Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Documentary December - Graphic Sexual Horror - Lilith Likes to Watch

Title: Graphic Sexual Horror
Year: 2009
Starring: Brent "pd" Scott, Peter Ackworth, Princess Donna, Loralei Lee
Director: Barbara Bell, Anna Lorentzon
Synopsis: Graphic Sexual Horror takes a peek behind the terrifying facade behind the most notorious of bondage websites, exploring the dark mind of its artistic creator and asking hard questions about personal responsibility. - Via IMDB
Why it is Notable: It's about a notoriously hard core website, InSex.com.

"What's the adage? Once money's involved...money corrupts, or something?"

Well, not only is it the end of Documentary December, but it's the end of the entire year. It's a time to look back and reflect on where we've been, and plan on where we're going.

Look back, with me, dear reader, to a time when I was a little neophyte in the world of erotica. I wasn't yet writing, I was just lurking the periphery of  the kinky world. I hadn't yet known my place in it.

Eight years ago I watched a little documentary called Graphic Sexual Horror and wrote about it on my Fetlife account. Since I'm older, wiser and more educated, I thought I would close out Documentary December by revisiting it.

My views haven't changed much. The men are still assholes. That hasn't changed. However, the women don't come across nearly as dim as when I first watched this eight years ago.

The film begins with people explaining what Insex.com was, and images of pd's paintings, which were amazingly detailed. Say what you want about the person, but pd is an exceptionally skilled artist and a creative film maker.
Okay, yeah, I agree. That's art.

At the start, everyone talks about how consensual it all is, how it helps these women reach deep inside themselves and find a strength, or a way of getting stronger. It's not about pd's libido, the goal is to get the women to orgasm. As the movie progresses, it becomes clear that pd will use anyone for his own desires. Much like in our previously reviewed doc Kink, consent gets blurred when money is involved.
Clean your gear you slobs!

The entire safe word fiasco with this site is such a point of contention for me. Like I said when I initially reviewed this film, the safe word they choose was "Ah-Ah", which is a stupid safe word because it can so easily be misheard as "AHHHH! AHHH!" or "uh-uh" or any number of sounds. A safe word has to be something that can not be misunderstood in the moment. Something so far removed from sex and emotions and feelings. Something like "doorbell" or "carrier pigeon". And of course, that's when she can use her mouth. At times the women are so tightly, completely bound I see absolutely no way they can possibly end the scene.

At one point, a woman is being lowered into water from a cage and she very clearly uses her safe word but it's ignored because it's mixed with screaming or coughing. Another woman had cattle prods on her Hard No list, but a cattle prod is used on her anyway.

Finally, at the hour mark, comes the scene. The scene everyone talks about when it comes to this movie. A woman's Hard No is to be slapped in the face, and yet pd slaps her in her face. The woman is shocked and scared and confused. pd talks down to her, demeans her, and basically victim blames her and says she's pulling and attitude while she's tearfully whimpering and trying to explain that it was a limit and he said he'd respect her limits. Then pd tries to cloud the waters by saying "it's a show, it's not real."
This whole situation is shitty.

It's a scene that always stuck with me and my heart goes out to her.

Princess Donna tells basically the same story she told in Kink, how it's her responsibility to safe word, how she's always ultimately in control, but she fails to mention how discouraged using the safe word is, and how money can be withheld.

Right after Princess Donna preaches personal responsibility, a woman said she had never done anal before, and they put a big dildo in her ass with no preparation. She was gagged and bound and in her interview said "I didn't get it, and it wasn't okay. I was crying and I was screaming, I feel like I was raped". She admits that she didn't safe word because she was unsure if they'd continue with the feed, or if she'd ever be invited back for another show, and that ultimately she did it for the money.

There's one interview with a model called 101, who's sunken in to herself and she looks like she's seen some shit. It's revealed that she was in a relationship with pd, and would do very extreme things, but not for love or art, but because she was an addict. Ultimately pd says he visited her in rehab and hospitals while she got clean but the story sort of ends there.

