From the 21st to the 25th of October, porn producers, performers and fans will be gathering in Berlin for the 10th annual porn film festival – and Petra will be there to show some of her latest erotic films!
I am on the train heading back from the Ladybeard launch in London last night and am still buzzing. Can’t wipe the smile off my face.
I had a bit of a nightmare journey heading up to London from the south coast in a 4 hour odyssey but all was quickly forgotten and is was so worth it as the night turned out to be one of the best events I have ever attended.
Ladybeard is a new magazine and their first issue is dedicated to “sexuality”. The launch was a fundraiser to get this fab magazine printed. There was a panel featuring some of the magazine’s first issue interviewees, discussing myths and taboos surrounding sex.
My heart is pounding and my mouth dry. I take my seat in the sold-out cinema. The vibe in the cinema is electric (or does it just feel like this to me?) This is the night. The night my performers and I have been waiting for: it is the premiere of “(S)he Comes” on a big screen in front of a real, big and bustling audience.
One of the curators of the Pornfilmfest introduces us and the movie starts. Even though I have seen my film literally hundreds of times when I was editing it, mixing and remixing the sound and approving all the colour-grading, this is a completely different experience. Everything is magnified on the big screen and by the reactions of the audience.
After the success of the first Petra Joy Awards in 2009, it took me some time to run this short film competition for new female erotic filmmakers again. I lost my previous sponsor and was not able to find another one. Various companies offered to donate some goods in exchange for their branding plastered all over the awards, but no one was willing to donate the prize money.
Because this award is so important to me I did not want to give up. So I decided to put my money where my mouth is and to save up the prize money for the winning films of the new competition over a couple of years. I remembered how in 2004 my life changed completely when Emma, a woman I met on an erotic photo shoot commission, decided to pay for the postproduction of Sexual Sushi so it could finally be released. Without Emma’s help maybe Sexual Sushi would have never been published and I might not have had the guts or finance to ever shoot another erotic film. Emma’s direct action of investing some money into me changed my life forever. I will be eternally grateful to her and felt the wish to give to other women what she gave to me. Now I want to inspire other women to make their dreams come true, express their fantasies and believe in themselves.
The results of this short film competition under the topic of “Female Fantasies” are fantastic: No subject is taboo. Yes, some women enjoy paying a man for sex! Yes, some women enjoy being dominated in a consensual SM scenario! Yes, many women would love to hang out in the dark room of a gay club to watch the men get it on. Yes, most of us like to be licked by a lover with a skilled tongue (illustrated beautifully in the animation Naked Love by Sara Koppel). Our sexuality is as multi-coloured as a rainbow.
The positive reactions I got from the winners of this year’s awards have been overwhelming. All of the women felt honoured to win and it meant the world to them to have their work recognised and to be encouraged to continue their creative journey.
Morgana, who won the first prize for her gutsy autobiographic film “Duty Bound” in which she shows us how she left a loveless marriage behind and made her fantasies come true, wrote to me:
“When I first read your website and PJ Awards site, I had this immediate sense, that you were my kindred spirit, urging me to unshackle my past and giving me permission to release this voice within me, that has been just below the surface my entire life, screaming to be heard. Duty Bound was conceived. Winning the PJ Award and the most incredible response to the film has left me in surreal state. With this win, I hope to meet other like-minded, non-judgmental people that believe and positively engage with and promote women and their sexuality.”
To receive an email like that touches me deeply. How wonderful that my short film competition was the catalyst for Morgana to shoot her film. Even better that the first prize has encouraged her to shoot more films in the future. This makes me happy. Much happier than if I had spent the money I had saved up on myself rather than donated it as prize money for the awards. Sometimes to give really means to receive!
Morgana closed her mail to me with the following lines:
“I can feel myself wanting to get up and dance, as I hear, Annie Lennox & Aretha Franklin sing:
Sisters are doing it for themselves,
Standing on their own two feet,
And ringing on their own bells…”
I am singing along to this – ever since the eighties this is one of the sisterhood anthems I love because it celebrates female independence as well as friendships between women. And it feels like through this year’s award new friendships and creative partnerships are blossoming.
It was a pleasure to see that two of the winning films, Corpuscle (by: Exotica Loom) and Taken (by: Gala Vanting and Aven Frey who have now set up sensatefilms.com) were created by two women working together as a team. Sisters are not just doing it, but doing it together… More and more creative partnerships in expressing female sexuality on film are formed all over the world and I think this is wonderful. We prove the sexist stereotypes about female competitiveness wrong.
