Mar 102009

Spoutblog has an interview with Anna Lorentzon, co-director of Graphic Sexual Horror (previously discussed), a documentary about the rise and fall of heavy BDSM video site

Also, one of my favorite parts of your film is the “screen test” footage, only in this case potential models tell the camera, “I’ve been instructed to use the name yx,” (which simultaneously has sci-fi and losing one’s identity to slavery overtones) or are asked (for legal purposes, I assume), “Are you O.K. with bruises and rope burns?” rather than recount any personal history. What stood out for me was the one crucial question that should have been asked but wasn’t, “Are you O.K. with someone hijacking your head?” For that’s really what these girls were consenting to. The irony is that a lot of these women viewed Insex as an alternative to stripping or “porn.” But this is fucking – they’re getting mind-fucked!

Yes, but I think that in most situations in life you don’t know what you’re getting into. There was one guy in the audience at Slamdance who compared it to the corporate world he was a part of. Firms don’t tell you when they hire you that you’re going to be working sixteen-hour days, what you have to do to get that bonus. No company does that. They’ll push you to your limit as well – the only difference maybe is that the corporate world does it over an extended period of time. The girls at Insex worked short intense shifts, a day, or a week at a time.

Yes, but at least for me the fact that PD repeatedly hired models that were neither lifestyle nor professional subs struck me as completely unethical. Participating in a heavy session requires training and skills that few of these women seemed to possess. PD never properly screened potential employees in the first place. But I guess the fact that both PD and the girls got greedy, got so corrupted by the money flowing in that they did things they otherwise never would have done, is also a great analogy for our current economic crisis.

But greed also forces people to have to make a decision about what they’ll consent to – and hopefully to grow from that decision.

I think there are plenty of businesses where there’s an intense pressure to perform at or above your limits to succeed and get the money and the perqs. I did a story on Electronic Arts, a videogame software company, that had a corporate culture of 80-100 hour work weeks for months at a time. Is that especially more damaging than what was going on at Insex?

One of my favorite quotes is when PD calls that “glassy eyed” euphoric state some of the models reach the “money shot,” for he’s absolutely right. Though Insex specializes in torture porn it’s different from both snuff films and hetero and gay male porn in that it’s female climax-centric. No men are having orgasms onscreen. Also, the whole artistic collaboration between master and slave, PD and especially the model Lorelei, one of the few true subs interviewed, captures the essence of BDSM play. The women at Insex may be hogtied and caned but they aren’t disrespected.

Yes, it’s all about the woman. Which is also why, as one guy in the film says, he couldn’t get his girlfriend to do a lot of things in the bedroom, but once the camera was turned on at Insex she’d do almost anything. It’s the issue of the spotlight – pride – wanting to impress the audience.

This is an interesting development. Linda Williams, in her seminal work on hardcore video pornography Hard Core: Power, Pleasure, and the “Frenzy of the Visible”, Expanded edition, says that the cliche external ejaculation shot so ubiquitous in hetero porn exists because the female orgasm has no visible sign, is unknowable, so the proof that sex has actually occurred is displaced onto the male ejaculation. Insex removes male sexuality from the equation and concentrates on the female climax. This seems to be a feature of fetish porn in general, in that there’s emphasis on the mise en scene of costumes, props and setting instead of building up to one physiological event.

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