Dear Dreams of Spanking,
You are the realisation of my hopes and dreams. You are the safe space I dreamed of creating for people to explore and express their spanking fantasies without shame; a community offering reassurance and support to likeminded kinksters. You are my proof that a spanking site bringing together all genders and sexual orientations can be a success. You model a way of publishing online porn that makes explicit the difference between fantasy and reality, and transparently reveals the enthusiastic consent of those taking part. You do all this while paying performers and contractors decent market rates, never exploiting unpaid labour, and paying me last, if at all. I am so proud of you I might burst.
Cynical people told me that this commitment to integrity would make you untenable as a business, but in 2015 you were a financial success. You had enough traffic and a high enough turnover to cover your costs, invest in exciting new productions, hire contractors to help with editing and marketing, and still have enough left over to pay me a reasonable wage for my time. Eventually, if you had been allowed to continue uninterrupted, I would have been able to train up trusted team members to do more of the production, post-production and marketing, until I could step back completely. I would have been able to keep earning income from you as the business owner, while I freed up time to move on to new porn projects. As a self-employed person I don't have much of a pension plan, but you were my nest egg.
If it hadn't been for ATVOD, we'd have pulled it off. You would still be flourishing and I'd be halfway through nursing your sister site to life. But that's not what happened.
ATVOD singled you out for censorship, investigating you while ignoring other UK spanking sites. I still don't know why this was, but I can guess: you became a target when I criticised the oppressive AVMS regulations in mainstream media. Or perhaps it was your queer and female-gaze depictions of masculine submission that singled you out as subversive. Either way, I regret nothing. Integrity and inclusivity are two of your core values, and I’m proud to have stood by your principles.
I endured the trauma of the investigation, the threat of being outed, and the bitterness of having to put you to sleep while you were in your prime. And then we won our appeal. We emerged victorious over ATVOD, gained the moral high ground and saw the whole organisation disbanded. Even better, we won the right to publish the content we had been prevented from publishing - and we've spent the last year doing just that.
So let’s talk about these last twelve months.
When you re-opened after a ten month hiatus, you were in a state of financial precarity that put me in a triple bind. I’d hoped that if we generated enough press coverage around the appeal win it would boost sales enough to cover my losses, but since we re-opened you’ve never recovered your former success. I’ve been juggling three fulltime jobs: political campaigning against the Digital Economy Act, editing new content to keep you updated, and since neither of those things have been paying me enough to live on, I’ve had to somehow find time to do enough billable work to pay the rent. It’s been a tough year, and I’ve been able to give neither you nor the campaigning the attention you deserve. I’ve stubbornly persisted, because I love you and I don’t want to let go. But it’s time I accept that this isn’t working.
Since your hiatus, sales haven’t been high enough to afford to hire editing help, so my only option has been to cut back the amount of content I put out each week. In the good old days, we’d publish a complete new spanking video plus photoset, trailer, and behind the scenes video every week - and preparing and promoting all that is considerably more than a full time job for one person. So then I cut it back to a photoset one week, an audio story another, and started splitting longer videos over multiple updates. And I still haven’t been able to stay on top of it. There have been too many missed updates this year, and you and your members deserve better.
I’ve been so busy it’s been hard to take stock, but even so, I’ve been doing a lot of soul searching since the appeal win. Throughout the autumn, with the Digital Economy Bill looming and the future uncertain, I started to entertain the idea of leaving you. But I’d made a commitment to complete what we’d started. When ATVOD ruled against you, the idea that we might never have the right to release the content we’d already shot was one of the most painful aspects of it. It was deeply frustrating that creative endeavours I’d invested time, imagination, money and effort into might be thwarted. Then we became free to finish them, to put them out into the world, and I’ve felt myself stubbornly determined to carry out that commitment. Giving up would have felt like admitting defeat - like letting the government bullies win.
Morally and legally, we beat them and I’m glad of it. But in a practical sense, they’d already won before I even filed my appeal. They cut you down in your prime, wiped out years of carefully accumulated momentum and traffic, and turned you from a growing small business to an expensive hobby I can’t afford to continue.
I’ve been mulling it over for months, trying to decide what to do. In December I decided to not shoot anything new - it seemed pointless with the Digital Economy Bill hanging over us - and just keep going until we ran out of content. Originally I had enough scenes in the can to last until April; then the new slower update schedule stretched it out until June, and now every missed update delays the finishing line. It’s started to feel like completion is impossible. I’m away for most of July, and I absolutely don’t have time to prepare a month’s worth of updates in advance around the other paid work I’m doing. I’d set my sights on getting to the end of the content already shot, but I’ve had to accept I won’t manage it before I go away.
Trying to keep things limping along is just letting the situation continue indefinitely without conclusion. It's in my power to step away. A shift of attitude is all that's needed.
Love and fear
We’ve been together a long time. It’s been six and a half years since you opened for business, and I was working and planning for two years before that. You are a labour of love, and before the ATVOD investigation, you were a pleasure. I was passionate about you and preferred you to any other project. But under the present circumstances the weight of obligation is growing increasingly heavy.
