by Rich Moreland, June 2013
Note: The history of BDSM porn dates to the “porno chic” era. Films like The Story of Joanna (1975) and A Coming of Angels (1977) are classics featuring the late Jaime Gillis who liked his women submissive. Hardcore sex is blended with bondage to titillate viewers whose taste ran in that direction.
Onto the soft-core scene came the French film The Story of O in 1975, a dark tale of submission based the novel of the same name. The film addresses deeply hidden taboos within polite culture at the time.
From the mid-1980s through much of the 1990s, the feds cracked down on pornographers and the worry over violence and penetrative sex on-screen took center stage. When whips and floggers are the basis for a film of that era, their use is fairly light and explicit sex is avoided. The work of filmmakers like Fred Lincoln, Ernest Green, and Bruce Seven was seductive at that time, but tame compared with today’s new horizons in the BDSM adult genre.
The new century is moving to the ultimate— heavy fetish mixed with acrobatic hardcore sex. The standard now emanates from San Francisco’s Kink.com. But not everyone is into Kink’s extreme filming. Roughing up women in an atmosphere of apparent humiliation is not on everyone’s viewing guide, especially couples who share their porn interests with each other.
With the film Bound by Desire, Smash Pictures is tinkering with a new formula for romance and flogging, kisses and ball gags, all complimented with penetrative sex. Perfect for the couples market, it presents women expressing their desires and facing the contradictions within them. A bit of character development emerges and gives reasons for the on-screen sex, a rarity to today’s gonzo porn market. In short, the old adage “You always hurt the one you love,” cannot be more intimate!
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Degrees of Commitment
In the opening scene of Bound by Desire, Part 1: A Leap of Faith, Elexis Monroe is preparing to receive the attentions of Evan Stone.
She’ll be tied face down on a bed, flogged, and caressed. All the while, a mounted camera that is part of the cast is across the room picking up the action.
Who are Elexis and Evan—husband and wife, horny neighbors, members of a bondage club?
Elexis at first appears uneasy. “Let’s just do it,” she says to Evan, dropping her robe. The action accelerates and Elexis’ guilt-ridden ecstasy, simultaneously intriguing and troubling her, peeks through. Her sex with Evan is anticipation stroked by nagging doubts. Is she having too much fun in something that is over-the-top kinky?
As the scene heats up, the camera moves to Elexis’ face. Her wantonness draws the viewer into the authenticity of a BDSM encounter while posing the question that lies at the heart of this provocative film. Is a BDSM relationship normal?
For Elexis and Evan, apparently it is. Their hard sex establishes the tone of submission that is the centrality of this film. It will play out in the lives of three women, each with varying degrees of commitment to the BDSM fetish.
Let’s Go Play
The BDSM lifestyle involves giving oneself over to the fetish. It’s never an easy decision. Though a master-slave relationship can be sweetly and sexually tantalizing, red flags of fear and weirdness flutter in minds of all BDSMers. After all, they dwell on the margins of cultural acceptability. What would the neighbors think if they found out?
First, there is Chanel Preston, eager for discipline, punishment, and rough sex. She is Evan Stone’s wife and from the outset it’s evident that she is powerful, dictating to those around her. Chanel’s kitchen conversation with her husband establishes that they are in this together. As the viewer will see later, Evan does his wife’s bidding, a seeming contradiction to her role as the submissive in their relationship, but not an unusual circumstance in the world of tops and bottoms.
Over dinner with Evan, Richie Calhoun, and Casey Calvert, Chanel is haughty and mocking toward Casey, the second woman in this story. Chanel tells the shy, reticent girl that it’s exciting to be shared with other men when your master insists. Chanel teasingly asks Casey if she has ever been dommed by Ryan Driller, a man who “collects” women to punish.
“No, I never subbed for him,” she responses quietly, as if under an interrogation.
To stir the atmosphere, Chanel takes charge of the table conversation for Casey’s benefit and her own ultimate pleasure. Evan takes the hint. Turning to Richie, who is sitting next to Casey, he says,
“Sir, do me the honor of beating my wife.”
Triumphant, Chanel responds enthusiastically, “Let’s go play!”
As the scene with Chanel cranks up, the punishment meted out is a BDSM delight. Evan binds his wife to the bed, applies a flogger to parts of her body, then pauses to watch Richie work on her with a riding crop. The red marks on Chanel blister the room with anticipation for the sex. Chanel’s oral performance on Richie is superb, and that’s for starters.
A licentious seductress who plays the males for her own pleasure, Chanel’s carnality feeds theirs. Her eyes exude raw sexuality. Like Elexis in the first sex scene, Chanel Preston is worth the price of this DVD.
Meek and Submissive
On the other hand, Casey’s situation plagues her with nagging uncertainty. Does she want the rough and tumble lifestyle with Richie? He’s collared her, an expression of affection among BDSMers, securing her devotion to do his bidding. Plans are validated that Casey is to be given to Richie’s friends so that they might sample what he experiences. But contradiction fills the air.
