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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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Whatever is Best, Dad: Part Two of Our Father

by Rich Moreland, July 2014

A delightful installment in Digital Sin’s Tabu Tales series, Our Father proves once again that Jacky St. James and Eddie Powell are among the most creative filmmakers in adult cinema.

Incest porn’s “transition moment” is the topic of Part One of my review. Part Two explains how it is used in this film.

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Dakota Skye on the box cover. Photo courtesy of Jeff Koga

Dakota Skye on the box cover. Can you keep a secret?
Photo courtesy of Jeff Koga

Our Father concerns step dads who tackle their stepdaughters’ sexual hang-ups. Each of the four vignettes is a secret incestuous arrangement that requires the willful suspension of disbelief. How this taboo is handled reveals director Jacky St. James and cinematographer Eddie Powell at their cleverest. By using the “transition moment,” they move the viewer away from perceived familial perversity and into a porn film.

To mollify viewer reservations about family sex, each episode is heavily laden with dirty talk, a porn fixture that, along with cheesy music and looped sex scenes, played to audiences of yesteryear when adult film was creating an industry. In Our Father, nasty verbiage is a reminder that this is a porn movie with professional entertainers who can psychologically move out of their characters when the sex starts.

Anal is First

“It was weird how much I confided in my step dad,” Penny Pax says in an over voice. She’s sitting on the kitchen counter top talking with “dad” (Alec Knight) who is sipping coffee.

The conversation is about pregnancy avoidance. Alec speaks authoritatively about sex toys (he uses them in his practice) and offers Penny a backdoor education in birth control.

Penny and Alec Photo courtesy of Eddie Powell

Penny and Alec
Photo courtesy of Eddie Powell

To close out the storyline and set up the transition moment, Penny convinces herself any experience with her stepfather would not be “in a sexual way” because he is an instructor. She declares, “I think we should do it.” When the lesson evolves into real sex, the film changes gears, willful suspension of disbelief is abandoned and pure porn takes over.

Getting there, however, requires that St. James’ script highlight Penny’s naiveté. Alec explains everything about anal and she concedes to his authority. “Whatever you think is best, Dad,” Penny coos.

Comfortably lying on her stomach, the trusting “student” never looks back at dad. After inserting toys into Penny’s backside as a warmup, Alec quietly penetrates her. Unaware, she says it feels great, though different and natural. Suddenly daughter spots dad’s hands and turns to look. “We shouldn’t be doing this,” she says, trying to preserve propriety.

Her initial cooperative demeanor has moved through doubt into acceptance. Does she want him to stop? No, and they make a secret pact: she won’t tell mom, he won’t tell her boyfriend.

The camera pulls back, framing each of their bodies equally. For the first time the penetration appears on screen, completing the transition. She tells him it feels good and wants to know if he’s enjoying himself. Penny Pax is an anal queen and the scene continues with doggie and oral.

After the pop shot, willful suspension of disbelief reappears. Resuming her stepdaughter persona, Penny thinks of her boyfriend and dismisses any further thoughts of sex with her stepfather. Nevertheless, the experience was a valuable exercise with an upbeat conclusion.

Jacky takes a break with the talent Photo courtesy of Jeff Koga

Jacky takes a break with the talent
Photo courtesy of Jeff Koga

A Lolita

In the second segment, the script uses the transition moment to create arguably the best sex scene in the film.

Stepdaughter Dakota Skye is struggling with a negative self-image and claims she has good reasons for wanting breast implants. Stepfather Ryan McLane hopes to quell her demands and insists via an over voice that his “intentions were innocent,” at least in the beginning.

Their disagreement quickly persuades her to pull up her shirt. With perky boobs staring at him, Ryan covers his face in feeble protest. Dakota’s invitation is up front. “You’re not my biological dad.” He concedes her assets are “incredibly beautiful” and the transition moment hits like freight train. A few kisses and the sex is underway.

