Lana Moon and I have been friends for many years, and we've been talking about shooting spanking films together for a long time. When we decided to make it happen one of the circumstances we needed to navigate was chronic illness. Due to her health Lana can't always predict when she's going to be at her best. I wanted the shoot to be a fun experience, and that meant building in a degree of flexibility. It proved a good exercise for me to stretch myself in the art of relaxing and going with the flow.
We ended up postponing our November shoot two or three times - for my reasons as well as Lana's. Between my kid getting sick, her kid getting sick, and her health needs, it felt like one thing after another. But thanks to the history and trust between us I knew we'd get there eventually. Luckily during lockdown none of us had much else going on, so rescheduling a couple of times wasn’t a problem. I felt very grateful that David Oak, whose house we were shooting at, was so understanding about the changes of plan.
It was a very different way of working than I'm used to. Uncertainty makes me anxious, so I tend to be hyper-organised. I plan in advance exactly what's going to happen, and then I try to stick to the plan as much as possible. But I realised that putting a date in the diary for a month's time was bound to end in failure. Instead Lana and I exchanged daily texts, checking in with each other and pouncing on an opportunity to shoot when one came up.
I ended up packing my shoot bag three times before we actually got there. But in a way, the extra time was good: it gave me the chance to chase down a couple of extra props and costume pieces which made some of the scenes even better.
On the appointed day, Lana and I stayed in close contact. She was feeling good the night before, and that morning said she was a bit wobbly, but game. I got my makeup on, had breakfast and loaded the car before receiving a very upset voice message from her that her health had taken a sudden turn for the worst, and she wasn't sure when she was going to make it.
I tried to think. Should I go ahead to the venue and shoot some solo content, in the hopes that she'd be able to join us later, or stay at home and get some other work done on the basis that the shoot was probably cancelled? I spent some time drinking tea, calming my nerves and thinking it over before deciding to go, and give it a try. I wasn’t sure if it was going to be me and Dave all day or whether Lana was going to be able to join us at all, but either way I hoped we could create some good content.
Dave and I started off shooting a solo film commissioned by a viewer via our customs website. I'd been planning to shoot it by myself the next day at home, but since we had time I thought I'd take advantage of Dave's help with camera and lighting. This worked out really well - the result is a lot better than I could have achieved by myself. That film will go up on Dreams of Spanking in due course, and it's a must-see for fans of curvy bottoms in tight pencil skirts. It's also got some fetish content which I'd never done across before - I love this about shooting customs! - such as humping and grinding on furniture. I'm not even sure if there's a category for that on Clips4Sale, but I found it surprisingly erotic!
Once that was done, it was time to improvise. I was still hoping that Lana would arrive, but she hadn't been able to leave yet. Dave and I decided to use some of the costumes I'd packed, and come up with some new scenarios we could shoot just the two of us.
I had some Victorian-themed costumes with me, so I got dressed up as an old-timey strumpet working in a bordello, revealing far too much thigh and even more cleavage. Dave has a really cool leather saddle in his playroom which is mounted on a stool - just about the right height for straddling the saddle and bending over (funny coincidence, that). "I don't have a plot," I said. "You've got the costume, you've got the saddle - sounds like a scene to me," he said.
We shot a POV scene with me telling my best friend (the camera) about the young stableboy that I had a crush on, gossiping about my fetish for all things equestrian, and my fantasies involving horses and saddles and stableboys. While I was waxing lyrical about how erotic I found all this, I was mounting the saddle and grinding against it. I guess that furniture-humping custom film had put me in a lewd mood!
I ended up self-spanking using a riding crop, swishing onto my bottom, my thighs and my breasts while mounted on the saddle. I was having so much fun that Dave and I were inspired to keep going.
We set up cameras on tripods, and Dave put on a waistcoat and played the bordello owner who comes in and catches me messing around. At this point we both put on face masks, since we couldn't socially distance. We decided not to labour the point, and just imply that this was during the pandemic in 1918 or something like that. I really enjoyed Dave's performance as the sleazy brothel owner who takes advantage of his position and inflicts the punishments which he caught me fantasising about.
