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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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The Meaning of Consent: Tasha Reign

by Rich Moreland, March 2016

Tasha Reign is an outspoken pornography feminist whose political voice is ever present. Having entered adult film in 2010 at age twenty-one, she finds time to write about the industry, most recently for the Huffington Post, and when the opportunity arises, to crossover into independent film. We talked at the 2016 Adult Entertainment Expo.

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“The situation with James and Stoya is very good for our industry, and also for every industry, because it has enabled a discussion that I don’t think would be there otherwise.”

Those are the words of Tasha Reign. We are sitting in the AVN media room at Vegas’ Hard Rock Hotel.

Women’s Rights

Tasha believes Stoya has demonstrated great courage in speaking out [about her abuse] and reminds us she isn’t “the only woman who has had that happen to her and not had her voice heard.”

However, Stoya’s industry status renders her “a privileged person,” Tasha admits. In fact, James Deen’s former girlfriend is also “a celebrity” outside adult film.

“She’s educated, smart, well-spoken, and has a strong voice,” Tasha says.

Though Stoya’s fame helps to channel her message, consent remains a broader issue for sex worker and women’s rights. It’s something men must address.

“We live in a society based around patriarchy,” Tasha insists, which she wants to fight by speaking up all women.

Within the adult film industry, having sex on camera does not diminish performers or the rights that they have, she says. But not everyone gets the point “and that is why so many women have not spoken out.”

For her part, this formally educated professional has taken on the activist mantle to support women.

Tasha during our interview

Tasha during our interview

The Line is Blurry

When she began her venture into porn, Tasha Reign signed with LA Direct Models, a well-known talent agency. Good representation can guide a career and fortunately the native Californian has avoided any Stoya-like situations.

But, her limits on the set have been “crossed in ways that were more subtle.”

“Sometimes it’s difficult to identify when they happen,” she says. “It’s something you think later, ‘Wait, maybe this should have been more professional.'”

Those experiences have influenced the choices Tasha has made in moving her business pursuits forward.

“Whether I have somebody with me at all time at AVN like my security over there (she nods at a blue-suited gentleman sitting just to our right whose presence is meant to leave an impression) or whether it’s shooting for myself, I want to control every aspect of [my career].”

For the record, Tasha owns Reign Productions, writing and directing her own content.

She reiterates what others have told me. Talent should be educated about what to expect in adult entertainment.

“I think it would be great to put out a website where new performers can go and [learn] ‘Oh, this is how porn works. I am the boss. I call all the shots. Nobody should be crossing lines on the set.”

To underscore how important this is, Tasha adds, “Nobody should be grabbing you and nobody should be having sex after you say ‘stop’ even if you consented prior to that.”

“But for some reason, I have no idea why, that line is blurry,” Tasha says. “It’s not blurry to me and it’s not blurry to any woman.”

Own Your Choices

Fair enough, so what should everyone know about shooting sex and consent?

“Sometimes when you perform, you’re going to push your limits. You might be doing anal for the first time or a DP on camera and you’ve never done that before,” Tasha begins.

Referencing that her on-camera episodes may not be what her personal life is about, the UCLA grad concedes she had to learn to “slow-down” the action.

Communication is important.

Sex is a power exchange and is not fun if you have equal power, she believes. “That’s okay. What’s not okay is when you say ‘no’ and they continue. That’s rape.”

It’s a “fine line,” Tasha admits, and “male talent, if they crossed limits” may “not even realize that’s the situation.” So, awareness is also important.

Tasha generalizes the circumstances to civilians, suggesting that in the work place men might “hug their co-worker or put their hand on their waist or smack them on the butt in a playful, friendly manner they might do with a friend.”

She doesn’t understand “how they would feel that [type of behavior] would be okay.”

To illustrate her point, Tasha comments on the message she sends her fans when standing with them for photographs. It’s particularly applicable this week since we are at the industry’s major trade show.

“I’ll have someone tell them they must have their hands at their side. There’s no touching whatsoever. I will pose around you because that’s what I feel comfortable with.”

However, though she is comfortable with her boundaries, Tasha does not mean to restrict another girl might find appealing.

