Tag Archives: John Stagliano

Feminist Porn Visits Goucher College

by Rich Moreland, November 2014

 

Renewing acquaintances is a reminder that as we move forward, our wisdom and perspectives hopefully travel with us. In the commercial world of adult film where careers are short and movies are churned out with unrelenting rapidity, change is slow, but it does happen. On Tuesday November 11 at Goucher College in Baltimore, I had the opportunity to check in with a feminist filmmaker I first met almost six years ago, Tristan Taormino. Sponsored by the college’s Feminist Collective, Tristan’s speaking engagement filled an on-campus lecture hall.

Tristan Taormino Photo source unknown

Tristan Taormino
Photo courtesy of tristantaormino.com

I wanted an update on feminist porn and Tristan did not disappoint.

After chatting about how she broke into the business through shopping a proposal to make an educational film on anal sex for women, Tristan’s main purpose was to familiarize her young audience with feminist pornography. Indeed, I started researching my book on the subject years ago and realize that today’s college students may be unaware of the genre’s existence.

Tristan considers herself to be a third wave feminist because, as feminist performers and directors in the business today affirm, the second wave was heavily anti-porn. In the post-1980s when the third wave gave every woman sexual options denied her a generation ago, attitudes began to change. Today young women perceive adult film to be a choice and building a career porn is more normal than ever before.

The “Cinema Verite” of Porn

Explaining that performers get into porn for a variety of reasons, among the most obvious a love of sex, money, and a portal to another career, Tristan added one that may have surprised the audience, the combination of pain and pleasure performers get from certain types of shoots. Having written that feminism and BDSM porn often walk hand-in-hand down the adult film Yellow Brick Road, I could not agree more. It is, however, further affirmation that today’s adult film woman is in control of her image on-screen and if being sexually submissive or dominant is her preference, she feels emboldened to go that route without shame.

To emphasize that today’s porn girl can get down and dirty on her own terms, Tristan reminded the audience that she resumed her directing career in 2005 with the notion that she could remake gonzo, the “cinema verite” of porn, into a female-friendlier genre. The owner of Smart Ass Productions stated that in its earliest form, gonzo was “mean sex with a jackass feel,” really nothing more than a “circus.”

Tristan as Sex Educator Photo courtesy of Tristantaormino.com

Tristan as Sex Educator
Photo courtesy of tristantaormino.com

There are minimal production values in gonzo and the performers often look directly at the camera, bringing the viewer into the scene. One of the most popular gonzo takes is the girl on her knees in an oral scene, eyes staring up into the camera. In the overly predictable formula, lots of choking and gagging with the pop shot leading to the inevitable facial is the standard fare.

How to make that more female acceptable and honor the choices of women who like to perform in gonzo shoots became part of Tristan’s mission. And, she has been more than successful, leading a vanguard of women filmmakers who have scored adult film awards in what Tristan describes as “the best-selling genre in porn.”

Tristan honored Candida Royalle as the first feminist pornographer who “proved that women do like porn.” No argument from anyone on that. But expectations were limited. In the 1980s, Candida’s FEMME Productions held on to the belief that women wanted to see sex embedded with a storyline, what porn calls a “feature.” Today, feminist views have expanded.

A fan of “reality porn” where the plot line is vacated (check out her “Chemistry” series), Tristan believes that adult film is closer to the audience now because of the behind-the-scenes interviews, frequently added to DVDs under the title “extras.” Porn performers have “fascinating stories to tell,” she said, and “anything is on the table” in her BTS segments.

Cast of the "Chemistry" series Photo courtesy of puckerup.com

Cast of the “Chemistry” series
Photo courtesy of puckerup.com

From an on-screen perspective, porn is a woman’s world and Tristan reinforced that notion with the typical porn mantra that “women are the stars, men are disposable.” In fact, men are traditionally regarded as mere “props.” To expand their larger reality for the viewer, the feminist director also interviews them. Feminist porn works to change how men are perceived and today the “disposable” image is fading.

Reiterating that porn performers love to have sex, Tristan’s filmmaking devotes some attention to maledom rough sex. However, she points out that female performers choose what they want to do, often influenced by their personal fantasies. In this context, combining pain and sex is honored, but only if it is consensual for everyone.

Consent and Respect

In wrapping up her presentation, Tristan updated the feminist porn definition. It has expanded in the last few years. Here are some of the newest considerations.

