Tag Archives: Jacky St. James

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.

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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.

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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?

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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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Evolved, A Commentary: Part One

by Rich Moreland, September 2017

Jacky St. James has ventured into a another film in her Emma Marx series.

Here is my review/analysis of The Submission of Emma Marx: Evolved, a New Sensations release under its Erotic Stories collection.

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The ancient Greeks believed the trilogy, a tale told in three parts, represented completeness. Academics interpret the trilogy’s interconnected dramas as a story arc which moves the main character through a change of some sort.

Jacky St. James refines this approach with her brilliantly crafted original Emma Marx series which follows Emma’s sexual and emotional development. In the end, she must overcome the tragic loss of her lover.

So what to make of The Submission of Emma Marx: Evolved, essentially a fourth installment that broadens the narrative and, as it stands now, presents a myriad of possibilities going forward?

Simply put, Jacky is continuing Emma’s sexual growth, or what is best described as her maturity. The process is not dissimilar to the basic human experience developmental psychologists divide into stages, in this case, thirds: young, middle age, and old age. Emma’s progress, emotionally and sexually, has moved out of its adolescence and young adulthood into the earliest beginnings of a sexual middle age.

Is this fourth film the beginning of another trilogy? Possibly. Consider this: at first glance, Evolved is not better or worse than the original series; it is just different, a fresh story that in effect carries on the old story with all the ingredients to initiate a new trilogy of its own.

We already see the wheels beginning to turn as Emma moves her own desires away from submission into experiencing BDSM from the other side of the spectrum. Assuming the dominant role, Emma reaches out as teacher, mentor, and guru to a submissive whose understanding of the fetish is in its infancy, just as Mr. Frederick did for her.

The youthful BDSM neophyte Mariah is the beneficiary now and the future is filled with adventure.

But Jacky leaves us with a difficult question. Does a submissive pass through that state and wish to become a dominant? Is that a natural progression, or does a submissive play an elaborate game of becoming a “switch?”

 

This we do know. The reason Evolved is not an extension of the original series is the absence of Mr. Frederick materially, though he remains with Emma spiritually. Sadly, the on-screen dynamics created by Penny Pax as Emma and Richie Calhoun as Mr. Frederick cannot find a space in this film. However, Jacky astutely maintains their connection with an occasional flashback.

She also pursues their relationship in a unique way that shapes the story: Richie, as William Frederick, narrates the film from the grave, we assume.

Chemistry

Despite the missing Emma/William physical component to hold the story together, there are other chemistries that quickly fill the void.

First, Riley Reid as Nadia and Van Wylde as her husband Ray once again open the film’s sex scenes with a romp of their own. If their pairing continues into the future, Riley/Van scenes will become the stuff of porn legend. Going back to each of the previous films: the original, Boundaries, and Exposed, we see them sexually evolve as they deal with the demands of their marriage and the changes that brings.

Second, there’s the acting chemistry between Riley and Penny that is a mainstay in the trilogy. Their collaboration continues in this film and, it can be noted with assurance, Riley is a deft handler of dialogue and emotional expression. She has pace in her lines and in-character attitudes that move the narrative forward. Nadia retains her snarkiness, but also demonstrates a compassion that is underdeveloped in the first three films primarily due to her superficial interpretation of her suburban way of life.

Finally, there is the chemistry between Emma and Mariah (Violet Starr). Though not as pronounced as Nadia/Emma, it is still evident and predictably will grow should they be paired in another Emma film.

As Domme and sub, they are on the doorstep of becoming lovers, but for fans who want to relish that girl/girl action they’ll have to wait for another Emma installment. Always on her screenwriting toes, Jacky has cleverly laid the groundwork for that possibility.

The Sex Scenes

Working our way backwards through the sex scenes, the last one is beyond noteworthy. Penny is paired in a threesome with adult male superstars, Mickey Blue and John Strong.

