Tracy's blog

I’m Tracy Au and I have graduated from the Professional Writing program from university. I am an aspiring screenwriter, so this blog is used to promote my writing and attract people who will hire me to write for your TV show or movie. I write a lot about writing, TV, movies, jokes, and my daily life and opinions. I have another blog promoting my TV project at www.thevertexfighter.blogspot.com.

Monday, September 11, 2017

"What turns women on: less kitsch, more context"/ Sugar Sisters



Apr. 5, 2015 "What turns women on: less kitsch, more context": I cut out this Globe and Mail article by Zosia Beilski on Jul. 16, 2010.  It's about porn for women, so it's feminist porn.  Here's the whole article:

“We want to see everything.”

So writes porn producer and director Erika Lust in Good Porn: A Woman’s Guide.

Not turned on by mainstream porn, Ms. Lust (née Hallquist) decided to make her own: There was Five Hot Stories for Her, which won movie of the year at the 2008 Feminist Porn Awards in Toronto, and Barcelona Sex Project (2008), an experimental documentary that followed locals around the Spanish city and finished with them candidly masturbating.

“We have the same right as men to get ourselves off,” writes the Stockholm native, to “well-made films that include sexually explicit content.”

Ms. Lust’s first book, translated into eight languages and published in North America last month by Seal Press, looks at male- versus female-made porn, its history and lingo, as well as sensual indie art house movies, seventies sexploitation films and Gonzo porn, which involves the participation of the director.

The 33-year-old political science major, who is six months pregnant with her second child, spoke with The Globe and Mail from Barcelona.

You write that women looking at pictures of sex “freaks a lot of men out.” Really?

It is still the case, but it’s changing all the time. From a historical perspective, it’s obvious that porn was created for men, by men. Almost every time you watch a film, you can see that the woman is the vehicle for his orgasm. We haven’t liked it as much because it hasn’t been as attractive to us. But there’s a general idea in society that women like reading erotic novels and having softer sex, that we aren’t as visual as men, that we don’t like to look at people having sex. It’s like soccer: There’s a general assumption that we don’t like it very much.

Maybe women would watch more porn if the actors looked more like soccer players.

That’s a good point. When I look at the actors in porn movies, I don’t find them attractive.

You lay out the types in your book: “Mafia dons, pimps, drug lords, arms dealers, bazillionaires, or sickly muscled sex machines hung like a horse.”

The men behind the camera work with stereotypes – strong, tough guys. But me and my friends would rather have a more simple guy, a neighbour type, the type we meet on a normal night, a man we can speak with.

You write that women want realistic settings, “modern apartments” equipped with Macs – not tacky, opulent mansions and yachts.

Mainstream porn directors’ aesthetic values are not too elaborate. It’s a very kitschy ambience. They don’t work with the interiors. They don’t even care about something so important to us as the bed linens.

So women want ambience? I thought you wrote that women aren’t into candles and flower petals.

We don’t need the fireplace or the champagne and the chocolate and the strawberries. I don’t think that’s what we want, but when we watch a film, many of us want it to look good.

The ratty old couch isn’t doing it for you?

Exactly. What happens to me is that I keep looking at that couch and I don’t concentrate on what is happening: “It’s such an ugly place! Why are they doing it here?”

You also complain about the ridiculous scenarios in mainstream porn, like the girl who comes home to find her boyfriend canoodling with her best friend and happily hops into bed with them.

It’s not like I need a two-hour introduction, but I need some context as to who these people are. In advertising, they create a story in 20 seconds. It just seems like [the mainstream directors] don’t really care.

In your 2004 short film The Good Girl, you toy with the pizza delivery boy scenario, except the girl pays for her pizza and offers the guy a “post-coital slice.” Why is it so important that she pay for her pizza with money, not acrobatics?

If you don’t have your own money then you aren’t free to choose in life. One of the clichés that I really didn’t like was this girl who always ends up paying with her body. I really needed her to pay for it and invite him in to have a piece.

