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.
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.
In protest against the new UK porn laws which have made a large number of consensual acts illegal to depict in porn, including corporal punishment that leaves lasting marks, queer porn producer Courtney Trouble has released a new DVD. This is the sort of resistance I like best: rebelling against censorship by deliberately distributing banned material, combined with fundraising and educationabout the issues.
In collaboration with Kitty Stryker, Courtney set out to compile a collection of films banned in the UK, hoping to alert the US audience to the rising levels of censorship in this country. She discovered that the resulting collection was also denied DVD distribution in the US, and so 'Banned in the UK' became 'Ban this Sick Filth'. Although the UK censorship applies to films distributed online as well as DVDs, in the US video-on-demand distribution is still uncontrolled, and so that's how you can get hold of this provocative, political porn film.
Porn, often decided to be without “serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value”, can and does serve as validation for sexual diversity, queerness, and an enjoyment of non-heteronormative sex. Yet obscenity is not protected by laws around freedom of speech, leaving those who choose to deviate from that norm at risk for social and legal action. Because of this, a portion of the proceeds of this film will be donated to Backlash UK, an organization that offers legal, academic, and campaigning work on behalf of those who find themselves defending their freedom of expression.
- a lightly kinky scene with Kitty Stryker, Courtney Trouble, Andre Shakti, and Ned
- a female dominant disciplinary caning scene by Pandora Blake
- a nun/altarboy scene with Joey Minx and Akira Raine
- a menstruation masturbation solo scene with Courtney Trouble
- interviews with directors and cast on the intersection of porn, artistic expression, and censorship laws
It's a playful piece with a serious message- porn censorship is bloody awful!
When Courtney invited me to contribute a film I had to think hard about what to send. It had to be uncompromisingly severe - showing blood, if possible, so there was absolutely no doubt about whether it would count as "banned" or not. I also decided to send a F/M scene, because it's generally less well represented than female submission.
Molly Malone and John Beecroft's dynamic is so playful and tongue in cheek, and their interview so genuinely affectionate, that they were ideal candidates. The Schoolgirl's Revenge is queerer, but Slight Damage to the Rear End shows the welts and blood in more graphic detail - including the moment when John's weak spot breaks and Molly briskly applies a plaster and wipes up the blood before continuing to thrash him. Hot!
So I sent in 'Slight Damage to the Rear End', along with the behind the scenes video and performer interview. Courtney also asked if I could record a video blog of me talking about the new legislation and how it affected me. Which is how, at 3am one Monday morning, I came to record this video, which has since collected over two and a half thousand views:
So that was worth doing.
'Ban This Sick Filth' has already picked up a couple of reviews. Kitty's girlfriend Jetta Rae posted a self-confessed biased review, which mostly talks about how weird it is for her to watch porn produced in familiar settings by people she knows, but which has some good quotes about censorship too:
Every sex act depicted in pornography is a vote for what you can and can’t do with your body in our society. When you disallow paid professionals to enact the sex that regular, everyday Wilmas and Winstons would do at home, you deprive people the opportunity to provide for themselves through skilled, professional labor, while leaving people to their own devices to figure out the “how to be safe” thing for themselves.
Of 'Slight Damage' she writes,
Produced by Dreams of Spanking and directed by Pandora Blake, this scene is incredibly affirming in how self-aware and homely around the edges it is in its presentation of a disciplinary spanking/caning. As sex performers, we put on costumes, we play parts, but we are still real people who have to navigate around living room furniture and occasionally blister and bleed when hit hard enough.
Molly giving John’s blistered and callous ass necessary aftercare as the credits roll over is where I live and have grown my roots — kink hurts and is yet a very rife avenue for affection and transformative healing.
Porn review site XCritic also has a review by ApacheWarrior:
Ban This Sick Filth! is a collaborative production by Kitty Stryker and Courtney Trouble. It was developed on account of the 2014 censorship laws in the United Kingdom. During the final months of 2014, the UK passed laws that are a blow to feminist and queer porn. Acts such as aggressive whipping and caning, spanking, facesitting, and choking are banned. Ban This Sick Filth! uses interviews and sexual performances to further explain some of the types of porn activities that are now censored in Great Britain. It was a very good idea to incorporate British pornographer Pandora Blake to this production since she gives a very clear explanation of those laws. We also see and feel how much her website means to her and how these controlled laws have made it a scary future for her. It's must-see material. Ironically, this film was denied DVD distribution in the USA on account of some of the consensual acts performed like peeing, full fisting, and menstruation play.
