Cherrystems

Feelin’ Good: How to tell if your porn is positive

I was having dinner with a coworker from my vanilla job recently. He knows about the work that I do at Cherrystems and Ciné Sinclaire and, after just enough liquid courage, he had a question for me.

“So what you do, you make porn with people and you say you make sure they’re safe?” he asked, eyes darting around a little bit.

“Yeah, that’s the main goal of the sets that I run – that everyone is respected and feels safe coming forward with any concerns.”

“Well. For someone like me, how do I tell if the porn I’m watching is porn like that? How do I know if it’s something that was a good experience for the people in it?”

 

This is a conversation I’ve had before. I’ve been asked it by journalists, friends, fans, and coworkers alike. People are starting to show concern that perhaps the films they’re using to get off might be from sources that are a little bit less than positive. I feel like this is mostly due to documentaries like Netflix’s Hot Girls Wanted (which encourages a kind of shitty saviour/rescue complex), but either way it seems there’s a bit of an awakening happening in which sex workers are *starting* to be recognized as human beings worthy of respect (!!!!YAAAAY!!!!). … … (very tentatively). That said, I live in Canada and realize that things here may be very different than other Western countries with even stricter laws.

I want to be clear as I start writing this that there are plenty of folks that make porn for companies that have done exploitative things to some performers but they themselves had a great time there. There’s always nuance, and that’s important.

So here’s the thing: the society we live in has taught us not to think about where things come from. Our clothing, cars, food, it’s all just supposed to have magically appeared on the shelves and racks of the shops we frequent. But it doesn’t. Most of the possessions that we in the Western world tend to have were made in countries where working standards and minimum wages are well below the standard where we live. Work conditions can range from good to absolutely abhorrent. The huge fire in a factory in Bangladesh in 2012 did make some folks take pause, but apparently only for a moment.

In the US (as of 2012), only about 2% of the clothing that is purchased was actually made there – compared with 95% in 1960. A lot of factors played into this – globalization, demand for less expensive items, higher levels of consumerism, and more. The effects are generally that we have lost touch with where the things that we consume actually come from.

american-flag-made-in-china

So what does porn have to do with clothing? It’s the same concept. I asked my coworker if he knew where his clothes came from. He said “Old Navy”.

“Yeah, but where? Like, in the world? Do you know the labour laws in that country?” I asked, leaning forward a bit more. He did not know the answer to any of those questions. I explained where my outfit had come from (romper from atelier b Montreal, shrug from moovment Montreal, bag from Barbara and Cecile Winnipeg, etc). He looked stunned. Why? Because knowing where your shit comes from (and even the people that make it) is not common anymore.

With the advent of the internet, porn is a globally shared phenomenon just like clothing. Unfortunately, just like clothing again, we can’t always verify where it came from and what the working conditions were like on site. No matter where it was made geographically, it’s hard to tell. Typically, folks are getting their porn for free from a tube site or pornhub, with little to no information on where the porn originated, who made it, who is in it, and under what circumstances it was made. Finding this out is not easy.

I’m going to provide you with a list of a few things that you can do to ensure that the porn that you watch would make you feel as good to be on set for as it would to watch in the comfort of your bedroom (or kitchen or whatever). There are of course ALWAYS exceptions, and using your critical consumer brain and these tips, you might end up watching something that makes you feel even sexier than you ever have. Because happy performers = happy life.

1. Get to know your production companies

So ya know those little screens and logos you see at the start or end of a porn flick? Mine looks a little something like this:

cine sinclaire production snap.png

Those are your production companies.

It’s easy enough to google things in this day and age, so do just that. Googling the production company is going to have a few possible outcomes for you.

You might find nothing at all for that company. No casting calls, no production company site, no location, nothing. I’d warn that in general, production companies with no online record are ones you might want to avoid a bit, or at least be weary of. I understand that there are likely some smaller production companies that don’t have a huge web presence, but sites like twitter and tumblr are free to set up and use, and allow adult content on them. There are ways to get your business name out there, and so if it’s not out there, this may be a fly-by-night operation. The trouble that lies therein is really that if this company is hard to track down, they might not *want* to be tracked down, for any number of reasons. They may also be a smaller production group under a larger umbrella but using that separate name to distance themselves from issues with the larger company.

You might find lots about the production company you’re googling! Great! Look for what people are saying about this production company. Are there any warnings on message boards about how they treat their performers? Does the company have a mission statement that aligns with your values? Do they have one at all? Even an “about us” section? Does that sort of thing matter to you? Should it? Didn’t you ask me this question in the first place? Ok.

You can tell a lot from a production company just from a little google search. You’d be surprised.

