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Empowerment Instead of Degradation: Part Three of an Interview with Holly Heart

by Rich Moreland, February 2015

Anyone who writes in the adult film industry knows that some performers have little to say, prefer questions that are pure fluff (defined as requiring no thought), and repeat the same old tired information repackaged for the moment. This is not true of Holly Heart. She is the genuine article, an animated and thoughtful woman whose knockout good looks impose her presence wherever she goes.

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“I don’t think it is hard to be a dominant, for me anyway, because I know exactly what a sub wants and I’m not afraid to give it to them.”

Holly Heart, like many submissives, now switches; in other words, she plays the Domme role more often. Well-schooled in BDSM, this imposing performer relishes the pleasure she can bring to subs because that is primarily the responsibility of a top, master, or mistress.

Holly during our interview, a real sweetheart! Photo courtesy of 3hattergrindhouse.com

Holly during our interview, a real sweetheart!
Photo courtesy of 3hattergrindhouse.com

“I love to see them do their tasks, watch them in their humiliation [and] watch them struggle. I’m intrigued and turned on by the process, it’s so amazing, sexy, and euphoric. I want to give that to a submissive.”

But how easy is switching because apparently not all subs want to know what it feels like on the other end?

“I think a lot of submissives are afraid [to dom] because they don’t want to hurt somebody, that’s their mindset.” It seems that switching is a fairly smooth process if the sub approaches it with the proper perspective.

“A true submissive can be a switch at any point in time [because] they know another submissive loves it [the act of submission],” Holly declares. I agree. The now retired Bobbi Starr, an industry legend and personal acquaintance, is a perfect example.

However, Holly admits that some subs “will never change, will never switch, and will cry when they [are] forced to dom another sub.” That situation can get complicated, she remarks, when a Dom has two subs and one becomes the “alpha sub” who does the Dom’s bidding on the other girl. There is sometimes resistance because it is so difficult for some subs to turn off their true feelings.

“It’s really intricate and each relationship is just different,” Holly explains. “Some people just want to be submissive. They don’t want to cross over and that is fine.”

In her personal life, Holly loves diversification and talks about how it flavors her marriage. She adores “live parties” and her husband is her “submissive whenever we go anywhere,” she says. In fact, Holly rarely bottoms anymore and “only to certain people,” mentioning her favorite directors, James Mogul and Matt Williams, in particular.

But there is a price to pay for that side of the spectrum, especially if vanilla work in LA is on her agenda. She loves giving her body “full-fledged and wholeheartedly” to James and Matt and she’ll let them “mark” her. “I don’t care I love wearing them [marks] with pride,” she interjects, a point of view I’ve heard from other submissive performers. But vanilla companies don’t want a bruised and reddened girl in a shoot they are trying to sell to their fans, so a fine line is walked.

As for BDSM’s critics, Holly is blunt. “I don’t care what people think or say because they have no clue what I get out of that experience.”

Holly Heart is her own free-spirited woman.

A True Switch

The conversation turns to Princess Donna, a beloved Domme at Kink.

“I did a Public Disgrace shoot [PD’s website for Kink] in a vintage shop in San Francisco back in 2009. She took me in a van with Roger [the male Dom] in the scene. We had a group of guys at the shop and they paraded me around,” Holly remembers. Donna insists she perform oral sex on the men, typical of Kink shoots, and put a clown nose on her. “They wrote ‘cum slut’ on me. I really loved it.” Later Hollly was booked for Hardcore Gangbang (which replaced an earlier PD site called Bound Gangbang), but at that time another director was in place.

The clown nose. Photo courtesy of Kink.com

The clown nose.
Photo courtesy of Kink.com

Over and again I’m told about the magic that is Princess Donna and Holly is no different in her evaluation of the director.

PD in her most sultry look. Photo courtesy of Kink.com

PD with her most sultry look.
Photo courtesy of Kink.com

“She is statuesque, very beautiful, just super,” Holly says of the thirty-something New York University grad. “She is this untouchable angelic being to me. I look at her and just see so much confidence and perfection. She is definitely a role model in a sense that you just want to submit to her.”

Holly recalls an Upper Floor shoot with Donna that also featured Madison Young. “I must have been twenty,” she says, “my first party.” Though memories sometimes become hazy, Holly believes Donna fisted her, a thrill for the BDSM neophyte. She admires Donna and wants to follow in her “BDSM footsteps because she is a submissive, too. I love that she loves pain and gang bangs, all those hardcore things she empowers.” Incidentally, Donna still shoots occasionally as a sub.

