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NSFW (but safe for people): 5 questions for Portland's brainy bike pornographer

Posted by Michael Andersen (News Editor) on June 7th, 2013 at 6:50 am

Tour de Fat 2008-63.jpg
The inimitable Phil Sano.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

For some people, the connection between bikes and sexuality starts and ends with 5,000 nude bodies at this Saturday's World Naked Bike Ride.

For seven years, the man who created Bike Smut has been proving that those people aren't thinking nearly big enough.

Next Wednesday, Portland-based porn pro and self-described bikesexual revolutionary Phil Sano — often known by his nom de guerre, "the Rev. Phil" — launches the latest edition of his globetrotting revue, the Porny Express, at the Clinton Street Theater. Its press materials promise a "variety of representations of human sexuality, entirely created by amateur bike pornographers from all over the world."

Then there's Bike Smut's recent DVD, Come Find Me, in which "a woman wakes up to an enticing Polaroid, inviting her on a bike powered scavenger hunt. After a lot of teasing, she gets her thrilling reward."

"Both have virtuous cycles that result in better conditions to live in."
— Phil Sano on sex and cycling

But the most surprising thing about Sano might be that he's an exceptionally earnest, thoughtful guy with a deeply felt political agenda: he looks at boringly patriarchal sex concepts (and puts them on his cultural hit list) the same way some of his fellow bike-lovers look at SUVs. And he's managed to build a career doing something about it.

In a few words, what's the big idea of Bike Smut?

Bike Smut is fun, smart and aware. Goal is to gather mature audiences for candid sharing of creative, enticing ideas. Ideas like sex and cycling.

Both have virtuous cycles that result in better conditions to live in. More cyclists in the streets make the streets safer, and more honest communication about desires makes fucking safer.

2012 World Naked Bike Ride - Portland-45
Sano at last year's Naked Ride.

How long have you been spreading the bike porn gospel, and where has the work taken you?

Each year we have a new theme and ask artists from around the word to submit their short movies. In the past couple years we have had hundreds of shows in 24 different countries from Ankara to Edinburgh to Oaxaca.

We are about to start our seventh year of programming, which will premiere at the Clinton St Theater in Portland as part of Pedalpalooza. Then a few days later, we will be having a screening on top of the world in Anchorage, Alaska (which is [at latitude] 61 degrees north, as opposed to our current northernmost screening, of Gothenburg, Sweden, at 57 degrees).

Finally, a massive personal challenge will be bike touring across North America this autumn. Leaving Oregon in August, we hope to be in Montreal before it gets too cold.

Have you noticed changes to people's reaction to the shows over the years?

I remember a few people complaining that the show didn't have enough porn. The past couple years we have heard people complain there was not enough bike!

How do you see the smut business changing in general?

The business of pornography has changed a lot. Whereas before there were only a handful of distribution channels and everyone was trying to build up, now the tide is over the wall and everyone is trying to stay light and mobile. If the levees break, maybe we will finally behold our sexual revolution.

It is not just the increasing number of people in pornography, it is also the intentions of those who are producing it. We are seeing ethical erotica being produced by feminist pornographers like Tristan Taramino, which may only be slightly less radical than Annie Sprinkle's ecosexual movement. In both cases, there is more awareness and a desire to make something that resonates with audience. Most of porn is so ephemeral. It feels great to create something with more value.

What's the highlight for you of next week's show?

Sano at a Sunday Parkways event.

We have been asking for more honest representations of male sexuality. People sometimes say porn is degrading to women, but really, most porn is just degrading to people. But it doesn't have to be that way. We are excited to show real, honest representations of sexuality by people who are excited to share their vision.

Sex is usually depicted as this very serious, very rigid, very delineated activity. Cycling is also looked upon in a similar way. The reality is there are a variety of feelings and expressions and we shouldn't let an unseen other (e.g., patriarchy) put limitations on how we get around.

I think of limitations like screws in a derailleur. They keep you running smooth but you have to play with them every once in a while to keep them dialed in. And sometimes they need serious readjustment.

Qs & As edited for brevity.

