Tag Archives: New Sensations

Tommy Pistol on The St. James Way

by Rich Moreland, April 2015

Tommy Pistol is among the elite male performers in adult film, having entered the business in 2003 through his friendship with producer/director Joanna Angel. Today, he defines what stardom means for men who make porn a career. The former stage comedian is smart, artistic, and an exceptional actor in a business that does not reward such skills as it should.

We chatted in Las Vegas the day before Tommy was to host the 2015 AVN Awards show. Here is a portion of our conversation.

Tommy Pistol Photo courtesy of 3hattergrindhouse

Tommy Pistol
Photo courtesy of 3hattergrindhouse

A Little Too Close to Home

I bring up Jacky St. James.

“Amazing” is Tommy immediate assessment of Jacky’s work. “She writes her scripts and goes about it [directing] in a way that a male is not going to do.” Best of all, Jacky is bringing needed change to the industry, he adds.

The New Sensations film maker is hands-on, taking her time with the talent to explain what she wants. It’s a personal touch actors can sense. “She talks to people,” Tommy says, creating a comfortable atmosphere that transforms written words into artistic expression.

Verisimilitude is Jacky’s specialty. She “hits home” with scripts that are “driven by actual events . . . things that could happen” to anyone, Tommy explains.

“She’ll put me in certain situations I can actually relate to.” His acting skills flourish and the results are personally pleasing.

“I really appreciate the scripts that I’ve gotten with her.”

Tommy highlights The Temptation of Eve, a movie he shot with Remy LaCroix and Xander Crovus, as illustrative of what filming for Jackie means.

The script called for his character to be “the provider, the working man” in his relationship with Eve, Remy’s character, but he was unemployed. “There were scenes where we had conversations of me feeling like a failure [with Remy] supporting me no matter what,” Tommy recalls.

“I was at a point in my [personal] life where things were a little rough,” Tommy continues, so “the scene hit a little too close home.” Jacky was sensitive to his situation. “I really appreciated the way she went about everything,” he says. “It was awesome.”

The native New Yorker also has kudos for Remy.

Tmmy and Remy on the set of The Temptation of Eve. Photo by Jeff Koga

Tommy and Remy on the set of The Temptation of Eve.
Photo by Jeff Koga

“She was amazing, very professional, and knew her lines . . . We did really well together,” he remembers.

Remy’s humor and graciousness made being on the set a pleasure. Tommy adds a further compliment: the diminutive superstar “knows what she is doing and loves sex.”

Tommy Pistol also offers the film high praise. “It was a lovely thing to see it [the story] come full circle and to see how Remy stayed with the man she loved” despite being tempted to give in to Xander’s character.

“I was really glad that movie got as much press and awards that it did. It totally deserved it.”

Trading off Jokes

Jacky’s professional partner is cinematographer/director Eddie Powell. What is it like working with him?

Eddie keeps the atmosphere upbeat. He wants his talent to be happy, relaxed, and at the end of the day leave the set with a smile. Friendliness is the Arizona native’s forte.

In fact, Eddie “makes life almost too easy [because] he’s very tuned in and knows what he’s doing,” Tommy declares. “He’s not wasting anybody’s time.”

Unlike the close-ups of gonzo’s piston shots and oral workouts, romance movies require focusing on facial expression. It’s tricky business for those performers who are in porn for reasons that don’t emphasize roleplaying.

Does Tommy notice the camera work in those intimate moments?

“I do,” he responds, noting that performers are doing something not previously seen, having “real emotions.” Might the industry be moving in new directions with these theatrics? Tommy is inclined to think so. “People are going to adapt to that [emotions in porn] a lot more.”

Jacky and Eddie ready to shoot. Photo courtesy of Jacky St. James

Jacky and Eddie ready to shoot.
Photo courtesy of Jacky St. James

The former singer believes that the St. James/Powell approach has “opened up a whole new door to selling movies.” Jacky and Eddie are “totally knocking it out of the park . . . making something beautiful.”

Are they edging closer to mainstream as film makers?

Absolutely, Tommy says. “They’ve got full scripts, they’re shot beautifully, [and are] well-lit [and] edited. The dialogue is always great.” With expanded scripts and a more soft-core feel, Tommy believes, the duo is flirting with the independent film market.

“Keep what pays the bills, but branch out. They have such talent; it would a shame if they didn’t expand.”

To Shine Light

Before wrapping up, Tommy wants everyone to know that he and his girlfriend, Nikki Swarm, are putting together a documentary, The Unbearable Lightness of Boning. “A very positive piece about who we are,” Tommy says, the film is a look at today’s adult business with the conversations restricted to “people on the inside talking to people on the inside.”

Tommy and Nikki in a fun moment. Photo courtesy of Nikki Swarm

Tommy and Nikki in a fun moment.
Photo courtesy of Nikki Swarm

Adult film professionals are “normal” and “comfortable with their sexuality,” he says. “We’re doing this [performing in porn] because we love it.”

“The goal is shine light on the industry and hopefully change some minds because this country is very close-minded.”

As the author of a book with a similar purpose, I could not agree more.

Follow Tommy at TommyPistol.com and on twitter @tommypistol. Nikki can be found on twitter @nikkiswarm.

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Why Can’t We Have It All? Part One

by Rich Moreland, March 2015

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The Submission of Emma Marx: Boundaries is Jacky St. James’ sequel to her award-winning masterpiece, The Submission of Emma Marx which I had the pleasure to review in three parts here in August 2013. With cinematic partner Eddie Powell, St. James now boldly continues Emma’s odyssey.

Before moving into the film, it’s worth mentioning that sequels are financial risks. Though supportive of her project, New Sensations President Scott Taylor was cautious. “Sequels often flop.” St. James remembers him telling her. “They don’t sell as well. They seldom find that magic of the original.”

Perhaps, but in the case of Boundaries it is every bit as good as it’s older sister and I encourage watching the first film before enjoying the second. If not, the viewer will feel like a late arriving movie goer who takes a seat half way through a story with no understanding of its origin.

Boundaries‘ success is complemented by the reassembled cast. Penny Pax reprises her role as Emma, as does Richie Calhoun as Mr. Frederick. Though porn flirts with the edges of mainstream Hollywood, both players remind us its acting can be every bit as good. Pax is learning her trade, building a resume that separates her from adult’s usual “just give me the sex and don’t ask if I can act.” No doubt St. James’ directing is a crucial factor in the diminutive model’s professional evolution.

Jacky, Penny and Richie.  Photo courtesy of Jacky St. James

Jacky, Penny and Richie.
Photo courtesy of Jacky St. James

Riley Reid is perfect as Nadia and Van Wylde likewise as Ray. Their roles are not an easy sell because Reid and Wylde must come across as a vanilla “cookie cutter suburban couple” snug and homey in their conventionality.

In making the film, St. James confesses that “staying true to Emma and her sexual journey” could not be compromised. The result is Emma as a complexity that intrigues the viewer on various levels. I can imagine that her shadow seductively passes through the corridors of St. James’ mind just as she does in the film’s opening credits and its denouement.

Conceding that her “screenplays hold very deeply personal connections to experiences I’ve had or people I’ve known,” Jacky St. James faces a near impossible task with Boundaries, write a flawless script that moves Emma along bit by bit while confronting the viewer with unsettling issues. The question that captures the film’s raison d’être and St. James’ good storytelling is simple: Does sexual and emotional turbulence reach a satisfactory resolution that spells the end of the story?

Or, is there room for Emma redux, part three?

One thing is evident, Boundaries’ tightly written script is worthy of industry accolades. Indeed, it is as close to impeccable as an adult film can be.

Part of News Sensation’s Erotic Stories line, this second Emma Marx falls into the couples porn genre, yet it is sexually groundbreaking for a date night film. The carnal scenes are integral to the story; nothing is thrown together or gratuitous. Some of the action, however, directly challenges the formula for what the industry touts as comfortable for lovers. But more on that later.

