There’s a pornographic revolution taking place, spearheaded on the west coast by a brave and beautiful band of believers who are using sex as a vehicle for social change.
“It’s a homemade grassroots pervert revolution,” states the manifesto of the East Van Porn Collective, “with one fist in the air and one in my crotch.”
Made In Secret: The Story Of The East Van Porn Collective is a documentary-style film that explores a group of guerilla porn stars. But behind the pseudo doc is the tale of a group of politically motivated friends who decided to put their passions where their politics were.
“Sex, sexuality and representation are major components of how we interact with one another,” says Mr Pants, one of the film’s many pseudonymous stars. “Unless people start to take the creation of porn into their own hands the porn industry has less than zero interest in a social agenda.”
To be screened at Innis Town Hall on Thu, Oct 13 as a presentation of local cooperative sex shop Come As You Are, Made In Secret was produced on the sly in three years, with only a few hundred dollars.
“It felt meaningful to make this film, because I was making it with my friends and we were positively engaged in creating our own culture, instead of passively consuming culture,” says Mr Pants, a 24-year-old mental-health worker by day.
“We just want to help people realize they can be the change they want in the world. We did it and they can, too,” says costar Professor University.
Made In Secret chronicles the ups and downs of the East Van Porn Collective, a group that, initially at least, was formed for the purpose of the documentary. Capturing real moments of tension, awkward silences and even that post-sex glow, the film offers the audience an intimate look at the DIY porn-making process.
“We like the juxtaposition of porn and social change,” says 34-year-old Professor University. “I wanted to know what I found sexy in film. I realized it had less to do with esthetics, lack of narrative and other criticisms of porn. I find it sexy when they really want to have sex in that way with that person.
“It’s like dolphin-safe porn,” he adds. “I would need to know that nobody was being oppressed in the making of.”
“We need to challenge what the porn industry gives us,” says collective member JD Superstar. “If you don’t have what you want, do it yourself, figure out ways to create that change.”
The East Van Porn Collective is governed by consensus and that’s how the group of friends made the film as well.
“The rule of the majority over the minority is problematic,” says JD Superstar, 26, who’s just completed her masters in gender, sexuality and culture. “Consensus helps with community building, finding a perfect balance between the rights of the individuals and what they want.”
“I am drawn to consensus because I believe it includes everyone. It’s egalitarian and everyone has a voice. I think it produces the best decisions,” says Professor University. “There is a misconception that voting equals democracy equals as egalitarian as you can get, but voting is not the end solution, it’s a step on the continuum from authoritarian rule to power to the people.”
The affection collective members have for each other is obvious. They hold hands for support during screenings. They have group hugs after every take. The crew acts more like caring lovers, offering actors words of encouragement.
“The hardest thing was getting to the point where we could take our clothes off in front of each other,” says JD Superstar, who stars in a steamy sex scene behind a shower curtain. “I had to work through the idea that somehow my body wouldn’t be good on film. I had to practice what I preach about body image. Once I did, it was fun.”
Work on a sequel has already begun with plans for Made In Secret to be the first in a trilogy of films.
“The second and third films will explore egalitarian, non-hierarchical principles on a larger and eventually global level,” says Professor University. “One of the things we hope to accomplish is to take ideas of what’s possible and not only depict them but also make them a reality.”
With its endearing characters and touching truths, Made In Secret is a success in guerilla filmmaking that seduces the viewer and leaves them with a warm fuzzy feeling.