Madison Young performing on The Upper Floor.  Photo courtesy of Kink.com

Madison Young performing on The Upper Floor with Matt Williams.
Photo courtesy of Kink.com

I’ve described Donna as a feminist in my recent book on the industry and Holly reinforces the raven-haired beauty’s image of a strong woman, echoing what I’ve heard over years of interviews in this film genre. “I wish more women would take a look at Donna and see her as a role model for women’s empowerment instead of degradation because it’s really frustrating when people see it [BDSM] like that.”

A final comment on Donna highlights Holly’s perspective. “She’s been a staple for me. It’s nice to have that somebody that honestly and truly cares and wants to educate people [about BDSM]. She is so sweet whenever I meet her in the hallways at Kink. I had a wonderful time with her on Public Disgrace.”

“To have the BDSM role model to look up to [is important],” Holly concludes, because Donna is “a true switch who can just flip it on and off.”

Lastly, we chat momentarily about Matt Williams who left Kink a few years ago to start his own collection of websites.

Their relationship is good. “He is super professional and he respects everybody and I respect everybody.” Now that Matt is running his own business, Holly enjoys “rekindling and revisiting” her connections with him. As for as who is working for whom in the BDSM trade, personal kinship, not companies, matter the most, Holly believes.

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Aware that time has gotten away from us, we must wrap things up. The Press Room is a constant flow of people with PR types running around trying to fit all the pieces together, never a easy task. So for now it’s adieu with the hope that one day Holly and I can further explore her BDSM journey.

She’s a dynamic package that is too adorable to ignore . . .

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Bent in Half: Part Two of an Interview with Holly Heart

by Rich Moreland, February 2015

Holly Heart is a native Californian and veteran of adult film. In her early thirties, she is now a popular MILF performer working regularly for LA’s Porn Valley studios. Her fetish resume is highlighted by her one hundred plus shoots for Kink.com. Holly is one of their most sought after BDSM models.

Our interview continues.

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Shooting as a BDSM submissive in adult film can be just another booking or an authentic experience, depending on the model. For some girls who make the transition into the real deal, psychological and emotional changes take place that can be a slow rising tide or a sudden bolt of lightning. My interviews with Kink.com submissives reveal that pathways awakened to discovery are very personal as illustrated in two earlier posts on this blog, Casey Calvert and Dylan Ryan.

Holly Heart now joins these performers, putting her own spin on her transformation.

The Milk Bucket

A self-assurance emerged after Holly’s shoot with James Mogul’s TTO.

“When I started doing live scenes like The Upper Floor [and] being in front of an audience doing what they are telling me to do, I started to get this slave confidence that I could obey, confidence that I could be prestigious, that I could do what I’m told in a timely manner.”

Inspiration lights up Holly’s eyes as she describes her transformation. Her intensity increases and she borders on proselytization, reinforcing my belief that BDSM adherents have their own faith, a kind of conversion that leads to peace and an affirmation of their minds and bodies.

“That’s when I started to really feel it,” she says. “It’s almost like the unknown is gone and now you can really be what you want to be because what was clouding you has been removed. Only a submissive in the BDSM community can really understand it [and] you have so much fun doing it.”

Holly has expanded her Kink experiences. Over “the last five years,” she declares, her life has “changed dramatically” because of them.

“It’s made me more respectful, it’s made me a kinder, more compassionate person, more understanding and I’m really grateful for that [and] for the community [and] for all the people that had the patience to teach me.”

Holly on Device Bondage. Photo courtesy of Kink.com

Holly on Device Bondage.
Photo courtesy of Kink.com

Holly praises Matt Williams. “He was so gracious with me. He was my first Dom ever.” Her initial shoot was for Device Bondage, the Kink website Matt directed at the time. To make her experience proceed well, Matt employed Rain DeGrey be on the set for Holly’s live show.

“I had no idea what I was getting myself into. All I knew was I had read books about bondage and I wanted to be a slave. It enticed me, it was glorifying to me to be a slave, to be on that pedestal, just to be there and be a part of that. To be available for service is just hot and sexy! It just feels good!”

Holly dips into an amusing episode during the shoot: the crew put some hot sauce between her legs.

“I was sweaty and writhing and it was so painful! At the end of the shoot I’m thinking, ‘Oh, hot sauce on your tongue? Get some milk.’ Rain brings me two buckets of milk and I’m sitting in them during the [post-shoot] interview. That was my introduction to BDSM,” she laughs.

Years later Holly came to understand that she’s “a freaking masochist,” as she puts it. More live shoots at Kink, which she characterizes as “a really amazing experience and a really amazing journey,” reinforced that new sexual self-definition.

In it’s own way, perhaps BDSM is religious-like, certainly it’s emotional impact on those who love it is intense.

Subspace

It’s time to talk about something I like to bring up in these kinds of conversation: mindfucks.

Holly smiles broadly and tells me she has two great stories she will share.