Just Drawing Lines

Emma Marx and Nadia are sisters whose relationship is close considering their sexualities are anything but. In the first Emma Marx, Nadia and Ray “silently judged” Emma’s fetishes. Now they are outspoken, letting her know of “their aversion” to BDSM.

Is this progress?

Over a bland vegan dinner she believes is suitable for everyone (one size fits all, if you will), Nadia announces she doesn’t understand why being tied up and spanked is not abuse. Deprecating BDSM kinkiness with her sappy smile and haughty attitude, Nadia tacitly reinforces her normalized sexuality in a way only modern moralists can appreciate. When Emma mentions consensuality, she is ignored. In an amusing moment, Ray condemns suspension and cattle prods while disgustingly holding a fork with two pieces of the vegan mystery food hanging from it. The real torture in this scene is inflicted on Ray.

But, apparently the happily married duo is not opposed to a little experimentation.

With the superficiality of a Valley Girl who thinks a sip of wine makes her a connoisseur, Nadia announces to Emma the next morning, “Ray and I totally tried BDSM last night and I’m totally a sub.” Kudos to Emma for respecting her sister’s asinine interpretation of sexual enlightenment.

Jacky setting up the scene for Riley and Van Photo courtesy of Jeff Koga

Jacky setting up the scene for Riley and Van. Blurred flowers framed on the wall.
Photo courtesy of Jeff Koga

Here’s the story. In the film’s first sex scene with Nadia and Ray, a blindfold is about as deviant as they get. (She does ask him if she can call him “master” in a laughable attempt to identify with what Emma authenticates.) Having now seen the light while not being able to see, Nadia tells Emma she “completely” understands what a BDSM relationship is all about.

Incidentally, the sex is classic Riley Reid, who is an industry gem. Considering it’s a script-driven vanilla encounter–necessary to set up Emma’s future sexual experimentation–Riley’s smile, spirit, and energy carry the show. On the wall bedside the bed is a black and white photo of two flowers that lord over the sex in front of it. The flowers are blurred, an important image for this film.

Blindfold in place, ready to shoot. Photo courtesy of Jeff Koga

Blindfold in place, ready to shoot.
Photo courtesy of Jeff Koga

Later when the sisters are in the gym, understanding suddenly vanishes. As she gives the elliptical machine a workout, Nadia is clearly irritated. “Trying BDSM was the biggest mistake of my life.” Now Ray wants a three-some, but Nadia slammed the door on that idea, proclaiming that men put women in “sexual situations solely for their benefit.”

Emma’s hint that Ray might want to expand Nadia’s horizons falls flat. “Men do that,” a fired up Nadia says. “They pretend it’s all about you and it’s really about them. They wait for the moment you say, ‘yes,’ and they push your limits.” Annoyed with Emma’s suggestion that Ray wouldn’t cheat, Nadia digs in. “I’m just drawing lines.”

But doesn’t everybody?

Open to New Experiences

Nadia’s indignation spurs Emma to confront her own crisis. Mr. Frederick has presented her with a new contract which she reads line by line in an earlier scene. It is a quest for “Why can’t we have it all?”

Preparing for an office shot. Photo courtesy of Jeff Koga

Preparing for an office shot.
Photo courtesy of Jeff Koga

When she reviews the contract, equality and symmetry are visually emphasized to reflect the supposed state of their relationship. Emma is sitting on a long desk with her legs extended to a Mr. Frederick who massages her feet. The shot has perfect balance regarding the desk: two half full glasses of red wine on each end and a pair of tall plants in floor urns on either side of it. In the background, French doors halve the scene like the entrance into a Georgian manor.

As this segment progresses, brief glimpses of Emma and Mr. Frederick’s encounters are revealed as she goes through the contract.

In one, symmetry is repeated when she talks about training. It is a shot of interior French doors at the end of a hall. Framed prints are on opposite walls to balance the scene. Mr. Frederick leads Emma from left to right across the screen, moving her symbolically from an old definition of her sexuality to a new experience.

“I will not just play the role,” Emma says in reference to being a submissive, “I will become the role.”

When she is bound to pillars in the kitchen a la Fay Wray in King Kong, Emma says, “my body is his to do with as he pleases.”

The Kitchen Pillars. Photo courtesy of Jacky St. James

The Kitchen Pillars with Eddie Powell in the background.
Photo courtesy of Jacky St. James

Incidentally, in the provision having to do with enjoying her orgasms, there is a quick flash of them having sex in a hallway that doglegs to the right, an image that is revisited later.

When Emma gets to the item that involves having sex with other people, she balks. Tense and unsure, she asks if he is bored with her, that fatal relationship blow everyone fears.

This moment sets up the rest of the film. Mr. Frederick orders her to stand up, face him, and masturbate while thinking about someone who sexually arouses her. With eyes closed, she confesses it is Shane (Logan Pierce), the new guy in the office. Emma loses her bearings in a rush of endorphins and says, “I wonder if he’d like me.” Projecting her sexual preferences into Shane, Emma says he’d be down and dirty and insist on violating her with anal.

Logan Pierce Photo courtesy of 101Modeling.

Logan Pierce
Photo courtesy of 101Modeling.

It’s the opening Frederick wants and sex scene number two begins with anal its focal point, a clear break from the couples’ porn formula. To emphasize this shift, Eddie Powell moves his camera over Richie Calhoun’s shoulder to get the standard male masturbatory gonzo shot of a kneeling Penny Pax, mouth at work and adoring eyes looking upward.

St. James and Powell have a dual purpose with this scene. For story purposes, Emma’s exploration is picking up steam, but on another level, they are forging a new path in romance porn. The bondage remains light, adhering to the submission pornography genre popular in today’s market, but the sex is edgier.

Several questions in the film are present here. Mr. Frederick claims he is turned on by Emma’s self discovery, but is he engaging in his own fantasy of whoring out Emma and role playing Shane? In her mind, is Emma mocking her sister, knowing Nadia would never be this unconventional? Or does this exercise add to the unpredictability of Emma relationship that keeps it from getting stale?

There is a deeper question. Is Mr. Frederick gently and firmly nudging Emma forward or is he applying subtle pressure with the bet that Emma’s devotion will give him carte blanche to ratchet up his demands?

Or perhaps what Frederick tells her is straightforward and eerily true. “You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do. I just want you to be open to new experiences.”

Mr. Frederick and Emma exploring. Photo courtesy of Jacky St. James

Mr. Frederick and Emma exploring.
Photo courtesy of Jacky St. James

At any rate, as Mr. Frederick anally penetrates his submissive, Emma sees and feels the new guy in her imagination. Before the pop, she begs, “Cum on me please, Shane.” Is Emma transitioning to a new experience or enjoying a healthy fantasy?

Whatever St. James’ intention, the scene explores the emotional complexities of BDSM characteristic of submission pornography, or what might be called in today’s culture, bondage chic. For raw sexuality, it steps beyond the inanity of Fifty Shades while pulling up way short of the hardcore fetish elements found on many extreme internet tube sites.

Dumbbells

Back in the gym the options posed for both Nadia and Emma are carefully defined. As the camera moves in on Emma’s treadmill next to Nadia’s elliptical, it floats past a rack of dumbbells that illustrate the choices available to each woman.

The top row contains two smaller dumbbells, both round and equal in size, with a exercise baton nestled in the juncture between them. This is Emma’s next possibility. Both weights are side by side and sexually open with the option of welcoming in a third person. In the same row, but to the far right, are two larger six-sided dumbbells of equal size representing Nadia’s view of her marriage, closed off and solid, or so she hopes.

Should either woman choose an unequal relationship, open or closed, in which her stature is diminished , the options are on the bottom row. Two round dumbbells and two six-sided ones, with the larger dominant one snuggled next to the smaller. Curiously, off to the right of the closed dumbbells is a single and smaller six-sided one, perhaps it is Ray’s suggestion that so infuriated Nadia and her no nonsense answer.

