Tag Archives: Bobbi Starr

Zen, Masochism, and Lew Rubens: Rain DeGrey, Part Two

by Rich Moreland, February 2015

Venturing back to the Victorian Age and the birth of psychoanalysis, popular belief about BDSM, or S&M as it was known in those days, was fairly straightforward: practitioners were sadists and masochists wallowing in their perverted fetish to compensate for problematic childhoods. In our modern times understanding has moved light years ahead, or so we hope. Not all BDSM submissives have masochistic tendencies, nor are all tops sadists. Furthermore, BDSMers don’t believe they are deviants and their adolescent years are as normal as anyone’s, despite the bill of goods now for sale from E. L. James.

Rain DeGrey, however, does have a healthy dose of masochism. It’s “incredibly personal” to her and she’s “passionate about” it.  “I’m never more grounded or immediately in my body as when I am in a masochistic state,” Rain begins. “It’s like Zen for me, my meditation. The endless chattering voice in the back of my head shuts up. All of my self-consciousness is gone.”

Like Zen. Photo courtesy of InfernalRestraintscom

Wonder Woman empowerment.
Photo courtesy of InfernalRestraintscom

Is that subspace?

“Yes, undoubtedly. That’s why we do what we do. You’re causing your body to release adrenaline, endorphins and natural pain killing opiates. Without taking a single substance, I have hallucinated [and become] completely unselfconscious.”

According to Rain, the feelings are so intense that sometimes she reaches “a primal state” where she can’t sit up, walk, or recall the day of the week.

The bondage veteran believes that masochism is empowering. “Everyday in this society women are told they are weak and fragile,” Rain says, but for her BDSM alters that paradigm. When she is punished or disciplined in a shoot, Wonder Woman-like feelings overtake her. It’s “the most empowering thing in the world,” Rain claims, making her feel “invulnerable.” She proves to herself and anyone who wants to listen that she can take it.

“I feel like I am so strong I could topple a building. That is what I get out of masochism.”

Does pain bring on an orgasm?

“I am not the person to ask because a gentle breeze will make me cum. I usually cum in about thirty seconds and can have twenty, thirty orgasm per day. I’ve done orgasm play until I’ve cum so hard I passed out and [had to be] revived with CPR.”

Rain and Felony performing with Princess Donna. Photo courtesy of Kink.com

Rain and Felony performing with Princess Donna.
Photo courtesy of Kink.com

She elaborates. “I did an Orgasm Destruction shoot for Kink [with] Felony, who is now retired. We both came multiple times while passing out and being revived. The shoot ended when we were both puking. I don’t think a dude will ever understand what it feels like to have fifty orgasms in an hour. It’s like running a marathon.”

Though the pain factor is often muted for Rain, she’s experienced a few pain induced orgasms. She does remember one “paingasm” she experienced in an Intersec scene. “I hallucinated the White Mountains of Japan, Mount Fuji.”

Casey ready to shoot for Intersec. Photo courtesy of SexuallyBroken.com

Casey ready to shoot for Intersec.
Photo courtesy of SexuallyBroken.com

Rain is not the first performer to tell me about multiple orgasms in a BDSM shoot. Casey Calvert relates similar stories. This leads me to bring up Casey.

“Oh yeah, Casey cums easier from pain than I do. Casey is a tough puppy. Before she got in the industry and before she started doing boy-girl she was hanging out with Lew Rubens. I did a suspension and DP (double penetration) scene with her. ‘Isn’t she a cutie,’ I remarked to myself then and less than a year later she is a Spiegler girl and wrangling dicks professionally.”

The Reason I’m Sitting in this Room

Lew is highly respected in the bondage community and we take the conversation in his direction.

“Lew is actually the reason I’m sitting in this room talking to you. Lew got me into porn. It’s all his fault.” A smiling Rain is more than affectionate with her comment.

She recalls the MySpace days when networking on that stage was the backbone of social media. Lew was there. “I saw the guy and he had these incredible bondage photos.” Even though Rain was unfamiliar with Lew Rubens, she did know he worked for Kink so she messaged him.

Lew Rubens. Photo source unknown.

Lew Rubens.
Photo source unknown.

In getting his attention, Rain jokes about her assets. “Boobs are really powerful, they have gotten me far.” Lew took an interest and invited her to drop by.

“It was that easy,” Rain declares. “That is when I first got into the industry and did my first modeling gig.”

Like other girls I know, Rain is a Lew Rubens’ fan.

“I have a great respect for Lew. He is an artist. In fact, he was such an artist that is why he wasn’t able to work for Kink. He is a purist and unfortunately with Kink it becomes a sausage factory. ‘Crank out the product. We don’t have time for art. Get a shoot, get another shoot.'”

