Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

Watching Porn: And Other Confessions of an Adult Entertainment Journalist

Rate this book
Watching Porn is a book about a journalist's foray into the porn industry as a film and sex toy critic and founder of a Whack! Magazine. The book aims to educate the reder into what really goes on behind the scenes.

320 pages, Hardcover

First published June 6, 2017

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Lynsey G.

16 books10 followers

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
23 (25%)
4 stars
27 (30%)
3 stars
23 (25%)
2 stars
13 (14%)
1 star
4 (4%)
Displaying 1 - 21 of 21 reviews
Profile Image for L. McCoy.
Author 4 books2,970 followers
March 29, 2020
WARNING: GRAPHIC SEXUAL DISCUSSION, A BIT OF DARK HUMOR AND LOTS OF STRONG LANGUAGE AHEAD! If the first and last things in my warning offend you don’t read this book either.

No! This book started off so good but then suddenly sucked. What the fuck happened?

What’s it about?
Lynsey G. is a porn journalist. In this she talks about the good and bad of the porn and sex toy industries as well as their histories. Mix that with some experiences of hers that she discusses and talk about the political side of these things, you get this book.

Pros:
There’s some interesting experiences talked about in this book.
There’s some humorous bits in this book.
This book is well written for nonfiction. Nonfiction is often kinda dry, this never felt dry.
The history stuff that’s discussed is fascinating. I actually sorta want to find some stuff specifically about the history stuff now (if anyone knows any good history of porn books let me know, it seems surprisingly interesting).
There’s some political stuff that’s kinda interesting. It was interesting hearing about how porn has faced censorship in many ways. I also didn’t know about the surprising racism in the industry...

Cons:
...unfortunately it goes full “SJW” mode. I usually don’t use that term but... well, imagine the PC principal character from South Park. Lynsey sorta acts like that. She also beats a dead horse by talking about diversity and feminist porn for MOST OF THE GODDAMN BOOK. Like I get that it’s her favorite type but damn! It gets ridiculous.
description
Amongst the bullshit there’s my biggest problem, the (at least borderline) kink-shaming. She talks about some taboo and politically incorrect fetishes which is bad enough but then she goes into things that are completely ridiculous, most notable (to me at least since it’s something I’m into) is when she calls the giantess fetish “sizist”.
description
Okay so first of all it’s sci-fi, if someone thinks we only find women attractive at 50 or more feet they probably have a 50 or less IQ. Second, if it’s not hurting anything who fucking cares? I don’t understand why some are turned on by loli tentacle monster hentai but as long as you’re not kidnapping a schoolgirl to get raped by the horny cthulu you’re planning to summon it’s not hurting anything, fap all you want to it. I would understand if it was a knee-jerk reaction to something you find disturbing (I know I’ve made that mistake online a few times and I deeply regret it, I at least used to have a very “vanilla” POV of sex pushed on me so I recognize I need to be better about not kink-shaming others and even myself) but in a book that you (hopefully have) proofread multiple times? And the author is also the narrator of the audio edition I listened to which was published a couple of years after original release and she has disgust in her voice so she’s clearly shameless in her kink-shaming behavior. Of course that’s for things she deems offensive because of stupid shit and not over things that are ACTUALLY harmful like say, animal abuse porn where women crush live puppies to death which isn’t even mentioned.
On the opposite side of the coin, Lynsey tells us that people are bad for not finding certain things hot. Basically according to the author if you don’t find someone attractive due to certain features you’re a bigot somehow... This is so stupid. I’ll use myself as an example: say I ask a girl out and the girl says “no thanks, I ain’t sexually attracted to white guys”... see that isn’t the same as “FUCK YOU WHITEY YOU’RE ALL FUCKIN’ NAZIS AND YOU SHOULD HAVE SHOT YOURSELF THE SECOND YOU LEFT YOUR MOM’S WOMB!” Do you see the difference? Same for anything else. The fact that a porn journalist of all people can’t recognize that different people are attracted to different things is ridiculous. We can’t help what we do and don’t find sexy. As long as nobody is getting hurt and is a consenting adult it’s stupid to act like someone’s a bad person for finding something attractive or unattractive.
description
(Here we see a sign that describes anyone who thinks of someone a certain way based on what the person finds sexually arousing)
So this author rants about porn “tube sites”, especially PornHub and how they are putting the porn industry in danger. There’s a major problem with this argument, where do creators who don’t want to make their own website but have sexy videos they want to share go? Sure, I understand the concern about piracy and all, but to be so angry at the porn ones seemed kinda ridiculous to me. It’s not like we see filmmakers or movie journalists say this stuff about YouTube (at least I haven’t) and if it weren’t for sites like PornHub artists who have stuff that they want to share that doesn’t fit YT’s sexual content related guidelines (which are pretty strict for anyone who isn’t a big-name pop singer or chart-topping rapper) there would be no way so I found that particularly ridiculous.
Towards the end there’s a giant Trump rant which I can slightly understand because as someone who’s not conservative or liberal, conservatives are typically (though not all of them) kinda cunts when it comes to sex related anything including porn but it’s so over-dramatized and sudden that it’s actually laughable, especially since it’s how the book ends.
A lot of this book (as in probably close to half) talks about the things other people have said and done, not the author. I can maybe slightly get it since she’s not a porn star or anything herself, she’s a journalist but at the same time I can’t help but be a little irritated with half the book just being “well this guy said...”. It’s like I wanna know about something but this book is mostly second hand information which wouldn’t be as bad if it weren’t for the next problem.
The author is often vague as hell about things. It’s especially noticed when she’s constantly talking about some people but with different names... stuff that’s not even meant to be secret info or anything so that’s annoying as fuck. You’re a journalist... report!
So something that makes all of this arguably worse is the contradictions. You know the way you sometimes see interviews or politician statements and it seems like they’re sorta conflicted on something so they start thinking out loud? While annoying and certainly worthy of criticism, it’s not as bad since it’s an immediate reaction. In a book that should have been more planned and adjusted, it’s completely confusing and fucks up the whole book like... make up your mind. A good example in this (though there are several I could use) is when Lynsey talks about BDSM: sometimes she’s acting like it’s fucked up and cruel, calling it out as “dark” but then at other times acts like it’s the best thing since sliced bread as she talks about her wonderful experiences with various doms... what?

