This Is What Is Wrong With "Not The Cosbys XXX" (And By Extension, Porn)

As a general rule, I’m pretty difficult to offend (when you work adjacent to the porn industry, you sorta have to be). But this morning I received a press release that pushed me over the edge.

What was the offending press release? Why, the plainly titled “Do White Girls Make Not the Cosbys XXX 2 Sequel Better?”

To be honest, I shouldn’t have been that surprised by the press release. The adult industry makes no secret of the fact that white women are seen as the default sexual fantasy: with rare exception, black porn actresses are relegated to niche titles that fetishize the color of their skin. (Not that this makes the adult industry any different from, say, the fashion industry, but that’s a topic for another article entirely.)

But still: to take “The Cosby Show”—a sacred cow of blacks in mainstream entertainment—and to suggest that it could be “improved” with the addition of a few more white faces (and bodies)? Well, that was a bit too far for me.

Let us not forget that the original “Cosbys XXX” was not exactly a, ahem, black movie. Despite the smiling black faces adorning the box cover, there was more than enough white flesh to make this a bonafide “interracial” feature. Of the five (non-masturbation) sex scenes, only one featured two black performers; what’s more, due to the—predominantly white—six person orgy scene that clocked in as the first major sex scene, there were actually more white women than black women getting naked and sexed up in this ostensibly black movie. Not that that’s how director Will Ryder recalls things:

“What many don’t realize is that we had white girls in the first movie and even a cute Asian but most still think of it as a black movie and not even an interracial movie but that is not true,” Ryder remarked.

The obvious problem here is the insinuation that being a black movie is somehow the lesser option, that there is somehow a problem with people not recognizing the movie as interracial, with not recognizing that there are white girls in it, too. Apparently, Ryder’s hoping to avoid making the same mistake with the sequel: while the box cover for the original feature showed the (not) Cosby family together, with not a single white face in the picture, the box cover for the sequel (shown here) has Cliff along with three white women and a Latina—and not a single one of the black women who are the ostensible stars of the feature.

Not that Will Ryder is racist or anything:

“Black is beautiful baby but we love women of all colors so we tossed in some more white ladies and a cute girl from Miami into this sequel and as you can see by the box cover Cliff is loving it,” Ryder joked.

While the sentiment that “we love women of all colors” is a nice one, Ryder’s never been compelled to demonstrate his love of diversity by adding some extra flavor to a predominantly white movie. “Not The Bradys” doesn’t provide us with a scene of the boys going to work on a team of black women, no dark skinned beauties pop up unannounced in “Not Three’s Company.” Granted, one could argue that scenes like those wouldn’t be true to the original sitcom—but then again, a six person, predominantly white orgy involving none of the show’s characters isn’t exactly true to “The Cosby Show,” either.

What it feels like, ultimately, is that Ryder—and Porn Valley at large—feels the need to apologize for featuring black performers, for giving them time in the (mainstream) sun. Because black movies are seen as niche movies, any film that wants to be perceived as mainstream plays up its “interracial” angle, or its white performers—without any concern for what kind of message this sends about the film’s black talent (hint: it doesn’t make them look awesome).

And the longer we keep doing this, the longer we refuse to promote a predominantly black movie as mainstream in its own right, the more we relegate black porn performers as second class citizens. “Not the Cosbys” had the opportunity to shatter this glass ceiling, to make a black movie that was also mainstream because of its “Cosby Show” connection. And yet Will Ryder gleefully squandered the opportunity—and, with this press release, shat on any hope that he might, one day, come forth with a semi-enlightened perspective on race in the adult industry.

· Sitcums (sitcums.com)

*****

Previously: “Not the Cosbys XXX”: All That and a Jello Pudding Pop

  • hodayathink is walking in the glow of love

    You have to be freaking kidding me.

  • Anonymous

    Nice post Lux, and I agree with many of the points you made.

  • Brian47

    Another reason for me to shake my head in shame at certain behaviors in the industry, while still being an ardent fan… damn it all, why do the guys in charge insist on this line of marketing? Where are the smart, progressive people who can take over that job?

  • DontFearTheReaper

    I’m not shocked at all. This is among the thousands of reasons why people should boycott mainstream porn. Go out and buy a videocam and make your own porn.

  • DollyHaze

    Great article, I think you raise a lot of really important and interesting points. However, although I don’t visit often (I wandered over from Jezebel) so I maybe I got you on an off day, I have to point out that currently, on the front page of the “straight” portion of your site, all I see are white bodies (apart from Rosario Dawson, but she’s not a porn performer last time I checked.) I get that this is indicative of what’s happening in terms of representation in the porn industry at large, but still….