He gave me a really hot whipping with the riding crop on my breasts, inner thighs and bottom. At this point I enjoyed a tantalising personal discovery - although my nipples have been uncomfortably sensitive to touch while I've been breastfeeding, it turns out I still I really enjoy having them hit with the riding crop! This was a lovely little gift to take home with me - the joys of having a job where I can be sexually self-expressed. It's so lovely to be able to explore the things that turn me on at work, to write my own scenarios and play with the people I want to play with - and even discover new things about my body and pleasure.
I wasn't ready to take the corset off yet, so we filmed a sequel with the same characters in which my Victorian wench character gets herself into more trouble and faces a more severe punishment. It included this porn career first: the first time I have ever 'lacquered' a leather saddle by carefully rubbing my cunt juice into it with my fingers! Needless to say, I got a hard thrashing for being so naughty.
I think the fates smiled on us for being so resourceful - Lana arrived at 3pm! She was utterly determined and did incredibly well to get herself there, despite the many obstacles in her way. I had to leave at 5pm because of my childcare arrangement, so we had a couple of hours and we were keen to make the most of them.
Lana threw herself into the roleplay. I've had a look at the footage and I can't wait to share these scenes with you. She's a fantastic performer, charming and funny with a beautiful body, and she can take a hard spanking too.
We picked out two scenes to shoot that day, and planned to get together another time to shoot the rest of the films. The first one was a political satire called The Party Whip. Lana played an MP who had defied the whip and voted against party policy in the House of Commons, and I played the Whip who summoned her to my office for the traditional whipping due for this violation of protocol!
Despite the political scenario, I wanted this to be a comedy, and to avoid reminding viewers of the more upsetting issues happening in politics at the moment. The Dreams of Spanking crew had fun brainstorming ideas for crazy legislation, and we settled on a law that exists in one of the southern states of the US, which limits the number of dildos owned per person! It was the perfect choice, and gave Lana the opportunity to passionately defend the right of the individual to own as many dildos as they want. A worthy cause!
We had great fun with it, and Lana looked utterly beautiful during the punishment, outstretched on the dining table with her bottom in the air.
Finally, we filmed a caning scene with Lana on the receiving end. We'd planned a scene for both of us getting spanked together, but it needed both of us to have unmarred bottoms. I was quite marked from the thrashing I'd already taken that day, so instead we did a sequel.
The setting is that Lana and I are going out with Dave's two nephews. We're really hankering for a spanking and trying to get our boyfriends to spank us. They're oblivious and not particularly interested - but Uncle Dave, who we're staying with for the summer, is. The two of us just keep on getting into trouble with him, and he keeps on finding reasons to punish us. It's a traditional uncle/niece dynamic with a fun, consensual twist.
In this episode Lana is home late during lockdown. She's in trouble with Uncle Dave for breaking the restrictions and missing the dinner that he's cooked for her - and when he tells her off, she just gets naughtier and naughtier. An over the knee hand spanking isn't enough to rein in her sassy behaviour, so he bends her over for the cane.
At the end of the day, despite the day's uncertainties I felt very satisfied. Although the day hadn't gone to plan, and I hadn't managed to shoot the six scenes I'd planned with Lana, we had a successful day and filmed some hot additional content. Plus I got to be spanked more than I'd expected, which was no bad thing!
Lana and I planned to reconvene to shoot the other four scenes, as soon as a good opportunity came along. That day came along quicker than I expected. I'll tell you about that in a separate post - and meanwhile keep an eye out for Lana's first official Dreams of Spanking release. I'm really happy to welcome her to the cast!
I spent all of May anticipating a letter from ATVOD, and by the time I went on holiday at the end of the month, none had arrived. I met with Ms Tytania (who successfully appealed to Ofcom regarding ATVOD's Determination against her site the Urban Chick Supremacy Cell in 2014) for coffee, and she gave me some more info on the appeal process. For instance, I learned that while her appeal was underway, she took her members section offline, but left her site and blog up. She also suggested that it might be months until ATVOD issued me with their Preliminary View (that is, their first report on the site and whether it is in breach of their guidelines) - they are pursuing lots of cases at the moment and in the case of UCSC, they sometimes kept her waiting a long time for a reply.
