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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.

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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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Interview with Scott Taylor: Part One

by Rich Moreland, December 2017

On my recent trip to the sunny wonderland of Southern California I had the distinct privilege of interviewing Scott Taylor, owner of New Sensations/Digital Sin, one of Porn Valley’s top production companies.

Scott has done it all from shooting to directing and offers some valuable business insights into the ever-changing world of adult film.

We sat in his office in Chatsworth and discussed a variety of topics. Here are some highlights.

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From Army Brat to Business Owner

I was an “army brat,” Scott  begins, so moving around (in other words, frequent change) was his version of normal. In his teens he became a drummer and later gave college a go, but education was not his calling.

“I really wanted to pursue music and moved to LA to become a rock star.”

Of course, bursting onto the music scene takes time and the nineteen-year-old recognized the rent had to be paid.

“I don’t have a degree, so I’m taking any job I can. I play in a band, work in a warehouse, do whatever, until I stumbled onto adult video,” Scott continues.

He caught on with a distributor and spent a couple of years learning the business before his entrepreneurial instincts sensed bigger opportunities.

How did all this lead to becoming a respected company owner?

While still involved in the music industry (he cut a record), Scott wanted to start his own distribution company because adult film was becoming his future. Before long the next logical step was to produce his own content.

“I decide I wanted to go into making movies and I’m going to shoot with two cameras,” he says.

It was the 1990s and gonzo shooting, a POV style popularized by Evil Angel’s John Stagliano, dominated the market. Scott hitched his wagon to that train and turned out the award-winning Dirty Debutantes.

“I do all the interviews. I learned how to edit. I’m learning photography,” he mentions with a go-to pride.

Scott had a company in place: Video Virgins/New Sensations with Video Virgins being the pro-am package, he explains. At this point, the enterprise represented “a change between pro-am and a more gonzo related product,” he says, adding that Jewel De’Nyle was “our first contract girl.”

With New Sensations underway and more opportunity on the horizon, Scott and his business partner Joone initiate a new venture, Digital Playground (DP).

“We’re doing CD ROMs at the time and the business became moderately successful. I created a series called ‘Virtual Sex With.’ We shot Jenna Jameson as our first girl. It was interactive,” he explains, and relied on “new technology’ that involved switching  “between cameras.”

The result? More innovation.

“By the time I left Digital Playground the CD-ROM industry had been replaced by DVD. Digital Playground was a leader in the emerging DVD marketplace,” Scott adds.

Scott’s eye for talent was vital to his early success. He brought on Peter North and Nic Andrews, whom he recognizes as “an excellent filmmaker.” Working with the best behind the camera became a Scott Taylor trademark and, at that time, determined the future of New Sensations because it underscored “the difference between pro-am and becoming a gonzo/feature film company,” he proudly states.

Though I had several questions prepared for the interview, I let Scott Taylor’s passion for what he does take over and the outline of an adult film company’s evolution took shape.

Gonzo v. Feature

Scott and DP ultimately parted ways.

“I had controlling interest (in the company) when I left, but elected to take a buyout and start over. This was one of the best decisions of my career.”

The move allowed him to invest in a new enterprise, Digital Sin, to go along with the existing New Sensations. His maneuvering yielded a single entity he defines this way:

“Digital Sin is a DVD company releasing a New Sensations product.”

This transition allowed Scott to experiment with interactive video.

I inquire if the interactive idea is like today’s virtual reality.

“It is as best you could do at the time,” he says. The action is prerecorded obviously, but the control is left up to the viewer. In other words, Scott adds, “it’s POV, the intent is to make you think you’re in the scenario.”

He goes on to say that the shortcoming of interactive video reflects what virtual reality also currently lacks, the “touch and feel” that personalizes the viewing experience. Over time, Scott asserts, achieving this has been difficult and there is no guarantee for the future.

“Maybe it will happen, maybe it won’t,” he comments.

At this point in New Sensation/Digital Sin’s development, Scott makes a market decision that defines what we see today.

“I decide that Digital Sin is going to become its own company. It’s going to produce its own series of movies and release them through New Sensations/Digital Sin.”

The result shaped his future because he determines that “Digital Sin will be gonzo driven, New Sensations more feature oriented.”

Bear in mind, however, that the business model is flexible. The company will stay fresh because sales will determine the direction of the collective product.

Either label will become more of what the other label is creating depending on what the customer wants, Scott explains. Originally Digital sin was more feature oriented and “rested on New Sensations’ shoulders.” Then it began “outselling New Sensations” and that sparked the necessary adjustments.

It’s All About Talent

To ensure a strong path, Scott brings in the best film making talent he can find because that ensures success.

“It’s important to me that the integrity of the company is maintained,” he says.

Incidentally, a high-quality product means one more thing to Scott.

“I’m very loyal. I attach myself to certain people even if they move on.”

He emphasizes the “excellent working relationship” he’s nurtured with “everyone who has passed through here” and stresses that friendships have remained in place.

“It’s been fantastic working with all these creative people” and when they go on to enhance their careers elsewhere, there’s no animosity on anyone’s part.

Lee Roy Myers

Like a proud parent, Scott Taylor runs through a list of porn talent that is recognizable across the industry landscape. Among them are Jonni Darkko, who started as a cameraman, Greg Lansky and Mike Adriano, whom Scott met at a European trade show.

“Mike is more the performer where Greg is more the director,” Scott interjects, offering them up as any porn company’s dream team.

Throw in Nacho Vidal, Jeff Mullen (aka Will Ryder), Lee Roy Myers, and Axel Braun, all award-winners with impeccable credentials, and you get a sense of Scott’s ability to find innovative talent.

