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Darker Side of Desire: Part Two

by Rich Moreland, March 2017

Here is Part Two of my review/analysis of Jacky St. James’ Darker Side of Desire, a production of Mile High Media.

To get a flavor of the images mentioned in this analysis, watch the “not safe for work” trailer here.

All photos and images are courtesy of Mile High Media.

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A Balanced Message

The sex scenes in Darker Side of Desire are Jacky St. James at her artistic best and reflect the mission of Sweet Sinner video. The scenes are woman-friendly and romance-oriented with female consent the focal point of every shot.

Passionate kissing abounds with everyone receiving oral pleasures, but the gagging, choking, and deep throating of today’s run-of-the-mill porn are conspicuously minimized; not surprisingly, the same applies to porn as an anatomy lesson.

Facial expressions communicate desire while the camera focuses on both bodies equally when the sex heats up. Cinematographer Hank Hoffman often shoots a symmetrical view of the lovers to highlight carnal expression as a two-way street.

Speaking of visual clues, Jacky St. James concentrates on phallic symbols like candles and vases paired with flowers (very Freudian) to underscore the psychology of sex. Since vases offer a canal to be filled, so to speak. . . Well, I think you get the idea.

As mentioned above, communication is the heartbeat of each sex scene. Darker Side is solid feminist porn with male performers who express their feelings through conversation and touch. Take note, for example, of how Mickey Mod gently cradles Cassidy Klein’s head during their intimate moments.

To shoot a female-centered film requires men who are comfortable with their sexuality and are willing to yield their masculine focus in favor of pleasuring their partners.

Jacky St. James casts the best of them.

Sexual Maturity

With Darker Side Jacky is as true to the BDSM community as she has ever been. Take for instance, the performers in the dream sequence. They’re older, a reflection of real-life bondage aficionados. The renowned MILF, Cherie Deville, is the perfect choice to perform with Tommy Pistol, a veteran of Kink.com who is in his forties.

Mickey Mod and James Deen are also Kink veterans who have been in the industry for ten and thirteen years respectively. Michael Vegas didn’t enter adult until he was twenty-six and is in his seventh porn year. Experience also characterizes the women. Cassidy Klein and Gia Paige are well into their twenties, hardly newbs by porn standards.

Only Riley Nixon is a youngster among this crowd, but she is mature by fetish standards. And make no mistake, this girl is a charmer with an adorable, disarming smile.

In the BTS segment of the DVD, Riley tells us she’s “very submissive” and BDSM gives her an exciting sexual space to be free of worry and responsibility.

Submission is “who I am deep inside, a natural state for me,” she declares. Can you feel the love?

Experience teaches BDSMers to be comfortable with their fetish. Sex is as much mental as it is physical and any bondage lover will tell you that understanding your sexuality and being open to talk about it is what the kink is all about.

The Game

Darker Side has two themes. The first, as we’ve seen, is the appreciation of authentically presented BDSM.

The second is feminism’s relationship to kinky sex brought out in the film’s pivotal scene, the drinking game. A tequila bottle (another phallic symbol) is positioned in the middle of a divan around which four players (Bryce and the girls) sit.

It’s a bit of truth or dare fun that unexpectedly wrings a bondage confession out of Sydney. Her words touch a nerve with Robyn (Riley Nixon) who challenges her roomie’s feminism by asserting that BDSM is anti-woman.

Sydney replies she did not give up her power when she played in the dungeon. A chill rises quickly around the group.

Robyn is indignant. “You bent over and let some dude spank you and you think you‘re in control?”

Sydney leaves abruptly. How do you spell tension?

Raising the Bar

Darker Side of Desire is an artistic commentary that raises the bar of the average porn film. Make no mistake, Darker can survive on its terrific sex scenes alone, but, as we’ve mentioned, Jacky St. James has a special talent for shooting sex that fits perfectly into the narrative.

Later, when Natalie persuades Sydney to tell her story, she learns that her friend researched BDSM websites which led to her adventure with Alex, an accurate comment on how kinksters find each other in today’s cyberspace.

He was “much older,” Sydney says (reinforcing the age factor). Their fetish sex was immediate.

“It didn’t evolve, it started there,” Sydney says.

They talked about everything.

“What I wanted, what turned me on. He was completely respectful of my boundaries.”

Negotiation and trust are the most important parts of the BDSM experience.

The rewards were enormous. The sex unleashed something inside her, she explains.

