A Gonzo Afternoon: Part Two

by Rich Moreland, December 2017

Their shoot for Eddie Powell wrapped up, Steve Holmes and Mandy Muse are game for a dual interview so we move outside to the veranda.

Steve’s wife soon joins us.

Here’s some of what we discussed.

*          *          *

A Convenient Marine

I open the discussion with a question about getting into the business.

Mandy starts us off. She’s been shooting for a while and works with Kendra Lust’s agency, Society 15.

“I’m 23 years old. I’ve been in the industry for 4 years now, started when I was 19. I have a big booty which I’m known for. I do pretty much everything except for double anal and double vag.”

Mandy has no background in acting other than a film class she once took. But the Southern California lass is well versed in sex, having her first experience at the tender age of twelve.

“I had my first threesome with two guys when I was fourteen and then my first orgy at about fifteen.” Her voice rises as if she’s not sure of the age, or doesn’t remember exactly.

She got into the industry once she turned eighteen, Mandy says, and relates how it happened.

“I was attempting my first DP with these two marines on base.”

A good time was had by all before another soldier shows up. He was on duty but that didn’t faze Mandy.

“He was really attractive and I wanted him to join in,” she remembers.

The marine was interested but declined. He was on duty. Undaunted, Mandy gave him her number.

“He later asked me if I’d do a scene with him for a uniform fetish website. I wore my cheer leading uniform from high school and that’s how porn found me!” the brunette declares gleefully.

Married with Children

Steve’s path started at a much later age.

“I’m German, born in Transylvania, then went to Germany as a kid.” he begins. “I worked in IT for ten years, before that in different jobs, always sales and marketing.”

I can believe that. He’s easy to get along with, just ask Mandy who met him for the first time today.

Steve’s wife arrives to pick him up and takes a seat.

As if on cue, he says, “When I started I was already married with children.”

I suggest his wife is a tolerant person. She smiles and sends him a knowing look.

“She is, yes,” he responds and turns to Mandy, “I did a nice feature with your agent, Kendra Lust. She played my wife.”

Come to think of it, I guess Steve has had lots of “wives” but only one real wife.

I tell Steve I first learned about him through his work with Kink.com in San Francisco.

“Kink is a funny story actually,” he offers. “They booked me the first time in 2007. I didn’t know the company. They always asked the girls at Kink who they like to shoot with. They were requesting me.”

The fetish giant explained that before they booked him he needed to do a little research to find out his comfort level with what they do.

They said, “’It’s not like the regular stuff. We’ll send you a link to our website and a password,’” Steve remembers.

He checked out their shoots and noticed something. He didn’t know how to do the rope work that seemed to be everywhere in a Kink production.

“They told me, ‘no problem we have people for that,’” Steve explains. “So that’s my first shoot at Kink for Sex and Submission in February or March, 2008.”

As time passed, Kink expanded their offerings to Steve.

“They asked me if I can help with producing and organizing. That’s how I started directing. One of the websites I produced was Public Disgrace. Princess Donna initiated that with the company.”

Donna has since left the adult business. I remembered seeing her a couple of years ago in a shoot for a European BDSM company called Elite Pain. Their work is rougher than anything stateside.

“Yes, a company owned by a friend of mine in Budapest,” Steve interjects. “They normally just shoot nudity with no sex.”

He references a shoot he did for them and shows a still of the bound model on his phone.

“The girl contacted me many years ago. She wasn’t a porn girl. She was a medical student in Germany. I booked her in Europe and we shot her in Berlin for Public Disgrace and I asked her if she enjoyed the scene.”

“‘I was hoping you’d beat me harder,’” he remembers her saying.

Asked about her limits and the girl said, “‘I don’t know, I’ve never reached that.’”

It turns out that Steve suggested she might want to give Elite Pain a shot.

“She came for the scene. We did it together. Hard punishment. I fucked her and she had so many orgasms. She was happy for the experience, but she’d never do it again,” he says with a chuckle.

As time passed Steve’s work with Kink was so impressive that he became one of their directors and specialized in filming in Europe.

Warming Up

Turning our attention to the shoot just completed, I asked our pair how they got to know one another when they arrived.

Steve begins

“Easy. We met. We got attracted to each other. We use the time they are setting up the lights.”

Yep, all that “warming up” paid off.

Mandy points out that being comfortable with your co-stars is important and in her case, she has “never really had a hard time finding chemistry especially with a performer like Steve Holmes. It’s just how I love being handled during a scene.”

“Thank you,” Steve says, forever the gentleman. Mandy giggles.

“We had a good time,” he continues, and comments on touching, caressing, and the like.

Mandy chimes in, “We talked about that too.”

Steve brings up the most important factor in porn . . . do you love what you do? It can make or break a shoot. And, of course, there is chemistry between performers.

“Productions have a certain idea about the scene and how they want it to be. But then sometimes they don’t always book the right people. When I feel the girl is just going through the motions, it usually reflects in the scene.”

Reading Expressions

How about communication when the camera is rolling?

Steve thinks of it as akin to dancing and uses a generational analogy I completely understand.

“My role model is Fred Astaire. Sometimes you go on the dance floor with a girl and she doesn’t feel it. You try to lead her, push her, you know. And then there are sexual girls. You dance to enjoy and also to put on a show. This is what we do here. We know where the camera is. We try to enjoy ourselves and look nice for the audience, the camera.”

I ask Mandy about making eye contact during sex.

She loves to do that but comments that in her personal life, it doesn’t always happen.

Regardless if it’s business sex or private sex, “You can see what they (your partners) are feeling more when you look at them.”

The eyes “make connections” and bring people together, she adds.

Steve is on board with that.

“Eye contact is very important. You know what your partner enjoys by reading their expressions. We react to each other.”

“Coming back to the BDSM fetish stuff,” he says, “it’s so important to read your partner so you can push them or back off.”

In shooting that type of scene, there is always a potential a safety issue, so everyone needs to be on the same page.