She explains that the conditions were difficult for Lew. “He is one of the most skilled riggers I have ever met and like most artists, it is hard to transition the art into paying his bills.”

Bobbi Starr's first shoot for Lew Rubens at Kink. Photo courtesy of Waterbondage.com

Lew Rubens with Bobbi Starr at Kink.
Photo courtesy of Waterbondage.com

(From my conversations with Lew, I support Rain’s assessment wholeheartedly.)

I mention Casey and the now retired Bobbi Starr as Lew enthusiasts.

“Yes, Lew started Casey, he started Bobbi. Though I never dated him, I hung out with him a lot. He started me, too. I would have probably ended up here anyway, but Lew greased the wheels.”

He is very proud of the girls he’s worked with and started in the business, I remark.

“He should be,” Rain says.

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Call “Red” Anytime: Ela Darling, Part Two

by Rich Moreland, February 2015

Ela continues our conversation. Photo courtesy of 3hattergringhouse.com

Ela continues our conversation.
Photo courtesy of 3hattergringhouse.com

Ela Darling is a responsible professional who has turned her fetishes into a career, so our jumping off point is the central question that teases all fetish performers: what makes a bondage shoot fun?

This ex-librarian and forever Harry Potter fan calls on her masochistic side when the camera rolls.

“I like rough sex. I like being spanked, I like the top of my hair pulled. I like being choked and slapped. [These things are] really arousing to me.”

Ela explains that rough sex acts as foreplay do not create orgasms by themselves. Rather, they make the orgasms “considerably stronger” when combined with hardcore penetration.

Smiling so Much

Ela loves Kink.com and respects how they handle the models they hire. She appreciates their checklist review because it illustrates the value they place in the people who shoot at the Armory. “You have to go through [it] every time you work for them to indicate what your are consenting to, what you’re okay with, and what you don’t want to happen. The director [and crew] both memorize your points on the list so they know exactly what you’re not okay with doing.”

“They’re super respectful. They make me feel so comfortable. They take care of me. I have so many friends who work there because they employ good people [who] try to do good things. I really like them.”

Running through a list of names at Kink, I bring up the now retired Bobbi Star, a well known pornography feminist. Ela shot her first porn scene with Bobbi when the San Jose State grad was still a performer. “She was the first girl I ever fucked on camera,” Ela remembers, though she never shot for Bobbi when she was directing for the company. Nevertheless, Ela describes Bobbi as “cool and smart.”

Ela at Kink.com. Photo courtesy of Kink.com

Ela at Kink.com.
Photo courtesy of Kink.com

Incidentally, Ela did an Electrosluts shoot–Bobbi’s old site for Kink–when Lorelei Lee was directing. Also a feminist and long time Kink veteran, Lorelei owns a Master’s from NYU. “She’s incredible,” Ela remarks. “She is such an amazing woman. I have so much respect for her.”

To illustrate the importance of communication at Kink, Ela’s predominant memory of a Public Disgrace episode is being pulled aside by one of the female crew and quickly educated about what to do when stressed.

The crew person offered a valuable tip. “‘I know sometimes the girls get intimidated to use their safeword, so for Public Disgrace just call ‘red’ anytime, even if you have to go to the bathroom. If something is going on and you don’t feel comfortable saying, ‘Hey, this guy is creeping me out or this person is doing something I don’t like, just call ‘red’ and go to the bathroom, tell me what’s happening and I will take care of it so you don’t have to.'”

“That made me feel so incredibly safe and taken care of,” Ela recalls. “It made such a difference. It was a great shoot.”

Did she ever use her safeword during the show?

Ela's Public Disgrace shoot. Photo courtesy of Kink.com

Ela’s Public Disgrace shoot.
Photo courtesy of Kink.com

“I did,” Ela remarks, “a couple to times.” In one, she was not uncomfortable, she just needed a break to take care of a problem with her hair. On another occasion, food was the issue. Ela was “transitioning out of being a vegetarian” but still “very much” into it at the time. A cast member wanted to throw deli meat at her, but Ela was not okay with that and needed to halt the shooting to straighten things out.

“I called ‘red’ to ask people not to throw turkey on my vagina, which they we’re doing. They were very respectful” and adjusted the shoot.

Public Disgrace has a reputation of tipping toward the edge and chooses its models wisely for that reason. A beaming Ela describes her shoot as “so much fun [and] so extreme.” Her friends who watched it later were aghast. Ela was amused.

“There were times when I would have to turn my head away from the camera because I was smiling so much! It was so awesome!”

As often happens with girls who begin in BDSM porn as submissives, Ela is turning the tables a bit now.

A girl who can switch. Photo courtesy of Kink.com

A girl who can switch.
Photo courtesy of Kink.com

Owning Her Scene

“I switch sometimes. I top men mostly, which is really fun.” But Ela Darling underscores that bottoming for men is not high on her list.

