“There’s a penis on the stairs…” Behind the scenes: one day on a not-so-typical porn set

Have you ever wondered what it’s like being behind the scenes on a porn set? Well, join Girl on the Net as she visits the shoot of Petra’s latest queer genderfuck porn scene. But Petra doesn’t do things like many other porn directors: this is a porn set like no other…

9:00 AM
I’m on a train heading out of London: excitement has blown away the tiredness of an early start, and I can’t wait to meet the cast and crew of Petra’s latest genderfuck porn scene. Before I arrived, Petra sent me details of the shoot: the kind of scene they’d be filming, the performers, what to expect when I got there, but there are some things you can’t really prepare for…

10:00 AM
I arrive at the house where we’re filming – avoiding any panic about not finding the venue, knocking on the wrong door asking for a “film shoot” because Petra’s put a colourful welcome sign outside the front door. When I go inside there’s a flurry of activity – the crew have all arrived, and are busy unpacking make-up, camera equipment, and sex toys. That I expected – what I didn’t expect was a big plate of tropical fruit skewers and various hampers of food treats (including vegan options), a welcome for the cast and crew to make sure everyone was comfortable.

11:00 AM
While Petra and the rest of the crew put the finishing touches to things: double-checking cameras, setting up lights, consulting on make-up and styling, and adding net curtains at the windows to avoid prying eyes, the performers arrive.

This shoot starred the stunning Bishop Black and Harry, who both love to play with our notions of gender. Bishop arrives in a taxi, and I run out to greet him and help with his bags. He’s completely gorgeous: toned body, sparkling deep brown eyes, but I can’t do justice to him with words, so you’ll have to settle for the shoot pictures. We chatted over breakfast and I’m pretty sure I blushed: I’m going to watch you shoot porn this afternoon. This is surreal, and so exciting.

Harry arrives with a car full of sex toys and costumes to choose from and Petra and the performers rifle through the choices like kids in a candy store. Harry identifies as queer /non-binary gendered and uses and uses the gender-neutral pronouns they/them/their. For today’s shoot they were planning a smart, sexy masculine outfit. I’d met Harry before on Twitter, and always wanted to meet them: they’re beautiful and eloquent, and I couldn’t wait to see the chemistry between Harry and Bishop.

They applied independently to play on one of Petra’s films and Petra made the match that turned out to be a match made in heaven.

The planned scene was a hot, queer, genderfuck. Bishop dressed in femme lingerie, Harry in suit and sideburns. It’d build on our expectations of masculine and feminine, then utterly fuck with them, as the performers indulged in hot, free-flowing sex.

12:00
Petra and the performers talk through the storyboards for the scene introduction (Petra only storyboards the storyline, to tell the audience who these people are and why they have sex; but the sex is always free-flowing, spontaneous and authentic and never story-boarded beforehand), and it’s hard to believe that these stick person drawings (complete with stick-penises, of course) will come to life later today.

There are sex toys everywhere – keen to make sure her performers get the most out of the scene, Petra’s brought everything she can think they might want to play with: a pearl necklace, strap-on dildos in various shapes, sizes and colours, butt plugs, the Lelo smart wand, glass dildos, extra large bottles of silicone based lube and a big variety of vibrators, condoms, lingerie and more…At one point there’s a shout from a member of the crew “there’s a penis on the stairs! And it is walking up…where shall it go?” Turns out Harry was “packing it” – wearing the flaccid cock under their suit later on…

12:30
No one can shoot on an empty stomach, good food is highly underrated – I think that must be one of Petra’s many mottos, because at midday the kitchen table is loaded with colourful salads, dips and veggie burgers, which she’s been busy making the day before.

Over lunch Harry and Bishop discuss their work, using the euphemistic term ‘dance’ to refer to porn play, in case any nosy neighbours overhear. Bishop’s referral to his “dance apparatus” has everyone in stitches. While I listen to everyone planning the day, I sew knickers in the corner: the gorgeous Italian silk lingerie for Bishop’s costume is a bit too big and I’m quite pleased I can contribute – even if my backstitch is a little wonky.

13:00
Harry and Bishop have met once before, on a strip workshop in berlin and Bishop tells me that he’s wanted to play and possibly shoot with Harry for a long time. The performers and Petra take a moment to have a private chat about Petra’s vision and their sexual desires, preferences and boundaries, then it’s time for costumes and make-up.

