Tag Archives: The Submission of Emma Marx: Boudaries

Why Can’t We Have It All? Part Three

by Rich Moreland, March 2015

The popularity of “Behind the Scenes” is growing in adult DVDs. The BTS humanizes the people in front of the camera, allowing the fan an inside peek at the playfulness of performers as well as their serious side.

A fun off screen moment of dueling subs. Photo courtesy of Jeff Koga

A fun off-screen moment of dueling subs, small in size but huge in sexiness.
Photo courtesy of Jeff Koga

In her BTS interviews, Jacky St. James often explores how performers relate to the roles they play in her films. Here are some comments from The Submission of Emma Marx: Boundaries.

I Couldn’t Handle Any More Sex

Penny Pax and Richie Calhoun chat about alternative relationships like the one they have in the film. Though each admits they’ve experienced similar situations in their private lives, they have different takes on what it means for them personally.

Richie and Penny at work. Photo courtesy of Jacky St. James

Richie and Penny at work.
Photo courtesy of Jacky St. James

Richie has seen these types of relationships “explode” because someone cheats. “[The people] have an open relationship and somebody jumps out and does something the other person can’t handle,” he explains. The relationship can get “lopsided” because one person is doing everything for the other person. Consequently it’s “easy for resentment to build up,” Richie points out.

Penny is more conventional in her attitudes, much like Emma’s sister, Nadia.

“I’m actually not ok with [alternative arrangements]” she says. Confessing that she’s “a sucker for happy endings,” Penny finds expanding sexual exploration in real life couplings somewhat uncomfortable. Her view is a reality check, cautioning film fans against the notion that porn stars act out their private dramas on-screen.

What advice would Richie and Penny offer anyone watching Boundaries and thinking about having an open or flexible relationship?

“Respect you partner,” Richie offers. “Try to hear what they feel, what they want.”

He concedes, however, that his opinions must be taken in context. The only relationships he’s ever had have been open ones. “I’m more of the Richie show,” he muses, because anything long-term is a “tall order” and not on his agenda right now. Then, as if to clarify what he means concerning flexible arrangements, Richie points out that performing in adult film is not considered to be an open relationship in his mind.

In truth, it’s a job.

Riche and Sara Luvv look on as Jacky and Eddie set up their scene. Photo courtesy of Jeff Koga

Richie and Sara Luvv look on as Jacky and Eddie set up their scene.
Photo courtesy of Jeff Koga

Penny agrees that the “gray areas” presented in open relationships must be discussed among everyone involved. For her, communication is not a problem because she is a talker. But like Emma, she also has a vivid imagination and tends to fall into the trap of thinking “something crazy is happening, but it’s usually not.” Penny’s caution and her awareness of how emotional reasoning can play tricks 0n her perceptions authenticates her role as Emma.

Obviously, as a porn performer Penny is in a different sexual environment than the average fan who watches her scenes. True, she has a private life, but working in adult entertainment also means having sex for a living. The native Miamian admits she is sharing her body with other people and though the sex may not be emotional, it is still physical which in her mind is just as important.

“Between porn and my personal life I couldn’t handle any more sex!’ she says.

Sexually Exploratory Cloth

Later Penny talks specifically about her role as Emma.

Boundaries was easier for her than the original film because Emma revisited is more what she, Penny, is like in her personal moments.

Remembering the first Emma. Photo courtesy of Jeff Koga

Remembering the first Emma.
Photo courtesy of Jeff Koga

Shifting the discussion away from Emma’s character, where does Penny see Nadia’s journey going? Will she move down the road to BDSM or has she reached her limit?

As a positive thinker, Penny wants Nadia to progress and get to that final destination. But the diminutive superstar is pragmatic. “There are two types of people in the world,” she says, “those that will do different things and those who won’t.” In other words, there are risk takers and people who hold back.

“I’m hoping she [Nadia] blossoms and there will The Submission of Nadia Marx movie,” Penny says with a smile.

For those who don’t know, Penny Pax is a popular submissive for bondage-oriented studios and websites. Her profile for the highly respected Spiegler Girls agency lists fetish modeling as one of her specialties. Needless to say, Penny’s non-vanilla porn resume is solid, having shot over seventy-five times for Kink.com, the internet powerhouse of BDSM.

Asked if she has personally encountered criticism about her sexual choices similar to what Emma faces in Boundaries, Penny is honest. She has.

However, the sexy five footer counters disparaging remarks with “you guys don’t know what you’re talking about.” When people don’t understand something they “tend to shy away from it [because they have a] fear of the unknown,” she adds.