Ryan and Dakota Photo courtesy of Jacky St. James

Ryan and Dakota
Photo courtesy of Jacky St. James

This episode has a different feel because the players are more youthful. Athletic and hard bodied, Ryan McLane seems much younger than his years. Dakota, on the other hand, is Lolita-like. Obviously, St. James paired these two so that the hardcore is anticipated when the performers first appear. In other words, such a step dad/daughter encounter is possible when age differences are minimized.

As the sex heats up gonzo style, Dakota screams “Please fuck me, Daddy” in the best of BDSM tradition where submissive women deliberately seek older men for “age play.” Incidentally, this small touch sets up the third episode starring Carter Cruise and Steven St. Croix which will delve into the power exchange common in BDSM.

While Dakota is getting her fill, Jacky St. James’ talent for placing explanatory objects about her sets steps up once again. In the background is a Grecian-type urn or amphora sitting on a pedestal, a reminder that the ancient Greeks believed the penetrated person, rather than the one who penetrates, gets the pleasure from sex. Dakota’s toe curling verifies their wisdom.

Following the pop shot, Ryan’s voice over embraces the Lolita shadow. “That’s how I convinced my stepdaughter to stay a sweet young girl as long as possible,” he says.

Please Daddy!

Steven St. Croix is a stepfather with an undisciplined daughter (Carter Cruise) who parades into his office, boasting that her mouth is her classroom asset. When Steven, whose business success hovers over the scene, gets annoyed, she retorts, “You can get farther in life by sucking cock than working hard.”

“If you were my daughter I’d spank you,” Steven growls. Dropping her pants, Carter goads him with, “Pretend I’m your real daughter.” He obliges, giving her a few whacks, then tries to get back to work. Unfazed, she taunts him about his porn mags and infatuations with college girls.

This episode has a strong age play component and high believability because parents do spank kids. But it doesn’t end there; the spanking is foreplay and suspension disbelief will soon be set aside when the sex gets rolling.

Carter tells Steven they are both screwed up and when she demands, “I want my Daddy to spank me,” the transition moment occurs. The viewer is immediately in the BDSM arena watching the players act out their dominant/submissive roles. “Brat,” “bad girl,” and “baby girl,” are thrown around as Steven manhandles her to intensify the sex.

Carter Cruise Photo courtesy of Eddie Powell

Carter Cruise
Photo courtesy of Eddie Powell

Hair pulling, choking, spitting and slapping heighten the show. By the way, BDSMers appreciate a denial moment. Carter’s sucking wants a workout, “Please daddy, please daddy,” she begs, but Steven won’t let her. It’s all part of the game before she gets her wish.

In the background there’s a small statue of a raging bull, typical of a stock broker’s office, snorting and bellowing as if awaiting his turn. After the pop, Carter, whose orgasms sweep over her with a dead quiet, dips her fingers into Steven’s closing statement and licks away.

Disbelief suspension briefly returns; Steven notes that he now pays all her bills in the best of sugar daddy fashion.

(Note: The Carter/Steven sex scene lasts approximately 28 DVD minutes. At its beginning Steven’s watch reads 4:10 and when the sex is a wrap, the clock behind the desk is at 5:55, corresponding closely with the last shot of Steven’s watch at 5:50. Breaks discounted, the cinematic results are impressive.

Making a porn movie maximizes budget and time. Most of the money goes to talent who can turn on when the lights are up. Unfortunately, appreciation is rarely extended to editors whose skills foster everyone’s success, so kudos to Gabrielle Anex!)

A Virgin?

In the final vignette, “dad” (John Strong) is having sex with everyone but his wife. Though he wants to be a role model for his twenty-year-old stepdaughter (Ava Taylor), an opportunity arises he can’t refuse.

Ava Taylor Photo courtesy of Sweet Sinner/ Mile High

Ava Taylor
Photo courtesy of Sweet Sinner/ Mile High and AVN

The bookwormish, but hardly shy, Ava wants to know how many women he’s nailed (a hundred, John replies) and coyly asks if he’d like to deflower a virgin. Dad hopes Ava won’t tell her mom because he’s game.

“If you weren’t my daughter, you’d be naked right now,” John says, maximizing his Lothario come-on.

