Born to Make Porn

Third-generation pornographer hopes to change industry

Imagine growing up in a clan where the family business is porn. Oren Cohen came of age in the 1970s, at the end of what is often called "The Golden Age of Porn"—when adult movies were shot on film and played to the mainstream in big-screen theaters. By most accounts, the emphasis back then was on embodying the spirit of the sexual revolution by having fun and making a quality product, all within a close-knit community. Cohen's grandfather ran a company that dealt in everything from adult novelties to 8mm film. His parents were in the porn magazine business. "I think I was more seduced by the nostalgic ideology of what porn used to be than anything else," says Cohen, about how he decided to carry on the family business. "It kind of left an indelible mark on me, kind of like a junkie's first fix. You're always chasing that feeling." His nostalgia was about people and prosperity: "Everyone knew everyone, money flowed, and everyone was happy."

Now 29, Cohen is CEO of TightFit Productions (tightfithd.com), a company he founded in 2005 that has released 60 videos thus far and produces three to four new titles every month. He is not your typical porn head honcho, but not just because he has a collection of stuffed monkeys in his messy office and more tattoos than bare skin on his body. With a sharp wit and even sharper tongue, Cohen's vision for his company sounds more like an ideological manifesto. "I hate how we've completely fucked the value of product on a spiritual, intellectual, and financial level. We've managed to suck every ounce of profit and fun out of making porn. Our dirty little secret became a fucking Budweiser billboard in front of Walmart." He refers to what lots of people are complaining about these days: too many videos that all look the same, dominated by hard-edged, misogynist gonzo flicks. But tacked on to that is an anti-capitalist sentiment, interesting coming from someone clearly engaged in the business of making money. For him, the so-called mainstreaming of porn isn't a good thing; he liked it better when porn was naughty and transgressive.

TightFit's catalog contains movies definitely meant to push the envelope. There's Assraelis, the first U.S.-distributed movie shot entirely in Israel with an all-Israeli cast, which got a cease and desist and lots of flack from Rabbi Yehuda Rosenbaum of KOF-K Kosher Certification (a company that certifies kosher food) for featuring the kosher symbol on its box. Then there's Sex and the Sybian, with scenes of women using a certain fucking machine to get off. And So Low, an autoerotic asphyxiation title (translation: girls choking themselves to orgasm) that some retailers refused to carry because of the controversial subject matter (which I wrote about in "Hard to Swallow," March 7, 2007). Cohen has also produced several s/m titles and thrown fetish and bondage parties at his production studios. TightFit's movies are an eclectic bunch that reflect Cohen's own personal sensibilities and his desire to shake things up. "I want to take something stale and formulaic and make it exciting again. I want to raise the standards we all follow and become a more responsible industry. . . . I just want sex to be special again."

Speaking of raising standards, in January, Cohen announced that TightFit would only hire women ages 21 and older for its productions. The decision cuts out a significant chunk of the talent pool (insiders estimate as much as 25–35 percent of female performers are younger than 21) and a popular segment of the market: the Barely Legal set, which has become its own niche filled with titles like 18 and Easy and Anal Teen Tryouts. "I've always had a moral quandary with the 18-year-old age limit. I want to set a standard higher than the bare mini-mum set by our current governing body. Besides, I prefer women over 'little girls' any day of the week. I think the world needs an alternative to 'little girls' being brutally fucked by mindless assholes." In an industry where there is a collective slobbering over 18-year-old high school seniors entering porn and 24-year-olds are cast as MILFs (Mothers I'd Like to Fuck), Cohen says he sleeps better at night knowing he's employed and portrayed grown-ups. He'd love to see others follow suit, but to date, among the hundreds of companies, his is the only one to adopt this policy.

I'd love to say that his age has something to do with his opinions, but there are plenty of other young smut moguls who don't have such a specific philosophy about running a porn company, borrowing ideas from punk rock anarchists and feminism. His views can be characterized by a term not often used in the blue movie business: political. Don't let his all-black attire fool you: He's one of the least cynical people in porn valley. Some might even call him a softie in a badass suit when he says things like: "TightFit is a family. We all put people before the bottom line. Sometimes that works and sometimes that bites us in the ass. Ultimately, I think we'll be around because everyone wants us to. Everyone knows that I'll always do the right thing . . . even when it doesn't benefit me." (Case in point: He's spearheading a non-profit porno movie to benefit Adult Industry Medical, the organization that does STD testing and provides healthcare services for the entire industry.)

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