“I like to top women sometimes. But I love subbing to women. I love seeing a strong and empowered woman just like owning everything.”

Well, Ela is owning her scene today. The final question has to do with the BDSM, in general. Is she a lifestyler?

“I really don’t consider myself a lifestyler because I don’t really participate in community events. It’s more of a private thing for me. But my interaction with the lifestyle community has been really great. [They are] a really intuitive bunch of people.”

If she ever changes her mind and goes more public, I’m betting Ela Darling would be welcomed with open arms.

*          *          *

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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Crunch Time and Changing Times

by Rich Moreland, December 2014

book cover porn.fem.

It’s crunch time for me and I don’t mean holiday shopping. John Hunt Publishing of the UK is preparing my book, Pornography Feminism: As Powerful as She Wants to Be for distribution. The official release date is January 30, but it is available now at a pre-release price. You can find it at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

I’m beginning a new phase in the life of an author, marketing. It has become my holiday version of “got to get this done” and I’m learning as I go, just as I did when I first ventured into the adult film community.

Six years ago I began to mingle with pornography people. I listened, took notes, watched them work, and paid for my share of meals. Never did I imagine that a blog would come out of my industry networking. In fact, it was a student of mine who suggested I begin a journal. Inevitably, a twitter account followed and then the big break, an offer to write for Adult Industry News, an online publication out of LA. It’s among the websites included under the Links of Interest tab at the top of this page.

To make a go of the book I wanted to write, I sought out feminist performers and directors. Of course, feminism and pornography aren’t exactly bedfellows (pun intended) in American social history. Consequently, I never knew where the field work would lead and I did have my surprises.

What is missing in Pornography Feminism is an epilogue. Because careers in the adult film industry can be absurdly brief (as in why did she even give this a try?) to five plus years, a lifetime in porn, I never knew if or when contacts I valued would suddenly decide to hang it up.

Two things I have learned when girls step out of the limelight. First, some will immediately disappear, drop off the radar without a forwarding address. Negotiating life after porn is a tricky proposition that can inhibit available options in rebuilding a civilian normality. In some cases, an “I don’t want to talk about it” mentality takes over and must be respected. Second, and this is related to the first, some girls show up again in the industry with renewed purpose. The most recent example is Nadia Styles who was “saved” by anti-porn Christians but has returned to filming with the message that she is glad to be back.

Nadia’s story, as reported by Adult Video News, is here.

Another example is the legendary Aurora Snow who retired to the American heartland a year ago. Word is that she will be around during the AEE convention in January, but has no intention of stepping in front of the camera.

Transitions and Change

Since the presses are now rolling, it’s appropriate to update a pair of retirements with personal “thank yous.” Each performer contributed significantly to my field work. First, Bobbi Starr, without whom Pornography Feminism would be an unfinished shell of a book. Recently retired after eight years in the business, Bobbi now lives quietly in married domesticity. Raising a family takes all her energy, she tells me.

I’m not surprised. I remember meeting Bobbi for breakfast a few years ago in Vegas. In our conversation, she mentioned that adult film was a phase of her life she was doing the safest way possible. When she started a family, the formally trained oboist insisted, all on-screen appearances would come to screeching halt.

The native Northern Californian always had a plan, a sense of responsibility, and a ton of industry respect to go with it.

Bobbi and Jiz Lee in Toronto. Photo courtesy of 3hattergrindhouse.com

Bobbi and Jiz Lee in Toronto in 2011.
Photo courtesy of 3hattergrindhouse.com

Transitioning from performer to director, Bobbi understood what it meant to call her shots in a male-dominated industry. Undoubtedly, the statuesque brunette could have remained behind the camera for decades to come, but she walked away on her own terms, contented and ready for the next phase of her life.

Next is Tara Lynn Foxx, who like Bobbi Starr, was always generous with her time and opinions. I remember talking with TLF when she was just breaking into the business. Over the years, catching up with this sweetheart had its amusing moments. Once I interviewed Tara while she was taking a time out in Vegas. She was without her undies, a violation of convention protocol, and was waiting for their delivery! In another instance we chatted as she sat in the make-up chair. That night, everything was a rush.

TLF in Vegas. Photo couresy of 3hattergrindhouse.com

TLF in Vegas in 2012.
Photo couresy of 3hattergrindhouse.com

The San Francisco girl who started in webcam paid her dues and on occasion suffered the vagaries of being in the business. Over time her personal grit forged a solid career that, like Bobbi’s, will be worthy of eventual induction into the AVN Hall of Fame.

For an understanding of TLF’s time in porn, turn the pages of Pornography Feminism. She, along with Bobbi and a handful of others, are featured.

