Just thinking about some of the photos that I have sent to partners and loved ones is enough to stir fear in my heart as well as arousal in my knickers. In general, I rarely send sexy selfies – mainly because I can barely point a camera in the right direction and as a rule I'd like to leave it to the pros. As I'm sure you'll agree, the framing, quality, and sheer raw hotness of Pandora's upskirt shots are far superior to the blurry mess that amateurs like me would produce.
But there's another reason I rarely take them. Having pressed the button to capture the picture, there are always worries about who's going to end up with it, or whether they'll share it with people you don't want them to. And that's before you've even contemplated the possibility that you'll hit 'confirm' on the wrong number and end up sending the picture to your sister/ex/lawyer – anyone other than the intended recipient.
This week's schoolgirl photoset captures all the intense hotness of sending a sexy selfie, combined with the humiliation of getting caught.
The intimacy of the photoset is gorgeously candid: upskirt photos, complete with sheer knickers that leave little to the imagination. A rapid shift from Pandora's girlish poses at the beginning – neat and tidy in school uniform with knee socks and patent heels – to her joyfully sexual poses as she spreads her legs for the camera.
This scenario tackles the fear of being found out: something most of us who've taken sexy selfies will understand. The hammering in your heart as you realise someone else might have seen, and the worry about the consequences...
When Pandora's teacher, D, catches her on the secluded stairwell, school skirt round her waist and knickers on display, it's the worst-case scenario she could imagine. Luckily for us, her punishment is a hand spanking in the corner, followed by an erotically charged thrashing with the cane – hard enough to leave marks that can be seen through her sheer panties.
From the eyes Pandora makes at her teacher - and the swiftness with which he takes advantage of the opportunity to physically dominate her - it's clear that this is more than punishment. It seems that Pandora is hot for her teacher - but does he return her interest, or is he just administering on-the-spot discipline to a very naughty schoolgirl?
The hot teacher/horny student fantasy is an excellent way to relive the excitement of getting caught without actually, you know, getting caught. The 'what if?' here is far sexier than any real life worries, because getting caught with her skirt round her waist and her phone in her hand leads to the punishment of Pandora's dreams. And, judging by the way her teacher is so quick to tell her to bend over - and his insistence on confiscating the sheer panties she's so shamelessly shown off - it's pretty clear that catching her flashing her knickers isn't the worst thing that could have happened to him, either.
If only getting caught was always so satisfactory. Have you ever been caught flashing your bits to take a sexy selfie, or accidentally sent it to the wrong person? Or do you have a happy ending you'd care to share...?
When I talk to someone about the AVMS guidelines, which control what content it is now legal to distribute online in the UK, their first question is always how on earth these regulations came to pass. Why is facesitting banned, but not gagging on cock? Why can UK video producers not show female ejaculation, but male ejaculation is permissible? Why are the guidelines weirdly specific on the details of a high number of niche activities only found within female domination porn - such as trampling, ballbusting, facesitting, scissoring, wrestling, urethral sounds, anal insertion and BDSM pain play - but no mention is made of countless other obscure fetishes?
After I describe these inconsistencies, the person I'm talking to usually makes a face as they try to imagine how such a bizarre list of banned acts could possibly be compiled. Perhaps they envisage a group of old white men sitting in a boardroom, listing all the fetishes they can think of on a whiteboard, deleting some and underlining others. Half the fetishes on the internet they have never heard of, so they don't get a mention. None of these old white men have ever made a woman squirt, so the consensus is that female ejaculation is a myth, and probably urine - better ban it. But perhaps some of them have guiltily visited a dominatrix or watched femdom porn, so those activities are on their radar - along with all the attendant anxiety of a repressed sexuality. It's potent stuff, they might think, but it's also clearly morally suspect. Best to remove the temptation and ban it all together.
But it's a little more complicated by that. In fact these regulations weren't intentionally assembled by ATVOD or by any other organisation - the truth is weird, convoluted and spans fifty decades of case law. To understand quite how the AVMS guidelines arose we need to go back in time to 1959, when the Obscene Publications Act was passed. This became famous the following year during the trial of Lady Chatterley's Lover, and it defines a publication as obscene if its effect is:
to tend to deprave and corrupt persons who are likely, having regard to all relevant circumstances, to read, see or hear the matter contained or embodied in it.
There are two relevant points here. Firstly, the definition of obscenity as something that "depraves or corrupts" is not an absolute standard, but a moving one. We are neither depraved nor corrupted by seeing things that we have grown up seeing; depravity and corruption refer to things that are unusual, shocking. So this standard changes with the standards of the times: imagery which would have been considered depraved or corrupt in 1959 might now be considered positively modest, or at least perfectly conventional, and is often plastered all over billboards and posters in our public spaces.
In 1959, any depiction of sexual intercourse in a cinematic work was illegal. So was having gay sex in the privacy of your own home. 1959 standards of obscenity are not current standards.
