Author Archives: 3hattergrindhouse

About 3hattergrindhouse

My book on feminism in adult film is finished. Pornography Feminism: As Powerful as She Wants to Be" explores the little known connection between the adult film industry and feminism. Hopefully it will encourage other writers to investigate the topic and expand on my introductory historical account. The project stemmed from my efforts to cobble together an understanding of filmed pornography and its influence on American culture. I’m a career educator/historian so this sort of thing is what interests me. By happenstance I discovered a little recognized handful of adult film actresses who banded together in the mid-1980’s to form a mutual support group. They were feminists in nature and I quickly learned that in today’s adult industry feminism among performers and directors is alive and well. In the course of this adventure, I was invited to be a contributing columnist for Adult Industry News, an online publication out of LA. It can be accessed at AINews.com. So, now after years in the classroom, I can say I've attained the status of a professional writer. Over the past few years, my industry contacts have grown and I've expanded my interest in adult film to other areas beyond feminism, most recently the BDSM phenomenon that is invading bedrooms across the world with new sexual experimentation. We'll call it what everyone else does, the "Fifty Shades" phenom. The result is a change in direction for some of the topics found here. Feminism will still reside in its heart, but the fetish touch will step into the light more often now. In fact, because feminist performers are sometimes bondage models, there really isn't the disconnect one would expect. I’m developing the feel of a journalist and a film reviewer, neither of which I thought I'd ever become. Little money (but lots of passion) in what I do, so to pay the bills I maintain my position as an adjunct community college professor teaching in the Washington-Baltimore metro area.

Sofie Marie, Part Three: Hotwife

by Rich Moreland, April 2018

In this final post on Sofie Marie, we’ll look at her on-screen adventures.

*          *          *

For Sofie Marie, her swinging history prompted her move to porn. I’ve interviewed other girls with similar experiences as swingers and wanted to know what Sofie could tell us.

A Hall Pass

“I am doing porn because of swinging or ‘the lifestyle’ (as it is known among its adherents). I am a true Hotwife which means I have a hall pass from my husband to go and explore whatever I want to as long as I am one hundred percent open about my plans and experiences with him. He likes to see and hear about my exploits from me and from Spike,” Sofie says.

From what I’ve learned as a journalist, being absolutely open about everything is the cornerstone of acceptance into the swinging community and the ongoing enjoyment of it.

Sofie’s interview with Adult DVD Talk gives us the back story. Her husband introduced his new wife (they’ve only been married for a couple of years) to the swinger community. “He told me about it and I didn’t have any idea what a ‘swinger’ was,” she tells Captain Jack.

Now husband and wife savor the lifestyle together which means parties and the excitement of hooking up in a consensual atmosphere. Sofie has loved it all, especially the variety of sex partners-in-waiting, an unexpected treat for her.

“We’ve met a lot of great people and I have been with girls through that. That’s where it all began as far as fooling around with other girls,” she beams.

That ongoing adventure of self-discovery became an important step in initiating a porn career.

Sexy Young Guys

Sex for the camera is another story.

Sofie’s photography career began with bikini modeling which, as sometimes happens with porn girls, led to nude work. From there, her exhibitionist tendencies and relishing all things sexual nudged Sofie to take the next logical step: her own website and porn.

Sofie explains to Captain Jack that x-rated shooting is “no big deal” because she enjoys exploring her “sexual boundaries” which includes, no surprise, being naked and revealing her “girl parts.”

Has porn benefited Sofie’s free-wheeling spirit? You bet.

“I have gotten really comfortable in front of the camera. So, being nude or having sex is easy for me with the camera rolling,” she says.

“I am really a shy person and exploring my sexuality and now doing porn has been a great experience.”

From a psychological perspective, exhibitionism is a common trait among porn performers and often counteracts shyness. Sofie’s fans are undoubtedly thankful she has made it work for her.

By the way, Sofie’s age would dictate a career as a MILF, but she’s not really into that. When it comes to shooting, “It’s the job for me to play the MILF,” she comments, “but I like playing the Hotwife better.”

Actually, being a MILF took some getting used to, Sofie declares, because she not a mom in her real life, so the label feels a bit “weird” to her. But it does have its rewards. “I get to have sex with the young sexy guys as a MILF so that’s a bonus for me!”

That’s something all her fans can watch with delight as Sofie redefines “cougar!”

Work Sex

There is something about Sofie Marie that separates her out from the run-of-the-mill porn girl. Though I’ve not had the pleasure of being on one of her sets, as I’ve said, I can infer from the short clips I’ve seen that she is cultivating an image that sets her apart from the crowd.

That is a huge reason for her popularity, I believe.

In talking with performers and directors I’ve been reminded that porn sex is not the type of sex civilians (pornspeak for non-industry people) experience in their everyday lives. What is surprising is this: that goes for porn performers as well who are happy to separate film sex from home sex.

Another way of putting it is this: porn sex is acrobatics that involve contortions and positions that directors insist be held minute after minute to get the footage desired.

As you might expect, performers don’t go home in the evening to their significant others and hang from the chandeliers. Work sex is a business and exhausting enough as it is.

Social scientists and educators tell us that porn, with all its outre positions and hard banging, has become the new sex education for today’s young people.

Sometimes it’s difficult for them to understand that sex is supposed to be enjoyable, intimate, and a mutually shared experience. It doesn’t need to be nasty, rough, or vulgar and doesn’t have to be dominated by deep throating, gagging, choking, tears that smear mascara, and reverse cowgirls (the most graphic position for the camera).

Here is what I mean. Watch Sofie in a girl-on-boy oral scene, for example, and compare her with popular porn performers today. The difference is noteworthy.

