Polaroid: Amateur Porn of My Youth

When I read this week that Polaroid has announced it's going to stop manufacturing film, I actually gasped out loud in horror. I have about seven or eight different Polaroid cameras and adore each and every one of them. Polaroids have a rarefied group of die-hard fans, much like people who prefer the warm scratchy sound of vinyl to what they consider the tinny din of CDs. There's something about the color and texture of the photo you get from a Polaroid that no other kind of camera can match. Look up Lucas Samaras sometime. But even more important than aesthetics, nothing comes close to the instant gratification that the Polaroid provides. This is especially key when you're taking naughty photos. There's something about arranging yourself and your partner just so, snapping the button, and watching as the little square is delivered right into your hand that digital will never be able to match. Holding that pose together and watching breathlessly as the photo magically develops right in front of your eyes—color me crazy, but that's my idea of foreplay. In the heat of the moment, who wants to look at themselves on a tiny screen, or, worse, collect themselves, walk over to the computer, load the pics, and wait for the printer? Not me. I'm in favor of anything that keeps me in bed. Digital also has the "bonus" that you can Photoshop out stray hairs or the odd bump. Polaroid is warts and all, and I like it that way. My first live-in boyfriend and I had quite the collection of homemade hard-core Polaroid porn. We were so young and cute back then...I still remember our breakup—both of us sitting at the kitchen table, solemnly slicing the photos into bits so that neither of us could use them for blackmail later on. Wise move on his part; I just wish I'd saved a photo of my pert, 20-year-old boobies. Sigh. While digital cameras have revolutionized amateur porn, they've also made it a little too easy. The proliferation of photo phones (and do they even sell phones without a camera these days?) means any jackass is a potential amateur Al Goldstein. Not to mention that the ease of sharing digital photography is the reason so many naked young ladies find themselves unwitting stars of the interwebs after relationships go south. (See also Vanessa Hudgens, Gillian Chung, Dr. Laura Schlessinger, et al.) Not that I've never used my X-rated Polaroid collection for evil. I had one hygiene-impaired, alcoholic ex whom I talked into posing—reclined on my bed and wearing nothing but a feather boa. He's grinning stupidly—drunkenly—eyes half-closed, bloated man-sac spilling across his thigh in a most unappetizing manner. He was so wasted, I doubt he even recalls me snapping the photo, but for a while after we broke up, I'd carry it with me just to torture my girlfriends. "Hey, wanna see a really cute picture I found?" I'd ask. Being a supportive bunch, they'd always say yes. Then I'd whip it out and cackle hysterically as they shrieked in horror, my ex-boyfriend's reddened scrotum burned into their retinas. Sadly, everyone's wise to me now, and I've lost track of where the hell I hid it. I'm also not embarrassed to admit that I've used the Polaroids as sort-of trophies: the first boy I got with after a long dry spell—snapped, so I could look back when I was feeling down and know it was possible for me to bag cute guys. (And in my defense, he was neither nude nor impaired.) Because I've taken my SX-70 for granted these past couple years, I've only done one unwholesome photo shoot with my current boyfriend. Luckily, there's enough film currently on the market to last another year or so. Guess who's stopping at the camera store on her way home from work today? That'd be me. I suggest you do the same. Judy McGuire is the author of How Not to Date. Dating dilemmas? Write Dategirl at dategirl@seattleweekly.com or c/o Seattle Weekly, 1008 Western Ave., Ste. 300, Seattle, WA 98104.

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