Category Archives: Stuff We Like

Sex Entertainment Across America: Saluting Tod Hunter

Tod Hunter

Photo courtesy of Tod-Hunter.net

A guy.  There’s always a guy.  The point guy.  The go-to guy.  The guy with the skinny.  The guy behind the scenes who knows where all the skeletons are stashed.  The guy–well, you get the idea.

For the past 20-plus years in the adult entertainment industry, that guy has been Tod Hunter.  Perhaps the name doesn’t strike you along the likes of a Flynt or Hefner, but that shouldn’t diminish his place as a prime mover and shaker in the business.  As one of the industry’s preeminent film critics, his influence–both on producers as well as audiences–is legendary, well earned and merits his place as a key thought leader.

The fact that he’s also an eclectically great guy probably doesn’t hurt either.  Politically, he’s solidly duct-taped to the left wing, but you really have to love a guy who quotes Reagan and Jefferson in support of liberals–and makes sense doing it.  Personally, his lifelong love of show business manifests itself today with his membership in Hollywood’s renowned Magic Castle, where he’s also a docent.  Professionally, his gritty work ethic is balanced by the soul of a poet.

Hunter got his start writing for a popular TV game show and for the L.A. International Film Expo.  In 1997, he came across an Adult Video News (AVN) advertisement seeking film reviewers.  Hunter recalled, “The ad asked, ‘Can you write?’  Check.  ‘Can you meet deadlines?’  Check.  ‘Can you be a smartass?’  Oh yeah.  That’s me.  Actually, I just thought it would be a great gig because it offered an inside look at what goes on in adult entertainment, but it turned into much more.”

What it turned into was becoming a competent, activist voice in an industry poised on the verge of significant change at that time.  With the internet still in its relative infancy and its potential only beginning to emerge, Hunter became a proactive advocate for quality adult entertainment in America, acting as a positive force throughout its integration into the mainstream zeitgeist.  “It’s been an interesting time because the internet has really helped take away a lot of the stigma that used to be there,” he stated.  “It’s much more accepted now.  People know who Ron Jeremy is when he walks down the street.  But it’s also created an entitlement attitude because of the proliferation of free material out there.  It’s just like any other form of art or entertainment.  You get what you pay for and usually the cheaper it is, the crappier it is.”

His eye for quality genuinely set him above the crowd right out of the gate as he went about the business of finding the gems in the pile.  For example, in 1999, he was sorting through a stack of screeners one late night in his office when he came upon a production that had captured little interest entitled, “Double Feature.”  “A bunch of people had passed on this one,” Hunter recounted, “but about 20 minutes into it, I knew it was great.  I was completely blown away by it.”  Double Feature went on to capture 10 awards at the 2000 AVN Awards (the industry’s version of the Oscars) and another at the X-Rated Critics’ Organization Awards that year.  Today the film is widely regarded as a classic.  “I love those kinds of moments where you just know you’re onto something special–where you just want to tell everyone to get their own, this one’s mine!” Hunter related.

We first got to know Tod as he tooled around with us in a massive, golden SUV nicknamed “Vanzilla” during the San Francisco episode of Sex Across America in 2000.  Rather than just review completed screeners like most critics, his approach was to invest the time necessary to see the whole process from start to finish.  He did this to get a better perspective of production challenges, but also to gain a firsthand appreciation of the performers and crew involved.  The result was developing a unique, signature style featuring the ability to remain professionally positioned on the periphery yet able to build a sincere, personal rapport across the board.  In a field where it’s easy (and perhaps even beneficial) to be cynical and jaded, Hunter is one of a kind in the sense that he fully immerses himself until becoming a subject matter expert while maintaining the integrity necessary to critique that subject objectively.

Taking that a step further, he doesn’t limit his engagement to the set or the screening room.  He actively follows his subject wherever it goes and in whatever form it takes.  For example, besides being one of the foremost non-resident connoisseurs of all things adult in Las Vegas, he’s also a ground floor supporter of the long-standing phenomenon known as Porn Star Karaoke (PSK).  Billed as the “Longest running ongoing weekly adult industry event,” PSK has been going for over 10 years and has become a weekly staple every Tuesday night at Sardo’s in Burbank, CA.  “It’s the only ongoing gathering of the adult industry,” Hunter noted, “and it’s a great, fun way to keep up with who and what is going on.”  Keeping up with all of that, especially these days, is a monster task.  He makes it look easy–a trait common among those few who are world-class at what they do.

So, if you’re ever in the Southland and have nothing to do on a Tuesday evening, now you have something to consider–and you might just run into The Guy–the guy with his finger solidly on the pulse of all that’s going on in sex entertainment in America–our good friend, Tod Hunter.

(You can follow Tod through his website at Tod-Hunter.net or on Twitter @TTodHunter)

Celebrating Mapplethorpe

A great new resource capturing the life and work of the late Robert Mapplethorpe was recently unveiled by the art-via-internet access project, Artsy.  At Sex Across America, we are honored to support their mission of helping to make all art accessible to everyone through the web—and in particular by highlighting such an innovative pioneer for both the art world as well as for positive sexuality: Robert Mapplethorpe.

The online Mapplethorpe gallery can be viewed here.  We highly recommend sharing the resource far and wide throughout your social circles. Thank You.