Did Steve use his expressions to get Mandy to go where he wanted to be in the shoot, or where he wanted her to be?

In chorus, Steve and Mandy exclaim, “Both.”

“It’s a given thing,” Steve says.

There was a fair amount of spanking in the shoot. How did this influence Mandy?

“I’m submissive,” she explains. “I like pain so I like to be spanked. It gets me stimulated. When the penetration after the spanking happens, it’s two different types of feelings so I just love the mixture of both.”

The PA for the shoot, AJ Westwood, comes out and offers to drive Mandy to her car. She’s parked at a local mall. Steve says it’s on his way and he’ll give her a lift.

Incidentally, in LA neighborhoods people coming and going from a house raises red flags. For that reason, my photographer and I parked down the street some distance away.

Keep the Energy

Before we wrap up, the conversation turns to Eddie Powell.

Steve says he’s worked with Eddie for about a year. He likes shooting for him because the director gives his performers freedom to express themselves.

“There are certain directors you enjoy more than others,” Steve says, and he’s known ones that are not to his taste.

He mentions a director from years ago. “The first time I shot for him was so boring.”

Once the director put the performers into a position, Steve explains, “he didn’t change anything. Don’t move your hand, don’t change anything. Hold the position.”

The crew worked around them.

“In the end the product looked great because the dynamic came from the editing. It was actually not a lot of fun, (just) hard work,” he says, adding that some shoots can range from five to eight hours on set.

Today was much different, Steve declares. He didn’t have to save his energy.

“The camera follows you, you can just keep going and enjoy yourself because you know the camera is going to pick it up.

“With Eddie, the scene is so good with the lighting and the camera being handheld. It’s not so easy and he pulls it off so well. That’s the quality of his shooting.

“The key is that Eddie actually tries to book performers who know what they are doing, then he tries to capture it. If you give him what he wants, then he lets you do it.”

Mandy offers a final comment about maintaining on-set energy especially during breaks.

“Even when the cameras aren’t rolling I want to continue the flow (of the scene) to still keep the energy there.

“Today was not supposed to be so hardcore. It was easy to not get worn out when the lights are changing,” she says.

What is important, Mandy insists, is “to continue flowing with the same energy.”

Understandable. That’s always a priority when you make your living as an entertainer.

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A Gonzo Afternoon: Part One

by Rich Moreland, December 2017

During my recent trip to Los Angeles, I had the privilege of visiting an Eddie Powell set.

Eddie’s work is praised throughout the industry and for good reason. I’ll let New Sensations/Digital Sin boss Scott Taylor sum it up.

“Eddie is so deserving of best director for what he does. His creativity is well thought out. It is not by accident.”

Is he Hollywood ready?

Scott responds, “Eddie can get out there and run that camera on a mainstream set in a second.”

Yes, film fans, that’s how good Eddie Powell is.

*          *          *

Mandy

Today’s shoot is a gonzo adventure for New Sensations/Digital Sin that features Mandy Muse, a girl who has made her reputation in these kinds of scenes.

Shortly after my photographer and I arrive, Eddie Powell, with camera in hand, begins chatting with Mandy in what will become the BTS (Behind the Scenes) segment of the shoot.

The sexy brunette tells the viewer she is twenty-three and a local girl from Orange County. Eddie encourages her to talk about her mom who is fifty-six, we discover, and knows what her daughter does and supports her one hundred percent.

Today’s action is anal and Mandy is elated. She loves to “switch it up,” she says, and is blessed with a “snap back butthole” which, we assume, keeps her flexible for the long and large!

She loves to watch porn, Mandy continues, and knows that “people get excited about what they haven’t done before.” So for the viewers who want to enjoy backdoor sex, her performance should be a winner.

There’s one more element that will make today super fun. Mandy likes it rough, to be “handled aggressively,” she declares, which carries over to her private life.

Steve

Mandy’s co-star is porn legend Steve Holmes. In his mid-fifties, Steve is a stellar performer who has been in the business for over twenty years, quieting the ageism argument when it comes to older men and younger women.

While everyone getting ready, my photographer passes time with the affable actor who also directs and produces.

Their conversation turns to southern culture and Steve mentions an eighteen-year-old newbie with whom he recently worked who does everything but IR (interracial) porn. Some of the old attitudes still prevail.

To entertain anyone who wants to watch, Steve has one of his shoots with porn superstar Angela White on his laptop. With this European all-star, there is never a dull moment.

Focus on Her Butt

Eddie shoots the box cover in front of the French doors that open into a space enclosed by an imposing privacy wall. Steve pours oil over Mandy’s rear while the lights are being set up. To past the time, Steve spanks Mandy a bit. She smiles.

Next come the stills (the “pretty girls” are first) shot using a living room setting. Eddie mentions everything will “focus on her butt” so that rules the next few minutes of activity.

I take a minute to speak with the boom operator/PA. His name is A.J. Westwood and he tells me he’s worked with Eddie, Jacky St. James, and Paul Woodcrest for over a year. He’s a Southern California lad in his twenties, amiably pleasant and knows his job.

Steve has joined Mandy for the next round of stills. They’re going at it (to be polite, “warming up”) for the shoot to come.

Eddie lets them know what he wants. “All positions that increase shots of her butt are great,” he says, and later asks for a “standing doggie.”

Speaking of frisky critters, the house has a couple of pet dogs running around but they are more fascinated by the squirrels in the yard.

Porn doesn’t do much for them, I’m thinking, though the squirrels appear to have each other scoped out for whatever rodents do for amusement.

For now, the stills are finished. This is gonzo, of course, and it’s time-honored selling point, the facial, will comprise the final pics later.

Peanut Butter and the Squirrels

All the while, Steve and Mandy are continuing to get to know each other with enough penetration to shoot a whole other movie. When they take a break, Steve and my photog chat again.

Eddie and AJ are setting up a tripod on a dolly constructed of two long pipes so the camera can glide through the opening sequence.

