Huck Magazine article on indie porn

Posted at 22:02 on 5 Apr 2017 by Pandora Blake

Tags: age verification, Blath, Digital Economy Bill, ethical porn, fairtrade porn, feminist porn, media, porn, queer porn

You may remember my post last month, telling how I had a journalist and photographer over to my home one evening to watch me and Blath shooting a ritualistic, witchy content share scene. Well, the photos and resultant article are now available in Huck Magazine.

The piece contains some good stuff: talks in a positive way about queer kinky porn, critiques the Digital Economy Bill and Age Verification, and quotes Vex Ashley and Bishop Black along with me and Blath. It also does a bit to center our work in the historical context of political porn, rather than trying to claim that we are inventing it (as a lot of journalists do when they hear about alt porn for the first time). And at least there isn't any pointless "can porn be feminist???" questioning. I have to admit I'm also struck by the pictures - the photographer did a great job of capturing the dark sexy vibes of the scene (credit to Blath for the arty lighting). Sequins and "decriminalise sex work" postcards: yup, that's a queer porn set.

Pandora Blake and Blath on set shooting queer DIY porn

Unfortunately, as Blath rightly calls out, this still isn't the article we would have wanted written. Visually, the photos of Blath and I contribute to the overrepresentation of white, slim, conventionally 'attractive', cis-appearing bodies, with only a single image of Bishop, which feeds into the under-representation mentioned within the article. When they abuse the word "whitewash" to talk about the impact of criminalisation, the overall effect is less than ideal. Would it have been so hard for them to find a fat, trans, or female POC performer to interview and depict?

Then there's the fact that although Blath and I talked loads in our interview about working conditions and how legislation affects sex workers rights and safety, the article focuses on the old trope about us finding 'empowerment' in porn (groan!). I'm also always a bit uncomfortable when my work is pitched as "ethical" in some implied opposition to Other Bad Porn, with the implication that porn that isn't queer or arty is always unethically produced. Aesthetics and ethics have nothing to do with each other; loads of mainstream porn has great working conditions on set, and porn that bills itself as "queer" or "feminist" can be super exploitative.

It's easy to get frustrated by the gaps, misrespresentations and oversimplifications in coverage like this. But to be honest, I've kind of come to expect it. When someone else is writing about your work, they will never use the same words as you would have; and if they don't have a background in this area their politics are unlikely to be impeccable. That's why it's so important to read what sex workers have to say in their own words, rather than relying on the narrative of journalists. Blath and I set a video recording while we talked to the writer about our work, so you'll be able to hear our own unfiltered perspective when that comes out.

Pandora Blake and Blath on set shooting queer DIY porn

The thing is that media coverage is likely to be imperfect, and we should absolutely hold the press to account and encourage them to strive for more diversity and nuance. But that doesn't mean we should give up and never do it for fear of being misrepresented. I might roll my eyes at the gaudy, sensationalistic descriptions in this piece of my shoot with Blath, and Vex's film Red Shift, but perhaps those are the hook that will make more people pay attention - and maybe, hopefully, those people will learn something. (And isn't it interesting, I note, that the journalist doesn't describe any of Bishop's work in such flowery, descriptive terms - perhaps he never got around to watching any. I mean who wants to look at a dude, right??!)

Whenever I engage with the press, I'm trying to strike a balance between staying true to my politics, and getting the word out. Public opinion is a powerful tool for activists, and the more people agree with us, the more power we have when engaging with legislators.

Best thing about this whole experience though was getting to work with Blath. I had an amazing time shooting with them, and the finished film will be out soon on Dreams of Spanking and Foxclure Films. Feast your eyes on these pictures - it's going to be stunning.

Pandora Blake and Blath on set shooting queer DIY porn

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