Overall:
Based on this book I can’t imagine Linsey G. is a particularly great journalist. I mean know we all have our fuck-ups but gosh, they’re pretty frequent in this.
At first I was actually really liking this book. I found the history, deeper insight of what is by many not even considered art (which is wrong, I think there is an artistic value to porn, especially depending on the type) and the challenges sex-related industries face today quite fascinating. Hell I actually kinda wanna see if there’s any better books on this subject, not gonna lie.
Unfortunately due to several problems the book is ruined. Sexiness much like art is subjective so of course art that is meant to be sexy as it’s key purpose will get very different responses. It’s slightly hard to review this due to how differing just the author’s responses are to the same subject many times which I guess isn’t surprising... though since she narrated the edition I listened to it is often more clear what her intent and thoughts are thanks to her voice and not her words. If I had just read a paper or ebook edition of this it may have been a 3-star but when you hear it, the book becomes a bit problematic and adds more problems. That being said, if anyone reading this review still wants to read this you get more out of this book with the audio edition. Not necessarily in a better way but in a way that tells you more about how the author thinks and feels.

2/5
Profile Image for Nev.
995 reviews125 followers
June 15, 2020
This was an interesting look into the world of pornography. Lynsey G has a unique perspective, she wasn’t a performer, but as an adult entertainment journalist she was able to gain a lot of behind the scenes information through interviews with performers and directors.

Watching Porn covers a lot of ground. While it is part memoir about Lynsey’s time being a journalist, the main focus is relaying information about the adult industry. She covers the gonzo style of porn in the 2000s, the inequality in pay, racism in the industry, feminism in porn, the rise of free sites that mainly pirate content and how that impacts the industry as a whole.