Do women in female-made porn have jobs?

In Life Love Lust, there’s a story of a couple working in a restaurant: He’s the chef and she’s a waitress. There’s a story of a fortysomething executive meeting a younger man. I have stories where you realize in the storyline that the women have kids.

You blast mainstream porn’s “cheesy sets, awful styling and makeup, insipid music, laughable performances (with sound editing that was even worse), and amateurish cinematography.” Female pornographers often get hung up on production values. Why?

I think it has to do with our generation. We grew up with TV in the background and images with high production values.

Men grew up with that too.

I have a feeling they’re concentrating on the technical sex. We kind of want it to be in a context.

Do men like the porn you make?

Yes, many, many men – they write me almost every day. I get such cute e-mails from them saying that they find my movies beautiful and so much more natural. Many are happy because it’s the first time they can share it with their girlfriends. I see that because I have a store online and many men come, buy and then send movies to their girlfriends.

Do you think mainstream porn has changed the way some people are having sex?

I see this as a problem with young people turning to pornography to learn about sex. They aren’t critics of what they are seeing. If this same young man would watch one of my movies, he would get another idea of what sex is all about. We’ve said for years with porn that it doesn’t affect us, that it’s something only a small number of men are watching. But pornography has taken a major step into culture as a discourse that explains femininity and masculinity. I think it’s important that women start to participate in this discourse, because men aren’t going to explain our experience.

There seems to be a sense that female-made porn is “too fuzzy.” What do you make of that?

If you go back to when women started making erotic movies, they were into a softer approach. I think in the last 10 years we’ve definitely seen women make movies with more direct approaches. The movies made today are definitely not the fuzzy, erotic kind of illusions.

This interview has been condensed and edited.


Jan. 13, 2016 "Filmmaker celebrated female sexuality": I cut out this article by Sam Roberts in the Globe and Mail on Sept. 15, 2015.  Here are a few excerpts:


Candida Royalle, a former star of pornographic movies who became a self-styled feminist filmmaker spurning what she called a misogynistic “wham, bam, thank you, ma’am” genre to create erotica that would appeal to women, died on Monday at her home in Mattituck, N.Y., on Long Island. She was 64.

Some critics disagreed. Norma Ramos, general counsel of the advocacy group Women Against Pornography, said in a 1992 Elle magazine interview that there was no distinction between Ms. Royalle’s work and other pornography that “eroticizes women’s inequality.”

She accused Ms. Royalle of having engaged in of “prostitution on paper or celluloid.”
Ms. Royalle was a founder of Feminists for Free Expression, a so-called sex-positive organization that opposes censorship and created a support group for actresses in erotic films who are exploited by their employers. In her films, which she infused with plots, passion, seduction and even romance, she insisted on safe sex (despite the objections of some distributors)


This article may get you angry, depressed or in a bad mood.  I am forewarning you right now:

Oct. 31, 2016 Sugar Sisters: I read about John Doyle's TV column about this in the Globe and Mail.  I recorded this documentary on CBC, and then I had to watch the rest of the 15 min. on CBC website.  It's about 3 sisters who are become sugar babies.  It's like a grey issue of prostitution like a sugar daddy is paying for your dinner and $100 for your time:


Who am I to judge twentysomething women who sell their bodies or their mere presence to older, well-off men for money? I don’t judge. It doesn’t bother me. It’s their business.

What does bother me is a certain type of spin – the presentation of the story of selling yourself for money as a fraught, cautionary tale about discovering that it is emotionally damaging to peddle your body and charm. Of course it’s damaging. And if you’re 28 years old with a university degree, you’re either formidably, implausibly naive or you’re just concocting drama out of the bloody obvious.


Sugar Sisters (Thursday, CBC, 9 p.m. on Firsthand) is the saddest thing. And bothersome. It’s about the world of “sugar dating.” It’s made by Hannah Donegan (with Ann Shin), who chronicles her own and her sisters’ journey into transactional dating – the search for older guys who will pay them handsomely to go on dates, but the transaction doesn’t involve sex. In an essay for the CBC website, Donegan explains, “This story is told from my own perspective – that of a sex-positive queer feminist.”


