Pandora Blake dreams of spanking... do you?

What is feminist porn?

In my last post I wrote about my personal, emotional response to the Feminist Porn Awards and Feminist Porn Conference, but I didn’t go into the actual question of feminist porn – what it means to me, how my work relates to it and so on. While I was at the feminist porn conference I did a bit of live-tweeting and I kept noticing @ClaireLitton‘s tweets in the hashtag, and retweeting them – she would often say exactly what I wanted to, and save me the trouble!

We spent some time talking, and after the conference she asked me (and a few others) to answer some questions for an article she was writing on feminist porn. Her piece includes insightful quotes from some top names in the field and is well worth reading. I hope Claire doesn’t mind if I publish the full text of my response to her here, as the simplest way to explain my take on the subject.

Flare by Sensate Films at PinkLabel.tv

What do you think are the origins of the genre and where do you think it is going?

I’m not sure feminist porn is (or should be) a genre so much as a movement, or a framework for discussion. The history of the movement is rooted in the work of women like Candida Royalle and Annie Sprinkle, who pioneered the ideas of couples porn, positive sexual role modelling, sex positive feminism and erotic cinema from a female perspective. Petra Joy, Anna Span and Ms Naughty were other early innovators of porn depicting female sexual fantasy, agency, pleasure and desire.

Nowadays feminist porn is intersectional and concerned with taking the above themes beyond a “male/female” binary and expanding them across the gender spectrum. Feminist porn is about challenging the status quo and providing an alternative to kyriarchal standards of sexual desirability. It’s about making space for trans* people, people of colour, fat people, people with disabilities and others not represented in mainstream porn to be sexy and have sex that expresses their true sexualities.

As the category has evolved, how has it shifted and changed?

Feminist porn used to be more or less synonymous with porn for women, but nowadays I think it’s more like porn for everyone. It’s expanded and in the future, I think – and hope – porn that is now considered “feminist” will be the default, and radical porn will need to seek out new boundaries to explore.

Porn is intensely personal and no single feminist porn film can be everything for everyone. That’s why as a movement inclusivity is so important, to make space for an ever-expanding range of sexualities and erotic themes. For instance, for the last ten years many feminist pornographers have made queer porn, creating a necessary alternative to the male gaze heteronormativity of mainstream porn. But I think it’s also important for feminist porn to explore the heterosexual female gaze, eroticising cis male bodies in straight encounters as well as in queer ones. Many feminist pornographers are queer, but on this planet so many people are straight that it’s important to create radical, feminist, ethical and female gaze straight porn alongside the queer porn revolution.

It’s wonderful to see feminist porn embracing and centering trans* women in a respectful way – that’s new. As a producer of feminist spanking porn, I also think it’s essential for feminist porn to expand to include the world of fetish pornography and to explore the themes of consensual non-consent and fantasy fiction in a feminist, ethical way, rather than limiting ourselves to documentary style “real world sex”. For many people porn is about a safe space to explore fantasies that don’t represent the sex we have in reality, and I think it’s essential for feminist porn to embrace this concept. Not all our fantasies might be feminist, but I think it’s still possible to make porn of them in a feminist way.

What are your personal reasons for becoming involved in feminist porn?

I started working as an adult performer before I became a feminist, and as my politics have evolved, so has my work. My fetish is spanking and most of my work has been within the world of kinky porn, which has historically been just as male gaze and heteronormative as mainstream porn. I became invested in promoting queer visibility and the female gaze within fetish porn, and in unpacking gendered expectations of power roles. I have submissive fantasies and in order to feel comfortable exploring those as a feminist, I want to live in a world where power play is just that – play – without any expectations of which role you will play based on your gender. I think switch visibility plays a key role in deconstructing this sort of gender essentialism.

I wanted more fetish porn featuring hot guys (both tops and bottoms) for me to perv over, and make porn which catered to my fantasies – which are generally story-driven and emotionally complex with dark, edgy flavours. I wanted more positive depictions of male submission, not only normalising the female top/male bottom dynamic but celebrating and eroticising male submission from the female point of view. I was shocked to discover most fetish producers didn’t pay male performers and that was what finally kickstarted me into starting to produce my own material. For me equal pay for equal work in porn is not only a labour rights issue but a female gaze issue. You get what you pay for and if you want to explore female fantasy on film, you need to pay top rates for professional male talent.

I also got sick of seeing kinky porn which was consensually produced but sold as if the non-consent fantasy was actually true, pretending the performers hadn’t really consented. Sure, I like dark fantasies that involve pain and helplessness but I can only enjoy them if I know the performers are really into it and having fun. I started thinking about how to express this dichotomy and make the difference between non-consent fantasy and consensual reality crystal clear to anyone watching. That’s how Dreams of Spanking was born, which emphasises enthusiastic consent behind the scenes through out-takes, interviews, respectful marketing copy, and blogs and social media by the performers themselves.

How can a consumer identify feminist porn? What are its characteristics?

Feminist porn is a complex tangle of intersecting factors and no two feminist porn films will look alike. But for me, the heart of is rooted in two priorities: the experience of the performers on set, and the way the final product is presented.