The action includes anal, a DP, and light bondage. The adorable redhead is a solid veteran and can pull off any BDSM scene, no matter its intensity. What is more important to the story, however, is the reason for the sex. It sets the stage for Emma’s further development as a dominatrix because Evolved pronounces this scene as the final episode of her life as a submissive.

The opening sex scene featuring Nadia and Ray alluded to above, continues the tradition of the rocking hardcore action Riley Reid has cultivated to trademark her brand. Of note is how different their sex scenes are in the series. In the first film, the sex is premarital. In the second and third we see them married with fantasy/fetish play, and now they’re separated and into “hate sex,” as Nadia calls it.

Hilariously, she explains to Emma that it’s the best she’s ever had with more orgasms than ever before.

The result?

Director of Photography Eddie Powell and his compadre Paul Woodcrest capture gonzo elements within feature film sex that offers the best of both porn sub-genres. With a series of “fuck mes” and “oh my gods,” Riley calls on her all-sex roots to steam up the stage. Lots of liquid everywhere (we’re talking spit here) and facial close-ups (an Eddie Powell tradition) mark the dynamics of the every scene.

In fact, all the sex scenes have an important gonzo element that is not always considered appealing to porn viewers of the fairer sex. After the pop shot, each performer runs her fingers through the cum deposited on her body and licks it off with her lips.

This is a departure from the earlier Emma films, but reinforces Jacky St. James’ personal love of gonzo.

Incidentally, other than being finger-licking good, the pop shots are tame compared to what other filmmakers are doing. Facials are avoided to keep the female-friendly and feminist component of Evolved in tact.

Newcomer Violet Starr presents her all-sex talents with Damon Dice and Jay Smooth in two scenes that show why she was cast as Mariah. However, looking beyond her physical talents, the viewer should pay close attention to Violet’s acting. She reveals that once again Jacky St. James can uncover the best performers for her films.

 

Mariah is aloof with Emma early on before becoming angry later when she feels abandoned. Throw in some fawning that Emma sorts through easily and Violet’s performance is good stuff for anyone who appreciates a well-paced and entertaining story.

Truth be told, this twenty-year-old’s acting is fresh and perky and, as the narrator tells us in describing Mariah, “unabashed and unapologetic.”

Cinematic Touches

As usual, a Jacky St. James film is flavored with references and motifs that enliven the drama. Take, for example, the scene with Emma washing Mariah’s back as she sits in the tub. Mariah has just experienced her first real BDSM sex after an education in the psychological perspective of bondage.

The episode is an emotional replay of the bath tub scenes in the original trilogy where the submissive Emma is bathed and caressed by her dominant, Mr. Frederick.

An important motif in Evolved is Emma’s trunk. It contains her bondage paraphernalia and toys. In the opening scene, it is toted up the steps when she moves in with Nadia and down again at story’s end as she moves out. That’s symbolic because Emma’s time as a sub has reached its height and she passing that baton off to Mariah. Emma has metaphorically reestablished her submission before putting it away as she occupies, then leaves, Nadia’s house.

When Mariah rummages through the gear, Emma takes the opportunity to mention that there is a strong psychological component to BDSM.

“It’s not about the pain,” she says, “It’s about exercise and control and anticipation.”

Up until that moment, Mariah’s fetish sex is plastic handcuffs and some spanking that lights up the physical senses as illustrated in her first sex scene with a guy (Damon Dice) she’s picked up. She directs him to please her in her favorite role as a submissive. There is a feminist component on display here, of course, but the BDSM message is underdeveloped, as Emma will reveal to Mariah.

When Emma takes control of Mariah’s BDSM training, new feminist avenues are opened up and we see Jacky’s version of feminism upfront and personal. The feminist touch in porn is as cerebral as it is physical.

Eddie Powell and Paul Woodcrest contribute to this female-centric motif by focusing on whole body shots during the sex so as to not minimize the men. Also, they celebrate female satisfaction with facial close-ups of the women. What’s more, eye contact is vital in this film, recalling the emotionally gripping scene when Emma meets her new Dom in the last installment of the original trilogy.