I have always wanted to do what I love, and love what I do. Years ago, I sat down to create a job for myself which paid the bills, was creatively fulfilling, self-expressive, and politically worthwhile. You were what I came up with, and you ticked all my boxes. Then ATVOD came calling. Since then, the political importance of this work has become more acute - but it is no longer financially rewarding, and the constant legal struggles have made it hard for me to enjoy the creative aspect of the work. I used to pour my heart and soul into every update. The ATVOD investigation, the threat of being outed, the unfavourable ruling, the helplessness of waiting to hear my appeal result, and now the Digital Economy Act - all these have tainted my enjoyment of you. Since the appeal win I’ve stubbornly persisted in the face of financial losses, legal uncertainty and competing priorities, but now I only have time to do the bare minimum each week, it’s much less rewarding.
Spanking is a core part of my identity. It's my original fetish, hard-wired; it’s been with me for as long as I can remember. I am deeply attached to it, and spanking is what has kept me attached to you. Our relationship has always been one of love, as well as business. Now I need to ensure that I don’t let that love distort my ability to make rational decisions.
When I had to take you offline I was badly burned out, and it took about six months to recover. Now I'm finding myself heading towards burnout again. I need to start re-assessing my priorities, and putting what truly matters first in my life.
The thing is, this pressure of obligation is self-imposed. I can free myself if I want to. If I reprioritise, perhaps I can create more space for relaxation and celebration, and be able to enjoy some of the rewards the last few years has brought me. There are opportunities opening up for me, and I want to be able to take advantage of them rather than being stuck in the same situation forever.
For a while now, I’ve sensed that the rational decision was to stop updating you. And yet each time I’ve thought about it, I’ve found myself refusing to make that choice. So what am I afraid of?
You have brought me so much. Creative and erotic satisfaction, the pleasure of connecting with likeminded fetishists who affirm my interest and make me feel less alone. You’ve given me peer recognition, a political voice, social status. Our legal battles have brought me a reputation as a campaigner who keeps on fighting rather than backing down. I’m scared of losing that. I’m scared of giving up too soon. I’m scared of letting them win; and I’m scared of making people think that I’ve let them win.
The thing is, although we’ve been in conflict with UK authorities, ultimately this struggle is not with an external enemy, but with my own fear of letting go. My inner enemy is the very stubbornness that has made me a successful activist. That reluctance to back down, to lose face, has served me as a campaigner. But it’s not serving me now. An opportunity opens up for liberation and change; a new period of my life can begin.
The impact of age verification
I had hoped that this new period would be one in which you were a going concern, a profitable and liberated enterprise which could financially support me while giving me a space to express my authentic erotic self. But that’s not the world we find ourselves in. Thanks to the ATVOD hiatus and the Digital Economy Act, the economics are stacked too high against us.
Just for a second, let’s consider the possibility that I might want to keep updating you. I’d have to stop doing paid work and borrow money to free up time to build you back up to the successful business you used to be. It would mean going back to start-up mode, spending another couple of years accumulating debt and working for free. Realistically, to have a chance of being successful I’d also have to stop spending time on political activism, end my Patreon campaign and turn away from the chance to make a difference. But even if I wanted to do this - and I don’t - the new age verification rules would make it an impossible endeavour.
The mandatory age verification in the Digital Economy Bill leaves me three choices. To maintain my current level of page views, I’d have to pay several orders of magnitude more than your turnover each day to age verify every viewer. This is obviously not possible. To avoid having to age verify non-paying viewers, I would have to completely reorganise the site - months of unpaid work - and put everything classifiable as 18 or higher behind a paywall. I’d no longer be able to use any of the preview images, trailers, or explicit promotional materials I’ve spent years making. We’d make fewer sales as a result of not being able to publically promote the scenes in the archive, unless I spent yet more time creating new PG-13 promo materials for all the old scenes. Not only would this be a colossal waste of my time, it would lose the transparency which was always one of our core missions.
The third option is to geo-block all UK site visitors - 40% of your paying customers - and suffer a corresponding loss of sales. You’re already barely covering your costs, and I’m not getting paid enough to keep updating you. None of the available options are going to improve that situation.
The conclusion is clear. It’s time for me to step away. In fact, you’ve probably noticed I haven’t updated you for several weeks already. It was late April when the emotional reality of this situation hit home. In early May I went into hospital for an operation, and ended my twelve year relationship with D. It’s been a hard month, and I’ve had a lot to deal with. But even without those unusual circumstances, this would still have been the right decision.
It’s taken me a while to put this into words. I fear what your members will think; I don’t want to let them down. I don’t want them to feel disappointed, resentful or betrayed. I don’t want people to think that I’m weak, that I’m giving up too soon. But in the end, I shouldn’t be led by fear of what others might think.
For a few years, you were the reason I got up in the morning. I was gutted when ATVOD stopped us from doing the work we had set out to do. Now, a year after your triumphant re-opening, I’ve finally reached the point where I feel ready to step away.
