewer’s enjoyment of the movie. Directed by Gazzman with his usual blend of exuberance and hardcore sensibilities, “Wasted” invents not-too-unlikely scenarios for the likes of Nacho Vidal, Nick Manning, Angelina Valentine, James Deen, and Brooklyn Lee to riff on, such as road rage, diva behavior, and on-set drunkenness. But “Wasted” is a porn movie through and through; it’s just better for the context.

Dropping Loads” is an on-again, off-again series featuring the complex character that is Nick Manning. Manning bridges a time spanning porn’s Glamour Period (I just invented this term: it’s when porn in general let go of its rebel past in the 1990s and started employing men who looked like models) to its oversaturated present, and he carries with him all the conflict inherent in such a career for men of his generation.

“Dropping Loads” isn’t a curated series (there’s four movies out so far) but, taken as a whole, we can watch this collection of interviews, one-off scenes, and miscellany and arrive at some truth about the porn industry and the people it attracts.

Shut Up And Fuck” is in Bobbi Starr’s first handful of movies for Evil Angel, and you’ve got to congratulate that company for its discriminating taste; each of its directors (Belladonna, Manuel Ferrara, Rocco Siffredi, Nacho Vidal, John Stagliano, etc.) has something to say, and it doesn’t hurt that these directors were, or are, performers.

Starr’s method is to just leave the camera on interesting people who are comfortable in their own skin and in Starr’s presence. It’s even good when it’s awkward, such as a scene between Tommy Pistol and Dana DeArmond, because there’s no awkward situation that can’t be resolved—at least temporarily—by fucking Dana DeArmond.

Young Mouth Club” features porn newcomers who don’t edit themselves being interviewed by the man they are about to have sex with. I don’t want to paint a picture of porn talent being thoughtless, but I need to make a case that everyone can be thoughtless; it’s just that most of us aren’t 19, naked, and staring down both a foreskin and a camera.

Cry for Help

  • “The Teacher 3” (Mile High Media, directed by Nica Noelle)

Revisiting “The Teacher 3” at the end of 2011, I was struck by its bravery. Writer/director Nica Noelle populates the movie’s low-rent community college with unflinching reflections of her own psyche as the tiny porn community has come to understand it. With the college as a stand-in for the porn world to which she utterly belongs, Noelle gives voice to her demons as a woman perpetually scorned and vindictive. It is a work of unwitting autobiography, with each vapid and vaguely-detestable character paying homage to its author.

Forest for the Trees

  • “Bush” (Elegant Angel, directed by Sam No)
  • “Fighters” (Digital Playground, directed by Robby D.)

While I surely liked looking at all the pretty people, fonts, and furniture in these movies, I found myself thinking about them for more than 15 seconds after putting my pants back on, which is odd.

For example, I remember a time when everyone had a “Bush” which, unlike breasts or asses, isn’t judged on the basis of its aesthetic beauty in this movie; it’s whether you have one or not.

The question becomes, Do You Find Pubic Hair Attractive, as if it is its own sexual organ rather than the wiry covering for the real goods?

Had I been more quick to copy and paste, I would have shared some tweets I read earlier this year in which people protested the backlash against pubic hair porn. The gist was that pubic hair reflected a “natural” woman and that men who liked shaved pussies were really saying they were pedophiles.

I, of course, object to this. Without outing myself as a statutory rapist, I know there is only one difference between a girl who is 17 and 364 days and a woman of 18. Two if you count the many women I know who immediately went out and got Brazilianed the day they turned 18.

So while I’m old enough to remember women in their 20s who had full pubic patches, it was only a short time later that the prevailing style forced all those women to shave their pubes off, leaving their underage (but not by much, I swear) sisters the hairiest of them all.

A movie like “Bush” doesn’t make us reconsider the criteria by which we judge a woman to be mature, nor should it cast doubt on the sexual morality of people who value or don’t value pubic hair, but it does make us think about how the passage of time can be the main factor in what we find attractive, and I hate thinking.

I remember when BiBi Jones joined Digital Playground. DP’s press department reported the Oklahoma native hoped to be “The Taylor Swift of Porn.” Did this make Jesse Jane, who fought with Jones onscreen and off during the production of “Fighters” the Kanye West of porn?

No. This was a weak premise at best.

But what is clear throughout Digital’s big budget movie (that is not a parody of “The Fighter,” by the way, although I want to direct a porn called “High On Rack Street”) is its focus on father/daughter relationships that need to be reconciled.

We all have heard the rumors that the entirety of porn is based on an unresolved father/daughter relationship, but leave it to titan Digital Playground to hit the nail right on the vulva.