Her on-screen sex is instinctive and unpretentious. Without doubt, this is Sofie Marie’s tour de force and why she is destined to luxuriate in the adult industry for as long as she wants. When she proclaims she projects the girl-next-door image, Sofie isn’t kidding or trying to sell her fans a bill of goods. She really is as she appears on-screen and that, in a business that is turning more and more to the bizarre to keep fans energized, is in itself remarkable.

Think of it this way, Sofie communicates her sexuality without saying, “Hey, look at me!” Her scenes are less about her and more about personalizing the sexual experience for the camera. The more natural she is, the easier it becomes for viewers to imagine themselves in the shoot with her.

As I’ve already hinted, Sofie Marie’s shoots explore sex as a spontaneous expression. In other words she reinforces the idea that sexuality as meaningful on a human level. It’s not a superhero cartoon or the perils of Pauline. It’s just us.

There’s no drool, spit, or slobbering when she is performing orally. Dirty talk is subdued, and, she completely turns the porn formula on its head when she fails (forgets?) to point her toes. Those things are not important in her shoots because they are not her. As Sofie keeps telling us, she’s natural . . . and she is a natural.

I could be wrong and if I ever see her in action on set in a way that disputes what I’ve said here, I’ll let you know.

Consent

Not surprisingly, consent is important to Sofie.

“So far I have been treated with respect one hundred percent of the time. I expect nothing else from this industry or I will not shoot with a company who does not respect my time and boundaries,” she proclaims.

For girls to accomplish what Sofie asserts, they must take control of their image just as this statuesque beauty clearly demonstrates in her work. That is a link to feminism she may not know she possesses.

Balancing Act

Finally, I had a couple of questions for Sofie that arose from personal interest. She and I are similar in two ways.

First, I was raised in a conservative evangelical home (Southern Baptist) and didn’t know much about sex growing up other than it was sinful outside of marriage.

I don’t know if Sofie’s childhood attitudes were the same, but she had this to say about her background.

“I, too, was raised in a very religious household and I still maintain my spiritual connection to my faith. But I have come to realize that I am a consenting adult and the people I perform with are adults as well and we are not hurting anyone by having sex.”

She concludes with, “I always try to be kind to others.” A lesson we could all share. Are you listening evangelicals?

The other area Sofie and I have in common is endurance sports, specifically triathlon and marathons. The training is grueling and fatiguing and I can’t imagine having sex on camera in addition to that.

So how does she balance everything out?

“My last Ironman was 2016 so my training has been easier for the past year. My husband and I train together, so when we get our schedules synced, we will likely do another one. But my focus is my career now.

“Yes, it’s hard to a balance business and training . . . business is first for now. I do workout with weights and cardio six times a week, just not as long as when I was training for my Ironman!”

We wish her well with all her loves: racing, on-camera sex, and of course, hubby!

*          *          *

A final note. Sofie Marie did not talk about her fetish performances because regretfully I didn’t ask.

So, for the followers of this blog who like BDSM, I want to assure you Sofie is not shy when the fetish comes her way.

Take a look here:

And here:

Be sure to follow Sofie’s fetish adventures with your bondage dollars!

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Sofie Marie, Part Two: YummySofie

by Rich Moreland, April 2018

Before getting into more about Sofie Marie on-screen, we first need to learn a little about her business model.

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The New Porn Girl

This California babe understands how important it is to own your content and market it so that the benefits come (pun intended!) your way.

I’m interested in how Sofie gets her product out there.

Yummysofie.com is my personal website and it is part of the Yummygirl.xxx network that my company owns,” she proclaims.

Ah, I love those magic words “that my company owns” because they summarize the lesson every porn girl needs to know. Be your own boss. Clearly Sofie’s brand is on the right path and that is directly connected to her number one advantage in the business other than her killer body: her age.

To put it another way, Sofie Marie no eighteen-year-old gonzo girl who chokes on ten inches to sell a video for someone else’s studio or online site. Sofie’s maturity and determination call her on-screen shots. She knows where she is going from a business standpoint and that path includes promoting others who depend on adult work.

Yummygirl manages “pay sites for photographers and models,” Sofie explains, before personalizing her role. “I want to help other performers with their pay sites and content creation,” she adds.

Laudable and we understand what it means to reach out. But there’s a trade-off here, Sofie’s building her own fan base in the process and a solid industry reputation as well.

Possibly this very smart girl is inclined to expand her industry horizons. There are many pieces to the porn pyramid and resume building insures success in adult as it does in any enterprise. Appearing on-camera is only one avenue open to a performer. Behind the camera offers other opportunities.

Possibly agent, promoter, and director (to go along with producer) are in the making for Sofie’s future.

Sharks in the Water

First and foremost for Sofie, of course, are her own branded performances. “We strive to own as much of my content as possible,” she states. Totally understand, that’s where the money is.

It’s worth a mention that owning content not only directly benefits the performer, but also combats piracy, at least to a degree.

A quick online excursion reveals a minimum of free Sofie stuff in cyberspace to whet the appetite . . . and what is out there she controls. Yes, just enough to create interest, but not enough to lose hours of work to thievery.

None of this comes easy, however. The heartbeat of Sofie’s brand relies on networking, organization and a carefully drawn plan. And that, more than anything, lays the foundation for a lengthy, productive career.

For her paying customers, Sofie says, “I primarily cam on YummyGirlCams.com which is part of Streamate.com.”

In turn, Streamate is part of the growing industry of webcam models. It emphasizes being your own boss, setting your own hours, and working from home, the mantra of modern camming and the real reason why the cam girl is emerging as the new porn girl.

But there is a downside. To be unique is not easy when there are sharks in water, as economists say, to dilute any girl’s image in an online world populated by thousands of cam girls.

