Tag Archives: Angie Rowntree

Invictus, Part Two: The Long and Winding Road

by Rich Moreland, October 2018

In this post, we’ll take a look at Invictus’ visual appeal. In particular, what are the images that best communicate the film’s collective focus? And, how do the sex scenes reinforce the narrative?

Spoiler Alert. This review reveals vital story elements that may influence viewers.

If you wish to see Invictus for you own take on the film, it is available online at Sssh.com.

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The Eyes

As mentioned earlier, one of Invictus’ most important images is evident in the opening scene. Jane passes a deteriorating billboard that has weeping eyes. In faded colors it proclaims that “climate change is real,” setting the tone for a narrative that challenges climate change deniers and fake news believers.

Invictus’ roadside advertisement is similar to the symbolism found in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. In that tale of misplaced love, a billboard with the eyes of Dr. T.J. Ekleberg lord over the industrialized segment of New York City (the “valley of the ashes”) that separates the lower classes from the moneyed elitists.

Both stories employ the billboard symbol to comment on America’s moral decline. We need only look at the eyes to see.

But there is more. In Invictus, the woods are filled with eyes, those of human creatures who struggle to hold on to their humanity. And don’t forget there is a particular set of eyes belonging to a mysterious man who watches Jane from afar, following her every step.

In this film, the eyes have it, so to speak, both figuratively and literally.

An Abandoned Pathway

Invictus’ other prominent image is the long and winding road–if we may borrow a musical/literary phrase–that runs through the entire film. The pathway is abandoned, reflecting the landscape that has become Jane and Paul’s milieu.

As their journey progresses, they also follow railroad tracks as derelict as the roads they walk. With their once fast-moving trains, the rails suggest the sense of urgency that pounds away at the story.

Upon reaching an urban area, the couple moves through streets of desolation and destruction. Leaving the city, they follow a broadened highway before reaching an airport runway. On it is a wrecked plane.

All along their trek, the carcasses of broken vehicles—cars, buses, planes—remind the viewer of civilization’s destruction. What once was filled with vitality is no more.  What once ran full speed is now dead.

Incidentally, most of the roadway shots are taken from high above the walking figures, emphasizing their loneliness and isolation.

In fact, height is important in the film and presents its final image. Rising above the misery of this post-apocalyptic world, a helicopter keeps the story’s metaphorical promise.

One more point is worth a mention. Like a Grimm fairy tale, the woods are always present to stoke our primal fear of the unknown. Notice, for example, Jane and Ava agree to reunite in an open field away from the hidden “wild people” who infest the wilderness.

Despite ever-present danger, we can’t forget that our travelers are seeking Invictus’ Land of Oz (the fruit-laden north). We are reassured that there is a yellow brick road, no matter its form, to all destinations of peace and plenty.

But peril always lurks a mere misstep away. Even Dorothy and her trio of friends in L. Frank Baum’s tale never knew exactly what or who was in the woods along the way.

The Wall

Outside the city, Jane and Paul come to a wall that symbolizes much of what this film is about.

Graffiti proclaiming “Art Prevails” is painted near another illustration, the silhouette of a strong man with a hammer. He has created a “hole” (or portal) in the barrier that reveals a footbridge across a body of water.

Is this the route to the North and the Land of Fruit and Happiness? Or does it have a more literal meaning? To reclaim a lost America, we require bridges, not walls.

Is the muscular hammer attacking ideological bulwarks that seal off protest and freedom of speech, something Invictus implies the government has taken away? Does the film assure the viewer that when much seems lost, art is a beacon that penetrates the darkness?

As we’ve mentioned above, Jane and Paul enter the city and walk among abandoned buildings that suggest a community destroyed by riots or a Chernobyl-like disaster.

The scene is a reminder of catastrophe and our travelers do not linger because revisiting the past holds no future in this emerging Distopia.

In This Together

As we have seen, the helicopter reminds us that the quickest way forward lies not on ruined roads but in soaring above the chaos to a new place and a new way.

Of note is this. Remember the four circling birds of prey we first see when Jane reaches the house where Paul is in hiding? Their vision was earth-ward waiting to feast on death, i.e. the past.

On the other hand, in the final scene the helicopter lifts upward, transcending destruction in pursuit of rebirth.

Finally, the voices of director Angie Rowntree, Delirious Hunter, Ava Mir-Ausziehen, and Joeydotrawr close the film. They start and finish sentences for each other in a “we’re all in this together” moment.

Here is the centrality of their message.

If we stand together and fight for each other, there is hope.

“Those who would pit us against one another . . . talk of making life great again . . . But greatness can’t be driven by fear.”

The film comes full circle with, “The only answer to divisiveness is unity. The only response to hate is love.”

Go Forward

Produced by the woman-friendly website Sssh.com, Invictus is an adult film. But it differs from typical porn fare.

On-screen sex is employed in three scenes with the intent of exploring human passion. Beyond that, the sex is vital to understanding the narrative and is no way gratuitous to the story. We learn quite a bit about the characters when we see them intimately engaged with each other, no holds barred.

