This is the first time I've updated the Dreams of Spanking blog for ten months - almost exactly. I've been staring at the empty page for a while wondering where to start. There's too much to say; and no way I can adequately express it.
We won our appeal.
Ten months of silence, of grief, of waiting, of nothing. And now all of a sudden this news that we won. We fought the law, and the law lost. It's pretty immense. It's huge, actually.
I want to do a proper post about the appeal at some point - there's the appeal document itself, which I'm pretty proud of and have permission to show you, and I can talk about the process, share Ofcom's determination, explain what arguments we made and what they accepted and why. But that's not this post. This post is just me wanting to make a start - wanting the most recent blogpost on the site not to be from ten months ago, what now feels like ancient history. This is just me feeling how good it is to be back.
I wrote last week, after the news had broken but before I was able to re-open the site (I was a bit overwhelmed by it all and didn't think of submitting a support request to CCBill to reactivate our billing account until the day before the public announcement, and then CCBill dragged their heels and didn't approve the account until Friday) about how my feelings were more complicated than pure jubilation. That's still true. I feel lots of things that aren't straightforward bouncing-up-and-down-for-joy: I feel exhausted, and overwhelmed, and worried that I'm not going to be able to manage the additional (if welcome) workload that re-launching Dreams of Spanking implies. I'm concerned not to let this development distract me from the political work that I've been doing recently, and which has been very generously sponsored by some of you on Patreon. I'm committed to that process, just as I'm committed to this one, and there'll be a period of adaptation while I learn how to juggle both.
Luckily, they are both part of the same thing, when it comes down to it; the same world work that I am ultimately engaged in. That of creating meaningful art about fetish sexuality (slash fetish porn, slash erotica - whatever definition floats your boat) that helps people overcome shame, accept their erotic selves and enjoy their kinky fantasies without guilt. That of opening a conversation about ethical porn; porn that breaks out of the gender binary and subverts stereotypes; porn that serves the sexual desires of a broader audience, in terms of both gender and sexuality, than just the typified heterosexual male. It's about making porn production - especially BDSM porn production - more transparent, making the differences between the fantasies expressed through fiction and the realities of sex work on set more visible, making the line between real consent and fictionalised non-consent more easily understood. It's talking about working conditions on porn sets and helping move the industry towards a more transparent, more accountable set of working practices. It's about empowering performers, offering them equal pay, creative control, and freedom to do what they want on film, with the people they choose. It's about fighting for our right to freedom of speech, our creative, sexual and civil liberties. It's about improving consent culture in wider society; modelling healthy relationships, negotiation, safer sex and best practice in porn, making it sexy. And of course it's about sex education, reducing stigma, and working towards better labour rights and decriminalisation for all workers in the adult industry.
Dreams of Spanking has a part to play in all of this. It's my working model of how to make BDSM porn as ethically as possible, my playground for trying out ideas. I can't say I always get it right, but I can honestly say that I hold myself accountable when I get it wrong, and am always trying to improve.
It's weird, clicking through these pages after nearly a year away. A few times I've got sucked in to reading old blog posts. Coming to the site fresh I'm struck by the sheer quantity - and, if I say so myself, the qualtity - of content here, accumulated over three and a half very active, enthusiastic years. There's so much great material to explore in the archive. Of course, perfectionist as I am, I'm already making a mental list of tweaks I want to make to the site, and am starting to think about a redesign to celebrate this new chapter of the site's life. But that's a job for later.
Now, it's time to enjoy what we have; to rediscover forgotten gems, to share favourite scenes with your friends you think might like them. For ten months, I've been talking to people about Dreams of Spanking who were gutted that they missed the chance to join before it was taken down. Let's get those people on board and show them what all the fuss is about. I'm looking forward to welcoming old members and new back to the community; there's already been lots of comment activity since the site re-opened last Friday, and I'd love to see that continue.
Community, ultimately, was what won us the appeal - the argument that the "Principle Purpose" of Dreams of Spanking is not that of a commercial porn movie site, but a community of interest, a multimedia site where likeminded enthusiasts can discuss their mutual interest, look at photos, listen to audio stories, read blogposts, comment, update their profile photos, and do all the other things you do in an online forum.
We're indebted to Myles Jackman and Backlash for all the help they've provided over the last year and a half - Myles in particular has been an absolute legend, and I'd like to urge you to pledge a couple of dollars to his Patreon if you can afford it. He lives on coffee, can't provide legal support without it, so buying him a virtual one would be a really lovely way to thank him for the invaluable role he's played in getting Dreams of Spanking back online. But most of all, I feel as if you, the Dreams of Spanking community, are really what's saved us. Without your engagement, your enthusiasm, your spirited comment threads, Ofcom might not have agreed with our argument that this site first and foremost a community of spanking fans, not a commercial video-on-demand site. And on a more personal level, without the support you've given me during this painful hiatus, I don't know if I'd have had the strength to keep fighting. Thank you.