Two Men in Her Life

No adult business is a go-it-alone enterprise. In her case, Sofie works closely with her director, Spike Irons. A visit to his twitter account @SpikeIronsxxx lists him as co-owner of yummygirlstudio and webmaster for Yummysofie.com.

By the way, Sofie is married and doesn’t remove her rings when she shoots. The message is direct: “I have a real life at home, but I’m also a Hotwife on film who has a rollicking good time and wants to share it with you.”

That is a marketing coup rarely accomplished in this business.

So, what about hubby?

First, to dispel any misconceptions, Sofie points out that Spike is not her husband. He’s her director and producer for her website, she states. “We work together on the content for each shoot.”

Does she step in front of the camera with her husband’s blessings? Absolutely.

“My husband travels a lot and likes to hear about my shoots,” Sofie says with that endearing smile that captures her natural manner and sultriness.

He’s on board with what she does. What more can a girl ask?

Quality and Consistency

As we close out this part of our look at Sofie Marie, our lovely lass summarizes her business model one more time.

“My Yummygirl brand is about quality and consistency and presenting a more unique nude, sexy erotic experience.”

If you check her out online, I think you’ll agree.

There is one more aside that is worth a mention. Sofie has a business associate who helps her enjoy her work.

“I am a toy tester of Sextoyinventor.com and that is a fun project,” she says.

If vibrating is your thing, you can see Sofie Marie with a little help from her mechanical friends in brief outtakes from her website.

Overall, her porn life has gone well and Sofie looks to the future.

“I’m on year three of my business and its been full-time for me for a year and I hope to keep it growing! I would love to keep producing and creating content as long as the fans continue to support me.”

I’m sure they will, and why not? A hard-bodied woman is a feast for the eyes.

*           *          *

These are not the best of times in the adult industry with piracy literally stealing from companies and performers who work hard for their dollars.

Throw in the tumult of  the too-long-in-coming #MeToo movement, which is as prevalent in porn as it is in mainstream Hollywood, and the result is stressful for every model. 

Nevertheless, Sofie Marie remains upbeat, pleasure-seeking, and comfortable in her own skin (and what a beautiful covering it is). That’s no mean feat in today’s environment!

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A Naughty Hardbody: Sofie Marie, Part One

by Rich Moreland, April 2018

I discovered Sofie Marie by accident through twitter. One look convinced me this sexy honey is one exceptional woman in a sometimes cookie-cutter industry.

Hoping to get an interview, I contacted her. Sofie was gracious and the result is a three-part post on this blog.

She is refreshing . . . and we welcome her here!

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Because I was unable to attend this year’s Adult Entertainment Expo in Las Vegas, I missed out on a new (to me) performer I’d put on my radar. Her name is Sofie Marie and she’s more than special, she’s unique. At thirty-seven, the hardbody is creating her own space in porn that puts her leagues ahead of the typical baby-faced newbie who’ll be shot out in six months.

First, a little background on this beautifully sculpted girl compliments of Captain Jack at Adult DVD Empire. (You can read his entire interview with Sofie here )

With an athletic physique that is the real deal, the former volleyball player is an endurance athlete with a resume that includes an Ironman triathlon. Her trainer? Her husband, who just happens to be a four-time Ironman competitor himself. More on this in a later post.

Sofie’s five-ten frame lends itself to a svelte, sexy look that has molded her into a stunner with brains to match. Make no mistake, this babe is blessed with the right DNA and a smile to die for. It’s no stretch to imagine that displaying her physical treasures gives her a natural high.

Oh, one more thing. Sofie Marie offers us an interesting spin on her readiness for the adult biz. Her husband introduced her to the “swinger” community in L.A, her home town. Sofie went from partying to online porn, an obvious fit for a girl who uses her assets to the max!

We’ll also explore this later.

For now, I was able to follow-up with Sofie on some of what Captain Jack mentioned. My thanks to her and let’s get started!

A Naughty Side

First, I ask Sofie to define her brand.

“Sofie Marie is not your typical porn actress,” she begins, speaking of herself in terms of the brand.

“Since I am lean and all natural, I am truly the tall girl next door who has a naughty side.”

 

Sounds good, but how does that translate into being a cam girl? In other words, how does Sofie separate herself from the overwhelming number of worldwide cammers?

It’s in the loyalty of her fan base.

“I am just me which is genuine, goofy, fun, and sexy,” she proclaims, then gathers those endearing traits into an easy-going, but enticing image of “a naughty girl” that seduces the camera.

“I work hard to give my fans a great show so they will come back for more.”

When I mention that the cam girl might be the new porn girl, a point we’ll look at shortly, Sofie is on board with the idea.

“I think that camming is a great way to meet and interact with fans from whatever genre the girl or guys want to promote.”

 

Sofie believes that cam work builds that personal touch that’s been missing in porn for so long. You can see why. Just a moment’s interaction with her tells us she has a personality so affable it’s more than suited for cam work.

Nothing Rough

What is on the horizon for Sofie and how can she avoid being overshot, the fate of so many girls who enter porn? After all, she’s been at this for a while.

Sofie starts off by recounting her resume.

“I have produced over 180 clips and videos so far and I have over 450 photo galleries on my website.  I have done over twenty mainstream porn scenes from solo, B/G, G/G, BGG, and one orgy, but not all of those scenes have been released yet.”

From what I can glean from checking out Sofie online (disclaimer here: I’ve never been on set for one of her shoots) she has the feel of a gonzo girl who has left vulgar, nasty and trashy at the studio door.

Rather, she’s fun-loving in a way that let’s her tap into a fan base hungry for that type of entertainment.