Where will all this drama leave Emma?

 

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A Single Mirror: Torn, Part 2

by Rich Moreland, May 2014

Here is the second segment of my analysis of Torn, a romance from New Sensations. As with my first article on the film, it is my impression of the story without the use of dialogue.

Analyzing a film by silencing actors’ voices tests their ability to communicate the story through body language and facial expression. Of course, the director’s skill at setting up scenes and the shooters’ artistry in capturing effective cinematic angles are also paramount.

torn boxcover

*          *          *          *          *

Back at the house, Drew succeeds in sexually arousing Christine. Though initially reluctant, she gives in quickly for a visually enjoyable performance.

In fact, the sex scene comes off as a little too passionate for a couple whose relationship is getting stale. Granted, Drew is trying to keep the flame alive and when the pop shot occurs, the performers are finishing the shoot on a bare mattress, a testament to their hard sex. But what about Christine? Is her enthusiasm for a good screwing equal to Drew’s?

Jacky St. James’ challenge is fitting an emotional film into an adult genre that expects typical porn sex. Because Torn is more art than porn, her task is magnified as this scene reveals. To her credit, she makes it work.

By the way, India Summer (Christine) is an adult film treasure. The dark-haired beauty possesses the classic female proportions so highly valued by the ancient Greeks and Romans. Her face is finely shaped with angular features that mark the human perfection sculptors and painters desired.

From the Hot tub to the Parking Lot

Mimi and Chad in the hot tub.

Mimi and Chad in the hot tub.

A young woman attracted to older man needs to talk, especially if she believes her future may be troubled. In a short hot tub scene, a pensive and unsure Mimi chats with a male friend (Chad Alva). There’s no sex between them, not yet.

Back at the office, Vicky unpacks a huge dildo. For Drew it explains much about the sexual scenario Christine so abhorred at the party. He gives her a sly and amusing “that’s more than I want to know” look.

Americans have always adored their cars and early in the last century vehicles became portable nests for young love. Where better to start secret dalliances than in a parking lot? Mimi shows Drew photos she has taken of him then suddenly kisses him. Cars whiz by on the expansive left side of the screen while Drew and Mimi are tucked away on the far right next to two parked cars.

Flashes of Drew and Mimi pop up on the screen and in one instance, there is sex in a car.

Suspicion

The camera moves into the dining room of Drew and Christine’s home. It’s darkly lit with strong indications of secrets and suspicions. On the table and the chandelier above it are several candles in metallic holders: different heights on the table, more uniform on the chandelier. The table represents years of marriage with its ups and downs; the chandelier is delicate, floating with the promise of new romance.

A pacing Drew is on his cell apparently to Mimi who is alternately shown talking on hers. In the meantime, Christine approaches from outside the dining room. The entire moment is reflected in a large mirror, a recurring image in this film, that is on the wall next to the table.

Reduced in stature, Christine is confined to the background. She turns away from Drew’s conversation unobserved, her reality now a mere reflection in his life.

Alone, she retreats to their bed. The pillows are pushed far apart to emphasize the growing divide between them. Eyes cast downward, Christine is a confusion of suspicion and resignation.

Disappointment

A series of images speed up the affair. Drew texting Mimi, Mimi in conversation with Chad, and Drew and Mimi talking in a restaurant amid ghost images of the city embedded in the storefront glass, another mirror-like reflection.

Trouble brews. Dressed and ready to go out, an unhappy Mimi is on her cell in the bathroom. The scene is shot from behind her, casting her image in the bathroom mirror. She turns, walks toward the camera and pulls back her hair. No reason to go out now, apparently.

With its hood raised, Christine’s broken down SUV sits on the side of the road. This moment speaks volumes about her marriage from her view, a once aroused clitoris disabled in a relationship mired in boredom. Drew pulls up in the darkness, his car pointing directly toward, but not touching, the raised hood.

Later in the rec room Drew is watching TV. A visibly concerned Christine comes in, cell phone in hand. They hold hands as if facing a worrisome situation.

The camera takes the viewer to Mimi, who is hanging her photos in a gallery setting; one is of Drew. He shows up with unpleasant news and she is immediately crushed. This is another disappointment, the tale of a younger woman in an affair with a married man.

The studio, Drew and Mimi face reality.

The studio, Drew and Mimi face reality.

Turning away, Drew occupies the awkward moment by scanning her work hung around the gallery. She slides her hands down the wall beneath his picture. Their talk is heartfelt, she has some tears. They kiss. In the most expressive scene of the film, it’s time for a good-bye.

Revisiting the Retaining Wall

The story moves to a kitchen in which Chad is in conversation with Mimi. Their mutual status is probably “friends with benefits” because the third sex scene appears here and serves as a hopeful “feel good” rebound for Mimi. Incidentally, the viewer becomes so involved with Remy La Croix as Mimi we forget she is still a top porn star and can be as down and dirty as any girl in the business. Remy is so good in this scene, particularly with her oral skills and body positioning, it’s obvious why her name sells movies.

Setting up the scene just right while keeping everyone amused!

Eddie Powell hard at work keeping everyone amused with a shot he hopes doesn’t go to the dogs!

After the money shot, they lie side by side on the floor. Eddie Powell frequently uses close-ups to highlight the expressions of the performers. In this one, Mimi stares straight ahead, her mind is distant from the sex she just had.

In the meantime, Christine and Drew air out the affair in a retaining wall setting that mimics Drew’s first encounter with Mimi. Body language reveals that communication is dying with the relationship.

The characters’ backs are to the camera. Christine’s left hand reaches in Drew’s direction. He doesn’t respond. Later Drew puts his right arm around her with a tentative, comforting motion and rubs her back. Christine pulls away. The shot moves closer and she throws her legs over the wall, turning her body toward the camera.

The old adage in the  business is "They don't pay us to have sex, they pay to wait around." Steven and India kill some time.

The old adage in the business is “They don’t pay us to have sex, they pay to wait around.” Steven and India kill some time.

The confrontation continues later in the bedroom and the viewer wonders why they are still sleeping in the same bed.

Tension stays alive, this time in the rec room. They are arguing, debating, but when one talks, the other is not on the screen. Drew is annoyed; Christine is defiant. Like the long couch that divides them in the shot,  their marriage has devolved into a massive chasm.

The scene shifts outdoors once more with Drew’s back to camera. As if conceding defeat, Christine comes over and puts her hand on his shoulder. His pained expression is laced with guilt. She almost cries, then nods slightly. It’s over.

Daisies

On a small table in her studio, Mimi is putting a vase of yellow and pink daisies, symbols of purity, innocence, love and loyalty. Drew appears. Bewildered by their conversation, she seems to say, “I’m working to get over this and now you show up.”

Mimi and Steven in the final sex scene.

Mimi and Steven in the final sex scene having a little fun while setting up the shot.

A kiss begins the final sex scene, a very private expression that renews their relationship.

Even though this is a porn film, I was reluctant to invade this personal moment, feeling somewhat like an intruder once the sex began. For me, that illustrates the power of Torn’s imagery and the intimacy it portrays.

To put it another way, the kissing and eye contact, a tribute to the acting talent of both stars, creates a romantic experience so strong that it relegates the sex as secondary to the film’s emotional impact.

 

*        *        *        *        *

As the film says good-bye to Mimi and Drew, he still reads in bed, but she nestles next to him.

Oh yes, they share a single bathroom mirror.

Incidentally, why are there so many mirrors in this film? Is it because the story requires us to take a long look at ourselves to understand how time and relationships dictate our lives?

Are our emotions genuinely ours, or are they simulations of those around us? And, do they spark a longing to chase the adventurous: the desire for a sexual three-some, a friend with benefits, or a May-December romance?

May-December, a reflection of romantic dreams?

May-December, a reflection of romantic dreams?

Or, to borrow a little from Shakespeare, are we merely a play within a play as seen through images in a mirror?

Perhaps. Take a look at Torn.

