Madison Young's new porn site puts the female gaze first and foremost
SEX "It's hard when you're making out with a babe and it's really hot and you realize you've been videotaping a wall for two minutes."
No one ever said that making self-filmed feminist porn was easy. But for local self-proclaimed "slut kitten" Maxine Holloway, it's an important — and incredibly arousing — process. Holloway is the newest webmistress on Femina Potens gallery founder and sex activist Madison Young's Feminist Porn Network. Holloway's sub-site Woman's POV (www.thewomanspov.com ) is perhaps the first to feature only shoots which are filmed by the actors themselves — the letters in the title standing in for "point of view," of course.
Hence, her phone interview with the Guardian last week had turned to tricky camera angles. It can be incredibly difficult to film your own orgasm, Holloway says. But she's learned a lot since her first POV scene (in case you were wondering, it involved a passel of "Italian babes" and a hotel room). The key, she says, lies in reconfiguring the way you look at having sex on camera — which inevitably involves spending a lot more time in your viewfinder.
Which is not necessarily a bad thing. "You see things that you wouldn't normally have the time to focus on," Holloway explains. "Twitching fingers, a hand on a thigh that looks amazing."
And she's hoping that fingers will walk to the site to check out its clothes-on segments, also. "We have these really sexy, amazing, vivacious women on our website, and I want people to lust and jerk off to them. But I also want them to hear what they have to say." Woman's POV has posted interviews with Kink.com fetish model Eden Alexander on what it's like to work in the porn industry. Holloway has penned educational letters to the syphilis infection (Hitler, Van Gogh, Beethoven, and Lincoln, it says, were all rumored to be victims of the STI), and conducted an interview with erotic comedian and dandigrrl AfroDisiac.
"We're showing the wholeness of what makes women attractive," she says. "It's not just their breasts or how they fuck, it's what's on their minds." Bay Area women will have a chance to be featured on the site at Mission Control's monthly queer sex-dance party Velvet on Fri/2 — Holloway and Young will be trucking out a dirty videobooth for self-filmed couplings (or singlings), not to mention conducting a workshop on the empowering and relationship-boosting aspects of filming your hook-ups with a partner. It will be a "fun and safe place for people to explore their exhibitionism on camera," promises Holloway.
This kind of multi-lateral approach to sexuality is just what Young intended when she started her first website, Madison Bound, in 2005. Although she was already a successful sex performer who had been curating sex-art shows at Femina Potens for five years — having recently pulled together "White Picket Fences", a multi-disciplinary look at what family and future mean to local queer artists and sex workers — she found the web to be a particularly useful tool when it came to advocating alternative sexualities.
"The Internet has the capacity to reach a lot more people," she told the Guardian on a recent afternoon in the large, white Mission-Bernal Heights studio that is serving as the Femina Potens office space while the gallery is between brick and mortar locations. "I'm a girl from Southern Ohio and I'm always thinking about the girl from back there." Despite her central role in a burgeoning alt sex community here in the Bay Area, she feels a responsibility to make images of queer sex available for Middle America. "You're just not going to have this stuff happen in front of you in Iowa." Other subsites on the Feminist Porn Network include Perversions of Lesbian Lust, a slutty take on lesbian pop novels, and Femifist, a site devoted to the much-maligned practice of fisting.
Young has known Holloway for years — Holloway has hosted many of Femina Potens' "Other View" panel discussions on BDSM, consent, and the anti-rape movement — and over the past two has watched her develop a distinctive voice when it comes to directing porn. "I wanted Woman's POV to be a place where she could explore that voice," she says. "It's super empowering for [the webmistresses and actors] because they're able to find out what they think is hot. Women aren't usually put in that position to be able to find what turns them on. People are like 'oh my god that's hot. Oh my god that's me!'"
That kind of discovery, Holloway says, isn't just sexy — it strikes back at the disempowering way that society treats sex workers. She mentions that she sees the site as an important step in the sex workers' rights movement. When asked to elaborate, she says that the movement's about "the ability to support yourself safely and creatively." In other words, it's not enough to have a safe working environment for adult film actors — although that's important too. It's important that sex workers have the opportunity to portray the kind of intimacy that turns them on. What better way to do that than hand them the camera?
Fri/2 8 p.m.-2 a.m., $20 free membership required
Private location, see website for details