May 09, 2011 10:09am
Toronto Feminist Porn Awards
Source: Submission by Rich Moreland
by: Rich Moreland
Toronto: A Crossroads of Two Porn Cultures
Torontoís Feminist Porn Awards, the visionary creation of Good for herís Carlyle Jansen and Alison Lee, serves as the showcase of feminist adult film. Held at the cityís historic Berkeley Church, the gala is right at home in the Victorian edifice that despite its name is an ideal venue for adult film devotees.
Feminist porn embraces a fluidity of all sexual preferences and fetishes. If it turns you on, you can find it in fem porn and Toronto has emerged as the annual spring frolic for sex-positive feminist performers, directors, and woman-friendly adult companies.
This yearís festival again became a crossroads event for two pornography cultures that claim different territories on the adult entertainment landscape, San Franciscoís genderqueer community and LAís Porn Valley. In the established Good for her tradition, they are feted in a raucous and amicable atmosphere before a bevy of queer and hetero fans.
I corralled two of my favorite performers for their thoughts on this yearís show. The diminutive Jiz Lee is a giant among SFís genderqueers and sultry Bobbi Starr is a mover of the LA scene. Both are talented, smart, and pointedly feminist. Their gritty on camera performances can push the edges of rough and slutty, yet each loves playful erotic moments.
Possessing an impish charm, Jiz is nattily dressed in a shirt, tie, and jacket. Bobbi is deadly gorgeous, as usual, with eyes that would entice any "body" of any sexual propensity to crave a moment with her. Black is Bobbiís choice for the nightís party.
This is Bobbiís first time with fem pornís elite; her cherry is popped and she is honored.
"Iím not from this world, Iím from the mainstream pornographic world," she explains. Though her adult film initiation was with Kink.com in San Francisco, she adds that she was "never involved in the feminist porn scene" when she shot in the City by the Bay.
Despite her otherworldly reference, Bobbi is no alien to the tenets of feminist adult film. Her philosophical interpretation of her art places the L.a. superstar in the pantheon of feminist porn. She mentions the remarks of another Hollywood-based icon, famed artist, photographer, and filmmaker, Carlos Batts, who mirrored her sex-positive thoughts during a panel presentation held earlier.
"Sort of what Carlos said last night, Iím not going to do anything I donít want to do." Bobbiís words carry a conviction that would quell any doubts concerning this womanís self-confidence and female empowerment. "Iím going to create the content I want to create with the people I want to create it with, and do my best to make them feel comfortable."
With a flash of certainty in those eyes, she lays down the best part. "Itís all going to be fun."
Jiz is a veteran of the Toronto gatherings and appreciates the uniqueness of the event. She loves being at the crossroads. Speaking of the wisdom of the selection process, Jiz points out that judges donít "pull apart categories" preferring to celebrate "The whole film," a point of view Jiz values. Jiz has collected twelve nominations and is open about Jizís affection for the Canadian experience. "I feel like it has validated and branded me somewhat." A year ago the petite genderqueer was recognized as the genreís boundary breaker, an honor Jiz cherishes because the previous winner was transperson, Buck Angel.
"With each year," Jiz notes with a warmth Iíve grown accustomed to feel from Jiz, "the awards gain visibility." Important because Jiz points out that Toronto and VegasíAVN awards "go hand in hand and that resonates with my approach to the industry. Iíve done mainstream, but I prefer and love the indie stuff."
Owning both events "at the same time," Jiz says, has helped the visibility of Jizís name, as it has for Bobbi.
Jiz cites AVN recognition as a personal milestone and Bobbi is exalted to be on Torontoís list of stars. Each is flattered by the world of the other.
For both, "winning" is just being there.
Bobbi accepts the "Steamiest Romantic Movie" award for New Sensationsí "A Little Part of Me" directed by James Avalon in which she plays the lead. When asked about her role in the film, she acknowledges the studioís faith in her as an actress. "They wanted to put me in the lead of a romance movie and thatís the one they picked."
Bobbi later returns to the stage to pick up an award for her friend and neighbor back home, Kimberly Kane, who appeared in "My Own Master," a film cited in the honorable mention category.
Like Bobbi, Jiz fails to land a personal award despite appearing in various projects that garnered honors: "Taxi" (Hottest Lesbian vignette); "Billy Castro does the Mission" (Most Tantalizing Trans Film); and two of the four honored websites.
But no matter, Jizís words after the show reflect the mantra of feminist porn. Winning is laudable, but is not the festivalís raison d'être. Jiz explains, "The point of the night was celebrating sex-positive, ethical, feminist-minded smut and sharing it with others." For Jiz, itís all about the "pride, acceptance, and visibility," the qualities that make Torontoís passion for feminist porn a boundary breaker of its own while melding two porn genres into a single celebration.