 

 

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Moving to a Younger Lover: Torn, Part 1

by Rich Moreland, May 2014

Torn is another dynamic New Sensations film from Jacky St. James and Eddie Powell. No review of mine could top the ones already published. For excellent assessments of the film, check Adult Video News’ review here and XBIZ’s assessment here.

torn 20

With this article, I’m taking another avenue on this film. Rather than review the movie, I’m going to look at its imagery. In the silent film era, audio dialogue was non-existent, acting and the cinematographer’s craft drove the narrative. To move the story forward with words, filmmakers relied on the well placed title card to reveal snippets of the conversation between the characters.

My bet is that a St. James/Powell film can tell its story without dialogue because their artistry as a team is every bit as good as F.W. Murnau’s effort in the pre-sound fantasy, Nosferatu (1922), or William Wellman’s in the adventure classic, Wings (1927).

To test my idea, I decided on a two-pronged approach. First, I read the boxcover for a brief handle on the plot. Second, I did not view Torn from beginning to end. Instead, I studied the opening scenes in which the credits were superimposed on the screen then skipped to the final minutes of the film right before the last round of credits were run.

Would this sparse amount of information provide enough guidance so that the story would be meaningful if I sat through the entire film with the dialogue muted?

The answer is “yes,” because the directing, cinematography, and acting are that good.

(A disclaimer is due here. After the first silent run through, I watched the film again with the sound on so that I might fill in the names of characters and their relationships to each other. What is presented here is the story as I saw it without the dialogue, but with that information subsequently included. For the record, all photos are from Jacky St. James and are credited to Jeff Koga.)

Bedrooms: the Beginning and End

Beds reveal much about the story. In the beginning, the bed in which Christine (India Summer) and her husband Drew (Steven La Croix), occupy is immense, one of those extra wide varieties. The solid headboard is overly large, resembling a bridge between two faraway shores, or perhaps a dam or a wall that might be holding something back.

The crew setting up the opening shots with India and Steven settled in.

The crew setting up the opening shots with India and Steven settled in while Jacky (left) and Eddie (far right) get everything ready. Notice the headboard.

The room’s decor is subdued. As the shot is framed, the wall above the bed is blank and consumes an inordinate amount of space. The night stands are ebony (like the headboard) and the actors are dropped to the bottom third of the screen.

The feel is formal, distant, cold, and uninviting. There is brightness in windows on each side of the bed, but they are almost pushed out of the shot.

In the final scene, the camera is much closer to the bed. As in the beginning, the shot is taken from the footboard. Vastly different from the first scene, the bed is smaller, more intimate, and if the headboard is an open bridge (it consists of vertical metal strips, not solid wood), the shores are closer. No allusion to a dam, no way to hold anything back.

Smaller bed, snuggle and smile!

Smaller bed, snuggle and smile!

Color and warmth dominate the scene and the characters, Mimi (Remy La Croix) and Drew. Over the night stands on both sides of the bed are larger paintings of nature and fresh beginnings.

The opening scene imparts separation and divide, the final one intimacy and union. Knowing this, the story apparently revolves around Drew and how he moves from his wife to his much younger lover. Somewhere in this tale is a tearing away and a rebirth, at least that’s what is indicated so far.

The Afternoon Party

Drew’s life appears filled with drudgery. The snooze alarm is his morning friend and the drive to work is a bore. He has the look of “Is this all there is?” about his day-to-day existence.

Jacky sets up for the party shots.

Jacky sets up the party shots. India, Steven, Raylene, and Tom get their instructions while the crew hangs out.

An afternoon party hosted by Drew’s co-worker,Vicky (Raylene), and her husband, Roy, features an announcement of some sort. A somewhat disinterested Drew goes outside to smoke. (By the way, among the party goers is Jacky St. James a la Alfred Hitchcock, a cameo in her own film.)

Steven and Remy hang out at the wall before shooting the scene.

Remy flashes Steven before she becomes Mimi.

The home is in the hills and Drew sits on a retaining wall, a recurring image in the film. Mimi, the photographer at the party, joins him and they chat as if meeting for the first time. The scenery overwhelms the players and at this point in the narrative sends a distinct message. Nature is primal (remember the paintings in their bedroom referenced above), existing without assumptions and conclusions. Is this what Drew and Mimi will discover because they are not so much the focus of the scene as they are the recipients of its message?

Later in their bedroom, Christine tells Drew about something that is troubling her. It is related to the goings on at Vicky’s house.

A Bathroom Hideout

During the party, Christine is interrupted while she is in the bathroom. Desperate, she hides in the walk-in shower and peeks through the shower curtain. Roy, Vicky and a friend (Samantha Ryan) have three-way sex that features girl/girl oral, unusual for a Jacky St. James romance.

Waiting for the shoot to begin, Raylene, Tom Byron, and Samantha Ryan.

Waiting for the shoot to begin, Raylene, Tom, and Samantha fool around.

Apparently Vicky and Roy are swingers.

All the while, Christine is in the shower and her dilemma is told by the camera.

The angle is shot from above, an image akin to looking down an empty elevator shaft. Christine is trapped. Confined like the walls she has built around her marriage, Christine is devoid of the sexual passion right within her reach. At this moment, she gives the flimsy shower curtain an unassailable power over her. St. James’s message is clear: we only need rip away our self-imposed barriers and face what troubles us to free ourselves from its tyranny.

As the sex romps just beyond her, Christine sits on the shower floor, physically smaller, frustrated, and seemingly exhausted.

After the bathroom empties, Christine yanks back the curtain. Disgusted and upset, she washes her hands repeatedly and vigorously, much like the recurring imagery of tooth brushing that dominates bathroom scenes in the movie. What are the characters trying to cleanse in this tale of love’s failures and renewal?

The next day at the office, Drew talks with Vicky. Her surprise is followed by laughter, Vicky indicates Christine should have joined in. Drew gives her an “are you kidding me?” look.

A Living Room, then a Studio

A fireplace with large crucifix above the mantle dominates a room whose size stresses the divide between Drew and his wife. Christine is sitting in a loveseat under a huge mirror that reflects the crucifix on the opposite wall. Does the image comment on the sanctity of marriage and sexuality within it?

The crucifix sees all. Jacky directs Steven and India

The crucifix sees all. Jacky directs Steven and India

Hiding a piece of red lingerie behind his back, Drew approaches Christine. Incidentally, he wears a shirt that is also red, the color of passion. She doesn’t like the gift; rejection covers his face. Later he surprises her amorously in the laundry room but she pushes him away. Unfortunately, nothing is going to reignite passion in this marriage.

Mimi, who happens to be Vicky’s niece, shows up at the office. Remembering Drew from the party, the twenty-something wants to photograph him and they go to her studio.

In the foreground of the scene, Mimi loads her camera and Drew sits in a director’s chair some distance away. Mimi’s image fills the entire screen and is totally shaded. As the scene continues, Mimi emerges from the shadows, moving closer to him. Two close-ups of his hands emphasize his wedding ring.

Getting into position for just the right angle. Mimi foreground, Drew in the distance.

Getting into position for just the right angle. Mimi foreground, Drew in the distance.

The scene is playful and refreshing, smiles all around, the exact opposite of the deadness the viewer gets with Christine. But is Mimi about to dominate Drew’s emotions? Is she a harbinger of trouble to come?

Drew is about to make the move.

Drew is about to make the move.

As he leaves, the middle-aged Drew drops all decorum and kisses Mimi. She is stunned, but not unpleasantly. She did, after all, set this up.

The affair begins. Drew faces a relationship where second chances are rarities, but will Mimi become the dreaded other woman, the mistress destined to be shunted aside when tensions arise?

*          *          *          *          *

One of the difficulties in eliminating dialogue is losing the nuances it adds to a film, a richness we appreciate more fully when sound is turned off and words are gone. But clearly the visual operates on its own, proving that filmmakers of the silent era handed down their skills to a modern generation with, of course, the complements of the title card.