Perhaps one day features may be in Sofie’s future and she understands how to get there.

“I am a former pro athlete, so I am very competitive, but I don’t have an acting background, so I practice so I can be the best performer I can be!”

To her credit, Sofie has her personal limits and does not try to sell an image that doesn’t reflect what she is about. In other words, she’s comfortable with how she is presented on-screen.

There is no rough sex (slapping, gagging, spitting, deep throating) in her films.

“Not for me,” she declares and adds that moving forward in the business is a series of personal choices that dictates what a girl will do. To phrase it another way, everything “depends on the image you want to portray,” she says.

What Sofie Marie proves is this: a fan base is not dependent on following the crowd.

IR

One more point is worth making here. In standing by the choices she makes, Sofie joins a handful girls in porn who chart their own career. As I’ve written in the past, it’s the industry’s version of feminism.

However, don’t think this very smart woman does not understand the shooting demands of the business. She knows how to respond to them.

“According to my Adult Empire page,” Sofie says, “after ‘Cougar Orgy,’ my fans love my IR scenes”

Black/white porn is more popular today than ever before, but the taboo barriers still exist, though they are not what they once were. That is not a bad thing, by the way, because their presence insures the popularity of interracial shoots.

We always like what is forbidden. For porn, when blacks on blondes becomes just another boy/girl shoot, things will really border on the mundane!

That’ll never happen with Sofie. Our girl is good to go with IR and she’ll drive her naughtiness meter to ever higher levels with each shoot.

When pressed about her scene partners, Sofie doesn’t hold back.

“I see people as individuals not as part of a group,” she states, which opens her up to any shooting possibility.

Of course, there are the aesthetics. “I love the color contrast of the IR shoots, and I do love a big cock!!”

Her attitude is right on target and Sofie Marie is cultivating a career headed for porn stardom at an age when most girls are shot out and retired, sometimes involuntarily.

“Since I have a unique look, I will not likely be over exposed, even if I wanted to be!!”

You bet. Sofie’s candid spontaneity graces her on-screen presence and her classical features are rarely found in porn. Think of her this way, in Athens 2600 years ago, Sofie would have been immortalized in marble.

Anal Anyone?

What are Sofie’s thoughts about broadening her repertoire of sex acts?

“I may do anal in the future, but not now,” she asserts, knowing that a girl doesn’t want to jump into everything at once.

But I strongly suspect her fans are patiently awaiting that decision, so our honey ought to be getting out the toys she loves so much to prep for the big (pun intended) day!

Oh, one more thing. Waving another carrot for her followers, Sofie purrs,

“I am considering some group sex scenes for my site.”

Throw that together with Black dudes and a little anal, and Sofie Marie has a winning formula, should she want it.

*          *           *

Part Two of this series on Sofie Marie looks at her brand and how she controls the porn image she has effectively built around her athleticism.

Contact Sofie at:

IG/SC/Twitter @wickedyummy1
Yummygirl.xxx

 

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Eros: Part Three

by Rich Moreland, March 2018

This final post on Eros is for posterity. It is intended to give readers a heads up on an emerging female talent in filmmaking.

At this time, the direction Davyana San Miguel will take professionally is evolving. If she makes a name for herself in long run, this post will lend a meaningful back story to her career.

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Reframing the Lens

When writing about Davyana, the first thing that comes to mind is her ability to capture the female gaze. Typically, we use “gaze” descriptors, especially the male version, in referencing the pornographic image. However, the concept carries over to the erotic if performance art depicting female nudity and its corresponding sexuality is our focus.

From my standpoint, the female filmmaker who fits neatly into the erotic artistic paradigm is Amy Hesketh of Pachamama/Decadent Cinema. Her work examines women who move beyond the sexual for its own sake. Amy’s preferred vehicle is the the horror/torture setting framed with psychological overlays.

On this blog, I’ve reviewed Amy’s films with that point of view in mind, an especially challenging endeavor considering she is usually behind and in front of the camera simultaneously.

What is delightful about Amy is her willingness (eagerness?) to appear on-screen as the distressed female victim. Needless to say, her performances are powerful.

Interestingly, Amy sometimes constructs the film sets and the instruments of torture her characters (especially those she plays) endure on film. Often writing her own scripts which she also directs and produces, Amy is the complete package.

Labels notwithstanding, the now college professor is clearly a feminist filmmaker. Amy’s female protagonists assert themselves despite their dire circumstances.

Though her work doesn’t deal with horror or sadomasochistic themes, Davyana is in the beginning stages of a career much like Amy’s: cinematographer, director, actor.

“As a director, I do consider myself a feminist,” Davyana says, and by its very nature that statement takes on a political interpretation akin to Amy Hesketh.

The student filmmaker adds,

“Recently, I’ve learned that 4% of Hollywood’s cinematographers are women, that means that 96% of the visuals we consume are inherently from a male gaze. Through my work, I hope to reframe the traditional lens and present things from my unique feminine perspective.”

Eros is the beginning of that journey.

Learning from the Bottom Up

As do all cinematographers, Davyana is learning her craft from the bottom up.

Here are some examples she mentions. They are from two separate productions.

“One was an independent short film called Mer, based in Brooklyn, New York. I was the second Camera Assistant on that shoot when I lived in New York for the summer of 2015,” she says.

“The second set is a senior thesis film from SFSU. I was the First Assistant Director on that one.”

Breezy and Cool

When I take a closer look at Davyana, I am persuaded that her on-camera appearances are notable, even if they are casual in nature.

What piqued my interest was a photo of her on a rooftop. It has a playfully erotic appeal, replacing the male gaze with a female alternative, though I’m not sure that was its intent.