Tristan's signature film Photo courtesy of Puckerup.com

Tristan’s signature film
Photo courtesy of Puckerup.com

Consent, respect, and a safe working environment, long-standing feminist traits, are more important today than ever before. This standard has reached beyond the feminist model into porn studios that may not necessarily think of themselves as feminist in that regard. Though feminist filmmakers take the next step by actively seeking the “participation and collaboration of the performers,” Tristan said, most Porn Valley cinematographers have not come on board with that.

Today feminist porn also emphasizes consent when delving into the power exchange that shows up in BDSM and rough sex filming. Though such images may be misconstrued as humiliating and demeaning to female performers, Tristan admits that she cannot control the way her filming is interpreted. The viewer needs to remember that every woman in feminist porn is calling her own shots, especially in the dominant/submissive scenes she may prefer.

Addressing social imbalances is more evident in feminist porn than ever before. Racism is one example. Tristan “rejects the way it [casting and shooting non-whites] is done in the porn industry,” she says, emphasizing that she welcomes “performers of color” on her set and puts them on-screen where they “have the power to represent themselves.”

By the way, a college speaking engagement inevitably bring ups one question from students: “How do I get into the business?” Referencing the runaway popularity of Duke University’s Belle Knox who is just nineteen, Tristan stressed that she does not hire performers under twenty-one because teenagers do not have a mature understanding of their own sexuality to perform sex acts in front of a camera. Belle is the exception. Tristan suggested that any potentially interested young person wait a few years and investigate the industry before plunging in.

In conclusion, Tristan Taormino stated that “the lines between mainstream [porn] and feminist porn are more blurred and movable” than any time in the history of the industry. Indeed, feminist porn is now “a movement, genre, and an industry,” she said, not to mention a career.

To contact Tristan, go to her website here.

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The Dark Lord of Pinup

by Rich Moreland, January 2014

                                                                                                                                                  The is the second post about the Vegas Convention. To read about this year’s “Legends of Erotica” which featured the induction of Evil Angel’s Christian         Mann into that hall of fame, go to AINews.com and check out my column on the event.

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The days of pornographers hustling video tape and print material as their sole income source are way behind us. Today’s adult purveyors are expanding into other revenue builders. Evil Angel’s John Stagliano, arguably the most innovative man in the adult business, introduced me to his new line of clothing at this year’s AEE.

Called “Evil Apparel by Armando Huerta,” the clothing features erotic art printed on casual wear (t-shirts, leggings) using a process called sublimation which “keeps all the details of the art,” fashion designer Lea Lexis says. “It will never fade or crack, like other prints.”

Lea and Evil Apparel Photo by Bill Knight

Lea and Evil Apparel
Photo by Bill Knight

The former Romanian gymnast insists that “clothing itself is art, now we’re putting art on clothing.” Though the Evil Angel brand is everyday attire, the customer is wearing something “unique and interesting,” she says.

A partnership between Lea Lexis and John Stagliano led to a start-up company to produce artistic clothing. Previously she had done a bit of design work for the porn mogul. This project is much more substantial. “He pushes me to be more creative, I admire him so much,” Lexis says. She regards Stagliano as a true inspiration, a legend who “manages to upstage everybody.”

For readers who are unfamiliar with the world of filmed pornography, Lea Lexis uses her gymnastics background to twist and frame her body for the camera. She is a adult actress whose work in Evil Angel’s “Voracious” series is widely recognized.

Artist Armando Huerta carries the descriptor, “The Dark Lord of Pinup,” having worked over twenty years producing exclusive art for collectors. Huerta’s creations are quite familiar to John Stagliano. They have appeared in Evil Angel’s publication “Buttman Magazine” for about fifteen years.

Armando shows off his work Photo by Bill Knight Photo by Bill Knight

Armando shows off his work
Photo by Bill Knight

Though he began with pinups, Huerta has evolved into an erotic artist with some of his work being explicit. “Total nudity, spreads, butt holes, penetration,” is how he describes that aspect of his work.

Armando Huerta moved to America from his native Mexico after putting together collections of his work and marketing them in the States. His talent ultimately developed into a career and his first US show was at the AVN convention eleven years ago. Despite success, Huerta had professional decisions to make. This is America after all, arguably one of the most religiously prudish countries on the planet.

“My first paintings were pretty explicit and that helped me a lot because people were amazed that an artist had the guts to produce that kind of material,” Huerta says. Of course, some opinions urged him to become more conservative and stick with the Bettie Page type of art. Moving in that direction prompted client reactions that surprised him, Huerta remembers. “What are you doing? We don’t want this,” became a collective response. So, he decided to travel the middle road, “some explicit, some conservative.”

