Far From Where You Are

Madison Young, Daddy: A Memoir
Rare Bird Books, 328 pages.

by Rich Moreland, May 2014

“Daddy’s cane was lightly tracing up and down the landscape of her quivering body. I recognized her internal conflict: the desire for so much sensation that you are carried away to somewhere far from where you are, while your psyche is rubbing against its edge. Sarah slowly, bravely nodded her head . . . .

I stood up in the corner that Daddy put me in . . . and walked toward Sarah, bringing my face close to hers, stroking her hair and putting my hand on her shoulder.

‘You need to breathe, Sarah. Don’t let the sensation control you, let it flow through you. . . . Recognize it as a gift.’

She was still just a girl, only twenty-four, and I felt threatened by her . . . I tried to disregard my fears of being replaced for a younger, newer make and model.

‘Too bad you can’t come without penetration. Isn’t that right, Slut?’ Daddy taunted her and their connection made my skin crawl. I don’t want to be in the room for her orgasm.

‘Cock please, Sir . . .’

Her words drifted into the hallway as I walked away, down the long corridor, until they were only a faint buzzing of syllables behind Beethoven’s quartets.”

Madison Young, from Daddy: A Memoir. Pages 221-223.

*          *          *          *          *

In writing Daddy: A Memoir, Madison Young reveals that we are a collection of psychological constructs that shape our loves, biases, and communities, be they social, religious, political, recreational, or in this case, familial and sexual.madison 4

Madison’s search for Daddy is a reconciliation of two men in her life, first her Ohio father and later her West Coast lover, BDSM dominant, James Mogul. But Daddy is greater than any one person, as Madison’s odyssey tells us.

The book is well-written with a brisk pace that moves the reader through Madison’s conservative Midwestern childhood to her sexual awakening in California’s sunny liberalism. Daddy is a personal experience with a bit of salacious writing tossed in to give the reader a look at adult film’s fetish and bondage community.

The Quiet Girl
The early pages of Daddy recount the anxieties that plagued Madison’s adolescence. The drama surrounding a dysfunctional family crippled by an absent father and an embittered mother brings the reader into her Ohio youth.

A spattering of dark humor flavors an atmosphere of brutal honesty. At age four Madison believes the word prostitute sounds like “a church or a deadly disease,” and she later characterizes the internet porn edifice Kink.com, where she films as a BDSM submissive, as “a bubble of myopic disillusions.”

The Quiet Girl: Cultural Hero, Art Curator, Sex Activist  Photo source unknown

The Quiet Girl: Cultural Hero, Art Curator, Sex Activist
Photo courtesy of Lydia Daniller

In truth, Daddy is more than a family father or a sexual guru in the bondage and discipline community Madison loves so much. A mystical animus living within Madison’s inner child, Daddy is older than the Little Girl who seeks him out. A lover who disciplines his pet, Daddy secures her from the vagaries of personal apprehensions and trepidations.

What initially captured my interest is the book’s dedication to the “quiet girl in the corner.” Sexual submissiveness can blossom in the nondescript students who sit in classrooms or eschew the anxieties of social gatherings. A female friend who markets sex toys once told me that the women most likely to purchase bondage gear at her seminars are the unnoticed ones in the back of the room, shy and very discreet.

Sins of Non-Conformity
Growing into puberty, Madison remembers that porn sex was considered “shameful,” rendering her fantasies as forbidden. In junior high, she kept her “eyes cast down” sensing that she didn’t belong. Gawky and self-conscious, Madison became a “natural target” for the taunts of other kids. Spawned by such cruelty, inadequacies haunted her until the emotional tools to confront her demons emerged.

Out of this battle of self-preservation comes her interpretation of Daddy—a concept, a spirit, a need, a belief—that no one individual in Madison’s life can completely fulfill.

For all children, there are turning points that define sexual journeys. Madison’s occurred in church. The preacher condemned adultery, prostitution, and homosexuality as “sins of non-conformity.” What is a girl who knows she is different to do? Create her own “imaginary community” that spurs a search for happiness? An eventual good-bye to Loveland, Ohio, followed, leaving behind an unfulfilled longing for the traditional family and its Daddy.

The Castro, San Francisco’s gay community, becomes Madison’s Mecca. With a realization that she is among the “outsiders” who sought “refuge” in California’s Left Coast sexual Disneyland, her search for Daddy expands. Is her mentor a leather man, a rigger (a technician whose rope talents satisfy the cravings of bondage models), a dominant, a master, or perhaps a leatherdyke? Madison is unsure, but realizes she needs someone to take control and comfort her inner “Little Girl.”

