Tag Archives: Traci Lords

New Wave Porn: A Review of BrightDesire.com Part One

by Rich Moreland, December 2015

This is the first of a two-part review of BrightDesire.com. All photos are courtesy of the website.

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BrightDesire.com is the Australian website of feminist pornographer Ms Naughty. Advertised as “a different kind of porn,” the site offers a couples-friendly product that ditches “old clichés” and the “negativity of standard old-style pornography.” It’s a bold “new wave” claim that lives up its billing.

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The descriptors “fresh, inclusive, and intelligent” enhance the website’s mission statement. In other words, it’s a thinking woman’s eroticism that highlights fantasy and emotion while injecting just the right amount of pure sex for the joy of it.

The site is packed with content that has something for everyone—straight, gay, couples and fetish. Erotic stories, photo sets, short films, and book and film reviews are among its offerings. Be it film or print, BrightDesire delivers on its promise. It’s a breeze to navigate and visually pleasing, but keep in mind that not every model has that pornified look and the films generally avoid the Porn Valley shtick of acrobatics and opening up that defines sex for the professional. As the website’s welcome mat touts, it’s all about “smart, sensual sex.”

The site is no stranger to accolades, having received in 2015 XBIZ’s Adult Site of the Year and AVN’s Best Alternative Site. Similar noms are on tap for 2016.

Within the feminist porn universe, BrightDesire is a widely known. Toronto’s Feminist Porn Awards have honored MsNaughty’s work and the site sponsored the 2014 Feminist Porn Conference held in conjunction with the Awards week.

Curious? Check out the site here. You can get a free seven-day trial which I highly recommend.

Membership information is available in FAQ found in the banner. The first month is $19.95 with recurring months at $9.95. Or, $34.95 will get you ninety days non-recurring. New content is posted weekly.

What You’ll Find

The heart of BrightDesire is a plethora of short films that will stoke the erotic fires in every porn fan. Selected scenes are included in Part Two of this review.

From "The Scent of Her"

“The Scent of Her”

A variety of authors have contributed stories that are quick reads, just enough to fill a few pleasurable moments during a busy day. Among the list I found appealing are “The Scent of Her” about a couple who play an odd game of seduction involving another woman and “Memo from the Boss,” a brief tale that involves a female executive who seeks stress relief from an underling at the office. Both stories use bondage as focal points. In “Scent,” passion oozes from the page; “Memo” is a safely underplayed workplace routine kept private.

"Purple 80s Porn"

“Purple 80s Porn”

There are sections for columns penned by MsNaughty, a blog she maintains, and news updates. Also, photo sets original to the site, along with some from other production studios, can be viewed in the traditional magazine approach to still photography. They feature straight, gay, multiple partners, fetish, and people of color. One of particular interest is “Purple 80s Porn,” a retro look at adult film. The write-up points out that the shots are from an old film and the actors are not known, though one of them looks remarkably like the infamous Traci Lords who was in the business from 1984 to 1986.

The interview section contains short vids of selected people featured in MsNaughty’s films. Typical of the BTS segments found today in DVDs, performers talk about what is important to them, things like attitudes about sex work, shooting porn, and feminist porn as a political and social statement. The website explains that the interviews are integral to “ethical, feminist porn” and “personalize” the performers, not all of whom are professionals. Unfortunately, I did have a few technical problems downloading a couple of interviews.

Jay and Kim

Jay and Kim

After reviewing their BDSM shoot for Part Two, I tuned in to Kim and Jay’s interview. They explain how they met online and the mutual pleasure that comes from acting out their fantasies. It’s a must see for all fans of D/s relationships.

The interviews frame those who make porn in all their naturalness. Sex workers have been around since the beginning of recorded time and many enjoy what they do. In her segment, Livia Vye (who appears in “The Birthday Wish” also reviewed in Part Two) adds a euphoric touch to her sex worker persona when she talks about choice and the freedom to express herself on film.

Livia

Livia

There is much more to explore at BrightDesire. The “Under the Bed” section contains more photos and short films (“Tea or Sex?” is a personal favorite). Reviews highlight books and films. Jiz Lee’s “Coming Out Like a Porn Star” and Jacky St. James’s groundbreaking “The Submission of Emma Marx,” both offerings I’ve reviewed for this blog, are included.

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Speaking of reviews, a look at a few of MsNaughty’s films, all of which are individualist without being egoist, are next in Part Two. Needless to say, the quality of her work is excellent.

