it's an unwritten law that everydyke with over three credits in film school talks about making lesbian porn. I know this for a fact because I've gone on dates with more than one up-and-coming film genius. Somewhere between the post-meal coffee and the whimsical breakfast conversation comes the inevitable confession. Well, I've always wanted to make porn for dykes, by dykes, with real bodies, y'know? But "artistic."None of these wannabe pervs have ever actually turned their purely "artistic" fantasies into reality. So I was intrigued when I ran into an old friend from Montreal, Angela Seto, on the street this spring. After exchanging the requisite "What's Toronto been doing for you?" details, it came up that she was casting for a lesbian porn film. Did I know anyone?
It turned out that I, sometimes a shy book nerd but still a definite showoff, have a lot of slutty friends. The three members of Dirty Pillows Inc, the production company behind her lesbian film venture, have since joked about titling their first skin flick Zoe's Friends. All but one of the 10 cast members were referred by me.
I'm thinking of making business cards that say "Pervert Locator" or "Babe Finder." Maybe pink with some silver detail? It's actually no surprise to me that my demographic of friends -- queer, trans, polysexual, mid-20s, broke artists who perform whenever they leave the house -- would be into the experience of capturing their sex lives on film.
We've managed to create a subculture where live sex and sexual-themed performance art is something of a given at our events. I can't even count how many times I've seen someone stick objects up their butts at Will Munro's popular Vazaleen night at Lee's Palace, or how scantily clad Beaver gets at the monthly Trailer Trash Bingo night at the Bovine.
So I sat down for some drinks with the Dirty Pillows crew -- the aforementioned Seto, with Dom D'or and B. Maudlin -- three queer women who pay the bills by doing post-production film work in Toronto. The trio all aspire to make lesbian porn that's really hot, staying away from the conventions of lesbian porn aimed at men and of liberal feminist porn.
Conversations about porn -- what we like, what we don't -- always end up as praise-fests for gay porn. "Gay porn is a great model. Lesbian porn is in its infancy," says Seto off the bat.
Their main concern in their first porn venture is creating high-quality visuals and the turn-on factor. "Usually there's no production value. The lighting and sound are crappy," D'or says of mainstream lesbian porn. "And liberal feminist porn a lot of times is just too educational to be hot. We wanted our porn to turn people on without any kind of politics involved."
But can any lesbian porn claim to be truly separate from politics? "We did think of diversity in terms of casting. What I see in liberal feminist porn is this correctness when it comes to casting people of colour -- a kind of positive imaging that I find boring. It doesn't work with porn; it turns out to be a brutal mix of exoticizing and earnestness."
Dirty Pillows don't stray from convention in terms of storytelling. Their plot lines read like they're straight from the Penthouse Porn 101 scriptwriting class.
""What we've made is dirty and hot -- iconographic. Stereotypical. I mean, we have a housewife/plumber scene and a shoplifter/security guard scene. We're not trying to be intellectual."
I ask D'or if she's up to the criticism they might receive. "Well, they're going to say we're regurgitating straight porn values -- but the crew is all women. It's not the story, but how we tell it."
Maudlin says a highlight of making this film was observing the actors and the generation gap between cast and crew. "Basically, we're bitter 30-year-olds watching 20-somethings fuck each other's brains out."
Most of the 20-something actors hired to fuck on film were self-described third-wave feminists. Maudlin, who got most of her feminist education from punk rock and pop culture, was jealous of the sexual confidence the actors exuded. "They came out in high school -- they're really more evolved. There's more literature, more support groups. After one particular scene, it made me look at my own sex life and what I'm not putting into it." For the record, this scene involved a cute femme/butch couple on a motorcycle pushing each other to their limits. "The most memorable part of the experience involved filming dripping ejaculate that fell like pools of motorcycle oil."
Finding actors for indie lesbo porn isn't anything like I imagine casting for straight porn. A lot of friends who considered involvement looked at it as something fun and a way of being part of a sex-positive subculture that encourages subversive sex.
"A lot of the actors said there wouldn't be a backlash in their lives, that they're already out in the community. I always ask them if they plan on being prime minister someday," says Seto.
So far, no one has regretted her involvement in the yet-to-be-named Dirty Pillows volume 1. "We actually keep getting phone calls asking, "So, do I look good on film? How do I look?'"
Oh, my slutty friends can be vain. Watch for it in the aisles at your local sex-pos gal-friendly store next year. Look for my name under casting agent.
Zoe Whittall is the author of The Best 10 Minutes Of Your Life and a member of the performance troupe Pretty, Porky and Pissed Off.