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The 2017 AEE Extravaganza: Part Two

by Rich Moreland, February 2017

My thanks to AVN’s Dan Miller, Brian Gross, and Jill Hagara for making my visit to the show enjoyable. Their hard work cannot be appreciated enough.

Also, special kudos is extended to my favorite PR company, StarFactory. Thank you Tanya and Alex!

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Seminars

Rarely do I get to attend all the seminars that pique my interest and this year’s AEE was no exception.  Nevertheless, I did make a few.

On the show’s opening day, the seminar on money was super informative.

Tasha Reign, Alan Gelbard, Lee Roy Myers, Adam Grayson, Nate Glass

Tasha Reign, Alan Gelbard, Lee Roy Myers, Adam Grayson, Nate Glass

Hosted by sociologist Dr. Chauntelle Tibbals, the panel discussed turning a profit in a time of piracy. Attorney Alan Gelbard set the tone with a statement that at first seemed a capitulation but as the seminar went on, proved to be the most salient. Money can still be made in this age of tube sites and free porn, he said, and pointed out that “the music industry has figured out a way to let the piracy just be there.”

Lee Roy Myers

Lee Roy Myers

Filmmaker Lee Roy Myers of the parody website WoodRocket got it right when he insisted that everyone should maintain ownership of their content and “choose to give it away.” In reality, this seeming anomaly sells traffic to your site at a time when “less and less people are paying for porn in traditional ways.”

Evil Angel’s Adam Grayson’s assertion that identifying niche markets can turn a profit for your content through a reliable customer base made sense when thinking of porn as subgenres that capture pieces of the larger adult universe.

On the practical side to the money equation, a company like Nate Glass’s Takedown Piracy can be a great benefit to all producers in protecting their content.

2017-01-18-07-39-26Before the panel began, I spoke briefly with Nate Glass and met Chauntelle for the first time, a real treat.

Thursday afternoon offered up the seminar on the legal battles that may lie ahead with the incoming Trump administration.

After attorney Clyde DeWitt recounted the history of the Meese Commission’s pursuit of pornographers in the 1980s, Reed Lee, First Amendment scholar from Chicago and a member of the Free Speech Coalition, calmed nerves somewhat when he asserted that “history is on our side” and the “clear march of social progress is in our favor.”

Nevertheless, Free Speech Coalition’s President Eric Leue emphasized that passivity can no longer be the watchword and that everyone has a dog in this fight. In other words, support FSC.

Clyde DeWitt, John Stagliano, Eric Leue, J Michael Murray , Reed Lee, and moderator Mark Kernes

Clyde DeWitt, John Stagliano, Eric Leue, J Michael Murray , Reed Lee, and moderator Mark Kernes

Outside the hall, I had a moment to catch up with Colin Rowntree of Wasteland.com who plays both host and panelist when needed at these seminars. We talked about the possible political outcomes that face the industry.

Later that same day, another panel highlighted the increasingly independent role of women in adult.

Filmmaker Angela White said it best, “if you think porn is degrading, then you probably think sex is degrading.” Her words stressed the message of this seminar aptly named R-E-S-P-E-C-T that focused on celebrating empowered people who are comfortable with their sexuality. Moderated by Chauntelle Tibbals, the panel also included filmmakers Kay Brandt and Bree Mills.

Interestingly, an audience question led to a brief sparring over the interpretation of words. At issue was the concept of “feminist porn” which may be giving way these days to the idea of “ethical porn.”

Is the sun setting on “feminism” in the industry as some attendees seemed to hint?

Downtime

2017-01-18-09-17-39AEE is a constant round of rockin’ and rollin’, but there is occasional downtime, or to be honest, the need to take a break. I found a few minutes in the press room where the always upbeat Jill Hagara took some time for a chat. We’ve know each other for a few years now and she is a delight.

More relaxation moments came at the small Dunkin’ Donuts shop right off the casino where the convenient access for a quick coffee attracts industry people.

I talked with performer Daisy Layne after running into her earlier in the hallway.

Amber Jo

Amber Jo

A statuesque beauty named Amber Jo sidled up next to me with her java and Boston cream doughnut in hand. She’s networking, AJ said, and that began an informative chat.

Later Amber posed for my photographer and I offered to do a story on her. She’s an exotic dancer from the Midwest who has thoughts of LA and the biz. Stay tuned to see what happens with this gorgeous girl. Maybe a new star will soon be on-screen!