Director Angie Rowntree makes one thing clear in these scenes. She wants her characters to “go forward” in their development especially if it means revisiting past events. We see this when Jane spends moments of reverie about her intimate relationship with Ava.

In the first sex scene, they are shown making love with a strong emphasis on gentle kissing and passionate bodies in motion.

Later, when Paul guesses Ave and Jane were once lovers (she affirms his comment when she tells him they met before same-sex relationships were a crime), he delivers the film’s central theme.

During his feverish sleep, Paul dreams of the past when all was normal. But he knows returning to that is impossible because it’s nothing more than an imaginative realm of what once was.

They need to go forward to something better. Jane acquiesces to his thought and in the process draws closer to him.

But what to do with remembrances of Ava?

From Fantasy to Reality

As previously mentioned, the first sex scene with Ava and Jane is a memory, a look backward. The second sex scene is Paul’s fever-induced vision when he is asleep. It departs from Jane’s reverie because it affirms Paul’s notion of what can be, not what was. Things are no longer “normal.”

The sex is graphic, of course, and woman-friendly. There’s male-on-female oral, caressing, and the standard positions found in porn.

Delirious Hunter makes each sex scene special. She is a rough-and-ready porn girl who can shoot with the best. In particular, her modeling resume of BDSM and gangbang scenes are bold and raw.

On the other hand, the sex in Invictus paints a different picture by transcending porn’s sameness and venturing into art. Delirious is up to the task with sensuality galore.

Because she and Joey are lovers responding to each other, Delirious sets just the right romantic tone to make it all work. Close-ups of her face and Joey’s capture the on-screen ecstasy and energy they draw from each other. Their lovemaking drives the film and reinforces the story of Jane and Paul.

That is noteworthy, by the way, because in real life Delirious and Joey are married. The sex is as authentic as it can get, one of the hallmarks of female-friendly porn.

The conflict of past and present and where to go from here is clearly the theme of Invictus’ sex scenes. Referencing the new film genre mentioned in Part One of this review, Angie Rowntree establishes a purpose for the Jane/Ava and Jane/Paul encounters, something not widely found in porn.

In other words, the sex itself is an image in the narrative.

Finally, the third sex scene is fantasy that becomes reality. The couple relaxes on a blanket, Jane eagerly discards her clothes and the intimacy happens because she chooses to make it so. It’s a feminist statement.

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Angie Rowntree has proven once again that an adult film deserves mainstream accolades. Like its predecessor, Gone, Invictus presents a solid script and an engaging story. The sex is never thrown in as a promise to the viewer. Rather it is a tool within the narrative that helps to clarify the interpersonal actions that move the story forward.

The characters define themselves with their sexuality and their sexual expression. Ava and Jane are lovers as are Paul and Jane. The question becomes, can Jane simultaneously exist in both relationships?

Possibly. Take a look at the final scenes and reach your own conclusion.

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A completed project is always a call for an all-for-one moment.

Celebration by cast and crew, left to right: Delirious Hunter, Argus Hammer (partly obscured), Rob Tanguay, Brad Benton, Angie Rowntree, and Joeydotawr

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Here is the trailer for Invictus. It’s Not Safe for Work because of graphic content. But if you’re not offended, please take a look!

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Invictus, Part One: The Rendezvous Point

by Rich Moreland, October 2018

Invictus is a film by Angie Rowntree and stars Delirious Hunter, Joeydotrawr, and Ava Mir-Ausziehen. Also appearing in speaking roles are Argus Hammer and Cat Belmont.

Spoiler Alert. This review reveals vital story elements that may influence viewers.

[Invictus is available online at Sssh.com. All photos included in this two-part review are likewise courtesy of Sssh.com.]

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Angie Rowntree is a noted feminist filmmaker whose stories are relevant to our times. Her directing talent is exceptional and her cast dedicated to producing an indie film suitable for mainstream viewers. Though Invictus doesn’t forget its adult film roots, it seldom dwells on them.

Jane and Paul

Invictus is a futuristic fantasy. The US has devolved into a chaotic dystopia and the few remaining freedom-loving souls (what we loosely would call “patriots”) are fighting to keep hope alive.

As the viewer joins the story, an authoritarian government has weaponized climate change, turning citizens into ‘wild people” who prey on one another for survival. But all is not lost. A mission to save a once multicultural collectivist America is on the time clock.

The opening credits roll and we get glimpses of the back story. A succession of quick news reports about the social issues of our time pass in review–the most important being climate change. Then everything suddenly falls silent as we hear, “signing off.”

We later learn this references the end of independent newscasts. Not surprising since the government is suppressing free speech.

The scene shifts to a solitary female figure with a backpack walking a lonely paved road. Passing a billboard that proclaims “climate change is real,” she comes upon an abandoned and disheveled house that offers momentary refuge. Note that her arrival is marked by four birds of prey circling in the sky.

In voice over, the hiker says, “It’s been nearly two weeks since I left Mount Weather.”

In fact, she is on a mission but her food and water are in short supply and she estimates making “the rendezvous point” is in doubt.

