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His first film, Art School Sluts, has been one of the strongest sellers of the past year for the Hustler-owned VCA Pictures. He recently shot a not-suitable-for-airplay video for major-label glam revivalists Louis XIV. The New York Times has described him as one of the “signs that alt-porn as a genre has some traction.”
His name is Eon McKai. Yes, indie kids, an adult-film director in Los Angeles has named himself after Washington’s favorite punk-rock son. And yes, Ian MacKaye knows. “One of my friends in L.A. saw a sticker in a bathroom that had ‘EonMcKai.com’ on it and she e-mailed me about it,” says the 43-year-old Minor Threat and Fugazi veteran. “About a day or so later, I received a frantic e-mail from her saying, ‘Don’t go there. It’s porn.’” And after getting over the initial surprise, MacKaye has come to terms with the existence of his porn-industry counterpart: “It’s strange, but nothing to lose sleep over,” he says. “I figured it was just somebody trying to be funny.”
Perhaps the funniest thing about the situation, however, is that, when McKai chose his nom de porn, he wasn’t trying to be amusing at all. “I was being completely sincere,” the naughty auteur says. “I admire how he has always stuck to his guns and that he’s made people think.” Having been into Minor Threat and other bands on MacKaye’s Dischord Records when he was a teenaged skater, the now-25-year-old McKai was merely paying homage—not to mention emulating MacKaye’s fiercely independent spirit. His work isn’t just alt-porn, he says; it’s “passionate alt-porn.”
Both last year’s Art School Sluts and its
follow-up, Kill Girl Kill, feature a legion of pierced ’n’ pouty punkettes placed into a variety of awkward sexual situations, including a couple that involve destroyed electronic equipment and crutches. Mindful of hipsters’ taste for self-referential irony, McKai has his actors discuss the script onscreen and lingers on moments of strained precoital silence. He replicates videotape distress with digital effects. He released Art School Sluts in a limited numbered edition like that of an indie 7-inch. He even selected Don Bolles, the drummer for the Germs and 45 Grave, to DJ the release party for Kill Girl Kill 2.
MacKaye characterizes porn flicks in general as having the “boring, repetitive mechanics of a skateboard movie.” But the idea of a porn director’s taking his inspiration from a punk legend—even a famously straightedge one—is less remarkable than you might think. Alt-porn site SuicideGirls.com, where dyed hair, pierced nipples, and kanji tats are the norm, averages a million visitors a week. Rachel Rotten, a punky ultravixen who strongly resembles Bettie Page, is a first-tier porn actor. Even Playboy has gotten in on the act, offering potential pictorials to indie-rock princesses Neko Case and Chan Marshall.
There are a few explicit references to MacKaye in the behind-the-scenes extras for Kill Girl Kill. At one point, actor Kurt Lockwood, himself a former D.C. straightedger, tells an anecdote from his days as a club doorman in which MacKaye insisted on paying the $5 cover to see Dag Nasty even though the band was on Dischord. At another, he refers to Fugazi as “the most respected band ever.” Later, McKai’s voice can be heard off-camera as the director ponders the prospect of the real MacKaye’s finding out about his pseudonym. “He seems so good-natured and has a sense of humor,” he says. “There’s no way anyone would ever confuse Ian MacKaye with Eon McKai.”
Maybe, but in a world of Dinacell batteries, Dr. Skipper soda, and Fruity Hoops cereal, you never know who might get fooled. Confused? Consult the Washington City Paper’s handy guide to telling the difference between the Mac known for seminal harDCore and the one known for seminal hard-core.CP
Eon (The punk pornographer from L.A.) VS Ian (The punk rocker from D.C.)
Eon: Eon McKai, of course. (Like others in his business, McKai prefers to keep his given name on the QT: “They know about my commercial work and a little about this,” he says of his parents, “but we still don’t like to talk about the porn in front of Mom.”)
Ian: By playing the porn-name game, MacKaye—who as a child insisted on giving his family’s “female mutt” a manly moniker—comes up with what he calls “not a particularly provocative name”: Donald Beecher. “But perhaps he has some sort of notable attributes.”
Eon: Seeing MacKaye speak at the 2003 Coachella Festival. “Some guy got up there and tried to make fun of his straightedge reputation by asking him, ‘Where’s the beer tent?’ and MacKaye just played it off very smoothly. He’s unflappable.”
Ian: MacKaye has pinpointed his own conversion to a concert he saw at Georgetown University as a 16-year-old. “I saw the Cramps there in January of 1979,” he told online magazine CokemachineGlow. “One of the greatest shows I’ve ever been to in my life.” Coachella, on the other hand, was not: “The guy who asked that question about the beer tent was one of the Jackass guys disguised in a mullet wig,” he says. “I think they expected me to get mad.”
Eon: “I was really inspired by the work of [art-porn auteurs] the Dark Brothers and [Café Flesh director] Stephen Sayadian. I also got a lot of my aesthetic sensibility from the Internet. Raverporn.net in particular was ahead of its time.”
Ian: Bad Brains (“Pay to Cum”), Wire (“Three Girl Rhumba”), and the Sex Pistols
INDIE BONA FIDES
Eon: Refuses to use actors with fake boobs or shoot in the industry epicenter of “San Pornando Valley”
Ian: Refuses to charge more than $5 for a show or sign to a major label
Eon: In Kill Girl Kill, McKai muse Brooklyn assumes a position called “Old People Style.” But the most ambitious scene in the film involves Mya Rose riding Kurt Lockwood in reverse cowgirl position while Gia Jordan gives Lockwood a rimjob. It’s referred to in the DVD menu simply as an “Interesting Aesthetic.”
Ian: On the Minor Threat live DVD, the band members discuss regional styles of punk dancing. According to MacKaye, “in Boston, they all dance sorta like penguins; they all punch-dance. Here it’s one arm swinging around.”
RATE OF EFFICIENCY
Eon: During a 20-minute scene at the beginning of Kill Girl Kill, Veronica Jett performs six separate sex acts: “BJ,” “Backwards,” “Cow,” “In the Ass,” “Dawggie,” and “Pop.”
Ian: On the Minor Threat DVD, MacKaye’s old band tears through 17 songs in just over 30 minutes.
Eon: Art School Sluts begins with the line “If you’d stop fucking snorting coke, you wouldn’t have this problem.”
Ian: Minor Threat’s iconic “Out of Step” begins with the lines “Don’t smoke/Don’t drink/Don’t fuck/At least I can fucking think.”
Eon: In a behind-the-scenes extra on the Kill Girl Kill DVD, leading man Lockwood reminisces about his days in the D.C. punk scene: “I was a member of Positive Force and was totally straightedge,” he says. “I’m not that anymore.” Nonetheless, his character at one point offers a woman a line of his own ejaculate to snort instead of cocaine.
Ian: MacKaye’s various bands have had a long association with Positive Force, a local activist group that, according to its Web site “works for fundamental social change and youth empowerment.” Its activities include holding benefit concerts, providing books for prisoners, and offering free grocery delivery to the elderly.
Eon: “They are able to decide how they look and not conform to a certain standard,” McKai says of his actors. “I have seen girls try and modify their bodies to fit in with the mainstream porn standard, and I feel that they are erasing their style.”
Ian: “The whole punk-porn thing is really just about fashion. If I put on a hat, chaps, and spurs and made a cowboy-porn movie, it wouldn’t make me a real cowboy.”
Art accompanying story in the printed newspaper is not available in this archive: Illustrations by Emily Flake.