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The Hottest Thing Ever

by Rich Moreland, July 2015

“I was scared to death of porn because I was scared to death of the socially constructed idea of it,” writes sociologist Chauntelle Tibbals. When in college she persuaded some friends to check out an up-scale theater on Sunset Boulevard for the showing of a 1970s Porno Chic era film. Unfortunately, her viewing time was brief because the future Ph.D. “stormed out of the theater,” abandoning her pals inside. The sex, in her view, was abusive.

As a budding feminist scholar, Chauntelle confesses she remained anti-porn. “I couldn’t separate what I was actually seeing from what I’d been conditioned to experience,” a disconnect that would forge her graduate school resume and a career today. Simply put, Chauntelle’s emotional and psychological blinders dictated how she “was supposed to feel” about pornography. But did that match its realities?

To find answers, Chauntelle began her research and learned that porn fights an unending battle against preconceived notions. Aren’t all porn girls and the business they represent extensions of what “may stir fear or revulsion in one person” while being “the hottest thing ever to the next?” Most likely. After all, her grad school adviser swore by revulsion and discounted everything else, side tracking a young scholar’s research.

Embracing All Readers

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Exposure: A Sociologist Explores Sex, Society, and Adult Entertainment is as much Chauntelle Tibbals’ personal story as it is a commentary on the adult film industry. Her approachable and contemporary writing style (think: no big words or lengthy chapters filled with citations) is refreshing coming from an academic. Too often those of us involved in higher education are too immersed in scholarship to realize the average guy on the street matters when writing a book. Chauntelle embraces all readers and does it with a bevy of personal takes on the people of adult film.

From my own experience writing in the industry, I can affirm that Chauntelle is spot on with everything in this book. She points out that porn is anything but monolithic which makes research problematic. Commenting on porn’s supposed experts, she says that “what’s ‘extreme’ or ‘sexy’ or acceptable” about the topic varies tremendously. In other words, there is no accounting for taste. As a result, concluding “anything about the nature of adult content” after watching a handful of scenes is questionable and a challenge for those who study behavior using selective sampling.

Of course, there is another common research pitfall. Academic types rarely mix it up with porn people, preferring to remain distant in making their judgments. Chauntelle’s solution was to get involved, experience as much as she could in real-time and go from there. So she worked trade shows as a gofer and all-around handy person, gained entrance to porn sets, talked casually with those closest to the business, and did the ultimate, write a dissertation on gender equality based on her research.

That is Exposure, the personal Odyssey and re-education of a feminist scholar via an inside look at the everyday people who populate a quite remarkable industry.

Traci, Kristi, or Norma?

In Chapter Five Chauntelle relates how people can fall into the trap of “gauging their self-worth” through the “conflation of pornographic reality and fantasy.” Take, for example, the question of what is real. If boob jobs are fake, then what about braces to straighten teeth? How does each address self-worth? Extend the example to the debate over authentic sex. Yes, porn sex is real on-screen but the scenarios are often so outlandish that they require what literary folks call the “willful suspension of disbelief.” Porn stars are animated with acrobatic behavior in unlikely sexual situations, but is that any more contrived than a teenager with straight teeth?

Chauntelle’s story of Traci Lords supports this point. Traci is the stage name of a fake ID bearer named Kristie Nussman who was born Nora Kuzma. Traci’s goal was to shoot porn for profit. The question becomes, who gained entrance into adult entertainment at age fifteen, slapping the industry with child porn accusations? Traci, Kristie or Norma? Where is the separation of reality and fantasy? Was Traci Lords a concoction?

Other chapters include racial and sexual diversity in porn (particularly “trannies” as a rising film genre), a different take on Linda Lovelace, and how men too quickly can fail (let’s be honest, droop) under the lights while the cameras roll.

Another fascinating account captures the weirdness of some porn fans who “slip a little too far into the fantasy.” Volunteering her time for the studios at the Vegas convention, Chauntelle remembers keeping these “super fans” at bay during the signing times girls are obliged to fulfill. It’s their creepiness that is bizarre. These fans “sincerely believed they knew their favorite performer, and one day she would be theirs, no matter what,” Chauntelle says.

The lingering back story throughout Exposure is the academic snobbery and ivory tower attitudes that became Chauntelle’s ball and chain. From my own experience around the release of my book, I can sympathize with her. Porn and the classroom are not often brought together with grace and colleagues (and students!) can sometimes be perplexed at why any scholar would do this: research people whose lives pose their own question of “who would do this?”

Like the author herself, Exposure is brimming with personality and deserves a read! I don’t usually give out stars, but on a scale of one to five, Chauntelle Tibbals is a fiver!!