As a niche site I don't often get to read commentary on my work by mainstream porn critics, so I was interested to see that both reviewers highlighted the same elements of Molly and John's scene - the authenticity and care inherent in Molly applying a plaster to his bleeding buttocks (discernable even through her brusque Headmistress manner), and the affection and trust evident between the two of them in their behind the scenes videos. ApacheWarrior writes,
I enjoyed the graphic nature of this scene and it gives a good glimpse to the type of intense activity that is shown on her website. I have to give John much credit for taking much pain. Many younger guys could not do what he does. After their performance, we get a Behind the Scenes look of their scene that also has an interview part. The chemistry between John and Molly is cute. It makes me want to see more of their performances.
It's cool seeing a Dreams of Spanking film distributed by a US feminist porn company, and it's great to see the issue of UK porn censorship being talked internationally. I hope that 'Bank This Sick Filth' educates lots of people about the situation faced by UK producers, and raises a tonne of money for Backlash. Buy a copy, tell your friends, and support independently produced filthy feminist porn which intends to fight censorship every step of the way.
TROUBLE Films have extended an exclusive discount to Dreams of Spanking viewers - use code 'PANDORA' at checkout to get $3 off!
It's the end of the year, and that means awards time. Spanking Blogg are running some Spanking Awards this year, and we've been nominated in a few categories. In fact, voting has already closed in some categories, but the rest are still open, so there's still time to get some last minute votes in.
I was thrilled to be nominated twice for the blog categories - this blog was nominated for Best News Style Blog, and my personal/political blog Spanked, Not Silenced was nominated for Best Creative Blog. The winners were announced on Christmas Eve and I was surprised and pleased by the results!
My personal blog came second in the creative category, runner up to Alex in Spankingland by Alex Reynolds, Dreams of Spanking cast member and top spanking model. Her articulate, thoughtful blog is always fascinating reading, with some wonderful writing about kink psychology, D/S and social commentary on the wider scene. Plus there are often hot spanking photos and scene reports. I love her blog - and voted for it. I couldn't think of a more deserving winner, and I'm delighted to be her runner up!
As for the news style blog - well, I was thrilled that this blog placed too, coming second to Chross the Spankologist. Given Chross' standing in the scene, and the fact that whenever he links to you in his Spankings of the Week he can send a spike of over a thousand visitors to your blog without even trying, I think that's a fair win. I wasn't expecting this blog to place at all, so it's wonderful that even after three years you still think we're worth reading.
Winner CHROSS Spankologist BLOG
Runner Up DREAMS OF SPANKING BLOG
Winner Alex in Spankingland
Runner Up Pandora Blake – Spanked not Silenced
Voting is still open for the following categories:
It's a tough choice - I wish I could vote multiple times! There are some categories still to come, including Best Male Spankee, Best Website and Most Improved Website, so please do nominate your favourites for those categories, and keep checking back to Spanking Blogg for new polls as they open. And most importantly, please support your favourite performers and producers in the spanking industry by casting your vote!
Finally, it's the time of year when the Rise Awards are open for nominations. Last year Dreams of Spanking was thrilled to be a runner-up for the Fan Favourite award - let's see if we can beat that this year! The adult industry is often dominated by the big mainstream sites but its the small cottage sites that are often the most creative and interesting. Head on over and nominate your favourite porn sites - let's give small, queer, independent fetish sites some love!
What do female ejaculation, full bondage with gags, face-sitting and spanking that leaves marks all have in common? They're all now banned in UK porn according to new laws that went into effect last week, the Audiovisial Media Services Regulations 2014.
These regulations apply the existing BBFC guidelines (controlling what can and can't be sold on DVD) to the world of online porn. In other words, an out-of-date set of restrictions to a medium few porn customers bother with anymore are, rather than being brought up to date, now being applied to the internet - the last bastion of freedom of expression for British porn.
The guidelines disproportionately affect acts of female dominance and female sexual pleasure, as well as banning all spanking and BDSM content that produces marks beyond those deemed "transient and trifling". This will affect every spanking site in the UK, and countless more British fetish and feminist porn sites besides.