“I think that if a woman wants to have a gang bang with an entire football team . . . or if she wants her friends to grab her” that’s her choice and “you have to own your choices and be conscious about what you’re doing.”

Tasha during our 2014 interview

Tasha after our talk at the 2014 AEE

A Feminist Can Love Pornography

Tasha Reign points out a misconception the public has about adult film which she believes stems from a lack of “media literacy.”

Often people don’t understand that what they see in a sex scene is consensual among the talent, particularly if the shoot is rough. It appears the woman is being abused.

In particular, this is often the opinion of anti-porn feminists who know nothing about adult film. They conclude the scene was rape, when that is not the case, and, worst yet, never bother to talk with the models to get the real story.

“You can’t judge a consensual sex scene just because it was a rough scene. That’s not the way sex [in the industry] works,” Tasha states.

On the other hand, there is a bright side. “You can be a feminist and still love pornography and sex work,” Tasha declares, then turns her attention to an ongoing paradox that has politically agitated feminism for years.

“How in the world could you [as a feminist] condone having women make choices but then say they can’t have the choice to have sex for money? It makes no sense.”

As our allotted minutes run out, the performer/writer/producer/director follows up with one of her pet peeves.

“People like to scapegoat porn. If there’s anything they can put on you, they will. It’s always baffling to me. I’ll never get used to it. Jessica Drake in a panel this last week said, ‘You know what? Now that I’m older I realize it says so much more about them than it does about me.'”

Smiling, Tasha Reign concludes.

“And it’s one hundred percent true.”

*          *          *

You can follow Tasha on twitter and visit her website here.

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The Meaning of Consent: Allie Haze

by Rich Moreland, February 2016

Adult film has it’s stars, and then it has it’s superstars. Allie Haze is one of the latter and destined for the AVN Hall of Fame. During the recent Adult Entertainment Expo in Las Vegas, she gave me some of her valuable time. We found a quiet spot beyond the bustle of the convention for a lengthy interview that was a pure delight.

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My impression of Allie Haze is strength, self-assurance, and a sweetness that escapes description. What’s more, she understands the business of adult film.

“This is more than just a job because I’m selling myself. What you’re putting out there is you, your heart and your soul.”

Considering that statement, let’s delve into things that can happen on the set that might not always go down to everyone’s liking.

Allie Haze Photo Courtesy of Smash Pictures

Allie Haze
Photo Courtesy of Smash Pictures

The Sinkhole

Like others I have talked with, Allie does not believe consent issues pervade the industry, but she does recognize they affect the business with a collective concern.

She characterizes the James Deen/Stoya incident as “a sinkhole within us. It’s a very small part of a very big world that just happened to fall in.”

Having said that, the native Californian concedes that the allegations and resulting opinions are evolving into “a monster that is damaging our community.”

Essentially, James and Stoya, are “two powerhouse individuals” who have shaped the modern porn landscape, Allie says. They are among “those top twenty people” the public regards as important adult film voices, “the people who make the difference, the ones the media actually gets to hear.”

So, are there real issues with consent in porn?

For some people, yes. But, Allie believes, “it’s a case by case basis.” In other words, it differs based on personal preferences and the ability to understand the demands of porn.

“I could be twenty-five and be super manipulative or I could be eighteen and be smarter than the twenty-five year old,” she explains. “It has nothing to do with age. It has to do with your maturity level and there is no way to determine that.”

Photo courtesy of Allie Haze Twitter

Photo courtesy of Allie Haze Twitter

Know the Rules

Though she has a history of “good choices,” Allie supports mentoring performers because entering porn can be scary.

For example, she says, just getting started is challenging. Flying in from out of town and meeting an agent for the first time is often a bewildering and anxiety-producing “life changing event.”

Throw in that first day on the set with its consent issues, and a girl can fall into more than she expected. So it’s important to ask, “What are the rules of what you are getting into?” she says.

What’s more, the award-winning actress warns anyone thinking about shooting porn that “in less than six months your whole family” will know what you’re doing and you should understand the possible consequences of your decision.

Are there ways to guide newbies, particularly if they are having problems?

“I hope the older generation [of performers] would take them under their wing,” Allies replies.

But there is another vital point the stunning brunette wants to make.