Unfortunately, Sydney was a college freshman at the time and sexual self-understanding was in short supply. Though she was happy with the arrangement, she broke it off because she felt “weird” and different from other girls.

Youth led her to judge herself negatively. Fear stepped in and now years later she regrets everything, Sydney tells Natalie.

You’re Next

Emboldened, Natalie is now ready to begin her emotional/sexual journey.

To prepare the viewer, Jacky St. James breaks the fourth wall in Natalie’s final dream episode. During the fantasy sex, Cherie Deville looks directly into the camera expressing her satisfaction before Tommy Pistol turns to the lens and confronts Natalie’s reticence with, “You’re next!” It’s her inner challenge to act on her desires.

She’s watched for too long, now it’s time to play.

When the final sex scene shows up, Natalie and Bryce come full circle. By the way, Cassidy Klein’s oral performance is stylish, more art than gonzo, a kind of sensual caressing.

In the bondage sequence, the lovers are reflected in a mirror to the left of the screen. The shot is laden with shadows and represents their transition, stepping through the looking-glass if you will.

Natalie, who submits to a blindfold, lives out her fantasy in her imagination. Bryce’s voice nurtures her internal visions, much like the radio dramas long ago when listeners created the visual scene for themselves.

The dream has come to life, a reminder that BDSMers always have their favorite scenarios in their heads.

Inside the Self

Finally, Darker Side of Desire is impressive for two reasons.

First, Jacky St. James has all the right performers. Each one brings a special talent to the screen.

Second, Jacky has grown in her understanding of BDSM. With Emma Marx, she successfully normalized the fetish. Now she has moved kink to a more personal level with the women of Darker Side. Words and caresses excite them while the sex is hot and heavy without gonzo-style sex for sex’s sake.

Simply put, the fetish is nurtured inside the self. Her desires inflamed, Natalie’s here and now contrasts with Sydney’s fond remembrances of a past experience that offers hope for the future.

There is a course correction needed in this story and it appears in the closing scene. Her wrists and ankles shackled, Robyn extracts a promise from her lover to say nothing of this to anyone . . . Appearances always matter, of course, even to feminists who decry that bondage objectifies women while wrestling with their own ideas about its erotic allure.

Just as Natalie’s over voice opens the film, another with real honesty steps in before the final credits roll . . .

“Robyn eventually acknowledges that sexual fetishes are deeply personal and not to be judged until fully experienced.”

For Natalie, Sydney, and Robyn, this is not the end, of course, but a beginning, or more precisely an electrifying rebirth . . .

Will there be a Darker Side of Desire, Part Two? If so, this reviewer is on board!

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Darker Side of Desire: Part One

by Rich Moreland, March 2017

Jacky St. James is considered the leading feminist filmmaker in the adult industry today. As always her screenplays are Hollywood ready and Jacky’s latest feature, Darker Side of Desire, is no exception.

In this two-part review/analysis we’ll look at what makes this film a top-of-the-line production for couples and fetish lovers.

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Never for its Own Sake

After a successful run at New Sensations, Jacky St. James has taken her talent for storytelling to Mile High Media and its couples-oriented romance brand, Sweet Sinner.

The transition has already produced a winner, Darker Side of Desire, a feature film that once again cultivates a space for female-friendly BDSM. Jacky fans will remember her preeminent mark on the adult industry, the Emma Marx series reviewed on this blog in August 2013, March 2015, and April 2016.

Though reflective of the Emma Marx concept, Darker Side is a much different film. Here’s why.

In Emma’s story, BDSM is a learned sexual behavior that taps into the dominant/submission paradigm that exists to some degree in everyone. After all, what schoolgirl hasn’t had her hair pulled by that obnoxious boy in third grade? Flirtatious aggression is part of an instinctive primordial mating ritual psychologists tell us, though the kiddies are too young to get the picture.

Darker Side further explores BDSM as a preprogrammed behavior (it’s in our DNA, so to speak) that is clearly recognized by some of its adherents. In other words, no learning is required because “it turns me on, but I don’t know why.”

In that respect, the film is not Emma Marx, but is complementary of its message that submission is a legitimate sexuality that is part of a broader array of erotic behaviors.

And there is another difference worthy of note. While the many sex scenes in the Emma Marx series are BDSM exploratory, the scenes in Darker Side are a progression of how each woman in the story handles her inborn desires.

Emma normalizes a sexual fetish; the women of Darker Side don’t have that problem. For them, the fetish is already their normal.