Davyana relates that the pic “was a BTS shot from Mer. I was adjusting the lights during a nighttime rooftop scene we filmed in Bushwick. For the same film we also shot at Coney Island for one of the locations.”

If you look closely, you’ll discover Davyana has a pixie quality about her that is breezy and cool.

Then there are other moments when Davyana steps in front of the camera and moves her image beyond the incidental.

“That vinyl record photo is one of my favorites photographed by my creative partner Mehran Karimabadi,” she says. “We were filming for our short film Du Bist Schon and had an impromptu photo shoot while we had the lights setup.”

The shot is happily inventive in its nature, I might add, because it frames Davyana San Miguel in a completely different light. She, like Amy Hesketh, is transformed into the center of the gaze while maintaining a subjective, rather than objective, quality.

In other words, she is the creator.

Knowing that Amy built a career on camera, I asked Davyana about modeling and acting.

“I have consider(ed) being in front of the camera more often,” she affirms, though she has some hesitancy.  “It’s a bit uncomfortable for me to step out of my comfort zone behind the camera.”

That discomfort is not from lack of experience it seems, but touches on Davyana’s ethnicity in today’s political/social climate that sadly minimizes, rather than celebrates, diversity.

She explains. “I rarely see anyone who looks like myself on-screen, which has subconsciously dictated how I view myself within society.

“I hope that by inserting myself in front of the camera more, others [will] feel accepted and recognized visually.”

If anything, that may be Davyana’s most significant contribution to film at this point in her career.

All things considered, like Amy Hesketh, Davyana San Miguel takes her image and frames it artistically and politically. Where Amy is presently more psychological in her work, Davyana leans toward a broader message of multiculturalism and LGBT acceptance. That is not to say Amy ignores this, nor does it imply that Davyana is downplaying internal psychological forces in her self-created images. Each woman borrows from the other.

Spontaneous

Lastly, Amy is very fetish oriented, as we know. For Davyana, her fetish expression is somewhat spontaneous and less calculated. The native of Hawai’i comments on a photo I brought to her attention. I suggested it celebrates multiple fetishes.

“My mesh outfit was one that I wore to last year’s pride parade in San Francisco. I suppose that the overlay of fetishes was my intent,” she says.

But it seems the unconscious might have influenced her in a more innocent manner.

“I was simply expressing myself with things I had in my closet,” Davyana concludes.

Wow, what a closet!

So, here is perhaps the most deeply personal photo of them all, a product of mind and emotion that Amy Hesketh can appreciate.

*          *          *

You can see samples of Davyana’s work on her website.

 

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Eros: Part Two

by Rich Moreland, March 2018

Now that we’ve introduced student filmmaker Davyana San Miguel, let’s have a conversation about what makes Eros a striking accomplishment.

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Experimental

To begin, Davyana describes the film as “an audio-visual experience that explores themes of pornography and feminism through experimental filmic techniques.”

Without doubt, it accomplishes that.

After viewing the film, I wanted to share my thoughts with Davyana. One of them concerned how she chose to represent herself on-screen. As the film opens, the viewer’s first impression is Davyana with her back exposed to the camera by a very low-cut dress. To push an avant-garde button, she has buzzed her hair.

Was that intentional? Here’s what I found out.

Davyana shaved her head during a trip to London. Her hair was always long and a close trim was something she wanted to do, but her friends weren’t exactly supportive.

“According to their opinions, I wouldn’t be beautiful or feminine anymore if I shaved my hair,” she recalls.

Moving forward nevertheless, Davyana discovered an opportunity to put her new look on-screen in an interesting way.

“I decided to insert myself in the film to join the conversation and redefine the notions that a woman is defined by her adherence to traditional gender roles.”

What about baring her back?

“My outfit choice and camera angle are intentional but shouldn’t be over thought.” She comments. “There is no deeper meaning. I simply enjoyed the aesthetics of the shot.”

Unfortunately, I stand guilty of over thinking. Let me give you an example. 

In a film review I did a couple of years ago, I interpreted a painting as cleverly defining connections within the plot and its characters. Later, the director thanked me for the observation, but the painting was incidental in the scene and lent no special meaning to the film, he said.

Well, this time around I argue that Davyana gave her film “deeper meaning” by putting her image in it and I agree with Dr. Augsburg who claims, “I think she also underscores the importance of feminist art since the 1960s–or what I call feminist ars erotica— by depicting herself working with paint in the film. She seemed literally to turn her back on the male gaze as well.”

The good professor is spot on.

Simply a Business

Eros incorporates the feel of early film. There are sprocket holes continuously on-screen accompanied by flickering to create the effect of a reel-to-reel experience. Do the boxes on each side of the film have multiple meanings other than sprocket holes and did Davyana employ them to enhance the theme of the narrative? 

I think so. Grainy reel-to-reel images remind viewers there’s a bit of history going on with what they are seeing.

Incidentally, the effect confronts the male gaze engendered by stag films, the earliest version of motion picture pornography. If this is her intention, Davyana exposes how women’s sexuality has been viewed in our culture over time.

Here’s what she had to say, mixing in some techie talk with the film’s message.

“I’m intrigued by the psychological effects of subliminal messages. The grid pattern of 16mm hand-painted clear leader simply came together through experimentation. The strobing effect of the 16mm was achieved by filming the live projection.  Every frame is intentional and represents something related to the adult industry. I don’t want to give too much away; a lot is up for the audience to decode.”

Regarding Marilyn Chambers (in a clip taken from a TV appearance) and Andrea Dworkin as opposites in the film, Marilyn seems nervous; whereas, Dworkin is her usual forceful self.

