Rough Sex (2009)
If you are a fan of gonzo porn you’ll have noticed that the sex scenes have gotten rather nasty in the last few years. Slapping, spitting and choking seem to have become par for the course in far too many adult films, giving the impression that this kind of sex is standard.
I don’t have a lot of time for this trend, especially as the slapping and choking is almost always done to the woman by the man. I often find it to be sexist and decidedly unsexy. I wonder if it is fetishizing violence, making the idea of violence against women more acceptable or appealing.
So it was that I felt distinctly uncomfortable with the idea of watching Tristan Taormino’s Rough Sex. This kind of porn is not the type I would willingly seek out or enjoy. What changed my mind, however, was the motivation behind Tristan’s film.
If you’ve seen any of Tristan Taormino’s work, you’ll know that she brings a feminist perspective to her porn. While she works with mainstream porn stars and major companies, she’s determined to change the way explicit sex is depicted. For her, context and consent are vitally important, as is female pleasure. This film may contain the same sex acts you’ll find in your average gonzo but it proves that the intent of the director – and the stars – makes a huge difference.
Rough Sex takes a select group of female porn stars and gives them the reins. All of them – Sasha Grey, Adrianna Nicole, Marie Luv, Satine Phoenix and Francesca Le – personally get off on rough sex. It’s what turns them on in bed; they enjoy the fantasy of domination and submission.
Because in a sense, that’s what rough sex is generally about. It’s BDSM without the leather and whips. It’s less formal and perhaps a lot nastier but the essence of power play is what creates the sexual thrill for participants.
Through interviews with the performers we find out what their fantasies entail. We find out what each women finds sexy within the act of rough sex. The interviews also act as a reminder that what we’re watching is merely consensual role play, nothing more.
As I watched the film's five sex scenes I found myself on a bit of a roller coaster ride of reactions ranging from bored to horrified to very turned on. There's plenty of standard porny sex in this film, including gagging and ass-to-mouth, acts which I really don't enjoy viewing. At the same time, the scenarios do offer a certain psychological frission than can be very appealing. There's also a lot of vibrator use which is unexpected but welcome. As Tristan says in a behind-the-scenes doco: “Even when you have mad, hate sex you still need a vibrator.”
I was pleased to see that Francesca's scene turns the tables; we see Christian become the submissive to her overbearing dominatrix. I also liked Adrianna Nicole's anal fantasy involving a home invader.
The best scene, however, is the one between Sasha Grey and Danny Wylde, partly because of the excellent chemistry between the two but mainly because it features a "switch" halfway through.
This film is certainly not for everyone as it can be quite confronting in places. If you do like the idea of power play and rough sex, this film offers a safe, sane and consensual exploration of those fantasies while still respecting the female stars. It's an excellent example of how a feminist philosophy can help produce better porn, no matter what the subject matter.