Meek and submissive, Casey is the perfect slave who is unconvinced of her part in her emotional bargain with Richie. An older and wiser Evan understands her emotional dilemma and knows how to heighten a woman’s sexual excitement. Sexuality is brain based, after all, and words fuel desire.
“Do you like the attention you get from your master by doing exactly what he tells you?” Evan asks Casey in the hallway outside the dining room.
“Yes,” she responds softly. Her slightly stooped shoulders are an open book of submission.
“Women need discipline,” he tells her with a firm, quiet voice, knowing that words that offend most women, excite slave sluts.
Casey’s is uneasy. Haunted by visions of what she perceives “normal” to be, a loving vanilla courtship, she has doubts about life with Richie. How can she reconcile these contradictory feelings?
Casey turns to the one friend she believes can reinforce her ideas of romance, a head-over-heels in love Allie Haze, who is absorbed in changing her dominant boyfriend, Ryan Driller.
Vanilla Flavored Bondage?
Enter girl number three. Allie Haze is enjoying lots of rollicking sex in Bound by Desire—the ice cream scene (vanilla flavored, of course) is not to be missed—but there are growing hints that her lover has not yet thrown off his BDSM urges. To complicate Allie’s feelings, one of Ryan’s subs, Teal Conrad, is strapped to a St. Andrew’s Cross and flogged, while Allie, bound to a spanking bench in the scene, looks on. Once again director Powers focuses on the expressions of both women. Watching Teal flinch under the flogger’s impact, Allie is not sure she’s reformed Ryan, or that she personally has parted ways with BDSM’s haunting allure.
To reinforce the cottage-in-the-country romance Casey thinks she wants, director Powers introduces Kimmy Olsen and Danny Wylde who perform run-of-the-mill boy/girl sex. Though not the hottest in the film, the scene does drive home the definition of “normal” and serves to move the story forward. By the way, Kimmy is cute as a button, pleasant on the eyes, and orally talented to boot.
The drama is now in focus. Casey’s thoughts drift into the wonderland of love that supposedly defines what a woman wants. But does it work for every woman? And, is it really for her?
Two Sexual Worlds
In a beautifully directed masturbation scene, Jim Powers captures the essence of Bound by Desire. Up to her neck in water, Casey relaxes in a bathtub and pleasures herself. As her arousal increases, Casey’s hips and body rise slowly above the waterline. This is a symbolic rebirth reminiscent of Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus, a goddess emerging from the sea. Casey’s sexuality is “cumming” out again from the watery womb of its original being. This time she is destined to be swept into the whirlpool of dominance and submission where all is not what it seems to be.
This episode also speaks for the film’s women. They are re-energizing their own sexual experiences. Chanel relishes her journey; Allie believes she has found her way, while Casey takes hesitating steps.
Using her nasty submissiveness as female empowerment, Chanel calls the shots with Evan, getting what she wants. Allie’s gushing relationship with Ryan, fueled by school girl love, is headed for a BDSM train wreck she thinks she can negotiate. Casey’s doubts and fears conflict with her desires. She wants the love and trust she believes Allie has found. Unnerved by the prospect of being whored out by Richie and equally hesitant around Chanel, the conflicted Casey is drawn to both like a moth to light.
How best to cope? Pleasure yourself and prepare. As the film’s centerpiece, Casey symbolically teeters between two sexual worlds, vanilla and fetish, knowing that the latter’s seductive powers will likely win out.
Part Two will tell that tale. Will Allie, who is farthest from the BDSM fold, be secured into the fetish? Will Casey join Chanel’s commitment to submissive pleasures? And the camera, the sentinel that captures every encounter, what is it all about? Who is filming these scenes, an underground cult of sadists and masochists, the neighbors next door indulging their passions, or a curious Evan and Chanel?
The BDSM scenes presented in Bound by Desire include the interpersonal affections that BDSMers revere in their play. In the flogging scene with Teal, Ryan holds her hand briefly as he applies the leather to her butt; Evan caresses Elexis after spanking her; kissing is evident throughout all the scenes, despite the presence of an accoutrement BDSMers adore, ball gags. Followers of bondage and discipline express themselves emotionally in ways not always understood by mainstream culture, reminding the viewer that in vanilla adult film intimacy is not always assured.
On a technical note, the film’s BDSM rigging comes via the talented John Wilkes of John Wilkes Photography. His handiwork is precise and clean, adding an artistic touch to the production.
Finally, the women are superb; each is at her trampy best. Chanel Preston demonstrates why she has been selected as a host for the upcoming 2014 AVN Awards. Allie Haze, who won two best actress awards in 2013, is the perfect choice for the sweet girl who wants to reform her boyfriend and Kimmy Olsen fills the straight sex bill to a tee. To balance a youthful Kimmy, veteran Elexis Monroe gets this reviewer’s vote for the hottest, filthiest close-ups during a sex scene ever. Powers makes the viewer want to dive in on the action.
When Part 2 arrives, perhaps Casey Calvert will turn in a performance that tops them all.