Another trend in female erotic filmmaking seems to be that indeed it is hot hot hot down under: This year’s first prize, Duty Bound, as well as the runner up Taken, have been produced in Australia. The legal restrictions on producing and distributing porn in Australia seem to have the opposite effect of what the government intended: female-made porn seems to be thriving right now. There is an ever-growing community who shoot porn and especially Melbourne seems a hotspot for alternative erotica. Oz is of course the country that brought us great VOD sites like beautiful agony and many women who previously performed on these sites have now taken the camera into their own hands to shoot films about sex.
Already the winning filmmakers are hooking up, planning to shoot new films together and you never know, I might be on my way to sunny Melbourne next year too to co-operate with Gala, Aven and Morgana. How wonderful that we are connected across continents and generations. Together we grow. Together we can change the world. Word by word. Image by image.
You can read more about the filmmakers and see clips from the awarded films here.
It is with great pleasure that I received the invitation to the “Poryes “event in Berlin. This event is organised by the sex positive activist Dr. Laura Meritt and her team and is the first feminist porn award in Europe. The award ceremony and big bash celebrate pioneers in feminist porn. My dear friends Candida Royalle, Maria Beatty and Annie Sprinkle will receive an award as well a myself and Shine Louise Houston from America who I have not yet met.
Of course it is symbolic that the event happens during the Venus show – Europe’s biggest adult trade show – that is still firmly in male hands, catering almost exclusively to men and their desires. It is hard to be taken seriously as an artist or businesswoman in this world that still likes to reduce pretty much every woman to objects. But sometimes even women and feminists do not value our efforts to express female fantasies and portray a more accurate and humane image of (female) sexuality.
Only two years ago the German feminist magazine “Emma” stated: “Porn for women is a myth”. Not so. I myself was very active in the anti-porn movement of the eighties. I still do not like a lot of misogynist porn that I see but the time has come to be heard and seen by creating alternatives rather than leaving the creation of erotic films exclusively in male hands.
As a woman and a feminist it feels good to be celebrated by other feminists who do appreciate the work we are doing to inspire and empower women. To be a feminist does not mean anymore to be against any kind of porn but instead to appreciate the films that genuinely portray female sexuality, that respect the performers’ boundaries and promote safe sex.
“Poryes” says “Yes” to free-range, female-made porn that meets certain criteria. And it feels good to say ‘Yes’ rather than ‘No’ all the time. It gives us a choice and to have a choice is empowering. We can take it or leave it, rather than being excluded.
The other night I went to see “Sister Sledge” play and their anthem is still playing in my head:
“We are family, I got all my sisters with me!”. And this is what it feels like right now: We are connecting and building networks world-wide: The female filmmakers, performers, sex shop owners and the sexual teachers. For a long time America was ahead of us. Now Europe is catching up. Fast. And together we are unstoppable. We are family!
For more info on the “Poryes” event and tickets to the amazing event, look here: http://www.poryes.de
I have just returned from Vienna where I took part in a panel discussion on “Porn for women”. I was not sure how this would go down in Vienna – as it has the reputation of being rather conservative. But the event took off in a sold-out rather posh night club. In fact there was so much last minute demand for tickets that the organiser said: “…next time I rent the town hall!”
Before the panel discussion they beamed one of my trailers onto a massive screen and even though I have seen my films a million times, it still gives me a kick to show them to a new audience who have no idea what to expect. The reactions were positive – lots of surprised but also smiling and happy faces and applause.
The other panellists were Laura Meritt from Sexklusivitaeten in Berlin, the sexy comedienne Barbara Bellini, Dr. Georg Pfau, plus Judit Rabenstein who runs an upmarket sex shop in Vienna called Magnolias and who initiated the event.
I enjoyed that fact that Dr. Pfau confirmed my theory that women like guy candy and to watch men make out. He agreed that for straight women men are the main object of desire and to watch two, three or more of them interact is one of the key fantasies – just like for straight men who like to watch women play with each other… a fact that mainstream porn by and for men has always catered for.
Laura made a point mentioning that watching alternative porn can open the doors beyond our sometimes limited perception of who we are and what we like, to show us new sexual orientation and techniques that we might not normally allow ourselves to see or be.
Ms Bellini questioned me to find out if I show male prostate stimulation and was relieved that I do and now wants to show some clippings of my films during her stand up performances.