So it's a little weird that since the OPA, which itself was a dramatic reform of obscenity law in the UK, the law has not been updated. The Act was amended in 1964 - but only regarding what sort of material might be considered a "publication", not in the definition of obscenity itself. The "National Campaign for the Repeal of the Obscene Publications Acts" (NCROPA) was set up in 1976 and operated until the late 1990s, but it was unsuccessful, and the OPA stands. Meanwhile the moving standard of "deprave or corrupt" has evolved via legal precedent in a series of test cases. The most recent of these was R v Peacock, with obscenity lawyer and Backlash advisor Myles Jackman (successfully) representing the defendant, resulting in an acquittal.
Since individuals are still being prosecuted under a law as outdated as the OPA, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has developed guidelines on how the Act should be interpreted. So even though the standard of obscenity defined in the OPA bears no relation to current social norms, there are knock-on effects which still significantly impact English law. One instance of this is the list of activities prohibited by the British Board of Film Classification.
I warned you this was complicated.
Some background: In the UK it's illegal to sell DVDs, videos or other physical video media unless the film has been classified by the BBFC, which is the UK film regulator. UK film producers have to send their film to the BBFC, pay a fee per minute for them to watch it, and then the BBFC either classify it, or send you feedback on what you would need to change to get it classified.
The CPS guidelines on what can be classified as R18, and which acts are considered too obscene to ever be shown, are based on an interpretation of the Obscene Publications Act.
R18 is the highest BBFC classification, higher than 18. Hardcore porn is classified as R18, or - if it contains acts which are deemed "obscene" - it is refused classification unless those acts are removed. Hardcore pornography depicting real, unsimulated sexual intercourse was unclassifiable under R18 until the year 2000. This is five years after internet porn became a household thing during the dot com boom. English law is way behind the times.
What happened in December last year with the introduction of the Audiovisual Media Services (AVMS) Regulations 2014 is that a statutory instrument was passed, transposed from an EU directive, which brought the law regarding online video on demand services in the UK in line with the existing BBFC regulations controlling what you could sell on DVD. Until this law was passed, internet business had been unregulated. Niche fetish video prohibited by the BBFC moved online, and became a thriving industry. That is, until two decades worth of UK video on demand sites were criminalised in one fell swoop.
So if you challenge ATVOD about the ludricrous, inconsistent and sexist nature of the AVMS regulations, they will pass the buck: oh, they say, the guidelines are from the BBFC, they've been in place for years, they aren't new, we're just applying them to the internet now to level the playing field. If you ask the BBFC where this list comes from, they will say oh, it's not up to us, they're based on the CPS guidelines. That is, the list of categories of material most commonly prosecuted under the OPA, which is published by the Crown Prosecution Service and developed in consultation with the police.
And if you ask the CPS when they last updated their list? Well, they certainly haven't changed it in response to recent obscenity trials. As Myles Jackman writes of R v Peacock:
My client was tried for publishing supposedly obscene DVDs of male fisting, urination and BDSM; and was found Not Guilty by the jury. Despite being widely reported and commented upon in the media, the CPS have not yet updated their Guidance on the OPA in the light of this landmark jury decision.
So let's recap.
The only way continued reference to the 56-year-old OPA by UK authorities is justifiable is if the CPS Guidance is continually updated in response to legal precedent, as juries rule on new cases. That case law is how the moving standard of what is likely to "deprave or corrupt" is maintained in a changing world.
In 2012 - three years ago now - a jury of Michael Peacock's peers ruled that the hardcore gay BDSM fisting DVDs he was offering for sale were not likely to deprave or corrupt anyone who watched them. The consensus seemed to be that you wouldn't watch it unless you were already into it. The jury, having watched them in the courtroom, felt neither depraved nor corrupted; and certainly no more likely to go out and try these activities than they had been beforehand. However, three years after this legal ruling, "fisting" is still a prohibited activity listed in the CPS Guidance on the OPA.
And that list informs the BBFC guidelines; and that list has now been applied to online video on demand services.
If the BBFC guidelines had been updated before the AVMS 2014 slapped them onto a whole new sector of industry, affecting thousands more small UK businesses - or if the CPS had revisited and updated their guidelines to accurately reflect the current state of English case law before the AVMS was brought in - then this would be more tolerable. But the CPS have not done this. Perhaps they, along with many other public services, are feeling the pinch of UK austerity.
It is ridiculous to haul out old, outdated guidelines which do not accurately represent the current state of English case law, and use them to criminalise a whole sector of the creative industry which had never before been regulated. It is shocking that these regulations were passed as a statutory instrument, without any due democratic process, by unelected civil servants, and not debated in Parliament by our elected representatives. It is unforgivable that an unelected quango like ATVOD - a private company that pays its directors healthy salaries and which didn't exist a few years ago - should be set up as an official regulator of previously legitimate businesses, enforcing out-of-date regulations and operating what amounts to a protection racket, extorting fees from business owners for the privilege of being censored.
But that is exactly what's happening in the UK right now.