Bobbi Starr, former Evil Angel director, once said to me that no mother wants her daughter taking off her clothes for a pornographer. But what about an artist whose work contains a pornographic flavor, what are mom’s thoughts? Armando Huerta explains his fortunate situation.

“I come from Mexico and we don’t really care about anything,” Huerta says, referring to his erotic art creations. “In my culture if my mother is proud of me, I really don’t care about anything [else],” he adds with a smile.

He mentions America’s entrenched religious attitudes that tend to drive our culture. But in his case, Armando Huerta never had any “frustrations” about the art he produces.

A true visionary, Huerta explains he is not into his creations to make money, but does not deny money will come his way if his art is appreciated.

“The money is a consequence of what you do,” he says.

The Latino artist has five color books, large format, sixty to sixty-five pages, and three sketches books for purchase. Visit armandohuerta.com for details.

I turn to Lea Lexis for some final words about the official launch of Evil Apparel by Armando Huerta. The clothing has generated interest at the adult convention and is scheduled for the fashion portion of The Magic Show, an upcoming mainstream convention in Las Vegas, she says. The testing stage will be history and the marketing campaign will be underway.

Expression tells the story of a rising business success Photo by Bill Knight

Expression tells the story of a rising business success
Photo by Bill Knight

The clothing can be purchased online at EvilApparel.com. Eventually the products will be available in retail sex stores. “Our styles are unique,” Lexis says with a smile.

We discuss for a moment the meaning of “high end” when it comes to the apparel market and my photographer Bill offers that the Evil Angel clothing targets a special market, “wearable art aficionados.” That is hardly the first time “aficionado” has been used to describe an Evil Angel customer, I imagine.

Chatting with John, clothing on display in the background. Photo by Bill Knight

Chatting with John, clothing on display in the background.
Photo by Bill Knight

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A Bad Deal

by Rich Moreland, February, 2013

“Cancer is a rollercoaster, but he’s ridden with grace, dignity, and great good humor.”

These are the words of Melissa Palmer, Christian Mann’s support person, passionate companion, and overall good hope. She is gracious beyond belief in answering my recent inquiry about Christian’s health.

I’ve not known Christian Mann very long, having met him just a few months ago. In an earlier blog entry, “Deeper into Their Fantasies,” posted December 22 of last year, I recount my adventure at Evil Angel’s L.A. offices where I interviewed Christian. He set aside an hour of his time, but we went way over. He was more than generous with his thoughts and patience in helping me with what I wanted to know.

Of our conversation, what sticks in my mind is the image of Christian impersonating the late Reuben Sturman, one of the most colorful characters ever in the adult business. One day in 1987, Rueben called Christian into his office for a quick meeting. Using his pen as a cigar to flavor the story, Christian imitates the legend’s unique style. He leans forward and with captivating humor quotes Reuben’s advice on the best way to regard a proposed deal.

“No deal is better than a bad deal,” Christian says, never imagining that a nasty deal is already on his doorstep. Christian explains that Reuben’s advice was invaluable because “a young man’s instinct is to force a deal.” Christian has learned the patience needed to take his time.

Before I leave Evil Angel, we arrange to meet again in Las Vegas during the Adult Entertainment Expo. I have ideas in mind for my next book and I want his input.

Christian and I meet again on the convention floorPhoto Courtesy of 3hattergrindhouse.

Christian and I meet again on the convention floor
Photo Courtesy of 3hattergrindhouse.com

Fast forward to Wednesday of convention week, Christian invites me to the Evil Angel suite after floor hours to chat. John Stagliano sticks around and joins the conversation. It is, as the TV commercials say, ‘priceless.’

The rewards for the evening are all mine. I get a copy of Voracious and have the pleasure of reviewing it for my blog and Adult Industry News. But most important, my photographer takes a classic shot of Christian, John, and a life size poster of iconic performer Bobbi Starr.

In the blog post about my visit to the Evil Angel suite (“As the Night Settles In,” January 28, 2013) the photo is there. It is also ‘priceless’ and will remain in my personal inventory for a lifetime.

Christian in the suitePhoto Courtesy of 3hattergrindhouse

Christian in the suite
Photo Courtesy of 3hattergrindhouse.com

But there is an ominous presence in the room that night.

Christian is using a cane and mentions almost apologetically that he has back pain and needs help to ease his getting around. I sense something is wrong and it eats at me for the rest of the week.

Then quicker than a wink at a pretty girl, the announcement knocks the industry for a loop a few days later. Christian is seriously ill.

I am shocked and share the news with Bobbi Starr, who is equally stunned.

So, where are we now?