I came back from holiday feeling refreshed, and got stuck back into work on Dreams of Spanking with enthusiasm. The detachment and depression I'd felt after I first learned of ATVOD's investigation felt like a thing of the past. For a couple of weeks, I took pleasure in editing videos and promotiing the site.
Then on Monday I received a letter from ATVOD enclosing their Preliminary View on Dreams of Spanking.
The PV took the form of a summary PDF signed by CEO Peter Johnson, and three documents - the first one (7 pages) declaring that I was in breach of Rules 1 and 4 for failing to notify them that I was running a Video on Demand service and for failing to volunteer to pay their annual registration fee, the second (8 pages) a description of the ways in which the site is in breach of Rule 11 for making 'restricted material' available to view without age verification e.g. having to enter credit card details, and the third document (5 pages) declared that the site was in breach of rule 14 for including 'prohibited material' - that is, content which is too 'extreme' to be classified as R18 according to the British Board of Film Classification.;
At first read it makes for effective psychodrama. The first document goes into excruciating, pre-emptively defensive detail about why exactly ATVOD consider Dreams of Spanking to be a Video on Demand service by their definition, with particular emphasis on the reasons they feel the films are "TV-like". I admit I briefly felt intimidated - particularly by the all-caps, all-bold REAL NAME YOU ARE IN BREACH OF RULE BLAH BLAH statement at the end of each document - but then it struck me as trying too hard, ridiculous. For fully effective scare tactics they might as well has gone the whole hog and had it red and dripping blood, too. No government agency which was secure in its authority would resort to such puffed-up posturing.
The level of detail they've gone into is surreal. As I paged through the documents, reading chapter and verse on all the ways they consider my work to be a) under their authority and b) unacceptable, mixed feelings arose. On one level it was kind of gratifying to have my indulgent little porn site taken so seriously by a commercial regulator - I mean, I think they're coming at it all wrong, but at least they've done some research. On another, more irrational, level it felt somewhat violating. I guess when you publish niche fetish material online there's an implicit assumption that only likeminded folks will pay close attention. I know rationally that there's no guarantee of that, and if you'd asked me I'd have said it was a silly expectation to have. But still, I can't deny it felt uncomfortable to have my personal porn project dissected by hostile outsiders.
But I also couldn't help seeing the funny side. I mean, the sheer time and effort it must have taken to compile ... surely the no doubt skilled professionals who wrote these documents could be spending their time in a more productive way than poking their nose into other people's erotic lives online? And then there was how seriously they were taking it all - and the cost...
These people are paid (no doubt handsome) salaries to watch niche porn and methodically tear it apart - all funded by the fees they extract from other niche pornographers. As Ben Yates wrote for XBiz in March, "If they were the mafia, their fees would be termed protection money and their business model would be extortion."
So what do ATVOD have to say about Dreams of Spanking?
How's that for a cover quote? This paragraph tickled me so much that I've temporarily made it our Twitter cover picture - perhaps I should add ATVOD's review to the ones on our splash page.
Also, as Hywel pointed out,
@DreamofSpanking Go us. "Do not have the appearance of having been with consumer grade camera". ATVOD technically clueless as well, then.— Restrained Elegance (@RElegance) June 8, 2015
The cameras I use to shoot video for Dreams of Spanking are this one and this one. I bought the HF200 from Amazon for about £500 back in 2010, and the HF306 for £200 a couple of years later. Hardly commercial grade, and you can tell: the image is often grainy, with no manual focus or shallow depth of field, and responds badly to low lighting. I colour grade the best I can in Premiere, but when it comes to film-making I'm self-taught and operating on a miniscule budget. Are ATVOD really so clueless that they can't tell the difference betweeh this and commercial broadcast media?
As Nimue Allen pointed out, it's particularly weird of them to cite behind the scenes material as an example of something that makes our videos "TV-like", when you don't get behind the scenes out-takes and interviews on TV - it's a DVD extras thing.
And then there's this:
Don't even get me started on the problems inherent with using appropriate credits, behind the scenes materials showing consent, and "high production values" as evidence that our videos should be censored. What's that meant to do - encourage people to attempt to avoid regulation by making terrible porn?