You can also then have a look at the other titles released by the company. Reflect on the collection a bit (while breathing heavily, maybe). If having a diverse cast matters to you – does the company work toward that? Are the titles exploitative (more on that later)? These are all things you can look for.

2. Know your performers (a little)

Some performers are just starting out in the world; some only make one foray into porn; and some have shot hundreds of scenes, operating their own personal site, production company, twitter, tumblr, facebook, and even a LinkedIn account. Basically, some performers are going to be easier to track down than others. Just because you can’t find a performer online doesn’t mean you should raise a red flag, at all.

However, if the performer you’re into has their own twitter, tumblr, blog, or anything like that, try following it and reading what they have to say. They might tweet out that they had an amazing time working with a certain company, or the opposite – that working with one was terrible. A note on this would be that performers often do feel a pressure not to publicly say negative things about working with certain production companies or directors. The whole idea here is that if they say anything bad, they won’t be cast again. Unfortunately, this can be true to certain extents in some circles of porn-making. So how can you counteract that issue?

The short answer is that you can’t. The long answer is that, by getting to know performers online, you’ll come to know when they’re genuinely happy about a certain scene. Follow some neat people like Jiz Lee, Andre Shakti, Wolf Hudson, Mickey Mod, James Darling,  Chelsea Poe, and more! See who they work with, who they’re retweeting, and start to kinda get acquainted with who’s on twitter. It’s a relatively safe space for us porn folk to hang out, unlike Facebook.

3. Look at the language used in titles and marketing

Straight up here, some companies use slurs in their marketing. Slurs that specifically target LGBTQ people and people of colour. Generally speaking, these slurs are pretty not ok. I’m not going to mention them here because that’s not ok. If a company is using these sorts of words, they may have cleared it with the performer first, but they may not have.

For example, if you’re looking for porn with trans women in it, look for the term “trans women”. If a company isn’t marketing their trans porn in a way that respects those women, then that’s not a great jumping off point to trust that everyone was respected at other points along the way.

rmsnqcf

*There are some folks that are ok with using those slurs in a sexual play type of way. I’ll add that as our bit of nuance to this bullet point, but keep in mind that you should *really* know that the performer(s) in question were ok with using the word. Maybe they did an interview (like kink.com does) to explain the reasons behind it. But yeah. That’s the kind of thing that needs some ‘splaining.

4. Find a company/performer you trust and pay for their porn

giphy

Oh that sweet sweet green. Yeah, we don’t make much of it down here in the queer/feminist porn sphere. For many of us, the whole love of doing/making porn is to make a statement about our world, our sexuality, and ourselves. But another great motivating factor is getting *paid* to do that. In a world full of free porn, sites that treat their performers respectfully need your cash more than ever.

And if you pay for that sweet sweet porn, you’ll support the making of even more sweet sweet porn! That you can trust! And feel even better about it than you normally would watching porn (which is to say, SO GOOD!).

If you insist on pirating porn that was made positively, you’re stealing the hard work of people that have spent their time, money, and energy to make something really amazing and intimate. And they won’t be able to afford to make more, so it’s back to the status quo. And that would suck.

Plenty of mainstream porn is also made ethically, and they could use your cash too. Just pay for your porn, ok? It’s work.

5. When all else fails, here’s a list!

Ms. Naughty maintains a pretty good list of directors.

Pink Label sells amazing smut from tons of production companies/directors.

Lust Cinema is fantastic.

Ciné Sinclaire and Cherrystems are pretty lovely. (that’s me!)

Another great Canadian, Jessie Anderson, that makes accessible, free queer porn.

Indie Porn Revolution has featured so many amazing people (I’m on there too!)

Spit – some pals from Toronto

And so much more.

Happy jerking off time!

Kate

 

**plenty of folks make porn for sites and companies that might host a lot of questionable stuff, but their work can still be awesome. There are exceptions to the rules. I’ve made sure to attach some free porn to the suggestion list because shit ain’t revolutionary if it isn’t accessible to all**

**If I’ve misrepresented anyone or anything, please do comment so that I can learn and be accountable.

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My Journey Through Porn

TW: sexual assault, rape

Spoiler: Porn is the good guy.

I’ve been working in some kind of porn in some kind of way since I was roughly 20, which was 10 years ago. You can look into my projects here and here. I won’t get into them now, but know that they’re awesome and you should totally check them out if you’re over 18.

This is more about the years in between than where I am now, though. It all really starts years before that, growing up in a working class household in a white suburb of a mid-sized city in the middle of nowhere. A city most recently named Canada’s most racist, which is an interesting thing to note but of course isn’t the subject of this. Or not so much directly.