In the meantime, Tara Lynn Foxx informs me the end is at hand. “I’m actually retired and not shooting anymore. I’ve changed paths.” The performer I watched develop from a teenager into a sultry young woman is moving toward a new profession in the culinary arts. For more on Tara’s plans, check out her website.

Postscript

Establishing a respected porn resume is an accomplishment fueled by an irrepressible spirit and when the inevitable arrives, fan accolades and generous checks for shooting scenes are hard to replace. However, times do change. The body wears down, especially with the modern definition of rough sex, and an exit strategy moves center stage.

Nevertheless, memories often linger because transitioning into civilian life is not always easy.

Will either Bobbi or Tara return to porn? My guess is no, but one should never say never. If they do, their fans will be back, lined up and ready for a moment’s attention, an autographed photo . . . and a smile.

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Part 2: Moments with Tara Lynn Foxx

by Rich Moreland, April 2014

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

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

*          *          *          *          *

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

Stunning. Photo by Bill Knight for 3hattergrindhouse.com

Stunning.
Photo by Bill Knight for 3hattergrindhouse.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Working with Matt. Photo courtesy of Kink.com

Working with Matt.
Photo courtesy of Kink.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Indeed it did.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Girl Likes to be Punished, Sometimes . . .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Getting into her head. Photo courtesy of Kink.com

Getting into her head.
Photo courtesy of Kink.com

Pay attention perverts and listen to Tara.

Here’s Why . . .

Working at Kink is a “mindfuck.”

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

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

Princess Donna Photo courtesy of Kink.com

Princess Donna
Photo courtesy of Kink.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How the little things make a difference!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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

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A Matter of Respect

by Rich Moreland, January 2014

During this year’s Adult Entertainment Expo (AEE), I interviewed four girls who represent one of the industry’s leading companies, Digital Playground.  An unexpected opportunity opened up and as you shall see, there is more to porn than money.

*                    *                    *                    *                    *

Thursday, January 16

The Digital Playground booth is ready for its fans. A few media types hang around, including my photographer Bill and me, awaiting Digital’s PR person who is moving things along with precision. Likewise, Digital’s stars are arriving to get their interview and signing schedules.

In truth, the convention is a hectic four-day affair in which everyone’s time is limited and under high demand. With warm smiles all around, girls meet industry people and fans, do media interviews, and attend promotions and parties without letting platform heels and fatigue get in the way.

Today’s interviews begin with eleven-year vet, Jesse Jane, whose southwestern roots are integral to her friendliness. Jesse is a contract girl (she shoots exclusively for Digital Playground) and has built a reputation as a woman who works tirelessly to brand her name. Next is twenty-three year old Selena Rose, also a contract girl. Selena lives in Miami, flying west once a month to do scenes. She did her first porn shoot at nineteen. Rikki Six, who currently maintains her residence in Southern California, entered porn in 2012 at age twenty-one and is not a contract girl. Finally, the youngest of the group, Jessa Rhodes, is twenty and a native Oregonian now residing in Southern California. She’s been in the industry for a year and a half and has does not currently have a contract with Digital.

The first issue (the topic of this post) raises the question of respect. Porn girls are valued as commodities in the business, but do they feel respected? The second, safer sex and its relationship to escorting, an undeniable form of prostitution, stirs up divisive opinions within the industry. What responsibilities do performers have for each other? This subject is covered in the next installment of the interviews.

Women Drive This Industry

Jesse Jane Photo by Bill Knight

Jesse Jane
Photo by Bill Knight

With an understated tone, Jesse Jane declares that porn moguls “obviously value us as performers” because “we’re the ones that make the industry . . . women drive this industry.” Directors, producers, company owners “know they need us,” she adds, because women cultivate the fan base (the market) to create the revenue stream. Unfortunately, there are some men in porn who “think women can’t run a business or be a businesswoman,” Jesse points out. Having sex is “all we are good for” in their view, she says, quickly admitting that’s very true in the case of some girls. “But there are quite of few of us who know how to run this industry,” Jesse declares with a smidgen of self-satisfaction.

A daughter of the military lifestyle, Jesse Jane has survived over a decade in a tough profession. She is well-schooled in how to brand her name, something many girls have no interest in doing because their goal is “the fast cash,” she says. Making porn into a career or a business is not on their radar.

Jesse offers a dose of reality for all porn girls. Have a plan because the future can be uncertain.

“If you are not going to save your money and make something out of it, [there are consequences]. Once you step into this career path it’s hard to do something else,” she warns. “You’re labeled.”

Like the famous logo of World War II’s Rosie the Riveter flexing her biceps, Jesse Jane’s final comment is a powerful statement. “The guys need to acknowledge that there are some of us girls that know how to run this industry inside and out.” In fact, the Oklahoma resident suggests, “technically” women are already doing it and some men” just don’t see it because they’re so arrogant.”

