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Eastside Story

Cachapero and Ponante
Documentary filmmaker Margie Schnibbe, aka Vena Virago, has appropriated the style of her real self for the work of her nom de porn. Schnibbe is known for her documentary "Pornstar Pets," in which she interviews porn performers like Evan Stone and Taylor Wane about their animals. As Vena Virago, she has twice incorporated a documentary style to aid her porn efforts in both "Silverlake Scenesters" and her latest work, "Eastside Story."

"Eastside Story" is colorful, incorporating Virago's signature art in the background, and uses a diverse cast that the camera loves. The extent to which one can watch the movie with the sound up, is the subject of this review.

Joanne Cachapero: The whole "documentary" porn thing, with an interview prefacing the sex scene (and explored by several adult filmmakers, like in "Dana DeArmond Does the Internet" or very successfully in Tina Tyler's "Handyman" series) makes me ask the question — is it hotter psychologically if I know a little something about the performers in this vid? Do I really care?

I don't mind sitting through dialogue if it enhances the experience somehow. But whereas it's rather subjective whether confessions of the cast members are a turn-on, steaming hot sex is usually a sure-fire tactic in making a porn film.

For instance, in the first scene with Lexi Bardot and Alex, she's pretty blasé about revealing that she and her ex-husband liked to play really rough and piss on each other, so much so that when they divorced, the only thing left for her to do was porn. Does saying this make her somehow hotter?

I wonder if I'm just tired of hearing the answer to the question, "Why did you get into porn?" It might be sexier to hear about Bardot's dog. Everyone can relate to having a pet — not everyone can make a connection to the various reasons why people decide to become porn performers.

Gram Ponante: I agree Joanne, but perhaps I am more sensitive than you are. You've been to Gram Ponante Towers; it is lousy with hot chicks in a city that is infested with them. How do you distinguish one from the other without getting to know them a little?

JC: Ah, Gram. You're much more sensitive and cuddly than me. All the girls say so.

So, does it matter that Bardot and Alex knew each other before filming this scene? Is that supposed to lend an illusion of reality, like they really like screwing each other?

Ultimately, even though they do seem to like each other a lot, it still came off as a performance. And the backdrop of Day-Glo posters and party balloons combined with a Japanese techno soundtrack reminded me of Hello Kitty on ketamine. A little too incongruous and distracting for me. If Virago invented this look, it's something that's being imitated by every band-wagoner trying to make an "alt" movie these days.

GP: It is incongruous, but whether it is too incongruous is a matter of taste. I think Virago likes that kind of art and likes those kinds of performers. The soundtrack, too, is headed by a band called the Selectrons, who sound a little like a softball version of the Sundays meets a less-tragically Irish the Cranberries.

Maybe Virago likes to fuck to that music in rooms filled with primary colors and bunnies.

JC: You're right, Gram. I'm probably just feeling a little pre-menopausal here. Hormones are a cruel mistress and cutesy stuff can just set me off. However, speaking of hormones and cutesy stuff, my interest in the dialogue perked up immediately with the scene featuring Michelle Aston and Page Morgan. Michelle Aston, in real life, was a neurobiologist but so horny that she decided to get into BDSM and porn. Yeah, buddy! Now there's an interesting story.

And pouty, pudgy Page Morgan — too young to get in a bar but not too young to take a Hitachi lesson from Aston, who is old enough to be her mom, for God's sake.

The premise of the scene — being in a garage somewhere with Morgan polishing Aston's chopper while Aston is polishing herself with the wand — was enough to set up the whole "bad mommy" domination motif to a T.

When the two of them are sitting on the bike and Aston is feeling up Morgan, the menace in Aston's voice when she says something like, "If you're good, I'll let you wash my truck ..." is at once absurd and strangely scintillating.

The scene escalates like the speed control on a vibrator; the screaming is great, the submissive, adorable Morgan, the catfight face-slapping... these girls are filthy, dirty, nasty, and I loved that.

Is it wrong, Gram? Is it twisted to be turned on by an older woman dominating a sweet young girl? Man, all I can tell you is that feeling wrong is definitely hot.

GP: Joanne, you are trying to pass off your wrongness too easily. We both know your wrongness comes from somewhere deeper than seeing Michelle Aston wield a wand.

JC: Yes, very deep...

GP: I loved this scene, too, but for different reasons. Aston comes off in charge and comes off calculating. She seemed predatory and aware of the camera. Her lines did not sound tossed off, but rehearsed. It was Morgan whom I thought was exhilarating; there wasn't anything practiced about her. And you call Page Morgan "pudgy." I call her "squeezy."