  • logruszed

    I’ll say this for the movie, the guy playing Cosby has the facial expression down pat and the sweater is perfect.

  • Anonymous

    I’m amazed, and not just a little disappointed, that porn of all things as actually regressed in terms of race. What happened to the days when Vanessa Del Rio, Jeannie Peppers, and Dominique Simone were lead actresses who just happened to have dark skin? Or where they weren’t relegated to niche vids or “DAT AZZ” flicks? For that matter, what happened to black male performers who aren’t routinely dressed as and talk like street thugs (Where have you gone, Sean Michaels?)

  • Anonymous

    i think you made a really good point lux. i actually use this site as a research tool for a class im taking, and it’s really helpful. my class is about art vs. porn and where the differences are, but there are WAY bigger issues at hand. obviously. i usually use the site as an opportunity to liken the porn industry to the fashion industry. (all the good fashion spreads are kinda porn-y right?) i always thought that the porn industry would be some rainbow coalition of people who enjoy their jobs with a side of hot sex. clearly not. this press release is a perfectexample of how backwards we still are. fashion is the same way. if black models are used, they’re fetish-ized in an african shoot, or in a lesser place of power than their white counerparts. god forbid black be beautiful, as people maintain-but never produce.

    i like sex. i like porn..but race and sex is annoying to me. even more annoying than race and fashion- i dont care who im fucking. if he’s white, okay- if he’s black, awesome. whatever. but maybe i like black guys better. as a white girl- im now a freak. it’s stupid. why is white so great? i prefer the curves of a black woman to bone-y sick looking white porn stars. sorry. i just do. and really really lightskinned performers that are almost white are not really cutting it. they might as well be white. dark skin is beautiful. im not sure what people arent seeing.

    i guess what i’m trying to say is thank you for posting this. if everyone who views your site reads this maybe more people will have something to say about it. that’s my hope. i’m an equal opportunist, and i thought the porn industry would feel the same, because once the lights are off, what color are we? if it feels good, does it really matter??

    too bad porn always keeps the light on. lame i know, but it’s how i feel

  • ithyphallus, 13382

    new meaning to the phrase “pudding pops”

  • Wölfe Knight

    In terms of diversity in porn, the same parallels are drawn between this and interracial dating. People are generally attracted to people of their own race/religion/background because that is what a lot of people who influence our views on sexuality/attraction (our parents, our community, church, media, television, etc) want us to do. Racially purity is still very important to a lot of people, even if it is subconscious. It is cultural we are taught at a very young age what is considered beautiful and images we see on tv or in movies affect that. Movies, including porn are directed at a demographic and most people tend to carry on attractions from mainstream media into porn. If you grow up thinking a particular actress or ethnic group is attractive, you’re going to seek that out when you start looking at pornographic images. The porn industry is merely giving people “what they want” (or what they think they want) because it makes money.

  • Ian Ironwood

    Just saw a blog entry about this discussion on an interracial porn site: [interracialprofiling.blogspot.com]

  • Anonymous

    Lux,

    Your story on our movie Not the Cosbys XXX 2 while well-written is very misleading to your audience so much so in fact
    that I felt I had to respond. First off, read the PR story once again without looking at the ‘shocking title’ and see if it doesn’t read a whole lot differently.

    When we did our parody of the Cosby Show, we certainly gave every character the respect and dignity that they deserved and made sure to write a story that was not typical of what many would think that the porn industry would create. I championed every single performer especially Misty Stone who I believed was a great actress from the first time I ever shot her for a series that I created for Hustler called Barely Legal Black Chicks.

    I remember talking to Hustler about making a very well-produced movie featuring beautiful black girls in gorgeous nicely shot settings. I thought there were enough ‘junk in the trunk’ type black movies and I wanted to give a stage to up and coming black girls so that they could have the same high quality movies that the white girls had. I had to really push hard and long to finally get them to agree and that result led us to creating Not the Cosbys XXX.

    For you to make me seem racist is so laughable to me that I don’t know if I should smile or cry. Not the Cosbys XXX put black performers on an equal stage with their white peers and truly shed a light that black could be a part of the awards parade and gain additional fans. The sad part is that we do live in a black and white world where I sadly found out that no matter how good or well-produced Not the Cosbys XXX would become it would not sell nearly as well as our other white parodies. I thought it would sell in Brady Bunch type numbers but my reports from retail stores all carried the same message which was “too many blacks on the cover”.