Feminist porn is performer-centric and performer-driven, giving the actors the opportunity to choose their scene partners, write their own scripts and have a say or final veto in everything that happens on camera. Feminist porn is fairtrade porn, and performers are paid fairly and well, fed well, and treated well. Communication beforehand is honest and thorough, with no deceit about what will take place, and directors who are willing to be flexible. On set the producer works to create an environment that is relaxed and fun to be in, without stressing the performers out or making them anxious. There’s no pressure put on performers to do anything they don’t want to.

Once the footage has been captured, the edit is done in a way that is honest and representative of what actually happened. Full credit is given to everyone involved and the product is sold in a way that respects the performers’ professionalism, agency, and personhood.

Feminist porn centers performer consent, agency and desire in every aspect of production. It is inclusive, diverse, sex-positive and politically aware. Feminist porn is based on the idea that all sexualities are valid, and everyone deserves to feel sexy, no matter your gender, body type or sexuality.

Any further comments or things you think people need to know?

Anyone who is curious about feminist porn should start out by watching Courtney Trouble’s keynote from the Feminist Porn Conference last week.

Feminist porn is a movement, and it is imperfect. It’s not intending to segregate itself from the rest of porn but to seed ideas, hope and inspiration that will spread across the globe. If you don’t see yourself represented in feminist porn, speak up. Get involved. The feminist porn community is a close-knit family full of love, intimacy, affection, trust and respect, and from the outside that sort of closeness can always seem a little cliquey or exclusive. But this movement is built on a premise of inclusivity. If you make yourself known, show up, and talk to people, you will be welcomed; and if you have questions to ask or critique to offer, you will be listened to. Feminist porn is centered on openness to change, and on challenging received ideas of what is sexy, or who porn is for. It is, by definition, open to feedback.

I also want to add that if you can’t find the porn you want to see, you should make your own. The more people making porn which authentically represents their own sexualities, desires and sexual selves, the healthier the porn industry – and society as a whole – will be.

If this all sounds good and you want to see more, check out Gala Vanting’s (incomplete) list of feminist porn resources, or the videos on demand at PinkLabel.tv.

Feminist Porn Awards and Conference 2014

Pandora Blake at the Feminist Porn Awards - photo by Kirsty BoyceThe Feminist Porn Awards and Feminist Porn Conference in Toronto were an incredible, intense experience for me. In the four days I was there I was challenged and inspired as a filmmaker, turned on by screenings of uber-hot new porn, affirmed in my politics and given a sense of community. I shot a lot of porn and made a lot of friends. I listened, shared ideas and explored areas of difference and common ground. As a producer I felt isolated in some ways and welcomed in others. I was emotionally exhausted every night from judging when I should let myself be critiqued and when I should offer critique of my own. I was invited to speak and I received acceptance, reassurance and validation.

It’s a funny marriage – the awards in their ninth year, a Toronto project which has exploded to become an international event; and the conference in its second year, aiming from the start to bring people together from across the world. The two events have different organising committees and aren’t particularly cohesive. They sit next to each other but there’s no combined schedule of events, no public communal areas, no central hotel where everyone stays. If you want to know what’s going on, you have to know the right people.

The awards (over Thursday and Friday) are all about celebrating the best in feminist porn. What with the press conference, brunches, workshops and shoots the days filled up quickly. I saw some amazing, erotic, cinematic films at the Public Provocative Porn screening on Thursday night, which both turned me on and made me think hard about the craft of film-making. It was a brief, horny masterclass in how to make engaging short erotic films. I left feeling inspired and motivated.

Male poledancer at the Feminist Porn Awards - photo by Pandora BlakeThe Friday night gala was hugely entertaining, with burlesque, drag kings and queens, all-male dance troupes, and a male poledancer covered in glitter. At the same time, it brought home the differences between me and the rest of the audience. I was not only the only person there from the UK, but also the only producer making fetish porn that doesn’t have fucking in it; one of the handful of producers making feminist straight porn; and the only producer of non-consensual fantasy fiction, rather than enthusiastically consensual, documentary-style “real world sex”.

It was tempting to start wondering if a spanking film which centers non-consent fantasy, and in which people do not fuck, could ever win a feminist porn award. But since the work I’m doing is a long way behind the best of the best cinematically, first I have to raise my game. Being challenged to improve is an exciting feeling, and I came away with a lot of positive ideas for new things I can try in my films.

All this provided plenty of food for thought as I went into the feminist porn conference on Saturday and Sunday. As a nerdy post-graduate this is much more my comfort zone than glitzy awards ceremonies, so it’s perhaps not surprising I found the conference more my style. But even so, the conference did feel like a more inclusive space, geared not towards picking out a few names to honour, but about opening up a dialogue and inviting everyone to take part. Everyone I spoke to seemed curious, excited and open-minded, keen to ask questions and challenge received ideas. I saw not only people putting themselves forward, but the organisers doing active outreach to give people a platform. For instance, in addition to the presentation I submitted, I and three other non-US producers were invited to speak on a panel called Pornographers Without Borders, in which we recognised and challenged the US-centrism of the feminist porn movement. It was extremely well-attended. The awards may be a little cliquey, but the conference made me feel included, heard and understood.