Selecting those clips for Eros is astute filmmaking because Marilyn symbolizes the early days of the emerging 35 mm pornography phenomenon that is not quite sure of itself; whereas, Dworkin is a statement of suppressed (or repressed?) female sexuality, a longstanding cultural expectation then and now.

Does Davyana consider the two women as antithetical?

“Andrea Dworkin was included to represent the anti-porn feminist perspective and Marilyn Chambers represents the pornography feminist,” she says. “I wanted to showcase both sides of the feminist debate that spanned the 1970’s.” And into the 1980s, I might add, so Davyana has encapsulated a large chunk of porn history in momentary images.

Having said that, what do we do with Dworkin and Annie Sprinkle?

Davyana elaborates.

“Andrea Dworkin’s intensity and overconfidence (in her point of view) really helped to show the different sides of feminism that exist.  That visual (in the film) about porn people leading happy lives is all thanks to Annie Sprinkle! That’s the very message I wanted to get across strongly (about porn) . . . this is simply a business.” (Notice the dollar sign in the title card reproduced above?)

Buckley and Days Gone By

What about conservative commentator William F. Buckley? Where does he fit in?

“I found his reactions as a moderator quite funny and left his shots in there. Talking about pornography and feminism can be overwhelming and tiring, hence the need for comedic relief,” Davyana comments.

No doubt, but let’s not forget that Buckley’s resume includes supporting McCarthyism, segregation (he was no friend of civil rights), and opposing multiculturalism. With her avant-garde lens, Davyana gives him the zapping he deserves, if ever so subtle, in a film that addresses a pair of ideas that would appall him: feminism and pornography.

Another segment of interest in Eros is the scene of women and typewriters. It presents a 1940s snapshot of the corporate world that Buckley would certainly endorse. Jobs are stamped out; typists are cloned. They are hardly in charge of their image.

The vision is an innovative way to move the history of women forward because of how it defines society and the female statement within it.

“The shots of women training to be secretaries are included as a visual juxtaposition to the idea of an independent female who works in the adult industry,” Davyana declares. “These secretaries represent the women oppressed by a patriarchal society.”

Coexistence

Finally, how does Annie Sprinkle fit into Davyana’s message?

“I learned about Annie Sprinkle through Dr. Augsburg’s course,” the student artist says, and offers a “shout out” to her professor for “inspiring the themes discussed in Eros.”

Davyana explains that she needed “a credible source to help my argument that feminism and pornography can coexist.  What better person to ask than Annie Sprinkle, who has worked in the industry and created a successful art career because of her experiences.”

When I asked Dr. Tanya Augsburg about Davyana’s commitment to excellence, she said:

I’m so impressed that she took the initiative to interview Anne Sprinkle, Shine Louise Houston, and yourself. What I appreciate so much about her remarkable film is that is also quite the feast for the eyes. She presents a full range of feminist perspectives in mesmerizing ways.”

I could not agree more and am most flattered to be a part of Davyana San Miguel’s continuing journey into filmmaking.

*           *          *

We have one more Davyana San Miguel post in front of us. This time we’ll talk about the artist up close and personal.

 

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Eros: Part One

by Rich Moreland, March 2018

When I was researching feminism in adult film, my intention was to provide a historical resource for the college classroom. In the spring of 2017 that became a reality at San Francisco State University.

A student from the university was introduced to my work and contacted me concerning a film project she was undertaking. The discussion was an enjoyable role reversal for me because someone else was asking the questions.

The outcome of her effort is extraordinary considering this is a student film, not the product of a professional filmmaker. For that fact alone, it is a remarkable accomplishment.

(All visuals in Parts One, Two, and Three of Eros are courtesy of Davyana San Miguel except that of Dr. Tanya Augsburg who granted me permission to use a her image.)

*          *          *

Five Minutes

The filmmaker is Davyana San Miguel and the film, Eros, is a comment on how we as a society must create a space for a woman’s take on her own sexuality and, more importantly, how she expresses it.

Early porn feminists, specifically Annie Sprinkle, a member of Club 90, the original feminist support group in the industry, and the late Marilyn Chambers, who did not openly identify as a feminist but was in control of her image, are included. For a more recent take on feminist porn, the narrative offers a moment with director Shine Louise Houston whose Pink and White Productions is a well-known studio in the queer porn genre.

Additionally, the ideas of two feminists from the heady days of second wave feminism are juxtaposed as part of Eros’s message: Andrea Dworkin’s anti-porn feminism and “the erotic is power” philosophy espoused by African-American lesbian, Audre Lorde.

By the way, the film is brief, running a bit over five minutes. But don’t let that fool you, it is smartly done with an artistic verve.

Challenging Social Stigmas

So, who is Davyana San Miguel?

“I’m a filmmaker and multimedia artist,” she says. “As of right now, I’m finishing up my bachelor’s degree in Cinema from San Francisco State with an emphasis in Experimental Filmmaking.

“I’m originally from Hawai’i and moved to California when I was seventeen, spending the first three years in Southern California and now residing in foggy San Francisco.”

Davyana explains that her filmmaking focuses on “challenging social stigmas.” To do so, she explores “open conversations about topics that may make people uncomfortable,” such as feminism and pornography.

Of course, modern artists must take care of the technical aspects of their work. In Davyana’s case, she and her “creative partner” Mehran Karimabadi operate “DSM Visuals, a production company and art collective that creates diverse and original content,” she says.

Sex-Positive

Early in her time at the university, Davyana took a humanities class, Images of Eroticism, from Dr. Tanya Augsburg, an Associate Professor of Humanities in the School of Humanities and Liberal Studies who describes herself as “a humanities-trained interdisciplinary feminist performance scholar, critic, and curator.”

I invited her to talk about her course.

