Tag Archives: Fifty Shades of Grey

AEE 2019: Cory Chase

By Rich Moreland

Cory Chase is porn veteran whose cam work began last year. In her thirties, this New Jersey girl who now lives in Fort Lauderdale, did her first “homegrown” porn shoot in 2003 and her initial adult film in 2006.

We made ourselves comfortable in the press room for our talk.

Photos are credited to Kevin Sayers.

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Recounting her professional past, Cory mentions that her adult career began with “just pictures” for a site called MyHottestGirlfriend. She won contests on the site and popularity came her way, but the next step needed a little push.

“What really got me into porn was my husband now, boyfriend back then. He liked to videotape us having sex. So, we had this [private] library of our own content,” she says.

Cory mentions that the website she started, SouthernCharms, still contains that original work.

Now that her career is on solid ground, Cory’s goal is to expand her custom videos.

“The fans enjoy knowing that they’ve produced, in a sense, their own porn that other fans are enjoying as well,” she says.

Just Step Away

I bring up the idea that the new cam girl is really the new amateur porn model. Does Cory agree?

“Yes, especially if they’re going nude and inserting objects,” she replies.

In the midst of our discussion, Cory suggests that girls wanting to cam should take their time.

“Work slow. Don’t expose yourself completely if you don’t have to,” she begins.

“You don’t have to show off everything and do everything from day one. If you can talk and express yourself without having to undress, then go for it.”

The heart of camming is “being able to express yourself and tell a story,” she asserts. “So, don’t expose yourself completely unless you want to.” In other words, a girl needs to find her comfort level.

Cory offers the best advice I’ve heard about any girl who wants to begin camming.

“Remember that no matter how much you might feel like you’re being bombarded with commands or requests, they [the fans] are not actually in the room with you in person. You can just turn off your computer. You can just step away from it and that is it.

“So, understand that if you’re feeling overwhelmed, just step away.”

Market Trends

For cam girl success, Cory insists, fetishes are important because they keep the customers coming back. Whatever the fans want creates the marketing trends that dominate cam work.

“Going with those market trends are great for business. But you have to be creative on your own and come up with something that you are passionate about. So, yes, you have to want to expand and grow the things that you do. But yet you still want to go with the flow because if what you’re doing isn’t quite working, you have a fallback and you can do something that is in trend.”

She uses a personal example to explain what she means.

“I started out with footjobs, but the trend depleted. I stopped doing footjobs for videos.”

Cory clarifies that what goes viral establishes market trends and returns to footjobs for a moment to illustrate her point.

For “a couple of celebrities,” she remembers, “footjobs were big twelve, thirteen years ago. It was because celebrities were posting pictures of their feet on social media accounts. Footjobs just went through the roof that year and I jumped on that bandwagon.”

She reminds us, however, that what is hot today, may fade and then return.

“I find [that] trends kind of cycle through. Bondage is coming back in style. With Fifty Shades of Grey, [BDSM] kind of peaked a little bit, but it’s really coming back around [now],” she says.

Cory comments that she personally likes BDSM shoots, but the business world is not always receptive.

“Bondage sex has a tendency to be faux pas, credit card processors don’t really allow when a female is bound completely and not able to give consent [or] walk away. I wish things like that could be changed.”

A veteran of bondage play, Cory still dabbles in it with her husband though “most larger companies, other than Kink, don’t really play with it too much because of the credit card risk.”

Without an Agent

For the most part, cam girls don’t have agents in the traditional porn sense. Is that a good idea?

“It really depends on the mentality [and] the work ethic of the model. Production companies usually don’t talk to a girl if she doesn’t have an agent because there’s no fallback. If she doesn’t show up, they can go back on [the agent] and get funds or get another girl to fill in for the girl that cancelled or no-showed,” Cory says.

Having said that, if a cam girl wants to shoot scenes, an agent is probably a good idea.

However, Cory indicates that camming and porn tend to move in different environments within the porn world. There is a divide.

“A cam girl doesn’t have to be a porn girl. A porn girl doesn’t have to be a cam girl, but you can do both,” she affirms.

Considering that response, does Cory believe established porn stars ought to pick up camming?

“Yes and no,” she says.

“I’m more of an established porn girl who got into camming. I dabbled in a little bit of it when I first started [doing porn, but] it wasn’t for me. It didn’t feel right so I didn’t cam for seven years. I only started camming [again] back in July of last year. So, I really haven’t been camming that long.”

But Cory hits on a serious issue in the adult business that separates cammers from porn girls, but maybe not for long.

“Because of porn and how it’s all over the internet—a lot of times for free,” she says.

In other words, porn girls have a problem: piracy. Cory mentions that some cam fans will be talking with their favorite porn star/cammer “in the public chat while watching them somewhere else.”

The warning? “Established porn girls, you have to go back to making it personalized for that fan that is talking to you,” Cory insists.

That’s the cam girl’s chief advantage, I comment.

“Yeah, and they don’t have the content out there for free,” she quips. Or at least, that is what they think.

Cory offers up a reality check.

“It’s out there. Somebody is recording it, either with a camera, on their computer screen, or they’re capturing it directly from their computer screen. It’s being recorded and posted somewhere.”

That Fourth Leg

Cory has an interesting response to the three-legged stool question of making money. She sees camming as a “virtual strip club that allows a lot more visual display than the typical strip club.’

So yes, camming is the fourth leg, but like a girl’s other options, it’s a personal decision, Cory indicates.

“What makes you happy as a model? Producing content or providing a service. Is it escorting? Is it dancing? Is it camming? Because pretty much everyone can produce porn now.”

In the end, where is the adult business today when it comes to mainstream porn and camming? Cory makes an important observation that deals with the past.

“In the old days when porn started all the way up to the nineties when the internet first came out, fans were dedicated to the girl.

