[NSFW] London’s Porn Filmmakers Are Getting Screwed—By the Government

Filmmakers at the inaugural London Porn Film Festival sound off on the Digital Economy Bill.

|
Apr 26 2017, 3:44pm

Group Cuddle in Skyler Braeden Fox's 36-Year-Old Virgin. Photo: Alexa Vachon. All images courtesy of the artists.

Pornography is a taboo subject that is currently being debated by British parliament, in an effort to protect children from viewing porn online by restricting platforms and the type of material available.

Introduced last year, the Digital Economy Bill (DEB) requires pornographic sites to include an age verification system of 18 and older and remove any material that's deemed 'extreme' by the 2008 Criminal Justice and Immigration Act (CJIA), according to the bill's latest amendments.

A scene from Harvey Rabbit's Slowdance. Image courtesy of Harvey Rabbit.

It's not entirely without merit: easy access to adult entertainment online is believed to create unrealistic standards of sex, as highlighted in a 2016 report by Middlesex University which found that 53% of 11–16-year-old boys felt that the porn they watched online was an accurate portrayal of the real thing. 87% said that these images failed to provide them with an understanding of consent.

"When I think of porn the first thing that comes to my head is still some woman getting nailed in a scene that she's probably enduring by some dude who is not really enjoying it either," says Harvey Rabbit, an American filmmaker based in Berlin. "But the porn that I am seeing coming out of my community is so opposite of that."

Rabbit is part of the feminist, queer and DIY porn scene and premiered her first film, Slowdance, earlier this month at the inaugural London Porn Film Festival (LPFF). The film noir-inspired short touches on homophobia, telling a story of overcoming insecurity through the Japanese bondage shibari. No one fucks.

A scene from Harvey Rabbit's Slowdance. Image courtesy of Harvey Rabbit.

"We have this misconception about BDSM that's been given to us by wonderful films and poorly written books like 50 Shades of Grey," explains Rabbit. "That actually has nothing to do with what the world of BDSM like. I see bondage as a connecting point between people."

For three nights, screens at London's Horse Hospital showed the surprising depth of the porn genre, as LPFF celebrated underrepresented sexualities and means of pleasure rarely found on mainstream porn sites—anything not featuring mainstream-idealized body types and roles for submissive women and dominant men, essentially.

Neurosex 3 by Eric Pussyboy was shown at LPFF

The festival comes at a strange time for the UK, where, in the three months following Brexit, hate crimes against the LGBTQ+ community rose 147%, according to the charity Galop, and broad language used in legislation like the DEB looks to potentially stigmatize this community even further.

Bald, Love & Blood is a good example of where the DEB could bring confusion.

Shown at LPFF's opening night, the film by Amaury Grisel is a beautiful and honest look at body modification, which according to the CIJA's definition of extreme pornography, may be considered "an act which results (or is likely to result) in serious injury to a person's anus, breasts or genitals" that "could include the insertion of sharp objects."

The film doesn't show any private parts getting pierced but it does allude to a type of consensual sex play that might, which would be a bizarre thing to censor when American Mary—a horror film about body modification—receives an 18 and over rating in British cinemas.

"There's this double-standard between films that are being pornographic and films that are deemed not pornographic," says Pandora Blake, a feminist pornographer and sexual liberties campaigner in the UK. "While actually having the same types of materials shown in each of those films, they will legally be treated very differently because films deemed pornographic are stigmatized."

A scene from Lily Cade's Heartbreaker vs Obscura, hilarious superhero erotica shown at LPFF. Image courtesy of Lily Cade.

Just as horror films are meant to scare, pornography is the genre that's good at getting you off, allowing for an indulgence in fantasy, which as long as it's consensual, there's absolutely no shame in. It's also a medium that explores sexuality and gender identity, pushing the limits of a viewer's own perception of what makes them tick and fulfilling inherent human curiosities towards what goes on in the bedrooms of others.

A scene from Lily Cade's Heartbreaker vs Obscura. Image courtesy of Lily Cade.

"There's no such thing as normal when it comes to sexuality," says Blake. "Sexuality is as diverse as humans but when sexuality deviates from our social 'normal' it is only represented via mainstream sites where it is fetishized. People with marginalized sexualities deserve to have erotica as well."

Blake had two films at LPFF—Please May I Come, Mistress and Queer as in Fuck You, both in her playful style that mirrors her niche BDSM porn site that's run out of the UK. The cost of implementing the DEB age verification system, however, will be an end to adult entertainment sites like Blake's—ones made by DIY pornmakers who serve a community that no one is speaking for.

"I think we'd be much better off dealing with consent," Blake says. "Teaching young people about their social and sexual interactions with consent and respect. I think that would serve our culture much better."

Skyler Braeden Fox's 36-Year-Old Virgin. Photo: Alexa Vachon

A scene from Neurosex 3 by Eric Pussyboy

Anticolonial-Bacelona from Fuck the Fascism. Photo: sandro gordo

The Digital Economy Bill will be debated this week in the House of Commons. Find out more about the films screened at the London Porn Festival here

Related:

[NSFW] Inside Sweden's Feminist Porn Wave

[NSFW] Le Corbusier's LC4 Chair: Design Icon and... Porn Fixture?

[NSFW] Vintage Porn Bursts with Flowers in Dromsjel's Psychedelic Erotic Collages

More VICE
Vice Channels