Yes, I mourn the injustice that saw you cut down at your height. But what's happened has had a silver lining too. My campaigning against the AVMS 2014 and, more recently, the Digital Economy Act 2017, has given me the opportunity to challenge the criminalisation and stigma of sex work, and advocate for the right to enjoy consensual BDSM. My political work has taken me to places I’d never been before - from lobbying the House of Lords to leading the discussion on age verification at the Adult Provider's Network tech demo. I’ve built up a successful Patreon to support my ongoing political activism, and I'm finding myself increasingly drawn to this sort of work. I have you to thank for that, but ATVOD played their part in getting me fired up, too.
After the time I’ve spent with you, I know I can bring my dreams to life. I’ve learned how to build a successful enterprise, innovate, and take risks that pay off. You’ve given me confidence that any new venture I turn my hand to will yield results.
You have fulfilled your purpose, and it’s now time for me to move on. One of the hardest wisdoms of the heart is knowing when to leave a situation and let go. Our natural tendency is to want to have, to hold and to keep - letting go can seem a rejection of important values such as commitment, dedication and responsibility. But there is a season and a cycle to all things. Something that has served us at one time may now no longer do so. And I’m starting to realise that stepping away is not a rejection of one thing, but an embracing of another.
There is no need to blame anyone or anything in the past for my decision. I’m not bitter about ATVOD or the Digital Economy Act. These experiences have shaped me, given me skills and experience and connections, helped me step into my power. I see the future calling to me as I give thanks for the experiences of the past. Now, it’s time for me to take a break to recharge and rededicate myself to what I sense is the core purpose of my life.
So what does this mean in practice?
The Digital Economy Act has a one year window before enforcement will begin; we’re already a couple of months into that. So whatever changes I make to the site in response to the age verification requirement, they must be complete by next March, or earlier to be safe.
To avoid having to pay for age verification, I’ll have to geoblock UK IP addresses. This will mean that if you’re visiting the site from the UK and you aren’t using a VPN or onion router, you’ll be redirected to a PG-13 page which doesn’t contain any content that would be classified 18 or higher. Users from the rest of the world will still be able to view the site and buy access to scenes.
There won't be new weekly site updates. Current members will continue to have access to the archive. Members who bought subscriptions before this change was announced will be given extensions to their memberships to compensate them for the lack of new updates. If someone doesn’t have a membership yet and wants to be able to watch films in the archive, they will still be able to buy a subscription, but it won't entitle them to new content each week.
I still have several photo galleries, videos and audio stories which have not yet been published. I’d like to put them up at some point, but I’m not committing to any particular schedule. I’ll do it when I feel like it, if I feel like it. I suspect I’ll need to take a break for a while to recover my enthusiasm. I’m looking forward to this being a pleasure again; to sharing new spanking scenes for the joy of it, not because I’m tied to a neverending weekly obligation. Those with memberships will have access to new material when it comes out, and I might even give members a heads up when I’m working on something new - but I won’t be holding myself to any deadlines.
I’m planning a redesign. I’ve been meaning to do one for years, I even started work on it, but ATVOD et al got in the way. I’d like to set up more powerful video on demand functionality, with individual films available to stream or download without needing a membership. I’m not intending to walk away from you entirely; but I won’t have time to implement these changes while still struggling to edit new content every week.
What does the future hold?
Well. I still have so many porn ideas. New projects, new enterprises, new films. I doubt I’ll be gone for good. And without being tied down to a membership site, my time will be freed up to work on the new projects that excite me.
But in the short term, I think I’ll be taking a bit of a sabbatical. I’ve spent far too much time since 2009 editing porn and campaigning around porn politics, and not enough time with my loved ones, enjoying hobbies, or campaigning on any of the other social justice issues I care about. I have a book I want to write. I have plans that require money, and non-porn opportunities to earn it.
You can stay informed of what I’m up to by adding my blog pandorablake.com to your feed reader, and by following me on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and Instagram. If you want regular newsletters and sneak previews of my latest work in porn and out of it, you could consider becoming one of my supporters on Patreon.
So this is farewell, of a sort. Thanks, Dreams of Spanking. You’ve changed my life for the better. And I like to think that the two of us, in some small way, have changed spanking porn for the better, too. This has been the best job of my life, and now I find that I've reached a point where I am complete with it. Looking forward, the opportunities feel infinite. I’m excited about what I might do next.
Audio porn is such a wonderful invention. You can curl up (with your hands free!) close your eyes and enjoy listening to Pandora Blake’s lovely voice narrating a naughty story just for you - like this one by Spanking Theatre.
Image from Instructed, another sexy spanking scene centred around a letter.
Message in a Bottle is an alluring story that pulls you in and stimulates your imagination. It’s a sexy little mystery with a wonderfully devious twist. We hear a tale of punishment for the previous night’s misdemeanours. It's hot, and oh so carefully delivered (the story, I mean - although the punishment is that too). This spanking audio story teases with a delightful mix of sensory deprivation, touch, anticipation, pain, taste and the pleasure of wanting.
We begin with a mystery letter. The recipient has been ordered not to open it until she is told to do so; hoping to be able to sneak a peek, she turns the envelope to find the same warning on the reverse. She has to sit through boring work meetings wondering what the letter contains; what promises or torments does the letter hold? When she is finally given permission to open it, the anticipation of the unknown shifts to the eagerness of arousal, and she spends the rest of her work day distracted by the instructions she has been given.