“Nowadays I’m finding fans are more dedicated to a website or a network, or a genre like camming or porn. They’re more dedicated to a style as opposed to the girls themselves.”

Her solution?

“I provide content and I have to post it throughout different websites. I’m getting more eyeballs, different fans, but they’re watching the same thing,” Cory Chase says.

Though technology and innovative platforms are pressuring industry girls to work harder, that’s a positive because eyeballs turn into dollars.

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A Nice Girl Who Howls at the Moon: Part Three, Playing Either Role

by Rich Moreland, January 2016

This is the third part of the Madeline Blue series. Photos are courtesy of her social media.

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Living Piece of Sensual Art

Gone, Madeline Blue’s breakthrough film in adult, features dungeon scenes which suggest the movie is BDSM oriented. In the final part of this series, we will see that is not the case. However, the bondage element prompted me to ask her about her fetishes and what she relishes putting on film.

Despite appearances, being “restrained during sex,” Madeline declares, does not immediately come to mind. Rather she lists alternative pairings like girl/girl and boy/boy/girl as “the first thing that pops in my head.” The all-girl shoot is particularly appealing because Madeline is new to the porn subgenre. But she’s always had “secret crushes” though she never got involved with “females sexually until the past year or so.”

CNL4mReWwAAAAI7Ropes and ball gags may not be her favorite shoots, but they have their place. Madeline expresses a liking for “the sensory deprivation aspect” of bondage play. It’s “a big turn on,” she says, then relates a particular fetish scene that left an impression with her.

“The photographer blindfolded me . . . put white noise in my ears, and restrained me.” He progressed to “soft touches” before turning up the action with “hard thigh grabbing and spanking.”

It was “insanely hot” and “I was a living piece of sensual art,” Madeline gushes, “I would do that kind of stuff off camera . . . depending on the Dom, of course!”

For those of you who have seen Jacky St. James’ The Submission of Emma Marx, you may recall the final scene of the film when Emma is pleasured by Mr. Frederick. It is much like Madeline’s experience.

The Fifty Problem

Similar to others in the adult industry, Madeline found the filmed version of Fifty Shades of Grey to be disappointing. Confessing she did not read the book (I did and E.L. James’ repetitive, middle school writing style caused me to skip through portions of it), Madeline believes the movie “had the opportunity to bring the BDSM lifestyle into mainstream light.” Unfortunately it was “a bust for the progressive sexual movement,” she declares, though the novel did open doors to BDSM as a “household topic.”B_Q-hUNWsAAj_sp

The power dynamics portrayed in the film are unrealistic, Madeline believes. “How many billionaires are out there scooping up virgin college coeds and asking them to be contractual subs? It seemed totally absurd.” Fifty presents the Dom, Christian Grey, as “a controlling jerk” and the movie appears to support “conventional relationships as the only safe way [to enjoy sex],” she points out.

Madeline has a convincing argument because Christian Grey is a reclamation project for Anastasia. Once she shows him love, the story implies he’ll put away his fetishes and become “normal.” If nothing else, the narrative is an insult to the BDSM community.

The native New Englander adds a final criticism that is spot. “I think the story was the wrong one for mainstream, Gone should have come out first . . . . because it shows two willing people who want to play together like that. She [Rebecca] wants it and likes it and they feel connected and bonded through their role-playing. Rebecca and Todd are devoted, loving, and deeply connected and express themselves healthily.”

The Right Mood

Madeline and her husband-to-be, Gee Richards, are not BDSM lifesylers. They have no “established” dom/sub dynamics and no bondage play in the bedroom except for an occasional spanking.

CIcAI0vVAAAk8TSHowever, in the world of paid professionals, Madeline’s fans can find her trussed up with the best of them. She describes her early bondage shoots as “mostly ropes, ball gags, blindfolds, spanking, rigging, and collars. I played the sub role pretty much exclusively as those were the opportunities I was presented.”

But there were rewards. “I enjoyed the spanking, and like the feel of the ropes, it was exciting,” she declares, but her personal sexual growth has steered her to the other side of the BDSM equation. “I am in an exciting place in my life right now where I don’t want to feel controlled. I need to be in the dominant role at least for the time being.”

It’s about her inner self. “I have a personal emotional range and I am pretty sensitive. If I am not in the right mind space and don’t have the right Dom, being a sub isn’t fun.”

By the way, other performers who have been topped on camera tell me the same thing.

She’s a quiet and polite person, Madeline says, but her introspection is more characteristic of the “strong silent type” that’s not suitable for subbing. Yet nothing is set in stone, she implies. “I have to be in the right mood to play either role.”

If anything, Madeline Blue has an honest sexuality that her fans can see in her expression of body and soul.

The Professional Cut

As mentioned earlier, Madeline has her own Clips4Sale site called Madeline Blue Kinky Times. The content is building, so don’t expect a vast array offerings quite yet.

“All of my photos, all of my video work, profiles, all of it has been done in the last year or so.”

Learning as she goes, Madeline declares she is exploring herself in the process. Working with Gee, who has his own store Eordyssey, they are building Madeline’s site. The shoots are under her direction story-wise.

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“It’s fun to create something start to finish and have control over the content and the production. I always fancied myself a screenwriter/director.”

So take a look for yourself and stay tuned for the final part of Madeline Blue’s Odyssey, the making of Gone.

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A Novel is Safer

by Rich Moreland, September 2015

This is the second installment of my talk with Angie Rowntree, the founder of Sssh.com, an erotic website for women.

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Angie Rowntree and her husband Colin began a BDSM website when the bondage fetish was in its online infancy. Wasteland.com is “the web’s largest collection . . . of High-Definition Original Bondage and Fetish videos,” and counts among its many offerings feature films and beautiful women. The company is an industry leader.

I asked Angie about one of hottest topics in the fetish business today, E.L. James’ novel, Fifty Shades of Grey.

