Tag Archives: Eddie Powell

Love in the Digital Age, Part Two: Humanized Sexuality

by Rich Moreland, September 2018

In Part Two of “Love in the Digital Age,” we’ll take a look at the production side of filmmaking that makes the award-winning Jacky St. James/Eddie Powell style one of the finest in the business.

[My thanks to Jeff Koga, Jacky St. James, and New Sensations for the photos in this post.]

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“Love in the Digital Age” is another Jacky St. James feature film that reveals just how precise and demanding the writer/director can be.

Jacky is fond of saying that she’s not concerned with how popular her performers are in the fan world of adult film. Fame built on gonzo scenes and horny bodies is not what drives her casting. In fact, standards of hotness aren’t even in the equation when it comes to the on-screen expectations Jacky has for her hires.

To make a feature film come alive as an artistic statement, Jacky looks for performers who can take direction, deliver lines, and get into their characters. Some adult directors settle for line readings as benchmarks to create their characters; Jacky insists on acting ability. In this romantic comedy, she gets what she demands in spades.

Gia and Logan

Take Gia Paige. Her performance is superb.

Here’s an example. After an unsavory discovery, Sara confronts Griff (Logan Pierce) as she is walking out on him. She wants to know what category of undesirable females she falls under in his mind. “Dumb sorority girl, bad chick, crazy chick,” she growls. It’s Gia’s finest acting moment in the film. She expresses her frustration, anger, and feelings of deception.

For his part, Logan’s performance is also top-of-the-line. When Griff talks to his radio audience about screwing up “the best thing he had in his life,” he admits to being a jerk and doesn’t want his audience to be like him. The pain on Logan’s face illustrates the contrition and deep sense of loss Griff feels.

Bottom line? Expect good acting and character development in this film. The script is lively, but the actors’ energy moves the production into the fast lane.

Fit the Narrative

Eddie Powell and his filming cohort Paul Woodcrest frame the sex scenes to fit Jacky’s directing philosophy. She focuses on female pleasure and wants it evident on-screen. That requires a special commitment because extracting intimate performances from actors who are often limited to all-sex shoots is not easy. Too often spitting, deep throating, and facials limit the artistic boundaries, such as they are, in those types of scenes. On the other hand, romance scripts demand a different approach.

Jacky wants her cast to be engaged in the story but they must go a step further with the sex scenes because they must fit the narrative.

In this production, the women initiate the sex, moving the female characters from the object of sex to its subject in the eyes of the viewer. There’s lots of kissing, loving gazes, and passion.

As always, Eddie’s camera work reflects Jacky’s story telling mission. When framing the performers during their sex scenes, he focuses on both bodies equally. He and Paul build the intimacy with facial closeups as opposed to relying on genital action. In other words, the pure up-close piston shot is absent. In its place is a humanized sexuality, a Jacky St. James/Eddie Powell trait that has forged their legendary talent.

To put it another way, Jacky and Eddie step away from the traditional male gaze and rough sex that present women as merely bodies with no larger reality. It’s a departure from run-of-the-mill porn.

There is one more ingredient in the mix. Eddie’s camera is always in motion, swirling and floating in an expression of what happens in the minds of lovers who are absorbed in each other. His shooting mimics what lovers experience when passions are high, a trait that elevates his work above the best cinematographers in the business.

A Cowgirl Sexcapade

There are four sex scenes, as mentioned previously. The first is Gia and Tyler Nixon. It’s a sample of Sara’s previous relationship that is ultimately doomed because of a social media post that inflames her.

The second is Kenna James and Small Hands. Lizzie meets Jeremy at the bar. He takes her home and the sex heats up.

The third is Gia Paige again, this time with Logan Pierce in a triumph of their new-found romance.

The fourth involves Mona Wales and Marcus London. Janine is at first turned off by her coffee date with Mark, but he gets a do over and love ensues.

The favorite sex position to begin each scene is cowgirl. The female controls her pleasure and relishes the expressions of her lover as she rides to ecstasy. This is not to minimize mish (missionary), spoon, and doggie. They are there, of course, as is oral sex. Incidentally, there is a lot of that for her enjoyment, something not found in abundance in adult film unless the scene is girl/girl.

In the final analysis, porn is often in a hurry. Chuck clothes, get to the blow job, then run through the standard positions with the pop shot that is most often a facial. Jacky will have none of that. Her performers warm up to each other, a necessity in a true romantic comedy.

Once again, Jacky St. James and Eddie Powell have made a Hollywood-worthy adult film. Because of their exceptional talent, “Love in the Digital Age” belongs in every porn library in a prominent place on the feature film shelf.

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Here’s the YouTube trailer for “Love in the Digital Age.”