Best Porn Movie I Wrote And Directed

  • “The Facts of Life XXX” (DreamZone, directed by Gram Ponante)

If I didn’t know who this unfortunately-named director was and just followed my normal rules for choosing a porn movie, I never would have watched Gram Ponante’s parody of “The Facts of Life.” The cover looks a little too “Brady Bunch”y to make sense, and I look more like Mindy Cohn than Kristina Rose does (and I’m not kidding).

Then there’s the laugh track and the occasional overlong pause between lines. Then there’s the fact that a woman from Australia is playing a woman from Brooklyn, and that woman from Australia doesn’t happen to be Charlize Theron.

Aside from those things, “The Facts of Life XXX” is a goddamn good movie if I say so myself.

Porn That Makes Me Feel Dirty for Watching It

All POV porn is inherently creepy. With only two people in the room and the sound of the director/co-star’s labored breathing competing with hotel parking lot traffic for the soundtrack, there is no air left in the argument that what we are watching is a legitimate form of artistic expression.

Joe Pusher gets Craigslist hookers off the street to fuck him, and his conversations with them are uniformly forced and awkward. It is up to you to determine if a movie like this belongs on the same spectrum as “Fighters” or “Portrait Of A Call Girl.”

Carol Anne Award

  • “The Flying Pink Pig” (Metro, directed by Erica McLean)

You remember “Poltergeist,” don’t you? No? When Zelda Rubinstein says the demon “was strong enough to punch a hole into this world and take your daughter away from you”? No?

The Flying Pink Pig” offers an amazing story of a porn movie punching a hole into popular consciousness by making an actual L.A. food truck the setting for three porn movies. Not only that, but the almost-litigation that followed says a lot about the way that porn aspires to mainstream acceptance and mainstream folk like the cachet of porn, but things get muddy in the daylight.

“I felt like I was on a raft going down rapids,” says McLean, who approached workers of a Flying Pig food truck one day after yoga with the idea of filming a porn movie. They said yes, she started filming, and then she was threatened with a cease and desist and lawsuit by Joe Kim, owner of the small truck fleet.

“I’d been dealing with James Deets, the person who I’d thought was his partner,” McLean says, “but Kim still knew the nature of the movie before we filmed. There was no doubt about that.”

It was only after the story was picked up by local news outlets (as a result of my sterling reportage) that Kim, a self-identified Christian, got cold feet.

“I told their attorney that I’d worked it out with James Deets,” McLean says, “and the attorney said, ‘Well, I don’t know James Deets.’ Then I produced documentation, and they pumped their brakes a bit.”

By that time, the three movies had been filmed and Kim was hoping to stop their release. When she produced documents with Kim’s signature, the threatened lawsuit became a non-starter.

“I was happy as a pink pig in shit,” says McLean, who adds that she “didn’t want to hurt Joe Kim’s business.

“…but I bet people follow those trucks just to look for Sunny Lane,” she says.

Celebrity Sex Tape that Doesn’t Require Ironic Quotes

  • “Back Door to Chyna” (Vivid, directed by B. Skow)

Back Door to Chyna” is, bar anything but former Miss USA Kelli McCarty’s “Faithless” (also by Vivid), the best Mainstream-to-Porn Crossunder movie ever, with the former WWF star fully involved and invested in the movie and the sex scenes therein.

To be clear, this sex tape isn’t of the allegedly purloined variety (just as heinous a sham, in my studied opinion, as fake milves), but the honest effort of a performer from another medium making a porn movie. She’s great at it.

Best Porn Parody

  • “Grand Theft Auto XXX” (Daring!, directed by Dawn)

I can’t think of a single good, great, or horrible porn parody—except this one—that wasn’t in at least one area fundamentally disappointing. Including the one I directed.

But “Grand Theft Auto XXX” delivers, capturing the feeling of a herky-jerky video game with its marginal acting and broadly-stroked (heh) characters, and adding a European’s view of what Los Angeles is, which I always find compelling.

The bones we hang a porn movie on don’t have to be all that strong, but “GTA XXX” never gets in its own way. Plus, a car gets stolen. And hiring Kagney Linn Karter as “Busty Waitress”? Inspired.


Previously on Porn Valley Observed: Ropey Volleys 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006

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


  1. Thanks for the list, Gram! I am going to buy all of the Movies You Can Give to People Who Don’t Normally Like Porn next time I am in the city.

    At the other end of the spectrum, does Chyna show her big clit a lot in her latest movie? I wanted to see more of it in her first video!


  2. Though the point of the sentence in question may well have escaped me and/or you may be fully aware, I would point out that Charlize Theron is South African, not Australian.

  3. “I was thinking of you when Chyna got all clitty.”


    If *Gram Ponante* thinks of me when watches some porn, I must be doing something right! 🙂


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.