Reviewed by Shanna Germain and Gary Meyer
Is "hardcore and tasteful" a contradiction in terms? What about "hardcore and joyous" or even "hardcore and wholesome"? In today's world of commercial porn, where brutality and degradation seem to be the major selling points -- multiple anal penetration, bukkake (multiple men coming on one woman's face), scat, simulated gang rape -- Tony Comstock has gone back to basics and re-invented the form.
What's so cool about Xana and Dax as a couple is how many taboos and conventions they merrily trash. She's a fair-skinned, blue-eyed Midwesterner; he's a copper-skinned Brazilian with luxuriant long kinky locks. He's lean; she's lush. She's the older, experienced one; he's the young innocent. He was shy; she went after him after seeing him at a few parties: "I want that boy." And their differences are just what they love about each other.
This 45-minute production begins with a casual "getting to know you" segment. Interspersed with brief tantalizing glimpses of the lovemaking to come, the lovers chat about how they met, what attracts them to each other, what sex means to them. Xana praises Dax's "beautiful package" and "the curves in his back." Dax calls Xana's full, pendulous breasts his "natural pillows" and appreciates how much of her there is to enjoy. Dax doesn't say a lot, but his worship of Xana is clear, as is his unusual modesty. He didn't think he'd have a chance with her and doesn't seem to realize just what a prize he is. Maybe everybody's gorgeous in Brazil.
So, Shanna, a couple of questions for you... If your partner asked if you might like to watch some tasteful, sex-positive porn with him, would you give it a shot or be squicked by the very suggestion? We all know men like to watch, but do women? Would you get jealous if he seemed to really dig Xana? Would he get jealous if you really got into boy toy Dax?
It's so interesting that you asked the partner versus porn question because it's a debate that my partner and I have all the time. We actually both watch porn, but we watch it separately, despite the fact that we like many of the same movies and styles of porn. For him, watching porn is a very private act -- the idea of watching it with his partner is something that seems to both embarrass and squick him a bit.
In fact, I was hoping he would watch this video with me. It seemed like a good entry point to watching something together -- porn that was truly made for couples, that had some heart and soul. So I asked him. And asked him. And asked him. His mouth kept saying, "Sure," but everything else seemed to be saying, "No way in hell!" Finally, I put the video in while he was home, thinking that at the very least the sounds would draw him out. Nothing. In the end, I had to watch it on my own, although he did peek from the other room long enough to offer a few passing thoughts on the action.
One of the comments he made, with which I totally agree, is that watching Xana and Dax was a lot like watching ourselves having sex. It's very true: my partner is dark-haired and dark-skinned, thin and muscular, a little shyer than I am about sex. I'm blonde and pale-skinned, more curvy and definitely more sexually aggressive. Watching Xana and Dax, both during the introduction and during the sex scenes, was almost too close to home: even the way they interacted, combining love and lust, was very much like my partner and me.
Which got me to thinking: how much of porn's arousal is based on the fantasy aspect? Personally, I lean more toward porn that portrays the kind of sexual activities and partners that I don't get on a regular basis: lesbian sex, group sex, SM, sex with strangers. So, here were two people engaged in activities that almost exactly replicated my sex life. Would I find it arousing? Funny? Boring? Would I learn something about my own sexual needs and desires from watching this near mirror reflection of my situation?
As I watched, I realized the answer was yes to all of these questions. It was funny at times (watching them try to kiss during doggy-style), boring occasionally (but not as often as I expected), and, yes, it was both arousing and educational. The arousal and education actually went hand-in-hand: I was very surprised to learn what aroused me in this film. It was the small things, the way Dax says, "Baby, your pussy is so pretty," and the way he grabs a handful of her flesh at the curves of her belly and twists it gently. It was the sway and agility of "real" boobs, the long and lean body and cock of a beautiful man. It was Xana's gorgeous tattoo across her back (which Dax calls an "optical illusion") and her fingers rubbing her clit as she nears orgasm. It was the experience of watching two people have sex without either of them ever giving that "I'd better get my hair out of the way so you can see how sexy I am" pose for the camera.
