Adultfilmdatabase Interviews:Tristan Taormino Interview - 10/03/2006
Adultfilmdatabase: Today I'm chatting with adult film director, best-selling author, sex educator and innovator, Tristan Taormino. She is perhaps best known for her book, "The Ultimate Guide to Anal Sex for Women" (Cleis Press, 1997) - named Amazon.com's #1 Bestseller in Women's Sex Instruction in 1998 - and adapted onto film in her directorial debut in 2000. Tristan has also directed the popular Adam & Eve reality-style anal-packed feature House of Ass (2006). And now her latest reality-style adult film makes its debut, Vivid's Chemistry.
A: Tristan, how did you go about picking the cast? I noticed at one point in the movie Marie Luv mentions that she requested Jack Lawrence.
T: It's an interesting process because basically, I want everyone to be sexually and socially compatible. I like drama, but not the drama that comes with spending 36 hours with someone you cannot stand. So, I cast one person, a woman. I ask her, what guys do you LOVE to work with, what guys top your "yes list", are there any guys you want to work with but haven't yet? Next, is there anyone who is an absolute NO for you, either for sex or even just to hang out with? Then, I cast a guy based on those answers and ask him the same questions. It's sort of like a puzzle, though, all the pieces have to fit together very well.
A: There was certainly a lot of chemistry between the performers, they really gelled and it translated into hot sex. In the behind the scenes you mention having to literally chase the performers around the house as spontaneous sex erupts all over between the various housemates, often simultaneously. What was the most difficult aspect of filming something as seemingly chaotic as Chemistry?
T: The chaos, of course! Truly, it was so difficult on the crew, because something would break out and we'd have to scramble to set up a light, get a bounce card, pick up the cameras, grab a boom mike, and just go! They worked for hours and during their lunch break, I had to say, um, something's going on, I can shoot it for a while but as soon as you have swallowed that food can you come to the back bedroom right away???
A: How many hours of shooting did the crew stay on for during the day?
T: 8 am 'til about midnight, then I stayed overnight with the production manager and the cast. The second day is shorter, out by 8 pm, but it's a very intense 36 hours for everyone...
A: 36 hours of nonstop shooting -- No wonder there are 2 discs of footage.
T: Exactly! We just had so much good stuff, that one day after we shot, I asked Steven Hirsch, head of Vivid, "Hi, I know I just got here, but can I have my first movie be like 5 hours long please?" And he said yes!
A: How did you find yourself doing a film project for Vivid?
T: Well, when I came back to adult to do House of Ass, I really came back with the intention of staying a while, not doing another one-off movie. After House of Ass came out, I got a few offers, had a few meetings. Then Vivid called. And when Vivid calls, well, you go to LA and have a meeting. It was just the best fit for me. I felt like everyone there was so supportive and Steven just really understood what I wanted to do. It's an amazing company, how could I say no?
A: Speaking of House of Ass and your work with Ultimate Guide to Anal Sex for Women, and now even Chemistry, your movies include a lot of anal sex whether it's with toys or penises. You have a real strong focus on all things anal. Can you tell us more about what draws you to filming anal sex scenes?
T: Well, I wrote the book on the subject, and it's one of my passions. Plus, I think it's important to have depictions of anal sex that show lots of warm up, the use of lube, good communication between partners, and the pleasure a woman can get from it. I believe people can learn things from porn, and I want to show them some good techniques as well as hot sex!
A: Kurt Lockwood has a scene where Mika Tan uses a strap-on to take him anally while he has intercourse with Taryn Thomas. That's not something you see in everyday porn. Anal videos are terribly popular right now. Why are there so few movies where the men are receiving?
T: Well, in some ways, porn pushes the sexual envelope and in other ways it doesn't. Kurt actually talks about that in the confessional in the movie. I think that the majority of directors and producers are men and they are making porn for men and there is a level of machismo and homophobia that prevents them from going there. But I know, from the thousands of men who come to my workshops, email me, and post on my message boards, that a lot more men are more comfortable not just doing it but talking about doing it now than ever before. Porn will catch up. I hope.
A: Yes, I recall Kurt touches on the aspect of being branded gay if you have anal sex, even though it's heterosexual because you are with a woman and it's about mutual pleasure. As part of what you bring to the adult community, any plans for an "Ultimate Guide to Anal Sex for Men"? Or I should say "Ultimate Guide to Anal Sex for (Straight) Men" <laughter>
T: Well, as part of my sex-ed series for Vivid, which I begin shooting this month, I would LOVE to do it. It's not among the first four titles we have planned, but it's totally on my wish list!
A: Can you give us a sneak preview of what we can expect?
T: Well, this month I am shooting the first one on anal sex and the second one on pussy licking. We don't have a title series yet, so I am not sure what they will be called. Although I am pretty sure "pussy licking" won't be in the title...
T: I am very excited about them. They will feature a mix of adult performers and non-adult performers and real life couples. There will be a cool interactive-like feature on the DVD. Can't reveal the rest or be more specific because the technology part is a secret.
A: Alright, we'll have to wait and see. I saw a trailer for Chemistry, Vol. 2 on the bonus disc. It was a hot scene with Kimberly Kane and Christian XXX. What can you tell fans of the first film about the follow-up to Chemistry?