Petra’s stylist gives Harry a slick hairstyle and dark facial hair. When they add braces, shirt and a nifty tweed bow-tie, they look dapper: alternating between macho frowns and a twinkling, sexy grin. Bishop gets the full works: dark lashes, lipstick, and a beautiful honey-blonde wig turn him from a hot, smiling guy into a sultry femme. We snap plenty of photos of Harry and Bishop as they chat before the cameras roll – it’s pretty hard to keep your eyes off them. Their chemistry is obvious for all to see and Harry comments on Bishop’s femme look: “This is all the foreplay I am going to need…”

It’s nearly time to begin filming, so Petra gathers everyone together for a toast, and we mark the start of the shoot in the loveliest way: by raising a glass of bubbly.

14:00
Petra always aims to build atmosphere with her films, and the establishing shots are crucial to tell the story and create erotic sparks that hopefully will fly off the screen and reach the audience. It doesn’t need a cheesy script, silly dialogue or convoluted plot – just some sexy hints as to what’s coming later. In the living room, Harry is filmed waiting for Bishop, drumming their fingers and tapping their feet. Detail is so important Petra gets down on her knees with a wet wipe to clean a tiny mark from Harry’s shoe before running back to the camera to frame the shot.

With Bishop’s establishing shots, it’s even more precise: a detail here or there to tease the audience. Petra shoots various takes of each shot, as these abstract close-ups have to be just right. She is a perfectionist who enjoys directing the performers and camerawoman to capture something very special that in the end will contribute to her own unique artistic hand-writing.

These stunning and sensual establishing shots take three hours to shoot but will only make up around a minute of the finished film. Quality takes time and patience to produce.

17:00
With the establishing shots in the can, we pause for a brief break and relax over a cuppa tea, before we move the shoot to the second set in the bedroom. After all this build-up, everyone is excited about the actual sex scene. There’s a lot of preparation before the cameras roll: Petra makes sure that everything is in place, so she can shoot the sex scene with as few takes as possible. This helps keep a hot atmosphere, and allow the performers to have intuitive, free-flowing sex. Petra places toys, lube and condoms by the bed. She double checks all the cameras and lights and makes last minute adjustments to the set, straightening the bedding, adjusting some artwork on the wall and placing a jug of ice water in the bedroom, should the performers get hot and thirsty.

All the careful planning and slow build-up are clearly worth it – when Bishop and Harry are in the bedroom, touching, kissing and smothering each other with large lashings of lube, it feels like an intimate privilege to watch them. The sex they have, with all sorts of toys, and intense eye contact, is smoking hot.

There is lots of carefree laughter from the performers and they need to break a few times to gulp down a glass of water as they overheat from all the intense and passionate sex. And then they go again. (I don’t want to give too much away of what happened on set as the sex got progressively more wild – keep an eye out on our social media for teasers and updates…)

19:00
Harry and Bishop snuggle down on the bed with Petra for a post-scene interview that I have been invited to ask. Asking questions so soon after the sex feels surreal at first, but it’s a great way to capture the ecstatic, happy and spontaneous atmosphere on set. It’s great to have the chance to quiz Petra and performers on what they’d like the audience to take away from the scene, too: this hot, queer, genderfuck should give people plenty to fantasize about while they’re getting horny. We talk about H and Bishop’s communication on set, and their safer sex protocol – how porn can educate people as well as turn them on.

20:00
The team packs away the kit and dinner is being served in the kitchen. There’s no more work to be done but that doesn’t mean the day’s over. Petra is excited to be serving a special German lager, called Kölsch, that comes fresh and chilled out of a barrel she lugged back from Cologne, especially for the shoot. It is these personal touches that make us all feel so welcome. Whilst we wind down over beers and vegetarian chilli, we are going over our favourite moments from the shoot. As people laugh and share stories about other sexual adventures, it doesn’t feel like the end of a work day. And as we share a raw, vegan chocolate cake (that Petra had ordered especially for vegan Harry) sitting around the campfire, I realise it feels more like the end of a summer festival: after a long day of sharing exciting experiences, we’re tired and happy, and feel lucky to have shared in something so special with what feels like a group of friends.

Did I really meet everyone just this morning?

When I left Sunday morning Petra gave me and each team member a specially selected goodie bag. I unwrap it when I get home – it includes a sign that now hangs in my kitchen. It says: “I may be going to hell but at least all of my friends will be there with me!”

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