First, she tells me that Images of Eroticism “is a popular upper-division general education humanities course” that has been part of the university curriculum for quite some time. Dr. Augsburg is one of several professors who have undertaken the challenge of defining the sexual and its place in our culture.

“Each instructor teaches it differently, according to their own interpretation of what ‘images of eroticism’ means as well as their own areas of expertise,” the professor points out. Though one instructor teaches the class as a porn studies offering, Dr. Augsburg’s version is not quite that.

Her approach is broader, examining a variety of erotic “representations” that focus on “art, philosophy, literature, film, and contemporary pop culture.”

To give me some specifics, Dr.Augsburg mentions that her course encompasses “erotic imagery” as it connects with “sex-positive cultural representations of women that are created by women and those who do not identify with toxic heteronormative masculinity.”

Dr. Augsburg uses a variety of sources. For example, she includes “clips from the ‘golden age of porn’ and Annie Sprinkle’s films,” on one hand, she says, and “the art of young ‘fourth wave’ and ‘sex-negative’ feminists such as Ann Hirsch and Leah Schrager,” on the other.

The professor also mentions Cheryl Dunye’s film, Mommy Is Coming.

(Note: I met Cheryl Dunye a few years back by way of Pink and White’s Jiz Lee who was impressed with what Dunye brought to the cinematic table.)

New Erotic Imagery

Although the college atmosphere often resists changes in methodology (we often teach as we were taught), Dr. Augsburg’s students are not passive receptacles of professorial pronouncements (my professorial words, not hers!).

“In Images of Eroticism I challenge students to create new erotic imagery that is consensual and that represents their own communities and/or interests. Students can take up that challenge for their final as long as they draw from the course material,” the professor explains.

Some will write “erotic short stories that draw from the course material as well as their own experiences,” she continues. “I’d like to think that Davyana also took up that challenge after the class was over in her film class.”

(Indeed she did. Eros was a project Davyana developed for her Experimental Documentary Workshop at the university.)

What impressed Dr. Augsburg was that Davyana incorporated elements from her course in her student production. Among the literary examples that stand out for the humanities professor occurs in the final frames.

“Davyana ends the film with a shout-out to yet another course text, the novel Story of O with the masked man and woman.”

And, of course, the young filmmaker boldly steps into her own production prompting high praise from Professor Augsburg.

“My class featured many examples of feminist art and performance so I was delighted to see Davyana doing her own performance art in the film,” she says.

The “Porn” Class

From Davyana’s perspective, Dr. Augsburg had a significant impact on a young woman’s educational journey.

“Images of Eroticism was one of the first classes that I took at SF State. I was intrigued by the name. My roommates at the time told me that it was known as the ‘porn’ class. Well, maybe, but it was more than that.

In fact, firsts were everywhere. Not only was the class new to Davyana, it was Dr. Augsburg’s first time teaching it and she was the first woman at the university to do so.

The experience was rewarding. Dr. Augsburg “gave the class a critical analysis and historical overview of erotic art and its effects on society from a female perspective,” Davyana says.

A couple of decades ago that would have been unthinkable and certainly not conventional when it comes to the erotic.

Incidentally, Davyana mentioned that the class read parts of my take on adult film feminism because it “represents a counter-narrative to the consequences of traditional gender roles.”

She goes on to say,

“My copy of your book is littered with post-it notes and I read the whole book after the course was over. When I studied your text and related films, the concept of feminism coexisting with pornography, no longer felt foreign.”

Cool. That is exactly its intent.

*          *          *

The filmmakers of DSM visuals.

*          *          *

Next we will delve a bit into Eros, the film.

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Interview with Scott Taylor: Part Two

by Rich Moreland, December 2017

This is the second part of my interview with New Sensations/Digital Sin owner Scott Taylor.

*          *          *

After a quick break to adjust the digital recorder, Scott and I get back to our conversation. I’m interested in how Eddie Powell and Jacky St. James hooked up with New Sensations. Scott is more than happy to tell the story.

Incredibly Creative

Eddie Powell was with the company before Jacky came on board, Scott begins.

He is effusive in his praise of the director/videographer.

“Eddie embraces any new technology or challenge,” Scott exclaims.  “He’s self-taught, an incredibly creative and a brilliant individual. It’s been amazing what he has contributed to this company in the several years he’s been here.”

Furthermore, Scott believes Eddie’s talent at special effects, editing, lighting, and videography makes him “second to none in the industry.” High praise indeed!

Scott explains it this way:

“When I was shooting I could express myself artistically from the angles to the lighting to the emotions I’m trying to capture in the frame. There’s a huge difference between someone who knows how to do that and someone who doesn’t. It can be a slight tilt of the camera, it can be framing in a different way that feels and tells a different story. Trying to teach that to somebody is kinda difficult. You understand what that looks like or you don’t.

“I’m lucky in Eddie. He’s so creative. We leave him completely alone on whatever he turns in. It’s so good on a regular basis.”

What about Jacky?

Scott next fills in the blanks about Jacky St. James.

It started with scripts.

“When I read a script I look at it from more of a mainstream point of view. I don’t want it to be the pizza man shows up. I want the entire story to make sense. There should be real integrity for what we put out here, not just words on a page.”

By the way, the delivery man scenario Scott references is an old stag film formula involving a knock on the door and a bored housewife that goes back almost a hundred years. No story, really, just sex.

A paucity of good writers encourages New Sensations to run a contest to find new talent.

Scott continues:

“Jacky wins this contest. She’ll come in, write for us, and that’s all she’ll do.”

That, of course, was only the beginning. Like the old delivery man scenario, Jacky got her foot in the door. She took over the studio’s PR work and continued to do scripts. Of course, she meets Eddie.

