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New Sensations Romance series
When I was contacted by New Sensations about their  “Romance” series, I was instantly interested. A porn series claiming to be grounded in romance? This is obviously not a common thing, a
Published on March 9, 2012 | Filed under Porn As Paracinema

When I was contacted by New Sensations about their  “Romance” series, I was instantly interested. A porn series claiming to be grounded in romance? This is obviously not a common thing, and my curiosity was piqued simply by the outside the box approach.

When the package arrived it was immediately clear that New Sensations was serious about their female accessible collection. The box art on these films are carbon copies of what you would see from a modern romcom. It’s kinda awesome.

So, sight unseen, I’m sold. Spot on titles and marketing? Check. Innovative and intriguing premise? Check. Man, do I love porn that stretches its legs. And these factors made me feel as if this one was ready to take off running.

So how are they? To date, I have watched Lost and Found and Love is a Dangerous Game and they both succeed in very specific ways. Lost and Found is about a woman (Allie Haze) who loses her dog. Her male neighbor (Xander Corvus), clearly fancying her, finds the dog and proceeds to lie about its whereabouts so he can get closer to its owner. The expected romcom twists and turns follow, ending in forgiveness and sex. Kimberly Kane plays “the friend” side character. I just want to mention this as it will be relevant (at some point). Love is a Dangerous Game follows a children’s book author (Natasha Nice) as she attempts to transition to horror novels. The man to help her is famed Stephen King-esque writer Wes Mueller (Richie). This one starts out as a bizarre “is this dude crazy?” story that eventually morphs into a more straightforward romantic narrative. It’s decidedly less formulaic than Lost and Found. This one also features Kimberly Kane as “the sister” character.

So what do they get right? The acting in Lost and Found is quite good and the chemistry between the two leads is genuine. It’s simply fun to watch. Sure, it’s predictable, as it is a bare bones, romantic comedy, but the actors are having a good time and the dog is cute. Kimberly Kane has amazing timing. She steals every scene she’s in. Love is a Dangerous Game finds most of its strengths in the story. This one is peppered with dark humor. The plot is also tight, and there is little room for needless scenes and exposition. The leads in this one also give convincing performances, but the standout, once again, is Kimberly Kane. She has less screen time here, but she’s just as on point. I’m not sure if she’s given the best lines, or if she just knows how to deliver them, but she is consistently funny.

Here I am blabbing on and I have yet to mention the sex. How is it, you ask? It’s pretty vanilla. This is always my complaint with mainstream pornography, but in this case, I expected it. As you’ll read below, the goal of this series is to engage women, and act as sort of a gateway to porn. So if the sex wasn’t accessible, the films wouldn’t be achieving their goal. There are no above the neck money shots, so that’s different, and also a conscious choice. There are fewer scenes per film ( I believe Love has a total of four) and they typically fit into the plot. When we do get to the scenes, as well set up as they are, they follow that “lather, rinse, repeat” formula I’m always screaming about: exchange oral favors, rotate positions, ejaculate. There is kissing though. And I’ll admit, it is nice to see a pair of characters, like actual established characters, finally have sex. Love boasts a 90 minute run time and can easily be watched straight through. The series is very successful in regard to watchability.

I applaud New Sensations for trying to appeal to an untapped (and sometimes unwilling) market: women. Do I think previously hesitant ladies will be more open to pornography if it’s presented in this manner? I really don’t know. I’m not a fool. As a woman who writes about porn, I understand there is a stigma attached. If this kind of film is able to de-stigmatize the genre in the eyes of some women, then great. (I’m consciously avoiding starting a diatribe on the social acceptability of pornography as it will likely consume this post.)

More about the Romance series can be found here, but continue reading for a brief Q&A I conducted with PR maven, and writer of Love is a Dangerous Game, Jacky St. James.

Christine: What would you say is the main goal of the Romance Series?

Jacky St. James: The main goal of The Romance Series is to create an entertaining, high quality product that couples can enjoy together. We want women who might be a little skeptical about watching porn, or those with preconceived notions about it, to see that what we offer is something very tasteful, yet still sexual.

Christine: What are your feelings regarding the state of pornography?

Jacky St. James: Pornography is always going to be around, but it’s amazing just how seriously the business has been impacted by online piracy. Companies are having to shift focus, reevaluate their business models, and evolve to the changing world. There will always be a demand for adult films, but DVDs will no longer be a dependable source of revenue stream.

Christine: How important do you feel plot and story is in an adult film?

Jacky St. James: In films that are geared towards couples, it’s essential. Women comprise the larger demographic of people buying romance novels. That being said, it has been determined that many female pornographic consumers prefer having plot-driven porn, as opposed to the strict sex scenes you’ll find in more male-oriented porn. What the plot and story do within the scope of “couple’s porn” is to give people something to talk about or become invested in as a supplement to the sex. It’s like your favorite date night movie, without fading to black just as things get hot and heavy.

I do want to clarify though, not all female porn consumers prefer plot-driven porn to all-sex porn. Every individual is unique and it’s about finding what works for your own sexual needs.

Christine: The structure of these films is drastically different than most. It’s to be assumed that it requires more from the talent involved. How have the actors responded thus far?

