Category: porn


Hey there.
So I recently snagged two tickets to the 2015 Feminist Porn Awards through a POWER fundraiser. This is going to be grand fun, and I suspect my lovely wife and I will be checking out the Feminist Porn Conference while we’re in town.
I also recently spent some time yacking with a friend about what makes feminist porn “feminist” – what the criteria are – and where to find some. (I gave her a few names and sent her hunting). Anyway, there must be something in the air today because, wouldn’t you know it, around about the same time, I found not one but TWO posts on the same subject while faffing about on twitter.
How to Make Ethical Porn
and
Four Female Adult Film Producers Talk Porn for Women.
 
In the first one, the author talks about how it’s important that the performers aren’t in it just for the money. And, as a model – meaning as someone who damn well expects to get paid for my labour – I have some difficulty with this. To be clear, she’s not suggesting that people perform sex in a TF capacity [EDIT: She pays her employees and cover their expenses during filming, as she mentions in her comment] (so the rest of this post is going to be using her article as a jumping off point more than anything). And I do understand her reasons for wanting her Talent to enjoy having sex on camera – she outlines them quite clearly, and they boil down to “if people are doing this just to get paid, they may do things they don’t want to do in order to get paid” – but…
 
Eugh. Sex is a such a fraught topic. It’s so much more intimate than, say, filing or waitressing or hauling heavy stuff on a job site. So it gets this weird treatment like either you’re saying YES to X, Y, and Z because you’re seriously hot to do X, Y, and Z… or you’re not actually consenting to do those things. As if there aren’t a zillion reasons to say YES to a fuck when you’re not necessarily hot for it right now, regardless of whether the context is pornographic or personal.
I’m not knocking joyful sexuality, spontaneous desire, or enthusiastic consent, and I do think that, as a director, this particular author has found a way to navigate what might have felt like morally ambiguous waters in a way that works for her. These are all good things.
However. I do want to point out that paying the bills is a reason to decide to say yes to sex, and that it’s just as legit a choice as deciding to have sex because your partner is hot for your bod and you love your partner even if you’re not feeling totally horny right this second – basically yes, consent is sexy, but there are lots of reasons to consent.
 
On a related note: The author talks about making sure that the actors get to do stuff that actually gets them off. This right here? This, I think, is a great way to make sure that your talent are in it for pleasure, rather than “just” a pay cheque.
 
Look. Maybe it’s because I come from an industry – independent modeling – where there are a lot of potential “employers” who have no intention of employing anyone at all, who make it a point of pride to refuse to pay us for our labour, who don’t believe our work takes skill, who will drop a grand on a camera lens but don’t think someone’s time, energy, and talent are worth a penny… But I give a lot of side-eye to people who are all “Do it for the art!” Even as someone who, when organizing no-budget shows, basically asks people to Do It For The Art and work for low/no money beyond what they can get from selling chap-books at the merch table, far more often than I’m comfortable with.
I feel like the “I want my talent to be in it for the art” (or the sexual exhibitionism, either way) attitude – whether the Talent in question is doing video or stills – provokes/promotes a situation, not entirely unlike the one faced by GFE escorts, in that up-front discussion of the fact that this is work and we ARE doing it for the money isn’t really something we can do. It means walking a tightrope (or at least it feels this way to me) between being an enthusiastic artistic collaborator – meaning actively performing the image of someone who’s In It For The Art, when we may not give a shit about the art as long as we’re getting our $20/$40/$60/etc per hour – and someone who is engaging in contract terms and salary negotiations with an employer. And that’s kind of stressful, to be perfectly blunt. Because, on one side of that tightrope is “not enthusiastic enough; does not get hired” but on the other side is “enthusiastic enough about this project that I can assume she’ll work for free”.
 
I’m not sure how this works in the porn industry, and I’m aware that it’s WAY easier to fake enthusiasm for some stranger’s art concept than it is to fake enthusiasm for, say, some stranger’s mouth on your body, but, just like you can fake an orgasm, it’s possible to fake Enthusiasm For The Art, and to fake it specifically so that a given producer/director/dude-with-a-camera-and-an-envilope-of-cash will hire us rather than the next professional naked chick with an over-due hydro bill to pay.
 
Anyway. That’s my thoughts on that one.
 
 
TTFN,
Ms Syren.