From here the narrative moves quickly. The woman is scientist Jane Darling (Delirious Hunter) and in the trashed dwelling she meets its squatter resident Paul Young (Joeydotrawr). He claims the building is not much but does have a “vibe” he humorously describes “post-apocalypse chic.”

Jane is unmoved by his levity and trusts no one. Her reaction is to defend herself and she is armed. This chick is not to be fooled with.

Pro-Government Thugs

Invictus has three major themes. The first emerges early: freedom of the press and the supposed rise of fake news.

Paul was an independent newscaster who avoided capture when “they” came to arrest everyone at the station, he tells Jane. He suggests that she may have seen his face on billboards and declares people now chase “fake news” which we tacitly understand is government-controlled propaganda.

Paul rolls an apple across the floor to Jane, an “Adam meets Eve” gesture that sets up the explicit love-making we see later. She’s skeptical that the fruit is real before a bite convinces her it is. Apparently, the delicious treat came from rumored farmable land up north, Paul declares, and wants to find out if such a place exists.

Having established the fake news theme, the narrative moves to its second and overriding message–climate change and how the nutty fundamentalists have abetted the earth’s destruction. On that note, there’s revenge of sorts at film’s end.

Jane warns Paul of “pro-government thugs” who are out to hunt down “people who aren’t patriotic” which brings up a question. Can a person be a patriot and criticize the government? The film lets the viewer decide.

In the meantime, Invictus’ story line is set. Jane and Paul decide to unite for the journey they must take: she to the rendezvous point, he to the land of the fruit. This introduces the central image of narrative: the road.

We will look at that in Part Two.

Survivors

There is one more element of importance in the film. From her backpack, Jane produces a flash drive that holds the key to an encrypted computer Ava, her colleague and friend, could not save when their offices were raided.

Jane is from the World Protection Agency, she tells Paul, and what is on the flash drive could save humanity. She and Ava plan to meet on her birthday in the field where they once admired a meteor shower together. The place has both an emotional and moral meaning for them.

In a broader sense, Invictus is a moral journey to save mankind. More simply, it’s the trek the flash drive must take. Jane and Paul are merely couriers, survivors navigating a “new apocalyptic world,” as Paul describes it, in which desolation and isolation are mankind’s enemies now.

Circumstance has brought them together. Both avoided arrest when their professional environments fell under assault. He wasn’t at the news studio and she was not at Mount Weather when the government raided both.

Now they are a new age Adam and Eve striving to regenerate civilization.

As the film progresses, their moxie is tested. The country has fallen into chaos: tribalism rules the countryside and the unlikely pair encounters violence on the road. Later in a fight over Jane’s backpack, Paul is stabbed. The attackers flee and his three-day recovery brings them closer.

Out of that, their personal visions and reveries lead to the film’s first two sex scenes, but more on that later.

A Comment on Filmmaking

Invictus is as much a tale steeped in symbolism as it is an adult film highlighting nudity and lovemaking. Because it is a rare combination of literary expression and art mixed with see-it-all sex, the film raises an important question.

Is it possible for an adult film created by industry directors and actors to become a Hollywood-worthy production? Does such an offering bridge the divide between two film worlds: pornography and mainstream?

To put the question another way, is Invictus part of an alternative genre created by independent filmmakers who believe uninhibited sexual expression is part of their storytelling and, by extension, the development of their characters?

Like Gone, an earlier award-winning Angie Rowntree film, Invictus does just that. What’s more, this production is also pro-woman and made by a feminist. But it takes a further step.

It also addresses an adult film audience that is often short-changed by the industry’s standard romantic comedies: couples. With Invictus, they get love in a turbulent world where fighting for a cause is preferable to a date night of fun and frivolity.

Finally, speaking of female power in a patriarchal world, Delirious Hunter’s character portrayal is the film’s driving force. Her acting skills are noteworthy and her sex scenes reveal a woman’s touch that compliments Angie Rowntree’s directing talent.

 

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All good filmmaking requires a team commitment . . .

And some fun along the way.

 

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Check out the trailer for Invictus. Bear in mind it is Not Safe for Work because of nudity and graphic sexual representation.

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The Porn Curtain: Angie Rowntree, Part Two

by Rich Moreland, October 2016

Angie Rowntree and her husband Colin are leaders in the internet porn business.

Colin is the founder of Wasteland.com, a bondage oriented website and recently Angie increased her presence through Mindbrowse.com, a product of Sssh.com.

Mindbrowse is marketed as “a place where the adult entertainment industry’s ideas go to grow up.”

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All photos are courtesy of Angie and Colin Rowntree.

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In the second part of my interview with Angie Rowntree, I brought up Mindbrowse.

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Do the woman-friendly podcasts contribute to the crossing over phenomenon?

“Encouraging crossover isn’t a goal of Mindbrowse events per se, but we do want to let the consumer see behind the ‘porn curtain’ and understand neither porn nor the porn industry is a monolith,” Angie says.

In following that approach, the podcasts reflect a variety of purposes or functions, she indicates.