Our new film Houseboy is a departure from the usual videos on Dreams of Spanking - and most other spanking sites. This is our first attempt at a cinematic short film, aiming for a higher standard of cinematography and storytelling than we are usually able to achieve. I wasn't planning to shoot this way from the start - it came about from a convergence of factors that created the perfect opportunity to try something new.
Casting Tai Crimson
It started last year, when I met an enthusiastically kinky and ridiculously cute young person from San Francisco. He was gorgeous, he loved spanking - he could certainly take it - and he expressed an interest in shooting for Dreams of Spanking. He wasn't old enough at that point to perform in porn, but I said that once he turned 18 I'd be very happy to work with him. We made plans to shoot together when he was next in the UK - which happened to be May 2015, less than a week after his eighteenth birthday. How's that for a coming-of-age celebration?
I normally prefer to work with kinksters who are a little older, simply because I value emotional maturity and experience in the people I shoot with. I think the common fetish for "barely 18" performers in porn is partly based on the idea that young performers are vulnerable, and so it's easier to take advantage of them and push their limits. I find this sleazy and totally unethical, and I'd always much rather work with older players who know their own minds and are able to look after themselves. It's important to me that the performers I hire can take responsibility for their own limits and communication, are experienced enough players to know their bodies and their preferences, and are secure in their decision to appear in fetish porn - because once you've done it, there's no going back.
When I met Tai, however, he exploded all of my preconceptions. Although a teenager, he has a rock solid sense of his kinky identity, and he's been exploring his interest in private for years. He is calm, confident, intelligent, self-reliant, and very emotionally mature. So at eighteen and a few days, Tai officially beats Talia Lane to the position of youngest performer on Dreams of Spanking - and yes, we do have his ID on file to prove it!
We put a date in the diary, and meanwhile Tai and I exchanged emails discussing his interests and preferences. But by March this year, when I needed to start firming up plans, I already knew that ATVOD were investigating Dreams of Spanking and that I was likely to have to stop updating the site for a duration of several months while my appeal was underway. I had lots of scenes already shot starring Fauni, Mike, Talia and David and others which I wasn't going to be able to publish, so there was absolutely no point spending money and energy shooting more material that might never see the light of day.
Towards a cinematic style
Meanwhile, I'd attended the British Fetish Film Festival in February and the Berlin Porn Film Festival last October, and I'd been thinking an awful lot about shooting styles, production values, and the budget and time constraints under which I was shooting.
Over five years I have developed a shoot style that produces one 10-15 minute spanking film per hour, in a remarkably stress free environment, with plenty of breaks. This is based on improvised scenes filmed live by one or two handheld camera operators, with perhaps some close-ups or cutaways to enhance anticipation in the build up to the spanking scenes, but otherwise shot with as few cuts as possible - unless the performers themselves need to cut. Lightweight, consumer-grade cameras make handheld shooting manageable without the camera operators getting too tired, and using auto-focus allows us to get visual variety by roaming around the scene shooting different angles, rather than stopping the action to reset each shot.
This non-disruptive shooting style allows the performers to get into an immersive scene space and stay in character, which helps the roleplay flow more smoothly, and also helps the bottom stay in their headspace and makes the spanking itself easier to take. It's a system that Nimue and I have got down to a fine art, and I was pleased that we'd reached a point where we could create nice-looking films within budget, while maintaining a relaxed and fun shoot environment for everyone involved.
The downside of this low-key shooting style is that the resulting films would never achieve the cinematic quality that I was seeing at the film festivals I was going to. I'd had a couple of films rejected from international festivals, presumably because the videography, audio quality and storytelling wasn't up to scratch. I found myself wanting to level up, and see if with a bit more money, time and effort, I could raise my production values and put Dreams of Spanking on the map as a credible producer of cinema-quality films.
So rather than hire Tai for a day shooting a number of improvised ten minute website updates, I decided to use him to do something different. I booked amazing boudoir photographer Matt Christie to help out with the videography - he'd expressed an interest in shooting video last time we shot together, he has a commercial-grade camera and he also had access to an amazing location perfect for the scenario I had in mind.
I started penning ideas for a single 10-15 minute short film. Not five films, or six films, or seven. Just one.
Developing the story
With Tai, I had an articulate and gorgeous masculine-of-center performer with a submissive streak a mile wide, who loved being spanked. I thought about the films I was seeing at festivals, and the lack of beautifully-shot female/male BDSM films shot from a female perspective, with a male submissive who is both beautiful and interesting, and not just a cipher propping up a sexually objectified female dominant. Instead of this I wanted to make Tai the lust object and protagonist of the film, focussing both the lens on his body, and the story on his character's journey.
I started with a fairly traditional plot - a young man applying for a submissive role in the household of an established mistress. I brainstormed ideas for visual storytelling, thinking about ways to focus the storyline on the tension and anticipation Tai's character feels before he takes the plunge towards fulfilling his submissive desires. I considered ways to create an interesting power dynamic between his character and mine. I quickly realised that I'd need a third performer, another submissive serving the mistress - someone to make his arrival at the house feel more formal and more intimidating.
