Why porn sex is all reverse cowgirl and arched backs


Welcome to Porn Week, Mashable’s annual close up on the business and pleasure of porn.


We all know that a ton of art and artifice goes into crafting every movie, show, and half-decent YouTube or TikTok clip that we watch. So it should come as no surprise that almost every aspect of the vast majority of porn — even most amateur and reality scenes — is likewise carefully constructed in an attempt to maximize its audience appeal. Creators lean into specific tropes and scenarios (like those associated with the ubiquitous fauxcest genre), often repeatedly and farther each time, to charge or heighten viewers’ reactions to the sex they frame. They include or highlight key visual cues, like money shots, at key moments to give a sense of navigable structure to their content. They even make sure that, when performers are going at it, they don’t fuck like they would in real life, but instead adopt specific positions, and contort themselves into odd angles that may not feel great, but yield ideal explicit imagery.

“In 90 percent of the films we shoot, the sex is completely different than the sex you have in your personal life,” says performer Ryan Driller, “fully due to the need to play to the camera.”

Performers always need to make sure that the lenses trained on them can capture clear shots of all the action viewers want to see, explains adult actress Sofie Marie. This is one of the reasons you see so many wild, acrobatic positions in porn that rarely translate well into real life, like the pile driver, in which a receiving partner is placed upside down, neck and shoulders on the floor and legs up by their ears, while a penetrating partner squats over and plows down into them: It’s great for getting a clean shot of every bit and bob of interest to the average viewer, every hydraulic pump, and every facial reaction. But, as performer Larkin Love points out, it’s also “a ridiculous and miserable move” for many people. In fact, it’s often “profoundly uncomfortable for both partners.”

The need to play to cameras, and ultimately viewer desires, also leads to the underrepresentation of some positions performers love in their offscreen lives, like good ol’ missionary, which don’t lend to clear shots.

“Missionary hides a lot of what most of the viewers want to see,” explains performer Alex Saint. “Seeing a guy’s ass bouncing up and down isn’t usually what’s wanted.”

Conversely, it leads to the overrepresentation of positions like reverse cowgirl, which performer Kimmie KaBoom explains “opens everything up” to the camera easily and inherently.


“Boy, am I just bored with reverse cowgirl.”

“Boy, am I just bored with reverse cowgirl” at this point, grumbles performer Verronica Kirei.

Every sex act and position, whether under- or overrepresented, also has to be tweaked to favor visual impact over visceral pleasure. In practice, this often means that performers have to twist out towards a camera, and hold a dynamic pose, all while having what is often extremely athletic sex. As Marie succinctly puts it, “good camera angles usually mean an uncomfortable sexual position.”

“The best performers can make it look like their posture, body positioning, hand positioning, the way their hair falls, and everything else is natural,” adds Love. “But it’s not.”

In fact, these angular alterations are specialized, intense physical labor.

To help viewers get a better sense of all the little positional tweaks and preferences at play in porn, I reached out to a handful of adult stars and asked them to break down everything they do for the sake of a good visual. I also asked them what, if anything, they or their fans can or should take away from the strange positional logic that dominates the porn world. Here’s what they said:

How do you play up cunnilingus for the camera?

Bunny Colby: Going down on a girl is the most edited one.

Verronica Kirei: When I am eating a woman out, I can’t necessarily be face deep in her pussy, [like I would be in real life].

Johnny Goodluck: You can’t see a tongue if you’re sucking a vagina.

Ryan Driller: While the girl is on her back, with her legs spread as far as possible, I push the full side of my face opposite the camera and lighting, stick my tongue out as far as it possibly can, and barely graze her labia or clitoral-area. All the while, I spread her labia as far as possible.

Bunny Colby: You need to make sure your face is pulled enough away for cameras to see all the action going on. You’ll often barely graze a pussy with your tongue.

What about blowjobs?

Larkin Love: My blowjobs off-camera are far more intense and complex than the ones I deliver on screen. When the camera is rolling, I’m more concerned with giving good face, not with sucking in my lips and cheeks, or with a male partner’s pleasure. I’m turning my head at specific aesthetic angles, regardless of what might feel best. When I stroke the dick, I do so with a flourish that adds nothing to physical stimulation, but shows off my manicure and makes the cock look as large as possible.

The list goes on.

Alex Saint: If it is a POV blowjob, the girl turns her face a lot more toward the camera… You’re really just bumping your dick against the roof of her mouth.