The second part of Torn is coming shortly.

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Gnawing at the Heart: The Temptation of Eve, Part Two

by Rich Moreland, May 2014

This is the second installment of New Sensations’ The Temptation of Eve, an adult film extraordinaire and multiple award winner at this year’s XBIZ Show. Oh yes, it was also AVN’s Best Romance at their Las Vegas extravaganza in January.

Remy Lacroix received Best Actress Award for AVN and XBIZ; Tommy Pistol landed XBIZ’s Best Supporting Actor. Not surprisingly, the film won XBIZ’s Best Sreenplay, the ultimate honor for a beautifully constructed and performed picture.

As I suggested in the first post, buy the DVD. You’ll need Eve in your library for repeated viewings.

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boxcover back eve

*          *          *          *          *

The interior of Brandon’s house reflects the reductionism Eve seeks to reorder and bury her past. The minimalist decor sports muted pastels and clean lines that are in direct contrast to the complications and conflicting emotions unfolding within the narrative.

Most descriptive are the black and white photos of nude and semi-nude women arranged in controlled lines throughout the house. The pictures reflect Eve’s longing for a sexual simplicity that confines her desires and rejects temptation, while illustrating Brandon’s line up of women he casually brushes aside once needs are serviced.

Is she one of them?

Brandon wants to corral Eve with images from the past. He keeps her dangling between yesterday and today with a questionable investment in tomorrow. There is no finality with her nude pictures; like the journal, they are kept out of sight but easily retrieved because she knows where to look.

In contrast, Eve has discovered a new start with Danny, the sweet guy she purports to love.

The couple plans to grow old together while Brandon captures Eve as forever young and desirable. The photos and the journals (there is a second one solely about her) are frozen moments, tangled webs whose individual elements swirl in the abstract painting by the front door and are twisted into the black metal frame that is across from it.

Minimalist is Brandon view of his world, sex without complications where every affair is a fleeting adventure. Eve’s oversimplification is to cope with her past in such a way to free her up to support a future of security.

For both, it is easy in thought, but difficult in reality.

More Flashbacks

Through Brandon’s intervention, Danny secures a job interview in Seattle. As Eve and Danny celebrate, Brandon offers flippant congratulations and sits at the kitchen table to write in his journal. The scene communicates a fluid situation. Over the table are three lights with red shades, one dominating the other two. Eve is the largest figure framed in the shot, the men smaller in stature. Is she gaining in this war with her temptations?

More flashbacks pop up, this time in the same kitchen. Eve is relaxing, naked on the counter. After a two year friendship, Eve and Brandon have just had sex for the first time.

Will our relationship last? Photo by Jeff Koga

Will our relationship last?
Photo by Jeff Koga

“Tell me it’s not going to fuck up our relationship,” she says. Doubt prevails through this carnival of free-flowing intimacy, but for now it’s all good. The two lights in the background are the same size, mates of each other.

Later when Danny is through packing and ready for some sleep. Brandon texts Eve. She goes downstairs to find him watching porn.

Exasperated, she says he is testing her patience.

“I’m testing your self-control.” His glibness bites at her. “Your resistance will break down.”

Pained, she casts her eyes downward, another flashback bubbles up from her unconscious mind. Yes, the sex screwed up their relationship.

Sex in Faded Color

Tormented by Brandon and memories that won’t sit still, Eve crawls into bed beside a sleeping Danny. The film’s second sex scene evolves out of Eve’s desperation to cling to something that offers protection against Brandon’s insensitivity. Nuzzling Danny, she awakens him and their lovemaking begins.

Getting it right with some guidance from the director. Photo by Jeff Koga

Getting it right with some guidance from the director.
Photo by Jeff Koga

The porn formula of oral and standard positions are highlighted and Remy Lacroix’s pert sexiness puts her stamp on this segment. There’s no hint of gonzo because the scene is more emotional than sexual. Raw physicality is not the message, how it is presented in mood and shadow is.

The music is an evocative cloud of doubt and foreboding that hangs over the lovers. The lighting is shaded, creating a scene that edges toward film noir, sex in faded color. Eddie Powell has created a cinematic masterpiece that communicates deep emotion so powerful the viewer forgets this is a porn film.

Considering the context of the lovers and how they are enmeshed in a conflict that could trample both of them, this just may be the most artistic sex scene ever filmed.

In the background are containers, boxes suspended between packed and unpacked (clothes hang on the sides). They are symbols of Eve’s presence in Brandon’s house, an unexpected transition in Eve’s life that now replaces the once irreplaceable—her love of Brandon. She’s been here before where she thought she would stay.

To highlight this message, Eddie Powell reveals only glimpses of penetration, simultaneously concealing and exploring Eve’s dilemma.

On the nightstand are three candles in different states of use, two having been burned, one hardly touched by flame. They offer different interpretations that are appropriate to the story.

The candles are on the right. Photo by Jeff Koga

The cast takes a break. The candles are on the right, the boxes are beneath the window.
Photo by Jeff Koga

The almost whole one is Danny, little affected by the past complications of Eve and Brandon, the others a deeply burned and a slightly singed. Which is Brandon and which is Eve?

Perhaps they also represent Eve’s vagina, used severely by Brandon, now delicately by Danny. Once the getaway is accomplished, it has a chance to begin anew, tested, but not overcome, by the past.

Or maybe the best preserved candle is the resolution to the temptation, perhaps it offers Brandon redemption.

Like the film’s closing moments, the objects in the bedroom explain a saga of love pained and redeemed in a sex scene graced with an emotionally surreal quality, a true anomaly in adult film.

Nothing More, Nothing Less

Alone in the house the following day, Eve decides on a bubble bath: soak troubles away, read the journal, and self-stimulate. In a wonderfully framed split screen shot of Brandon’s bedroom and the bathroom, pay close attention to the arrangement of pillows on his bed and then later the six candles grouped in threes by color behind the tub.

Preparing to shoot Brandon's entrance. Photo by Jeff Koga

Jacky and Eddie prepairing to shoot Brandon’s entrance.
Photo by Jeff Koga

Jacky St. James and Eddie Powell are preparing the viewer for a collision of emotions. Close-ups of Eve’s eyes and her licking her lips communicates everything. Is this journal about her?

When Brandon enters unannounced, whose privacy is being invaded explodes their conversation, offering Remy Lacroix her finest acting moment.

“People have fantasies, crazy intense out of control fantasies,” she says, rebutting Brandon accusations. “But that doesn’t ever mean they are ever going to get acted on.”

The ground under Eve is hardening, temptations are all around but she remains firm because separation, psychological and physical, is beginning to take hold.

“Fantasies aren’t reality,” she shouts, “They’re an escape, nothing more, nothing less!”

Eve defines the film in this forceful segment and her confrontation with Brandon is the contentious moment that turns the story in her favor.

Another quick flashback races across the screen, Brandon’s tongue works Eve into a joyous state.

“How many is that?” Brandon looks up at her.

“Too many to count,” a smiling Eve purrs, her eyes venturing down her body to find his.

The film’s reality is evident now, there will be no real time sex between Eve and Brandon. Early days with a hot lover remain a memory, recalled only in reverie.

Later Brandon plays his last card to move into real time. He brings Eve a bagel with her tea and asks her why she will not tell Danny of their affair. The solemnity of this moment is captured by the three candles on the nightstand; they now form a triangle.

Brandon says their first encounter years ago was more than just a weekend.

“For me, maybe,” Eve replies, but times have changed. “I’m not willing to jeopardize what I have now for what I wasn’t allowed to have before,” she adds.

“I’m sorry,” Brandon says, admitting things were too intense for him.

The truth is often painful. Photo by Jeff Koga

The truth is often painful.
Photo by Jeff Koga

He moves across the bed toward her, attempting to negotiate the emotional divide demarcated by a teacup. Danny suddenly arrives and calls Eve’s name, dropping the tension instantly and saving the misery of future entanglements.

