Barcelona Sex Project by Erika Lust

barcelona-box

Provided by Blowfish

Mimi

Of the five videos we received from Blowfish, we were the most genuinely interested in Erika Lust’s Barcelona Sex Project, claiming to offer “six portraits of true intimacy, personal interviews, and real orgasms”. Underneath the description of the film and a brief mention of Erika Lust’s awards and acclaims, there is a section headed with “We Care”, which states that Lust Films of Barcelona (co-founded by Erika Lust) “supports NGOs combating sexual exploitations and fighting for human rights for women” by contributing 5% of their film’s revenue to Coalition Against Trafficking Women, Equality Now, and Womankind Worldwide. Pretty swank. It wouldn’t be your average porn, that’s for sure.

Each participant – three men and three women – sat on a stool amidst a completely white background and spoke candidly about his or her life, including jobs, hobbies, romantic interests, pets, and other comfortable, casual subjects. They were also allowed to bring a camera so that they might offer the viewer an extra peek into their intimate, everyday lives. Then, after the some more sexual questioning about masturbation and fantasies, we get onto the masturbation.

The settings, although sparse, are carefully chosen to create a clean, stylish sense of place, separate from “normal” life. I can imagine that masturbating and achieving orgasm on camera is not terribly easy, especially if someone needs to come in and powder your forehead, but based on the behind-the-scenes footage, Erika Lust and all of her crew appeared to approach the work in a very encouraging way, with humor and consideration.

Admittedly, the interviewing sequence can be a little boring at times because just like in real, regular old life, you simply can’t be interested in everyone you meet. Some people just don’t do it for you. However, if nothing else, I could imagine him or her naked or masturbating, then compare that with the semi-orchestrated reality of the screen. As an American who has never been outside of the U.S. and Canada, it was also interesting to see a film made in another country with an emphasis on the inhabitants and how they live, sexually and non-sexually.

I spent a good portion of the film and thereafter comparing and contrasting in my mind, on various levels, and much less of it feeling extensively turned on. It may be because I do not fantasize much about other people masturbating alone. I am much more turned on by watching the interactions of two, three, four, etc. individuals, or if someone’s masturbating could mean some play for me. So while I could recognize that certain portions were hot, I still did not feel inclined to whip out the Hitachi and buzz myself to bliss.

If you enjoy watching people masturbate, and especially the idea of gorgeous, “average” people masturbating, then this DVD will probably be more than thought provoking for you. It contains none of the ugly, mainstream porn aesthetic (brownie points, indeed) and, best of all, the atmosphere is one of respect and positivity. Fabulous.

As a writer, director, producer, and activist encouraging a positive, feminist perspective on sexuality, Erika Lust has been added to my mental list of people who should be paid attention to, and most definitely adored.

Joseph

Because of my overall distaste for porn, this film was the one that I was most interested in out of the movies that Blowfish sent to us.

Since the breadth of how it is different from a typical porn case (hot blank on blank action) is covered quite well in Her review, I will just say that to me it reads more like a documentary complete with obligatory percentage to charity. Which is good. Which is fucking awesome.

After watching it, I maintain that it is more of a documentary than a porn. I guess you could call it an orgasm documentary. I think that the interview portion before the self therapy commences is wonderful. At first I actually liked the candid interviews better than watching people gild the lily.

As I watched on I became more pleased with the pleasing oneself section. I originally liked the interview part better because I felt more of a connection with the individuals talking about their jobs, family, day-to-day lives, etc than when they were beating around the bush (Get it? Huh, huh?). However, after seeing a few of them churn the mayo, I felt like both sections were equally intimate.

The fact that I thought listening to these people answer some fairly cursory questions was more intimate that watching them masturbate is a good illustration of what I have come to expect from porn. After seeing countless people have sex on screen, I began to feel more and more detached from them. And it is not hard to see why. Traditional porn does nothing to try and make the experience feel organic or intimate at all. The average porn scene is full of fake body parts, fake noises, fake sentiment, and fake standards. Being contrived and ridiculous is now a standard. I’ve come to associate porn with detachment so strongly that I don’t even expect a sex scene to be interesting anymore.

The Barcelona Sex Project was just the opposite. Care was taken to make these scenes feel natural. The people were encouraged to do whatever they wanted, they brought their own toys from home and the sets were carefully matched to each person’s personality. All of this care and personality really shines through and by the second half of the film, I was enthralled by the wankin’ scenes because it felt like an extension of the interview, like another bit of that person’s personality rather than a calculated bit of pornography.

Erika Lust single handedly revived my hopes for porn. With more people like her behind the action, porn could eventually become something worthy of attention and respect. It could become the art form that it should be. Sex is beautiful, intimacy is beautiful, film can be beautiful so it stands to reason that porn should be beautiful instead of the garish and exploitative thing that it is.

God’s speed Miss Lust.