So, it’s been a while, but let’s get back into it.
Friday Night at the FPAs was the actual Feminist Porn Awards Ceremony. We had tickets to the pre-party, but wound up missing pretty much all of it due to a combination of (a) slow dinner service, and (b) wardrobe emergency. So we got approximately one hors d’oeuvre each and didn’t get to network at all.
But that’s okay, because we still had Saturday to do that and, hey, we did get to hang out in the “VIP Lounge” (the upstairs part of the venue, which had little bistro tables and stuff. It was really nice, and I’m glad we went that route because I get really antsy in crowds and the upstairs was a lot less thronged than the downstairs. Worth the extra money, as far as I’m concerned.
Of course, we also got fancy swag bags with, seriously… Okay, vibrators must be the most over-priced thing on the planet, because I’ve seen how much those funfactory and lelo vibes cost and there were multiple new toys in each of those bags.
Not that I’m complaining about having an entire nightstand full (even more full than before?) of silicon goodies to play with at my disposal, but. Wah! O.O
 
Anyway.
By now, it’s no big shock who won what – the list has been up for weeks, after all. However, it as a lovely experience to drink wine and applaud the winners (and hear the acceptance speeches… Madison Young, whose movie won for Best Kink, took the opportunity to thank all the women pornographers who had come before her, and I got a little sniffly at that one, I don’t mind telling you).
Something that I think is neat about an event like this (or the local No Pants Dance Party, or any neo-burlesque show you care to attend) is that it’s the kind of event where you go expecting to find everyone attractive. There were many, MANY comments through-out the night about the astonishing amount of sexiness going on in the venue and, while it was definitely true, and while people are going to put more effort into their appearance when going to a Gala than when going to the grocery store… I don’t think it was any more or less true than, say, a random Tuesday at the Big Gay Bridgehead (if we want to compare apples to apples), or a stroll through a given park. I think, however, that an event like this invites the attendees to notice the beauty of the people around them.
Which I think is my take-away from the awards ceremony. There is beauty all over the place, if you get your head set to notice it.
 
And that was the awards ceremony. 🙂
 
 
TTFN,
Ms Syren.

Hey, all!
 
So I have the wonderful experience of hitting up the Feminist Porn Awards this year. The next few posts are going to focus on what-all went down and my thoughts there-upon, starting with the Thursday Night nominees screening: Public. Provocative. Porn.
 
There were quite a few nominees, of course, and the screening only showed seven (in whole or in part), many of which were shorts. As someone who – perhaps surprisingly – hasn’t had much experience with visual porn (literary porn is quite a different story), this was particularly interesting because I seriously didn’t know what to expect. I’ve been to local dyke dances where the hip, cool thing is to have Crash Pad episodes playing in the background, so I’d seen some of their work. I’d also seen the rough cuts of the stuff my (now-ex) girlfriend made while she was working in Toronto. But that was pretty much it.
I wasn’t expecting the bredth of story-telling that would show up – everything from silly, intentionally ridiculous premises (Biodildo); to artsy, very-literary – in that the sex was rather more in the voice-over than in the imagery – stuff (Taken), as well as numerous bits and pieces in between.
 
Some of my favourites were:
 
Taken: I like this one because of its cinimatography, but even more-so because of its story which, at its root and at its climax, is about the agency and active desire of the submissive. The “external” plot (if you will?) revolves around a recurring abduction scene but the actual story is about how the abductee is figuring out how to entice her abductor to come for her – what she has to do to get her abductor to show up, and how the waiting and wondering and uncertainty are part of the scene, even if it doesn’t *look* like the scene starts until the car pulls up and the person with the rope steps out.
I was really disappointed that Taken didn’t win an award. I think it should have (Best Kink, maybe? Even if that would have denied me the chance to hear Madison Young’s acceptance speech which, seriously, I just about cried… but I’m getting ahead of myself).
 