As for symbolism, notice the St. Andrew’s Cross print on the wall of Mariah’s bedroom. That traditional BDSM symbol is revisited at the end of the film where eye contact once again solidifies relationships.

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In Part Two of this commentary, we’ll briefly consider Jacky St. James’ message presented in Evolved.

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Darker Side of Desire: Part Two

by Rich Moreland, March 2017

Here is Part Two of my review/analysis of Jacky St. James’ Darker Side of Desire, a production of Mile High Media.

To get a flavor of the images mentioned in this analysis, watch the “not safe for work” trailer here.

All photos and images are courtesy of Mile High Media.

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A Balanced Message

The sex scenes in Darker Side of Desire are Jacky St. James at her artistic best and reflect the mission of Sweet Sinner video. The scenes are woman-friendly and romance-oriented with female consent the focal point of every shot.

Passionate kissing abounds with everyone receiving oral pleasures, but the gagging, choking, and deep throating of today’s run-of-the-mill porn are conspicuously minimized; not surprisingly, the same applies to porn as an anatomy lesson.

Facial expressions communicate desire while the camera focuses on both bodies equally when the sex heats up. Cinematographer Hank Hoffman often shoots a symmetrical view of the lovers to highlight carnal expression as a two-way street.

Speaking of visual clues, Jacky St. James concentrates on phallic symbols like candles and vases paired with flowers (very Freudian) to underscore the psychology of sex. Since vases offer a canal to be filled, so to speak. . . Well, I think you get the idea.

As mentioned above, communication is the heartbeat of each sex scene. Darker Side is solid feminist porn with male performers who express their feelings through conversation and touch. Take note, for example, of how Mickey Mod gently cradles Cassidy Klein’s head during their intimate moments.

To shoot a female-centered film requires men who are comfortable with their sexuality and are willing to yield their masculine focus in favor of pleasuring their partners.

Jacky St. James casts the best of them.

Sexual Maturity

With Darker Side Jacky is as true to the BDSM community as she has ever been. Take for instance, the performers in the dream sequence. They’re older, a reflection of real-life bondage aficionados. The renowned MILF, Cherie Deville, is the perfect choice to perform with Tommy Pistol, a veteran of Kink.com who is in his forties.

Mickey Mod and James Deen are also Kink veterans who have been in the industry for ten and thirteen years respectively. Michael Vegas didn’t enter adult until he was twenty-six and is in his seventh porn year. Experience also characterizes the women. Cassidy Klein and Gia Paige are well into their twenties, hardly newbs by porn standards.

Only Riley Nixon is a youngster among this crowd, but she is mature by fetish standards. And make no mistake, this girl is a charmer with an adorable, disarming smile.

In the BTS segment of the DVD, Riley tells us she’s “very submissive” and BDSM gives her an exciting sexual space to be free of worry and responsibility.

Submission is “who I am deep inside, a natural state for me,” she declares. Can you feel the love?

Experience teaches BDSMers to be comfortable with their fetish. Sex is as much mental as it is physical and any bondage lover will tell you that understanding your sexuality and being open to talk about it is what the kink is all about.

The Game

Darker Side has two themes. The first, as we’ve seen, is the appreciation of authentically presented BDSM.

The second is feminism’s relationship to kinky sex brought out in the film’s pivotal scene, the drinking game. A tequila bottle (another phallic symbol) is positioned in the middle of a divan around which four players (Bryce and the girls) sit.

It’s a bit of truth or dare fun that unexpectedly wrings a bondage confession out of Sydney. Her words touch a nerve with Robyn (Riley Nixon) who challenges her roomie’s feminism by asserting that BDSM is anti-woman.

Sydney replies she did not give up her power when she played in the dungeon. A chill rises quickly around the group.

Robyn is indignant. “You bent over and let some dude spank you and you think you‘re in control?”

Sydney leaves abruptly. How do you spell tension?