I'd already talked to my friend Eliza Grey about having her on set as a shoot assistant, helping out behind the camera (she had planned to be with us on our shoot in November, but had sadly been unable to make it). I realised she'd be perfect for the role of a bitchy receptionist, enhancing Tai's nerves before his interview with the Madame... and once I'd cast Eliza, the rest of the story fell into place.
Writing the script
Ten days before the shoot, I was hurrying to finish the script on my laptop on the train. I'd never written lines for characters to say before, and I was finding it surprisingly difficult. I'd write a line, then agonise over it. What if Tai doesn't feel comfortable saying that? What if that's not what Eliza would say? I've always made a political point of not putting words in my performers' mouths, and suddenly that was what I was literally doing. At the same time I was all-too-aware that they were going to need to memorise their lines, and time was running out.
I closed my eyes, wrote some lines telling myself they were only placeholders, and sent it off with an apologetic email saying this was a very rough draft, and inviting them to make any changes they wanted. But my anxiety proved unfounded. In the end, bar one wording change, that script was the one we used - and Tai and Eliza rocked it.
Working with a storyboard
A week before the shoot I was on D's sofa after a fetish party, scribbling a 'storyboard' in biro on A4 paper from his printer while my friends chatted around me. After writing the screenplay I had a strong visual image in my mind's eye of what most of the shots would look like - now it was just a case of creating a visual reference so I could communicate my ideas to Matt on the day. I'd visited Matt's location a week ago, so the rooms were fresh in my mind. It was a useful exercise to think through camera angles and compose the shots, but I'm pretty sure it was the crappiest storyboard anyone has ever worked from. The most hilarious of my terrible stick figure drawings was this sketch of Eliza being spanked over my knee and feeling sad about it:
Professional production all round, innit.
The day of the shoot
The shoot day approached. I bought food and props, looked up travel options, packed suitcases, selected implements, printed scripts and release forms. Shortly before the day I realised that I'd inadvertently booked our shoot on the same day as the London Marathon, and the location we were using was only one block away from the route. That meant that not only would transport potentially be disrupted, but the exterior shots would all have a huge amount of background noise. Still, at this late stage there was nothing to be done about it. I booked an 8am taxi, the traffic at that hour was fine, and I was on set at 9am. Matt and I drank coffee and looked through the storyboard, then Tai and Eliza arrived - and it was all go.
Shooting from a script was a totally new experience for me, and a steep learning curve. I'd worked out the best shooting order, shooting the story in as close to chronological order as possible while minimising room and lighting changes. After that it was just a question of staying calm, following the callsheet and taking it one shot at a time.
I was using an external mic for the first time, and was grateful to have Eliza helping out and sharing the responsibility for making sure the mic was a) close enough, b) not in shot, and c) recording each time. She was also an absolute star helping out with moving lights, checking camera batteries and memory cards, making tea and tidying up behind us. A+++, would work with again. Plus it turned out she could seriously act...
It was a full day, perhaps a bit too full - nerves started to fray after a few hours, and everyone was feeling tired by mid-afternoon. The shoot would definitely have been easier with more camera crew or fewer scenes to fit in. After a few hours, Matt noticed a round smudge in the middle of the lens, and wiped it off - but of course there wasn't time to go back and re-shoot the shots we'd already done. By the time we came to shoot the confrontation between Tai and Eliza in the kitchen, everyone was so tired that that scene took about seven takes. Some of the shots ended up out of focus, and we got through so many cans of tonic that I was worried we'd run out!
Editing the film
Still, despite all that, when I came to look at the footage I was pleased to discover that most of it looked how I'd expected. There were a few surprises in the edit - such as that moment when I realised the reverse shot in one dialogue scene crossed the line and was therefore unusable, and was suddenly grateful that we'd shot three angles of that particular scene, even though at the time it felt like overkill. It was a monster of an edit, but satisfying too, sorting through all the footage, plugging it into place, and seeing how the scenes I'd envisioned in my mind played out on camera.
Choosing the music was another daunting prospect - I knew I wanted to avoid re-using the same creative commons soundtracks that you hear time and time again in indie porn, and that meant spending money. But how to start looking? First I worked out where music was needed - in the intro sequence, the montage, and the closing credits, which meant I needed two or three pieces in total. Then I did a rough edit of those sequences so I had a vague idea of how long the music would need to be. After that, I set a day aside to browse SoundDogs, typing in different keywords and playing pieces with my eyes closed, visualing the film, until I hit on a genre that felt right. I realised that for this story my usual taste in piano and cello-dominated classical and film score music wouldn't work - Tai's character needed something moody and masculine, guitar-led, energetic and driving. Finally I whittled down a selection, downloaded some samples and started laying them over the edit to see what worked.