“I hope to answer some of their (the viewers) questions while tackling real issues within the adult entertainment industry like performer consent and the ever-expanding leadership role played by women in the industry.”

Having written about the adult business for a few years now, I understand what Angie is doing. Women are finally moving to the forefront though not as fast as some would like. Tragically, the recent loss of Candida Royalle silenced a pioneering voice for female empowerment in porn.

The founder of Sssh.com gives us a little perspective on the strides women have made on both sides of the camera.

“I think a lot of people don’t realize just how much the industry has changed since the old days and how many women are writing, directing, and producing adult films these days, not just performing in them.”

So true. Jacky St. James, Mason, Courtney Trouble, Nicole Noelle, and jessica drake come immediately to mind as innovative women who are moving forward with their own brand.

Gone

Candida Royalle’s FEMME Productions started it all, setting a standard for production company ownership and shooting sex that laid the groundwork for the generation of women that followed her.

That thought leads me to bring up Gone, Angie’s award winning contribution to porn’s female-friendly Hall of Fame. The production stars Madeline Blue in an emotional performance and is the kind of film Candida Royalle would admire.

Cinema exhibitions such as the Swedish International Film Festival, Cinekink, the Los Angeles Film Festival, Wendy’s Shorts, and the Holly International Film Festival honored Gone in 2016 with an “Official Selection” for mainstream audiences.

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Other accolades specific to the porn crowd were given out in 2016 by AVN and XBIZ.

Angie was also recently recognized as a ground breaker.

“I was the first person from the adult industry to speak at a Sundance workshop,” she says. The subject was “Creative Tensions: Sex.”

Obviously, Gone as a narrative has moved past traditional porn expectations into a more literary worthy realm. Has it created a compromise or midway genre between hardcore and mainstream?

Angie is unsure about that but she does know the film “represents an approach to merging a story with explicit sex [and] that’s a road much less traveled in porn.”

She mentions there are “a number of erotic films with strong plots and character, but the vast bulk of adult entertainment these days is ‘gonzo’ porn–meaning no story, no characters, essentially nothing but wall-to-wall sex.” That’s not her cup of porn tea.

“I like story, I like context, and I like the sex between characters to mean something within the story, rather than the story be nothing but a handful of disconnected sex scenes.”

Could that be the formula that punches porn’s ticket onto the mainstream stage?

Perhaps, but there is more.

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Naturally, when we’re talking narrative with plot and dialogue acting has to step up. Is there a greater demand on porn performers to beef up their acting skills?

That depends according to the eras of porn you’re talking about, Angie asserts.

“Is there more demand for them to be able to act than in the late 1990s and early aughts when gonzo really started to take a dominant position in the market? Possibly. But if you compare it to the early days of porn, even if you think the acting in those movies was atrocious, you have to admit there was more acting on average than there is most modern porn.”

The director mentions films like those she shoots and the currently popular “porn parodies of mainstream superhero movies” do value acting. As for Gone, Madeline Blue and her co-star, Gee Richards, certainly pass the theatrical test.

On the other hand, acting is not an ingredient in gonzo where sexual frolics and “how someone looks while performing them” sells the product, Angie says.

Simply put, adult film is an opportunity for those who want to turn up their creativity a notch and for others who just want to play.

Colin and Madeline at the AVN Awards Show in 2016

Colin Rowntree and Madeline Blue at the AVN Awards Show in 2016

Tighter Scrutiny

Finally, I inquire about crossing over as an influence how adult films are made.

“I can’t speak for other directors, but it’s a consideration for anybody who intends to distribute their work on platforms like cable or satellite which are subject to a lot more scrutiny and tighter standards than content produced strictly for internet and DVD distribution.”

It can stimulate rethinking on how to shoot a scene, though it doesn’t affect dialogue, she believes.

“I’m definitely mindful of needing to shoot in a way that the sex scenes will hold up and still be arousing and hot, even after being edited for penetration or otherwise altered for broadcast.”

We’re looking forward to more from Angie Rowntree. Another production like Gone that stimulates story and emotion is needed in today’s porn environment.

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Colin Rowntree at work. You can follow him on twitter here.

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Circular Evolution: Angie Rowntree, Part One

by Rich Moreland, October 2016

Ever since I began writing in adult film, I’ve learned that creativity is broadly defined. Many directors and performers like the all-sex, or gonzo approach to filmmaking where innovation revolves around positions, penetrations, and hot bodies.

On the other hand, my preference is the feature where plot, dialogue, and acting complement the sex. In my mind, telling a story sets the stage for the film’s carnal adventures by giving them meaning.

Along the way, I’ve talked with movie makers who feel the same way. One of them is Angie Rowntree of Sssh.com, a female-friendly adult website.

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angie rowntreeI first sat down with Angie at the 2016 Adult Entertainment Expo in Las Vegas. At the time, I had reviewed her groundbreaking film, Gone, which in my opinion is the best adult film ever made. You can read the review here.

Recently we had the good fortune to talk about an emerging phenomenon in adult known as “crossing over.” Simply put, it means entering legitimate Hollywood while maintaining a porn identity.

