A magic intimacy: Vex Ashley, Renaissance Porn Artist

Vex Ashley’s films and photography express transcendent intensity between humans.  The fucking foursome or desirous solitary push through life’s drab bindings into an unabashed openness. Her work suggests a contemporary updating of the pornography of Anais Nin, the performance art of Cosey Fanni Tutti or the sado-masochistic films of arthouse director Maria Beatty. Vex’s delight in exquisite forms and moments of Surrealist surprise – an egg squeezed from a cunt, inspired by Bataille’s ‘Story of The Eye’ – mark her as a true Renaissance woman.

DG: What drew you towards making porn?

I’ve always been someone who was stubbornly independent and liked to do the thing that no one else would. I found sex fascinating and I felt porn as a medium had untapped potential because it’s been marginalised and dismissed as culturally worthless. I guess I wanted to find new and exciting ways to disappoint my parents.

DG: Having sex with strangers is culturally positioned as a destructive act.  But as long as there are mutually agreed boundaries, perhaps transient intimacy allows for more open exploration than long-term bonds?  As an artist in porn, what’s your perspective?

There’s definitely a magic intimacy that can come from fucking someone you barely know, even on a porn set. It’s more a nervous energy and intensity than what I’d maybe describe as intimacy but it’s pretty powerful. I see sex as physical communication, in the same way that’s there’s a real power in a surprisingly intense conversation with someone you just met that makes you instantly infatuated. Fucking people on film can be entirely functional or unexpectedly makes me fall in love, even just for that moment.

DG: I remember watching a fantastic BDSM artist on stage, in Soho, once (when artists could afford to co-create club nights in Soho) and my girlfriend’s date tediously wondering aloud about this woman’s ‘psychological problems’.  In what ways, if any, has making porn been good for you?

Making porn forces you to have difficult and complicated conversations in your life and your relationships that you could otherwise ignore. I’m more confident, in life and in bed, I find more people and more things hot than I ever did before, I’m better at advocating for myself and this makes me a better partner. Porn also demystifies sex. I’m fully aware that sex can be incredible but also so ridiculous. I think that’s important. Don’t take it too seriously.

DG: Has making porn changed the way you perceive men or women?

I find more people and more things hot. My capacity for attraction has grown. One thing that took me by surprise with filming sex is that genuinely everyone looks really hot while they’re fucking.

DG: Have you discovered new things about yourself while having sex with a relative stranger, either personally or while creating a project?

I think I’ve discovered that I’m not really cut out for casual sex. I don’t do many things in my life casually. I like intensity and if I want to fuck someone I have to be impressed by them. And if I’m impressed by them I probably want to get to know them. I don’t take much pleasure in anonymous, impersonal sex. I’m a people person.

DG: There’s a blurb from a porn film for couples, Educating Clea, that makes me smile wryly.  “The free expression of their vices will never be a hindrance to their love.”  This seems like a utopian recipe for trouble!  How do you negotiate your love affairs while making porn?

Making porn essentially for me 90% of the time is function. It’s mostly work. Sex certainly has its own emotional complications but after 5 years of it being my day job, porn certainly doesn’t feel like the indulgent “vice” that it might have done when I first started! Anything worth having is worth working for. All good relationships take work, sometimes hard emotional work. Confronting your ideas about what sex means in your relationship and navigating alternative sexuality is complicated but essentially always rewarding. That’s what leads to deeper intimacy and connection. I’m incredibly lucky to have people in my life who are prepared to come on this weird journey with me.

Vex Ashley (Twitter @vextape) was in conversation with Soma Ghosh (Twitter @calcourtesan).

Photography courtesy of afourchamberedheart.com – support Vex Ashley’s work and see her films at this site.

 

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