Judit explained that the demand for erotic films that a couple can view together or that turn women on is growing all the time.
So we all agreed that we had a lot of catching up to do and are curious of more films showing us erotica from a female perspective. Sadly there was no time for questions by the audience afterwards but I had a good chat with a couple afterwards who said they do not like films without a story and dialogue but hate the bad acting in porn and the fact that in films that feature great acting the sex is always soft. I recommended that they make their one little film – dress up, play roles and be surprised to see their faces in ecstasy on screen – possibly for the first time. It can be empowering to be the architect and object of your own desires captured on film.
I left Vienna on a high – based on the feeling that we have truly arrived. Porn for women is being produced, viewed and discussed all over the world now. The genre is here to stay. And so are women who express themselves and live out their fantasies. Sisters are doing it!
I am happy that more and more amazing films are arriving that show fresh new insights as to what women find erotic . I am glad that I am able to inspire women to express themselves. It is a huge step for women not just to say: “Yes, I am watching porn!” but to go one step further and to actually make their own film, share it with the public and talk about it.
But it has not all been sweet scented roses – my short film competition seems to have stepped on some sensitive toes. One company threatened to sue me for the use of the name “Joy Awards” and as I do not have the financial means to battle this out in court, I had to rename the “Joy Award” to the “Petra Joy Award”. I am not too happy about this as I do not want this to be all about me, Petra Joy but about the JOY of female self expression. But after the initial bill of my solicitor cost me a small fortune, I had to count my losses and move on – even though my solicitor assured me that I could win this case if I was prepared to invest considerably more money and time. One month from the event I was not prepared to do anything that could endanger the event. So the “Petra Joy Award” it is.
More problems came from an unexpected quarter:
I was criticised by some women who are actually fighting for the same causes as I do for timing my event badly and stealing the publicity from their event. I was shocked by that accusation especially as I had suggested to the very same women to join forces and create a shared event. My offer was rejected. I think, the more the merrier: The more of us say and do things, the more likely it is that we will be heard and seen. The more likely it is that people understand we are not a one-off phenomenon but we are here to stay. Women want porn from a female perspective and this desire is here to stay.
Sometimes it can be frustrating when I feel attacked from various sides and I wonder why I do what I do – a non profit making event to mentor new female filmmakers. But then I get an email like this and it makes it all worthwhile. Sarah who just finished a film (her first ever) for the competition wrote to me:
“Whatever the outcome of this effort I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed it! Having only been filmed for the first time in June of this year it was all a little daunting but I do like a challenge! We have over an hour of out-takes and had to do it all over two sessions. I had no idea of the work that goes into these things and also exactly how un-glamorous it can be…and we are just amateurs! Should the opportunity ever arise, I would love to come and see how a professional production is created!”
I cannot wait to view all the films and award the winners with their trophies and of course the cash prizes sponsored by pjur. The best film will also be seen on “Her Porn, volume two” and short clips will be available on the website: www.joyawards.com
high you know how I feel
Sun in the sky you know how I feel
Reeds drifting on by you know how I feel
Its a new dawn
Its a new day
Its a new life
And I’m feeling good
Fish in the sea you know how I feel
River running free you know how I feel
Blossom in the tree you know how I feel
Dragonfly out in the sun you know what I mean, don’t you know
Butterflies all having fun you know what I mean
Sleep in peace when day is done
That’s what I mean
And this old world is a new world
And a bold world
Stars when you shine you know how I feel
Scent of the pine you know how I feel
Oh freedom is mine
And I know how I feel
I am feeling good….”
If any lyrics can describe how high and happy I feel after the wonderful blue wedding weekend then it is “Feeling good” by Nina Simone.
I have just returned from two days filled with sunshine, smiles and inspiration. The weekend kicked off with the BLEU body paint workshop and it felt great to get naked and ‘paint’ on huge sheets of paper using our bodies. We all had memories of being carefree children and being naked and creative all the time. Somewhere along the lines when we “grow up” we start to feel ashamed of both – our naked bodies and our creativity out of fear of not being good enough. No fear here as nine adults and a baby imprinted their bodies onto the walls of the Rotunda at Grove House – a fantastic Bohemian performance space and home of our lovely hostess Polly. The workshop was lead by Professor Luke Dixon and supported by Annie Sprinkle herself whose famous ‘tit prints’ take body art to another dimension….After we left our permanent prints on the walls we had to get the remaining paint off our bodies. We had just as much fun painting hosing each other down with ice cold water glistening in the afternoon sun as when we were doing the body prints.
