Tackling porn addiction: a musician speaks up

For Montreal's Jesse Mac Cormack, porn can be seductive in all the wrong ways: a source of disconnection that alters expectations in the bedroom.

For Montreal's Jesse Mac Cormack, the world of online porn can be seductive in all the wrong ways: a source of disconnection that messes with your brain and alters expectations in the bedroom.

Jesse Mac Cormack is a multi-instrumentalist from Montreal with a shape-shifting sound.

His new EP After the Glow blends a raw, soulful strand of rock with dashes of electronica, pop and folk.

The 28-year-old, who’s from Montreal, has just released a brooding single delving into the dark side of porn.

‘Addict’ is about the sense of disconnection that adult websites instil, the misleading way porn depicts sexual encounters and how the allure of an endless library of x-rated clips can throw you off-kilter.

It’s something Jesse struggled with during his own addiction to porn. Now that it has inspired a music video – directed by his girlfriend Frédérique Bérubé – he’s ready to talk about he overcame that time in his life.

This is, understandably, not easy for him to get into.

Wearing a yellow and black raincoat and jeans, with a scruffy head of hair, Jesse moves restlessly around his room, swivelling the Skype connection on his phone at different angles.

There are lots of pauses, fragmented sentences and frustrated exhales.

You get the sense that, as important as it is for Jesse to get the message out there – he hasn’t quite come to terms with how it should sound yet.

Photo by Frédérique Bérubé.

Photo by Frédérique Bérubé.

How did the idea for this song come about?For me this is a really strong subject; I’ve written other songs about it because I was once a porn addict. I just feel like a lot of people don’t consider how powerful it is and how heavy it can be. For me, it’s as serious as smoking, drinking or gambling.

How did you arrive at that realisation?Well, when you’re watching it every day! You feel a change – it subtly messes with your brain until you realise, ‘I’m not actually having fun with this person in front of me right now’.

If you took ecstasy every time you go dancing for 10 years, it’s never gonna be the same – whether you want it to or not. You’ll still be able to function and see the pleasure in it but something will be changed forever in your mind.

And what is that change? Is it the way you see others? Is it an issue of respect? Is it the pleasure reward loop in your brain?It’s an unhealthy mind-frame, for sure… [Jesse trails off into silence, turning to stare out the window for 15 seconds] …Can you say that again? [laughs]

What impact did it have on you, exactly? How did it change you?[pauses] Let’s say when you’re single, you have different partners once in awhile but not on a regular basis, so you satisfy yourself through those dips by watching porn.

Then you might have a one night, one-time relationship with someone before going right back to your computer.

And [by comparison] it’s so easy. It’s not physical. It’s all in the mind. Sometimes you’re like, ‘I want to masturbate; I want to watch porn.’ But it’s not even real: you’re just excited by pixels, by the clicking for more and more.

There are people who do this all over the world every day and think it’s perfectly normal. What would you say to make them reconsider that?[long pause] I don’t know, man. I’m not a social worker. [laughs] …I guess it’s like having a relationship with no one.

When you’re single, you’re chatting on social networks, you have all these ideas of who you’d like to be with and you’re sending messages. ‘Oh hey, maybe we should do something soon, blah blah blah.’ Then at 11 o’clock, you’re tired and you jerk off.

All this true side, this human side – ‘Oh, I wanna see you’ – it all goes away. Phwoo! Down the toilet. You lie down and it’s over… until it starts again the day after.

Does you think the variety of porn can change the way we think about intimacy?Well, that’s the thing. There are a lot of documentaries about how porn affects your perception of ‘real’ sex. What’s scary is that now younger people have access to that.

It does change the way you think – and it’s never enough. You’re always going for more.

Let’s say you tell yourself, ‘I want to stop watching it’. So you try and, two weeks later, you watch it again. You’re so excited that it last 30 seconds and it’s over.

The more you do it every day, the more it takes time before you cum. You want more, so you end up clicking on things you never would have watched or seen. You’re excited by stuff that isn’t really you.

So how did you move past it?I found someone that I love.

But for another person who may not have someone, what advice would you offer them?It’s just about determination. You have to be aware of what it does, what porn really is and how it affects you. I hope more people can be smarter about this.

After the Glow is out on Secret City Records.

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