The Demented Goddess: Fluids, natural and synthetic, spill in your films, from mouth to cock to cunt, over yearning faces, breasts and twisting limbs. Why put such very wet sex on screen, Vex?
I think that sex on screen is at it’s best when it’s visceral, tactile, palpable. Wetness is the sound and the sensation of sex, it’s sensory and often borders on grossness. A wet spot is a physical manifestation of sex.
DG: Hydra is one of your more traditional films, with a sci-fi setting and mysterious yet defined characters, as seductive to heteronormative folk as to queers. A male and female figure are pleasured – and dominated – by two raven-haired, powerful women, played by you and Lupa Vaux. The man is faceless, reduced to his cock on an operating table. The doll-like beauty, played by Rae Lil Black is serviced, or pummeled by a machinated black dildo. Bodies palpate in cauls of transparent jelly. What’s the relationship, for you, between being submerged in liquids and the experience of subjugation?
I think it’s maybe less about subjugation for me and more about returning to the womb. I always remember watching The Matrix for the first time and the scene were Neo emerges from a pod of gestational fluid, reborn and it really stuck with me. Being submerged or surrounded in liquid is womblike, being returned to infancy, powerless and floating in stasis. The sensation of being surrounded is also like being held. Then you have to emerge, like a baptism or a birth. I’m sure there’s probably something Freudian in there about our relationship to our mothers but mostly the sensation is just really nice.
DG: Unlike conventional hetero porn, which frequently presents lesbian sex in particular as titillating, your films never make a thing out of gender or sexuality. A few of those presenting as female are butch; most are femme.
In Spill, a water-soaked three-way and Archetype, a punch-up and fuck-out, you film non-binary Jiz, Blith, Dev and Kinsey. And pansexual men, like Bishop Black, appear in your gay male films. To what extent do you consider appealing to the sexual orientation of your audience ?
As little as possible, basically! It’s undeniable that the majority of those physically putting money into watching porn are straight men but to only make porn to serve what you think will sell well is to make pretty generic, boring porn. The nice thing about not just selling X amount of product is that if I make something more niche, weird or out-there, they are supported by my films that have wider appeal. I don’t have to play favourites.
I decided a while back that I wasn’t interested in Four Chambers becoming a “brand” or expanding. If I’m making enough to support myself and the project and pay my performers well then I’m happy. It gives me the freedom to escape from the pressure of profit – I can be niche and explore niche parts of sexuality. I just want to make films that are hot, weird and interesting.
DG: Forged Obscenities is a celebration of those liquid taboos in sex, blood and piss. What was your greatest delight in making this film?
This film was made in response to the obscenity laws in the UK at the time, that said that although you could engage in certain practices in your private sex life, to put them on film was “obscene” and would make you a criminal. We made this film in response to these laws, taking these (so called) “obscene” bodily materials and fucking in them but then using them to obscene excess, to the point were they couldn’t possibly be real, so that we’d have plausible deniability in court if someone ever questioned the film. Mixing reality and fiction.
I loved the complete gratuitous excess in this film, the sensation of fucking in all of the blood with the squelching and sliding around, how it felt on the body and in your mouth. It unlocked a gluttonous part of me that was like rejoicing in all of this sensory excess, kinda vampyric. Jouissance!
DG: In Atrophy Portraits, II, starring you, Lina and Maria, the submissive is forced to swallow the spit of the powerful.
But unlike traditional BDSM, Maria voices her experience. Her voice-over tells us that for her, becoming a rag doll, an object of disgrace and putting herself in another’s hands feels like a radical embrace of vulnerability. It’s not something strong women are supposed to do. In what ways do you find softness, vulnerability and degradation liberating?
For myself, I love softness and I love vulnerability but I’ve never personally delighted much in degradation, so making this film was pretty powerful because I got to explore and learn through Lina and her words.
Spit is right on the border of disgust. When it’s unwanted it can be entirely repulsive. Which is why to swap spit and to use it in sex is a mark of the connection between the people involved. It breaks down the borders between acceptable politeness and opens you up to the whole, gross, glorious excess of someone else’s body.
DG: What does the wetness in your forthcoming film, the next in the Atrophy series, communicate?
In the next part of Atrophy Portraits, wetness is all about power and degradation. It’s about disgust, consuming and becoming and confronting the most disgusting and basest parts of ourselves and giving them to someone else. We have a male subject for the portrait for the first time in the series and it’s interesting to see how that shifts or mirrors from the previous films. This couple’s dynamic is heavily centered around degradation and piss is central to that. We flooded the floor of the shoot space. Making someone consume what you excrete is power.
Vex Ashley (Twitter @vextape) was talking to Soma Ghosh (Twitter @calcourtesan).
Watch Vex’s films at www.afourchamberedheart.com.
Main photograph, Rae Lil Black in ‘Hydra’. All images copyright Vex Ashley.