I grew up in a household that encouraged a positive relationship to sex and sexuality as children, mostly due to my mother’s openness. My puberty wasn’t really full of questions as I moved through sex ed. I’d already read it all in books by the time I was 10 and hitting sex ed for the first time in 5th grade.

Shit was honestly pretty idyllic and lovely.

And then I got my period. My curfews stalled, and I was no longer allowed to hang around with boys. My life became super scrutinized, and I had no idea what happened to the open conversations we used to have around sex. My bedroom and personal items were routinely rifled through looking for evidence of penis in vagina, drugs, drinking, anything.

I was a developing woman myself at around 12, and I found that drawing the female form in the nude helped me to understand my own body and that of others. By creating images, I was rejecting ideals and body types that were so frequently presented to me as a young woman with eyeballs. I got to explore what I thought people’s bodies looked like under their clothes, which always fascinated me. It still does.

I threw out a few of the drawings that weren’t as awesome, as one does. One day, my parents found a drawing that I did of a naked woman, lying on the floor, an arm draped across her body. I’d thrown it out because it just wasn’t good enough, or I’d drawn her arms too long, or something, and it wasn’t going to be right. I thought literally nothing of it, because my history of talking to my mother about bodies was so open. And I was throwing this in the trash, so who gives a shit, right?

A few days later, I was called to the kitchen table to have a talk with my parents. There lay the drawing. I was confused as to why we were having a meeting. My mother, to her credit, did reassure me that if I were attracted to women, then that was fine. But overall, the message was clear. I was not supposed to do this. I was not supposed to draw naked people. It made my parents uncomfortable. I remember them asking why I had drawn it. I replied simply that I thought the female body was beautiful. This wasn’t a good enough answer. There was shame, there were instructions not to do it anymore. It was made clear to me that naked women’s bodies were primarily not mine to enjoy since I said I was not gay, and here I was, a 12 year old human with a vagina, drawing naked women. It seemed logical to my parents that I was possibly a lesbian – because bodies are for sex, not beautiful in their own right.

I tore up all the drawings of naked folks I’d done. I internalized that shame, that nudity was supposed to be shameful, and, mostly, that naked bodies were not mine – not even my own body.

Skip forward about 4 years, and I became sexually active at around 16. I suppose I still had my virginity, but that’s just by some societally-accepted version of things. I’d actively decided that I was not going to have p-in-the-v sex until I felt ready to navigate everything that came along with it. I did everything else, because I knew from my still-voracious appetite for sexual knowledge which actions carried a lower risk of STIs and pregnancy.

My first sexual experiences were with complicated at best, and not that amazing. Mostly. There is a certain level of sloppiness in human interaction, and I get that. And we’re talking about a bunch of young folks that only have basic sex ed (mostly anatomy, and mostly internal anatomy in terms of what we learn about those with uteri) and have had nothing but mainstream porn and media to inform them of what sexual encounters should be like. It’s a lot of fumbling, and it was mostly based around some fucked up things based around access and rights to women’s bodies. But I don’t feel like any of it was out of the ordinary. It was exploration of bodies, consent, and emotions.

All of these experiences came to a head while I was in my first long-term relationship. Rights and access to my body were reinforced as not belonging to me in this relationship. We moved in together. I was fresh (two months) out of high school and 18 years old, and here I was living with this guy in a two bedroom apartment on a notoriously rough street North of Portage Avenue in Winnipeg. I honestly loved the idea of the freedom that came with it, but hadn’t bargained for the intricacies of living with a partner – and all the issues around porn that would surface because of it.

I’d had issues around porn since I was about 10 and had walked in on my father using the early internet to slowly download photos of naked women. I’d mentioned it to my mother, and it nearly caused a divorce. The choice to have or not have the divorce, however, was actually placed on me. My two other siblings had hard answers to the idea of divorce, yes and no respectively, and my mother did not want to make a decision. I remember sitting on a blanket at one of my brother’s football games and being given all the information and told to make a choice. Clearly, porn was the cause of all this stress (and not my parents’ inability to fucking communicate or make decisions like a goddamn adult), and so I associated porn with destruction of relationships.

My partner’s porn habits quickly became obvious. I shared my experience and asked what kind of compromise we could come to. To continue the shitty communication, he agreed not to look at it anymore (unrealistic – for both of us, actually). I inherited my parents’ distrust and frequently checked into his history, learning that he was indeed still consuming the porn. Then we sat down to talk about it. And it was completely the worst fucking thing.

Instead of “I see how you feel”, it was “why aren’t you as cool with it as the women in the movies and pictures?” The conversation went entirely that way, and then it was over. He told me that, even though we were having sex 2-4 times daily, I was not sexually open enough. He started to pick clothes for me that were much more revealing than I would ever have worn, and I kept trying harder to make him happy, by doing pretty much anything.

