Dichotomous pairings generally consist of one (socially constructed and highly relative) “desirable and powerful” part and one (socially constructed and highly relative) “less desirable and less powerful” part. Some dichotomous pairings are obnoxious, others make little sense; some are figurative, and others are quite literal – like the beginning and end of something. There are endless examples…
good and evil
black and white
masculine and feminine
In Anna Devia Productions‘ Alpha Femmes (2011), a subtle yet clever title sets the tone for a film that challenges – rather, queers – several currently culturally ubiquitous dichotomies, thus challenging the notion of dichotomous relationships overall.
alpha and omega
butch and femme (ugh, I hate writing that one)
In Alpha Femmes, we have four very femmey chics acting pretty dang alpha with their respective partners. Akira Raine, Sarah Lee Sinful, Ashley Blue, and April Flores each meld “desirable and powerful” alpha with “less desirable and less powerful” femme, embodying the film’s title. Their respective partners – the relatively “omega butch” Puck Goodfellow, Cadence St. John, Syd Blakovich, and Jiz Lee – function as the subservient other to each alpha femme’s whims and wants.
Now, before someone gets all twisted by terminology, I am not saying that any of the performers in this film identify as alpha, omega, butch, femme, and/or any combination thereof. I am however saying that the performances in Alpha Femmes recombine the poles present in two fairly common dichotomous pairings, showing both multidimensional identity expression and the folly of setting anything up as a mutually exclusive duo in the first place. Obviously, this is “accomplished” in varying degrees throughout the four Alpha Femmes pairings.
Overall, I thought this project was brilliant – brilliant, creative, and transgressive.
This doesn’t however mean that each scene was “perfect” (?) or equally effective (?) in my view. Let’s summarize and comment!!
First off, here’s the trailer:
Akira and Puck – Akira is relentless. She slaps the shit out of Puck several times, such that I wondered more than once if Puck’s glasses were going to end up in the trash. The whole nipple clamp segment was literally stressful to me, what with the music and the overwhelming “ouch” I kept imagining. And more than once through all of this, Akira would pose and smile… this perfect angelic-yet-sadistic smile that would’ve almost been unnerving if Puck hadn’t been doing everything to suppress a smile as well.
Akira and Puck’s BDSM-themed tryst is further layered with sex safety – gloves on Puck’s hands and condoms covering Akira’s feet. These days, these types of things are rarely if ever seen outside of queer and/or sex positive porn.
Sarah Lee and Cadence – I was blown away by the smoking in this scene… like, Sarah Lee was literally smoking. I didn’t get it. Of the four scenes, this one was the most conventional – strap on sex followed by sex with a toy.
Ashley and Syd – this scene had me scratching my head before it even began… Girlvert Ashley Blue in queer porn? I know her work/art/career have evolved and continue to be a process and I know that she has worked in a few other projects within this production genre/spirit (ie), but I didn’t get how “LA’s anal superstar… in a dildo-gagged anal facefuck” was going to be “different.”
But then I watched it.
And the difference is 1) Syd and 2) Ashley’s dynamic with Syd in conjunction with her overall Ashley Blue-ness. The fact that we have a hardcore legend (for lack of a better characterization) paired so well with an up-and-coming queer porn performer (for lack of a better characterization) demonstrates both a refrain from sexual boundaries and, most significantly, the deconstruction of a major adult industry production dichotomy.
This was my favorite scene in the Alpha Femmes collection.
April and Jiz – April Flores is absolutely luscious, and Jiz Lee is a perfect pet. The prop of sake works well, as does Jiz’s strange collar. The juxtaposition of bodies and the flat out fucking that viewers only get to see from a porn-relative distance is both titillating and transcendent – just like those gloves and condom socks, these are things we don’t often see.
In addition to everything else, Alpha Femmes is beautifully and artistically rendered. I don’t know the film/art words for most of it, but every scene was gorgeously designed; I loved the parts where two shots were overlaid and when the scenes were split; the music was effective, the titling was awesome; and maybe I fall for gimmicks, but I gotta tell you – Sarah Lee’s bright pink outfit in a black-and-white scene was aesthetic gold.
Alpha Femmes is a project in layers – it’s porn, it’s queer, it’s sex positive, and it’s art. It’s also a political and cultural activist endeavor. It throws a wrench into a wider series of normative dichotomous pairings and challenges your brain to unhinge what it’s been programmed to conceptualize as balance.
I for one am still thinking about it.
Recommended for: It depends. I want to say everyone, but this film will not be enjoyed by all. If you’re into queer, sex-positive porn, you will enjoy Alpha Femmes on the basis of the sex alone. And if any of the cultural/philosophical themes discussed in this review appeal to you (performance stylistics aside), I highly recommend checking it out in those respects. Porn notwithstanding, this film is working on a wider statement.
Performers: April Flores, Ashley Blue, Cadence St. John, Jiz Lee, Akira Raine (as Mistress Akira), Puck Goodfellow, Sarah Lee Sinful, and Syd Blakovich
BTS: beautiful fine art images taken by Anna Devia and the best part – a kaleidoscope of images from the film… the best way to space your eyes out while you mull over what you just saw!!
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Images courtesy of Anna Devia and Anna Devia Productions.
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