Tag Archives: adult film feminism

The Heartbeat of Sssh.com

by Rich Moreland, August 2015

Covering Mindbrowse.com’s show with feminist filmmakers Candida Royalle and Jacky St. James led me to Angie Rowntree, one of the major players in porn from a woman’s view. Angie is the creator of Sssh.com, a female-oriented erotic website. Founded in 1999, Sssh offers its own sensuous films, fiction, and educational articles in a virtual world of sexual pleasures that reflect the fantasies and desires of its members.

Think user-responsive and member-friendly; that is Sssh.com.

Angie directs Sssh’s original movies and produces Mindbrowse which offers insights into “some of the most incendiary and controversial topics surrounding the Adult Industry.” Along with her husband, Colin, she also started Wasteland.com in 1994, a BDSM site of great renown.

I was fortunate to chat recently with Angie Rowntree.


A Product of Time and Place

My first inquiry is about feminism in adult film. What is it exactly?

Angie points out what I’ve heard from other women in the industry. The word is a moving target “because the definition seems to be a little different depending on whom you ask.” Moreover, it’s a definition that has changed over time; flexible is probably the best descriptor.

Ellington-PROMOHaving established that, here is her take on it. “My definition boils down to the notion of equality.” She refines her statement by insisting “To me, feminism is the just the obvious and true notion women are equal to men and should be valued, treated and considered accordingly”.

Of course, even that is fluid considering that feminism in the 1920s was embryonic compared with today. For Angie, it’s logical then that the idea or concept of feminism evolves. “I can’t see how it wouldn’t,” she says, because the human condition is “a product of time and place to some degree, as are our thoughts and attitudes.”

“People change . . . both individually and collectively,” she says. I could not agree more. As the decades pass, American culture is never static and consequently to expect feminism to remain so is nonsensical, especially considering how views on sexuality have changed.

Angie puts it this way. “Why would we expect a feminist born in 1990 to have the same perspective as one born in 1940?”

We shouldn’t, but will somebody please send that message to old Second Wave feminists of the 1970s and 1980s who still insist today that pornography degrades and humiliates women who must be psychologically damaged otherwise they wouldn’t take off their clothes for the camera.

The discussion shifts to female-centered pornography.

One Kind of Perspective

Critics of woman-oriented porn often claim that there is no difference in how a woman shoots a scene from a man. It’s the tired argument of the “male gaze” as if to say the only way to look at adult film is through the masturbating eyes of a man. What they really mean, I think, is that women are not supposed to like watching raw sex.

“Clearly, such critics think there’s a ‘proper way’ to make porn if you’re a woman,” Angie begins. It is as if there are rules that constrain what female pornographers can do and “how the do it.”

Interlude-PROMOAngie doesn’t want to tell women “what to do” or what they should like. The danger is “putting them in convenient little boxes, or defining what makes a female director a ‘feminist,’ she says.

Her remark brings back the memory of the first time I heard that said. It was an interview with well-known pornography feminist, Madison Young.

Angie is on board with Madison when she says, “Why shouldn’t a woman be free to make both porn which she would define as ‘feminist’ and porn which she wouldn’t define that way?”

The Sssh.com founder then hints at the old saw that has forever circumscribed female sexuality.

“Does she [a woman] owe some kind of creative debt to the world such that she’s only allowed to make one kind of movie from one kind of perspective? Would anybody try to put a male pornographer in the same kind of box? I doubt it.”

Finally, I want to know about making porn the Angie Rowntree way.

Real Intimacy

Her scripts, Angie says, mirror “my point of view as a woman.” They also go a step further and “speak to the desires and fantasies of our fans and customers.” In fact, much of what is in a Sssh production “comes directly from feedback and comments contributed by our users.”


The result is a film that is never solely Angie Rowntree’s “personal vision.”

Fair enough and I understand the need to appeal to the customer base. But, putting aside feedback, what would be included in a completely freewheeling Angie Rowntree movie?

Actually, not much different from what is happening now.


“It would emphasize mutual pleasure between performers, depict real intimacy and connection.” And, there is more. Angie explains. “So much of the time in porn, there’s no smiling, no having fun . . . except on the ‘blooper’ reels. To me, I like to know the performers are enjoying themselves, which is about more than orgasms and climaxing.”

It’s the journey to get there that makes a Sssh.com movie an experience. What’s more, Angie Rowntree speaks for a adult film genre that is growing in popularity and power every day. In the end, it’s all about feminist pornography, the very heartbeat of Sssh.com.

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Next we’ll take a look at women and Fifty Shades of Grey. Do women really like the BDSM thing or is it just a blindfold made from a man’s tie that feels silky sweet?

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Part 2: Moments with Tara Lynn Foxx

by Rich Moreland, April 2014

Here is the second part of my work with Tara Lynn Foxx a few years ago. Over the last thirty years, adult film feminists have redefined sexual pleasure for themselves and to their own satisfaction. TLF is doing this every day, taking control of what pleases her. Among her turn-ons is her submissiveness and BDSM fans are forever appreciative. At websites like Kink.com they can see their favorite blonde pursuing what she loves.