Dreams of Spanking performer and independent Australian feminist porn director Zahra Stardust is writing her PhD on the legal regulation of pornography. She says, “Those of us who are making queer, feminist, and kinky porn are doing so as an act of civil disobedience, because we know from lived experience that the cost of censorship in our communities is too high. These laws actively produce a heterosexist, misogynist sexuality as ‘normal’, whilst pathologising and closeting practices that are actually life-affirming, consensual and meaningful."
These laws apply to publication, not possession. UK consumers can still legally still access porn produced and published overseas - for now (although expert obscenity lawyer Myles Jackman thinks this is the beginning of a sinister attempt to block foreign sites as well). Meanwhile hundreds of independent British porn producers are being criminalised, including every UK spanking site you can name. We, and many of our fellow fetish porn producers, stand to be closed down if we let this go unchallenged.
You can read more about exactly what's banned and how this will affect UK porn in my post Online porn: the canary in the coalmine, and I've also posted link round-ups tracking the international outcry against these new restrictions.
How does this affect us?
If Dreams of Spanking were to comply with these new regulations, we would have to take over half our scenes offline. Our future production would be heavily censored: we would never be able to film any spanking, caning, birching, belting or tawsing again - anything that resulted in welts or bruises. We would not be able to show any bondage with all four limbs bound as well as a gag. We would not be able to use any outdoor locations which someone might possibly have overlooked. Age play and school uniforms are problematic if there is any suggestion that the actor is playing a character under eighteen. Wrestling is problematic. And on and on.
Here are a select handful of scenes that we would have to delete if we chose to comply:
Drunk and Disorderly - Vincent's cane marks definitely go beyond "transient and trifling" in this judicial police caning scene.
Pandora's Belt Whipping Fantasy also fall foul of the new restrictions - never mind that the film explicitly shows my enthusiastic consent.
Our comic "hammer horror" parody Doctor of Pain features four-limb bondage with a gag - which according to the AVMS means that I, the director, was unable to signal my consent, despite the fact that a) I had written the scene, b) I could still waggle my fingers and bang my hands and feet, and c) I could in fact have spit the gag out and wriggled out of the rope if I'd wanted to - but I didn't.
The whipping Nimue orders her manservant to give her in My Lady's Pleasure is definitely banned - even though she is in control of the scene the whole time and telling him to go harder.
If these regulations are enforced, the only spanking scenes any UK producer will be able to make will be light hand spanking leading to a mild pinkness. No caning, no implements, no bruises, no welts.
Hywel Phillips, who runs UK glamour bondage site Restrained Elegance with his wife Ariel Anderssen (known to spanking fans as Amelia Jane Rutherford) thinks this sort of paternalistic censorship dismisses and denies the consent of porn performers. "The idea that the people who do this for pleasure, or for a living, cannot possibly know better than the father figure censor what is acceptable, what is safe practice, what they want to do and what they want to have done to them. This is called denying their agency- telling them that they cannot possibly know their own mind or make their own minds up."
Another potential casualty of these new regulations is free preview content. The censors want all adult content to be behind a paywall, so that children can't accidentally click through to it. If they start to take a close look at spanking sites, they will demand that we take down all our free video trailers and preview pictures that show spanking or nudity.
So what are we going to do?
First of all, we refuse to censor ourselves. Dreams of Spanking will continue doing business for as long as possible. We won't take half our archive offline pre-emptively, and we won't stop shooting the hot spanking scenes we want to - welts and all. If we are contacted by the censors with a demand to comply with the new regulations, we intend to challenge it.
We have always prioritised performer consent in our films, and you only have to take one look at our blog, performer interviews or behind the scenes videos to see that our films are made with love. All our cast members are genuine spanking enthusiasts, and our top priority on set is that everyone should be well looked after and have fun. We think it is ludicrous to ban depictions of consensual adult spanking, and we don't intend to go down without a fight.
However, we have taken legal advice and we're up for trying one or two things which might help our case. For instance, we've been advised that it might be a good idea to include performer consent in the spanking film itself, as well as in the surrounding contextual materials. So from now on, as well as publishing full-length out-take videos and performer interviews alongside each spanking film, we'll cut some edited highlights from the out-takes and interviews into the scene itself, so you'll get to see an introduction to our lovely performers before and after the in-character scene. Our latest two films, Provocative Housework and Curious Pleasures, are both examples of this new format.
