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Cory Silverberg

Women Make (Adult) Movies

By March 3, 2008

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The fifth annual Cinekink Film Festival, billed as “the really alternative film festival,” just wrapped up in New York and while I missed too many of the films I was lucky enough to catch a panel discussion, moderated by Rachel Kramer Bussel, called “Women Behind the Lens”. The panelists were Candida Royalle, Audacia Ray and Julie Simone; three very different adult filmmakers.

The idea of filmmaker panel discussions doesn’t usually make me want to hike across town on a cold gray day, originally I was going mostly because I knew some of the panelists and wanted to be a supportive friend. But listening to all three panelists I was completely re-enchanted and reminded of the fact that the intent to produce something creative, while it might not always result in material that’s going to get you off, matters a lot.

Being someone whose gender identity doesn’t fit so neatly into one of two check boxes, I don’t usually go in for the “women pornographer” hook when it comes to panels, books, or the like. I don’t believe that having certain chromosomes, a uterus, or being treated your entire life like a second class citizen produces a uniform artistic vision, and so I don’t buy that there’s anything fundamentally different about “women” making adult moves. This isn’t to say that some women don’t do it differently, and certainly these three women do. This was evident from the first question asked, which was why do you make movies. Each filmmaker had a different response, and while each was professional and keenly attuned to the business side of their work, none of their initial responses was about money. It may be an obvious point, but this IS a fundamental difference from mainstream pornography. For many years now the vast majority of porn films have about as much to do with artistic vision or intent as “The Celebrity Apprentice” has to do with being an apprentice, or a celebrity. The very fact that these filmmakers have a vision and are trying to translate that on film, whether it works for you or not, is of note.

I was also struck by simple things, like how respectful and supportive the three filmmakers were of each other on stage. Given the difference in style, content, and vision, there were plenty of opportunities for the panelists to criticize, or at the least attempt to distance them from, the work of their fellow panelists. Instead, whether or not they liked each others work they were all adamant about each other’s right to express themselves. The idea of a panel on pornography actually being about expression is a bit radical in this day and age where the most outrageous thing most events can drum up is Ron Jeremy vs. the XXX Church Guy. In my democratic primary-addled brain I could only watch this and think, they’re being much more Obama than Hillary, which again goes to show you that you never know when gender is going to bend in an unexpected way.

In the end I left wanting to go back and watch some of these films again, and in the case of Julie Simone I want to see more for the first time. I'm still completely unconvinced that gender is the most interesting or complicated lens through which to talk about pornography. But the panel made me realize at least one thing about my own adult movie watching habits. While I tend to think that when it comes to moving image pornography it's the image in front of me that turns me on, I realize that on at least one level it's actually the ideas being projected and the sense of engagement by the filmmaker that gets me going. I also realized that I'm listening to way too much NPR coverage of the primaries.

Learn more – Cinekink

March 5, 2008 at 11:40 am
(1) kerry says:

since when has porn ever been good or done any good for anyone

March 5, 2008 at 3:04 pm
(2) Jiz Lee says:

Pornography has amazing potential for challenging, influencing, and engaging people’s perceptions about their own, and others’ sexuality.

I would have liked to have seen queer pornographer Shine Louise Houston on the panel; her works through Pink & White Productions are pushing the boundaries of queer representation (particularly as a director of a queer porn company owned and operated by lesbians of color).

Unfortunately, I think she’s often overlooked by mainstream panels and discussions, because of the lack of visibility of authentic queer porn (trans, dyke, genderqueer, etc…).

March 5, 2008 at 3:34 pm
(3) Cory says:

Shine was supposed to be on the panel but they announced at the beginning she couldn’t make it. I was also really looking forward to hearing her talk. You’re right about that perspective being left out though.

March 6, 2008 at 3:50 am
(4) christine says:

When has porn ever done anything good for anybody?

Women don’t have a little light switch to click and suddenly be able to switch into sex mode like many men do. There are so many times that I want sex but as I try to get my brain there something will pop up in my head about somebody in the hospital, or did I get everything done today, or I forgot to get the milk when I went shopping. Sometimes politics and things like that are going through my head…. for me that is not a turn on. So, I let my hubby know that I’m having a hard time getting into it, we pop in some porn and then I am able to let the day slide away easily and focus on the mood. Same with reading porn/explicit stories, sometimes I read those out loud while my husband performs oral sex, it can be hard to control your voice when you’re breathing heavily… it’s a great turn on for both of us!

Long term relationships also have cycles. We fluctuate between excitement, endearment, animal passion, irritation, auto-pilot, ect. We have cycles within ourselves, so of course we do in relationships! Porn can help facilitate a cycle change!

If couples add things to thier fun time to change it up, have another way to explore together and grow together, then they will be more likely to not only be content in thier relationship, but also EXCITED about thier relationship!!!

There are many ways to bring new things in, flavored items, food, massage, games, toys, candles and other mood setters, books, and porn is just another avenue. There is some things that are just stomach turning in porn, but there are some things that are ‘just right’.

In regular movies you may, like comedy, hate gore, love mystery, and like an occasional drama. In porn you may, like one on one couples, hate group sex, love fantasy, and like an occasional bi film!

March 13, 2008 at 1:32 pm
(5) sexdvdcheap says:

I think if we have an open relationship in all aspects of our marriage than porn can be an exciting part of your sex life. So many people just offer the judgement that it is evil and morally unacceptable. Your right men and women are so very different but yet people try to compare them constanly. Well just stop, men are from mars and women are from venus. Yes we have read the book!
Life is to short to spend it judging always judging….sexdvdcheap

December 9, 2008 at 3:45 am
(6) John says:

Do you know why women watch porn movies until the credits are over? just to see if they get married :)

June 1, 2009 at 9:47 am
(7) Lucy Stevens says:

Very funny John!!

August 7, 2013 at 11:10 pm
(8) Air Conditioning Installation Louisville KY says:

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