Primarily, this film was intended to be screened at film festivals - which meant that the narrative would have a different structure than standard spanking films. In a film intended for someone to watch while having a wank, you need a carefully paced build-up and pay-off that sustains uninterrupted shots of climactic spanking action for long enough for the viewer to reach orgasm. In a longer film, there might be two of three of these build-ups and climaxes, separated by character-driven story. But at a film festival, the audience are watching to have their minds stimulated, not their genitals. Fast-paced editing is preferable, providing lots of new visual information with every shot. Explicit sequences need to be edited down to the bare minimum necessary to develop the characters and progress the story. So that was a new challenge: cutting the 15 minutes of high quality spanking action in, for instance, Tai's audition scene, down to the three minutes earmarked for it in the festival edit. The only way I was able to do it was by promising myself that I'd release the full, uncut scene as an extended edition on Dreams of Spanking later. But meanwhile the deadline for the Berlin Porn Film Festival was June 30th, so I had to get the shorter edit finished first...
In the end, thankfully, it was finished in time to submit to Berlin, and I'm hopeful that they'll accept it. I'll be submitting it to various other film festivals over the summer as well. I'm really happy with the finished film, and completely honoured to have been trusted with Tai and Eliza's porn debuts - and thrilled that they had a good time.
And that's a wrap!
It was a really long shoot day. We finished the scheduled shots around 7pm, 10 hours after I'd arrived on set. But then we cracked open the champagne and ended up chatting and buzzing on a total high, which led to another two hours shooting performer interviews, and even a behind the scenes caning for Tai when he confessed he still didn't think he'd been spanked enough...
By the time we finally turned the cameras off, sat down for some supper and tidied everything away, the sun had gone down - and it was 11pm before I finally got into a cab. Matt and I had been on set for fourteen hours, Tai and Eliza for thirteen. I am so grateful to the three of them for their enthusiasm, dedication and professionalism. It was a long fucking shoot and everyone put in so much energy and creativity it was kind of overwhelming. Overall, this production cost ten times as much as an average Dreams of Spanking video, but even so I still came away feeling like I hadn't paid people enough for the amount of work they'd put in.
Overall, this was a very satisfying project, and I'm really happy to have it under my belt. But it also taught me a lot about the trade-off that arises when you move towards a more cinematic shooting style. My previous method gave my performers more breaks, less stress and a much more satisfying kink experience. Shooting Houseboy, we did the bare minimum of spanking needed to get the shots I wanted - and stopping to move the camera, check the focus and lighting, consult the storyboard every few seconds made it hard to get immersed into a satisfying spanking headspace. I'm glad I hadn't scripted any particularly hard spanking scenes, because I think severe corporal punishment would be much more emotionally and physically challenging to take in this context.
I hadn't realised it before, but shooting in a more amateur style results in a much more rewarding experience for the performers - with more opportunity for top and bottom to develop an in-scene chemistry, focus on each other rather than the camera, and time for the bottom to sink into a yummy submissive headspace, without constant distractions.
So what can I take away from this? Well, I've learned that shooting in a cinematic style is something I can do, and that's good to know. I've learned that it's hard work, at least ten times as expensive as my usual shooting style, and considerably more time-consuming to produce and edit. It's also exhilarating, exhausting, and very creatively satisfying. I'm glad I stepped out of my comfort zone and gave it a go, and I'm hopeful that the finished film will be screened in Berlin this year. But I've also learned that I don't want to start shooting this way every time. Perhaps I might be able to put out one cinematic film a year, but this experiment has restored my faith in my usual low-key way of shooting, which it turns out is preferable experience for me and my performers - and a much better environment to ask people to take hard spankings in. Our standard Dreams of Spanking shoots emphasise process over product, and trying something new has re-affirmed my faith in that process.
You can watch the long-play trailer for Houseboy below - and if you're a site member, please watch the full film and tell me what you think - and make sure you also check out the extended editions of Tai's and Eliza's spanking scenes, performer interviews and Tai's off-the-cuff behind the scenes caning.
When I was eighteen, I'd have described myself as a sexual enthusiast, although probably in a hushed voice and with a fair degree of nervous shaking. As I grew into my kinks I learned more about what I liked and didn't, but it took a long time to swallow the courage to have an open discussion about it. It was rare for eighteen-year-old me to have conversations with others in my age group about navigating things such as polyamory, spanking, and kinky sex, and as a result I think it took a long time for me to work out exactly what I liked, and why.
If I'd met someone like Eliza Grey – the stunning transgender woman who plays Pandora's established housegirl – or Tai Crimson – who plays the queer, confident new arrival – then I suspect I'd have reached that place a lot sooner.
I'd have loved to have even half the confidence and sexual understanding of Tai, who has just shot his first porn film at the age of eighteen. Tai describes himself as a (gender)queer pansexual polyamorous switch – a bit of a mouthful perhaps, but utterly perfect to describe someone so enthusiastic about exploring every corner of his multi-faceted sexuality.
Eliza Grey, who plays opposite him, is equally confident in herself and her sexuality – a proud transgender woman who radiates delight in her body and her kinks in her post-shoot interview. As she explains candidly that “You should never be afraid of who you are,” I can't help but think that a younger version of me would have benefited greatly from knowing more people like Eliza.