It's funny that these moments were all the things that made this video different from "traditional porn." In fact, it was the elements of traditional porn that turned me off. For starters, the waxed pussy and fake fingernails. Now, granted Xana may have those in real life, but damn, I would kill to watch porn that didn't make me feel like I wasn't somehow a true woman because I don't take hot wax to my genitals or super glue to my fingers. And the big one, of course: the video ends when the male pulls out and comes. Now, why is that? First, why do males always pull out in porn? Few males I know pull out in real life, so what's the deal? Second, why does everything end when the male has his orgasm? (Okay, now I'm just griping, I know.)
So here are my questions: What were the elements that you found arousing in this video? Were they the same or different from the elements that you find in most of the porn you watch? Did you find yourself there was more or less of something to truly make it a turn on for you?
Also, something this film made me wonder: Since it's all the same body parts and many of the same acts, what is the thing that truly turns us on? The body parts? The interaction between the body parts? The interaction between the people?
That's a good question: Why watch vanilla porn depicting activities that most viewers -- presumably -- are familiar with and regularly practice? Like you, the porn I enjoy tends to be a little more...esoteric, both to mainstream practices and to my own experience. (My partner, being more literary, isn't into video porn at all.) But that doesn't mean there's no fantasy aspect to watching Xana and Dax. There's the fantasy of vicariously experiencing new partners, the fantasy of voyeurism, reinforced by the refreshing lack of "Oh, baby, yes, yes!" dialogue. Maybe the fantasy of performing for the camera ourselves, made much more plausible by the absence of mammoth, silicon boobs and a horse-size cock on the people we're watching. Would we be equally at ease with the camera? Would we be embarrassed? Would that be part of the turn on?
Watching another couple basically do what we do has a lot of redeeming social value. Yes, there's an education in the subtle differences we encounter. Novelties like Xana's tattoo and Dax's uncut cock, pretty rare in America. Nuances like the leather wrist bands Dax wears to bed, and the way they dip their massage oil out of a dessert glass -- way more aesthetically appealing than that grotty old plastic squeeze bottle. Techniques like how Xana fingers Dax's anus and grasps his balls while he strokes himself. There are plenty of places where partners watching this might say to each other, "That looks like fun; can we try that?"
There's reassurance in how Xana strokes herself while she's being fucked from behind, in a very nicely composed close-up of her fingernails and pussy and Dax's scrotum. I think a lot of women might be happy with how this scene would suggest to their partners that they need more stimulation than fucking alone provides them.
What I found most erotic was the genuineness, the intimacy of it. I have it freeze-framed now at the point where they've just begun to play. Dax is lying on his back, and Xana is teasingly applying massage oil around his balls and stiffening cock. He puts his arms back behind his head and submits to her. He closes his eyes and opens his mouth in pleasure. If that's acting, he should get an Oscar. He looks beatific.
As to the porny stuff -- I think they didn't want to lose sales to the traditional porn audience, who expect bare pussy and a cum shot. It's interesting that some Web sites these days are succeeding in promoting female models with the natural look: unshaven pussies and even unshaven armpits. (Hippie Goddesses comes to mind.) Maybe someday there'll even be a porn video with a woman who doesn't shave or wax. Like you, I totally don't get cum shots. They seem so absurdly artificial today, like the way the men in vintage porn clips always keep their socks on. It's ironic that visible ejaculation is supposed to lend credibility to porn that's so blatantly fake in every other respect. In this case, what's going on is so convincing that we don't really need to see Dax shoot in close-up.
Hmm, I notice I've emphasized what she does to him here. You mentioned how Dax "grabs a handful of her flesh at the curves of her belly and twists it gently." What else does Dax do to Xana that you liked?