Setting up interviews is never easy and once again this year I relied on the best PR people in the business, Star Factory, whose watchwords are dependability and reliability. Their clients do not flake on the press.

With the help of Steve Nelson, the editor of AINews.com, I usually nail down a couple of people for impromptu interviews. This year the highlights were the previously mentioned Emma Hix at Foxxx Modeling and Kasey Warner, the star of B Skow’s Color Blind. Kasey and I are from the same part of the country which made our talk special.

Emma Hix

Emma Hix

Speaking of Skow, his productions are distributed by one of my favorite companies, Girlfriends Films. As mentioned in part one of this post, Moose, the company president, invited me to the GFFs suite for a morning coffee on Thursday, a great way to start the day.

Kudos to AVN

Eventually, a text helped me find AVN’s senior editor, Dan Miller. I first met Dan’s warm personality and infectious smile when he was with XBIZ.

We took a few minutes to discuss the passing of adult film historian Bill Margold (Dan did a wonderful obit for AVN online) and I mentioned that this year’s show was well-organized, enriching everyone’s experience from fan to media.

James Deen and Dan Miller Photo courtesy of AVN

James Deen and Dan Miller
Photo courtesy of AVN

Helping to make this year’s AEE enjoyable were some not so subtle changes in the “feel” of the show.

The club music in The Joint wasn’t nearly the volume of the past which made conversation easier–a boon when one carries around a digital recorder–the lighting much improved, and best of all, the traffic flow was smoother among the various rooms. Thank you AVN!

After experiencing the breezy atmosphere of the Sands Center some years ago, I was doubtful AVN could pull everything off in a more broken up environment. And at first it was a challenge, but the bugs have been worked out.

On the downside, there was one thing distinctly different this year: the weather. The days were cloudy, very cool, with periods of rain, the same weather pattern I left back home. The only difference, it seemed, were the trees. I’m not used to seeing rain, mist, and palm trees!

Despite that, inside the Hard Rock the action was invigorating and informative.

I encourage everyone to visit next year, or to put it another way, attending AEE at least once in your adult life should be on your bucket list.

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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”

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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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New Wave Porn: A Review of BrightDesire.com Part One

by Rich Moreland, December 2015

This is the first of a two-part review of BrightDesire.com. All photos are courtesy of the website.

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BrightDesire.com is the Australian website of feminist pornographer Ms Naughty. Advertised as “a different kind of porn,” the site offers a couples-friendly product that ditches “old clichés” and the “negativity of standard old-style pornography.” It’s a bold “new wave” claim that lives up its billing.

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The descriptors “fresh, inclusive, and intelligent” enhance the website’s mission statement. In other words, it’s a thinking woman’s eroticism that highlights fantasy and emotion while injecting just the right amount of pure sex for the joy of it.

The site is packed with content that has something for everyone—straight, gay, couples and fetish. Erotic stories, photo sets, short films, and book and film reviews are among its offerings. Be it film or print, BrightDesire delivers on its promise. It’s a breeze to navigate and visually pleasing, but keep in mind that not every model has that pornified look and the films generally avoid the Porn Valley shtick of acrobatics and opening up that defines sex for the professional. As the website’s welcome mat touts, it’s all about “smart, sensual sex.”

The site is no stranger to accolades, having received in 2015 XBIZ’s Adult Site of the Year and AVN’s Best Alternative Site. Similar noms are on tap for 2016.

Within the feminist porn universe, BrightDesire is a widely known. Toronto’s Feminist Porn Awards have honored MsNaughty’s work and the site sponsored the 2014 Feminist Porn Conference held in conjunction with the Awards week.

Curious? Check out the site here. You can get a free seven-day trial which I highly recommend.

Membership information is available in FAQ found in the banner. The first month is $19.95 with recurring months at $9.95. Or, $34.95 will get you ninety days non-recurring. New content is posted weekly.

What You’ll Find

The heart of BrightDesire is a plethora of short films that will stoke the erotic fires in every porn fan. Selected scenes are included in Part Two of this review.

From "The Scent of Her"

“The Scent of Her”

A variety of authors have contributed stories that are quick reads, just enough to fill a few pleasurable moments during a busy day. Among the list I found appealing are “The Scent of Her” about a couple who play an odd game of seduction involving another woman and “Memo from the Boss,” a brief tale that involves a female executive who seeks stress relief from an underling at the office. Both stories use bondage as focal points. In “Scent,” passion oozes from the page; “Memo” is a safely underplayed workplace routine kept private.