The description of her naked wait with senses deprived, perfectly builds the same expectation in the listener as in her. I love the way the writer has managed to convey the build-up of emotions, the careful detailing of the indiscretion she is now being punished for, and the lesson that is being delivered in the punishment.
A game is played. The picture that is painted in words of the rich scent of wine is heady and almost intoxicating. You are on tenterhooks waiting for her guess of the age of the wine, you can almost taste the mouth-watering aroma - and that’s when it happens…
I won't spoil the twist for you, but this erotic audio story tantalises in more ways than one. Give it a listen - it's a sensory delight on so many levels, and if you're anything like me it will arouse your imagination as well as other things.
Before we go any further I should warn you that The Abusive Therapist is a severe spanking film. It is an edgy fantasy direct from the kinky imagination of spanking starlet Tai Crimson. Here's the scene description:
Tai plays a vulnerable young woman struggling with anxiety and intrusive thoughts who begins a course of therapy. She soon finds herself mentioning her spanking and humiliation fetish - but she isn't prepared for the reaction of her therapist, Pandora Blake. Pandora recommends a course of 'corrective therapy', based on the idea that Tai's ideation about being spanked only persists because she doesn't really know what it feels like. Once Tai understands that in reality, spankings hurt and there is nothing sexy about being embarrassed and punished, Pandora declares that Tai will be 'cured'.
Once Tai is thoroughly humiliated, Pandora takes her over her knee and raises her skirt, giving her a no-nonsense firm hand spanking to show her what it really feels like. As the punishment progresses onto Tai's bare bottom, Pandora becomes ever more sadistic. She applies the stingy, vicious bath brush to Tai's cheeks with vigour, punctuating the spanking with a lecture about how sick and disgusting Tai is for fetishising spanking. Pandora makes it clear that she will continue to administer this type of aversion therapy until Tai gets over her 'perversion'. Ultimately, in this humiliation fantasy, is it the patient who is perverted, or the therapist?
Please note that this comes with emphatic trigger warnings for kink-shaming, stigmatising language, and emotional and physical abuse of a vulnerable character by a mental health professional.
DIsclaimer: there is nothing wrong with having a spanking fetish, and this is definitely not how therapists should behave.
I was quite nervous about watching this scene, because while I am dominant I am not really comfortable delivering humiliation. It feels wrong, especially when it involves shaming someone for their kink. The idea of watching this film definitely put me outside my comfort zone. When Pandora (as the performer not the character) admitted how difficult she found it, I could really empathise. However, I should know not to worry when watching a Dreams of Spanking production, because this is really well done. This roleplay is very much led by the performers, and clearly shown that it is done with full consent (and a fair amount of enthusiasm from Tai).
The main film is book-ended with cuts of the performers laughing and joking behind the scenes. For me this really helped, and eased a lot of the concern I had about this type of humiliation. Seeing Tai having a great time before the in-character bit begins helped me relax and enjoy the film as a hot fantasy.
Tai has such an expressive face and a few times the camera zooms in on her expression. I loved the way she tries not to show her joy and excitement about the prospect of being spanked, but sometimes the mask slips and we see the arousal on her face. At one point Pandora tells her that only sick little perverts have the thoughts she does, and I noticed Tai let just an edge of a smile slip through. I found this film truly fascinating to watch because of these glimpses of Tai's enjoyment, and because of the energy in the roleplay. The way it all comes together feels very respectful, but at the same time very realistic.
Pandora does a great job of making the therapist a believable (and horrible) character, despite the outrageous and untrue things she is saying. The spanking is convincingly hard and very accurate, and Tai’s bottom bruises beautifully. It starts with hand spanking, and moves through a few spanking implements finishing with a vicious split-tailed tawse. The final close-up of Pandora with a slightly evil looking grin on her face, stroking the tawse while watching Tai leave the room, is perfection and finishes the scene perfectly. If you enjoy humiliation play I think this is going to be a must-watch film for you.
I was scrolling back through the archive and realised that no-one had written a blogpost yet about Casino Correction. This seems like a missed opportunity, as this is a fantastic spanking film starring Pandora Blake and Mike Pain, with an original concept that I haven't seen before.
Croupier Pandora Blake has been called in for a meeting with her boss, casino owner Mike Pain. It seems she's been distracted on the job, messing up the sums and costing the casino money. The scene begins with the lovely Ms Blake pleading with Mr Pain to keep her job. When that doesn’t work she tries bargaining - it turns out she has an ace in her hand, and her friend in the IT department has told her that Mike likes to look at spanking sites on his office computer.
At this point it almost seems like she is in control, embarrassing Mike by revealing she knows his proclivity for watching spanking porn. She gets him to agree that she can keep her job in exchange for him giving her a spanking as punishment for all the things she messed up. That’s when everything switches, the power dynamic changes - and when Mike spins the roulette wheel Pandora realises it’s not going to be as easy as she thought.