Having heard nothing for a couple of weeks and doing a good bit of worrying, I contact Melissa. Meeting her on that fateful evening turns into good fortune multiplied in spades. She is upbeat and looking forward to a positive swing of events that further marches Christian to a cure. She also alerts me to Christian’s newly created blog, http://www.christianmann.com/, to keep everyone informed of his progress.

As I sit here a continent away from Los Angeles, I know Christian’s response to this new very personal bad deal is to figure out a way to come out on top. Cancer can be conquered with a positive attitude and the support of friends vital armor in the battle.

Keep Christian in your thoughts or prayers, whatever your preference.

By the way, I’m due to make another trip west within a few months and I fully expect to visit a healthy Christian Mann. After all, he is destined to show Reuben Sturman how to overcome a bad deal.

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With Girlfriends, it’s all Sex-Positive

By Rich Moreland, February 2013

Photo Courtesy of 3hattergrindhouse

Photo Courtesy of 3hattergrindhouse

Not every pornographer shoots sex for sex’s sake. Dan O’Connell, founder and owner of Girlfriends Films, does more than direct a sex scene just because he’s hired a couple of girls and has a camera. “I think the context of sex is important,” he says, explaining there must be a reason for the girls to explore each other in a Girlfriends production.

His formula works. The company is widely known in the industry for creating film narratives with a purpose. Like many studio owners, Dan emphasizes production values that reflect his personal tastes. In this case, he prefers “a dramatic storyline full of tension and anticipation.” Dan O’Connell is much like Evil Angel’s John Stagliano, though their movies differ in style and subject matter. Each man puts his passion on film. He knows what he likes and he has cultivated an audience who enjoys his offerings.

Girlfriends Films advertises its product as lesbian oriented though the company recently hired Vivid veteran Michael Bisco to develop boy/girl shoots.

Photo Courtesy of 3hattergrindhouse

Photo Courtesy of 3hattergrindhouse

Right now, Dan hopes to complete at least one a month. His objective has always been to produce films for women, but he realizes that male viewers can also find space under the Girlfriends’ umbrella.

Seduction is a key word at Girlfriends Films. As mentioned above, Dan O’Connell wants to move past just shooting sex. He amusingly puts it this way, Girlfriends avoids the “’I like you, oh, I like you, too. Let’s go have sex,’” theme.

However, seduction translates into a different approach when it comes to filming. Dan is always on scene, but he minimizes his crew for the sake of the performers he hires. He wants everyone to be at ease, otherwise seduction isn’t going to happen, or if it does, it will lose any claim to authenticity.

“I don’t have any more people in the room than we have cameras,” Dan says. For him, three is the limit. Speaking of the crew, its Dan and two girls who happen to be gay.

Why? It’s a simple consideration when working in an industry that demands a performer’s most intimate moments. “Some of the girls we shoot are relatively inexperienced in the business and we don’t want to make them nervous with a bunch of guys looking around,” Dan explains. When girls get aroused they must keep in mind that the cameras have monitors. Important, Dan insists, because “If you are not looking in the camera monitor, you are not making a good movie.” All very professional, keeping everyone on task and producing content that elevates a business’s reputation.

Legacy and Integrity

When I asked for his mission statement, Dan beams. “To provide orgasms, to make people happy!”

“Our industry is all about providing happiness and contentment and sexual satisfaction,” Dan says, “we are not here to rape and pillage.”

Dan O'ConnellPhoto Courtesy of 3 hattergrindhouse

Dan O’Connell
Photo Courtesy of 3hattergrindhouse

Then he adds something I’ve rarely heard in the industry, a sense of legacy.

“When pornography is finally a legitimate business,” Dan says, “I want people to look back and say GirlFriends Films was one of those companies that was sex-positive.” When I mention that the label sex-positive makes his company feminist oriented, he responds with a smile then puts a slightly different spin on what he means by the term.

Dan urges the adult business to strive for a sex-positive goal because “as an industry we should be respected, not vilified the way we often are.” It’s about integrity, something Girlfriends Films has solidified as part of its brand.

Girlfriends has a “clean reputation,” Dan believes, and in the porn world such an accolade does not come without effort. One might suspect that as owner he collects sexual perks for himself. Not so, Dan does not hang out with the girls who film for him. That’s important, he points out, because “you will gain their respect and they’ll want to work with you” if they are treated like the professionals they are.  And there’s another benefit, the performers who shoot for Dan bring other models to his attention.

“I always am very respectful of the girls,” Dan says and explains that porn performers are top notch in his view. He describes them as “physically strong, mentally strong, very resourceful,” plus they are intelligent and educated. “At least the ones we use,” he notes.