Allie recalls her first job in fast food and the “food workers card” she secured after taking an eight-hour class. She endorses a similar practice for adult because performers do not have a union to address these concerns. The closest organization available is APAC (Adult Performer Advocacy Committee).

In her view, it would work like this. “When we have our I.D. [for age purposes] and [blood] test [results] we also need our permit card. No matter at what age you enter the business, you should have to go through a class, learn about your body and what you can say ‘no’ to.”

The former minister’s wife completes her thought with a strong affirmation about the process. “It also has to be industry funded.”

Teamwork

Allie Haze is not gun shy and it works to her advantage.

Photo Courtesy of Smash Pictures

Photo Courtesy of Smash Pictures

“I’m a little feisty and I never felt like I could not say no.” However, she is familiar with “meek, beautiful, and intelligent women” who have shared stories in which it was “more of a hassle to say ‘no'” than to just go along.

Nevertheless, Allie believes, the onus is on the performer to speak up. “No one is at fault because you made that decision [to say nothing]. If you had enough time to think of all of that, you had enough time to say ‘no.'”

The multi-talented performer shared a personal experience.

Once during a rough scene, a male model spit in her face “in the heat of the moment.” Allie stopped the shoot. She didn’t mind the choking and the slapping, but spitting was out.

A newcomer at the time, Allie had discussed her limits before the scene began, but really couldn’t blame the guy because she forgot to mention that spitting was a ‘no.’

“As much as I was frustrated and really offended, I told him that I know I didn’t say it and we’re not going to stop the shoot. Don’t lose your mojo, just don’t do it again.”

She apologized to the director and he said, “No, you’re good.”

Allie advises female performers to act with care. By screaming at the guy, his arousal level is crushed. “Now it’s his fault and nobody gets a paycheck and we have to come back the next day.”

“Although you’re entitled to an uproar, this is a career so there’s a professional way to handle those bad situations. You’re working as a team.”

Courtesy of Smash Pictures

Photo courtesy of Smash Pictures

A Way Out

Allie comments that Kink.com, where she has completed some twenty BDSM shoots, can create stressful situations. Safe words are important on their sets.

Her personal Kink anxiety centers on electricity.

“I wanted to challenge myself so I did their electrosluts site. My fear of electricity made me cry. I was gagged. I wasn’t in pain. Nothing was wrong. But once I started crying they cut the camera.”

An important lesson was learned.

Girls can communicate when fears are aroused. At Kink, crying, which is usually not related to physical discomfort, is a way to stop a scene.

It’s a matter of figuring out what behaviors companies consider sensitive.

“If you know what the rules are when cut happens” you’re on top of things, Allie declares. But always remember that “stop or cut” means lost footage. So a degree of common sense kicks in.

Having said that, Allie is adamant about feeling safe.

“No one should be in that situation where they feel like they need to find an escape or a way out. That’s what breaks my heart, that’s what makes me sad.”

In the middle of a hectic day, Allie is still cheerful and willing to chat

In the middle of a hectic day, Allie is still cheerful and willing to chat.

*           *           *

Through it all, Allie realized that when the James Deen/Stoya incident got out, women in porn were going to be portrayed as victims.

She wants everyone to know she is not a victim even though she’s “done a lot of interviews where they think that.”

Well, this is not one of them, I’m delighted to say.

For her final thought, Allie Haze proclaims with sharp certitude, “I’m happily a seven-year veteran and still going strong. I would never change it for the world.”

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The Meaning of Consent: Casey Calvert

by Rich Moreland, February 2016

Casey Calvert is popular with porn fans, having begun her career as a fetish model.  The 2012 University of Florida graduate entered the business at twenty-two, older than most girls who seek a career in adult entertainment.

Highly respected among her peers, Casey is active in the industry support group,  APAC (Adult Performer Advocacy Committee).

We talked recently at the Adult Entertainment Expo in Las Vegas.

CZHKeriUsAA6qjR*          *          *

Casey Calvert reflects what performers understand, “You know what you signed up for when you show up on the set.”

The native Floridian explains that an informed performer is aware of what is expected and who her co-stars are that day. However, that doesn’t mean unplanned or uncomfortable incidents don’t happen.