Raising the Bar

Darker Side of Desire is an artistic commentary that raises the bar of the average porn film. Make no mistake, Darker can survive on its terrific sex scenes alone, but, as we’ve mentioned, Jacky St. James has a special talent for shooting sex that fits perfectly into the narrative.

Later, when Natalie persuades Sydney to tell her story, she learns that her friend researched BDSM websites which led to her adventure with Alex, an accurate comment on how kinksters find each other in today’s cyberspace.

He was “much older,” Sydney says (reinforcing the age factor). Their fetish sex was immediate.

“It didn’t evolve, it started there,” Sydney says.

They talked about everything.

“What I wanted, what turned me on. He was completely respectful of my boundaries.”

Negotiation and trust are the most important parts of the BDSM experience.

The rewards were enormous. The sex unleashed something inside her, she explains.

Unfortunately, Sydney was a college freshman at the time and sexual self-understanding was in short supply. Though she was happy with the arrangement, she broke it off because she felt “weird” and different from other girls.

Youth led her to judge herself negatively. Fear stepped in and now years later she regrets everything, Sydney tells Natalie.

You’re Next

Emboldened, Natalie is now ready to begin her emotional/sexual journey.

To prepare the viewer, Jacky St. James breaks the fourth wall in Natalie’s final dream episode. During the fantasy sex, Cherie Deville looks directly into the camera expressing her satisfaction before Tommy Pistol turns to the lens and confronts Natalie’s reticence with, “You’re next!” It’s her inner challenge to act on her desires.

She’s watched for too long, now it’s time to play.

When the final sex scene shows up, Natalie and Bryce come full circle. By the way, Cassidy Klein’s oral performance is stylish, more art than gonzo, a kind of sensual caressing.

In the bondage sequence, the lovers are reflected in a mirror to the left of the screen. The shot is laden with shadows and represents their transition, stepping through the looking-glass if you will.

Natalie, who submits to a blindfold, lives out her fantasy in her imagination. Bryce’s voice nurtures her internal visions, much like the radio dramas long ago when listeners created the visual scene for themselves.

The dream has come to life, a reminder that BDSMers always have their favorite scenarios in their heads.

Inside the Self

Finally, Darker Side of Desire is impressive for two reasons.

First, Jacky St. James has all the right performers. Each one brings a special talent to the screen.

Second, Jacky has grown in her understanding of BDSM. With Emma Marx, she successfully normalized the fetish. Now she has moved kink to a more personal level with the women of Darker Side. Words and caresses excite them while the sex is hot and heavy without gonzo-style sex for sex’s sake.

Simply put, the fetish is nurtured inside the self. Her desires inflamed, Natalie’s here and now contrasts with Sydney’s fond remembrances of a past experience that offers hope for the future.

There is a course correction needed in this story and it appears in the closing scene. Her wrists and ankles shackled, Robyn extracts a promise from her lover to say nothing of this to anyone . . . Appearances always matter, of course, even to feminists who decry that bondage objectifies women while wrestling with their own ideas about its erotic allure.

Just as Natalie’s over voice opens the film, another with real honesty steps in before the final credits roll . . .

“Robyn eventually acknowledges that sexual fetishes are deeply personal and not to be judged until fully experienced.”

For Natalie, Sydney, and Robyn, this is not the end, of course, but a beginning, or more precisely an electrifying rebirth . . .

Will there be a Darker Side of Desire, Part Two? If so, this reviewer is on board!

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Darker Side of Desire: Part One

by Rich Moreland, March 2017

Jacky St. James is considered the leading feminist filmmaker in the adult industry today. As always her screenplays are Hollywood ready and Jacky’s latest feature, Darker Side of Desire, is no exception.

In this two-part review/analysis we’ll look at what makes this film a top-of-the-line production for couples and fetish lovers.

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Never for its Own Sake

After a successful run at New Sensations, Jacky St. James has taken her talent for storytelling to Mile High Media and its couples-oriented romance brand, Sweet Sinner.

