Thursday, October 31, 2013

Nymphomia Finally Coming

Lars Von Trier's much talked about movie Nymphomania is finally set to hit select theatres in December. Shia Labeouf made entertainment headlines everywhere when he announced last year that he would be having live, non-simulated sex on camera for the film. As one might have expected, however, this turned out not to be the case. The director made a statement that all live sex would be performed by body doubles who are porn actors.

This completely baffles me, but I won't get into that here as I covered the topic in this article in VUE's Sex Issue last year. None of this is new.

What is new is that promo posters for Nymphomania have been released. Each of the actors in the film, and there are many, posed for a portrait in which they were to show their 'orgasm' face. The results are mixed. Some of the people, mostly the women, I'd have to say, really do like the picture was taken while they were in the throes of sexual passion.

Others? Not so much.

You can see the whole set of posters here. Whether Trier is successful in showing the face of ecstasy in this series or not, her certainly has piqued my interest. I want to know who these people are and how they relate to each other. Will it be a great movie? Who knows? But, given his past track-record, Nymphomania, will at the very least be interesting, thought-provoking and potentially bizarre and disturbing.

Toys in Vegas - Why Not?

It seems hotels on the Las Vegas strip want to get into the sex toy business. An ordinance is being prepared that would change the zoning to allow hotels on Las Vegas Boulevard South to devote a small section of their hotel gift shops to adult toys and novelties. It seemed a wee bit strange to me that you can't sell sex toys in hotels in Vegas. If you can't sell sex stuff there, where in the hell can you? When I was at the Rio Hotel last year, they had a whole shop devoted to the Chippendales and there were most certainly adult toys and novelties in there. But then I realized that although I didn't notice it, that was likely an age restricted store. Anyone of any age can shop in a hotel gift shop and that is probably why they are not allowed to have sex toys out in plain view. But, as the lawyer for Cesar's resort argued, Las Vegas has become THE destination for bachelor parties and stagettes. People want to buy their penis sippy cups and blowup dolls there, not bring them with. As it stands, they have to venture quite a ways off the strip to find an adult store. If you're going there for one or two nights, you don't have a lot of time to do that. I'm sure the hotels realize they're missing out on a pretty good source of revenue by not being able to sell that stuff. The AVN website laments that actual adult retailers will lose a lot of business if this is allowed to happen but I doubt that's true. Most of those people wouldn't take the time to seek out and go to an adult store of the strip anyway.

I happen to despise Las Vegas - just my opinion. I don't enjoy the atmosphere at all. However, there are at least four major adult trade events that happen there every year. I am likely to find myself in Las Vegas again in the not too distant future. Maybe this ordinance will inspire the hotels to do something fun with their gifts shops or to even open a really cool adult store in a hotel or on the strip. I would enjoy checking that out next time I'm trapped there for business.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Yet Another Movie About 'Porn Addiction' Disappoints (warning - Movie Spoilers)

I went to see the movie Don Jon last night. I was really looking forward to this one because I think Joseph Gordon-Levitt is an under-rated and excellent actor and I LOVE Scarlett Johansson. I want very much for her to be my girlfriend - but of course that would involve actually meeting her first. Plus, the movie is about porn and sex - two things about which I am infinitely interested. Sadly, it left me disappointed and not just a little angry. I actually felt like I wanted to barf at the end and I will get to why.

But first, there were some good things about the movie. The way it approaches the whole issue of objectification - both sexual and non - is pretty interesting. It's a theme that comes up in several ways and a few of them, unlike most of the movie, are pretty subtle. Jon and his friends are stereotypical womanizers. They go to bars and talk about women based on the way they are dressed - 'look at white shorts over there!' and rate them on a number scale based on their appearance. Jon looks for 8's,9's and 10's where his friend admits that he can't get an 8 but he'll settle for a 4 because they try harder. It's rather disgusting and it's meant to be. This behavior is not portrayed as admirable. Jon takes these women home, has sex with them, and then never sees them again. He claims that he enjoys sex but not as much as he likes watching porn because sex with these women is boring, he rarely gets what he really wants, and he has to do things that he doesn't really like doing. He can lose himself with porn where that never happens with a live woman. This treatment of objectification is rather heavy-handed and judgemental. I don't like what they're doing either but neither do I enjoy the heavy dose of judgement placed on them for it. What's interesting is where objectification comes up in other ways. Jon's eventual girlfriend Barbara is shown assessing him with her girlfriends, mainly on the basis of his looks and his ability to earn money. This is not condemned as severely but it's a nice twist that it's presented. She does it too - just in a different way. In fact, Jon's mother does it too - viewing Jon mostly in terms of his ability to give her grandchildren and thinking that only a wife and kids will give his life meaning. I enjoyed that more subtle take on the different ways we objectify people.

