The end of sex: The pornification of America

On Day 1, the line of trenchcoats waiting to hand over $80 to $120 for a one-day pass to the event stretches from the box office well inside the Hard Rock across much of the length of the enormous casino past the bell desk and to the front door. Some of them are normal-guy Vegas, Baby tourists, and even couples, out on a lark, but some of them aren’t simply stopping by this circus on their way to Circus Circus: For them, this is the main event. They speculate among themselves about which of their favorites will be here this year, and debate which performers and which events should take priority — like the Smithsonian, you can’t see it all in one day and probably would invite some sort of retinal-glandular damage if you tried. One gentleman talks wistfully about Lisa Ann, a performer in the “mature” segment of the market whose career was revived by a timely impersonation of Sarah Palin — she’s the Tina Fey of porn. The trenchcoats are young and old — a few old enough and deconditioned enough to require mobility scooters — and mostly white, though not exclusively so, their troglofaunal complexions suggesting a great deal of time spent awake in the dark. The contrast between the bearded, roly-poly trenchcoats and the performers — many of them tiny and fragile-looking, their massive surgical enhancements slung on remarkably slight avian frames in many cases barely five feet tall — calls to mind H. G. Wells: The Morlocks are here to consume the Eloi…

The libido is the engine of human history, but for that period of time that we refer to as “civilization” it has been tempered and yoked. My friends’ happy family is not a viable option for an increasing number of men, especially those outside of conservative religious communities. In the metropolitan areas where they congregate, young men are in almost every case outearned by the young women in the same cohort, and under current law a marriage is far easier to walk away from than is a student loan. As the French novelist Michel Houellebecq put it in his own vision of sex after humanity: The future is female. With the institution of marriage in decadence, the family in chaos, and men’s traditional role as providers and protectors rendered marginal by economic reality, only the ruthless semi-simian sexual market remains, stripped naked of such traditional mediating forces as have customarily wedded male sexual energy to sociable purposes. More than that: As porn becomes less of a substitute for sexual relationships and more of an end unto itself, we are entering an era in which sex is, at least for some section of the population, post-human. To condemn what the porn expo is offering is to miss the point: It is an inevitability. “If thine eye offend thee, pluck it out,” the gospelist advises, but short of taking that radical and irreversible step, the eye is commanded, willingly or not. We are all trenchcoats now.