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PORN CLUB: Adult Film Reviews Fatale Media

PinkLabel.TV’s PORN CLUB is like a book club for porn nerds. Each month, we offer a selection of titles in our new adult film review series in efforts to encourage discussion about porn as an indie film genre, reviewing of classic and contemporary titles available on our streaming network. Topics span technical aspects of how a movie was made, directorial influences, perceived social or historical impact, and other aspects of interest to the reviewer.

In our first edition, we kicked off the series with Radley Metzger, also known for his hardcore films under the pseudonym Henry Paris, with three of his earlier titles, CAMILLE 2000 (1969), The Lickerish Quartet (1970), and SCORE (1974). In the second edition, we followed SCORE’s star Cal Culver who was better known by his alias Casey Donovan to his work with Wakefield Poole in Boys In The Sand. The series continued with Wakefield Poole’s BIBLE! and Bijou.

Now for this third edition of PORN CLUB, we hop over to lesbian made porn of the 80s and 90s with landmark film and distribution company Fatale Media with a focus on three of their films: Suburban Dykes, Safe is Desire, and Private Pleasures.

We would like to thank the Outfest UCLA Legacy Project for LGBT Moving Image Preservation for providing access to the original masters from which these new digital files were created. 


Suburban Dykes

Nina Hartley and Pepper are a suburban lesbian couple who use a phone sex service for the first time, wanting to add some playfulness to their sex life. Nina and Pepper call the phone sex service and masturbate to a scintillating fantasy by Mistress Marlayna, working themselves into a frenzy. Pleased and excited with their first success, they read through On Our Backs Magazine and decide to hire a butch from a lesbian escort service. Enter Sharon Mitchell, the butch lesbian escort, who will make dyke hearts palpitate as she takes control of satisfying both Nina and Pepper in a raw threesome orgy. For fans of lesbian-made erotic films, Suburban Dykes is a hands-down classic from Fatale Media.

 

PORN CLUB Reviews

When a market — like say, the porn market — experiences a both a softening, then growth by a factor of over 500% in under a decade, two things happen. Foremost, in the top tenth percentile of the marketplace, a hyper-commercialization occurs because profit is basically guaranteed. In the bottom tenth of the marketplace — because the top ten percent is so lucrative — what replaces commercialization is a progressed level of creative freedom that is driven by income allowing a budget for that expression to commercially exist. Therefore, in America in 1990, what was occurring in lesbian porn was not just expected, the marketplace encouraged it.

Clocking in at just under a half hour of run time, Suburban Dykes is a wonderful tease of the cutting edge of post-Golden Age, pre-VHS boom erotic adult media. Yes, lesbian scenes were quite prevalent in porn at that time. However, exploration of the first-person lesbian-perspective on said scenes was in its nascent stages. Fatale Media — the company that released the film in question — was born in 1984 with an explicitly defined mission to “reflect the feminist right for [women’s] control over our bodies, thereby promoting female sexual autonomy.” When a suburban couple explore phone sex and BDSM via an escort service to spice up their sexual experience, that’s well within the scope and range of Fatale’s stated aims.

Marcus K. Dowling

 

What is most striking about this film is the emphasis on the need for practicing safe sex. Mitchell admonishes, “Hope you’re not like other dykes, who think they can’t get AIDS.” Unloading a bag of goods—condoms, dental dams, a finger cot, and lube—she lets her charges know that “our body fluids won’t be mingling.” It’s explicit. The putting on of the latex gloves, a condom being slid on to the dildo, a finger cot worn by Mitchell, and the application of lube—lots of lube.

Suburban Dykes runs just under 30 minutes, with only one scene (less than a minute) in which anyone is dressed. For fans of lesbian-made erotic films, Suburban Dykes, produced by Nan Kinney and directed by Debi Sundahl, is considered “a hands-down classic from Fatale Media,” and a landmark in the trajectory of lesbian pornography because it “normalizes” lesbians and lesbian sexuality. How much more “normal” can you get than the suburbs? Made in 1991, the film expands what’s acceptable in lesbian sex, allowing the visualization of erotica that’s more aggressive, fiercer, more fringe. Kinney founded Fatale Media, with the mission to produce lesbian erotic videos that reflect the “feminist right for control over our bodies, promoting female sexual autonomy.” Along with Sundahl, Kinney was also involved with the publication of the magazine, On Our Backs. Mitchell is the founder of the Adult Industry Medical Health Care Foundation, an organization focused on the health care of sex workers. All in all, Suburban Dykes is erotic, socially conscious, and a movie that viewers of all gender identities can appreciate.

