Daily Beast Interviews James Franco, Peter Acworth at Sundance

Bob Johnson

PARK CITY, Utah — Actor James Franco and Kink.com CEO Peter Acworth weighed in on the premiere of Franco’s documentary of the BDSM giant for The Daily Beast at the recent Sundance Film Festival.

The highly anticipated film was the center of a growing interest in porn from mainstream media at Sundance that also included a film about the life of British porn publisher Paul Raymond and another Franco BDSM-themed documentary — “Interior. Leather Bar” — a reimagining of a lost orgy scene from William Friedkin’s ‘80’s gay-bondage classic, “Cruising.”

And Franco also plays Hugh Hefner in "Lovelace," which premieres Tuesday at Sundance.

The Beast called the Kink documentary “a very positive portrait of Kink.com’s BDSM oeuvre,” noting that the models are always treated safely even in extreme scenes where they often experience a sense of euphoria because of large amounts of dopamine that are released.

“I am kinky,” Acworth told The Beast. “I’ve always had an intense desire to be tied up, since childhood, so when I discovered bondage pornography around 17, then I felt, I guess I’m kinky, and that’s OK. So I started a business to help people demystify it and help them find their sexuality.”

Although it took some convincing from Franco to convince the Kink brain trust that he’d make an objective film, the results have pleased both the actor and Kink chief.

“I was given a tour of the place, and then I got to watch a video being made,” Franco said. “It was very interesting because the dynamic in front of the camera was very different from what was happening off camera. It was a BDSM scene of a girl in a cage, and very intense, but off-screen it was surprisingly warm and cooperative, with everyone as a willing participant. I thought I’d like to explore this, and I’m sure a lot of other people would, too.”

Acworth was also candid about Kink’s future plans, noting that the company is planning an expansion to include more “live videos with social networking.”

Commenting on the challenges of running a porn empire, Acworth maintained that although the company is doing very well with more than 130 employees and millions of hits a day to its sites, it’s a challenge to secure capital.

“We have a very small loan against the Armory [Kink's San Francisco headquarters], because it’s tough to get a big loan, since the banks view it as a reputational risk. If we were to default on that loan, the banks would end up owning a BDSM pornography company, which they don’t want on their books. And it’s difficult to take a company like this public no matter how successful it got just because of the nature of the content. There’s no exit strategy, so I’ll probably be doing this for the rest of my life, really,” Acworth said.

Franco noted that as an artist he’s interested in how people define themselves and interact even if they aren’t involved in Kink’s type of activities. Commenting on the “Fifty Shades of Grey” phenomena he said, “While a lot of the readers haven’t had the experiences detailed in that book, there’s something that’s drawing them to it. I think that sex and sexuality are topics of endless exploration.”

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