Currently reading : An Interview With Porn Director Tina Horn

An Interview With Porn Director Tina Horn

8 September 2014

Author : monique-todd

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Porn hardly asks why. It will, however, ask how, where and with whom. It will show you, with fluorescent lights and wet flesh, the what. The perfect limbs in Tumblr GIFs will, naturally, abandon narrative all together for grayscale grinding. Porn simply hasn’t got time for explanations.

 

Still, Tina Horn’s got time. The pornstar-cum-porn director-cum-academic-cum writer is game for the why – and her new podcast ‘Why Are People Into That?!’ is a trip to the sociological, [psycho]logical, and scientific domain of human sexuality. Squirting, spanking, heels and power play are dissected and analyzed as a way of inviting, rather than rejecting, curious inspection. Perversion, fetish and kinky indulgence become this joyful romp where the story behind arousal is just as endearing, and stimulating, as arousal itself. Perhaps it’s time, for a little while at least, to trade pixilated humping for some real talk.

 

You once remarked that ‘being a pervert is a very happy and healthy way to be’. What is your definition of a pervert?

Well, it’s obviously one of those epithets like queer or cunt or punk that has been reclaimed and therefore subverted by people like me. So when oppressive jerks say, “Your desires make me uncomfortable; ergo you’re a pervert, you’ve perverted normalcy, you’ve distorted the status quo of sexuality,” I say, “Yes. You’re right. I am. I have. I do.” And all of a sudden the word can’t be used to control or demean me, because it has lost its power to insult.

 

The joy of perversion arguably stems from its social wrongness. What is your opinion on the “mainstreaming” of certain acts (a la fifty Shades of Grey)? Does it wipe away the dirtiness, and subsequently, the thrill?

I think you’re right that many perverted things are appealing because they’re taboo, and that our desires have some origin in wanting what we can’t have (or are told we shouldn’t want to have). But perverted things can be enjoyed for their own sake. For example, the taboo against anal sex probably informs the turn-on for many people who enjoy it. But there are an infinite number of physical and psychological reasons that people enjoy doing it in the butt that don’t involve a complex pageantry of rape or humiliation or filth (I’m all for pageantry, in case that wasn’t abundantly clear).

So when things become mainstream, two things happen. One has to do with the insidiousness of cultural appropriation, whereby fictional privileged people (like the white, cisgender, heterosexual, symmetrically-faced, groomed, slender protagonists of Fifty Shades) are “allowed” to do dirty things (like spanking and bondage and dubiously contextualized rape fantasies). Then privileged people take up a lot of space feeling entitled to images and cultures of which they have only the most superficial understanding. Meanwhile, marginalized folks continue to be stigmatized and persecuted for participating in the culture they created. In conclusion, no: you can pry dirtiness out of our cold dead hands.

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Your recent essay of Fifty Shades comments on the slippery subject of morality and kinky play. What are your thoughts on moralists that regard consent as ‘not enough’ to legitimize more transgressive sex acts?

My thought on that is: woeful misconceptions like this only prove why “moralist” is a much bigger insult than “pervert.”

 

How do you (or how have you) dealt with self-censorship and the repression of desires deemed unfit for ‘real world’ practice?

How have I dealt with it in myself? Honestly, I hate repression more than pretty much everything. So as long as it involves consenting adults, as soon as I learn about a thing I jump first and ask questions later. The only dire consequence is that I always loose at that damned “Never Have I Ever” game.

 

As both a porn performer and porn director – how has being on ‘both sides of the curtain’ informed your perception of porn and sex?

The more time that goes by, the that more porn becomes a very short era in my career compared to the other things I’ve done like writing and education. I have more perspective on porn than the average human, sure. But there are so many brilliant people who have been in the industry for years, or who shoot as many scenes in a week as I did in my entire career: Sinnamon Love, Lorelei Lee, Conner Habib, Kelly Shibari, James Deen, Joanna Angel, Stoya, James Darling, Bailey Jay. Those are the performers, directors, and producers who we should be asking about how it really is!

How has my involvement in porn changed my perception of porn? It’s just a relief to jerk off to porn that features people I don’t know! And sex… I mean, porn is to sex what professional basketball is to a pickup game at your gym, so I honestly think I learned more about film and performance from porn than I did about sex. My friend Tristan Crane advised me that after nine hours of shooting or editing people fucking, it just becomes moving shapes. And they were right.

 

As a writer and academic – how have you found the process of reconciling your sex work with your intellectual pursuits? (Especially when those two occupations are often positioned as opposites!)

The biggest obstacle for me is stigma, and my own internalized stigma. Oftentimes in a professional or artistic or scholarly setting, people are both intrigued and repulsed by sexuality. So I struggle with whether to compartmentalize my more ribald and explicit work from my other cultural pursuits. There’s no division in my own mind. A lot of my sex work has been extremely creative and intellectual and a lot of academic environments have been distastefully oppressive, so there you have it. The divisions between high, low, middle, or no brow are obviously classist and we should really just dispose of the whole brow thing.

