I had it all planned out: A ‘women only’ event. Women getting together to talk about ‘porn for women’. I wanted two male butlers in the buff serving strawberries and champagne. The butlers being the “eye candy” for the girls – showing off their biceps, pecs and bums, serving the women in a polite manner. Women first. Women on top.
Little did I know that the bar where I was to run my event was a bar where men normally have a post-wank beer after they have enjoyed some solo play time in the sex cinema. A venue that clearly caters for men and their desires with larger than life photographs of female porn stars on the walls and no indication of male sex objects on display whatsoever. It took all afternoon to transform the venue and make it more attractive and comfortable for women. We covered the slot machines and swapped the beer pads with rose petals and feathers. Eventually the butler arrived (my hosts supplied me with one rather than two eye candies). Whilst I was briefing him on how to treat the ladies and kitted him out with a short black waiter’s apron, cuffs and a bowtie I was in for a nasty surprise.
The butlers in the buff are about showing off the best features of a well toned guy in a cheeky yet non-offensive way. They go down a storm at many events all over the UK and I had one in my orgy scene in “Feeling it!” I had sent the organiser the pictures displaying the best features if the butler – covered at the front with a black apron put displaying his naked, sexy peach bum at the back. However to my surprise the hosts of the vents did not share my enthusiasm. They demanded that the sexy butler would wear a cheap and cheerful pair of boxer shorts to cover up his best bits, as they considered his bum to be “rude, dirty and offensive”. I was gobsmacked. In this very venue female porn stars regularly display themselves more or less in full frontal nudity and only 15 meters away hardcore porn was playing in the sex cinema to entertain the male crowds suddenly a double standard was applied: naked women being considered as “normal and sexy”, semi nude men being considered as “dirty and vulgar”.
I tried my best to stand my ground and give the girls the eye candy that they deserve but even though the event was based entirely on my concept, I was told by the organisers that in their venue they called all the shots and so the butler ended up looking mediocre in a rather unsexy pair of baggy boxer pants.
This is not the first time I encountered this double standard – two years back a big distributor cut my male bisexual scene that they considered “dirty”. This very scene won this year “best bi scene” at the feminist porn award at Toronto. And many women including me really enjoy watching men make out – just like most straight guys enjoy girl-girl action.
The other day I met a TV producer in Cologne and told him about the growing trend in Germany of young women editing alternative erotic magazines featuring nude men. The ‘Jungsheft’ is an art-core publication from Cologne and has become a cult publication cult all over Germany. It is edited by two women and features photographs of ordinary nude men, some with erections. The comment of the male TV producer says it all. Without batting an eyelid he said: “It is obvious that this magazine is read mainly by gay men”. I was speechless.
I can’t believe that this prejudice still prevails. Let me spell it out loud and clear: women are voyeurs too. And straight or bisexual women enjoy looking at nude hunky men as much as men have been enjoying seeing topless girls in their daily paper for decades now.
What does it take until female fantasies and desires will be taking seriously? How much longer until an erotic photo of a well toned guy is just seen as that – a photo of an attractive man to be enjoyed by whoever- rather than being labelled “gay”?
Sometimes I feel we still have a very long way to go…
I did not enjoy visiting this year’s Venus adult trade show in Berlin. It felt like being catapulted through a time warp into the 80′s with its outdated representation of women and sexuality. Even on the trade and press day the halls were filled with middle-aged men, equipped with telescopic cameras and plastic steps in order to get a better look or shot of the women that happened to be stripping on various stages. Whereas Erotica at London promotes a more sophisticated style of eroticism with headliners like Dita van Teese attracting a 60% female crowd, the Venus in Berlin still displays Pamela Anderson clones that masturbate in the shows pretty much nonstop whilst looking increasingly fed up. None of this is shocking or new – just hopelessly outdated and boring. I was wondering – why is there not a greater variety of women performing on stage, where is the guy candy and why is there not an area somewhere aimed at women? This year they had for the first time a ‘fetish zone’ and a small ‘gay area’ but there was nowhere for the female (trade) visitors and press to meet, network, shop and be entertained. When I bumped into the female sex shop owners, toy designers or journalists, we all agreed to meet at a networking event outside of the Venus. Somewhere where we could breathe and just be rather than having to be bombarded with siliconed clone bodies and the entourage of the flash light popping press pack that always follows.
In this context I felt uneasy with the idea that I could do an autograph session at one of the event lounges. But I thought its worthwhile to give it a shot to help putting female porn directors firmly on the map – even within a mainstream, male-oriented event. But my idealistic spirit was quickly dampened: At the venue I was to do a signing, there were sex shows on nonstop in front of a packed room and my presence was not promoted in any shape or form. I was neither announced on the Venus website not on the venue’s daily time sheet – so I wondered how people are going to find me or even know that I was there. What I would have loved is if there had been a women’s lounge – one area where the erotic entrepreneurs could have met to network and interested women from the public could have met us to exchange ideas. An area with male staff, a complimentary glass of bubbly and a chocolate fountain. An area that was not tucked away at the back somewhere but that was clearly visible and promoted very well. An island for women who are revolutionising the sex industry. One day we will be able to mix and mingle with the mainstream male adult industry but for now an island amongst the sea of male oriented mainstream sex products would be progress.
