Monday, 23 July 2012

Time to chat - the Pandora Blake interview

Good morning, and welcome to the working week!


Or the not working week, if you're like me, and a lazy toad. Or unemployed. Or cast prematurely onto the scrap heap due to advanced age. Or just on holiday.


Does that cover everyone?


Anyway, to start this week off I have a long interview with the charming Pandora, who's website Dreams of Spanking was the subject of a retrospective review here last week.


This one has been in the works for a little while, as you may gather from some of the references therein.


As ever Pandora's answers are thoughtful and comprehensive, and I'd like to thank her for finding the time to do such a good job of making my questions seem far more insightful than they in fact were.


So, here we go then.


1. You've commented that you consider yourself lucky to be easily able to find spanking video work; have you ever considered doing one to one sessions?

This is a very timely question! I've considered it a lot over the last few years, and my boundaries are still evolving. In fact I've just started offering switch sessions, mostly 221s but some 121s too. See this article on Pandora's blog

2. I know it's different when you work with Tom or D., but, in general, do you find that you are aroused whilst making spanking videos?

One of the reasons I launched my own site was so I could work as much as possible with people I like and find attractive. So it's not just Tom and D! Of course I don't <i>only</i> work with lovers, but now that most of my video work is for my own site, in general I'm lucky enough to be working with good friends to whom I feel some level of attraction. That certainly makes arousal more likely than there's no flirtation.

Still, whether I get aroused or not is really unpredictable. It varies wildly. Sometimes it's just a physical response, and that seems to depend on hormones, how horny I've been feeling lately and other factors as well as whatever attraction I may feel for my co-performer. And yet, I can make a video with a lover and not get aroused. It depends on my mood. Emotional and psychological arousal can be just as powerful as physical arousal, leaving me feeling buzzy or over-stimulated. In general, the more comfortable I feel and the hotter I find the specific roleplay or fantasy, the more likely I am to have a physical response. I wouldn't always mention it to the people I'm working with though, it entirely depends on our relationship!

3. Do you find that the spanking paysite market is very competitive?

Not at all. Each spanking site offers a unique product within our small niche, and I don't really feel like I have any direct competitors who are trying to do the same thing as me. Every producer has a different vision and different priorities, and they all have something unique to offer. I've found the other producers very supportive and have always tried to promote and support other spanking sites in return.

4. How do you feel about working in videos for those who are, at least notionally, your competitors?

I love it! I don't have to do all the stressful work of direction and production - I just get to concentrate on performance, which is lovely. Plus I get paid on the day, which always helps. ;) The closer a site is to my own way of doing things, the more fun I'm likely to have.

5. The site has been running for several months now, and has been very favourably reviewed; are most subscribers 5 day hit and run types, or are they in it for the longer term?

It's in its seventh month now - that's how long it's taken me to answer these questions! I have a good balance of subscriptions, but on average I'd say it's about half 5 days subscriptions and half longer term ones. Repeat customers usually go for the better value 30 day or 90 access so they can see new videos as they come out as well as exploring the archive.

6. I've read that you've been working on ideas and videos for your site for several years; do you have a large sack of scene ideas tucked away somewhere? Actually, do you have a lot of material prepared already to upload?

An enormous sack of scene ideas, yes! I have several documents stuffed with scripts and I'm always consulting them when planning new shoots. I keep coming up with more and more ideas too, which is nice: I'm not about to run out any time soon.

I haven't managed to get very far ahead with my editing yet. I have a few months' worth of updates shot in advance at any one time, but I'm usually editing scenes only a week or so before they go up. If I have to take time off to travel or something that eats into my buffer. It's a precarious way to work, so I'm intending to build it up and get further ahead over the coming months.

7. You've used a fairly small number of models so far; I get the impression that they are largely friends of yours. Will we be seeing anyone else we might know in the near future?

It's important to me to have a good personal connection, trust and chemistry with everyone I work with, and when casting other performers together I put a lot of thought into how people will get on. I've just shot with Nimue Allen, and am hoping to shoot with her again, and her girlfriend Rosie over the summer. Other models I'd love to work with this year include Danielle Hunt, whom I'm meeting for the first time in a couple of weeks, and some male and female models who are new to spanking video.

8. Do you see others following your example and adopting a fair trade approach to video production? Do you believe that there are commercial benefits to doing so?

Many websites already shoot along what I'd call fair trade principles, they just aren't always outspoken about it. I'm hoping more producers will become comfortable discussing their ethical approach and being transparent about their production choices, because I think it's something that needs to be talked about publically.

9. I asked Tom this as well, and I still think it may be a bit pretentious but let's give it another go. In a book I was recently reading the following statement appeared "No one should ever impose their own perceptions of fulfilment on anyone else". This seems to fit in with the fair trade approach; what do you think?

When it comes to porn performers, I certainly think we should take someone's word for it if they say they are fulfilled by a particular act, and not try to impose our own judgement. A lot of anti-porn feminsts could do with learning that.

10. As you become more experienced at the production side of the videos do you start to find that more satisfying than appearing in them?

They are entirely different satisfactions; it's hard to compare them. I feel more in control of the final product when I'm operating behind the camera, able to devote my full attention to direction and camera work, and that's very fulfilling. But I love performance - I always will - and there's nothing really like it. There's something particularly magical about bringing to life a long-held personal fantasy on video, and getting to work with people I really connect with. I thrive on diversity, so both sides of it are equally important to me. I can't see myself ever giving up one or the other as long as I can help it!