Rina Ellis: You have to make sure your hair isn’t covering your face, and angle your face so you don’t have five chins.

And missionary?

Larkin Love: My favorite position in real life is missionary, with full body contact and French kissing. It’s the most erotic, spine-tingling act in the whole repertoire for me.

Sofie Marie: Smothering missionary is very romantic. I always have my biggest orgasms in missionary with my partner making a scooping-driving motion to hit my g-spot and cervix. Slow, deep, rhythmic pumping with hip action. Yummy.


“My favorite position in real life is missionary.”

Larkin Love: However, you’ll almost never see this in porn. The shot isn’t interesting to look at. There’s no room for the camera to get a view of penetration. You can’t even see the girl’s boobs.

Johnny Goodluck: When you’re in mish, you’re turning your hip and chest out towards the camera, thereby slamming the opposite hip into your partner, as opposed to what normal sex would involve: You slamming your pelvis against their pelvis for more orgasmic pressure.

How do you show off doggy-style?

Johnny Goodluck: We are generally adjusting one side of our body about 30 degrees away from the parallel of the other person’s body [to give the cameras a good view]. One hip hits their ass. The side towards the camera never even touches, so that you can see the penetration.

Larkin Love: Point-of-view doggy style requires the receptive partner to bend her body severely at the waist, like a U, thereby putting both their face and pussy or ass on display simultaneously for the camera. You wouldn’t believe the spinal flexibility this takes to pull off correctly.  It doesn’t look weird in two-dimensional pics and videos. But it’s a hideously unnatural way to fuck.

How do you adjust cowgirl and reverse cowgirl?

Sofia Marie: Cowgirl and reverse cowgirl are the easiest to pose for the camera. But I get the biggest workout.

Ryan Driller: Cowgirl is a bit closer to the real thing at home, only as a guy you’re pulling her butt cheeks apart to let the camera see the penetration — as opposed to at home, where you grab and almost push her butt cheeks together tighter for the added pressure and sensation.

Rina Ellis: With cowgirl, you need to sit up straight or arch your back for it to look flattering.

Alex Saint: For reverse cowgirl, the girl will often position herself higher on her knees so that the guy can really thrust his hips up and down, further and faster.

Rina Ellis: Reverse cowgirl is a lot of work on the legs, so you need to be toned.

Kimmie KaBoom: It is the most difficult and painful position. I like it least.

Has working in porn ever introduced you to a camera-friendly position, or a positional adjustment, that you enjoyed enough to take back into your private sex life?

Johnny Goodluck: I’ve learned new, interesting positions and how to perfect some positions. But I don’t think I’ve learned any magic tricks from performing [that I wouldn’t have from other experiences] — other than self-control and perfect posture. Experience gets you there, no matter what.

Ryan Driller: Anything that we have brought home was not anything you’ve seen us do on camera. The tricks and tweaks we enjoy are discovered between takes, when your partner and you are still on set and the cameramen and directors are resetting or moving around a bit, so you get to real fuck to maintain the chemistry, erection, and enthusiasm. It might be that, for two minutes, after [a female performer] had been riding you while squatting over you, she gets on her knees and just grinds, and you discover that is a perfect g-spot massage, and an instant orgasm.

The only times we bring this back to our own beds are on accident — when we’ve been working so much that we fall into a habit.

What does all of this mean for people who watch porn to get ideas for new positions to try?

Rina Ellis: Porn isn’t sex education and shouldn’t be used as a how-to guide for having sex.

Larkin Love: If you are going to watch porn for inspiration, positions are one of the worst possible take-aways. Instead, draw inspiration from the themes and settings, or adopt a role-play scenario that you enjoyed on screen. Just make sure to take the idea and make it your own.

Ryan Driller: Personally, I’d say to just get a Kama Sutra book and try those positions out. Or just let loose and have fun with each other. You’ll find what works best for you two.

Kimmie KaBoom: Everyone should try a bunch of new things they see in porn to see what works for them. Just don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t work out, or you can’t do a position with your body. Sex should be a fun and exploratory playtime! Only do what you’re comfortable doing.

Bunny Colby: Definitely check out and see some new stuff — but adjust positions for comfort!

Verronica Kirei: If you see an act being done in one of your favorite pornos and want to try it out, don’t focus on the position part so much. Use that as a general marker. Then do what feels good after. You don’t have a camera pointed on you.

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