This is the lady we’re talking about, at age 19, in the second apartment my then-partner and I lived in.

I enjoyed sexual exploration, so I was mostly happy to engage in as much activity as there was to be had. The trouble is, that wasn’t really good enough for him. Being perpetually available was not good enough. There was a lot of emotional manipulation, specifically making me paranoid, and lots of things that I realize now were abuse – like waking up covered in cum, unbeknownst to me. He was expressing what he thought of me by using my body while I was asleep, without my consent. I’d wake up either from the icky sticky wetness feeling on my body or, if I managed to sleep through the night, I’d wake up with a crust to shower off while he’d already left the house. I did object. Every time.

This was a person who was actively involved with the U of W’s LBGT* and Women’s Centres.

I feel so disconnected from that story, even now. I have trouble picturing it or understanding it as a thing that a human would do.

The relationship dissolved along the way as he slept around, and insisted on an open relationship on his end and not on mine. He was to be allowed to sleep with anyone at all, and I was to wait around – because women’s bodies are property, and his penis had laid claim to that piece of land. I called bullshit on this, and we finally decided we’d call it quits. That night, he did not return home after dinner to decide who was moving out – instead, he hooked up with a woman that lived several floors above us, then expected to come back into the apartment to get ready for work. I lost my mind.

It was after my initial breakup with my partner that I decided to shoot for a website. I met some stranger at his apartment in Osborne Village, he filled me up with gin, and I took off my clothes. Something clicked in that moment for me. I felt powerful; in control. I was 20 at this point.

The first shoot – with not-so-great lighting, but lovely otherwise!

My motivations for starting in porn were definitely not ideal. There was a lot of baggage there, and much of the motivation was to show men how sexually available I was, and how I was just as cool as the women in porn – while still maintaining that I didn’t like porn, and that what I was doing was somehow better. Obviously, I was being a hypocrite, but we’ll get to that. However, there was also the motivation of body positivity, and giving other people that feeling of being powerful and in control of their own image. I was still just grappling with all kinds of shit.

I continued to sleep with people randomly, and I can say that a lot of it was exploratory and fun, but the way that I was doing it was still mostly based in the fucked up abuse of the first long term relationship. I used sex to get to people, and to try to have some kind of power. I also used it for fun, and as an outlet, but much of it came from a pretty dark and fucked up place.

It was around the age of 21 that I met a guy in a bar, which was not an odd occurrence. We decided to meet up after class one day, since we were both studying at the U of M. We went out for a drink, it was nice, and then we headed back to my place. I remember having the conversation, in which he asked me if we were going to sleep together. I’d been trying to give myself a bit of time to figure myself out at the moment, and so I’d actually used my own words when I said “Ya know, I don’t think I’m actually that kind of girl.” Which I meant to mean that I was realizing that maybe I wasn’t the kind of person that wanted to sleep around all the time – maybe I wanted to start being choosier and making the decisions for myself. (I should note that there is nothing at all wrong with being *that kind of girl*, just that I was reconsidering if I was or if I just thought that I should be)

Long story short, I got drugged that night in my own home and I put out whether I wanted to or not.

Cue the string of possibly even worse decisions and avoiding of even more realities. I did a lot of fucked up things to a lot of people. I dabbled in some super unhealthy BDSM-type activity (BDSM is not inherently unhealthy, but my topping was not from a positive place, and when I was being bottomed, I’d relive my various abuses in a negative way), dated guys who would routinely yell at me, and generally just did what I could to get by. But through all of this, the idea of Cherrystems blossomed. The body positivity, owning your own image, and being in control of how you are represented. It was the only thing that kept me from feeling the pain at a deep level.

Still, I refused to call Cherrystems porn. I felt it was something better, more thought out, empowering, and positive. The porn that I thought I knew ruined relationships and made men believe that they owned women’s bodies. What I didn’t realize is that porn can be all of those positive things too, and that what I was doing was really no different – it was just given a privileged narrative.

As I grew up and began confronting my demons, I started to realize the truth of the situation. It wasn’t porn that was fucking anything up. It was all people in my life. It was people avoiding real communication, compassion, and forcing me to make decisions that I didn’t want to have make. My parents couldn’t see eye to eye on it, and ultimately put their relationship on me. Being young, I couldn’t fathom my parents being wrong – and so the culprit was most definitely pornography. I brought this pain with me to my future relationships, came down hard on a lot of folks about their use of porn even though I was also consuming it in the same way – but I figured in my hypocrisy that the way that I was using it was not exploitative and was somehow better.

