Posted at 01:38 on 3 May 2014 by Pandora Blake
This is the article I was sent by Zoe Montana (who I think got it from Molly Malone) last week, which pretty much sums up my entire trip:
Casual Love - Carsie Blanton
"Im thrilled that young people are beginning to feel they have the option of exploring sex, safely and consensually, outside of the boundaries of long-term commitment.
But why not have the option of exploring love, too, with or without a side of commitment? If we can agree that our bodies are not inherently dangerous, cant we do the same for our hearts?"
In a way this wasn't news to me, but it was glorious to be given the language with which to think about it; to be given permission to love without fear.
This is a theme that ran through my entire journey. I started out in at the Feminist Porn Awards immersed for the first time amongst queer hardcore porn performers, watching and listening with great interest - in relation to my own professional development both as a director and as a performer. I went to the Feminist Porn Conference with ideas about intimacy, love and authenticity which privileged "real couples", and I left having had those ideas exploded. As Sophie Delancey memorably expressed it, "You don't have to have had a fight in Ikea to have chemistry on camera".
I played scenes with Zahra Stardust and James Darling and I wondered if the crushes I developed were unprofessional. I observed performers navigating scenes and (while no-one ever had the illusion that this was romance, or anything other than a good professional friendship) I saw intimacy, closeness, and genuine affection. Watch this after-scene video between Zahra and April Flores and tell me there isn't love there.
I came away no longer hung up on the idea that intimacy, passion and emotion on camera is somehow more "real" or "pure" if it is associated with romance or commitment. Sometimes fleeting encounters are the most intense. I talked to Zahra about love and professionalism and she told me that performers crush on their co-stars all the time - and it's no big deal. We put our bodies and our hearts into this labour and we open ourselves to intimacy. Professionalism has nothing to do with what you feel and everything to do with how you behave. If you feel love or infatuation it's okay. Enjoy the tingly feelings, cherish the memories, tell them they're wonderful and move on. Expect nothing.
In the personal realm, too, I struggled with the intense connections, flings and friendships I was leaving behind. For a while I tried to police my emotions, trying to hold myself back from love, to protect myself from it. Then I realised it was too late and I was splashing love around all over the place, radiating it like the sun.
I cried on the plane and did some self-talk. It was no good regretting having opened myself to love. In the tiny aeroplane bathroom I looked at myself in the mirror and told myself to always love more, never love less. Love is always worthwhile. This pain, at leaving behind lovers, friends and a beautiful city, was worth it.
But it's not just a case of "it's better to have loved and lost". This isn't about enduring loss as the cost of love; a price worth paying. It's an inseparable part of the whole.
Love doesn't have to be for keeps. In some cases love can be predicated on leaving; born out of short, intense, fleeting moments. Casual love can be innately impermanent, and that transience doesn't make it any less beautiful.
The main takeaway, for me, is that love isn't dangerous. I don't have try to hold myself back or moderate my natural feelings. Love doesn't mean that this casual encounter has suddenly been ruined, or that I've failed to be a grown-up. I might come back next year, or in five years, or never; it doesn't matter. Enjoy the moment. It's not a big deal.
Love more. Love without expectation. Love without fear.
I thought about it and at the spanking party last weekend I started to say "I love you" to my friends and play partners, not in a loaded way, but as a casual gift that expected no return. And wonderfully, no-one was threatened by it. They all knew what I meant. Most of them said it back.
Waiting to board my plane to London, the final flight of my month-long trip, I was sitting rather gingerly on a bottom black and blue from numerous spankings, strappings and beltings with numerous gorgeous people, and a climactic hard caning from Zoe. I was also quietly enjoying the still slightly sore handprints on the fronts of my thighs, vivid pink and blue after only two hard smacks the previous night.
My April trip to Canada and the US was a crazy, busy month full of learning, love and adventure. I tried new things, pushed myself, broke boundaries and found the edges. I let myself love without fear, and I left many beautiful people behind not knowing when I would see them again. It's a bittersweet happiness. My body is still recovering from jetlag, beatings and many missed nights of sleep, but my heart is bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Love begets more love, and I can't wait to pour this glowing energy back into my friendships and relationships at home.
When the time came to leave I felt sad, and happy, and above all very blessed to know so many beautiful people, and to get to live this life.