A Trashy Taste of Gonzo

Jen (Bailey Blue), the girl who took Eve’s job, arrives with Brandon. The slutty blonde provides a trashy taste of gonzo that stands in contrast to the other sex scenes. Rough and raw in a hallway setting, the shoot is quick; no bed needed.

Bailey and Xander before they become Jen and Brandon Notice the metal artwork to the left. Photo by Jeff Koga

Bailey and Xander before they become Jen and Brandon. Notice the metal artwork in the background on the left.
Photo by Jeff Koga

Jen’s oral skills, spiced with doggie and cowgirl, drive the scene. Incidentally, casting Bailey is another Jacky St. James coup. She is the perfect Jen.

When the pop shot is deposited on Jen’s chest, a faraway look blankets a close-up of Brandon’s face. In using the office tramp, Brandon clarifies that he is incapable of dealing with Eve, but unwilling to accept that they exist only in the pages of his journal. Eve’s response is to put in her earbuds to stifle the noise of the sex, erasing Jen’s presence.

Brandon and Jen getting rough and raw. Photo by Jacky St. James

Brandon and Jen getting rough and raw.
Photo by Jacky St. James

For the record, there is no girl/girl sex in the film because it rarely fits a hetero romance unless a gay or bisexual element is attached to the story, or the characters explore personal fantasies. Such scenes in straight movies recall a porn formula evident decades ago, the obligatory and disconnected girl-on-girl sex thrown in to entertain a male audience, something Jacky St. James sees no purpose in resurrecting in this film.

Also, anal and facials are absent, though as professionals Bailey or Remy would gladly accommodate either. And if this were marketed as a gonzo flick, there would be a multiple penetration scene dropped in somewhere, probably a threesome with Eve, Danny, and Brandon.

Finally, a word about editing, Gabrielle Anex’s work is outstanding and particularly appreciated in the close-ups Eddie Powell shoots so beautifully.

No Key

Remy’s Lacroix’s second notable acting moment comes as the film heads for its conclusion. At long last, Brandon and Eve have it out. They were friends before they were lovers, she says, until “that weekend” after which he disappeared.

“You don’t value people.” Her voice is inflected with anger and frustration. “You just use them, they’re a means to an end.”

Eve has the proof. “It was a different girl on every single page of that journal . . . there’s no difference between me and them and whatever we had!”

Though Brandon’s expression spins a different take on her words, Eve has chosen to blur the lines between truth and deception and reality and fantasy. But, does anger encourage resolution because she is dead wrong as she will soon discover?

After Brandon says his goodbyes and leaves with his latest lover for an afternoon of fun, Eve checks the house for anything forgotten before she and Danny depart.

In fact, the rooms are filled with much to forget.

Wandering into Brandon’s bedroom, Eve finds his journal on the bed. It’s the final temptation and she weakens.

This journal is solely about her. On the wall is a powerful image that reams the truth out of Eve’s mind. One more black and white photo, it’s a partially dressed girl cowering and shielding her face with her arms.

A note addressed to Eve falls out of the diary and a final flashback occurs, the long awaited sex scene between Brandon and Eve, alive, as if in real time.

Passing the metal artwork, gnarly tales of pity sex, revenge sex, and lost opportunity, Eve closes the front doors of Brandon’s house behind her. She has no key, of course, and cannot lock up her past, or Brandon . . . because temptation and the inaccessible never stop gnawing at the heart.

*          *          *          *          *

The cast going over the play before the sex arrives. Photo by Jeff Koga

Every superb film requires good acting. The cast going over the play before the sex arrives.
Photo by Jeff Koga

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Containment: The Temptation of Eve, Part One

by Rich Moreland, May 2014

A professor during my graduate school years insisted that superior literature requires repeated readings. Testing his advice, I read F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby five times and, indeed, my prof was correct. Each reread brought out another image, another symbol, another interpretation. By the fifth excursion into the book, I understood why some critics believe Gatsby to be the  “Great American Novel.”

To evaluate a Jacky St. James’s film, multiple viewings are a minimal prerequisite. She and Eddie Powell integrate images, movement, dialogue, lighting and shading to authenticate their central message: adult film is art.

As a team they create an atmosphere in which the sex scenes compliment, but do not drive, the storyline, while remaining an irreplaceable part of it. Bear in mind, they minimalize gonzo porn’s hard, blasting sexual mechanics unless it fits a specific mood and message. Instead, Jacky and Eddie combine the raw desire and tender touches that embrace couples’ pleasure.

The Temptation of Eve exemplifies the cinematic grace of a St.James/Powell production. It is intriguing drama with quality acting.

One reviewer wrote, “Don’t rent this movie, buy it.” I could not agree more. In fact, I endorse a Jacky St. James collection as a necessity to any adult film library because its richness entertains long after the first viewing.

As another reviewer (Astroknight for Adultdvdtalk) said of Eve, “I’m not nearly a good enough writer or reviewer to really do it justice.” Well, perhaps I am, at least I’d like to give it a shot. So, here we go with the first part of a superb film.

eve boxcover front

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“Temptation is a very powerful thing. It’s hard to fight off and even harder to walk away from.”

Brandon Parker’s words introduce an ancient dilemma Jacky St. James and Eddie Powell have transformed into a cinematic masterpiece, The Temptation of Eve. The viewer is treated to a plethora of images and motifs that offer a unique spin on an old story.

Though I rarely recommend doing this, fast forward to the final scene. It sets up the narrative, is invaluable in understanding the emotional dilemmas the film presents, and will enhance viewing pleasure.

Tangled and Twisted Metal

Containment themes within a minimalist vision is the complication of The Temptation of Eve. For the curious, minimalism is an artistic rebellion against abstractionism. Minimalists pare down visual components in a reductionism that cuts away the clutter to expose an idea. In other words, replace a jumble of colors with an ordered and defined space.

Accommodation and repression dominate the film; boxes and circles are ever present whether in photos on the walls, furniture, cartons for personal possessions, candles, pillows, or doorways. Eve (Remy Lacroix) must contain her temptations and free up her past to invest in the present, her boyfriend, Danny (Tommy Pistol). Her former lover, Brandon (Xander Corvus), must control his game playing and admit his suppressed feelings for Eve in a fight he is destined to lose, at least for now. And, Danny struggles to abandon all confinement to move forward and escape a potential emotional triangle this reviewer believes he senses.

It’s all there in the film’s ending scene, it’s final denouement and most dramatic statement.

By the way, the closing moments bring to mind a scene from The Submission of Emma Marx in which the kneeling Emma (Penny Pax) waits inside the front door of her master’s house to be called to her pleasure. Where Emma enters, Eve exits, but, unlike Emma, she leaves with feelings repressed and doubt hanging in the air.

There are three doors in the final shot. The double entrance doors are brightened by translucent light, an indication that Eve and Danny are working hard to make their relationship work in tough economic times. To the left is a closet door , symbolic of Brandon perhaps, who is being left behind, locked into his cramped and limited view of sexuality and affection.

Or, is the closet door Danny’s isolation? A possibility because of what he may suspect. A hint appears earlier when Danny asks Eve if Brandon brought girls over while he, Danny, was away in Seattle. She says no, but adds,

“He couldn’t find someone I hated enough to do this.”

Eve tells Tommy about being in the house. Photo by Jeff Koga

Tommy and Eve discuss their situation.
Photo by Jeff Koga

A curious answer to a seemingly innocent question. Danny never asks for a further explanation, but must perceive it’s time to move quickly.

To the left of the front door hangs an abstract painting that presents the story’s complexities: Brandon’s chaotic life, Eve’s once torrid relationship with him, her inability to resolve a past that haunts her, Danny’s frustrations, and the suggestion that there is indeed a love triangle at work.

To complete the exit scene is a large metallic grid of tangled and twisted lines geometrically arranged in squares, positioned to the right of the double doors. It screams for order while bound in chaos. It’s a movable piece, by the way, that appears early in the film.