My one complaint is that I wish it could’ve been more well-rounded with how much it focused on different parts of the industry. The vast majority of the information in the book was about mainstream straight porn, indie queer/feminist porn, and specific niches within those categories, there wasn’t really much at all about the gay male side of the industry. All she really writes is about male performers starting out in gay porn because it’s easier to get jobs in that side of the industry. But then when they try to switch to straight porn there are some companies or female performers who refuse to work with men with a gay porn background. However, I do understand that because the industry is so segmented it makes sense that because Lynsey was writing for magazines focused on straight porn then she wouldn't have as many ties to the gay industry.

Overall this was a super fascinating book. If you’re at all interested in the behind the scenes of porn, definitely check this out.
21 reviews
September 1, 2018
I don't understand the positive reviews for this book. It reads like a mixture of dreary essays about porn and a memoir of the author's somewhat tangential association with the industry. Toward the end, she writes, "I'm just not that interesting" -- and that's a big part of the problem with the book. She could have livened things up by spotlighting some of the people she met in porn. Instead, we just get a lot of quotes from recycled interviews she has done. Reading this is like watching an endless loop of boring porn.
Profile Image for dennis.
128 reviews2 followers
July 17, 2017
fascinating & intriguing!

and now i *want* to pay for my porn . . . .

ETA--i borrowed this from the library. ended up buying it for the useful appendices
Profile Image for Anna Volk.
4 reviews
April 10, 2017

Watching Porn: And Other Confessions from an Adult Entertainment Journalist
By Lynsey G

If Carol Hanisch said the personal is political, Lynsey G. extends this claim and dares to cross frontiers which are as daring as Hanisch’s back in 1969. In Watching Porn: And Other Confessions from an Adult Entertainment Journalist (New York: Overlook Press, 2017), G. interweaves personal narrative with a fresh and funny journalistic look into an industry that most of us would be too embarrassed to admit to enjoying. The twenty-one chapters of Watching Porn present the reader with an entertaining account of G’s initial steps into the field of adult entertainment, punctuated by several anecdotes that satisfy a little of the curiosity we all have about the backstage of the porn world.

As Lynsey G. makes her way into the adult industry as a writer while learning to deconstruct her own paradigms, so does the reader, who is on the receiving end of a true insider narrative about an industry that is unveiled as it is being discovered by the author herself. The mystery behind the “green doors” of the pornographic world is unfolded through an approach to the industry and its participants which refuses to set them apart from the “rest of society” – by dismantling all preconceived notions and stereotyping without resorting to pink-colored glasses, Lynsey G. is able to bring up issues which constantly need to be addressed – racism, gender bias, the economics behind the production and the consumption of pornography, to name a few – in a very candid and honest way, in a both informative and hilarious manner, as she narrates her professional development as a journalist who works from inside the pornographic industry.

Lynsey G. takes the matter of looking deep inside the pornographic industry and pulling it apart without kid gloves but, at the same time, treats performers and production with extreme care. Her pornographic eye is the much needed political eye over an issue America fails to address effectively: the silence forced upon adult performers by fetishizing the reality of their career, thus making the adult industry uncharted territory and, therefore, something to be feared. G.’s mishaps and tribulations – from misplacing a huge box full of porn DVDs to dealing with the “nasty corners” of suitcase pimps and the “Creepazoid Zone” – presents us with an entertaining conversation about a still relatively unknown area of society without, however, letting it slide into empty confessional discourse. On the contrary, Watching Porn provides material both for serious debates about the place of pornography and the vast plethora of sexualities in contemporary society, this way becoming a reference in the documentation of the progress and development of the adult industry in the last ten years.

Watching Porn: And Other Confessions from an Adult Entertainment Journalist is bound to become one of those works which caters to both the academic audience and the curious passerby. Because, when it comes to porn, deep down we are all just peeping Toms.