“I was afraid of the hot sauce. In my head I knew that the sauce was never going to be there again because it was on my “no” list (like everyone in the BDSM community, professional or amateur, Kink honors a submissive’s hard limits, those things that are off the board in a shoot.)

“I was on the set with Lochai for Hogtied many years ago (Lochai has since left the company and now resides in Baltimore). He tied me up to a wall with my legs and arms spread with a bowling ball crotch harness attached to me. Then he had a zipper (cord with clothespins) on my tits and stomach.”

Lochai, whose personality is humor built on a flair for rigging that is widely respected in the community, pulls out a bottle.

“I don’t know what it is,” Holly relates, “but for some reason I thought it was the sauce. I got really scared and [in my eyes] you can see the fear. He sprays my face with it and it was baby oil!” Lochai is playing the mental dodge ball that spices up his shoots.

“He sprays my whole body and rips off the zipper. I was so thinking about the sauce that my mind was in a whole other place that I didn’t even feel the zipper!”

Holly then offers an example of subspace in a recent Sexually Broken episode for Real Time Bondage, a current Matt Williams site. She describes  being “bent in half” with arms and legs tied down. Matt and his associate Jackhammer are penetrating her mouth and vagina, “just back and forth, back and forth, no-stop simultaneously,” she says.

Bent in half. Photo courtesy of Intersec.com

Bent in half.
Photo courtesy of Intersec.com

“I literally went into this complete moment of subspace where nothing existed. It was like a perfect moment where I only thought of that moment and my brain tuned out and my body just went completely limp. It was like I never wanted that feeling to stop. It’s an addiction.” She adds a cautionary note. “Because they are professionals,” the director and crew recognize when a girl is closing in on that psychological dreamland.

Should a submissive teeter near the edge, monitoring her emotional balance takes over. “They know that you are zoning out and you are going to pass out any second because you feel so good.” But Holly understands she is safe because the filming will stop if a dangerous turn in the road is coming up.

Incidentally, subspace often prohibits a submissve from using her safeword. Some models tell me they self-monitor during filming to avoid losing control so they will not be accidentally injured. Casey Calvert, for example, reserves subspace for her private life, preferring to maintain total awareness when working professionally.

Bear in mind, Holly Heart is a veteran BDSMer. This is not Fifty Shades of Grey. It’s a community of people who understand and appreciate their fetishes and are careful in their play. She joins the best professional submissives I’ve written about such as Madison Young, Casey Calvert, Rain DeGrey, and Dylan Ryan who are very aware of the sensitive nature of subspace.

Holly ranks the Sexually Broken shoot among her best. “It was the most amazing experience, especially being in the community now for so long.” This California girl understands she is able to put herself in that situation and, as she says, “really feel the utmost pleasure and not be afraid.”

Reading the Body

Holly and I have something in common, sports. As a former triathlete and marathoner, I bring up the “runner’s high” that causes the endurance athlete to transcend the stress of the race. Her interest sparked, Holly mentions adrenaline. “I love to run, too, and I get that runner’s high.” Like yours truly, Holly is also a weightlifter to go along with her aerobic fitness and it shows in her taut body that, by the way, serves her well in another line of Kink shoots she loves, Ultimate Surrender, girl wrestling that ends in good sex. The site is widely (and wildly) popular among Kink models and is shot before a live audience.

Before the match. The competitors: Holly, Audry Rose, Bryn Blaine, and Rain DeGrey. Photo courtesy of Kink.com

Before the match. The competitors: Holly, Audrey Rose, Bryn Blaine, and Rain DeGrey.
Photo courtesy of Kink.com

Holly promotes the feel good aspect of working out.

“I think we need to express that to people unfamiliar with [the benefits of exercise]. You can get this natural high from your body that is actually good and its not going to harm you, its actually going to be better for your life.”

During the match the audience looks on. Photo courtesy of Kink.com

During the match the audience looks on.
Photo courtesy of Kink.com

This avid sports girl then makes a quick transition to demystify BDSM. “We’re not hurting each other when we are doing corporal punishment. We know the body’s limit. We educate ourselves on [changes in skin color for blood flow] and the way a person writhes when they are getting spanked, caned, or flogged. Reading the body language, eye contact, facial expressions, that is what makes a professional dominant so good.”

Fetish education is integral to the BDSM community, Holly explains. “If we could get the world to understand that, then the world may be more open to it.”

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Part Three of my interview with this extraordinary woman is coming next. She’ll discuss switching and learning from Kink’s Princess Donna.

