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A Classic 90’s Dyke Porn Viewer’s Guide

Classic 90's Guide to Dyke Porn

By guest author Desirae Embree, @desembree. (A Classic 90’s Dyke Porn Viewer’s Guide is a companion piece to Classic Porn made by and for lesbians: A Viewer’s Guide to Fatale Video.)

The 1980s were a period of rapid change for the adult film industry, as the switch from celluloid to video changed how adult films were made, distributed, and viewed. While video has long been demonized for its role in the end of the so-called “Golden Age” of adult video, it played a pivotal role in bringing women into the industry as both producers and consumers. The reduced cost associated with video production, as well as the privacy afforded by the VCR, meant that for the first time in the history of American porn, lesbians could create their own commercial sex media. 

Primarily based in California, this “dyke porn” industry set out to create videos that challenged the conventions of mainstream all-girl porn by showing what lesbians—and lesbian sex—were really like. These new dyke pornographers took a variety of approaches to creating hot, feminist porn for lesbians. Some took a “softer” approach, forgoing SM or close-ups of genitals and opting instead for full-body shots and narratives that emphasized love, romance, and egalitarianism. Others took a “harder” approach, showing lesbian SM practices and appropriating conventions from mainstream hetero porn (like the money shot) for their own purposes. Still others went the educational route, teaching lesbians (and straight couples—more on this below) about sexual technique and pleasure.

The dyke porn industry wasn’t perfect. (It was, for example, almost completely white.) But it did change the landscape of the adult film industry and feminist sexual politics. Here are a few films in the PinkLabel.tv catalog to introduce you to these groundbreaking videos. 

 

Waking Up… A Lesson in Love (1988, dir. Greta Schiller)

Shot in Austin, Texas by Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Greta Schiller, Waking Up follows Susan, a newly “out” lesbian, through a series of passionate hook-ups and romantic disappointments. As far as dyke porn goes, Waking Up is complex and interesting, blending one-night stands, a feminist drumming circle, a lesbian country bar, love-at-first-sight, and a lot of well-placed neon into a sweet story about finding one’s sexual self. [watch full film]

 

Kindling Point (1993, dir. Teri Rice)

Like Fatale Video’s Bathroom Sluts, Kindling Point is a non-narrative exploration of lesbian SM. The visuals are poetic, the camera often lingering on a high-heeled shoe or pools of wax on a bare torso. Sometimes the film seems more invested in educating its viewers than turning them on, which wasn’t unusual for lesbian SM media at the time. While it may come off as dull for contemporary viewers used to seeing more hard-core action, it features a busty femme-dom, fire and (light) impact play, and a backyard fuck against a fence—and is more than worth a watch. [watch full film]

 

Bloodsisters (1995, Michelle Handelman)

Because of its extreme vilification during the feminist Sex Wars in the 1980s and 1990s, lesbian SM has long been tasked with educating the wider public about itself. Along with literature like Coming to Power and What Color is Your Handkerchief (both published by the San Francisco leatherdyke collective Smaois), Bloodsisters is an attempt to explain lesbian SM to an interested but unsure viewer. Featuring famous lesbian SM elders like Patrick Califia, Robin Sweeney, and Wickie Stamps, the documentary will appeal to both seasoned practitioners interested in leatherdyke history and the uninitiated who want to learn more. [watch full film]

 

The Elegant Spanking (1995, Maria Beatty)

The Elegant Spanking is remarkable because it brings together, in one film, dyke pornography’s main influences: SM aesthetics, the feminist avant-garde, and adult film. It is a surrealist meditation on decadence, submission, seduction, and punishment, all explored through an array of delectable perversions, including watersports, foot and shoe worship, and—of course—spanking. [watch full film]

 

Hey Sister, Hey Sailor (1996, mtv-tch)

Hey Sister, Hey Sailor follows Baudelaire, a recently returned naval officer, through the course of a night, which begins in a lesbian bar and ends in bed. Despite its brevity, the video manages to show dyke sex in its many facets—fun, funny, playful, nasty, sweet, and safe. After picking up a flirty femme at the bar, Baudelaire and her date head to a sex shop to get supplies for the alley fuck that immediately follows. The video contains two more scenes, which are longer and more sensual than the first, and it ends on a sweet (if ambiguous) note. [watch full film]

 

How to Female Ejaculate and Female Ejaculation the Workshop (1993, dir. Deborah Sundahl)

After making porn for almost a decade with Fatale Video, Deborah Sundahl transitioned to doing more explicitly educational work focused on vaginal ejaculation. Sundahl had demonstrated her own talent for squirting in her video Clips, and records indicate that she had wanted to make an instructional video for years before finally doing so in 1993. How to Female Ejaculate (featuring San Francisco sex education legend Dr. Carol Queen, among others) gives you a lesson in vaginal anatomy, including where the G-spot is located and what vaginal ejaculate actually is. It also shows you a variety of pelvic floor exercises and stimulation techniques to help you achieve your own vaginal orgasm. Female Ejaculation the Workshop continues this work, following three women (guided by Sundahl) in their own attempts to master the skill.  [watch Deborah Sundahl’s films]

 

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