Much of the doc is about Hannah herself, who has a live-in girlfriend, Jocelyn. There is some emphasis, but not enough, about how Jocelyn feels about her partner selling herself to men. It seems she’s a tad upset on a regular basis, and little wonder.

Hannah and her younger sisters, Amalia and Caroline, are in this sugar-dating thing together. Why? Well, you know, they’re young and usually working two part-time jobs to make ends meet. They’re presented to us as “broke,” but in reality, they live very bourgeois lives. These are not desperately poor people forced by extreme circumstance into selling themselves. They want it easy and they figure that using their youth and looks is the easiest way to having a more cushy life.

Their adventures begin with a sense of fun and games. They look on their “dates,” hopefully, as cash machines. Sometimes they get money for simply having dinner with some guy, and sometimes they don’t. And that’s the point of the exercise – get money from men for simply being present.

They say they look on it as work and hope for one or two hundred dollars per date. Since it’s “work,” they won’t have alcohol. But, of course, eventually, they do indeed.

Caroline believes she’s smart enough to negotiate her way through the minefield of transactional dating. She meets Sandy, who gets thousands of dollars a month from a sugar daddy. “People pay Sandy just for her attention,” Caroline exclaims, wide-eyed and jealous. “That is so cool!”

The mixture of greed and naivete is breathtaking. And a scene in which two of the young women sit in the back of a car, cackling about the cash they’ve just received on a date, is mind-boggling in its depiction of crassness. Oh, by the way, mom and dad disapprove of this “transactional dating,” but the disapproval seems to have limited impact.

Long story short, not all of the sisters are either successful or entirely comfortable in the sugar-dating world. But one does persevere. After all, there is a documentary film to be made here. Hannah goes to New York to check out the sugar-dating scene there. Viewers get a glimpse of many creepy guys gathered to meet young women looking for a sugar daddy. The event organizer, a guy more creepy than most, says, “It’s a mutually beneficial relationship, that’s the mantra!” Right.

Our heroine starts a transactional relationship with a guy in New York named David: “At the end of our date, he handed me $400 cash and said he wanted to do it again. This could be a regular income.” And it becomes just that – he pays for her to visit him regularly in New York and pays her when they go on dates.

The inevitable climax occurs when David offers to pay her living expenses and they negotiate. After, he invites her back to his place for a drink. We’re told he asks her to stay the night but she flees. And then comes the confession: “I realize if I’m going to do this and get money and there’s going to be a big payout, I’m gonna have to sleep with these men.”

Well, duh. Nothing about Sugar Sisters rings quite true. It’s not an exposé, nor is it truly illuminating. If it were to be truly honest, there would be much more from Jocelyn, who is the one the viewer longs to hear from. She is, after all, the partner left behind while Hannah gallivants about, seeing men for money, disappearing for days and, while at home, spending a lot of time texting back and forth with guys.

The conclusion is no surprise – somebody discovers that it’s better to concentrate on the stable relationships in life and stick with caring people. As an attempt at a cautionary tale, Sugar Sisters is ridiculous.

I won’t judge twentysomething women who sell their bodies or their mere presence to older, well-off men for money, but I will judge Sugar Sisters – somebody was desperate for a career move with this ridiculous documentary, and that’s the sum of it.


http://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/television/john-doyle-a-tale-of-sugar-daddies-and-transactional-dating-a-big-so-what/article32516100/


These are the CBC comments:

Jimmy Aaron:
Great Role models for my daughters when they grow up......

Jonathan Lloyd Walker:
              

CBC, this is such a stunningly naive and contrived show I'm a little shocked how low you've lowered the bar. That this group of women entered in to this conceit and appear to be so utterly unaware of the real intent of the men involved...it's more than a little disappointing. Very few older men are interested in paying for the privilege of hanging out with younger women if there's no eventual build towards sex and intimacy.