Her point of view lines up with many of the book’s critics and those in the BDSM community who think the story of Anastasia and Christian’s relationship falls short of what it purports to be.

“Fifty Shades is not a particularly realistic or authentic depiction of BDSM,” Angie says. However, she is quick to agree that “there’s no doubt its popularity has shoved open the door to a much larger market and a lot more interest [in the fetish].”

From her perspective, it’s been a boon to their adult business.

wasteland-ad“Both Sssh and Wasteland have seen an increase in traffic we can directly attribute to the [novel’s] popularity, especially in the number of searches for BDSM and related terms.”

The Irony of Print

As I’ve written before, Fifty is print erotica which has long been more accepted than filmed smut, particularly when it comes to federal prosecution of pornography. In the 1980s and 1990s chasing the adult film industry was all about obscenity; the written word was given a pass.

Times have changed and Angie reminds us that print is a real advantage for the industry today. It’s a portal for fetishes that, if left to the designs of film studios, would have difficulty expanding their female audience.

“I think it’s significant that the Fifty Shades craze was in response to a novel, just because that’s perceived as a ‘safer’ and more traditional means for women to explore erotica.”

Of course, as reading increases, film is the beneficiary.

“Even though there’s a lot of data to the contrary, a lot of people still don’t believe women watch internet porn,” Angie remarks. “But, I haven’t heard anybody express one iota of doubt that it’s really women buying all those copies of Fifty Shades.”

Angie makes a point I’ve heard from adult industry feminists. Women are receptive to filmed erotica.

sssh-300x180“Nobody questions whether women read erotica,” she says. “The truth is we watch plenty of it, too, a truth I think people are finally becoming more open to now.” A visit to Toronto’s Feminist Porn Awards will back up Angie’s perspective. She agrees that the increasing female customer base in the adult is “in partly due to the Fifty Shades craze.”

When I bring up Kink.com as an influence in the popularity of BDSM porn, Angie discounts any impact Peter Acworth’s company had on Wasteland or Sssh. “Both sites had already been around . . . long before the book came out and before Kink [was] launched.”

“We were very much settled in our aesthetic, style, and production methods by the time they became popular.” In fact, she adds, “our influences and inspirations come from other places and times.”

An Old Question

Finally, we have the old tired accusation disguised as a question from the anti-porn crowd of feminism’s second wave. Is porn, especially the BDSM genre, violence toward women?

Angie responds.

“What if the dominant person in the depiction is the woman and the sub is a man? How well does their little axiom hold up then? I take it violence against men is OK? Or is it just that we trust men to make decisions we don’t trust women to make?”

Angie talks about extreme martial arts males fighting in a cage as “entertainment” directed at “the masses.” However, she says, if one of them is a woman and scene is a “spanking video instead of a fist fight . . . all of a sudden it’s ‘exploitation.’”

It’s really “selective paternalistic bullshit,” Angie insists. Not to miss an opportunistic moment, she concludes with a bit of sarcasm, “After all, I’m a woman, so obviously someone needs to step in and protect me from myself when I have ideas about what to do with my body of which they disapprove, right?”

Good point.

Bringing up society’s penchant for “circumscribing female sexuality,” a further spin on the exploitation question, Angie believes that attitudes change when “courageous, independent, determined, and self-possessed women” make their artistic statements in adult film.

As a result, she states, “Young women these days are a lot less apt to allow society to succeed [in defining their sexuality for them].”

Is this happening? To some extent, Angie believes. However, “there’s still too much ‘slut shaming’ and harsh judgment directed at women who are open about expressing themselves sexually, but this doesn’t mean we haven’t made progress over the years.”

Colin and Angie Rowntree Photo courtesy of Angie Rowntree

Colin and Angie Rowntree
Photo courtesy of Angie Rowntree

As for American culture, we’re on the right track, she insists. In parts of the rest of the world, questions remain.

Check out Wasteland and Sssh and take the tour. You might find interesting things to see.

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No Short Cuts

by Rich Moreland, October 2013

An earlier post on these pages introduced a newly emerging adult film category I’ve identified as “submission pornography.” The subgenre takes the growing interest in BDSM (bondage, discipline, sadism, masochism) and adds a storyline emphasizing romantic consensual elements. It’s Fifty Shades of Grey without the assumption that kinky people are psychologically damaged deviants who must be shown a better path to sex and love.

New Sensations’ The Submission of Emma Marx defines the intention of submission porn and is one of the best adult films I’ve seen. I evaluated the movie in three blog entries (August 2013) the reader can find under the title A Different Kind of Normal.

Here’s the tricky part with submission porn. Emma Marx’s writer and co-director Jacky St. James explains that balance is needed between BDSM as a “torture chamber” where “pain trumps the psychological” and the “connected relationships between doms and subs” that are more reciprocal and loving. Accomplishing this equilibrium is tough because a bondage film must include an effective mixture of fantasy and reality that doesn’t come across as a Marquis de Sade short story.

On the other hand, how does a writer/director authenticate bondage scenes and avoid the fluff and silliness that was the industry standard decades ago? I asked Jacky what she did to verify that Emma’s character was accurately presented.

Before getting to specifics she wanted to make a point. Jacky insisted that new ways of looking at BDSM are giving women the “opportunity to spread our wings.” There is little doubt today that a female porn audience is leaving the patriarchal nest and books like Fifty Shades have moved women forward at light speed. That alone is minimizing pain and the medieval rack.

A Thoughtful Moment from the Director's Chair Photo Courtesy of Jacky St. James

A Thoughtful Moment from the Director’s Chair
Photo Courtesy of Jacky St. James

And it created Emma.

Jacky then emphasized two concerns she considered most important in preparing to bring her vision from the writer’s pen to a well-produced DVD.