Selena Rose sees respect as an expression, or reward, of individual effort. “I am respected,” she says emphatically, citing her “high standards” which dictate how she presents herself in the industry. “I make sure that everybody treats me well because I treat others the way that I would like to be treated.”

Selena Rose Photo by Bill Knight

Selena Rose
Photo by Bill Knight

I press Selena to extend her thoughts on respect to broader society. In doing so, she nears what Bobbi Starr calls the “stereotype trap” that porn girls industry-wide create for themselves. It’s a self-limiting personal view that perpetuates, and is perpetuated by, the porn girl image.

Selena says, “You know, me as a porn star, of course males respect me less but I don’t go out being like super slutty and skanky and making myself look trashy.” She understands what she needs to do for success and with Digital Playground she has placed herself in the right situation to make it work. “I try my best to make men treat me well,” Selena says.

Rikki Six is straightforward on the respect issue. Yes, she’s seen a lack of respect for girls “from time to time” and decides it is best not to name names or recount situations. I ask if she has ever felt disrespected within the industry. Not really is her response, but she does feel typecast, referring to the scenes she shoots. “They always give me the same script, so they think of me like that person [someone who is not very smart],”she says. Does level of smartness determine respect?

Rikki Six Photo by Bill Knight

Rikki Six
Photo by Bill Knight

Playing a part can perpetuate an image that may be far from reality. Even in Hollywood, actresses tire of typecasting because it can assume a life of its own. As for her typecast role, nothing about Rikki leads me to regard her that way. In fact, though she may not be a wordsmith, she impresses me as thoughtful with a hint of  adorable shyness.

If Selena and Rikki are still negotiating the parameters of respect, Jessa Rhodes is taking command of it.

“Women in this industry like myself who fight for their rate and for what they will and will not do and don’t take shit” Jessa says, “are making a difference.” “Ultimately the women [in the porn business] have the power, they just don’t know it,” she announces in a fist-pounding manner. These are validating words I’ve heard from porn’s self-identified feminist veterans Nina Hartley, Dana DeArmond, and Bobbi Starr, and the youthful newcomer, Tasha Reign.

Jessa Rhodes Photo by Bill Knight

Jessa Rhodes
Photo by Bill Knight

Self-assured and alive with energy, Jessa Rhodes has an interview presence seen in a select few performers (Chanel Preston and Bobbi Starr come to mind). Explaining that she personally stays away from situations where she might be disrespected, Jessa has “a very short list” of people to work with. Only men who appreciate and value her make the cut.

Looking beyond her own personal empowerment, Jessa Rhodes is adamant about women controlling the business. She exclaims, “I wouldn’t say that this business is run by men at all. Vagina rules!”

I Can be in Control

During our conversations, the topic of agents arose. Are they good for the girls and the industry?

Though Jessa Rhodes does not have a positive view of agents (“agents have fucked up this business completely”), she points out there are a couple of good ones. But overall there is too much “tugging and pulling” to please a middleman who is generating a girls’ work. She’s opted to become independent because she is “strong willed and opinionated” and “better off without having  a middleman in-between trying to make everyone happy.” Now she is solely responsible for her job satisfaction.

Jesse Jane has little to say about agents. “They’re in it for themselves,” she comments. “Nobody has your back in this industry, you look out for yourself.”

After some soul-searching, Rikki Six views free agency (working without an agent) as the tonic she needs. “Just recently I left my agency so I’m booking myself now so I can be in control of my career. My name is a brand and it’s a business. I wanted to be in control more . . . control only the things I wanted to do, not what someone told me to do.”

Sounds very much like Jessa’s proclamation that women can call their own shots and place themselves in front of the camera on their own terms.

Selena Rose talks of past experiences with agents, leaving the impression she does not currently have one. This does not mean the Floridian disdains licensed reps. Reflecting the voices of respected feminist veterans mentioned above, Selena reveals the wisdom of a girl whose been around the block. Listen to her advice for new girls.

Hopeful starlets need to get real representation because pimps or recruiters can pass themselves off as agents and a girl “could end up doing things she doesn’t want to do.” If a girl opts to sign with an agency, make certain of its quality, she warns. Selena’s red flags shoot skyward if certain precautions are not observed. A newbie must make sure she is safe and doing what she wants to do, Selena points out, because once the agent contract is signed, a girl can be pressured into uncomfortable situations. “You got to do this if you want more work,” is typical agentspeak.

Though this Latina beauty reminds every porn performer, “you don’t have to do anything,” the message doesn’t always hit home. Girls come into the industry “young and naïve,” Selena Rose says, and think, “I have to do this” to get hired again.

When that happens choices evaporate; girls become discouraged. Maybe that is part of the stereotype trap Bobbi Starr sees so often.

