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

Jo Broughton | Interview
Victor LaValle reads ‘Long Distance’