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Love in the Digital Age, Part One: The Old-Fashioned Way

by Rich Moreland, September 2018

Once again New Sensations teams up award-winning filmmakers Jacky St. James and Eddie Powell and the result is another Hollywood-worthy motion picture. Produced by Scott Taylor, “Love in the Digital Age” is a romantic comedy starring Gia Page, Kenna James, Mona Wales, Tyler Nixon, Logan Pierce, Small Hands, and Marcus London.

The DVD also offers a BTS, photo gallery, and trailers highlighting other New Sensations productions. It can be ordered here.

[Photos in this review are credited to photographer Jeff Koga and director Jacky St. James]

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Jacky St. James’ latest romantic comedy is all about our tech driven age and the sexual hookups it offers us. Take notice of the montage of social media images that begin the film as we hear in voice over,

“Social media is how we connect now. Everything is at our fingertips. Why should we ever feel like we need something else?”

That question sets in motion a porn film that is as much social commentary as it is “doggie” and “cowgirl.” Be prepared for a thoughtful look at today’s online dating scene and the love, authentic or otherwise, that emerges out of it.

Four superbly shot sex scenes explore the realities of modern romance Jacky St. James presents in her script. Kenna James, Gia Paige, and Mona Wales fire up the screen with female pleasure that is a far cry from gonzo’s “rough her up” sex. But more on that in the next post.

First, let’s take a look at what the film is all about.

Testing a Theory

Lizzie (Kenna James) lives with her mom Janine (Mona Wales). The household welcomes a newcomer, Lizzie’s cousin Sara (Gia Paige). Sara has just dumped her boyfriend whose insensitivity trashed her on social media.

From there the story develops around a “theory,” as Janine proposes it, that the girls can’t survive without their cell phones. In return, Lizzie and Sara insist that Janine get a smart phone and go to dating apps to find a love life. She has, after all, been a “weird single lady” since “dad left,” Lizzie says, and celibate far too long.

The adventures from there are humorous and filled with carnal desire. But there is a deeper message in Jacky’s film. As the narrative progresses, she touches on subtle examples of how modern life is consumed by social media.

Here are some highlights.

After they agree to give up their phones, Lizzie and Sara drive to a bar, not an easy task because Lizzie doesn’t know how to get there without her phone’s GPS.

Sitting at the bar, the girls are listless. Boredom quickly sets in. No phones; no fun. They’ll have to create their own.

The bartender is mixing drinks and checking out his phone at the same time, something that fascinates Lizzie. She never noticed him before, of course, because she was always engrossed in her own phone. From her perspective, Sara observes that the people in the bar remind her of zombies attached to their phones and she feels out-of-place.

To occupy her time, Lizzie wanders outside to the bar’s patio and lights up a cigarette. She meets Jeremy (Small Hands) who muses that two friends in the bar are arguing and texting at the same time. It’s a comment on multitasking with a downside.

Jeremy, who doesn’t have a mobile phone, tells Lizzie, “We have our heads down so much we miss what is right in front of us.” In other words, too often social interactions are cell phone dependent at the cost of real human expression.

Never More Connected

“Love in the Digital Age” also addresses other issues technology has brought into our lives. One is the internet’s impact on our privacy. Another is somewhat more egregious: when we worship at the altar of technology, we sacrifice our imagination.

But all is not lost. Without a cell phone, Sara must learn to negotiate a landline setup to talk with her new-found love interest, Griff.

They’ve already communicated through letter writing (the earliest form of texting, by the way) and have moved to the next step. She doesn’t know what he looks like, of course, he’s just a voice on the other end of the wire. But she draws on her imagination to picture Griff and admits she’s never felt more connected to someone than she does to him.

Sara later confesses to Janine, “You can’t get to the heart of who a person really is online.”

The older woman is on board with that conclusion, but must explore dating apps as part of their deal. She’s now learning what technology offers.

When her weekend with Griff heats up (it’s Easter, by the way, the season of renewal and rebirth), Sara is immensely happy. “I was just living my life in real-time with someone I was getting to know the old-fashioned way.” Despite her upbeat revelation, Sara’s remark is a scalding comment on what we’re losing in this modern digital age.

The Sum of the Entire Picture

There is much more to this story. We see an older couple, Janine and Mark (Marcus London) navigate their more traditional relationship and witness how Lizzie’s face-to-face meeting with Jeremy generates an immediate connection. And not surprisingly, the Sara/Griff romance takes a rocky turn that delves into how technology fosters deception and embarrassment.

The voice over that ends the film simultaneously warns and reassures the viewer about our digital world. They are Sara’s words.

“We should remember that the things we hear or read online aren’t always the sum of the entire picture. If you want to know someone, really know someone, I suggest you do it the old-fashioned way.”

Jacky St. James wants us to understand that human interaction does not differ from generation to generation regardless of the platforms we use. Technology may move us forward, but the basics remain in place. For better or worse, social media, whatever its form, reflects our maturity, compassion, and values.