@DreamofSpanking "Why pick Dreams, ATVOD?" "it was the credits, m'lud. Only TV programmes EVER credit their performers" =\— Girl on the Net (@girlonthenet) June 8, 2015
I've heard it argued that the AVMS 2014 (the Statutory Instrument that came into effect last December granting ATVOD these new powers) is aimed at bringing down the free tube sites, but based on these criteria, which exclude most of the offerings on tube sites - they usually don't include narrative, credits or out-of-character expressions of consent - I really don't understand how.
As if this ridiculousness wasn't enough, the document contained a number of typing errors.
Could do better, ATVOD. See me after class.
But the most ludicrous of their claims is in the document on Rule 14, in which they cite two scenes as examples of "prohibited material". One is "Slight Damage to the Rear End", which isn't surprising as the only reason that scene (which depicts caning hard enough to draw blood) is still on the site is that CCBill haven't noticed it yet. But the other is "Ariel's Sponsored Caning", the first of our free protest videos as part of our fundraiser for Backlash. The irony of them picking a video which was explicitly created to challenge the AVMS guidelines and ATVOD's authority is incredible. I can only hope that they paid close attention to the interviews at the start - it's funny to imagine them watching them and fuming.
"Lasting physical harm" - really? Let's revisit the scene in question. This is probably the clearest image of Ariel's welts by the end of the caning:
Now I don't know about you, but to me those look like fairly moderate cane welts. A little raising of the skin, but for the most part they're pink rather than dark red or purple, with only one darker line on the crease. Even compared with the rest of the sponsored caning videos - which are all free to view - these stripes are relatively mild, which makes it doubly weird that they picked out this one.
Here's what Ariel had to say about ATVOD's interpretation of her caning as "lasting physical harm":
@DreamofSpanking Jeez. They lasted for 1 week. Almost exactly. My bottom is *back to normal* Because we aren't insane. WTF.— Ariel Anderssen (@ArielAnderssen) June 8, 2015
Are marks that heal up within a few days really "lasting harm"? It's ludicrous that a group of people who know almost nothing about BDSM should attempt this sort of external, ill-informed assessment of which acts "might cause lasting harm". If the level of damage is the deciding factor, how on earth can they tell from the images shot on the day how long the marks took to heal? Everyone has different rates of healing, and I've had marks like this which disappeared overnight. Is that still "lasting harm"?
Then there's the arrogance of ATVOD deciding how "harmed" a performer was, or might have been, without paying any attention to the testimony of that performer. (In this instance, Ariel's smiles and hugs at the end of the film clearly show that neither of us was harmed during the filming of this video.) But why make assumptions? Since they were apparently so dedicated to their "research", how hard would it have been for ATVOD to contact Ariel and ask her themselves? Her email address is right there on her user profile.
That's the thing about feminist porn: the performers are real people, with online presence and social media profiles, and you can follow the links and find out for yourself how they felt about a given scene and how long it took them to recover. But it seems ATVOD would rather stand in judgement of porn performers than actually talk to them.
Re-reading it now, I'm actually confused about how to read that wording - This constitutes material which “involves the infliction of pain or acts which may cause lasting physical harm, whether real or (in a sexual context) simulated”. The infliction of pain or acts which may cause lasting physical harm? Is it possible that they aren't citing Ariel's caned bottom as evidence of lasting physical harm after all, but simply as evidence of "the infliction of pain"? But that makes no sense, because the guidelines allegedly 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, that by itself can't be grounds for censorship. In this instance therefore I think ATVOD must be referring to "acts which may cause lasting physical harm", and not just "the infliction of pain".
I love this idea. ATVOD have given me 10 working days to make legal representations to defend myself - perhaps we should append a lengthy collection of "before" and "after" bottom photos to prove that none of the material on Dreams of Spanking caused lasting physical harm to the performers.
