Friday, August 16, 2013

Kink (2013): Sexual Politics Documentary as Advertisement

Kink (2013)
dir: Christina Voros
pro: James Franco

San Francisco is home to The Armory, a Moorish Castle which now serves as home to Cybernet Entertainment, the proper name for the company that owns, an internet-based adult film company which specializes in...wait for it...kinky videos.  They've owned the Armory since 2007, which had been empty since the '70s.  This movie isn't about The Armory itself, but the building itself is a fascinating creature. makes both hetero and gay oriented kinky films.  The majority of's content is in the traditional female submissive oriented films, but there are categories for femdom and for gay male videos.  This is also a movie directed by a woman, Christina Voros, who is trying to seem interested in sexuality and the reasons behind why these models would want to be exploited or degraded.  Christina Voros mainly is interested in female sexuality, who dominate the film's all too short 79 minute run time.  More than that, Voros is interested in justifying kinky porn and female participation in it.

At one point in the middle of this female dominated documentary, a woman ironically comments, "I guess females have this sexuality thrust upon them."  She is implying that women in porn is completely taboo compared to it being acceptable for men, and this focus is a type of slut shaming.  Then, the movie proceeds to focus on women for the majority of its length, in an effort to say that women in porn shouldn't be so stigmatized.

Given that Kink wants to legitimize porn, for the most part it avoids the tough questions that linger around the whys and wherefores.  Some of the women are legitimately into kink, but some of the submissive models seem like they're OK with it but mainly doing it for the money.  And, the audience probably notices this up until a hard interview with an experienced dominatrix towards the end of the movie.

This interview, I believe it was with Matrisse Madeline, confessed that the industry runs through people fairly quickly.  Sometimes it is empowering to people who want to try it as a lark, and some people are doing it because they're down on their luck, but most, in the end, don't stick around for long.  She also confessed that if her children wanted to get into the industry, she would probably have a problem with it because it might mean they were in a tough place.

This was a fleeting moment of realism in an otherwise really shiny documentary about a company that pushes its image of being a porn studio that checks, double checks, and triple checks its validity with its models.  In certain videos that depict sex committed against the model's will, the videos are frequently preceded and followed by interviews with all models involved stating that they happily and willingly were participating in the videos. is trying to go the extra step to say that these depictions are acceptable displays of sexuality and objectification of men and women by men and women is OK as long as it is wanted and accepted by all participants in said behaviors.

That's not to say that Kink is all about women.  The film is bookended by behind the scenes of gay BDSM videos, whose category is generally produced by, and sometimes starring, Van Darkholme.  There are some interviews with a hetero male submissive and a couple hetero male dominants. There is also an interview with a set construction guy, secretaries, and directors. The majority of these interviews are, obviously, supportive of the behaviors and justifying the morality of  And, many of these interviews are about the female submissive behavior that director Voros is so fascinated by.

Kink serves almost as a pro-sex primer into the world of female sexuality, BDSM, and porn.  It is practically made to tear down the sex-negative and objectification-negative aspects of some tenets of feminism.  Kink wants to show you that it is OK for women to own their sexuality and to willingly submit to men or women if that's what they really and truly want to do.  Whether it succeeds in these lofty goals is hard for me to judge, as I have always supported women in owning their sexuality and being able to act like men without the repercussions that women who act like men generally face.  But, what it does succeed in doing is being a great advertisement for

Final note, to those that were wondering, yes there is hardcore sexuality featured in this documentary.  There is full frontal nudity (male and female), some penetration, toys, and explicit kink in fair amounts.  If you are not able to handle homosexual sex, kinky sex, female nudity, male nudity, or graphic depictions of non-romanticized sexuality, this movie is not for you.

Fasinatingly, the only still of five in the press kit that has a woman as a submissive is the one shown below the break.  The other four stills are male submissive, and only one of those is male submissive in an explicitly femdom scene.

Ed's note: As of 8/16/2013, I believe that Kink has not found a distributor.  It is not a poorly made documentary, and should probably be seen by many people.  I believe that it's explicit content is what is keeping Kink from finding a theatrical, or even a VOD/streaming distribution.  Kink's official website seems to have been created exclusively for Sundance festival, and maintained through Sundance.  I saw the film at SIFF in 2013.

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