The girl looked like an amputee. Positioned on all fours atop tall, metal pedestals, her eyes were wild as she moaned through a ball-gag. Short, brown locks framed her face, and her white limbs were encased in bright-yellow latex, binding the hand to the shoulder, the foot to the thigh. She wore a matching corset under her dangling breasts. Artist Trevor Brown’s paintings of cartoonish girl-children in twisted sexual positions, crippled or beaten came to mind. But this girl was real. And she was just a piece of the larger world of fetish from the now-defunct website, Insex.com.
Started in 1997, Insex.com was a way for Brent Scott, aka Pd, to further his erotic bondage art after leaving a teaching job at Carnegie Mellon. His art showed vivid paintings of women in various BDSM positions—and wasn’t well-received among the community. Bondage had long been an obsession for Scott from the time he was tortuously tickled into his first orgasm as a child. He began to think of his fetishes as wrong because they weren’t socially acceptable, but through art, he found a way to live them.The workings behind the website can now be seen in a new documentary, Graphic Sexual Horror, which premiered as the highest rated film in Utah’s Slamdance Film Festival in mid-January and is included in the Cinekink film fest this week. Two women direct the film: novelist Barbara Bell and photographer Anna Lorentzon.
Both Lorentzon and Bell worked for Insex.com, never as models, but as a photographer and screenwriter respectively. Lorentzon first met Scott at a fetish store and later at a bondage demonstration. She reached out to him coincidently on the same day he needed a photographer, so she joined the team and stayed there for six years. Bell got into Insex.com through Lorentzon and began writing short screenplays for his scenes. Both women enjoyed their time there, but some of their encounters bothered them, like Scott’s pushiness when he wanted the models to “play” with him after their set. Lorentzon said making this documentary became a way for her to decompress everything she experienced in the studio.
Graphic Sexual Horror is sexy and seductive. The images are raw, dirty and poetic. Girls are folded like origami, the costumes are lovingly created, ropes of detailed knots criss-cross like the bow of a ship; a welt from a whip has never looked so artistic.
As the two female directors explain in the film, Scott’s fascination with bondage isn’t as unusual as one might think. Insex.com had 35,000 members who paid $60 a month to sign on. “It was almost as if everybody was waiting for this site to come up,” Scott says in the documentary.
The interest Insex.com received, however, shouldn’t be so surprising. Scott put a lot of time and effort into creating scenes that were both convincing and horribly graphic. He hired models at around $300-anhour to be placed in shackles, in cages, tied up, whipped, dunked in water and ball-gagged. He created leather masks, steel stilettos, cuffs and iron casings. And for seven years he produced short films, live feeds and images of pretty girls getting tortured.
While the documentary touches on the closing of Insex.com, the purpose is to show a side of the business that the regular customer or sexually stifled viewer never saw—what the girls actually thought of their work. Near the beginning of the film, Scott explained that his purpose to being there was to “give the girl an orgasm.”There was a part in the movie where a girl, tied to post, is whipped with a switch. She has large, red welts over blackening bruises down her backside. After they stop filming, the girl looks high and, with a gentle smile, explains to her questioner that she felt “really good.”
Lorentzon, the cinematographer, explained that the girl’s reaction was due to the adrenaline pulsating through her body. “When feeling enough pain, the body produced endorphins and adrenaline, which makes you feel high,” says Lorentzon. “At that point, you don’t feel the pain anymore. Not all models were willing and able to go that far.”
While some of the scenes shown in the movie are difficult to watch, Lorentzon and Bell expertly juxtapose interviews with some of the women who worked for Insex.com. For example, as one models begins to panic as her caged body is dunked in a tank of water, the camera focuses from above so her pleading eyes look straight up. A disembodied voice asks, “Can you hold your breath?” Before she answers, she’s submerged and then later gasps for air when the cage is raised. “I can’t get my breath, wait.Wait!” she cries as water once again surrounds her.
This image left me with a lasting impression, but it was the subsequent interview that had an even stronger impact.The woman, now out of the cage, sits naked on the
floor.Terror and pain no longer line her face, and she calmly answers
questions and describes her experience acting the part.This
understanding of why she decided to work for Insex.com and what really
went through her head as she’s tortured are two things the documentary
highlighted through interviews with models.
“We had a hard
time finding models that had bad experiences and wanted to talk about
them,” says Lorentzon. “Usually, if they had a bad experience, they
wouldn’t come back.”
“If someone had gone on to hold a regular
mainstream job,” Bell adds, “They didn’t want any part of this.”
Adams, aka AZ, modeled for Insex.com. She said in the film that she
hadn’t originally considered pain and torture as part of the job, but
she was interested in the subject. She’s featured in Graphic Sexual Horror wearing
a black corset, suspended from the ceiling while balancing on one
tippy-toe, her other leg tied into her long, brown hair as tears streak
mascara down her face.This was Adams’ first time doing bondage and now,
like many of the past Insex.com workers, she runs her own bondage site.
When Insex.com closed down in 2005; it wasn’t due to a lack of
interest. In October 2001, President George W. Bush signed into effect
the Patriot Act, which stipulated it was meant for: ‘‘Uniting and
by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct
Terrorism.”This means the government had a right to investigate,
wiretap and shut down any operation they deem as a terrorist movement.
And, according to the documentary, Insex.com closed because the
Department of Homeland Security labeled it violent pornography, which
they reasoned was used to supplement terrorism. Because of the Second
Amendment, however, they couldn’t just shut down the website. Instead,
the credit card companies Insex.com worked with were pressured into
dropping their business with Scott and his venture.Without online
credit card payments, Insex.com had no way to make money.
Scott still runs smaller, less-detailed bondage websites but nothing
like what Insex.com had become. Scott likened his website to, “A
reality show that was a show, but also the reality of human condition.”
He explained that the actions had to be witnessed in order to make the
fantasy work, like how in some Japanese establishments you can see your
waitress stripped and tied up on stage after she serves you tea. This
bondage of the will keeps the viewer watching, as if he or she has
given up control like the person being tortured.This is what’s
compelling about Scott’s work.
Porn, art, sexual gratification, the
thesis of what Scott attempted to do is best paraphrased by a quote
from an interview with Barry Goldman, the Insex.com model agent from
1998-2003, when he says, “Fucking A it’s porn, but I like to look at it
Graphic Sexual Horror screens at the CineKink Film Festival Feb. 27 at 11:10 p.m. for a full schedule visit cinekink.com