There is something in the way Pandora is willing to say anything to keep her job, and the way Mike pauses before deciding he can definitely take advantage of her desperation. It's a delicious sense that he has been hoping someone, at some point, will ask him to punish them. A feeling that is reinforced by the fact that he keeps a paddle and belt in his office drawer.
I loved seeing Ms Blake laid over Mike’s lap, and squirming each time his palm hits her bottom. Her almost petulant “that really hurts!” was just perfect. Mr Pain is now in full control, and making sure she’ll remember her punishment clearly. When he brings out the leather paddle there is a moment when the camera focusses on Pandora’s wide-eyed look of shock which I particularly liked.
Things get even more fun when Mike lifts her skirt, and we are treated to the sight of the reddening cheeks of her bottom. The marks are lovely, and you can clearly see the edges were the paddle has hit. When he moves on to using a belt, I really enjoyed how clearly you could see each stripe where the belt landed.
As the behind the scenes video makes clear, Pandora is no stranger to the belt and really enjoys receiving it. I loved finding out exactly what it is that Mike does to make Pandora go "Yummy yummy yummy"! It was also fun to watch Nimue and Mike figure out how to best film the roulette wheel and watch a bit of footage that didn't make the cut in the final scene.
Spanking films where at least one of the characters are meant to be genuinely into spanking can sometimes end up feeling a bit camp or awkward - it's a bit of an odd dynamic, more complicated to bring to life than a more traditional straight-laced dynamic where it's purely about punishment. I know from watching Mike's intereview that he has a fetish for scenes where elaborate punishments are decided by characters who have a secret interest in spanking. Growing up kinky in South Africa, where corporal punishment was still used, his experiences shaped his interest in punishment as an outlet for private sexuality - but in situations where no-one would ever dare to admit it. There's a tension there, and I can really see the appeal.
The best bit of this scene though is the way Mike turns the tables on Pandora with the roulette wheel. The idea of a punishment where fate will decide how many strokes is seriously hot. There's no chance to bargain or wheedle out of it now - the wheel doesn't care how much it's going to hurt.
Last weekend was the first ever London Porn Film Festival - a weekend of queer and feminist porn organised by queer community Wotever World. I managed to catch four out of five screenings, and attended three Q&As to accompany my films that were showing. I really enjoyed myself, and would love to write in more detail about some of the amazing porn I saw - keep an eye on my personal blog, and hopefully I'll post some reviews and recommendations for new hot, kinky, ethical porn when I get the chance.
They accepted two Dreams of Spanking films: Please May I Come, Mistress, and the new fast-paced edit of Bitch, which I renamed Queer as in Fuck You. In honour of its screening I've released it for free on Dreams of Spanking, so if you couldn't make it to the festival, you can watch it without a site membership here!
There was a lot of warmth and love for me in screening my work to my home community, a roomful of lovely queers many of whom I already knew. I think everyone else was feeling the love too, because the audience reception to both films was far and above the most positive response I've received so far. Everyone laughed at the jokes, got the little asides and comic moments, and enthusiastically applauded at the end - and I got lovely comments afterwards too from people who'd enjoyed the films. Perhaps it's a Londoner thing - all four performers in the films are from this city, and maybe there's a common sense of humour. But whatever the reason, I appreciated it.
Zak Jane Keir noticed it too, and has written a lovely blogpost about her experience seeing herself on the big screen for the first time.
The other factor that seems likely to have made it easier for the audience to get the jokes was that for the first time, both films were subtitled, and we were screening to a roomful of native English speakers. Dreams of Spanking films are often dialogue-heavy, and these two are no exception. Neither has particularly good audio quality; Queer as in Fuck You was shot before I upped my game and started using external mics to enhance sound quality, and Please May I Come, Mistress was an unexpected and spontaneous shoot when I didn't have my usual equipment. A couple of German speakers in Berlin told me that they found the rapid, quiet speech during the interviews hard to follow, so I was very happy to subtitle it in French for La Fete du Slip in Switzerland.
London Porn Film Festival were even more on the ball with language and accessibility - in fact, they were the most accessible porn film festival I've ever been to. Filmmakers were asked to submit English subtitles and audio description files for every film, to improve access for hearing and vision impaired members of the audience. The audio description was to be "exactly the same length, down to the frame, as the video file, and match up with it".
When I first got the email asking me to create those resources, I was fascinated to observe a short, intense ableist response flare up in me. Rather than admiring the LPFF for their strong stance on accessibility, my immediate reaction was frustration, feeling that this extra, unpaid work would be fiddly, tedious and unwelcome. Particularly around the audio description, I felt something along these lines: I've already created this film in my preferred medium to tell this story, it's done now. I don't want to have to go back and retell it another way, a way I never designed it to be told, having to comply with someone else's specifications! It's going to be unrewarding, and screening films at film festivals is meant to be about MY creative satisfaction, damnit!
Writing it out now, it sounds ridiculous - and in fact it didn't take long for me to get over myself and realise that of course creating accessibility materials was part of my job, and it was an honour to help my work reach a wider audience of people who were interested in viewing it, but wouldn't normally be able to. In fact, providing these sorts of materials was probably something I should be doing as a matter of course. So I made a conscious effort to shake off the ableist and self-involved reluctance, and got down to it. There was only one problem: I had never made an audio description file before, and I had no idea where to start.