What does it tell the viewer? Is it Brandon? Eve? Their relationship? Or, does it speak of Eve’s torturous desires to explore her past, her addiction to Brandon’s journal, or her uncertain vision of a future rooted in Seattle? Is she trying to establish order out of mixed up emotions ?

Line up your guesses and then watch the film to see where the pieces fall.

Jacky takes a moment with her stars, Remy and Xander.  Photo by Jeff Koga

Jacky takes a moment with her stars, Remy and Xander.
Photo by Jeff Koga

The Journal

Danny and Eve have fallen on difficult times and are staying at Brandon’s house. Danny has lost his job as a graphic designer and Eve hers in journalism to a “blonde bimbo,” Jen (Bailey Blue). According to the rumor mill, Jen’s oral skills were nicely received at work and she became the new hire.

Danny wants to support his love but like the down-and-out men of the Great Depression, he is having no luck finding employment. The well-off Brandon, who apparently is an old friend of Danny’s, welcomes them, particularly since he has a past with Eve.

Though Eve is troubled by the arrangement, she cannot resist sneaking surreptitious peeks at Brandon’s journal. She caresses herself while reading the accounts Brandon keeps as literary notches buried within the pages. To distress matters further, Eve discovers very personal nude photos that Brandon has stashed in a drawer. Could Danny find these?

Jacky setting up the first flashback. Photo by Jeff Koga

Jacky setting up the first flashback.
Photo by Jeff Koga

Eve is haunted by memories of sex with Brandon recorded in the journal. They appear as flashbacks in the film. In one he is binding her to his bed; in another she is uses a vibrator while lying naked by the pool. Brandon is swimming through the water (very Freudian) like he does his women.

Xander plays with the hoop. Photo by Jeff Koga

Xander plays with the hoop between takes.
Photo by Jeff Koga

Caught in a situation that is playing on her emotions, Eve can’t extract herself from a swirling eddy of desire and trouble. Her dilemma is surrealistically illustrated with a hula hoop. The lawn scene is shot from inside the hoop with the background in a tizzy as Eve turns mechanically in a dream-like sequence that explores her confinement. Interestingly, the hoop’s colors reflect the blues of Eve’s mug, symbolic of water and the delicate flowers painted on the ceramic.

The hoop suddenly drops to the ground and an immobile Eve stands exposed before Brandon, fragile and vulnerable. Can she escape a situation she clings to emotionally, one that produces masturbatory orgasms called up by the past?

Buddha and a MILF

Alone in the house, Eve gets the journal again and learns about the older woman.

A beautiful MILF and a classy woman Photo by Jeff Koga

A beautiful MILF and a classy woman
Photo by Jeff Koga

One of Brandon’s renters, Veronica (India Summer) offers sex in exchange for a break in her monthly payment. Though Brandon is unwilling to enter into an agreement she might use to turn their casual relationship into a more complicated one, Veronica is playing him. Cool, mature, in control, and suggestive of better ways to satisfy both of them, she isn’t going to extend anything beyond sex for rent. Veronica is as manipulative as Brandon.

Though their encounter is the usual stuff of oral, doggie, cowgirl, and mish, the scene is India Summer’s stage. She is elegant, graceful, and lovely in a way that endorses the MILF concept in porn. Her body is taut and ready for action. Best of all, India brings a bonus to the set, her dialogue delivery ranks with the best in the business. As an actress, she is supreme.

The scene emphasizes both bodies displayed equally through a distant focus intermixed with Eddie Powell’s frequently moving camera. He shoots sex through encircling the lovers, inviting the viewer in for a closer look. Brandon and Veronica’s scissors action, popular in girl/girl scenes, seems perfectly placed as the sequence wraps up.

Buddha is ready for the shoot after Jacky finishes. Photo by Jeff Koga

Buddha, face partially obscured by the light, waits while Jacky finishes.
Photo by Jeff Koga

Speaking of placement, two images dominate the scene where the sex happens. First, is the large gold face of Buddha. It’s a bright and alive wall decoration that adds a serene touch to the room. Next to the couch is the metal artwork, a reminder of the tangled lines that ensnare Brandon’s world. At one point during the doggie action, a vertical light blocks out half of Buddha’s face, leaving a phallic-like ear and the vulva shape of one eye on the screen. The images are not joined, of course, and speak of separation in Brandon’s sexual history.

Evident here is another motif Jacky St. James loves, candles. There are three, but they are not arranged in a triangle at this point. That occurs later, dropping a hint that Danny may be know more than Eve or Brandon suspect.

Keep these early images in mind, because the second sexual rendezvous is contradictory to the first. Eve and Danny will take the viewer into a muted, almost colorless and visually shaded room saturated in with a film noir flavor. But the mood is different there, the lovers are more somber with an embrace that spells survival.

Wetness

Two awkward scenes set the stage for the second half of the film. Danny’s job hunting is a continued failure and Brandon offers to help him out. In the kitchen Brandon pours coffee into Eve’s mug which he brought with him. She mentions it is hers.

“I know, you left it in my room,” he retorts.

Despite Brandon’s caustic comment, the sting of discovery does not move Eve. Why should it, she probably spent a few nights there in the past. Perhaps her neglect was deliberate and serves to embolden Brandon.

Time for another flashback, this time sex in the bathroom.

Flashback. Photo by Jeff Koga

Flashback.
Photo by Jeff Koga

Later while Danny sleeps, Eve is distracted by guttural moaning and giggling downstairs. Investigating, she catches Brandon having sex with a nameless girl who is wearing Eve’s clothes.

Confronting him, Eve says, “Did you ever think about how that may make her feel, making her wear someone else’s clothes?”

Interesting, is she projecting her feelings into the slut he’s doing at that moment? Is this another fantasy?

Minimally affected by her remark, Brandon confesses he thinks about Eve all the time and asks why she was in his room earlier. Of course, he knows and reaches into her pants, feels her wetness, and walks away in triumph. Is he setting up something?

Brandon's hands, Eve's kiss. Photo by Jeff Koga

Wetness.
Photo by Jeff Koga

Jacky St. James certainly is because Eve must face her dual realities—Danny and Brandon—with an understanding that the game of emotional hide and seek cannot endure.

*          *          *          *          *

The second part of my review of The Temptation of Eve will be up soon.

Xander and Remy check the script. Photo by Jeff Koga

Xander and Remy check the script.
Photo by Jeff Koga

 

 

 

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Anna Lee, Part 2: A Mind Equally as Sexy as Her Body

by Rich Moreland, April, 2014

This is the second part of my review of The Sexual Liberation of Anna Lee.

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anna lee, boxcover back

“I don’t want to lose myself in someone else, I want to find myself in them.”

Anna Lee wonders if everyone wears a mask, hiding and fearing who they are. She craves sex and its emotional connections, but her body refuses to cooperate with her libido.

Receiving a vibrator to unfetter her sexual anxiety, Anna listens as Gaige explains that sexuality is often shamed by a distressed past. Don’t let the “baggage of your childhood stifle your adulthood,” he says. “You can create the kind of sexual identity that you want.”

He arranges a task for Anna that will presage her interactions with Emmett. Gaige introduces a smuttily dressed female staff member to Anna, who is asked to describe the girl. Responding to Gaige’s insistence that her “imagination is a powerful sexual tool,” Anna believes the young woman, Elize, to be “seductive and tempting.” Of course, the exercise persuades Anna to unconsciously project herself into Elize and serves as a transition to the next sex scene. In a fantasy sequence inside Anna’s mind, the staffers have a delightful frolic enhanced by Elize’s nicely tatted body.

Jessa Rhodes as Elize Photo Courtesy of Eddie Powell

Jessa Rhodes as Elize
Photo Courtesy of Eddie Powell

When the pop shot lands on Elize’s tummy, Anna’s reverie passes and she turns her attention to Gaige who wants more insight into the image presented by his assistant.

“She never leaves him satisfied, she always gets what she wants,” Anna says.