Personally unfamiliar with the BDSM scene, Jacky went to message boards within the kink community. She discovered that kinky people think BDSM films tend to be “extreme and violent” in portraying what bondage enthusiasts love so much. There is “little consideration” for describing “the psychological aspects” of what turns people on to that type of sexual relationship, she says. At that moment Jacky decided an accurate picture of one particular view of kinkiness would become her mission in writing Emma Marx.

Once that goal was established, Jacky moved to her second issue.

“Kinky somehow implies that it’s different than the norm or not standard practice,” Jacky says. “All sex should be normal provided it’s legal and between consenting adults.” Emma Marx clearly reveals that kinky has several definitions of normal.

A Penny for Success

Casting Penny Pax, a seasoned BDSM performer, in the lead role made Emma Marx one of the best films of 2013. “I worked with Penny on getting her to go to those dark emotional places,” Jacky mentions, and the petite twenty-something responded in spades. Penny’s energy for the type of sex she relishes (she has shot on several occasions at Kink.com) takes Emma Marx up several notches.

The script was constructed to induce Penny to animate her persona as a BDSM devotee. Jacky presented Emma’s growth in three sex scenes that highlight Penny’s talents. The first entailed Emma understanding what surrender means; the second was “an exploration” into bondage and discipline; and the third was her discovery that a BDSM relationship can bring sexual freedom and emotional liberation.

Involved in the planning process was the question of how to handle the film’s anal scene because Emma is persuaded to experiment with something she doesn’t thinks she wants. A woman-friendly point of view, albeit in a BDSM atmosphere, was the sought after benchmark. Jacky vehemently opposed a rough and violent act that focused on “crazy, insane thrusting” so common in anal gonzo. She insisted that the script develop an episode that is “less intimidating and more connected,” a kind of “romantic anal.” In short, it’s anal sex as a female viewer would experience it.

Throughout the filming Penny Pax was BDSM gold. Penny “was gung-ho about some of the more painful montage scenes we shot,” Jacky said, pointing out the clothespins on her breasts as an example. Jacky gave Penny, who markets herself as “Lil’ Miss Masochist,” the freedom to decide what she was “game to do” and what she preferred to avoid. That is real life BDSM.

Penny and Emma  Photo Courtesy of Adult Video News

Penny and Emma
Photo Courtesy of Adult Video News

Jacky St. James is the perfect script writer for submission porn. She likes the taboo element of pain and pleasure, but she wants to move it away from a Fifty Shades “weak female protagonist” who is consumed with “winning over the heart of a man as opposed to a fearless journey into the depths of her own sexuality.” And of course, the storyline must avoid gratuitous pain popular in some male-oriented entertainment.

Emma Marx’s timing is perfect. The Fifty Shades momentum is “mainstreaming BDSM,” Jacky believes. Women previously confined by vanilla definitions of sex are visiting female-friendly storefronts like Good Vibrations and attending Tupperware type parties to buy sex toys which now include ball gags, floggers, and leather restraints. Pornographers are poised to market their video products to these same women, cultivating the further growth of submission porn.

Absolutely Feminist

Jacky St. James is a feminist who believes that her spin on feminism is “critical to the adult genre.” Putting women in the XXX driver’s seat is her goal. Composing scripts, directing, and producing can be profitably forged from a female viewpoint. Despite old sex-negative feminists who have circumscribed female sexuality as docile and soft, Jacky assures us that a woman’s desires can be as hardcore as a man’s. Women don’t want to be limited by the overly romantic eroticism of decades ago that was quickly pigeon-holed as sex as a woman sees it.

Female porn, however, is not monolithic. Though approaches to the carnal may differ among feminist filmmakers, Jacky reinforces one important point. Women directors have more of an “equal focus on both sexes” when shooting the sex. With a few exceptions, feminist directors are going to minimize the gonzo aspects of cinematography. As Jacky puts it, there’s more to porn than “simply a woman and a penis.”

 “The films I direct and write are absolutely feminist,” Jacky explains. That means finding performers who exude the feminist ideal appropriate for female characters Jacky describes as “the strongest, most independent” women she can create. Jacky’s women aren’t “solely defined by their relationships with men, but by their own values and desires.”

Likewise New Sensation male actors are more that buffed bodies behind their engorged masculinity. Jacky wants them to have feelings and personality and, of course, an intellect. They must be able to handle the “mental aspects of sexuality.” Jacky explains that her idea of good filmed sex means that both sexes must understand what sensuality means. It’s “a thought” and “a look,” part of the foreplay element that often distinguishes feminist filming.

Casting for Jacky St. James can be daunting because of the standards she demands. “I look for talented, well-adjusted people with great personalities,” she says. Shooting for the formally trained actress and director means that skill trumps a well-recognized porn name. Jacky’s hires must have a “level of intuition” for the character they are portraying and must be “in tune” emotionally with themselves and others.” The job is more than just reading a few lines. Performers are best suited for a New Sensations film if they carry the “passion and desire” to give their best. Jacky has the experience to encourage and persuade performers to come through with flying colors if they are willing and driven to do so.

Getting it Right Takes Time  Photo Courtesy of Jacky St. James

Getting it Right Takes Time
Photo Courtesy of Jacky St. James

A native of the Washington D.C. metro area, Jacky studied theater in college graduating with honors, drama degree in hand. For her the stage play is “a living and breathing human experience,” an art form like no other.  One of her favorite dramatists she mentioned in our interview is Henrik Ibsen, the Norwegian playwright known for his social commentary. A good training ground for Jacky, where else is the political and social tweaked more than in porn?

In 2004 Jacky migrated to Southern California in search of new adventures. Six years later she “stumbled across a career in porn.” Adult film consumers have benefited since.

