“I Love Your Work” offers a glimpse of the real lives of women in queer porn

With his documentary I Love Your Work, filmmaker and artist Jonathan Harris attempts to capture a view of women in the porn industry that we don’t ordinarily see — the very human one. Taking place over 10 connective days and focusing on nine women who work in the lesbian porn industry, the film clocks in at over six hours. Harris’s crew follows each woman for 24 hours, and everything is caught on film; from mundane acts like brushing their teeth and ordering lattes, to actual pornographic photoshoots. It is at once fascinating, and tedious. I Love Your Work is a slow, drawn out process, much different from the instant gratification that porn presents to consumers. This of course, is exactly the point that Harris is trying to make.  In fact, the whole process of watching the film is set up very methodically. 

The documentary is presented in 10 second clips, taken every five minutes. Depending on what the subject is doing, this process can feel totally seamless one moment, and very jarring the next. The clips are 10 seconds long because that is the format used for free teasers in the porn industry.  To further contrast itself from the fast and furious milieu of porn, the film only allows 10 viewers a day. (Right now, the earliest view date is May 8.) The film, keeping with the 10 theme, costs $10 for 24 hours of access, and 10% of sales benefit the Sex Workers Project

(Trailer is NSFW)

While all of the subjects of the film are involved in some way involved with the lesbian or queer porn industry, they all have very different personalities and reasons for doing what they do. During some of the women’s stories, I found myself totally captivated, while others seemed to drag. I imagine every viewer will find this process different, as each of us relate to people in different ways.  This is not a documentary about titillation or getting off, even though there is quite a bit of nudity and some masturbation sequences.  It’s really about these women and breaking down our preconceived notions about the people involved in the sex industry.

The film starts off following Jincey Lumpkin, a sex columnist, porn director and former lawyer who is assisting Harris in coordinating the films subjects and directing the jill-off sequences. Mostly, the film focuses on her daily life: Sitting at her desk making calls, having dinner with her wife, and even a late night emergency trip to the vet. It’s very intimate, the camera catching her in these simple moments.

Next the film transitions to Nic, a pixie-cut-donning, tattooed queer porn actress and sex educator. For Nic, porn “gives people venues for exploration”.  The film follows her routine, going grocery shopping with her girlfriend, attending a burlesque show.

Dylan is an extreme bondage porn actress who lives in Toronto, who we watch dragging her luggage all through Manhattan. She also happens to be in the middle of writing her grad thesis. While on film, she takes part in nude photo shoot surrounded by taxidermy animals and skulls, all the while chatting astrology with the photographer. The Feminist Porn Award winner’s segment was one of my favorites to watch.  She’s smart and unapologetic, and yet very realistic about the porn industry, it’s pitfalls and stigmas.

Jess is a young tomboy next door with short, spikey blonde hair.  When she’s not doing queer porn, she works as a bicycle mechanic. While being filmed, it felt like Jess was always “on,” never quite letting go like the others. She comes across as a bit arrogant, yet at the same time, very self-conscious about her body. She does have this very sweet, raw moment when she becomes shy upon her girlfriend discussing one of her scenes.  

The transition between Jess and the more mature, business savvy Ryan was probably the biggest in the film. Ryan, a former stripper (with a pole in the middle of her apartment) porn actress and Penthouse Pet, tells us that she prefers to date men but loves getting paid to have sex with women on camera. She’s often on the phone, marketing herself, trying to land new gigs. For all her bravado and experience in the industry, it turns out what Ryan really thinks most about is how she’d like to be a great wife and mother. 

Joy is not a porn actress, but works as a fashion and photography stylist in the industry and happens to be Jincey’s assistant. She’s from Paris, and spends a good chunk of her time speaking in French to her friends and boyfriend back home. She is baby-faced and blasé about the porn industry, and looks completely bored during her time on set, which I found hilarious. 

Ela, is a former librarian and self-proclaimed Harry Potter nerd (she has the HP Dewey decimal number tattooed on her back). The porn actress/sex blogger is popular in the fetish community for her work with feet, food and zombies. She’s married to man but tells us that porn helps her express her desire to sleep with women. She’s soft-spoken, and I loved this simple moment where she’s waiting to perform and her knees are shaking. 

Dolores’s segment was my personal favorite. The queer porn actress/former dominatrix is talkative and very giggly, laughing at the littlest of things with complete sincerity. She shattered my preconceived notions about who and why people do porn. While on set getting styled (complete with hair extensions) for her masturbation sequence, she turns to the camera and whispers, “I’ve never felt so unsexy in my life”.  As a viewer, that moment was so telling and private, much more so than her actual porn scene.  One needn’t be naked to be exposed.

Luna is a smart and confident escort, nude webcam model and sex blogger. She’s very philosophical about her life in the sex industry, and because she speaks to the camera so frequently, her segment can feel a bit disorienting. She tells us she’s not into labels, “Cuz I’m just a slut” and describes clients kinks like she’s reading a grocery list. Nothing seems to bother her, except when she finds out that her blog has been deactivated due to inappropriate content. 

Overall, I Love Your Work is a fascinating peek into the unexplored and private lives of women who work in lesbian porn. Porn is so easily accessible and consumed, that it’s easy to forget about the actual people and focus solely on the acts being performed. I Love Your Work gives viewers a chance to see beyond the set lights and manufactured desire, to the very real women at the center of this industry.

Click here to sign up for a viewing of “I Love Your Work.”

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