You can search for it on Google, but hunting for porn in the 90s was way more fun, says Fritz Gonsalves
There was a time when watching porn was serious fun. But the advent of internet has made watching porn so boring that many have now gone back to watching Japanese prank videos on YouTube. One clandestine viewer succinctly summed up the situation – “The thrill is gone. You see, what made watching porn so thrilling, was the secrecy it involved, and of course the limited accessibility. Porn was once the ultimate pastime, but now it’s just regular entertainment.
Now you could be lying in the ICU and you’d still get access to good quality porn. Seriously, it has become so easy that one can actually have a virtual quickie during an IPL commercial break and still be in time for the next over. Even the government tried banning it to ignite some excitement – But what’s gone is gone.”
This what the scenario looks like today – you are eighteen. There’s a family reunion happening at your place. Uncles, aunties, cousins, Dada, Dadi – the whole shabang! You are bored out of your skull. You wonder – “How do I kill time?” Suddenly, a WhatsApp message you received hours ago lights up your brain. You remember it had a two-minute clip in it. So you get up and go to the balcony. You click on the link and a Caucasian woman with abnormal amounts of silicon on her body greets you. The clip lasts for two minutes, but the memory pulls you through for at least an hour. You return to the party, looking at your phone, all happy and cheerful. No one knows a thing.
This was impossible back then – I am talking the mid-nineties here – when the internet was still a lab experiment and computers were made only to teach us basic programming. Pizza was still a decade away from being delivered in 30 minutes and the only thing that got delivered on a click was the telegram. Everything was in short supply – honest cops, rainfall, six-pack abs and most importantly, good quality porn. It was almost impossible to get hold of decent porn. Even if you got lucky, there would be serious doubts about picture quality and sound.
In some cases, all the film had was one lip lock. But testosterone-pumped teenagers still travelled long and far. They bribed and begged elder cousins. Wanting something to remember while taking a long shower, they spent nights ‘studying’ in groups of three or more. Back then, watching porn was a responsible, community experience that involved serious planning, a code language and a detailed contingency plan.
These elaborate rituals would begin with a call. It would often be from a close friend – someone who actually owned a video cassette player and whose mom and dad were out for a wedding or work. This piece of news would quickly spread. From there on the task would be to rent as many video cassettes as possible. Two guys would first rush to the video parlour, praying it wasn’t shut. Having reached, it was often mandatory to bump into a neighbourhood uncle. Usually, he’d be leisurely browsing through old Guru Dutt movies or salivating at some posters. You’d act surprised and say, “Namastey.” Then he’d enquire about your studies. Only after you’d satisfied his curiosity sufficiently, could you look at the clock impatiently and ask the video parlour owner –
“Boss, Raju gentleman ban gaya kya?”
Now back then video parlours only used to stock a limited number of pornographic tapes. And everyone rented a minimum of three. So when schools were closed and offices were open, it resulted in a severe shortage of porn. Depending on the availability, the shopkeeper would say -“Raju toh gentleman nahin bana. Par raja ki baraat aa gai hai. Yeh bhi acchi hai. Dey du?”
(This basically meant – “The old collection is rented out so why don’t you try this new one.”)
“Ok Boss, teen dey do.”
With smiles stretched across your faces, you’d take the cassettes and run to your friend’s house. Finally, you’d have got hold of good quality, blood-pumping porn. One friend would draw the curtains. Another would hook the television to the VCR and the third would be left to get some cold water. The mega marathon porn-watching session would begin with the first cassette being pushed in. But as the opening credits started rolling, someone would invariably yell – “Arey forward kar yaar. Naam dekhney key liye laaya hai kya?”
Once the tape was fast forwarded to the part where naked bodies were ravaging each other, all pairs of eyes would be hypnotised by the visuals. Excitement would be mixed with fear, happiness and anxiety. A two-hour long movie would be watched in less than 20 minutes. Thankfully, however, there’d still be two more cassettes left to be devoured. Soon after, the second one would go in.
It’s then that fate would play buzz kill and the doorbell would ring. Pin drop silence would prevail. The guy who hosted the porn party would turn white. The slightly sly friend would be thinking of an escape (Just in case there are cops at the door.) The TV would be switched off and the host would calmly go to check the door. He’d cautiously open it to see the most intrusive creature God has ever created – the next-door aunty. She had seen two young guys enter the house. This was a sly house call to tell you that she was watching; that you can’t hide those raging hormones from her. She’d pointedly ask about the electricity and enquire if the TV and VCR were working fine. The friend would answer in the affirmative. She’d give menacing look to everyone and leaves.
This brief interlude would drastically reduce the excitement. It’d cool off the hormones, but the third cassette would still be waiting to be watched. Since the next doorbell would be mom and dad, that flight or fight instinct would kick in. Should we risk getting caught or call it a day? Because in the end, we are all animals, the animal instinct would win. The third cassette would be devoured, this time, even faster.
Suddenly, the sound of a Bajaj Scooter approaching the main gate would be heard, the sound that announced the arrival of parents. They would enter the house and be greeted by their son and his two friends. All of them would look equally drained and more worryingly, they’d all be walking strangely. (The thing is that with a tape tucked in your pants, moving around can be hard.)
(Written by Fritz Gonsalves)