Ratings:

Aesthetics: ★★★★★

Level of Arousal: ★★★☆☆

Educational Value:N/A

Storyline:N/A

Overall: ★★★★★

Madison Young’s “Bride of Sin”

Front of box, back of Madison

Provided for us by Blowfish

Mimi

My fiancé and I come from different backgrounds, but for the most part we overlap ideologically, and where we don’t, our open-minded natures create a bridge. I have more experience, knowledge, and desire of BDSM; however, we both feel an interest for BDSM in it’s various forms and it finds it’s way into our bedroom (or living room, bathroom, local park…) periodically in the form of light power play, bondage, and spanking. After reading the synopsis, I was actually excited and hopeful for Madison Young’s Bride of Sin. I thought that seeing a film directed by a woman about BDSM might further brighten that original spark.

My optimism also stemmed from the film’s nicely designed case. As far as pornographic films go, it certainly deserves kudos for not being really distasteful. A rather pretty redhead, Young herself, is on the cover in traditional white wedding bridal garments, ass exposed and prominent, seeming to ask the potential viewer to spank her, hard. You can also see her, on both the front and the back of the case, tied up quite elaborately and overall, it seems impressive. In addition to Young, three other stars are listed: Ariel X (Maid of Honor who leads the innocent Bride astray), Selina Raven (betrayed partner), and Claire Adams (Priest who offers Young salvation for her betrayal).

Looking at the DVD case for Bride of Sin, you wouldn’t know that there’s a fairly low quality film stored inside.

When you turn the film on, you will quickly realize that the wonderfully lit photographs on the DVD case do not reflect the quality of the film itself, and the dialog, which is very little and loosely sets up what might be called a plot, is difficult to hear. Because of this, the first half of the film felt more like someone’s home sex videos strung together than a film for which money is exchanged.

Plot is always a dubious thing within porn. As ridiculous as a plot might be, it can still work to add creativity and excitement, while also pacing the film. It makes it feel worthwhile. I’ve watched CGI monsters “battle” in sex competitions for freedom, gladiator style; satyrs converting humans through sexual rituals; history “explained” through pivotal sexual exploits; and much more simplistic plots, like a girl in search of an orgasm – they all help hold the experience together, to create fluidity, to make you feel like you weren’t ripped off.

So, moving on from the plot and film quality, one can look forward to Young’s full, delicious ass being squeezed and spanked throughout the film, Ariel X giving Young an intense orgasm on a church pew, Raven’s sexy strap-on paired with feminine vest suit in which she fucks and slaps Young, and the elaborate bondage and rigging scenes set up by Adams. I enjoyed the scenes with Raven and Adams better because the chemistry seemed very authentic, fun, and those ladies were better Dommes. Perhaps there was simply too much of the tragically typical noises (hissing/slurping, for example) that people make in porn for me to get really turned on by the first half of the film.

The most interesting and impressive aspect of Bride of Sin is Adams, a pro bondage model, rigger, and director. After watching the ‘behind the scenes’ portion of the DVD, brought to us by Behind Kink, this judgment was only reinforced. She appears very intelligent, capable, and confident. This is also why she makes an excellent Top.

I find it exciting and interesting that a young woman assembled a team of women to help her put together a pornographic film based upon her own fantasies (talk about personal power!), but the problem with it remains that I can’t really take Young seriously as a sexual, creative force, taking the reigns. Aside from the rigging done by Adams, this comes off very much as a weekend project put together by a few girlfriends. I can admire an individual for openly embracing their sexuality, but that doesn’t mean I want to pay them $40 for it.

Joseph

When I opened the box from Blowfish, I was pleased to see that most of the movies were women friendly. I don’t like porn at its best, but I despise commonplace, exploitative porn. If nothing else, porn made by women for women would be something new.

Unfortunately, Madison Young’s Bride of Sin did not prove to be new or worth viewing. Far from being a step forward for the industry, it was poorly written, poorly shot, and the sound reproduction was atrocious. Hearing the writer/director/star talk about the “process” in the behind the scenes (which was filmed on higher quality film that the actual movie) just made me embarrassed for her.

The plot of Bride of Sin is that Madison Bound is getting married but having an affair with her Maid of Honor. After getting a swirly from her fiancé because of her indiscretions, Young goes to a priest to confess and be cleansed of her sins. Of course (this being a porn), all of these scenes are based around sex. This particular porn is focused on BDSM because Young really enjoys being tied up. And therein lays the problem. Young is genuinely enjoying herself in every scene and that is great for a performer…but not for the director. She comes off like someone that wanted an excuse to have sex with these performers, so she made a movie. Young always looks like she is having a really good time and it is evident that the technical and artistic aspects of making this movie were an annoyance to her and therefore marginalized. At one point in the behind the scenes you actually hear the camera woman call her on it. They are discussing a shifting light in the background that the camera woman thinks is distracting. Young looks at and says “That doesn’t really bother me.” And the camera woman replies “Nothing bothers you.” Touché

The lighting is sub-par, the sound quality is so bad that even if Young had written an academy award winning script, we would not be able to hear a word of it, and the scenes are poorly paced. The only redeeming factor of Bride of Sin is Claire Adams and her impressive skills as Young’s priest. Adams brings a much needed element of expertise and confidence to the scenes.

