Cinekink: Porn Again, Bring It! and Pride & Predelictions

I got to watch this hottness unfold last night at Cinekink. What did you do?

Oh my gosh, I don’t know what I’m going to do with myself after Cinekink is over, you guys. I mean, obviously I’m going to write a wrap-up article for the whole week of kinky festivities for WHACK! Magazine, and I’m going to try to get to be best friends with everyone I met there and try to make them all read my blog. But I mean after all that. What will I do?

It’s been an incredible experience for me, starting out as I did kind of shy and a little confused about just how one is supposed to behave at a film festival about sex and kink, then getting more comfortable slowly as I began to recognize more faces every night. And letting myself feel right at home by the time I left last night, because I finally realized that here I was, in a room full of–holy moly–like-minded individuals. Of course, everyone comes to an event like Cinekink for his or her own reasons: some love kink, some love film, some love porn, some love sitting in a dark theater and watching sexy movies surrounded by other people… But we all share a commonality: an openness of mind and a desire to share that openness within a community of nonjudgmental adults who find not only erotic stimulation in these films, but mental engagement, too. I’ve been at porn conventions far too often and felt very little camaraderie there–while everyone at a convention loves porn and supports it (except the ubiquitous Shelley Lubben and XXX Church, of course, and the protesters sometimes hanging around outside), porn conventions are very business-like. People are there to network and to sell things, from sex itself to DVDs to toys to the ideology of commodified sexuality. But at Cinekink, there’s no commercial vibe. There’s just a bunch of people who love and appreciate sex and sexuality in film and aren’t afraid to share that love with others. It’s a beautiful thing, and I can’t say I’ve ever felt more at home.

Yesterday’s festivities opened with Porn Again!, a discussion panel about ethical porn-making that featured such lusty luminaries as Michael Skiff (director of Kink Crusaders and former gay porn director), Jincey Lumpkin, Esq. (chief sexy officer of Juicy Pink Box), Jiz Lee (duh, the most fabulous genderqueer porn celeb who ever queered), Tristan Taormino (at whose feet I gladly worship for her constantly hotttt and ethical porn), Sarah Forbes of the Museum of Sex here in NYC, Adrianna Nicole (a super intelligent porn performer who is sooo-ooo beautiful in person), and Sinnamon Love (an AVN and Urban X hall of famer and uber smart performer). If the pure porntastic chops on this panel didn’t blow me away initially (it did), then the discussion itself would have. The panelists discussed everything from their own personal definitions of ethical porn to their views on condom use in porn to experiences that made them feel great about making porn to the issue of consent on a porn set, and though I’d love to talk in depth about everything they said, that would make this The Longest Blog Post Ever, so I’ll refrain.

Suffice it to say that the panelists all seemed to agree on several main points that bear mentioning here. The issue of consent, particularly, merits a mention, as it’s such a huge topic and one that enters into every moment and every decision on a porn set–it’s been debated a lot recently, from the halls of Congress (John Boehner, you will NEVER live down your opinion that rape is only rape if it involves brute force) to international celebrities (did Julian Assange’s actions constitute rape if consent was initially given by his partner [the short answer: YES! but of course it’s never that simple… sigh…]) to my own misgivings about how the uninformed public may sometimes misconstrue rough sex porn scenes as nonconsensual without understanding all that goes into filming a scene (ie, explicit, written, spoken, acted, paper-trail-making consent). Tristan’s answer to these issues: consent must be determined explicitly before a scene begins and at every juncture during a scene’s filming, and it must be conveyed in no uncertain terms to the viewer to avoid any misunderstanding. Kink.com, she says, does the same thing by showing the before-and-after of a kink scene, when the performers are chummy and smiling. For Adrianna and Sinnamon and Jiz, consent constitutes performer choice in partner (s), flexibility in what acts to perform when, and being able to rework a scene when something is just not working according to plan. To Sinnamon, especially, and to Tristan, chemistry between performers is a huge part of what makes ethical porn ethical: “taking one for the team” when it means putting oneself, body and mind, through something one does not want to do because a director says you must, is the definition of unethical. Ethical porn involves valuing the performers and crew, respecting their desires and needs, and treating them as integral to the scenes they perform rather than a throwaway widget that’s easily replaceable, said Tristan. Jiz thought that portraying the desire to maintain everyone’s sexual health, whether it be through barrier use or explicitly portraying their consent, is crucial.