I do worry about opportunities being closed to me because of my sexual frankness. I try to be out and proud and lead by example, but sometimes I have to consider the material concern of finding the gigs to make ends meet. Luckily, I’m a Virgo with a Gemini rising so compartmentalization is a snap.

 

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I like how ‘Why Are People Into That?!’ is not genital obsessive in its approach to human sexuality. Your discussions are informed by a very broad set of insights that range from science to psychology – what inspired you to take this approach?

Listen, you’d be hard pressed to find someone more obsessed with genitals than me. But what really gets my motor running is that word right there in the name of my podcast – Why? I’m analytical to a fault; it’s just the way I’m wired. What gets me off, what draws my attention is why people are turned on by things, why I am turned on by things. In my experience, it’s a myth that people don’t like their fetishes explained to them. People love to be seen, to feel understood.

Beyond that, I’m a pervert, as we have established. I’m kinky, and I’m queer, and I’m theatrical, and I’m pretty driven to extremes in my interests. So sex subjects like squirting, and high heels, and even the occult are more interesting for me to investigate socially, politically, historically, scientifically than, like, how to give your boyfriend a great blowjob so he doesn’t leave you for someone younger.

 

How do you find the people to be on your podcast?

Oh, that’s an easy one. All my best friends are loudmouth professional perverts.

 

Is there any aspect of human sexuality that you don’t want to discuss in the podcasts?

I’m up for any subject. The things that make even me uncomfortable are the ones that have to do with the absence of consent (not fantasies of non-consent, or negotiated consensual non-consent). But I’d be game for an intelligent conversation about things that make me uncomfortable.

I also feel very protective of my private love and imagination, which makes tweeting a real challenge for me.

 

I was watching a talk where Cindy Gallop, of MakeLoveNotPorn.tv, said that real world sex should be (and can be) as socially sharable and discussable as anything we currently share. What are your thoughts on this? Will this ever happen?

I have a lot of respect for Gallop as an entrepreneur, but I think it’s dangerous for someone who has never (to my knowledge, in any case it’s not a part of her brand) done sex work to dismiss the complex labor issues of producing sexual imagery.

Think about it – literally anyone can post writing on any subject at any length that could conceivably be seen by a wider readership than any curated writing in the world. And yet we still do look to certain publications, certain blogs, certain names in publishing and authorship. Why do we do this? Because we want quality, we want craft, and we want trusted information. Sex is like that. Porn stars are athletes and performance artists, and we should value their talent and labor.

To mix metaphors, it’s like when a non-painter looks at a Rothko and says “I could do that!”. And we all know the response is: “No… you couldn’t you asshole.”

 

Could you list your favourite theorists/artists/films that approach sex in a way that you find inspiring, enlightening and enjoyable?

No one but no one can beat Samuel R Delaney for sex writing, fictional or theory or memoir or whatever. Times Square Red Times Square Blue keeps me warm on cold nights.

Melissa Gira Grant is the best journalist on the sex work beat today, and her book Playing the Whore articulates everything I’ve been trying to babble on about sex worker rights for a decade. Siouxsie Q is also doing great work with her column the Whore Next Door and her podcast The Whorecast. If you want to know the real facts about butt sex, polyamory, g-spots, I could go on – you need anything written by Tristan Taormino.

There’s some great queer sex magic in Grant Morrison’s The Invisibles, which is also indispensable. I also love Lisa Hanawalt and Johnny Negron for explicit illustrations and comics.

A few of my other favorite literary sex scenes are in:

“What Are Days?” from Let the dead Bury their Dead by Randall Kenan (ghost sex with an Al Green .45 on repeat)

Jeff in Venice by Geoff Dyer (the prose pacing changes abruptly, becomes so dense and precise, and this has such an arousing effect I read it over and over to figure out how he did it)

People In Trouble by Sarah Schulman (semi-autobiographical bisexual cheating which may or may not have been ripped off by Jonathan Larson for Rent)

Sabbath’s Theater by Philip Roth (I was once in bed with someone who told me every raunchy Jewish girl should read it. So I did, and he wasn’t wrong. #pissinginariver)

The Leather Daddy and the Femme by Carol Queen (before I read this book, I didn’t know people like me existed)

beyonce haunted
Haunted, Jonas Akerlund, (2014) “Haunted and Partition… convinced me that Beyonce understands she is the world’s highest paid, stigma-proof sex worker”

 

secretary
Secretary, Steven Shainberg, (2002) “I love the scene where Spader tells Gyllenhal to walk home instead of letting her Mom pick her up… that is what domination and submission is really all about. Everything that we act out is just a metaphor”
who's the top
Who’s The Top, Jenny Levingstone, (2005) “[this] is the most accurate dyke spanking scene dynamic I’ve ever see on film, featuring the legendary performance artist Shelly Mars”

Listen to Why Are People into That?!

 

Follow @tinahornsass

 

 



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