Ava eagerly strips, sporting tats and piercings that highlight a shaved pubis. This is a virgin? Not on your life, but it is the transition moment, dissolving a weird situation in which a sexually well-traveled stepfather is willing to bang his untouched stepdaughter.

Chuckles abound when dad asks if his step sweetie knows how to “suck a cock” and if not, would she like to learn. Of course, that’s silly because Ava Taylor is a pro; she deep throats and sticks out her tongue for the pop shot, no virgin here! Suspension of disbelief aside, Ava is an exotic beauty with superb oral skills and a great career in front of her.

This final episode is all in good fun and there is never a moment when the viewer is in doubt this is porn, pure and simple.

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A Suspension of Disbelief

by Rich Moreland, July 2014

Written and directed by Jacky St. James and filmed by Eddie Powell, Our Father is part of Digital Sin’s Tabu Tales series . This is the first of a two part review of the DVD.

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Our Father, a series of four vignettes about stepfather/daughter relationships, plays with the incest theme, a taboo familiar to commercial pornography but not frequently filmed.

father, our 1Jacky St. James and Eddie Power offer up titillating sexual encounters that are a mix of seasoned performers and new entrants into the business. The older man role features four outstanding veteran actors: Steven St. Croix, Alex Knight, Ryan McLane, and John Strong; the younger woman is played by Penny Pax, recent arrivals Dakota Skye and Carter Cruise, and newcomer Ava Taylor.

Of course, a taboo that hints of incest survives on a secret. Because daughter and dad are willing co-conspirators, so to speak, the stepfather must not allow his sexual escapade to bring down his marriage. And, neither sex mate wants to upset an attractive arrangement beneficial to both. The result is a “don’t tell mom” collusion that flavors the forbidden intimacy.

But why does a porn film about pseudo incest work when the idea is “gross,” as Penny admits in her BTS (Behind the Scenes) segment? The explanation lies in a literary mechanism that convinces the imagination to allow a story, in print or film, to come alive: the willful suspension of disbelief.

Coined by British writer Samuel Taylor Coleridge, suspension of disbelief is the reader’s (or viewer’s) desire to go along with the improbable for the sake of the story at hand. Logic and the limitations of realism are ditched (sacrificed?) in the name of entertainment. In other words, we can go down the rabbit hole with Alice and delight in the ride.

In Our Father, when the brief plot line of each vignette is established, the viewer engages the story as just that, a story. Disbelief suspension excuses any feelings that the episode is disgusting because it isn’t realistic or likely, at least in an ordered society as we know it. To think about it another way, the burden of disbelief lies with the audience, the filmmaker is merely the persuader who constructs the narrative to finesse the viewer’s imagination, recognizing that what works for some may not work for all.

Transition Moment

The idea is simple enough, but porn offers an interesting twist, something St. James and Powell skillfully employ. At the “transition moment,” the viewer reverses his or her expectation and, consequently, the reason for watching the film. The spectator now settles in for a porn movie in which the sex moves center stage and the larger reality of the performers as step relatives, established in the suspension stage, is set aside. For the duration of the film, a deliberate suspension of disbelief is no longer needed. Now it’s people having sex and they could be anybody. The scene survives on the performer’s skills and their attractiveness, the heart and soul of a porn shoot.

In fact, despite a brief wrap-up following the pop shot, the viewer is finished with this encounter and disposes of the characters’ final comments that are necessary to package the episode. The segment’s actual conclusion is an old porn standby dating to the stag film, the camera moves to fade out.

Notice that mom is mentioned in passing but never appears. As a result, she doesn’t mess up the arrangement and does not have to be dealt with as a real figure. Guilt is assuaged all around because the wife/mother character remains ethereal; in fact, she is non-existent. The viewer can relish the sex and once it’s finished who cares if anyone—family, friends, neighbors, or co-workers—really finds out.

Incidentally, an old stag component—the third party—can be added without skipping a beat. Perhaps an aunt, a cousin, or a neighbor happens onto the scene. No worries because a suspension of disbelief reappears to adjust the storyline, then it’s onto the sex especially if the third person jumps right in.