Mobile phones are designed to co-exist with traditional living, not redefine or overtake it. They can enrich personal connections and, on the flip side, be used in emotionally destructive ways. But whatever our conclusions about that handheld device, it can’t and doesn’t replace real human contact and the feelings that go with it.

This is the wisdom of “Love in the Digital Age.”

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In Part Two, we’ll look at the sex scenes (this is a porn film don’t forget!) and Eddie Powell’s cinematography.

Watch the trailer compliments of New Sensations.

 

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Interview with Scott Taylor: Part Two

by Rich Moreland, December 2017

This is the second part of my interview with New Sensations/Digital Sin owner Scott Taylor.

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After a quick break to adjust the digital recorder, Scott and I get back to our conversation. I’m interested in how Eddie Powell and Jacky St. James hooked up with New Sensations. Scott is more than happy to tell the story.

Incredibly Creative

Eddie Powell was with the company before Jacky came on board, Scott begins.

He is effusive in his praise of the director/videographer.

“Eddie embraces any new technology or challenge,” Scott exclaims.  “He’s self-taught, an incredibly creative and a brilliant individual. It’s been amazing what he has contributed to this company in the several years he’s been here.”

Furthermore, Scott believes Eddie’s talent at special effects, editing, lighting, and videography makes him “second to none in the industry.” High praise indeed!

Scott explains it this way:

“When I was shooting I could express myself artistically from the angles to the lighting to the emotions I’m trying to capture in the frame. There’s a huge difference between someone who knows how to do that and someone who doesn’t. It can be a slight tilt of the camera, it can be framing in a different way that feels and tells a different story. Trying to teach that to somebody is kinda difficult. You understand what that looks like or you don’t.

“I’m lucky in Eddie. He’s so creative. We leave him completely alone on whatever he turns in. It’s so good on a regular basis.”

What about Jacky?

Scott next fills in the blanks about Jacky St. James.

It started with scripts.

“When I read a script I look at it from more of a mainstream point of view. I don’t want it to be the pizza man shows up. I want the entire story to make sense. There should be real integrity for what we put out here, not just words on a page.”

By the way, the delivery man scenario Scott references is an old stag film formula involving a knock on the door and a bored housewife that goes back almost a hundred years. No story, really, just sex.

A paucity of good writers encourages New Sensations to run a contest to find new talent.

Scott continues:

“Jacky wins this contest. She’ll come in, write for us, and that’s all she’ll do.”

That, of course, was only the beginning. Like the old delivery man scenario, Jacky got her foot in the door. She took over the studio’s PR work and continued to do scripts. Of course, she meets Eddie.

“Jacky’s an excellent writer and I can see that she’s working with one of the best videographers at the time.’” Scott explains, then continues as if speaking directly to Jacky.

“You’ve got this. You need to start directing. You see the script in your head when you’re writing it. You already know in your mind what this looks like. You need to get out there and Eddie can shoot it for you. You can’t run a camera, that’s fine. He can do it and you guys can work together.”

It’s a blueprint for how Jacky’s collaboration with Scott and Eddie changed the porn feature by leading it in a more artistic direction.

Scott sums it up this way:

“She slowly took the reins at the very beginning, to trying out this new field to ultimately becoming a very confident director. She still is the best writer I’ve ever seen. She floats between different genres very well and she’s been a real joy to have along for the ride. That’s how we got Jacky.”

Working Together

I know from my research on Jacky’s relationship with Scott that they have bonded professionally. I wanted to get his point of view on this.

He mentions the Emma Marx series (which I’ve reviewed on this blog) and Torn as memorable moments. Emma Marx came along at the time Fifty Shades of Grey was the rage. New Sensations had a parody in mind, but it was abandoned in favor of a more serious approach.

“We wanted to tell our own story. Jacky knew the characters and we agreed on the direction of where it would go.”

Torn was also a serious film that the company is” every proud of.” He says. “She did an excellent job (writing and directing it).”

The film is about an older man and the young lover who comes into his life as his marriage is crumbling.

Scott quickly follows with what everyone in the adult biz knows about Jacky as director.

“Jacky can get acting performances out of people that are really inspirational.”

 

Do they have a give and take professional relationship?

“Absolutely!” he replies and explains that a concept for a film might be his or hers, “but we generally work together. If I see the script and I like it, then we do it, but if I want some changes, then we change some things.”

That was early on, however.

Once we began working together for a number of years,” Scott says, “I didn’t have any changes to her work. She’d hand it in and I was floored by it every time.”

It bears mentioning that Scott does not smother his talent to do things his way. In fact, he’s hands off, but he’s always available for advice.

