Believe it or not, there are still members’ clubs that are reserved for men only. It is not just a lot of golf clubs… until a few years ago the porn industry was also an almost exclusively men-only affair, at least behind the camera.
When I tried to get my first-ever erotic film “Sexual Sushi” into the shops 10 years ago, I hit a wall of male resistance. I went to Europe’s biggest adult trade show, the Venus in Berlin, with my Palm Pilot in my pocket and every single business meeting I had was with a smug guy in a suit laughing at my concept of “art-core” porn. They did not get it: a porn film without major porn stars or money shots? An alternative porn that featured abstract, arty scenes as well as plenty of authentic sex between a couple that were clearly very much in love and blissfully unaware of the camera? They looked at me as if I was an alien before their eyes wandered off to the topless waitress serving us or one of the many live sex shows that surrounded us. I walked away empty-handed – no production or distribution deal. No further interest. They ticked me off as a curiosity.
National Masturbation Month has come around again – hooray! What better way to welcome the spring, and look forward to summer, than with a whole month dedicated to self-pleasure?
Petra and I were talking about the best way to celebrate the month, and we decided that as we’ve recently discussed male masturbation in porn, it’d be great to highlight some of the more unique methods of female masturbation. Even though most mainstream porn shows women wanking frantically air guitar style whilst staring into the camera more focused on doing a great performance than genuinely getting off, Petra told me that:
“Alternative porn is great for celebrating new ways to document self-pleasuring. There is a legendary scene of Annie Sprinkle having an earth-shattering megagasm using a Hitachi Magic Wand on herself in her classic film “Sluts and Goddesses”. Annie is completely absorbed in the self pleasure and seems to have forgotten that she is on a film set. I also love the ground-breaking film “Orgasm – Faces Of Ecstasy” that features women (and men) of all ages pleasuring themselves but all we see are their faces, uncut. The range of emotions is beautiful and this intimate glimpse of other people’s self-pleasuring is liberating and inspirational.”
Cora Emens is a well known Dutch sex educator who was 57 years old when she decided to live out her sexuality without fear, guilt or shame in front of Petra’s camera. Petra and Cora created together the sensual scene “And the winner is…” for Petra’s feature “(S)he Comes“, which is being screened this week as the opening film at the “Holy Fuck“ film festival in the cinema Film Huis Cavia in Amsterdam. Here is an interview with Cora about the prejudices that surround older women’s sexuality, porn clichés and why she decided to have sex on camera in a feminist porn film directed by Petra.
Recently, I found out by chance that a Dutch TV station had screened content from my film “(S)he Comes” without my knowledge or consent to license this footage. I was livid. I have worked for 20 years in TV myself and know that any visual content has to be licensed and paid for unless it is a “quotation”. This would be a very brief shot of a few seconds taken, for example, in a cinema showing not just the footage on screen but also clearly the cinema surroundings. But this was not the case – there were almost 30 seconds of my footage that filled the TV screen and in a piece that is only just over three minutes long that meant a significant part of their documentary on sex over fifty was illustrated with my footage.
I contacted a copyright solicitor and they confirmed that yes, indeed “(S)he Comes” was my “intellectual property” and to screen it without my permission was a severe breach of copyright. The TV station should have firstly asked for my permission and secondly set up a licensing agreement that clearly defines the terms of this license and of course they should have paid me for my footage. As it was, they never even bothered to send me an email to enquire about a license. I can only imagine that this means that they assumed that I would never find out and that different rules apply to porn than any other footage. Clearly with sites like YouPorn and PornHub blooming, porn is now widely considered as “free for all”.