Connect with us
Shop Megan Fox's Favorite Lingerie at Frederick's of Hollywood

Aussie Porn Invasion

Sex Ed

Aussie Porn Invasion

At the moment the fastest growing audience for porn is women. This doesn’t come as much of a surprise when you consider they’re the biggest group to be excluded (as viewers), be it by societal taboos, film content, or physical accessibility. The internet changed all that; easy access (no more trips to the XXX Shoppe), more content than you could ever need, and a new idea of anonymity that allows many taboos to be dropped. Mainstream producers have tried to cash-in on this new audience, and have succeeded to varying degrees, but women are one of the biggest viewers of amateur porn, and male directors and producers trying to cater to what they’ve been told are female fantasies are often missing the point – the subject matter may be more appealing to women, but it’s still filmed via the masculine eye; the camera still looks to the places men see as important or engaging during sex.

6

Zahra Stardust

So if you’re sick of the same old formulaic porn, or just never got into the whole ‘slam, bam, thank-you ma’am’ thing, listen up. There’s a whole new wave of porn being made by women FOR women, and Australia is leading the charge. As a population, Australia is small. As a porn ‘industry’ we’re even smaller, thanks to many a Draconian law and the fact you must shoot in the ACT to avoid most illegalities. But here’s the thing: in recent years several of our filmmakers have won coveted awards at porn and erotica festivals the world over. We have huge amounts of talent within our tiny pool. Australia had an astounding representation at this year’s Feminist Porn Awards (FPA), with nominations in more than half the categories, and several winners. Gala Vanting won ‘Hottest Kink Film’; Ms Naughty and Blake took out ‘Best BDSM Scene’; Morgana Muses starred as ‘Heartthrob of the Year’. Zahra Stardust received an Honourable Mention; and Bright Desire was one of three websites to get an Honoured Mention for ‘adult website’, quite a feat considering how many are out there.

I was lucky enough to speak with Ms Naughty, Gala Vanting and Zahra Stardust on feminist porn, inspiration and what the future holds.

MisKnickers (MisK): How long have you been making films?

Gala Vanting (GV): For a decade now!

Ms Naughty (MsN): I’ve been creating and curating porn online since 2000 but I didn’t start making films until early 2009. I did a short course in filmmaking and just made it up as I went along.

Zahra Stardust (ZS): I’ve been working in the sex industry for ten years in various capacities. I started as a stripper and performed in my first porn scene in 2009. A few years ago I began collaborating with other performers and producers to make films that combine art, sex and politics.

Ms Naughty

Ms Naughty

MisK: Who or what have been your major film making influences?

MsN: I have always been inspired by the work of Candida Royalle. She and Annie Sprinkle are my ‘porny godmothers’ – they paved the way for us. I also admire Petra Joy and Erika Lust’s work; they both emphasise the female gaze and put a lot of effort into making their films look good. Ovidie is also brilliant. She has such a great sense of humour. Beyond that, I’ve gained a lot of inspiration from attending the Berlin Porn Film Festival – there are so many amazing ideas and clever filmmakers there, I always find it inspiring.

GV: Annie Sprinkle was also one of the major influences on my choice to start doing this work. But I’d say that creatively, Vincent Moon is my biggest influence – just on the way that I shoot and the processes of production.

ZS: Internationally I was always head over heels for Belladonna and the incredible things she did with her body on set. I love Madison Young’s blending of art and porn and her projects exploring sexuality, pregnancy and motherhood. I’ve been lucky enough to work with my idols Jiz Lee, April Flores and Courtney Trouble, and always admired the production ethics of Shine Louise Houston. Here in Australia I’ve been inspired by community-owned, queer, feminist porn like Slit Magazine and projects aiming to document sexualities, like Sensate Films’ Slow Porn Manifesto.

Gala3

Gala Vanting

MisK: How do you describe feminist porn, and did you start making it as a personal aesthetic or a social statement (or both!)? 