Steve’s brings up a director in Japan who didn’t want any “hankie-pankie” on set, much different from other countries (twenty-one in all) in which he has worked. There are few limits here to speak of and he and Mandy are delighted.

Steve Holmes is urbane and cosmopolitan, a stark contrast to Mandy who is every bit as local as he is international. Nevertheless, they blend together artfully when the filming begins.

It strikes me the whole setting this afternoon is a bit bizarre in the most pleasant of ways.

While Steve and Mandy fall into “warming up” again, Eddie sets up the equipment. He’ll use a handheld camera throughout the filming to get the best angles.

Meanwhile, in the yard the squirrels are sated with gobs of peanut butter to keep them occupied.

A Well-Schooled Gonzo Girl

Mandy stands in front of the French doors (the squirrels are munching away outside) and “sees” Steve approaching.

“Don’t acknowledge him, don’t even say ‘Hi,’” Eddie says.

The camera moves toward Mandy as Steve walks in and begins to caress her. There is no dialogue and this part of the scene wraps up quickly. The dolly is taken apart. Steven and Mandy don’t miss a beat and continue “warming up.”

The main event is next.

More oil and spanking for Mandy’s butt. She’s good to go with lots of oral (or should we say choking and gagging), there’s another standing doggie, and then a break. AJ gets Mandy a glass of water.

When we resume, there’s more oil, more spanking, more oral (Steve does his part). Mandy sighs a lot. She’ll break into an ongoing chorus of “oh, my gods” and “oh, shits” that are standard dialogue for a well-schooled gonzo girl.

Next is a transition to a sheet-covered table and Mandy has to re-position herself as part of the scene. It’s awkward at first, so there’s a retake. No problem. Everyone is a professional.

Of note is whispering. Steve and Mandy work together well and communicate. More on this later.

Another break and it’s time for a reminder.

Eddie explains once again it’s all about Mandy’s backside which means the cowgirl position is vital to give Eddie what he wants.

Steve encourages Mandy to “shake that booty.” She offers to spin around while holding the penetration; Eddie responses with, “what works best for you.”

So, the porn starlet turns smoothly to a reverse cowgirl, the mark of a true pro. Eddie moves closer with the handheld to get the full benefit of the penetration.

To conclude the day’s work, Mandy gets off the table and sits on her heels to prepare for the facial. A slip causes a retake but all ends well when Steve does his duty.

Finally, Mandy poses for the camera, face properly splattered, to get just the right shots to complete the stills and it’s a wrap.

Our stars head for the shower while Eddie takes a break before he and AJ pack up the equipment.

*          *          *

In Part Two, we’ll take a few moments to talk with Mandy and Steve on the veranda.

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The Passion of Isabel: Part Two

by Rich Moreland, November 2017

This is the second part of my review of The Passion of Isabel, a Red Feline film starring Beatriz Rivera as the victim and Jac Avila as her torturer, Torquemada.

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The Passion of Isabel sticks with its erotic theme throughout.

No Escape

For instance, food is important imagery. Torquemada teases Isabel with water to replenish her energy and eventually brings her rudimentary nourishment after he has kept her confined for two days. She’s offered an apple and a small loaf of bread, both highly sexualized symbols.

Eating is a Freudian symbol for sex. Isabel is capitulating to his sexual control over her. When he tempts her with the apple in an Adam and Eve reversal, Isabel looks into his eyes with submission in hers.

Torquemada leaves the apple so she can feed herself in an act that implies dependence and obedience. He controls his prisoner totally now and wants her strong enough to endure the abuse she will suffer. Taking the food from Isabel, Torquemada stands her up for the first round of punishment, the exquisite whipping scene mentioned in Part One of this review.

Other symbols enhance Isabel’s enslavement. During her second rape, Torquemada chokes her with the chains that keep her under his control. In BDSM play, restricting breathing during sex increases its orgasmic intensity for the masochist.

Is Isabel being taught to perversely enjoy her trials?

Another prominent image is the metallic collar which is prominent throughout the film before it is locked around Isabel’s neck. When it is on the floor on its side, the camera shoots the scene through it, framing the device with a double meaning. It represents Isabel’s manacles and its round opening is a clear statement that this is a highly sexualized film.

As a foreboding of her death, Torquemada hangs Isabel in another erotic act. He stretches out her neck with the chain attached to the collar, once again suppressing her breathing and intensifying her sexual experience as he takes control of her soul.

Notice the other circular object, the pressure belt, is secured around her waist and also acts as a metaphor for the female sex. Isabel’s youthful beauty is slowly strangling her as the collar and the belt act as opposing forces.

There is no escape. She suffers because she is desired.

Rack and Wheel

A ladder becomes a rack to stretch Isabel’s body in the proper manner prescribed by the Inquisition. As Isabel’s misery continues, close-ups of her face underscore looks of desperation and defeat.

Her whimpering increases as the intensity of her trials is ratcheted up, but she never screams or cries out. Even as the end nears, Isabel displays a fortitude that is commendable.

When the film returns to the circle motif, the scenes move to the breaking wheel, sometimes called the Catherine Wheel. Isabel’s whippings continue and to increase her humiliation, Torquemada confines her in two ways: on the rim of the wheel with her back arched and then spread-eagle on the spokes in a crucifixion position.

Beatriz Rivera deserves high praise when she is stretched on the rim. Because the weight of her body pulls her down, she is steadied by the rope around her upper body and between her legs (sensationally erotic since she is nude) while the camera captures her pain.

Though accustomed to acrobatic maneuvers to show the sex they are having, only top of the line adult actresses ever deal with such an unnatural position.

Torquemada asks, “Do you repent for your father’s death?”

Isabel remains defiant, smiling slightly and shaking her head with a “no, no.”

There’s more lashing, rape, and anguish before the film’s denouement.

Allegory

In the final crucifixion, Isabel is subjected to probes with sharp objects (the medieval test for witches) and the pressure belt to add to her torment. Torquemada nails her feet and hands and rotates the wheel so that Isabel goes from the upright Christ position to the upside-down configuration of St. Peter.