I would agree. The Girlfriends booth at the Hard Rock Hotel is always busy with girls signing and talking with fans. Dan’s popularity among the talent is obvious. Other studios may have two or three performers available at any one time but Girlfriends has twice that number. Also, a company person is always around to schedule interviews for journalists or other interested parties. I secured my interview with Dana DeArmond through a simple hassle free request, something that is not always the case with other studios. In short, it’s about access and Dan knows how to make that work for him.

When I got to know Dan O’Connell better (we talked again the next day) I felt comfortable using Girlfriends as a place for brief timeouts from my hectic floor schedule. Anyone who plans to go to Vegas for the Adult Entertainment Expo should stop by Girlfriends. The atmosphere is friendly and relaxed. I can assure any visitor that he or she will always feel invited.

Over the years, the adult business has changed for Dan. He used to be more into shooting a scene than writing one, but no more. “I get more excited writing scripts,” he says. Dan likes developing new ideas and testing out innovative story possibilities. As a writer, I can fully understand his view. Dan prefers storytelling to the task of getting just the right shot on set. Filming is hard work and has its rewards, but it doesn’t compare with inventing content, especially considering that Girlfriends shoots as many as thirty scenes a month. For Dan O’Connell the business is twenty-four seven.

In our conversations Dan reveals a philosophical side. He has definitive views on society’s attitude toward sex and porn. “The sex industry should be enormous,” he says, considering that everyone is concerned about sex in some way. Seems logical to me, sex is about our humanness. However, when it comes to the adult convention—the yearly occasion that sex takes center stage—Dan points out that reality paints a different picture.

Unfortunately, today’s market downturn crams the annual gathering into the confining spaces of the Hard Rock. I suggest that the hotel’s venues get crowded on fan days and Dan nods, mentioning that Girlfriends’ booth is deliberately located in the back of the ballroom where space is more available. In fact, he has added another booth just to make room for the company’s fans. Dan doesn’t want them to get “stacked up” while waiting to meet their favorite stars.

As I hinted above, it was a real help to me as I used the Girlfriends space to meet up with people, so my thanks to Dan.

Dan O’Connell makes a final point as we wrap up our talk. “People look at us (the porn industry) based on what they perceive to be the worse content.” Elaborating further, he believes that the vilest material that “disrespects women and causes pain” is it what the public believes the industry to be. Perception without a comprehensive knowledge and understanding of what it means to be in pornography is a problem the business has never been able to shake. But Dan insists that scenario can be changed.

I could not agree more and Dan O’Connell contributes mightily to that effort. He’s one of the good guys and his company is well respected in the universe of filmed pornography. With Girlfriends, it’s all very professional and sex-positive.

 

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A Bell Tolls

by Rich Moreland, February 2013

This episode is about the attempted seduction of Manuel into the clan. Amira demonstrates an inner resolve that has not been seen up to this point. John Stagliano’s script and visualization of the sex in this segment of Voracious is superb and that is saying much considering the scenes that have come before it. This episode is titled “Who Is This Guy?”

*          *          *           *           *

Adriana meets Manuel in the train station to take him ostensibly to see Amira.

Manuel Meets Adriana Again

Manuel Meets Adriana Again

When they arrive at the warehouse where the vampires are camped out, the ever-present Dracu rides up on his motorcycle and stares at Manuel.

“Who is this guy?” he growls, directing his comment to Adriana.

Dracu Wants to Know Who Manuel Is

Dracu Wants to Know Who Manuel Is

“I told you we needed more men,” she answers sweetly and without a hint of deference in her voice. “Let’s go,” she says to Manuel, walking briskly away from a curious Dracu.

Dracu is annoyed and somewhat suspicious about Adriana’s motives. The viewer now realizes she is typical of the female vampires in the clan. They pull no punches when they voice their demands and have little time for Dracu’s bullying. Once again, John Stagliano shows that women are a powerful force in an Evil Angel film.

From here the scene takes on a host of images and meanings. Manuel enters the room where the action of this episode takes place where Amira is waiting in a black bikini styled for BDSM lovers. Fleeting moments of past sexual encounters flash on the screen.

The Vampires Prepare to Move Manuel

The Vampires Prepare to Move in on Manuel

Manuel is surrounded by female vampires: the Vampire Mistress, Ivana Sugar’s newly anointed vampire, Adriana, and Amira who exists in a sort of vampire purgatory. It’s a replay of his first encounter in the L.A. house.