Here is a sampling of our conversation.

A Legitimate Expressive Form

Is crossing over on rise?

Angie believes that “porn has become far more accepted, or at least tolerated, by the general public than it used to be,” a change she credits to the internet. Understandable, she says, since “porn’s prominence” has dominated “the commercial internet” since its earliest days.

“References to porn are now commonplace in pop culture and it’s a daily subject in mainstream news reporting and broadcast television,” Angie explains, citing “edgier” shows like “Game of Thrones, American Horror, Sons of Anarchy, and now HBO’s West World” as examples.

The feminist filmmaker maintains that most viewers see a “bright line” between HBO/Fox type entertainment that pushes boundaries and porn. Nevertheless, “the embrace of sexually explicit depictions by undeniably mainstream shows has certainly helped to legitimize sexualized content,” she adds.mv5bmjm5otq1mty5nl5bml5banbnxkftztgwmjm3nzmxode-_v1_sy1000_cr006741000_al_

The result is a huge step toward the acceptance of adult-like performances embedded within Hollywood narratives.

Agreed, but is there a generational influence at work here?

Youth does make a difference, Angie insists.

“To a lot of young people these days,” porn is “just another form of entertainment . . . to watch if you feel so inclined, like TV dramas, sports, or sticoms.”

Perhaps it is Millennials who are leveling the entertainment playing field and here’s why.

According to Angie, “the sense of shame long associated with watching porn is starting of dissipate,” which means porn is going through a “circular evolution.”

“As more of porn is made which bucks the traditional, typical male-dominated perspective, more people will accept it as a legitimate expressive form, leading to even more creative and innovative people coming into the industry.”

The result?  “A more diverse and variegated industry” will lead to improved content benefiting everyone from performer and filmmaker to the consumer.

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Viewed Differently

That leads us to the key question. Will porn ever be accepted as mainstream entertainment?

Angie hesitates to predict anything definite about that.

“I think porn will always be viewed differently from mainstream entertainment if for no other reason than people are going to continue to be conflicted in how they feel about sex. For something so central to our lives, humans sure seem to be uncomfortable with the subject of sex, let alone its depiction.”

As an afterthought, however, she hints that “always” and “forever” are not words to use when talking about porn.

“Back in the early nineties I never though I’d see porn become as accepted and tolerated as it has already become, so who knows what the future holds?”

Legally Acceptable

I’m not letting Angie get away without one more question.

Will the public accept hardcore sex if it’s integral to the story being told?

“I think there’s real merit to that notion, yes . . to a certain extent, at least,” she says, and mentions the 1979 film, Caligula.

mv5bmtyzmti0ndg3n15bml5banbnxkftztcwmtqznjmymq-_v1_“It was seen as one step more ‘legitimate’ than the hardcore porn movies being made around the same time.”

This legitimacy, she insists, emerged because the film “was perceived as a movie with hardcore sex in it as opposed to a porno with an unusual amount of dialogue.”

By the way, Caligula was made in the fading pre-video days of Porno Chic when adult films appeared in neighborhood theaters and emphasized a narrative with a semblance of acting.

The producer/director reminds us of an important change established in the 1970s concerning obscenity.

“Hardcore sex is more legally acceptable when it comes in the context of a story.”

That’s important because the court has to prove that the content and context of a film “lacks literary, artistic, political or scientific value,” she adds.

Of course, producers and directors can argue for a film’s merit, Angie insists, “if there is more going on within the story than just people having sex in several different positions.”

Well said.

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Our conversation with Angie Rowntree continues in the next post.

She talks about Gone, her Mindbrowse podcasts, and we’ll learn a little about acting and a female director’s approach to shooting.

Heavy hitters in the feminist line-up of porn makers. Kelly Holland, jessica drake, Angie Rowntree, Jacky St. James, Kelly Shibari. Photo courtesy of Angie Rowntree

Heavy hitters in the female strong line-up of porn makers. Love this photo!
Left to Right: Kelly Holland, (bartender in background),  jessica drake, Angie Rowntree, Madeline Blue, Jacky St. James, Kelly Shibari.
Photo courtesy of Angie Rowntree

 

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A Nice Girl Who Howls at the Moon: Part Four, Making Magic

by Rich Moreland, January 2016

The success of the short film Gone is sparking industry accolades. In the final part of our interview, Madeline Blue talks about her working rapport with director Angie Rowntree.

My thanks to Sssh.com for the photos included below. Incidentally, my review of Gone can be found here.

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“We knew it was important before we filmed it . . this felt like a great opportunity to do something special.”

Madeline Blue talks about her role as Rebecca in Gone, Angie Rowntree’s masterpiece of love, loss, and acceptance. But, Madeline reminds us, the film has “many different themes from personal, intimate and emotional to national and patriotic.”

The budding porn actress was captivated by the innovative director’s vision.

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“Angie was making a crossover indie/porn film and then took it further by having the porn and the story depict a loving BDSM relationship. It all seemed radical and forward thinking.”