Directors at the Public Provocative Porn screening at the Feminist Porn Awards 2014

This is a game-changing, world-changing, life-changing event and it’s still only in its second year. I am so glad I was able to go. The conference gave me more things to think about – and more creative and business ideas – than I know what to do with. I am incredibly grateful to everyone who made me feel welcome. I will definitely go back next year.

Overall, feminist porn week in Toronto was an amazing place to be simply because of the people. I got to meet so many queer porn performers and producers whose work I have been following online for years, people who have influenced and inspired my own development both as a pornographer and as a feminist. The US queer porn community is a close family built on bonds of intimacy and love, but people were so warm and welcoming it made me feel like this could be my family too.

Zahra Stardust, Ms Naughty and Pandora Blake after a spanking shoot at the Feminist Porn AwardsI was particularly glad that Ms Naughty was there. She has been a role model and an inspiration for me, and is still one of the only producers of feminist straight porn on the planet. Her work on the female gaze and the eroticisation of the male body; her porn which shows men’s faces, pleasure, and personalities and which films male and female bodies as equals, has been absolutely groundbreaking. If you are still a bit confused about exactly what “feminist porn” means, read Ms Naughty’s introduction to feminist porn – what it is, what it isn’t and why it matters. She was one of the first people I met in Toronto – when I shot with her and Zahra Stardust on Thursday morning – and throughout the week she and her husband Luke were allies, supporters and kick-ass creative collaborators.

Thanks to my conference roommate Chris, I also got to sit down and have brunch with my heroes Jiz Lee and Shine Louise Houston. Shine has influenced so much of my thinking about inclusivity, consent and ethical production and continues to be an inspiration. When you’re meeting people you admire so much for the first time it’s easy to feel like an awkward fan, but both she and Jiz are so friendly and down-to-earth that it was a pleasure. We hung out and talked shop, and I came away with some exciting thoughts about submitting Dreams of Spanking films to PinkLabel.tv.

I also learned a lot about shooting hardcore scenes by making friends with people who were shooting them all weekend, and was touched to see performers opening their hearts to each other as well as their bodies. Queer pornstars can choose their friends and crushes as their scene partners and there was love, intimacy and affection all around. I’m not in that world, but maybe I will be one day. I did develop a few new porn crushes, particularly on hotties James Darling and Zahra Stardust (official Heart-throb of the year!), both of whom I had the pleasure of spanking on camera.

Zahra Stardust gets the strap from Pandora Blake

It was amazing to meet so many people whose work I have followed for years – such as Jennifer Lyon Bell, Maggie Mayhem (such a shame we never got to shoot. Next time!), Madison Young (whose story about “non-sharing toys” is now a personal favourite), Wolf Hudson (another porn crush!), Dylan Ryan, Courtney Trouble, and to make contact with exciting new (to me!) faces like Carlyle Jansen, Siouxsie Q James, Cheyenne Picardo, AnnaBelle Lee, Mara Dyne, the Cherry Stems ladies, Tobi Hill-Meyer, Sarah Stevens, Carey Gray and many more. I’m especially grateful to Lisa Duggan for taking the time at the conference afterparty to reach out and express her explicit solidarity and support.

Panel on Consent and Authenticity at the Feminist Porn Conference 2014, featuring Gala Vanting, Madison Young, Sophie Delancey and Pandora Blake - photo by Zahra Stardust

I was really glad to have been invited to contribute to the Pornographers Without Borders panel, and was a bit star-struck to share it with three international pioneers of feminist porn – Ms Naughty, Jennifer Lyon Bell and Ovidie. I also hugely enjoyed the mind-blowing final panel on Interrogating Consent and Authenticity, in which I spoke alongside Madison Young, Sophie Delancey and Gala Vanting, who blew all of our efforts out of the water with her epic 5am Skype from Australia. Respect.

While I’m naming names, I have to give a special mention to my amazing roommates Chris and Kitty Lowrance, who took a chance on sharing with a total stranger, and provided company, conversation, support and solidarity throughout the weekend. They had lunch with me on the first day when I didn’t know how to find anyone – not just any lunch, but delicious sushi over conversation about porn, code, consciousness and life on other planets! We shared dinner and post-dinner chats throughout the week; they came to both my sessions at the conference and did fabulous live-tweeting. And best of all, they were incredibly patient when I needed to kick them out of the room early in the morning and late into the night so I could shoot porn!

More:

And finally, here’s Ms Naughty’s mini documentary about the Feminist Porn Awards and Conference, including an up close and personal look at that male poledancer!

The Feminist Porn Awards and Conference 2014 from Ms Naughty (Louise Lush) on Vimeo.

Sinful Sunday – Obedience

Pandora Blake shows her obedience

Kneeling on the bed, following my Dominant’s instructions to the letter.

Sinful Sunday

Spanking Korey in the kitchen

Pandora Blake spanking Korey Johnson for Northern Spanking

Last week we spent a lot of time hanging out with our friends James and Korey Johnson. I first met them at the Texas All State Spanking Party in 2012, where we bonded chatting about selling porn, running websites and content management systems. At Boardwalk Badness Weekend last year I was lucky enough to play with Korey on the last night, but disappointingly, I was so sleep-deprived by that stage in the weekend that my accuracy as a top was not up to my usual standards and I wasn’t sure I’d made a great first impression.