MsN: The question of “what is feminist porn?” is a little bit like “how long is a piece of string?” There’s numerous discussions about how to define it; some say it’s not a genre but a movement, a group of like-minded individuals working towards change. Feminist porn creates space for the female gaze; it acknowledges that women want to look and want to be aroused. It understands that we do like looking at male bodies! It creates space for queer and trans representation, for a wider variety of body types and races and it allows room for men to be depicted as something other than robotic humping sex machines whose only goal is ejaculation.
Sex is such a huge subject, it’s so multifaceted and it’s a vital part of the human experience. Feminist porn isn’t just about arousal; it can be about emotion, about protest, about art. A feminist porn film can be sexy AND intellectual at the same time.

I started making my films for a number of reasons. One was purely commercial, but I also wanted to bring my own ideals and aesthetics to porn, to shoot stuff that you didn’t see often – a female point of view, an admiration of the male body, a focus on female pleasure and desire. I guess you could say it was a social statement: I wanted to show that porn could be better than it was – more sensual, less sexist, better looking, more realistic.

GV: Feminist porn is as diverse as feminism, and feminists. For me, it’s basically any porn whose production and presentation is influenced by a feminist ethic. Not everything that calls itself ‘feminist porn’ looks feminist to me, but there’s something about me that loves that debate and that diversity. For me it was a political project first and foremost. The aesthetics came later.

ZS: Feminist porn is a movement, genre, and ethic that affects everything from conceptualisation, production, marketing and consumption. As a movement the challenge is to think intersectionally about sexual politics and sexual rights relevant to those in our communities who are marginalised by criminal laws, over-policing, racism, ableism, and transphobia.

2

Zahra Stardust

MK: What inspires you to do this work?

GV: Sex. Intimacy. The people in my productions. My creative partner Aven Frey. And the response of the people who see our work.

MsN: I do it to earn a living, of course, but I also want to change the sexual and pornographic landscape. We’re still so backwards when it comes to sex and sexuality. The majority of porn isn’t really showing the beauty or diversity of our sex lives. So I want to expand the possibilities of how we depict sex and to make it into an artform. DH Lawrence once said that pornography was an attempt to insult sex, to do dirt on it. I want to lift it away from that, to show a positive, joyful vision of sex.

ZS: Outrage at injustice (over bans on g spot ejaculation, visible inner labia or fisting); wonder in exploring the thresholds of my body; pleasure in radical acts of intimacy and the creative process; and contributing to a community and body of work with broader significance.

Ms Naughty

Ms Naughty

MsK: Do you suffer from any social stigma regarding your work? Do you have to remain clandestine?

MsN: I do have to be careful who I tell because I live in a country town in a fairly religious area so I would imagine there would be people here who might take exception to my work. I’ve declined TV appearances because I don’t want to be recognised. At the same time, I recently spoke at a mainstream feminist conference and they were very welcoming.

GV: I choose to be pretty ‘out’ about what I do.  But of course it comes with stigma.  I’m also a sex worker, and pretty out about that.  I notice that porn shares some stigma with sex work, but also kinda has some of its own unique little pressures, because it’s a form of cultural production very visible to the mainstream, and about which everyone has an opinion.

ZS: Stigma and criminalisation are leading killers of sex workers around the world. People performing in and producing porn face institutional discrimination – in setting up bank accounts, obtaining billing, finding leases, getting other employment, and on social media and crowdfunding platforms. We then face individualised stigma on a daily basis that overwhelmingly shapes our lives and identities.

Gala Vanting

Gala Vanting

MisK: Is it difficult to get a film made in Australia?

GV: In a word, yes. And is very much influenced by your own personal resources, because most producers here work completely independently.

MsN: I’ve made one feature film and I financed that myself. Every scene I shoot for Bright Desire is self-funded. There is no ‘industry’ to speak of, just a few people doing their own thing. Some of us have done crowdfunding, but mainly we’re really DIY. We network to find talent and locations but it’s pretty low-key.

ZS: So much so that it is the topic of my PhD research!

MisK: How does our (Australian) industry compare to those overseas? Would you ever contemplate working offshore?

ZS: Because the Australian porn industry is so tiny, much of our work involves shooting overseas. There’s quite a bit of crossover – Australian films are represented at all major international porn film festivals and we contribute to international queer and feminist porn dialogues, texts and community.