At first, the movie seems quite sympathetic to Jon's porn habit. He explains pretty clearly why he's into it and it makes a lot of sense. It even compares his love of porn to Barbara's love of sappy, romantic comedies. I liked that a lot. Both are idealizations. Both are fantasies. Both could be viewed as unhealthy if you really look at it and both could be viewed as harmless. So what's the real difference? One of my favorite moments is when Barbara, in an attempt to explain why porn is different than romantic comedies, states that they gives awards for movies. Don spits right back, 'They give awards for porn too!'.

Here comes the spoiler part - if you still want to see this movie, you probably don't want to read the rest of this.

There are definitely some things to like about this movie and some things to think about. HOWEVER! With most of the themes, it is extremely heavy-handed and obvious. I told my partner on the way home that I felt a headache coming on from being beaten across the head with a two by four all night. You can predict most of the eventual outcomes before the action gets started. It doesn't take time to delve deeper into the issues, instead choosing to rely on cheesy movie shorthand such as narration, repetition, and obvious foreshadowing to get the point across. Worst of all, although it starts out looking like it is sympathetic to Jon and his interest in porn, that is a red herring. In the end we do find out that Jon's porn habit really is hurting him and is symptomatic of his inability to connect with real live people. The only way he will have a fulfilling relationship is to give up the porn and connect with a real person. And guess what? He does! He meets THE ONE and stops watching porn. Gag me!

Had they chosen to end this differently and not tie it up in such a neat bow, I could have liked it. But to have him have one amazing sexual experience and decide that's what life is all about and he's not going to watch porn anymore is cheap, easy, and horribly stereotypical and judgemental. It just makes it come down to that same old trope that we always hear that porn is ALWAYS objectification and ALWAYS bad for you and anyone in a good sexual relationship wouldn't and shouldn't want to watch it. I think that is flat out dangerous. It can make people think that there is something wrong with them or their relationship if they still masturbate and/or watch porn. We are all sexual people. Some of us have very high sex drives. And some of us really enjoy watching people have sex and/or having sex with ourselves. None of those interests or needs disappear just because we're in a good relationship. This idea conflates two things that are quite separate and lays blame for instincts and actions which natural and blameless.

I really wanted Jon to keep watching porn and to keep having his amazing sex. That is entirely possible and it's what many people do. I also wanted to know if his new girlfriend would have a cow if she caught him watching porn. That would have been interesting.

With a much lighter hand and less of a propensity to tie things up quickly, this could have been a very interesting and challenging movie. Instead, it added another movie to the pile that tells us there's only one way to find sexual happiness and that doesn't include watching porn.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Passionate Produce

I met a bazillion people while I was at CatalystCon in Los Angeles last week (okay, maybe it was closer to 50 or 60, but it felt like a bazillion) and they were all doing something cool. Someone particularly cool was Kristen who is starting up a project called PassionateProduce. It is, in just a few words, KickStarter for Kinsters. Kristen herself and many of her creative kinky friends are interested in doing all kinds of creative projects from videos, to art projects, to books, even making sex toys, that would be perfect for KickStarter. The only problem is, the worry that KickStarter (or IndieGoGo or what have you) will freak out because of the decidedly NSFW nature of their project or that the people who use those sites just won't get them. PassionateProduce is meant specifically for creative projects that have a kinky side to them.

The site is in a beta test right now. If you are interested in getting a project funded or in supporting creative perverts, you can ask to be on their beta test list. They will send you information about how to join the site and find out about opportunities. It's at