Having said that, Jacky St. James’ philosophy that the storyline drives the sex is never more evident than in Darker Side. In other words, the sex informs character development, moves the narrative forward, and is never there for its own sake.

Simply put, Darker Side of Desire is sharp in plot and cinematography. For newbies to the bondage fetish who know what they want, the film is BDSM 101.

 

Hidden Affection

Natalie (Cassidy Klein) is haunted by a recurring dream of bondage sex. Vanilla in her lovemaking with new boyfriend Bryce (Mickey Mod), Natalie’s inner hunger to experience her fetish gnaws at her. The film moves her to a resolution that is set up by a progression of sex scenes skillfully placed within the narrative.

To get us there, Darker Side’s other characters come into play. We have Natalie’s friends and roommates Sydney (Gia Paige) and Robyn (Riley Nixon).

The men are Sydney’s past lover Alex (James Deen) and Robyn’s boyfriend Mike (Michael Vegas). The dream sequence features Cherie Deville as the submissive and Tommy Pistol as her dominant.

So how does the sex tell the story?

The first scene is Natalie and Bryce in a vanilla romp of raging endorphins that floods the new lovers.  As Natalie says in voice over, their relationship is a “whirlwind of romance and excitement.”

“You’re happy being out of control,” she declares.

The palette Jacky St. James and cinematographer Hank Hoffman present in the scene is top quality filmmaking. Mickey is a man of color so blending his darker tone with Cassidy’s paler one yields a visual perspective steeped in shades of brown, rust, auburn, and maroon. The sofa, candles, and the painting on the wall compose a pastel montage that flavors the romance.

Later, the palette reappears when Bryce and Natalie are playing pool (cues, balls, and pockets are Freudian symbols in this scene). The table felt and Natalie’s dress are shades of reddish-brown with a darker desert tone that is fitting, by the way, because their relationship may become arid if kinky erotic urges are ignored.

Spider Web

Next we have Natalie’s dream that composes the second sex scene. It delves into her psyche and its hidden affection for BDSM.

A spider web of chains is suspended between the camera and the imaginary players caught up in a tangle of bondage desires.

Denial, a subtle Jacky St. James theme, takes over as Tommy tempts and taunts Cherie throughout the entire scene. He calls her his “submissive little slut” and she responds, “Please sir, I want it so bad!”

With “I said beg for it!” Tommy spanks Cherie, whose coy smile reveals her submission pleasure.

Of course for the dreaming Natalie, the spider web is intimidating, a chilling look at the dichotomy of fetish sex: scary yet tempting, watching others while fearful of taking the step yourself.

Counterpoints

Later, roommate Sydney tells Natalie of a past lover Alex and their bondage hook-ups. The next sex scene between the two serves, along with the dream sequence, as fetish counterpoints to Natalie and Bryce’s vanilla theme.

The question of female degradation versus feminism’s empowerment is illustrated by the fourth scene. It’s a sexcapade between Robyn (Riley Nixon) and her boyfriend Mike (Michael Vegas), a playtime sprinkled with humor that tests traditional feminist sexual politics.

More on this in Part Two.

The final sex scene is Natalie and Bryce revisited. Now they’ve negotiated their mutual turn-on, the kink hidden within that finds the best of all outlets: a like-thinking lover.

So how does the movie take us through the BDSM experience as a feminist message?

That’s the question for Part Two of this review.

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Darker Side of Desire can be purchased from Mile High Media here.

To watch the “not safe for work” trailer, click here.

 . . . And for twitter fans, here’s your bread and butter: @milehighmovies  @sweetsinnerxxx @jackystjames

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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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Everything You Wanted to Be: A Review of Zero Tolerance’s “Shades of Scarlet”

by Rich Moreland, November 2014

shades of scarlet boxcover

 

With the explosion of “Fifty Shades of Grey” to the highly marketable “mommie porn” audience, adult film has been spinning its own version of the dominance/submission formula for a while now. Mostly, the result is a variety of BDSM lite shoots where a bit of flogging and a blindfold are standard fare. “Shades of Scarlet” moves past this fluff and turns up the heat a bit. The film’s BDSM scenes flavor an emerging adult genre I call “submission porn,” a cross between low-cal BDSM and Kink.com‘s harsher fare.

“Shades” introduces an erotic writer Roz Collins (Anthony Rosano) who responds to a fan email with a cell phone seduction that appears off beat. His image on-screen is strictly in profile, dark and foreboding with extreme facial closeups. Of course, that is not by accident.