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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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Far From Where You Are

Madison Young, Daddy: A Memoir
Rare Bird Books, 328 pages.

by Rich Moreland, May 2014

“Daddy’s cane was lightly tracing up and down the landscape of her quivering body. I recognized her internal conflict: the desire for so much sensation that you are carried away to somewhere far from where you are, while your psyche is rubbing against its edge. Sarah slowly, bravely nodded her head . . . .

I stood up in the corner that Daddy put me in . . . and walked toward Sarah, bringing my face close to hers, stroking her hair and putting my hand on her shoulder.

‘You need to breathe, Sarah. Don’t let the sensation control you, let it flow through you. . . . Recognize it as a gift.’

She was still just a girl, only twenty-four, and I felt threatened by her . . . I tried to disregard my fears of being replaced for a younger, newer make and model.

‘Too bad you can’t come without penetration. Isn’t that right, Slut?’ Daddy taunted her and their connection made my skin crawl. I don’t want to be in the room for her orgasm.

‘Cock please, Sir . . .’

Her words drifted into the hallway as I walked away, down the long corridor, until they were only a faint buzzing of syllables behind Beethoven’s quartets.”

Madison Young, from Daddy: A Memoir. Pages 221-223.

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In writing Daddy: A Memoir, Madison Young reveals that we are a collection of psychological constructs that shape our loves, biases, and communities, be they social, religious, political, recreational, or in this case, familial and sexual.madison 4

Madison’s search for Daddy is a reconciliation of two men in her life, first her Ohio father and later her West Coast lover, BDSM dominant, James Mogul. But Daddy is greater than any one person, as Madison’s odyssey tells us.

The book is well-written with a brisk pace that moves the reader through Madison’s conservative Midwestern childhood to her sexual awakening in California’s sunny liberalism. Daddy is a personal experience with a bit of salacious writing tossed in to give the reader a look at adult film’s fetish and bondage community.

The Quiet Girl
The early pages of Daddy recount the anxieties that plagued Madison’s adolescence. The drama surrounding a dysfunctional family crippled by an absent father and an embittered mother brings the reader into her Ohio youth.

A spattering of dark humor flavors an atmosphere of brutal honesty. At age four Madison believes the word prostitute sounds like “a church or a deadly disease,” and she later characterizes the internet porn edifice Kink.com, where she films as a BDSM submissive, as “a bubble of myopic disillusions.”

The Quiet Girl: Cultural Hero, Art Curator, Sex Activist  Photo source unknown

The Quiet Girl: Cultural Hero, Art Curator, Sex Activist
Photo courtesy of Lydia Daniller

In truth, Daddy is more than a family father or a sexual guru in the bondage and discipline community Madison loves so much. A mystical animus living within Madison’s inner child, Daddy is older than the Little Girl who seeks him out. A lover who disciplines his pet, Daddy secures her from the vagaries of personal apprehensions and trepidations.

What initially captured my interest is the book’s dedication to the “quiet girl in the corner.” Sexual submissiveness can blossom in the nondescript students who sit in classrooms or eschew the anxieties of social gatherings. A female friend who markets sex toys once told me that the women most likely to purchase bondage gear at her seminars are the unnoticed ones in the back of the room, shy and very discreet.

Sins of Non-Conformity
Growing into puberty, Madison remembers that porn sex was considered “shameful,” rendering her fantasies as forbidden. In junior high, she kept her “eyes cast down” sensing that she didn’t belong. Gawky and self-conscious, Madison became a “natural target” for the taunts of other kids. Spawned by such cruelty, inadequacies haunted her until the emotional tools to confront her demons emerged.

Out of this battle of self-preservation comes her interpretation of Daddy—a concept, a spirit, a need, a belief—that no one individual in Madison’s life can completely fulfill.

For all children, there are turning points that define sexual journeys. Madison’s occurred in church. The preacher condemned adultery, prostitution, and homosexuality as “sins of non-conformity.” What is a girl who knows she is different to do? Create her own “imaginary community” that spurs a search for happiness? An eventual good-bye to Loveland, Ohio, followed, leaving behind an unfulfilled longing for the traditional family and its Daddy.

The Castro, San Francisco’s gay community, becomes Madison’s Mecca. With a realization that she is among the “outsiders” who sought “refuge” in California’s Left Coast sexual Disneyland, her search for Daddy expands. Is her mentor a leather man, a rigger (a technician whose rope talents satisfy the cravings of bondage models), a dominant, a master, or perhaps a leatherdyke? Madison is unsure, but realizes she needs someone to take control and comfort her inner “Little Girl.”

A Dignified Whore
Madison Young loves rope and discovers porn’s Kink.com, the San Francisco bondage empire of Peter Acworth. The company becomes another Daddy, providing the ecstasy and the agony of Madison’s SF existence. She does her first shoot for Kink and proudly announces, “If rope didn’t lead to my daddy, I didn’t know what would.”