Krutch: I liked the way the scenes cut back and forth between the Main Character on her commute home (via public transit) and her getting herself off once she was in her bedroom (for the viewing pleasure of her gf, by the looks of things). It was well done, because it made the commute itself into a metaphor for the masterbation that was going on in the other scenes. The MC slipped and fell (the actress explained, during the post-screening panel discussion that “falling is part of my life” as someone with mobility issues) and this was translated into a metaphor for the vibrator Just Not Doing It during the home-scene. Fitting her crutch with a vibrating cock ring (I think) and starting up again, the cut-to scene involved trying to make a transfer and having to run faster, and faster, for a bus, which was a metaphor for the push towards orgasm.
This one got a lot of acolades over the weekend. Not surprisingly. But I worry that the main reason why it got so much applause was because it featured a crip-identified star (and, I hear, had a largely crip/disabled-identified crew)… rather than because it was a hot, well-put-together movie. Although it was definitely a hot, well-put-together movie, I don’t mind telling you.
Maybe it’s just the title, but I feel like the MC’s dis/ability was THE major plot element. I can’t tell if the same film, but featuring an able-bodied chick using a cock ring on her favourite softball bat, would have received the same recognition (or would have even been the same film, for that matter).
I’m looking forward to the point where the MC’s disability (or trans-ness, if I want to point fingers at the film that, later, won for Best Romantic[1]) is an acknowledged facet of their existence and, hey, their sex life, but isn’t the crux of the plot[2].
 
Because I Want You To Watch: An exhibitionist femme jacks off in an empty second(?) floor studio (dance studio, maybe?) knowing that someone is watching her doing it. I really, really enjoyed this one, in significant part because I could seriously identify with the character. We even have the same socks[4]. O.O I love her femme fabulocity, and I love her exhibitionism and willingness to do public (solo) sex. Win. (And it did. It won the Golden Beaver award, in the end).
 
Jizz Lee’s “Biodildo” was adorable and sweet and just silly enough to be a massively fun romp. “Bound Rubber Dolls” was… interesting from an aesthetic point of view (nothing says “fetish” like latex and shibari, particularly when the “sex” part isn’t going to be picked up on by people who don’t get off on straight-up latex and/or shibari), but wasn’t exactly My Thing. “Forbidden Lovers #1” was… disappointing. Mostly because of the use of the “We’ve just been moving so fast, I have to tell you something… about me” trope without putting any kind of a twist on it. I’m hella glad there’s someone (Nica Noelle) making porn for straight trans women (and their boyfriends) but, personally, I would have liked to see that particular trope flipped on its head.
I confess, I can’t remember what the seventh piece was. Maybe that says it all right there. :-\
 
Anywhoo. That was the screening. Ghost and I stuck around for the panel discussion that followed. Unfortunately, being stuffed up all to hell and having lost 3/4 of my hearing (temporarily – thank goodness) as a result, I wasn’t able to follow very much of it.
Sorry. 😦
 
Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand that was Thursday night.
More to follow! 🙂
 
 
TTFN,
Ms Syren.

 
 
[1] In this one’s defence, they only showed one vignette of three or four during the screening, so maybe the others were a little more racey/illicit/public/something… None the less, calling the movie “forbidden lovers” is… a bit off. A straight couple on good terms with their parents/future-in-laws and having vanilla sex (okay, in said parents/fils spare bedroom) is pretty-much anything but forbidden. I’m just sayin’.
 
[2] How ’bout a deaf[3] Domme telling her sub (gender irregardless, possibly or possible not also deaf) how to undress and where to touch hirself in order to give her the best possible show? As a suggestion. Just throwing it out there.
 
[3] Or *not* deaf, but some other ability/mobility issue – a domme who uses a wheel chair could work just as well in this situation.
 
[4] I have to say, I’m pleased as all get out about the fact that there’s more than just me walking around, feeling sexy as hell, in thigh-highs made of ribbed cotton. Seriously. 😀

It’s just over a week away, and I’m gleefully oogling the conference schedule in order to decide which pannels I want to attend. 😀
 
Right now, it’s looking like:
Session One: If I Had A Hammer: Reclaiming Feminist Porn As A Tool of Political Activism Against Oppression
(LUNCH – I don’t think I get to go to the keynote speakers’ luncheon, alas, but I’ll make due. Perhaps my young lady and I can get together with a few of our also-attending buddies and get lunch ensemble).
Session Two: To Be Real: Authenticity in Queer and Feminist Porn
Session Three: Being Out Now: How Performers Navigate Sexual Morality and Media Representation
AND
Session Four: The Politics of Kinky Porn and Feminism (because Duh. Although Teaching Porn in Accademe sounds good, too).

There’s a reception at the end of the day and, from there, we will get dolled up and go to the Switch Party.

So. Every time I try to write “P is for Polyamoury” I run into… difficulties. So I’m saying Screw It, and writing “P is for Porn” instead because: I am all excited.
 