NOTE: Hi everyone. We had a mix-up about the lead photo used in this story. I apologize for the image. I had sent (or thought I sent) Michael an email about the story with a different image but for some reason he never saw the email. I'm still in Europe and communication has been tricky. - Jonathan

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Comments
  • Nik June 7, 2013 at 7:42 am

    NSFW photo above the fold and appearing on the front page of the site?

    Recommended Thumb up 11

  • Banjo!!!! June 7, 2013 at 7:43 am

    Until now, I'd managed to avoid seeing that guy naked. Thanks bunches, BikePortland...

    Recommended Thumb up 9

  • TOM June 7, 2013 at 8:30 am

    really ? that's the pic that you want on the front of a family bike site ?

    if that's the new direction, count me out ..

    Recommended Thumb up 6

    • Carl June 7, 2013 at 9:29 am

      Phil is all about "new directions."

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    • Hart Noecker June 10, 2013 at 12:50 pm

      Who said this is a family bike site? And were you aware that genitals are what make families happen?

      Recommended Thumb up 7

  • spare_wheel June 7, 2013 at 8:34 am

    A ballsy move.
    Kudos, editors.

    Recommended Thumb up 6

    • "Fake Cyclist", apparently June 7, 2013 at 9:26 am

      Hehe . . . balls.

      Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Scott June 7, 2013 at 8:37 am

    Ew

    Recommended Thumb up 6

  • Miss Forpe Stubb June 7, 2013 at 8:58 am

    "For some people, the connection between bikes and sexuality starts and ends with 5,000 nude bodies at this Saturday's World Naked Bike Ride."
    And for some people, the world naked bike ride isn't about sex, or sexuality. It's about the vulnerability of cyclists, and all humans, to the concrete-steel-pollution world that surrounds us. Please don't portray this ride as an orgy

    Recommended Thumb up 13

    • FetaD June 7, 2013 at 12:30 pm

      What? You copy and pasted the relevant words "for some people" that indicate you and the quoted person are describing a portion of the attendees. Neither of your statements disagree with each other.

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      • Miss Forpe Stubb June 7, 2013 at 7:53 pm

        The statement I quoted makes it sound like the WNBR is about sexuality, and that for some people, it's the only place they connect bikes and sex. My comment was to say that the WNBR is NOT about sex.

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        • Gasper Johnson June 8, 2013 at 5:07 pm

          great point, but sex and sexuality are not the same thing. WNBR is about accepting bodies as they are and body acceptance is definitely part of sexuality.

          Recommended Thumb up 5

  • Tony June 7, 2013 at 9:11 am

    What is anti-family about that photo? Further, what is profane about it? It's not a depiction of sexuality, it's a photo that includes somebody's genitals. And not even as the focus. If we really want to teach our children to accept themselves as they are, we can't send them the message that others' bodies are profane.

    Recommended Thumb up 24

    • Mike Cobb June 8, 2013 at 6:10 pm

      Bingo.

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  • Sigma June 7, 2013 at 9:15 am

    Wow. People could get fired if they happen to glance at that at work while a boss/supervisor walks by. Irresponsible doesn't even begin to describe the decision to make that a front page photo.

    Recommended Thumb up 7

  • wade June 7, 2013 at 9:26 am

    I barely had recovered from the shock of your reports of velo free love in Copenhagen, but the male genitalia I just viewed on your pages merely moments after delighting in a wholesome breakfast of Hood River strawberries with my children, is certainly more traumatizing. I hardly can type as I whimper in the fetal position.

    Recommended Thumb up 7

  • dan June 7, 2013 at 9:41 am

    Viewing the page at work...yikes. Managed to fast scroll down without really seeing anything other than a pink blur, then used AdBlock Plus to block that image.

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • James June 7, 2013 at 9:53 am

    How about a NSFW and not a front page photo. Geez.

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Michael Andersen (News Editor) June 7, 2013 at 9:55 am

    Hi, all - thanks for the comments. You make some fair points; in response, I've added "NSFW" to the title of the post (as it was in the associated tweet, too) and made the top photo smaller.

