Is it hot in here? Or is it just ...
My chair, baby!
I think it's me, because I've been spending a little too much time at Furniture Porn, which is not the Ikea home page -- though that's pretty hot, too, in a cool, Scandinavian kind of way if you know what I mean and I think you do -- but is in fact a porn site, sort of, where you can watch pieces of furniture, usually chairs, having sex with each other.
Yes, I am feeling OK, thank you. Why do you ask?
Furniture porn has a little something for everyone, as long as we define everyone as those people who like to look at pictures of chairs posed in such a way that it looks like they're doing the seat-cushion mambo.
There's Lance, a "virile overstuffed armchair," in the full upright and locked position with Debbi, "a pink baroque beauty." "When the owner's away, wow, do they play!!!" There's the bondage chair, a simple black model bound with rope because, apparently, "Baby did a bad, bad thing." There's something for those with a taste for the wild side -- "hot gay teen lawn chair sluts!" There's even a furniture porn movie and a treat for those with an eye for celebrity sex: In a Furniture Porn exclusive, "Chairlie's Angels" -- director's chairs with the names "Barrymore," "Diaz" and "Liu" stenciled on their backrests -- sizzle salaciously by the seashore.
Furniture Porn is the brainchild of T. Mike Childs, a member of the Los Angeles sketch comedy group the Van Gogh-Goghs and also the father of the Rocklopedia Fakebandica, which contains "all the fictional bands and singers from TV and movies listed in one convenient, scarily obsessive place."
Hoping he won't say anything I don't want to picture as I drift off at night, my naked buttocks dangerously close to a mattress and box spring that for all I know is wanted on a morals charge relating to an incident with an end table in Tennessee, I ask Childs how he came up with the idea for Furniture Porn.
"Well, I received a gift of two chairs, the Lance and Debbi chairs in the pictorial, the really fancy, overstuffed ones," he says. "I was just really struck by how masculine one chair was and how feminine the other chair was. You don't really see that in modern chairs; these were older. So for some reason I just found that really compelling, and I had a weekend where all my apartment mates were out of town and I was really bored, and I had a full roll of film in my camera. So I just started screwing around, and then after I had the film developed I was so embarrassed I kind of just tucked the pictures in a drawer for a year."
He eventually came across the photos again, and this time he showed them to somebody. "And they were like, 'Hey, that's hilarious, put 'em on the Web site.'" So he did. This was around 1996, Childs says, meaning that Furniture Porn is one of the older sites out there, a relic of the wild, freewheeling, sex-without-an-antimacassar days of the early World Wide Web. Furniture Porn started, as part of the VGG site, with the pictorial of Lance and Debbi, and slowly expanded, mostly with pictorials by Childs, though the gay lawn chair sequence was added by Van Gogh-Gogh Galen Black.
"We did have the problem at the very beginning when it was just one page; people just stole the whole page and put it on their site, and we had to write some nasty letters to people and their ISPs," Childs says. "But we haven't really had any problems since we moved it to furnitureporn.com and made it so big that it's a little unwieldy for people to steal."
The site has waves of popularity, mostly fueled by word-of-mouth. "People think it's hilarious and they tell all their friends, and the e-mails start flying around," Childs says. "It's kind of funny because several of us have received links to it saying, 'You've gotta check out this site.' I think that's a sign of success."
Yes, and so is the way my chair is caressing me. Or am I imagining that? The power of suggestion is strong at Furniture Porn because the site seems to have been created by someone who knows his way around a real Triple-X barely legal awesome action you won't believe it you'll never go anywhere else join now only $3.95 a month site.
"Yeah," Childs laughs. "I had to do a little research. It wasn't particularly arduous."
The little porn-site satires in the captions, the warning page and even the alt tags are funny, but what makes the site work is that the chairs really do look like they're gettin' it on.
"I know. It's amazing," Childs says. "It is also interesting how you can capture that sort of porn milieu without being dirty at all. There's certain tropes and conventions of the genre that you can just exploit and make fun of."
Childs says he's never heard from any real pornographers who might have tips or criticism for him, though he is occasionally approached by porn sites that want to trade banners. He ignores those, he says, because he doesn't want any "real" porn on the site. "I guess I want to keep it family friendly. Does that make any sense?"
Of course not. The sofa in my office tells me to ask Childs how he feels about the real must-be-18-to-enter thing.
"Surfing the Internet," he says, "I'm amazed by the depth and ... broadness of what's out there. Just every kind of porn imaginable is on the Internet. So I guess our site is a reaction to that as well. The Internet allowed all these weirdos to crawl out from every rock and go, 'Hey, we're not weirdos. We're a subculture.'"
Well, I'm not a weirdo. I just can't seem to get comfortable as I type this. Whew! Funny feelings. I'm wondering, as I click through a pictorial featuring "Mr. Brown" and "Ms. White," a pair of amorous office chairs: Is this porn?
"It's chairs!" Childs says. "They're just chairs! You can't touch me. You can't possibly indict me under any obscenity law in this country, can you? I hope to God not."
Speaking of getting arrested, I ask if the Van Gogh-Goghs make their living with comedy. "Hell no. Dear God no," Childs says. The six men, who are all in their 30s, met in their mutual home state of North Carolina while half of them were attending UNC-Chapel Hill. They moved to Los Angeles en masse to "make it," which they haven't. At the moment, Childs says, they're on a hiatus from performing while they work on some short films they hope to enter in festivals. In the meantime, Childs makes his living as a software tester, and all of the Van Gogh-Goghs work jobs that Childs calls "vaguely high-tech." The presence in the group of a programmer, a graphic designer and a copy editor helps make vgg.com and its offshoots a first-rate source of Web humor -- or, as Childs notes, "at least spelled correctly."
He says next up for Furniture Porn might be an amateur section, in which people can submit photos of their own randy furniture. But believe it or not, in this seemingly amoral universe, there is a line that Childs and company will not cross.
"We did have a serious discussion in the group, actually -- a semi-serious discussion," he says. "You know you can get those little kiddie, plastic, child-sized chairs? There was some brief discussion about whether we should do a photo session with those, maybe adult-sized furniture and child furniture, and that's where we drew the line. Although it's still up for debate. That would be pushing the envelope even more, as it were."
Hmmm. Envelopes. What's that rustling noise in the drawer?
Oh my God! Envelope porn!