Madison Young: our favorite art slut

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By Juliette Tang. Check out Madison in this our Hot Pink List 2009!

Madison Young: renaissance porn star. She is most famous for being an adult entertainment performer and director, but she's also a writer, blogger, sex educator, artist, and the founder of San Francisco's Femina Potens Gallery, an art space dedicated to bringing visibility to the artwork of female, queer, and trans artists in our community. For Madison's work as an advocate of queer empowerment in our community - and for personally making sure (via her www.madisonbound.com Web site) that we have plenty of access to hot queer BDSM - we're showcasing Madison in our upcoming Queer Issue (this Wednesday!) in honor of Pride Week.

Madison recently sat down with the San Francisco Bay Guardian to discuss her work in pornography, the philosophy of Femina Potens, and the importance of art and advocacy in our community.

SFBG: You founded Femina Potens in 2001. How did you come up with the concept of the gallery, one that advances the art of women, queer, trans, and kink communities in SF? Why do you personally feel it is important for these artists to have a space to express themselves and showcase their work?

MY: I always knew that I wanted to create a physical space for artistic growth, collaboration and community connection. When I moved to San Francisco in 2001, I realized the focus that I wanted that space to have due to a lack of existing physical spaces for women and trans community dialogue around art and sex. Femina Potens fills that void. We have created an accessible and visible physical space in the heart of the Castro where the voices of visual, literary, and cinematic artist are being heard. We are breaking down barriers between the artist and audience, creating interactive art works, blurring the lines of gender and alternative sexual cultures, and creating a space for artistic growth of emerging artists who are exhibiting or reading side by side with queer literary and artistic legends like Michelle Tea, Annie Sprinkle, Carol Queen, Inga Muscio, Daphne Gottlieb and more. Its important for us not only to have transitory festivals and events at other organizations spaces but for our community to have a physical space where their work is celebrated. Creating spaces like Femina Potens allows women and trans community an honest reflection of their experiences and their lives. It also encourages more people in the community to exhibit their work. Our audiences range in gender and sexuality, attracting a crowd that is drawn to cutting edge art, alternative sexuality, avant-garde performances, and flocks of tourists who are interested in the "San Francisco Experience".

SFBG: What sparked your interest in art? How would you describe your level of involvement with the general artistic community?

MY:I grew up in a very small conservative farm town and then the suburbs of Ohio. I always felt like an outsider. I was constantly trying to stretch my wings for something more. I was instantly drawn to theater and art from my first elements of exposure to this world. In a life where I felt unable to to express myself emotionally, I found art in its many forms to be the purest most honest expulsion of what was going on inside of me. Art was a way to connect to others and to communicate. Art was a way to get out of my head and into my body. I convinced my mother to let me attend a performance art school in downtown Cincinnati for my junior and senior year. That is where I truly found myself and knew that art would always be a part of my life. I often tell people that the first sexual experiences that I had were those that happened on a stage in a black box theater. That is where I first was able to let myself go and to energetically connect in an intimate way with another person.

SFBG: Do you think there are noted artistic, political, or ideological differences between the work exhibited at Femina Potens and that of more mainstream galleries?

MY: Yes. Femina Potens is above all a non profit community art gallery. We are dedicated to visibility and being a resource for our community. We are constantly examining our exhibits and looking for ways that we can further our programming to better serve our community. For the past two years we have also been integrating health and wellness of the queer community into our programming. We currently are providing the country's only queer public art program with our window installations. Our artists create unique works as commentary on the health of the queer community. Topics we have tackled include body image, breast cancer awareness, safer sex, suicide prevention and transgendered health awareness. Our mission is different from that of a solely commercial art gallery that might only be concerned with sale of work. Although the works that we exhibit are for sale, that is not the driving motivation behind what we curate for an exhibit.

SFBG: What was the vision of Femina Potens when the gallery initially took off, and how does that differ, if at all, from the Femina Potens of today?