This time there will be more profound implications that move past an introduction into the vampire world.

A Test for Amira

The seduction begins with the grainy black and white quality reminiscent of the stag films of yesteryear. Once more the music is rhythmical with a dreamlike tonality. The scene is shrouded in darkness similar to the night in the park that first introduced Father Zoltan. Having served as an emissary and suspiciously active as a conspirator, Adriana withdraws. Amira is again cut out of the action. While the vampires lustfully gaze at Manuel, Amria’s face is blanketed with apprehension and uncertainty.

Episode9_008

Through the flashbacks, John Stagliano will bring together the previous episodes allowing the viewer to peek into the minds of the characters.

Sometimes in modern pornography, the sex becomes tediously repetitive. Not so in this Evil Angel epic. Stagliano offers enough freshness with each filmed sequence to keep his audience entertained.

Intermingling Before an Ancient Philosophy

Intermingling

The remainder of this episode is a test for Amira who watches Manuel’s seduction.

She enters, exits, and reenters the room but does not participate in the three-way scene. At one point she glides in and sits on the couch where the action is taking place. With hesitancy she reaches out to touch Manuel’s foot. He is unaware of her presence, but she is very cognizant of the potential loss she confronts.

Amira Reaches Out

Amira Reaches Out

Her movements in and out of the scene are instantaneous, a reminder that the undead occupy an ethereal existence beyond humans.

Whenever Amira is present, a series of flashbacks pop up. Her plea to Vlad to see the sun super cedes all the others in its intensity. Manuel’s sweat soaked face as he is orally stimulated in real time is superimposed over a cum filled Amria’s as she grovels before Vlad. Later images of Amira and Manuel, faces nuzzling, appear on screen. The flashbacks are visually filmy and fragile, memories alive with feeling but questionable in their authenticity. Vampire seduction takes place in an unreal world, doesn’t it?

That will shape the dramatic ending to this episode.

The sex acted out here brings to bear a philosophical conundrum. John Stagliano has a way of reinforcing his script with visual comments that give the viewer a deeper understanding of his message. He selects images, like the Victory Column, the steel ladder in front of the coffins, and the priest’s red crucifix, to persuade the audience to watch the film in a more profound way. In this case, a new image is on tap: the face of a magnificent ebony Buddha, a passive monitor positioned behind the couch where the sex takes place. In this episode, faces express the story.

Voracious reinforces that porn often crosses over into art.

The Bhudda Watches

The Buddha Watches

An ancient philosophy, Buddhism teaches that desire causes suffering and when desire is conquered, enlightenment is achieved. The vampires suffer because of their blood lust and the unrelenting and never ending pursuit to satisfy it. Doomed to an existence of frustration and an insatiable carnality that consumes them, the vampires will never be freed of physical need. Their existence is in a reverse reality where any hope of paradise will elude them forever; their immortality is dark, haunting, and hungry.

As Buddha believed, to be is a cycle of birth, death, and rebirth with torment and anguish to be endured before the cycle comes again. It is cleansing process that leads down the path of enlightenment. Vampires are indeed reborn, but into a black, heinous eternity that floats between the joys and vagaries of humanity and paradise. They can finally die, by sunlight or a stake through heart in traditional tales, or Vlad’s wrath in this story. But rebirth to eventual perfection is not in the cards, an undisturbed peace is their only hope.

So John Stagliano presents the viewer with a paradoxical and insoluble problem that cannot be solved. He lets us know that a vampire’s fate is condemnation in the Christian doctrine and a failure to achieve perfection in Buddha’s teaching. But angels do prevail . . . sometimes . . . as Voracious wants us to consider.

After Manuel is sated and exhausted, the Vampire Mistress moves in for the kill. The fangs come out and soon he will not see the sun. Now Amira’s test steps to the forefront.

Manuel Is Under the Bite

Manuel Is Under the Bite

Manuel’s seduction is hard-hitting and the scene closes with a powerful image. The Vampire Mistress is visually captured with the Buddha behind her, lording over the most dramatic and artistic scene in the film. Proof positive that John Stagliano is a filmmaker first who has chosen pornography as his artistic venue.

Bhudda Challenges the Vampire Mistress

Buddha Challenges the Vampire Mistress

As we know, sex is accompanied by sound and in this case it brings closure to an emotional episode. A bell, like those found in village churches, tolls in the background, but for whom?

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A Shortage of Playmates

By Rich Moreland, Febraury 2013

Rather than move the story forward in dramatic fashion, this episode, called “You’re Going to Bring Another Whore Into This Clan,” is a set-up piece for the remainder of the film.