Profile Image for Jenny Williamson.
Author 1 book6 followers
October 10, 2017
Porn is something we all watch and almost none of us talk about. Porn journalist Lynsey G hauls our deepest, darkest porn proclivities into the spotlight and makes us look at them. Watching Porn is a no-holds-barred deep-dive into all aspects of the industry, from the lives and daily challenges of performers to the impact of digital pirating on what gets made and why. It is also a searingly honest self-examination of the author’s own relationship with porn and history of sexual assault; her commitment to being an ethical viewer of porn; and her attempt to carve out a career in the no-man’s-land between our public and deeply private selves. It is at once honest, brave, uncompromisingly ethical, and absolutely riveting.
Profile Image for Kirsten.
320 reviews7 followers
August 6, 2017
Some clumsy and unclear sentences (possibly just missed in editing?) - otherwise a very coherent read that beautifully inhabits that 'middle ground between porn and public'.
Profile Image for Stefanie.
611 reviews14 followers
March 28, 2020
Strong 4.5. I think everyone should read this book, but especially X-ennial / early Millennial queer women who’ve ever watched porn (so like, all of us). Lyndsey’s story of writing for porn mags, interviewing the late 2000s stars and her personal crusade to explore “the space between” the industry and consumers is a fascinating blend of personal journey and intellectual exploration. It also really drove home the lesson: pay for your porn, if you want anything good.

Lyndsey’s a fresh and ambitious 24 year old when she gets her first job reviewing porn DVDs (yes, DVDs lol) and is quick to describe herself as similar to many other young women: a default but not deeply thought through feminist, coming from a somewhat repressed family background, who watches free porn but doesn’t otherwise think or talk about it. Nonetheless she becomes fascinated, maybe also as a result of having a sexual assault in her history, and quickly starts to think through the questions inherent in consuming porn: where’s the line when it comes to exploitation, what’s up with all the misogynistic language, racist categories, unfair pay scales and more.

Lyndsey manages to write a deeply thoughtful book about the issues of creating and consuming porn while putting enough personal detail in there to keep it interesting (the stories of her attending porn conventions like Exxxotica and AVN are my favorites). She enters the industry in the mid 2000s around the time “gonzo” porn is popular and carries through to when feminist, indie and queer porn is on the rise. Learning more about how feminist porn works is worth the price of admission to me, but she helpfully also includes some resources at the end of the book as well.

If I have any critiques it’s that I could have wished for a bit more details of Lyndsey’s life and her own journey to awareness and acceptance of being queer, and how that played into her work at the porn industry online mag she helped co-create called WHACK! I think she was a bit coy about her own life towards the end of the book, not mentioning which porn stars she slept with (though she admits she did sleep with at least one!) and summarizing some major personal life shifts in a couple paragraphs. She writes about being interviewed by a woman who grew frustrated she couldn’t find any “dirt” behind Lyndsey’s interest in porn, but I have some sympathy for that interviewer, if Lyndsey also withheld details about her life that would have made this narrative more personally resonant.

