Something from the archives today. This review was written for Alt.com. FYI: This piece includes references to my personal tastes in porn; family members and others who don't want to read about that, please don't read this piece.
God, I love it.
Porn aficionados may know Fatale Video as one of the first producers of "by lesbians for lesbians" video porn (and of the groundbreaking "Bend Over Boyfriend"). They were making feminist indie porn in the '80s and '90s, way back before it was cool. (Conflict of interest alert: I worked for Fatale and its sister company On Our Backs, well over a decade and a half ago, and I performed in one of their videos.)
Lately, Fatale has taken to distributing adult lesbian videos from other filmmakers, making indie dyke porno available to a wider audience. And this business model is being put to excellent use with their latest release, One Night Stand (Pour Une Nuit). A queer/ dyke/ tranny-boi porno from France, One Night Stand is an intense, authentic, raunchy porno, with a kinky sensibility, an emphasis on immediacy and heat, and a gritty, arty, urban feel.
The look of One Night Stand is not slick -- but it's not amateurish, either. The grainy hand-held look gives it the raunchy, entertainingly dirty feel of an amateur porno shot in someone's basement.... but it was filmed by someone who clearly gives a shit about filmmaking and knows their way around a camera. The lighting has a tough, urban look without being harsh or shadowy. And the shaky hand-held-ness is done expertly, always in the service of capturing the eroticism and energy of the scene.
In other words, you get the best of both worlds. You get the authentic, passionate, in- your- face realism that's so appealing about amateur porn... with the skill and artistry of professional work. In some ways, "One Night Stand" looks even grittier and shakier than a lot of amateur videos... what with it not having been shot by a single static camera stuck on a tripod. But it's also striking and beautiful, with the strong, sensual impact of a real movie that most amateur pornos are missing.
(The rest of this review contains explicit adult material. If you're under the legal age to read adult material in your area, do not click through to read the rest of the piece.)
This isn't a hard-core kink video, but it's rough and raunchy, with a lot of kinky elements. And I like how casually the kinky elements are woven into the sex. Nipple clamps are applied with no more fanfare than pussies getting licked; the whip is brought out with no more fanfare than the dildos. Collars and harnesses are worn with the same relaxed flair as jeans and lace bras; and the lesbian cocksucking flows naturally into the spanking, which flows naturally into the fucking, and back again. It's not presented as bizarre or fetishistic. It's all just sex.
I should tell you now: This is not a sanitized, "girl-girl" version of lesbian sex. This is a lesbian version of lesbian sex. Don't expect half a dozen Jenna Jameson clones playing with each others' titties. You have to like butch women; pierced and tattooed women; trans dyke bois; women in T-shirts and jeans; women with short hair; women with small breasts. There are a few more feminine, more conventionally beautiful women... but even they're regular beautiful, not porno beautiful.
The sex isn't gentle, either. Some of it is romantic and passionate, but more of it is casual and anonymous. This is rough, raw, dirty sex. And it's messy sex, with lubed hands and lubed pussies and lube smeared on asscheeks that have been getting smacked. I like this -- I think it adds to the intense, immediate feel of the video, making it feel like it's happening right there in your living room. But I realize that it's not to everyone's taste.
Now, largely because of the raw, hand-held quality of the video, you don't always get clear penetration shots. That's not because the movie is soft- core. Far from it. It's because the sex isn't carefully staged to make clear penetration shots top priority. Don't worry, you do get close-up split beaver fuck shots -- you just don't get them as much as you would in a regular porno.
That's okay by me. That's the trade-off, and I accept it. If you're going to have spontaneity and authenticity in your porno, you're going to lose a few fuck shots. If you're going to have perfect penetration shots in every scene, the scene has to be carefully framed and blocked, and you're going to lose a whole lot of energy. I personally have a strong preference for the former -- I don't see much point in seeing appendages enter holes if the people attached to them look bored and distracted -- but if you prefer the latter, this may not be the video for you.
There's also an emphasis on faces and whole bodies, and on body parts other than the ones between the legs. Not in a gentle, sensual, Candida Royalle way. Far from it. This video is way more rough and skanky than anything Royalle's "for women and couples" videos ever came close to. (Not that there's anything wrong with that; I like and respect Candida's movies.) But One Night Stand does have Candida's knack of capturing sexual heat, not just in the genitals, but in facial expressions and body postures: an arched back, a gritted jaw, tightly shut eyes, a clenched fist. The director, Emilie Jouvet, is trying to convey female sexual pleasure and desire any way she can... and if she can do it by focusing on faces or torsos or hands instead of pussies, then by gum, that's what she's going to do.
Good music, too. There wasn't anything on the soundtrack that I was desperate to track down for my iPod... but it was a pleasant detour from the usual "thumpa thumpa" of standard porn music, and it amped up the sex rather than distracting from it.
And the extras are a pretty good time. In addition to the usual backstage scenes and outtakes, there's two short pornos: not quite up to the level of the main feature, but worth a look. And the interviews with the performers are thoughtful and insightful, revealing an adventurous spirit about sex and a passionate desire to make porn that sheds genuine light and heat on sex. They made me want to watch the video again right away... and they made the video that much hotter.
(You do have to deal with the fact that the dialogue is in French with English subtitles, and the subtitles are often a bit of a mess. There's not much dialog outside the interviews, though, so not to worry.)
All in all, One Night Stand is a clear winner for me. It doesn't quite hit all my personal pornographic buttons (it would have needed a whole lot more spanking for that). But it has something much more important, something delightful and all too rare in porn: It gets me inside the performers' skin. It gets me feeling their desire and pleasure, how hot they are for each other, why they're getting off on what they're doing.
And that's better than the best-orchestrated spanking video in the world.
One Night Stand (Pour Une Nuit). Directed by Emilie Jouvet. Starring Ali, Cameron, Flo, Jun, Kael, Little, L. Vampire, Ophelie Brown, Shadow, Tcharly, Teenie, and Wendy. Produced by Fatale Media, in conjunction with Hysterie PROd. In French with English subtitles. 90 minutes. DVD. Available at Fatale Media.