*          *          *          *          *

Once again the opening image is the Victory Column as seen from Manuel’s hotel room. The anthropologist is doing some academic work searching the internet for vampire lore, especially the ancient tale of returning a vampire to humanity.

He finds a website that fulfills his search and discovers the deed can be done. The predominant image on the webpage is a girl floating face up in water. No surprise here, water and life are conflated again. The recipe calls for holly water (a variant of holy water) and a priest.

Reenter Father Zoltan who warns Manuel that such attempt is risky and could cost Amira her life. He suggests Manuel consider becoming a vampire and there is a hint of recruitment here that will be shortly revealed.

“But that’s her choice,” Manuel says.

Clearly John Stagliano, who is well-known for promoting the careers female performers and directors, uses this moment to make a political statement about the right of a woman to own her sexuality and to determine her future.

Father Zoltan is on board to give it a try, but there is a feeling, if ever so vague, that there is a trap to be sprung.

We Want More Men

The scene shifts to the vampire house and the room where Amira experienced her sexual chastisement at the hands of the Vampire Mistress. Sandra Romain’s Mistress role is back and she is playing with two other female vampires. What makes this warm-up with the trio interesting is Stagliano’s use of neon tones and day glow paint to give the scene a surreal quality that recollects the psychedelic days of yesteryear.

There’s a lot here for viewers who have a foot fetish and at one point the colors become fiery and hellish, certainly an image that fits the film. In a brief moment the glass of the enclosed area becomes a barrier between the Vampire Mistress and the girl she wants to kiss, who is masturbating on the other side.  A sense of frustration invades the room. The Vampire Mistress and Ivana Sugar’s newly “christened” (pardon the pun) vampire are left to playing among themselves.

Episode7_001

Boredom Strikes Hungary Vampires

Boredom Strikes Hungry Vampires

Shortly, Dracu enters with what porn people love the call the “new girl.” Though he sports an devilish grin, Dracu does not get the welcome he anticipated.

Dracu Brings a New Girl

Dracu Brings a New Girl

One of the vampires vents her anger at him. He is delivering another whore into the clan when what they really need are men.

“We want more men!” the Vampire Mistress shouts.

She slaps Dracu’s face and demands to know if he understands.

Playtime is Over

Playtime

Certainly he does, but does he care?

The three frustrated vampires leave the room and Dracu has his way with this latest whore who incidentally is played by Alice Romain, Sandra’s little sister.

The sex between Dracu and the blood slave is some of the best in the film. Alice Romain deserves high praise. Needless to say, the day glow paint, which is smeared everywhere like a child’s finger painting compliments the psychedelic feeling of the shoot.

*          *          *          *          *

By now, the suggestion to Manuel that he become a vampire is well-founded. If he did make the move, likely he’d have plenty of playmates for centuries to come.

Yet, there is a hint of trouble ahead. Even among the undead, drudgery, the same recipe over again, produces unhappiness. Is there a workers’ strike in the making in Vampireland?

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Are You a Real Vampire?

by Rich Moreland, February 2013

This is the fifth episode of Voracious. It’s titled “I Want to See the Sun” for good reason. The encounter between Amira and Vlad is most intense and I am told it captivated the crew as it was filmed. Brooklyn Lee’s performance takes the viewer beyond the premise that this is a pornographic movie. Her emotional conflict and expression of her desires in the face of Vlad’s carefully orchestrated wrath is a filming coup that rarely occurs in the studios of the Other Hollywood.

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Through his contacts with Father Zoltan, Manuel Batiste arranges to go to Berlin to meet up with Amira. Before leaving, he gives instructions to his secretary Karen to look after things. He adds that he will need her help with research.

Karen (former adult actress Tricia Deveraux) replies, “Vampires?”

“No, folklore,” Manuel says. Does he really believe in vampires?

Arriving in Berlin, Manuel arranges to meet Father Zoltan in front of Charlottenburg Castle. The structure is built in the Baroque style, a tribute to the Catholic Church. Like many European landmarks of the 16th and 17th centuries, the castle has a vast stone courtyard that extends to the street. What better place to meet a connection to the vampire clan than a monument to a religious age in European history.

Father Zoltan is to the point. Manuel’s interest in Amira sparks a curiosity for him and he wants an explanation.

“I have my reasons,” Manuel replies.

Zoltan is humorless. “Tomorrow, 10 p. m. at the Golden Angel, she’ll be there.”

“Good,” Manuel says, “I’ll see you then.”