In her imagination, does Anna secretly identify with Elize’s sluttiness?

Maybe. A smiling Elize verifies Anna’s intuitions. “You’re good at reading other people’s turn-ons, or maybe you’re talking about your own.”

 

Up to now those softly spoken, yet boldly confident, words might have borne some embarrassment. But change is happening and Anna is preparing her own sexual future.

Eyes Open and a Closed Heart

Anna checks in with her video diary. Her confidence is growing and she announces that her attitudes are shifting. She confesses Emmett scares her, though not in a bad way because she is attracted to him. Letting him know is the fault line that could doom everything, however. In reality, Anna is intimidated by her own desires because her shield, the little girl whose sexual needs were terrorized by an uptight mother, is melting away.

An unforeseen development blindsides everything. Anna and Emmett are thrown into a boiling cauldron of honesty brought on by a hot seat exercise.

This pivotal episode is not to be missed. The camera frames the chair (hot seat) from the therapist’s view. A position change occurs when the camera’s perspective moves behind the head of the person on display. In this location, the camera illustrates the hot seat’s overwhelming presence and the divide it creates between patient and therapist. It is a cinematographic master stroke that sends just the right message at just the right time.

The hot seat is a Gestalt therapeutic intervention and allows participants (usually in a group setting) to spontaneously assess the person sitting before them, no holds barred. Each participant in the exercise takes their turn in front of the others. The conversation is stripped of pretenses and exposed to a glaring frankness that can enlighten, heal, or harm. When Emmett evaluates Anna, what he says is meaningless, devoid of feeling, merely polite and shallow. Hoping to move this exercise forward, an exasperated Gaige sends Emmett to the chair to replace Anna.

What follows is the most dramatic scene in the film and Maddy O’Reilly’s finest moment as an actress. In a revealing dialogue she indicts Emmett.

“He fucks with his eyes open and his heart closed.”

If understatement can blow up a room, it happens right here because Anna’s heart is blooming like all the flowers on all the paintings in all the rooms of this film. Emmett crushes her with sarcasm and the viewer reacts with disgust. Superb. Adult film does not get better than this.

The Paddle

Emmett and Anna are now assigned a series of tasks together to to expose vulnerabilities and erase anxieties, the ingredients of sexual repression. Upon completion, trust will replace fear. Or, at least that’s the plan.

At first their connections are hesitant, but gradually they, like the flowers, begin to unfold with color and warmth. But the tender buds of their relationship are fragile.  Anna is ready for sex, she wants to be spanked and penetrated while Emmett is suffering through a cosmic blizzard of dissonance between his inner feelings and his self-protective demeanor.

Three scenes are worth an extra look as the pair negotiates their improbable odyssey. In the first, they are told to write a message on each others’ bare backs. Anna chooses green paint, Emmett orange, a watered down red. She’s good to go, he’s still holding back though his resolve is weakening.

Another scene is cleverly shot and has too much meaning to recount here. Blindfolded, Anna and Emmett must stimulate their erotic senses and experience each other through taste. Between them is a small table; they are sitting in equally small chairs. Childlike and cooperative, Anna takes Emmett’s index finger in her mouth and sucks it with obvious double meaning. Of course, he can’t resist looking because he always has his eyes open, though he sees very little.

Her psyche is breaking through to Emmett, but time is now a factor. The gigantic clock on the shelf above them is headed for eight. Four hours left. Is it the terminal hour of midnight, or an awakening to a new day?

Anna's Hope? Photo Courtesy of Eddie Powell

Wasted Desire?
Photo Courtesy of Eddie Powell

The last of the scenes mentioned here takes place in a room with three sides, an arena of sorts, empty of furniture. Anna and Emmett put their bodies before each other; they strip down, everything exposed. Anna’s observation? Emmett is well endowed.

Will it ever happen, she thinks, or is it wasted desire?

Notice the shelves on opposite sides of the central window. Two equally-sized bowls are paired on each shelf above the ever present prints of flowers in full bloom. Sexual openness is never more evident.

Later, Anna is surprised by a note left outside her door. It’s from Emmett and accompanies a gift he has given her. “This might come in handy when you get out of here,” it reads. She picks up a paddle, a little kinkiness that puts her fantasies one step closer to reality. But if they involve Emmett, likely they will evaporate into the misty abyss of her imagination.

In an abrupt turn of events, Emmett decides Variel and its techniques are not for him. The exercises and tasks did their job, of course, Emmett had to confront what he always knew: caring lays bare vulnerabilities that challenge trust. Anna reached into his soul and pulled out what he refused to accept about himself.

Leaving Anna a note, Emmett slips away.

Later, Anna is further stunned when Gaige explains it is also time for her to leave. Except for one last farewell experience, her therapy is over.

In preparing her for a task that will come with a bondage stage and the staff on hand, Gaige instructs Anna to knockdown that last barrier, “Allow yourself to be pleasured by another.”

The Final Task. Elize, Gaige, Anna, Whitney, and Michael. Photo Courtesy of Jeff Koga

The Final Task. Elize, Gaige, Anna, Whitney, and Michael.
Photo Courtesy of Jeff Koga

Sensuality arrives with a St. Andrew’s cross to which Anna is bound. Blindfolded, she experiences hot wax, among other tastes and touches, a brief flogging, and the application of a vibrator. Appreciate Anna’s anxiety concerning trust in this scene. Strapped in position, her hands are clenched fists. Letting go is never easy.

As the staff participates in this last exercise, they surround and caress Anna bringing the Statue of Five to life, its intertwining arms and hearts symbolizing her triumph. With Whitney and Gaige her surrogate parents, the statue becomes Anna’s new family. Once again in their mixture of images, Jacky St. James and Eddie Powell produce an unforgettable moment. Originally Anna may have been the statue’s smallest person, but now she transitions into the largest, overwhelming the scene with arms stretched on the cross. Honored by those who care about her, Anna has grown up sensuous and sexy and ready to move on. This is Anna’s rebirth as it was foretold in her bedroom at Variel before she took her first step to enlightenment.

Treatment over. Time to go home. Photo Courtesy of Jeff Koga

Treatment over. Time to go home.
Photo Courtesy of Jeff Koga

Though Maddy O’Reilly has filmed for Kink.com in San Francisco and is familiar with the heavy duty BDSM scene, her character in Anna Lee is for viewers who want to see the fetish and its intimacy in bondage sequences that are less intimidating. Anyone thinking about some BDSM in their private lives will be intrigued by Maddy and Natalia Starr’s earlier performance as Marielle.

When Anna returns home, the statue goes with her to her bedroom, watching over, comforting, and encouraging her . . . for this is not the end of the story. To experience its crashing climax in which Anna realizes her mind is equally as sexy as her body, see it for yourself.

*          *          *          *          *

The Liberation of Anna Lee follows in the footsteps of the other Jacky St. James/Eddie Powell BDSM classic, The Submission of Emma Marx. Both films are part of the emerging Submission Pornography genre. Like Emma Marx, Anna Lee positions itself in the feminist pornography camp. Anna seeks her pleasures and acts on her own desires with affirmation thrown in along the way. Women who want to experiment with a BDSM component in their personal lives and on their own terms, should see both productions. For couples who enjoy a highly charged sexual atmosphere to go with their romance, the films are a must. For information on the DVDs go here.

The Cinematographer and the Director. Another Triumph. Photo Courtesy of Jeff Koga

The Cinematographer and the Director. Another Triumph.
Photo Courtesy of Jeff Koga

A final comment is appropriate. Too often in porn, sex scenes are shot in a rote manner that kills off any interest beyond male self-pleasuring. With Eddie Powell’s inventive eye and deft camera movement, the viewer is engaged in sex as art, a key dividing line separating an anatomy lesson from the ageless expression of lovers consuming each other. Add Jacky St. James’ flair for selecting the right actors to fit her scripts and her ability to bring out the best in them, and the 2014 adult film awards have an undeniable candidate for their various honors.

 

 

 

 

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