The Value of Context

by Rich Moreland, April 2013

Girls who shoot BDSM porn always risk losing work in the vanilla film world. The reason, by the way, is not because they are pigeon-holed as bondage models. Frankly, it’s an advantage for a girl to indicate a willingness to be bound, gagged, and disciplined as part of her repertoire whether she is with a modeling agency or a free agent. Hiring possibilities are expanded.

No, the reason is about that kind of work, what it does to her, the stress on her body.

Take Dana DeArmond, an A-lister who is much admired in porn. She’s employable, amiable on the set, and knowledgeable about how to elevate the quality of a porn shoot. She is every cinematographer’s dream. But even the best are challenged after putting in years of shooting.

Dana DeArmondPhoto courtesy of 3hattergrindhouse.com

Dana DeArmond
Photo courtesy of 3hattergrindhouse.com

“I had a really good time bottoming,” Dana says, “I did it for six years and learned a lot about my sexuality.” She tested her limits for pain and fetish interplay, an exploration so enlightening that Dana describes her career as a “sexual journey.” But change may be at hand. Framed in the past tense, her remarks hint that Dana is transitioning into another aspect of her profession.

Starting out at Kink.com offered her a level of security to act out her fantasies and a sense of family when the shooting was finished. “I’m comfortable there,” Dana says, “I have no complaints about the company.” She comments on what other girls who film at San Francisco’s old Armory say, Kink is performer friendly and cares about a model’s satisfaction, artistically and sexually, in a scene. Kink.com believes all shoots should honor model consent and its directors allow a performer to “steer the scene,” Dana adds.

Kink also has a reputation for honesty. “They don’t try to trick you into anything,” Dana says. Like many companies, Kink has a call sheet with everything spelled out for the performer before the scene begins. They try to make the experience rewarding so that popular models want to return. To accomplish that requires a staff that is well-schooled in handling BDSM shoots.

“They hire really cool people,” Dana says, and gives Kink the highest compliment. Hanging out with their employees “outside of work” is a pleasure for her.

Taking Chances

Dana DeArmond’s BDSM adventures have a developed a downside over the years. She is a veteran submissive and a perfectionist with an undeniable work ethic that pushes her over the top, sometimes to her detriment.

“I got to the point where I was trying to take so much pain, and was trying to be so extreme, I thought, ‘I’m going to I hurt myself,’” she says. That can be serious because of the negative carry over to vanilla porn.

If Dana’s too aggressive with the realism of her bondage scenes, she’s taking chances with her availability and her income. “I won’t be able to work down in L.A. doing regular porn anymore,” she states, admitting that in BDSM, risks can be high. In some cases marks from flogging, electricity play, and ropes can show up in a vanilla sex shoot if a girl has one booked the next day.

Dana explains that she is also putting herself in dangerous territory with her health because age is an ever present factor. “I’m not eighteen anymore. I’m not a young girl,” a thirtyish Dana declares, “I can’t risk injury.”

Dana’s attitudes about shooting porn are evolving. She’s been around long enough to know what she is doing and what she likes. These days Dana insists that she must be comfortable working with the people on the set and is careful about the toll extracted from her body and mind. In other words, she looks for the right “context” in a scene.

If a girl is doing an aggressive scene for a site like Bound Gangbangs, Kink viewers want her to take on as much as she can even if it strains her physically and emotionally. Perhaps a few years ago Dana would not have given that a second thought, but she is reluctant today unless the circumstances align the stars just right.

“If I’m not enjoying myself, that’s not for me,” Dana explains. She emphasizes that she must be the one calling the shots otherwise her heart is not in the scene. If guys who don’t know what they are doing are all over her, “it’s miserable,” she says.

Too much rough play and extended penetration results in its own set of difficulties and Dana considers the consequences.

Understandable, some performers have voiced similar concerns. On the other hand, authenticity in BDSM shoots is desirable from a customer standpoint, so good models feel a sense of obligation to produce the best content possible. But they must have a clear picture of what they are getting into and how the booking will be handled.

“A lot of people have bad experiences because they haven’t taken into consideration the logistics of rough sex, or gangbangs, or group scenes, or porn in general,” Dana says, extending her comment across the entire industry. Getting along with co-stars and being in the right situation—the context—is what makes shooting a pleasure. “Style wise sometimes people just don’t mesh,” she remarks.

But banking scenes is a great teacher. “You’ve got to learn,” she says, and reminds us that for her it took a bit of time.

Busy Signing at the Adult Convention in Las VegasPhoto courtesy of 3hattergrindhouse.com

Busy Signing at the Adult Convention in Las Vegas
Photo courtesy of 3hattergrindhouse.com

Of course, a porn education is ongoing and now Dana is dealing with a career change other performers like Bobbi Starr have successfully navigated. Dana’s working on learning to top or dom, trading in the “just let it happen” experience of being submissive for the other end of the spectrum. She’s discovered that taking on a domme’s responsibility is mentally stressful.

“You have to think of so many things simultaneously when you’re domming,” Dana explains. Circumstances dictate the play. Most important, planning is required. Anticipating the steps ahead of time, like configuring a move in chess, needs a quick mind. The pace of the scene and the careful application of any instruments like canes or floggers designed to stimulate and arouse must be taken into account. Obviously everything is consensual, Dana says, repeating the Kink mantra, and it is imperative not to injury anyone. Those are obligations the domme has to her submissive.

“I do care a lot about the people I work with,” Dana says. At the end of the shoot, it’s personally important that the submissive thank her and brag about the “good experience” he or she had. No matter which end of a flogger—application or reception—is given to Dana she will leave her mark on the scene.

That’s Dana DeArmond, the consummate pro, popular with her fans and her co-workers. From my personal contacts with her, I can clearly see why. In the business, Dana cultivates friendships with performers and directors whom she regards as reliable and honest, and reciprocates when she can. She refers to the women with whom she is very close, like Princess Donna, Aiden Starr, and Joanna Angel, as her “porn wives.” It’s an endearment that carries an emotional connection not often found in any career.

Call it the wisdom of age and the lessons of experience.

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