It's such a given that it's hard to look past as a viewer. So it's an exercise of watching something that's driving at such an obvious outcome there's little value in the journey. I'm not even value judging the sisters though their vapidity and lack of moral compass is certainly alarming.

Worse yet, several of the conversations and conflicts between the sisters feel "acted" for the cameras which immediately gives me the prurient schadenfreude of watching something akin to an episode of the Kardashians. Not a good thing. Get a grip CBC, you used to be so much better at this. Climb back out of the Jerry Springer gutter and get back to making docs and doc series that have some human value.

My opinion: I didn't feel it was "acted."  Also I don't think CBC is being trashy.  20/20, another good newsmagazine show did this too.


Minhly Nguyen:
How do you call yourself a feminist and doing this?

Becky Louis:
               
A similar type of predator gouged my dad out of at least 20 grand, when he was at his loneliest, most vulnerable, elderly and losing his judgement. My sister and I got rid of her but it was a stressful battle; if we hadn't, he'd have been left with nothing to support his old age and she'd have been gone. Psychopaths.

My opinion: This relationship goes both ways on how it can be good for both, bad for both, or good for one and bad for one.

SarahRose Werner:
               

PS Caroline? When you were making plans to attend university in Montreal, did it genuinely never occur to you that not knowing how to speak the local language would be a significant hindrance in finding a paying job to support yourself? Welcome to reality, kid.

My opinion: I was thinking that too.


Mike Davis:
               
I find it disgusting but I'm just one person with one opinion.

Ben Wilson Guest
Rank 0
How much is your soul worth? Is glorifying this really helping us to be equal? Turning something sacred into a commodity isn't helping our society to be more humane, just more concerned with money.

My opinion: This dating is not really "sacred."


Shawn D. Brenner Guest
Rank 0
Living a shallow life may be fun and interesting in the short term, but most likely will turn into guilt and self loathing. Working hard and honestly gives you the best chance of having a happy rewarding life. I find it disturbing that this crap is being promoted as a career. Get a friggin job, holy shit!

My opinion: This is not really a career.  It's a "gig economy."  Not all people will feel guilt and self-loathing.  I did see a young woman on the TV show Black Market about sugar- dating,  who did feel guilt and self-loathing.  She was struggling to get a job.  In her case, she needed to get out of the sugar industry fast.


Alyssa Mohino Guest
Rank 0
I wish the media would lose its fascination with this portrayal, but here i am posting anyways and feeding it clicks... anyways, I find this type of behavior demeaning to both parties involved, and sets a poor example for young men and women. Maybe im old fashioned, but having a date doesn't need to be "footed" by a party, nor does it have to be extravagant to be a date. there is much to be said about the simple pleasures of meeting for a walk through the park, going for a bike ride together, or curling up on the sofa and getting lost in some terrible late night tv

Andrew Jones Guest
Rank 0
So sex for money?
I'm trying to think of what occupation that is.

You must be so proud of yourselves.

          Roy Lee
        @Andrew Jones marriage ?


          • Brandon Hammond Guest
          @Roy Lee - Depends what kind of people are involved.
          • Alyssa Mohino Guest
          @Roy Lee
          Maybe if you married the wrong person. I see plenty of couples each giving 100% and each working.

          Its pretty simple: marry someone for their good character and not for their charms, and you'll be fine.


          Brandon Hammond Guest Rank 0
          @Alyssa Mohino
          They don't even need to both be earning money. My parents were traditional Europeans, both hard working with no BS expectations or demands. It was genuine and equitable with no weird power tripping or 'exchange of favours'. Just a healthy partnership.


          Sept. 6, 2017: The older I get, the more often I say this: "I never thought I would say this, but...." 

          I have seen a 20/20 piece and a Lisa Ling special about sugar babies, but I haven't wrote about it the Lisa Ling.  I have seen the Black Market episode where:

          50- something yr old white guy: A guy is paying a woman to entertain his advances.
          Young black woman: That's bulls---.