"Purple 80s Porn"

“Purple 80s Porn”

There are sections for columns penned by MsNaughty, a blog she maintains, and news updates. Also, photo sets original to the site, along with some from other production studios, can be viewed in the traditional magazine approach to still photography. They feature straight, gay, multiple partners, fetish, and people of color. One of particular interest is “Purple 80s Porn,” a retro look at adult film. The write-up points out that the shots are from an old film and the actors are not known, though one of them looks remarkably like the infamous Traci Lords who was in the business from 1984 to 1986.

The interview section contains short vids of selected people featured in MsNaughty’s films. Typical of the BTS segments found today in DVDs, performers talk about what is important to them, things like attitudes about sex work, shooting porn, and feminist porn as a political and social statement. The website explains that the interviews are integral to “ethical, feminist porn” and “personalize” the performers, not all of whom are professionals. Unfortunately, I did have a few technical problems downloading a couple of interviews.

Jay and Kim

Jay and Kim

After reviewing their BDSM shoot for Part Two, I tuned in to Kim and Jay’s interview. They explain how they met online and the mutual pleasure that comes from acting out their fantasies. It’s a must see for all fans of D/s relationships.

The interviews frame those who make porn in all their naturalness. Sex workers have been around since the beginning of recorded time and many enjoy what they do. In her segment, Livia Vye (who appears in “The Birthday Wish” also reviewed in Part Two) adds a euphoric touch to her sex worker persona when she talks about choice and the freedom to express herself on film.

Livia

Livia

There is much more to explore at BrightDesire. The “Under the Bed” section contains more photos and short films (“Tea or Sex?” is a personal favorite). Reviews highlight books and films. Jiz Lee’s “Coming Out Like a Porn Star” and Jacky St. James’s groundbreaking “The Submission of Emma Marx,” both offerings I’ve reviewed for this blog, are included.

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Speaking of reviews, a look at a few of MsNaughty’s films, all of which are individualist without being egoist, are next in Part Two. Needless to say, the quality of her work is excellent.

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Fantasy and Ethics: Part 2 of Mindbrowse with Candida and Jacky

by Rich Moreland, July 2015

This is the second segment of Dr. Chauntelle Tibbals’ discussion with Candida Royalle and Jacky St. James. I neglected in the first installment to let everyone know that Mindbrowse is produced by Sssh.com, an erotica for women website that keeps the modern sex-positive female up-to-date on issues that move her world.

The owner of Sssh and Mindbrowse producer is the well-known voice for women’s sexual growth and exploration, Angie Rowntree. Launching Sssh in 1999 as one of the first “for women” sites on the web, Angie’s fame has moved forward in leaps and bounds. In 2014, she entered the AVN Hall of Fame Founders Division, a mark of elite recognition in the adult business. At this year’s XBIZ awards in LA, Sssh was honored as the “Alternative Adult Site of the Year.”  Sssh.com continues to grow and has been featured on MSNBC and Nightline and in publications such as Playboy, Psychology Today, and Time Magazine. It can be visited here.

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“I hoped that I would inspire other women to get out there and have the courage to . . . create their own vision,” Candida Royalle says.

Jacky St. James offers her view. “I really want to create content that reaches people . . . challenges them to think about their sexuality and their own sexual fantasy.”

The topic is porn and its nuanced expression of fantasy and art and the female influence in shaping both. Dr. Chauntelle Tibbals’ mindbrowse interview featuring Candida Royalle and Jacky engages the discussion from a feminist perspective.

Fantasy

Though a porn generation apart, Candida and Jacky represent a style of movie making that reflects the growing liberalism in our personal lives. We are freer today to talk about our sexual imagination. This is particularly true for women who realize that there is “fine line,” as Jacky says, between art and porn. Women can swirl them together to create their favorite fantasy.

An example for Candida is the rape fantasy. It’s “one of the most popular fantasies for women,” she says. Because society circumscribes female sexual behavior, women need “permission,” a way of “letting go enough” to be “pleasured and have an orgasm.” Sometimes that involves “being forced.” But remember its just fantasy, Candida insists, “you’re in control.” That’s important because no woman wants “to go out and get raped.”

