Tuesday, December 8, 2015

James Deen and the Myth of Concrete Consent

In the final months of a nearly six-year BDSM relationship — the most satisfying relationship of my life — a line was crossed. My Master (a stripper and porn star at the time) violated my safe word, and I knew in that instant that it was the beginning of the end. Without warning he had confiscated my magic passport, declaring it null and void, sending me back to reality.

To read the rest of my personal take on the porn star's takedown visit The Rumpus.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Talking Sex Work with The Red Umbrella Diaries Producer Audacia Ray

It was a little over half a decade ago that I read at one of Audacia Ray’s intimate Red Umbrella Diaries events on the Lower East Side. Since then this sex worker storytelling series founder – whose resume also includes stints as a bodyworker, escort, and executive editor of $pread magazine – has become one of the foremost voices of sex work advocacy through her Red Umbrella Project (RedUP), harnessing the media to de-stigmatize the oldest profession in the world. Now, after waging battle against violence and for the public health of those in a long-marginalized industry, she’s executive produced The Red Umbrella Diaries – a feature based on a Joe’s Pub performance from some standout Diaries alums – that’s having its New York City premiere at DOC NYC.

So what’s the journey been like from the Happy Ending Lounge to here? Filmmaker spoke with Ray about her crusade to not just change the conversation around sex work – but to put it firmly back in the hands of working girls and boys (and trans-girls and trans-boys).

To read my interview visit Filmmaker magazine.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Criminalizing Kink in the UK: The 50 Shades Effect

Last month I reached out to LA-based expat Anna Span, an English porn producer (and one-time Liberal Democrat candidate) who awhile back, fought the UK’s ban on showing female ejaculation in porn—and won! I was anxious to hear her take on the recent crackdown on sadomasochistic practices in adult films, specifically whether “BDSM-themed art porn” is technically even legal in the UK nowadays.

To find out more visit The Rumpus.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Hot in The City: Mariah MacCarthy on The Brick Theater’s First Ever F*ckfest

As a writer who’s authored an erotic memoir, and a filmmaker who’s an alum of CineKink NYC, it didn’t take much for The Brick Theater’s recent press release that landed in my inbox to grab my attention. Williamsburg, Brooklyn’s little theater that can-do was trumpeting their inaugural F*ckfest – a “sextival” that opened with a free cabaret on June 9th and runs all the way through July 3rd. In between those dates The Brick would be packed with nearly 20 shows of all sexual shapes and sizes – from comedy sketches, to multimedia performances, to an audio installation, to even an opera. And because I don’t normally receive invites that conclude with, “As noted scholar and professor of sexology Dr. Marvin P. Gaye, Jr. put it, ‘Let’s get it ahwnnn,’” I was lusting to find out more.

Fortunately, I was able to speak with The Brick’s Associate Artistic Director, and the event’s curator, Mariah MacCarthy halfway through the sexy fest.

To read my interview visit Global Comment.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Queer Film Pioneer Monika Treut on Of Girls and Horses

A legend in lesbian cinema, Monika Treut has been making films for 30 years, starting with her 1985 narrative feature Seduction: The Cruel Woman (featuring Udo Kier – not bad for a debut film), and right through to this year’s Of Girls and Horses, a poetic coming-of-age tale that also serves as a celebration of nature’s transformational power. Along the way Treut has also explored the nonfiction realm, turning her lens on everything from gender identity (1999’s Gendernauts) to Taiwanese food (2012’s The Raw and the Cooked).

Filmmaker was fortunate enough to catch up with the Hyena Films co-founder (along with Elfi Mikesch, her co-director on Seduction) during post-production on her latest documentary, which was shot in Brazil – her head still “buzzing with Portuguese favela slang.”

To read my interview visit Filmmaker magazine.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Caitlyn Is The New Clint: Why Jenner Matters

In all honesty, I’ve been out of the loop when it comes to the reality TV star formerly known as Bruce. Too young to recall Jenner’s decathlon-winning heyday, which launched him onto Wheaties boxes and into media stardom, and having neglected to keep up with the Kardashians, I’ve really never given a moment’s thought to the spotlight-loving sexagenarian. However, as someone who’s long identified as genderqueer, and is quite curious about cisgender reactions to the trans community, I figured I should finally get around to taking a look at that infamous “coming out” interview Jenner gave to straitlaced Diane Sawyer, especially now that the Bruce who gave it is no more.

To read the rest visit The Rumpus.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Thought Crimes, Sexual Fantasies and “The Cannibal Cop”

Years ago when I worked at a house of domination in NYC’s Chelsea district, there were a handful of clients who were memorable for breaking up the run-of-the-mill fetish (foot worship, spanking, bondage, role playing, repeat) monotony. One was a dude I never saw, but only heard about whenever one of the few Mistresses capable of handling his fantasy would dip out of the emotionally exhausting session to vent in the dressing room. As far as I know he was our only client who spent his high-priced hour rhapsodizing about killing and eating his relatives.

I thought of this client while watching the recent HBO documentary Thought Crimes, filmmaker Erin Lee Carr’s portrait of Gil Valle, a NYC police officer better known as “The Cannibal Cop” after Valle’s online life became the subject of a criminal conspiracy investigation.