MY: The vision of Femina Potens was always to create visibility for women and transgendered artists. We are still dedicated to that simple mission but have continued to expand our resources and our vision. The communities that we serve continue to expand as well as the services we are offering. Our vision statement now includes providing the community with cutting edge art work, literature, and media that aid in exploring one's gender, sexuality, creativity, and kink. Other elements of our vision statement address providing a space for cross generational artistic dialogues, raising awareness and creating social change through art and ultimately to create a sense of empowerment and value in artists and audience through their participation at Femina Potens.

SFBG: What’s on the future agenda for the Femina Potens gallery?

MY: There are a lot of big projects in the works at Femina Potens. We have several amazing upcoming exhibits. In July we have an exhibit on women's fantasies, in august our exhibit challenges artists to give up a piece that they have worked on and hand it over to another artist to finish in our Egoless exhibit. This fall we have shibari installations and photography by Midori, an exhibit around rituals rooted in different cultures, and in December we invite Annie Sprinkle and her wife Elizabeth Stephens back to Femina Potens for their Sex-ecology exhibit. We also are working on curating our 2010 season and this fall we are starting an educational web site focused on the mental,physical, and sexual health of adult industry performers.

SFBG: Do you consider yourself an artist? If so, how do you describe your art?

MY: I do consider myself to be an artist. I am a performance artist and have exhibited and performed my work in galleries and alternative spaces in San Francisco, Seattle, and New York. My performance art work stems from my background in theater. The theater pieces that I would write and perform in kept getting more experimental and minimalist and when I discovered performance art I was drawn in by the medium. I felt like the work could be just as potent or more so with minimalist action as opposed to an entire play or piece. I'm also a rope bondage suspension artist. I do collaborative performance works involving rope bondage that integrate performance art and bondage. You can see some of this work at Art of Restraint at Femina Potens. Art of Restraint is a rope bondage art salon that is quarterly fundraiser for Femina Potens. The next Art of Restraint will be on August 22nd.

SFBG: Many people believe that all art is inherently erotic. Do you?

MY: I do believe that all art is inherently sexual or erotic. I think that the process of creating art (writing, painting,dance,etc) is an extremely sexual process. The process of creating art is that of passion,emotional tension, connection and release. Even if the work itself is not erotic in content the process for creating that piece is one of a sexual or erotic nature.

SFBG: What are some things going on in the San Francisco art world that you find most exciting?

MY: I think there are several really exciting art spaces that have been popping up in San Francisco. Station 40 has been continuing to do some very punk rock grass roots organizing for artists. Our good friends over at the Center for Sex and Culture continue to host very hot performances and we have actually been curating the visual art work for CSC for the past year. The Garage and Counterpulse continue to bring San Francisco groundbreaking performances. And the artist duo Twincest has been creating some of the most visceral, honest, and provocative performance art in San Francisco over the past 4 years. Their work is raw, intimate and unapologetic. Twincest is fearless and gives me pangs in my gut and my groin at the same time. I love them. They will be a part of our Ritual exhibit at Femina Potens in November so make sure to check them out.

SFBG: You majored in theater and women's studies while at Antioch College. Do you apply your education to the work you do?

MY: My studies in college have most definitely informed the work that I do both at the gallery and in front of (and behind) the camera . At Antioch College I was really able to fully explore how to integrate politics into art and the power that art has in raising social consciousness. Whether it is in the gallery, performance art, or in making sex positive porn, art in all its mediums is a platform for human experience and expression and can be used to create awareness, visibility, and connection amongst community.

SFBG: You identify as a queer BDSM performer. What do you find sexually exciting, and what don’t you find sexually exciting?