The other thing that's particularly messed up about legislating BDSM material based on the perceived severity of the resulting marks is that marking is so very variable. Any player will tell you that some people mark more than others, and how much each of us marks depends on how much we've been playing lately, how well warmed up we are in a given scene, how well we take care of our skin with soothing lotion, moisturiser, aloe vera etc, and myriad other factors. Is it really the case that (for instance) a 25 stroke caning delivered after a lengthy warm-up session with hand, leather paddle and strap, resulting in a rosy red glow but no visible welts, would be permissible, but the same caning (or even a lighter one) delivered straight from cold, would be prohibited? How does that make sense?
Not to mention the fact that banning heavy marking discriminates against less-experienced bottoms - which disproportionately targets amateur porn and studios working with new performers rather than those who only work with experienced bottoms.
@DreamofSpanking Frankly, I've had pimples on my bum that hung around longer than any DoS marks.
— Adele Haze (@AdeleHaze) June 8, 2015
Finally, there's the fact that these criteria are only applied to "pornographic works", created "primarily for the purposes of sexual arousal". But eroticism is in the eyes of the viewer. You only need to take one look at the Clips4Sale categories list to realise that things you always thought were perfectly mundane are, for some people, the height of sexual excitement. So who gets to decide what is "pornographic", and why are we allowed to publish video of acts that may cause lasting physical harm in some contexts, but not in others?
I've had worse marks from Medieval re-enactment, and that's 100% legal.— Restrained Elegance (@RElegance) June 8, 2015
Here are some examples of "lasting physical harm" I have had that lasted longer than Ariel's cane marks:
All these these activities were undertaken deliberately and with full awareness of the risks involved. Should video of people swimming, doing parkour, hula hooping, or attacking their cats' fluffy bellies be illegal to distribute too?
The thing that really bites is that as a feminist porn producer I go out of my way to ensure the consent and wellbeing of the performers I work with. These guidelines make absolutely no provision for consent, for whether the acts are undertaken in a safe and responsible way, for the health and happiness of the performers, or for the production ethics, transparency and accountability of the service in question.
Under these guidelines, you can publish a four-boy, one-girl hardcore porn scene that includes double penetration and lots of gagging on cock, and you're absolutely fine provided it's shot with shoddy production values with no storyline, no performer interviews or behind the scenes, and no credits. But if you go out of your way to create something better, if you strive to be ethical and responsible, and if you dare to authentically express a kinky sexuality in a consensual, thoughtful and critical way - that's obviously "harmful", and they'll come after you and shut you down.
Dreams of Spanking is in LA! Well, I'm here, anyway; AJ and GotN are still holding the fort back in London, and being remarkably patient with my sporadic communication while traveling - and for working around the eight hour time difference. So far we've got both weeks' updates published on time, and you have no idea how liberating it is for me to know I can leave the nest and things won't actually fall apart.
In order to make said updates happen, the first thing I needed to do once I landed in Los Angeles was buy a new laptop. I've never had a laptop capable of editing photos or video, and for the six years I've been working on the Dreams of Spanking project I've done all my media editing on my desktop PC. Work on the move has been limited to blogging and emails on my tiny netbook.
Being able to edit on the road is a pretty big deal. Here I am unboxing my new toy:
I'm staying with Alex Reynolds and Paul Kennedy, and so far my stay has involved a fair amount of spanking! Yesterday we had a big group shoot with Christy Cutie and Maddy Marks, and we also spent an afternoon shooting some scenes with our friends Korey and James Johnson, a lifestyle spanko couple who are new to shooting spanking video but wanted to give it a try. They filmed a real-life domestic discipline film, and I spanked Korey in a cute F/F kitchen scene, both for Northern Spanking. There may have been one or two off-camera spankings too ;)
In between I took the opportunity to fulfil a few requests I've received for more "short sharp shock" style films, and filmed a simple office caning film with Paul, for Dreams of Spanking. The storyline might have been minimal, but twelve cold strokes of the cane were anything but!
The last week's shoots have for some reason inspired me to touch my toes more often than usual. I'm the director, so I don't have to if I don't want to, but unusually I found myself suggesting it. I still suck at it, but in the absence of my normal weights equipment I've been doing lots of yoga while in LA. I'm pleased to report that my forward folds are gradually improving.
A teaser for our upcoming spanking film.
If you like severe, full force cold canings taken voluntarily by brave, strong women, you'll like this.