It's revealed pd tries to get girls to 'play' with him off camera, under the guise of "inspiration". How sleazy.

Ultimately, Insex folded because of the US government's obscenity laws. Banks wouldn't run credit cards for hard core sites and with no way to process payments, the site couldn't stay up and the content of the site was sold to a Dutch company. Apparently pd and his buddies are still lurking in the seedy underbelly of the Internet.

Nearing the end, the documentary shows set ups of more and more grim and torturous scenes. A woman standing on a block of ice from a rope around her neck. A woman with a breathing apparatus, submerged in a water tank filled with live eels or leeches. A naked woman hobbled and bound with a wooden block in her mouth, chained to a post in the snow. It's surpassed erotica, it surpassed art. It's torturous, cruel and exploitative.

I try very, very hard not to kink shame in this blog. I understand that I enjoy things people think are abhorrent. I don't like some of the most common fetishes their are because it's just not my thing, but pd himself goes on to directly correlate video games and movies to the things he does to women. He blames serial killers for putting this stuff in his head. The world is a violent place, how can he be expected to be a descent human being? Might as well torture people. As long as no one dies it's perfectly fine!

Way to shift the blame, there, Tipper Gore.

Graphic Sexual Horror is a fascinating look at some amazingly creative devices, rigs and set pieces. It paved the way for sites like Kink.com and other hard core sites. But it fondles the shroud of how creepy and manipulative these people are. It shows how pd and his ilk just throw women away once they're finished using them.
Abandoned and lifeless.

As we enter 2020 and no doubt explore new facets of ourselves, I ask you to stay safe, sand and consensual out there my friends.

Best Moment: There's a scene where a woman puts on make up, and gets all dolled up and then through the live show loses the make up and clothes. It's all about building up the feminine and tearing it away and it was interesting.

Worst Moment: A woman's hard no is ignored, she's belittled, talked down to, demeaned and coerced into continuing the live show, but she's obviously scared and confused. Brent does all he can to blame the victim.


NEXT TIME: We explore some of the nominees for 2019's best porn, starting with Teenage Lesbian.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Documentary December : Kink - Lilith Likes to Watch

Title: Kink
Year: 2014
Starring: Donna Dolore, Peter Acworth, Maitresse Madeline, Tomcat, Fivestar, Adrianna Luna
Director: Christina Voros
Synopsis: A documentary on fetish website Kink.com. - Via IMDB
Why it is Notable: James Franco produced a documentary about one of the biggest porn companies out there.

"He has a fucking safe word, alright?"

When I was but a teenager, I would wait for the good late night shows to air on Showcase, which was Canada's answer to HBO and Cinemax. While I waited for Six Feet Under and Oz, there was another show that would run. It was called KINK and it was a docuseries about people who practiced BDSM. It ran for five seasons. The only thing I remember about it is a shot of one guy putting a clothes pin on his sack.

This is not that. This has no relation to that.

Kink.com is one of the leading erotic websites and video studios. Founded by Peter Acworth in his college dorm room during the Dot Com Boom, it produces a very specific kind of product.
The documentary begins with Peter giving the camera a tour of their headquarters, a huge brick building somewhere in San Francisco. As he describes the history of the building, there's a film shooting and you can hear the woman model's moans and cries. He clenches his eyes shut to try to focus his thoughts and say on topic.

As the documentary goes on, it interviews different models, directors and Kink.com staff. The viewer gets a behind the curtain peek of how the kinky sausage is made.

The film is interesting because it has a narrative arc. It begins with an impression that everything is fine, and open, and fun and shits and giggles but as the film progresses, things begin to crack. Smiles fade, Thousand-yard stares glaze over faces, people admit they wouldn't be there if money wasn't involved.
That's right, show 'em how it's done!

There's a very intense scene where a woman is bound and collared upside down riding a Sibian. She is beyond blissed-out. She loses all her senses. It's almost disturbing but unarguably compelling.

