I had come to Nitke's studio in midtown Manhattan, near the United Nations, to watch food television with her, and to compare the histories of sex porn and gastroporn. Nitke, fifty-four, dressed in black from T-shirt to Ferragamos, had set up a card table between the foot of her bed and a bookshelf, and ordered Mexican takeout. As we ate lunch she told me about her pending contract with HarperCollins for American Ecstasy, a coffee-table book of her porn-set stills, and I began to examine her library, which included copies of Leathersex, The Correct Sadist, and It's not About the Whip. “I know most of the authors,” she said. “It's a small world.”
For the past several weeks, Nitke had been running porn films side by side with Food Network shows, studying the parallels. She had also been analyzing the in-house ads, like a recent one for the network's “Chocolate Obsession Weekend,” which promised to “tantalize your tastebuds.” In this spot a gorgeous model pushes a chocolate strawberry past parted lips as she luxuriates in a bubblebath. The suds shot dissolves into Food network superstar Emeril Lagasse, who shakes his “Essence”—a trademarked blend of salt, paprika, black pepper, granulated garlic, and onion powder—into a pan of frothing pink goo. The camera moves into the frying pan and stays there. There's something very visceral about watching the food,” said Nitke. “It's very tissue-y. It's hard not to think of flesh when you're looking at these close-ups.”
I've joked that The Food Network is “food porn” (which sounds better than “gastroporn” but that's me) but I never quite realized it was true! (you can also read a transcript of an interview with the author of that piece, which goes into some more depth (pun unintended) on this subject).