feminist porn

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!

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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.

ChubRub Burleque's Rae.
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.

Kate Sinclaire
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.