Karlie Montana Photo courtesy of Officefantasy2.com

Karlie Montana
Photo courtesy of Officefantasy2.com

His fan, the bookwormish office worker Karlie Montana, delights in Collins’ creativity, especially his latest work, “Scarlet: When Passions Collide.” His books take her away from her mundane reality emphasized by the film’s Midwestern setting. As a result, she romanticizes Collins as “a man I could never meet” and Scarlet, as “as a girl I could never be.”

In their first conversation she says she could never do the things he writes about.

“Never or not yet?” he replies and the tone for the film is set.

Collins asks her if she would like to meet the characters in his book. “They’re real?” she asks. “They are now,” he says, and leaves instructions for her new adventure.

Giddy at first and then apprehensive, Karlie obeys, knowing that her fear of her desires is hovering over her. She will meet Collins’s kinky mind with the sex play of two couples: Mr. Pete and AJ Applegate, and Tommy Pistol and Romi Rain.

Two Visits

Entering a warehouse covered with street art, a stunned Karlie encounters Mr. Pete and the submissive AJ fully engaged in a BDSM scene. The scenario will be repeated later when she walks into a dungeon-like room in which Tommy and Romi are likewise playing. To emphasize their vulnerability, both women are blindfolded and subjected to whipping, cropping, paddling.

AJ Applegate Photo courtesy of Zero Tolerance

AJ Applegate
Photo courtesy of Zero Tolerance

In the first scene, the voyeuristic Karlie reaches into her panties; in the second, she fondles herself after being ordered to remove them. Mr. Pete and AJ transform Karlie’s expression from reticence to fascination; by the time Tommy and Romi’s sexual romp ends with the pop shot, she’s entranced.

Director Mike Quasar has constructed two dynamite sex scenes with just the right blend of bondage and hardcore sex. There’s smacking and spanking, lots of deep throating and vaginal penetration, but no anal because it is not a big seller in the couples market.

After watching Mr. Pete and AJ, Karlie inwardly confesses that she’s in love with Collins and is ready to engage him. However, before they can meet, he insists she must return to the warehouse and seek out a man called “Tommy.”

“I don’t remember that character,” she says.

“I haven’t written him yet,” Collins replies.

Collins knows Karlie is obedient; Tommy will test her will to submit.

At first Karlie winces as a suspended Romi receives her punishments. Before Tommy unshackles his submissive for sex, he confines Karlie to a jail-like cage to watch his raven-haired captive pleasured by her “master.”

Romi Rain Photo courtesy of romirain.com

Romi Rain
Photo courtesy of romirain.com

An educational moment for neophyte BDSMers occurs here. Tommy turns to Karlie and demands to know if she wants him to “hurt” Romi. She shakes her head. He then asks his caged guest if he should “go harder” with his playmate. Karlie is okay with that. In response, Pete and Romi lovingly kiss and Romi smiles appreciatively when the going gets rough, declaring she loves the pain because it intensifies her sexual response.

BDSMers separate emotional hurt from pain. Pain is enjoyable in an erotic sense. Hurting is never acceptable and Quasar makes that point here.

Goodbye to Scarlet

The film’s final sex scenes are contrasts. Karlie gets a call from Collins informing her a package is arriving with clothes to wear for tonight’s appointment. As usual, she anticipates meeting with him but the time is not right, she learns.

Again in the warehouse, Karlie stands, blindfolded with a leash held by James Deen. This three-way scene will feature the sultry Skin Diamond, James’ submissive, who will become Karlie’s dominant. It’s training for Karlie who addresses James and Skin as “master” and “mistress,” thanking them for everything they do to her.

There’s mild to moderate flogging and cropping suitable for viewers who feel comfortable getting into BDSM. Interestingly, Karlie Montana’s bondage resume does not include Kink.com, whereas AJ, Skin, Tommy, and James have shot for the San Francisco studio several times. Yet, Karlie’s performance is convincing enough to pass the authentic Kink submissive test. That’s verisimilitude.

There are a variety of position changes to go with the usual porn fare: lots of oral sex to highlight the action featuring enthusiastic, top of the line performers. When the sex gets steamy, the bondage ingredients tend to be dropped, something which often happens with real life lovers experimenting with BDSM.

The next day at work, Karlie takes a call from Collins.

“How was your night?” he asks.

“Incredible, I never in a million years thought something like that would happen to me,” she says.

He tells her the time has come and she enthusiastically expects to meet with him. But first, he wants to know what her imagination tells her he looks like.