When the crown of thorns is placed on her head, there are two single branches pointing upward resembling the horns of Satan. It’s a comment that Isabel’s tribulations symbolize the fight against evil that reaches into eternity. Pay close attention when her eyes look upward.

Isabel’s stoicism soars to its heavenly heights at this point. Rightly or wrongly, she accepts the responsibility for the crime she stands accused of committing and understands her punishment.

One more observation is worthy of comment. The ball attached to the pressure belt is allegorical. The pre-Christain Atlas bears the weight of the world just as Christ takes on the sins of man.

Isabel has clearly moved from sinner to saint and as the film closes. A heartbeat is all we hear. It slows, becoming almost imperceptible into eternity with the message that death is a state of mind rather than a spiritual end.

Bea’s Triumph

In the first part of this review, I suggested that Beatriz Rivera learned her craft in the film Justine and has now matured into an artistic performer in The Passion of Isabel.

This juxtaposition of a sixteenth century story in a twenty-first century film is evident in Bea’s performance. First, she rises to fame as an erotic actress. Notice, however, that she parts with Amy Hesketh and Mila Joya when she trims and partially shaves her pubic area so the female sex is on-screen. She lets us know she’s a modern bondage star and a woman making her own statement of sexual liberation.

What’s more, the decision to leave in the stud in her nose and her single ear piercing establishes a contemporary identity. Throw in her tattoos that are only lightly covered with make-up (the one high on her back is not) and we have the kind of presentation that excites today’s BDSM aficionados.

What of Bea’s acting?  As mentioned in part one, her range of expressions are largely non-verbal which requires concentration and awareness of what the scene is asking of her. She is subtle in her message of suffering.

Not only that, but her whipping scenes are realistic. At no time does she appear as a caricature of a victim. The viewer can feel her pain and the lingering agony of her relentless torture.

For these reasons which move Beatriz Rivera as actress beyond her lovely nakedness, Red Feline fans are going to demand more from this Bolivian sweetheart. Her film presence is pure erotic pleasure marked by the whip.

Final Thought

In Part One of this review, I pointed out the difference between the three tortured women in Red Feline/Pachamama Productions I’ve reviewed.

Bea’s performance in Isabel clearly delineates how differently she handles the erotic role of the tortured female from Amy Hesketh and Mila Joya. Bea is not horror-oriented as is Amy. Her pain is internalized so that crying out and screaming is not reflective of how she portrays pain. Likewise, she is not the submissive and docile character that appeals to Mila. Bea is defiant and in many ways totally feminist.

The magic of a Jac Avila film library allows the viewer to choose and appreciate the different ways talented actresses approach their masochistic roles and the brutal situations they find themselves in.

As for Bea in  The Passion of Isabel, she yields in the end, but the viewer gets the feeling that her heart never really stops beating.

*         *         *

A Jac Avila film rarely disappoints even the harshest critic. Yes, his work is not for everybody and the viewer must have a taste for the performance art the Red Feline/Pachamama studios present.

At no time are the actresses abused, but as Jac will tell anyone who will listen, shooting his films can be an arduous experience. The scenes are hard on the body and the psyche, but each performer values the opportunity to make her own artistic statement.

Keeping this in mind, our wholehearted thanks is extended to all the women who appear in Jac’s films, and particularly to Beatriz Rivera as Isabel, for enriching our film experience.

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The Passion of Isabel: Part One

by Rich Moreland, November 2017

Entering its eighteenth year of production, Red Feline Pictures (RFPIX) continues its mission to bring BDSM film to a niche audience fascinated by crucifixion themes hammered and nailed with religious imagery.

The films typically center on a single female and her suffering under an oppressive regime or doctrine, such as the Inquisition, or as a product of her own fertile and willing imagination.

The Passion of Isabel stars the incomparable Beatriz Rivera as the heroine and longtime Red Feline actor and director Jac Avila as Torquemada.

In addition to Isabel, all of the films mentioned in this review are available at Red Feline and have been reviewed on this blog. I encourage anyone who wishes to purchase The Passion of Isabel to read my analysis of the other movies to get a further flavor of the Red Feline/Pachamama Films product.

*          *          *

The Passion of Isabel is set in early modern Europe at the beginning of the sixteenth century. The Age of Discovery promises the dawn of a new day that will challenge outdated belief systems.

However, for the youthful and beautiful Isabel, the old ways remain in place. Her father has arranged her marriage to an aristocratic friend named Torquemada and announces it publicly.

“Isabel is called to her father’s side at the high tower in a palace,” we are told, where she refuses the union, asserting that she will be her own woman and make her own choices.

“Enraged by this public humiliation, her father rushes to chastise her. To free herself from his grip, she pushes him, causing him to fall from the tower to his death. This dooms Isabel. For she is locked in a dungeon to await trial.

But there will not be any trial… Her fate now rests in the hands of Torquemada. And he has only one goal: Destroy the woman who humiliated and rejected him.”

If there is a single weakness in this film it is illustrated above. The viewer is not introduced to the story and instead is taken immediately to the dungeon where Isabel will suffer at the hands of Torquemada. To fill in the gap, I encourage everyone to read the entire description (parts of which I have quoted here) on the Red Feline website.

An introductory explanation during the opening credits would have helped set the scene, especially since the DVD is not packaged with a box cover that would include a brief synopsis.

But that is the only shortcoming in The Passion of Isabel. For BDSM fans who crave the vision of lovely female flesh resisting and succumbing to pain, this film fits the bill.

Your Body or Your Soul

The story opens with Isabel brought into the dungeon where she will face the judgement imposed on her by a deranged mind, her “crime” a mere excuse for unabated sadism and the sexual satisfaction it brings.

“Why do you have me here? You know I’m not guilty.” She questions.

Torquemada, who has no interest in consoling her, grabs Isabel behind the neck (which he does frequently in the film), and announces her father died disappointed that his gift to a friend turned into a “rebellious daughter” who needs to be chastised.

