Adult film star to visit Hill
The porn industry is one of America’s biggest industry, generating billions of dollars in revenue. Porn has had a fraught relationship with feminists, who view it as the most vile subjugation of women. And on a larger level, porn reveals in a stark way our culture’s ambivalent and complex relationship to sexuality: it is both taboo and everywhere.
Students of Phyllis Mannocchi’s America Dreams documentary class Nora Cromwell ’11, Lizzi Fort ’11 and Annie Wilson ’11 seek to interrogate all these problems in their film about Bobbi Star, the feminist porn star. The documentary and Starr’s lecture seek to expand the scope of how we talk about, experience and understand sexuality.
Bobbi Starr will be traveling to Colby after the Feminist Adult Film Awards to give a presentation here on sex positivity, the radical idea that sex is a good, positive experience, and that good sex can mean different things to things people—different strokes for different folks, as it were.
Cromwell met Star through her brother-in-law who is a reality TV producer in Los Angeles. He had met Star, who was pitching him a reality TV show. He thought reality TV was not the medium for Starr to transition out of the adult film industry and into a public speaking career. Rather, he thought Cromwell’s documentary and a speaking engagement at a proper liberal arts college might be stepping stones.
Starr has been working in the adult film industry since she graduated from college, where she studied music and is trained as a classical oboist. She started dating a man in college who introduced her to the industry. She started acting and she enjoyed her work. She hopes to transition out of performing by 30 and work as a producer and director for adult films, and as a public speaker on sex positivity.
In the industry, she is known for performing sexual acts that are traditionally viewed as transgressive, even pathological: sadomasochism (S&M) and fetishism.
The filmmaking trio asserts, however, based on their interviews with Starr, that she takes part in these sexual practices because she enjoys them, because she finds them pleasurable and that there is nothing “deviant” about them. Different people experience pleasure in different ways.
“Her definition of sex is very open,” Cromwell explained. “[For Starr] kissing is a sexual experience, and she wants to experience as much as she can.”
Cromwell continued Starr’s message of sex positivity is very much about women asserting their existence as sexual beings. “She is looking for awareness and comfort [with sex], so women can break free from the stigma of expressing their sexuality.” Wilson added, “[Starr believes] being sexual is OK and natural…and more importantly, if you’re a woman, it’s natural to be a sexual person.”
And this makes Starr a feminist, someone who believes and advocates that women are entitled to their sexual pleasure, whatever form it takes—be it fetishistic or totally “vanilla.”
In her own work in the adult film industry, Starr only does films and acts if she enjoys them, not because her fans will enjoy them or because her director or producer tells her to. “She is very much in control,” Wilson said, who got to observe Starr on the set of an adult film.
Starr will be speaking on Monday April 18 at 7 p.m. in Page Commons. The trio ask that you come with an open mind. Cromwell’s hope for the lecture is that “people…will come out of it questioning the things they are so adamant about.”