This idea fits in to our existing ethos of being transparent and honest about where fantasy ends and reality begins, so we're happy to make this change if it will help viewers understand without a doubt that all our performers are consenting, kinky adults.
In refusing to self-censor, we aren't standing alone. A number of the Dreams of Spanking cast and crew have joined the outcry against these ridiculous new laws:
Is that it?
Far from it. This is only the beginning. These regulations are a worrying step on the path to total state censorship of the internet in the UK, and we need to work together to get them repealed - and prevent this harmful, worrying censorship of free expression from going any further.
Julian Huppert MP has tabled an early day motion requesting a debate on this issue - only two other MPs have signed it so far. The more MPs sign, the more likely this will be debated in the Commons. We think that if this issue is debated then we are likely to see change. The AVMS regulations were decided undemocratically by an unelected quango, and all the UK media coverage so far has been highly critical of the new law. We need to lobby our MPs to add their names to the motion in order to have a hope of getting this overturned.
So what can you do? Well, if you're resident in the UK, you can:
And if you aren't in the UK? Well, this will still affect you, as if British fetish porn producers are forced to comply with these regulations, you won't be able to watch our films any more.
You don't have to be in the UK to submit a complaint to ATVOD using their own complaints form. This form is intended to be used to complain about "inappropriate" TV content, which just makes re-appropriating it funnier. Let's spam them with complaints about their own regulations.
We at Dreams of Spanking believe that it is perfectly possible for adults to give informed consent to hard BDSM and spanking play, and to ethically create films depicting it. Our films are ethical, consensual, and an authentic expression of adult consensual kink. We refuse to be complicit in the state censorship of the porn we love, and we won't take anything down before we absolutely have to.
The only way we can keep on making the films you want to see is if we get these regulations overturned before we attract the notice of the censors. And we can't do it alone. Whether you are a Dreams of Spanking member or not, we need your help.
If you love kinky porn please share this blogpost, sign the petition, turn up to the protest, complain to ATVOD, write letters, talk to the press, and kick up as much of a fuss about this as possible. And please keep supporting your favourite porn sites by buying a membership - while you still can.
In May D and I attended a new and exciting event for the UK kink scene - a producers-only dry run for the British Fetish Film Festival. This brand new film festival is being co-ordinated by our friends Hywel Phillips and Amelia Jane Rutherford to showcase the latest developments in fetish film-making. They write:
With a few honourable exceptions (hello, Secretary!) fetishes and alternative sexual identities have not been tackled by mainstream film-makers.
Enthusiastic fetishists like us got fed up with this lack of interest and starting making their own films, funded by website sales.
That's awesome, but sometimes showing movies on the web can be like broadcasting into the void.
Nothing beats seeing your film on a large screen with a sympathetic audience.
The dry run was an interesting and enjoyable day kindly hosted by Paul and Lucy of Northern Spanking. Sarah of Spanking Sarah wrote an excellent report here, which showcases the films shown by other spanking producers and summarises the nerves I think many of us felt at showing our work to other producers.
I learned a lot from seeing my own film in a new context and from watching other people's contributions, and thoughts have been percolating ever since in my mind about pacing, storytelling and visual narrative. I learned that humour is the single best quality a film festival submission can have. I also learned that the maximum length before it starts to never-ending is 15 minutes, and that 5-10 is better if possible.
Since then I've been experimenting with tighter edits of my web updates, and have been thinking about ways to tell stories in different ways than the classic dialogue exposition dump. Visual storytelling involves more planning and storyboarding, and takes longer than a point-and-shoot roleplay scene, but it doesn't have to break the bank if you choose your shots carefully. Hywel has a really interesting blogpost on cinematic shooting techniques here, and I came away from the zeroth fetish film festival inspired to branch out and try new things. I've been exploring these ideas in a custom film I've recently produced for a private client, and am looking forward to applying them to future Dreams of Spanking productions.
I very much hope there will be another British Film Festival, open to the public this time, and it's exciting to think about having the opportunity to share my work with a wider audience. Still, I make films for myself and for my site members, and so showing them to a new audience with different expectations is inevitably challenging. The requirements of a good film festival submission are different to the requirements of a good paysite update. One solution would be to shoot something specially, or at least edit an existing film to be shorter in length, with less screen time devoted to spanking, and more time spent on character development, humour and story, to try and make it appealing to as wide an audience as possible, whatever their kink.