Jacky on the set of "fauxcest" film, Our Father, with Steven St. Croix and Carter Cruise. Photo courtesy of Jeff Koga

Jacky on the set of “fauxcest” film, Our Father, with Steven St. Croix and Carter Cruise.
Photo courtesy of Jeff Koga

Jacky brings up another fantasy that is on the popularity radar: incest. “But, it’s not like they really want to have sex with a family member,” she declares. Jacky is now filming “fauxcest” porn that tells stories about step-relations. However, a bit of the luster is lost because legalities insist that “step” is emphasized in the film (none of the performers are related) and everything is consensual.

Despite their feminist critics, both filmmakers agree that women find empowerment when they fantasize about giving up control. BDSM movies, another hot topic for porn these days, is a perfect example. It’s the Fifty Shades of Grey phenomenon.

Dr. Tibbals asks about the future. Where will porn be ten years from now?

Candida hopes it will be less stigmatized as more women get involved in the industry. Jacky’s focuses on financial survival. Creating content people are willing buy is the key to stemming the rising tide of tube sites.

“Higher quality” porn will keep the companies going, she thinks, “the scripted kind of content that people do pay for.” For her employer, New Sensations, DVD sales are still strong, an indicator of success.

Truth and Ethics

Before the interview wraps up, Jacky asks Candida about her greatest hurdle in her early days as a filmmaker. Not surprisingly, the pioneering director mentions the industry’s male-dominated attitudes. Money talks in adult, Candida says, and her movies sold well enough that she gained respect quickly.

There was, however, “this sort of gang of outlaws in California back then,” she mentions. A time of transition, the industry was leaving the East Coast to settle out west and Candida was based in New York.

“They wanted to keep it [the industry] a renegade world. They didn’t want women entering it and they were very critical of my work.”

Candida took them on and held her own. Overall, she concludes, “I’ve been treated well by the industry.”

The question of ethics in filming comes up and Candida explains that her “rule of thumb” concerns female performers. “As long as the woman appears to be enjoying herself and seems to be really into it, I can enjoy what I’m watching.”

A Candida Royalle Classic Photo courtesy of Adam and Eve

A Candida Royalle Classic
Photo courtesy of Adam and Eve

Candida believes it is important to be as ethical as possible. Porn companies have to stand behind the content they produce and how they treat their talent. When  anything “ethically questionable” arises, freedom of expression is tested and everyone might suffer if the Feds intervene.

To stress her point, the owner of FEMME Productions comments that too many young people in adult today don’t remember the 1990s when the government “assaulted” the industry. It could happen again.

Jacky St. James gets that picture.

“I live and die by ethics,” the multiple award winner declares. She has three important tenets in filming: make sure talent is aware of what is expected before they are booked, let them know who they are working with before they arrive on set, and always communicate limits.

As for content, some of hers is considered “unethical” by the occasional critic, but Jacky reminds everyone that she’s “creating a fantasy.” Of course, with BDSM and “fauxcest” the risk is promoting certain activities that make some people uncomfortable.

In the end, it’s up to the individual, whether performer or viewer, to decide if porn is for them. It’s called responsibility.

Candida departs with the hope that the industry will be legitimized as “another form of entertainment.” If that happens, the renegade reputation that has surrounded porn for decades will be pushed aside and the number of talented and ethical people who want to work in the business will increase.

Finally, both women encourage fans to support porn and pay for what they enjoy.

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Many thanks to the good people at Sssh.com for their permission to use portions of this important discussion.

Angie Rowntree Photo courtesy of AVN

Angie Rowntree
Photo courtesy of AVN

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A Leaner Message

by Rich Moreland, March 2015

A statewide version of L.A. county’s Measure B condom law is likely headed for the 2016 California ballot. As a result, shooting in Nevada and Florida is on the adult industry radar, though opinions are mixed about migrating out of state. Going underground is possible for some producers, especially smaller labels who can’t afford the enforcement fees.

A legal seminar at the recent AVN show and Attorney Clyde DeWitt’s the “sky is not falling” February essay for XBIZ have contributed to the discussion. Obviously, constitutional questions loom should the measure be approved.

A conversation with two of the most respected directors in the business today, Girlfriends Films‘ Dan O’Connell and B Skow, offers a front line perspective on the issue.

Asked about the extra cost of the shooting under the proposal, neither director is overly concerned about the money spent. On the other hand, the restrictions imposed are troublesome.