Madison Young loves rope and discovers porn’s Kink.com, the San Francisco bondage empire of Peter Acworth. The company becomes another Daddy, providing the ecstasy and the agony of Madison’s SF existence. She does her first shoot for Kink and proudly announces, “If rope didn’t lead to my daddy, I didn’t know what would.”

A cathartic yellow brick road to a BDSM OZ, Daddy’s magic is more than a memoir; it’s a cross between a novella and a history. Gauge, a girlfriend lost, and James Mogul, a Daddy gained, shape Madison’s writing. A swirl of honesty and jealousy filters through her words sparking sympathy at some points and admonishment at others.

James Mogul Photo source unknown

James Mogul
Photo source unknown

Insights abound within the pages of Daddy. Madison’s close friendship with performers Bobbi Starr and Lorelei Lee, and her gut-wrenching jealousy toward a bondage model metaphorically named Sarah Chasm enliven the narrative. Madison’s accounts of L.A.’s San Fernando Valley, “the depressing landscape” of the “mainstream porn industry,” while characterizing Kink.com as the “pornification and appropriation of the BDSM community for mass consumption and commercial gain” make this book a fascinating read.

Doubts engulf Madison as she uses adult film to fund her beloved art gallery, Femina Potens, whose future is doomed by high rents. She engages in a bit of self-imposed slut-shaming when she declares her income “felt like dirty whore money” earned by a “sexual outlaw in a corporation system.”

Madison in a Kink scene with James. Photo courtesy of The Training of O.

Madison in a Kink scene with James.
Photo courtesy of The Training of O.

Though her assessment of the adult industry is not always positive, Madison Young gives the reader moments of triumph. For example, confessing she sometimes feels like “a dignified whore,” Madison takes pride in being a Spiegler Girl (the performer agency for whom she worked), characterizing Spiegler models as “smart, self-reliant, and responsible.”

Because Madison Young is a woman of rich diversification, to stay on the Daddy message shortchanges much of who she is beyond a narrowly defined fetish performer. Understandable, but I want Madison to explore her time at Antioch College and her discovery of sex-positive feminism. Madison is a cultural hero of pansexualism, sexual masochism, and the queer porn community (particularly San Francisco’s Queer Porn Mafia) whose status is rising in this new century. She devotes deserved space to Femina Potens, to art and performance art, but what of her many honors at Toronto’s groundbreaking Feminist Porn Awards?

She is far more than the vulnerable Little Girl that Daddy presents.

When chroniclers examine the history of adult film in the twenty-first century, Madison Young will be feted. With Daddy, she has only broken the surface of her legendary status. Hopefully, this multitalented and intellectually brilliant queen of kink is considering a second book.

The Power Within
The beauty of Madison’s narrative is its contradiction. She attempts to reconcile all her varied families from Ohio to Femina Potens to Kink.com, but they are too kaleidoscopic for a clean, well-lighted heroic image immersed in a tale of sharply drawn parameters.

And, of course, there are her personal Daddies with their battles and foibles, who, like Madison, search to find their own definition of self.

Feeding Emma Photo source unknown

Feeding a budding feminist.
Photo courtesy of Madison Young

In the end, Madison seeks the power within to move forward. The birth of daughter Emma, a uniting force and an overwhelming gift, offers the metaphorical beginning.

Finally the reader is left with the overarching question the book presents. Who or what is Daddy: a religious-like spirit that dwells within all of us, a guide to find our way from infancy to maturity, the cycle of civilization, or simply a deep emotional need?

Or, perhaps Daddy is the community that secures us, as rope binds Madison to something greater to serve. Through that service she tells us that who we are is a fluid evolution and an enlightened journey that ceases only with our final breath.

*          *          *          *          *

By the way, don’t neglect the book’s forward by Madison’s porn-art mother and sex-positive icon, Annie Sprinkle. Her words set the tone for Madison’s story.

And, should you purchase Daddy, which I highly recommend, go for the paperback version. I did not and, like Madison and her rope, I miss the touch, feel, and smell of something I can hold in my hands and put on a shelf.

Peace.

 

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A Porn Family

by Rich Moreland, November 2013

This is the second installment on Girlfriends Films.

gfs logoMy students know that I write in the adult film industry and occasionally inquire about the people I meet. On the whole they are non-judgmental, though every now and then moral indignation pops up. A couple of years ago a female student asked me quite pointedly why I wrote about prostitutes. I was taken off-guard, but saw an opportunity in her question.

Hoping to have a conversation that would widen horizons, my attempts to assuage her preconceived notions about pornography were futile. Our encounter was brief and she departed, disappointed that a college professor would stoop so low. Had she been willing to listen, this is what she would have learned about one aspect of the business.

