CfP: Special issue of Porn Studies – Inside Gonzo Porn

Porn Studies
Special Issue: Inside Gonzo Porn

This special issue of Porn Studies focuses on contemporary gonzo pornography. Emerging in the United States in the late 1980s and pioneered by directors such as John Stagliano, Seymore Butts, Ben Dover, and Rodney Moore, gonzo constituted both a low budget response and an “aesthetic” alternative to the glossy, plot-oriented feature films produced by companies such as VCA or Adam & Eve. Gonzo established a new “mode” of pornographic expression, taking fiction out of hard-core videos and heading straight for the sex, employing a documentary style – hand-held camera, camera-looks, live recording etc. – in order to enhance the authenticity and the realness of sexual representation (Hardy 2008; 2009; Biasin, Zecca 2009; Fuchs 2011; Tibbals 2014). In doing so, gonzo exacerbated the constant dialectic between the immediate, indexical depiction of the “mechanical truth of the bodily pleasure” (Williams 1989), and its symbolical reconstruction and “falsification” through specific representative and stylistic conventions (Dyer 1985; 1994). At the same time, gonzo pushed hard-core videos increasingly to the “extreme,” bringing sex performances and body practices to become more and more “hyperbolic” (Stüttgen 2009; Biasin, Zecca 2009; Paasonen 2011; Maddison 2012) – and almost completely detached from any sexological “idealism”.

Discursive tensions circulate gonzo – where different and often contrasting perspectives (theoretical and political) on porn representation and sexual agency meet and collide with each other. Some identify gonzo as a violent vehicle for the humiliation of women (Dines 2006; Purcell 2012) and “grotesque degradation” (Langman 2004), a chauvinist and hyper-masculinized “fantasy” of retaliation to women’s social assertiveness. Yet other academics and activists promote a queer, (trans)feminist and subcultural re-appropriation of gonzo as a way to explore new “contra-sexual” body practices (Preciado 2000; Stüttgen 2009), and to displace the heteronormative order (Borghi 2014); for them, gonzo constitutes a film form that can be productively re-employed to express new post-pornographic fantasies and desires, and to open alternative markets of porn consumption (Maina 2014). However, despite its centrality in debates about pornography, gonzo has hardly been examined in depth. This special issue of Porn Studies welcomes essays, interviews, and personal accounts from academics, artists, activists, and adult industry practitioners. Proposals are invited to address (but are not limited to) the following questions:

Genders/Bodies: What gender configurations does gonzo perform and (re)produce? What constitution types does it dictate and (re)shape? How are bodies depicted and “treated” in gonzo?
Actors/Stars: What performative abilities and what acting techniques does gonzo require? What actor’s personae does gonzo construct? How is a gonzo celebrity built? And what is its social “aura”?
Styles/Texts: What are the representative conventions of gonzo? What is its iconography? What are the stylistic features of gonzo “aesthetics”? Is there a gonzo textual “canon”?
Contexts/Positions: What are the ways in which gonzo is consumed? And in which contexts? What consumption positions does gonzo activate? And what cultural repertories does it entail?
Markets/Business: How is gonzo positioned within the porn market? How is gonzo produced? What are its business models, its working routines, and its commercial strategies?
Communities/Fans: What reception and interpretive communities does gonzo produce? And what are their dynamics? Is it possible to speak about a gonzo participatory fan culture? Is there a gonzo “cult”?
Tastes/Affects: Does gonzo produce a distinctive sex taste culture? What fantasies and pleasures does it entail? What affects does gonzo generate? What is its carnal appeal? How could gonzo be embodied by the viewers?
Global/Local: How has US gonzo been re-adapted in different national contexts? What are the globalisation/glocalization processes that underlie the international dissemination of gonzo style?

Submission Details
Articles for peer-review should be between 5000-6000 words. Shorter thought pieces of approximately 1500-2000 words may also be submitted, and the editors will make a selection for the Forum section.

Journal Deadline
The deadline for submission of proposals is September 1, 2015. Please send abstracts of 400 words and a short biographical note to federico.zecca AT and e.biasinAT Authors will be notified by September 7, 2015 if their proposals have been accepted.
The deadline for submission of full articles is January 18, 2016.
The special issue will be published in December 2016.

How to Submit
All the manuscripts must be submitted online. Please consult the Authors and Submissions tab in the journal website for more information, and the Submit Online link is there as well:–‐Gh.

Editorial information
Guest editor: Dr Enrico Biasin (e.biasin AT
Guest editor: Dr Federico Zecca (federico.zecca AT

Categories: Conferences


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