This coming weekend I'll be running my first ever workshop, a full day event hosted by the amazing people at the School of Erotic Mysteries, who are passionate about helping people explore and express their sexual power. It's going to be the first event of its kind (that I know of) in the UK, and I'm really excited to have the opportunity to share the knowledge I've accumulated during ten years working in porn. If more people made their own porn we could transform the industry for the better - make it more authentic, more diverse and more representative of the gorgeous variety of real people's sexuality. Plus it would give more people the chance to experience the many rewards of expressing your erotic self on camera - it's an incredible buzz and a journey towards greater self-love and creative satisfaction!
We've had lots of interest and many people asking questions about the event, so we have put together the following FAQ. If you have any other questions, ask away - and if you want to dip your toe into the waters of erotic performance in a supportive, accessible and non-judgemental environment, perhaps I'll see you on Sunday.
This event will take place in central London on Sunday 6th March - just two weeks away! It will run from approximately 10am-5pm with a break for lunch, and we’ll focus on building your confidence and capacity to the point where you have the skills and inspiration you need to go home and start shooting.
While I was in Melbourne I thought it would be fun to shoot for some Australian porn sites. Thanks to my connections I already had some contacts, and before I left the UK Michelle Flynn had booked me to shoot for Yanks. Once I was there, I also sent off applications to Girls Out West and Feck. I didn’t end up fixing a date with Girls Out West, but Feck got back to me and booked me to shoot for two of their sites - Beautiful Agony and I Shot Myself.
I’ve been performing in porn for nearly ten years, but in all that time I’ve never worked for mainstream studios. All my experience has been in the UK spanking/fetish scene, where sites are mostly run by couples or individuals working from home, or for similarly small scale feminist porn outfits like Bright Desire. So going into the offices of Girls Out West and Feck offices for an interview was a weirdly new experience. It was surreal, as a relatively experienced performer, to be put in the role of a newbie, auditioning for production companies half a world away. The Feck offices in particular are dauntingly professional - I mean the idea of a porn company having offices in the first place is already a bit alien for me, used to the miniscule budgets of UK fetish porn - but Feck’s offices struck me as particularly snazzy; in the hipster bit of Melbourne, with a lobby and pot plants and a receptionist and lots of different people sitting behind desks in lots of different rooms. Porn on this scale is a totally different world.
I was very lucky to be invited to attend a sexy film screening in Melbourne the weekend after I arrived, organised by Gala Vanting and others. I was impressed: it was a central, friendly setting with two screens, comfy seating, food and drink, and good vibes. No embarrassed jeers and nervous laughter from this audience; here was a collection of smut fans who were open to being stimulated and confronted by filth of all flavours.
By a happy coincidence, this event focussed on kink and fetish (my favourites!), although I can’t exactly imagine Gala curating a vanilla programme. Since I was going to be there, she included a film of mine and a Q&A, which was good fun - plus I got to raise awareness of porn censorship, which was very relevant since almost all the films screened that night would now be illegal to distribute in the UK.
It was an incredible programme. Some of the films I’d seen before; Action Painting and Expiatory were both in the short film competition in Berlin last year. They had struck me then - to the extent that I was enthusiastically describing the latter to some Melbourne friends a couple of nights before the screening, and then when we got there I was delighted to learn I'd be able to share it with them after all.
The Porn Film Festival Berlin is literally a life-changing event - and I don't say that lightly. It has certainly changed mine.
This year was its tenth anniversary, and a record 7 500 people attended screenings of cutting-edge porn from around the world. The offerings are incredibly diverse, including feminist porn, fetish porn, experimental porn, queer and trans porn, from short films to features ... but the festival doesn't only showcase film intended to arouse, it is also packed with documentaries, art films, docu-portraits, and myriad factual and fictional pieces exploring sex, gender and sexuality.
Last Sunday I participated in a debate at the Women of the World festival entitled "Can porn empower women?" In my three minutes I didn't have time to go into the full complexities of that question - so I'm going to do so here.
Debating "porn" is difficult because the word means different things to different people. Some people use it to mean "sexy media I don't like", and the word "erotica" to mean "sexy media I do like". So I want to start out with a definition: porn is media that is intended to sexually stimulate the viewer. It doesn't necessarily have to involve nudity, or sex (whatever THAT means).
Wow, what a week it's been! Thanks to you, the kinky Indiegogo campaign I launched with Nimue Allen has raised more than five times our original funding target to help fight UK porn censorship - and there's still 18 hours left.
The fundraiser is running until midnight tonight PST (that's 8am on Sunday for us Brits), so there's still time to donate. Every penny raised will be donated to Backlash to help fight the UK's regressive new porn laws. Please do contribute if you can!
You have all probably seen this already, but I haven't mentioned it here yet - on 12th December after the facesitting protest outside Parliament against the new UK porn laws, I was invited to debate the issue on Newsnight. This was my first proper TV appearance and it was a big deal for me.
One of the things I love about working with Nimue is that she always opens my mind to new kinks. She is, hands down, the most interestingly filthiest person I know, which given the company I keep is quite an accolade. I love her mind, her acceptance of the darkest facets of her kinky psyche, and the way her fetishes and play personas combine strength and vulnerability in such fascinating ways.
On our most recent shoot she wanted to shoot a scene that was new to me - a point of view humiliation scene with me providing instructions and verbal abuse from behind the camera. This wasn't something I would normally consider, but I always feel very open to new ideas when I'm working with Nimue. She showed me the props she'd brought - a cheap blonde wig, make-up, high heels - and we discussed what she wanted, particularly the language.
Nimue is one of the few people I know who fetishises abusive language relating to her size. "Piggy" is her pet name from her top, and she enjoys "fat pig" humiliation play that criticises her body. As a submissive, this is a huge no for me - just as food control and starvation is another hard limit, another thing Nimue enjoys toying with. I admire the strength of character in someone who can choose to reclaim fatphobic slurs as a form of kinky play, thereby stripping them of their real-world power to hurt. Nimue described the mentality to me as follows - "I know I'm fat, and I don't think there's anything wrong with that. Call me fat, and you aren't insulting me, just stating a fact." She is no more immune to insecurity about her looks than the rest of us, and it takes a real strength of mind to resist and subvert the body-shaming messages we are bombarded with in media and advertising by turning them on their head, and using them as tools for kinky head games of her own devising.
For a while I continued to update my previous round-up with new links about ATVOD's new online porn regulations, but they are coming too thick and fast. This is round-up number two, and I want to open with two quotes from Australian feminist porn director Ms Naughty's article in the Daily Life, which made me cry:
Australian feminist porn performer Zahra Stardust is writing her PhD dissertation on the legal regulation of pornography. She says "Those of us who are making queer, feminist, and kinky porn are doing so as an act of civil disobedience, because we know from lived experience that the cost of censorship in our communities is too high. These laws actively produce a heterosexist, misogynist sexuality as 'normal', whilst pathologising and closeting practices that actually life-affirming, consensual and meaningful. Fisting (an activity which is non-phallic) and ejaculation (which leaves visible evidence of pleasure) operate for many of us as pleasures of reclamation and resistance in a world that devalues and denies our sexualities."