“He wanted you to be mine. You’re mine now and you’re going to pay for what you did to your father.”

Isabel is angry, telling him he knows it was not her fault.

Unmoved, Torquemada asks which is stronger, her body or her soul, then lets Isabel know both are now his.

From here the movie examines the miseries Torquemada inflicts on his victim. Among the whippings and rack and wheel tortures, there are the repeated simulated rapes.

Does this make Passion a horror story for an a mature audience? Perhaps, considering that most people may not want the kids to watch a naked woman abused and used. But, there is no hardcore sex and certainly no gore. This is not a slasher film.

So, what is it? For some viewers, Passion is soft porn (because of its nudity) marked with ordeals of pain. But that is hardly adequate. From my perspective, Passion is exactly what makes the Red Feline label popular: an outré, extravagant, and kinky art film with an undeniable erotic overlay.

The Erotic

Yet, what is erotic has as many variances as there are film fans. Having said that, it is too easy and grossly unfair to dismiss Red Feline productions like Martyr, Agent X, and Red Room as mindless female torture movies. Like Passion, they explore the psychological aspects of how we as a society view our sexuality, especially the masochistic/sadistic paradigm.

Over the years, the Red Feline label has matured in its technical presentation and Passion, at this point in time, has reached cinematic excellence. Visually, the viewer will be stunned by the clarity of the sadistic trials Isabel must endure.

What’s more, actress Beatriz Rivera has an overwhelming assignment in this film: show Isabel’s evolution from angry resistance to total submission. Torquemada breaks her so that she may reach her “understanding” in peace.

Because dialogue is sparse, Bea must reveal this transformation with her eyes, her expressions, her body positions, and her cries. In effect, they become the dialogue of surrender.

Bea’s gift is her ability to do this in a way that is steeped in our old friend, eroticism. Isabel is no passive whipping toy. She’s a fighter with whimpering her only concession to Torquemada’s abuse and asserts her feminist belief in her own sexual power. She may break in the end, but her torturer will work hard for his triumph.

Bea as Isabel bravely endures her pain to the excitement of the BDSM crowd. But that is only part of her appeal. She uses Isabel’s anguish to seduce even the most casual viewer. It’s a rare talent indeed.

Take, for example, the first whipping scene. Isabel’s arms are manacled in a crucifixion position and she growls at Torquemada, “Why are you doing this to me? Damn you, get off me.”

But for Isabel, from now on it’s all downhill and there will be no tears only quiet resistance that still flickers at the end.

By the way, this a fabulous scene. Beatriz Rivera’s body is exquisite, her nakedness enchanting. It is one of the best lashing sequences ever filmed by Red Feline or Pachamama Films, for that matter, and that includes the riveting work of Amy Hesketh whose filming resume is without equal in this kind of scene. That, believe me, is high praise and Bea should be proud of her performance in this segment for it alone is worth the price of the DVD.

The Victim Role Times Three

Beatriz Rivera appears in Justine, a Pachamama Film that also stars Amy Hesketh and Mila Joya who take the stage together in other films, among them Barbazul and Dead But Dreaming.

What is fascinating is how each of the actresses plays the victim role differently. Amy is horror oriented (Olalla, a vampire tale like Dead, is the best example). Her scenes carry a shock value that departs from pure eroticism because Amy believes in putting psychological terror on an equal footing with S/M for its own sake.

Amy in Olalla

Mila follows a different path. Despite a brief irascible moment as the vampire Aphrodisia in Dead, Mila is the docile submissive (for the non-torture version check out her role in Barbazul). Her suffering is preordained, it seems, and she is led to the slaughter with her gorgeous body abused and bloodied. Mila’s anguish is highlighted in both Maleficarum and Le Marquis de la Croix where she is sensationally pleasing to the sadistic eye.

Mila in Le Marquis de la Croix

Truth be told, Amy and Mila are luscious displays of female pulchritude. They are as alluring as any BDSM model in adult film and could go that route if they chose. But the question remains how to show the erotic side of sexy under the lash. Both can do that with their established reputations.

Mila and Amy in Maleficarum

Where, then, does this place Bea? Easy, the Bolivian beauty’s seductive and steamy on-camera persona challenges Amy and Mila for the camera’s eye. However, in Justine, she is learning her craft and keeps her presence under wraps. Understandable, I might add, considering that at times in the film she is overshadowed by Amy’s star power and Mila’s sultry victimization.

Bea in Justine

Plus, Bea is not totally nude, a downer for eager viewers who like their whipped women totally exposed and an indication of some hesitation on her part, at least in that film.

Incidentally, her introduction to the sadomasochistic genre of the Pachamama variety puts more emphasis on plot line than Red Feline so Bea had to demonstrate her acting skills from the get go. Not a simple task for a fresh face.

But hey, it’s a learning curve and that was her beginning. The Passion of Isabel has moved her forward in giant steps. Whereas Justine offers the viewer a taste of Beatriz Rivera, Isabel marches her onto center stage to carry the story on her shapely back, pun intended.

As Amy and Mila begin to explore other artistic avenues that may limit their futures in front of the camera, Beatriz Rivera is ready to step up to the plate, as they say in baseball, and hit a few homers of her own.

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A few comments on the technical aspects of the film are in order.

First, three cameras are used to record the scenes with a pace that is Hollywood worthy. Second, the technical quality (color and clarity) of the film is top notch. And third, in the movies timing is everything and Isabel’s suffering is highlighted by frozen imagery when the camera lingers on her beaten body after the torture has ended.

Its a cinematic moment Jac Avila has perfected that enriches the artistic vision of Red Feline and Pachamama films. The film’s message is transformed into a museum painting.

In my view, for these reasons alone The Passion of Isabel has to be the best Red Feline picture made so far.

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The War Nerd’s Iliad: A Review

by Rich Moreland, October 2017

Here is my review of The War Nerd Iliad: A Modern Prose Translation of Homer’s Iliad by John Dolan.