That leads me to Jacky St. James and Eddie Powell.

Scott is eager to talk about both and that takes us to Part Two of this interview.

*          *          *

Some of the awards on display in Scott’s office

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An Evil Christmas Story?

by Rich Moreland, December 2017

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The Krampas and the Old, Dark Christmas

Who is our beloved Santa Claus, Father Christmas, and Merry Ole St. Nick? Every child can come up with an answer, just think toys and other goodies delivered during the holiday season. But have you heard of The Krampas? If not, then let author and researcher Al Ridenour put a bow on the inside story as your holiday treat.

“In Protestant lands,” he begins, the St. Nicholas figure “was transformed (into) a gift giver,” the jolly fellow every child loves. But a quick look at folk tales tells us there’s more because as the good saint moves into modern times he is “accompanied by a number of different characters that have come to be known generally as ‘dark companions.’”

Bad guys hanging out with Santa Claus, what gives? It’s all about social control, the acculturation of social norms, and the next generation. Here’s one of the lessons that has persuaded potential imps to be good children over the centuries.

In parts of Central Europe, specifically the Alpine regions of Austria, Germany, Switzerland, and northern Italy, naughty and misbehaving children feel the sting of switches and are carried off in “a large sack” (or in some cases, a basket) by a version of the dark companion known as the Krampas, Ridenour writes.

Today in those same environs, the “folkloric devil” is celebrated with “runs” (actually walks announced by the sound of bells through town, village, and countryside) of costumed figures whose grotesque masks could frighten any kid. In some parts of the region, house visits are part of the show where the family’s dining table is employed as a barricade to protect children from the evil-looking one.

In his book, The Krampas and the Old, Dark Christmas: Roots and Rebirth of the Folkloric Devil, the author investigates ancient beliefs and connects them to today’s world. The result is a read that combines a continuous history lesson with the flavor of a travelogue complete with dazzling photos exploring the art of the Krampas celebration. Ridenour gives us the cultural back story of how the spooky Christmas rascal came about and describes how the rituals of frolic and amusement that celebrate him are carried on in this modern century. Make note: villagers are discouraged from giving a drink to their local Krampus when he stops by. He can get drunk, you see, and inhibit his next round of visits!

Perchta and Friends

To enliven his research, the author uses interviews and on-site observances to bring Krampas festivals to life. If there is a drawback, however, it is Ridenour’s academic approach that may be off-putting for some readers, especially when he reviews the entomology of important terms.

Frankly, the challenge that plagues every writer in the social sciences is his or her storytelling choice. What is best, a footnoted study or a popular history? Throw in trying to do too much within limited pages and scholars need an effective balancing act to draw in the casual reader.

To his credit, Al Ridenour pulls off a social history that engages the reader with references to fairy tale storytellers and psychologists. After all, The Krampas legend is complex with a cast of characters that can be overwhelming, particularly since this is a Central European legend that cuts across regional history. Local customs and terminology can be confusing if one is unfamiliar with the culture. For example, take a look at the female influence in the Krampas narrative and the words associated with the concept: Perchta, Holda, Holle, and Hulda.

An example of what Ridenour handles effectively is his explanation of the witchcraft craze that plagued Europe centuries ago. He tells us that the Alps (where the mist is always unsettling) is “the birthplace of the modern European notion of witchcraft” and tosses in a reminder of “how the Christmas season was formerly a time of menacing supernatural activity.”

Ridenour goes on to inform the reader that “the old Percht (male image) behind the Krampus mask” is “dreadful” and “capricious.” To carry the thought to its logical conclusion, Ridenour then conflates the “realm of the dead,” the purview of Perchta (female image or spirit), with the male-dominated Christmas image of kindly St. Nicholas. It facilitates the notion that a “fearful wonder (that) once saw offering of porridge placed on snowy Alpine roofs” still lingers with the cookies and other treats we leave “for Santa in dark suburban kitchens.”

Horns and Whips

As mentioned above, the purpose of tales of Krampuses and witches is to terrorize children into following social norms. In the earth’s gloomiest hours, the winter solstice, Christmas can’t escape its educational responsibility.

So as European villagers go about having a bit of entertainment during December, children are reminded that toeing the line is part of moving into adulthood. And, I might add, not without a little erotic stimulation to spice things up.

The author suggests that the horns on the Krampas mask are clearly linked to “virility, sexuality, and fertility” and that whips impart fertility. He relates that “goat-hide thongs to strike women” were significant in ancient Roman festivals and in some parts of the Krampas “runs” today, young men are so equipped to strike local unmarried village girls . . a little S and M flirting to shape them up, we suppose.

Witches and Werewolves

The Krampas and the Old, Dark Christmas is a catalogue of folk legends that live within what was once known in Charlemagne’s time as the Middle Kingdom that stretched from the Atlantic coast to the Italian Pennisula. In the first half of the book, the author gives us a peek at local customs that currently dominate the Christmas season. When he moves to the second half we get visions of witches and werewolves that help frame the roots of these legends in a different and invigorating way.

Do we have any versions of Krampuses in our American holiday celebrations? Sure. Don’t forget the Grinch that Stole Christmas and Gremlins! The little demons play on this side of the Atlantic, too!

For folklore aficionados, The Krampas is a solid read. Likewise for historians, it’s a must have for those who want a fresh view on the power of folklore. Al Ridenour connects some new dots in our understanding of Western culture and its fascinations with the Christmas season.

 

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Information for The Krampas and the Old, Dark Christmas: Roots and Rebirth of the Folkloric Devil

  • Paperback: 248 pages
  • Publisher: Feral House (October 4, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1627310347
  • ISBN-13: 978-1627310345

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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