Indie adult film star Madison Young teaches Santa Cruzans how to take erotic filmmaking into their own hands
Pornography has always gone hand-in-hand with the idea of “doing it yourself,” but never more so than in the present era. The Digital Revolution has made it relatively easy for Joe and Jo Blow to not only produce and star in their own naughty movies, but also to show those movies to the world at large if they so desire. As a result, Independent internet porn now threatens to topple the DVD-based mainstream adult film industry in the same way that digital audio encoding has dealt a fatal blow to major record labels.
San Francisco’s Madison Young is at the forefront of the DIY (Do It Yourself) porn movement. As the creator of the production company Madison Young Productions (madisonbound.com), she writes, directs, produces and performs in such indie adult flicks as Frisk Me, Madison Young’s Art House Sluts and the seminal Heartland: A Woman’s POV (the first POV porn film in history to be shot from a woman’s perspective). Young claims that DIY porn offers many things that the mainstream stuff can’t—not the least of which are connection, pleasure, chemistry and communication between performers. “I love to capture partners communicating about if something is too rough or not rough enough, or begging for another finger, or asking for more lube,” the 29-year-old filmmaker/porn star states. She adds that such onscreen interaction encourages home viewers to feel comfortable communicating their sexual desires to their partners.
Young, who also runs the nonprofit art gallery Femina Potens (feminapotens.org) and frequently serves as an educator and presenter on the politics of sex and pornography, explains that she allows her performers to choose their partners. “A lot of these people have played together [offscreen], or they’re real couples; [they’re working with] people they’re hot for,” she notes. “And they’re having the kind of sex that they want; they’re not being told, ‘I need doggie. I need this.’ It’s not about what I need—it’s about them getting what they need.”
On a gusty spring evening, the petite, red-haired Young stands at the front of a room filled with erotic toys, books, videos, lubes, lingerie, bondage gear and other such sex shop fare. About 20 people of widely varying age have gathered to hear her discourse on the how-tos of DIY porn at Pure Pleasure, a cozy sex shop on—of all places—Church Street in Santa Cruz (purepleasureshop.com). Given the store’s female-friendly atmosphere, it’s a fitting site for a talk by a woman whose stated goal is to convey a sense of women’s empowerment in her films. However, Amy Baldwin, who owns the store with her mother Janis, is quick to note that Pure Pleasure’s staff members like to think of the shop as “a very non-judgmental, open place for everyone,” male or female.
Young begins her talk by railing against a “fast food porn” industry whose bottom line is “commerce versus your hard-on or wet spot.” “Just like McDonald’s, they’ve found the quickest way to make a burger,” she comments. “The thing they miss is this thing called pleasure. That didn’t get to the productivity meeting.”
Young explains that if you’re going to make porn of a higher caliber, the first thing you’re going to need is a storyboard. To this end, she has the members of the class stand up, shake their bodies and undulate their hips. She encourages attendees to focus on their genital regions, pointing out that this is the birthplace of those “dirty pictures” that end up as scenes in porn flicks.
To get the ball rolling, Young offers, “I see an empty parking garage.” Soon various audience members are chiming in: “Back row of a theater”; “1950s housewife”; “Looking through the window of the space shuttle while it’s in orbit.” Intrigued by the last of these suggestions, Young prods its progenitor to elaborate. Expanding on a “lesbians on the Space Shuttle” motif, Young brainstorms with the student on how to pull this film off on a lower budget: Should the astronauts wear jumpsuits? Will there be bunk beds? Hitting on an idea for creating the illusion of ejaculation in zero gravity, she suggests, “What if he’s actually shooting downward, and you flip the footage to give it that weightless look?” (Writer’s note: Ewww.)
One class member confesses to having a thing for the combination of sex and history. He envisions three Victorian sisters playing in a manor. As he lays out the basics of his fantasy, Young encourages him to get more specific: “Does the blouse come off? Is he down on his knees? If you just tell the actions, there are a thousand different shots that the videographer will give you.” In a similar spirit, she presses each participant for the juicy details: “What color are her lips?” “Are her fingernails painted or not?”
Of course, once the storyboard is complete, the filmmaker is going to need to find some performers. For this purpose, Young suggests putting a post up on Twitter or, if the movie is being made in L.A., going through an agent. She recommends interviewing performers ahead of time to make sure they’re enthusiastic about the project as opposed to just collecting some cash. Such an interview also gives the director a chance to gather data that may prove beneficial to the project. “What gets the performers hot? Incorporate that into your vision,” she advises, adding that it’s also a good idea to find out the performer’s preferred lube.
Once your movie is cast, you’ll need to choose a video editing software application. Young says iMovie or other such free downloaded software should do the trick for smaller stuff, while she recommends Final Cut Pro for professional jobs. She also mentions that Corel has a lower-priced professional-grade video editing application. Encouraging filmmakers to work with the resources available to them, Young urges, “Shoot for the moon, but come down to Earth.”
That’s a Wrap
Once the class is over, participants mingle, exchange contact information and share their thoughts. Jim Vocelka, a 50-year old Prunedale architect who is interested in “all kinds of fetish stuff,” from bondage to discipline and beyond, says Young’s class has inspired him to make some commercial porn. Though he’s never made any movies before, he’s been into “the lifestyle” for approximately half of his life. As such, he doesn’t think he’ll have any difficulty finding cast members for his productions. “I have lots of friends throughout the Santa Cruz/Monterey Peninsula area who would be more than willing to help out,” he notes.
A 30-year-old San Jose resident named Renee (she prefers to keep her last name and her occupation under wraps), says she, too, will be making some sexy films, though hers will be purely for personal use. She explains that she became interested in DIY porn when she and her partner made a video together as a spur-of-the-moment thing. “It was beautiful to create something like that together and to keep it just for ourselves,” she states, adding that she encourages couples to consider doing the same. “Instead of going out and only thinking, ‘What can we buy?’ how about, ‘Let’s create something special for us,’” she offers. “Partner A says to Partner B, ‘Here’s what I’d like to see,’ and vice versa. And just put it all together—because it’s an incredible bonding experience.”