Powerful Moments

How important is a good performance to Jacky St. James?  In a business that spends most of its filming budget on talent, Jacky insists on getting it right. She’s been called a slave driver, humorously of course, for her perfectionism. “If it takes twenty to get a scene right, then I’ll shoot twenty takes. There are no short cuts,” she declares.

A New Sensation’s production may require eighteen hour days, Jacky says, and often filming can consume a handful of days. That means her actors must have an “incredible work ethic.”

Like Penny Pax.

She was a “rewarding experience” for Jacky who admits she has “always connected” with Penny because the five foot dynamo is “a naturally open person.” Reaching “those places inside of her” are keystones that holds the Emma Marx narrative together. Jacky summarizes the film best when she says of Penny, she is “able to bring those powerful moments to life.”

No doubt. Penny Pax and New Sensations have one of the best porn films of all time in this Jacky St. James narrative.


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A Different Kind of Normal: Part Three

by Rich Moreland, August, 2013

This is the final installment of my review of The Submission of Emma Marx. The film is wrapped in many layers, among them an overwhelming feminist statement.

Part of Her Training Photo courtesy of Jeff Koga

Are We Normal?
Photo courtesy of Jeff Koga

A Deliberate Process

“We’re not like normal people.”

Like women who long to start that conversation with lovers who seem distant, Emma Marx voices her doubts to the man who is refining her kinks.

Not that her BDSM education is for naught. Emma is learning the rules and William is a patient instructor.

Emma’s intitiation into bondage is tastefully handled by directors Jacky St. James and Eddie Powell. BDSMers who prefer total nudity with their “training films” will be disappointed with this part of the movie because Emma is being “broken in” slowly and with care. It’s not about displaying her body; she has deeper issues with her psychological barriers.

One provocative image occurs at this juncture in the film. As part of her training, Emma, clothed in a red dress, is taught to kneel inside the front door of William’s house with hands behind her back. Later in the story’s most dramatic moment, this submissive shot is re-visited with new purpose.

William directs all aspects of her education and woven into the harsher scenes of flogging are shots of him massaging her (BDSMers call it “aftercare’) and a brief shower episode artistically framed at a distance through the glass enclosed stall. She is on her knees cleansing him.

Likewise, preparing her for anal is a deliberate, loving process. In feminist-oriented pornography, anal sex is generally avoided because most women don’t like it and don’t care to see it. Emma Marx has another message: anal is also a kink once considered an exclusive male fantasy. Over the last two decades, it’s become a standard in adult productions and has gained wider acceptance among female viewers.

Like the protagonist in The Story of O, Emma Marx is moved gradually into anal. With William’s help, she applies the butt plugs she received as a gift to increase her physical capacity to accommodate him. When the anal scene arrives, it is without foreplay. No oral, just insertion and rhythm with lots of tenderness.  

The directors’ approach abandons formulaic gonzo porn’s oft used ATM (ass-to-mouth), a questionable sexual behavior for health reasons. Mixing oral and anal randomly and without care sends the wrong message. Sex should be fun, not risky.

By the way, the scene is pure Penny Pax. Though as Emma she must come across as reluctant to experiment with anal, Penny is no stranger to it. For female viewers, St. James and Powell communicate that with preparation, anal is enjoyable.  As for Penny, her passion and ecstasy is hinted in her voice and her face, but the flushing around her shoulders and chest reveal her authentic arousal.

 

Lying Awake at Night

In the office scene that accelerates the movie’s pace, Emma voices her fears that their relationship is not normal. William’s frustration reaches the breaking point. Knowing she is resistant to her true feelings and cannot act on her own to leave him, he unties her, gets her to her feet, and forces her down the stairs.

Submissively at his Desk Photo Courtesy of Jeff Koga

Submissively at his Desk
Photo Courtesy of Jeff Koga

The action tumbles down the steps and speaks for Emma’s world as it is crumbling. She is driven by her attraction to William and not the BDSM, denying what she feels inside. Dominated by her need for society’s approval, Emma struggles with the word “normal,” not yet understanding what he already knows. Normal has various meanings and is not always a reflection of what everyone tacitly agrees it should be.

William knows he has failed and slashes back at her doubts, telling Emma that continuing together is no good. He’s seen this show before. “You’ll lie awake at night, wondering if something is wrong with us because we’re different,” he shouts.

Emma Marx explores the dilemma many BDSMers face. What is the true passion, the person or the kink? In fact, kinksters sometimes will drop vanilla lovers because the fetish is a part of who they are and cannot be abandoned. This is Emma’s conflict. Is it William she wants and is she just playing along, like Anastasia Steele in Fifty Shades of Grey, to keep her lover, try to understand him, and remove her own kinks from the equation? Or, is the BDSM beginning to take hold inside her like O in The Story of O who can change lovers but keeps her whippings? And if it becomes strong enough, will Emma someday replace William with a tougher dominant, an act of independence?  

Emma is astonished and fearful. At the foot of the stairs she asks William to punish her for her doubts. She removes his belt and hands it to him. It’s a desperate act of bravado to forestall rejection. He complies, expressing his anger. But it’s brutality, not pleasure, and she quickly safewords with “red.” Their relationship is over. He can’t go on with her; she doesn’t get it.

In this scene, like the paddle in her office disciple earlier, the belt is not shown striking Emma because meaning is not tied up in the physicality of the punishment. It’s about bridging a mental abyss; the camera lets her facial expressions and the sounds of the instrument carry the action. Once again, Penny Pax is superlative as Emma. She is a treasure in adult film.

*       *       *       *       *

Emma resigns her position with William Frederick’s company and in a well-conceived overhead shot they pass on the stairs: she descending; he ascending. He is going to the privacy of his mountain top; she’s headed out to find another job.

Thoughts of What Could Be Photo courtesy of New Sensations

Thoughts of What Could Be
Photo courtesy of New Sensations

Time is laboring on, the days pass. Working to pull off a successful wedding for Nadia, Emma is haunted by her thoughts of William.

