Cameras And Kink

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So much of modern porn is mediated through a camera lens. “Porn” has come to mean “porn videos” and in the process, I wonder if we haven’t lost some of our sense of the sexual power of the camera. The camera isn’t just a machine that replaces an artist with his brush and paints. It does more than capture sexual scenes for our visual enjoyment. It facilitates sexual conversations, bringing people together sexually — as any camgirl could tell you. And in the kinky context, it can also be a tool for humiliation (either directly in the moment, or through the menace of potential blackmail). I’ve been looking at a lot of vintage fetish art recently, and I’m struck by how often a person with pencil and ink ends up drawing a camera. To me that’s proof that the camera itself can be a kinky toy.

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The sense in which a camera brings people together is almost taken for granted, these days when we all have movie cameras in little slabs that live in our pockets. But when somebody has video virtual sex with their lover via live two-way streaming video, they’re using the camera to more fully enjoy the moment with another person, not to capture it for posterity. This works so well that lots of people — like the model/performer/entertainers at camsites like — make a livelihood from it. People cheerfully pay for this because it’s awesome. And it’s been socially revolutionary. Are you old enough to remember when every suburb had its own Peeping Thomas? Nobody misses Peeping Toms, nor even much remembers how common they used to be. The camera has made it pretty much unnecessary to get your thrills by nonconsensual spying, and it’s become much more rare as a consequence.

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As a somewhat sadistic and very kinky person, though, I’m interested — at least in a fantasy sense — in the ways in which cameras can be active sex toys. Kinky people can pervert anything and turn it into a tool to inflict consensual sexual discomfort or even misery. I’m honestly surprised we don’t see more sex toys and software designed around cameras; there are so many ways in which surveillance and invasion of privacy can be humiliating or figure into our power exchanges. More than half a century ago, Eric Stanton had already figured this out; it wasn’t at all uncommon for the submissive figures in his art to be under a camera lens. Then and now, the presence of a camera in a sexually-charged moment of BDSM tends to emphasize the power imbalances that so many of us love to play with.

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