*          *          *          *          *

The second installment of our discussions will involve safer sex and escorting.

 [Special thanks is extended to Christopher Ruth of FineAssMarketing (FAM) and Jeanette Li of Digital Playground for setting up the interviews. They were conducted on Thursday, January 16, 2014.]

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Maggie in the Smut Den

by Rich Moreland, November 2013

This is the first installment of a two part series on my visit to the dogfart/fabulouscash.com studio in downtown LA.

*          *          *         *          *

“I’m in the back alley. When you walk to my studio, you’ll think you’re scoring crack” reads the text I just received.

A warehouse hidden within the sprawl of Los Angeles weaves images of film noire and Sam Spade. Film is an illusion, is it not? Two days ago an elderly couple showed me Humphrey Bogart’s house: dark, mysterious, imposing, and right next door in the old Hollywoodland development where they’ve lived for decades.

Visions of Sam’s toughest case, The Maltese Falcon with Bogart, Mary Astor, and Peter Lorre float in its rarefied air.

Now it’s crack alley where the illusion plays out in another film venue unknown in Bogart’s day. Might Sam Spade have visited this very street sixty years ago with a femme fatale playing hide and seek with his suspicions?

The roll up door is raised and the Smut Den breathes in the street air. Billy Watson introduces himself with a charm that is only exceeded by Maggie, his femme fatale. I was tipped off that she’d steal me away with a single look. Maggie is no illusion, she’s the real deal. If I could keep my hands off her, I might learn a little something about internet pornography.

Though Billy’s a one-man show, his editor Doron is a jack of all trades whose presence keeps the work pace running smoothly. Dorons’s theminion.com is part of the Dogfartnetwork, an internet powerhouse of twenty-two sites that explores all avenues of interracial porn. Today Billy is shooting a glory hole scene for dogfart and another boy/girl for his own site, fabulouscash.com. The websites share the studio space with dogfart’s influence its guiding force.

Deron Doing the Editing photo by Bill Knight

Doron doing the editing
Photo by Bill Knight

The physically imposing Doron (food is not foreign to him) tells me he and Billy have been together for a while, having met through the late Chico Wang. Doron’s hand is in much of what the internet world demands of a porn business: twitter updates, MGP movie galleries, and “Behind the Scenes” and trailer links.

When the girls show up, the green screen is first. That’s Doron’s baby. He writes the short script and interviews each featured girl. The green screen is the browsing fan’s intro to what’s available. The girl talks to the camera with brief inserts of her performance shown in the background. If this brief five minutes doesn’t resonate with the paying members, the shoot is a dud. The girl needs a smidgen of acting ability to sell her image because female bodies in porn proliferate. Personality is the linchpin that captures the fan.

We have some time before the first girl arrives. Billy sits down for a few minutes to chat. Maggie is never far away. There’s little doubt she’s the glue that keeps the easygoing atmosphere of the Smut Den amiable to everyone.

Jim Talks Business Photo by Bill Knight

Billy talks business
Photo by Bill Knight

Green Screen

Andy San Dimas checks in for the first shoot. It’s old home week because Andy and I are from the same metro DC community. We have connections through the college where I teach. She was a student there for a time.

A pornoland veteran, Andy San Dimas has perfected the art of sexiness. Doron’s affability says it best, “Seeing Andy is like tempting me to convert to Christianity.” Now that’s power.

Andy Joins the Conversation Photo by Bill Knight

Andy arrives
Photo by Bill Knight

Andy’s quick to the make-up chair. She’s already a bit late and, as they say, time is money. Her male talent in the scene, Big Wire, has been hanging around for a while.

Within minutes Andy heads over to the green screen where Doron, who performed in the industry from 2004-06, has the narrative ready. Andy entices the viewer with a sultry voice that could melt the ice at the Iditarod finish line. With the vaguest hint of sloe-eyed poutiness and a wellspring of pure sexuality, the twenty-seven-year-old is an expert at the art of seduction A tilt of the head here, another with the shoulder there, and the fan is ready to pay to see her play.

Out in Six Months

The Smut Den is has a handful of sets so a seat is never far away. Finding a roomy couch, my photographer Bill and I have a brief time with Billy while Doron takes care of paperwork. Blood tests have to be reviewed before shooting begins and checking off 2257 forms is the bane of the industry. Maggie gets comfortable and Billy alerts me that a single touch will get me in trouble. I remember that Casey Calvert, who loves shooting in the Smut Den, similarly forewarned me. Did Bogart feel this way about his femme fatales?

Billy and I have professorial backgrounds so conversation is easy. He shoots with condoms because it’s the law, he says, but I suspect there is a desire within him to protect the talent. He shares my opinion about age twenty-one, something I originally got from porn historian Bill Margold. Veteran talent like Tara Lynn Foxx, Dana DeArmond, and Bobbi Starr also expressed similar feelings to me.