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John Dolan’s The War Nerd Iliad is just what the professor ordered for any student, scholar, or generally interested person who wants an uncluttered (as in outdated usage) version Homer’s work. The author keeps the tempo rocking with a contemporary writing style that even the most reluctant hardcore classicist can appreciate.

Having avoided the Iliad in its entirety since my university days, I found Dolan’s approach a welcome change from the usual academic translation that glazes over eyes.

Take, for example, this description of events at the beginning of the story when an old priest hopes to negotiate the release of his captive daughter from the Greeks. She’s been thrown in with a group of “decent-looking girls,” Dolan tells us, so the groping warriors can examine her teeth and buttocks. A spoil of war, she was the first chosen, claimed by Agamemnon. Now her father is offering a ransom for her.

To understand the drama of the scene, you could read the following from a Tufts University translation:

“Then all the rest of the Achaeans shouted assent, to reverence the priest and accept the glorious ransom, yet the thing did not please the heart of Agamemnon, son of Atreus, but he sent him away harshly, and laid upon him a stern command . . .”

Or this by the War Nerd . . .

“There’s muttering: the Greeks don’t like the way Agamemnon is acting.

Someone in the crowd yells, ‘Take the gold!’

Another voice: ‘What’s the point? Why make the gods angry?’ Someone else yells, ‘Let her go home.’

But Agamemnon will never let her go.”

My vote goes to John Dolan who tells the story in a way that rephrases the traditional prose associated with the Classics and adds a bit of modern slang to boot. What’s more, he likes the suggestive and seeks to rile the erotic.

Here’s what Agamemnon tells the priest he will do with the girl:

“I’ll take her to my couch and bend her over, bend her anyway I please. While she is young that is.”

Every reader can let his, or her, imagination loose with that description.

After letting his words sink in, Agamemnon comments that when she is old, well, she’ll lose her usefulness, if you know what I mean.

Later the author has something to offer the kinkiest of readers when he writes about Zeus’s constant irritation with his wife, Hera, who apparently needs some discipline every now and then.

“‘I’m thinking of giving you a good hard beating. Remember that time you tried to tie me down? . . . I had to teach you a lesson. I let you hang by your wrists all night . . . couldn’t even sleep for your screams.’”

Phew! Picture that scene!

To the casual observer of Greek mythology, the gods as cantankerous, arrogant manipulators is common knowledge. The same can be said for the mortals who worry incessantly about proper ritual to please the Mt. Olympus crowd.

Dolan modernizes their tiring bouts of pettiness with dark humor. Of course, the whole conflict between the Greeks (Achaeans) and the Trojans is the height of pettiness (remember that the air-headed Paris selecting the equally vacuous Aphrodite in the beauty contest initiates the pointless war.)

Every instance and every thought expressed in this tale creates a ruckus that is only rivaled by today’s Presidential tweets.

The author takes the reader into the fighting that is always a playground for the interfering gods. Of course, Dolan spares us the niceties. When Achilles, the son of the lower level goddess Thetis, kills Polydoros, one of Priam’s sons, the spear enters the boy’s back and exits near his navel. The lad “dies on his knees trying to stuff his guts back into his belly.”

When Antikolas is in trouble, Poseidon saves him by “lifting up the earth” to bend a spear-headed his way. The Greek warrior then kills a Trojan by chucking his spear “right into his groin between the navel and the balls.” The War Nerd insists it’s a pretty painful way to die.

How about this bit of action to stimulate horror movie fun? A dying Trojan’s macabre journey to Hades comes after a vicious throat slashing.

“Lykon’s head is left hanging on by a strip of skin. He goes down to the dark like that, with his head flapping down his back like a mule’s saddle-bag.”

Or this . . . when Pisander rushes Agamemnon’s brother Menaleus, the Greek spears him in the face.

“It breaks like a clay bowl. His eyes pop out and roll in the dust, as the Greeks laugh and cheer, pointing at the eyes, shouting, ‘You dropped a couple of eggs!'”

Good stuff!

The Iliad can be read as history, literature, or mythology, and I might add, psychology because the tale is a study in human personality, its hubris and its frailties. There are elitists who are selfish and self-assured, and an assortment of others who grovel, faun, and boast to influence those around them or simply to survive.

War does that to people, you know, often rewarding the baser human instincts while skimming off the brave. In his interpretation of heroes like Achilles and Hector, charlatans like Agamemnon and Menelaus, and disagreeable gods like Athena, Hera, and Zeus, the author opens up the many avenues of the human condition, the very reason Homer’s saga has endured over the millennia.

Now, thanks to The War Nerd John Dolan, the Iliad is an enjoyable read for anyone seeking to ditch the stilted language of the past and move forward with the linguistic style of our social media age.

We’ll part with Dolan’s description of Paris, the stud who started this debacle called the Trojan War.

“The only reason he didn’t drive a Porsche or wear Ray-Bans was because the infrastructure wasn’t there yet. He’d have defected Malibu in a second if the airport had been ready. . .”

Can’t get much better than that!

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The War Nerd Iliad is available from Feral House.

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Engaging Your Brain: A Review of Lesbian Sex 17

by Rich Moreland, October 2017

In Girlfriends Films’ Lesbian Sex 17, director Dan O’Connell takes an innovative approach to exploring the performer’s point of view on a variety of topics. In this review, I’ve included a sampling of what the video offers.

To order the DVD, click here.

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“With a woman there’s so much to touch and to play with,” Natasha Nice tells Georgia Jones. “I want to cover all the ground!”

Georgia smiles eagerly and Natasha turns the tables, asking Georgia for her thoughts on the same question Georgia posed to her, “How do you like your sex scenes with a woman?”

Depends on her partner, the slim brunette responses.

“If they come out of the gate ready to go you’ve got to match that!”

As I watched the four pairings in Lesbian Sex 17, I remembered being on set for a Dan O’Connell shoot a couple of years ago.