We won this together. I couldn't have done it without you. Join me in celebrating - it's a landmark victory for kink acceptance, for feminist porn and for freedom of expression.
But more than that, it just feels good to be back. It feels right. I'm so very, very, glad that we're allowed our community again. I've missed it, and I've missed you.
It's been a strange year, that's for damn sure.
When Pandora first asked me to come on board at Dreams of Spanking back in 2013, I really didn't have a clue where it would lead me. I'd been struggling to find the right job for many years; something that both fit my own needs, and played to my skills seemed like an impossible dream. But though it started humbly, it soon went from something to fill a couple of hours a week answering emails, to having actual creative and intellectual control in a business. I could never have known back then how much it would mean to me and how proud I'd be of the work I've done since. I've learned so much, worked with so many incredible people, and it was a wonderful thing to discover that my decade long friendship with Pandora was able to survive the curse of mixing business with pleasure - on the contrary, I feel like our working relationship has actually strengthened our bond and that's a rare treat.
I really felt like I was getting comfortable with the job when the news came down from on high that we were to be regulated past the point of reason, and it hurt. It hurt a lot. We'd worked so hard, how dare they stop us? I remember making comment at the time that I had spent years being harrassed by the government to find work despite being disabled, and then as soon as I found a job I could manage, the government took it away! The whole thing made me so angry, and angrier still that I felt helpless to fix anything. We spent nearly 8 months holding our breath and crossing our fingers waiting for the decision that would take our site down, and for a while after the judgement, I really believed that would be the end of my time at Dreams of Spanking. There was so much we didn't know about how this was going to turn out that it almost felt dangerous to feel hopeful. Once Pandora and Myles had submitted the appeal, there was nothing to do but wait.
And then we won. Just like that, we won, and far sooner than we'd ever imagined. When Pandora first told me, there was a palpable waft of trepidation, confusion, and frustration, but we barely had time to adjust to our feelings when suddenly we were able to actually open the site and talk about it again. I won't pretend that I didn't spend the few weeks between first hearing we might win and the day our billing was reinstated assuming that somehow we'd still end up having it taken away. But once the new subscriptions started rolling in, there was no stopping my delight. I think I smiled that whole day!
In some ways, I've fallen back into the job so easily that it feels like I never stopped, and in other ways, that 10 months we waited to hear about the appeal felt like a decade. But now we're back, and I'm so stoked about the future. In addition to flexing my PA/customer service muscle regularly, my photoshop skills have come on in leaps and bounds since the very first set Pandora ever gave me to edit, "Introducing Alexander Knight", and I've learned to make animated gifs, which I can't wait to make more of. If you've not seen the Dreams of Spanking tumblr, you'll find many of them there, along with a great selection of some of our favourite images from the site. Plus, I've had the chance to work with some outstanding people; determined, devoted and talented in so many ways, cultural and political voices who I'm honoured to have heard first hand, and I'm looking forward to meeting even more of them. I also hope to make my screen debut at some point. Who knows what form that will take, but finding out will be a lot of fun! I never imagined myself working in porn, but now, I can't imagine doing anything else.
I know Pandora has already made her gratitude to our followers known, but I'd like to back that up by saying that I am also immensely grateful for the opportunity to dive back into the world of ethical porn, and I'd like to thank every single person who has supported the Dreams of Spanking team - before, during and after our ban. This community has come to mean so much to me, and I'm so happy to be a part of it again.
Peace out folks, and stay tuned; we've got so much more to show you! :)
I've really enjoyed the last two weeks. It's been wonderful to see so many of you re-subscribing and commenting on your favourite scenes. I've been very happy to welcome familiar names and new ones - and it's hard to tell, but I have a feeling that the percentage of female members is higher this time round.
It gives me a warm glow just to see the site back up again, and I've had great fun romping around the archive, enjoying the feeling of being immersed in familiar pages - like re-reading a favourite book after a long time.
I went to look at @DreamofSpanking just to make sure it's still there. (It is.) Feeling a bit... emotional.— Adele Haze (@AdeleHaze) June 11, 2016
Thanks for your patience, all of you, while we settle in, wipe off the dust and start firing up all the mechanisms to get this engine running again. AJ has been working morning and night keeping on top of your payment and tech support requests, and her blogpost about how it feels to be back made me shed a little happy tear. Girl on the Net has a lot on right now - in fact she's possibly even busier than I am - but both of us have been running around behind the scenes, working hard to clear space in our schedules. Bear with us while we get back up to speed. The timing of the appeal win was as much of a surprise to us as it was to you, so we didn't have any new content ready to upload when the site re-opened. I'm working on having something ready for this weekend, but if new updates are a bit erratic while we find our feet, you know why.