Penny claims she likes to “be the guinea pig,” the first to try something out. Commenting that she hears from old high school acquaintances who want to know if what she does is “real,” her answer is, “absolutely.” The twenty-five year old enjoys all the sensations she experiences in her shoots and hopes that she can encourage people to think about doing some of them in their lives.

Jacky St. James poses the question of what brought her into porn. Was she sexually open prior to coming into the industry?

“That’s hard to say because my definition of sexually open has changed so much.”

Penny has always maintained an open attitude toward sex, though she never had a chance to explore her desires and fetishes before porn. When she was growing up, she fooled around with her girlfriends to find out what felt good and what was “weird.” An early boyfriend did his part by introducing her to anal.

“I’m cut from that sexually exploratory cloth,” she says with that Penny Pax trademark, an upbeat demeanor.

A girl who enjoys her job! Photo courtesy of Jacky St. James

A girl who enjoys her job!
Photo courtesy of Jacky St. James

The discussion turns for a moment to what Penny has yet to experience in her adult entertainment career. Double vag and double anal are on the list, she says, hinting she’s open to booking those scenes.

Also, she’s not done any “large groups of people gang bangs.” Her professional history is limited to a six-person affair, which she did for Kink.com.

Gang bangs are exciting on two levels, Penny says. First is the “actual experience.” It’s “adrenaline pumping” and “really exhilarating,” an “extreme sexual act” that she likens to skydiving.

“Having five guys trying to use you at the same time was really fun for me.” Because of the “chaos” it creates, however, the act is not an everyday thing!

As for the second part, Penny enjoys reviewing her shoots. Unlike some girls who never look at their own movies, Penny comments that being “able to watch [herself having sex] on camera is deeply satisfying” because she can relive the thrill anytime she wants.

In a later BTS segment with Richie and Logan Pierce, Penny remarks about the threesome at the end of the film. “I loved it,” she glows, adding that to “get off on somebody telling me what to do” is what makes the scene good porn.

Complimenting his co-workers, Richie chimes in that on-screen sex is at its best when performers get their energy from each other. A true illustration of  what it means to be a professional.

Interviewing Sara Luvv. Photo courtesy of Jeff Koga

Interviewing Sara Luvv.
Photo courtesy of Jeff Koga

Put Them Ahead of You

To wrap up the BTS, Jacky St. James finds a moment to sit down with Sara Luvv.

In BDSM shoots, Sara’s is a convenient fit for submissive roles. “I usually sub because I’m so small,” she laughs.

At 4’11” she can be thrown around, the native Californian admits, which makes her a perfect submissive.

But acting and personal preferences don’t always jibe with some adult film stars. St. James asks if she (Sara) likes submissive roles on-screen.

“I do. I love being a sub, actually,” the porn newcomer says. Part of the pleasure of shooting BDSM is “doing everything they [her dominants] enjoy.” In the fashion of an authentic bottom who wants to please, Sara confesses “they’re getting everything that they want out of it [the scene]. I’m there to make them happy.”

What is her number one tip on being a good sub?

“You have to feel like you genuinely want that person to get off really bad. [You] have to put them ahead of you. That’s how you find enjoyment out of it.” Concerning safe words, Sara admits she’s never had to use one because she’s not appeared in any “super hardcore stuff.”

“I haven’t done anything too rough,” she says, and that is likely by design. This rising Latina star represents the newly emerging submission porn or bondage chic genre that avoids sex acts hovering around faux abuse. Other than an all-girl gang bang, for example, her shooting history at Kink.com is practically nil.

Nevertheless, Sara Luvv’s attitude and approach to bondage scenes. . . and porn in general . . . is one of giving. “I love being used for someone else’s pleasure.”

That is the best news possible for her fans.

 

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Why Can’t We Have It All? Part Two

by Rich Moreland, March 2015

Atop the long dining room table, a masked Emma Marx is crawling toward Mr. Frederick seated at the opposite end. In front of his place setting is a bowl of milk. Emma laps away like a pet.

Emma ready to obey Mr. Frederick. Photo courtesy of Jacky St. James

Emma ready to obey Mr. Frederick.
Photo courtesy of Jacky St. James

The scene quickly shifts to a bedroom. Emma is bound to the headboard with Mr. Frederick behind her, caressing and fondling his submissive.

Emma explains. “Mr Frederick and I role-play a variety of different scenarios all the time. Is there any room to blur that line between fantasy and reality?”