Pornographers run their companies much like corporate America. This includes employee perks not always seen in small businesses. A case in point is Girlfriends Films, one of the more prosperous enterprises in Porn Valley.

“Nobody has ever quit or retired from Girlfriends Films,” owner Dan O’Connell says. The company values its employees, offering health insurance (including dental and vision) as well as life insurance and a 401 (k). But Girlfriends does something else that outshines much of corporate America, it contributes regularly to charities selected by the performers. Beyond a paycheck for a day’s shoot, Dan shows his appreciation for their hard work, creating the best of all benefits: the Girlfriends family.

Part of my Family

Last January at the AEE (Adult Entertainment Expo) I interviewed Dana DeArmond, one of adult film’s classiest and most respected veterans. We were at the Girlfriends’ booth where she was signing for fans. Dana told me she was ill that morning and Moose, the company’s Vice President, visited her hotel room with bottles of water and pepto-bismol.

Dana signing at Grilfriends in Vegas. Photo by Bill Knight

Dana signing at Girlfriends in Vegas.
Photo by Bill Knight

He told her not to worry about signing that day, but Dana would have none of that.

“I am going down there and do press for this company because they take damn good care of me,” Dana said. “I am going to get it together because I love them.”

She then brought up something that really mattered personally to her.

“They let me choose a charity and donated a thousand dollars for me,” Dana commented. Last year it was Doctors without Borders, this year she selected the AIDS/LifeCycle ride from San Francisco to L.A., a distance of 545 miles. The event raises money to provide needed services to people with HIV and AIDS.

“I feel like they are part of my family,” Dana declared, referring to Dan, Moose, and the GFs staff. She happily added that the relationship works both ways, “I am in the Girlfriends’ family,” she said with pride.

Chastity Lynn Photo courtesy of Adult Video News

Chastity Lynn
Photo courtesy of Adult Video News

The monthly donation is an ongoing program. In May of this year, Chastity Lynn selected Farm Sanctuary for her charity and had a $1,000 given in her name. She chose the organization because of her concern with animal welfare.

Rising superstar Tasha Reign persuaded Girlfriends to donate to CancerCare in August. She lost her father to the disease a few years ago and wanted to help others who must deal with the uncertainty of a cancer diagnosis. CancerCare provides counseling, support groups, and co-payment options to families who are in the fight together.

Madison Young Photo courtesy of Kink.com

Madison Young
Photo courtesy of Kink.com

Girlfriends donated $1,000 to Planned Parenthood in the name of one of my favorites in the adult film world, new mother Madison Young. The director and performer recalled that in her twenties, she was without health insurance and very thankful for the services she received from Planned Parenthood.

Madison compliments the Girlfriends charity program, “It empowers performers and directors, offering an opportunity to create some small change in the world.” Everyone can give something back.

When I was at LAX not long ago, I met a fellow traveler who chatted amiably about his impressions of the porn industry. One of the issues that concerned him was the sexual abuse of children and he wanted to know about the industry’s role in producing such despicable fare. Another opportunity availed itself to me.

Adult film producers don’t like child pornography, I explained, and referenced ASACP (Association of Sites Advocating Child Protection). Reaching out to adult sites to help in its mission, ASACP is a non-profit that combats online child porn through a reporting system that turns in suspected sites. ASACP also enables parents to prevent children from viewing inappropriate online materials by offering the website label RTA (restricted to adults). This year Girlfriends donated $5,000 to the organization.

Adult film is a business and in spite of what much of the public believes, family is important to them as it is to everyone else. This included doing for others and caring about children.

If she had been a smidgen more open-minded, who knows what a particular young women would be thinking today.

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The Value of Context

by Rich Moreland, April 2013

Girls who shoot BDSM porn always risk losing work in the vanilla film world. The reason, by the way, is not because they are pigeon-holed as bondage models. Frankly, it’s an advantage for a girl to indicate a willingness to be bound, gagged, and disciplined as part of her repertoire whether she is with a modeling agency or a free agent. Hiring possibilities are expanded.

No, the reason is about that kind of work, what it does to her, the stress on her body.

Take Dana DeArmond, an A-lister who is much admired in porn. She’s employable, amiable on the set, and knowledgeable about how to elevate the quality of a porn shoot. She is every cinematographer’s dream. But even the best are challenged after putting in years of shooting.

Dana DeArmondPhoto courtesy of 3hattergrindhouse.com

Dana DeArmond
Photo courtesy of 3hattergrindhouse.com

“I had a really good time bottoming,” Dana says, “I did it for six years and learned a lot about my sexuality.” She tested her limits for pain and fetish interplay, an exploration so enlightening that Dana describes her career as a “sexual journey.” But change may be at hand. Framed in the past tense, her remarks hint that Dana is transitioning into another aspect of her profession.