MsN: We’re tiny compared to overseas. I’ve looked at the options for working in Berlin or the Netherlands. Europe is so much more open about sex and porn. I’m often jealous about how easy it is to shoot there; you can hire studios, advertise openly, there’s a lot more talent and people take you seriously. But I don’t know if the weather would agree with me.

GV: I do (contemplate working overseas). I don’t have much involvement in the mainstream industry, so I can’t make a point of comparison there. I work mostly in circles of queer people and artists, who are always struggling to produce their work and who are always generously working on one another’s productions.

Ms Naughty

Ms Naughty

MisK: Do you think porn is becoming more or less culturally relevant, and how does this affect your role as a filmmaker?

MsN: I think porn has become a very culturally relevant issue thanks to the internet. It’s ubiquitous and that is causing a lot of moral panic. I understand the concern that young people are encountering it online and using it as their sex education, especially when official sex ed is so lacking in real-world information about consent, pleasure, technique and relationships. Porn can be fun but it shouldn’t be sex education. That’s like watching a Hollywood car chase and using it as driving instruction. We absolutely need to be improving our sex education and helping young people to think critically about pornography.

I also understand the feminist concern with the gender and race politics on display in a lot of mainstream porn. There’s far too much sexism and negativity out there and not nearly enough diversity in how porn depicts sex. I can understand the worry that bad porn shapes the attitudes of the viewers but I think it’s something that needs to be properly researched. I’ve yet to see any peer reviewed conclusive evidence that porn is addictive or harmful.

All of this does affect my role as a filmmaker because I’m aware of the need to show an alternative vision: to bring the feminist, female perspective to porn; to show sensual, fun, pleasurable sex; to show diversity and equality.

GV: It is always culturally relevant. Its relevance and meaning changes with time and geography. This affects my role in the sense that I need my work to speak to some of the questions that diverse forms of sexual expression beg about our culture.

ZS: I think user generated porn is where it’s at. With new technologies, people are taking over the means of production and representing themselves. We’re seeing more collaboration, increased community ownership, and the democratisation of porn. It’s exciting.

3

Zahra Stardust

MisK: What projects do you have coming up?

MsN: I’m busy with updating my various sites. I have a few ideas for features, but I need to find the time to develop them. In the meantime, I’m going to offer my feature film The Fantasy Project as a wider release very soon.

GV: At the moment I’m collaborating with CLAUDE, the NSW women’s sexual health project, on a film about queer women and bloodplay. It’s very interesting to team up with the public health sector to make provocative media about sexuality, and I’d love to continue to work in this way.

ZS: In October I can’t wait to co-present Getting Our Hands Wet: Fisting and Ejaculation along with queer femmes Gala Vanting, Sadie Lune and Wendy Delorme at the Berlin Porn Film Festival. It’s a 4 hour workshop involving discussion, anatomical diagrams, film screenings and live explicit demonstration.

MisK: How can people access your work?

MsN: My main site is BrightDesire.com – that has all my videos. I write regularly about porn and feminism at MsNaughty.

GV: sensatefilms.comlovehardthefilm.commsgalavanting.com

ZS: www.zahrastardust.com www.pinkscholar.com


Images courtesy of Gala Vanting, Zahra Stardust and Ms Naughty
Have an amazing experience or tips you like to share on SimplySxy? Drop us an email at editorial@SimplySxy.com!

MisKnickers

MisKnickers is a Melbourne-based writer and educator with over twenty years professional experience. Published in some of Australia's major newspapers and magazines, MisK also spent time as a scriptwriter for both film and television. Her educational know-how is a unique blend of her formal training as a University educator, and her own experience from many years running writing workshops. Several years ago, MisK turned her talent with both words and people toward the sexual, creating (f)Risky Enterprises - a website and business dedicated to celebrating sexuality through words, be it reading, listening, or digital stimulation. ;) As someone who loves variety (identifying as a gender-fluid, pansexual, switch!) MisK's passions are always changing, but her strong sense of justice keeps her committed to the sex-positive movement and striving for sexual and gender equality. She specialises in enabling sexual self-expression, improving communication skills, and inspiring confidence. MisKnickers loves interaction, so please feel free to contact her with any topics of interest, or personal queries.

Get in touch with MisKnickers via email at misknickers@gmail.com

Comments

More in Sex Ed

To Top