However, there won't be a public British Fetish Film Festival unless the organisers can get permission from the council to hold it, and as such they have solicited statements from the producers who took part in the dry run, stating why we think this is an important and positive event to have. It's not just because it gives us the chance to promote our work - after all, as I mentioned, most festival audience members will not be spanking fans, and so probably aren't potential customers. It's our shared goals, as producers of porn that honestly expresses our own sexualities, however unusual, of tolerance, acceptance and understanding. Here's what my statement said:
I'm Pandora Blake, and I'm an adult performer, pornographer and feminist. I run the fetish paysite Dreams of Spanking, and enjoy acting and modelling in other people's productions. I've been kinky my whole life; some of my earliest memories are of daydreams arising from an early fascination with spanking and corporal punishment, which started as young as four years old. As an adult, I started exploring these fantasies with likeminded friends and lovers and discovered I loved the reality just as much as I'd always imagined. I took my first foray into fetish modelling while I was a student, and when I was invited to perform in a spanking video I found that the experience expressed something profoundly true about myself. I quickly fell in love with the creative side of writing and producing kinky films, and almost immediately started laying the groundwork for launching my own production company, which finally became a reality in 2011.
It is my firm belief that sexual preference is ingrained in each of us, and that we cannot help what turns us on any more than we can help being straight, bisexual or gay. Sexuality may evolve and develop over time but sexual fetishes are not necessarily triggered by any real life event, and are certainly not an outward symptom of trauma or something going "wrong". Human sexuality is beautifully, infinitely varied, and the best thing we can do is to accept ourselves, whatever our kinks and fantasies. I also believe that as long as all participants give enthusiastic and informed consent, there is nothing wrong with adults acting out their sexual fantasies, or capturing those explorations on video. Even violent or extreme fantasies can be played out in a responsible, empowering way between consenting adults.
In an age where there is still a lot of fear, misinformation and ignorance about fetish and alternative sexuality, a film festival such as this is a fantastic way to raise awareness, promote transparency and give sexual minorities a platform to express themselves. Fetishists are often misrepresented in mainstream media, but our own creative self-expression is the best way for us to show the world what it is we like and why. I believe that a lot of hostility towards extreme or kinky porn arises from ignorance, and that many antis would be surprised by how harmless, playful and overtly consensual the reality really is. A festival like this not only helps normalise alternative sexualities and lifestyles in a way that may be reassuring to those who feel worried there might be something wrong with them because of their sexuality, it will also hopefully educate and inform others. I also hope it might promote solidarity and mutual understanding between kinksters who may have wildly differing tastes, but a common cause of social acceptance.
I have for several years been politically active on issues including feminism and equality, civil liberties, sexual freedom and better sex education. The mainstream porn industry does not represent the myriad diverse, imaginative and beautiful films being created by small, indie producers, and I think that the more public discussion we can have about alternative approaches to sexuality, the better.
Further to my post about our Rabbits Review last week, we've been reviewed by some other porn rating sites lately who had very positive things to say.
Honest Porn Reviews made some glowing comments about our ethical stance, diversity and user interface:
Although you would like to presume that all porn produced within physically demanding fetishes such as spanking is ethically produced and with the full consent of everyone involved, occasionally you do wonder if that is always the case. So it was certainly interesting of Dreams Of Spanking to come out and push that side of their site. A good idea, too, because I think it does help most people to enjoy a site more knowing that it was produced in a happy and conducive atmosphere.
Although conceived by a lady, this site does not just focus on the women doling out the punishment. Far from it. This is an equal opportunities site in every single way and that is why it is a cut above most other spanking fetish sites that I have seen. The performers are all professional spanking fetish experts, all of whom know exactly what they are doing and perform specific roles. I was also taken by just how much variety they have within their scenarios and the such like.
This is a beautifully presented site that does almost everything right. I think the best part of the user interface on this site was the section dedicated to the cast - all performers have a full bio including links to their own official pages and sites.
Update information is absolutely excellent and keeps you full informed about the recent additions to the site, plus there are also lots of options on the videos to keep you happy. The design of the site is ideal for this kind of content as well.