Starting out at Kink.com offered her a level of security to act out her fantasies and a sense of family when the shooting was finished. “I’m comfortable there,” Dana says, “I have no complaints about the company.” She comments on what other girls who film at San Francisco’s old Armory say, Kink is performer friendly and cares about a model’s satisfaction, artistically and sexually, in a scene. Kink.com believes all shoots should honor model consent and its directors allow a performer to “steer the scene,” Dana adds.

Kink also has a reputation for honesty. “They don’t try to trick you into anything,” Dana says. Like many companies, Kink has a call sheet with everything spelled out for the performer before the scene begins. They try to make the experience rewarding so that popular models want to return. To accomplish that requires a staff that is well-schooled in handling BDSM shoots.

“They hire really cool people,” Dana says, and gives Kink the highest compliment. Hanging out with their employees “outside of work” is a pleasure for her.

Taking Chances

Dana DeArmond’s BDSM adventures have a developed a downside over the years. She is a veteran submissive and a perfectionist with an undeniable work ethic that pushes her over the top, sometimes to her detriment.

“I got to the point where I was trying to take so much pain, and was trying to be so extreme, I thought, ‘I’m going to I hurt myself,’” she says. That can be serious because of the negative carry over to vanilla porn.

If Dana’s too aggressive with the realism of her bondage scenes, she’s taking chances with her availability and her income. “I won’t be able to work down in L.A. doing regular porn anymore,” she states, admitting that in BDSM, risks can be high. In some cases marks from flogging, electricity play, and ropes can show up in a vanilla sex shoot if a girl has one booked the next day.

Dana explains that she is also putting herself in dangerous territory with her health because age is an ever present factor. “I’m not eighteen anymore. I’m not a young girl,” a thirtyish Dana declares, “I can’t risk injury.”

Dana’s attitudes about shooting porn are evolving. She’s been around long enough to know what she is doing and what she likes. These days Dana insists that she must be comfortable working with the people on the set and is careful about the toll extracted from her body and mind. In other words, she looks for the right “context” in a scene.

If a girl is doing an aggressive scene for a site like Bound Gangbangs, Kink viewers want her to take on as much as she can even if it strains her physically and emotionally. Perhaps a few years ago Dana would not have given that a second thought, but she is reluctant today unless the circumstances align the stars just right.

“If I’m not enjoying myself, that’s not for me,” Dana explains. She emphasizes that she must be the one calling the shots otherwise her heart is not in the scene. If guys who don’t know what they are doing are all over her, “it’s miserable,” she says.

Too much rough play and extended penetration results in its own set of difficulties and Dana considers the consequences.

Understandable, some performers have voiced similar concerns. On the other hand, authenticity in BDSM shoots is desirable from a customer standpoint, so good models feel a sense of obligation to produce the best content possible. But they must have a clear picture of what they are getting into and how the booking will be handled.

“A lot of people have bad experiences because they haven’t taken into consideration the logistics of rough sex, or gangbangs, or group scenes, or porn in general,” Dana says, extending her comment across the entire industry. Getting along with co-stars and being in the right situation—the context—is what makes shooting a pleasure. “Style wise sometimes people just don’t mesh,” she remarks.

But banking scenes is a great teacher. “You’ve got to learn,” she says, and reminds us that for her it took a bit of time.

Busy Signing at the Adult Convention in Las VegasPhoto courtesy of 3hattergrindhouse.com

Busy Signing at the Adult Convention in Las Vegas
Photo courtesy of 3hattergrindhouse.com

Of course, a porn education is ongoing and now Dana is dealing with a career change other performers like Bobbi Starr have successfully navigated. Dana’s working on learning to top or dom, trading in the “just let it happen” experience of being submissive for the other end of the spectrum. She’s discovered that taking on a domme’s responsibility is mentally stressful.

“You have to think of so many things simultaneously when you’re domming,” Dana explains. Circumstances dictate the play. Most important, planning is required. Anticipating the steps ahead of time, like configuring a move in chess, needs a quick mind. The pace of the scene and the careful application of any instruments like canes or floggers designed to stimulate and arouse must be taken into account. Obviously everything is consensual, Dana says, repeating the Kink mantra, and it is imperative not to injury anyone. Those are obligations the domme has to her submissive.

“I do care a lot about the people I work with,” Dana says. At the end of the shoot, it’s personally important that the submissive thank her and brag about the “good experience” he or she had. No matter which end of a flogger—application or reception—is given to Dana she will leave her mark on the scene.