Of course, a vision does not a movie make. Performers and their skill turn ideas on paper into art. Such was to be Madeline Blue’s journey and Angie Rowntree recognized the potential the emerging performer presented.

Getting Personal

“I tried to be whatever the scene needed,” Madeline says.

Conceding she is not a trained actress, the native Bostonian does have a background in performance art, particularly dance and music, avenues of expression she has traveled since a young age. The downside of that, however, is a lack of speaking roles. So Madeline had to learn on the fly what a script entailed and that meant getting intimate with the character she created.

“I tried to empathize with what Rebecca was going through. I related similar personal experience or emotional times in myself to the tone of the scene. I tried the personalize Rebecca to myself as much as I could.”

gone-02-PROMOThe “more demanding” scenes required flexibility in point of view and acting, Madeline declares. “I still had to be Madeline externally, but internally I was focusing on Rebecca.”

On a set she describes as a “multi-tasking/multi-personal” experience, Madeline was given the space to expand herself and her character.

Angie Rowntree

Angie Rowntree

“Angie is very gentle and kind when directing. I never felt rushed,” Madeline recalls. Gone is “a sensitive movie,” and Angie “made it feel warm and cozy so I could feel safe going to the intense emotional places she wanted me to convey.”

Who is Rebecca?

Madeline explains the film’s premise regarding fetish sex. “Gone shows two willing people who want to play [the bondage scene] together. She [Rebecca] wants it and likes it, and they feel connected and bonded through their role-playing and dungeon activities.”

Angie Rowntree insisted that Rebecca be portrayed as “a real girl.” But what does that mean? In porn language, it’s putting aside any over sexualized image inflated with makeup and behavior that borders on trashy. In other words, Rebecca’s appeal had to be “relatable” to the audience. Her “vulnerability and strength,” woven within an equal relationship with her lover, needed to be defined through her emotions. No walk in the park obviously, but Madeline was more than receptive . . . and most capable.

“I felt like that was a gift to me, that she [Angie] would trust me to try to pull that off. I often see a lot of female characters that are just one or the other, strong or weak, and I was excited to have the chance to play a real complex woman.”

Gone-Cover-BKFit the Lines

Like super talented directors in adult–Jacky St. James comes immediately to mind–Angie Rowntree believes in sticking to the script, but designs the scenes to accommodate the performer.

Communication is the key.

Madeline and Angie discussed the development of Rebecca through the years covered in the film from meeting Todd (Gee Richards) and their BDSM play to the final denouement of loss and rebirth of a self-confident, courageous female character.

Gone_01“I felt she really let me fit the lines to how I could best say them. She was very open to my suggestions, what I thought the script meant. . . so I could find the way to play Rebecca that felt right.”

Being guided through the shooting process from start to finish and into post-production, Madeline remembers that to be on an Angie Rowntree set “was empowering.”

“She has a really true vision and then includes you on all the details and nuances to make it come to life. You get the impression she is making magic.”

Magic? Perhaps, but nothing comes without hard work and Madeline lays the credit on Angie’s doorstep.

Boundaries

Kind and gentle with “capable hands” are words Madeline uses to describe Angie’s directing. Yet, there’s much more. “She is a planner and lays everything out for you” which includes script alterations. But like good directors, Angie demarcates her boundaries.

CMJlEKGXAAAJ6nF“She didn’t give us too much freedom with the script. There were some scenes that I had questions about, some lines we changed together when finally on set . . . But we really did keep to script as written and when we did make a change, we discussed it in-depth.”

Madeline then cuts to chase and relates what I’ve heard about outstanding directors and the films they make.

“We all became very invested in the project once it really got going. It felt personal to everyone involved, including the crew. I felt honored to be a part of it.”

And we, the viewers, feel likewise appreciative of a mature actress who is discovering her artistic soul in a new way. Madeline Blue is a name to remember and a pleasure to watch. There is, I’m guessing, much more to come (pun intended) in her film career.

*           *          *

Take a look at Gone by visiting Sssh.com.

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A Nice Girl Who Howls at the Moon: Part One, Sexiness is Ageless

by Rich Moreland, January 2016

This is the first of a four-part essay on Madeline Blue, a unique and rising actress in adult film. Except where noted, all photos are courtesy of the performer. Those from studios retain their watermarks.

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It’s no secret that fresh faces drive the porn universe. The industry welcomes the nubile sweetie, the “barely legal” girl who can make instant money, while other girls wait until their twenties before going on set. But what about an older woman who wants to give adult film a try? Is the passage of time her albatross?

Consider Madeline Blue, thirty-seven years of eagerness who self-identifies as a “late bloomer” to porn.

CAOrfEEWYAAmcmo“I am basically a nice girl who howls at the moon and needs to roam from time to time!”

We’re in the awards season and this fanciful sweetheart is being touted by XBIZ and AVN for her performance in Sssh.com’s blockbuster short film, Gone. The Angie Rowntree production is redefining how women in adult film are perceived and for now, that is Madeline Blue.

