Saturday, December 31, 2011

James Deen - A True Hero for Our Times

Not that long ago I saw an article on Slate on porn star James Deen:
 Then an interview here:

and a couple others. I've seen him before in movies and I like him because he looks like a normal guy as opposed to the musclebound weightlifter crowd that is usually in these movies. He's good looking and looks like someone I would want to hang out with. He's definitely got style at what he's doing on screen and I like that as well. From the articles I checked out his blog and it's fascinating. Before I get to that I want to comment on the media.

James comes across as really cool in the articles/interviews because he has a good sense of humor, is into what he does and comes across as an intelligent individual. I also found interesting some comments he makes about intentionality in porn, that while he specializes in rough sex, the setup or intention of the scene is important to him. In one article he talks about how does interviews with the girls explaining the degradation that's about to happen to them, he contrasts this with another site that is just "misogynistic assholes". The interviewer says that she probably couldn't tell the difference viewing the movies. What's interesting is that for Deen that distinction (that the movies might look similar) isn't what's important, but it's the ethics of his involvement. I find it also interesting to contrast such thinking with the notions of authorial intention in the art world, where conceptual ideas driving the work can make work more interesting in contrast to similar work that isn't referencing conceptual ideas. I agree with Deen, that our intentions define our actions. When I watch BDSM I'm not hoping that someone is really being degraded against their will (though I know that there's plenty who are getting off on just that), but that we(the performers and by watching, myself) are engaging in an intensifying experience. Pushing at those norms in that way I think is healthy.

Deen's blog is an interesting experience, generally it consists of cell phone shots of women he's "banged" that day and some diaristic note-taking. Perhaps he's hungry, horny or hung over. Sometimes he engages in some humorous anecdotes that are quite hilarious. Overall you get the sense again, of intelligent, funny individual who loves what he does without any attitude, you know, someone you would like to hang out with. I also have to love a man who professes love for Del Taco. I myself love to go there when I get down to SF. It's a secret love since my friends down there would rather go to the Mission for a real burrito or authentic Mexican or whatever, which I agree with but sometimes, I'm just happy to get some Del Taco crunchy tacos and a burrito. Just between you and me. Someday in the future somone's going to be doing their PhD thesis on the porn industry and Deen's blog is going to be the Encyclopedia Brittanica for study. Want to know who that chick was and what site she worked for? There it is along with a nice candid for you. It's addicting and one of two blogs that I check daily.

So why is Deen a hero for our times? Because while his comments are a little wacky (especially as regards his Jewish heritage) he is truly a respectful individual. That really comes through in his actions, comments about intentions and that sometimes he agonizes over calling women sluts though in his profession that is a term that is sold, that has no pejorative weight. This shows that he actually thinks about what he says and its relationship to how those words are perceived in context. I really get the sense that's he's a good guy and that's becoming a rarity in our overly selfish, self-obsessed society. He's got a good work ethic since he works tirelessly and is even making his own movies. Sure some people might not like his chosen profession but that's closed minded. I offer him up to you, as the person who should be Time Magazine's person of the year, James Deen, porn star.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

My time with X-art

As a film shooter who abhors all things digital photo-wise, I was researching some information on Red cameras after hearing about them on some photo forums. I was intrigued that moreso than looking at increasing pixels or whatever passes for progress in the digital world, that they took a different approach. They decided that 35mm was the gold standard and that any digital movie camera was going to have to replicate the resolution of 35mm film. Considering HD a bust they decided to completely innovate a new technology to acheive this and worked with Peter Jackson and other big name directors to get input. Thus, the Red camera is gaining real traction in the movie industry and many hollywood directors are starting to use them. In my research I found that the people at the X-Art site were using these cameras to shoot their movies.

X-art is a porn web site with the emphasis on classy, realistic action that would appeal to a broader audience than say, those that watch the Cum Fart Cocktails series. They have utterly gorgeous models and use some nice techniques to create arty videos. Intrigued I decided to take the monthly tour option and see what they had to offer.

X-art has a ton of gorgeous models, some you've seen before on those classy sites (Met, MPL, Hegre etc etc) and a few stars that you know and some upcomers shooting here for the first time. They do a mix of single girl, girl/girl and girl/boy hardcore.

The good stuff is that they have great aesthetics, using light and filters etc to create nice atmospherics, the clarity of the work overall is very good. The action is more focused on a naturalistic approach to sex, missionary position etc. Which is good, it's sexy in a more romantic way. There's a video of "Leila" (whom I know by other names) on the beach that is hot, hot, hot. If it weren't for all the sand on her pussy it would be awesome. Still, it's probably the best video on the site. The Tiffany videos are great and there's plenty of others, again, the strength's here are the amazing hotties and the high res cameras (you can tell the earlier ones which weren't shot with the same cameras as they do later). They also use a lot of music that many users like. I can't stand it for the most part and find it sappy and unpleasant. However, from the comments on their site I would say the majority like it so I'm going to include it in the good. I do understand that they're trying to project a romantic interlude and I applaud them for their work on that.

The bad: they tend to spend more time on close-up in/out then I think is necessary, often to the detriment of viewing the woman's body. It's frustrating to have this utterly gorgeous woman stretch her legs up and immediately cut to a thrusting penis. They do some good close-ups of face and body stuff but there's a lot of women's feet and legs being cut-off by the frame. I would prefer for the effect they're trying to go for that they put more effort into letting me view the whole of the action. They could definitely use some editing/framing improvement. There's a scene in Tatiana Voyeur pt 2,  wheres she's on her back and legs cocked up and they cut off her feet but what they're showing us is basically more bed sheets at the bottom of the frame. Since this ain't a Macy's ad that's pretty weak. There is a TON of this sort of stuff in their content. In Elle's Red Hot Summer she lifts her beautiful legs and feet in the air and what do they do? Zoom in on her pussy. It's a crime I tells ya! It is a very hot vid though....

