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STUDIO SPOTLIGHT: AORTA films’ The OH Files

Aorta Films The OH Files Queer Feminist Porn

The OH Files is now on PinkLabel.tv! We’re proud to stream this film in its entirety, *uncensored. Most recently, Aorta Films was featured on Tristan Taormino’s SEX OUT LOUD podcast, and screened at the Milwaukee SHARE (Sexual Health and Relationship Education) closing event.

We interviewedPerformer/Producer Parts Authority (@call_me_partsauthority), Performer/Producer Ginny Woolf (@ginnywoolfx), and Creator/Director/Producer Mahx Capacity to learn more about Aorta Films and their newest release, The OH Files


The OH Files is different from many adult films in its unique use of interludes and performative experimentation. What is your interest in conceptual erotic art?

When we started working on The OH Files, it was really important to us that it be ‘porn’ rather than ‘erotic art’to us it seemed that calling it art framed it as something that was easier to dismiss or feel ostracized by, rather than porn which is specifically made to be more egalitarian and accessible. We also wanted to own the porn-ness of the work. Not only is ‘erotic art’ perhaps less accessible, it is also more “respectable” than porn, at least in certain circles. It was important to defy that notion of respectability.

Mahx and Parts are both from from an experimental performance backgroundtogether they run the A.O. Movement Collective, a performance collective of which Mahx is the director and choreographer, and Parts an ongoing performer and the Company Manager. The end product of The OH Files definitely falls somewhere in the interstitial space of art and erotic art and porn, but to us, that feels like a really ripe space, in part because it’s hard to pin down. It (hopefully) provides the same physical triggers and turn ons as porn, but it also has permission to skirt the literal, and go into territory that’s more abstract or symbolic.

Here’s a statement that Mahx has been working on:
Performance and pornography have analogous power: they use human bodies to trigger instantaneous responses in the viewer that are visceral and uncontrollably authentic. These responses precede language, social constructs, and projected identity. Our bodies react before we have time to respond the way we should, sending us scrambling to contain the dissonance between our reaction and who we thought we were. This dissonance is productive: it is a glitch in our understanding of self and reality—a moment of unraveling before sense and meaning gets remade. In this queerly feminist moment of un-knowing, literally anything is possible. There is no certainty or single truth—we experience something interstitial, intersectional and new. It is the promise of these moments that make both pornography and performance powerful, dangerous, glorious tools.

Aorta The OH Files

How did The OH Files come about? Is it your first time working together? How did you cast/negotiate? Where there any surprises within collaboration? (etc)

The OH Files came about as part of a larger multi-media art project called the ETLE Universe. The basic idea was that, rather than creating a single work, we wanted to create an entirely new universean original sci-fi cannonand then make ten works out of that Universe, each based in a different media. Part of that came from a desire to reach a much broader range of audiencespeople who wouldn’t normally be interested in seeing post-post-modern experimental performance workby coming to them via medias that they were already consumers of. So we decided that one of the works should be pornography (other works include a graphic novel, a concept album, a dance performance, 3D-printed rings, etc) in part because of porn’s universality.

We had never made porn before. As a performance-maker, Mahx has a lot of experience working with bodies and choreographing content, which has sometimes had sexual undertones, but this was the first time where we were explicitly making porn. We put out a call for performers as part of the ETLE Universe, and ended up working with almost everyone who answered itthe folks involved had varying degrees of experience with performance, sex work, and porn, but everyone was new to working with each other. We had one meeting before the shoot weekend where everyone talked about their identity, desires for the shoot, and limits. Mahx proposed a few scenes that she had been thinking about, and then we further sketched everything out over google docs in the weeks leading up to the shoot. When we shot the footage (in sequential shoots over about 48 hrs) the performers met up about 15 minutes before filming to discuss their limits and desires again, and then we’d work together to map out the general arc or score of the scene. We shot most of the scenes somewhere between 2-3 times, and everyone hung out for most of the weekendit was nice to have everyone in the space together through the shootit felt very supportive that we were all trying this new thing together.

Though this was our first time explicitly making porn, Parts, Ginny, and Mahx are queer family. Parts and Ginny grew up together, and Mahx has known them for about ten years now. Parts and Mahx have run a performance company together called the A.O. Movement Collective since 2006, and we all lived together for a few years (Ginny and Mahx are still currently roommates.) 4 years ago we started a tradition of doing a naked/sexy photoshoot together on Valentine’s Day, and it’s expanded in scope and friends involved every yearyou can see the results on our instagrams. A primary element of our friendship has always been being supportive of each other’s queerness, our autonomy, sexual expression, and body-love, and those photo shoots were a gateway to feeling like making porn together would be exciting and challenging and fun. Knowing each other in that way makes working together feel very safe and supportive, and means that we’re able to really highlight each other’s strengths because we know each other so well.

Ginny Woolf: I was amazed at how wonderful it feltlike, all of it. The negotiation and the execution certainly took work and care, but at the end of the weekend I was much more energized than I was depleted. I had moments when I would turn in the middle of a scene and look at Mahx and the videographer think “how weird, and how perfectly natural.”

Parts Authority: One of my favorite surprisesa few times as Maxh was directing, she’d say ‘how about you kiss here’ or ‘and maybe a make-out moment happens now’ and those were the things that we said “no thank you” to.  Fisting, no problem, chugging a gallon of milk, ok, but whatever certain moment it was, kissing wasn’t on the table.  But I’m new to the porn world, and only have a toe in the ocean of kink so maybe this is a context thing.  

 

What or who provided inspirations and motivations behind this film?