To read the rest visit The Rumpus.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Feminist Pornographer Jennifer Lyon Bell on Silver Shoes, PinkLabel.tv, and the Holy F*ck Film Festival

I’ve known Amsterdam-based, San Francisco-bred, Jennifer Lyon Bell ever since we met over half a decade ago at Brooklyn’s much beloved Monkey Town — back when a DIY, Williamsburg performance space could afford to host a Sunday brunch for CineKink Film Festival award winners. (Bell’s Matinée took the Best Narrative Short prize, while Un Piede di Roman Polanski, an homage to Roman Polanski’s foot fetish I co-directed with Roxanne Kapista, nabbed Best Experimental Short.) Since then Bell’s films have been both banned (Matinée from the Melbourne Underground Film Festival by the Australian Film Commission in 2009) and celebrated, most recently in the U.K. and Canada. Her latest, Silver Shoes, available from PinkLabel.tv, premiered at London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts and won the Feminist Porn Awards 2014 Movie of the Year.

Filmmaker decided to catch up with Bell to chat about the film’s digital launch via a “fair trade” platform, the current climate for art porn, and Amsterdam’s inaugural (and brilliantly named) Holy F*ck Film Festival.

To read my interview visit Filmmaker magazine.

Monday, May 4, 2015

An Interview With the Directors of Kumu Hina, A Hawaiian Transgender Story

Mark your calendars and set your DVRs. If orange is the new black, then Hawaii is the new cool state. Premiering Monday, May 4th on PBS’s Independent Lens is Kumu Hina, Dean Hamer and Joe Wilson’s uplifting portrait of gender and cultural empowerment in the Pacific. This enthralling documentary follows titular subject Kumu (“Teacher”) Hina Wong-Kalu, a married woman and dedicated cultural mentor at a native Hawaiian school who also happens to be māhū – or what the west would call a transgender person. As we watch Hina ready her all-male hula troop (which includes one kickass sixth-grader, born female but an out-and-proud māhū) for their year-end performance, and struggle in her relationship with a heterosexual, cisgender Tongan man, what emerges is something extraordinary. Through their patient, cinema vérité style, Hamer and Wilson give us a glimpse into a world where aloha – “love, honor and respect for all” – is not just a catchy word or an abstract idea, but truly a way of life.

I was fortunate enough to speak with the award-winning co-directors prior to the doc’s public broadcasting debut (programmed in celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month).

To read my interview visit Global Comment.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Former high-ranking Scientologist: “Thetans have no gender”

My Salon interview with one of my sheroes! Trans pioneer (and ex Scientologist) Kate Bornstein stars in the wonderful doc Kate Bornstein Is A Queer & Pleasant Danger.

Gender theory pioneer Kate Bornstein talks about trans visibility, LGBT activism and her history with the church.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Annie Sprinkle on Reuniting with Golden Era Porn Legends for CineKink’s “A Tribute to Club 90″

It’s splendidly ironic that the birth of Club 90 — “the world’s first porn star support group” — occurred in 1983 at a baby shower, the ultimate celebration of sex positivity. Porn actress Veronica Hart (who may be familiar to viewers of Six Feet Under and Boogie Nights, and is still with her high school sweetheart today) was due, porn star-turned-sexologist/performance artist Annie Sprinkle volunteered her apartment at 90 Lexington, the women of NYC’s adult industry showed up, and the rest, as they say, is kink history.

At the urging of the late Gloria Leonard (a feminist porn star who would go on to, as the publisher of High Society, pioneer the “celebrity skin” sub-genre) and along with female-centric porn director Candida Royalle and Veronica Vera (who, in 1992, would launch Miss Vera’s Finishing School, the world’s first cross-dressing academy), these adult actresses began to meet regularly to offer each other emotional support, share contacts and strategize ways of producing, directing and distributing their own work. In other words, once this trailblazing five-some joined forces, the sex industry would never be the same.

Filmmaker was fortunate enough to speak with one of the legends, Annie Sprinkle, prior to “A Tribute to Club 90,” the February 27th centerpiece event of the 12th Annual CineKink NYC (running from February 24th-March 1st). To read my interview visit Filmmaker magazine.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

5 Film Alternatives to “50 Shades of Grey”

Now that all the hoopla surrounding the film adaptation of E.L. James’ BDSM book for ladies who lunch has died down (or rather tanked if you read the Rotten Tomatoes reviews) let’s get down and dirty real. Long before there were “50 Shades” teddy bears and “50 Shades” cookbooks (“50 Shades of Kale”? WTF?) there were movies that actually dealt with the subject of sadomasochism from a non-“Twilight” perspective. So as a longtime film critic and the author of “Under My Master’s Wings” – an erotic memoir about my time spent as the personal slave to a gay for pay stripper – I feel it’s my duty to offer five cinematic suggestions that go beyond bondage bears and kinky kale.

To find out my five visit Global Comment.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Crowdsourcing Erotica: Erika Lust’s XConfessions

A Swede living in Spain with a background in political science, Erika Lust is not your average feminist pornographer. The award-winning writer-director of over half a dozen erotic films, Lust is now embarking on what she considers her most important project yet. XConfessions is 100 percent crowdsourced, fan-generated erotica. Each month, Lust chooses two sex confessions from among the wide-ranging slew of fantasies posted to her site. (The submission process itself is free of charge. Just create an anonymous profile and you can read or write confessions as well as watch free videos.) Those favorites will then become short films — or, in some cases, sexy swag that the winning confessor receives gratis. (The Cava Ménage à Trois box set of wine from a family-owned Spanish vineyard seems inspired, though I’m partial to the “Queen of Fucking Everything” tote bag.)

To read the rest visit Filmmaker magazine (or better yet, buy the Winter 2015 print issue).