Honest Porn Reviews have awarded us an overall score of 8.9/10 - second only to Whipped Ass in their list of spanking sites. Not bad for a site that's only 18 months old! I'm really chuffed by this review, and delighted that Honest Porn Reviews found so much to like.
Another review site, Porn Inspector, awarded us a total score of 4.5/5, and seemed particularly impressed by our tour transparency:
Dreams Of Spanking has some of the finest tour transparency out there. Instead of showing you those bright red, freshly caned asses in a mishmash of random teaser images, they've decided to kill two birds with one stone and just let everyone see their entire members area instead. You can browse the site, even download trailers for each episode.
The scenes themselves well shot and, by porno standards at least, feature fine acting. In fact, one of the great things about this site is that the content has such a unique feel. Their movies have a cinematic style to them that makes you feel like you're watching watching a perverse inde film created by some eccentric director with a knack for casting exceptionally beautiful actors. I actually just finished a horror flick-esque caning scene that was, from beginning-to-end, positively oozing with creepy atmosphere. My favorite part was the shift to P.O.V. shots from the villain's perspective. Watching those girls wake up from a sound sleep to the, no doubt, excruciatingly painful sensation of that surprise bare buttocks caning — trust me, this guy didn't hold back! — must have been terrifying ... not to mention disorienting. And, scripted or not, the sobbing and shrieks were totally legit. Ouch!
That would be A Ghost Story - one of my favourite films in the archive. Lovely to see it given special mention!
Porn Inspector also appreciated our gender egalitarian approach and HD film quality:
Another point that was made, and one that I think it bears repeating, is that kissing and sexual contact is not encouraged between the models. So, if you should happen to see any hanky-panky accompanying the usual corporal punishment, you can rest assured that it's %100 authentic. There's 18 models, so far, six of which are male. But the boys aren't just relegated to the roles of spanker or spankee. No, there's actually a few solo bondage scenes featuring the fellas, too, making this a pretty diverse archive.
I was pleasantly surprised to find their latest updates are available in a great looking 1080p HD. Not surprisingly, play-back quality was superb. Even the file marked "low quality" was clear and crisp, and very watchable.
Constructive criticism from this review included the photo resolution, which is mostly at 1200x800px, and the download speeds. When I can, these days, I do upload photo galleries at 1200 x 1800px - for instance, Bath Bubbles, Bridezilla and Kinky. I started doing this at the end of last year - I think the first photo gallery uploaded at this resolution was The Captain and the Tavern Wench.
Unfortunately not all our photographs are high enough quality for it to be worth increasing the resolution, and so as we publish material we have already shot, there will still be some photo sets at the smaller resolution.
Is 1800x1200px enough, or would you like to see images in even higher resolution?
Regarding download speed, this is something Honest Porn Reviews picked up on as well, and it was definitely a problem with our old server. Happily, since moving to our new server last month, loading times and download speeds have been much better, so I hopefully I can tick off that issue as "resolved" :)
Overall, thanks Porn Inspector for a very positive review!
Finally, my friend Motley Wanderer recently treated themselves to a 5 day membership after following us with interest since our launch, and wrote a lovely blogpost in the wake of my article about not being exploited by performing in porn:
For me to want to watch it, porn needs to be made by feminists, it needs to have women involved in the production end of things as well as starring, it needs to value the contribution of people of all genders (i.e., paying the men!), it needs to be made for more than just a cis, hetero, male gaze, it needs to feature a reasonable variety of body types. And if it’s kink, I want to get my switch on – one of the things I love about Dreams of Spanking is that it has any number of combinations of tops and bottoms, and the majority of the performers are switches who aren’t just interested in playing one role with one gender. As a queer switch, it is totally up my street.
It needs to be made with absolute respect for the performers, respecting their boundaries absolutely, creating a fun working atmosphere
Above all, it needs to be made by people who genuinely love what they are doing, and aren’t just faking that enjoyment.
Dreams of Spanking is very explicit about offering all of that, including lots of behind the scenes footage so it’s really clear exactly how much fun is being had, even (especially?) when shooting dark and edgy material.
Thanks Motley Wanderer, I'm really glad the content ticked your boxes, and I'm even more pleased to hear that it inspired some spanking fun of your own!