The more I thought about it, the more confused I got. Surely an audio description of the film would take significantly longer than the film, as visual information is communicated more quickly than speech? Should I use the original dialogue and music to retain the voices of the performers and add mood and atmosphere - but then, that wouldn't leave many gaps to insert description?
Luckily, the lovely folks at the London Porn Film Festival were ready to answer my questions. They explained that audio description is transmitted at the same time as the film with a loosely-fitting headset, so whoever listens to the AD will hear all the film sound, including music and dialogue, as well as all the sound in the AD. Not all visually impaired people are blind, and many can see part of what's going on on-screen, which is why the timings need to match up, so the AD makes sense with the visuals they're seeing.
In fact, the advice they sent me was so valuable that I asked their permission to repost it in full. Since I was new to this, it occurred to me that other filmmakers might be, too; and so this guidance might be useful to others who want to make their work more accessible to visually impaired people.
The AD file should be just voice. Of course, not being able to describe everything is frustrating. But a lot of the personalities of Zak and Charlie can be picked up through their conversation, and their relationship is discussed in detail - perhaps their physical appearance is secondary? Very often, you go after what gaps are available and fill those with what seems right at that time, and that's as good as it's going to get.
I work professionally with AD scripts for mainstream TV, and I prioritise in roughly this order, with everything above taking precedence over everything below:
1. Not running the script over any dialogue or plot-pertinent sound effects, e.g. doorbell ringing
2. Stuff that's mentioned in dialogue but not explicity, e.g. someone points at a chair and mentions it without saying "chair", at which point the AD would say "Jim points at a chair" or whatever.
3. Characters present. Names if they've been introduced, brief descriptors if not.
6. Description of setting.
7. Description of characters' appreance and (non-plot-essential) clothing.
I'd say that in the majority of AD scripts I do, I rarely get below level five, and even then many actions that happen during dialogue will have to be excluded.
Armed with this information, I sat down and began the process of watching the films while noting down brief descriptions of actions every time there was a gap in the dialogue - and with these two films, there aren't many! I then did a second pass, reading my AD script aloud while playing the film again, and deleting anything that didn't fit. Once I had the wording down I set my mic up on my desktop, with the film soundtrack playing in headphones, and recorded the audio description at the same time as listening to the film audio. Finally, I laid the film soundtrack as a second track in Audacity and went through the recording and tweaked the timings of the audio description to make sure it didn't overlap any of the dialogue. Then I deleted the film soundtrack, and exported the audio description file complete with gaps in all the right places.
For two films, it was a long job, and sadly I don't have the resources to offer it as a matter of course for all Dreams of Spanking scenes. But it was an illuminating process. It enabled me to connect with my films in a new way, and perceive them as aural experiences, learning how they come across differently without the visuals. And it was fascinating to think about how visually impaired people might enjoy porn, and how pornographers might approach their work differently in order to create multi-sensory experiences that work on different levels for different types of viewer. It would be so cool to create a film that was just as effective an erotic experience if it was enjoyed aurally, or visually, as well as the combination of the two.
I'll upload the audio descriptions of Queer as in Fuck You and Please May I Come, Mistress to the scene pages, so you can try them out if you want to - and there are subtitle files for both films too, including both English and French for the latter. Plus, of course, if your sight doesn't permit you to fully enjoy Dreams of Spanking films visually, you would probably enjoy our audio spanking stories.
In the end, after a bit of a reluctant start, I enjoyed creating the audio descriptions for the London Porn Film Festival. And I was delighted when after the screening, someone came up to me after overhearing me talking to someone else, and recognised my voice from the audio description. They told me they'd really enjoyed it and they thought I'd done a great job with it. At the end of the day, that makes it all worthwhile.
I have decided I love audio porn. It’s like bedtime stories for grown-ups; all that’s missing is the “are you sitting comfortably, then I’ll begin”. They are perfect for curling up in bed and listening in blissful solitude; whether you’re looking for kinky inspiration for your own partner play, to inspire sexy dreams, or just to stimulate you in the moment. Pandora Blake’s voice is a perfect balance between throaty arousal and moderated calm.
Lucy’s Punishment by Rosie Bower is a delightfully naughty audio spanking story about a schoolgirl who fantasises about being punished by her teacher, Mr Roberts. She decides to make her fantasies reality, and sets about pushing all her teacher’s buttons until she gets what she wants. When her provocation has the intended effect, and he loses his self-control and tells her to see him at the end of school, she spends the rest of the day in a cloud of anticipation.
However, punishment is never what we expect it to be, and when Lucy’s begins by her being made to list her crimes she realises she might be getting more than she bargained for. She is told to lift her skirt, pull down her knickers, and count each stroke. I really enjoyed the part when she finds out that forgetting to count out loud means that she has only extended her punishment.
There is a delicious moment when something in her shifts, and she begins to truly enjoy the humiliation of her punishment - especially when Mr Roberts ups the ante by bringing in other unseen teachers to watch her be caned. She is held in the moment by the pain of each stroke, but at the same time finds herself drifting into fantasy; imagining what else she wishes they were doing.