In fact, both Eliza and Tai are amazing ambassadors for queer, kinky sexuality, and their post-shoot interviews are the perfect demonstration of why behind the scenes material, and candid discussions with performers, are so important to ethical porn.
As Eliza says in her interview, porn can play a vital role in sex education – giving people an insight into sex, gender, and desire. Many of the topics that are brushed over (or downright ignored) in the mainstream media come to the fore in porn, where people put some of their most intimate kinks and fantasies out there for others to share. There's a whole world of difference between watching something that's formulaically created to fit mainstream ideas of what's sexy, and porn that's an expression and exploration of people's authentic desires.
At just-turned-eighteen, Tai is the youngest performer on Dreams of Spanking. When I watched his interview, the expression 'kid in a sweet shop' came to mind: he's got exactly the kind of gleeful enthusiasm for sex and kink that I would have loved to express at his age. His profile page gives an insight into the wide range of things he enjoys, including big butt plugs, bondage and prostate milking, and he's clearly a big fan of marks too. During his post-shoot interview his eyes light up at the mention of cane tramlines, and he requests a hard caning so he can go home with a few welts as a souvenir.
When I was Tai's age, the idea of having those exciting discussions would have been completely alien to me – a combination of societal shame, a lack of internet access (I didn't get proper broadband until university, so access to porn meant dodging parents and sweating over dial-up), and just plain shyness I guess. I certainly didn't have positive, proud role models like Tai and Eliza.
Please do go and watch the post-shoot interviews that accompany Pandora's cinematic new spanking film Houseboy. Not only are Tai and Eliza both so lovely that I couldn't help grinning all the way through their interviews, I think they're also fantastically eloquent ambassadors for BDSM.
It's ironic (OK, more than that – frustrating? Appalling? Fuck-off-worthy?) that one of the reasons ATVOD targeted Dreams of Spanking for censorship was that the films were deemed too 'TV-like', because they included interviews with performers and behind the scenes material. Leaving aside the fact that it's rare for a TV programme to include this kind of stuff, to my mind backstage video is vital to any porn that wants to be taken seriously. Not only does it give you a chance to meet the performers, satisfy yourself about their consent, and find out more about their kinks, it also opens up the discussion. When it comes to sex one of our greatest mistakes is our failure to talk candidly about it. If I could go back in time, one of the things I'd like to tell my younger self is this:
“There are other people out there like you.”
At its best, getting this message out to those who most need to hear it is exactly what porn can do.
What was your experience of kink when you were younger? Have you met people during your kinky life who've given you the same kind of positive messages as Eliza and Tai in their interviews?
Sometimes if we want progress, all we need to do is hvae a conversation – and I can think of no better people to start it than fantastic, kinky ambassadors like Eliza, Tai, and the other amazing performers who feature on Dreams of Spanking.
I received your 8 June Preliminary Views about alleged violations of Rules 1 and 4 (register and pay up) plus your new version of Rule 11 (access by minors) and the novel Rule 14 (nothing too naughty) and am availing myself of your kind exhortation to respond.
I am of course delighted that ATVOD consider my pride and joy a 'high quality viewing experience', and the concomitant suggestion it has 'a clear impact on a significant proportion of the general public'. That made my day. Thank you.
Life is full of ironies, and you have illustrated several beautifully.
Let's start with the 'Principal Purpose' test.
Dreams of Spanking is the authentic expression of my fantasies, my sexuality, my truest self. It takes the form of an erotic autobiography, documenting both my real-life kinky explorations with my real-life partners, and roleplayed versions of my fantasies, acted out in costume and purely fictional.
I am unashamedly a spanking enthusiast, porn performer, sexual freedom activist and blogger. I started performing in spanking videos produced by other studios at the age of 22, after nurturing a private interest in the subject since the age of 6 (long before I ever got online - I'm afraid internet porn isn't to blame for this one). Dreams of Spanking is my attempt to create spanking videos which are more authentic, more ethical and more woman-oriented than the material I helped make for other studios. It is the culmination of several years of inspiration and hard work, and it represents my personal spanking kink as honestly as anything I've ever done. I hope you enjoyed researching it.
Dreams of Spanking is a hand-crafted, homemade website. I got stuck into performing, producing, directing, writing, camera operating and video editing as an enthusiastic amateur, entirely self-taught and without any formal training. The only aspect of the site which boasts a professional standard is the design and development of the website itself, as that is what myself and my partner do for a living when we aren't indulging my spanking hobby. It's been a steep learning curve, but a fun one, and my hope is that like-minded viewers will forgive the technical imperfections which result from my learning as I go.
As an activist and feminist, I wanted to innovate and create a new model of socially conscious erotic imagery which catered to female viewers, and prioritised process over product. When I shoot for Dreams of Spanking, providing a high standard of working conditions on set, and a superbly positive experience for my performers, takes precedence over the quality of the resulting stills or video. As you know, I started out as a performer myself, and I mostly shoot with my real-life friends and lovers, so it is perhaps unsurprising that my first priority is to give my friends fun shooting experiences; the creative endeavour comes second. But priotising good working conditions for performers over profitability is also a political statement.