JC: Don't get me wrong, Gram — I'm packing some pudge here myself. Morgan is really delicious. The big, bad biker broad thing works for me, and Morgan's performance definitely played right into that. Funny you should notice Aston sounded rehearsed — she later told me that she scripted the scene herself. I didn't have the guts to ask her to explain stem cell therapy to me.

Something that was also really great was the male performers being featured as prominently as the females, which is something that's always important to me because I like hot guys and I like to know what their names are (the couple of times I've had anonymous sex in the bathroom at a nightclub not withstanding).

Especially in the case of Tyler Knight, who seems to be a man who really enjoys his job.

He gets two scenes — the first with Dana DeArmond — the premise of them meeting for the first time to do the scene works because it's unpretentious. They're there to have some good sex; they know what they're doing and are casual about it, talking and laughing and joking around, which keeps it light-hearted.

GP: Yeah, Tyler Knight is well-liked by everyone who meets him and is a cool, soft-spoken dude who appreciates his job and seems humble about it.

I think Knight steals the movie, actually. Both he and Dino Bravo seem less keyed up than their costars. I was surprised that Dana didn't seem herself until partway through the scene; she seemed distracted in the interview.

I was there the day that scene was shot — you can see me in the behind-the-scenes (BTS) footage — and of course Dana was, as always, charming, witty and fun. It was strange to not see that translate on film at first.

JC: Dana certainly seems to be having a fine time. There's a handsome, muscular black guy giving her face — what's not to like? Oh, and the backdrop of this scene reminded me of my 8th grade social studies classroom, which was kind of subliminally sexy.

GP: It was in 4th grade social studies that we studied the Bushmen of the Kalahari. I became a bush man after watching last month's "New Wave Hookers" bush, er, box set.

JC: In his second scene, Knight is paired with Spanish import Rebecca Linares, who is officially my new crush. The whole mythology of Europeans being so much more open and sexual is at play here. In Linares' case, it certainly seems to be true.

She is smiling, girlish, playful, eager and delightful. If you watch the way she uses her hands, grabbing at Knight and teasing with him, it looks like she's really enjoying herself.

Above all, she doesn't speak English and that makes everything 5,000 times sexier. During the scene, what she's saying might be literally translated to, "Give me a porking with your massive Serrano ham-stick, my handsome love puppet!" and it sounds like angels moaning en Espanol. So much better than hearing the endless, "Fuck yeah!"

Knight does a wonderful job of indulging her by responding in Spanish, which is really very sweet.

GP: The scene with Rebecca Linares is my favorite and Knight once again adds to the scene by speaking Spanish with her. He says in the BTS that it's helpful to have a beautiful woman around to teach one a new language. He learned Spanish from an old girlfriend. I also know Spanish, and I know a lot of really good Mexican restaurants. And just in case Linares is lonely for Barcelona, it is a short 16-hour flight from my house.

JC: Es muy bueno, Senor Ponante. Lastly, the scene with Roxy DeVille and Dino Bravo, I thought, was spoiled by the interview footage in which DeVille, who started as a dancer, makes it abundantly clear the reason she got into porn was as a way to make more money without having to escort with bar clientele.

Bravo is, by far the most experienced performer in the bunch; very dapper and well-spoken. But the stylish suit he's wearing really suggests the whole stripper-escort/ client scenario that DeVille just said she couldn't get into.

Even with Bravo being gentlemanly and doing his best, DeVille is a cool on the cucumber. At one point in the scene, she does get heated- up and displays an unusually supple ass/hip motion that is quite hypnotic. She's a very pretty girl and sexy, I'm sure, when she wants to be.

GP: Yes, DeVille is gorgeous. She reminds me of an evil Dana DeArmond and I think the two should play opposite one another if my porn Hall of Justice/Temple of Doom project gets off the ground.

In her interview segment, Deville describes a couples' porn she did with such dripping sarcasm that this was the one interview scene that made a beautiful woman appear less so.

But I agree that Bravo's choice of attire and DeVille's story about how she wouldn't fuck strip club customers made this scene seem like a nightmare version of the couples' porn fantasy sequence she described earlier.

JC: The editing was a little choppy, with some camera angles that seemed odd. But there was plenty of great cunnilingus footage. Lots of vag, too, for those who have tired of anal.

The best thing about what director Virago is doing here, as well as others in the true alt genre, is pushing the boundaries by doing something different. I'd love to see her do a school for delinquent girls send-up (like the 1974 made-for-TV-movie "Born Innocent" starring Linda Blair), with matronly femmedommes in polyester pantsuits and tacky costume jewelry and a whole gang of alt girls in big, denim bell-bottoms and flat-ironed hair. With all the dialogue in Spanish (subtitles, of course).

GP: Or maybe you could do that movie, Joanne. Don't all porn writers secretly want to direct?

JC: Not unless you promise to play the Linda Blair part, Senor Ponante.

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