Manuel's conversation with the Priest is Finished

Manuel’s Conversation with the Priest is Finished

As Manuel departs, Adriana watches a distance away.

Adriana has Plans

Adriana has Plans

“He shows up, I see,” she says to the priest.

“He’s going to be very useful,” Zoltan’s voice is firm.

“I agree.” Her wicked smile portends things to come.

 

The Victory Column and the Posture Collar

From his hotel room window, Manuel stares at the Victory Column, a Berlin landmark and a central image in the film.

The column was constructed in mid-nineteenth century during the struggle for German unification. The century was also the age of vampire lore. Later the column was symbolic of the Nazi rise to power in the 1930s, a time when demonic forces possessed an entire nation. Ironically, from a psychological perspective it has a Jewish connection; the column is a Freudian phallic symbol. When seen from a distance the angel atop the column is a visual metaphor of power. Angels come in various forms and can be good or bad. They are born out of imagination, desire, sexuality, and fear. Are vampires among the ranks?

The Angel

The Angel

John Stagliano swirls these ideas into this chapter of the saga. The viewer is reminded of the column motif and its greater power over the story.

*          *          *          *           *

The scene shifts to a warehouse. The interior is in disarray as one might find unkempt storage spaces. A steel structure that resembles a very broad ladder is positioned in front of two coffins, those of Dracu and Vald.

The Vampires Await the Darkness

The Vampires Await the Darkness

Hanging upside down on the ladder is a nude Amira. She is the column in a reverse world. Her hands are folded over her breasts. She is bat-like guarding the vampires. Dracu arises out of his coffin, reborn of the darkness. He approaches the ladder and arouses Amira’s body with his steel tipped fingernails. Her eyes pop open sharply.

Amira wears a posture collar, a popular accoutrement in the BDSM community. The collar is long and confining and has the purpose of keeping a sexual submissive’s neck straight and restricted. In Amira’s case, it is a symbol of control, preventing her from looking elsewhere to break the spell of the darkness.

The scene, which begins in black and white, now shifts to color.

Amira’s body visually lengthens, staying with the column imagery. Her arms dangle straight down; she grasps the lowest bar as if to stretch out.

Getting Amira Ready for Vlad

Getting Amira Ready for Vlad

She pulls herself up with a deep bend like a vampire emerging from a coffin and stands in front of the steel structure. She is awaiting Vlad. When he abandons his coffin and faces her, Amira’s eyes speak of recognized inferiority.

 

“So she’s the American girl,” Vlad utters.

Amira stares straight ahead, unflinching, in the best of submissive postures. Dracu backs away. Vlad has work to do and it entails breaking down Amria.Episode5_024

For BDSM aficionados this scene is a must. John Stagliano commented to me how moved he was with Brooklyn Lee’s performance. Rocco Siffredi shows his skills as a porn veteran and Brooklyn’s acting is over the top.

The sex is totally oral and filled with body fluid as is Stagliano’s preference. But it’s the drama that entices. Vlad is emotionally beating down Amira and in a tension filled moment she screams, “I want to see the sun!”

IMG_8958

Now the truth comes out. She is fighting back tears.

At this point the images of the film come together. In a mighty struggle, Vlad is forcing his will on Amira. Her throat fills with fluid, almost drowning her (the water image). She repeatedly rises out of the water to be reborn, only to be attacked once again by Vlad’s “column.”

Suddenly Amira, head arched back over the rail of the ladder, spews out all the fluid in her mouth. An explosive sound is heard. The angel erupts from the victory column that is now Amira’s body. She screams again, “I want to see the sun!” in the same metaphoric way the golden angel gleams in the sunrise over Berlin, the once capital of evil and destruction.

Eruption

Eruption

Vlad slaps her violently, as if in a desperate attempt to discipline her and drive the angel back into the night. His anger surges forth.

“Please!” she begs and screams.

“You’re not a real vampire!” he growls.

“I don’t know!” she cries in confusion. “I don’t know!”

Vald’s fury mounts. His hands grip her throat to squeeze the life out of her; he is taunting her.

“Please don’t kill me!” Amira pleads.

“If you decide to become human again, I will kill you!” he shouts. Vengeance is mind saith the Vlad.

What is this? Is Amira in some kind of vampire purgatory? She has choices? Does Vlad kill the undead to discipline the clan or simply for sport?

Vlad Forces the Angel Back into Hiding

Vlad Forces the Angel Back into Hiding

Vlad rams his fingers into Amira’s mouth. Her eyes stare up at him in desperation and fear. Her face becomes immobile, freezing in its tracks her longing to be reborn in daylight.

 

 

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