Still, the friendship was cemented in the UK last autumn when they came to visit and we spent an enjoyable evening hanging out. We didn’t play that time, but it turns out that this was due to a miscommunication rather than a lack of interest on either side. Funny how even seasoned spankos can still miss an opportunity because both of you are too shy to ask straight out, “Would you like to play?” Lesson learned – I’ll be more direct in future!

Thankfully, Alex Reynolds has no such shyness and as such is an excellent facilitator of play between her friends. We all had fun during James and Korey’s stay in LA, and some of it was even captured on camera. Alex has written an in-depth shoot report on the Northern Spanking forum.

I got to watch James spank Korey in a nurturing, loving and very hot domestic discipline scene:

Korey Johnson spanked over the knee at Northern Spanking

Then while Korey took a break, I touched my toes for twelve of the best from Paul Kennedy in an office caning scenario – this time for Dreams of Spanking:

Pandora Blake takes twelve of the best at Dreams of Spanking

And finally, I got to spank Korey on camera for a cute kitchen scene with her looking adorable in an apron, cotton panties and a red bottom. The panties didn’t stay on for long, however!

Korey Johnson spanked by Pandora Blake at Northern Spanking

Adventures and shoots in California

Alex Reynolds and Pandora Blake cat fighting in tennis kit

My week in Canada for the Feminist Porn Awards and Feminist Porn Conference was intense. I want to write more about it here, and I’m intending to post the text of the two talks I gave, too, but in the meantime you can read a short recap on the Dreams of Spanking blog.

I flew straight from Toronto to LA, and landed amongst palm trees, blue skies and sunny weather. As Chris would say, I felt tumble-dried after my flight – jet lag was still chasing me from the UK and in Toronto it would have been nearly bedtime even if I hadn’t been skimping on sleep the last few nights.

Still, I was on the West Coast, and on our way to get some food Alex and Paul suggested that we drive to the beach for my first proper sight of the Pacific ocean. (I glimpsed it from Vancouver a few years ago, but never made it down to the beach). The sky and sea were very blue, the beach was surprisingly full of people for a Monday afternoon in April, including families and a dude sitting cross-legged to meditate. I really was in California.

Santa Monica beach - Pandora Blake

The first couple of days of my stay in LA were taken up with settling in, buying groceries, recovering from the intense time in Toronto, thinking, processing, and keeping in touch with all my new feminist porn friends via social media. I was really behind on work, but before I could do any the first order of business was buying a laptop powerful enough to edit video.

I found a pretty nice one, but it took another day to set it up and get all my software working. Why do programs never seem to install correctly the first time?

New laptop! - Pandora Blake

New laptop! Also, a preview of the HOT hotel spanking scene I shot with Australian porn starlet (and official Feminist Porn Heart-throb of the Year 2014!) Zahra Stardust.

Anyway, by Wednesday evening everything was in place and I was finally good to go. Then I discovered I hadn’t brought all the footage for the scene I’d planned to release that week. Cue a hasty reshuffle, and some urgent video editing to get ‘Bitch’, my lesbian spanking scene with Ms Vixxxen, ready to publish at the weekend. It’s a perfect example of the consensual non-consent material I discussed in my second panel at the Feminist Porn Conference, so if you like queer, rough resistance play and are curious about my work, you should check it out.

Meanwhile I’ve been having fun staying with Alex and Paul in their cosy, sunlit little house in LA, meeting the rest of Alex’s polycule, and hanging out with our mutual spanking friends James and Korey Johnson, who happened to be visiting LA at the same time as me. While they were here we shot some impromptu spanking scenes for Northern Spanking and Dreams, and I’m looking forward to seeing them again at Boardwalk Badness next week.

I’ve squeezed in several shoots for other sites, too. Alex and I did a fun cat-fighting shoot for a private client, as tennis girls fighting over the only racquet. We got so horny shoving and slapping each other around that we had to really concentrate to not just tear each other’s clothes off!

Cat fighting tennis girls - Alex Reynolds and Pandora Blake

Last Saturday I got to bring a dream to life and work with Jamie Foster, AKA Clare Fonda, for her site Naughty Diaper Girls. Adult baby isn’t a kink of mine, but I read Pampered Penny‘s blog, and she has always had a knack of explaining the fetish in a way that makes sense to me. I filmed four short clips with Jamie with me wearing a nappy, including an intro interview in which I talk about my perspective on the adult baby kink. Jamie is a hoot and so much fun to work with.

Jamie Foster and Pandora Blake Jamie Foster and Pandora Blake

I love this photo of her stroking my boob. It’s like she’s mesmerised in the boob-appreciation zone :)

It was amazing to meet her and fingers crossed, I’m hoping to shoot a couple of spanking scenes with her for Spanked Call Girls on Monday.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. My next engagement was for the Clare Fonda Network, with the guy who used to be Clare’s business partner and is now running the empire singlehandedly. His stage name is simply The Cameraman. He’s a lovely guy and we had a great day shooting for My Spanking Roommate with Madison Martin and Courtney Shea. Spanking and being spanked by two beautiful ladies – and being paid! Days like this I feel so incredibly lucky to live this life.