“Jacky’s an excellent writer and I can see that she’s working with one of the best videographers at the time.’” Scott explains, then continues as if speaking directly to Jacky.

“You’ve got this. You need to start directing. You see the script in your head when you’re writing it. You already know in your mind what this looks like. You need to get out there and Eddie can shoot it for you. You can’t run a camera, that’s fine. He can do it and you guys can work together.”

It’s a blueprint for how Jacky’s collaboration with Scott and Eddie changed the porn feature by leading it in a more artistic direction.

Scott sums it up this way:

“She slowly took the reins at the very beginning, to trying out this new field to ultimately becoming a very confident director. She still is the best writer I’ve ever seen. She floats between different genres very well and she’s been a real joy to have along for the ride. That’s how we got Jacky.”

Working Together

I know from my research on Jacky’s relationship with Scott that they have bonded professionally. I wanted to get his point of view on this.

He mentions the Emma Marx series (which I’ve reviewed on this blog) and Torn as memorable moments. Emma Marx came along at the time Fifty Shades of Grey was the rage. New Sensations had a parody in mind, but it was abandoned in favor of a more serious approach.

“We wanted to tell our own story. Jacky knew the characters and we agreed on the direction of where it would go.”

Torn was also a serious film that the company is” every proud of.” He says. “She did an excellent job (writing and directing it).”

The film is about an older man and the young lover who comes into his life as his marriage is crumbling.

Scott quickly follows with what everyone in the adult biz knows about Jacky as director.

“Jacky can get acting performances out of people that are really inspirational.”

 

Do they have a give and take professional relationship?

“Absolutely!” he replies and explains that a concept for a film might be his or hers, “but we generally work together. If I see the script and I like it, then we do it, but if I want some changes, then we change some things.”

That was early on, however.

Once we began working together for a number of years,” Scott says, “I didn’t have any changes to her work. She’d hand it in and I was floored by it every time.”

It bears mentioning that Scott does not smother his talent to do things his way. In fact, he’s hands off, but he’s always available for advice.

“If they need it, I’ll be there. I generally embrace talented people and let them go do their work and critique it afterwards.”

For Eddie, it was learning process that sparked “a lot of conversations along the way,” Scott says, before coming full circle today.

As for Jacky, he exclaims, “I wouldn’t say that Jacky’s writing ability is any less than it is today,” though early on he established the parameters he wanted.

Considering she was working in a genre new to her, that’s understandable.

“When she started writing the romance movies that we were doing at the time, we needed to follow a certain formula. She adopted to that relatively quickly. We’re not talking about multiple rewrites. It was ‘let’s do this’ and she has an idea and she puts it together,” Scott says.

The Company Secret

I mention that when I review a Jacky film, the story and the cinematography are my focus, but I know these things are less important to the average fan who is just waiting for the next sex scene.

“I’m afraid that is true,” Scott admits. He wishes there was a greater appreciation of what New Sensations puts out there and uses Eddie as an example.

“Eddie is so deserving of best director for so many years from what he does. His creativity is well thought out. It is not by accident. That’s how he tells his story.

“Eddie edits his own movies and writes his own music because he’s really trying to create a feeling. He’s a secret if anybody wants to know the secret to the company. It’s this guy who’s been such a rock in so many ways. His cinematography most people don’t even notice, but I notice and gasp!”

Crossing Over

Finally, I want Scott’s opinion on crossing over, the idea that adult performers and directors can move between Porn Valley and Hollywood.

He mentions that the Emma Marx series has made an appearance on Showtime. “When I see those movies on there I think they hold up very well. It makes me feel very proud to see that movie on a mainstream channel and it looks as good as it does.”

That being said, Scott assesses Jacky’s attempts to make a splash in mainstream film.

“Jacky has actually stepped into that world and it’s proven to be pretty difficult. She is able to work with more veteran actors. I wouldn’t say they’re big Hollywood stars, but they are honing the craft of acting more than the craft of having sex. It helps to tell your story with people that can bring the emotion to the characters that’s necessary.

“For crossing over the only success we’ve had is Showtime embracing ‘after hours’ programming even though it’s not. They’ll show it at eight o’clock in the evening. But you’re still working with primarily adult actors and actresses.”

Scott is not sold on the idea that crossing over is realistic.

“I don’t think you take anything X-rated and go with it no matter what the budget is. I don’t see it really catching on.”

Interestingly, Scott sees an additional issue with the jump to Hollywood: a true lack of performing talent.

Remy LaCroix

“You need really good actors and there are some . . .I think Penny (Pax) is an excellent actress, Remy LaCroix is an excellent actress. There are guys who are excellent actors compared to other people in this business.”

But they are the few.

On the other hand, Scott has a more positive view of directors.

“Could a director cross over and make a mainstream movie? Yes, I think it’s very possible.”

 

Where does this place Jacky and Eddie?

Scott is honest but with reservations.

“What Jacky is trying to do now is bridge that gap. She’s doing it with an R-rated series, but I would love to see her transition into something that is fully mainstream if it is beneficial to her. Mainstream work is very, very difficult from what I’ve seen. It’s very difficult to break into.”

Scott offers a final thought.

“I think Eddie can get out there and run that camera on a mainstream set in a second. I think Jacky can write mainstream all day long. But to carry the X-rated market into a mainstream market, even if it is a little bit softer, is limited.

“It’s just the way most of the country views it. It’s still porn and is classified as the dirtiest thing you’ve ever seen or heard of. Porn falls into the porn bucket, that’s what it is.”

Perhaps, but a New Sensation/Digital Sin product is the cream at the top of that bucket, so who knows?

*          *          *

 

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