When I first heard of Pornotopia, the erotic film festival in Albuquerque, New Mexico, I was shocked. In my neck of the backwoods, we watch our porn in the house with the blinds down, the way our Lord intended. This event, put on by local sexuality resource center selfserve toys, is in its third year, despite a fair amount of local resistance. A friend of mine who lives in Albuquerque was so moved by protests last year that he bought tickets to the festival to “support free speech.” (I’m sure it had nothing to do with his love of naked women.)
As a working woman raising two sons with her husband in South Carolina, the idea of attending a porn festival in the Southwest seemed impossible; logistically, geographically, and culturally. However, since feminist pornographer Tristan Taormino was the special guest for the event, and my sister was going to be there the same weekend, I decided to go.
With the go-ahead from the world’s most tolerant husband (You’re going to WHAT?) and boss (You want to meet WHO?), I called selfserve toys (You’re coming from WHERE?) and made my plans, including interviewing Tristan Taormino for SexIs. In a fish out of water story not seen since The Muppets Take Manhattan, this country girl was on her way to the big city to watch porn with strangers!
My first night in town, I attended the pre-party at self serve toys. Located in the chic Nob Hill section of town, the store was a glorious smorgasbord of erotic fun. All of the items were lovingly and beautifully displayed, just asking to be touched, fondled, and used. Vibrators, dildos, harnesses, restraints, floggers, crops, and whips, oh my! Items ranged from the inexpensive plastic waterproof “Nessie” vibrator I bought in honor of a friend who researches lake monsters, to the luxurious expensive glass dildos, more appropriate for display in an art museum.
After mentally spending the Gross National Product of Ghana on sex toys, I moved to the video section. Since I would be going back to the hotel without a cute butch girl, I decided to get Crashpad. This movie should be mandatory sex education for straight teenage boys, because no one has mastered pussy like San Francisco lesbians.
I woke up the next morning refreshed and in need of additional batteries. For a mythical creature, Nessie sure uses a lot of energy! I continued my journalistic research by reading old Tristan Taormino interviews and watching her latest film. Rough Sex is hotter than any hetero porn I have ever seen, and I quickly regretted my current battery shortage.
Finally, it was time for the porn! I’ve loved porn since I found my dad’s stash as a girl, but as I have gotten older I’ve become a porn snob. Pretty naked people are nice, but I want heat! Emotion! Female ejaculation where the recipient drinks with the fervor of a soul dying of thirst!
The film festival was held in the historic Guild Theater, also in Nob Hill. I fell in love with Matie Fricker and Molly Adler, owners of selfserve toys, in their geek-chic glasses, corsets, skirts and combat boots. They thanked us for coming, and reminded the audience that although they were fans of masturbation and the Guild Theater, they were not fans of combining the two.
The first clips were from Max Royalle’s The New Romantix, starring Joanna Angel and her real-life boyfriend James Deen. The scenes were visually attractive, but the trend of using tattooed punk girls who otherwise look exactly like a typical porn stars bugs me. Also, sex in a bounce house looks ridiculous, not hot.
Next was the Dutch film Headshot. Shot from the waist up, the sexual tension derives from Chris Brinkhof’s expressions and breathing as he enjoys a blowjob from a woman we never see, Katinka de Vries. The audience was so entranced, that the theater was completely silent until he came.
Now it was time for the Guest of Honor, Tristan Taormino. A compilation of her clips was followed by a Q & A. It was fun to see her body of work, and numerous hairstyles, over the course of the past decade. From appearances on HBO’s Real Sex, to her first film The Ultimate Guide to Anal Sex for Women, and her most recent project Rough Sex, she is making women’s sexual pleasure the priority in porn.
I missed a few of the films while interviewing Tristan the next day [Editor’s Note: Minivan’s interview with Tristan Taormino is coming soon.], including Made in Secret, created by the world’s only underground DIY anarcho-feminist-porn collective. I made it back in time to catch clips from Bride of Sin, with Madison Young as a cheating bride severely punished by her wife-to-be. The scenes were fun, but I would rather be forced to eat a Wheat Thin off of the dildo of a woman wearing a priest collar, and then blindfolded and bound to a crucifix than kneel on a wooden pew. Amazingly, that’s exactly what happened to poor Ms. Young!
For people like me who can’t get enough of hot butches and bois, the scorching-hot scenes from Champion by Shine Louise Houston and Roulette by Courtney Trouble hit the G-spot! I was, however, confused by a scene in Roulette where a hot burglar sneaks into a house, has sex with the milk, and then leaves the mess on the floor. It just seemed rude.
The big event for the evening was more clips and questions with my new BFF Tristan Taormino. She once again rocked the house, and handled what I considered vulgar questions with dignity and grace. Just because you create porn does not mean your sex life is public.
The late-night show featured stag films from the turn of the century, a jilted wife cooking “special” birthday cake for her cheating husband, hot drag king cowboys singing love songs, and a person with an actual belly belly-dancing. Molly and Matie invited me and the rest of the clitterati to an after party, and we stayed out until 4:30 A.M. Although sleepy and hoarse from laughter the next day, I’d never felt so at home.
The last day of the festival was upon me, and I was sure the final films were to be the biggest and the best! Enough Man and Doing it Ourselves: The Trans Woman Porn Project focused on the sexuality of genderqueer and trans folk in a sexy and touching manner. Watching a MTF sex worker slap, pierce, and piss on her FTM lover was a surprisingly tender expression of the love and desire between the couple.
Bike Smut 3 is a collection of short films based on the idea that sex + bicycles = liberation. Bicyclists from all over North America submitted shorts that were kinky, silly, sweet and superfanfuckingtastic. Sure, I made that word up, but you watch a man literally have sex with a bicycle and tell me what to call it! My favorite was The Tour de Pants, from San Francisco. It was hot and funny, a rare event in porn. The creator of the project, a dead ringer for David Cross from Arrested Development, ended his presentation with a singing striptease. For me, Bike Smut 3 was by far the highlight of the festival, and probably should have been the finale.
The last film was Positions for Lovers: 3 Real Couples Share. I have never been a fan of “positions” films. They generally involve attractive, somewhat bland white people having vaginal intercourse in many different ways that don’t involve the clitoris. This film was different though: It featured attractive, somewhat bland white people having boring sex in Jamaica!
Host Jamye Waxman was the sexiest thing in the film. It began with audition tapes. The couples clearly cheated and choreographed their routines to match: kiss, kiss, kiss, munch, munch, munch, pump, pump, pump, jazz hands! Some rude attendees (of which I was surely NOT the ringleader) began shouting things at the screen in an effort to liven things up, and even started clapping to the soul-deadening rhythm of one man’s thrusts. If this is how normal people have sex, then someone needs to produce Positions for Lovers: When You Actually Want Her to Come, Too!
The end of the festival was very sad. I was already missing my new friends and pining for the camaraderie of enjoying freaky queer sex with a crowd. Local orgies would involve too much planning, effort, and thank-you notes for this Southern girl, and I’m not sure if my town is ready for a chubby, minivan-driving mother who wears fishnets, plaid miniskirts, boots, and a corset to pick up her kids from school. I’ll keep my freak on a leash for now, but strive to keep Pornotopia in my heart ALL year long. In fact, every time I see a Mormon on a bike, I hear porn music.