In one moment, the videographer Five Star tries to draw the line between BDSM and abuse, but then admit it's complicated, then just sort of trails off and looks disheartened. There's a story there, but unfortunately it never delves deeper than that.

And then James Deen is on my screen and I visibly scowl. Let us not forget, he has allegedly violated several boundaries between himself and female talent. Yes, this documentary was made before the allegations came out but I still have no interest in watching him perform.

Next, they're going to film a scene where 4 men break in to this woman's place, black bag her, and tie her up. The model can't breathe and can't perform the scene. Thinking quickly on her feet, the director, Donna Dolore, reformulates the scene into a consensual Christmas Gangbang. Donna is visibly disappointed she has to scrap the bound and gang-banged scenario but she's doing what's best for the talent. It's the right thing to do.

Doing the right thing isn't easy.
Then things get weird.

There's this one performer, called Felony, who's just strange. She pontificates about being a dom, and a sub, and how great it is, but her mannerisms are awkwardly high-brow. She answers every question in a way that feels like she's ~acting~. While discussing what it's like to be a sub she takes this breath and looks away and I joked that she just climaxed. She says the most difficult part of her job is that one day her kids will ask what she does. When asked what she would do if her daughter wanted to get into porn she acts like it never occurred to her. You're in porn. You've thought about it, lady. Stop thinking you're being profound.

When the director says cut, some performers look alright, some look troubled. Some seemed to overestimate their own limits.

Near the end, Donna talks about her time at the hard-core website Insex, and next time, we will, too...

Best Part: Donna whipping up an entire new scene to shoot on the fly after the planned shoot was too rough for the model.

Worst Part:
All the fuck machines. I know what I like and fuck machines are too hard-core for me.


NEXT TIME: Following Donna Dolore's suggestion, we talk about Insex in the final documentary of Documentary December in....Graphic Sexual Horror.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Documentary December - A Life in Dirty Movies - Lilith Likes to Watch

Title: A Life in Dirty Movies
Year: 2013
Starring: Joe Sarno, John Waters, Peggy Steffans
Director: Wiktor Ericsson
Synopsis: A documentary shot at the end of pornographer Joe Sarnos's life, which reveals his attempt to make one last film, as well as his relationship with his wife, Peggy. - Via IMDB
Why it is Notable: A documentary reflecting the life and career of notable adult film creator Joe Sarno.

"The important thing is the breathing."

I am not an expert. I am not a professional, a student, or a historian. I'm just a woman who enjoys porn. I know what I like, and what I loath.

At the beginning of 2019 I reviewed a little film called Abigail Lesley is Back In Town and I despised it. It was way too soft-core and every character was a bastard. No one had chemistry and the entire movie was a big let-down. After watching it I had sworn off Sarno films. I wasn't going to waste any more time on soft-core, soap opera drudgery.

So, I don't know what possessed me to watch a documentary about the man, but it was very educational.

Joe Sarno got into pornography when the getting was good. It was the era before the cum-shot, before the camera was up the actor's asses.  His movies were basically the thinking man's skin-flick. Which is a niche that demanded to be filled.

It was around ten minutes into the documentary that it occurred to me that Sarno seemed very down to earth and not creepy or sleazy, even as he goes on to talk about how, yes, people would come into the adult theaters in raincoats to jack off. The cliche is true. He and his wife have been together for decades, and the documentary would have you believe they never even had a spat about who left the lid off the toothpaste tube. Peggy, his wife, acted in his films in bit parts, and was just as enthusiastic over the subject matter as he was. She gleefully takes the cameras on a tour of their storage bin, filled with porny costumes and accouterments of their films. Of course, Peggy's parents objected to their relationship but love  and creativity finds a way.

Peggy shows off the props and costumes and other surprises.

With the rise of the hard core porn market, Sarno found it more and more difficult to make his films. His movies were always about sex with consequence, about the aftermath, the psyche of those who were fucking.

