To the modern 14-year-old, the scenario would be laughably quaint: There's no stash to be hidden these days. You can "clear history," along with any residual shame, in one click. At each adolescent fingertip is an inexhaustable stream of high-def images and Flash video—some 400 million pornographic Web pages in all. The sheer breadth is staggering: If you watched porn 24 hours a day, for example, it would take you several years just to get caught up on the 13,588 professional titles released in the United States in 2005 alone. Plenty more is out there in bulk on the digital shelf, no credit card required: bestiality, piss-drinking, throat-fucking, bukkake gang bangs, triple anal penetrations—all exhaustively cross-referenced. Any day now, some poor kid may actually go blind masturbating.
The awkward truth, according to one study, is that 90 percent of 8-to-16-year-olds have viewed pornography online. Considering the standard climax to even the most vanilla hard-core scene today, that means there is an entire generation of young people who think sex ends with a money shot to the face. It's hard to pinpoint exactly where the age divide falls, but it's safe to say that the first purebred guinea pig to have grown up never knowing a world without fisting on demand is probably around 22 years old.
By the time they're in high school, America's porn-fed youth have already amassed an encyclopedic knowledge of smut. Seth Rogen, cowriter of Superbad—which features a now-classic scene of teenage boys graphically discussing hard-core sites—recently told me that one of his favorite pastimes is trolling porn message boards. "It's hilarious how much these kids know," Rogen says. "There'll be arguments like 'This is classified as gonzo, but I would say it's more of a feature-BDSM. Also, they say this clip is taken from Handjobs #8, but this scene was actually first featured in Killer Grips #7.'"
Rogen might as well have been talking about brothers Travis and Cody, typical 21-year-old college students in Florida who tell me there's one criterion at the top of their list when it comes to picking a fuck buddy. "Pubic hair is disgusting," Travis says. "Girls should keep their vaginas porn-star trim." Cody describes his first real-life ejaculate-to-the-face finale like this: "It was the happiest moment of my young life. There is just something about blowing a load in a chick's face that makes you feel like a man."
For most men over 30, facials aren't something you actually do. They're like car chases or hurling someone through a plate-glass window—the difference between cinema and life. But the ubiquity of porn has blurred the line. According to a study by the Centers for Disease Control, the number of heterosexuals having anal sex nationwide has almost doubled since 1992.
But boys have always been perverts. Since a facial requires a female to receive it, the real story might be the apparent surge in the number of willing participants. In Immersion: Porn, a documentary by New York photographer Robbie Cooper, 22-year-old Lindsay sees the act as empowering to women. "Even if she has eight dicks on her face, she's still the queen of those eight dicks," she says. "I definitely like come on the face.”
Former State Department staffer Mary Eberstadt, writing in Policy Review, compares the prevailing attitudes about porn to the general consensus on tobacco in the 1960s. "[Porn] is widely seen as cool, especially among younger people, and this coveted social status further reduces the already low incentive for making a public issue of it."
Of course, porn doesn't cause cancer, though it may cause homemade sex tapes and hot cam-on-cam IM action (playing in a locked suburban bedroom near you). And it almost certainly causes cell-phone-picture taking: According to a 2008 survey, one in five teenagers have sent an explicit photo of themselves to someone else or posted one online.
The sea change is perhaps nowhere more evident than in the burgeoning crop of young actresses flocking to the industry. Joanna Angel of BurningAngel.com, a veteran porn actress at 28, describes doing a three-way recently with a 19-year-old girl new to the business. "It was her first scene ever, so I was like, 'Don't worry—just follow my lead,'" she recalls. "But then the scene started, and the way she was giving a blow job and the things she was saying and the way she was moaning—I was like, 'What the fuck?' When I was 19, I was not giving blow jobs that were nearly that exciting. The girls these days just seem to come to the set porn-ready."
In fact, "porn-readiness" is now a source of pride. While on tour promoting her memoir, Jenna Jameson was reportedly stunned that 13-year-old girls kept telling her she was their role model. In a survey of 1,000 British girls between the ages of 15 and 19, roughly 25 percent said they aspired to become professional lap dancers. "Dirty Angel," 22, who writes a blog called Tastes Like Kisses and started surfing porn in her early teens, says, "It was watching [adult star] Heather Brooke that gave me the mind-blowing skills I have now when it comes to giving a blow job."
To those of us who came of age in the eighties and nineties—the dinosaurs once naïvely content with even the most terrible, chafing teen hand job—it feels a bit like looking down from an attic window onto the Haight-Ashbury during the Summer of Love. Let the young have their Twitter and their Jonas Brothers—we have no interest. But this kind of hurts. Of course, we're not all missing out on the fun. The Brett Ratners, the Silvio Berlusconis, the thirtysomething divorcés of the world—they will carry the mantle for us and hopefully report back. At least those in good cardiovascular health.