Courtney Shea, Pandora Blake and Madison Martin

Courtney Shea and Pandora Blake

After the shoot, Alex and I went out for dinner with the Cameraman to a hilarious sushi restaurant where the waiters did sexy dancing in the style of N-Sync. They encouraged diners to dance and a couple of people got up on tables (not us, we were too busy scoffing sushi). Alex and I particularly enjoyed the disclaimer they had up on the wall:

We are not responsible - Alex Reynolds and Pandora Blake

See? You can’t punish us, we aren’t responsible for anything! It says so on the sign!

During the meal we played a game where we tried to name all the Clare Fonda Worldwide sites. We managed all of them except the Clips4Sale stores and Kara Prepare Yourself – the Cameraman had to fill those in for us. Eleven membership sites – that’s an impressive empire!

Clare Fonda Worldwide - Pandora Blake

After dinner the Cameraman persuaded us to go to a karaoke bar he likes. Well, we didn’t need much persuading. All three of us got up to sing, and he sang “I love LA” by Randy Newman for my benefit, since I hadn’t heard the song before. “Look at that mountain! Look at those trees!” is pretty much what I’ve been saying every day since I got here.

I love this town. When you see LA in TV and films it’s always presented as this hectic, neurotic place, full of women who never eat and high-powered people screwing each other over. Maybe there are places downtown like that, but the neighbourhood I’m staying in couldn’t be more relaxed. Sun every day, warm winds; soft, spacious architecture very reminiscent of south Spain; palm trees and wide, clean streets. It feels gentle and comfortable, the kind of relaxed calm that comes from security.

I keep on looking at the mountains and wanting to get out of the city and see more of them. After I’ve finished my video editing this week I’m hoping there’ll be time to do some hiking. You don’t get landscapes like this in the UK; I want to explore.

The karaoke night ended up getting rather drunken and hilarious. I’m going to leave you with this photo of the three of us wearing the false moustaches that the bar staff handed out. If you wore them, you got two dollars off drinks.

Moustache time - Alex Reynolds, the Cameraman and Pandora Blake

Alex and I are rocking the falsies but the Cameraman’s tache is 100% real.

Rare vintage spanking photos

“Very few people have seen these, as they’ve just been left and stored away, unpublished. I was wondering if you’d be interested in them.”

I opened the email and saw the attachments: a dozen scans of 35mm prints of vintage spanking photos. I liked them so much that I wanted to share them with you – and I called the photographer, Jon Garrett, to get the inside scoop on these rare spanking pictures.

Rare vintage spanking photos by Jon Garrett Photographer

One of the first spanking photos Jon ever took, this striking impact shot was a lucky capture, with Jon himself wielding the paddle and the camera set on a timer. “I had to give her a few swats before we got it right,” he admits. The lady is a French professional model named Toril, and Jon went on to shoot with her several times, including for video on VHS.

Rare vintage spanking photos by Jon Garrett Photographer

Another timed capture while Jon took Toril over his knee. I love the energy and vibrant composition.

Jon didn’t just photograph women. Here’s a very well spanked male bottom belonging to a young man named Charles, who could clearly take a sound thrashing.

Rare vintage spanking photos by Jon Garrett Photographer

Charles played with this particular top a few times after she got in touch with her dominant side, and Jon got to watch him go over the knee. He recalls, “A proper hairbrushing she gave him. She really let him have it. He was squealing, but he enjoyed it – and she did.”

Jon also took this evocative photo of the lap in question.

Rare vintage spanking photos by Jon Garrett Photographer

The young lady bending over in school knickers is Samantha, who did a few shoots with Jon while building up her modelling portfolio.

Rare vintage spanking photos by Jon Garrett Photographer

She wasn’t into spanking, but on one shoot she did agree to bend over for a few swishy strokes of the cane.

The top in this next photo is Mistress Caroline; the bottom remains anonymous.

Rare vintage spanking photos by Jon Garrett Photographer

“This was my idea,” Jon tells me. “I set it all up for this shot, the stuff on the wall and so on.” Caroline was a dominatrix, and on at least one occasion Jon’s friend Charles found himself on the receiving end of her cane.

Fans of vintage lingerie will enjoy these photos of the same bottom; both clad in satiny vintage knickers, and bare.

Rare vintage spanking photos by Jon Garrett Photographer

Rare vintage spanking photos by Jon Garrett Photographer

“She was a professional model, but she was also actually into spanking,” Jon recalls. In these shots she’s over someone else’s knee, with Jon standing behind, aiming to capture the spanker’s point of view – a style of spanking photography that has now become so popular it’s almost the default.

This gorgeous art nude, with natural light creating a soft, painterly effect, features model Tracy Lomax:

Rare vintage spanking photos by Jon Garrett Photographer

This shoot was commissioned by a patron who saw the black and white over the knee photos above and called up asking for something similar. Jon loves working with natural light. He told me, “This is my natural style. If I’m in a good environment and the light is just right, CP is a fantastic opportunity to create some really great photography.”

Jon is available for private and commercial CP work. Check out my website Dreams of Spanking for more artistic spanking photos.

Sinful Sunday: first date spanking

I spent a lovely evening on Friday in the company of D, Molly Moore and her husband Signs, where the conversation over dinner ranged from blogging and SEO to spanking, fantasy and polyamory.