Nonetheless, this was a unique, captivating book that I read almost nonstop in a day. Maybe reading about porn will be my next new favorite pastime, lol.
Profile Image for Lenny Peppers.
1 review3 followers
February 5, 2021
I love the peek into the behind the scenes of the pornography industry. But I also enjoy the author's search for a job that both completes her while at the same time, providing the financial support that a good job should. As a journalist myself, I know how hard it is to make it in the world of writing. Also, can we talk about feminism, captalism, lgbtqia, and race in porn?! YES and she proves that it needs to be discussed in order to make a difference.
26 reviews1 follower
December 2, 2017
A well written and often thoughtful look at the porn industry and the people who choose to work in it.
A number of stereotypes are debunked and topics such as racism, the straight/gay divide, and consent are covered in an always interesting manner. It is also more fun to read than I have made it sound!
11 reviews
October 10, 2022
I read this to try and understand why people watch porn, and it certainly met that objective. I learned a lot about the industry the people that work in it. It was like a cultural study of the subject. I only recommend it if you have wondered about the issues of what draws people to porn. The writing is excellent.
Profile Image for AGMaynard.
716 reviews3 followers
March 24, 2018
Offers a lot of information on the field, including porn criticism, the general industry, subgenres, and more. Recommended if you are interested in the industry and how it fits in everywhere. Stormy Daniels is even quoted once!
Profile Image for Bethany.
99 reviews2 followers
November 17, 2018
Got halfway through; it wasn't bad, but I thought the writing could use some tightening up and I felt like it was getting repetitive. I really did mean to go back to it, but after setting it down for 3 weeks I just couldn't summon the interest to keep reading.
Profile Image for Shannon.
44 reviews
January 5, 2020
Interesting to learn more about the inner workings ( no pun intended ) on a taboo industry and topic. I listened to this book by accident as I clicked on the wrong button on Hoopla, but I’m glad I did.
Profile Image for QueenB.
243 reviews2 followers
August 7, 2020
The premise of this book sounded great and then it never really picked up for me. I would sit to read it and I couldn't get interested. I hate DNF but I have so many other books to read, I didn't want this one hanging around and taking up my reading time.
Profile Image for Erika.
22 reviews
October 8, 2020
I borrowed the audiobook from my local library. I found this book quite interesting and informative considering I know next to nothing about the porn industry other than occasionally watching it. Reading this book will make you see porn and the industry itself in a different light.
Profile Image for May Su.
Author 4 books9 followers
October 15, 2017
Set aside my giddiness for having been included in the book toward the end, this book was a fun and informative read. Lynsey G lets us see into the rapidly changing world of porn through a feminist's glasses.
Profile Image for Carl.
364 reviews1 follower
September 26, 2022
Humorous and very good writing. Definitely provided some interesting behind the scene information about the porn industry without being catty or soliticious.
Profile Image for Liralen.
2,648 reviews143 followers
February 17, 2019
Part memoir, part research, Watching Porn is an in-depth exploration of the adult entertainment industry, as seen by somebody on the outskirts. Lynsey G. is in a unique position to examine the industry: she's not directly involved in it (e.g., she has never performed in porn), but she's also not a total outsider: not long out of college, at loose ends and in need of work, she found herself taking a freelance gig as a porn reviewer.

This was not, uh, refined work. But one job led to another led to another, and each job made her more curious about the bigger picture, and Lynsey G. found herself digging deeper into the industry. That led her to feminist porn, 'queer' porn, questions of racism in porn. I use the word 'questions' loosely, because there's no question that it's there, and toxic, and worked into the fabric of the industry. Lynsey G. describes, for example, a hierarchy of 'firsts' for new female porn performers, where the expectation is that they'll work their way up through more and more intense or taboo acts (not so much about their comfort level as about what is considered most taboo): oral penetration is below vaginal penetration, for example, which is below anal penetration...which is below interracial scenes. It's...blatant and awful and blatantly awful. (This is also an industry in which there's space for approximately one male East Asian big-name star at a time. Maybe. One. In a multi-billion-dollar industry.)

But that's just a tiny slice of the picture Lynsey G. gives. She tackles payment, and the divide between the het porn industry and the gay porn industry, and STIs, and the question of condom usage in porn. I didn't realise this was a question, to be honest, but what Lynsey G. says is that the gay porn industry has historically relied on condoms, while the het porn industry has historically relied on regular STI testing, and many performers have good reasons to avoid condoms (chafing and drying out from extended use, basically, which can lead to more significant problems. Gad, the things I'd never thought about!).

If it's not already clear from this review (...if you've made it this far), this is not a book for the squeamish or prudish (words I'm using without judgement). But I've read other books by insider-outsiders in the porn industry, and this blows them away by far, not only for the research but also for a pretty simple reason: there's no passive-aggressive self-distancing from the porn industry here. Lynsey G. knows she can't claim the experiences or the participant knowledge of performers, but she doesn't do the 'yeah I wrote porn BUT I'M NOT LIKE THEM' thing that you see in Fast Forward, and there's none of the toxic insecurity of Prude. If your curiosity is higher than your discomfort with thinking about sex, this is pretty fascinating.
Displaying 1 - 21 of 21 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.