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Peek behind-the-scenes of Aussie porn

Posted by Brett Hamm

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The last time I drank at The Worker’s Club in Fitzroy, it was still the Rob Roy and I had stumbled in after being kicked out of a venue up the road. How times changes.

The Worker’s rough and ready past has long been replaced by a slick new visage—walking in it strikes me as an oddly fitting venue to discuss the state of modern pornography in Australia.

Why? Because over last decade or so, porn has undergone something of its own gentrification. Thanks to the internet, porn has left the shadowy back alleys of our culture and taken a step out into the mainstream. From references on sitcoms to Sasha Grey’s role on Entourage - no matter how you personally feel about it – porn is a little less taboo, a little less risqué, than it once was.

That’s why tonight I’m meeting Bourke and Sinna Wills (pseudonyms, naturally), the team behind Adult Voyeur (link NSFW) — a new breed of high-class Aussie porn producer.

Brett Hamm: How did you get into the porn business?

Bourke Wills: I tripped and fell. Like most guys, I’ve always liked porn. I was working in film and television at the time. still do, and was shown some Australian porn that was terrible. It was just really poorly made, just dodgy.

BH: Like the handicam kinda thing?

BW: Very much, and I just thought I can do better than that. A lot better than that.

BH: So were you a producer?

BW: I’ve done a bunch of different things: production management, rigging, gripping, sound recording.

BH: So you know everybody.

BW: Yeah. That answered one of the main questions about where I’d get equipment and crew. I’ve worked with every hire company in Melbourne and half the crew are my friends. These are the people I go out drinking with.

BH: So, when it comes to Adult Voyeur [Bourke’s company], you’re the primary producer?

BW: Owner, producer, director, writer [laughs]. I crew it, I book the girls, while she [motioning to his wife Sinna] does the office stuff.

BH: So how do you go about booking people for porn?

BW: Different companies do it in different ways. The majority of the Australian adult film production houses go for a really amateur look. It’s what we call ‘professional amateur’. So they intentionally look for girls that don’t look like models.  We go the opposite way.

We’re more of a high-end, almost glamour sort of look.  We go to modelling websites and when girls list having done adult work or pictorials, we know that we can email them. When we started there wasn’t an adult industry agency. There is now.

BH: Do you ever have to bring people in from overseas?

Sinna Wills: We’ve only done it once and it was bit of a debacle.

BW: Our point of difference, our selling point, is that we are Australian. And the easiest way to show that we are Australian is to have the actors talk. Because, short of having the fucking flag in the background of every scene [laughs] we just have them speak. If they’re under a gum tree, even better.

BH: Are the performers really into it?

SW: We only work with professionals.

BW: We don’t work with anybody who isn’t into it. If we book a new performer and they turn up on set and seem like they’re doing it purely because they’re desperate for cash or because they’re damaged goods in some way, something like that, we turn them away.

BH: Has that happened before?

BW: Yes it has.

SW: We actually paid her to get off set and go home.

BH: No shit?

BW: I felt really bad for her so I paid her for a scene that she didn’t do and I paid for her ride home and just said ‘You know, this really isn’t for you. You’re clearly not into it. So why are you here?’

Anyone that’s doing it for the wrong reasons is only going to hurt themselves and we don’t want some girl going away feeling like she’s being taken advantage of or used and then telling other people that that happened. It fucks up my reputation. I don’t want that on my conscience either.

SW: Part of Bourke’s whole push with this endeavour is to try to do his darnedest to make sure everyone involved comes away with a great feeling and experience and spread the word.

BW: If someone isn’t into it and they do just force themselves to do a scene, it’s not going to be good footage, you know. If it’s not good footage, then I’m wasting my money. So there’s all these reasons why we only want to work with people who are really into it. And people are into it for various reasons. Whatever it is—it might just be that they really like to fuck, it might be that being filmed has been their fantasy forever, it could be that they know they’re smoking hot, they know they’re only going to be smoking hot for x number of years, and they want to make some money off their attributes—whatever it is, as long as they’re into it, we’re happy to work with them. Simple as that.

BH: How big is the female market for porn?

BW: It’s not big but it’s growing. It’s our quickest growing demographic.

BH: Well it’s gotta be, doesn’t it? It’s the only other one.

BW: If you were to look at age groups or geographical locations, any way of breaking it down, female buyers are the fastest growing demographic. Why that is, I don’t know.

BH: I would think that it probably has something to do with the fact that there was a time when you’d never hear porn referred to in general mainstream culture, and that’s changed a lot.

SW: And couples are sharing it.

BW: Australia does a lot of feminist porn.

BH: What’s feminist porn?

BW: It’s made by women for women. It’s still often boy-girl sex, or girl-girl sex, or a girl by herself, however it’s empowering; it’s claiming back sexuality. And although I don’t like the label myself, I know other feminist pornographers do put it on us for the fact that in our scenes there’s no kind of dominance or submission unless it’s explicitly asked for.

SW: He makes nice, respectful porn. None of that trashy, slap-em-around and call-em-bad names stuff.

BW: If it’s seen as being empowering or feminist or anything like that, that’s cool. I’m into that.

BH: Some porn involves simulations of rape or extreme domination, etc, and we know these fantasies exist for people. But showing it in a film—is that a bad thing?

