review by KJ Doughton, 15 February
Women in Cinema Film Festival
the wake of such recent documentaries on the once-underground, now
omnipresent porn industry as Wadd
and Porn Star: The Legend
of Ron Jeremy comes Marielle Nitoslawa’s smut exposé, Bad
Girl. Like the above-mentioned movies, Nitoslawa’s film is a
frank, educational look at an industry that is becoming the sexual
equivalent of McDonald’s and its fast-food counterparts, churning
out over 10,000 hardcore features a year, recouping billions of
dollars, and spanning from "Moscow to Anchorage,"
according to one source.
which celebrated its U.S. premiere at Seattle’s Women in Cinema
Festival last month, serves up its saucy insider’s look with a
twist. It’s dedicated exclusively to woman-generated porn, showing
how adult videos have slowly become more appealing to females, on
both consumer and business levels
Bad Girl’s opening reel
begins to unspool, we’re transported to Denmark’s Zentropa
Studios, where a petite brunette boasts about being the entity’s
first female porn director. Her contribution to hardcore, 1999’s Pink
Prison, complies with Zentropa’s motto that "no hair
pulling, ejaculation in the face," or other staples of
male-oriented porn be shown. One clip from the film is described as The
Blue Scene, a psychedelic light show reminiscent of a
strobe-powered rave party, where a blonde and her many male
pleasurers are drenched in the color of a Navy uniform. "Women
seem to like the scene," its director claims, "because
it’s more aesthetically pleasing than usual. Still, I’m taking a
risk in doing this stuff. I mean, in the old days, I’d be burned
over a fire."
this revealing introduction, we become acquainted with a number of
stateside female personalities with ties to the adult film industry.
There’s the big-bosomed Annie Sprinkle, a porn performer who
claims a series of instructional tapes including Get
to Know Your Pussy. Sprinkle is big on humor, including risqué
puppet shows performed by mannequin-outfitted private parts.
Representing the educational sector, University of Berkley professor
Linda Williams is introduced as the author of Hardcore: Power,
Pleasure and the "Frenzy of the Visible", the de
facto classic analysis of porn, with and without feminist
leanings. Candida Royalle produces "couples’ tapes"
through Fem Productions, who pledge "no money shots, with
female pleasure being paramount." Jane Hamilton directs more
mainstream, glossy hardcore movies for VCA Pictures. "I think
you can really ram it home," she proclaims of female-friendly
porn (pun unintended), "and still do it in the spirit of
the most fascinating scene in Bad
Girl occurs as Hamilton tours the VCA offices and warehouses in
L.A.’s San Fernando Valley, where 99% of today’s porn is
produced. She casually steps into the corporation’s main
headquarters and introduces us to war veteran and VCA owner Russell
Hampshire. It looks like any urban business, and a peek into one of
VCA’s massive, hanger-like video distribution depots is about as
sex-less an image imaginable. Thousands of tapes and display boxes
line the endless warehouse shelves, awaiting distribution to
salivating consumers across the world.
fact, porn activist Bill Margold is dead-on accurate when he lounges
about shirtless on an X-rated shoot, describing VCA as "the
equivalent of a Ford auto warehouse, only it’s videos and not
Model T’s. The American public is a big, hungry baby, and it needs
a new pacifier every day."
prominent stop along Bad Girl’s tour of female-driven erotica is France, where sexually
explicit mainstream films directed by women have, according to
director Catherine Breillat (Romance,
Fat Girl), "become a fad." The recently-released Baise-Moi (Rape Me),
praised by some as a more graphic variation on Thelma and Louise and denounced by others as exploitative, Death
Wish-style nihilism, was banned from France, even as such movies
become more common in Breillat's home country.
Bad Girl takes a pit stop
at Hustler Hollywood, a sort of Costco of adult stores where female
staffers point out where you can buy espresso or fruit smoothies
along with the latest plastic novelties, nudie magazines, and
baseball caps that proclaim, "Masturbation is Not a
Crime." Later, the film flies to Las Vegas for a video trade
show, where female smut celebrities sign autographs like mainstream
actresses posing for cameras at a big-studio premiere.
Hartley, a nurse, political and social activist, and adult film
performer who markets a series of "how to" lovemaking
videos, is seen in one of her productions massaging a male member as
she persuades women to take ownership of their desires. Off-screen,
this blonde porn veteran admits to being a little embarrassed that
she can make a comfortable living talking about things that most
people are afraid to bring up in conversation.
would seem that many women are already watching the same movies
historically associated with "male entertainment", and
enjoying it. As Bad Girl
concludes, a French writer affirms the film’s view that porn can
exist for a feminist audience and not pose harm to women. She
denounces the old cliché, "an honest woman has no
pleasure," and applauds society’s ability to see women as
more than simply maternal icons, in matters of sexuality.
Margold gets the film’s best quote, as he accuses porn’s critics
– and a sexually ambiguous society in general - of being
"frustrated, ignorant, and critical," even as women become
more accepting of the genre.
ever died from an O.D. on porn," he laughs, "unless you
accidentally slam your dick in the VCR."
NR- Not Rated.
This film has not