They encouraged me to participate in Sinful Sunday, so here’s my contribution for this week. This is a photo I took of my friends Nimue Allen and Andrew Shada last September on a spanking shoot.

It was Andrew’s first day exploring the wonderful world of creating spanking video and so for his first film, I came up with the idea of a newbie top trying spanking for the first time, encouraged by his more experienced date. Both of them are switches, which always lends a lovely empathy to a scene, and Nimue’s enthusiastic sensuality as she urged Andrew to spank her harder was incredibly sexy to watch!

Over the knee bare bottom spanking - photo by Pandora Blake

Sinful Sunday

Empower yourself through porn

How to empower yourself through DIY porn, by Pandora Blake

It’s weird to me how many producers in the adult industry are jealous about their knowledge. A lot of people are reluctant to share info that’s seen as “insider”, and it baffles me. How are we going to make porn more diverse, more ethical and more transparent if we don’t open the gates and let people in? I get people coming to me all the time asking me for info about how to get started in porn. My advice may not be perfect but I’m happy to give it.

It seems silly to me to be threatened by the idea of having more competition in the porn industry. Porn is inherently, absolutely personal and everyone has something different to offer. I have my audience, you will find yours and there’s more than enough to go round. There’s really no need to guard our “industry secrets” so closely.

I believe that the more people create their own porn, the better the porn industry – and society as a whole – will be. If more people start making DIY porn it will be good for the industry, good for the economy and good for the performers. Even consumers win, having a greater diversity of porn available and knowing that it’s fairtrade, homegrown and free-range.

I’ve written an article for the Frisky explaining how to get started making, and selling, your own DIY porn, and why I think more people should. I love the cover image they’ve chosen for it.

Read, share, and I hope you’ll be inspired to give DIY porn a whirl.

What with the recession, welfare cuts and increasing financial inequality it can be difficult to know how to make ends meet. I’ve got some advice for you which might seem controversial: empower yourself through porn.

It’s easy.

The internet, as the saying goes, is for porn. In fact the internet has not only increased access to pornography, it’s also democratized content creation in a way unprecedented in history. Aspiring filmmakers no longer need to spend thousands of pounds on expensive equipment – high definition video can be shot on a smartphone. Computer processing power allows you to edit video on a home PC, and free software is available to help you do it. Here are some tips to help you get started.

Read more »

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Newsflash! Feminist porn isn’t news

@MartinDaubney: The rise of social, ethical, shared porn for women. Today's @thesunnewspaper with @NichiHodgson

Given my general hatred of all things tabloid, I was surprised to learn that I’d been mentioned in the Sun newspaper. Even more surprised to learn that the article – on “the rise of social, ethical, shared porn for women” – has a positive spin.

Pandora Blake has a brilliant spanking website which shows you how to do it. Women like these more educational porn sites, so they can put it into practice in real life and let fantasy bleed into reality. Men tend to use porn in isolation, women want the porn experience to enrich sex with their partners.

(Full text here)

The piece quotes Nichi Hodgson, a journalist and activist dedicated to promoting awareness of ethical and feminist porn. The glaring gender essentialism and inaccurate generalisations in the above paragraph aren’t Nichi’s fault, although if you click through to read the full text, you’ll find plenty more. For the record, women use porn alone, men use porn to enrich sex, whether you like educational porn has nothing to do with gender. Okay, whatever. Misquotes and simplifications are to be expected from publications like this. I want to talk about why it’s important that this article exists.

Nichi and I are very much on the same page when it comes to what makes porn ethical, why it’s important, and the need to raise the profile of the fantastic work that feminist pornographers have been doing for years. These articles all want to seem ground-breaking, and so it’s common to read statements that “porn for women is hard to find”, implying that there isn’t much good stuff out there; or that feminist porn is a relatively new phenomenon.

Women are put off by the mainstream porn websites as they are seen as misogynistic and only about satisfying men.

The trouble is, there isn’t really anywhere we can go for female-friendly porn, so an increasing number of women are sharing links of porn that gets women off.

Actually feminist porn has been around for decades. Candida Royalle founded Femme Productions in 1984, the year I was born. Anna Span‘s first film aired in 1999 and Petra Joy launched Strawberry Seductress in 2003. The Feminist Porn Awards are going into their ninth year. Feminist porn isn’t news – but it is niche. Or at least it has been so far, despite the best efforts of feminist pornographers to promote their work.

So despite the misquotes, the generalisations and the inconsistency (saying “there isn’t really anywhere we can go for female-friendly porn” one moment; then listing female-friendly porn the next), I don’t want to complain too much about this piece. Yes, it’s annoying that it focusses on women “sharing” porn – presumably considered a less threatening activity than women making porn, or watching it, or y’know, wanking to it, any of which would surely be more relevant. But my desire to give feminist porn a wider audience is more important than tabloid coyness. The excellent work that politically-minded female porn directors have been doing for a generation deserves to be common knowledge. Articles like this help raise awareness that porn isn’t all aimed at men; and that can only be a good thing.

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Sex and censorship

Eroticon 2014 - photo by Cara Sutra

When the opening panel of a conference comprises a writer, a pornographer and a lawyer, you know you’re set for an intelligent, stimulating weekend.