Dan O'Connell Photo courtesy of 3hattergrindhouse.com

Dan O’Connell
Photo courtesy of 3hattergrindhouse.com

“I’m not worried about the dollar part of it,” Dan says. “I’m worried about requirements that would be prohibitive for us.” Girlfriends’ founder mentions shooting and location permits, producer cost for talent testing, and the onerous provision he calls “a snitch fee.”

“You slip up and you can get fined. The person who turns you in can get twenty-five percent of whatever your fine is,” and it “doesn’t have to be a performer, could be anyone, anywhere.”

Snitching is troublesome because performers who haven’t been booked for a while might get “vindictive.” To illustrate their concern, Skow mentions that he gets “uncomfortable” when a performer comes up and asks, “‘how come you don’t use me anymore?'”

Adult entertainment is a supply and demand business. Directors have to juggle shoots to keep people working. Too many girls and a limited number of bookings, something performers often fail to realize.

If the proposal gets on the ballot, a recent poll indicates that over seventy percent of California voters would approve it. Should that happen, location becomes the impending issue hovering over everyone.

“I don’t see us shooting in California,” Dan says, but he fears the AIDS Health Foundation, the force behind the referendum, would follow the industry wherever it goes. On the other hand, Skow thinks many studios will go underground and that’s costly for everyone. From the state’s point of view, he adds, the “whole campaign will be a waste,” a loss of jobs and money.

However, there may be a ray of sunshine in this political storm; a needed shake-up might occur, a weeding out process that leads to a more efficient industry. In other words, the number of shoots might drop, but the ones produced would be better.

B Skow Photo courtesy of 3hattergrindhouse.com

B Skow
Photo courtesy of 3hattergrindhouse.com

Skow asserts the “creativity” put into film making would improve with the added benefit of having “a smaller pool of performers that you know and trust.” In his business utopia, a select group of stars reminiscent of porn’s past would “make most of the movies” like in the old Hollywood system. “People would start following them, just like they follow celebrities,” he says.

Returning to a more intimate talent pool means the business becomes “more corporate, more organized.” Unfortunately the fledgling studios might suffer, but for the industry as a whole, Skow explains, the “big companies” would cultivate a “pool of trust.”

On another matter, the Girlfriends’ director brings up a personal concern: much of the creativity in porn goes unrecognized. He mentions the AVN awards show, but in truth, it could be any similar gala the industry sponsors.

“There should be ten or twelve awards,” Skow says, “then it would mean something. A lot of people in this industry do some pretty cool stuff, but it gets washed away.”

The leaner message is really this. The industry could benefit from downsizing. Keep the best performers regularly employed by the strongest companies and reward movie making for its art and not its quantity.

In the long run, this may be an unanticipated windfall from the current political turmoil. Rather than threaten the industry’s existence, the condom initiative may make it stronger.

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B Skow’s thoughts on a leaner industry are shared by others in the business. In his book, The Unsexpected Story (2012), Darren Roberts examines the state of adult film today and references remarks by Jessica Drake and Barrett Blade that reinforce Skow’s view. Drake is thankful for her early years in adult film. “‘I was lucky to enter [the adult entertainment industry] when I did. There was a very old Hollywood feel about everything, and the glamour and excitement was there.”

The past revisited is always possible. Barrett Blade believes that “an industry-wide movement away from the production of low quality content” will result in a “renewal” for porn and mentions that some studios are focusing on “lean principles” that have “allowed many companies to ‘cut the fat.'” Part of this change could result in a reduced performer pool and higher production values.

Only time will tell.

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Sexual Destiny: Ela Darling, Part One

by Rich Moreland, February 2015

An engaging smile, captivating eyes, and razor-sharp smarts describe Ela Darling. She a rarity in adult film, a formally educated pornography feminist.

Unfortunately, I am a day late and a dollar short, as the old saying goes, Ela and I are meeting for the first time at this year’s AVN trade show. Because my book on the history of feminism in adult film was recently released, her thoughts and experiences are not in it. The best I can do is rectify that oversight here.

Ela Darling during our interview. Photo courtesy 3hattergrindhouse.com

Ela Darling during our interview.
Photo courtesy 3hattergrindhouse.com

Personal Independence

Born in California, Ela is a late twenty-something who spent her youth in Texas, completing her undergrad degree at the University of Texas at Dallas. Growing up in the Lone Star State had its moments, but this blonde honey decided life beyond the southwestern plains offered her more.

“I got out of Texas as quickly as I could,” she says, and headed to the University of Illinois at Urbana for a Master’s in Library Science. She was twenty-one.