Billy explains that girls in their late teens are “eager and dumb” and jump into the industry with no preparation. They rarely understand their own sexuality and sex on camera for pay can turn into an emotional and psychological slippery slope. They’re kids having “wacky sex too soon,” Billy says, doing every “crazy fetish” out there. Unfortunately, most are too immature to save their money. Taking in $15,000-$20,000 per month as a new hot product is overwhelming, Billy adds, and many newbies leave the biz having spent it all and then some.

“What’s the average life of a porn girl,” I ask.

“Eighty percent are out in six to seven months,” Billy says.

He mentions the specter of escorting which faces every girl if she shoots over the long haul. The “Porn Star Experience” is a powerful seducer for a sweetie who can get instant cash for minimal amount of effort. Shooting for hours is far more difficult than conversation and a few minutes of sex with a moneyed john.

A Change of Plans

Billy Watson and I compare our minimalist histories of porn watching and admit we knew little about it when we were introduced to the industry. Billy entered by happenstance through a friend who worked affiliate programs, guiding traffic to websites and getting a take from each member. The most common tactic was to steal content or lease it by licensing a DVD, then resell and resell some more. It was fast money early on.

Before the Shooting the Stills Photo by Bill Knight

Chatting about the early days in porn
Photo by Bill Knight

In the late 1990s getting the content was a breeze because the studios regarded the internet as a joke . Copy six scenes from a DVD then “burn them and turn them into digital and put them on your website,” Billy says. That was his friend’s game.

As for Billy, his professional goal was a tenured teaching position and a finished novel under his belt. But that bubble burst, leaving dream residue all over his face. The real money, it turn outs, would be a pop shot all over a girl’s face.

So he joined the internet flood. The goal was a constant money flow. “Keep ‘em happy for thirty days,” Billy explains, and use “an army of affiliates.” He maintained his site and got payment from a membership list that reached into the thousands.

By the mid-2000s the big guys caught on and copying content was more difficult. Original work moved to the front of the queue. Exclusive content was now the show.

Billy leaves his Arizona home where he was shooting amateurs and joins his friend. At the time, cyberspace cinematographers had an unexpected financial perk. The internet was cheaper when it came to hiring the models. Agencies received a grand for the girls on DVD sets; they sent them to internet shoots for thirty percent less.

The recession came and content piracy hurt the porn business in spades. Today it is tougher than ever. “People like ripping us off because we’re the bad guys,” Billy says, “exploiting and raping the girls, doing horrible things to girls. Hence we deserve to be the victims of theft.”

Of course, shooting original material has always led to infringement of some variety and will most likely plague the industry well into the future.

Fortunately today’s paying members support the industry and the models, Billy says. The problem is the “non-paying guys” who believe they have the “right” to get content for free.

In time Billy got into his present studio and dabbled in still photography along with filming. He owns his website and directs for blacksonblondes which generates much of his income. On this Monday afternoon, Andy is doing a glory hole episode. No condoms because Billy has to abide by his boss’s preferences.

Madelyn Monroe will arrive shortly to shoot for Billy’s website and safer sex will be on scene. But first a look at Andy as she gets to down and dirty.

The ever present Maggie watches it all. Like Sam Spade, weakness overcomes me. I touch and it’s cool . . .

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The Value of Context

by Rich Moreland, April 2013

Girls who shoot BDSM porn always risk losing work in the vanilla film world. The reason, by the way, is not because they are pigeon-holed as bondage models. Frankly, it’s an advantage for a girl to indicate a willingness to be bound, gagged, and disciplined as part of her repertoire whether she is with a modeling agency or a free agent. Hiring possibilities are expanded.

No, the reason is about that kind of work, what it does to her, the stress on her body.

Take Dana DeArmond, an A-lister who is much admired in porn. She’s employable, amiable on the set, and knowledgeable about how to elevate the quality of a porn shoot. She is every cinematographer’s dream. But even the best are challenged after putting in years of shooting.

Dana DeArmondPhoto courtesy of 3hattergrindhouse.com

Dana DeArmond
Photo courtesy of 3hattergrindhouse.com

“I had a really good time bottoming,” Dana says, “I did it for six years and learned a lot about my sexuality.” She tested her limits for pain and fetish interplay, an exploration so enlightening that Dana describes her career as a “sexual journey.” But change may be at hand. Framed in the past tense, her remarks hint that Dana is transitioning into another aspect of her profession.