“If they need it, I’ll be there. I generally embrace talented people and let them go do their work and critique it afterwards.”

For Eddie, it was learning process that sparked “a lot of conversations along the way,” Scott says, before coming full circle today.

As for Jacky, he exclaims, “I wouldn’t say that Jacky’s writing ability is any less than it is today,” though early on he established the parameters he wanted.

Considering she was working in a genre new to her, that’s understandable.

“When she started writing the romance movies that we were doing at the time, we needed to follow a certain formula. She adopted to that relatively quickly. We’re not talking about multiple rewrites. It was ‘let’s do this’ and she has an idea and she puts it together,” Scott says.

The Company Secret

I mention that when I review a Jacky film, the story and the cinematography are my focus, but I know these things are less important to the average fan who is just waiting for the next sex scene.

“I’m afraid that is true,” Scott admits. He wishes there was a greater appreciation of what New Sensations puts out there and uses Eddie as an example.

“Eddie is so deserving of best director for so many years from what he does. His creativity is well thought out. It is not by accident. That’s how he tells his story.

“Eddie edits his own movies and writes his own music because he’s really trying to create a feeling. He’s a secret if anybody wants to know the secret to the company. It’s this guy who’s been such a rock in so many ways. His cinematography most people don’t even notice, but I notice and gasp!”

Crossing Over

Finally, I want Scott’s opinion on crossing over, the idea that adult performers and directors can move between Porn Valley and Hollywood.

He mentions that the Emma Marx series has made an appearance on Showtime. “When I see those movies on there I think they hold up very well. It makes me feel very proud to see that movie on a mainstream channel and it looks as good as it does.”

That being said, Scott assesses Jacky’s attempts to make a splash in mainstream film.

“Jacky has actually stepped into that world and it’s proven to be pretty difficult. She is able to work with more veteran actors. I wouldn’t say they’re big Hollywood stars, but they are honing the craft of acting more than the craft of having sex. It helps to tell your story with people that can bring the emotion to the characters that’s necessary.

“For crossing over the only success we’ve had is Showtime embracing ‘after hours’ programming even though it’s not. They’ll show it at eight o’clock in the evening. But you’re still working with primarily adult actors and actresses.”

Scott is not sold on the idea that crossing over is realistic.

“I don’t think you take anything X-rated and go with it no matter what the budget is. I don’t see it really catching on.”

Interestingly, Scott sees an additional issue with the jump to Hollywood: a true lack of performing talent.

Remy LaCroix

“You need really good actors and there are some . . .I think Penny (Pax) is an excellent actress, Remy LaCroix is an excellent actress. There are guys who are excellent actors compared to other people in this business.”

But they are the few.

On the other hand, Scott has a more positive view of directors.

“Could a director cross over and make a mainstream movie? Yes, I think it’s very possible.”

 

Where does this place Jacky and Eddie?

Scott is honest but with reservations.

“What Jacky is trying to do now is bridge that gap. She’s doing it with an R-rated series, but I would love to see her transition into something that is fully mainstream if it is beneficial to her. Mainstream work is very, very difficult from what I’ve seen. It’s very difficult to break into.”

Scott offers a final thought.

“I think Eddie can get out there and run that camera on a mainstream set in a second. I think Jacky can write mainstream all day long. But to carry the X-rated market into a mainstream market, even if it is a little bit softer, is limited.

“It’s just the way most of the country views it. It’s still porn and is classified as the dirtiest thing you’ve ever seen or heard of. Porn falls into the porn bucket, that’s what it is.”

Perhaps, but a New Sensation/Digital Sin product is the cream at the top of that bucket, so who knows?

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Interview with Scott Taylor: Part One

by Rich Moreland, December 2017

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

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

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

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From Army Brat to Business Owner

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The result? More innovation.

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

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

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

Gonzo v. Feature

Scott and DP ultimately parted ways.

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

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

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

This transition allowed Scott to experiment with interactive video.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s All About Talent

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lee Roy Myers

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

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

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

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

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

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Some of the awards on display in Scott’s office

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A Gonzo Afternoon: Part Two

by Rich Moreland, December 2017

Their shoot for Eddie Powell wrapped up, Steve Holmes and Mandy Muse are game for a dual interview so we move outside to the veranda.

Steve’s wife soon joins us.

Here’s some of what we discussed.

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A Convenient Marine

I open the discussion with a question about getting into the business.

Mandy starts us off. She’s been shooting for a while and works with Kendra Lust’s agency, Society 15.

“I’m 23 years old. I’ve been in the industry for 4 years now, started when I was 19. I have a big booty which I’m known for. I do pretty much everything except for double anal and double vag.”

Mandy has no background in acting other than a film class she once took. But the Southern California lass is well versed in sex, having her first experience at the tender age of twelve.