The glimpse into Mr Roberts' thoughts when Lucy asks for that last stroke of the cane is beautifully done. It gives a window into all the possibilities that might have been, from the perspective of the person who is truly in charge of this situation, in a way that Lucy’s idle fantasies don’t.
When we share Lucy’s thoughts before she makes herself request one more stroke of the cane, it is as if we are somehow watching her evolve. She finds a maturity that involves realising and taking responsibility for her sexuality, her provocative actions, and her sexual future. It really added something to the story, turning a lovely sexy tale into something that sparks something more in our imagination.
This lovely - and very hot - schoolgirl caning story is a perfect candidate for audio porn because it involves so much imagination and fantasy. It's easy for the listener to imagine themselves in the story; although whether you relate more to Lucy or Mr Roberts is up to you.
The Spanking Rep is a playful girl/girl switch scene starring spanking superstars Amelia Jane Rutherford and Caroline Grey alongside Pandora Blake. I understand Caroline Grey doesn't make many spanking videos any more, so this film (the last one she had lined up on Dreams of Spanking) is a rare treat.
Normally one finishes a spanking scene by applying cocoa butter to a bruised bottom but in this case, the film opens with Pandora rubbing lotion into Caroline's red bottom - and it works. The premise is a fourth-wall breaking look behind the scenes on a spanking video set. Director Pandora has just finished shooting with performer Caroline, and they are both tired and happy after the day's work. Since Pandora tells me this was also the last scene they shot that day in real life, I don't think it took much acting!
Watching this film, I found that it was really easy to forget that it was a scripted storyline; I found it totally believable. Everything feels so natural; from the slight awkwardness of Amelia, the spanking implement saleswoman who knocks on the door to show off some samples of her company's new range, juxtaposing perfectly with the casual ease of Pandora and Caroline, who seem utterly at home with the world of spanking. The combination made it easy to become completely invested in what was happening.
This film is great fun. All of the women seem to be really into spanking and being spanked. I particularly liked Pandora’s calm confidence, and the way she tested each item on her palm before using it to spank her friend's bottom.
My favourite part however was Caroline’s anxious excitement. Her bottom is already well roasted after her shoot, but since Pandora seems hungry to receive a spanking herself, Caroline eagerly steps in. I loved her gleeful delight at delivering a punishment, combined with the nerves due to lack of experience. It was adorable, relatable, and Caroline's acting is absolutely perfect. I’ve been the one who was learning how to spank, and I know how hard it is to gauge strength and aim, so Caroline's performance really put me in her shoes.
The camaraderie between the three ladies is delightful, and it genuinely feels that they are having fun. I spent a fair part of this video wishing I could join in, and the rest marvelling at these gorgeous kinky ladies and their wonderful chemistry. I love how they take turns trying the different implements on each other, it was fascinating to watch the various techniques and methods they had for taking aim.
As someone who very much enjoys delivering a punishment that leaves a nice reminder on a bottom, one of the things I loved about this scene was getting to compare the different implements, and the way they leave very different marking patterns. This video contains an abundance of pretty red stripes on very sexy bottoms.
If I had to choose, I'd say my favourite was the light tan coloured strap. I think the soft suppleness of it is very deceptive. Almost immediately after the first hit you can see a red stripe appear where the end has hit Caroline’s bottom, and after a few more strokes it has developed into a lovely red mark. Plus, it makes such a great swooshing crack. I think this strap is as close as I’ve seen to an implement that makes a whip crack noise without being a whip. I really liked it - if Amelia knocked on my door with these spanking implements for sale, I think this is definitely a toy I would buy to use on someone myself!
Three gorgeous ladies with a great kinky connection, enjoying switchy spanking fun - why wouldn’t you want to watch this video? The Spanking Rep is a light-hearted spanking roleplay that combines silliness and believability with some great spanking action. Check it out - and when you've watched it, leave a comment and let me know which implement you'd want to take home with you!
A new video blog from me about yesterday's photoshoot for Dreams of Spanking, how I decided what to shoot and how, and some hints about what you can expect on Dreams of Spanking over the coming months. Worth a watch if you're interested in how the looming Digital Economy Bill in the UK will impact the site. Enjoy!
I wasn’t sure how I would get on with audio porn. As a writer, part of me loves the idea because I’m all about the sexy words - but I know I can be quite fussy about audiobooks. It’s all about the person reading them, the voice giving you the words. The wrong tone and the story is ruined. With the right voice though, it can be a wonderful experience. Audio porn allows you to use your imagination while listening, and it can be a great way to really put yourself in the scene, especially with the intimacy of earphones.
I shouldn’t have worried though. Pandora Blake, who narrates most of the audio stories on Dreams of Spanking, has a lovely voice that seems perfect for audio porn. Head Girl, written by Rosie Bower, is a smart sexy story that gives a twist to traditional school punishment scenes. Head Girl Julie learns she has to punish her friends for various misdemeanours. When her friends refuse to take the threat of her punishment seriously she finds herself getting angry, and decides to make them respect her authority as Head Girl.