Images of her efforts to forget float across the screen. In one, she sits on her bed, holding a butt plug as her mind drifts.

“Will happiness always elude me?” she says in a voice over.

On her big day, Nadia talks happiness and suggests that it lies within, confirming the inescapable Emma cannot shake. She has only one choice.  

Happiness in a Vanilla Wedding Photo courtesy of New Sensations

Happiness is a Vanilla Wedding for Nadia
Photo courtesy of New Sensations

Penance and Purification

Emma must yield to her desires and return to the safety of William Frederick’s house, his galaxy of BDSM delights circling the Sun of acceptance.

Emma clarifies for herself what she has always known: she is not comfortable in her sister’s vanilla world. She now accepts that finding someone who shares her perversions “for a different kind of normal” defines happiness for what it is: universally sought and individually discovered.

But purification must come first and the final scene in its entirety does exactly that with an initial self-imposed ritual of penance. Emma returns to William, enters his front door and submissively falls to her knees with hands behind her as she was previously taught. She will wait an eternity if need be. Beside the door on the right is the sanctuary’s sentinel, the mirror and the plants repositioned now so that the stalks are leaning in unison, one above the other, toward Emma.

William sees her from the top of the stairs where he had previously bound and flogged her, but does not come to her. Not yet.

Hours later he descends, scoops up a sleeping Emma and carries her to the mountain top.

The music is spiritual and Handelesque.

All for her Pleasure Photo courtesy of New Sensations

All for her Pleasure
Photo courtesy of New Sensations

Binding her spread-eagled to the bed, William welcomes her home in a sex scene that is focused entirely on her. He blindfolds her, gives her earplugs with music, and covers her body with sensation: hot wax, ice, and lots of oral.

Emma’s feet clench forcefully, she curls her toes and grasps the bed covers with her hands as if trying to rip an unseen life force from the fabric and absorb it into herself. Her cries and moans punctuate the energy of a sex scene that is a visual experience.

Emma becomes worthy in her own eyes and a disciple-like vision for William.

Though BDSMers might challenge the use of perversions to describe their kink, they surely will agree with the film’s belief that normality is in the eye of the beholder. However, Emma Marx delivers another message of what it means to be normal, the emerging power of the independent woman—a seeming contradiction to the BDSM submissive.

As the film closes on a sunny day, Emma receives a message from William to come to his house for another round of bondage play. Smiling, she is delighted and secure that she is now in a different normal. The moment is significant for what it does not tell the viewer. Emma Marx is not married and is not living with William. At this point, at least, she is unwilling to embrace her sister’s interpretation of normal. She remains her whole self, an undeniable feminist statement.

*        *        *        *        *

No adult film is perfect because sex, and in this case an accompanying fetish,  has no standard definition of how it should be presented. But The Submission of Emma Marx is pretty darn close. I could go over a short list of things I would have liked to have seen: at least one internal pop shot because most women viewers don’t care for facials (Emma gets a partial one at the end) and some more time devoted to BDSM training with total nudity to please the bondage and discipline crowd. But this is just quibbling.

Most important, I urge New Sensations to consider an Emma Marx series, though corralling Penny Pax and Richie Calhoun for another film is probably easier suggested than done.

Emma Marx is about the liberation of a woman and her soul accomplished through the seeming contradiction of consensual BDSM. As I pointed out previously, its intensity, drama, and pure emotion coupled with discipline and punishment makes this film a leader in the submission porn genre. It has a strong cast and one of porn’s best players, Penny Pax, a BDSM veteran who can act and be carried away with authentic orgasms. She communicates directly with the audience, persuading the viewer to step into the scene and sweep her up. I found myself concentrating on her every nuance, especially her eyes that seem to speak directly the viewer. That’s something rarely found in the commercialism of the porn industry that insists producers quickly get on with the next project.

The Submission of Emma Marx is art and sex combined into a narrative that moves the viewer. But what is the film really saying? Early in the story Emma tells William with a touch of haughtiness, “I may look submissive, but I can assure you I’m not.” Perhaps Emma Marx, who later admits that “deep down” in her “demented mind” she actually likes her punishments, lets us know that love is many layered with confounding emotions darting among our fantasies.

 

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Submission Pornography

by Rich Moreland, August, 2013

Rarely do I publish a precursor to a film review, but this time it’s needed. Look for the movie’s full analysis soon.

The Submission of Emma Marx, an engaging film from New Sensations, is in the vanguard of a budding adult film genre. The movie establishes a style of pornography that is romantic and erotic with a hardcore kick of dominance and submission (D/s) that satisfies a woman’s desires.

Emma presents an updated take on an old theme that was once, by virtue of the delicacy of the female sex, considered to be exclusively a male fantasy. In a 1920s classic stag film called An English Tragedy, a jilted boyfriend captures his ex and ties her spreadeagled for his sexual thrills. It’s a revenge tale and she doesn’t have fun. A decade or so later, a terrified Fay Wray is bound between two pillars in a blockbuster known as King Kong. She’s a sacrificial offering the island natives string up for the big ape. The twist is the “beast” falls in love and gives his all for the “beauty” in a fatal plunge from the Empire State Building. Both films are love stories with strong bondage overtones.

In neither of these productions, one underground and the other legit, is the woman as victim expected to be sexually aroused.

Dancing on the doorstep of the explicit sex era, naked women are tortured for male sophomoric jollies in sexploitation films like White Slaves of Chinatown (1964) and Love Camp 7 (1968). Referred to as roughies and kinkies, these movies are high camp soft core at its most brutal. Nary a girl has fun except when it comes to settling the score.