That's definitely the best kind of review :)
The site is updated weekly with full-length spanking films, mostly between 5-20 minutes long but occasionally longer, and every so often Dana posts additional bonus videos. Dana Kane Spanks already contains a whopping 142 spanking scenes, the biggest archive of any new site I've ever seen.
In the videos Dana primarily spanks her male partner, known on the site only as "My Bottom's Bottom", and the adorable Spanked Angel, another regular playmate of Dana's. One other male spankee is known as "The Very Bad Boy".
Neither My Bottom's Bottom nor the Very Bad Boy show their faces in the videos, and Dana has not yet worked with any professional male spankees. After all, as I've learned, they can be quite hard to find, as in most places the market does not yet exist. I'm looking forward to seeing her expand her range of male victims as the site develops, and I'm sure that if she and Michael Darling were ever in the same town again she would set up a shoot with him in an instant!
Dana Kane Spanks does feature a number of female models from her hometown of Las Vegas as well as several professional female spankees including Cheyenne Jewel, Christie Cutie, Sarah Gregory and Kelley May (as far as I know, Kelley's first ever appearance on a spanking site other than her own clips store).
And, most recently, me! I filmed with Angel and Dana during my recent visit to Atlantic City, NJ.
Here's the scene description:
Pandora and Angel are lying in the hotel suite, talking about the party. They're being awfully bawdy, talking about all the hot guys and girls, and I can't tolerate their bad language for long. I lecture the girls on ladylike behavior, but they both argue back, saying that there's nothing wrong with their language or behavior, and that I am being unreasonable. After a bit of their backtalk, I've heard enough - I pull out two bars of soap and tell Pandora and Angel that they'll be sorry for their dirty language. Angel stands in the corner watching as I tell Pandora to open her mouth wide for the soap, then spin her around and spank her hard with hand and strap while she wriggles on the bed on hands and knees. I then bring Angel over and, over her protestations, shove the soap into her waiting mouth...and then watch her mouth pucker in disgust. Angel is placed into hands and knees position right beside Pandora, and they're both thoroughly spanked and strapped with soap bars firmly in their dirty little mouths. Then...there's a twist...
This was a really fun scene to shoot - it was lovely working with Dana again, and Angel is such a sweetheart. Dana also set up a hilarious behind the scenes prank which will be revealed in due course, but suffice it to say it was enormously entertaining for Dana and I, and rather less funny for poor Angel!
Dana Kane is one of the most capable disciplinarians on the planet and a very impressive woman, smart, funny and the embodiment of elegance and class. If you meet her you quickly discover that she is also warm, welcoming and open-hearted. I hope we can collaborate on many future occasions, and I wish her all the best with her new site Dana Kane Spanks.
Exciting news! UK spanking producer Sarah Bright, who specialises in original, engaging storylines that combine edgy complex consent fantasies with a playful sense of humour, is launching a new F/M site.
This is exciting for me not only because I think Michael has tremendous talent and deserves wide recognition, but because it's amazing to see a shift starting to take place in attitudes towards male spankees.
Remember that this is still an industry where 99.9% of studios don't pay their male performers fairly, or even at all - tops and bottoms both. Not only is this profoundly unjust, but it has knock-on effects throughout the industry, alienating skilled actors and professional male models, and fostering a non-professional atmosphere in which it is assumed that men in spanking films are motivated by personal gratification.
I know many volunteer workers in this industry, and of course most of them behave decently, and some have admirable skill and talent. But that still doesn't make a culture that expects or demands unpaid work fair. When that expectation is gendered, it is sexist.
Generally speaking, you can't expect someone to behave like a professional if you don't treat them like one. If you want to attract high quality professional performers, you have to offer fair pay.
As well as the business ethics and fairtrade angle, this is also a female gaze issue. As someone who is trying to create spanking porn that will be erotically and aesthetically appealing to women, including women who are attracted to men, I believe that hiring hot, good looking male actors is crucial. And, generally speaking, men who look like professional models and actors won't work for you unless you're paying decent rates - and nor should they. It's as simple as that.
So congratulations to Sarah and Michael on their shoot, and kudos to Sarah for bucking the trend and understanding that quality male spankees are worth their weight in gold. I wish her all the best for her new venture, and I can't wait to see the results.
If you want to see more hot, talented male spanking stars, support studios that pay all performers fairly, regardless of gender, and maybe we can start a revolution in gender egalitarian porn.