That’s Dana DeArmond, the consummate pro, popular with her fans and her co-workers. From my personal contacts with her, I can clearly see why. In the business, Dana cultivates friendships with performers and directors whom she regards as reliable and honest, and reciprocates when she can. She refers to the women with whom she is very close, like Princess Donna, Aiden Starr, and Joanna Angel, as her “porn wives.” It’s an endearment that carries an emotional connection not often found in any career.

Call it the wisdom of age and the lessons of experience.

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You Love This?

by Rich Moreland, February, 2013

My special thanks to Evil Angel Productions for the photos used in this series.

 *          *          *          *          *

Voracious’s third episode, titled “Fuckin’ White American Trash,” opens back in Los Angeles. Antropoligist Manuel Batiste has returned to the property ostensibly to purchase it, but in reality he’s looking for Amira. He comes at dusk intuitively feeling that this is the proper time to meet her. Remember the mirror? The house is locked up.

Calling the realtor, Manuel is told the residents are gone.

Just as the house has locked up vampire lore, Amira will have her own trial to “lock up” her clan loyalty.

Returning to his office, Manuel runs an internet search on vampires. A strange article on a dead vampire in Szugio, Hungry, shows up and Manuel notices the circular medallion hanging around the neck of the body. It’s the same as Amria wears. The article suggests there is a vampire clan in the area.

Not surprising, Father Zoltan is referenced and claims the clan talk is just superstition.

Clamping Down a Wandering Soul

The scene shifts to Hungry. Amira enters a room in the house where she is confined by Dracu. A glass enclosed St. Andrew’s Cross (an upright X) is the room’s centerpiece. The Vampire Mistress (Sandra Romain) is positioned with her back arched over the intersection of cross’s arms. Her hands are raised holding onto chains that drop down from the ceiling. She wears breast and labia clamps likewise attached to chains.

The St. Andrew's Cross and The Vampire Mistress

The St. Andrew’s Cross and The Vampire Mistress

According to Christian lore, St. Andrew brought Christianity to Eastern Europe, particularly Romania. At his execution, he was tied to a cross that was positioned on its side, an inferior status to the original crucifixion because Andrew did not feel worthy of Christ. The cross, the conduit of death, resurrection, and martyrdom, is a staple in BDSM play spaces today because a sexual submissive can be bound in a spread-eagled position.

When Amira circles the enclosure, the Mistress’s eyes open and stare in her direction and turn blood red.

Satanic Red is a Head Drop Away

Satanic Red is a Head Drop Away

The message to Amira is clear. You are inferior and not worthy of joining the clan until you prove yourself.

The remainder of this episode furnishes a sexual encounter that is rough and tumble. When I spoke with John Stagliano about Brooklyn Lee’s incredible performance in the film, he singled out Episodes Three and Five as being exceptionally tense and real. I would agree. No matter how long Brooklyn Lee remains in adult film, she will be remembered as a superstar in this movie.

Only the work of Kink.com’s Peter Acworth can compare with the hard hitting BDSM sexuality of the extended scene that follows. There are no nuances here. Amira is tested by the Vampire Mistress, played beautifully by Sandra Romain, who like Brooklyn Lee has a history of performances at Kink.com. The actresses are complements of each other in this scene.

Amira's Tribulations Begin

Amira’s Tribulations Begin

Suffice it to say the clan has detected reluctance and weakness in Amira and it’s time to call her to task. Clamps of different varieties are used on Amira as a form of discipline and dominance. During the sex, the conflation of pain and sensuality common to many devotees of BDSM subjects Amira to the test she undergoes.

The Mistress taunts Amira as the sex intensifies.

“I want to be proud of you!” the Mistress screams at Amira, who will be broken in this trial.

But the Mistress detects weakness early in the game.

“You give up, you fuckin’ bitch,” the Mistress derides Amira. “You give up!”

Brooklyn Lee’s performance ranks with the best I’ve seen from San Francisco masochist and porn icon, Madison Young, whose shoots are the zenith of BDSM.

The verbal tirade continues.

“You are white American trash,” the Mistress yells.

Amira is breaking. “I’m nothing,” she responds in almost a whisper.

The Mistress slaps and kisses Amira, disciplining and seducing her as a dominant would a submission in the theater of BDSM.

“I just want to be yours,” Amira barely utters. But the proof is not there yet. The sex continues, a DP is on the menu, and the Mistress never gives up.

She pounds away verbally at Amira as the two males in the scene work over her body.

How Much Can She Handle?

How Much Can She Handle?

“Am I too rough for you?” the Mistress asks. “You love this?”

“I want to be like you,” repeats Amira.

Vampire triumphant compete, the Mistress withdraws. Amira is left smiling and a body covered with spit and ejaculate. She has broken through to the other side, satisfying the immediate demands of the clan. Or so it seems.

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