Some of the action is pretty hot, some of it pretty amateur, girls that look like they're so new that they're still in that stage of laughing and or not really in touch with their erotic selves, faking bit lips, intense stares etc. Still, they're often so attractive that it's still pretty hot. The videos are short, under 10 minutes for the most part which I like as opposed to the typical porn shoot where you get an unedited 30 minutes of a mechanical going through the position shot list. Some of the x-art videos end with no cum shot while others end with a variety of the tropes available. From the comments section it's clear that they have a mixed bag audience, some wanting cum shots, others wanting to maintain the realism of romance without it. They have one DP and a couple anal videos which again, have mixed reviews. There's a ton of solo masturbation and girl/girl stuff though, likely made for what they perceive as their target audience.

The still photograph sets are pretty lame overall, often a 60 image set is basically second by second shots of what must be a short session. I don't need to see a woman lifting her hand to her hair in slow motion for 10 shots. The new, and likely exclusive at that time, women have some of the lamest sets. The more experienced models come off better because they have experience controlling the modelling situation. I imagine that some of this is the X-art photographers not being able to control the newbies. But the sets for the most part are pretty weak and repetitive, they have Francesca in garters and fishnets and we don't get one complete shot of her legs. That's pretty ridiculous. Often the 15 freebies that you get on the TGP sites are generally the best of the sets. I was pretty disappointed thinking that I was going to get lots more hot shots and instead get 20 more of the model lifting her leg or slight variations on spreading her pussy etc. Katy has had some great sets on Met but here she looks great but the set is too focused on body parts and not overall body.

Wrap-up: I think there's enough good content to give X-Art a try for the montly trial and see what you think. I don't feel bad about what I spent but at this point I wouldn't go back for more. I would tell them that what makes them special is the quality of their models and the excellent camera images/techniques. I think philosophically their audience is more interested in the beauty of a woman's body and that most of us have seen a jillion cocks plunging into vaginas. I like to see that to add the real to the flavor of the action but the overall focus should be on the bodies of the participants, the way they interlock and the passion that can be expressed. Also they should realize that women's legs and feet are expressive of that passion and that as details in the overall scheme they should be paid more attention to in framing. There is a fair amount of content but it's still in the building stage. I will definitely be checking it out again down the road to see how they're doing.

Red cameras are a game changer in the realm of digital shooting and I think that X-Art's committment to that sort of technology (it ain't cheap, they're probably renting that thing) shows that they're serious about the sort of experience they are working to provide to their audience. They've gotten better as they go along and I imagine will only continue to improve and I like a lot of what they do and think it's worth checking out.

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Susannah Breslin Challenge

I was recently reading some articles about legality and free speech (spurred by recent articles about SOPA and GoDaddy's disastrously ass-kissing the fascistic pole issues) and read about Max Hardcore and his jail sentence. My initial thoughts are that this is typical hate-mongering by the right abusing our laws to overcome free speech. I ran across some articles by Susannah Breslin about the Max issue and though I find her views on pornography confusing (she loves to hate it?) one of the points she made was that you need to see it. One of the lawyers she talked to said he didn't need to and she publicly called him out on that. I supppose if it's that offensive it's okay to rob someone of their rights and throw them in jail even if they don't do anything illegal because our obscenity laws are so vague. I think that's fucking bullshit especially cuz there isn't anything in his videos that aren't in a million others, just not so doggedly in every video. I thought to myself that since I haven't seen any of his movies that I should check them out to see if there as bad as she says. And then I'll have to think about what that means to me.

I then decided to take the Susannah Breslin challenge. I went on the net and bought some of his DVD's covering various title types to make sure that I didn't find the "nice" one that wouldn't be so offensive. Though more reading has me thinking that I could of just gotten one since it sounds like they're all the same. They don't sound like anything I would be interested in seeing on my own, in much the same was that movies like Hostel (which I did see after a friend encouraged it) don't do anything for me or perhaps bum me out would be a better way to put it. Funny how the constant barrage of murdered women in horror movies seem more okay than rough sex. But we'll see when the Max vids arrive. I thought it would be hard to find the movies but I guess as long as I don't live in Tampa they're easily procured. Funny that I have the same sense of unease that I had when I rented Hostel or some other horror-butcher movies that I've forgotten.

Part of me wishes I hadn't, I now feel that I've engaged in some conspiracy but hey, the things we do so we can complain about free speech. I don't think I'm going to find anything there to convince me otherwise but we'll see. Looking at Breslin's blogs and writings I sometimes I think that people who spend too much time on the internet get some warped view that the disturbing aspects they find around them culturally have more meaning than they actually do, the ads, the blogs, the online media, the cable tv media. To me it's a mishmash of the worst we have to offer. But then watching Fox News or Fox Entertainment (the arm that holds all the big hate filled talking heads) does makes me sick to my stomach. In that regard I think Max Hardcore is harmless. At best he's an analogy for what Fox News does to the American Psyche on a daily basis. Pissing hate right down into the open mouth of a confused and disenfranchised country.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

I heart DVD's

Until VOD gets better at delivery, I'll stick with DVD's. I got a VOD at  cduniverse and the quality of the image was terrible. Ugh. What a waste of time. Buy a DVD, rip it using Handbrake and it's all good.