Mr. Frederick has his way with Emma. Photo courtesy of Jacky St. James

Mr. Frederick has his way with Emma.
Photo courtesy of Jacky St. James

Trust

Early in the film Emma mentions “normal” in describing the difference between her sexuality and her sister Nadia’s. But there are gradations of “normal” that for Emma become tests of her willingness to break barriers and abandon shame to find out who she really is. Questions remain. Does self-discovery mean extending her vulnerability beyond the safety of her dominant-submissive relationship with Mr. Frederick? And, how do blurred lines between fantasy and reality redefine “normal?”

A bit of tension rises. Emma is indeed special, Mr. Frederick implies, because her sexuality excites him. He tells her she is always evolving, there is “no stopping point” in her sexual growth. Though Emma admits doing things that titillate her, she insists an exit strategy always exists if the pressure to overstep boundaries intensifies. After all, it’s part of the contract.

Seductively, he pushes forward. “There ‘s room to play.” Steeped in uncertainty, she replies, “I don’t want to play.” He kisses her. “Sure you do.”

Does Emma push into new horizons or retreat to Nadia’s lines in the sand?

Whatever her decision, the central theme of Boundaries shifts to trust. Emma learns that “normal” is fluid, what was “bizarre” yesterday, is just another talking point today. Her willingness to give up control while contradictorily retaining it throws obstacles in her path that will challenge her self-esteem. How Emma perceives her connections with Mr. Frederick and how subsequent events feed into her overactive imagination provide valuable lessons in trust.

Enter Audrina

Emma prepares to write another note. Photo courtesy of Jeff Koga.

Emma prepares to write another note.
Photo courtesy of Jeff Koga.

As a result of her confessed fantasy about Shane, Emma is instructed to play a game of seduction with her co-worker by writing him notes. It has a sophomoric overtone that creates a degree of embarrassment for Emma. To get her instructions, she must report to Mr. Frederick’s second floor office because he dictates each message. After writing a final provocative note, Emma descends the stairs. Without warning, she says, “something unexpected happened, shaking me to the core.”

A girl named Audrina (Sara Luvv) is waiting to see Mr. Frederick.

“Audrina was his first real sub who ended the relationship when the lifestyle became too complicated for her,” Emma remembers. “Why was she here? She said he was expecting her. He never told me how beautiful she was, feminine and wholesome, the perfect physical embodiment of a sub.”

Brushing aside Shane’s now predictable interest in her, Emma decides to investigate. She goes back upstairs and quietly turns toward Mr. Frederick’s office. Incidentally, down the hall opposite from his office is a closed door with a green covering. Thoughts of Behind the Green Door, the Michell Brothers 1970s film about a naïve girl who is introduced into a BDSM sex club, are inescapable. Emma ignores it; she’s already been there and knows Audrina has also.

Audrina with Mr. Frederick in Emma's imagination. Photo courtesy of Jeff Koga

Audrina with Mr. Frederick in Emma’s imagination.
Photo courtesy of Jeff Koga

As she approaches, Emma sees Mr. Frederick talking with his old sub; neither of them notices her. Admitting that she “filled in answers where there were gaps,” Emma envisions them at play in cinematic flashes that are classic Eddie Powell. Thus, Emma’s imagination becomes the demon that possesses her. She confesses it “began to poison me with pictures and images and experiences that I created between them.”

Emma Marx represents the literary everyman/everywoman who suffers from anxiety, doubt, and irrationality. Emotional reasoning is not an intellectual argument and she knows the difference, but her fears and weaknesses take over. Emma confesses the images were “so vivid and raw and painful that I began to treat them as truth.”

So the downward spiral that St. James poignantly captures in the bathtub scene begins. Covered in beads of water, a desperate Emma sits alone trying to cleanse her thoughts while sinking deeper into despair. She is like a heroin addict trying to wash away the drug that torments her or an anguished soul crushed by suicidal thoughts.

Eddie Powell’s camera work in canvassing Emma’s agony is superb.

A word here is due about Penny Pax. Her emotional angst in this scene is as real as it gets, reflecting acting skills that place her on the door step of mainstream Hollywood.

A chasm now separates Emma and Mr. Frederick. They have ceased communicate and he becomes emotionally distant. Emma accepts the blame. “The more worried I became, the more I failed him.”

The tension thickens. He begins to ignore her in a passive-aggressive manner. “It was a form of silent treatment,” Emma says, that increased her pain.

After refusing to sleep with her, Mr. Frederick passes a forlorn Emma in the hallway and takes that dogleg, vanishing.

Teetering on the abyss, Emma at last faces her self-created emotional morass. “I realized I had fallen into a masochistic relationship with myself, one that I desperately wanted out of.”

Emma under the glare of her demons. Photo courtesy of Jacky St. James

Emma under the glare of her demons.
Photo courtesy of Jacky St. James

When Mr. Frederick disappears for periods of time, she says, “I was convinced I’d lost him.”