I'm not surprised that you placed a lot of emphasis on what Xana does to Dax: throughout most of the film, I felt that she was clearly in control. In both their conversation and in their sex she was often directing the dialogue, the actions. She knows what she wants and doesn't wait around in the hopes that Dax will figure it out: she "leads the witness" by asking, "Do you want me to roll over?" She switches positions when she's ready, she puts her hands on his chest and forces him to lie down, she places her nipples in his mouth when she wants him to suck them. It is a good lesson, I think, in not being afraid to ask for the things or do the things that will bring us pleasure. And, of course, that means knowing what brings us pleasure.
Xana's "take-charge" attitude was another plus for me -- to watch this exchange where the woman is not only more experienced than her partner, but more in control of the events as they unfold. This is something I rarely see in porn, unless the woman is really, really in control (BDSM) and then she's typically confined within the rigidity of that specific genre. And yet, it never felt unbalanced, or that she was asking something of Dax that he didn't want to give.
In fact, I think that's why the little movements that Dax makes are so sensuous to me -- because there are so few of them and each one seems to mean a lot to him. He does a lot that I love with his hands and his mouth, like the way he wraps his fingers in her hair when she's sucking him or when they're kissing. At one point during their sixty-nine, he runs the tips of his fingers across the folds and caverns of her pussy like he's reading an ancient topographical map: something beautiful and sacred. And for someone so shy in other ways, he makes a lot of noise during sex: telling Xana how beautiful she is, how good things feel, or just moaning into her skin. At a few points, this quiet, passive boy even slaps her ass -- softly, of course -- but that makes it so much better, because it feels like I'm watching someone push himself to the very edges of his own sexual boundaries, which is both exciting and hot, hot, hot.
Genuine. Yes, absolutely a turn on. I keep coming back to that moment when Xana is riding Dax during sex and their faces are just inches apart and their eyes are half-opened. There's something in their open mouths, the way they're so focused in the moment, on each other and their own pleasure, that feels like sex at its absolute best, the moment when body and mind and partner are all coming together. Or when Xana's masturbating during sex and you see her eyes roll up into her head at one point. You know, you just know, that not only is that 100 percent real, but that you probably look a lot like that when you're doing the same exact thing!
We even got to see a scene that hardly anyone ever captures, on paper or in film: the afterglow moment that is (whether we want to admit it or not) for many of us, a large part of sexual pleasure. There's a close-up of their faces after Dax comes, when Xana puts the tip of her finger against his nose and neither of them can stop smiling. In that moment, their skin literally glows. They look healthy and glorious. Heavenly. And when it comes to sex, I love the fucking and the pleasure and the orgasm, but I love that window of time too, that moment when you're coming down off the high and real life hasn't intruded yet.
I like your idea of education as well: I think one thing films like this teach us is that beauty (by the "media standard" at least) is in no way a direct correlation (and possibly not even related) to sexual ability, desire, or sensuality. Yes, these are both beautiful people, but they're beautiful in the way the majority of the world is beautiful and not in the way that movie stars are beautiful. It's a nice reminder that our attitudes and differences can be the things that make us sexy.
One audience that I think would really benefit is teens. If there was ever a video where young people could actually learn something solid and positive about sexuality, this would be it. I think it goes back to Xana's comment: "What I want people to know, and what I want Dax to know, is that we shouldn't be ashamed of our bodies. Nor should we be ashamed to express ourselves through sexuality and let people know how we like to do it and what's right for us."
Which makes me wonder about the film's intended audience. Is Xana and Dax sexy? Yes. Does this film make me hot? Yes. Does it make me want to fuck? Absolutely. But (and here's the ringer) it makes me want to fuck someone I love. If I were to watch this film while I was single, it might still make me come, but it would make me cry, too. Especially at the end, when Xana says, "It's like finally, I found him. And I'm so comfortable and so perfect and just so complete when I'm in his arms, and when we make love, it's incredible."