All around us a heave of activity had erupted with many creative, helping hands creating decorations for Annie’s and Beth’s wedding. Tiny paper flowers and booklets imprinted with the message “Love always already is” were hand-made for button holes. A giant sun and moon mask and heart bunters were attached to walls and fences and a beautiful swing, adorned with blue ribbons was hung up in a tree.
Violetta and I enjoyed some Pimms and lovely home-made Pub food before we had an early night with a big day ahead for both of us: me filming the event and Violetta performing and helping me with the second camera.
As it had rained Saturday night we went to bed expecting a grey, cloudy English sky and rain for Sunday but we woke up to a bright blue sky – an English summer’s day at its best !
When we arrived at Grove House everybody was already dressed up in their blue and sky themed outfits as clouds, stars, sun, moon and more. I received my headband made of ivy and daisies that all the girls of the bridal party got and wore it with pride along with my heart-shaped sun glasses and turquoise Monroe dress.
Annie and Beth took their time to get into their opulent and sky-themed outfits and I had the chance to shoot some fun footage behind the scenes inside the bride and brides bedroom. They also shared the secret of their lasting relationship with me: Supporting each other and giving each other space when needed.
The wedding procession was spectacular with beautiful people in some of the best fantasy outfits I have ever seen. They sauntered on stage to the notes of “Here comes the sun”. It was a real Wow moment, as if we all had gotten onto the magical mystery tour.
The MC Veronica Hart introduced the brides and delivered to them the heart-felt wished of their friends from the States: Candida Royalle, Veronica Vera, Nina Heartly and many more. And I thought what a wonderful circle of strong, sexy women who have supported each other for decades now. ‘Sex in the city’ – eat your heart out!
The ceremony was a joy – fun and free-flowing with an abundance of creative performances from spoken word to song and dance – the complete opposite of the confinements of conventional weddings. Love as a giant art happening – what a fab concept!
Violetta premiered a stunning performance piece where she unlaced her slinky dress and very slowly stripped off whilst reciting with a quivering voice an erotic poem she had written for her lover – she had me and everyone mesmerized. What a joy to see such a good friend grow and spread her wings and fly higher and higher, the more adventures we share. This girl will go far and further!
Then it was time for Annie’s and Beth’s vows and as this year their fifth wedding was themed with the throat chakra/colour blue and the sky they vowed to each other to work on their communication and meet even more of their partners needs by not just talking more but becoming better listeners. Both brides did not just marry each other but the sky as well – taking this opportunity to focus on environmental issues such as the mountain top removal and both pledging to save more energy and becoming vegetarians (after eating just one more rib eye steak Beth conceded to the laughing crowd).
The ceremony was followed by a fun filled kaleidoscope of events. The instant showgirl workshop was fun on the lawn when fifty guys and girls were shown how to hold their head up high and kick their legs high. There was also ballroom dancing. The music was unashamedly sensual and romantic. OK, I admit when I filmed thirty couples of so with Annie and Beth in the middle twirl to “What the world needs now is love, sweet love” I had a happy tear or two in my eyes….
The tossing of the blue garter was a great surprise as a much chuffed Violetta caught it from Annie, meaning that she will have a lovely fling. Veronica Hart caught the bridal bouquet from Beth – so she is the one who will get married next…
The celebrations were rounded off with an ‘oracle session’. A beautiful girl with long black hair in a white dress was floating in an eco hot tub surrounded by pages torn from a book. You could whisper a question to her and she would reveal the future. The queue was long and the predictions were many. Yes, it is a make believe world but how wonderful it is to believe in magic and come out and play with so many kindred spirits and share the love, even just for one day.
As for the brides – there is no need for an oracle to tell them that they will live happily ever after…
I love weddings – especially if they are of the unconventional, magical kind. And this one sure is: On Sunday, the 14th of June the wonderful ex-porn performer, director-cum-art activist and tantric teacher Annie Sprinkle will marry her big love – artist and professor Elizabeth Stephens on the “Blue wedding”. This is their fifth wedding to date. They are completely in love and marry each year based on a different chakra colour and spiritual theme. Annie says: “Love is the new sex!” and enjoys delving deeper and deeper into this intimate, committed romance. This year the theme of the wedding is the throat chakra, standing for communication, symbolised by the colour blue. The wedding will take place at the wonderful Grove House in Oxford. Over 50 artists are coming from around the world to co-create and present the dream performance-art wedding. The invitation sounds enticing:
“Eco-sexual brides, artists Annie Sprinkle and Elizabeth Stevens, will make sacred wedding vows to their lover the sky. Yes, the sky with the stars, planets, sun, and sexy clouds.
