In September of 1993, I began my journey as a cinematographer as a Freshman at Boston’s Emerson College. You may be aware that I am not currently nor ever was a cinematographer, so you may have some idea how my college career panned out. I could not have gone at a worse time – film was about to die and be replaced by digital; if I’d gone a few years prior or later I would’ve been golden. Oh well.

It’s not an exaggeration to say that outside the classroom I learned far more about life than from anything in the official curriculum. My graduating class of high school was just over a hundred kids and as far as diversity was concerned, we had a few kids who were off-white. Emerson wasn’t big as US colleges go but even the Freshman class dwarfed what I was used to, was far more diverse, and people talked funny, pronouncing water “wah-taaaah” instead of my native New Jersey “wudder.”

Many of my classmates were aspiring filmmakers, actors, poets, artists of all kinds. In my then iteration- hair parted down the middle and falling below my jawline, four necklaces and six rings and long pinkie nails- I fit right in. My dorm was coed, which opened the door for adventure. During my Senior year of high school I’d gone on my first date, ending with my first (polite) kiss, and as ecstatic as I was that night, my head would’ve exploded had I been told what awaited me just a few months later when I went to college. Of course, my wild halcyon days ended in early 1994 when I met the woman who would become my first wife, but it was fun while it lasted.

While I was surrounded by weirdos and freaks who tried smoking banana peels to get high (true story), there was another large community of students who couldn’t have been more different than them. And by different I mean very, extremely normal. The overall focus of Emerson’s curriculum was Communications, so besides the artists there were aspiring journalists and newscasters and media whatnots. There were fraternities and sororities at Emerson that were indistinguishable from those at more mainstream colleges, that wouldn’t have oddballs like me even if we wanted to join. For every hippie there was at least one potential CNN intern. But we were all in the same mix, so my floor of the dormitory was a blend of nerds and geeks and preppy sorority girls and dudebro frat boys.

Most of my college friends were as broke as me, so a common destination for entertainment was browsing at Boston’s Tower Records. God, I miss that place. I imagine that we were far from the only patrons who would often browse and rarely purchase, which doesn’t lead to sustainable business. It definitely did not in Tower’s case. Now gone but never forgotten.

Besides listening to music for free, we’d wander aisle after aisle of movies, eventually reaching the absurdly large collection of porno. You see kids, there was a time when you couldn’t get porn on your phone, you had to go to special stores and either rent or purchase porn on VHS. I was going to explain that VHS was before DVD but then I’d have to explain what DVD is, so just take my word for it.

Anyway, the main draw of those aisles, other than the naked pictures on the packaging, was the names of the films. They were often clever and always funny. I still giggle at “Jungle Beaver” and “Edward Penishands.” Of course, I wasn’t really into porn in for the comedy and if you’d asked me then if I was more passionate about porn or standup I would’ve had difficulty answering. Hell, I’d have difficulty now.

Again, we often browsed, rarely purchased. Not many of us even had VCRs in our rooms anyway. So my interest was piqued when I learned that a dudebro on my floor was hosting porn viewing parties in his room every Wednesday. He called it Hump Day because of course he did. We had zero contact but I somehow managed to get myself invited one night.

I was one of five dudes sitting in a small dorm room, waiting patiently as he loaded the porn into his VCR. (I’ve always been fascinated by groups of straight men watching porn or going to strip clubs together.) I stuck out like a sore thumb, being the only one not currently pledging a frat. I don’t remember the title but I do remember the first scene being girl-girl, as were perplexed and impressed by where one girl put her fingers despite having enormous fake nails that turned her fingers into talons.

I also remember the next scene being boy-girl, as it was during that scene that I politely excused myself and never returned to another Hump Day. At the time, I’d been shocked into silence and left without speaking my mind, and in the nearly thirty years since I’ve thought about how great it would be to have a time machine and go back to that night.

This was the shocking moment- as the woman began to pleasure the man orally, our host walked to the VCR (he didn’t even have a remote) and said, “Ugh, we don’t need to see that.” The other guys beside me agreed and grunted their approval as our host fast-forwarded until that stage of the spectacle was complete.

Why had our host skipped the oral sex scene? Because seeing a penis in a woman’s mouth is gay, of course! What, you like seeing a woman service a man? What are you, quee-ah?

I was flabbergasted. I think I was around 10 or 11 when I saw porn for the first time and I’d seen a remarkable amount prior to that evening (I would not have done well if the Internet was available), but I’d never considered that only homosexuals would enjoy seeing a woman go down on a man. I also didn’t believe it, nor did I think that any of those guys, including our host, ever fast-forward those scenes when viewing alone.

If I could go back to that room, I’d ask them just one question, if they’d like to see male porn stars not hung like horses. There are probably better uses for a time machine, though. Besides, I doubt they would’ve admitted to only wanting to see men hung like a baby’s arm holding an apple. After all, porn is more than just fantasy- it’s fantasy fulfillment.