I first met Tara at Kink and have adored her performances and her personality ever since. But a word of caution is advised. A friend of hers saw a Kink shoot Tara did when she first entered the business. Thinking she was objectified and abused, he reacted with alarm. Far from being degrading or humiliating, Tara assured him the performance was fun and rewarding. This is the nature of BDSM, a fetish that is perplexing for many. So, read on and find out who this porn charmer really is, at least from her submissive side.

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Before we go further, here’s a photo from the 2014 Adult Video News’ Award Show Red Carpet. Like the old sideshow barker on the carnival midway and the hustler outside the strip club, this is to get you in the front door. We’re going to play bait and switch because glamor is not on the agenda at Kink as you shall see in the article I penned in 2011!

Stunning. Photo by Bill Knight for 3hattergrindhouse.com

Photo by Bill Knight for 3hattergrindhouse.com

“Bondage, Ball Gags, and the Castle”
Rich Moreland, June 2011.

Gonzo queen, interracial hottie, vanilla starlet? Take your pick when (go)ogling Tara Lynn Foxx. But, be sure to add BDSM kinkster to your shopping list of TLF pics and vids you want to see. Tara is a sexy bottom (if you’re not a BDSMer, bottom is a submissive with added nuances) who can “rule” a bondage shoot, flipping her submissiveness into a feminist attitude of empowerment that marks her (pun intended for BDSM fans) as an emerging star in adult film kink.

A little sassiness before shooting for Ultimatesurrender.com Photo courtesy of Kink.com

A little impertinence before shooting for Ultimatesurrender.com
Photo courtesy of Kink.com

Tara’s visits to San Francisco’s Kink.com porn edifice, affectionately known as the Castle, are repeated homecomings. As of this writing, she’s shot over fifty times for Peter Acworth and has a particular fondness for two of the Armory’s repertoire of websites—ultimatesurrender.com, all-girl wrestling in front of an audience, and hogtied.com., the company’s original bondage site.

Ultimatesurrender is “my favorite right now,” Tara says. Not surprising, the girl is competitive.

Bondage shoots beg for good directors and Kink has them. So, who tops Tara’s list?

Her first love was Hogtied’s Lochai who has since returned to his native Baltimore. “Sweet and very caring,” is how she describes him. His replacement Matt is high on her list now.

Working with Matt. Photo courtesy of Kink.com

Working with Matt.
Photo courtesy of Kink.com

Tara adores Princess Donna, whom she amusingly characterizes as a pervert, and Isis Love, a close friend Tara trusts. “She knows how to push my boundaries in a good way,” Tara says of Isis.

Ississ Love applies the flogger to our darling. Photo courtesy of Kink.com

Isis Love applies the flogger to our darling.
Photo courtesy of Kink.com

Wait a minute, how does a porn girl define “pervert?”

Perverts “have naughty thoughts,” Tara says, responding to my interruption of our conversation, “and are not afraid to share them.”

“They love sex as much I do,” she adds.

TLF flashes that impish smile again. “I’m a perv ‘cause I think dirty things and then act on them!”

Makes sense to me. Now back to Kink’s webmasters.

“I really like all the directors to be honest with you,” she says. “I love a lot of their sites so it’s hard to pick favorites.”

In bondage and ball gag scenes, confidence among the players frames a sexually hot experience. A director wants to seduce a restrained model into ethereal moments of ecstasy. That means eliminating doubt and hesitation.

A superb dominant can lure a sub into a space-time continuum, referred to as “subspace” or “mindspace,” that shapes the eroticism of a BDSM experience. The inner journey is reflected in a model’s eyes and Tara’s entice the camera with a tantalizing vulnerability.

I ask TLF to comment on a Kink shoot she did with Wolf Hudson, a much-admired performer who divides his time between hetero and gay filming. Tara’s scene with Wolf was one of the steamiest I’ve witnessed in BDSM film.

“I know Wolf and love him as a person,” Tara says. “He’s really cool, he’s very talented, and his dick is amazing.”

The shoot was for the Training of O website. Tara was tied, legs spread, warmed up with some flogging and ready for penetration. Wolf worked the scene slowly. As he nestled his lips near hers, Tara gazed into his eyes before retreating deeper into subspace. Her head tilted just enough for that succumbing “fuck me” look Kink members pay to see.

“We had really great chemistry,” Tara remembers, brightening in recognition of a memorable experience. “I felt so comfortable with him, I think that really showed.”

Indeed it did.

The scene was condom friendly and for Tara that ensured her personal satisfaction. There is no cajoling at the Armory to eschew safer sex.

“I was able to relax and really have sex,” she comments.

In the porn universe, there is a distinction between sex and “real” sex. The first is a paycheck; the second is pleasure rewarded with a paycheck.

