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Pornhub and Miley Cyrus Are Bringing Sex Back to New York City

Gay punk star Simon Leahy tells us how he ended up screening Miley's bondage film at Pornhub's NYC Porn Festival.

by Mitchell Sunderland
Feb 10 2015, 5:48pm

Photo courtesy of Candency NYC

UPDATE: Following intense media coverage of Miley Cyrus's short film playing at Pornhub's NYC Porn Festival, Candency NY, the production team that owns the rights to the film, withdrew the short from the festival.

Since AIDS killed a generation of New York gay men and Times Square got Disnified, New York City has shifted from being a dirty smut factory to a family-friendly theme park. But this month Miley Cyrus and Pornhub will bring the filth back to the city when a short bondage film starring the pop star plays at Pornhub's NYC Porn Festival at Bushwick's Secret Project Robot. The movie, called "Tongue Tied" and described as a "pop S&M video," features Cyrus in a bondage outfit hanging upside down set to the kind of music you hear at Berlin's best glory holes.

The film and its star may seem like odd fits for a porn festival, but the event is unlike any other dirty convention. In a weekend-long mix of high and low art, the fest, which starts February 27, will feature a talk by Cindy Gallop and a screening of James Franco's indie film Interior. Leather Bar. alongside an exploration of porn subcategories like yaoi, a "genre of erotic fiction also known as 'boys love,' where dreamy anime guys explore steamy homoerotic sex and fueled romantic relationships with other dreamy anime guys, often for the first time."

Simon Leahy, from the gay punk band Bottoms, decided to organize porn viewings at Secret Project Robot when he noticed guys he fucked kept acting like porn stars in bed.

"It's fine to have porn star sex sometimes but then other times it's like, 'Come on! Knock off the funny porn accent and butt slapping!'" Leahy said. "I was interested in that and I thought it'd be great to do a festival about porn and try and get everyone in the room to watch it together."

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Today, people jack off and fuck as much as they ever have, but few discuss sex in political and sociological terms as gay activists did in the 1970s before AIDS transformed sex back into a sin. At the festival, Leahy plans to create a relaxed environment where people can drink and hold intellectual discussions about pornography while watching a variety of jack-off material. In anticipation of the masturbation extravaganza, I met with Leahy at a Williamsburg coffee shop to discuss Cyrus's bondage film and how he ended up organizing an artsy porn festival in Bushwick with Pornhub.

VICE: How will the festival work?
Simon Leahy: There are different screenings. We have a plethora of porn from double anal to like weird horror porn. Basically, we're setting up the gallery as a theatre. It's not going to be like arty-farty serious, like, "I'm making you watch 20 minutes of like someone's hole getting punched." It's going to be more of a social cinema.

Is it going to be gay and straight porn?
Being the huge queen that I am, you would think that it would be more gay porn, but it's actually not. There's a lot of queer porn—we have some stuff from Miley Cyrus, James Franco. We have some great Berlin filmmakers. We have a lot of queer porn, experimental porn, Richard Kern from the Cinema of Transgression.

How did you end up working with Pornhub on an artsy porn festival featuring everyone from Miley to Kern?
We just sent out emails like, "Help! Give us money." And it allowed us to make it bigger.

Still from 'My Girls.' Photo courtesy of Simon Leahy

Will Miley come to the festival?
Hopefully she'll come. James Franco might come—he's filming—if his schedule changes. [Cyrus] loves Bushwick. I saw her at the Lady Fag party with her tits out.

Why do you want to mix high and low culture in one space?
Well, personally, I'd just have the low, but the submissions are more high-end—[we were] an open-submission festival initially, and then we invited curators to curate stuff. It's important to have the spectacle—although it would be good to have more studio porn involved but they didn't really reach out to us.

You're clearly very interested in porn. Have you ever fucked a porn star?
I fucked a model, and then in the morning after he left, he totally fell in love with me. We made love on a rooftop in Barcelona. When he told me he was a model I was like, "Yeah, right." And then when I walked home there was like this huge Verizon board of like him on a phone.

I guess male models, porn stars, and pop singers are pretty similar.
I can't wait, cause now that the porn festival is gathering steam, I'm excited because more people are flirting with me.

Aren't you in a marriage? Or are you in an open marriage?
No, no. We're monogamous.

You just like flirting.
Of course.

Yeah, everyone does.
Even ugly people can get laid. Look at Ron Jeremy.

Still from James Francos's 'Interior. Leather Bar.' Photo courtesy of Simon Leahy

Is masturbation forbidden at the festival?
Yeah, we don't want people to like come, but then consensual stuff is totally fine, but it's more of a social thing—not really something where you're going to go and like jack off. Although the Friday night event [is clothing optional]. It's kind of an experiment to see if a city like New York can handle this, because I feel like New York has been kind of cleansed of its like filth.

This is about bringing the filth back, with the help of Miley.
It's not necessarily about bringing the filth back. I think it's important to have, for a functioning society, these discussions and have these places where it's OK to experiment and do crazy things.

Do you think we'd have fewer issues if we still had filth in our society?
Yeah, I think so. It would open up a discourse around sex and sexuality and people's sex lives—and the amount of people I know who were sexually abused and stuff is like crazy. Everyone has these fucked-up ideas around sex.

How would you describe "healthy sex?"
That's like a discussion we would have—with condoms I suppose.

I don't think condoms necessarily mean healthy sex because I use condoms and my sex life is not healthy.
That the festival is coming at this time, especially for the faggots, is interesting because PREP has come out and attitudes are changing around sex. And I feel like before AIDS hit that actually faggots were being really political through their sex lives and their gathering spaces and were extremely liberal. And then this wave of death embraced it, so everything had to be like normalized and put back underground.

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