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Available at Amazon.com

  • Print Length: 150 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Greenleaf Book Group Press (July 7, 2015)
  • Publication Date: July 7, 2015
  • ASIN: B00XLSXH0S

 

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Part 3: Moments with Tara Lynn Foxx

by Rich Moreland, April 2014

 In preparing the re-post of the final part of the Tara Lynn Foxx trilogy, I remembered the difficult days she faced a couple of years ago. In fact, I inadvertently experienced one of her upsetting moments on a Friday afternoon during the 2012 AVN convention.

After talking briefly with Tara during her floor signing time, we planned an interview in her hotel room later that evening. As our 7 p.m. appointment neared, repeated text messages got no response so I took a chance and went to her room. To say the least, I sensed something was amiss.

Tara answered the door with a look that announced a bad situation. While she and other models were at their signing tables, cellphones were stolen. For industry people, this is devastating because it upsets the fragile balance between personhood and profession. With her phone went Tara’s appointments and shoots, a performer’s lifeline, not to mention contact info for industry personnel who want their personal lives to remain private.

We never did the interview, though I did insist on taking her to dinner. An exasperated girl recovering from enough drama to knock down the hardiest of people was having it handed to her in spades.

 But TLF persevered and I’m delighted to report the almost twenty-four-year-old is a respected industry veteran with an education no college degree could ever duplicate.

Read on with the knowledge that to sustain a porn career takes a dose of personal fortitude many people would have to dig deep to find.

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A note: as I have done with the previous posts, some modifications have been made to the original entry which is available at Tara’s official blog.

TLF walking the Red Carpet. Photo by Bill Knight

TLF walking this year’s AVN Red Carpet.
Photo by Bill Knight

“Courage”

By Rich Moreland, November 2011

Book writing is a time eater and I’ve been working to get my manuscript ready for the early rounds of edits. I lost track of TLF for a couple of months and when porn models I know disappear off my radar and their names don’t come up in new releases, I get concerned.

So I turned to Tara’s blog for updates and saw “Some Heavy Shit” (August 2011).

It was time for a phone call . . .

“I doubted myself when I talked with you,” Tara told me. She was referring to a conversation we had months ago. Keeping her “game face” up and running, she did not let on at the time that her self-esteem was under fire.

Though our talk on this late November afternoon was hardly light-hearted, Tara assuaged my concerns that she might be spiraling in a direction that was not good.

How do you spell relief?

She is doing fine, taking some time off, getting ready to reenter the swirl of an industry that the late porn pioneer Marilyn Chambers claimed, “eats up girls and spits them out.”

A playful moment. Photo courtesy of Tara Lynn Foxx

A playful moment.
Photo courtesy of Tara Lynn Foxx

After being reassured that she wasn‘t suicidal, the urge nagged at me to do something to send her some love. We said “goodbye” with the promise to speak again soon and I immediately dug into my computer files to locate an unpublished piece I crafted some time ago. It was about courage in the adult industry and Tara’s strength of character called it to my mind. She was not the subject of it then, but is a subject for it today.

Here is an excerpt.

“Porn girls are vivacious, attractive, naturally hedonistic, and draw instant attention. But despite their ‘money and fame’ persona, the cost is high. Their bodies are penetrated and used for profit and the glamour can sometimes reek of men who stink in body and soul.”

In Tara’s case, the cost was extracted from her spirit. If you read her blog entry you’ll see what I mean.

Here is more from the same piece.

“For those not in the business, the thought of exposing one’s body, engaging in sex acts of various kinds, and having it displayed on the internet is overwhelming and prohibiting. It can lead to feelings elucidated by Tera Patrick. ‘We’re all hos on this bus,’ she said.

Courage is on display in pornography to a greater extent than we realize. Striving for acceptance is basic to our survival and rejection hurts. We want people to believe in what we do, the decisions we make. For a porn performer, the personal issues for entering the business may be varied—economic concerns, lack of opportunity, a free spirited sexuality, or a sense of adventure. But whatever the reasons, courage is necessary. Without it, the human spirit collapses.”

What happens when the unscrupulous—in the porn business think agents, producers and directors—abrade and smash a performer’s ego, in effect reducing a woman’s personhood to whatever can be shoved into three holes? Such a contemptuous exploitation is particularly devastating to an eighteen-year-old whose naiveté is stripped as bare as her body.

Respect is evasive or non-existent.

Floating Endless in Cyberspace

In Tara’s case, her inner fortitude was battered, but not buried. She remolded it into a resilience that continues to cope with two demands in her professional life: perfecting her on screen performance and excoriating the stench of a casting couch that brutalizes and numbs.

Everyone has doubts, but in porn they can be crippling. The average career, after all, runs about eighteen months. Some make it longer. Nina Hartley, Bobbi Starr, Aurora Snow, and Madison Young come immediately to mind. But it is daunting.

Porn means putting your vulnerabilities on the line for all to see, hoping your looks and the ability to turn a good fuck keep you sane.