Kristina Lloyd – Eroticon 2014

There should be a joke that starts like this. “A writer, a pornographer and a lawyer walk into a con…”

When Ruby Kiddell invited me to speak during the opening keynote of Eroticon 2014 alongside Myles Jackman (better known as “Obscenity Laywer“) and renowned author and kinkster Zak Jane Keir, I wondered what I could have to add. Myles is an expert on the legal situation regarding censorship in the UK, and Zak would surely talk with authority about how censorship as a feminist issue, how it affects authors and perverts. What could I possibly say that wouldn’t already be covered?

Well, I suppose there was always that kerfuffle with CCBill last year – that might at least raise a laugh, through sheer absurdity if nothing else. And I’d be addressing a roomful of erotica authors, who would presumably be interested in the foibles of Amazon’s content guidelines…

My concerns proved fruitless when the civic-minded Zak emailed me and Myles to tell us what she was planning to talk about, so that we could plan around each other and co-ordinate. It turned out that there was no overlap whatsoever. Ruby had chosen her panel well. My intention to talk about my personal experiences of corporate censorship as a pornographer didn’t clash with anything they were planning to say; and if they laid the social and legal groundwork, that left me free to tackle the commercial side of things.

All in all, it worked out rather well.

As a porn producer my primary experience of censorship has not been legal, but corporate. Anyone who creates erotic media and wants to find a way to make it available to others is at the mercy of restrictions placed by financial institutions, publishers and distributors. We might all want to increase the diversity of erotic material available, but however innovative we are, unregulated commercial bodies still have the power to control the marketplace.

There are two fallacies at play here – excuses cited by corporations to justify censorship. The first is ‘what is legal’, and the second is ‘what will sell’.

A few years ago Suraya Sidhu Singh developed an erotic magazine called Filament. This was the first print magazine for women which combined erotic photography of male models with adult fiction and intelligent articles on subjects as varied as physics, music and Morris dancing.

Filament’s problems started with their second issue, the first one to contain actual photos of actual erections. Small fry, one might think, compared to the explicit imagery included in lads’ mags; but no. It turns out that there’s a total double standard between what’s permissible in sexualised images of women for the male gaze, and what’s permissible in sexualised images of men for the female gaze. When Filament’s printer found out that the issue would include erections they said they couldn’t print it, claiming that it would upset some of their other clients. Suraya needed to run the world’s first democratic “erection campaign” to raise the funds to hire a more progressive printing company.

Even once printed, Filament struggled with distribution. One distributor who was interested after the magazine was featured in the Independent changed their mind after seeing the second issue, claiming that printing erections was illegal in the UK. The thing is that it isn’t illegal now, and it wasn’t then. The CBS guidelines don’t even mention erections – it is considered so trivial a concern as to be a complete non-issue. But the actual legal status doesn’t matter when companies are setting their own rules. The law takes on a mythical status. When neither corporations nor producers are accurately informed, they often hedge their bets for the sake of brand image. The resulting uncertainty surrounding the law creates a chilling effect whereby perfectly legal material is tacitly censored.

The distributors who impeded Filament often used the excuse that the material “wouldn’t sell” – despite the fact that they themselves had expressed interest in the product. This is a fallacy I encounter time and time again when working to improve diversity in porn. “It won’t sell” is a self-fulfilling prophecy if publishers ensure that something is impossible to buy.

The internet is an empowering, liberating tool, but the truth is that everything online is controlled by corporate entities somewhere down the line. Everything has to be hosted somewhere, and the online publishing tools and marketplaces that make distribution so accessible for independent creatives have lot of power. In the 21st century we may not have to be accepted by an agency or publisher to distribute our work, but individual companies still impose restrictions that control what can be published online.

Any erotica writer will be familiar with Amazon’s foibles when it comes to adult content – and the loss of sales many authors experienced when the online bookstore stopped adult fiction from showing up in search. Likewise, Google is famous for its adult content restrictions; you may remember when Blogger gave users four days to remove any “adult advertising” under threat of having their blogs summarily deleted. In its search algorithms Google has recently started favouring pages which are linked to a Google Plus account – where pseudonyms and porn links are not permitted, effectively discriminating against sex workers and adult content producers.

Nothing about this has anything to do with law and everything to do with corporate prudishness. Trying to find an audience for your work can be an uphill struggle against restrictive and ever-changing terms and conditions.

These commercial controls doesn’t just affect over-18 content; they can also reflect the prejudices of the business owner by being gender discriminatory or homophobic. For instance, the tube site SpankingTube which hosts user-submitted free content (and makes money off advertising) accepts male/male spanking videos, but hides them from search – to protect the homophobic sensibilities of the straight male target audience. For fuck’s sake.

Then there are the problems that arise when you try to monetise adult content online. Paypal is famously harsh – and arbitrary – in its restrictions. Online financial institutions control our money, and they have the power. I had my Paypal account frozen last year for accepting donations via this blog; and Maggie Mayhem had the same experience when she was fundraising for disaster relief in Haiti.

Other payment operators have similar restrictions, and one hears numerous stories from sex workers of funds being confiscated or frozen, for instance Andre Shakti’s tweet above – regardless of whether the transactions themselves are adult in nature.