Nancy Jainchill

 

This 90s porn short runs about half an hour, but still fits in a slight bit of narrative presence. The story is simple, with a couple exploring their sexual desires together, but it is enough to give the sex scenes some extra kick, thanks to the minor character work. Most of the movie’s duration centers on the threesome and with good reason, as it is what the previous scenes build to and Suburban Dykes is smart to invest so much time in the final sex session. The phone sex lesbian brings a new vibe to the movie once she arrives and in addition, she brings some safe sex elements that we don’t see often in porn. The movie emphasizes the importance of being safe, reminding viewers that even lesbians can contract STDs, while the character demonstrates several ways to be safer during sexual situations. This includes the use of dental dams, latex gloves, and even condoms, which she puts on when the strap on is introduced into the mix. Suburban Dykes proves that the use of safe sex elements doesn’t hamper the sexual heat, as the threesome is a lot of fun to watch.

 

Marc Fusion

A lot of the natural flow feel that Suburban Dykes exhibits has to be attributed to the lead actresses Nina Hartley and Peppar since they are the driving force on the screen throughout the short film. Nina Hartley is a true industry legend that began wowing adult audiences in the mid-80s and is still performing and gaining new fans today. Peppar (sometimes credited as Pepper) has had a far smaller career, only appearing to have been in a handful of movies. This reviewer isn’t sure why she didn’t go further since she has incredible onscreen charisma. Sharon Mitchell, who started in the rough and tumble world of NYC’s Avon productions in the mid-70s and whose career would span three decades, is fantastic as the dominant escort.

The sex scenes themselves are wonderful. Each one has a different feel to it, and a distinct kink represented — the sex scenes all blend to create a very versatile short film. Most viewers should find multiple sex scenes to their liking and may even find a new kink that turns them on.

Flash, AdultDVDTalk

 

Suburban Dykes had some components that we don’t always see in porn today, but was important commentary for 1990. There was a rapid-fire safer sex proclamation (not really a conversation) about bodily fluid exchange and AIDS awareness. A clear statement of boundaries around sexual health didn’t slow down the pacing of Suburban Dykes nor did it “break the mood”. (People who are reluctant to have these conversations should take note.)

Jet Noir


Safe is Desire

Allie and Dion are in love, but sex issues threaten their new relationship. They visit a San Francisco sex club where they see a lust-filled lesbian orgy, including a delightfully playful demonstration by the Safe Sex Sluts and other downright kinky lesbian sex. Raw lust and passion with a heart, Safe is Desire is beautifully shot, scripted and performed.

Safe is Desire is a slick, sexually responsible erotic video that aims to appeal to lesbians who get off on intelligence, as well as the sight of sexy, young lesbians.” -Bay Windows

 

PORN CLUB Reviews

Safe is Desire does a great job of mixing educational safe sex techniques into a cohesive narrative story. The narrative is exciting and keeps the attention of the viewer. The Safe Sex Sluts put on a fun presentation that is enjoyable for the viewer to watch as well as being educational on how women can protect themselves while having sex with other women.

Debi Sandahl has managed to pack the movie with several all-girl sex scenes, each of which exhibits safe sex techniques. The actresses in the movie all do a great job with the sex scenes in the movie, giving performances that all viewers should find pleasurable to watch.

Debi Sandahl has managed to give Safe is Desire a more inclusive feel than one generally gets in a movie designed for lesbians with the characters of Allie’s gay roommate Michael (Franco) and his boyfriend (Bill Marlow). Neither has much screen time; however, their inclusion causes Safe is Desire to feel like a far more complete movie.

Safe is Desire is an excellent movie that should be far more widely known than it is currently. Safe is Desire is one of the few movies that has successfully integrated safe sex education with a true narrative story that entertains viewers while also informing them of relevant information. Safe is Desire is highly recommended for all viewers.

Flash, AdultDVDTalk

 


Private Pleasures

Private Pleasures! Teri and Caerage are a classic butch/femme seduction scene. In a ritzy penthouse apartment they dress up for each other’s pleasure, then pop the champagne, lick off the whipped cream, and end up on the floor in a fucking scene that will astonish you. And someone is watching them! Asian beauty Mariko sees it all and then takes her pleasure too.

