Public speaking events round-up

Posted at 22:08 on 23 Mar 2016 by Pandora / Blake

Tags: advocacy, censorship, politics, porn, public speaking, universities

Photo of Pandora BlakeAlthough I'm not currently making spanking films, it seems that since I got back from my Australia trip I'm busier than ever. In the aftermath of ATVOD's activities last year I’ve been doing more and more public speaking - particularly on freedom of speech and censorship, pornography, sex work and feminism. If you’d like to come along to any future public events, I’ll be posting the details on my website as they’re confirmed, but here’s a quick roundup of what's happening next, and what I've been up to lately.

Tomorrow, on Thursday 24th March, is the UK screening of The Unslut Project at the Prince Charles Cinema in London. I’m really looking forward to this - the film itself looks at the damaging impact of ‘slut shaming’,  and we’ll be using the documentary as a starting point for discussion about sex negativity, sex work stigma and the adult industry.

I’ll be on the panel alongside some fantastic speakers: obscenity lawyer Myles Jackman, author and activist Jerry Barnett, sexual freedom campaigner Charlotte Rose, and Laura Renvoize from the Goldsmiths Sex Worker Solidarity Society. Tickets are under a tenner and available online -  there's still time to grab one if you want to join us.

Flyer for the Unslut Project - UK screening and panel discussion

Without a porn website to run, I've been able to take up more opportunities to talk about feminist porn, censorship and other issues close to my heart. It's been particularly encouraging to be invited to speak to audiences who weren't familiar with the topics - it's nice to cover new ground from time to time, rather than always preaching to the choir!

One such event was the academic symposium and film screening at the University of Kent on 2nd March - part of a cross-disciplinary project organised by the aesthetics department called Confined Projections. The organisers screened a selection of alternative porn, including my film 'Houseboy', and had a Q&A. I spoke alongside filmmakers and scholar Ingrid Ryberg and curator and scholar Eliza Steinbock about some of the films, and I particularly enjoyed Eliza's selections from the archive of Barbara deGenevieve. Amazingly influential queer porn I hadn't seen before - I'm tickled that it took a university event to introduce me to it!

Cinema and Embodiment - film screening and symposium at the University of KentCinema and Embodiment - film screening and symposium at the University of KentCinema and Embodiment - film screening and symposium at the University of Kent

The next day was an academic symposium on cinema and embodiment, including talks by Ingric and Eliza alongside Clarissa Smith and Petra van Brabandt. I got a lot out of it, particularly Clarissa's live commentary on selected scenes from Jack the Zipper films, deconstructing mainstream feminist analysis of female porn performers as passive objects and instead reading their performances as expressive, active and skilled. I wish I could always have Clarissa Smith on the side of the screen critiquing whatever I watch, like a TV interpreter for porn.

I also facilitated my first workshop recently, Empower Yourself Through DIY Porn. It took place on March 6 with the School of Erotic Mysteries, and aimed at supporting people of all genders and sexualities explore how we can take ownership of porn - and our bodies - by doing it ourselves. As far as I'm aware this was the first event of its kind, so I was a bit nervous going into it, but it was an amazing experience. I was overwhelmed by the courage, creativity and vulnerability the participants brought to the space. We shot some hot scenes and the discussions covered a huge range of topics, from body shame to online distribution. I loved the Wall of Power, filled with post-its in which participants described their reasons for wanting to make their own porn and what they thought they could bring to it. So much positivity, confidence and self-love manifesting in those pink hearts!

The Wall of Power at the DIY Porn workshop

But I think my favourite part of the day was the sexy selfie workshop - after spending time in discussion, it was amazing to watch the group shed their inhibitions and enjoy their bodies snapping flirty photos in a shared space. And I wasn't expecting how quickly people would get into the spirit of things and start showing some skin! We had a fantastic time, and if you missed this keep an eye out - we’re hoping to run similar events again!

Photo of Miss Mog at the DIY Porn workshopIn February D and I travelled to Welshpool for the British Fetish Film Festival on February 27th and 28th. It was a lovely weekend with likeminded porn makers including a film-making workshop and collaborative cinematic bondage film shoot, film screenings and discussions. I loved the diversity on offer this year - it’s wonderful to see the breadth and creativity of films being produced under the very broad genre of ‘fetish’. 

After its win at the Berlin Porn Film Festival 'Houseboy' has been making the rounds this year - not only did it screen at Confined Projections and the British Fetish Film Festival, it was also shown at Wotever World at the end of January for an event called Queer Experiments: Cine Erotica. Wotever World is a the queer arts and culture organisation, and this was an evening of queer and feminist pornography including the hilarious and hot film Banned in the UK by Kitty Stryker, which raises awareness about UK porn censorship. There was a Q&A, and afterwards people came up to me who'd had no idea about the changes in the law, and had never seen feminist porn before - they loved seeing porn that differed from their expectations, and were shocked to discover it had been criminalised. So that was good.

I also did two university talks in January - one for Kings College London Sexpression 'Shag Week' (Sexual Health Awareness and Guidance) on January 26, and the day before, another for Goldsmiths College sex worker solidarity society on January 25. The Goldsmiths event was specifically focussed on porn and parliament, and I spoke alongside Charlotte Rose and Jerry Barnett on the laws surrounding porn and their impact. The KCL event was part of a week long series promoting sexual health awareness on campus, and was organised by sex education organisation Sexpression. I was on a panel with Vex Ashley and Charlotte Rose, and the discussion centred around labour conditions and safety in porn and sex work. The whole event was recorded, so I'll let you know as soon as the video is online.

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