In 1975, a harsh BDSM tale hit the big screen, the film version of the French novel, The Story of O. Society’s proper decorum insisted that women were not to like this soft core fictional account of abuse for abuse’s sake, sexual slavery under the lash. But it, too, is a love story and O can always walk away. BDSMers call it consensuality, though Webster doesn’t recognize the term. Adult film responds the same year with a Gerard Damiano O knockoff called The Story of Joanna, a movie remembered more for the legendary Jamie Gillis than its combo of bondage (which is pretty tame) and sex. Incidentally, like O, Joanna (played by Terri Hall) emerges as the narrative’s strongest character.

Fast forward to the second decade of the twenty-first century and the print sensation, Fifty Shades of Grey. At long last, female desire is validated, albeit in a semi-desperate “must reform him” setting that finds excuses for the perverted male. Liking BDSM for its own sake, you see, is still troublesome. Nevertheless, Fifty jarred the submission door open for adult film. Women who previously did not buy into the dungeon of discipline and pain are now willing to take a second look at D/s sex in the name of love, sacrifice, and dark pleasure.

Though adult film’s road to the BDSM Land of Oz remains a slogging trek, the horizon is brightening. In this century, Porn Valley’s passable blindfolds and light floggings are now counterbalanced with a rough and tumble niche product from San Francisco’s internet giant, Kink.com. But where does this leave female viewers and couples who like a bit of romance with their soft corded flogger?

Enter a diminutive girl named Emma.

Emma Photo courtesy of Jeff Koga

Thoughtful in Her Pleasures
Photo courtesy of Jeff Koga

Written from a hetero female standpoint, The Submission of Emma Marx introduces a woman’s take on romance with a powerfully kinky flavor. The movie experiments with the midway point between the psychological tension and passion of sex women embrace and the stark “beat and punish” fantasy of Kink.com.

This new type of porn succeeds with solid storytelling and creative directing. However, the vital ingredient is the female protagonist. She must be vulnerable, assertive, relish her discipline as a prelude to sex, have real orgasms, and never lose the power of her character, a tall order for any girl. This is where Emma Marx shines. The energetic Penny Pax, trained in BDSM performances at Kink.com, is an authentic star in a business that too often proclaims every girl a star. She is superlative in a beautiful narrative.

By the way, Emma Marx is not alone in its exploration of submission pornography. Smash Pictures’ Bound by Desire series adds its voice to the field. But for now, New Sensations leads the pack in this new genre with a finely crafted film that is as much art as it is steamy sex.

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Deeper into Their Fantasies

By Rich Moreland, December 2012

“I’ve failed miserably,” Christian Mann says with a smile. He’s referring to his lack of success in predicting what his boss, John Stagliano, will like in a project. That may be so, I don’t doubt, but Christian’s name in the porn universe is almost as well-known as his that of his employer. He’s the general manager of Evil Angel Productions, one of the dynamic names in adult entertainment.

Christian Mann Photo by Bill Knight

Christian Mann
Photo by Bill Knight

We’re in his office in Van Nuys, part of the greater Los Angeles area. The space is nicely appointed and part of a small facility tucked away among identical storefronts common in today’s ubiquitous industrial parks. “E.A. Productions” is printed over the glass enclosed entrance. The casual visitor is hard-pressed to recognize that this unassuming location houses an industry mover and shaker.

Inside there’s a small waiting area; a receptionist sits behind a window-like opening equipped with a sliding glass front. Typical office waiting room, all that is missing is a clipboard so I could check ‘new patient’ since this is my first visit.

A couple of perky young women are busy around the receptionist’s seat on this day. My guess is they probably shoot a few scenes for the studio and pick up steadier bucks answering the phone and greeting visitors. If not, it’s an entertaining thought.

Unlike most professionals I know, Christian is prompt, coming into the waiting room to greet Bill, my photographer, and me. Very cool. Visits to financial gurus and lawyers often involve secretaries leading the way; for doctors, it’s always a nurse. No third party here. Porn people are hands on and laid back, all puns intended.

Folk Appeal

Evil Angel is the brainchild of John Stagliano who, some twenty plus years ago, patented an artistic and innovative style of filmed pornography called gonzo, a topic I’ve written about previously. John is a genius and highly respected in the business.

A note on gonzo is in order here. It’s an adult film genre in which a movie is a series of somewhat disconnected scenes focused on the sex taking place before the camera. In a sense, it’s a modernized version of the old loop. A storyline is essentially vacant, though some of John’s signature “Buttman” series have a loose narrative base. In gonzo, the sex is the reason for the shoot unlike other approaches that work the sex into the narrative. For Evil Angel, the sex is never an “add on,” to quote Christian. Though this concept may appear overly simplistic, it has made the company into a recognized brand name.

Christian elaborates on the Stagliano philosophy. The sex is greater than “the storyline or the production values,” he says. That is not to say Evil Angel eschews these components, they just aren’t starting points. Two movies in a feature film format, The Fashionistas and Voracious, are “very intense when it comes to those elements,” Christian points out. For example, Voracious is episodic, centers on a vampire theme, and is shot in Europe where the sex is edgier than the American consumer is accustomed to seeing. Stateside, a degree of prudery still reigns. Using a serial format, Voracious turns the soil (always pleasing to vampire lovers) for a new and interesting approach to filmed pornography.

Courtesy of Evil Angel Proudctions

Courtesy of Evil Angel Productions

Courtesy Evil Angel Productions

Courtesy of Evil Angel Productions

Christian emphasizes the heart of the matter once again, hammering home the stake of truth that keeps the Evil Angel model moving forward. “Our movies always start with the sex because that’s what people [the consumers] are first and foremost wanting,” he says.

In defining the Evil Angel operation, Christian emphasizes that the company welcomes diversity. John Stagliano does not “mandate a certain point of view” though the “common thread” of sex first remains. Company directors have a free hand, Christian says, but “John has to like it” which means that boring sex dies on the cutting room floor.

