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      Inside a Queer-Friendly Live Porn Shoot at a Sex Club

      By Manisha Krishnan

      Staff Writer

      January 7, 2016

      All photos by Luis Mora

      Save for the couple times I've drunkenly had sex in public—once in a hotel room full of strangers and friends, and later on the ground at a reggae music festival—I've never been much of an exhibitionist.

      As for porn, the last time I extensively watched it was when I was 12 years old and would sneakily peep X-rated movies on the family pay-per-view cable box while my parents were asleep. Over the years I caught snippets of stuff, obviously, but nothing really piqued my interest, likely because it wasn't geared towards women and frankly I didn't care enough to go searching for female-friendly alternatives. Suffice to say, I had zero expectations walking into a recent live porn shoot at Oasis Aqualounge, a sex club in Toronto, but I was certainly intrigued.

      The monthly event, called Money Shot, offers erotic photographers, pornographers, models, and actors a chance to do their thing at various locations set up throughout the club. The venue itself is a restored 19th-century mansion with a heated pool and courtyard, two bars, a dance floor, several stylized play areas, and a private bedroom spread out over four floors.

      Basically, the deal is industry folks shoot/film free of charge and the club's patrons get to watch it all go down (men/couples pay $50 [$35 USD], single women are free).

      "I have friends who are involved in various areas of the sex industry and I thought it would be cool to bring them all together to share a collective, sexual energy," Fatima Mechtab, the event producer and marketing director for the club, told me.

      "Where else can you be naked and drinking and dancing and have sex?" added Oasis owner Jana Rodriguez, a chill 51-year-old who lowkey prefers the establishment's Latin music nights to more hardcore events.

      You don't get into Oasis without signing a membership form and agreeing to follow an impressively long and specific list of club rules, which emphasize consent and privacy.

      Once inside, I immediately spotted a DJ booth set up in front of a TV screening Christmas-themed porn, some of which featured Ron Jeremy as Santa banging chicks way too hot for him. I felt confident that any live action taking place that night would be more titillating.

      Then I met Billy Autumn, 20, a generously pierced, queer, genderfluid actor who uses the pronouns "they" and "them." The top half of Autumn's head is shaved, giving way to a short mane of pink hair. Autumn walks with a black cane due to what doctors suspect is Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, a genetic condition that destroys connective tissue in the body.

      "I've been in pain all my life but it's gotten a lot worse in the last little while," Autumn said.

      But this night was filled with anticipation and excitement for the sex worker. It was the DVD release party of a year's worth of dom/sub work Autumn had shot with co-stars Sophie Rose and Mara Dyne.

      The decision to get into porn came from a desire to boost Autumn's profile as an escort and because it's fun; for audience members, Autumn said, it's an education.

      "People get to see how the movies they jerk off to all the time get made. It's an eye opening experience. A lot of people have told me how slow and meticulous it is."

      Slow and meticulous, indeed.

      Autumn, Rose, and Dyne, who has fibromyalgia, did several scenes onstage in Oasis' purple backlit ballroom, while a dozen or so people perched on raised leather cushions looked on wearing mostly unreadable expressions. We saw the three actors take turns pleasuring themselves using dildos of various sizes and colors, which they placed on various parts of their bodies and inside their mouths; after a while, another performer would step in to play with the first. There was A LOT of theatrical moaning and basically no dialogue.

      It was novel to watch live, for sure, but I can't say I was turned on.

      "There's not much going on," a middle-aged gentleman who'd come to the club with his partner out of curiosity for the first time told me. "There should be more opportunities for private fun... This is all noise," he added, gesturing discreetly at some of the guys standing around in towels.

      According to Rose, who grew up Christian in a small town in Ontario and is now primarily an escort, her fans feel differently. She said she gets emails from couples who've worked through sex life issues in part by watching her work together.

      "I like making stuff that is attainable. It's nothing that anyone couldn't do," she said.

