I’m not much of a porn buff, so not surprisingly, Carlos Batts’ Behind The Red Door is my first experience with April Flores (or Fatty D), Kelly Shibari, and Ashley Blue. April Flores is the star – making an appearance in every scene except two short masturbation scenes – and the overall aesthetic of this porn seems centered around April Flores’ colourful, bold, and feminine persona.
The premise is very simple in concept: April Flores goes from room to room, exploring the “dolls” who inhabit them – Syd Blakovich, Ashley Blue, Kelly Shibari, and Matador (an “action” figure). The visual and audio experience of behind the red door is a bit more complex, especially than your average porn, in that it employs a lot more play with editing, music, colour saturation, black and white film, and the actual moaning (or silence) of the performers themselves. It’s more like art than porn. Or given how loud the music is and how infrequently we hear moaning, slurping, or “FUCK”, it even seems like it could be a music video. A very naughty music video.
All of the scenes had their highlights, but my favourites were definitely the scenes with April Flores and Syd Blakovich (first scene) and then later April Flores and Matador. I have a bit of bias toward Syd Blakovich in that I am in love with her and have never disliked her performances. It’s true. Syd Blakovich sweating and smirking and spanking is pure awesome. However, there’s a lot of merit to this scene on its own. I never thought I could really appreciate foot play, but I got really into watching April Flores toe fuck Syd Blakovich while also sucking her toes. Their mutual aggressiveness, pleasure, and playfulness throughout this whole scene is flat out sexy, hands down. Oh, and there’s a chick money shot. Hell yes.
The scene with Matador starts out pretty humorous (the guy is wearing a costume, and you know, costumes just tickle me) and the black and white cinematography adds an element of film noir arty-ness to it. Gone are the bright colours, that vibrant hair and the sequins and the blue sparkling eyeshadow. The humor slips away pretty quickly as April Flores begins to suck Matador’s cock, getting spit on her face, messing up her hair and her makeup. While watching April Flores fuck him on the couch, I actually thought to myself, “Damn this is beautiful.” The glint of light on her face from all the sweat, spit, and tears, her hair all wild – to me, this is sex. Not that phony bullshit passed off as sex in advertisements, mainstream music videos, and general porn. Nope. April Flores brings the sex, ladies and gentlemen.
As I said, the other scenes of behind the red door had highlights – Ashley Blue’s legs (me-ow), Kelly Shibari’s giggling humor and sexy eyes, the clothing and costumes, the peculiar taxidermy “Animal Room”, the film repetition of specific moments when the performers are really enjoying themselves, the flashing lights and editing that emphasize the voyeurism taking place. I appreciate the seemingly experimental/to hell with the norm nature of the overall project. That said, I think it’s not working in a few areas.
1.) Music. I was distracted a few times in the first scene because it kept going back and forth between the same two songs. This had a tiring effect, like I wanted the scene to be over soon.
2.) Editing. In a few places the splicing, saturation, and repetition seemed excessive or just distracting. Nobody wants to be distracted by freakish flashes of yellow skin and the dildo that disappears into a black hole.
3.) Sound. The limited sound being heard from performers worked for me in the first scene and the complete absence of it from a few others scenes worked for me as well. It didn’t later on in the film. Why? I think it’s because there were more facial close-ups and dynamic shots in the scenes that worked. The scene with Kelly Shibari and April Flores, for example, seemed a bit flat to me because I couldn’t hear anything from the performers. Nor were there visual clues hinting at the dynamism of the interaction. So I wasn’t left with much.
Overall, think behind the red door is pretty exciting and I want to see more of April Flores and/or Carlos Batts’ work. If nothing else, it’s another example of pornographers pushing boundaries and incorporating a more tangible aesthetic than what has been going on. God bless the art fags.
Because Mimi gave such a thorough and accurate account of what it feels like to watch Behind the Red Door, I’ll be brief.
I agree with Mimi that there were certain parts of the performances that were quite hot but that did not save it for me. I attribute all of the hotness to the performers themselves and disagree with nearly every editing choice:
- The music is distracting. Especially in the two scenes that the same two songs are on a loop but to some degree in every scene.
- The jumpy, almost syncopated repetition of moments is overused.
- Some of the camera work is just downright sloppy.
- There is a several minute montage before any of the scenes begin that is imagery from the house interlaced with bits of the scenes to come that felt more like a trailer than an introduction.
- The god awful CGI transition made it look cheap.
- The over use of saturation and filters made me think of someone who has just learned about all the cool things that Photoshop can do and wants to tell you about it. In length.
For me, it comes down to the way I think about it. If I consider it a piece of art, then I can applaud the inventiveness and experimental nature of the whole experience and hope that the film maker makes it to graduation. If I think about it as porn (meant to arouse) I just think of it as an annoying failure. It is possible for something to be highly artistic and arousing, but this is not.
Oh yeah, and this text preceded the film:
“The sexual situations in the following adult feature are shown for educational and informational purposes only. We highly recommend that individuals follow the Surgeon General’s accepted guidelines for safe sex, which are monogamy, and/or adstinence [sic], or at a minimum, the use of a condom combined with a selective choice of sexual partners. We hope you find the following feature an enjoyable stimulation to your adult practice of safe sex. Thank you!”
Sheesh…aside from spelling abstinence wrong, they also claim that this is meant to be educational and informative? Either the film makers are being facetious or have some serious fears about the obscenity laws in America. Either way, that is weak.