After Hours

A. M. Homes

Jo Broughton’s photo essay ‘Empty Porn Sets’ is published in Granta 110: Sex. We invited a response to the images from novelist A. M. Homes.

‘Is it all right if I come in now? Hello? Anybody in there, I promise I won’t look. Knock, knock. Ready or not here I come.’

Recently vacated, I get the feeling they worked up an appetite and went round the corner to McDonalds and will be back in any minute. I see them come and go, acting innocent, as thought I don’t know what they’re doing in here – they booked the place to shoot a commercial. What am I, blind? Don’t answer; I may be the clean-up girl but I’m not stupid and I’m not deaf.

They have created stage sets, backdrops, candy-coloured scenarios, Kodacolor bright landscapes onto which you can project your fantasies. Child’s play; they’ve got the place all dolled up, like my sister’s house at Christmas when we give the little girl a kitchen set and the little boy a kit of plastic tools and let them have at it.

These are stock scenes for deviant dramatics, psychosexual play, the stuff I studied at University and yes you can go to university and still end up as a clean-up girl.

‘Oh, look what Santa brought me, bright, shiny presents, dripping in tinsel. Oh, Santa how did you know – all I really wanted was the golden dildo? A wand of my own. Thank you. P.S. I never once questioned whether you were real. I’ve always been a believer – do you remember the milk and cookies I left for you?’

Dirty – or not? There’s something a little too modern, a little too clean/sanitized or middle class about their display. In the good old days, sex was a gritty black-and-white, flickering film; this is a celebration, filled with party supplies from the super size store; one giant lube, a super-sized dildo and some steaks for dinner – we’re gonna have fun tonight.

I mop the floors, imagining what goes on when the cameras are rolling; the debris is the give away, lingerie left in the corners, glossy sex magazines tossed around for inspiration, the aforementioned lubricant, red hot rubber, ‘toys’. I just wish they’d stop acting like it’s a big secret, like they’re really filming a deodorant commercial.


Photograph © Jo Broughton, Empty Porn Sets, Spring 2010

Over There

Tom Bissell, George Bowater, Gardner Botsford, Paula Fox, Nell Freudenberger, Paul Fussell, Charles Glass, Chris Hedges, Adam Hochschild, A. M. Homes, Chalmers Johnson, Murad Kalam , J. Robert Lennon, Jacki Lyden, Todd McEwen, Darryl Pinckney, Eric Schlosser, Gary Shteyngart, Studs Terkel, Paul Theroux, Joel Turnipseed



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