INTERVIEW: 'Kink' Director Christina Voros Discusses S&M In The Bedroom & The Boardroom
It's Feb. 14, when men and women across this land bend over and submit to that cruel Hallmark dominatrix known as Valentine's Day — enduring exorbitantly priced flowers, overbooked restaurants and unreasonable expectations for the sake of love and romance. And that means it's the perfect time to check out what filmmaker Christina Voros has to say about human bondage. Voros is the director of Kink, a documentary produced by longtime collaborator James Franco that takes a mesmerizing behind-the-scenes look at Kink.com, the San Francisco-based company that operates a number of websites devoted to BDSM porn. (That stands for "Bondage and Discipline, Sadism and Masochism" if you haven't read Fifty Shades of Grey.)
Voros, who screened the film at the Sundance and Berlin film festivals, takes a subtle show-don't-tell approach to the BDSM web porn business and lets moviegoers draw their own conclusions. Among her interview subjects is Kink.com founder Peter Acworth, who got into the Internet BDSM business in the late 1990s while a PhD student at Columbia University and, after relocating to San Francisco, purchased the cavernous San Francisco Armory in 2006 where Kink.com is based. The filmmaker (she's pictured at right, with Franco) also spends quality time with the dominants — such as Princess Donna — submissives and directors who produce Kink.com's content and the documentary juxtaposes the extreme scenarios being played out on camera with the level-headed and even creative work that goes into producing the shoots. In the interview below, Voros says Kink.com's operations are like "the Starbucks of pornography." (The the company even has a 401(k) plan for its employees.)
Although the graphic scenarios depicted in the documentary — a man is bound and flogged, a woman is hung upside down from the ceiling with a saddle-like vibrator between her legs — mean the film won't be seen in Ohio cineplexes, Kink is about much more than extreme sex. As Voros explains in the interview below, "There's an element of dominance and submission in almost every aspect of human interaction."
Happy Valentine's Day, slaves.
Movieline: What led you to take on this project?
Christina Voros: It's funny to do something that so many people are talking about and to have found my way to it so serendipitously and organically. James [Franco] spent a day at the [Kink.com] armory when he was filming About Cherry, and he called me and said, "You've got to see this shit. It's crazy." He wasn't just referring to the armory and the porn. I think what really struck him was the energy in the space: He watched a shoot and was struck by the juxtaposition of the crazy intense nature of what was being filmed with the very chill, laid back, comfortable nature off screen.
There is a “just-another-day-at-the-office” vibe that you show in the film.
So, James was like, "We have to make this movie." And he and I have been working together for a long time in all sorts of iteration as collaborators. And my first response was, "I don't know if I want to make a movie about a porn factory, you know."
I can understand that.
There was a bit of time between the first time he mentioned it and when we actually started making it happen. In between, he went on Conan and announced that he was making this film. And at that moment I was like, "Okay, I guess we're doing this." James said to me, “ Just go up there, see the place, meet the people and set up the project. If you're still not comfortable then we'll get somebody else to film." So, I walked in and spent a day not watching any porn being made — just talking to directors. By the end of that day, I was sold.