Specifically, I’m all excited about going to the 2013 Feminist Porn Awards, and the accompanying conference (Oh, gods, the conference! I think I just came in my dress…) in a couple of weeks. 😀
 
See, as you all know, I was once an anti-porn feminist and have since changed my tune rather significantly. At this point, I think Annie Sprinkle hit the nail on the head when she said that the solution to bad porn isn’t No Porn, it’s making better porn.
 
When I write smut – like, say, the smut that’s forthcoming in the Leather Heights anthology 😀 – I try to write “feminist smut” in the sense that I try to include characters who don’t get a lot of print (or who get a lot of print where they’re smushed into one-dimensional stereotypes, as the case may be), try to write from a woman’s PoV, try to include safer sex practices, try not to objectify anyone and make everything super-obviously consensual, try to – even, maybe especially when writing more traditionally hetero pairings (think Harlequin) – to write the personal-interaction aspects of these stories in ways that don’t play into the emotionally abusive patterns that mainstream romances tend to espouse as “appropriate hero behaviour”… and such-like.
That isn’t necessarily how every pornographer is going to define feminist porn. I know there are people whose feminist porn does play with consensual-non-con, humiliation play, and other stuff that makes me, personally, nervous and squicky. (But isn’t that the beauty of plurality? Your kink can freak me right out, but that doesn’t mean I get to be all prohibitionist about your kink. I’m sure all you folks who like non-con scenes are sighing with relief right about now. ;-))
 
Anyway. I’m ridiculously excited. To the point that I feel a bit silly, particularly since the part I’m SUPER EXTRA EXCITED about is the brainy accademic conference (I suspect I will be coming home with a book in tow) and all that hob-nobbing with delicious babes like Drew Deveau and Courtney Trouble at galas and play-parties is… y’know, a handy bonus. But it’s not what’s making my breath race.
(Hi. I’m sapiosexual[1]. Apparently).
 
In any case, the lovely wife and I will be descending upon TO, business cards (and, in my case for sure, note-taking materials) in hand, for a whirlwind weekend that is not to be missed. 😀 The fact that we’re topping it off with Leather Launch (a kinky edutainment extravaganza benefiting leather women organizers in Toronto and Ottawa – Huzzah! If I had a link, I’d post it. Stay tuned) is just the icing on the hawt, brainy cake. 😀
 
And that’s what’s coming up in my life.. 😀
 
 
TTFN,
Ms Syren.
 
 
[1] Talk Nerdy To Me. 😉

So Molly Crabapple has an article talking about being a Professional Naked Girl – someone who works as an independed soft-core model for the private collections of (frequently) amateur photographers.
 
This is the kind of work I’m talking about when I say that I’m an erotic/fetish model.
 
Now, I don’t make $100/hr. (Yet). Possibly this is because I don’t live in NYC, or possibly it’s because I’m not in my early 20s, but most likely it’s because I don’t (yet) have the guts to charge that much for my services. None the less, the job is the same. Like Molly, I hunt for work on Craigslist and Model Mayhem. Like her, I have a drawer or two full of Interesting Lingerie and a closet full of gorgeous (but largely impractical) shoes. But, unlike her… I actually like my job.
 
I’m lucky.
 
I’m lucky because I live in a fairly sex-positive bubble that includes both my wider social milieu (kinky, queer activists) and my closest friends and family-members. I have a wife who is hella supportive of what I do and who acts as my assistant on shoots; I have a lot of friends who work in the sex industry, doing types of sexwork that are a lot more intense/intimate than what I’m doing; and, beyond that, I’ve got a parallel modeling career in the more socially-acceptable field of figure modeling – nude modeling for people who paint or draw their pictures rather than using a camera – which gives me some plausible deniablity when it comes to folks, like my siblings or my landlord, who might not be so supportive otherwise. All of this goes a long way towards keeping me happy and fulfilled – rather than shamed and anxious – in my soft-core work.
 
But I’m also lucky because I started this work in my late twenties, when I’d already (finally) developed a sense of agency, autonomy, and body-comfort… rather than starting in my late teens, like Molly, at a time when my understanding of sexual situations boiled down to “If you flirt, you have to be prepared to go all the way”. I suspect that, had I had the first clue about how to find work as a fetish/glamour/boudoir model in 2001, I’d have either run in the other direction or else tried it and wound up dealing with the same feelings of vulnerability, fear, shame, and contempt that Molly discusses in her article.
 