“If something changes, whether it’s somebody asking something additional of you or [an incident happens] by accident, you say something and the problem gets resolved.”

Feeling Violated

Casey doesn’t want to get into the James Deen/Stoya controversy which she refers to as “a big scandal” in the business. Understandable and that’s not the focus of my question. But, I do want her take on how a newcomer should handle a similar situation that might occur on set.

“It’s one of the things we’re working on as an industry, especially now that people are talking about how do we make new girls feel comfortable speaking up and how do we make sure they know it’s okay [to do so.]”

Then the four-year industry vet touches on the second point everyone seems to make.

Photo courtesy of Casey Calvert

Photo courtesy of Casey Calvert

“Nobody wants them to go home feeling violated or upset. Everybody wants them to go home feeling good.”

Casey retreats a bit when I suggest that after a questionable moment during filming, some girls may believe they have been subjected to inappropriate sexual behavior.

“Right, but that doesn’t mean they got raped either. Getting raped is if you say ‘no’ and they say ‘yes.'”

Does that happen?

“Not that I’ve ever heard of,” the superstar replies. “It has not personally happened to me. I’ve never heard a story in recent history at all where that has happened on a set with anybody.”

Having said that, she clarifies her position.

“There’s a difference between I say ‘no’ and you try to convince me to say ‘yes’ and I say ‘no’ and you take it anyway.”

Photo courtesy of Casey Calvert

Photo courtesy of Casey Calvert

Getting It Fixed

Has she been on sets where this has happened?

Casey hasn’t, but she comments, “I’ve been on shoots where I’ve had to say ‘something’s wrong’ and it gets fixed.”

She measures her words, declaring that she “can’t be mad” because “the person who has created” the problem straightened it out.

Due to the nature of a business that shoots thousands of scenes a year with a talent pool that is in constant flux, Casey realizes questionable moments do occur.

Referencing the male performers booked to shoot with her, she says, “They don’t know me. We’re acquaintances. This is not my boyfriend of ten years who should be fantastic at reading my body language and should know the things about me. This is essentially a stranger, so I can’t fault that stranger for not knowing something if I don’t tell him.”

Photo courtesy of Casey Calvert

Photo courtesy of Casey Calvert

Is being a superstar an advantage that causes everyone to back off?

“Oh, yeah. For sure. I fully admit I’ve had additional privilege going in being a Spiegler Girl, even [when I was] brand new.” Casey signed with the Spiegler agency immediately upon entering the industry.

“People treat you differently. I can definitely say that, but I also have lots of friends who are not Spiegler girls and have lots of experiences on set.”

She doesn’t elaborate about those experiences, be they positive or negative.

A Three-Fold System

To educate newcomers, APAC has developed a “Porn 101” video similar to AIM’s [Adult Industry Medical] endeavor years ago. Performers are is issued a card that certifies they have viewed the tape.

Photo courtesy of Casey Calvert

Photo courtesy of Casey Calvert

“It’s a very positive step in the right direction,” the native Floridian says, and explains that it’s especially valuable for girls who come in at eighteen or nineteen.

By presenting “this piece of paper that says, ‘I understand what I’m getting into. I get it,'” Casey points out, a performer should be in a position to deal with issues that may arise.

But she adds a caveat.

“We have to make sure they actually really do get it and it can’t be like, ‘here everybody gets a piece of paper.'”

Even that does not fully address the problem.

“If the companies don’t adopt that as a procedure where they require that piece of paper or that card, then it means nothing . . . [because] it is a three-fold system. There’s the performers, the directors, the producers and the companies, and then there’s the agents. The change has to come from all three.”

In other words, communication and cooperation across the board is a worthy goal, though not an easy task.

Casey uses the following example.

“If the performers get educated, then the companies say, ‘Okay, we need proof that you understand what you’re getting into,’ and the agents don’t facilitate any of that, it still doesn’t work. It has to be a system where all three are working together which is why APAC is having such a hard time making it happen.”

Having said that, Casey brightens.

“It’s happening, but it’s happening very, very slowly.”