Starting out at Kink.com offered her a level of security to act out her fantasies and a sense of family when the shooting was finished. “I’m comfortable there,” Dana says, “I have no complaints about the company.” She comments on what other girls who film at San Francisco’s old Armory say, Kink is performer friendly and cares about a model’s satisfaction, artistically and sexually, in a scene. Kink.com believes all shoots should honor model consent and its directors allow a performer to “steer the scene,” Dana adds.

Kink also has a reputation for honesty. “They don’t try to trick you into anything,” Dana says. Like many companies, Kink has a call sheet with everything spelled out for the performer before the scene begins. They try to make the experience rewarding so that popular models want to return. To accomplish that requires a staff that is well-schooled in handling BDSM shoots.

“They hire really cool people,” Dana says, and gives Kink the highest compliment. Hanging out with their employees “outside of work” is a pleasure for her.

Taking Chances

Dana DeArmond’s BDSM adventures have a developed a downside over the years. She is a veteran submissive and a perfectionist with an undeniable work ethic that pushes her over the top, sometimes to her detriment.

“I got to the point where I was trying to take so much pain, and was trying to be so extreme, I thought, ‘I’m going to I hurt myself,’” she says. That can be serious because of the negative carry over to vanilla porn.

If Dana’s too aggressive with the realism of her bondage scenes, she’s taking chances with her availability and her income. “I won’t be able to work down in L.A. doing regular porn anymore,” she states, admitting that in BDSM, risks can be high. In some cases marks from flogging, electricity play, and ropes can show up in a vanilla sex shoot if a girl has one booked the next day.

Dana explains that she is also putting herself in dangerous territory with her health because age is an ever present factor. “I’m not eighteen anymore. I’m not a young girl,” a thirtyish Dana declares, “I can’t risk injury.”

Dana’s attitudes about shooting porn are evolving. She’s been around long enough to know what she is doing and what she likes. These days Dana insists that she must be comfortable working with the people on the set and is careful about the toll extracted from her body and mind. In other words, she looks for the right “context” in a scene.

If a girl is doing an aggressive scene for a site like Bound Gangbangs, Kink viewers want her to take on as much as she can even if it strains her physically and emotionally. Perhaps a few years ago Dana would not have given that a second thought, but she is reluctant today unless the circumstances align the stars just right.

“If I’m not enjoying myself, that’s not for me,” Dana explains. She emphasizes that she must be the one calling the shots otherwise her heart is not in the scene. If guys who don’t know what they are doing are all over her, “it’s miserable,” she says.

Too much rough play and extended penetration results in its own set of difficulties and Dana considers the consequences.

Understandable, some performers have voiced similar concerns. On the other hand, authenticity in BDSM shoots is desirable from a customer standpoint, so good models feel a sense of obligation to produce the best content possible. But they must have a clear picture of what they are getting into and how the booking will be handled.

“A lot of people have bad experiences because they haven’t taken into consideration the logistics of rough sex, or gangbangs, or group scenes, or porn in general,” Dana says, extending her comment across the entire industry. Getting along with co-stars and being in the right situation—the context—is what makes shooting a pleasure. “Style wise sometimes people just don’t mesh,” she remarks.

But banking scenes is a great teacher. “You’ve got to learn,” she says, and reminds us that for her it took a bit of time.

Busy Signing at the Adult Convention in Las VegasPhoto courtesy of 3hattergrindhouse.com

Busy Signing at the Adult Convention in Las Vegas
Photo courtesy of 3hattergrindhouse.com

Of course, a porn education is ongoing and now Dana is dealing with a career change other performers like Bobbi Starr have successfully navigated. Dana’s working on learning to top or dom, trading in the “just let it happen” experience of being submissive for the other end of the spectrum. She’s discovered that taking on a domme’s responsibility is mentally stressful.

“You have to think of so many things simultaneously when you’re domming,” Dana explains. Circumstances dictate the play. Most important, planning is required. Anticipating the steps ahead of time, like configuring a move in chess, needs a quick mind. The pace of the scene and the careful application of any instruments like canes or floggers designed to stimulate and arouse must be taken into account. Obviously everything is consensual, Dana says, repeating the Kink mantra, and it is imperative not to injury anyone. Those are obligations the domme has to her submissive.

“I do care a lot about the people I work with,” Dana says. At the end of the shoot, it’s personally important that the submissive thank her and brag about the “good experience” he or she had. No matter which end of a flogger—application or reception—is given to Dana she will leave her mark on the scene.

That’s Dana DeArmond, the consummate pro, popular with her fans and her co-workers. From my personal contacts with her, I can clearly see why. In the business, Dana cultivates friendships with performers and directors whom she regards as reliable and honest, and reciprocates when she can. She refers to the women with whom she is very close, like Princess Donna, Aiden Starr, and Joanna Angel, as her “porn wives.” It’s an endearment that carries an emotional connection not often found in any career.

Call it the wisdom of age and the lessons of experience.

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