The business is glamor and hustle rolled together. Photo courtesy of Tara Lynn foxx

The business is glamor and hustle rolled together.
Photo courtesy of Tara Lynn foxx

“Remember the camera, sweetheart, give it a look and point your toes,” the director says as the crew prepares to shoot the DP. Bear in mind, not every pronographer cares if a model can stomach co-stars she marginally tolerates popping Viagra to make her day a little longer. And, don’t forget the wretchedness of a dirty bathroom, or the terror of anal without a condom.

“If you won’t do it, Sweetheart, I’ll find somebody who will,” is the tacit implication. Along with the slime of wheedling agents, it is ugliness at its basest level.

As Tara informs us, the industry has its share of shady characters.

Failure, defined as looking too mechanical or being resistant to that little extra not spelled out in the call sheet, costs a performer work. And if she decides the business is not for her, it’s pack up time to go home with the haunting memory that her short career is out there floating endlessly in cyberspace. Social media lights up and her high school friends troll the net to find out if she is shaved as smooth as a baby’s butt.

Most egregious are paydays that depend on deals struck before the shooting starts. Paved with false promises, the first round is sex for free. The emotional pain is overwhelming or totally denied.

Tara knows this all too well.

That’s why the business’s famous adage is, “you don’t fuck to get a job, fucking is the job.”

Survival

Tara shows Traci, present recalls the past. Photo courtesy of Tara Lynn Foss

Tara shows Traci, present recalls the past.
Photo courtesy of Tara Lynn Foxx

A porn generation ago, the infamous Traci Lords was said to service the crew when not in front of the camera. But Traci was a manipulator, who turned her talents into a kind of porno blackmail. On the other hand, Tara was barely legal, as they say in the business, when she entered porn. Wettest behind her ears, she was like many others, just a kid who wanted to please.

In the industry, scenes are marketed as boy/girl and a performer’s resume lists her other shoot availibilities with girl/girl and boy/boy/girl among the standard choices. Talent is infantilized, second-class citizens in a billion dollar industry. And if you didn’t know, there are no residuals when a DVD or internet shoot is marketed or scenes are extracted later for compilations.

Bill Margold, porn’s eminent historian, has said many times that the adult industry should hug the “kids,” as he calls the models, but would rather screw them instead.

Travel, hotel rooms, and pleasing others is all part of porn. Photo courtesy of Tara Lynn Foxx

Travel, hotel rooms, and pleasing others is all part of porn.
Photo courtesy of Tara Lynn Foxx

But, I will tell you this. Tara Lynn Foxx is a survivor. When I said she could roll through an interview like the baddest big boy in a monster truck rally, I was not kidding.

When her confidence crashed around her, doubts about loss of control surfaced. Questionable decisions that were not always in her best interests piled up and depression moved in for a stay. Trust took a hike.

But with a person of Tara’s courage, recovery flickers softly at first, then roars like a fire.

I know because I could hear it in her voice as we talked that chilly November afternoon a continent apart.

She can “put on her face,” as she calls her professional demeanor. But the true test of strength comes when she is “not on anymore,” those moments when her porn persona melts away and she morphs into the “natural” Tara: honest and sweet with those captivating eyes.

Putting in floor time for the fans. Photo courtesy of 3hattergrindhouse.com

Putting on her face for the fans.
Photo courtesy of 3hattergrindhouse.com

This woman has mettle, that inherent quality of temperament that crafts toughness and internal strength. She can follow her passions while shielding herself from the dirt flung by critics and abusers. Her inner sanctuary has not collapsed.

Best of all, she knows this.

My little piece of writing here is an emotional and psychological obituary for the “kid” Tara once was and an introduction of a Tara Lynn Foxx that has vacated girlhood to become a “woman” in a tough industry. She has experienced death and rebirth accentuated with spirit and spunk.

Doubt will always inhabit the soul, as I shared with her in our conversation. I’ve had mine and you, her fans, have had yours.

But our inner strength, the belief in ourselves, never goes away; it just hibernates, waiting to be called up in time of need like the army reserve.

And, don’t forget the words of Ringo Starr, it’s sweet when we get “a little help from our friends.”

Tara could use a little boost at her back right now. This is where you come in. Send her a comment, email, or make a phone call.

She has my trust and faith. How about yours?

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In closing this trilogy, I want to mention something of interest. Not long ago, I asked Tara if she supported an idea some industry people—award winning director Axel Braun and porn historian Bill Margold among them—are talking about these days: an industry-wide voluntary restriction that models be twenty-one before they are allowed on a porn set.

Not surprisingly, she gave me a resounding, “Yes!”

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