“I had my first threesome with two guys when I was fourteen and then my first orgy at about fifteen.” Her voice rises as if she’s not sure of the age, or doesn’t remember exactly.

She got into the industry once she turned eighteen, Mandy says, and relates how it happened.

“I was attempting my first DP with these two marines on base.”

A good time was had by all before another soldier shows up. He was on duty but that didn’t faze Mandy.

“He was really attractive and I wanted him to join in,” she remembers.

The marine was interested but declined. He was on duty. Undaunted, Mandy gave him her number.

“He later asked me if I’d do a scene with him for a uniform fetish website. I wore my cheer leading uniform from high school and that’s how porn found me!” the brunette declares gleefully.

Married with Children

Steve’s path started at a much later age.

“I’m German, born in Transylvania, then went to Germany as a kid.” he begins. “I worked in IT for ten years, before that in different jobs, always sales and marketing.”

I can believe that. He’s easy to get along with, just ask Mandy who met him for the first time today.

Steve’s wife arrives to pick him up and takes a seat.

As if on cue, he says, “When I started I was already married with children.”

I suggest his wife is a tolerant person. She smiles and sends him a knowing look.

“She is, yes,” he responds and turns to Mandy, “I did a nice feature with your agent, Kendra Lust. She played my wife.”

Come to think of it, I guess Steve has had lots of “wives” but only one real wife.

I tell Steve I first learned about him through his work with Kink.com in San Francisco.

“Kink is a funny story actually,” he offers. “They booked me the first time in 2007. I didn’t know the company. They always asked the girls at Kink who they like to shoot with. They were requesting me.”

The fetish giant explained that before they booked him he needed to do a little research to find out his comfort level with what they do.

They said, “’It’s not like the regular stuff. We’ll send you a link to our website and a password,’” Steve remembers.

He checked out their shoots and noticed something. He didn’t know how to do the rope work that seemed to be everywhere in a Kink production.

“They told me, ‘no problem we have people for that,’” Steve explains. “So that’s my first shoot at Kink for Sex and Submission in February or March, 2008.”

As time passed, Kink expanded their offerings to Steve.

“They asked me if I can help with producing and organizing. That’s how I started directing. One of the websites I produced was Public Disgrace. Princess Donna initiated that with the company.”

Donna has since left the adult business. I remembered seeing her a couple of years ago in a shoot for a European BDSM company called Elite Pain. Their work is rougher than anything stateside.

“Yes, a company owned by a friend of mine in Budapest,” Steve interjects. “They normally just shoot nudity with no sex.”

He references a shoot he did for them and shows a still of the bound model on his phone.

“The girl contacted me many years ago. She wasn’t a porn girl. She was a medical student in Germany. I booked her in Europe and we shot her in Berlin for Public Disgrace and I asked her if she enjoyed the scene.”

“‘I was hoping you’d beat me harder,’” he remembers her saying.

Asked about her limits and the girl said, “‘I don’t know, I’ve never reached that.’”

It turns out that Steve suggested she might want to give Elite Pain a shot.

“She came for the scene. We did it together. Hard punishment. I fucked her and she had so many orgasms. She was happy for the experience, but she’d never do it again,” he says with a chuckle.

As time passed Steve’s work with Kink was so impressive that he became one of their directors and specialized in filming in Europe.

Warming Up

Turning our attention to the shoot just completed, I asked our pair how they got to know one another when they arrived.

Steve begins

“Easy. We met. We got attracted to each other. We use the time they are setting up the lights.”

Yep, all that “warming up” paid off.

Mandy points out that being comfortable with your co-stars is important and in her case, she has “never really had a hard time finding chemistry especially with a performer like Steve Holmes. It’s just how I love being handled during a scene.”

“Thank you,” Steve says, forever the gentleman. Mandy giggles.

“We had a good time,” he continues, and comments on touching, caressing, and the like.

Mandy chimes in, “We talked about that too.”

Steve brings up the most important factor in porn . . . do you love what you do? It can make or break a shoot. And, of course, there is chemistry between performers.

“Productions have a certain idea about the scene and how they want it to be. But then sometimes they don’t always book the right people. When I feel the girl is just going through the motions, it usually reflects in the scene.”

Reading Expressions

How about communication when the camera is rolling?

Steve thinks of it as akin to dancing and uses a generational analogy I completely understand.

“My role model is Fred Astaire. Sometimes you go on the dance floor with a girl and she doesn’t feel it. You try to lead her, push her, you know. And then there are sexual girls. You dance to enjoy and also to put on a show. This is what we do here. We know where the camera is. We try to enjoy ourselves and look nice for the audience, the camera.”

I ask Mandy about making eye contact during sex.

She loves to do that but comments that in her personal life, it doesn’t always happen.

Regardless if it’s business sex or private sex, “You can see what they (your partners) are feeling more when you look at them.”