Excuse Me for Trying

A visit with her sister is in order.

Of course, with Nadia it’s all about her. As Emma sits politely, Nadia arranges fake flowers and announces that she is pregnant: conventional happiness in a conventional relationship. Emma’s emotions are muted and distant.

But an epiphany is in the offing.

An annoyed Nadia wants to be congratulated, instead Emma brings up her sister’s concern over Ray’s sexual suggestions. Without meaning to offend, she mildly jokes, “Is this what he meant by having a three-some?”

“Very funny, Emma. When people are having problems with their relationship they do whatever they can to fix it. Guess what? I did, so excuse me for trying!”

Nadia resorts to the oldest of maneuvers, pregnancy. A new arrival will always gloss over problems and solidify an unsteady marriage, right?

A bystander in Nadia’s universe, Emma gives her sister credit for gumption and resolves she must likewise act. This is the moment the film has been waiting for. Emma’s growth is in her hands, not Mr. Frederick’s. Only she can solve her inner turmoil.

“I needed to fight for the only thing that ever made sense to me.”

A dungeon of redemption? Photo courtesy of Jacky St. James

A dungeon of redemption?
Photo courtesy of Jacky St. James

There is a lot more to come in this film. Emma secretly follows Mr. Frederick to a duplex where she discovers a BDSM dungeon, a reticent Shane stills flirts a bit with a woman he really likes, and a pendant embossed with a “W” becomes a territorial marker of striking intimacy. Personal arrangements become fluid and Emma takes further steps in expanding her sexual universe.

By the way, there is one more sex scene and it is dynamic. Jacky St. James and Eddie Powell bulldoze their own boundaries to reinterpret what an erotic movie can do. Without giving away details of the scene, suffice it to say that a St. James trademark shows up again: candles. There are two sets of three, one for Emma and one for Nadia, whose role in this film is to act as its Greek Chorus. If Mr. Frederick is a guide for Emma, so is Nadia in her own unintended way. But the final actions and decisions are not those of Emma’s lover or her sister, and that is the magic of The Submission of Emma Marx: Boundaries.

Blurred, Pushed, and Crossed

Too often erotic movies designed for couples celebrate the romance and not the relationship, the exploration and not the day-to-day task of being a partner. As a result, the genre unfortunately discounts the emotional unfolding that redefines a relationship as it develops.

Ray and Nadia. Phtot courtesy of Jacky St. James

Ray and Nadia.
Photo courtesy of Jacky St. James

Boundaries gives the viewer two versions of certitude. First there is Nadia: manipulation disguised as taking a standing. Men are deceiving at worse and filled with tomfoolery at best. She has to one-up them to keep control.

The inescapable question is why she waits three months to reveal her pregnancy. Did she have that three-way Ray touted? Unlikely, but we don’t know. We only have her tasteless vegan food and her fake flowers.

Then there is Emma. Trust and control are interwoven into the same exploratory fabric and, as a mother would test her baby, Emma must throw herself into the water and survive. The proud submissive becomes empowered by giving up control, though her teacher and lover is never far away.

The story is not quite that simple, of course. Boundaries hints of a delicate freedom that is as alternative as Emma’s lifestyle. St. James places appropriate prints of butterflies in Emma’s bedroom, reminders of a more innocent sexual age when a blind man sang, “Butterflies are free.”

But this psychedelic version of freedom is fragility. Psychologist Erich Fromm posits freedom’s contradictions in his book “Escape from Freedom.” To be free is not always desirable and a return to control guarantees a security that negates escape. On the other hand, when escape is replaced with an openness to seek and develop positive relationships, growth occurs.

Is Emma completing the circle from fragility to empowerment?

Is she capable of moving forward without Mr. Frederick or can she only expand her world with his support?

We’ll depart with Emma’s words.

“Some people prefer the security and comfort of doing only what is expected . . . and that’s ok. But for others, boundaries are meant to be blurred, pushed, and crossed because . . . life isn’t about being comfortable, it’s about being free.”

But is that really the case?

Watch this thought-provoking and groundbreaking film and see for yourself.

*          *          *

A final thought about this film. Boundaries is a notable achievement because it explores adult film as literature. A complex story is told through a voice over with Emma as narrator. But actual voice is that of a trained actress: Jacky St. James. Clearly, the director wants to make sure all words are precisely placed so that the story challenges the thoughtful mind.

Boundaries is indeed literary and worthy of praise for that feat alone. However, I’m not sure the ending is as neatly packaged as it seems . . . and that is the mark of an intriguing script and superb directing.

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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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