I think that the panel did a good job of portraying to the audience the concerns and triumphs of ethical porn makers, and possibly bringing to light a lot of the little-seen and badly-understood aspects of making porn. For the average consumer–I cannot say this enough–what you see in a porn scene is what you get, and while the overall idea that porn is fantasy and nothing more is prevalent in today’s consumer base, that does not always translate itself into an understanding of what goes into filming a scene. Rough sex, S&M, power exchanges and play, and any number of other things that go into a scene can be taken at face value by those who want to see things that way, and it is of vital importance for the continued health of the porn industry, in the face of constant attacks from the likes of Gail Dines, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, government interference, and general anti-porn sentiment, that the inner workings of what has long been a mysterious industry be more discussed and understood. I believer, personally, that Tristan’s approach of filming the mechanations of consent and showing them as part of the movie is a huge leap forward. It’s a lot more difficult for the Shelley Lubbens of the world to tell us that all women in porn are being raped when there’s footage of them sitting around with the men about to run a train on them, discussing their boundaries and desires in clear, sober, and honest terms. And it’s going to be more difficult for people to watch rough sex scenes involving choking and slapping and think that the performer is being taken advantage of when, like Jiz Lee, she finishes her scene by ejaculating all over her costar’s face… by her own hand.

When the next section of the evening, a series of excerpts from a wide variety of porn films, “Bring It!” started, I was feeling so positive about porn that nothing could have brought me down except maybe some JM Productions scenes, but I needn’t have worried. Starting off with an all-girl threeway from from Artcore featuring Kelly Shibari, Courntey Trouble, and April FLores; moving through an INTENSELY hot, playful, female ejaculate-soaked scene from Billy Castro Does the Mission featuring Billy Castro and Jiz Lee; a rather monotonous but snarky public-sex scene from Chloe’s Column: Fuck Fame from Joybear; a white-hot threeway between director Kimberly Kane and fantastically fuckable bi male stars Wolf Hudson and Danny Wylde that brought blowbang to a whole new, female-empowering level from My Own master; a super-kinky, very hairy, very dyke-tastic outdoor montage from Return of the Post-Apocalyptic Cowgirls; and a somehow hilarious yet incredibly jerk-off-able scene from Tristan Taormino’s Rough Sex II starring Sinnamon Love.

I have to admit, watching a whole lot of porn on a huge screen surrounded by other people was an interesting experience. For me, it wasn’t oh so very intense, given that I’m pretty much desensitized to watching porn by now. But then again, the smorgasbord of sexual preferences and acts, body types and gender identifications, genitals and proclivities, was so vast, and the material presented so unrelentingly hot, that I definitely felt a few tingles from down below. I can only imagine how the less-pornified among the audience felt during the darkened time in the theater watching the hugely magnified genitals parade across the screen, engorged and aroused. And yet, when the lights came back up, I didn’t see anyone mopping up their laps or sitting down longer than necessary to hide erections. I didn’t see anyone flushed and hyperventilating. To the contrary, the house was full of excited chatter about voting and smiling faces: I think we all shared a sense of exhilarated freedom at being about having just watched a bunch of explicit sex in public without sticky floors, suspicious looks, or any kind of judgment at all. It was beautiful.

The evening rounded out (I left early; exhausted after so much sexy viewing) with “Pride and Predilections,” a series of shorts exploring sexual preference, identity, and expression that boasted a rich and wildly entertaining variety of films, and also the biggest word as a title for a segment of the entire festival. I learned about the wallet chain as a statement of lesbian pride in Chained!, and for the first time ever heard my new favorite niche of sexuality: “Dapper Dyke.” If I ever get over my tendency toward men, I am SO becoming a Dapper Dyke. Suspenders, chivalry, good manners, great hair cuts, and wallet chains? I am sooo jealous. Too bad “bisexual” and “queer” (two terms between which I currently find myself vacillating) don’t start with “D.” Cause “Dapper” is just such a great word.

I also re-examined my relationship with turkey basters with Baby Cake, cracked up over one man’s determination to place himself on the Kinsey Scale in Gay Keith, marveled at the richness if imagery in fantasy and the simultaneous simplicity of reality in Butterfly Caught, almost peed my pants while enjoying some girl-on-girl action and overt exploitation of somnambulation in Turning Japanese, almost crying with empathy and then joy in Freak, and finding out a whole lot more about Cinekink’s resident sissy and ticket-taker, Sissy Stephanie, in Love, Hugs & Kisses, Sissy Stephanie. I’ve already written too much to warrant a minute examination of each film, so I’m providing links where possible.

Now I’m off to the awards ceremony! We’ll see which films the audience and selected jurors liked best and applaud the efforts of all the film-makers whose hard work we saw over the course of the festival… and get drunk. Tune in tomorrow for a wrap-up, and find your way to WHACK! Magaizne on Wednesdsay for hopefully-less-lengthy writeup of the entire event.

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