So yes, as the title suggests, I did this Kink film Q & A.
Yes and this blog is a very tardy report of it, so I need spanking. A month late in fact.
But hey, being an obssessive, some thoughts about kink remain, literally.
Firstly I was asked, along with three others to comment on the 2013 film Kink showing at the Duke of Yorks Komedia as part of the Eyes Wide Open season for Brighton Pride.
Kink is a documentary about the online hardcore BDSM porn enterprise Kink.com – produced by James Franco (you know, the Green Goblin's son, erm, Green Goblin from Spiderman 1 & 2. You know, the guy who last his arm under a boulder in 127 hours).
Apparently he's dragged up a few times for PR but does this mean he himself is a transvestite? And does this means he's kinky or gobbling anything green? On the record Franco has an avid interest in sexual expression through performance art, so it sounds to me he's more a sexplorer. (And Howl is a brilliantly unique poetry film and I urge you to see it).
What Kink came across to me was a bit like a BDSM Spinal Tap without the script.
That's not to belittle it or not to find the film joyous, for what we see is the whole gamut of this company's hardcore BDSM porn making. This makes for some amazing gems of power dynamic and beyond ridiculousness that frankly, only the number one kink porn film complex situated in the San Francisco Armory could provide.
I laughed a lot.
Some around me were not sure if you were supposed to laugh, but when one of the directors (on screen) is complaining about a BDSM actor being distracted in a scene while being distracted herself, the irony is plain to see. And it's these moments that Kink director Christina Voros did well not to leave on the cutting room floor, instances that revealed a truer human experience and help you buy into the film beyond the healthy suspicion that it was all some kind of sponsored promotional spin-off.
This was a good move then because the non-intrusive yet candid film-style gave us many classic moments:
The remonstration of a dominant actor's manhandling-style by the director;
The untrustworthily hammy bitches of an disillusioned career performer;
The chaotic but well-swerved near-disaster of a naive female actor's change of heart during a play rape filming; and
The mega-buck big numbers casually discussed in the accounts room as Acworth and his directors looked to improve their service for account holders.
Outrageous enough for vanilla viewers, these scenes still proved fascinating for kinksters like my friends and I as we reveled in the D/S dynamics being planned, shot and supervised by the 'superdomming' of the porn directors: this they did of course in order to meet the criteria of saleable hardcore entertainment.
THE Q& A
After a pro-domme and an obscenity lawyer dropped out, my 'colleague' Aesthetic Synthetic blogger Rachel James and I were left to debate and field questions about kink, pornography, feminism and the film itself. Perhaps our absent friends could have provided more direct insight, but afterwards we were told the post-film discussion was the best the cinema had had thus far, so we survived!
The audience bizarrely contained two sexworkers, two pornographers and a porn actor (that we knew of by asking questions) so we had some excellent further opinions and perspectives. There were a few points I think worth noting here, and I'd like to tackle the last question actually asked, first, because it's the most useful for clarification.
What's the difference between kink and BDSM?
This was asked I think because of the confusion created by marketing. Firstly the film was called Kink because the site is called Kink.com, but then in the first minute the film typographs the dictionary definition of BDSM on the screen. What Kink.com has done is taken the umbrella term to cover all of its hardcore porn services.
Kink doesn't mean hardcore porn, nor does it mean just bondage or just S&M or just hardcore sex. Kink simply means a sexual deviation, a different way of doing sex that is outside the norm. BDSM (Bondage, Discipline – Dominance, Submission – Sadism and Masochism) are some of the kinky things that you can get involved with if you like. On the one hand the name appropriation is clever marketing, but the majority of kinky practices don't take place in an armory in San Fransisco. Nor are they filmed or a globally successful business.
Is the feminism affected by this kind of hardcore porn?
I've generalized this question from a lengthy discussion as I know some present at the Q & A were not for porn because they felt it subjugates women or at least had the potential to, while a few sexworkers and performers in the audience felt it demeaned their choices not to have the right to do what they want with their bodies.
Personally I don't 'use' porn but I feel people of any gender should do what they want, whether be in it or watch it, as long as they don't hurt themselves or others (without consent!). With its proliferation, piracy and streaming it also seems that modern porn industry may be on the backfoot financially, which leaves the question down to any performer in the digital age, will they do it for the money or the love of it?
As regards respect to subs, doms, men and women of all persuasions, Kink.com do have before and after interviews and do seem to be transparent with both their safety and their hardcore intentions, so you can't really take issue with them, For one, they doing exactly what they advertise, and two, all their performers seemed madly keen to be there.
What about the censorship question?
Kink porn has to be difficult for censorship because legislation doesn't deal in moral rights and wrongs, it deals in pure law, and I'm not convinced you can fully legislate the difference when there are consenting naked people on film getting off with each other. The grey areas regarding straight porn slip over into the BDSM world where I think a majority of kink pleasure films pertaining to fetish and practice without penetration aren't actually pure porn. So it must be a minefield to either judge or fight for.
What aspects of BDSM culture, lifestyle, and pornography are missing from the film?
My answer to this was: Loving couples, privacy, monogamist relationships: which make up 90% of kink relationships: if we measure kink from the people we know tying or dressing up for sex. But of course many working for Kink.com were having fun or enjoying their work, and had justified their own polyamorous or transient positions and performance criteria. Personally I promote the idea that loving consenting couples should seek to realise their fantasies for real and a film called Kink might come across as misrepresentative. And yes I have a book for sale.
What are some common misconceptions about BDSM and how successful is the film in dispelling them? The most common misunderstanding is that BDSM practice is NOT dangerous, because this is about the people actually doing it who try and be too cool or bluff that they know what they're doing. But the film itself is fun rather than exploring how things can go wrong, and even then it shows and that Kink.com is aware that it could go wrong, and that the directors have contingencies for these eventualities. I think all that was missing from the film was some more naysayers not happy with the enterprise – for the sake of balance – but perhaps there aren't any, or were they... gagged?
Which is a gag in itself if you think about it.
I'll stop now.
Take care and kink well