That day I noticed two girls on the veranda engaged in animated conversation. Adria Fox and Jorden Kennedy were awaiting their nod to rock and roll under the lights and had time on their hands. They decided to make use of it with a little “getting to know you.”

Kissing and caressing highlighted with a few giggles, these lovelies began warming up for their scene. When they finally made it to the bedroom, the crew was still setting up. By that time, Jorden and Adria were so into each other that Dan had to remind them to go slow at the beginning.

I wondered how their veranda conversation energized them and I’m betting that any film fan would also. With Dan’s idea of putting the girls together in front of the camera to share their thoughts before the sex begins, we get an inside look.

By the way, Lesbian Sex 17 is not in a BTS (Behind the Scenes) format. There is no interviewer, the girls do that themselves. They talk about whatever they want and lots of good stuff is revealed.

Let’s take a closer at a sampling of what usually stays very private . . .

Style

Each of the pairings have a different style of interaction.

August Ames

August Ames and Penny Pax are giggly and girly with August dominating their interaction because, I think, Penny is by nature more submissive.

Veruca James and Stella Cox are workmanlike and a bit more serious in their conversation. Again, one girl tends to take the lead, in this case Veruca who holds a mug of coffee and directs their conversation.

On the other hand, Natasha Nice and Georgia Jones are playful in a way that reminds the viewer of girl talk around the water cooler. Neither of them overwhelms the discussion though Georgia’s personality presents an unabashed eagerness when the mention of sex comes up.

The other conversation reinforces that the women in this film are well-respected veterans of the business. Chanel Preston and Vanessa Veracruz are a fascinating duo. Chanel’s personality quite literally takes over any room she enters. The statuesque beauty is the personification of presence. On the other hand, the sultry Vanessa holds her own, with points of view that are undeniably strong.

Natasha Nice

Locations also vary. August and Penny are shot relaxing out of doors, as are Chanel and Vanessa. Veruca and Stella sit at a bar while Natasha and Georgia settle in front of a window so the camera can capture the pelting rain that seems to embrace them.

Religion

The topics of conversation are not the same within each pairing, a result of not relying on an interviewer. Some things are discussed in common, however, such as masturbation, first time sex with another girl, and entering into porn.

The viewer learns that these girls were body explorers at a young age and by their early teens had thoughts about snuggling up to other girls. Watching porn as a kid almost seemed like a rite of passage and getting into the business was a breeze.

August Ames talks about her strict home environment and the religious overlay that corralled her. That led to smoking weed and hooking up with schoolmates (girls because she went of Catholic school) to play around with the dirty.

Chanel Preston

Chanel and Vanessa also bring up religion and their home life.

“We would go to church, but I wouldn’t say we were a religious family,” Chanel says. As a consequence, following the faith never played a part in how she felt about sex, so there was never any guilt about it. In fact, religion never played a role in anything in her life, Chanel remembers. It was just something her family did.

On the other hand, Vanessa, who is comfortable referring to herself as bisexual, reflects August Ames to a degree.

“I’m a little catholic girl,” the Latina hottie mentions, though her Catholic household was not strict. Not so with her grandmother, however, who doesn’t know what Vanessa does, the same thing, by the way, Vanessa once told me in an interview. Unfortunately, her middle sister, who “flipped out” about Vanessa’s porn career, “ratted me out” to the whole family, she comments.

Vanessa mentions what as a writer in the industry I have heard often. The family scene is difficult for most performers. Society thinks what we do is not the norm, Vanessa exclaims, so we’re outcasts.

Vanessa Veracruz

It’s difficult to tell her family she’s more respected on a porn set than working a normal job.

Fooling Around Young

Penny Pax was less rebellious than her shooting partner August, but remembers getting into the carnal with her female classmates in elementary school.

Penny Pax

She talks about messing around in the bushes on the playground and early versions of fingering for exploratory purposes. Hilariously, carrots and ice cubes came later, the quiet porn superstar muses.

Veruca James

Veruca James admits to masturbating very young and makes an interesting observation about 1970s style porn mags. The guys seemed pretty gross while “the girls seemed so much more tasteful,” she says. “Something about women’s bodies is so much more attractive,” the dark-haired miss believes.

The curvy Stella Cox brings up fetishes and talks about having sex with girls who are not into porn. It’s hard to figure out if they’re lesbian, bi, or just into to having sex with another girl, she comments. Then she adds it’s a longer more involved process to have sex with a woman than a man because having sex with a girl “engages your brain.”

What Approach Do You Take?

Stella Cox

One of the questions Natasha and Georgia bring up is how to handle telling people you do porn. Like similar issues covered by all the girls, this question entails communicating with non-porn people.

Georgia says, “It’s always different. It’s how I’m feeling at the moment.” If she’s not feeling real confident, the slender dynamo tells them she’s a model. Should she be more confident, Georgia says, “I tell them I do porn. Homosexual porn, I say it just like that. I tell them straight up I do lesbian porn.”

That, she declares, gets her “mixed reactions.”

As for Natasha, whose cuddly girl-next-door looks endear her fans, the approach is much the same. “I try to figure them out a little bit. I prefer to say ‘adult entertainer.’ I don’t really get any negative responses.”

Georgia Jones

The other issue they explore has to do with attraction to partners. Georgia is chemistry oriented. She likes girls who are “social smart” and “book smart,” can hold a conversation, and be witty with the ability to “snap back at you,” she says.

Natasha likes a “natural woman,” someone “I might see at the grocery store, not super chiseled like in porn.”

Beyond that surface value, she emphasizes that connecting with the person is vital. She wants her partners to be “someone I can giggle with. I’m still a kid at heart.”

Dan’s Girls

So there you have, a sampling of attitudes and conversation . . . but what about the sex scenes? Well, this is a Dan O’Connell production. The girls wear a minimum of makeup, avoid overly suggestive clothes to keep the “girl next door” image Girlfriends Films has heralded for so long.

