Do you ever find yourself wondering why your actual life sometimes strays so far from the lesbian stereotypes? If you’ve never experienced lesbian “bed death” or your girlfriend didn’t take you to Home Depot on your second date, then you may want to check out Lesbian Sex and Sexuality, a six-part series coming to here! TV early next year.
The series executive producer is award-winning filmmaker, Katherine Linton, who says she wanted to give lesbians a chance to speak for themselves about their own lives, their sexual experiences and their fantasies. This series, she says, is not intended to titillate straight men ala Girls Gone Wild. Instead, Linton hopes that it will help lesbians, as well as straight viewers, understand and appreciate lesbian sexuality for what it really is. “Our sex is something to be celebrated,” she says. “I hope it dispels myths. I think gay men are more comfortable talking about sex and sexuality than lesbians, and I hope this helps lesbians open up more.”
While it is an honest look at queer life from a lesbian perspective, Linton doubts that it will alienate the mainstream straight demographic. “It may not be what they expect,” she says, “but it is still a compelling look at a world that is largely, if not entirely, hidden from their daily lives and that is intriguing. There’s no doubt that straight men, and straight women for that matter, are going to watch it [along with us].” Linton jokes, “Come on! That’s three out of four target audiences!”
This is the first serious and uncensored television documentary that deals solely with lesbian sex and sexuality. So why haven’t we seen it before? Linton believes one reason lesbian content produced specifically for lesbians hasn’t received much airtime is because, until recently, there weren’t as many outlets for this kind of programming. “Here! is a great venue, largely because they don’t have to answer to advertisers,” she says. When other networks shied away from the provocative topics of Lesbian Sex & Sexuality, here! TV came through.
Two of the episodes deal with the pornography industry. “Porn Today: Pushing the Limits” demonstrates the growing sophistication of today’s lesbian porn created by people with film degrees, credentials and state of the art digital equipment. “The Evolution of Erotica” traces the roots of women challenging the anti-porn bias and the faux-lesbian porn designed to please straight men. Instead, it shows real lesbians having real orgasms.
Porn director and founder of Pink and White Productions, Shine Houston, goes behind the scenes with Dana Dane, the founder of Erocktavision to take a look at the now-defunct magazine, On Our Backs. Linton recalls, “I was interviewing Dana Dane and she asked me, ‘Have you ever been on camera?’ I started to talk about other things I worked on, and she said, ‘No. Have you ever been on camera in films like mine?’” Linton turned red, and sputtered, “No, Dana. No, no, no. Camera shy.”
Another episode examines the relatively new genre of lesbian go-go dancing. “For Your Pleasure: Erotic Dancer” showcases our own industry go-go stars, who gain or lose respect based on their creativity and talent. We see this world through the eyes of three erotic dancers: Maine, Sarah and Cinnamon. Although Linton had a hard time getting some people to open up, the dancers were not a problem. “They were so funny. We spent a lot of time with them,” recalls Linton. “Every woman was very articulate and very proud.”
Hopefully the lesbian bed death myth will be put to rest after an episode called “Fulfilling Fantasy” is aired. In it, lesbians get candid about what turns them on. Out comedian Julie Goldman shows us some of the things lesbians are doing to fulfill those fantasies, and the erotic work of photographer Phyllis Christopher is highlighted.
Linton and the crew experienced some anxiety during the filming of an episode about relationships. Her most intense day involved watching a dominatrix pierce a man’s penis and nipples while he was tied up. “We took a break and lit up cigarettes with a guy tied up 5 feet away,” says Linton. Being in close proximity to a naked penis is one thing, but having it pierced in front of her was quite another.
That particular episode also examines a variety of people who defy stereotyped monogamous lesbian relationships. Polyamorous filmmaker, Karen Everett, discusses her film about her life and lovers. There are also interviews with couples in open relationships, including Ignacio Rivera and Khane Morris, two individuals born female who have both transitioned to male identities.
The final episode, “Selling Sex in the Mainstream,” focuses on women who are capitalizing on the huge lesbian sex business. It includes Mistress Leda, who organizes America’s largest BDSM ball and runs an all-women BDSM studio, former porn star turned filmmaker Skye Blue and lesbian sex lecturer and filmmaker Tristan Taormino.
Linton says that getting women to talk about their sex lives in front of a camera was not that difficult but there were other obstacles during the production of the series. “The budget limited our ability to do a full cross-section of the U.S.,” says Linton, “and each city is so different.” Most of the people and places mentioned are in New York, L.A. and San Francisco. Still, the themes are universal and definitely reflect lesbian culture outside of those three major cities. In fact, when here! announced the series, they received international attention. “We were shocked at the immediate response. We were even contacted by producers in Israel,” says Linton.
Linton is in the early stages of creating another documentary with here! about gays and God. Her past documentaries include AIDS: A Pop Culture History, Black Las Vegas: In Through the Backdoor, The Junkie Next Door: Women and Heroin and The Evolution Will Be Televised.
The six half-hour episodes are scheduled to air in early 2007, so don’t miss them!