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The Sex Workers' Opera is back - bigger, braver and more powerful than ever

Posted at 17:08 on 25 May 2016 by Pandora / Blake

Since I last blogged about the Sex Workers Opera it has had two years to grow and develop under the direction of Siobhan Knox and Alex Etchart. I watched it last year at the Arcola Theatre; a longer run than its two-night debut in 2014, with new scenes and polish added. Since then, they have crowd-funded the budget for a bigger, better-rehearsed, more ambitious production - and they have also, incredibly, received Arts Council Funding; a fantastic validation by mainstream culture of a marginalised community production, and a useful boost in terms of perceived respectability, as well as being practically useful in providing much-needed extra cash. The cast and crew made incredible use of their budget, and as a result the show has significantly leveled up. Who knew that with adequate funding, artists could produce their best work? It's almost as if money made things easier.

It was, more or less, watching the Sex Worker's Opera - and picking up an invitation to sex worker breakfasts in the ladies loos - that got me involved in the sex worker activist community. Since then, I've organised with the Sex Worker Open University and the English Collective of Prostitutes; I've attended breakfasts and the poledancing class run by the same community enough times to form intimate friendships, although not as much as I would like. So this time, watching the Opera was a much more personal experience. I knew almost everyone on stage (and already had crushes on nearly all of them, which were made all the more acute by watching the sheer talent exhibited during the show) and consider many of them good friends. I felt like a proud sister, beaming with pleasure at the skill of the performance. As a sex workers rights activist I felt included in the solidarity and community that we were invited to witness among the cast members - in fact a clipping of my voice is used at one point in the performance, ranting passionately about the stupidity of the UK porn laws, so I really was, literally included. 

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Tags: gender politics, politics, review, sex worker rights, Sex Workers' Opera

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The Sessions

Posted at 01:25 on 20 Jun 2014 by Pandora / Blake

While I was on the plane on the way to the Feminist Porn Awards I watched The Sessions, a film based on the true story of a paralysed man who seeks the services of a sexual surrogate. A few of my sex worker friends were looking forward to this film when it came out, hoping that it might be a positive representation of sex work - something that is all too rare in film, where sensationalism and objectification are very much the norm.

Nine's Law. Source - @supernowoczesna (www.jinxremoving.org)

Compared to the usual treatments, then, The Sessions is a good start. It's not about how sex work is super harmful; it's about the positive benefit one sex worker had on one individual. But don't expect miracles. This is still pretty mainstream.

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Tags: films and TV, Politics, review, Sex worker rights

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Schoolgirls in Space!

Posted at 20:43 on 14 Apr 2011 by Pandora / Blake

Here's an awesome thing: Northern Spanking Institute have just released a spanko sci-fi satire to warm the cockles consoles of geeks everywhere. Starring the "comedy core" NSI cast of Amelia Jane Rutherford, Leia-Ann Woods, Paul Kennedy and Amy Hunter (whom you may remember from Strictly Come Spanking!, among myriad other projects), Schoolgirls in Space is described as the closest the team have come to producing a "Carry On" film. If you like a dash of laughter with your kink, or if you've ever enjoyed classic British sci-fi like Doctor Who (or spoofs like Red Dwarf), this is for you.

Schoolgirls in Space apparently started out as a dare to come up with an original schoolgirl spanking scenario, and that it certainly achieves. I'm told that unlike many web clips, this one was scripted, resulting in a snappy back-and-forth of witty dialogue, laced with geeky references and terrible puns (and, no doubt, great potential for cock-ups - I'm looking forward hugely to seeing the out takes from this one).





There is no denying that this film is very, very silly. Featuring tin foil hats (remember: they're keeping you safe), arachnid-invested swimming pools, regulation space underwear, a nasal-voiced space stewardess and unexpected lingerie-related incidents, this is not for those who take their kink too seriously. The NSI crew gleefully and mercilessly rip off sci-fi, schoolgirl spanking scenarios, the vagaries of air travel and themselves. The result is gloriously entertaining, with several laugh out loud moments.

Pornography and satire have always gone hand in hand. It's impossible to resist the urge to remake our favourite entertainment with more explicit content, and if you're doing so with a lower budget and a sense of humour, remake almost inevitably becomes pisstake. Some have criticised Schoolgirls in Space as nonsense. If so, it is extremely high quality nonsense. The script is witty and delivered with perfect deadpan timing. The actors are watchable, charming and very nice to look at. A great deal of care has gone into the set and costumes, with perfectly matching school uniforms, an extremely impressive futuristic set by the design wizards at Restrained Elegance, a lovely latex outfit for Amelia and matching metallic accessories for the ship's crew, including a silver-coloured cane. Comedy it may be, but it's well crafted. Even the tinfoil hats and flight console represent more effort than goes into many spanking productions, as do the silly sound effects (which bring the whole thing together perfectly, in my opinion).



Whether it serves to satisfy as pornography is a question of personal taste. For me, this clip is closer to a clever, laugh-out-loud burlesque show than a straightforward erotic striptease. The spankings are extended and the caning hard enough to leave visible red welts, but the giggle-inducing dialogue stimulated my funny bone and my brain as much as my clit.

As titillating, kink-positive, fabulously satirical spanko entertainment, Schoolgirls in Space is a total success. This is one to show your pervy and geeky friends, especially the ones who need putting at ease with the CP aspect of their kink, and I'll definitely be re-watching it.

Click below to download the trailer:



And the full video can be viewed online at Northern Spanking.

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Tags: Amelia Jane Rutherford, Amy Hunter, funny, Leia-Ann Woods, Northern Spanking, Paul Kennedy, review, Videos

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