Dirty Dancing: Singer/Songwriter Taps into the Power of Porn

To say the video that feature’s Nebraska musician Eli Mardock’s song “The King of the Crickets” is NSFW (Not Safe for Work) would be an understatement.

Titled “Double the Pleasure,” the video opens with the sound of Mardock’s somber piano chords as two young women in bikinis -- Francesca and Caprice -- nuzzle on a cushioned wicker beach chair sipping cocktails. As they kiss, an MTV-styled song-credit graphic appears in the lower left-hand corner of the frame that includes Mardock’s website address (elimardock.com).

By the 30-second mark, both “actresses” are topless. By two minutes, one is completely nude as Mardock’s music fades away, replaced with canned ocean sound effects and moaning.

From there, well, let the video’s producer, X-art.com, describe it for you:

X-Art features beautiful, explicit, HD erotic videos that will absolutely blow your mind! Over 100 gorgeous girls-next-door and fresh-faced fashion models getting f***ed in HOT, explicit sex scenes all shot in crystal-clear 1920x1080 Super High Definition Video!

As the video comes to a proverbial climax, the models are performing an act that cannot be described without using the words “acrobatic” and/or “flexible.” In the afterglow, Mardock’s music fades back in, as the video fades to black.

There are those who will find Mardock’s decision to license his music for use in the soundtrack of hardcore pornography not only distasteful and offensive, but a tacit endorsement of an industry some consider misogynistic.

“People can say whatever they want,” Mardock said. “I will say that I think suppression is unhealthy. And often, people who have a problem with pornography also have problems with sex. You know, they’re wracked with guilt and self-disgust. They battle all their lives to suppress, control and deny the impulses within them which are fact. And it’s a huge waste of energy. Of course, obsessing about sex and watching porn all the time is a huge waste of energy, too. I don’t advocate either -- both suppression and overindulgence will f*** with your head.”

Mardock said he was introduced to X-Art by a friend who runs a boutique advertising/television/film/music licensing company in New York City. “It was immediately clear that music is one of the most important elements in their videos -- so I was intrigued,” Mardock said. “The plan was to compose original music specifically for a couple of their videos. But they had so much enthusiasm for the early demos of my solo material that I sent them (as examples) that we decided to go with that instead.”

To take full advantage of the video’s promotional power, Mardock timed the June 2012 release of his EP, NE Sorrow Is Born, with the online release of the video, and it worked... probably.

Mardock said his digital-only release, available in 111 countries via 80+ retailers and through his website, has been downloaded more than 7,500 times, while sales of the EP’s single, “Cut Me Open,” (also used in an X-Art video) has clocked more than 11,000 downloads. But how much of that download traffic was due to X-Art? Mardock isn’t sure.

Keep in mind, he’s had some success long before he dabbled in dirty movies. Mardock has toured in the United States and Europe both as the frontman of his former band, Eagle Seagull, and as a solo artist. He is arguably one of the area’s more successful local indie rock musicians, so it’s hard to directly credit the porn videos for his music sales.

“Judging from the numbers of views/comments on YouTube, etc., it’s definitely had an impact,” Mardock said. “But, at the same time, I’ve had promotional campaigns going in both the U.K. and the U.S. that have generated a lot of press/interest.”

The licensing fees and exposure were both factors in his decision to sell music to X-Art. So was the quality of X-Art’s past videos. “I wouldn’t be interested in working with a typical adult site,” Mardock said. “That kind of stuff just isn’t appealing to me.”

X-Art’s director, Brigham Field, is a professional fashion and beauty photographer based in Los Angeles whose work has been published in a number of magazines, including GQ and Maxim in Spain, according to his website.

"Brigham is amazingly talented," Mardock said. "He's an artist. And, it's female friendly. He co-founded X-Art with his wife, Colette. You know some people will say it's all the same and blah blah blah and that's alright. But for me, there is a huge difference between (typical porn and X-Art), and believe it or not I'm really very picky about who and what I would want to be associated with.”

But at the end of the day, it’s still hardcore pornography. And there are those who will question whether someone who’s “enjoying” a porn video would care enough about the music to track down the artist and buy the song. “I’m sure there are,” Mardock responded. “But, there’s no doubt it’s had a positive impact on sales.”

And, apparently, no negative impacts, or so he says. But though he described the experience as being “overwhelmingly positive,” music from Mardock's latest EP, Hamburg, which was released Feb. 14, will “probably not” be used in future X-Art videos.

Is he having second thoughts? Not likely. Whether or not you agree with Mardock's experiment in the flesh industry, it's hard not to admit it gave him some exposure he wouldn't have received elsewhere. And in an era when the indie music industry seems to be on permanent life support, any creative solution to getting your music heard is probably a good one, whether you can watch it in the office or not.

Over The Edge is a weekly column by Reader senior contributing writer Tim McMahan focused on culture, society, the media and the arts. Email Tim at tim.mcmahan@gmail.com.

posted at 08:34 am
on Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

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