It feels like a chicken-and-egg situation, the way the Cult of Youth in our culture’s beauty standard is, at the same time, a Cult of The Engenue – the naive innocent girl; the way our naratives around sex position women – especially young women – as victims/helpless/prey, and teaches them (us) that knowing too much about sex, or being too sexually (or otherwise) confident[2], means you’re a-slut-who-deserves-what-she-gets (violence, shame, cruelty, rape, humiliation…).
 
I could go on and on and on (in circles, most likely) about how teaching girls to be afraid of sex is a Bad Idea, and how teaching girls to be compliant out of fear of what will happen if they aren’t, is also a Bad Idea… No matter how or when those attitudes come to a head, they are always horrible and damaging.
 
I’m grateful for my bubble. Grateful because it gives me somewhere to come home to where it’s taken as a matter of course that women aren’t working their appearances around the desire for male (any male) attention; where street harassment still happens, but it happens within the context of “What a bunch of douchebags, did they even slow down?” rather than “Oh, god, what did I do wrong? Is this a safe neighbourhood?”; where generalizations about how a woman “should” look are met with The Unimpressed Face of Stink-Eye.
Some women find their entry point into Bubble World through sex work. I’m the other way around. I don’t think I could do this work safely, or happily, or without doing myself a lot of emotional damage, if I didn’t have my bubble to come home to.
 
 
TTFN,
Ms Syren.
 
 
[1] And positions men – particularly older men, but not only – as preditors-by-nature, which also sucks rocks and contributes to Rape Culture like woah.
 
[2] Because any confidence in women is seen as being “too forward”, and we all know what “forward” really means, don’t we?

E is for Erotica

Hey folks!

So I’ll be heading to Unholy Harvest this year (first time outside of my own city, no less) and am excited about a number of things – singing (zomg I haven’t performed an opera piece in something close to a decade!) at the Talent Show, attending the Flow workshop, seeing the Extended Leather Phamily for Thanksgiving Dinner, and reading some of my porn at the open mic.

It’s that last one with-which I’m concerned today.

I write erotica. I used to write erotica all the damn time – to the point where I was actually worried that I wasn’t able to write anything else, or that maybe I was defaulting to sex scenes because they were becoming a habit rather than because it was something I actually wanted/needed to put on paper right then.
These days, it comes far less often.
Alas.
Because I’d like to get it back.

I wrote a piece – “Wolf and Scarlet” – to submit to an anthology. I didn’t get in (which is not actually horrible – it still means that a writer whom I respect a lot actually read my stuff, and that’s kind of a big deal for me), but I’m really proud of it. I’m looking forward to reading it aloud to my community, though I’m going to have to make sure it doesn’t take more than eight minutes to read which… seeing as it takes about twenty minutes to read (I just checked) is not likely to work out.
Cripes. 3500 words, or so… If I can read 175 words-aloud in one minute… I basically need a story that’s about 1200 words long.
Hrmph.

I’m not sure how I’m going to fix that…

Back to the drawing board with me!

Cheers,
Ms Syren.

I’ve been working as a professional model for almost four years now. My image has wound up in books, gallery shows, promo material, and a lot of private collections. This is awesome. I love making (part of) my living doing this. It pays well, lets me contribute to communities and endeavors that I value (art, kink, etc), and gives my inner exhibitionist streak a chance to flourish.

My question is: Where do I go from here?

I’d like to do more work like this – and to take it further, as well. To make a larger percentage of my income from doing “fantasy modeling” – concept/fetish shoots that tell a story, play with fetish-fashion, or just Look Really Cool – locally and professionally.
I look at people like Sarah Hunter and Megan Massacre – just to pick two models pretty much totally at random – and wonder how to get that kind of paid, print-media work (maybe I should email them and ask?).

Whenever I consider branching out, I run up against two walls:

This first is: “If I do Real Porn for non-private collections, will this screw me over some time down the road?” The answer to that is pretty close to Zero at this point. I have no intention, or desire, to job-retrain for something like “lawyer”, “doctor”, or “politician”. I’m more likely to go for “alternative (pagan/kinky/poly) commitment-ceremony (wedding) officiant for hire” or “registered herbalist” or even “aesthetician” than anything where you badly need to present an ultra small-c-conservative face to the public.
This question basically boils down to: How much whorephobia (and related fall-out) am I likely to get hit with from (a) my community[1], (b) my family-of-origin[2], and (c) the general public[3]? Is this career path socially “worth it”?