Within a few minutes of talking with Christian Mann, two words jump out: charm and intelligence. He’s no stranger to adult entertainment having been involved in the business for over thirty years. Video, production, sales, marketing, he’s had a hand in all aspects of the pornographer’s trade. Christian got his start working a summer job for his father who was in the print segment of adult entertainment. Eventually Christian’s psychology major paid off as his early years in the business were in marketing. Owning an adult film company was down the road as was a bout with the government over obscenity. But like many of adult film’s historically important people, Christian Mann is stilling trucking.

Along with his current position, Christian sits on the board of the Free Speech Coalition, the industry’s political wing. He has a libertarian heart like his boss. Both have fought censorship battles in the courts.

I’m interested in Christian’s view on the popularity of the Fifty Shades of Grey literary trilogy. Now that the bondage fetish is collecting devotees, is the company jumping on the BDSM bandwagon as it journeys through the market bizarre of porn? He is definitive: Evil Angel prefers not to respond to the market.

Once again, Christian returns to the company mantra. It’s unlikely John will react enthusiastically to a project if he’s simply told “it’s going to sell,” Christian states. (He’s personally made that mistake a couple of times. That’s where the prediction failures add up.)  Rather, it is John’s personal belief in the product’s quality that establishes the company’s image. Attaching a well-known name (performer or director) to a project’s sales pitch, for example, is no guarantee it will gain traction with the boss.

Of course, if a product with the Evil Angel name generates a profit, all the better. In that case, “the market just happens to agree with him,” Christian says. But there is an underlying secret at work. John has “folk appeal,” Christian reveals, an intuitive understanding of what people want.

I have no doubt that is true. The company’s red logo shouts quality and tradition. But I also contend that John Stagliano shapes the market. Like Vivid Entertainment’s Steve Hirsch, Wicked Pictures’ Steve Orenstein, and Kink.com’s Peter Acworth, the Stagliano name creates sales. In a pensive moment, Christian concludes, “John is the market.” I could not agree more.

Gender Blind

Among the reasons I’ve come to Evil Angel is to talk feminism in porn. We quickly agree that Fifty Shades of Grey and BDSM have opened another door into the female empowerment arena.

E.A. has a stable of directors who own their content and distribute through the company. Among the team are two active legends, Belladonna and Bobbi Starr. John Stagliano is “gender blind” in his hiring practices and some of Evil Angel’s “hardest stuff” comes from these women, Christian says.

Though I’ve never had the opportunity to converse with Belladonna, I know Bobbi. She’s talked about her struggle to become a director. John gave her that opportunity, as he did with another well-known feminist filmmaker named Tristan Taormino, who refers to him as the Steven Spielberg of porn. Bobbi has not disappointed the company, she is hard core to the core in what she likes to put on film. Incidentally, the 2013 Adult Video News Awards in Las Vegas are close at hand and Bobbi Starr is among the nominees for both Female Performer of the Year and Best Director, a result of hard work and a personal belief in her own creativity.

Christian comments about projects both women have to their credit. “If you didn’t know it was a female directing it, you would think it’s a guy” casting women in a submissive role, he says. Belladonna and Bobbi deliberately capture the male gonzo point of view and then contradictorily take possession of it, a characteristic of what I call pornography feminism.

But is this feminism in Christian’s view? Yes, he affirms, and goes on to suggest that E.A. directors “who are interested in dominance and role-play” reflect a modern porn POV that puts women in charge of the on screen sex. He mentions one male director who often shoots “high art bondage” and though the viewer might get the impression that he dislikes women, female performers “love working for him.”  In fact, it is often the women who “push the envelope;” in other words, female subjugation on film is often driven by the women themselves.

The upshot is a “new prototype of performer,” Christian asserts, who relishes working for female directors “trying to out hard core each other.” There is a downside to this scenario, he concedes, the sex can deteriorate into “acrobatics” that are devoid of creativity.  Finding balance is not always easy.

Christian understands the erotic perspectives of new century women. They are claiming ownership of their sexuality, refusing “to be told how they’re supposed to behave sexually,” he says. They’re insisting that their boundaries be expanded; they want to go “deeper” into their fantasies and this adventure includes the submissive and dominant sides of the role play.

In short, BDSM is now an “equal opportunity” playing field, Christian asserts, that gives women choices with an added benefit: accessorizing. In his analysis, that may be Fifty Shades’ real attraction. The story shines a light on “something that has existed for a while now,” he points out, the fascination with fetishes and role-play that gives permission to have fun with the attire, the leather, and the bondage gear. For reference, take a peek at a trailer for The Fashionistas or Voracious. Once again, Evil Angel is a step ahead of this curve.

Christian reviews what everyone secretly knows but few outside of the porn world act out. “A lot of sex fantasy is about power, role-reversal,” he says, emphasizing that men can be submissive to female dominance. Something, I might add, that many anti-porn people don’t take time to consider because they are lost in their monomaniacal vision that porn is violence against women.

“Part of a woman’s empowerment,” Christian explains, “and part of the modern woman owning her own sexuality includes the right to express herself”‘ in any role she might want. In relating the Fifty Shades phenomenon, Christian postulates, “When modern women are given the right to choose, they are frequently choosing to be submissive.”

A Final Shot Before We Head OutPhoto by Bill Knight

A Final Shot Before We Head Out
Photo by Bill Knight

Christian Mann’s conversational intensity is speeding the time away and before long his agenda demands attention. We’ve gone way over the time he allowed for me, I’m sure. But I can’t leave without a final inquiry. I ask Christian for a personal vision.

He sees himself as moving Evil Angel through changing times. Most important is keeping the erotic experience for the consumer at its highest level and the best way to do that is to market a quality product.

The philosophy of John Stagliano is everywhere inside this inconspicuous storefront.

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