Madison Young was a name that was familiar to me. I don't mince words. I like porn; I also like kinky porn. So it makes sense that I've seen porn with Madison Young in it.
I also like to read. Lo and behold, Madison Young wrote a memoir called "Daddy," about her journey as an artist, sex rights activist, porn star, lover and mother. I gobbled the book up in days. You want the raw and honest truth on how relationships are built upon love and the determination to work through the struggles? Read her book.
During that time, it also came as a surprise to discover that Madison Young was running her second annual, 30-hour intensive, film training course called the Erotic Film School. The website claimed, "At the end of the three days of programming, participants will have worked with industry models, video and photography cameras, developed a collaborative script and shot list, shot and directed a short erotic film, edited a short erotic film, screened the final project for the class and friends and submitted a final collaborative project."
The heavens opened before me and a choir of angels -- or Vulcans -- sang their praise.
Here's why: Just a few months ago, I finished writing "The Big Project," a series of 15 erotic episodes that makes "50 Shades" look like "The Family Circus." It took two years, seven months and 23 days to write. It's done, and I had no idea what to do with it. Enter this gift from beyond.
I'm going to assume that the average Elite Daily reader is a little more savvy when they saw the words Erotic Film School. This wasn't a class for stereotypically hairy guys leering over pretty little things with a camera in one hand and their dang-dong in the other. No. Not even remotely.
Madison required an application that included a 500 word essay on your vision for erotic film. If she approved of that, you then had to conduct an interview with her over Skype. Amazingly, I didn't freeze up or stutter (much). Within a few days I found out I was to be one of eight students selected in this year's program. Excitement filled the air! Than I remembered I have to fly to San Francisco where my fear of the San Fernando Fault Line Monster resides. I then felt dread. But mostly I felt excitement.
Speed ahead to a few days before it started. I successfully flew into San Francisco, and the earth didn't swallow me whole as I rode the BART into town. I settled into my AirBnB within walking distance of class, and let the city of San Francisco fold me into her dreams.
That first morning, we all converged at the Center for Sex and Culture on Mission St. It was the perfect venue for this program. The place was full of erotic art and a mountain off books covering every topic of sexuality imaginable. Madison greeted each of us with the brightest and most genuine of smiles, and it took no time for everyone to feel relaxed and ready to learn.
As we were all introducing ourselves, it became quite evident that Madison took great care in selecting her students. Even though there were only eight of us, we wound up representing a wide range of races, sexual orientations, gender identities, age, nationalities and backgrounds.
Every single one of us had our own unique vision of erotic film, yet Madison made it clear from the beginning that we were all going to learn to work together as a collaborative team, and create a short erotic film before the weekend was over.
Throughout the day, Madison helped develop a mission statement, create a marketing plan, building a budget, casting your film, and scriptwriting. Guest presenter, Jiz Lee, editor of the anthology, "Coming Out Like a Porn Star," gave a presentation called: F*cking for Reel. It delved into the importance of communication, consent and how to create a pleasant atmosphere for your performers. There was also a Q&A performer panel with Andre Shakti and Jack Hammer XL.
Somewhere within all that, we somehow managed to write a screenplay and shot list for our performer, Siouxsie Q, who requested we write a scene involving a Snow White dress, an apple and a fake pig snout. It was crazy; it was hectic, but we learned how to collaborate and mold a singular vision together.
And then we all parted ways and crashed for the evening.
Coffee is our friend that morning. Madison wastes no time and we delve right into our day.
We covered paperwork, setting the stage, the basics of camera work and performer etiquette. Guest presenter, Annie Sprinkle, famous sex educator and eco-sexual, provided the Herstory of Porn. Then after lunch, it was time to shoot our film.
And then disaster struck.
Our star of the film, Siouxsie Q became sick and had to cancel the shoot. It was unfortunate, but that's life. And we didn't have time to worry about it. It was that moment we learned our greatest lesson: Always be ready to adapt.
So with a fire in our eyes, we made the impossible happen. Madison rallied the troops of San Francisco and wrangled up a new performer to be our star. The person still liked Snow White theme, but requested a few changes. We rewrote the script and prepared our props. We hustled and then the lights came up and someone said, "action!"
Coffee! Oh sweet coffee. You are my only friend. We were all exhausted. Even Madison's beaming star appeared a tad faded.
Even after an amazing shoot, we still had to rush to the Armory Club to meet with Danarama, director of Kink University and photographer, Isabel Dresler for another Q&A session.
If any of you thought this would be a party experience, you thought wrong.
I digress. Coffee was our best friend that Sunday, and we soldered on. Editor extraordinaire, Xxavier Edward Carter, taught us techniques and helped put our short film together. Before we knew it, we were watching our erotic film with an audience -- and damn, it looked good.
Upon reflection, I'm glad to have taken Madison's advice in the beginning: "Don't come into this with any expectations. Just come with lots of ideas." We all brought our ideas and together we made a private little film that made us all proud. All of us who were selected came in with a strong sense of integrity, and left with an even greater sense on how to develop ethical, artistic and feminist erotic film.
It's my belief that a new wave of erotic cinema and artistic porn is on the rise. Just from our group alone, I expect to see more sexually provocative films and sexy-geeky television style shows. I expect to see explicit art house cinema and queer virtual reality features. And keep an eye out for a new style of provocative, Shakespearian productions called Bardcore.
This is the new age of erotic filmmaking, and there is no holding us back. Just watch and see.