Photo courtesy of Casey Calvert

Photo courtesy of Casey Calvert

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The Meaning of Consent: Beginning

by Rich Moreland, February 2016

In light of the widely reported James Deen/Stoya incident, I decided to investigate the issue of sexual consent in adult film with the understanding that their dustup was largely off camera. Performers with whom I talked agreed that the affair was personal and passing judgment on the couple was not something anyone wanted to do.

Stoya and James Photo courtesy of AVN

Stoya and James
Photo courtesy of AVN

However, everyone has an opinion on how to deal with consent. Here’s what became evident.

The Director

Directors are sensitive about issues on their sets and having performers know what to expect in a shoot is important to them. From the other side of the camera, there is a tacit understanding among talent that porn is a unique business and anyone who is paid for sex acts on film knows (or should know) what they have signed up for.

Performers indicated that directors let them find their own comfort level, though sometimes what they get excited about sexually may exceed what the company is good to go with. In those cases, directors rein in the action to conform to protocol. This is especially true when dealing with BDSM.

On the other hand, no one I interviewed indicated that directors blatantly looked the other way for the sake of getting a scene that will sell. Simply put, good directors adhere to performer limits.

No Means No

All performers, regardless of their time in the business, feel the need to discuss their limits with their co-stars.

Therefore . . .

No means no, period. Performers can’t stress this enough. Boundaries and limits can be pushed, quite often subtly, and veteran models will raise a red flag when situations get dicey.

The sticking point, however, is that boundaries are a matter of interpretation because limits differ from person to person. Nevertheless, performers are on board with the following:

When a model heads for home after a work day, any second thoughts she might have about what went on in front of the camera presents a problem that demands attention. This situation is deeply personal to performers because most have been there before which brings us to another commonality everyone shares.

Easy Targets

Newcomers need to be informed about what to anticipate before ever stripping down for the camera. In particular, girls who enter the business at the earliest possible age should be educated about establishing their boundaries and how to stop the action if they are violated.

This is important because neophytes don’t know what to expect. “Barely legal” girls just out of high school have never had a real job before, especially one in which big bucks are made quickly.  They want work as much as they can, in effect becoming easy targets for excesses.

Fortunately, some experienced performers step in to mentor fresh faces, reinforcing the linchpin of a successful porn career: taking personal responsibility for what happens on a set.

One more point. In the last few years porn talent has organized a self-help group, APAC (Adult Performer Advocacy Committee). Part of its mission is to offer newcomers a road map into the business.

Final Thought

The Deen/Stoya situation has opened a discussion and the blog posts that follow are industry voices who were forthright, painting the consent picture with their own colorful palette. Their perspectives are as diverse as porn itself.

I thank everyone who talked with me and must say I was impressed with their honesty.

Enjoy the posts.

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I’ve tackled this subject in previous posts and encourage checking out the views of Natasha Nice, Ela Darling, and Mercy West. Just type in “consent” in the search box above and the articles will show up.

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Natasha Nice: Part Two, Setting Boundaries

by Rich Moreland, January 2016

In this segment of our interview, Natasha talks frankly about sex work and how it is perceived. All photos are from her social media. Watermarks identify photographers or studios.

*          *          *

Returning in 2015

In the adult film business, the average career is short. Estimates vary, but most people agree anywhere from six to eighteen months is the norm. That doesn’t take into account the “one and done” girl who gives the business a shot or two then retreats home to pursue other interests.

For Natasha Nice, a real career is already on the ledger. Entering in 2006, she took a hiatus in 2013 to fill in the blanks on the college education she decided against right out of high school.

CUPMiaGUAAAPK7F“I chose to pause and focus on school for a bit and now I’m ready to move forward. I don’t know if anyone sees me as a ‘MILF’ yet, and I don’t feel like one, but I would like to shoot scenes where the woman is more in charge.”

What appeals to her are roles like “boss, teacher, Domme, and rich bitch in Beverly Hills.”

She explains her thinking.

“I am older now. It’s not just about whatever I can play to get work, it’s about exploring various aspects of my more mature personality.”

In late 2015, the sensuous brunette returned to adult with one film and signed with LA Direct Models where her model profile lists girl/girl, anal, and interracial among her offerings.

Make Sure to Take Care of Yourself

Before we pick up her thoughts on consent discussed earlier, I asked Natasha about how age has changed her career.

