Shot over several years and funded via Kickstarter Simone Jude’s Public Sex, Private Lives profiles three women working in the adult film industry or to use the more commonly used term “Porn stars”. The use of the term Porn Star immediately conjures associated stereotypes that society has formed about people that happen to be working in the adult film industry.
The film focusses on Princess Donna, Lorelei Lee and Isis Love.
What becomes immediately apparent is that all three are different in both personality and circumstance. Princess Donna despite having the professional persona of a dominatrix as both a director and performer is quirky and witty but ultimately vulnerable, Lorelei Lee is articulate and intelligent and Isis Love is a feisty single mum trying to raise her son.
That porn stars might actually enjoy what they do contrasts heavily with the stereotype that has been built up in a society that is hypocritically puritanical when it comes to sex and porn, after all the porn business is incredibly lucrative so somebody must be watching it. The cliched stereotypes of addiction, tragic broken lives, exploitation and desperation contrast with the women featured here but should that be such a surprise?
In a highly judgemental society the idea that people have sex in front of other people and cameras for a living is a bit hard to process for some, that they are actually doing it willingly and happily even more so and if it just happens to be BDSM fetishistic material (which all three are known for) then that’s even more taboo. Given that Fifty Shades of Grey which is based around a BDSM centric (even if how well it portrays it is debatable) relationship was phenomenally popular, kick starting a whole literary sub-genre along with a sales spike for sex oriented retailers like Anne Summers shows that the hypocritical puritanical views are even more prevalent for BDSM than more mainstream adult entertainment.
Listening to Princess Donna describe her approach to shooting porn, and she has no qualms with calling it that, as something she takes pride in and is invested in is no different than listening to a big name director talking about his latest film the only difference is the judgement society lays on the former rather than the latter.
One of the surprises, which shouldn’t really be a surprise, is that in the glimpses of behind the scenes footage people are smiling and even laughing in places, pretty much like on any other production.
By the time the credits roll it’s clear that like most people actually what matters most to these women is family and love whether it’s Lorelei Lee and her relationship with Tomkat who she met through her work, Princess Donna and her relationship with her mother or Isis Love and her relationship with her son, a role in which Love not only inspires but amazes with her tenacity in an age where single mums are demonised.
What is surprising is just how much of an emotional punch this packs, with tension and drama coming from Lorelei Lee being entangled in an obscenity trial, Isis Love having a run in with CPS but most poignant is Princess Donna, someone who is fierce and dominant for a living tearfully reading out a letter to her late father at an awards ceremony.