The significance of her journey is revealed. Karlie must engage reality through her fantasies, to find common ground with her fears so her sexuality can be released. After she describes a tall handsome man, Collins terminates the call with a good-bye to “Scarlet.” She politely corrects him with “Karlie,” but it is too late, her imagination has leapfrogged reality.

Karlie is given her dream man, a meeting set up by Collins who tells her “you get to be everything you ever wanted to be.” In a final phone call, Collins says a farewell to “Scarlet,” reminding Karlie that “this is where the story ends,” and, of course, her hoped for reality begins.

She enters the warehouse one more time.

The final sex scene with Derrick Pierce is Karlie’s awakening through restraint–leather cuffs, a blindfold, and bondage sex–put in motion by a voice she can never meet, a creator of characters that are not real. Though there are submissive elements, Derrick is gentle and romantic, fulfilling Karlie’s fantasies.

Karlie in Derrick's hands Photo courtesy of Zero Tolerance

Karlie in Derrick’s hands
Photo courtesy of RAI

The scene is uplifting with music that lends a dreamy quality to the sex. In fact, dreams are the closing image of a film that ends where it began, in the imagination of a sleepy office worker who puts down her copy of the Scarlet novel and drifts off, alone in her bed, into a bondage phantasmagoria.

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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

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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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Thirty Hours

by Rich Moreland, February 2014

Southern_Hospita_525c65e2f0d49

Southern Hospitality is a B. Skow film about accommodatin’ love and marriage hillbilly style, Appalachian sociability fueled by homemade liquor and outfoxin’ the law. Jon Jo (Evan Stone) is a landowner of little note who collects female property he passes off as wives. As the movie opens, he’s marrying mate number three, “Small” (Alex Chance). After the informal ceremony, JJ gives his newest wife over to his other honeys, a somewhat disenchanted “Large” (Ash Hollywood) and a bored “Medium” (Dillion Harper). They’ll warm her up in a classic Girlfriends Films all-girl scene before Jon Jo collects his husbandly due, her virginity. At least, that’s the plan. It’s the second part that gets mucked up.

Unbeknownst to this happy group is the arrival of the Fuggs, a lawless family of Mama (Darla Crane) and her three sons: Tiny (Richie Calhoun), Teeny (Billy Glide), and Mighty (Tommy Pistol).

Jon Jo consumes too much moonshine to keep his thinking cap on so Mama and the boys squat on his land, set up a still, and percolate trouble.

In the meantime, Tiny and Medium fall in love (after she sneaks peeks of him in the shower) and hide out to avoid family entanglements. Suddenly, lightning strikes. Ash and Small go searching for Medium and Small falls victim to sexual assault from the leftover Fuggs.

The rest of the story is about revenge and final reconciliation with all the Hillbilly grace one film can muster. Bodies are buried and plans changed in an entertaining tale that is carried to its success by two performers, Ash Hollywood and Alex Chance.

A throuoghly enjoyable film, Southern Hospitality is brimming with B. Skow ingredients: good acting, humor, a dark side typical of Skow, and a heavy dose of social satire.

The Voiceover

Let’s take a further look at the film through a discussion with B. Skow, one of Porn Valley’s directing elite.

B. Skow Photo courtesy of Bill Knight

B. Skow
Photo courtesy of Bill Knight

Southern Hospitality survives and moves forward through the voiceover narrative. Ash Hollywood is the chronicler and as an actress faces formidable tasks. She must convince the audience her character, Large, is coming into her own as the story progresses and do it with a southern drawl that sells the tale.

In talking about Ash, Skow reminds everyone that his films are “just like Hollywood” where good actors (he mentions Meryl Streep and George Clooney) are going to create winning roles.

“There are certain people that perform,” the director says. “Ash is just a great performer [and] she has an interesting look.”

Commenting that Ash had “so much dialogue” along with the voiceover, Skow describes hours of one-on-one directing that were “relaxing” rather than tedious and, from a director’s standpoint, creatively challenging. “You can really work with an actor to give you what you need,” he says, adding in this case it was the dialogue that made the story convincing. “We were in the room for hours with her [Ash] trying to get that stuff down. It was so hard to keep the accent [going].”

Ash Hollywood Photo courtesy of Rick Garcia and AVN

Ash Hollywood
Photo courtesy of Rick Garcia and AVN

B. Skow affirms that despite the demands and hard work, the film was completed on time. “You know, I had thirty hours to do that movie,” he says.