At twenty-two she was a working librarian and did some non-nude bondage stuff for extra cash. Fetish opened a door and Ela made her way into “porn-porn,” as she calls it. She was now twenty-three, old enough to understand her sexuality and what she wanted out of it.

Image drives a career and Ela’s is a classic. Her look has always been the “girl-next-door” with a bit of intellectual nerdiness thrown in, perfect for a bondage model: the quiet girl in the corner who gets off on being tied up.

A couple of get-to-know-you questions tells us Ela’s family is very supportive of her career, she’s a Harry Potter aficionado, but not a sports fan. “If it’s not played on a broomstick, I probably don’t know anything about it,” she says with a twinkle.

Moving right into her feminism, Ela prefaces her remarks with an inside peek at porn’s working environment.

“I try to be the best performer that I can be,” she says matter-of-factly. Rather than being adversarial regarding her fellow professionals, Ela believes in collaboration. The porn employment market is competitive and “we need to support each other, we need to raise each other up.”

Ela’s feminism is her empowerment. “I engage in [my porn career] by choice. The work I do gives me financial independence, personal independence [and] sexual independence. It gives me a lot of liberation, I feel good about what I do.”

She believes that feminism allows adult film women to have control over their sexual destiny and how it is expressed. “If I want to do something because I want to do it [and] it’s fulfilling to me, that’s awesome. It doesn’t matter if someone else isn’t into it.”

Ela diverts a moment to comment on her BDSM work at Kink.com, the San Francisco internet giant of BDSM where feminist porn models love to shoot. Their views are important because the public can interpret bondage as humiliating and degrading to women.

“People think the porn I do at Kink is glorified rape, but I don’t agree because it’s clear that everyone is consenting to this [what is put on film].”

In the mind of this Golden State native, the type of sex, hardcore or “insane BDSM,” does not matter. If there is no consent, it’s rape.

For the record, Ela Darling began in the business doing girl-girl and has recently added boy-girl to expand her name recognition and pump up demand for her image. If anything, she has taken her ride through pornoland on a slow train, this is year five of her career and the pieces are falling into place.

Ela on AVN Red Carpet, 2015. Photo courtesy of Ela Darling

Ela on the AVN Red Carpet, 2015.
Photo courtesy of Ela Darling and industrybyrick.com

Help Them have a Voice

Unlike some girls in the industry, Ela does not escort. “I don’t have anything against escorting,” the liberal-minded lass says, “and I respect women and their hustle. Whatever they feel is right for themselves, I think is awesome.”

Rightly or wrongly, escorting does have an impact on the business because porn shoots and acts of prostitution are often conflated in the public mind. That said, performing in a porn scene and soliciting are not the same animal, though it is convenient for some people to perceive them as such. How does Ela see the difference?

Men sexualize women all the time, Ela points out, but if a woman tries to use it to her advantage and collect money as a result, she suddenly becomes a whore. There is a power imbalance at play that is further aggravated by society’s attempt to trivialize and infantilize women.

“I don’t think there is anything wrong with prostitution,” Ela says, “but what I do is not prostitution. It’s for the sake of entertainment. The legal definition is different.”

What Ela means is that money [her pay] is exchanged through a third party [the studio] and does not go to satisfy the desires of her co-star who is also paid by the studio. Legally, the shoot is governed by 2257 regulations [federal laws to prevent child porn] and the product made is sold for a profit. The director and crew, who are in charge of the script, lighting, location, etc., are also paid. And most important, all performers have updated blood tests to prevent the spread of STDs, a protocol that is remarkably successful.

None of these factors apply to prostitution.

Ela returns to the importance of porn performers making personal and political statements with their bodies and calling their shots on screen.

Women in the adult business are controlling their “sexual destiny,” Ela declares. “To try to take that away from us is to take away a lot of power that we inherently have.”

A Harry Potter fan, but not a stuffy librarian1 Photo courtesy of mxp photography.

A Harry Potter fan, but not a stuffy librarian!
Photo courtesy of mxp photography and Ela Darling

“Reclaiming that power is a big step in personal freedom. Personally, the further I go in my career, the stronger I feel, the more liberated I feel. My independence and solvency get better the more I engage in my work. Implying that anything I do must be bad or negative,” she says, is “taking away my autonomy.”

Like all of us, porn performers want recognition, not condemnation.