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Top Gun Love

It’s an all-too-familiar scene that happens to the best of us:  A confrontation occurs with your significant other and, as things heat up, one wants to break contact and cool off while the other wants immediate resolution and just can’t seem to let it go.  Is it just a “normal” relationship dynamic?  A sign of incompatibility?  Verification that opposites attract?

According to relationship coaches Judith Claire and Frank Wiegers, the core of such issues is actually rooted in biology.  Their new book, So That’s Why They Do That!, uses an interesting and innovative approach to not only explain the physiology of intergender communication, but also offers effective, easy-to-use strategies for working through and improving many other related concerns.  The first in what they intend to be a series on relationship dynamics, the book applies a fresh approach that balances being user-friendly for men while being fully engaging for women.  Systematically, they describe this approach as Top Gun Love.

Without a doubt, it’s a catchy name, but there’s also some interesting background in how it came about.  Understanding that the primary market for relationship improvement books is comprised of women, the authors wanted to create a unique approach that would be equally inclusive for men.  Wiegers, who earlier in life was a Vietnam-era fighter pilot, recognized that military-style operations manuals used a highly effective syntax that made it very easy for a diverse audience– comprised mostly of men at the time–to capture essential information and put it to immediate use.  Collaborating with Claire, who has over 30 years of relationship counseling and coaching experience, they developed a systematic methodology that basically resulted in a “user’s manual” for interpersonal relationships–and one with a balanced feel that is evenly appealing to both genders.

The eclectic blend of their respective styles and experiences works in ways that are both informative and entertaining.  More importantly, their collaboration has produced a useful system for people to proactively share a relationship with compassionate understanding instead of suffering through the reactive effects that seem to be so common.  With almost 140 years of practical experience and expertise between them, it’s certainly worthwhile to take a few moments and see if what they have to offer might benefit you and your loved one.

(If you would like more information about Judith Claire and Frank Wiegers along with their Top Gun Love approach to satisfying relationships, you can connect with them through their accounts on Facebook or Twitter.  Their website, TopGunLove.com, will officially launch in early July.)

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Today’s Swingers’ Scene: Bigger Than Ever

Quick!  Turn on a fan!  It’s like the Sixties in here!

No, avocado-gold decors and shag carpets aren’t making a comeback, but there are some groovy things filling up the old-but-new-again bin—and swinging is among them.  In this era where you just about have to boil people before touching them, it almost seems hard to believe that swinging lifestyles are not only thriving, but even trending as big business.

According to clearing houses such as the North American Swing Club Association (NASCA), the renaissance of “The Lifestyle” as it’s called by those in the know is percolating rapidly throughout all classes and communities, fueling the expansion of efficiently organized events and the emergence of top-tier resorts and five-star excursions that cater to the unique needs and desires of swingers on a global scale.  As you might imagine, much of the growth in swinging—and a key difference between what’s happening today versus days gone by—is due to the internet.  Although the numbers are difficult to pin down accurately because of the confidential nature of the animal, it’s estimated that about two-thirds to three-quarters of today’s swing club participants meet up through popular lifestyle and club web sites.  Ultimately, what used to be strictly taboo is gaining significantly greater acceptance as time goes on and the idea that network and mainstream cable outlets have jumped on board is an indicator of how far things have come.  Even the Discovery Fit & Health channel has swung over to swinging, producing Secret Sex Lives: Swinging, a mini-series.  (Of course, being billed as a “reality show” likely means there will be very little that’s real about it, but it should still be pretty interesting.)

So, what’s behind the resurgence?  Is this trend just a throwback to the free-love movement or are couples having some sort of relationship A.D.D. these days?  Is the concept of marriage itself becoming outdated?  Or is all of this simply a sign that the pendulum is swinging (pardon the pun) away from uptight hypocrisy and over towards more evolved and open-minded sensibilities?

To get a handle on all of this, it’s important to understand that “The Lifestyle” is pretty loosely defined, perhaps by design.  Succinctly, swinging is generally about committed couples having sex with other people, but how that’s done these days takes on many different forms—along with differing rules and occasionally with double standards.  For example, it’s commonly acceptable for single women to participate in club events while single men are often prohibited.  Some clubs even have fairly arbitrary “attractiveness” gauges that limit joining in based on looks.  As with most things, there are pluses and minuses.  The point is there’s actually no singular “lifestyle” per se, but rather a broad umbrella that encompasses many different ways to go about it—all based on adult consent of course.  A common denominator, however, is that most see a key difference between swinging and cheating—a difference that is both a major point of attraction for those who enjoy the scene as well as a big reason why swinging enhances their main relationship rather than detracts from it.  Successful swingers attribute the feat to honesty, open communication and feeling secure—all of which help to solidify the foundation in their basic committed relationship.  They enjoy being able to safely add variety and excitement in close concert with their partner while preserving the security of their primary bond.

The swingers’ scene is thriving–and getting bigger all the time with about 700 clubs in North America alone.  It’s certainly not to the extent of being a completely hiccup-free zone yet, but more and more appear to be learning to live and let live.

Yeah, baby.  Groovy indeed.

(For more information about today’s Swinger’s Scene, we recommend visiting NASCA.com and LifestyleMagazine.com.  We also welcome all thoughts on the topic–pro or con–so please consider commenting and helping us to further publicize our content.  Thank you.)