The anger she feels gives Julie confidence in what she is doing, and she takes total control of the situation, forcing her friends' obedience to her will. What I really like about this spanking audio story is the way Rosie Bower shows us the thoughts of each person in the scene. It gives us an insight into what makes each character tick, and delves deep into their embarrassment, humiliation, indignation and other feelings about being punished by Julie.
My favourite punishment in this story was Liam’s, the cool guy who thinks he can get away with doing whatever he wants. The story takes on an extra dimension of hotness when it's revealed that despite himself, the humiliation of the situation is arousing him. His helplessness in the face of his body's betrayal and the way Julie uses it to embarrass him further is really hot. I adored Julie’s glee when she learns how much she enjoys administering punishment. There's a moment when she has to mentally remind herself that this exercise is about teaching Liam an effective lesson, and not about her pleasure. It's delightful - and it made me think that actually it seems very much about both.
As a whole, this story is equal parts hot and discomforting. A school story in which some cool, rebellious kids have to resentfully submit to punishment from their teachers' pet friend is one that many of us might be able to put ourselves into, one way or another. The fact that this is an unwanted punishment, which they still find arousing even as they hate it, creates a delicious tension. It also raises fascinating questions for me about about the psychology of punishment and humiliation.
I have to admit that the character I find myself identifying with the most was Julie. I love the way that she reflects on past resentments and jealousies to fuel her determination to carry the punishment through to its conclusion. And of course, I love dishing out a spanking and decorating a bare bum with marks that will leave a reminder to re-enforce the lesson - and the idea of doing so to my squirming friends who thoroughly deserve it is very appealing.
So my verdict on audio porn? I found this story super hot, and I enjoyed the process of listening to it more than I expected. I enjoyed imagining the scenario and Rosie Bower creates some enticing images that will stay with me. I loved was the image of the two girls bent over the desk, and of Liam bending over clutching his ankles, naked, embarrassed and unable to constrain his erection. So sexy.
This post is illustrated with pictures from Head Girl spanking video A Taste of Their Own Medicine, starring Zoe Montana, Jimmy Holloway and Pandora Blake.
La Fete du Slip is a gender and sexuality film festival in Switzerland (I think it's slip as in panties or underwear). It's been running for a few years and has gained prestige in the international porn community, and Dreams of Spanking is joining them for the first time this weekend.
I first tried to take part in La Fete du Slip in 2015. After Houseboy won the Berlin Porn Film Festival short film competition, I felt encouraged to submit it to other festivals. But sadly it seemed that it wasn't to La Fete du Slip's taste. I figured that I was unlikely to make a better film than that any time soon, so perhaps my work just didn't suit them. I didn't think it would be worth trying again. But I was pleased and surprised in Berlin last October when Stéphane, one half of the brother-and-sister organising team, found me after the Fetish Porn screening to tell me that she'd loved Please May I Come, Mistress, starring Charlie J Forrest and Zak Jane Keir; and that she wanted to screen it at La Fete du Slip. Well!
So here I am, on the Eurostar to Paris, where I'll change trains and venture to Lausanne - my first visit to Switzerland. I am curious to discover whether the home of milk chocolate and cheese fondue will have vegan food I can eat. I'm sharing an airbnb with porn friends Livia and Parker Marx, and I'm so looking forward to catching up with them both, seeing other international porn fam, and immersing myself in queer, sex positive community.
When I watched Please May I Come, Mistress in Berlin I was pleased by how it came across, despite the appalling picture quality. (It was a DIY porn shoot; I hadn't intended to shoot porn that day, didn't have lights, and only had my oldest camera with me. If you don't know the story of how I came to shoot spontaneous porn at Eroticon with two brand new porn performers you can read it here.) But it was noticable that it was hard to catch what Charlie and Zak were saying. They both speak quite fast, and I hadn't had a proper audio recording setup; despite my best efforts to boost the dialogue, it was still hard to make out. So I'd already decided that I was going to need to create English subtitles for it at some point.
For La Fete du Slip, however, I needed French subtitles. I ran my English transcript through Google translate, but was well aware how lacking the result would be. I turned to Twitter to see if I could recruit a native French speaker who wanted to help with the translation in exchange for free porn. Big thanks to @bdsmfreq who valiantly stepped in. Did you know that the French for "come" is jouir? I do now.
Despite BDSMfreq's generous support, turning the French transcript into actual subtitles was a different ballgame. La Fete du Slip prefer hardcoded subtitles, and I would have liked to have had that much control over the aesthetic, but when I tried to use Premiere's built in subtitle feature the formatting and positioning looked terrible, and I couldn't work out how to fix it. Free subtitle software was equally frustrating. In the end I created a .srt file and hand-noted the timecodes for each line of dialogue, which the organisers kindly accepted. But this was my first time creating subtitles, and I'm nervous that I haven't left enough time for each line to be read. I'll be watching it on the big screen with my heart in my mouth to see if anyone can follow what's said.
Hopefully my efforts will be legible. But even if not, the bondage, spanking, teasing and orgasm control is still pretty hot.