The transition has already produced a winner, Darker Side of Desire, a feature film that once again cultivates a space for female-friendly BDSM. Jacky fans will remember her preeminent mark on the adult industry, the Emma Marx series reviewed on this blog in August 2013, March 2015, and April 2016.

Though reflective of the Emma Marx concept, Darker Side is a much different film. Here’s why.

In Emma’s story, BDSM is a learned sexual behavior that taps into the dominant/submission paradigm that exists to some degree in everyone. After all, what schoolgirl hasn’t had her hair pulled by that obnoxious boy in third grade? Flirtatious aggression is part of an instinctive primordial mating ritual psychologists tell us, though the kiddies are too young to get the picture.

Darker Side further explores BDSM as a preprogrammed behavior (it’s in our DNA, so to speak) that is clearly recognized by some of its adherents. In other words, no learning is required because “it turns me on, but I don’t know why.”

In that respect, the film is not Emma Marx, but is complementary of its message that submission is a legitimate sexuality that is part of a broader array of erotic behaviors.

And there is another difference worthy of note. While the many sex scenes in the Emma Marx series are BDSM exploratory, the scenes in Darker Side are a progression of how each woman in the story handles her inborn desires.

Emma normalizes a sexual fetish; the women of Darker Side don’t have that problem. For them, the fetish is already their normal.

Having said that, Jacky St. James’ philosophy that the storyline drives the sex is never more evident than in Darker Side. In other words, the sex informs character development, moves the narrative forward, and is never there for its own sake.

Simply put, Darker Side of Desire is sharp in plot and cinematography. For newbies to the bondage fetish who know what they want, the film is BDSM 101.

 

Hidden Affection

Natalie (Cassidy Klein) is haunted by a recurring dream of bondage sex. Vanilla in her lovemaking with new boyfriend Bryce (Mickey Mod), Natalie’s inner hunger to experience her fetish gnaws at her. The film moves her to a resolution that is set up by a progression of sex scenes skillfully placed within the narrative.

To get us there, Darker Side’s other characters come into play. We have Natalie’s friends and roommates Sydney (Gia Paige) and Robyn (Riley Nixon).

The men are Sydney’s past lover Alex (James Deen) and Robyn’s boyfriend Mike (Michael Vegas). The dream sequence features Cherie Deville as the submissive and Tommy Pistol as her dominant.

So how does the sex tell the story?

The first scene is Natalie and Bryce in a vanilla romp of raging endorphins that floods the new lovers.  As Natalie says in voice over, their relationship is a “whirlwind of romance and excitement.”

“You’re happy being out of control,” she declares.

The palette Jacky St. James and cinematographer Hank Hoffman present in the scene is top quality filmmaking. Mickey is a man of color so blending his darker tone with Cassidy’s paler one yields a visual perspective steeped in shades of brown, rust, auburn, and maroon. The sofa, candles, and the painting on the wall compose a pastel montage that flavors the romance.

Later, the palette reappears when Bryce and Natalie are playing pool (cues, balls, and pockets are Freudian symbols in this scene). The table felt and Natalie’s dress are shades of reddish-brown with a darker desert tone that is fitting, by the way, because their relationship may become arid if kinky erotic urges are ignored.

Spider Web

Next we have Natalie’s dream that composes the second sex scene. It delves into her psyche and its hidden affection for BDSM.

A spider web of chains is suspended between the camera and the imaginary players caught up in a tangle of bondage desires.

Denial, a subtle Jacky St. James theme, takes over as Tommy tempts and taunts Cherie throughout the entire scene. He calls her his “submissive little slut” and she responds, “Please sir, I want it so bad!”

With “I said beg for it!” Tommy spanks Cherie, whose coy smile reveals her submission pleasure.

Of course for the dreaming Natalie, the spider web is intimidating, a chilling look at the dichotomy of fetish sex: scary yet tempting, watching others while fearful of taking the step yourself.