“I had already played the young girl for so long and I’d been shooting boy/girl (no anal) for about six years. I felt it was time to evolve [as a performer].”

That put anal on her agenda.

“I shot my first anal two days ago and it was really enjoyable,” she beams.

Natasha reminds any girl contemplating backdoor sex to loosen up and take it easy during the scene and prepare because inconveniences can arise.

“Had I not prepped myself beforehand and relaxed, I would have hurt myself. It is really enjoyable if you make sure to take care of yourself.”

Natasha’s advice gets us back to consent. I mentioned that some industry people and many in the public think of porn girls as trash. How does this play into consent?

CWoaN8CUkAAt2mONot Ashamed

“I think a lot of people look at us like people who don’t respect ourselves, who are dirty, dumb, and untrustworthy,” Natasha begins. She admits that may true for some of her fellow performers. After all, “what industry doesn’t have bad seeds?”

But she quickly counters that sex work doesn’t make a girl trash.

“We sex workers really have to work hard to prove ourselves because sex is still looked at as something that women should not have too much of and men should only have a certain kind of. So sex workers are stigmatized as not being respectable because we’re doing this wrong thing and we’re doing it publicly and for money.”

In fact, Natasha believes that “sex workers are brave and interesting.”

But that doesn’t moderate popular view.

“It’s not easy to challenge social conventions and be looked down on by people, sometimes even your family,” she states, before delving further to make her point.

“There is no correlation between character and sexual behavior. People think they know you because of your sexual practices.”

Natasha elaborates that “non-traditional sex lives, people who do things differently, are usually labeled mental defectives. At the very least, we are not considered respectable.”

Then she gets personal.

When she got into the business, Natasha didn’t consider that having sex on camera was wrong. Actually, she thought of it as “liberating.” She throws aside any conclusions others might reach about how she probably had an awful childhood that caused her to not love herself.

sample 1

“I’m not ashamed of my body or my sex drive” is how this French native describes her attitude.

As a clarification, Natasha draws the line between legal and illegal sex work because often people assume that porn girls are hookers.

“If you don’t separate it [legal sex work from the illegal] you’re insinuating that all porn stars, who have the right to be porn stars, are also willing to break the law. Just because you do porn doesn’t mean you’re willing to be a criminal, [it] doesn’t mean you’re untrustworthy.”

Dismantle the Belief System

My next question to Natasha concerned pornography and self-respect.

“It helps to eliminate the belief that porn stars don’t deserve respect or the ‘I’m a whore, nobody cares what I have to say syndrome,'” she responds.CWsmnyuVEAA_zB7

Conjecturing that for some girls, “it may be true that they don’t care what you have to say [about them], but they’re wrong.” A performer “actually matters and has something to say,” she insists.

“We’ve all been raised in a world where women are less than [equal] and openly sexual women and even less [so]. Everywhere you go, that belief inhabits people’s minds.”

Sex workers, in Natasha’s opinion, “have a duty to dismantle that belief system by being equal, not just by hating the fact that we’re currently seen as not equal. Does that make sense?”

To me? Absolutely, I authored a book about feminism in the adult industry and I couldn’t agree more!

“Yes” Should Never be Assumed

Returning to the main issue of our interview, Natasha Nice imparts a final thought that strikes at the heart of adult entertainment and any performer caught up in a James Deen/Stoya type controversy.

She believes “no” means “no,” as do other industry girls with whom I’ve talked. Being “off the porn set” does not change the rules. In other words, assumptions about a girl’s personal sex life cannot be made.

“The absence of ‘no’ does not mean ‘yes.’ If you don’t say ‘no’ that doesn’t mean you’ve said ‘yes,'” Natasha reminds us, then adds a dose of bitter truth. Without a ‘yes’ from any girl, porn or civilian, forcing sex on her is rape.

So, where does this leave us?

“Consent isn’t just about people respecting your boundaries,” Natasha believes, “it’s also about setting them.”

And setting boundaries conquers shame and creates an equality that rectifies the misrepresentation of what the sex worker image is all about.

Within the industry, it’s a shot across the bow for every performer, director, crew, agent, and studio who ignores what happens on the set or pushes girls into doing what they would rather avoid.

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