    In case you're curious, Jonathan and I did compare notes by email on how to play this, and I'll defer final decisions to him. But speaking for myself (and I'll accept full personal heat for what I'm about to say): Though I apologize to any readers who were offended by the photo or placement, ultimately I agree with Sano's big idea that both the human body and sexuality are normal and awesome. That's why I think Jonathan's great photo, which I think portrays exactly who Sano is, merits the play it got.

    All that said, I'll definitely be banging out another post to push that image a little further down the page. :) Please keep the feedback coming as you see fit.

    Recommended Thumb up 19

    • TOM June 7, 2013 at 10:07 am

      You don't seem to "get it" Michael Andersen (News Editor) , this WAS a family biking site. The whole article & pic needs dumping, just resizing & burying is NOT an appropriate response, unless you are trying to drive away readers and sabotage the site that JM had tried so hard to build.

      Recommended Thumb up 2

      • John Lascurettes June 7, 2013 at 10:14 am

        Funny, I don't see the word "family" anywhere on the About Us page of this site. That said, I have no problem with my 9 year old child seeing this picture. It is not a pornographic picture. It is not a picture meant to illicit sexual enticement. It is simply a naked man (modestly lit at that). This picture is approved by
        my
        family.

        If you do want to stick to family-"friendly" only stories, maybe you can bookmark the Family Biking section instead.

        Recommended Thumb up 27

      • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) June 7, 2013 at 11:29 am

        Hey TOM,

        I think you should go easy on Michael. It was an honest mistake due to me traveling around Europe at the moment. Michael and I had a miscommunication about the photo and I removed the NSFW thinking we were running a different image. I am truly sorry if anyone got in trouble at work. I have removed the photo for now and will replace it with a different one.

        --Jonathan (on a train leaving Eindhoven, the Netherlands).

        Recommended Thumb up 3

        • Michael Andersen (News Editor) June 7, 2013 at 11:39 am

          Jonathan's right. Here's what happened: I queued up this post early Thursday morning, with the lead photo, and sent Jonathan a link to the draft saying he should check it out to make sure the image would be OK. Jonathan replied saying, accurately, that it wasn't worth the problems it'd cause. He pasted a cropped version of the photo in his email. Maybe due the filesize, I never got his reply (even in my spam folder), so I incorrectly assumed he was OK with the photo as proposed. Hence my comment above that we'd "compared notes."

          The error here was my own -- several commenters point out correctly that (opinions about human bodies aside) it's a standard courtesy to run NSFW images below the fold, with a warning. That's what we should have done here, if anything, and it's what we'll do in the future.

          Thanks, all.

          Recommended Thumb up 12

          • longgone June 8, 2013 at 10:51 pm

            Never let it be said that BP.org isn't educational...Today I learned what "NSFW" means, (truly I had no idea). Thank you.

            Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Bjorn June 7, 2013 at 4:07 pm

        There have been WNBR photos on the site for years, this is the first time I have seen one above the fold, and I do read the site at work so below the fold is preferred but the photo is nothing that hasn't graced these pages before. Not to mention the portland mercury and seattle stranger blogs both routinely have NSFW images above the fold so it isn't that unusual. Personally I enjoyed the article, and didn't even notice the image was not safe for work until I read down to the comments. As naked pictures go it was pretty tame.

        Recommended Thumb up 8

    • Erinne June 7, 2013 at 10:56 am

      Let the prudes go. There's plenty of non-nude photos on Oregon Live.

      Recommended Thumb up 12

      • Sigma June 7, 2013 at 11:09 am

        There are also plenty of places on the internet where you can see a picture of some random guy's junk. This shouldn't be one of them.

        Recommended Thumb up 8

        • lonngone June 8, 2013 at 7:07 am

          I guess you cant un-see it, can you?

          Recommended Thumb up 3

    • Nik June 7, 2013 at 11:01 am

      I don't have any problem with the image itself and support the editorial point being made by including it. However, it is a standard courtesy to readers to give them the choice to view or to not view something that they may not chose to, for whatever reason. This applies to NSFW imagery or other content, or even movie or book spoilers for those who don't want to accidentally stumble into knowledge of the twist ending of a new movie they anticipate seeing.