Counterpoints

Later, roommate Sydney tells Natalie of a past lover Alex and their bondage hook-ups. The next sex scene between the two serves, along with the dream sequence, as fetish counterpoints to Natalie and Bryce’s vanilla theme.

The question of female degradation versus feminism’s empowerment is illustrated by the fourth scene. It’s a sexcapade between Robyn (Riley Nixon) and her boyfriend Mike (Michael Vegas), a playtime sprinkled with humor that tests traditional feminist sexual politics.

More on this in Part Two.

The final sex scene is Natalie and Bryce revisited. Now they’ve negotiated their mutual turn-on, the kink hidden within that finds the best of all outlets: a like-thinking lover.

So how does the movie take us through the BDSM experience as a feminist message?

That’s the question for Part Two of this review.

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Darker Side of Desire can be purchased from Mile High Media here.

To watch the “not safe for work” trailer, click here.

 . . . And for twitter fans, here’s your bread and butter: @milehighmovies  @sweetsinnerxxx @jackystjames

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Circular Evolution: Angie Rowntree, Part One

by Rich Moreland, October 2016

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

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

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

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

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

Here is a sampling of our conversation.

A Legitimate Expressive Form

Is crossing over on rise?

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

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

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

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

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

Youth does make a difference, Angie insists.

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

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

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

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

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

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Viewed Differently

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

Angie hesitates to predict anything definite about that.

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

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

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

Legally Acceptable

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Well said.

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Our conversation with Angie Rowntree continues in the next post.

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

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

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

 

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The Resolution of Emma Marx, Part Three: One Precious Moment

by Rich Moreland, April 2016

In this final installment of The Submission of Emma Marx: Exposed, we take a look at the sex scenes and how they play into the story.

There is much more within this film than I have room to cover in three brief posts so watch the movie for yourself. It is an rewarding experience.

Watermarked photos are courtesy of New Sensations/Digital Sin, the others are appropriately credited.

TheSubmissionOfEmmaMarx03Exposed_front

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Sex scenes are the bait that keeps the porn fan fishing.

Often presented formulaically, they drive a film’s reason to be. However, when and where the sexual interludes occur and what meaning is attached to them is not always clear.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESA Jacky St. James feature is the exception. Her scripts dictate where the titillation is placed and why the characters are having sex.

Keeping this in mind, Exposed, the final drama of the Emma Marx trilogy, is textbook Jacky. There are five scenes (a deviation from porn’s usual four) and each is effectively worked into the plotline. The result presents sex that operates on more than one level.

Of interest, are the following.

Call the Babysitter?

The Nadia and Ray scene repeats the set up Jacky presented in the initial Emma Marx. Not yet married at the time, they have sex at the film’s beginning. In the next Emma installment, Boundaries, they go at each other once again as the story opens. In Exposed Jacky’s stays with the pattern and Nadia and Ray complete their own personal trilogy.

The couple has progressed to role-playing to keep their marriage interesting, or at least modestly so since their carnality is mired in the middle-class conventionality Nadia holds over Ray. They hinted at a bondage fantasy in Boundaries, now they’re interested in the illicit pickup.

Nadia and Ray have their fantasy while the wedding plays on

Nadia and Ray have their fantasy while the wedding plays on

Nadia is on a balcony with drink in hand. Background music suggests a social gathering. Ray comes up to her and they chat about the ongoing wedding celebration. Ray tries to put the moves on Nadia and she, insulted, splatters his face with her drink.

The scene quickly shifts to a bedroom all done up appropriately in vanilla white with a touch of gray. Only this time, the shades of their fetish sex seen in Boundaries are tossed aside like so many pillows.

The sex is top-of-the-line Riley Reid and her acting chops kick in when she says, “Wait, do you think we’d better call the babysitter?”

What’s this? A baby?

Ray assures her the sitter is “good all day” and that she, Nadia, is “ruining the fantasy.”