As a feminist porn/art project Dreams of Spanking innovates in a number of ways:
When I watch porn, I want to be sure that the performers were respected on set, that they share my kinks, and enjoyed the shoot. I am also aware that many women, like me, enjoy spanking and want to find respectful, woman-positive material which reflects our ethical values as well as our erotic desires. For years I considered the question, can kinky porn featuring women being spanked be feminist? I think the answer is a resounding "YES!" - and Dreams of Spanking is my small attempt at a proof of concept.
So as well as my erotic theatre of the mind expressed for others to glimpse, Dreams of Spanking is an activist project. I aim to answer the question "How can I tell if a spanking video is truly consensual?" by emphasising performer agency, consent, transparency, real-world context and social responsibility in all the scenes I shoot. This site is neither sleazy nor stereotypical, but an example of fairtrade, free-range spanking.
That was why I created Dreams of Spanking. I wanted to express myself, and I wanted to reach out to likeminded people. I think women like me deserve to be able to watch porn that is made with love - safely, transparently, and responsibly.
Dreams of Spanking is my kinky feminist manifesto. That is its principal purpose.
I find it fascinating that, like the femdom sites which have been disproportionately targeted by your organisation over the last few years, it is Dreams of Spanking - and not any of the more sleazy or stereotypical sites run by men like yourself - that is enjoying your attention. It is almost as if, under the pretense of making online porn "less harmful", you are in fact going out of your way to censor the very projects that are making porn safer.
As for the straining over the balance between written material, still photographs and video which came out of your Preliminary View - well, I found it frankly laughable. These days any creative project, even one curated by a single person with no professional credentials - just masses of creativity - can easily and cheaply avail themselves of consumer-grade technology, and, after a few years of sleepless nights, produce 'a high quality viewing experience'. Competing with traditional linear TV was never in my mind - the very idea that my homegrown, amateur erotica might seriously compete with commercial products is ridiculous. In that respect Dreams of Spanking is very similar to the Urban Chick Supremacy Cell. I'm sure you won't have forgotten how that turned out.
It seems to me from reading previous Determinations that when it suits ATVOD, any adult video is claimed to be 'TV-like', so I am not going to waste effort trying to convince you you are mistaken in your analysis. Though I will admit to being quietly gratified my amateur cameras and creativity convinced you otherwise.
Turning to my Rule 11 infraction, whilst I disagree that my material 'might seriously impair' persons under eighteen or that they would ‘normally see or hear’ such material, I did find it a bit concerning that viewers could sign up using a debit card as I was under the impression this wasn't possible via CCBill - at least that's what they said to me. I am in the process of finding out how to disable that capability.
As for payments by direct bank transfer or by post, since no one ever uses that I'll happily remove the offer, and the ‘Amazon Gift Card’, which is there because I am a voracious book lover.
I had not previously registered the significance of the dog that didn't bark, to wit 'Section 368E (5) draws no distinction between a still and a moving image: a still image included within an ODPS is therefore subject to the same restrictions as those applying to moving images'. However as Rule 11 now derives from the December 2014 SI your attack on stills falls within comments I will make below.
On to Rule 14, which we indies now refer to the 'face-sitting' rule after the demonstration before Parliament last December. Initially I thought you were having a laugh citing 'Ariel's Sponsored Caning' as constituting 'material which 'involves the infliction of pain or acts which may cause lasting physical harm, whether real or (in a sexual context) simulated', which is prohibited by the BBFC in a pornographic work' - but I have been solemnly advised that no, that is indeed what the BBFC think. Or perhaps more accurately, are forced by the CPS and Met Police to say they think, even if privately they think nothing of the kind.
The wording itself is ambiguous - "involves the infliction of pain or acts which may cause lasting physical harm, whether real or (in a sexual context) simulated". Can "infliction of pain" really be enough to categorise content as prohibited? Not only did this particular video demonstrably not cause "lasting physical harm", but it is foolhardy to attempt to assess the likelihood of lasting harm from graded camera footage. If you read the linked documents, you will see that it is ridiculous to use these marks as evidence that this caning "may have caused lasting physical harm". So I wonder if you are perhaps including 'Ariel's Sponsored Caning' simply as evidence of "the infliction of pain"? But that makes no sense, because the CPS guidelines on the BBFC regulations allow for "moderate" pain play which leaves transient marks such as reddening of the skin. So if infliction of pain is permissible in some contexts, infliction of pain by itself can't be grounds for censorship. In this instance therefore I conclude that you must be referring to "acts which may cause lasting physical harm", and not just "the infliction of pain" - and I am sorry to tell you that you are mistaken.
Lasting physical harm was evidently not caused, and if this document does not convince you, Ariel has kindly volunteered to produce her unmarked bottom in evidence. Please let me know when you would like to inspect it.
