Power and Pleasure: Tristan Taormino is back with her feminist take on porn.
Producing pleasure? Yes, Taormino considers herself a feminist pornographer, having produced and directed 24 adult films, including two videos based on her book The Ultimate Guide to Anal Sex for Women as well as Chemistry, a reality-based series of full-length movies in which the performers choose their own sex partners. At the 2010 Good for Her Feminist Porn Awards, which "celebrate, recognize, and endorse filmmakers who create erotic media with a feminist sensibility: Taormino was given the Trailblazer Award. While her films are definitely educational, they are explicit, and raw, and--most importantly to Taormino--authentic in depicting how women actually like to have sex.
Her chapter in The Feminist Porn Book starts: "My passion for sex education made me a pornographer ... " When she thought about making a video to go along with The Ultimate Guide to Anal Sex for Women, she wanted to reach a broad audience and teamed up with Evil Angel, the only mainstream company that was willing to take on a sex education film. Taormino got a crash course in making porn, but she also introduced her own ideas. She wanted the film to be as hot as it was educational, so viewers would actually want to have sex after watching it. To achieve this, she cast women who loved having anal sex, and this focus on "female pleasure" and "real female orgasms" is something that runs throughout her film work. Today, she's still focused on having a diverse audience, whether she's leading a workshop or producing a film. "I love the idea of teaching a strap-on class and having a dyke sitting next to a straight couple," she says.
The transition from writer and sex educator to pornographer wasn't a big one, intellectually or emotionally, because Taormino never thought that all porn was degrading to women. Having seen lesbian feminist smut films such as Suburban Dykes, in 1991, she knew that it was possible to make "revolutionary porn." Yet it wasn't until 2005 that she decided to join the revolution, since she wasn't happy with the way it was ignoring women's needs.
"I wanted to make a different kind of porn," she says--porn that she actually wanted to watch: porn that was ethically made, that moved away from shallow images, challenged stereotypes, focused on female desire and power--and porn that was hot. So she put her own body on the line, actually performing in some of her alms. "What's exciting about feminist porn is that it's ours," she says.
What does this mean for lesbians? Well, it means seeing "authentic lesbian sex," because in her films Taormino only shoots "down and dirty lesbian sex scenes" with women who really like having sex with other women. "They must really know their way around the vulva" and demonstrate "real lesbian desire," insists Taormino, who believes there are more feminists behind and in front of the camera these days than ever before.
"Feminist porn is finally having its moment," she says. So much so that this year Taormino launched the Feminist Porn Conference, which by all accounts was a huge success, and will be held again next year.
The longer I talked with her, the more I realized that lesbians are coming out on the winning side of the porn wars, with films that not only turn us on but expand the boundaries of sexual representation as well. (puckerup.com)