The eyes “make connections” and bring people together, she adds.

Steve is on board with that.

“Eye contact is very important. You know what your partner enjoys by reading their expressions. We react to each other.”

“Coming back to the BDSM fetish stuff,” he says, “it’s so important to read your partner so you can push them or back off.”

In shooting that type of scene, there is always a potential a safety issue, so everyone needs to be on the same page.

Did Steve use his expressions to get Mandy to go where he wanted to be in the shoot, or where he wanted her to be?

In chorus, Steve and Mandy exclaim, “Both.”

“It’s a given thing,” Steve says.

There was a fair amount of spanking in the shoot. How did this influence Mandy?

“I’m submissive,” she explains. “I like pain so I like to be spanked. It gets me stimulated. When the penetration after the spanking happens, it’s two different types of feelings so I just love the mixture of both.”

The PA for the shoot, AJ Westwood, comes out and offers to drive Mandy to her car. She’s parked at a local mall. Steve says it’s on his way and he’ll give her a lift.

Incidentally, in LA neighborhoods people coming and going from a house raises red flags. For that reason, my photographer and I parked down the street some distance away.

Keep the Energy

Before we wrap up, the conversation turns to Eddie Powell.

Steve says he’s worked with Eddie for about a year. He likes shooting for him because the director gives his performers freedom to express themselves.

“There are certain directors you enjoy more than others,” Steve says, and he’s known ones that are not to his taste.

He mentions a director from years ago. “The first time I shot for him was so boring.”

Once the director put the performers into a position, Steve explains, “he didn’t change anything. Don’t move your hand, don’t change anything. Hold the position.”

The crew worked around them.

“In the end the product looked great because the dynamic came from the editing. It was actually not a lot of fun, (just) hard work,” he says, adding that some shoots can range from five to eight hours on set.

Today was much different, Steve declares. He didn’t have to save his energy.

“The camera follows you, you can just keep going and enjoy yourself because you know the camera is going to pick it up.

“With Eddie, the scene is so good with the lighting and the camera being handheld. It’s not so easy and he pulls it off so well. That’s the quality of his shooting.

“The key is that Eddie actually tries to book performers who know what they are doing, then he tries to capture it. If you give him what he wants, then he lets you do it.”

Mandy offers a final comment about maintaining on-set energy especially during breaks.

“Even when the cameras aren’t rolling I want to continue the flow (of the scene) to still keep the energy there.

“Today was not supposed to be so hardcore. It was easy to not get worn out when the lights are changing,” she says.

What is important, Mandy insists, is “to continue flowing with the same energy.”

Understandable. That’s always a priority when you make your living as an entertainer.

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A Gonzo Afternoon: Part One

by Rich Moreland, December 2017

During my recent trip to Los Angeles, I had the privilege of visiting an Eddie Powell set.

Eddie’s work is praised throughout the industry and for good reason. I’ll let New Sensations/Digital Sin boss Scott Taylor sum it up.

“Eddie is so deserving of best director for what he does. His creativity is well thought out. It is not by accident.”

Is he Hollywood ready?

Scott responds, “Eddie can get out there and run that camera on a mainstream set in a second.”

Yes, film fans, that’s how good Eddie Powell is.

*          *          *

Mandy

Today’s shoot is a gonzo adventure for New Sensations/Digital Sin that features Mandy Muse, a girl who has made her reputation in these kinds of scenes.

Shortly after my photographer and I arrive, Eddie Powell, with camera in hand, begins chatting with Mandy in what will become the BTS (Behind the Scenes) segment of the shoot.

The sexy brunette tells the viewer she is twenty-three and a local girl from Orange County. Eddie encourages her to talk about her mom who is fifty-six, we discover, and knows what her daughter does and supports her one hundred percent.

Today’s action is anal and Mandy is elated. She loves to “switch it up,” she says, and is blessed with a “snap back butthole” which, we assume, keeps her flexible for the long and large!

She loves to watch porn, Mandy continues, and knows that “people get excited about what they haven’t done before.” So for the viewers who want to enjoy backdoor sex, her performance should be a winner.

There’s one more element that will make today super fun. Mandy likes it rough, to be “handled aggressively,” she declares, which carries over to her private life.

Steve

Mandy’s co-star is porn legend Steve Holmes. In his mid-fifties, Steve is a stellar performer who has been in the business for over twenty years, quieting the ageism argument when it comes to older men and younger women.

While everyone getting ready, my photographer passes time with the affable actor who also directs and produces.

Their conversation turns to southern culture and Steve mentions an eighteen-year-old newbie with whom he recently worked who does everything but IR (interracial) porn. Some of the old attitudes still prevail.

To entertain anyone who wants to watch, Steve has one of his shoots with porn superstar Angela White on his laptop. With this European all-star, there is never a dull moment.