It goes without saying that the sex is hot and consumes two hours of rollicking fun. Chemistry comes through on every shoot. Lots of kissing and finger banging is always prevalent and sex toys are assiduously avoided unless it’s an exceptional shoot.

Take notice, for example, of Chanel and Vanessa celebrating the weirdness of a film called Messed Up. It appears to deviate somewhat from the tried and true Girlfriends production.

One thing about all-girl shoots the average fan can appreciate: various degrees of shaving are always present. Bald is beautiful for some, but not all. Stylish trimming is never the same from one girl to the next, so there is something for everybody.

What’s the bottom line on this film? When it comes to girl-on-girl action, Dan’s ladies are always top notch. This time he’s added that inside look that informs the fan of what’s really on her mind!

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Evolved, A Commentary: Part Two

by Rich Moreland, September 2017

This is the second installment of my review/analysis of The Submission Of Emma Marx: Evolved, a New Sensations film written and directed by Jacky St. James.

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The Message

When Mariah pleads with Emma to teach her about BDSM because she is “in dire need of discipline,” Emma explains that the fetish is all about “practice and training” and asks Mariah why she wants this so badly.

Her response is a nod to all BDSMers.

It’s who she is, Mariah says.

So Emma agrees to take Mariah on her journey. The film moves through brief scenes of Mariah’s education. The best are those surrounding “slave training” when Emma teaches the neophyte to arch her back and open her legs for inspection.

There is a collar for Mariah to wear and shots of spanking and caning with tasks that come with the instruction, “please you dominant.” Emma tells Mariah, “Most important, find joy in what you are doing. When it stops being enjoyable, it’s probably not for you anymore.”

Later after her first real BDSM encounter with a Dom named Nicholas (Jay Smooth), Mariah asks Emma how can she ever return to normal sex?

What Mariah is experiencing now is normal for her, Emma says.

Emma informs Mariah that she belongs in this world. It’s just not the way she came to know it when she realized she was a submissive.

In other words, Emma implies that her pupil’s early experiences were limited to physical sensation. Now she is progressing beyond those restrictions and  becoming more spiritual in a sexual way.

Mariah’s character poses the question Jacky as writer and director addresses in her BDSM films; that is, how do we define normal? Part of this conundrum is to accept that different does not mean not normal.

In other words, if a fetish is legal and doesn’t harm anyone, then it passes the normal test. Of course, this is not something people who are vanilla oriented necessarily believe, or even want to consider. To put it another way, according to Jacky St. James, the definition of normal sexuality is broad and expanding and someday may not exist at all.

It’s the battle feminism has fought for decades in its effort to escape female sexual circumscription.

How we express ourselves

Normal is what we make of how we express ourselves. Emma has cleared this hurdle under Mr. Frederick’s guidance. She’ll do the same now for Mariah.

To best understand this idea, contrast Mariah’s first sex scene which served no deeper purpose than to have some fun. As mentioned above, when Emma as tutor and trainer sets up Mariah’s experience with Nicholas, she is satisfying Mariah’s needs beyond fleeting physical sensation.

In other words, Mariah is enriching her sexuality with psychological meaning, becoming sexually aware and mature: a reflection of the journey Emma has already taken.

By the way, notice how Emma persuades Mariah to select a dominant for the scene. Once again, Jacky St James reinforces the hegemony of female choice, reminding the viewer that choice also defines normal and normal, within the bounds of what is legal, is individually oriented.

In other words, it’s okay for a girl to want to be tied up!

Who We Were Before

In the final analysis, two themes connect Evolved with the original trilogy to reveal that Jacky St. James is always progressing as a filmmaker.

Her script points out that often a woman can best teach another woman the psychological aspects of sexuality, regardless of her preferences be they fetish or vanilla. Evolved is female-oriented and we see this with the extended conversations between Emma and Mariah and the emphasis on eye contact during the sex scenes mentioned previously.

Overall, Evolved is a further exploration of Emma’s closure on her past. The pain of losing Mr. Frederick haunts Emma when she tells Mariah it’s time to move on to a male dominant. Mariah reacts with an outburst that reflects what she believes happened to Emma.

“Are you going to pawn me off on someone else? Is this how this works?”

Confronting her personal sense of abandonment and loss of trust, Mariah disappears from the story without explanation.

Of course, irony grips the narrative at this point. This is the second time Emma feels forsaken, the first being the result of Mr. Frederick’s death. Her saving grace is that she is an evolving Emma, so to speak, who is well schooled in how to cope with the unexpected.

And then, the letter arrives.

It reveals that the chemistry between Emma and Mariah referenced in the first installment of this analysis has transcended misunderstandings and hurt feelings.

Mr. Frederick as narrator helps us understand this major theme of Evolved when he says, “To survive we have to let go, acknowledging what no longer works for us, acknowledging that who we were before may not be the person we are today.”

William Frederick is the omnipresent voice inside our soul that urges, prods, and disciplines us at every turn while reminding us of our capacity to love.

So it comes as no surprise that with the narrative’s fade out, we hear “Mr. Frederick” whispered almost inaudibly.

Will he continue to dwell in Emma’s spirit for the next film?

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Final Thought

Adult fans who appreciate the feature film sub-genre realize there are few writer/directors who develop original ideas. Relying on parodies where plot and characters are already in place or adopting an established story line from existing sources, such as superhero comics or popular mainstream films, is convenient. Just add the sex.

But with Jacky St. James the landscape is more provocative. She writes her own narratives and uses sex as dialogue so the viewer can better understand her characters in such a way that the sex scenes emerge as characters in and of themselves.

Next, Jacky coaches and guides performers through the acting experience looking for just the right take for every scene. Being trained in drama and having once sought roles in mainstream Hollywood, Jacky understands the details and rigor of directing and acting.

Lastly, of course, she is part of a talented team of creative cinematographers that gives every adult feature she directs the Hollywood touch.

This combination of factors makes a New Sensations/Jacky St. James film unique to the business and we should appreciate that while we can.

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