      Most blogs give their readers agency in that choice by placing such content "after the jump" with a content warning. Bike Portland has done this in the past with WNBR galleries. I don't think very many people object to those sorts of posts. As my own and many other early comments to this story should illustrate, the failure to provide this courtesy to your readers for this post has distracted from what otherwise is an interesting story.

      PS. thanks for holding down the local fort while JM has been overseas. Keep up the good work.

      Recommended Thumb up 6

  • 9watts June 7, 2013 at 10:14 am

    Three cheers for Phil, Michael, and Jonathan.
    As for all the complaining - did anyone at bikeportland specifically guarantee you, the reader, the absence of this or the absence of that? I don't recall that small print.

    Recommended Thumb up 20

  • Matt June 7, 2013 at 10:29 am

    I'm very saddened to see this here. There is no (healthy) place in this world for pornography; No matter what this site says, it distorts and destroys what sex is supposed to be.

    Recommended Thumb up 4

    • lonngone June 8, 2013 at 7:14 am

      See ya church Sunday!

      Recommended Thumb up 3

    • Don J June 8, 2013 at 8:00 am

      Except it's not pornography. It's just a naked person. Two totally different things.

      Recommended Thumb up 9

  • Brian E. June 7, 2013 at 10:31 am

    Brainy, like when you sit down in your shorty short's and someone says, "Um, you're showing a little Brain".

    Today I learned what NSFW stand for. Didn't really know that until now. LOL.

    Recommended Thumb up 2

    • lonngone June 8, 2013 at 7:15 am

      Brain, or Brian ?

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Brian June 7, 2013 at 10:36 am

    Pornography is a healthy part of sex for many. Adults can make that healthy choice for themselves, as well as constitutes what "sex is supposed to be."
    Furthermore,that photo is not pornography. It is an appropriate introduction to the writing that follows.
    Keep Portland Weird, and some "edginess" is appreciated too.
    Cheers!

    Recommended Thumb up 13

  • RJ June 7, 2013 at 10:40 am

    The story itself is fine. I mean, personally I couldn't give a rat's ass about pedalpalooza or the tall bike/naked bike/look-at-me bike culture in general, but I know a lof people love that, so whatever. I can read the story or not read the story -- my choice. But just don't put NSFW photos on your front page. Pretty simple concept.

    Recommended Thumb up 5

  • John Lascurettes June 7, 2013 at 11:32 am

    If you can get fired for differing levels of content from web sites at work, perhaps you shouldn't be browsing the web on a work computer while at work. Just saying.

    Recommended Thumb up 24

    • RJ June 7, 2013 at 11:37 am

      This site has become somewhat required reading for those of us who work in transportation. Most of us read it at work, I imagine. Never been an issue until today. Glad it got sorted out.

      Recommended Thumb up 7

      • John Lascurettes June 7, 2013 at 11:45 am

        Fair point.

        Recommended Thumb up 1

        • lonngone June 8, 2013 at 7:44 am

          As I never was able to see the original photo, I have to ask if the person in the photo had an erection, was fondling themselves, or was using their genitalia in a sexual manner?
          If not, then it would be "art". Now with that said, we could then begin the debate on beauty and its relevance to expression.

          Recommended Thumb up 1

          • Michael Andersen (News Editor) June 8, 2013 at 9:32 am

            Lonngone and any others who might wonder, the photo in question is now the second one down.

            Recommended Thumb up 0

            • lonngone June 8, 2013 at 10:47 am

              Oh, HOLY CRAP!!!!!!!!! That is the photo that received all the prudish comments ?
              Hell, I had to look twice, after your comment pointed it out to me!
              I need new glasses, and all the members of the morality police that comment here need a reality check.... (good God!??!!)

              Recommended Thumb up 8

    • Chris I June 7, 2013 at 11:01 pm

      Many companies have strict policies about "pornography". The worst you will get if you are reading a normal blog is a warning, so people feel safe reading blogs like this one on their lunch breaks. If I had brought up the front page today during my lunch break, I could have potentially lost my job; and until today, that was never a concern. I guess I will have to start viewing it on my smartphone.