A Dignified Whore
Madison Young loves rope and discovers porn’s Kink.com, the San Francisco bondage empire of Peter Acworth. The company becomes another Daddy, providing the ecstasy and the agony of Madison’s SF existence. She does her first shoot for Kink and proudly announces, “If rope didn’t lead to my daddy, I didn’t know what would.”

Madison Young loves rope and discovers porn’s Kink.com, the San Francisco bondage empire of Peter Acworth. The company becomes another Daddy, providing the ecstasy and the agony of Madison’s SF existence. She does her first shoot for Kink and proudly announces, “If rope didn’t lead to my daddy, I didn’t know what would.”

A cathartic yellow brick road to a BDSM OZ, Daddy’s magic is more than a memoir; it’s a cross between a novella and a history. Gauge, a girlfriend lost, and James Mogul, a Daddy gained, shape Madison’s writing. A swirl of honesty and jealousy filters through her words sparking sympathy at some points and admonishment at others.

James Mogul Photo source unknown

James Mogul
Photo source unknown

Insights abound within the pages of Daddy. Madison’s close friendship with performers Bobbi Starr and Lorelei Lee, and her gut-wrenching jealousy toward a bondage model metaphorically named Sarah Chasm enliven the narrative. Madison’s accounts of L.A.’s San Fernando Valley, “the depressing landscape” of the “mainstream porn industry,” while characterizing Kink.com as the “pornification and appropriation of the BDSM community for mass consumption and commercial gain” make this book a fascinating read.

Doubts engulf Madison as she uses adult film to fund her beloved art gallery, Femina Potens, whose future is doomed by high rents. She engages in a bit of self-imposed slut-shaming when she declares her income “felt like dirty whore money” earned by a “sexual outlaw in a corporation system.”

Madison in a Kink scene with James. Photo courtesy of The Training of O.

Madison in a Kink scene with James.
Photo courtesy of The Training of O.

Though her assessment of the adult industry is not always positive, Madison Young gives the reader moments of triumph. For example, confessing she sometimes feels like “a dignified whore,” Madison takes pride in being a Spiegler Girl (the performer agency for whom she worked), characterizing Spiegler models as “smart, self-reliant, and responsible.”

Because Madison Young is a woman of rich diversification, to stay on the Daddy message shortchanges much of who she is beyond a narrowly defined fetish performer. Understandable, but I want Madison to explore her time at Antioch College and her discovery of sex-positive feminism. Madison is a cultural hero of pansexualism, sexual masochism, and the queer porn community (particularly San Francisco’s Queer Porn Mafia) whose status is rising in this new century. She devotes deserved space to Femina Potens, to art and performance art, but what of her many honors at Toronto’s groundbreaking Feminist Porn Awards?

She is far more than the vulnerable Little Girl that Daddy presents.

When chroniclers examine the history of adult film in the twenty-first century, Madison Young will be feted. With Daddy, she has only broken the surface of her legendary status. Hopefully, this multitalented and intellectually brilliant queen of kink is considering a second book.

The Power Within
The beauty of Madison’s narrative is its contradiction. She attempts to reconcile all her varied families from Ohio to Femina Potens to Kink.com, but they are too kaleidoscopic for a clean, well-lighted heroic image immersed in a tale of sharply drawn parameters.

And, of course, there are her personal Daddies with their battles and foibles, who, like Madison, search to find their own definition of self.

Feeding Emma Photo source unknown

Feeding a budding feminist.
Photo courtesy of Madison Young

In the end, Madison seeks the power within to move forward. The birth of daughter Emma, a uniting force and an overwhelming gift, offers the metaphorical beginning.

Finally the reader is left with the overarching question the book presents. Who or what is Daddy: a religious-like spirit that dwells within all of us, a guide to find our way from infancy to maturity, the cycle of civilization, or simply a deep emotional need?

Or, perhaps Daddy is the community that secures us, as rope binds Madison to something greater to serve. Through that service she tells us that who we are is a fluid evolution and an enlightened journey that ceases only with our final breath.

*          *          *          *          *

By the way, don’t neglect the book’s forward by Madison’s porn-art mother and sex-positive icon, Annie Sprinkle. Her words set the tone for Madison’s story.

And, should you purchase Daddy, which I highly recommend, go for the paperback version. I did not and, like Madison and her rope, I miss the touch, feel, and smell of something I can hold in my hands and put on a shelf.

Peace.

 

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