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Meet the British Porn Star Taking a Cane to the Butt to Protest Censorship

Pandora Blake is angry about the new restrictive laws heaped on porn producers in the UK.

Frankie Mullin

Frankie Mullin

Pandora Blake being spanked (All photos courtesy of Pandora Blake)

You know about the new laws for British Video on Demand (VoD) porn. The ones that forbid squirting vaginas but allow ejaculating dicks. You saw the face-sitting protest outside Westminster in response to these laws, where people in riding gear were swamped by half of the UK press. Now, brace yourself for sponsored protest spanking.

Porn producer and performer Pandora Blake and her friend, fellow producer Nimue Allen, are about to close their indiegogo campaign in which they promise: "For every £10 raised, we will take one HARD cane stroke."

Blake will be baring her butt to protest against the UK's new porn law, under which her livelihood – and that of many other independent UK producers – is threatened. Blake specialises in spanking porn, and her website, Dreams of Spanking (NSFW, obv), is a slap-filled Shangri-La for those who like their corporal punishment not only hard and hurty, but also feminist, ethical and gender egalitarian.

Pandora and Nimue's fundraiser has already smashed its targets; at present, the pair have raised more than £2,000 for Backlash UK, an organisation which provides legal resources to defend freedom of sexual expression. A self-imposed 50-stroke limit means that the filmed caning will now be shared among the arses of other willing performers, including Rosie Bottomley and Ariel Anderssen.

Technically, these women will be breaking the law. Under the new ATVOD (the Authority for regulating Television On Demand) ruling, a random list of acts are now off-limits. Among them are face-sitting if the primary purpose is breath play, most circumstances of female ejaculation, bondage which doesn't leave a limb or mouth unbound and – importantly for Pandora – spanking or caning which leaves marks more than "trifling and transient".

The fundraising caning, says Pandora, will absolutely go beyond the transient and trifling. I caught up with Blake to ask her about spanking, the law and why work like hers is important.

VICE: Are you expecting to be put out of business by the new porn law?
Pandora Blake: Well, I got a notification yesterday saying that Pete Johnson, [the chief executive of] ATVOD, has joined my site. I've got data tracking installed so I could see what scenes they were looking at. They picked two videos which didn't have behind-the-scenes footage, which is where I usually show enthusiastic consent by the performers. I thought, 'Shit, that's bad luck!' Then they looked at two nude photo-sets, which weren't even kinky, and haven't logged in since then.

So what will their next move be?
If they decide I'm producing a VoD site and what I'm doing doesn't comply with the regulations, they'll send me a letter saying, "You have not registered with us, which means you are operating illegally." Then, if I say, "No, because as soon as I register with you, you have a right to control what I publish," I'll have to challenge their contention that I'm operating a VoD service and appeal to Ofcom. I'll get in touch with the lawyers at Backlash and just do whatever they tell me!

I'm definitely a target.

What pisses you off most about the new law?
It's sexist and it marginalises already marginalised sexualities. ATVOD have said it's not their fault; that they just copied and pasted the BBFC regulations, but this is really disingenuous – to apply those decades-old regulations to a completely new medium.

The disproportionate emphasis on acts of female orgasm and sexual dominance – while allowing equivalent male acts involving male ejaculation and deep-throating – sends a damaging message that female sexual pleasure is considered more "disgusting" or "unnatural" than male sexual pleasure.

Your business does well because Brits, more than any other nation, get off to a bit of spanking. Why do you think this is?
I think a predilection to BDSM – humiliation pain, power play – is fairly universal. There are people in every society who are inclined to eroticise feelings of fear, embarrassment, pain sensations or domination and submission. But what activities you find sexy depends on what you're exposed to in your formative years, so it's very cultural.

Spanking is in our recent cultural heritage. I grew up reading Enid Blyton, Roald Dahl and Dickens, and they're full of references to getting a hard thrashing with a belt. I was fascinated; it just absolutely ticked all my boxes.

At what point did it become a sexual fascination?
I don't know if that's a clear line you can draw. It always turned me on. I don't know if I was getting wet when I was six years old, because my body wasn't at that stage of development – but it was a secret, hot, shivery, private, guilty kind of feeling. I knew I could never tell anyone about it because I thought I was the only one on the planet.

Female sexual submission to male dominance is the more common trope. Does this need some un-picking?
It's so hard to get clean data on this, but look at the sex industry: there are far more women working as professional dominants than professional submissives. It's the same in porn. Femdom is a huge industry.

But because we live in a patriarchy, images of female submission are more socially approved. If you look at mainstream depictions of kink, like 50 Shades, they are mostly male dom, female sub. It's much rarer to find a representation of female domination, unless it's played for laughs.

When I was 20 I would have said I was a submissive. I'd only seen depictions of kink that glamourised female submission. When I did see female domination, the woman was like a goddess in high heels and corsets; really uncomfortable clothes. She's got this ice queen persona and the man she's playing with is depicted as unattractive and pathetic.

When I got older I realised those media representations are just manifestations of the patriarchal society we live in. I realised you can be a female dominant in your pyjamas, and you can be nurturing and affectionate and fun and playful and silly, and you don't have to maintain this weird persona. And male subs can be gorgeous!

That's why the porn I make is gender egalitarian. I want to show an affirming, sexy image of masculine submission for the female gaze to counteract this imbalance we've got in media representation of what kind of kink is sexy.

Pandora giving David Weston a spanking

You've said that it's naïve to think that not wanting to sleep with anyone who's, say, fat or trans, or genderqueer, is "just personal taste". But people claim that all the time.
That's why I think diversity of representation in porn is so important; to give people more options of what could be sexy and to open their minds to things they haven't seen before. I've got chubby models, hairy bears, big girls and non-binary people on my site, and lots of my mostly-straight male audience have written to me and said, "I didn't know I was going to find that sexy, but I did!" You can totally broaden people's horizons and sexualities.

Tell me about what you describe as the "mindfuck" of BDSM.
There's an incredible intimacy in making yourself vulnerable. You're going on a secret adventure together – like you're running away in the middle of the night and not telling anyone where you're going. You're getting into trouble and climbing over fences, and you might get caught, but it's exciting.

It's like if one of you is holding a rope and the other one is climbing up a tower, then the person holding the rope is responsible for the safety of the other person; you're playing different roles but you're both on the same adventure.

The new law implies that BDSM porn doesn't have its shit together when it comes to consent. This clearly isn't the case, but what are your wider thoughts on consent?
Consent is important not just for BDSM play, but with all sex and, in fact, with all physical interaction. Whether it's being tickled by your dad when you're nine when you're actually uncomfortable about it, or messing around in the pool with your male friends and they keep splashing you when you've said to stop.

We need a language for talking about how we respect each other's personal boundaries and how we police our own boundaries. For all interactions, not just sex. This is something we fail at across the board, and a failure to have conversations about consent in sex is a symptom.

Go here to sponsor Pandora here (perks include free website subscription, personalised spanking fiction and a copy of Blake's latest film).

@frankiemullin

More stories about BDSM:

I Can't Decide Whether I Want to Have a Sex Slave

The British BDSM Ban Is Just Like the Outrage Over 'Video Nasties'

British BDSM Enthusiasts, Say Goodbye to Your Favourite Homegrown Porn