If you want to sell porn or erotica, you can’t use Paypal, WePay, Worldpay, SagePay or any of the standard credit card processors. You have to use a specialist service that caters to “high risk” merchants (a category which includes gambling and porn sites). I produce spanking porn which is openly and explicitly consensual and ethically produced, but which sometimes includes severe punishment, up to and including judicial caning. Despite the fact that none of my work is illegal under the UK extreme porn legislation, it is notoriously difficult to find a credit card processor willing to handle transactions. Most billing agents that serve adult sites do not permit images of vivid welts or bruises, both of which are a common feature of my personal sex life, and therefore of the porn I choose to make.

My site Dreams of Spanking uses CCBill, which officially does not restrict images of hard spanking, but has a very vaguely worded T&C which is erratically and inconsistently enforced. Your site has to be vetted before launch, but even once your content has been approved, you can be subjected to irregular, unexpected checks at any time. Decisions are made subjectively by individual CCBill agents, and so content which passes one check may fail another.

One frustrating example is blanket word bans. As erotica writers you will be familiar with this sort of control imposed by publishers; I was talking to a Mills and Boon author in the bar last night who was told to remove all instances of the word “cock” from her book. (Apparently you aren’t allowed to use “dick”, “prick” or “cunt” either. No wonder written erotica has a reputation for using stupid synonyms for genitalia.) Well, the same sort of thing applies online. In my case, CCBill told me to remove all instances of the word “non-consent” from the Dreams of Spanking blog, regardless of context; even from blogposts in which I was discussing how to communicate the consent of my performers. Other words subject to the same blanket ban included “little”, “daddy” and “rape”. The latter caught a sci-fi thriller inspired by the TV show “Fringe” in which a psychic villain interrogates someone by forcing their way into their mind. I had to change “telepathic rape” in the scene description to “telepathic ravishment”, which I think is my new favourite porn keyword of all time.

Other scenes which had passed previous checks were randomly flagged for removal. I was told to remove all scenes which featured sword-fighting. Now I’m producing historical porn for a female audience and let’s face it, guys duelling with swords is super hot. One update featured wooden bokken and capped fencing foils; another was a silly pirate scene that used rubber LARP swords (yes, me and most of my co-performers are massive nerds).

Both these scenes had to be taken down because they included the use of a “lethal weapon”. I’m serious. Rubber LARP swords. I remember sitting on the phone talking to a nice woman at CCBill called Clare, going through the site working out what I was allowed to keep. I pulled up one picture from the pirate set which showed the prop in close-up and said, “Look at that – does that look like a real sword to you?”

“Yep, that looks pretty real to me.”

Had she ever seen a sword?

Another example is Furry Girl, who runs a menstrual porn site called Erotic Red. Pretty harmless you might think – happy hippies, female empowerment, reducing body shame and so on. But no. It turns out it’s basically impossible to find a credit card processor willing to handle payments for menstrual porn, because blood is against all their terms of use. Never mind that menstrual sex and masturbation is totally legal and natural, and menstrual blood rightly belongs in a different category to injurious blood; this sort of blanket ban is not discriminating.

In fact Nimue Allen had a hot wax scene removed from Shadow Slaves because the red wax apparently “looked too much like blood”.

The takeaway here is that the content you’re producing can be perfectly legal, not obscene by any jury’s definition, and if you can’t find a way to publish it you can still be censored as effectively as by the government or police. Everything we sell online is controlled by unregulated, international corporate entities that are not subject to any particular legal jurisdiction. Online marketplaces have democratised publishing, but that ease of access is the very thing that permits them to censor our work.

We can’t ever escape corporate control entirely. The bottom line is that everything has to be hosted somewhere, so unless you run your own server you will be subject to some company’s terms and conditions somewhere down the line. But the more independent we can be, the less vulnerable we will be to corporate censorship. Host your own blog rather than using Blogger or WordPress.com. Distribute your work in as many places as possible, so if one outlet is shut down, you still have others.

The most stringent controls affect financial transactions, so consider alternative ways of monetising your content than a straight-forward sales-based business model. For instance, when I was no longer able to sell my sword-fighting and severe caning scenes via CCBill, I moved them to a self-hosted free download website, with donate buttons provided by fetish marketplace Clips4Sale. They take a hefty cut, and they still impose some restrictions (for instance, no menstrual blood!) but they haven’t objected to the caning welts or fencing swords so far, and the buttons still allow me to receive some payment for my work.

In fact free downloads are great publicity. Perhaps you could give away your fiction as a loss leader for paid commissions; or publish videos online to advertise your real-world performance or sex work. You might have a site that gives away downloads to attract traffic, and make money selling advertising or merchandise.

Independent creatives and small businesses will always be quicker and more flexible than global corporations, and as soon as one control is put in place, someone will discover an alternative method of doing the same thing. It’s stupid that we should be at the mercy of these ever-shifting restrictions. But if we inform ourselves about corporate regulations, and are smart in how we work around them, we can avoid making ourselves vulnerable to dependence on a single distribution method.

Above all, it’s crucial that we keep talking about censorship, raising awareness, and sharing ideas to inspire and empower each other.

Eroticon 2014 - photo by Cara Sutra

(Photos: thank you Cara Sutra. For more tweets check out these collections on Storify.)

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