✖ DIVINE RITES

May 10, 2020

If you’ve been through the Four Chambers back catalog you’ll know that religious themes, iconography, images and symbols reoccur often in the  canon.

Sex and religion are often laid out as almost polar opposites but, for me, have always seemed to really share a common aim - the pursuit of transcendence. A space to exist outside of yourself, to serve, to worship, to achieve enlightenment, to be lost in rapture. Sex is seen as purely base and grounded in the sensory, bodily experience - religion in the pure, enlightenment of the mind, but anyone spending any time doing either knows that they're both at their most captivating when they merge the visceral and cerebral simultaneously to full effect. This has always informed the sex I have, the porn I make and what turns me on but for this new series I wanted to try to expand beyond my own perspective.

The aim with these films were to make half documentary and half pornography. Explore something more naturalistic, more personal without the constructed aesthetics we're used to. We’re so lucky to have the trust of the people in these films who not only let us film them fuck, they gave me their stories and experiences and opened their homes to us and spoke to very personal ideas of shame and sex that are often acutely more vulnerable in some ways (a least for me) than fucking on film, so I really have to say thank you to them for giving us that trust.

Initially we were going to include both shoots in the same film but to merge them felt like sacrificing too much. We’re releasing them both at the same time because although their perspectives are different they work together as companion pieces, we’ll hopefully add to the series and expand it further in the future.


DIVINE RITES I

I met Carmina crying in the toilets at Berlin Porn Film festival. (Not entirely true, she’d interviewed me earlier that day for porn culture magazine Le Tag Parfait but crying in the toilets felt like the first time we were properly introduced, when I got to KNOW her.) 

As a perpetual public weeper myself and someone who makes strong bonds over emotional intensity - we’ve been friends ever since. In that time she’s started her own porn film company, performed in many porn films, taken over editing the magazine she then worked for and saved my life at more porn film festivals than I can count, truly an amazing powerhouse. 

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Although the life she’s chosen to lead is one that a lot of people would probably find shocking there’s an fascinating duality to her character, unlike a lot of the people in the porn making community she doesn’t try to pretend that she’s entirely uninhibited, there’s subjects, acts and themes that she still finds too much. It’s never about passing judgement on anyone else, we talk often about how there’s still a voice inside that feels like it’s stopping her, that she doesn’t want to defy or disrespect. She can’t let that part go.

Although she’s no longer religious herself, her parents are and her Mexican/French upbringing is saturated in Christian iconography and ideas of purity and what it means to be a “good girl” - she was crying in the toilets when we met long ago because she wanted to talk to her parents about her achievements in porn and sex work but was worried that they wouldn’t accept her or be proud of her path in life. 


Carmina loves churches maybe even more than me and we spend a lot of our time in these spaces together, she always says that she doesn’t feel like she can or should dip her fingers in the holy water because it’s too sacred. She doesn’t mess with the tarot or graves and when I asked her to be in this film she specifically said yes on the proviso that I wouldn’t have her anywhere near my crucifix dildo. She has a really deep respect and reverence for the importance of these symbols despite the complexity of what that it means to be brought up in the shadow of them as a bisexual person and now as a sex worker.


This is fascinating to me because it’s maybe easier to make porn about religion that’s transgressive or subversive and it’s definitely been done before (it’s been done by us and I love it and I’ll definitely do it again) but I with this I wanted to try and explore the more complicated setting of Carmina’s relationship to the culture of her upbringing merging with the culture of her porn community and her sexuality and what it means to exist in those spaces, without feeling like you totally fit into either. Her relationship to shame and sex and freedom and acceptance in the shadow of the history, iconography and symbols that have surrounded her her whole life.

We spent a very hot summer in France visiting crumbling, beautiful french churches with her teaching me about the history and shot this scene with Fennel, who is truly the biggest sweetheart and babe and a friend and who has been on more porn sets without being a performer than nearly anyone else I know! He made us all pancakes after we shot Alchemy way back in 2014 (!!!) and I’m so glad we got to be his first porn performance debut.

The two of them together in the golden afternoon sunlit looked so fucking beautiful and idyllic, properly heavenly. It’s been a while since we made something with gorgeous gold natural light and it made me fall in love with it all over again.

Carmina’s work and films can be found at Carre Rose Films


>> watch DIVINE RITES <<


MUSIC
supplicate - formosan swarm

CONTENT NOTES
discussion of shame around sex, brief hand on throat



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DIVINE RITES II

When I think of religion and sex it’s hard not to think of Daemonum x and Clit Eastwood (fiiiinally we have a performer with a pun name, I mean COME ON it’s been HOW many years?) We met at a very classically bushwick fetish event and I got to know their prolific Catholic scenes, many hot latex nun outfits and collection of religious themed torture implements. Daemonum x even has an instagram specifically devoted (no pun intended) to hot bible quotes on catholic iconography. 


Both raised with Catholicism to varying degrees and both devout femme dykes, their relationship weaves the symbolism and practices of the church with BDSM and service to mine the complicated, painful history of religion’s relationship to queerness for intense explorations in suffering and intimacy. Think St Sebastian shot with arrows, think the whipping scene in The Passion of the Christ, think lesbians sent to the convent to be punished. 

“Taking that darkness and playing inside of it” 

Eroticising shame has always been used as a powerful tool for healing and freedom in queer spaces, expanding what sex and intimacy can mean and be outside of straight normatively leads to deep explorations in bonding and trust outside of societally prescribed doctrine. Sex can mean and be and do many things and it can be written and rewritten according to need, a tool used to explore rather than something functional and fixed.


There’s so much that we spoke about that we couldn’t fit into one just one film. Daemonum X publishes a zine specifically for and speaking to leather dyke experience called Fist and issue 3 ‘fetish’ explores more deeply much of what they get into here, much better than I ever could second hand.

We were lucky enough to shoot at Daemonum X's and this is her real scene room, fully decked out with a frame for rope bondage, a drawer of scalpels, a lot of various 'hurting' implements, crucifix fairy lights and prayer bench. This is the first time that we really just... shot a scene without pausing or breaking or resetting any shots at all but they both slipped entirely into it and honestly, I wanted it to just keep going to see how it played out so we didn't pause once - maybe the first Four Chambers film with a real, coherent narrative?

I was so sucked in that I took exactly 0 behind the scenes stills except for this masterpiece of a polaroid of painted nails on Clit Eastwood's bleeding ass, perfection.


>> watch DIVINE RITES II <<



REFERENCES
The Ecstasy of Saint Theresa, Bernini (1647–1652)
Lesbian Nuns Breaking Silence, Rosemary Curb, Nancy Manahan (1986)
The Devils, Ken Russell (1971)
Fist Issue III FETISH

CONTENT NOTES
nun / school girl roleplay, coercion, whipping, blood, beating with bible, mention of age play related language/themes, discussion of shame and taboo surrounding religion and lesbian sexuality.