But then we get to the tricky bit. I started to do interviews for newspapers and radio in which I’d get the question – is Cherrystems art or porn? And what is the difference? I at first insisted that we were different because porn was inherently exploitative, and that it dehumanized people and broke them down into parts with functions rather than autonomous human beings with bodies that have parts. Indeed, there still is a difference between those two methods of producing porn, I just hadn’t realized that. I didn’t yet have the vocabulary and experience with feminist porn to realize that that’s all it was – a difference in production styles and values. As I started to become more exposed to the idea that porn could be positive, I slowly began to unpack my own hangups with it. Soon, I realized that porn and art are the same thing. A switch flipped, and though I still felt uncomfortable with it, I started calling Cherrystems porn.

Once I started calling it porn, I was forced to understand all of the moments in my life that had shaped my relationship to the *concept* of pornography. It was a challenge. A fuck of a challenge. But it was something so liberating. I was and continue to be constantly inspired by people that are so amazing, that have their own stories to tell.

I think ultimately, Cherrystems and Ciné Sinclaire are my story to tell. They’re the story of my own reclaiming and newfound understanding of my own sexuality.

Feminist Porn Heaven day 4/7: Conference Time

Saturday morning got started a tiny bit late, with Aaron and I getting slightly lost on the way to to the Feminist Porn Conference. It was being held at the University of Toronto, but we had a bit of a time figuring out just which building it was actually being held in.

Regardless, we showed up in time to quickly get registered and sneak off to Jiz Lee and Shine Louise Houston‘s workshop on affiliate programs. For those unaware of what an affiliate program is, let me give you a bit of a walkthrough.

An affiliate program at the bare bones level lets a person become an “affiliate” of a website, meaning that they put up a unique code on a website that they maintain advertising another site. For simplicity’s sake, we’ll use Cherrystems as our example. Jane talks about Cherrystems on her blog a lot, and she wants to link to us. While it’s all fine and good just to send traffic over, wouldn’t it be nice if Jane got a bit of cash for sending us all that traffic? That’s what an affiliate program rewards. When someone clicks her unique link to Cherrystems, it leaves a cookie in their browser’s cache (cookies are just a text file that gets stored for a certain length of time in your browser’s cache, letting you do things like stay logged in to a website) so that Cherrystems knows how that user originally got to the site was via Jane’s link. Still with me? Lovely!

When someone that clicks Jane’s link *joins* Cherrystems, that’s where the dollars come in. We offer a 20% cut of all referrals on a recurring basis to the general public. So let’s say that someone clicks Jane’s link, then joins Cherrystems on a 3-month term (automatically recurring, or automatically charged every 3 months). That’s $40 every 3 months that that person pays, and Jane gets 20% of it every time they pay. That’s $8 every three months. While that doesn’t seem like much, it adds up when multiple people click through and join. If Jane refers 8 people at that level, that’s $64 every 3 months, and an extra $256/year just to have a little banner up.

Advertising is expensive. Cherrystems has advertised in magazines like Bust, and we’ve sponsored a bunch of events. The thing about throwing money around like that is that it only gets about a 3% return on the investment amount. Affiliate programs mean that a company doesn’t have to pay out of pocket to get advertising space, and that we can pass on actual cash to individuals that help us out.

You can actually find our affiliate program here. For example, here are some of the banners we’ve got:

caroline254x331   Candie234x60   Belinda240x120   adventuress160x320

You would need to go sign up for our affiliate program and get your unique link started up before any of these banners will make you any money, of course. 😉

Anyhow!

That talk was great for me to sit in on, because it made me realize how little the CS team actually knew about promoting themselves and Cherrystems. It’s a new thing to focus on!

The rest of the panels for the day were absolutely great, including one with Jessica Drake, Christopher Daniel Zeischegg, Dylan Ryan, Shine Louise Houston, Tristan Taormino, Carlyle Jansen that really spoke to me. A lot of the issues addressed therein were ones around the experience of being on a porn set. Things that performers like and don’t like, things that are expected, and how to create an atmosphere that best makes your performers feel comfortable.

As a new porn producer, I really enjoyed hearing that talk. I mean, I’ve been working on Cherrystems for most of my adult life now, but having pictures taken and doing video performances of sexual acts are different in a lot of ways. They’re similar, but I feel that an all new level of comfort and safety need to be achieved with the advanced level of intimacy that you’re sharing with your performers.

It was also really amazing to get to hear from folks that have worked on (and do work on) mainstream porn sets, and to hear about what life is like over on that side.

The day passed by all too quickly, and bled out into the night. Aaron, myself, and Bee headed over to Bar Mercurio, where I briefly met Lynn Comella, and Constance Penley, and ended up spending up the night hanging out with a great friend, Kevin Heffernan and Sarah Stevens and her partner. Pizza was had, jokes were made, and the night was ultra relaxing.

