"Hair pulling, spitting, molesting the titties...and then we'll get you on your hands and knees and finger bang you to orgasm." So says a fetish porn director to an actress filming a scene in Kink, the amazing new documentary directed by Christina Voros, demystifying the goings on at fetish content producer Kink.com. The wild sex scenes being shot for kink.com are revealed to be done with carefully calculated doses of safeness and consensuality. But in doing so, the film shows scenarios laden with all sorts of devices -- drilling noises, shrieking, and explicitly kinky sex -- leading one to think that the only producer for this sort of thing would be the game-for-anything James Franco. And sure enough, Franco did produce it. Where does the guy find the time?
He even did a Q&A to support the film at IFC the other night, along with Voros, his old NYU classmate with whom he's done projects like an upcoming documentary about the making of a Saturday Night Live episode. (Now that's real torture.) "We're now gonna do a live show," joked Franco as the two took the stage, he looking casual in a perfectly suitable black leather jacket and jeans, holding a deli cup of coffee and radiating intensity. The man is sizzling in person and absolutely riveting, even when he's looking far off into space. He explained that he'd filmed another doc at Kink's Armory in San Francisco and was given a tour of the place -- "five or six floors, all these props. The Humbler, the Bird Box -- all that stuff. They said I could watch them make a video. It was someone in a cage and someone being mean to them, so it was pretty intense. Then they'd cut and figure out what they were gonna do next, and the difference between how they were acting in front of the camera and how they were talking to each other when the cameras weren't rolling was so different. Everybody was part of a team." The fascinating dichotomy between the faux abuse and the real teamwork is one of the things that inspired him to make the movie.
"It took a little time to convince them that we had no agenda other than capturing what they do," explained Franco. Reality show-style producers had previously come in and tried to distort things and create problems, so the Kink folks were understandably distrustful, but eventually they all submitted to the cameras (except for one girl whose family is ultra religious; she didn't want to be cut out of Christmas.)
Franco and Voros said they soaked in a lot of info about the BDSM world as they so vigorously explored it. "As we learned," said the actor/writer/director/producer/poet, "the submissive is the one who's in control and can decide when things have gone too far." It's the power of the underdog. But they were far from submissive in promoting the finished film, which took six months to edit. "We premiered it at Sundance," said Franco, "which is I'm sure not filled with regular Kink viewers. I don't know, maybe it is!" he added, laughing.
Chirped Voros, "A lot of people wanted to get on that party list."
"If you are a Kink viewer," continued Franco, "where do you get to see these performers taking about what they do or see how it's made? One of the stronger guiding principles is this movie isn't made for titillation. It's made to show this world. Like with Child of God [the 2013 film he directed based on a Cormac McCarthy book], there's content that's very shocking, and you want to give these shocks to the audience, but you don't want to lose the audience."
The film almost does so, it's that gruesome in its exploration of the hormonal effects of fear and degradation. But just scream out your safe word and you'll be fine.
Thumbnail photo by PatrickMcMullan.com