*Adult Content, proceed with caution*
Recently I attended an evening conference entitled PORN REBORN – New Movements and Markets in Pornography presented by The Sexual Diversity Studies Student Union at the University of Toronto.
I guess I am going to have to admit to watching porn. Yes, I have watched quite a bit. Working in a retail environment where I am recommending movie to people seemed like a good reason to start. Years later, I still like to watch it. Sometimes for professional reasons, sometimes personal. The one thing I have noticed is that there is a lot more choice available, especially for women. We have more options than ever before! It is true that the majority of pron is made with men in mind. What if it was made with women in mind?
Tristan Taormino, the keynote speaker, asks and answers this question. Tristan has contributed immensely to what is now considered to be “feminist porn”. This term is often considered an oxymoron, impossible, or somehow threatening to how we perceive porn. Tristan took us on a journey through the history of feminist porn, from Candida Royalle, to Playgirl, and then on to Tristan’s own films which move away from the typical “soft and romantic” style associated with “women’s” porn. I just love history, especially when it has to do with sex and feminism! Through one of the largest mainstream porn companies in the U.S., Vivid, Tristan has been able to create instructional movies and unique porn that appeal to women as well as men. She asks what if the porn stars get to decide who they have sex with, what they do and when they do it? This gives the performers more control over their representation and control over their working environment!
While there is nothing wrong with the “softer” side of porn, a formula created by pioneer Candida Royalle in the early 1990’s, some women actually want to watch something more explicit. As Tristan point out, most mainstream companies now have “couples” lines based on this formula, where story is the main focus, soft lighting and no up-close genital shots.
Some of us might like something a little more explicit, no? Tristan’s line of Chemistry films are revolutionary. I was calling them “cross-over” films for the last few years – porn stars, explicit sex, no scripts and *gonzo format make them a little mainstream. But there is one main difference, the performers make most of the decisions! She even interviews them. As Tristan puts it, these performers don’t need scripts, and should not be required to “act” in some made up characters, they ARE characters already. And “acting” is not what they are best at. Why not let them do what they do really well – and we call guess what that is! Something happens when the viewer gets a chance to get to know them and we might get a little more invested in watching these people have sex.
*Gonzo is a way of shooting porn where the camera is acknowledged and the performers might actually speak to the camera.
I highly recommend watching one of Tristan’s Chemistry films, there are four volumes so far, #1 is my favourite. Maybe it is the fact that the format was so new and groundbreaking, or the combo of the performers, who knows. It was just plain HOT!
Tristan also has a full line of “Expert Guides” as well, and maybe next time I will post a full review. They are sexy, full of great education, and might even turn you on!
Find Tristan’s films at your favourite sex shop. Here are a few of mine:
I want to thank the Sexuality Studies Student Union, and the panel of speakers from the event for a fabulous evening. I think I might need to look into seeing some on Bruce LaBruce’s films in the new future!
TRISTAN TAORMINO, an award-winning author, sex educator, and feminist pornographer.
BRUCE LABRUCE, a Toronto based pornographer writer, photographer, and artist.
SHERRIE QUINN, a 4th-year Philosophy and Sexual Diversity Studies student.
BRENDA COSSMAN, the Director of the Mark S.Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies, and professor of family law, gender and law, and law and film.
And remember, not all porn is created equal!