The Feminist Porn Awards: Update the First

Wow, guys. Wow. The trek to Canada has been really… something. It was a beautiful drive through rural New York yesterday and across many lakes and rivers into the Maple Leaf country. But there have been some hiccups. First we got stuck behind the ONLY person crossing the Canadian border to ever get stopped and looked into. Must have sat there for ten minutes feeling stupid and sure that they would search my car and demand to know why I was going to a PORN festival. Then the rental car’s EZ-Pass thing didn’t work and I had to back up out of the toll gate to get into the damn country, looking like a complete idiot the whole time!
THEN when we got to our hotel and checked in and started to prepare for the excellent feminist porn screening at the Bloor Cinema last night… I realized I’d left ALL my makeup sitting on my dresser in NYC.
Now, I realize I was about to go to a feminist porn gathering. And I realize that I had nothing to fear from being less-than-usually made up. But as an incredibly pale, freckly, blotchy-skinned redhead with red/blonde eyelashes who had slept for five hours before driving for almost nine and who was completely exhausted, who usually only approaches beautiful porn stars when feeling at her most beautiful (ie, with the help of foundation, eyeliner, and mascara), the idea of walking into a theater where there were not just some porn stars, but actually a gathering of some of my favorite, most admired porn performers and directors and etc… I didn’t want to show them my REAL face!
However, having just driven for nine hours, I refused to be deterred. So I got my unadorned ass over to the Bloor Cinema for last night’s screening of some of the best feminist porn around, Public.Provocative.Porn: The Year’s Best in Feminist Porn. I was a bit late, so sadly, I missed Tristan Taormino’s opening remarks, but I did manage to make it for the panel discussion with CoCo LaCreme, Carlos Batts, Drew Deveaux, Jaiya, and Cheryl Dunye. It was short, sweeet, and utterly fabulous. It’s kind of incredible how articulate a group of pornographers can be, really; I’d be willing to place money on the assertion that some of the panels I’ve seen at porn-related events had a higher IQ tally than most 100-person, packed-full subway cars in New York.
Before we were allowed to watch scenes from Carlos Batt’s Artcore and Sola, Courtney Trouble’s Seven Minutes in Heaven: Fuck Yeah!, Oral Sex for Couples, Mommy is Coming, and a few other movies whose titles elude me at the moment, we listened to these fap philosophers discuss their art.

Carlos told the crowd that he makes feminist porn because, in porn, he “got to show authentic people: people of color, and with stretch marks and tattoos… You can’t allow corporate people to tell you what to do; they don’t know what’s cool. Onced you become a gear in the machine, you can bring down the machine.” Wild clapping and cheers erupted from the audience at this observation. Clips from several of his films, shown later, brought on a similar reaction. April Flores and Drew Deveaux, both starring in his work and in the audience that night, must have been beaming and blushing all at once. And let me state, once again, that I am pretty much in love with April Flores. My god, she’s beautiful.

Jaiya said that she makes erotic films because, “There are jobs for the musicall gifted and the artistically gifted, but what do you do when you’re erotically gifted?” She said she’d fought with a love of teaching and her own erotic gifts for a long time before finally deciding, “I am a pornographer. I am the tantric pornographer. I’m owning it. I’m coming out! I’m a pornographer!” Even more wild applause followed, and the frank, beautifully filmed pieces of Oral Sex for Couples that followed helped us all understand what she meant… and helped us out at our hotels later that night. Or, maybe that’s just me. Who knows.

Anyway, Drew Deveaux, one of my favorite super-smart sex peformers, took the mic to say that she sees “the bedroom as the last frontier of social justice.” An activist in academia, on the streets, and now in performative sex, Drew continues to blow my mind with her every word. Last night, after the rapt audience wast treated to clips from several of her scenes showing her powerful, intoxicating sexuality, she added that after queer and trans people have found a place to be accepted in porn, the next thing for all of us to do is just, “Be allies. Honor all bodies and all sexualities.” What more can we do?

Cheryl Dunye was a completely new face to me when I walked into the theater last night, but by the time I left I had a new idol. Cheryl, who is now putting the finishing touches on her film Mommy is Coming, is a genderqueer director and performer whose erotic film, of which the crowd was treated to about a third last night, made me laugh uproariously and squirm in my seat with desire at the same time. How many times can I say that’s happened to me? Not many. It takes a lot to make this lady squirm. But the even more incredible thing was her speaking: “I made independent films for a long time, but I wasn’t seeing people like myself,” she said. “I wasn’t seeing bodies like mine. So I decided to find them… I think porn is the only real indepenent cinema now.” Porn, she said, has gotten so fantasy-heavy that it’s necessary for those of us who want to see authenticity in sexuality to turn to the indie side. “Instead of having fantasy,” she said, “let’s… you know… see it.” On that note, I agree. When Mommy is Coming is released, you all have to go see it. That’s all I’ll say for now.

More later, live from Toronto!

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