Mom reverts to character, telling her pick-up lover “this is just a one-time thing.” Later Nadia has to remind Ray to stay with the program when baby concerns come up again.

Their sex scene is the perfect transition into the third Emma Marx. Nadia and Ray are suburban bourgeoisie, of course, but deserve some credit for their mutual fantasy . . . though laughing about Ray’s getting off on the “horny girl at the wedding” remains stilted. Unlike Emma, their imaginations are play acting and unconnected to their reality.

Barely a Trace Left

Later Nadia phones Emma to share her sexual escapade as if it were purchased online. “It’s our new thing, just like you guys are playing with your whips and chains,” Nadia says.

Her affectation is cheesiness extraordinaire. Their role-playing romps are little more than larks, here today, something new tomorrow. This latest version plays within the bounds of what is passable as illicit sex. Sadly, throughout the Emma series Nadia never quite grasps that Emma and Frederick have a lifestyle, not “new thing.”

Incidentally, Nadia, dressed in a postcard version of a French maid’s outfit, later skypes Emma. She’s ready for role play night, she announces, but she’s not happy. Nadia doesn’t like the getup, too sleazy. It’s not her, she declares, because she spends all day being his maid anyway. It’s a mask that doesn’t do much for her sexually.

Nadia skypes Emma to decry her maid fantasy

Nadia uses skype to decry her pre-planned maid fantasy

The real difficulty with Nadia is that her fantasies are scripted, not spontaneous. She comments that the outfit is “supposed to be me pretending to be someone else.” But her remark induces Emma to reflect on her relationship with Frederick.

“The truth was I felt more myself as his sub than I ever did as Emma. There was barely a trace of her left anymore.”

Emma’s revelation leads Jacky St. James to reveal the potential shortcoming of fantasy. Sometimes, it only goes one way. Emma admits that at least Ray shares his with Nadia. Mr. Frederick, on the other hand, is another story.

Rebecca to Joelle

Emma broaches the subject with her Dom and learns about Audrina, an uncomfortable episode that damaged his relationship with his former sub.

Two comments on this sex scene. First is Samantha Hayes who plays Rebecca. She is gorgeous with a smutty vigor that is as good as it gets. Second is the disastrous tone of this dalliance which proves sex in porn can carry a message.

Tugging on the collar keeps Rebecca excied Photo by Eddie Powell

Tugging on the collar keeps Rebecca excited
Photo by Eddie Powell

Among other BDSM elements, there is light flogging and a collar and leash. Rebecca is taken to erotic heights while a hogtied Audrina, who set up this scenario, looks on unable to participate.

Frederick has to command Audrina’s attention when she lowers her gaze, telling her to keep watching. She obeys, but sadness overwhelms her as the sex gets heavier. This “gift” she’s given him, which ironically began as her fantasy, has changed their relationship.

Audrina looks on Photo courtesy of Jacky St. James

Audrina looks on
Photo courtesy of Jacky St. James

In an effort to deter Emma from a similar mistake, Frederick lets her in on why his fantasies are not important to their relationship. As described in Part Two of this analysis, the scene opens up the remarkable talents of cinematographer Eddie Powell. Almost drowned in shadows, it’s shot in their bathroom, Emma submerged in soapy bubbles with Frederick sitting on the edge of the tub.

As the camera pulls away, Frederick, steeped in regret, drops his eyes, explaining that Audrina wanted to return to “a more traditional relationship.” Emma’s face is blanketed with alternating layers of determination and doubt. It’s a lesson in trust, problematic self-esteem, and implied jealousy. Though reality, illustrated by the looming darkness on both sides of the screen, is squeezing them, Emma moves forward with her plan.

The camera looks in from the doorway. Photo courtesy of Jacky St. James

Reality and a plan that is risky
Photo courtesy of Jacky St. James

Ignoring Audrina’s ill-fated mistake, Emma orchestrates the sex scene that she perceives to be her Dom’s fantasy. Joelle is introduced to Frederick and unlike Audrina, Emma will participate in their fun. Within the narrative, the threesome sex carries a transition message as illustrated by the doorway into the rec room that offers up the new play partner.