Focus on Her Butt

Eddie shoots the box cover in front of the French doors that open into a space enclosed by an imposing privacy wall. Steve pours oil over Mandy’s rear while the lights are being set up. To past the time, Steve spanks Mandy a bit. She smiles.

Next come the stills (the “pretty girls” are first) shot using a living room setting. Eddie mentions everything will “focus on her butt” so that rules the next few minutes of activity.

I take a minute to speak with the boom operator/PA. His name is A.J. Westwood and he tells me he’s worked with Eddie, Jacky St. James, and Paul Woodcrest for over a year. He’s a Southern California lad in his twenties, amiably pleasant and knows his job.

Steve has joined Mandy for the next round of stills. They’re going at it (to be polite, “warming up”) for the shoot to come.

Eddie lets them know what he wants. “All positions that increase shots of her butt are great,” he says, and later asks for a “standing doggie.”

Speaking of frisky critters, the house has a couple of pet dogs running around but they are more fascinated by the squirrels in the yard.

Porn doesn’t do much for them, I’m thinking, though the squirrels appear to have each other scoped out for whatever rodents do for amusement.

For now, the stills are finished. This is gonzo, of course, and it’s time-honored selling point, the facial, will comprise the final pics later.

Peanut Butter and the Squirrels

All the while, Steve and Mandy are continuing to get to know each other with enough penetration to shoot a whole other movie. When they take a break, Steve and my photog chat again.

Eddie and AJ are setting up a tripod on a dolly constructed of two long pipes so the camera can glide through the opening sequence.

Steve’s brings up a director in Japan who didn’t want any “hankie-pankie” on set, much different from other countries (twenty-one in all) in which he has worked. There are few limits here to speak of and he and Mandy are delighted.

Steve Holmes is urbane and cosmopolitan, a stark contrast to Mandy who is every bit as local as he is international. Nevertheless, they blend together artfully when the filming begins.

It strikes me the whole setting this afternoon is a bit bizarre in the most pleasant of ways.

While Steve and Mandy fall into “warming up” again, Eddie sets up the equipment. He’ll use a handheld camera throughout the filming to get the best angles.

Meanwhile, in the yard the squirrels are sated with gobs of peanut butter to keep them occupied.

A Well-Schooled Gonzo Girl

Mandy stands in front of the French doors (the squirrels are munching away outside) and “sees” Steve approaching.

“Don’t acknowledge him, don’t even say ‘Hi,’” Eddie says.

The camera moves toward Mandy as Steve walks in and begins to caress her. There is no dialogue and this part of the scene wraps up quickly. The dolly is taken apart. Steven and Mandy don’t miss a beat and continue “warming up.”

The main event is next.

More oil and spanking for Mandy’s butt. She’s good to go with lots of oral (or should we say choking and gagging), there’s another standing doggie, and then a break. AJ gets Mandy a glass of water.

When we resume, there’s more oil, more spanking, more oral (Steve does his part). Mandy sighs a lot. She’ll break into an ongoing chorus of “oh, my gods” and “oh, shits” that are standard dialogue for a well-schooled gonzo girl.

Next is a transition to a sheet-covered table and Mandy has to re-position herself as part of the scene. It’s awkward at first, so there’s a retake. No problem. Everyone is a professional.

Of note is whispering. Steve and Mandy work together well and communicate. More on this later.

Another break and it’s time for a reminder.

Eddie explains once again it’s all about Mandy’s backside which means the cowgirl position is vital to give Eddie what he wants.

Steve encourages Mandy to “shake that booty.” She offers to spin around while holding the penetration; Eddie responses with, “what works best for you.”

So, the porn starlet turns smoothly to a reverse cowgirl, the mark of a true pro. Eddie moves closer with the handheld to get the full benefit of the penetration.

To conclude the day’s work, Mandy gets off the table and sits on her heels to prepare for the facial. A slip causes a retake but all ends well when Steve does his duty.

Finally, Mandy poses for the camera, face properly splattered, to get just the right shots to complete the stills and it’s a wrap.

Our stars head for the shower while Eddie takes a break before he and AJ pack up the equipment.

*          *          *

In Part Two, we’ll take a few moments to talk with Mandy and Steve on the veranda.

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Evolved, A Commentary: Part Two

by Rich Moreland, September 2017

This is the second installment of my review/analysis of The Submission Of Emma Marx: Evolved, a New Sensations film written and directed by Jacky St. James.

*          *          *

The Message

When Mariah pleads with Emma to teach her about BDSM because she is “in dire need of discipline,” Emma explains that the fetish is all about “practice and training” and asks Mariah why she wants this so badly.

Her response is a nod to all BDSMers.

It’s who she is, Mariah says.