          Or was it from CBC?  I can't quite remember.  I will have to go to my notes.

          I never thought I would say this, but here's a guy who would benefit from paying a woman to say sexual things to.  This is from an old email/ blog post:

          Sexual harassment: I've mentioned this before.  This was the worst joke flops I have ever seen.  It was also in gr. 10 and this guy was pretending he was interested in my friend by saying disgusting and sexual things to her for 20 min.  He was suffering from delusions of grandeur that he thought was so funny, but no one else was, especially my friend.  He also suffered from low level of emotional intelligence because he couldn't see how offended my friend was.  It's not until she cried and walked out that he was like: "Oh my God, I totally offended her."


          Sept. 6, 2017: At least with a sugar baby, she is getting paid to entertain this high school guy's advances.  This is all playing and pretending.  A sugar baby is the right person to say sexual things to.

          In the Lisa Ling special, one sugar baby said: "Some guys just want some arm candy."

          The same with women: It is the same with women, because I was watching the TV show Starting Over.

          Jodi: I dated a struggling actor.  Every time we went out, I paid.  I guess I just wanted to be seen with him. 

          It seems like Jodi liked him for other reasons instead of for who he is.  At least with a sugar baby, you are paying this person to be seen with.

          Sept. 7, 2017: The high school guy G was acting all perverted and creepy.  This is the last line that he said to my friend before she started crying:

          G: Looks like somebody needs some tongue.
          Friend: Stop it!  It's not even funny.
          G is shocked and surprised.  Here he thought he was being all fun and funny and trying to get her to laugh, and here she is crying, upset, angry, and disgusted.
          She storms off and everybody of 20 people saw it.

          This experience did have a profound effect on G.  Also maybe with the other people knowing about sexual harassment and not being able to see blind spots.

          I will say, months later G did start saying sexual and disgusting things again.  I remember Parry, this East Indian girl I was with was very offended.

          My week:

          Sept. 6, 2017 Hair salon receptionist job interview: This is the interview I did a few weeks ago.  I applied there many times before and now I got an interview.

          Pros:

          1. The hours are good like days.  There are 2 nights.

          2. It's easy to get to with 1 bus.

          3. The pay is $12.70/hr.  It will be $15/hr after 3 months.

          4. I can do the job: Opening and closing the place, scheduling clients, answering phones, getting payments.  There is cleaning like sweeping and mopping.

          Cons: None.

          My opinion: I would work there if I got hired.

          Clothing store #3 job interview: A couple of weeks ago I did this interview at a store I had worked for a few weeks back in 2008.  I got dismissed back then, but then it lead me to the Soup place where I worked for 2 yrs.  I'm not that interested in the job, but I needed one.

          This is at the west end and hiring 3 FT workers and 1 PT worker.

          Pros:

          1. The pay was like $13.50/hr.

          2. I can do the job of selling clothes and cashier. 

          3. The hours are days.  Close twice a week.

          Cons: 

          1. I forgot to ask how long it takes to close.  It is a big store and can take a long time to close.  I have a 1hr bus ride.

          My opinion: I would work there if I got hired.

          Clothing store #3 job interview at another location: This is at a location that's closer to where I live so I would work here more than the above location.


          Pros:



          1. The pay was like $13.50/hr.


          2. I can do the job of selling clothes and cashier. 

          3. The hours are days.

          Cons: None.


          My opinion: I would work there if I got hired.

          Sept. 7, 2017 Hurricane Harvey: Here is a telethon hosted by a lot of celebrities.

          http://variety.com/2017/tv/news/beyonce-george-clooney-hurricane-harvey-telethon-september-12-1202547109/

          Sept. 11, 2017 Unique Boutique is closing down:

          14226 Stony Plain Rd NW, Edmonton, AB T5N 3R3


          http://www.uniqueboutiqueedmonton.com/

          Highlight of my week: The highlight of my week was probably that I worked.  

          I went to one fun event, but it was not the highlight.

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