Joelle waits in the background as Emma's gift for Frederick

Joelle waits in the background as Emma’s gift for Frederick

Aidra Fox is Joelle. Like Samantha Hayes, this brunette hottie has superstar written all over her. The show is fantastic with the twenty-year-old sporting a bondage outfit that shouts out the sassy eroticism that is Aidra’s trademark. In this reviewer’s opinion, her energy makes this scene the best of the film.

The scene with Joelle. From L to R, Richie Calhoun, Penny Pax, and Aidra Fox.

Michael

As Exposed winds down, Emma needs to reconnect with her real love, her fetish. Finding a new mentor whose compassion guides her reawakening, Emma explores a relationship with him she identifies as “therapeutic.”

“I paid him to dominate me a few hours every week, easing me back into that familiar world”

Among dark shadows, Emma enters a new doorway, the open gate of a bondage cage. Michael, in suit and tie, closes it behind her and binds her arms. Emma is now secure in the world she loves. Various shots of her yielding to his intense BDSM play follow.  Emma faces her greatest challenge, conflating a partner she is just getting to know with her lust for the fetish.

“I was determined to overcome the fear of the pain of trusting someone new, no matter how intense the situation or the pain.”

Michael's tenderness nurtures Emma's transition at film's end

Michael’s tenderness nurtures Emma’s transition at film’s end

Ryan Driller’s warmth and compassion demonstrates why he is the perfect choice for Michael’s role. Pay close attention to their eye contact moment, a deftly placed mechanism to rebuild trust. In fact, psychologists say that holding a gaze with another person releases emotion and becomes a precursor to love.

The pendant and its memory Photo courtesy of Penny Pax

The pendant and its memory
Photo courtesy of Penny Pax

The film’s defining moment centers on its denouement. Emma removes the pendant with its W and the metaphorical mask it represents. She is now prepared to give herself to Michael, a significant step that moves her from the past into the present. In so many words, Emma’s world is now turned upside down, just as the W now is free to bec0me an M, in all ways that are good.

An older, wiser Emma tells us she is now “the strong courageous woman who is no longer living the socially acceptable existence, but one who has found her truth, [becoming] the person she was always meant to be.”

Using Exposed as her dramatic vehicle, Jacky St. James illustrates that playing roles is part of being human no matter our lifestyle (humorous scenes of Nadia and Ray enjoying their own ephemeral fantasy moments are shown at the end of the film).  But when the masks that define our personas are stripped away, the heart is unfettered, no longer a prisoner of its past or shackled in the present. The real self is bared for all to see in its delicious liberation.

As Emma says, “your only thought is of this one precious moment and you’re left beautifully, perfectly, comfortably exposed.”

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A special congrats is due to the pair of actresses whose performances place the Emma Marx series in adult film’s library of legendary cinema.

Riely Reid and Penny Pax own all the bragging rights they can muster!

Riely Reid and Penny Pax own all the bragging rights they can muster!

Also, kudos are in order for two alluring porn princesses, Aidra Fox and Samantha Hayes. Their erotic shows heighten the impact of Exposed.

Aidra Photo courtesy of Eddie Powell

Aidra
Photo by Eddie Powell

 

Samantha Hayes Photo by Eddie Powell

Samantha
Photo by Eddie Powell

 

Of course, the hardworking crew that forged the Emma Marx trilogy into a porn classic deserves accolades!

Jacky, Paul, and Eddie Photo by Jeff Koga

Jacky, Paul, and Eddie
Photo by Jeff Koga

 

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Some of the crew and cast associated with this film can be followed on twitter.

Here are their accounts: @jackystjames@mreddiepowell,  @pennypax@OfficialAidraF, @RileyReidx3@SamanthaHayesxo, @ryandriller

 

 

 

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