My Age and My Limits

Agents are flocking to this hottie, right? Not exactly. Madeline thought stepping in front of the camera would be a walkover. It can’t be that hard, “just go do some porn.” But the doors did not open.

“I was in touch with about ten, twenty agents and talent recruiters over the past year or so and all went sour usually when they found out my age and my limits.”

Undeterred, Madeline wanted to do “something sexually liberating.” Though exotic dancing was out of the question, the brunette beauty was convinced that sexiness is ageless and she would prove it.

It helps to be philosophical.

“I have seen the young girls who do tours at age twenty and felt bad that I am excluded from that, but it’s probably for the best. If I had done porn at twenty, maybe I would have a big porn career now, or not, who knows?”

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With “options that seemed slim,” Madeline and her soon-to-be husband started their own Clips4Sale store. The voluptuous charmer could do what she wanted while building her own subscription site. In other words, they had to sod their own playing field.

So, Madeline entered adult entertainment with seventeen years of performing arts under her belt and a comfort level not easily achieved in an industry where stripping down can strip away all your preconceived notions about yourself.

She’s still in learning mode and the future looks bright.

Enlightening

Madeline Blue is a product of New England’s strict moral ethos. A Boston native, she attended private school and focused on the arts: music, dance, writing. With a degree that includes a double major (English and Psychology) and a career of “regular jobs,” Madeline’s sense of adventure encompasses international travel (she speaks French and Spanish). Yet, her butterfly of liberation always seems to flash its colors in other directions . . . sexual ones.

In her early twenties, she tried nude modeling for “extra cash and to keep life interesting,” she remembers.

CQPgFG0UwAE4nwx“I was pretty shy and I wanted to feel sexy, so I did the occasional modeling gig.” Though nude, it was artsy, never reaching into the category of sensual, seductive, or explicit. About a year ago, Madeline decided “to be more daring and do an erotic shoot.”

“Enlightening,” she is how she describes the result. But that was only the introduction.

“Long conversations about life, sexuality, identity” followed, as did talk about “porn and BDSM” which she concedes, “I knew nothing about.”

Madeline quickly back tracks to say that she’s watched porn since her late twenties never thinking she was a “vanilla girl” with all the limitations that dictates. Now she admits she was more missionary position than she realized. Remember “my limits” noted above?

Super Introverted

Things are changing in Madeline’s comfort zone.

“I wasn’t ready to porn until now,” she says.

Being “super introverted” didn’t help. “I was often painfully shy in public, I felt awkward in my body around others, but wanted so much to relax and let my body be free.”

As Lao-tzu gently proclaims, a journey of a thousand miles begins with single step. Madeline took hers and one foot forward led to another.

“I have done some scenes with my boyfriend, with friends at a couple of studios, and for my site, but I have done no other b/g videos.”

But she is undeterred by lost time and for good reason.

Describing porn as “this fascinating industry,” the New Englander is confident in her own skin. “I know who I am, what works for me now.”CTtyyK2UEAAp2Zc

Her present job is not an issue (she teaches dance). “My career is established, I run my own business, and I feel free to do what I want and not worry about repercussions or ridicule.” Getting fired because of porn is not on the table. In fact her profession has turned out to be a plus.

“If I hadn’t become a student of dance, I imagine I wouldn’t be where I am now,” Madeline declares.

The performer “craves” certain challenges, particularly shooting porn, but finds them scary at the same time. Nevertheless, her determination tramples reticence.

“Taking my clothes off on-camera was the natural next step in facing my fears!” Madeline confesses.

Still, doubts lingered.

No Boundaries

“I am past my prime and my body will never be ‘perfect’ again,” Madeline admits, a realization that is a crusher for any woman wanting to do adult film. The age question provoked a plunge in her spirits until the magic man, Gee Richards, opened Madeline’s emotional door and released a tidal wave of possibilities.

Photo courtesy of Sssh.com

Photo courtesy of Sssh.com

Along the way, meeting Gee was a gamechanger. He filled a void. Having the freedom to be adventurous in her life was satisfying, but Madeline wanted “more substance than that” and couldn’t quite find the personal relationship she desired. It was the proverbial “needle in a haystack,” she laments. Gee showed up at just the right time, turning into mentor and lover.

After her “first sexy shoot,” Madeline realized what she could achieve in adult. “It was a revelation. . . . I had no clue there might be a place for me in the porn world. I didn’t even have it on my radar.”

She is now convinced . . . sex appeal has no boundaries.

Women like Helen Mirren and Jessica Lange, Madeline says, “are smoking hot and have AARP cards! They are in their bodies and they enjoy it.” Simply put, she believes that women “who know themselves and are experienced lovers are more fun to be around. And that gets better with age, especially if they are open to personal growth”

*          *          *

More on this remarkable woman is coming your way next in part two of the Madeline Blue odyssey. To follow Madeline on twitter, click here.

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Gone: An Illuminated Sacrifice

by Rich Moreland, November, 2015

A short film produced by Sssh.com titled Gone turns the concept of pornography on its head. Identified as a featurette, the story of love and loss is directed by Sssh.com founder Angie Rowntree and stars Madeline Blue as Rebecca and Gee Richards as Todd.