Parts Authority: I’ve been a dancer for most of my life.  More than any other art form or language, I understand body based work first and foremost and find inspiration in dancemakers and performers.  Seeing performers use their bodies in ways that push boundaries and confront expectation is what I find most exciting about performance work. When that work is nude, even better!  A few inspiring shows from recent years include luciana achugar’s OTRO TEATRO (2014) and (the performers in) Young Jean Lee’s Untitled Feminist Show (2012). Also the photoshoots.  Seeing each other develop scenes and personas for the photoshoots over the years has been an ongoing source of inspiration and a confidence.  I think that, more than anything was my gateway into saying YES (to myself) about doing porn.  

Ginny Woolf: I’ve been wanting make porn for several years now, so the conversations I had with a potential collaborator, maybe 3 or 4 years ago, and the research we did sort of set me on this path. Our idea was to make porn using her Super 8 with gritty images and beautiful, queer fucking. It was a dream I was not willing to see die, so when Mahx called I answered very quickly. All of the porn I watched as an adolescent and the weird young adult lit I read as a 12 year old (things like Lisa Lerner’s Just Like Beauty) were sort of latent inspirations, waiting to explode in a rage and demand recognition of that teenage girl desire. I also read a lot Dostoyevsky, like sort of obsessively, which may not have specifically informed The OH Files, but certainly informs my own relationship to my humanness, my relationship to other people and to myself, which I guess ultimately has everything to do with my making porn. He’s rolling over in his grave or whatever, I’m sure. And, of course, the amazing, sexy, body-pos photo shoots with Parts and Mahx.

Mahx Capacity: Powerful humans in my queer, femme, and fat communities. Virginie Despentes, Luce Irigary, Rosa Menkman, Big Dance Theater, Miguel Gutirrez, sci-fi and action movies (especially the Matrix and Alien), play parties, dates and crushes, slow-motion footage of anything, but especially car crashes.

 

Aorta The OH Files

Many of the works involve displays or mirrors of genitalia. A printed photo is held against the body of another. Mylar creates a kaleidoscopic ‘fun house’ reflection of a three-way. Two lovers are caught divided between a sheet of plexiglas. One lover swipes an iPad over another lovers crotch to flip through various digital genitals, offering a ‘smorgasbord’ of anatomy for oral pleasure. How do these vignettes tie The OH Files together?

When we were first working on the project, we had envisioned a much more highly-designed sci-fi aesthetic, which started to feel a little limiting and overwhelming given that the objective was just to make porn for the first time and that we were working with a very small budget. So we gave ourselves permission to just kind of jump in and be first-time pornographers and make what we wanted to make and trust that having the context of the ETLE Universe would integrate some interesting ideas and aesthetics rather than needing a specifically sci-fi narrative. So it was interesting to really see the core ideas of the ETLE Universe reflected strongly in the porn.

One of the key ideas of the  is the prevalence of alternate, branching realities, and the (queer) body’s ability to unlock and access those different realms via embodiment. Specifically, in the ETLE Universe’s narrative, queer and female bodies are first colonized and then hacked, becoming living breathing time machines that are able to navigate their own histories through touch, pleasure, glitch, and effort. We were interested in absence being central to a queer and female experiencethe interior spaces of the body, lack of singularity and certainty, emptiness allowing for possibility and creation.  So the idea of glitching this absenceof fucking and pleasure as something that fills and overwhelms and dismantles–was very present in the ETLE Universe, and I think most present in the porn in a lot of the mylar sequences. I like how the pleasureglitch of filling/being filled or experiencing pleasure seems to open and reflect other shimmering distorted realities across the mylar.

I think there was also a desire in the project to think about what pornography might look like the more post-human we become as a species. It’s already happeningqueer embodiment and sex can already be understood as cyborg endeavors (strap ons, toys, hormones, self-(re)design, multiplicity, hybridization, etc) and so we wanted to embrace that and think about what a further cyborg aesthetic (on a very low budget!) might look like. The photos (which are actually from the ETLE Universe’s photo exhibit 1ND3X) and the iPad let us play with what a multiplicity of interchangeable parts might look like, and how the optical illusions of those switches might be read as wormholes into other realities.

Aorta The OH Files

What are your future projects, and how might people follow your work?

We’ve been taking a break after the ETLE Universe premieres last fall to rest and recuperateand additionally form AORTA films’ LLC and get The OH Files set up with distributors! We’ll most likely be beginning our next project this fall, which will be a new collection of shorts (premiering 2017) produced in conjunction with an evening-length performance work (premiering 2018). 

Follow along on Instagram (@AORTAfilms), Twitter (@aorta_films), and Facebook. For more info about the ETLE Universe, see ETLE.info/pornography.

Are you accepting more collaborators? 

We’re always excited to get to know brilliant humans who are interested in being involvedin front of and/or behind the camera! Email us at helloAORTAfilms@gmail.com and say hi!


Watch The OH Files on PinkLabel.tv.

*What was censored? Well, mainstream porn sites ban ‘deep manual sex’ also known as fisting, for being too ‘extreme’ – however we queers know it to be a consensual and pleasurable sex act enjoyed by performers of all genders. So, rejoice! Look for a very happy performer in Let Yourself Be Filled, part of The OH Files.

Posted June 18, 2016

2 responses to “STUDIO SPOTLIGHT: AORTA films’ The OH Files”

  1. Jamie Gump says:

    Who did the soundtrack for the trailer?

    • Admin says:

      Hi Jamie,
      If you click on one of the links to The OH Files, you’ll see the video page credits an original score by Ashur Rayis. Hope you’ll watch the full film to support AORTA films and enjoy the composer’s fantastic work! 🙂

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