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      • 9watts June 8, 2013 at 6:55 am

        Chris I:
        "If I had brought up the front page today during my lunch break, I could have potentially lost my job"
        Sigma:
        "People could get fired if they happen to glance at that at work while a boss/supervisor walks by."

        So here's what I don't get.

        There are, you know, porno sites, and then there is bikeportland. The way this looks to me, no self-respecting employer, or snitch, or whoever we are hearing might walk by the cubicle just then, is going to mistake one for the other.
        If we play this out, and Chris I (or Sigma) is called in for questioning and he loads bikeportland on his boss's computer (for all we know his boss also reads bikeportland--doesn't everyone?) to explain how this misunderstanding happened/what he was looking at, I am having a really hard time seeing this play out in the way it is being asserted here.

        Recommended Thumb up 4

        • bjorn June 9, 2013 at 9:42 am

          As an aside one of my first managers at Hewlett Packard was the first person in the company to have to fire someone for viewing pornography at work. This was pretty early on in being able to do so and the guy was doing a lot of it so he was fired, but there was no written policy so he pressed it with HR and was given his job back. In the end my old boss helped write the policy that was then implemented, they don't advertise it but to get fired you have to be looking at porn for over 1 hour. They did that precisely so no one would be fired over an accidental or unintentional image. While it might embarrass you if someone saw that image on your monitor at work, I truly believe that there are few places where you would lose your job over it.

          Recommended Thumb up 4

  • Ayleen June 7, 2013 at 1:14 pm

    I've been having a bit of an old-ska music obsession lately, so in that spirit Bob Marley and the Wailers will sing my response: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZjSW3ZAoMsI

    Recommended Thumb up 5

    • Gasper Johnson June 9, 2013 at 5:00 pm

      btw this was a brilliant response. thank you ayleen!

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • BIKELEPTIC June 7, 2013 at 2:07 pm

    "Qs & As edited for brevity." - Rev Phil censored for his verbosity? Nooo! (Sarcasm doesn't really come across in comment form.)

    While many have varying levels of views on sexual expression, if you were to meet Phil without knowing who he were, you would leave the conversation with the understanding that he is a man with a deep passion, not only for cycling infrastructure, but for the community at large. He is deeply political and wants the best for cyclists.

    He is also the definition of a true friend and when I was ill due to postictal state (or post-seizure), he drove - (that's right, DROVE) over and took me to the grocery store for food because I had nothing in my apartment, cooked for me and helped me out around the house.

    People that make snap judgements need to take a breath. BikePortland's mission is to report all aspects of bike culture - not just a single - if you want "family riding" go over to kidicalmass or something. Bicycling culture isn't always pretty. It isn't always about infrastructure. It's about people. And it takes all kinds to make a community. A few nutters. A few assholes. And a couple super heroes.

    Recommended Thumb up 7

  • was carless June 7, 2013 at 2:57 pm

    Hmm...

    Still thinking that most Americans are utterly pretentious as to their prudishness.

    Recommended Thumb up 10

  • matthew vilhauer June 7, 2013 at 3:40 pm

    yes, my friend phil is a well known bike-pornographer... a super nice guy but he wears briefs under his spandex! SHAME!!!!

    Recommended Thumb up 5

  • BURR June 7, 2013 at 4:03 pm

    If Portland can handle thousands of naked cyclists in the art museum, they should be able to handle a picture of Rev Phil's junk on the internet.

    This thread sounds like a future Portlandia skit waiting to happen.

    :-)

    Recommended Thumb up 10

  • TOM June 7, 2013 at 6:46 pm

    so JM approves "more honest communication about desires makes fucking safer." ?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • lonngone June 8, 2013 at 8:04 am

      If he is, what part of that statement do you have issue with?

      Recommended Thumb up 8

  • Gasper Johnson September 12, 2013 at 9:08 am

    the battle may be over but the war rages on:
    http://bikeporntour.blogspot.com/2013/06/willy-wonker-and-obscenity-factory.html

    Recommended Thumb up 0

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