 

PORN CLUB Reviews

…just finished watching Fatale Media’s 1985 “Private Pleasures” as part of PinkLabel.TV’s Porn Club, encouraging discussions about porn as an indie film genre… If you ever had a fantasy about Prince and Bowie getting it on, it might have looked a lot like Fatale Media’s “Private Pleasures”. Between the hairdos and synthesized soundtrack, you could mistake this film for the secret love child of Purple Rain and Blade Runner.  The aesthetic is no accident as the film deftly captures the influence of subversively queer pop icons of the time.
With respect to the sex, “Private Pleasures” plays out like “Crashpad”  the viewer has a companion in their voyeurism and the sex that’s being watched has representation up front and center, butch and femme roles and sexual expression are captured unlike any mainstream porn of the time.  The build up for the couple and the voyeur are slow and sensual, and in moments the sex is hot and explicit.  If you’re a fan of fur or fisting, you’ll appreciate this film.  Sadly, though the viewer is left to their own imagination when it comes to the sounds of sex as all we’re given is the musical score.

There’s a lot that can be said about this film that speaks to it’s historical and cultural significance, but it has already been said, and with a more informed eye than mine… check out PersistentlyFem on WordPress and Tumblr for an informative post on the making of this film.  I invite you to watch this important and highly fappable film from the dawn of feminist and queer porn.

— Stephen Biggs

 

In the late 1970s, slowly shot on video productions started showing up, and in the 1980s, the adult film industry went almost entirely to shot on video productions. Generally, this fast transition is regarded as a downfall of the industry. With shot on video productions, anyone could shoot and edit a movie, and videocassettes were cheap, so budgets fell through the floor. Many of the shot on film stalwarts left the industry, and many of those who did stay changed their pseudonyms, so their shot on film productions weren’t mixed in with their shot on video productions with which they often weren’t proud to be associated.

However, this transition from film to video wasn’t entirely bad. The drastically reduced cost of production allowed auteurs, who never would have been able to bring their art to the public during the shot on film days, the ability to create shot on video productions. Enter Nan Kinney, the president and founder of Fatale Media (and also the executive producer of all of their movies). Nan Kinney saw that the adult film industry wasn’t catering to lesbians. Now, before you the reader go, but there have been all-girl productions going back to the 1920s, yes there have, but they are all geared for male viewers, not for lesbian viewers.

Flash, AdultDVDTalk

 


PORN CLUB Wild Card!

If interested in another film, reviewers could choose to pull a wild card and pick anything from the site. Here’s what two writers decided to review.


Burlezk Live!

The first and longest running women-only striptease show in history!
Blush Entertainment presents… BurLEZk Live! Produced and Directed by Nan Kinney and Debbie Sundahl
Every week for three years at a lesbian bar in San Francisco, over 100 erotic performance artists danced into the hearts and clits of more than 10,000 women. Fatale captured some of the most exciting moments from this memorable event, live on video.

PORN CLUB Reviews

This month for PinkLabel.TV’s PornClub, we’re watching Fatale Media, the groundbreaking label for women and by women, founded by Nan Kinney in 1985. She moved to SF in the early 80s to check out the SM scene and soon noticed a lack of sexual images for lesbians, then founded On Our Backs mag with fellow legends Deborah Sundahl and Susie Bright. What caught my eye on PinkLabel.TV was the duo of films documenting the first and longest-running lesbian striptease night, held at a bar in SF. Are you into the 80s? Then the fashion and music will be enough to delight you. There are flashes of Madonna, Chrissie Hynde and Grace Jones, the dance-aerobics craze, women in suits, latex, glitter gowns and feather boas dancing their hearts out to the music of the time… all against the silver-streamer curtain of your dreams. Not to mention the hair! The big, teased gorgeous 80s hair.

I think I fell in love when Shelley Mars started her leather jacket strut to the Leader of the Pack. BurLEZk Live 1 and BurLEZk Live 2 are full of humor, women playing with stereotypes (one dance can be described as chauvinist drag: the performer in a suit quipping about how these ladies just need a good dicking – with banana as a prop – the audience laughing along with the joke and cheering.) Joyful is the word that comes to mind in every performance, from sweet to acrobatic. Every move communicates play and pleasure. All the while, we hear the audience response: the chatter and cheers of a wild night out. Every once in a while we see the dancers interact with the crowd, giving us a glimpse of what it felt like to be in the audience, the bold or shy gestures of slipping a dollar in a g-string, the tender kisses, the wide eyes and open mouths.

What gets me about a movie like this is the record of the time and space. We’ve all known a club night or a party that popped up fully-formed in its vibe that brought a community together to revel in a way that they love best. Burlezk Live! And Live 2 captures that feeling and the celebration of female desire through dance – and the dancing! The dancing! – brings you as close as can be to these 80s nights.

Saskia Vogel


PORN CLUB is an adult film review series presented by PinkLabel.TV. Tune in next month for our next set of reviews, spanning classics to contemporary.

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