11. Perhaps I've been lucky in the people I've interracted with, but it seems to me that most spankos are particularly intelligent and polite; what do you think about this?

I'm not sure that spankos are on average more intelligent or polite than most people, to be honest. In general I find that people tend to reflect your own attitudes back to you; if you're polite to people and treat them as intelligent, you will tend to bring out their polite and intelligent side.

12. After all these years in the scene does the sound of someone saying "spank" still give you a shiver?

Sometimes, yes :)

13. Tom has strong views on the role of the top, especially in videos; given the power of his presence (at least as it comes across on film) do you find topping around him to be intimidating? What lessons have you learned from him?

I've learned a lot about topping from Tom. As I come into my identity as a top I'm also learning about the things I do differently from him, and why; but I still love his topping style.

I haven't co-topped with him very much, but that's something I'd love to do more of. The thrill of being recognised and respected as a fellow top by him is absolutely delicious.

14. You've mentioned some favourite authors on your blog, and I know that you've been influenced by a couple in the scenarios that you have produced; what are you reading at the moment? Any recommendations? And do you have a Kindle (my favourite new toy after my wife bought me one for Xmas)?

I do, and I'll never go back! No more the days of carrying around heavy hardbacks on the tube. It'll come in very handy when the next Game of Thrones book comes out.

I'm reading Iain M Banks' Culture books at the moment - I'm halfway through the fourth one, Look to Windward. I've really enjoyed all of them so far. Use of Weapons and Consider Phlebas were both very demanding. I've had my mind blown more than once, and I'm loving it.
I know I've used this shot before, but I love it; the combination of the stern Headmaster and the look on Pandora's face!

15. Tom commented that you are looking to work with Danielle Hunt (another model that I did an appreciation piece on a while back); she's one of the few non-white models working in the spanking scene. To what do you attribute the lack of ethnic models in spanking videos?

Hrm: I'm not sure a white model is the right person to ask, but here goes. Part of it is just maths: If 10% of the UK is kinky and 10% is BME then 10% of the kink scene won't be BME. You won't see a representative sample of the population as a whole within a minority. It's also partly self-selection - if people of colour don't see themselves adequately represented in the kink scene and kinky iconography, they might not seek it out, just as a lot of female tops end up avoiding the "scene" (or even thinking they aren't kinky) because they don't recognise themselves in the dominatrix stereotype.

I wonder if there's also a class element: the spanking scene in the UK is quite upper middle class on average, particularly people who can pay for sessions or to travel to attend ticketed events. Wealthy people are still more likely to be white in the UK.

It's worth pointing out, though, that it's the social spanking "scene" that's self-selecting, not being into spanking per se. I think it's likely that a lot more people of colour enjoy kinky sex than attend spanking parties or comment on spanking blogs. The question is how to make them feel welcome in our community. Hiring performers of colour to star in spanking photos and videos is definitely one step we can take, and it's something I need to work on at Dreams.

16. Whilst there seems to be something of an upsurge in mainstream spanking virtually all of these are presented as sexual spankings: do you think it's possible now to film a mainstream M/F disciplinary scene?

Presumably you're asking about M/F because you're thinking it wouldn't be acceptable to feminists? But I think the sexualisation of spanking in the mainstream is more general than that.

A mainstream M/F disciplinary scene could be filmed, sure, but it's risky. Is it consensual adult discipline or is it an abuse story? If it's consensual, then chances are the film industry is going to sexualise it. Asexual consensual adult discipline is pretty much invisible in the mainstream. I don't think people who aren't kinky understand that it doesn't have to be about sex.

Thinking about M/F as opposed to other orientations though: most of the big spanking references in mainstream film and TV have been M/F, if you think about it. Secretary, 50 Shades, 9 1/2 Weeks, Weeds, Community, A Dangerous Method - all M/F. M/F is sexy. F/M, if you ever see it, is played for laughs; or the dominatrix stereotype is just used as a cipher in TV adverts, because it's a striking, immediately recognisable image (and advertising tends to use female models). I don't know of any mainstream F/M spanking relationships that compare to the M/F ones for sex appeal.

Of course, mainstream same-sex spankings are even rarer! And don't get me started on the invisibility of switching in mainstream media...

17. A last vanilla question; have you seen the comedian Sarah Millican? Are you a fan?

I have, and yes, I really like her stuff :) I've recently discovered gay Glaswegian comedian Susan Calman, she did a lot of work for Radio 4 recently and I absolutely love her. I'm also listening to a lot of Josie Long and Meera Syal at the moment.


And there we have it, ladies and gentlemen.


I think the Pandora is a great interview subject, and her replies have given me several weeks worth of blog article ideas; in particular the idea of class in the spanking scene, and orientation in mainstream spanking are fascinating.


I'll be back in a couple of days.


All the best


Tim


The photos are predominantly from Dreams of Spanking, with one (favourite) from Spanking Sarah, and one from Sarah Gregory Spanking (anyone confused yet? Just me then, eh?)

4 comments:

  1. I, too, was interested by the mention of class issues. As a person of working class origins, now retired (state pension), having worked in mostly very ill paid jobs, I think it may be an important reason I don't look at spanking sites very often. They seem to be by, for and about people with whom I have little in common. Pet

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  2. I do wish you had asked her if she was spanked growing up.
    Pandora, if you read this, please answer this question for your fans!

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  3. Anonymous - nope, the only spankings in my childhood were in books and my fevered imagination.

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