      Rose has blonde and pink hair and a voluptuous body that is covered in tattoos of flowers, hearts, and pin-up girls. Growing up she said she felt awkward about her looks, but when she started doing porn and modeling "my confidence went through the roof and I just loved the expression."

      Upstairs I found Heather, 20, and Malcolm Lovejoy, 38, a pair of former lovers turned friends who now shoot softcore porn together. Being black in a "whitewashed space" is part of their motivation for doing what they do.


      "Black sexuality has been so feared for so long and seen as this monstrous thing that needs to be controlled or stamped out and white sexuality has not had that same challenge," said Heather, who didn't want to give her last name and who described herself as a "noob."

      "I think it's worth it to at least put something out there that is not just white."

      Lovejoy, who said he takes inspiration from Malcolm X, has been involved in the porn world for years. He's not fond of the term itself though.

      "To me it's sexual expression, it's goddess worship, it's sexual education—there are all these other dimensions."

      After speaking with him with a few minutes, it became pretty clear that he's a feminist—he refers to women as "goddesses" and loves going down on them—something I observed at length in a scene with Heather later on. "How'd you get so good at that?" she asked him, breathlessly, when they were finished.

      Lovejoy is also specific about what he will and won't do.

      "I've never ejaculated in a woman's face in or out of porn," he told me, nor will he touch anything involving piss, shit, or blood.

      Despite the racial obstacles he comes across working in porn, and the fact that it doesn't exactly pay the bills—December was the first time his income was fully covered by it—Lovejoy told me he's "living the dream."

      Not unlike the performers, Money Shot spectators varied wildly in terms of age and backgrounds. There was a pot-bellied, middle-aged nudist and diehard fan who had a collared cloth fastened around his penis; Pearl, a kids' sex-ed instructor dressed in a kinky Santa outfit, who wanted people to sit on her lap and tell her how naughty they'd been; and Danielle Thompson, a stunning 21-year-old, who said she had an epiphany "a month ago" that she wanted to make money off her body. In her four visits to Oasis, Thompson has worked the stripper pole and participated in her first orgy.

      "I'm not supposed to sit behind a desk writing, typing. I'm not supposed to be anything else other than whatever it is: gymnastics, stripping," she said, contorting her arms behind her back to prove her point.

      Regular Aziz Patrus, 61, comes to Oasis four nights a week, sometimes even bringing food for staffers. He credits the club with helping him bounce back from serious depression following his brother's suicide.

      "I was just trying any avenue to forget about that event. I did a lot of traveling, it didn't help," he told me. "Since I started coming here, it changed my life. I found that kind of [like] going back to nature. Sex is not a taboo here, it's OK when people are comfortable with it."

      Chris, a 23-year-old biology student who was at the club that night told me he wasn't sure if he was comfortable having sex in public, but his girlfriend, Jane Dawson, 30, a nude model and actor persuaded him.

      "If it was going to be my first time, going in with a smoking hot blonde and putting on a show wasn't a bad way to make a first impression," he said.

      They fucked a couple times, letting us photograph them on a black leather couch in a blue lit hallway, her stiletto heels pointed toward the ceiling, him slapping her around playfully on occasion.

      Dawson has been in the industry for 12 years and said there's no comparison between working with a partner versus a colleague.

      "Obviously it's going to be more comfortable when you know what gets each other off. It's easier not to fake anything."

      Chris, who hopes to one day attend med school, said he has no regrets, though he jokingly admitted he might have been more selective about the crowd surrounding them.

      "It seems like there were a lot of guys who were on their own."

      Earlier, I mentioned walking into the event without any expectations. But I have to admit the sheer diversity among performers, staff, and audience members took me by surprise. It was hard to find a demographic that wasn't represented. Some of the the sexual performances left something to be desired—in my opinion—but if it's acceptance you're craving as opposed to just an orgasm, this might be the place.

      Follow Manisha Krishnan on Twitter.

      Follow Luis Mora on Instagram.

      Topics: sex, culture, porn, NSFW, Oasis Aqualounge, Canada, Toronto, sex club, escorts, pornography

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