I ended up standing next to plastic bar table with a little spotlight on me in a room full of men that had come to see women masturbate. When I was eventually announced by the compere, he came out with the unforgettable and highly symbolic phrase: “We have got a young woman here today. Her name is Petra Joy. And how could it be any other way – she is a porn performer and you can get her autograph here”. My mouth just dropped. The crowds of men turned around to look at me. They had no clue who I was or what I stood for and I really did not want to give autographs to them because they thought I was an up-and-coming porn star.
What shocked me most of this announcement was the arrogant and patronising way in which the bloke made it clear that even in the 21st Century most men firmly believe that there is only one role for women in the adult industry – in front of the camera as performers. With one sentence all the woman that work their asses off as dildo designers, sex shop owners, magazine editors, photographers and filmmakers were made invisible. As if I and we simply did not and will never exist.
To these representatives of an ancient adult industry, female erotic entrepreneurs are not just a new and emerging face of an increasingly erotic culture, but a weird phenomenon not to be talent seriously. These patriarchs of porn, hinder the industry to develop, grow and embrace female talent that dares to do anything else but fuck on film.
The remark was also an insult for the porn stars that currently are or will be in the future active behind the cameras writing scripts or directing. It’s all about possibilities and choices. If the possibilities are not offered there are no choices for women. And maybe this is the reason why it has taken so long for women to emerge and make their mark on the industry with their vision of erotica and sex. It is not by chance but through necessity that these women are independent entrepreneurs who put their money where their mouth is. Within the Jurassic sex empires that still reduce women to their bodies alone, there is no room for freethinking female spirits.
Sometimes the reality is better than the dream. To stand up on stage with all the other winners of this year’s Venus Adult Industry Award, holding my big, fat heavy trophy high and my head even higher, singing along to “We are the champions!” is such a perfect moment frozen in time. It meant the world to me to be recognised by the progressive and open-minded elements of the adult industry with an award – even though or maybe because my films break all the mainstream rules. I was honoured for my work as a director by the Special Jury Prize for “Pioneering Achievements in Porn for Women” – a category that was created especially for me.
For five years I have been creating porn from a female perspective and fought long and hard to get distribution and make sure that female fantasies will be seen and understood. Walt Disney once said “If you can dream it, you can do it!”. And he was right. You can and must make your dreams come true – even if it feels like banging your head against a brick wall. It can feel like shedding a skin to follow a dream and I am glad to have progressed from being against any porn to creating alternative porn.
I want to take this opportunity to thank all the wonderful women and men that support and inspire me and my work. I am thinking of my performers who have all become close friends, especially Violetta and Belle (who was in Berlin with me when we received the award). Without the fearless performers – the liberated women and supportive men who dare to explore erotic pleasures beyond the usual porn stereotypes – my films would not exist. I am also thinking of my babe, Tony who is tirelessly working behind the scenes, shooting the behind the scenes footage, building my websites and picking me up when I am down. A heartfelt ‘thank you’ also to Cynthia, a wonderful woman who I have never met in person but who supports and inspires me with frequent emails and calls. A very warm ‘danke’ and ‘thank you’ also to the wonderful Laura Meritt from Sexklusiviateten in Berlin – she was one of the first female sex shop owners to sell my films. I want to share my award with all the wonderful women and men who have supported me by purchasing my film and putting their money where their mouth is. A big ‘cheers’ to all the wonderful creatures that have shared their fantasies with me and honoured me with their trust.
When Belle and I danced together through the Brandenburger Gate at 4 a.m., we were thinking of you!
I always thought that if I could have any super power it would be to fly. But that’s all changed now. I wish I could breathe under water. Ever since I started diving ten years ago I have loved to be weightless and watch magical coral gardens and resourceful under water creatures but until recently my adventures into the underwater realms were limited to the maximum time I could get out of tank of air. And that is never more than one hour when diving shallow and much less when diving deep.
And now I’ve got it at home; my very own coral reef. Soft and hard corals, clown fish, hermit crabs, a gobi and a shrimp. And I can look at it 24/7 and even have the choice of sun or moonlight. My very one slice of paradise – no need to come up for air. I have my own 80-litre aquarium set up in my lounge. I fell in love with it the moment I saw it in a fish shop. I went back time after time again to look and dream and fell deeper and deeper in love with this little perfect world. And then I put a deposit down and paid my aqua world off over a year.
A few days ago the big moment came – the fish moved in. And now to go to feed and watch the fish is one of the few welcome breaks in some very hectic days. I watch the cleaner shrimp grooming the gobi fish, the hermit crab having lunch cleaning the inside glass screen and “Mistress”, the female clown fish, boss everyone about. In the build up to the Venus trade show and pornfilmfest in Berlin and the Erotica show in London I am working very, very long days. I sit on a computer at 5pm not able to concentrate and then realise that I have not had breakfast or lunch yet. That’s a perfect aquarium moment. It’s like an enchanting snowball that has come to life, a small and perfect world. Always calm and in balance – a reminder of how life will be – one day in paradise.
I am glad that my aqua world was not robbed from the ocean’s depths but grown in tropical tanks and that my “babies” live on exactly the size of reef they would inhabit normally. If you have never dived or snorkelled yet, my advice is: do it and experience a colourful, silent and weightless world.