“Why don’t you talk to me and acknowledge me as a person and the fact that I’m doing this is actually great for me,” Ela continues. “If you would only consider my perspective, rather than deciding that because I do what I do, I no longer get to have a voice.”

Ela then acknowledges other sex workers as if they are shadows hovering around us.

“These are women who don’t have a voice, they can’t speak for themselves. Help them have a voice. Give it to them and hear them and listen to them.”

Ela Darling then hammers home the real disgrace. Do not try to speak for porn performers, put words in our mouths, “or assume that we are victims.”

“I’m not a victim, I’m okay . . . I’m so okay!”

Ah, Ela, I wish we had met earlier. Your words would be forever recorded in the pages of Pornography Feminism.

It is a pleasure to know you.

*     *     *     *     *

In the second part of our interview, Ela talks about shooting bondage scenes and working for Kink.com.

Ela Darling is represented by Star Factory PR. They can be reached at 818-732-0191 or via email at Info@StarFactoryPR.com
StarFactoryPR.com

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Under the Radar: Karlie Montana, Part 2

by Rich Moreland, November 2014

Karlie Montana Photo courtesy of naughtyamerica.com

Karlie Montana
Photo courtesy of naughtyamerica.com

In the porn business, most shooting falls into two general categories: gonzo or all-sex being the first and features with plot, acting, and high levels of production values the second. Some performers think of themselves as “gonzo girls,” but Karlie Montana values not being typecast. What she does prefer is for director’s chair to relax during the sex scenes, giving the green light to the performers get into each other.

Allow the Sex to Flow

“My biggest pet peeve is when the sex is controlled and directed,” she says. Nevertheless, her work ethic reflects a consummate professional and Karlie recognizes that good directing will produces “the best that is porn.”

As for gonzo, the Arizona native has her own definition that closely mirrors the industry standard established years ago by Evil Angel‘s John Stagliano. It means “free-flowing sex that usually allows you to acknowledge that the camera is there,” Karlie states, adding that the POV (point of view) scenes are some of her favorites to shoot. But her affection for the challenges presented by the feature is never far away.

“As a performer I enjoy shooting features because I love acting and dialogue and a rhyme and reason behind the sex.” “Produced role play scenes,” as she describes them, are particularly invigorating for Karlie. If in doubt, take a look at her performance in one of this year’s AVN nominated films, Shades of Scarlet. She is superb in a finely written and directed story by Mike Quasar.

In truth, Karlie considers herself to be “a Jane of all Trades,” an attitude that ensures steady work. “I’ll give you any style scene you want,” she beams.

The " Jane of all Trades" Photo courtesy of juliland.com

The ” Jane of all Trades”
Photo courtesy of juliland.com

A ten-year career is testament to flexibility and an unbridled enthusiasm that splashes across the screen in a Karlie Montana shoot. Take a moment to check the Adult Video News list of nominated scenes for the upcoming 2014 porn awards in Las Vegas. Karlie is honored in two group scenes: Best All Girl Group Sex Scene in Anikka 2 with Anikka Albrite and Dani Daniels, and Best Group Sex Scene in King James with porn heart throb James Deen and superstars Veruca James, Dani Daniels, Maddy O’Reilly and Penny Pax.

Regardless of the porn genre, when the sex starts, Karlie’s professionalism takes over. Her favorite directors “allow the sex to flow,” she says. Simply put, “the people that allow me to enjoy the sex and have real orgasms are the people I love working for.”

Smiling, Karlie applies an exclamation point. “I do love to bounce into the sex!” And she carries her joy to the other side of the camera. As a director, she knows that to get the best out of performers, let them have sex “however they want to.” In short, “give them sexual freedom!”

Easily Bruised

As times have changed, so has commercialized filmed pornography. Today’s adult business has experienced an upswing in fetish filming and Karlie is ready to do her part. She loves shooting scenes with foot fetishes, pantyhose, and rope play.

But what happens when the page is turned to the rougher sex of bondage porn?

“I love bondage! I have shot plenty of it!” Karlie exclaims. No doubt it would be difficult to find a lovelier model to play a submissive role.

Asked about BDSM porn’s giant, Kink.com, the Valley girl admits never having journeyed to San Francisco to lay herself out in their rough dungeon sex. “I’d like to though,” she comments. “Just got to make sure I don’t get marked up (a common concern girls have in shooting at the Armory). I tend to bruise easily.”