Aside from Adams’ scene, the only thing done well about this film is the production of the packaging. You can definately tell that more care was taken with the production of the case than the production of the film itself. Based on the packaging you would never be able to tell that there was a grainy, poorly thought out, painful film awaiting you.
If you are turned on by bondage and BDSM, then Bride of Sin may do something for you. Maybe. However, at $39.95 (retail), I still think you’ll end up feeling ripped off. I feel ripped off and I didn’t pay a dime for it.

The Naked Truth:

Aesthetics: ★★☆☆☆  (Young, you can thank Adams for your two points.)

Level of Arousal: ★★☆☆☆

Educational Value: N/A

Storyline: ☆☆☆☆☆

Overall: ★★☆☆☆

The blindfold helps the viewing experiance

The blindfold helps the viewing experience.

Astrea II – Vibrating Thong

Astrea II

You know it screams MONISTAT Equally classy fold-out

Provided by our generous friends at Babeland

Mimi

My partner and I have wanted to try a sex toy like the Astrea II: Remote Vibrating Thong for a long time, for probably the usual reasons people want to use such toys: an interest in discreet public play, control dynamics, and the plain ol’ glory that is a vibrator. We were pretty excited when the package arrived, even though the diamond shaped purple box looks like it could equally house a product for yeast infection or bikini hair removal. A little too Lifetime, for me, but it could be a lot worse. They were obviously trying to make it tasteful, for which a little bit of credit is deserved.

A consideration for tastefulness is also apparent in the thong itself – sexy and comfortable, despite a big honkin’ piece of vibrating plastic that is strangely reminiscent of the early menstruation days when I wore pads big enough to smuggle Haitian immigrants. After a while, the vibrator is… still ridiculous, but it feels less awkward and the peculiarity of the experience is overcome by the thrill of being in public, anticipating the moment when my partner turns it on.

The vibrator’s volume is barely audible, which is impressive given the intensity of the vibration. It’d be perfect – if I was in the right place. The little pocket meant to hold the vibrator in the thong is slightly too low for it to actually vibrate my clit. Maybe it’s not supposed to do that? Seems odd. If I was going to have a truly magnificent, possibly orgasmic outing with my partner, there would definitely be some stimulation of my clit involved. Instead, I spent most of the time joking with him about trying to adjust the way I was sitting or standing (hunched over) so that it would stimulate my clit more and my labia less.

It feels pretty decent and there is a lot of potential in this product; however, a significant design flaw is still enough to lead to disappointment. And I was.

Oh, and speaking of flaws – the thong will fit “most sizes” according to the box, but unless you purchase this toy from Babeland or some other self-respecting online source, you may not know that the thong only fits up to a 38” waist.

Joseph

The first one that Babeland shipped to us happened to be defective. While that was unfortunate and caused a delay in our testing of the product, these things are bound to happen, but Babeland quickly set it right, and in the end, it afforded us a very interesting insight into the product. But more on that later.

The Astrea II is one of many of California Exotic Novelties and the Berman Center’s offerings into the sex toy realm. The box makes me think of the word “Monistat” every time that I see it. I’m not sure of why this word comes to mind, and the association that implies is a bit odd too, but I can only chalk it up to my deep seated emotional problems or expert package design.

The product itself is a remarkably simple design and a great idea. Just like Communism. It is a relatively small vibrating square that is inserted into a pouch in the crotch of lace panties. The on/off functionality of the vibrator is controlled by a “compact wireless mini remote control” intended to be in the hands of your partner. That way you can play with power dynamics and radio waves at the same time!

Also like Communism, this device fails miserably in practice and application. One major flaw prevents this product from being worth while. It is in the wrong place for clitoral stimulation. Obviously I can’t comment on this firsthand, but I am told by Her that because of this flaw, the product does not do that much for her. And that doesn’t do anything for me.

The appeal for the person holding the superfluously large remote control (almost 4 inches) is being able to make the person wearing the vibe squirm and writhe with the flip of a switch. Ideally this could be done in situations that She would have to strive to control herself in. Instead, it made her giggle and jump a little the first few times I did it and then She barely responded at all. So what I end up with is a large piece of plastic with a little red light that I can turn on and off instead of the remote control to Her pleasure.

Ok, you get the idea of why I dislike this product. Instead of continuing to beat a dead horse, I’ll move on to the interesting (and hilarious) thing that we learned about this product by ending up with two of them.

The malfunction in the first one was in the remote. The vibe worked fine, which we learned when we got the second one. When I activated the second vibe with the remote, the first one came on too. That’s right. They all work on the same frequency.

Take a moment to think about the implications of this.

For me, it means one of two things; The manufacturer of this product either thought that they would never actually sell enough of them that there would be two in close range of one another, or they were just so short sighted that they honestly didn’t think to worry about it.

I like to think the first.

Ratings:

Intensity: ★★★★☆

Volume: ★★☆☆☆

Design: [rating1]

Ease of cleaning: ★★★★☆

Overall: ★★☆☆☆

Even the cat looks pissed at this product