Jacky St. James: A feature film requires a lot more from the talent. On an all-sex shoot, actors are usually there no more than 4-6 hours (at the most), depending on what is required of the scene. On a feature set, you’re looking at a 14-16 hour day if you’re in a leading role. Even supporting roles will be on set for about 10 hours or more. All of the actors we hire to work on our features are hard-working and know what is required of them. We’d never cast a feature actor that hated the long hours. With the amount of work that goes into making a quality feature, nobody has the time or patience for complainers. It’s a team effort with everyone working incredibly hard. We usually cast from a pool of talent who’ve proven themselves to be reliable, intelligent, talented, and hard working. I always consider those actors to be the absolute best in the business…they can be counted on and they help create a better final product.

Christine: This series certainly does it, but do you have a desire to further change-up the “porn formula.”

Jacky St. James: I’m always looking for ways to change up the “porn formula.” I have a ton of ideas but if I’m not backing the project financially, I’m not the decision maker. Changing up anything is a risk, but it’s one I’d be more willing to take with my money than someone else’s.

Author:
Christine enjoys obsessing over Paracinema magazine. She also loves well written hour long TV dramas. Her free time is spent with her many boyfriends: Brian De Palma, Edgar Wright & Alfred Hitchcock.

FROM AROUND THE WEB:
  • http://joehumphrey.com/journal Joe Humphrey

    I think it will be interesting to see how this plays out.

    It seems like a lot more women are open about watching porn these days, and I don’t know if that’s because we’ve got a young adults who have grown up with immediate access to it, or if we’re dealing with a more sexually open generation than when I was in my early twenties. Probably both.

    It does seem to me that younger people are far more aggressive in their sexual interests than they were when I was that age. Especially women. By aggressive I mean, like, the sex itself seems to be angrier and more forceful. Lots of choking and slapping and whatnot. I mean, if I could go back in time and show a clip of some of the stuff I see now to myself at age 16, I’d think I was watching a snuff film.

    So I wonder if there’s even a place for this now. I wonder if the women who are watching this harder, angrier porn that we have now are watching it because they like it, or because that’s just all that’s out there. I’m beginning to suspect that a large percentage of women who watch porn like it pretty much how it is.

    It’s possible that before the internet, a big reason why women weren’t watching porn as much as men had to do with the actual process of getting it rather than a moral issue or a lack of interest. I mean, it’s a much different experience going to the store and buying porn from another person than it is to simply sit in your bedroom and click a button. Once porn became instantly accessible without having to look some dude in the eyes as he rang up your copy of Backdoor Beauties, it kind of leveled the playing field.

    I was just watching this fairly obnoxious news video about James Deen. It was like, a 20/20 or Nightline report about teenage girls who are fans of him, and they interviewed him and made him look like kind of a doofus. It was one of those like “YOUR KIDS ARE WATCHING PORN! DOES THAT FREAK YOU OUT OR WHAT?!” kind of reports.

    Actually, lemme grab it.

    http://youtu.be/7bxzjEKJJ60

    That’s it. Anyway, so they talk to all these teenage girls who are totally in love with this porn star. And he’s a full on porn guy. I mean, he does a lot of the Porn Star Punishment videos (from Brazzers) and those are about as close to rape-fantasy as you’re going to get in mainstream porn. He’s definitely not a shy porn star. So I really have to wonder if softening up porn for women is even needed anymore. I think, at least for younger women, they’re already on board.

    But then again someone is buying all those XXX Parody movies, and those are generally pretty vanilla. I don’t think it’s guys. Most dudes don’t have the patience to appreciate the effort they’re putting into constructing a clever parody. So I dunno. We’ll see I guess.

    (This is all obviously just my own opinion and observation based on knowing absolutely nothing about what women do and don’t want.)

  • Gore Gore Girl

    Interestingly, James Deen quit Pornstar Punishment and wrote about it on his blog — he didn’t feel comfortable with the rapey stuff.

    In my experience, the reason “porn parodies” sell so well is because people who are not regular porn consumers are buying them to watch with their buds or at parties — a recent “parody” even had what it called a “party cut” on it (no hardcore sex). A lot of these people are men, a lot are women too I’m sure. Peoples’ tastes are hard to narrow down by sex or gender — I was glad to see Jacky point that out. Too often, genres are divided down simplistic sex and/or gender lines. I know a lot of men who watch these Romance lines (there are three of them now — Wicked, New Sensations, and West Coast Productions — must be selling), and interestingly “feminist porn” is rarely plot-driven. I think part of that has to do with a feminist rejection of linear, traditional narrative (this goes back to Mulvey). In addition, some feminist performers/directors/writers have criticized traditional narrative porn for not allowing full female sexual expression — contained by narrative and direction, if you will. Nica Noelle attempts the best of both worlds in this respect. Finally, in general the term “romance” puts off some women, as it is an industry/institution designed to maintain traditional couplings, which is usually sexist.

    Personally, I ignore the “romance” tag, and focus on the fact that these companies are attempting to do something different from the norm, which I very much appreciate.

    Great article and great interview christine! Jacky St. James is great.

    • http://joehumphrey.com/journal Joe Humphrey

      I guess I was thinking about the porn parodies in strictly a utilitarian sense. I didn’t consider that people would be watching them for reasons beyond just sexual stimulation. That makes sense.

      Do you really know a lot of men who watch “romance” porn? Like, you know for sure that they do and they aren’t just saying that? Because I find that really hard to believe.

      I’m definitely all for as much variety as possible in porn. Everyone’s tastes should be entertained. I don’t know what’s “sexist” and what isn’t, and I don’t really care. I just want people to like what they like and not feel bad about it.

      • Gore Gore Girl

        Yes, I’m sure.

        • http://joehumphrey.com/journal Joe Humphrey

          ok