I skipped out on the Switch party that night though. The trouble with the Switch party for me is that I’m not one that just jumps right into an intimate encounter at a sex party. There just aren’t enough spaces at the Aslan studio for me to chill out and get to know anyone, and instead I end up feeling and acting super awkward – hah! So this year I just decided that pizza and cocktails and an early night would serve me best. All the other Cherrystemmers, however, hightailed it over there and had a great time. 🙂

And now it’s time for me to go away! AWAAAAY!

Feminist Porn Heaven Day 3/7 – IT’S FRIDAY.

Sorry for my brief delay in blogging. Life got a bit in the way, but that’s how life is sometimes. We’re back on track to talking about Friday, the day of the Feminist Porn Awards gala, and a whole amazing lot more.

Friday morning, I woke bright and early and fired off a text to Dayna, who was staying a few rooms down the hall from me. It was time for us to figure out how to use the awesome cameras that she brought for us to use. We sat ourselves down in front of youtube and watched tutorials on the menus and settings on both cameras, ate some breakfast, and got ourselves synced up. Bee, Jasper, Veronika Lee, and others did some drop ins, which was great.

I headed down to the office of the hotel, did some routine printing of our 2257 forms, and we got ourselves out of the hotel – we being Bee, Dayna, and myself. We were off to meet the amazing Andre Shakti to do a Cherrystems shoot with her, then on to creating a scene for Ciné Sinclaire with both Andre and Jiz Lee. Commence overactive squeeing on our parts. We work with some amazing folks already at Cherrystems, and so it was amazing to move into working with professional performers. Eek, it was so incredibly much fun.

But I shouldn’t get ahead of myself! We showed up at the air bnb spot where Andre was staying, loaded in, and had a chat to get to know each other. Andre is a great human being, let me start off by saying that. She walked us through what she had envisioned and showed us her outfit (Which was awesome, by the way), then Bee and Dayna took over. I’ve been shooting sets for Cherrystems for about 2 months now (running the show is a different kind of work), but that doesn’t compare with the 6 years I’ve worked with these two. I definitely knew that they would work awesomely together, and that the opportunity to shoot someone as great as Andre should go to the folks who have worked the hardest. They absolutely loved it! Andre was super willing to work with us and some amazing shots were gotten. I can’t wait to have the set up and ready to be viewed!

From there, we had a bit of a lull in the action before Jiz showed up. I ran out and got some sushi for the set, to make sure we were all deliciously stuffed full of food. It was a great choice. I ended up picking a random hole in the wall spot on Yelp whose name I can’t recall for the life of me. Honestly, though, it was some of the best sushi I’ve had in Toronto. I don’t often have good sushi luck in Toronto.

After eating, we set up the bedroom for the scene. Dayna and Bee rolled around in the sheets to get the lighting just right, we synced up our cameras, and then Jiz arrived! Andre was actually recording a little piece for Siouxsie Q, who records the Whorecast. It was a really great way to get the conversation started and discuss boundaries and for me to get across to everyone how the set would operate.

We had a good conversation about pay amounts and what performers are comfortable doing for which pay rates. As a startup, Ciné Sinclaire doesn’t have the most enormous of budgets. While we can afford a reasonable pay rate, it’s actually quite low for bigger names. The way that we came to an agreement was basically similar to how rates and actions are typically negotiated in sex work in general – the amount that you pay gets only certain acts. I think this is completely correct. Just because I paid a certain rate as a producer does not at all mean that I have any right to demand certain acts from a performer.

Andre being Andre, with Kate, Brynna, and Dayna (under the sheets). Photo by Jiz Lee, click to see it in its original context on their blog.

Andre being Andre, with Kate, Bee, and Dayna (under the sheets). Photo by Jiz Lee, click to see it in its original context on their blog.

So, without giving too much of the scene away, I’ll have to say that this is a kind of softcore scene that is *incredibly* intense. If you’d like to see trailers and the like, keep watching my blog. The site itself should be launching this summer!

I had to run quickly after the shoot, which felt a bit shitty of me to do, but I had a hair appointment to make it to for the awards show. Dayna and Bee were magic champs and finished up the pay and paperwork while I jetted off to get someone else to do my hair while I caught up on emails and phone calls. I’m so not used to having long hair so, honestly, I knew that paying someone else was going to save me endless amounts of frustration of attempting to do it myself.

Once I was done getting my hair done, I ran back to the hotel, put on my dress, and got on my way with a group of Stemmers toward the VIP party at the Feminist Porn Awards gala! This event is so awesome to me. It’s a whole bunch of amazing sex workers and porn lovers in one room being awesome together. We come together, celebrate the work of our peers, and have a great time doing it. It’s actually the one night of the week where I’m just there to be entertained and have fun with my friends, coworkers, and other folks that *get it*.