The second is: “How much travel am I going to have to do for this, alone[4], and will it be on my own dime?”
My city isn’t a big one, and – while there is definitely work available – I feel like I might get more work in the particular fields I’m looking at if I were able to go out of town on a regular basis. Thus, while this question has a little bit to do with my personal safety (see footnote [4]) it mostly pertains to whether or not trying to further this particular part of my career is economically worth it.
If I’m going to be in Toronto for Unholy Harvest[5], is it worth it to let people on MM know that I’m traveling and would, potentially, be available for a shoot/sitting during a specific time-slot that weekend? If my partner and I decided to spend a week in Halifax, is it sensible to advise folks in Halifax that I’m around? … In those cases, yes, probably. I’m going to be there anyway, so why not make some money if I can? But in terms of making a special trip…? Maybe not so much.

So that’s where I’m sitting right now. Wondering (again) how I can do this on my terms, and make it a viable, enjoyable career at the same time.

Cheers,
Ms Syren.

[1] Probably not a whole lot, honestly. It might actually give me added Street Cred.

[2] Er… probably a fair bit, in a concern-trolling kind of way. It wouldn’t be the end of the world, but I can see my various immediate family-members looking a little askance at me and that can make for some awkward dinner conversations over Thanksgiving. This one actually does worry me a little. I don’t want to hear my sister say “do you have any idea how embarrassing it is to be related to you” ever again. (Er… I was the ‘omega’ in elementary school, and my sister felt tainted by association). Not so fun, I don’t mind telling you. :-\

[3] Yeah… Strictly speaking, I don’t actually care. Any of my neighbours who would be rude or nasty to me if I were a Known Porn Model… are probably already being rude to me, just because of how I dress and who I hang out with. That said, I’m cavalier about my work as a model up to and including the point of making stupid mistakes like telling the guy in the elevator that I had a one-hour job to go to… I’m sure he thought I was doing something a little more involved than just modeling with my clothes off. I don’t want to make a mistake like that when it could, potentially, get me an eviction notice. If ya know what I mean.

[4] “Alone” because my partner usually acts as my escort to this kind of shoot, and she wouldn’t necessarily be able to travel with me (depending on scheduling, but also depending on cost of travel – a shoot in a nearby city that coincided with a weekend, and that would give us a chance to stay with – and visit with – mutual friends? No problem. A flight to NYC or something? Not so much…)

[5] Also, have I mentioned that the Saturday Afternoon workshops (for example) at UH looking fucking amazing? I’m officially excited now! 😀

Art vs Porn – A Response

So. My friend, Nadine, wrote a post discussing the theoretical difference between “art” and “porn”. And I decided to write a response (that got just long enough that it’s going here instead of in her comments section).

Now, you all know that, once upon a time, I was an anti-porn-feminist, the kind who was all for “possitive expressions of sexuality” but who drew a line between “erotica” (which fit my personal, and fairly narrow, definitions of “possivie expressions of sexuality”) and “porn” (which was evil, exploitive, and generally had to be stricken from the earth). Now, since that time, everything has changed and I tend not to make much of a distinction between “erotica” and “porn”. However I find the (theoretical) distinctions drawan between “art” and “porn” is very much like the ones that get drawn between “erotica” and “porn”. E.G.: semantics and ideas about “legitimacy” (there’s going to be a LOT of quotation marks in this post, by the way).

I find that trying to draw a (real) distinction between porn and art is an exercise in futility and frustration. I can get turned on looking at Fabulous Shoes. Someone else might look at the same pair of stillettos (the kind that come with a “do not chew” warning on the label), though, and just see a danger to their ankles. Likewise, I can look at pictures of Big Gay Bears – fucking, even – and think “ew, chest hair”, while others will get totally hot over the same images.