What I cannot fathom is why you expend such effort on sites such as mine, which are worlds away from the kind of propaganda you induce opinion-formers such as the wife of the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice to broadcast widely - the "hard, sickening, degrading porn - the kind of stuff that, until very recently, you could buy only under the counter or in licensed sex shops - some of the most depraved acts ever to be performed by one human being on another … things that are so seared onto my retinas that they will not, I fear, fade any time soon … young women, their faces contorted in pain; sexual vocabulary I never even imagined existed; human flesh displayed like meat on a butcher’s block … visions that, as the mother of two children aged 10 and 11, have genuinely led to sleepless nights and a kind of pressing anxiety about their future … a Hieronymus Bosch vision of hell made flesh ... unfolding in front of my very eyes here, in a small, neat office in the shadow of the great castle in the Queen’s home town of Windsor here with Peter Johnson, chief executive of the Authority for Television On Demand (ATVOD), set up by Ofcom in 2010 to monitor the editorial content of services available on-demand on the internet, from your BBC iPlayer to companies such as Netflix and Sky". Such descriptions are infinitely more lurid than the safe, sane and consensual play depicted on Dreams of Spanking.
The disconnect between what you say and what you do is remarkable, even for an age in which politicians are increasingly despised for their two-faced behaviour.
On second thoughts perhaps I can fathom this messianic zeal - I'm told your CEO Peter Johnson is a very ambitious man who wants to make a reputation for himself and become the next CEO of the BBFC itself. My advice is, tread carefully.
Anyway, my substantive representation is as follows. Your Rule 11 and 14 claims rely on an implementation of the AVMS that goes way beyond the provisions of the underlying Directive 2010/13/EU. Whilst I accept that in certain quarters it is currently in vogue to blame all the ills of society on those dastardly continentals, when approving the Treaty to join the EU in 1972 Parliament anticipated this pernicious influence in the European Communities Act 1972, and under Section 2(2) granted a Secretary of State the power only to pass secondary legislation for the purpose of implementing any EU obligation, but to go no further - an interpretation buttressed by case law, in particular Marleasing SA v La Comercial Internacional de Alimentacion SA  1 CMLR 305.
Hence I submit the Audiovisual Media Services Regulations 2014, which introduced sections 368E(2) and (3) into the Communications Act 2003, were made ultra vires the Secretary of State's power to pass secondary legislation.
Now I am sad to learn that when responding to previously expressed representations on this point, your Board simply claimed this is a matter for the Courts. Well, if that is your considered view, so be it. I do hope disclosure will not reveal ATVOD were well aware of the ultra vires issue but chose to ignore it, because that would be a rather irresponsible way for a regulator to behave.
Something as dark and sordid as blackmail is ripe for kink. Firstly there's the power-play element: where you're never quite sure quite who's got the upper hand. Secondly, the subversion of society's inclinations to make sex something dirty and sordid: excellent blackmail material.
In this week's scene, Ten Amorette take all of that darkness, wraps it up in her tight, smart, dress, and sashays over to politician Paul Kennedy's house with the aim of entrapping him in a sordid spanking scenario.
You can probably tell that this scene is inspired by House of Cards: when Pandora emailed me about it, she explained that she'd been watching a lot of the devious Netflix series at the time. I was delighted, because I personally find House of Cards a massive turn on: the machinations, the double-crossing, the fact that you never truly know what Frank Underwood is thinking, until he turns to camera and beckons you closer, giving you a keyhole glimpse into his evil plans.
In this scene, it's Ten Amorette who has the power, and politician Paul Kennedy who's caught in her honeytrap. But her exposition at the beginning of the scene is borrowed straight from those intimate moments during House of Cards, where the audience is invited to both fear and root for the 'bad guy.' Ten sits on the bed, putting the finishing touches to her outfit – tight dress and high heels, a real femme fatale costume - and explaining her hopes for the afternoon. She wants to make sure that she gets enough material to blackmail Paul. She's heard he's into some 'freaky stuff' in bed, and if she can draw his spanking kink out, then she should get the evidence she needs to truly screw him over.
Pandora explains that this technique was a new idea, which came up during a discussion at the feminist porn conference. The dilemma: how do you make performer consent explicit in a non-consent scene? Blackmail is a great test case for this, because either character can be the one doing the blackmailing. While you may have a spankee who is feigning reluctance to get spanked, in a blackmail scenario they're there because – like Ten Amorette in this scene – they want to get the payoff when they gather the blackmail material.
Of course in a scene with more characters, or one with a longer story arc, you can use conversations with other characters to make the blackmail plot explicit. But the House of Cards-style discussion means you can break the fourth wall without needing more characters, and it also gives it a delicious conspiratorial air. You, the viewer, are being invited along with Ten Amorette as she carries out her plan.
I think this conspiratorial atmosphere is one of the things that made House of Cards so sexy, and it's one of the things that adds to the hotness of Ten's blackmail porn scene. She gets to Paul Kennedy's house, and teases him into giving her an over the knee spanking. To someone who wasn't involved in the back story, it may look like your average playful sexy spanking scenario. But to us, the audience – Ten's co-conspirators – we know that she'll need a much harder beating if she's going to get the evidence she needs...