Tara reinforces what I’ve heard repeatedly among adult performers. Having “real sex” is all too rare. “You don’t get to do that a lot on camera,” she explains, “you really have to get comfortable fast.” Waiting on the set creates a need to move forward when the time is ripe to sustain the emotions for good sex.

Ready and Waiting Real Sex. Photo courtesy of Kink.com

Ready and waiting for real sex with a condom while James checks his agenda.
Photo courtesy of Kink.com

Of course, condoms are the prescription for the sweet and salty of “real sex.” Anal is now routine and the question of what co-stars did the night before and with whom they did it with is always in the back of a girl’s mind when the penetration moment arrives. For Tara, condoms spell relief and elevate the connections she seeks with favorite performers.

The Girl Likes to be Punished, Sometimes . . .

I’m curious about the punishment segments of her BDSM shoots and reference the T of O episode under James Mogul’s direction. Mogul’s a master psychologist, tough on models, keeping them off balance emotionally to probe their inner sexual core. And he uses his whips with efficiency.

James likes scenes to constantly evolve under his orchestration. “[He] just kept the shoot going,” Tara recalled, and “kept me on my toes because I had to think fast.” James’ style is to pose lots of questions and demand immediate answers.

“If I didn’t answer, then I would get punished,” she says.

But hey, sweetheart, you’re a hot sensuous bondage model with a fan following, what do you expect?

“Yeah, I like to get punished,” Tara concedes with a slight giggle, “but not all the time!”

She confesses that she was naïve about the BDSM community, “almost stupid,” when she ran headlong into James. A newbie to bondage play, Tara quickly got an education.

Having seen James at work, I can appreciate TLF’s next point. “He kept me feeling safe,” she says.

Precaution is a hallmark of James’ directing, as it is in every Kink production. A Kink episode is stressful and draining on a model; it can be intimidating and painful if she is a novice to BDSM play. But with James and the other directors, a baby in a blanket could not be more secure than a performer in their hands.

Sound like fun? Before you get out a flogger or cane to induce a little playtime with your lover, keep in mind it’s more than just a stroke or two on the canvass of back or butt.

Getting into her head. Photo courtesy of Kink.com

Getting into her head.
Photo courtesy of Kink.com

Pay attention perverts and listen to Tara.

Here’s Why . . .

Working at Kink is a “mindfuck.”

Tara is upfront and direct. “Anybody can sit there and whip you with a flogger, but for me to get pleasure out of it you have to really be in my head.” The Kink pathway into the brain is tactile and verbal; directors caress and talk to the models during shoots.

“The things they do to us are more painful when they’re in our heads. At the same time, when they’re in our heads the pain gets turned into pleasure,” Tara affirms.

Princess Donna Photo courtesy of Kink.com

Princess Donna
Photo courtesy of Kink.com

It’s a process and Tara comments that Princess Donna is a fascinating example of how it is accomplished. She is a champion at inducing models to “feel what she is doing” and making certain they are sky-high with the seduction of bondage play. Donna is “intriguing” Tara adds, because BDSM is her personal lifestyle.

Failure to guide a bottom through the transition into “subspace” defeats the experience of BDSM play. “If they’re not in my head,” Tara is adamant, “it’s just going to be pain and I’m not into it or them.”

Tara relishes her submissiveness; however, to be a good bottom is to be demanding. She knows that her pleasure is cerebral. If the shoot isn’t working for her, she will mentally invert the scene. “I actually feel dominant over them,” she remarks, adding that if her tops can’t induce the “mindfuck,” then her feistiness vaporizes her “subspace.”

My bet is that in time TLF will follow well-known Kink subs like Bobbi Starr, Dana DeArmond, and Lorelei Lee who now “switch” (shoot as doms) for Acworth. All three are feminists, as is Princess Donna by the way, and Tara’s sassiness mirrors theirs. TLF has learned from the best to get what she wants.

The ball gag and Lorelei Lee waiting in the background. Photo courtesy of Kink.com

The ball gag and Lorelei Lee waiting in the background.
Photo courtesy of Kink.com

There’s more I could tell you like how our sweetie sizzles with a huge ball gag between her pouty lips and what a lovely gape shot she had in a Kink shoot with the aforementioned Lorelei Lee. For now I’ll relate what Tara appreciates about filming in the City by the Bay.

It’s being in the Spanish Revival fortress on Mission Street, reveling in its Victorian architecture and socializing with the terrific people who work there. It is home. Tara popped her bondage cherry with her first Kink shoot and she’s been loved there ever since.

“One of my favorite things about going to the Castle is bumping into Peter,” she says. “He is just so . . . words don’t describe that man. But I love getting a hug from him.”

I'm not Peter, but the hug is the same! Photo courtesy of 3hattergrindhouse.com

The author is no Peter Acworth, but the hug is the same!
Photo courtesy of 3hattergrindhouse.com

How the little things make a difference!


Be sure to visit Tara Lynn Foxx’s blog. It can be found here.


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