Look. I do a lot of nude modeling. Some of it is officially erotic (stuff that plays with fetish themes, for eg). Some of it is officially not (gesture modeling for an animation class). A lot of it is in a blurry place between the two.
In those case, the “difference” between what’s an “art” shoot and what’s a “porn” shoot is, more often than not, in how much I’m getting paid to do it — what you said about there being assumptions that “porn” is less valuable/worth than “art” is true, but there are also assumptions (big ones) about how a porn model is less valuable/worthy as a person than an “art” model… with the result being that “porn models” (whether the porn is “erotic art nudes” or “hard core fisting”) tend to get paid better than “art models” (because, y’know, clearly a model would be ashamed to being doing porn, and so would need the deal to be sweetened a little before she’d agree to do it).
It’s stupid.
But it happens.
Consequently, I think my definition of “porn” – from a photography modeling perspective – is, more than anything: “Does it appear that the photographer find this imagery titillating? If yes, then Porn”.
So I’ve done “porn” that involved me brushing my hair, fully clothed. I’ve done “porn” that was shot only from the ankles down. I’ve done “porn” that involved fake blood and real biting. I’ve done “porn” that involved me standing next to a woman 18″ shorter than me, with both of us in business clothing (yes, really). I’ve done “porn” that involved close-ups of my genitals…. And I’ve done “art” that involves being nude but for stillettos, or nude but for leather boots[1]. I’ve done “art” that involved visible pubic hair and erect nipples.

Gods know that, if you work in the Porn Mines (as a writer friend of mine calls them), you can end up writing explicitly sexual stuff that isn’t actually explicitly sexual for you (like, I dunno, writing a hero with a really hair chest. I might go “ick” at that thought, but it doesn’t mean I couldn’t put such a character in a story and have the Love Interest totally go nuts over him).

And, yes, “art nude” tends to involve more “bodyscaping” – heavier use of light and shadow, basically – while “erotic nude” tends to, um, not… But I’ve done “art nudes” that are based on (and, occasionally, recreations of) the photographer’s favourite fetish shots by a different artist, and I’ve modeled for student photographers who are practicing portraiture lighting… and just happen to want to shoot portraits of hot girls in lingerie.
See what I mean?
I raised my rates for photographers’ modeling (environmental portraiture) about six months ago because the lines between “art nude”, “erotic art nude”, and “erotic nude” are not wide at all and, before, when I charged different rates for “art nude” and “erotic nude”, I often found myself basically getting shortchanged. Now I charge everybody the same rate, and I’m a whole lot happier (and feel less like I need to by hyper-vigilant) about it all. 🙂

There are a lot of ways that you can define porn – or define art (is there a plinth involved? What about cherubs?) for that matter – but I think it pretty-much comes down to the eye of the beholder.

TTFN,
Ms Syren.

[1] That one actually won a local figure-drawing competition, believe it or not.

Inspiration comes in unexpected places.
I decided to fill out someone’s survey about same-sex couples and relationships, and one of the questions essentially asked the respondent to write some fairly personal porn.
Specifically, it asked:
Please write a fictional paragraph, according to your personal preferences, describing an ideal sensual encounter or fantasy between you and a partner. You may of course choose to write about your current partner.
Though you are not limited to your choice of words, you must incorporate the following verbs in this paragraph:
To love/To be loved (someone/by someone)
To kiss/To be kissed
To touch/To be touched
To hold/To be held
To caress/To be caressed

I’m not entirely sure I’ve done what they wanted, but this is what I wrote:

~*~

You’re a long drink of water in a sequined top; all leg in those jeans, and wouldn’t I love to have them wrapped around me. But this is how I work, see? Maybe I’m all about being in charge but I have to know you want it. I need you to make the first move: notice me noticing you and let me know that you like it; sashay over here and compliment my necklace, tuck your long hair behind your ears and smile, so I know you noticed me, too.
Would you like to dance? Kick up those high heels with me, then slip outside for a drink and a chance to talk?
Would it ruin everything if I kissed you?
My stomach may be fluttering, heart pounding under this cocktail dress, but I want to hold your hand in spite of it. I want to hold more than your hand, in fact; want to trace the length of your spine with my tongue, knot my fingers in your hair, graze your throat with my teeth, caress your cheek, then slap it. I want to be rough and gentle with you at once.
But I never was any good at these one night stands. Too easy to get my heart broken by someone who only wanted to touch me, open to me, then go. So I gotta know: Are you interested enough, interesting enough, to take the time to know me in the not-so-biblical sense?
Are you willing to risk my heart tonight?
Are you willing to take the chance that you’ll love me back?

~*~

I’m hoping to work it into a longer piece over the next little whilte, but I figured I’d throw it up here for now. 🙂

TTFN,
Ms Syren.