T: Although each Chemistry has the same premise, each volume has its own unique take on the premise since the cast always changes. That scene you saw a clip of, between Kimberly and Christian, will knock your socks off, it is so hot. She told me that she had never worked with him before and was dying to, so that was their first time, and it was amazing to witness. Volume 2 won't be as long as Volume 1, but there was still plenty of sex and confessions and a little drama: the City of Calabasas permit folks came a knockin' and tried to shut us down, Lexi Bardot brought her dog Lacie and they had to leave early, and somehow hours worth of perv cam footage shot by Nat Turnher got taped over!!! So, I am editing it now for a January release. We'll see how it all turns out... Oh and Kaiya Lynn is just amazing in it! I think she is really underrated...
A: You really have a creative take on adult films, breaking away from the typical formulaic sex. Let's dig a little deeper to see where Tristan get's her crazy ideas. This next question comes from the Adultfilmdatabase forums. What was the first adult film you saw and how did the experience shape you?
T: The first movie I saw was called Suburban Dykes and it starred Sharon Mitchell and Nina Hartley. It was made by a bunch of sex-positive lesbian feminists who ran On Our Backs magazine. So the first porn I saw was made by women and that definitely shaped my vision for how porn could be: Fun, exciting, titillating, and all about women getting off.
A: How old were you?
T: 19. Cute, right? Pretty old.
A: So you were a coed at Wesleyan U opening your eyes to the world of feminine pleasure?
T: Because, of course, I am not counting me trying to watch the scrambled Playboy channel while I babysat for my neighbor's kids when I was 14. Yes, in fact, I saw the movie at Wesleyan in someone's dorm room.
A: When scheduling our interview you mentioned going away for a weeklong sexual retreat. Does attending sexual retreats give you ideas or inspiration for your movies?
T: Well, I produce this one, and it's a lot of work. It's at a campground in rural Maryland. Six days, 12 special events, 60 classes, 25 presenters, and 300 attendees: It's a mix of people into all sorts of non-traditional sex, identities, and relationships with BDSM, swinging, Tantra, polyamory. They are straight, queer, bi, single, coupled, all over the board... I guess you could say that I have the opportunity to see people have sex on a regular basis, and that definitely informs how I shoot porn.
A: You really are accustomed to controlled chaos!
T: Well, when you don't have to film it, it's much easier to plan...
A: Your premier party for Chemistry is happening in 2 days in New York, October 5th. Are you nervous? Who are the adult stars that will be in attendance? Anything you'd like to add about the event?
T: I am excited because there are so few porn-related events in NYC, so people get very psyched about them. Like the last party I had for House of Ass, people wrote to me saying, "Wow, it wasn't like a West Coast industry party at all. Cool people, cool music, I felt welcomed, not out of place." Dana DeArmond, one of the stars of Chemistry, will be there. Rumor has it that some Vivid girls may show up. Marie Luv was threatening to come to taunt Dana (who has a major crush on her), but I don't know if that will happen. Some peeps from Burning Angel will probably be there. And my mom.
A: Is your mom 100% supportive of your career choices?
T: My mom is majorly down with the program. She rocks. Oh, and how could I forget?? Members of Goodfinger, the band whose music is in the opening credits and the trailer. So, there will be rock stars there!!
A: Rock and Roll and Sex goes together like a horse and carriage.
T: But seriously, you have to admit, the music has gotten a lot better in porn... Finally, the connection is working...
A: I read in the New York Post that you've invited your uncle, the famed American novelist, Thomas Pynchon (Gravity's Rainbow), to the New York Chemistry Premiere. He is said to be by several sources, including CNN Book News and Harold Bloom, a real contender for the Nobel Prize in Literature. Has he played a role in your success as a writer? Is he supportive of your work?
T: Growing up, my uncle was just that - Uncle Tom, the guy who sat across the table from me at Easter dinner. Seriously. I always connected with him and it wasn't until I was a teenager that I knew who he was in the context of American Literature. He's brilliant - I mean genius brilliant - but also warm and funny. We always talked about pop culture when I was growing up and I thought it was so cool how a grown up knew so much about what I was interested in. We have never talked about writing per se, although we have each read each other's work. I find his a lot more difficult! We just talked a few days ago about the Post thing, and he had a good laugh. He asked me about Chemistry, and we actually had a longer conversation about porn than we've ever had. He's totally cool. But I have to say his fans have been linking to the piece on the web like crazy and a few of them have called me dumb porn trash. I am a lot of things, but dumb porn trash???? That threw me for a loop.
A: "Dumb porn trash" are not the words that come to mind when I think of you Tristan, quite the opposite. There's a lot of ignorance in general when it comes to people working in the industry. It's funny how some very conservative politicians try to censor us and then they find themselves in hot water for soliciting sex from a minor. Very hypocritical stuff out there, but I think directors such as you are shining a positive, illuminating light on the industry.
T: Well, thanks. I just think that porn gets a bad rap, and I consider it a valuable medium, it's just as much a cultural, socio-political, and historical document as other forms... Now I am getting sort of geeky, sorry.
A: Geeky can be very sexy. Tristan, thank you for taking the time from your incredibly busy sex-education packed production schedule to share some of your insights on Chemistry, porn, and life. We hope to be seeing more of you. And truly, we wish you the best of luck in and out of the industry, and with Vivid's new education line. We'll have to do this again sometime!
T: I wish we could chat all night, but there are location people to call, dinner to eat, and I haven't programmed my TiVo to record Veronica Mars, which premieres tonight! (It's 8 pm on the East Coast) Thanks so much!!