This article, originally titled Our Song Was In A Porno, firsted appeared online for IMPOSE Magazine on October 9, 2013. See the original version here.
My first contact with pornography was disastrous. So disastrous, I broke my wrist.
In the fifth grade I was invited to a friend's birthday for a sleepover. The centerpiece of the night was supposed to be the red, yellow and blue bouncy castle his parents had erected in their modest backyard. However, we soon learned that one of the guys had snagged a porno from his brother's room and the premier event quickly shifted to the midnight screening of a soft-core film.
I'd had very little contact with porn up until this point in my life and I was very excited for the future. Porn was cool like smoking was cool. So we bounced and we bounced. Every passing minute with every bounce felt like an eternity as we eagerly awaited nightfall. Fueled by a mixture of aggression and excitement we started to playfight. We were Ninja Turtles and Power Rangers and cowboys and a fury of jump-kicks and roundhouses.
My friend Thomas took a tumble from the deck and his TV-inspired and entirely homemade version of judo landed him perfectly on my arm. The money shot. He snapped my wrist clean through. I went to the hospital around 7 p.m. and the rest of the guys were busted at about 12:03 a.m.
Since the fifth grade I've watched porn many times in my life. Not to excess, but I have watched it. And to be completely honest with you, I've never really thought about porn critically. What are the social implications? How are the performers treated? Are they happy or exploited? Is the industry drug addled and abusive or is it a misunderstood art form? Can it be both? Is porn a progressive way to stimulate a stale relationship or the root cause for sexual dissatisfaction?
There is a forever-ongoing conversation about pornography's place in the world and there are extremely intelligent arguments on both sides. All this said, dissecting the kernel of pornography's existence and forming a conscious and finite conclusion on the topic of good vs. evil is not something I have the education to participate in. I'll be the first to admit that blindly consuming something, even in small doses, is ignorant and potentially harmful. I firmly believe that pornography's polarizing nature makes it ripe for research and discussion, but for now, I just want to tell you about this weird thing that happened to us.
To preface this story, I have to admit that my relationship with porn has always been a dishonest one. The first thing I ever stole was a Playboy from my aptly named and local convenience store: Jug City. Jerri from Survivor was on the cover. That set a precedent, and I have never paid for porn since. If I was to watch it on the Internet, I streamed it. I have never bought a DVD or subscribed to a website nor financially contributed to the industry in anyway, only stolen from it. Then, one day, porn got me back.
I found out via Twitter:
"@itsthedarcys did you know 100 Mile House was used in a "movie" ? Hahaha"
"@itsthedarcys it's one of those movies you'd show over PM, if you catch my drift... haha"
I inquired and asked for a link. He said:
"@itsthedarcys yeah I sent it to you over a different account, There was no way I was sending "that" link over my real account."
A few minutes later I received a tweet from a hilarious twitter handle along the lines of @FakeTwitterAccount or @NotMyRealTwitterAccount and this time he sent a link. I was a bit timid to open it. It was early in the morning and the last thing I wanted to see was a poorly lit, handheld porno shot with a cell phone at a gas station rest stop. But I was far too curious not to click onward. I pressed play and as a young redhead strolled through a field disrobing, our song started.
Art-rock is a tricky thing. It's precious. People talk about it like fine art or good wine. It's pretentious, it's serious and not for porn. So the implication was that I should be immediately up in arms. My art was stolen and slapped over some smut film. How dare they defile something I labored over?
But as I watched, knowing full well that my song shouldn't have been there, I realized that it sort of worked. My band has always been said to have songs that sounded "cinematic" and soundtrack work is something we've begun to experiment with recently. We've licensed a few songs to Canadian television, worked on a movie from Mexico and have been up for the odd car commercial, but our first real placement was now this porn and our song was a damn fine soundtrack.
We set out to create cinematic moments with our music and we did it. Though my first emotion probably should have been that of disgust, it was more along the lines of pride. Someone heard our song, thought it set an appropriate mood and used it in something they consider to be art or at least good. They didn't ask, but they still liked it. And let's be honest here, a lot of us musicians crave approval. Importantly, our music was not the soundtrack to penetration or even heavy petting, we simply set the tone for a girl disrobing in a farmer's field. We did not soundtrack the sex, we set the mood for the sex to come.
After watching the porn for a second and third time -- for research purposes -- and sending it to a few friends, also for research purposes, I realized that I knew the girl. That is to say, I knew her from American Apparel ads and the backs of magazines. On two separate occasions I described her appearance and people knew her name before I could finish saying "just tights."
This changed things a bit. This wasn't a budget film, this was a shoot that used expensive talent, was well lit and shot in a number of locations. This was real deal porn. I contacted our management and realized that we were about to sue a media company for illegal use of our song. And we did. As much as I was flattered that our song enhanced the film, stealing our song was illegal and I was still pissed off.
We engaged a lawyer in Nevada and one in California. We filed a cease and desist and prepared to sue for a lot of money. Like a lot. And it's interesting, if someone asked if our song could be used in a porno in advance, I'd decline. I'd have to. But now that it was stolen from us and I was potentially going to get paid for its use, did I really care? Maybe a little, but this money could fund tours, new videos, the coffee we're making. This porno could be the difference between the success and failure of my band.
As one might assume, it was difficult to track down exactly who to serve when suing a company that makes pornography. The company had a P.O. Box here, an office there and another office over there. For a while I thought we might be sending letters to an empty cargo container with an address somewhere out in Phoenix.
I even imagined someone's job was to specifically scan the Internet for small bands and poach their songs with the hope that no one would find out. I imagined a lot of things, but the company responded relatively quickly. And to my surprise, they were very clear about the use of our song in their film. They said: we did not steal your song. Instead, they blamed it on "Stinky Fingers." They literally said, we didn't do it, Stinky Fingers did. Stinky Fingers was a username that uploaded the file to a site (which we won't name) that specializes in user generated content and though I am paraphrasing a touch to conceal Stinky Fingers' real Internet handle, I promise you it is something very similar and equally hilarious.
The pursuit of justice in this case is ongoing and the emergence of Stinky Fingers has led to a bit of a hiccup. Without getting into it, and as far-fetched as it seems, the porn company's case holds some water and it's a bit of a pass-the-buck between the film's producer, the site that hosted the video and those mysterious Stinky Fingers.
We've been turned around and forced in a different direction. We're after a different cargo container with a new address on it somewhere in the Midwest this time. This whole thing reminds me of an altercation I had with my landlord in university. Our furnace broke in the middle of winter and he let it sit busted for two months.
My band mate Jason and I lived together and we slept in our winter coats in sleeping bags. We had to go to friends' houses to shower. It felt like we were paying rent to live outside. One day he showed up and dragged the old dirty furnace across Jason's bed and out the back door. Jason and I came home to an oil slick the length of his bedroom and still no heat. We finally got a hold of our landlord a few days later brought him by the house, pointed at the bed and shouted, "you did this!" And he said very calmly, "No, I didn't."
And really, at that point, what could we do?
Oh and I know what you're thinking, but the link as been taken down.
For those interested, you can buy our new record Warring here: http://smarturl.it/WARRING