MY: I'm drawn to the same things sexually as I am artistically. I like to be pushed to the edge, to explore my boundaries, play with power dynamics. I enjoy being taken on a raw, intimate, animalistic journey. I enjoy being pushed psychologically as well as physically. I like to discover something that will take my breath away and connection to honest human experience. Some of the ways that I enjoy my sexuality are through bondage, intense SM, pain and sensation play, rope bondage suspensions, dominance and submission, protocol, service,and puppy play. I also really love fisting, anal play and public sex. The only things that I really find to be unexciting sexually is ego, lack of connection, lack of intimacy, lack of connection, communication failure, and non-consensual acts.

SFBG: There’s a negative stereotype that the act of submission is ingrained in self-contempt, weakness, dependency, and a host of other self-denying adjectives. You identify as a submissive, yet you seem uncommonly self-possessed. How do you respond to these negative stereotypes?

MY: The idea that a submissive is weak is a very uninformed concept. Amongst a good submissive you will find amazing strength and a desire to bring people pleasure. I do receive pleasure from a job well done and feel like submission can be a very empowering experience. Its a very Budhist like experience, like giving up all of your possessions in order to find true freedom from the material world. Submission is a very zen like experience that can be a very rewarding one. I also find a great deal of freedom and pleasure in my masochism. A masochist is someone who derives pleasure from intense sensation or "pain". When I am gifted with the intense sensation of a hand or a paddle or a cane striking my butt or thighs, I'm receiving energy from my dominant. What I do with that energy is up to me. I can redirect that energy from the cane to my heart or my cunt and I can breathe the energy back out sharing it with my dominant. Its an energy exchange. When you have all of that energy buzzing around inside of you and circulating that energy and breath with your lover or dominant, you can feel incredibly empowered and connected. When you begin to understand your sexuality and your sexual desires and you go out into the world and seek out fulfillment of those desires and communicate with your partner your wants, and their wants, and the journey that the two of you would like to go on together, that is a very empowering experience. I'm constantly approached by vanilla couples that don't know how to communicate their desires to their partner. When a woman or man is in control of her sexuality and her sexual desires, that is empowerment.

SFBG: You are currently in a committed relationship with a biological man. As your MySpace says, “My life is just like that.” How do you balance relationship dynamics, given the sort of work you do for a living?

MY: With every relationship regardless of your career there are things that you will need to work on. I'm incredibly lucky. My love and my dominant, James Mogul, is an incredibly open minded, progressive man. We love each other and when problems arise we talk about them and we work through them. I really look up to Mr Mogul and I feel honored to be with him. Mr Mogul is incredibly supportive of my alternative sexuality and queer identity. He has also always been 100% supportive of my career as an artist and as a pornographer. Mr Mogul works for Kink.com as a director so he is a part of the adult industry as well which I think makes communication and compartmentalizing around work versus our social life a lot easier.

SFBG: It’s sometimes said that S/M is a part of all relationships. Do you agree?

MY: Hmm.. No I don't think S/M is a part of all relationships. S/M is a dynamic based on one person who enjoys giving pain or sensation and the other person who enjoys receiving that sensation of pain. I think we are all capable of learning how to process pain and how to enjoy gifting our partners with that energy but I don't know if its innately a part of all relationships. I do think that power structures and power dynamics and even a sense of power play exists with in all relationships.

SFBG: What will you be up to during Pride Week in San Francisco? How are you going to celebrate?

MY: I will be joining the Femina Potens volunteers in marching in the Trans March, we will be representing at the Dyke March and on Sunday we will be volunteering for Pride at the Parade. I will be marching with one of our volunteers during the parade as well.

Comments

Thanks Jez -- should be fixed now. Go Madison!

Posted by Marke B. on Jun. 25, 2009 @ 12:57 pm
Jez

Hi editor,

The twincest link and the CounterPULSE link are broken in your post.

twincest - http://www.twincest.net
CounterPULSE - http://www.counterpulse.org

Thanks,
Jez

Posted by Jez on Jun. 25, 2009 @ 5:18 am

Great work Madison. I have followed your art at kink.com say hi to James!

Kinkorati X

Posted by Kinkorati X on Jun. 24, 2009 @ 5:13 pm