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There were so many of us representing Cherrystems this year! L-R, back to front: Caroline, Dayna, Kate, Veronika Lee, Keelie, W, Bee, and Jasper!

 

If you’d like to find out who won each award, head over to the Feminist Porn Awards’ website. You should probably go ahead and purchase all of the films that won or were nominated. Or at least a bunch, or several. 🙂

I’m also at the FPAs to represent my silicone toy company, Fuze. If you don’t know much about us, you can check out this post here to get a bit of a background. We were a silver sponsor of the Feminist Porn Awards this year, which was really great. I absolutely love how many more people know about our little company every year, and we definitely love helping to support such a great event held right up in Canada. All up in it.

Other absolutely amazing things that happened were: Courtney Trouble’s dress, the tribute to Carlos Batts, Trans Grrrls (with our own Velvet performing in one of the scenes!) winning tantilizing trans film, the amazing entertainment, and every single person in that room that night. It was all amazing.

Following the awards, a few of us headed back toward the hotel to get some grub. Bee, myself, and Playground Conf friendo Lauryn met newly-arrived Aaron at Pho Pasteur, which was probably the best way to end the night that I could have thought possible. Aaron is our programmer at Cherrystems, and he’s also the person that I’ll be marrying this summer. We hadn’t actually spent more than 12 hours together for 4 weeks at that point, so having him out for Friday-Sunday was really really necessary.

I got a good sleep that night. 😉

Feminist Porn Heaven, Day 2: Screenings, partyfun, and them feels.

The second day of Feminist Porn Heaven did not disappoint. Remember when I mentioned that I ran into Courtney Trouble at the storytelling slam? They very graciously mentioned that we could use their room to shoot some porn in on Thursday. They were staying at the glamorous and beautiful Gladstone Hotel, which is an art hotel in which all of the rooms are different. It’s an amazing place, and Courtney is an amazing person for letting us shoot in there. I of course took them up on it, giddily. 🙂

The morning started out with eggs and toast and all the strawberries in my room for all the Cherrystemmers that had arrived at that point. It was a great way to get the day started and get folks on the same page. From there, we coordinated with Courtney and then headed off on our way to the Gladstone with Dayna, Keelie, Caroline, and Jasper in tow.

We met with Courtney as they were setting up for a shoot in a different room on the same floor, along with the amazing Tobi Hill-Meyer. Someday I’ll write a praise post about both of these porno powerhouses and the inspiration they’ve given me and members of the Ciné Sinclaire/Cherrystems team. Anyhow, Courtney gave us the key to the room and we set off to get to work. The thing about the Gladstone is that you don’t know what room you’re going to get until you’re in it. The room Courtney gave us access to was absolutely  gorgeous. The walls were a deep, beautiful red, and all the furnishings were dark antique wood pieces, with old books as accents. The feel was positively luxurious.

Jasper only has two sets up on Cherrystems at the present moment, so I really wanted to encourage them to shoot something awesome. As it turns out, the breakfast of strawberries was an inspiration point for them. I wish I could show you the pictures, but I left my snaps on a card with Bee, and she’s still out in Toronto. SOON! Point is, strawberries and Jasper make an awesome combination. It’s also really cool to be on set when people transform themselves and push their boundaries a bit (in terms of putting on a certain face or mood). Jasper is usually like me in photosets – silly, genuine, and playful. This shoot, however, required a bit more seriousness. The red of the walls, the red of the berries.. My god.

We also got to shoot an amazing caning scene between Caroline and Keelie – their dynamic is amazing, and I absolutely love that they consistently invite me and a wee team in to share in their intimate moments. It’s amazing to me, everytime. Seriously.

Once we wrapped, we headed back to our hotel to briefly nap and get organized before the screening. I am a huge fucking fan of naps, and I cannot state this enough. So I napped until it was time to leave.

The screenings this year were 100% amazing. Even the film that ended up upsetting a few Cherrystemmers led to some really great discussion about the representation of sex on film, authenticity, performance, and respect on set. While milling about the lobby, I got to run into Cinnamon Maxxine, who I desperately want to shoot with this year. Here’s hoping that can become a reality!

My favourite? Shit, I can’t pick a favourite. There were so many amazing moments, from the intensity of Bed Party, hilariousness of Best Slumber Party Ever, and the playfulness of No Artifical Sweeteners. It was a huge night to remember, and no one left that room without feeling all of the feels (in some way). Phhhewwwwww, intense!

Following the screening, we headed off to The Steady for the afterparty. It was there that I got to catch up with Jon Pressick again, and to meet the amazing Lucie Blush, who runs welovegoodsex.com – which I linked to her name just to throw you off there. We had a great time getting to know each other and talking a bit about sex toys, which was great.