BW: I think there’s a fairly fine line between creating a fantasy for people who are interested in it and having an outlet for it that they otherwise wouldn’t have. Which may or may not lead to other things. I think there are companies out there that do it wrong and only a handful that do it really, really right.

There’s a lot of low end, gonzo stuff where there’s no indication that the woman is enjoying it; that it is, in fact, fake. It appears at face value to promote abuse. Or, at the very least, to further stereotypes.

However, there are companies like Kink.com that will have the most hardcore bondage, whipping, anal sex, fisting scene and you’re just like…I’m shell-shocked after seeing it. Like ‘Holy fuck that’s rough!’ And then afterwards they interview the girl and she’s like ‘That was fucking awesome! I’ve been dreaming about that for such a long time! That was great!’

SW: I just saw a trailer for something and I was thinking ‘Oh jeez! That’s messy, that can’t be at all pleasant.’ But I was pleasantly surprised that they’re interviewing the girl afterwards and she was like ‘I’ve been looking forward to that for so long. I love it when I get my face smooshed into the ground and told to lick it up.’ That kind of stuff.  If you dig it, then great.

BW: I don’t have any issue with that stuff being made, especially if it’s well made, but it’s not what we do. We do beautiful people in beautiful locations having beautiful sex.

BH: It sounds like you’ve got a very high-minded porn vision.

SW: He’s aiming for the far more pleasant, beautiful end of the spectrum of natural.

BW: It’s the kind of sex that you and your wife would actually have if you were prettier and could afford better spots [laughs].

BH: Hey, we’re pretty good looking!

Much laughter ensues (much to my ego’s dismay). Bourke goes to the bar to buy another round of drinks.

BH: What about you, Sinna, did you like porn before you got into this?

SW: I had nothing to do with it. I remember being, quite frankly, appalled when Bourke mentioned he had a vibrator. I come from a very closeted Chinese, behave yourself, don’t laugh out loud and don’t make bawdy jokes family. And he comes from endless years of doing some really insane stuff, partying hard with really colourful crews. We balance each other out. My more analytical, paranoid about not-covering-all-of-your-bases-before-launching- part has tempered his let’s-try-this-wild-idea side.

With porn, say, there are a lot of people that will just knee-jerk: ‘Oh, that’s offensive and I don’t want to have anything to do with that.’ However, if you actually got talking about it a bit more, you’d find out there’s a whole gamut that actually belongs to that title and there’s a lot that’s not by default detrimental. It doesn’t turn people into deviants, that sort of thing. Just because you enjoy it doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you: quite the opposite. So, it’s just a case of I got exposed to more things in my day-to-day life that I just didn’t have any reason to think about in the first place.

BH: Does your family know about your involvement with it?

SW: No. Neither of our families know and, well, he’s quite adamant that someone will eventually find out because his dad knows everyone and everything eventually gets back to him.

Bourke returns with the drinks—beer for me, whiskies for them—and sits back down.

SW: He’s mainly concerned about it getting to his mum. His dad can know and will be more or less fine with that.

BH: I was just asking if your families knew.

BW: My brother knows.

SW: My sister knows but has said that she has no interest in hearing any more about it. She had been concerned about my involvement because she’s my sister and wants to look out for me. But that’s the extent of her interest. Once she was satisfied that I totally knew what I was doing, and had checked everything before I jumped in she told me ‘I don’t want to hear anything more about it. Don’t mention it to me ever again.’

BH: That’s pretty full on.

BW: I lost my best friend over it. [They] just thought that their understanding of who I was had been so completely changed by the fact that I was doing this that they couldn’t be friends with me anymore.

BH: You strike me as the kind of guy who wears his values on his sleeve.

BW: She wasn’t interested in hearing about it. Just assumed that I was doing the stereotypical thing, treating women badly, all that kind of thing.

SW: That’s what I was saying, she had a knee-jerk reaction but didn’t stick around long enough to think about it or investigate it further.

BH: Who do you tell?

BW: I keep it hidden from most of the people who I work with because the majority of my work in the entertainment industry is all kind of short-term, short contract type stuff, so I don’t want it to affect that.

BH: Do you think adult entertainment is gaining larger cultural relevance in Australia?

BW: Very much so. I think as time goes by the public as a whole is relaxing. It’s becoming less conservative, more secular, more open. And that leads to a more open stance towards sexuality and everything around it.

BH: I mean we’re seeing things like [porn star] Sasha Gray on Entourage, and mainstream pop-cultural references to porn stars by name on sitcoms, etc. Is that starting to trickle through into Australia?

BW: Not so much…we might references the US industry, but because the Australian industry is so small, like literally there’s a handful of us, you can count the producers on one hand, I don’t think the industry is big enough here. But the general acceptance of porn, not just the acceptance of the Australian industry, but the acceptance of porn as a whole is greatly increasing and its influence is expanding.

Most people, even most porn fans, don’t even know there is an Australian industry. Which is a shame because there’s some great stuff coming out here. The companies that do the professional amateur things are really good at what they do. It’s not what we do, but they do it really well. We obviously think we do what we do really well.

Follow Brett Hamm on Twitter at @hamblore.


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