4 min

‘Losing my lesbian hetero virginity’

Miss Cookie's first time with a lesbian heads for London

GENDER FUCKING. When a gay man in drag and a lesbian have sex on screen, who gets to be the girl? The Miss Nomer Collective tackled that question last summer in its award-winning film, Girl on Girl, now on its way to screen at London's gay film fest. 'Our documentary is a porn expression of girl on girl action. But the genitals are not girl on girl, so it challenges our understanding of gender,' says performer Michael V Smith (left). Credit: Xtra West files

Who’s that girl? Not Madonna. More interestingly, it’s a question local filmmakers in the Miss Nomer Collective provoke in their documentary short Girl on Girl, in which a gay man in drag has sex with a lesbian.

Co-starring Michael V Smith and Amber Dawn, Girl on Girl-which won the Audience Choice award at Vancouver’s Out on Screen film festival in 2004-is an exciting exploration of human sexuality, gender, communication and self-identification.

“I wanted to challenge who gets to represent girl,” explains Smith, whose alter ego is local drag performer, Miss Cookie LaWhore. “I wanted to challenge who gets to say how I represent myself.”

Smith says the collective, which also includes successful filmmaker Lisa G, had several objectives in mind when organizing this project.

“We wanted to make a candid video about sexual expression that’s unapologetic, shameless and as generous as we could be. We wanted people to think about gender and how it does or doesn’t define us.”

The performers met about six years ago through mutual acquaintances, and later shared the bill on the popular erotic cabaret series, Skank.

At the time, Dawn had already been involved in the sex trade industry and channelled some of her experiences into the File This Cabaret, a show about sex trade workers by sex trade workers. In one compelling performance, she imitated a blow-up doll: donning a big wig, large prosthetic breasts and ass-creating a clichéd caricature. She then stripped her clothes off, revealing American dollar bills pinned to her flesh with surgical needles, making a bold statement about “how women’s sexuality is dehumanizing in that image of being a commodity. The performance was burlesque and grotesque,” recalls Dawn.

Smith was blown away by the performance.

The two soon decided to do a live performance piece together-having sex onstage, a first experience for Smith with a woman.

The concept transformed over a period of time, initially planned as an instructive piece in which both men and women in the audience would give direction and advice on how to have sex. However, since losing one’s virginity is a one-time event, it didn’t make sense to do it as a theatrical piece. It had to be captured on film.

“I wanted to share the experience with as many people as possible,” explains Smith. “I call it losing my lesbian hetero virginity. Amber and I are really dear friends. I have the utmost respect for her and trust her enough to share that emotional intimacy that you see in the film.”

The experience was equally meaningful to Dawn. “I wanted to be in charge of a porn film, unlike the other porn I did for money where it was marketed to straight men. This one was very honest. Michael is such a beautiful person. He is someone who has really made himself vulnerable to bring something like this into the queer community. We definitely have a very loving relationship.”

Although the sex in the documentary was unscripted, the collective did have a series of meetings about directional shots with vague discussions about the sexual activities.

On-camera, they give each other instructions on what to do, what they like, don’t like, and it’s all done with humour and tenderness. Both admit to having pangs of performance anxiety and fears about how they would look physically on film.

Smith philosophizes that gender and sexuality are far more complex to categorize than the labels society has in place. And by merely branding ourselves with a single label, we risk limiting our expression, identity and ultimately, our pleasures.

“Our documentary is a porn expression of girl on girl action. But the genitals are not girl on girl, so it challenges our understanding of gender,” offers Smith. “I’m a man, but a big old girl. It redefines the parameters of how I express my masculinity. I’m very comfortable with my feminized masculinity.”

Naturally, the big question is did they enjoy the sex?

“I enjoyed how careful and communicative we were with each other,” says Dawn. “At times, I became completely relaxed and could enjoy the sex. But there were times I was too aware of the camera.”

Smith reveals that personally his most sexually exciting scene-penetrating Dawn as a butch-top-is now hard to watch.

“I lost my erection soon after that because I realized the drag didn’t work for me at that moment. Enjoying it sexually allowed me to find a carnal, base masculinity…

“It’s hard for us to embrace pleasure because we are so fearful of being ridiculed or having it taken away,” he continues. “It was a challenge to my own identity being queer. I don’t know how to be a queer man and have sex with a woman. I was able to do that in the film under the pretence of art.”

In April, Girl on Girl makes its European debut at the London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival. Although thrilled to be attending this prestigious event, Smith is disappointed that the film has only been chosen to screen on lesbian sex nights because not many gay men attend, something the collective is trying to change.

About the finished product, Smith gushes, “I absolutely love it. It’s tender, open-hearted and honest. The film is about the experience, not about our bodies. I’m really proud of it.”

“As we were editing,” adds Dawn, “I was continually amazed by how brave and genuine Michael and I were. We certainly did not lose the human element during the editing process. There is a small part of me that wishes I could have been more articulate in the film, or more polished, more poised, but our authenticity really comes through in the final product.”