In an act of defiance toward the hard core market, enter Abigail Lesley, the final true Sarno film. His father in law had to put up the financing for the movie. While I still dislike the film, this documentary does put it in a new perspective, and like me, the documentary highlights the two great scenes in the film.

Peggy reads Sarno's script and remarks on how his dialog had become more explicit because that's what the market demands. She doesn't agree with it, though Sarno understands he has to keep with the times. He's in his twilight years but he's not set in his ways so much.

Near the end of the film, Peggy pulls out Sarno's obituary. She's proud that it takes up the entire page, of The New York Times, no less. She carries it everywhere, just so she can show people. He was fearing fading into obscurity, but he got an entire feature remembering him in The Times.

Peggy likes how big it is.

As a marketing tool, A Life in Dirty Movies is effective. It shows the portrait of a cool elderly adult film godfather and it convinced me to give his films a second chance.


NEXT TIME: Part 3 of Documentary December continues with Kink.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Documentary December - X-Rated: The Greatest Adult Movies of All Time

Oh, the weather outside is... kind of wet and cold. And there's not enough Holiday themed porn out there, so I decided to forgo the whole fiasco and offer a break from the Holiday Season and give to you... Documentary December!

Title: X-Rated: The Greatest Adult Movies of All Time
Year: 2015
Starring: Constance Money, Georgina Spelvin, Riley Reid, Jenna Jamison, Johnnie Keyes, Herschel Savage, Ron Jeremy
Director: Bryn Pryor
Synopsis: A look at a plethora of pornographic films ranging from the 1970s to the 2010s and a commentary about their lasting impacts on the adult industry and the world. - Via IMDB
Why it is Notable: It's a documentary about the greatest porn films ever made.

"A suicide at the beginning of a porn movie really sets the tone."

I love documentaries. They make me feel intellectual. This particular documentary opens with a montage of many, many porn films from the 70s to the 2010s. As the montage ran, I was actually surprised by how many I recognized. There was ever a clip of vintage porn from the turn of the 20th century that I'm pretty sure I've seen before.
Everything needs to be protested.

Each movie has about a 7-10 minute spot where adult film actors and directors discuss that specific movie, their thoughts, and how it broke ground. I do admit I was a bit disappointed not to see films like The Image or anything by Zebedy Colt mentioned.

As the film progresses, it explores some rather interesting films that I have jotted down for future watching, and maybe reviewing, films I didn't even know existed, or films that have been advertised everywhere to me. I'm looking at you The Submission of Emma Marx!

The interview with Constance Money was interesting, in that she still has bitter feelings against Metzger, though she handles them diplomatically. It's still sad knowing that my favourite adult film actress had such a shitty go of it while all the others who are interviewed seemed to have a great time, more or less.

Constance Money rocks a suit jacket hard.
The film touches on an interesting theory during one of the segments that suggests decency laws were set in place as a distraction from scandals such as Watergate and the unfavourable attitudes concerning Vietnam. I would have liked the film to dive deeper into that, but I suppose this isn't exactly a documentary about the history of porn.

VHS is also casually brought up, and initially I wanted them to dive deeper into this, since I was lead to believe porn was the reason VHS beat Betamax in the format wars but I've just spent 10 minutes verifying that fact and apparently I've been living a lie. Yes, there was more porn on VHS than Betamax but porn only counted for a fraction of all videos purchased and thus couldn't have made a big enough dent either way. See? We've all learned something today.

During the film's run-time, the host, Chanel Preston, has one on one interviews with actors and directors. It's interesting but when interspersed with interviews at different locations, it makes everything feel a bit mismatched. Who is Constance Money talking to? Who is Jenna Jamison talking to?

It was an entertain look back at some of the best adult films, but now I have to watch them all. Fuck.

Best Scene: The interview with Georgina Spelvin. She is so sweet and no-nonsense.

Worst Scene: I don't want to name names but some of the actors just don't seem very smart...


NEXT TIME: Next week, we continue Documentary December with A Life in Dirty Movies.