    I am a guy that grew up in one of the most racially polarized cities in America yet I always had black friends. I made a twenty year career as a musician working mostly with other black musicians of which I lived, shared meals, rode thousands of bus hours with and enjoyed life with yet you suggest that I am a racist? I won’t even tell you about the girl I was involved with for a 16 year relationship because then I would sound a bit self-serving.

    The point is I wrote a PR story that needed a shocking title and yes I bowed down to the powers of retail by creating a cover that might intrigue more buyers because we do live and die by the sale but there are not many white people in porn industry that has championed the black performer more so than me and I say that not expecting any pats on the back or special words. I just wanted to make a great parody of a wonderful television show and we succeeded. I also wanted to shed light on some truly unique talent like Thomas Ward as Cliff and Misty Stone as Denise who deserved every award, nomination and critical rave they have and continue to receive.

    I think it is very unfair for you to even suggest that I set porn back with this PR story. I am glad that people will now read it because we are in the business of getting exposure which usually results in move movie sales. More money means we can continue to create what could be considered risky projects by many including more black shows.

    I am quite proud of what we have accomplished and the recognition we have received and our actors who have shared the spotlight by being in a movie that we put our heart, soul, love and money into. The fact that I want to sell a ton of Not the Cosbys XXX 2 does not and never will make me a racist or taint the tiny legacy that I hope we have created with this wonderful porn franchise. I appreciate your words but I must say you missed it this time.

    Thank you,
    Will Ryder

  • Anonymous

    Hey, as a freelance writer who writes a lot of promotional material for adult companies (not for Hustler, I don’t have any connection to this movie at all) I just wanted to weigh in.

    I always love your articles but I think that you may have missed the point with this press release.

    The sad truth is that the porn marketplace is so crowded that you essentially have to write “offensive” or edgy headlines and taglines if you want to get noticed at all.

    It’s because porn consumers, reviewers and bloggers see so much extreme stuff related to porn that only the most “out there” stuff get’s traction.

    For example one of my clients was having trouble getting attention/site traffic for a site he had for gay dudes interested in unprotected sex.

    Then, I came up with a release that read “No matter what you promise, never pull out of Dodge.”

    We did another one that read “Condoms are for pussies.”

    Are both headlines, offensive? You bet! Do I condone telling a dude you’ll pull out and cumming inside him anyway? Hell no.

    But, you know what, site traffic fucking soared. Rolling Stone Magazine did an article on the site and the client made money – which means that I’d done my job to get him as much exposure as possible.

    I suspect the headline on this press release is the same type of thing – it doesn’t represent what the writer or producers think, it represents what they think will generate interest, get people to write blog posts and sell the movie.

    And, that’s a good thing, because if the movie sell the black actors in the movie will get more roles and exposure and black porn may become more mainstreamed.

  • Refused_is_fucking

    You see this in non-adult cinema in the population a Tyler Perry feature will draw as compared to a multi-racial cast such as Brooklyn’s Finest. The Tyler Perry Studios project is almost uniformly black — The Family that Preys is a rare exception — with the audience likewise, & with the non-black faces therein as likely to be Latin, as anything. Meanwhile, a Brooklyn’s Finest will still draw a larger black audience than any other, but the crowd, like the cast, will represent an array of ethnic backgrounds notwithstanding previous.

    The lesson learned then is this: to keep from marginalising your draw, you make a film with a cast, in terms of hue, stretching beyond one shade. & in that, you make a film that represents the reality of a major urban centre.

    Yes, many cities still tend to be segregated, by choice — I know mine is — but even within that, already a modicum, at least, of blending has occurred. The largely Afro-American inner city of my hometown, for instance, is not homogenous in its blackness; there is a sizeable Southeast Asian (Laotian, Hmong, Vietnamese) representation, with some Latinos moving from south to northside as well. One of the artsier neighbourhoods, bordering the chic East Side of doctors, lawyers, & other monied professionals, is historically a Puerto Rican neighbourhood, though with plenty of blacks, 60s burnouts (& those largely white), & a mix of collegians from the nearby State U campus & other urban bohemes whose tone runs the gamut.

    To make a film like Not the Cosbys XXX with an all-black cast, which would be an exercise in segregation denigrating the goal to which the writer, above, seems to strive, then, would be counterproductive. But, could there be more black-on-black sex? Sure. No doubt. But a blended cast is nothing at which to scoff.

    *Whenever I see ‘Brooklyn’s Finest’ on the marquee, my mind flashed to former BurningAngel Brooklyn & her strap-on sex with Avy Lee Roth, & I get a little wistful, thinking what might have been. Instead, both Brook & Avy have been scrubbed from BA history, though Avy Lee, at least, still performs. (Brooklyn might, as well.)