5 Things I Learned From Visiting A Porn Studio

On Valentine’s Day my husband and I toured a porn studio. Before you get too excited/horrified/embarrassed, it’s important to note that my recent tour of Kink.com’s San Francisco facility did not include any live video shoots. We were basically looking at empty TV sets inside of the historic San Francisco Armory. TV sets with a lot whips and chains, that is.

A small portion of the whip selection in the prop room.

A collection of dog collars.

Because L&P is a women’s site, I would remiss to not mention that there are a few schools of feminist thought when it comes to pornography. One might be referred to as “sex positive,” where there are few limits as long and it feels good and you’re comfortable with it. Columnists such as Violet Blue - who recently wrote a book on sexual fetishes -  champion women embracing their sexuality. Some also advocate for legalized prostitution and health care for sex workers.

A barrel of lubrication. Apparently they go through this in about 3 months.

A barrel of disinfectant. They use A LOT of this stuff.

On the other hand, there are anti-pornography feminists such as Catherine MacKinnon who object to the industry based on the treatment of female performers, the objectification of women and the distorted standard it sets for the female body.

Kink.com is kind of it’s own thing in the porn industry. This is not the San Fernando Valley world of Boogie Nights. It’s a professionally run television studio where employees take sexual harassment training (apparently a complicated issue), get benefits and work a regular 9-to-5 day. The performers (or “models” as they call them) are contract employees, paid very well and are required to have an HIV test within 28 days of their shoot. Kink operates several fetish sites which are mostly BDSM and the content ranges - in my opinion - from silly to sexy to downright gross. But, to each his own.

This set is used for naked lady wrestling.

It was, however, fascinating to see the sets and hear our tour guide (a Kink employee with a background in sex education) talk about the various web channels. Kink produces content for just about every orientation and taste. The diversity of human sexuality is fairly amazing....and surprising. Setting aside judgement, I think there are things we can all learn from the ethics (yup, I said “ethics”) of Kink.com.

The Edwardian-style "upper floor" with 24/7 web cams.

The in-house scene shop.

Here are 5 tips our tour guide/sex educator shared with us. Some of these may be familiar.

  • Have a safe word. This may be a little obvious, but for any sort of play that might be a little “naughty” or for role playing, it’s a good idea. At Kink, they use “red,” as in “stop,” as the safe word.
  • “Yes, No, Maybe” list. I never thought about this, but you can either make your own list or find one online. “Yes” is the stuff you’re comfortable with and like. “Maybe” is the stuff that's negotiable. “No” is what you hate and do not want to do under any circumstances.
  • Your hand is a tool. You don’t have to have fancy sex toys. Hands can be used for massaging, slapping, tickling, spanking, etc.
  • Dirty Talk. Have a discussion with your partner about the words that you like and find sexy. Also, talk about the words that you just don’t like and will take you out of the moment if you hear them. Also, if you’re uncomfortable with dirty talk try something simple. Our guide suggested that you state what you’re going to do, do it, and then describe what you just did. Once you’re comfortable with that, start to embellish your “script.”
  • Role Playing. This can be extremely elaborate with characters and a scenario or it could be as simple as one person being submissive and one person being dominant with the boundaries of your play.

The Chain Room.

Ultimately, my take-away from the tour is: communication is key. No matter what you’re into - vanilla or kinky - sexual play should be respectful and fun. Be adventurous, but observe your partner's boundaries and keep talking to each other - before, during and after play.