Damsel in Distress. Photo courtesy of antonvideo.com

Damsel in Distress.
Photo courtesy of antonvideo.com

Karlie does have another concern were she to go to Kink. “I usually shoot ‘damsel in distress’ or forced orgasms because it’s hard for me to submit to people. I usually just start laughing which I was told is a way to try and keep control.” Quite possibly. A popular Kink performer a few years ago used laughing as a way to taunt her Doms, so it is not unheard of and a way of topping from the bottom.

Should the fan watch Shades of Scarlet, Karlie’s scene with James Deen and Skin Diamond, both Kink veterans, is noteworthy. Any sense of reluctance on Karlie’s part as a submissive is muted and her enjoyment of girl/girl action fills the screen.

Finally, this statuesque model comments that she is particularly fond of reality porn, one of the newer adult subgenres that mimics mainstream TV. Allow performers to mix it up and do anything that comes to mind. Karlie maintained her website for XxxFastPass network where she shot her own content along with porn actor, Voodoo, recognized as one of the highest paid men in the business. “Our style was reality porn” which she defines as “uncut and unscripted.”

We All Live on the Edge

Every performer has advice for a new girl and Karlie’s is spot on. Foremost, she wants a porn hopeful to understand that success and survival hinges on attitude. “You don’t have to do anything just because your agent or the business tells you to,” Karlie says firmly. Most often that revolves around rough sex, gang bangs, anal, bondage, and other hard-edged shooting demands. Caution is always advised because emotional ruin can crush a girl whose psyche is fragile.

“There is a career in girl/girl only, so never feel pressured to progress if you’re not ready,” Karlie insists. Her emphasis is on the word “progress” because building a lasting porn career is like constructing a house. Start with the foundation and move upward and then into the interior.

Karlie’s porn lesson stresses another consideration. “Save your money,” she says, because a career is too often brief and don’t neglect to buy your domain and “auction your clothes.” Everything produces an income.

Finally, we chat about controversial issues that swirl around the industry, the first being the condom debate. Karlie is blunt.

“When I was doing boy/girl I hated using condoms. It hurt to have aggressive sex for long amounts of time,” especially when some of the guys are so large. Her objections address the downside of protective barriers on a porn set, latex abrasion. For some girls, repeated penetrations, particularly if the shoot is both anal and vaginal, take a toll on the body.

The look of a confident porn veteran. Photo courtesy of twistys.com

A determined porn veteran who know her own mind.
Photo courtesy of twistys.com

Karlie pauses a moment to re-frame her thoughts into a political comment. “I don’t think it is fair to force me to use a condom when people in regular life aren’t forced to do the same.” She mentions the two-week testing protocol the industry uses and emphasizes that “if I want to take that risk it is my decision as well as my responsibility to stay healthy.”

Testing carries over the next issue, escorting, an industry complication that creates a social stigma among performers.

Karlie stands with Chanel Preston, an industry vet who supports performers opting for paid sex beyond the camera but challenges them to be aware of how their ancillary business affects others. “I do support a girl’s choice to escort because I don’t believe in telling someone how to live,” Karlie declares. But she insists that escorting brings responsibility. A girl should be “smart enough to have her clients screened,” know who her johns are, and insist they use a condom. “Sex will always be a risk,” Karlie admits, and it’s unfair to condemn escorting when “hooking up with civilians is ok.”

“Sex is sex,” she says, “whether money is exchanged or not.”

Of course, the danger is bringing an STD onto the set and into the tested performer pool—the point of those who condemn escorting. It ratchets up everyone’s risk. But Karlie extends the argument further. She is critical of the industry’s concept of safe sex, or as some put it, safer sex. It’s “bogus,” the longtime veteran insists, because it is incomplete. Performers are “only tested for a few things,” she adds, and HPV, for example, is not one of them. Yet performers have a “ridiculous false sense of security.”

In the final analysis, when it comes to sexual behavior, Karlie concedes, “We all live on the edge in one way or another.” Perhaps the public should listen to the wisdom of porn girls more often.

*          *          *          *          *

Karlie Montana is described as an “unsung” performer in the industry. What does the label mean to her?  She answers with a bit of humor. “To me ‘unsung’ means under the radar or unnoticed. And, since I’ve been in the business and a ton of people haven’t heard of me . . . well that’s why.”
Put anonymity aside and discover this luscious and provocative woman. Watch her at work. You’ll fall in love with a dynamic, smart, and talented personality packaged in the most classical and sculpted body in adult film. Guaranteed. . . !

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