|Stocking Secrets #7|
For those who aren't familiar with his work, Andrew Blake is in a class by himself. I hasten to point out, however, that many people, especially those who number themselves among hardcore porn fans, are not particularly fond of the "class" that Andrew Blake is in. Many consider him boring. For many of a less polite disposition, "boring" would be putting it mildly. Many consider him too pretentious, and too "stylistic" to really speak to their more down-to-earth and explicit sexual sensibilities. Whatever your view of Blake, very few people, even those among his most adamant detractors, could argue with the fact that he creates some absolutely stunning visual imagery in his films. Although he's dabbled in a bit of male/female hardcore content in the past (as well as the relatively recent present), his main thrust is dressing gorgeous women in fantastically gorgeous clothing and simply showing them off on film. The drawback, even for many of those who enjoy his work, is that he manages to build a kind of sterile, invisible wall between the viewer and the women she/he is meant to be viewing. It's a distancing effect that is hard to articulate, and in some ways it works to Blake's advantage in creating the final feeling he's after, and in other ways it is fundamentally antithetical to the simple sexuality of the human body that he is trying to exploit. It's a fascinating phenomenon--at least for an analytical porn fan such as myself.
At first glance, Smash's "Stocking Secretes" may look like nothing more than a very low-rent Andrew Blake film. Ironically, however, and probably unbeknownst to even its director, "Stocking Secrets #7" is at its most successful in those aspects that depart from the Blake paradigm. While the high-class sheen, and glossy pretense is missing from this release, its absence is exactly what brings the viewer and the viewee closer together. It is akin to the now oft-cited difference between most of today's high-minded "feature" releases and the gritty reality of gonzo street-sex. In its raw, unintentionally clumsy way, "Stocking Secrets #7" manages to succeed in many of the ways that Blake's work fails.
The basic premise is that we are shown one girl at a time alternately--each girl is featured twice, making four scenes total. In this case, the two women featured in this release are very attractive blondes. I myself have an undefinable preference for Bella Starr's assets, but Erin Moore is equally beautiful. I have to say, unless your just not into blondes with gorgeous, natural bodies, it's hard to find fault with either Bella or Erin from a purely physical standpoint. Each girl starts in a carefully selected, sexy outfit and slowly strips her way down to nothing for the camera. In one of Bella's scenes this process is reversed, where she starts in the shower, then slowly puts on stockings and a coat before leaving us alone with our hard-ons. There is a bit of toy play and fingering throughout the movie, but with the exception of a tiny bit of glass-dildo penetration in Bella's second scene, there's really nothing more than soft-core petting. The real focus is simply revealing both the gorgeous generalities, and maddeningly beautiful details of these two women's bodies.
Where the movie most fails, I think, is when it blatantly taps into the porn cliche. The strip-teases are both accompanied by a somewhat bland and generically porny musical track. Both women occasionally make very unconvincing and eye-rolling comments along the way. "Do you want to see me put on my stockings?" "Do you want to play with my feet?" "Do you like that?" "I'm really wet and horny." Blah blah blah. I don't believe it for a second, and I contend that if you're unable to make me believe it, it's best not to say anything at all, and let my imagination do the work. Ultimately of course, others may enjoy these asides, and it's easy enough for me to be rid of them by simply turning down the volume. At the same time, however, both women are shown off quite nicely, and without the haughty pretension of Andrew Blake's work. For me, this can be extremely appealing and wonderfully intimate when it works. By simply being able to see the occasional, tiny imperfections on Bella's thighs, or the slightly awkward way that Erin makes her way from the window to the chair--things that would never make it into the final cut of an Andrew Blake film--I find more beauty and connection to these girls than I ever do to Blake's subjects.
Ultimately, this genre does have fundamental flaws for my tastes. There's something inherently unnatural about a woman simply showing off her body to a camera. I keep thinking that the dynamic might be more interesting if there were a man in the room with her--not for the purpose of engaging in hardcore sex, but to lend a counterpoint to the whole event. I'd like to see a woman strip and tease a man because she really enjoys it. I'd like to see her get turned on, simply because she is turning him on. Most women, I expect, would be unable to feel that sense of excitement by simply stripping for the benefit of a camera. Perhaps in tune with that sense of gritty reality, there's a way to show the dynamic of mutual arousal between a man and the woman who is trying to seduce him, without the burden of having to follow through with hardcore sex.
After having watched it, this is what I ultimately WISHED that "Stocking Secrets #7" could have been. It's a tall order, perhaps an impossible one. Would it take an insightful director with patience, an instinctual understanding of human sexuality, and vision? Oh, undoubtedly (Joey Silvera and John Stagliano are among the living proof that directors like this do exist...). Would it take a special kind of girl in front of the camera? Possibly, but I suspect with the right director, the performance can be coaxed out of a great number of today's performers. It would ultimately be nice, though, if through some kind of device, we were not only able to see a beautiful girl strip and show off her body for our benefit, but that we could believe it really turns her on to do it. It's the simplest and most fundamental of male fantasies, but probably one of the most incredibly difficult to authentically capture on camera. Such is the inherent challenge, and potential reward of pornography that attempts to transcend its role as a business, and become something more meaningful.
A FEW SIDE NOTES:
There is an extra scene on the disc involving a man and one of my current favorite performers, Cytherea. Her famous squirting ability is not in evidence here, and the scene is very poorly lit, but she is still a fun performer to watch. In any case, it provides a somewhat mediocre "hardcore-relief" from the unrelenting tease that makes up the rest of the disc.