So Emma agrees to take Mariah on her journey. The film moves through brief scenes of Mariah’s education. The best are those surrounding “slave training” when Emma teaches the neophyte to arch her back and open her legs for inspection.

There is a collar for Mariah to wear and shots of spanking and caning with tasks that come with the instruction, “please you dominant.” Emma tells Mariah, “Most important, find joy in what you are doing. When it stops being enjoyable, it’s probably not for you anymore.”

Later after her first real BDSM encounter with a Dom named Nicholas (Jay Smooth), Mariah asks Emma how can she ever return to normal sex?

What Mariah is experiencing now is normal for her, Emma says.

Emma informs Mariah that she belongs in this world. It’s just not the way she came to know it when she realized she was a submissive.

In other words, Emma implies that her pupil’s early experiences were limited to physical sensation. Now she is progressing beyond those restrictions and  becoming more spiritual in a sexual way.

Mariah’s character poses the question Jacky as writer and director addresses in her BDSM films; that is, how do we define normal? Part of this conundrum is to accept that different does not mean not normal.

In other words, if a fetish is legal and doesn’t harm anyone, then it passes the normal test. Of course, this is not something people who are vanilla oriented necessarily believe, or even want to consider. To put it another way, according to Jacky St. James, the definition of normal sexuality is broad and expanding and someday may not exist at all.

It’s the battle feminism has fought for decades in its effort to escape female sexual circumscription.

How we express ourselves

Normal is what we make of how we express ourselves. Emma has cleared this hurdle under Mr. Frederick’s guidance. She’ll do the same now for Mariah.

To best understand this idea, contrast Mariah’s first sex scene which served no deeper purpose than to have some fun. As mentioned above, when Emma as tutor and trainer sets up Mariah’s experience with Nicholas, she is satisfying Mariah’s needs beyond fleeting physical sensation.

In other words, Mariah is enriching her sexuality with psychological meaning, becoming sexually aware and mature: a reflection of the journey Emma has already taken.

By the way, notice how Emma persuades Mariah to select a dominant for the scene. Once again, Jacky St James reinforces the hegemony of female choice, reminding the viewer that choice also defines normal and normal, within the bounds of what is legal, is individually oriented.

In other words, it’s okay for a girl to want to be tied up!

Who We Were Before

In the final analysis, two themes connect Evolved with the original trilogy to reveal that Jacky St. James is always progressing as a filmmaker.

Her script points out that often a woman can best teach another woman the psychological aspects of sexuality, regardless of her preferences be they fetish or vanilla. Evolved is female-oriented and we see this with the extended conversations between Emma and Mariah and the emphasis on eye contact during the sex scenes mentioned previously.

Overall, Evolved is a further exploration of Emma’s closure on her past. The pain of losing Mr. Frederick haunts Emma when she tells Mariah it’s time to move on to a male dominant. Mariah reacts with an outburst that reflects what she believes happened to Emma.

“Are you going to pawn me off on someone else? Is this how this works?”

Confronting her personal sense of abandonment and loss of trust, Mariah disappears from the story without explanation.

Of course, irony grips the narrative at this point. This is the second time Emma feels forsaken, the first being the result of Mr. Frederick’s death. Her saving grace is that she is an evolving Emma, so to speak, who is well schooled in how to cope with the unexpected.

And then, the letter arrives.

It reveals that the chemistry between Emma and Mariah referenced in the first installment of this analysis has transcended misunderstandings and hurt feelings.

Mr. Frederick as narrator helps us understand this major theme of Evolved when he says, “To survive we have to let go, acknowledging what no longer works for us, acknowledging that who we were before may not be the person we are today.”

William Frederick is the omnipresent voice inside our soul that urges, prods, and disciplines us at every turn while reminding us of our capacity to love.

So it comes as no surprise that with the narrative’s fade out, we hear “Mr. Frederick” whispered almost inaudibly.

Will he continue to dwell in Emma’s spirit for the next film?

*          *          *

Final Thought

Adult fans who appreciate the feature film sub-genre realize there are few writer/directors who develop original ideas. Relying on parodies where plot and characters are already in place or adopting an established story line from existing sources, such as superhero comics or popular mainstream films, is convenient. Just add the sex.

But with Jacky St. James the landscape is more provocative. She writes her own narratives and uses sex as dialogue so the viewer can better understand her characters in such a way that the sex scenes emerge as characters in and of themselves.

Next, Jacky coaches and guides performers through the acting experience looking for just the right take for every scene. Being trained in drama and having once sought roles in mainstream Hollywood, Jacky understands the details and rigor of directing and acting.

Lastly, of course, she is part of a talented team of creative cinematographers that gives every adult feature she directs the Hollywood touch.

This combination of factors makes a New Sensations/Jacky St. James film unique to the business and we should appreciate that while we can.

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