I also got to dance with friends, relax, and Veronika Lee and Bee showed up too!

The night ended on a great note with a smile on my face, and we headed back to the hotel, feeling all of the feels.

A weekend of Trouble

It’s Monday! Oh no! But that means that Courtney leaves tomorrow. Alas, all good things must come to an end – but it’s been really great talking to another person who runs a little porno empire. We talked about things I should do with Cherrystems, about BitCoin, and about the industry in general. I’m seriously forever grateful for their guidance.

The screening on Friday was a huge success. Courtney showed over an hour of clips from their repertoire, much to the enjoyment of the crowd. But before we get to that, I have to talk about the opening act, ChubRub Burlesque. Oh my God.

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Heather’s comedy stylings as Ms Dirty Snowflake.

If you ever ever see these ladies on a bill, go. Don’t wait. Go. Experience it, you will not regret it. From Ray’s straight-to-the-heart talk about sizing to watching Mel’s intimate relationship with cake, this show was amazing.

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Ray’s monologue on sizing was powerful.

The final act was definitely the most amazing, which involved all of the ladies doing a full on traditional choreographed burlesque routine. Their work was super super appreciated, and we can’t wait for them to have more and more gigs around town. Seriously, they’re that amazing.

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HOW FREAKING CUTE IS THIS?!

I got to speak a little too! Mostly praises for ChubRub and Courtney Trouble, but it’s always interesting to get up in front of a group of people and speak when you don’t do it super often. Also, I really like my dress.

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Hey, it’s me!

Next up was the main event – Courtney Trouble’s presentation, titled Feminist Porn: Representing Pleasure. We were treated to tons of clips, to which I could sometimes hear the audience breathing deeply to from backstage. The talk included focus on representation of queer groups in the porn that Courtney produces.

Having this kind of presentation in Winnipeg was so important. I spoke to some people the next day about the screening, and they admitted that they weren’t too sure about what to expect before arriving at the venue. It turns out, they realized, that feminist porn looks just like any porn – but with more emphasis on inclusion and representation of bodies, ethical treatment of performers, and more.

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Courtney, nailing it.

The talk then bled out into night, and we headed to bed tuckered out and super glad with how it went. So many people to reach in this prairie town!

The next day was an early start, as Courtney and I were joining model Arachnia for Cockroach zine‘s Let’s Talk About Porn panel. There’ll be a full audio recording available soon, so I won’t spoil too much of it for you – you’ll soon be able to hear it all for yourself. Suffice it to say, we addressed some good topics, and reached out as human beings who make porn.

I also started to become more comfortable with the idea of calling myself a sex worker. Maybe you’re wondering what I mean by that, and why I’d be uncomfortable or maybe even why I’d want to call myself that.

Cherrystems is a soft porn site. We don’t engage in sex acts, we simply appear naked on the internet. While I’m starting to make harder porn, I had previously felt that my sex work just wasn’t *sex*y enough for me to be considered a sex worker. I have a huge amount of respect for all sex workers, but have mostly seen the term claimed by escorts, in call workers, phone sex folks, and people who are having sex on film. I assumed that I simply wasn’t good enough yet, to be quite honest, but I feel much more confident in claiming the title after this weekend. I’m really happy about that.

And now we’re at today. Today I get naked for Courtney, which makes me super excited. It’s really just a matter of selecting a location and going for it. Later today, however, Courtney will join me on set with our CS models Caroline and Keelie as they work on one of those amazing harder sets for the new site.

It’s going to be a good day.

Genderfest! Courtney Trouble!

It’s less than a week away! Courtney Trouble, renowned queer porn icon, is coming through Winnipeg (and Calgary), and I’m pretty freaking excited. You can read about her mini Canadian tour on her blog.

She’s coming to town as part of Genderfest Winnipeg. You might be asking “Well, Kate, what is Genderfest?” and that’s really a great question.

Genderfest is exactly as it sounds. Break it down, and we’ve got “gender” and “fest”. The thing that we are festing is gender. What is gender? It’s oh so many things to oh so many people, which is why celebrating it is such a good idea. If you’re unclear on any of it, you should probably check out their Facebook page, and maybe head out to some events this week. There have already been events for the last several days, but there’s still plenty of time to check out some other great events.

I’m hosting the Feminist Porn: Representing Pleasure talk/screening on Valentine’s day (February 14th for those unaware). For more information, click this lil’ banner image here (which Courtney graciously created for us):

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In other news, I’m presently editing a video blog of mine to share with you all. It’ll be good. We’ll have a cup of tea together and talk about the new Fuze Velvet.

Hope you’re having an awesome day.