In the meantime, I know you've been enjoying the 274 spanking videos, photosets and audio stories in our archive since the site reopened - even though all our free content such as trailers and Backlash sponsored caning videos is cloud hosted, our bandwidth usage has been through the roof this month. You've shifted 10TB in a fortnight - and that usage is pretty much all logged-in members. That's a lot of video downloads!
So which spanking videos did our members make a beeline for, when the site re-opened? We asked our Twitter followers which of our scenes they'd missed the most. Here are their picks:
Every office should look like this! This film was Michael Darling's first ever porn appearance. I tried to help him out by getting spanked first, so he would know what was expected of him when his turn came, but perhaps the anticipation just made him even more nervous. Either way, Dana and Mike give classic performances in this elegant office punishment film, and he and I both end up with very red bottoms.
I have a lot of love for this film, which screened at Cinekink 2014 and was a milestone in my porn career - my first explicit masturbation scene and orgasm on camera. I play Tamora, a high-powered executive who copes with the stress of adult life by fantasising about being a little girl, spanked, scolded and helpless.
@DreamofSpanking houseboy! But they are all immense!— MrKink (@MrKinkUk) June 13, 2016
Where would a "best of" post be without Houseboy - the film that landed us not only the Cinekink 2016 Bring It! Award for up-and-coming filmmakers, but also the first prize in the Berlin Porn Film Festival Short Film Competition last year? I'm still ridiculously proud of this film, which brings storytelling, dominance and submission and spanking together in a tale of non-monogamy and jealousy in a queer, kinky household.
This was both Tai and Eliza's debut porn appearances; at the time of shooting, Tai identified as genderqueer, and had no objection to playing a male character for this film, which I wanted to be a female gaze celebration of submissive masculine beauty. Since the shoot, however, Tai has come out as trans, and so this film now stars not one but two trans women; a demographic all too often fetishised and objectified in mainstream porn, and erased from spanking porn entirely.
@DreamofSpanking All Carolyn Grey, ones where your butt gets it, I'd have to spend hours picking out others.— Eric Smaltz (@EricPlacer) June 12, 2016
@DreamofSpanking So many 2 mention. But stng plan , Edwardian gvrnss, Dana Kane scenes, little 10, only hs hand, Alex mirror to name few— Mr_London (@Mr_LondonX) June 10, 2016
A lot of you are Caroline Grey fans - and who can blame you? I think I agree with Mr London - my personal favourite scenes of hers are the Edwardian Governess films, starring Caroline alongside Amelia Jane Rutherford, myself and Will Savage in the second film, Invitations. Lush period costume, spanking over split bloomers, peachy bottoms glowing cherry red, and lots of authentic (and witty) dialogue from Caroline and Amelia.
I was hard-pressed to pick a fifth film for this post. All the scenes Mr London mentioned are worth watching - I considered featuring The Seating Plan, in which my fiance's sister Ten Amorette spanks me before my wedding; or Little Ten, in which Ten plays my bratty girlfriend and I treat her like a little girl, and give her a good scolding and spanking. I'm also fond of Alex's POV, an innovative point of view scene in which we aimed to capture the female spankee's perspective with the camera, focussing on the connection between Alex Reynolds and her disciplinarian, Tom.
But I picked Only His Hand because it's one of the films I wrote long before the site went live; back in the early days of preparation, when I was working my arse off trying to save up to have some shoots, and my brain was overflowing with spanking video ideas. It was particularly satisfying for me to bring this fantasy to life. Hand spankings are one of my favourite things because they have so much range; there is no better way to warm up a bottom for pleasure spanking, but that equally, a hard hand spanking is just as painful as a paddle or hairbrush - if not more so. The idea of being held firmly in place by a strong, angry teacher who is determined to give me a punishment spanking I'll never forget, and show me just how hard his hand can be, still makes me shiver. Tom executed my fantasy to perfection, and this is one of the hardest hand spankings I've received on camera. (I think the only harder hand spanking on Dreams of Spanking is Over His Knee, and only because it goes on for longer; we skipped the plot and indulged in 20 minutes of pure, unadulterated over the knee spanking.) I love the storyline for Over His Hand - the neat way that the punishment fits the crime, and the absolute helplessness of my character during her well-earned punishment. If you want to see me genuinely squirm and struggle over the knee during a hand spanking that pushed my limits, you should watch this.
Those weren't the only scenes named on Twitter - for instance, in a protected tweet Kodders mentioned Adornment, Charley Says and Bridezilla, all strong contenders for a Dreams of Spanking "best of". What scenes were you happiest to see back after our ten months away?
One thing is clear - the site being back up is bringing you as much pleasure as it is me, and I couldn't be happier to see you enjoying it.