The company’s website describes the film as a “beautiful and intimate story inspired by a Sssh.com member.” It is all of that and more. To see the trailer for the film and get background information including updated reviews, click here.

The movie is being praised for the ways it defines two lovers whose story leaves us to wrestle with our own emotions. However, I came away with another view that for me recolored the narrative’s meaning.

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Gone-CoverAbout this film’s message of devotion and heartache, I have nothing to add that hasn’t already been said with words more moving and powerful than anything I could write. Is Gone a five-star winner? You bet, and worth watching. Is it a ground breaker in filmed pornography that shelves the rules of formulaic movie making? Absolutely, and for that reason alone it should garner well-deserved accolades.

But there is something else within this movie’s thirty-three plus minutes: a statement of where we are in today’s America. To put it bluntly, every politician should be required to watch it and if he or she is anti-porn, just cover up the offending parts. There is a larger meaning here that shadows the story–the anxious, brooding phantom that lurks in our national psyche.

Take a look at the imagery director Rowntree has so carefully placed within the visual narrative.

The beginning is a wooded path, the wilderness every lawmaker and foreign policy wonk tries to negotiate with an all too often futility.

Photo courtesy of Sssh.com

Photo courtesy of Sssh.com

Then there’s small town America, scenes of village greens and community days out. The freedoms worth fighting for . . . so we are told.

And that white clapboard house with the picket fence, “We were living the American dream,” Rebecca says of her home with Todd.

But they, like many who wish a bellicose country would rise up and smite its enemies, have impaired vision that is a setup for tragedy. In fact, we see a smiling Todd blindfolded while he playfully hugs Rebecca in the kitchen. It’s a chilling moment in a modern and familiar tale of unexpected sadness.

Photo courtesy of Sssh.com

Photo courtesy of Sssh.com

And, of course, there is the real image of incompetence: the lolling Teddy Bear in the couple’s bedroom. His eyes are covered with a hat that makes him look a bit inebriated–perhaps with a self-ingratiating smugness too many of us let pass for the ability to govern and a belief that we know what is best for everyone.

Rope Marks

The sorrow of Gone is that real people who have real feelings, hopes, and dreams pay a price for circumstances beyond their control. No where is that better seen than in the image of that electronic device devoid of flesh and affection, the ubiquitous cell phone, that reduces Rebecca’s existence to anguish, pleading, and shouting into emptiness.

The lovemaking (notice I did not say sex) in the story is as authentic as it gets. In fact, Madeline and Gee are a couple in their private lives so the scenes are bona fide statements of profound affection.

There a touch of kink (Fifty Shades is reworking our erotic landscape) and in an emotional dream sequence, Rebecca is restrained for her pleasure as well as Todd’s. When she comes back to reality, rope marks are eerily on her wrists . . . a kind of bondage stigmata that relates more that it seems.

Photo courtesy of Sssh.com

Photo courtesy of Sssh.com

Director Rowntree adds two intimate images to their relationship. The most significant is the altar of purification in the couple’s dungeon basement. Rebecca, legs spread on a table, is orally worshipped in a scene that is ritualistic in tone and intent. No close-ups, just a glimpse of what this movie is all about: an illuminated sacrifice in stark, barren darkness, be it a concrete dungeon or a faraway desert in a distant land. . . an unforgiving repetition that has endured throughout civilizations.

Photo courtesy of Sssh.com

Photo courtesy of Sssh.com

Next, of course, are the rope marks. The viewer is reminded that we are raised in a society that too often constrains its sexuality, failing to release its emotions except when “celebrating” its losses. If it is personal and intimate, we are embarrassed and turn away. If it’s a funeral procession, we stand tall and salute while bitterly holding back our weakness, our tears.

Of course, Rebecca understands, turning traditional notions against themselves in a personal triumph that hints of unbroken bonds. She smiles faintly as the fade out pulls the shades over the screen.

Crisp and Unread

When the film’s ending was within reach, I figured it out before I got, as one reviewer implies, the punch in the gut. But it didn’t soften the blow.

Oh yes, there’s a final image, the confirmation of what the viewer already suspects: a newspaper—as crisp and unread as the day it was delivered. It’s isolated, as Rebecca’s life is now seemingly condemned, on a small table in a corner near the stairs of that house with the picket fence.

It’s like hearing that your best friend has passed on but the reality doesn’t set in until you walk into the funeral home for the viewing.

Photo courtesy of Sssh.com

Photo courtesy of Sssh.com

Rebecca’s words–cries of anger, grieving, and overwhelming misery–are themselves part of the ritual. How many times have they been repeated over and again for almost two decades?

“Now that Todd’s gone I wish I’d never met him in the first place.”

And there are places we as a nation should never have gone either in pursuit of our own enduring rituals.

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Angie Rowntree and Sssh.com deserve congratulations for perhaps the most thoughtful and significant porn film this reviewer has ever seen. It stands alone in defining adult film as art.

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