Ash Hollywood also plays the one character that develops during the film. She is the movie’s central focus. In the end she stands up to Jon Jo and leads the final getaway, completing her empowerment image.

Loved the Part

Asked about Alex Chance, Skow says, she “has a specific look in her.” She’s “young, cheery, great girl” and a good actress.

Alex is perfectly cast as the innocent third wife whose future, according the rules of Hillbilly Haven, is shattered when she’s molested and penetrated in a modified gang bang with Teeny and Mighty. Her sadness and hopelessness at the loss of her virginity is powerfully portrayed as the film moves toward its climax. If Ash Holloway is the narrative’s driving force, Alex Chance is the emotional glue that holds the story together.

B. Skow describes what he loves about the native Virginian.

“In the movie she really held the accent, really loved the part,” he says. Alex appreciates being in a feature, he notes, a circumstance not always true of other performers.

Alex Chance Photo courtesy of Rick Garcia and AVN

Alex Chance
Photo courtesy of Rick Garcia and AVN

“Some girls come on the set and make their money, got their underwear in a zip lock bag,” Skow begins. “Then you have an Alex Chance who comes in. She’s printed out the script not only for herself, but in case someone else needs it. She highlights her lines.”

He remembers Alex telling him she watched a media presentation to get the accent down.

For her efforts, the buxom lass gets the highest of compliments. “She appreciates the business,” Skow explains. “There are certain people who accept what we do and appreciate it and enjoy it.”

Pausing in a reflective moment, B. Skow compliments Girlfriends for giving him “full freedom” to explore his creative mind. In this case, Alex Chance accommodated his fantasy.

“The way she took the cum shot on her face,” he says, was important. “Instead of [the typical] porno where you’re doing a scene like that [and] all of a sudden the girl jumps up and rubs the cum on her face and smiles,” he declares, Alex made the shoot “more realistic.”

Working with Alex Chance was rewarding because Skow wanted to film the scene as it would happen naturally, or as he suggests, unimpeded. Many directors look for chemistry first among performers, but that’s not always what motivates B. Skow. It’s the scene as it is embedded in the feature that counts. In the case of Southern Hospitality, “everyone understood it and did it,” he says.

In fact, sexual connections among performers may not always be good for a feature, he insists. “During the fucking, chemistry should be there, they need it,” Skow admits, but “they also need to remember what they’re doing. You need to be able to get them into a character.”

He returns to Alex Chance, describing what she faced as an actress. “You’re in a situation [the molestation] with two dirty hillbillies who haven’t bathed, you’re not swallowing their cum and enjoying it. You’re letting it hit your face because you’re scared of being slapped.”

“In my head I want to see how that girl’s going to react in that moment,” Skow says. He wanted a realistic response from Alex. He was not disappointed. “She was awesome!” he says.

Our Way

Southern Hospitality has good sex. For the viewer who wants to sit back and enjoy a scene, Richie Calhoun and Dillion Harper are a “can’t miss.” For fans of older woman/younger woman, the predator theme that Girlfriends values so highly, Darla Crane and Ash Hollywood fill the bill.

But it’s the satire and social commentary that makes this version of Hillbilly Haven a winner.

When Large tries to explain to Mama Fugg how the wives of Jon Jo are arranged in a familial way, Mama responds, “No offense girly, but ain’t you a little too far from Utah to have such an arrangement?”

Large defends the Hillbilly ethos. “We ain’t Mormons or nothin’. We have our way of livin’.” The implication that “our way” is somewhere in Kentucky makes this Appalachian social zinger too good to miss.

B. Skow does not deny part of his work is satire. “I wouldn’t want to generalize,” he begins, but “I definitely have that in me, I’ve always had that weird way of looking at what I like. I’m very observant and my mind goes into very unusual places.”

Is he politically correct? Perhaps not and he doesn’t see that as an issue.

“I think it’s fun to be comfortable and do things where people are going to be like, ‘Oh my God,’” he says. Then in a  moment of social commentary, Skow observes, “We’re in a time when people are putting everything about themselves everywhere.”

Personally, it’s not something he can do. “I’m not comfortable with it,” he says, “it would take me a half hour to write a sentence on twitter. I have nothing to say about myself.”

Geniuses often don’t, their art is their expression.

But the implication is clear. When putting yourself out there for all to see, political correctness is difficult to maintain.

Perhaps that is B. Skow’s message in Southern Hospitality, a hilariously dark and funny film that is a satirical gem.

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