The transition moment is a clever artistic device St. James understands. Without its placement in the script and animated in the directing, an uncomfortable viewer may feel “grossed out” and set the movie aside.

Daddy Theme

Madison Young Photo courtesy of Jiz Lee

Madison Young
Photo courtesy of Jiz Lee

On another level, there is the Daddy theme that requires no willful suspension of disbelief, but can involve suspension of another kind that is not the subject of this review. Sexually submissive filmmaker Madison Young’s recent book by the same name discusses the many levels of “Daddy” that operate in the sexual arena, particularly BDSM. It involves the need to please and yield control in a loving relationship that fills a void and stimulates desire within both parties.

St. James’ script hints at the Daddy idea, actual relationships some younger women seek with older men that, incidentally, are not unusual within the porn community. For example, twenty-one-year-old Jessa Rhodes admits in the BTS for The Sexual Liberation of Anna Lee that the Daddy complex is her “thing,” though at one point she thought is was “so wrong.” Porn superstar and BDSM devotee Casey Calvert has always preferred older men, her personal long-term relationship is well into his forties.

Casey Calvert Photo courtesy of Twisty's

Casey Calvert
Photo courtesy of Twisty’s

In other words, age differences do not always require a disbelief suspension but may beg for sociological, cultural, or psychological exploration. Are Madison, Jessa, and Casey playing out a Freudian scenario, a father fixation within a their sexual make-up, or do they simply have a natural attraction for an older man? Or, are they flaunting a society that insists sexual relationships have a narrow age acceptance, unlike generations past? Hard to say, perhaps their real life lovers simply indicate that sexually one size does not fit all.

If porn performers are widely accepting of age difference, then a twenty-something girl having on-screen sex with a man twice her age comes with no qualms or sense of impropriety.

Possibly then, willful suspension of disbelief in incest themes may be easier than at first it seems.

It Feels so Good!

There is an added component. The Daddy/Babygirl or Brat paradigm is not uncommon in the BDSM community where Madison and Casey flourish and Penny Pax often resides. In Our Father, Dakota says to Ryan as the foreplay heats up, “Please fuck me, Daddy.” In her spanking scene with Steven, Carter recalls this dynamic when she responds to his pronouncement that she’s a “manipulative little brat” with “I want my daddy to spank me.” This is language that is the lifeblood of BDSM age play.

Jacky with the cute and cuddly Penny Pax. Photo courtesy of Jeff Koga

Jacky with the cute and cuddly Penny Pax.
Photo courtesy of Jeff Koga

The fetish community’s Daddy/Babygirl dynamic carries over to non-BDSM porn with the power exchange. In the first episode of Our Father, dad’s pride in his daughter and her sexual performance is part of that energy. Penny says to Alex at one point, “It feels so good,” and wants to know if he’s enjoying himself in a hoped for verification that they are sharing the moment. Sitting on the younger side of the age dynamic, Penny wants to please, complimenting Alex with “Daddy, you fuck me so good.” In the case of Carter and Steven, the daughter plays the power card in the beginning to get what she wants, the dominating father figure who’ll pay her bills, then allows the power interchange to reverse course to reside in his command over her.

In truth, power exchange is found in all sexual relationships. The playing field is never level and Eddie Powell’s brilliant cinematography captures this imbalance by focusing on faces and expressions. In traditional porn, pleasure is individualized, just as it is for the viewer who uses the film to “get off.” Unfortunately, that can disconnect performers from each other in gonzo type shoots that mute their abilities as actors. Eddie Powell never lets that happen. His close-ups move the eroticism along with a sensuality that complements the hardcore penetration.

Unlike porn romances, parodies, or BDSM fetishes, the art of making an incest-oriented movie is to assure the viewer that he or she can become a voyeur for voyeur’s sake once the story line is established then silenced via a transition. In other words, to appreciate the sex show for what it is, the sexual situation along with the characters’ attitudes and desires must be muted. The taboo may lurk in the back of the mind, but the viewer knows that the director and the performers are in on the game.

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In the part two of this review, each vignette will be examined with their respective transition moments noted.



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