Some of many highlights of the wedding ritual will be Luke Dixon officiating the vows and sky kiss, actor/director Veronica Hart as the High Priestess, merman Johnathan McCloskey’s boylesque, throat examinations by Nurse Luby, family friendly striptease by Zoe Snelgrove, a flying ring barer, a heart opening chant, love poems, music, carbon capture kissing, glamorous blue bridal parties. Then enjoy the wedding reception with Del La Grace Volcano, Sheep Woman Philippa Jeffery, bubble sculpture, the I Love Myself Confessional, waltzing lessons with Dorothy Max Prior, cake eating, supping bubbly, garter toss, petal throwing, swing on a cloud swing, get party favors, and enjoy BLUE entertainment.
Dress: Wear as much blue as possible and dress in the themes of the wedding; communication, throat, and all things sky related. Dress as costumey and creatively as you like and don’t be worried about showing up the brides.”
Annie and Beth have very generous hearts and make their wedding ceremonies open events as they love sharing and connecting people. Annie says:
“Everyone is welcome to attend, even if you are the kind of person that hates weddings. No material gifts please, your presence is the gift!”
I am honoured and excited to be the official wedding videographer for Annie and Beth. Together with my dear friend Violetta we will have a fabulous time in Oxford, sipping Pimms on the lawn, enjoying a beautiful, blessed wedding and meeting lots of colourful and creative people from all over the world! Hope to see you there.
More Info on the wedding and tickets for Annie’s and Beth’s LOVE ART LAB performance (Friday, 12th June 7-9 at Grove House) and a body print workshop (running on Saturday, 13th June at 11 am or 3 pm) based on the work of Ives Klein (facilitated by Luke Dixon, Annie Sprinkle and Elizabeth Stephens) is available here: www.grovehouse.info and www.anniesprinkle.org
We hope to share pictures and impressions with you when we get back from our very special weekend away.
I have always believed that art can be porn and porn can be art. It is an exciting development that all alternative film festivals bring erotic films back to the big screen. It frees explicit erotic films from the “smut stigma” to be celebrated in cinemas by an appreciative audience.
It all started with the Pornfilmfest in Berlin in 2006 and since then more and more erotic film festivals have sprung up all over the world. On Tuesday Cinekink in New York kicks off and I am please that they are showing some of my work again. “Artcore”, my short from “Feeling it”, will be the opening film of the opening night which is a great honour. The opening gala happens at KUSH, 191 Chrystie Street, New York, NY 10002 at 8pm.
“Artcore” closes with the words “What is your fantasy?” written on a hot guy’s back. And I really hope that my short film as well as all the other erotic delicacies that will be on show at Cinekink will inspire the audiences to explore their very own sexual fantasies – and maybe even express them in a film! There is a great line up and I am pleased that they also are also showing “Only the best” from “Feeling it” and so many great films from my friend and fellow erotic filmmaker extraordinaire Marie Beatty.
I would have loved to be in New York. It is such a buzz to see your artwork on a big screen together with a live audience. The support and feedback that these events provide is invaluable. I also wish I could enjoy some of the new films and meet more erotic filmmakers. It is always a great inspiration to network with other artists. But sadly I simply cannot afford to go. Last year I went to many film festivals and met many other female directors all over Europe to interview them for my upcoming compilation “Her Porn”. The result was 12 amazing trips and an empty purse. As an independent filmmaker it is hard. There is no boss to finance these work-related trips and with the stronger Euro this year I will not be able to go to as many events as I would like to. A trip to America is pretty much out of the question as well unless I find a sponsor.
Maybe, maybe I will be lucky as I am glad to announce that for my third film “Feeling it!” I finally have found a distributor in America. The wonderful Candida Royalle is supporting me and will release “Feeling it!” later this year under her “Femme” Label and “Adam and Eve” will distribute this title. I am glad that this film will finally be available in the States as I get so many emails from across the Atlantic asking where and how my films are available in the US. Slowly but surely things are moving. It is all about being patient and realistic whilst never losing sight of the vision and dream.
Good luck to the Cinekink team. I hope many people will come to support you and be inspired by the films you hand-picked for pleasure.